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#1 2009-01-20 16:50:48

tomwald
Moderator
From: 78722
Registered: 2008-05-27
Posts: 288

crackdown on bicyclists? what crackdown?

According to APD, there has been no APD crackdown on bicyclists recently nor a crackdown on pedestrians last summer.  Local media has reported otherwise.

"Police cracking down on bicyclists who break the law"
http://www.kvue.com/news/newton/stories … 132f8.html

"APD vs. Cyclists: Freewheeling Days Are Over"
http://www.austinchronicle.com/gyrobase … d%3A702481

"Complaints against bicyclists rising"
http://www.kxan.com/dpp/news/local/Comp … sts_rising

And ATXBS blogging: http://www.atxbs.com/?q=taxonomy/term/460

And previously on the BA forum:
http://bicycleaustin.info/forum/viewtopic.php?id=154

Jaywalking?:
"Jaywalking in Austin could cost you $500 ticket"
http://www.kvue.com/news/top/stories/05 … 0fd07.html

"Austin police crack down on jaywalkers"
http://www.txcn.com/sharedcontent/dws/t … f842b.html

"Police begin cracking down on jaywalkers"
Austin American-Statesman, 5/29/08 (link unavailable)

My letter of 1/14/09:

APD has advertised via local media and implemented a campaign against bicycle traffic violations.  What I find disconcerting is that this is being implemented as a campaign against bicycle traffic violators instead of traffic violators in general.

My common experience in Austin is that motorists, including APD cruisers, habitually violate traffic laws to the detriment of others' safety.  APD cruisers routinely violate their own policy with regard to when they can and cannot exceed posted speed limits.  The violence caused by traffic violations of Austin motorists is one of the biggest issues still facing Austin:  about 60 people each year die and tens of thousands are injured because of improper and/or unsafe motorist driving behavior.  Even in cases where pedestrians are hit while jaywalking, we still find that the motorists were nevertheless exceeding the posted speed limits.  "Speed kills" is mantra of numerous public safety departments around our country.

This is not about me getting a citation while riding my bike.  I do ride my bike as a primary mode of transportation.  However, I follow the traffic laws better than most Austinites.

The impetus for my e-mail is that two of my friends were ticketed for going through a red light while riding their bicycles.  These friends of mine are conscientious riders and were not likely taking any considerable risk for themselves nor others.  My hope is that APD would focus on violations where there is a real and present safety risk to others rather than singling out bicyclists and expecting bicyclists to follow the letter of the law while motorists are free to speed and otherwise put others in real danger.

(I could say similar things about APD's crackdown on pedestrian violators last summer.)

Tom Wald

APD's response to my inquiry:

Citizen Assistance Form
CAF # ... – Email Response
January 14, 2009

Citizen: Tom Wald
...

Dear Mr. Wald,

Thank you for your email to City Council expressing your concerns regarding the enforcement of bicycle and motor traffic violations.  On behalf of City Council and the Chief of Police, please allow me to respond.

I would like to take this opportunity to address your initial concern of our department advertising a campaign against bicycle traffic violations.  I have been in contact with our Public Information Manager and she has informed me that no such campaign has been implemented in the media recently. For any questions regarding our current projects, please feel free to call their office at 974-5017.

I must stress the Austin Police Department and its officers are dedicated to keeping its citizens safe.  Department cruisers should not be violating any traffic laws.  If you witness such an offense, please contact the Police Monitor's Office immediately at 974-9090. However, I must explain that officers may be responding to emergencies including situations in which a fatality or injury has just occurred or may occur.  For these specific calls, officers are authorized to drive at speeds greater than the posted limit and proceed through traffic signals after ensuring an intersection is clear.

I must further explicate that our department is dedicated to enforcing all traffic violations to include bicyclists' and motorists.  We can ensure that our department in no way is emphasizing focus on any particular group.  We perform regular speed enforcement through our Strategic Traffic Enforcement Program (STEP) as well as addressing complaints of traffic violations through increased patrol efforts (also called Directed Patrols). If you are aware of an intersection that is in need of immediate police enforcement, please do not hesitate in contacting me. I will refer you to the local District Representative officer for enforcement and follow-up.

Again, thank you for bringing your concern to our attention.  Should you have any further questions, please contact me directly at 974-4711, or by email at Leander.Davila@ci.austin.tx.us.

Sincerely,

Lee Davila, Constituent Liaison
Austin Police Department

cc:  City Manager's Office, Marc A. Ott
       Chief of Police, Art Acevedo

Perhaps APD is just as misunderstood by local media as bicyclists?

APD chief, Art Acevedo, will be speaking and answering questions at the ACA meeting, March 2nd, 7pm:
http://www.google.com/calendar/event?ei … ca/Chicago
Submit your questions ahead of time.  Notifications will be sent out again soon.

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#2 2009-01-21 16:50:04

m1ek
Member
Registered: 2008-06-02
Posts: 153

Re: crackdown on bicyclists? what crackdown?

I hope your 'conscientious' friends enjoy their tickets - running red lights is a hell of a lot more serious than minor speeding, and a 'conscientious' red-light runner is an oxymoron.

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#3 2009-01-22 18:09:37

tomwald
Moderator
From: 78722
Registered: 2008-05-27
Posts: 288

Re: crackdown on bicyclists? what crackdown?

m1ek wrote:

I hope your 'conscientious' friends enjoy their tickets - running red lights is a hell of a lot more serious than minor speeding, and a 'conscientious' red-light runner is an oxymoron.

I hear you but I don't understand your point.

In any case, what does this have to do with the conflicting messages that APD is sending out about whether or not there is a crackdown targeted at bicyclists?  I recommend starting a new post if you'd like to discuss the comparison between "running red lights" and "minor speeding" -- that is a separate discussion.

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#4 2009-01-23 12:34:31

doughead
Member
Registered: 2008-05-27
Posts: 37

Re: crackdown on bicyclists? what crackdown?

Police departments are not exempt from all other public and private entities, the operational concept is CYA.

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#5 2009-01-24 12:27:15

tomwald
Moderator
From: 78722
Registered: 2008-05-27
Posts: 288

Re: crackdown on bicyclists? what crackdown?

A couple of weeks ago I reported to the APD an area where there are numerous gratuitous violations by motorists that effect bicyclists poorly.  An area command officer returned my call and responded positively that she would direct officers to check that area.  She also confirmed that the motorists' behavior was indeed a citable offense (though, in a later phone call, she took a step back from this and incorrectly stated that it was not always citable).  Since I did not get a chance to talk with her (double voicemail), I called her back and eventually we spoke with each other.  Now, to my main point....

She remarked that she and her fellow officers witness numerous bicyclist violations in that area, north of the UT campus into Hyde Park, which should not be a surprise to anyone who frequents this area.  (FYI, she didn't make this remark to me in an accusatory or superfluous manner, though I've found that to be common in conversations with other officers.)  So far, they have been primarily giving warnings but they have plans for a "crackdown" (her word).  She said it would begin either this spring or in a month or two -- I don't recall exactly.

I thought this would be a great opportunity to let her know about the March 2nd bicycle forum with APD Chief Acevedo.  She was not aware of it.  I recommend that she hold off on the crackdown until some further dialogue can occur via this forum.  She was quite receptive to this.  She said she would connect with the chief on this.

So FYI, there may be a crackdown on bicycle violations in the North Campus and Hyde Park areas where there have been only warnings... or there may not be.

Regarding the word "crackdown":  I suppose we may see a new word come out of this in order to avoid just that word.  I wonder what the next word will be?  "Safety enhancement"?  "Safety focus?"

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#6 2009-01-25 17:08:43

m1ek
Member
Registered: 2008-06-02
Posts: 153

Re: crackdown on bicyclists? what crackdown?

"expecting bicyclists to follow the letter of the law while motorists are free to speed and otherwise put others in real danger"

That's the point. Like many of the juvenile anarchist brigade, you're trying to mislead people into thinking disobeying a traffic control device (red light or stop sign) is less serious than minor speeding.

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#7 2009-01-25 17:16:12

tomwald
Moderator
From: 78722
Registered: 2008-05-27
Posts: 288

Re: crackdown on bicyclists? what crackdown?

m1ek wrote:

"expecting bicyclists to follow the letter of the law while motorists are free to speed and otherwise put others in real danger"

That's the point. Like many of the juvenile anarchist brigade, you're trying to mislead people into thinking disobeying a traffic control device (red light or stop sign) is less serious than minor speeding.

I think we both agree that this is a hot topic.  Because there is so much to say about it beyond the question of whether APD should pay more attention to bicyclist infractions than motorist infractions, I'm moving it to its own topic.

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