Portland’s transportation director ticketed in bicycle safety sting
PORTLAND, Ore. – A member of the mayor’s staff was ticketed Thursday morning by Portland Police during a traffic safety operation. Catherine Ciarlo said in a statement that she was issued a ticket for “failing to stop at a stop sign” while riding her bicycle in Ladd Circle.“I am particularly regretful about this," she wrote, "given my firm belief that all vehicles – inluding [sic] bikes – have a duty to obey traffic signals.”The traffic safety mission was conducted by the Portland Police Bureau’s Traffic Division.“The purpose of traffic enforcement missions is to remind Portlanders to be safe on the road – and unfortunately, even someone like myself who supports responsible riding needs to be reminded to pay closer attention,” Ciarlo wrote. Portland Police Sgt. Mike Fort, who is currently overseeing the traffic unit, said officers have been increasing their patrols throughout the city to focus on safety concerns. “A lot of the issues are complaint driven,” Fort said. On Thursday morning, Fort said traffic officers issued 26 tickets to cyclists who rode through stop signs in Ladd Circle. Officers also issued 56 tickets to cyclist along Northeast Broadway and North Flint Avenue, Fort said. Traffic officers said they have been working the Ladd Circle area since Tuesday.“We’ve looked at this area in Ladd’s Circle and there’s a legitimate neighborhood livability concern,” Fort said. Neighbors who live near Ladd Circle have voiced their complaints to police. “We have up to 600 complaints that come into the traffic division [each year],” Fort said.John Shows, who was ticketed by officers Thursday morning, said he would like to see the stop signs in Ladd Circle changed to yield signs.He and other cyclists said that, when approaching the Circle, often they have a clear line of sight to any approaching traffic. “We hear that a lot ... that as a cyclist, you can have great line of sight," Fort said. "[But], as you’re looking to the left, going through your stop sign, you don’t see the bus that’s pulling out from the curb or another cyclist or something.”The officer who stopped Shows said he was concerned with the cyclist’s speed through the residential neighborhood. “The law is clear: you have to cease all motion that’s what a stop is,” Fort said. However, he added: “We’re humans, too, and we’re not that strict,” Fort said with a smile.Fort said officers are looking for people are blatantly not stopping and who pose the most risk to themselves and others. “If a person makes a good attempt to stop, we’re going to use a lot of discretion in that case,” Fort said. To run these traffic safety operations takes up a lot of resources, officials said. “We do the best we can to educate everyone,” Fort said. “We work all over the city.”Fort said while the Ladd Circle area isn’t a crash prone area, he said overall, on a city level, when looking at crash statics, the numbers are surprising. “When we analyze crashes between bicyclist and vehicles, statically we see that 50 percent of the fault relies on each unit,” Fort said. Officers on scene Thursday said although they were looking for cyclist who committed traffic violations, they were also looking for drivers and in a sting in Northeast Portland, officers ticketed a handful of motor vehicle operators. . “It may seem to be heavy handed enforcement on bicyclist at a time like this, but the reality is over the course of a year, we do much more education to bicyclist than we do enforcement,” Fort said. Most of the cyclists who were stopped, like John Show, said they were glad to see the enforcement. Shows got stopped not only for running the stop sign but for also going a little too fast.“It’s a good reminder,” Show said. Several cyclists approached the officers to thank them for conducting the traffic safety operation.Over the week, the Traffic Division has issued more than 100 citations to cyclists and drivers for traffic violations, but Fort said many of those ticketed will get the chance to have the citation dismissed. “They get the opportunity to go to the Share the Road Safety class most of the time,” Fort said. “This is an attempt to educate everyone,” Fort said. “That is our mission: to keep everyone safe who uses the road.” -- Brent Weisberg
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Aug. 30, 2012
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