City Commissioner Dan Saltzman may not be too popular with mental health advocates at the moment, but he's done the bicycling community a favor by fostering a collaboration between the Bicycle Transportation Alliance and the police bureau on a new training video this afternoon.
"An apparently indifferent approach from the police bureau" greeted the death of Susan Kobota's niece, Tracy Sparling, in 2007, Kobota said. "The statements implied that it was not reasonable for bicyclists to expect safety." Kobota said things have improved since then. "The transformation has been remarkable," she said.
Here's the video that will be shown to police officers:
"The outlaw edginess that was a part of the old scene is being replaced," says city attorney David Woboril, on the video.
The video focuses on the right hook, "looking at the totality of circumstances" when it comes to riders filling the lane, group rides ("at first glance, the groups may resemble critical mass, but they are nothing like it"), "safety and sharing," speeding, stop signs, drivers blowing stop signs, failing to yield at crosswalks, and when to cite.
The subtext seems to be a focus on getting officers to enforce the law reasonably, and with respect to the goals Portland has to increase the number of bicycle commuters.
"We're all people just trying to get where we're trying to go, safely," said one person giving testimony from the group We Are All Traffic. "It's our job to debunk some of the stereotypes about bicyclists and car drivers."
503 823 SAFE is the number to call if you have concerns about a traffic issue near you.
"I want to thank the parties to this agreement," said Saltzman. "I think as was said on the video, bicycle commuting has gone from outlaw edginess to mainstream in this city. I don't feel safe on the road on a bike, and I think that's something that Mayor Adams is committed to, but I think the framework for this agreement, and bringing the parties together to talk about solutions is really what we need to get toward solutions."
"I was walking down the sidewalk the other day," said City Commissioner Amanda Fritz. "And a young man came skateboarding past me. I got him to take his iPod earplugs out, and I said excuse me, would you mind not skateboarding on the sidewalk, it's illegal and it makes people like me nervous. And he looked at me and got off his skateboard. It's about community policing, we don't all need to call 911, we need to share those feelings."
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