Representatives from the Zoobombers are meeting with Traffic Division Commander Mark Kruger and Sergeant Mike Fort of the Portland Police Bureau at the offices of bike lawyer Mark Ginsberg right now. ‘BOMBERS MEETING FROM LEFT TO RIGHT: Fort, Kruger, ‘Handsome’ Dave Terry, Ginsberg, and ‘bomber Corey Sevigny.
The cops say the Zoobombers have been travelling in the car lanes on Highway 26, and have taken video of them all over the travel lanes in the tunnel on the route the ‘bombers call the “Hellway.” They’ve also received complaints from the neighborhood association in Washington Park about the ‘bombers’ blowing stop signs, crossing double yellows, and not wearing lights, saying they only feel it’s a matter of time until a ‘bomber is killed. Check out what’s being said, after the jump.
Kruger says he wants the 'bombers to stay on the shoulder on Highway 26, and that drivers, especially drunk drivers, aren't going to be able to react in time not to crash into the 'bombers on the way down the hill.
"There are two kinds of motorists out there, the good kind and the DUIs," says Kruger. "Of all the bicycle fatalities in the last 10 years, almost all the motorists have been drunk. If we see people still out in the travel lanes then we'll take that as an invitation to do some zero-tolerance enforcement."
On the stop signs issue, officers have been enforcing against people blowing stop signs, crossing over double-yellows, over the last two weeks.
"Any officer is at their liberty to make any traffic stop at any time," says Kruger. "In terms of organized enforcement action against bicyclists, we're only doing so in response to complaints. So the question is, what do you guys do to avoid those complaints so that we don't have to get involved?"
"I don't feel that this it the best use of your limited police resources," says Corey Sevigny, one of the 'bombers. "I understand that blowing a stop sign at midnight on a Sunday is illegal, but as far as enforcements, I feel that there's more effective places to use 9-10 police officers on a Sunday night. Doing 65 in a 55 is also an illegal behavior, and yet that's pretty much a policy of non-enforcement. While it's illegal, it's also relatively safe. And I'd make the same argument for bicyclists using a stop sign as a yield sign. I can't think of a single time when bicyclists blowing a stop sign on the Zoobomb has resulted in an accident. To me it seems that the resources could be used more effectively."
"I'd just quibble with you a little bit on use of resources. We do 130,000 citations a year, 1% bicyclists, 1% pedestrians, and the rest to motorists. We do a tremendous amount of enforcement," responds Kruger. "We're getting complaints about the Zoobombers, and we also have an obligation to the folks in the neighborhood to keep them safe. And it's interesting the number of calls I've got in the last few days from folks in the neighborhood saying 'you folks should be doing a lot more enforcement.' We're not going to spend a tremendous amount of time on Zoobombers, regardless. But we will come out there from time to time making sure things are on an even keel."
Ginsberg has challenged Sevigny to respond to the neighbors' complaints. "What do you think about those neighbors who are complaining?"
"I'm 100% behind people riding with lights," Sevigny responds. "The regulars, 99% of us have lights and helmets. However as with any open community thing, the summer time especially brings a lot of yahoos, and people come along and get a little crazy thinking they don't need the lights or the helmets. Since we have no real formal hierarchy or an organization, all we can do is really strongly encourage people to do that."
"If we have an officer who comes out there and touches base with you, is that going to be helpful for you to apply peer pressure to people who are on the outside of the organization?" says Kruger. "What I'm hearing is that there's a group of helpful and responsible people and then these 'yahoos' as you're describing them."
Oof. Very helpful.
"I think it might be a little heavy-handed," says Terry. "No-one wants you guys to have to waste your time out there with us. We as a group want you guys out there stopping drunk drivers. We'd like the chance to try and influence those people ourselves. But in five years of doing this, we've never had any serious accidents where people have been at death's door. Most of the accidents up there are just little scrapes. But I do think we can do a better job of complying with the traffic regulations."
What a merry little rhetorical dance. Incidentally all this is in response to an Oregonian article by Joe Rose. The cops don't want to look stupid in the press. And who can blame them.
There's also an issue with some of the 'bombers being kids out past curfew. "One of our officers picked up a 12-year old kid riding a fixie down highway 26 without a light," says Kruger. Busted! The 'bombers say they're going to try to get a handle on it.
"I know there's some drinking that goes on before the Zoobomb happens, too," says Kruger. "And I'd encourage you to talk to the other 'bombers about this. But if we ever arrest a Zoobomber for DUI, we're going to make a big deal about it. I'd encourage you to apply a little peer pressure here."
"I think this meeting is essentially going to scare a lot of people straight," says Sevigny.
The cops are going to watch Highway 26, to make sure it's not an issue. And on the neighborhood front, they're going to have an officer drift through and monitor the situation, in tandem with the 'bombers doing what they can to influence people not to blow stop signs.
That's probably the end of it, unless the Oregonian decides to blunder in and do another story.
In order to combat spam, we are no longer accepting comments on this post (or any post more than 45 days old).