We’ve got the docs, and the powerhouse legal team signs on – BikePortland

Lead counsel Scott Kocher (center, with dark blazer) talks to supporters outside Multnomah County Courthouse today. BikeLoud Chair Kiel Johnson is in blue to his right. (Photos: Taylor Griggs/BikePortland)

We just received a copy of the official complaint that was filed moments ago at the Multnomah County Court by lawyers working for BikeLoud PDX in their lawsuit against the City of Portland.

Before we get to the details of the lawsuit, there’s been a big development in the case already: The law firm of Thomas, Coon, Newton & Frost have signed on as co-counsel. This is very notable because TCN & F is well-known in transportation circles statewide and their case history goes far beyond bike law. In 1999, the firm won an $80.3 million settlement (a record at the time) from Big Tobacco. The firm also literally wrote the book on bike law in Oregon and has played a major role in bike and traffic safety legislation for decades.

Now lead counsel Scott Kocher of Forum Law Group has James Coon, Cynthia Newton, and Chris Thomas from TCN & F on his team. Beyond the helping hands, they add significant legitimacy to the lawsuit. (Disclaimer: Both TCN & F and Forum Law Group are financial supporters of BikePortland.)

In the 8-page complaint signed by these four lawyers and filed at the courthouse today, they allege that the City of Portland, “Has not only failed to implement its Council-approved Plans to provide safe places for people to bicycle, walk and use mobility devices on and around Portland streets, the City of Portland has failed to meet its most basic legal obligations to provide safe streets.” Among those obligations is the 1971 Oregon Bicycle and Pedestrian Bill (ORS 366.514). The complaint says Portland has “systematically failed to comply” with that law and they have, “failed to adopt any policies or procedures to implement its obligations.”

The suit goes on to say that BikeLoud PDX and its 250 members suffer because of the lack of safe cycling facilities.

There are 22 specific road project locations listed in the complaint as examples of where the Bike Bill was not followed. They include (taken directly from the complaint):

  • The “Hoyt Yards” area of ​​the Pearl District in NW Portland, which comprises at least 24 complete city blocks, and was constructed entirely without bicycle facilities;
  • NW 13th Avenue;
  • NW Kearney and NW Johnson from 9th to Station Way;
  • NW 23rd Ave south of Lovejoy St and the NW Vaughn St intersection;
  • NW Savier St east of NW Aspen Ave;
  • NW Thurman St NW 29th Ave to NW 32nd Ave (including bridge);
  • NE Killingsworth from Commercial to MLK;
  • NE MLK at Columbia (intersection);
  • NE Lombard from St. Louis to Richmond;
  • NE Everett Ct from NE 97th Ave to NE 99th Ave
  • NE 33rd Avenue over NE Lombard St which was constructed and/or reconstructed without bicycle facilities, and in part without pedestrian facilities;
  • NE Thompson E of 149th;
  • NE San Rafael from 148th to 162nd;
  • NE 46th Ave north of Columbia;
  • NE Couch and Davis East of 97th Ave and 97th Ave;
  • NE 136th between Whitaker Way and Prescott Ct;
  • NE and SE 82nd Ave;
  • Overpasses over I-205 at SE Market; NE Glisan; NE Prescott, NE Sandy;
  • SE Hawthorne Blvd;
  • SE Division St from SE 10th to SE Cesar Chaves;
  • SE 118th Ave from Pardee to Raymond; and
  • SW 11th from Gibbs to Gaines.

And those are just a sampling of the locations. The complaint says there are “numerous” others and they want the judge to force the City of Portland to share others that BikeLoud asked for in a public records request in 2020.

The lawsuit does not seek any financial compensation (beyond legal fees), but it does ask for four specific things:

  • a statement from the City that they have not fully complied with the Bike Bill at the stated (and unstated) locations;
  • an injunction from the court to comply with the Bike Bill at those locations (and any others that meet the legal requirement for action);
  • in locations where the City can prove they don’t have to comply with the Bike Bill, they must build the bike facilities as outlined in the Portland Bureau of Transportation Bicycle Plan for 2030;
  • a halt to any current or future projects subject to the Bike Bill unless and until the City can prove they are in compliance with the law.

Take a look at the complaint in the PDF below, and stay tuned for more coverage:

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