portland independent media center  
images audio video
newswire article reporting portland metro

bikes/transportation | police / legal

Office Haunsperger's Bicyclist Rampage

I was ticketed for riding my bicylce downtown on an empty sidewalk.
Last Thursday August 4th, I got off work with a borderline migraine and I started to ride my bike down 6th Avenue towards 1st Thursday Arts Walk. As I cruised down the EMPTY sidewalk, Office Haunsperger roles up next to me and tells me to get my bike off the sidewalk. I am not in a good mood and I must have shot him a dirty look saying, "What are you talking about," and I continue to ride. He cuts me off at the next intersection and almost causes an accident had I been going any faster.
He exits his GAS powered vehicle and starts shaking me down for I.D. and personal information. I'm baffled, there is no reason for this interaction whatsoever. I refuse to provide I.D. and start asking him questions. Apparently this is the wrong thing to do. I can tell within minutes he is not pleased with my tone and lack of cooperation considering the circumstances. I try to talk to him, but all he wants is my information or he threatens to arrest me, which later people tell me is against the law for him to do, I think. So I give it to him, meanwhile two more police cars pull up, block traffic, and continue to leave their cars running after exiting their vehicles.
I look inside the car to see Officer Haunsperger writing me a ticket and I ask him why and he says despite the fact that there are NO SIGNS stating I can't ride my bike on the sidewalk, he is citing me with a $132 ticket for unlawful bicycle operation. The irony of this situation couldn't have infuriated me more considering they were all blocking traffic.
After a few more miscommunications and "friendly" verbal altercations, I ride away with my friend feeling emotionally violated and paranoid.
Now I don't feel like I can ride my bike safe anywhere downtown. It is actually less safe for me and everyone else to ride in the street then on the sidewalk.
What should I do and what should we do as bicyclist?
Peace Nate
reason 09.Aug.2005 15:54

for your ticket

being ignorant of the law is no excuse. unlike most of the people who post here, you were actually doing something wrong. it sounds like the officer acted as he should. there are no signs barring cars from the sidewalk either.

i disagree 09.Aug.2005 16:12

common sense

While my understanding is that there are laws against riding bicycle on sidewalks downtown I do not believe that the police making a few extra bucks for the city by ticketing these sorts of petty victimless violations is what they should be doing. Particularly wasting so many officers on such a trivial incident makes me think that this city has hired too many police officers that have too little to do. Perhaps instead of having them all cruising around the streets looking for people to ticket they should be out on foot being helpful to people. Alternatively the taxpayers should demand that the city spend their money more wisely than on all these obviously extraneous police officers with too much time on their hands and not enough worthwhile tasks to fill up their day. Furthermore when we as a city come across these sorts of situations where the enforcement of the law seems to violate common sense by wasting money and time in harassing people that are of no threat to the community we should consider removing or rewriting the law to better suit the city.

Oregon city code 09.Aug.2005 16:14

The Lawbringer

16.70.320 Operating Rules. - Printable Version

(Amended by Ord. No. 165594, July 8, 1992.) No person may:

A. Leave a bicycle so that it obstructs vehicle or pedestrian traffic on a roadway, sidewalk, driveway, handicap access ramp, building entrance, or so that it prevents operation of a parking meter or newspaper rack;

B. Leave a bicycle secured to a fire hydrant or to a police or fire call box;

C. Leave a bicycle on private property without consent of the owner or legal tenant. Consent is implied on private commercial property;

D. Leave a bicycle on a street or other public property for more than 72 hours; or

E. Ride a bicycle on a sidewalk, unless avoiding a traffic hazard in the immediate area, within the area bounded by and including SW Jefferson, Front Avenue, NW Hoyt and 13th Avenue, except:

1. On sidewalks designated as bike lanes or paths;

2. On the ramps or approaches to any Willamette River Bridge; or

3. In the area bounded by the west property line of SW Ninth Avenue, the east property line of SW Park Avenue, the north property line of SW Jefferson and the south property line of SW Salmon Street.

4. For police or special officers operating a bicycle in the course and scope of their duties; or

5. For employees of the Association for Portland Progress and companies providing security services operating a bicycle in the course and scope of their duties. These employees must have in possession an identification card issued by the Chief of Police certifying the rider has completed a training course in the use of a bicycle for security patrol.

if you just follow the rules 09.Aug.2005 16:38

shouldn't everything work out OK? (no)

> Now I don't feel like I can ride my bike safe anywhere downtown. It is actually less safe
> for me and everyone else to ride in the street then on the sidewalk.
> What should I do and what should we do as bicyclist?

It SEEMS less safe to pedestrians to have bicyclists riding on sidewalks. I can't recall a specific time I've heard about anybody getting smacked by a biker while walking down the sidewalk, so this may be more of a perceptual problem than anything else.

You're right -- the powers that be don't give a shit about your safety. People who ride bicycles in traffic think of it as a kind of "extreme sport" and get off on the danger. If danger is not your thing, maybe you'd better ride the bus.

went to jail for the same thing 09.Aug.2005 16:57


not much pity here, huh Nate?
dont feel bad - i had a very similar altercation with an officer Brett Hawkinson that resulted in my arrest for failure to produce ID. now, before anyone goes off, it is not actually against the law to NOT carry ID, however, it IS against the law to NOT identify yourself to a police officer. i was arrested for failure to identify myself, even though i gave him my real name and address and cited for illegal operation of a bicycle and failure to have a rear light (which, incidentally was present, Brett).

anyway, i see cops riding their bikes on sidewalks downtown ALL THE TIME. so i guess only if you look funny and they feel like messing with you is it actually enforced. Shit, i spent a night in jail for no reason other...

simple and logical solution 09.Aug.2005 17:02


If pedestrians are worried about being hit by a bicycle and that necessitates bicycles not being allowed on the sidewalks and must instead use the streets then bicyclists being worried about being hit by cars should necessitate that cars not be allowed on the streets of downtown. Problem solved. Everyone feels safe and the cops can find better things to do, like solve crimes.

more bullshit laws enforced a murderous bullshit PD 09.Aug.2005 21:14


more bullshit laws enforced a murderous bullshit PD its obvious that we are living in a police state, wait till you get ticket for farting or sneezing in the wrong area... imagine methane detectors that alert the fuzz you passed gas so they can break in to your house search it and arrest or give you a 100$ fine.


phew 09.Aug.2005 21:43

josh m

I was going to make a post about how, well, it is pretty common sense that you can't ride bikes on sidewalks, especially downtown.
I like to yell at the bike cops that ride their bikes on the sidewalk.
It should also be known that unless there is a bike lane, you're not allowed lawfully to ride along the right hand side of traffic up to a stop sign and/or traffic light, you're supposed to wait behind traffic.
However, portland is getting pretty good and marking turn lanes w/ a bike spot even when there's no bike lane.

Re: rear light (tt01's comment) 09.Aug.2005 22:18


an aside: it is NOT illegal to be lacking a rear red LIGHT. it IS illegal to not have a rear red REFLECTOR. cops (who, in some instances, can be STUPID) will often give you a ticket for no rear LIGHT. this is very easy to get out of, as that is not the law. (one must have a FRONT WHITE LIGHT, however; reflector wont do there.)

Been Waiting for a Good Laugh 09.Aug.2005 22:22

Ben Waiting

I like the part about the cops blocking traffic and causing a big Homeland Defense hoop te doo
what a waste of money and time ...riding a bike on the sidewalk ....OH for Pete's sake!

I guess -do as they say not as they do- is fitting
Since they are in the scope of their duties its OK for them to ride on the sidewalk

Sometimes us peasant need to remember
They can We cant
Can't say they aren't stopping crime

And now I want to look at the picture of the pink bike and laugh again
Hahahahaha what a waste... ..and when budgets are so slim too!

I do feel safer ....

I used to think police were here to protect us. 10.Aug.2005 01:19

oh well

Way back when I was naive. Now, I go to a protest against vivisection and there might be 5 protestors there, but 3 police cars, a police van, and sneering, unsympathetic cops who are "protecting" animal torturers from 5 people with candles standing on a sidewalk. You hear about hiring more cops periodically, but I think there need to be far less...fewer and fewer until they are forced to actually spend their resources fighting real crime (like robbery, rape, murder, etc.) But somehow I doubt that would happen. They would still send all their cops to "protect" OHSU (from what?) and shake down hippies and punks who dare to ride their bikes on the street...while the public at large is getting raped, mugged, killed...

Hall Monitors 10.Aug.2005 07:50

Den Mark, Vancouver

The main point of the o.p. was that the situation here was victimless. That called for a warning at most. Two extra cars at this scene should NOT have been there, & the citation should NOT have been issued. Cops are obscessive-compulsives, however. So they can't help it, apparently. I maintain that if in the entire world there were just ONE car, ONE stop sign, & ONE cop, he/she would be at that stop sign, waiting for that one car to not stop at that one sign. Obscessive-compulsives on 'roids defines the ppb.

Been run into by cyclist 10.Aug.2005 09:36


I've been run into buy a bicyclist on the sidewalk downtown twice, both at low speeds. Also had numerous humourous "face offs" where I would go left or right and the cyclist would mirror me. The downtown sidewalks are too crowded to safely handle bicycles, especially cyclists who lack the skills to maintain control of the bike in a straight line of travel at slow walking speeds. As a cyclist, I recognize the danger I pose to pedestrians (actual or perceived - some people just freak out when something moving twice as fast as them comes from behind them often without warning) this and choose not to ride on the sidewalk because it is safer and more efficient for me ride with traffic because when I'm on a bike I am traffic. Bikes ridden at a reasonable pace are as quick, if not quicker than cars in traffic in our downtown.

Hell, I've also had these same problems with pedestrians on sidewalks too (especially around the corners of buildings - if your turning to your left, take a wide arc around the building corner, if your turning to your right, hug the inside around the building corner). Can't say how many times I've been stuck behind people walking three abreast at a snail's pace or weaving back and forth taking up the whole sidewalk. Live and let live, so I mosey along behind them, letting them do their thing, and then walk around them when some space opens up. Add bikes to that mix and its just compounds the problem.

If you recognize that you don't have the ability or desire to ride in traffic in downtown, get off the bike and walk it on the sidewalk.

somethings we all try to agree on together 10.Aug.2005 10:12



I'm a lifelong P-towner, which means i remember WHY somethings are the way they are.

we have been in an effort for the past 30 years to turn downtown portland into a PEDESTRIAN zone. This is why cars are not allowed on the bus mall (which was supposed to expand over the years) and it's also why we decided to make it so that the streets of downtown portland were ONLY for people, not vehicles of any kind.

Think of it as the same thing as keeping cars off of the spring water coorder.

warning 10.Aug.2005 10:52


if i'm not mistaken the guy did get a warning. the cop told him to get off the sidewalk. he admitted he shot the cop a dirty look and ignored him. we can argue all day about the fairness of the law, but if he would have just moved off the sidewalk the situation would have been resolved.

use your knowledge as a weapon of the struggle! 10.Aug.2005 11:31

papa fenbar

my friends-- don't be surprised to find you live in police state-- assume it, identify it, know the `rules` so you don't lose your energy fighting what you cannot win. use your knowledge as a weapon of the struggle. be smart and find the weak spots to fight back.

asshole cops using the rules against you-- find a better battle!


Change the Law 10.Aug.2005 12:49


Don't like the law? Then change it. These laws are OUR laws made by US, the citizens of Portland. It's our responsibility to organize and change the laws if we don't like them, its called democracy.

NOT FUNNY NOW 10.Aug.2005 13:16


there is one point that is obvious after i was done laughing
and it's not funny
it isnt all the personal incedents about rideing or not or near misses or pedistrians rights etc.,
it isnt about 'should it be or not be' sidewalk road or whatever
it isnt about what is best and who should go where
a lady bumped me with her shopping cart yesterday, but it isnt about rightaways in safeway
the point i see is
it is a waste of time and money and resources
hell today news tells us 2 children were molested along a bike path just the other day
f* the damn sidewalk and the road
it isnt about that

it's about protecting the public and stopping crime
it's about the police who are wasting our tax dollars hassling petty nuiances
it's about screwed up priorities and failing to serve and protect
its all about everything but, what we want them to do protect us and our children
its about stopping "bad guys" not a bike on the sidewalk
anyone can yell at a biker on the sidewalk or be anoyied and move on hell so what a bike wizzed by
even a crash or two a year is nothing compared to real crimes
stop kids from being raped whil rideing their bikes
stop robberies
stop violence
stop real crime not bike rideing
and quit wasting time on victimless crimes
make our city safe
if you just want petty cases to swarm-all-over go be a hall monitor and a grade school
turn in your badge to someone who will want to stop real criminals

that is the point i really see in all this
might be to hard for some to grasp but this biker on the sidwalk was nothing
compared to two little girls who needed help but as we know the police are too busy
and that 'too busy' line is sung over and over and over in this town

no vehicles of any kind 11.Aug.2005 05:05

great, what city do YOU live in?

> it's also why we decided to make it so that the streets of downtown
> portland were ONLY for people, not vehicles of any kind.

Whatever you were trying to do back in the day, it's pretty obvious it never happened.

And about police stopping rapes and robberies and violence -- cops don't do that. That's not their job. Cops are mostly glorified security guards. They're 95% there to protect inanimate objects. Another 4% to bust people for "drug crime." And then if they can "solve" a rape or a robbery or a wife-beating or something that's already happened, maybe they'll get around to it. Cops hate real crime. They're not there when it happens, they have to take other people's testimony, there are multiple witnesses and people blaming each other, and if nobody there is rich the cops don't know whose side to take.

If there were a public agency actually devoted to PREVENTING interpersonal violence, that would be amazing. I can't even imagine how it would work.

downtown Osaka Japan 11.Aug.2005 15:25


I just visited Osaka Japan where bikes are everywhere. The sidewalks are far more crowded than in Portland yet bikes flow freely along with people. No one bats an eye. I never even saw a cop except a few signaling traffic. You can also buy beer from a vending machine, what ever that's worth.

rear light or rear reflector? 12.Aug.2005 11:39

st john

I had an encounter last nite.. officer Harris in St. Johns rolls along side me @1:00am asking what I'm doin and demands my I.D. I kind of laugh it off and keep on riding... for I am almost home after a 15mile bike ride from working 12 hours in the southeast.. and what the hell is this guys problem... He obviously gets pissed, slams on his brakes.. I ask him what his problem is... he says he's thinking about writing me a ticket for not having a rear light. I ask him what's wrong with my rear reflector and front head light (which I had on). He says. "rear reflectors aren't enough, I need a rear light as well". I give him a confusing look... at which point, he aggressively gets out of the car, puts his hand on his gun and walks towards me really fast... asking why I choose to "create drama" ... akward! i feel forced to give him my I.D.... at which point he tells me he's looking for someone breaking into cars... he apologizes for the "misunderstanding" - I apologize, explaining to him he should be more calm in his stops of persons... Incidentally, officers are 'supposed' to inform you of the reason for the stop and identify themselves... not just hassle you w/o reason... he had a reason - supposively - he just gave it a little late for my taste. In any event, he tells me to avoid future run-ins I need a light on the back of my bike as well.... let's her if for mas consumerism!

things haven't changed much 12.Aug.2005 22:57

former messenger

They provoke people, plain and simple. The police union and it's officers run City Hall, not the other way around. Many mayors and some chiefs have tried to put a leash on them but have been run out of town. I remember a Sgt Mason back in the 80s who use to yell at everyone from his unmarked car, I got the last laugh when I saw his ugly mug on the cover of WW as being indicted along with others for stealing from the drug evidence locker. Portlanders are progressive enough to follow them around behind the shadows with a camera and record their antics for cable access or whatever. Picket bad cops homes too, the neighbors need to know.

Haunsperger is a jerk! 15.Sep.2005 21:08


Although I don't ride a bike, I can say that Officer Haunsperger is the rudest cop I have ever come across. I was stopped for a minor traffic violation and he treated me like scum of the earth. I'm so damn tired of cops generating huge income for trivial violations when there are much bigger problems to address. What a waste of tax dollars!