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A rural road claims another victim

Posted by Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) on June 23rd, 2006 at 8:07 pm

I hate to write this, but yet another cyclist has been involved in a serious crash with a motor vehicle on a rural road in Washington County. This time it happened in North Plains near Glencoe Road and Highway 26.

This is a very popular cycling route and one I have ridden many times myself.

According to a report by KATU News, investigators say the victim was riding "as fast as twenty miles an hour when the truck turned in front of him. He apparently smashed into its side." The cyclist was airlifted to OHSU in serious condition with back and neck injuries.

The police have not yet decided who was at fault. I have not heard the identity of the victim. I only know he was riding a high-end US Postal Service Team Edition Trek bicycle.

This is the third serious crash in this area in less than a month.

Some of you might remember that back in March I posted about the dangers of riding on rural roads. I called it "The Sauvie Island Problem" and said that if we don't do something we are in for a very sad summer.

So now the question is, where do we go from here? Is there anything we can we do to make our rural roads safer?

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  • Jim Trost June 25, 2006 at 7:03 am

    It appears to me that we, cyclists, bring much of the problems upon ourselves. Not necessarily intentionally but still we contribute. I have had three "incidents" with motorists. In two of the events, it was obvious from the conversation, if you can call it that, the driver did not have a clue of the laws regarding bicycles and motor vehicles and sharing the road. Their view was that I was in the way and as one of them said, I "should take my bike and go somewhere else."

    Yet I see proposals to change the laws to allow bicycle riders to go through red lights, do rolling stops at stop signs, and other things that can only further increase drivers' ire. We need to obey the laws as they are currently written and not try to enact special criteria for us. My experiences have shown that drivers do not know the laws and could care less about learning what the rules are for bicycles. They only resent our taking liberties with what they think the rules are. So, we need to follow the rules.

    The other side of this coin is that, although drivers want us to strictly follow the rules, they don't. One of the biggest problems, from my limited perspective, is that many drivers do not use their turn signals. Such a simple thing, such a required thing. Some appear to think of bicycles as merely an obstacle that slows them down. They will pass without clearance (my third incident where the driver passed where there wasn't room and actually hit me with his mirror, and kept going even though he knew he had hit me) and blame us for being in their way. There seems to be little concept of bicycles being vehicles and the need to share the road.

    Unfortunately, all of this said, change is unlikely. Education of drivers (and riders) has proven ineffective and there is little chance this will change. Enforcement is unlikely. The police are already overwhelmed and tickets only seem to solidify the hate and resentment. Maybe when gas is so precious and expensive that everyone is riding or walking.

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  • Rob June 25, 2006 at 7:24 am

    Well stated! Motorists and cyclists both bear responsibilities for courtesy and safe practices. It's not a one-way street.

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  • Peter W June 25, 2006 at 10:43 am

    Man this all makes me so angry. Those signs that say "Rural Road, drive carefully" should add "Really! We mean it!" at the end.

    While looking around for more info, I found another story about someone hit in WashCo: "Unidentified Jogger hit by SUV" (http://koin.com/news.asp?RECORD_KEYnews=ID&ID%5Bnews%5D=4758)
    . Check out the last sentance: "Because the woman apparently ran in front of the SUV without looking, the driver likely will not face charges." However, on the photo it looks like the person may have been hit at an intersection, possibly at an (unmarked) crosswalk. If that is the case, it really shouldn't matter if the jogger looked or not -- the SUV driver should've seen her crossing and stopped. I'd be willing to bet the jogger wouldn't have been critically njured if the SUV driver was driving a normal car, and had slowed down or given more room!

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  • Gregg June 25, 2006 at 12:03 pm

    Peter, are you honestly suggesting that joggers, pedestrians, and bicyclists have absolutely no responsibility when using roads? It's not like the jogger was retarded (from a professional perspective, not my own), she has the intelligence to look both ways before crossing a street! I know we need some adjustments in the way we all use the roads but to absolve somebody of all blame simply because they use a less then mainstream method of transportation is just ludicrous.

    And a Toyota Camry weighs 3450 lbs, a Ford Excursion 5569 and personally, I would rather not get hit by either one. Regardless, I'm no physicist but I believe velocity is more of a factor here then curb weight at the moment of impact.

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  • Kevin June 25, 2006 at 12:36 pm

    The problem with drivers and bikers as a whole, is lack of attention. Drivers do not seem to understand the damage that they can do with their vehicles. As a result, they have a complete disregard for the amount of attention they need to pay to everything around them. The only thing they pay attention to are other vehicles on the road, that can cause them harm.

    The other side of the coin is that most cyclists have the same attitude while riding. Riding through a stop sign is great in the middle of the night, but what will happen in the future when there are more bikes on the road. As it is, I've had a few near misses (while on my bike) with other cyclists who refuse to at least slow and look around when they come to an intersection.

    However, we shouldn't lose focus on what happened. A cyclist was riding down the road and a vehicle pulled in front of him, either to pull onto/off the road or to have a better view of in anticipation to pulling into traffic. This is negligence on the part of the driver, who pulled into the cyclists only "safe" and authorized lane of travel.

    Until drivers realize that they will be held accountable for negligence while driving a vehicle, they will continue to drive without paying attention to anything that isn't large enough to harm them.

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  • Lynne June 25, 2006 at 12:52 pm

    Gregg, with respect, cars can/do come up from a far distance really fast. Speaking with my runner hat on, I'd never get across the street EVEN with the "walk" signal, because the folks coming up and turning don't seem to look. And I don't know they are turning, because, like I said, they come up fast. That is why they are supposed to LOOK and YIELD when they are turning!

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  • facts June 25, 2006 at 4:30 pm

    the cyclist is Jonathan Reinhart from Portland.
    He's OK, but suffered from a collapsed lung and some broken bones.

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  • jason June 25, 2006 at 4:40 pm

    Gregg-

    Peter's (and Lynne's) point is that in the case of an intersection, the ped's always have the right of way (whether or not it is "marked"). Drivers need to acknowledge their responsibility in obeying this law at all times or else they run the risk of killing someone.

    Your pontification: "I’m no physicist but I believe velocity is more of a factor here then curb weight at the moment of impact... "

    Just so you know, the amount of energy that has to be dissipated by the ped or bicyclist when being hit by a motor vehicle = 0.5 X (Mass of Motor Vehicle) X (Velocity of Motor Vehicle) X (Velocity of Motor Vehicle). So, when talking about a collision of this sort, BOTH vehicle mass and vehicle speed will ALWAYS be a contributor to the damage done to the ped or bicyclist as long as there is a quantity of each.

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  • Brian E June 26, 2006 at 6:54 am

    Please consider these factors in your equation, steel is hard, flesh is squishy, and bones are crunchy.

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  • Greg Raisman June 26, 2006 at 9:44 am

    Just a FYI:

    Oregon law defines the responsibilities of both motorists and pedestrians when crossing the street. Two chapters that relate are ORS (Oregon Revised Statute)chapters 811 and 814. Direct links to the chapters are http://www.leg.state.or.us/ors/811.html
    http://www.leg.state.or.us/ors/814.html

    If anyone is interested in more information about pedestrian safety, please contact sharon.white@pdxtrans.org. Contact her if you'd like to attend (or set up) one of her crosswalk safety presentations.

    Here are three laws that relate to the discussion above. (this is not comprehensive, but does provide a good foundation of what the law requires) There are more in chapters 811 and 814 if people are interested in reading more on the subject.

    814.040 Failure to yield to vehicle; penalty. (1) A pedestrian commits the offense of pedestrian failure to yield to a vehicle if the pedestrian does any of the following:

    (a) Suddenly leaves a curb or other place of safety and moves into the path of a vehicle that is so close as to constitute an immediate hazard.

    (b) Fails to yield the right of way to a vehicle upon a roadway when the pedestrian is crossing the roadway at any point other than within a marked crosswalk or an unmarked crosswalk at an intersection.

    (c) Except as otherwise provided under the vehicle code, fails to yield the right of way to all vehicles upon the roadway.

    (2) The offense described in this section, pedestrian failure to yield to a vehicle, is a Class D traffic violation. [1983 c.338 §555; 1995 c.383 §84]

    811.020 Passing stopped vehicle at crosswalk; penalty. (1) The driver of a vehicle commits the offense of passing a stopped vehicle at a crosswalk if the driver:

    (a) Approaches from the rear another vehicle that is stopped at a marked or an unmarked crosswalk at an intersection to permit a pedestrian to cross the roadway; and

    (b) Overtakes and passes the stopped vehicle.

    (2) The offense described in this section, passing a stopped vehicle at a crosswalk, is a Class B traffic violation. [1983 c.338 §546]

    811.028 Failure to stop and remain stopped for pedestrian; penalty. (1) The driver of a vehicle commits the offense of failure to stop and remain stopped for a pedestrian if the driver does not stop and remain stopped for a pedestrian when the pedestrian is:

    (a) Proceeding in accordance with a traffic control device as provided under ORS 814.010 or crossing the roadway in a crosswalk, as defined in ORS 801.220; and

    (b) In any of the following locations:

    (A) In the lane in which the driver’s vehicle is traveling;

    (B) In a lane adjacent to the lane in which the driver’s vehicle is traveling;

    (C) In the lane into which the driver’s vehicle is turning;

    (D) In a lane adjacent to the lane into which the driver’s vehicle is turning, if the driver is making a turn at an intersection that does not have a traffic control device under which a pedestrian may proceed as provided under ORS 814.010; or

    (E) Less than six feet from the lane into which the driver’s vehicle is turning, if the driver is making a turn at an intersection that has a traffic control device under which a pedestrian may proceed as provided under ORS 814.010.

    (2) For the purpose of this section, a bicycle lane or the part of a roadway where a vehicle stops, stands or parks that is adjacent to a lane of travel is considered to be part of that adjacent lane of travel.

    (3) This section does not require a driver to stop and remain stopped for a pedestrian under any of the following circumstances:

    (a) Upon a roadway with a safety island, if the driver is proceeding along the half of the roadway on the far side of the safety island from the pedestrian; or

    (b) Where a pedestrian tunnel or overhead crossing has been provided at or near a crosswalk.

    (4) The offense described in this section, failure to stop and remain stopped for a pedestrian, is a Class B traffic violation. [2005 c.746 §2]

    Note: 811.028 was added to and made a part of the Oregon Vehicle Code by legislative action but was not added to ORS chapter 811 or any series therein. See Preface to Oregon Revised Statutes for further explanation.

    Thanks.

    Greg Raisman
    Community and School Traffic Safety Partnership
    Portland Office of Transportation
    (503) 823-1052

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  • Brad June 26, 2006 at 11:19 am

    Greg,

    Thanks for the legalese. This reminds me of a conversation with my father years ago. I'd tend to cross streets on my runs wherever and whenever I pleased because of convenience or to gain time. Dad saw me do this and said he didn't like it and that I needed to be more careful.

    Being a punk kid, I replied "I can do that. It's my RIGHT under the law. Cars have to yield to me!"

    He chuckled at my brash attitude and said, "Sure. One day you may be DEAD RIGHT."

    That has stuck with me to this day. I don't excuse car driver's negligence but I am also smart enough to know that I will lose any battle with 3500 pounds of rolling sheet metal.

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  • Scott S. June 26, 2006 at 12:17 pm

    I am not a gun advocate, but.... When I lived in Phoenix, bikers were allowed to carry guns and they did. Just seeing a gun on the handlebars gave a different tone to many situations. Unfortunately, many drivers hate bicycle riders. They also hate the fact that they will be fined for dumping their trash in the forest or that they are required to pay taxes, etc. I have no sypathy - I have almost been run over by trucks, cars, on purpose by rednecks who think it is funny. I can't even allow my daughters to ride their bikes as commuters as I know how dangerous it is. We need some teeth to the law.

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  • dayaram June 26, 2006 at 12:56 pm

    anyone can "carry a gun" if they have a licence but is this where we want this conversation to go!!!

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  • Brian June 26, 2006 at 2:09 pm

    I'm ride and run quite frequently. My experiance is the drivers bother to pay attention or just don't care.

    The solution to the problem is really quite simple. Enforce the laws. Get some police doing enforcement actions, have them ride, run, and try to cross crosswalks.

    I really think that if people think they were going to be fined for their stupidity, alot of that stupidity it would go away.

    Law enforcement is this state is a joke. I'm sure the politicians will cry not enough funds. But that is a nonstarter in my book. Have the offenders pay the price.

    I live in a suburban area of Washington County and I can tell you they do a horribly bad job at traffic enforcement.

    Hold people responsible for their actions. Driving should be thought of a privilige and not a right.

    Signs like "Be Courteous, Share the road" are ridiculus and should be remove and changed to "Share the road, It is the LAW"

    Road safety can be improved, through proper development and law enforcement. The dutch have done it. I belive the stat is that ehy have reduced their traffic fatality rates by over 40% in less then 5 years.

    Ticket people, they will start driving responsibly.

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  • Bill June 26, 2006 at 3:26 pm

    Attitudes need to be changed. It can be done. I've seen it happen. For twenty five years, I worked for a public agency whose work was done in the right of way. We were in the street most of the day and were treated by a large part of the motorists as obstacles... just something else in their way on THEIR streets. There were accidents, injuries and (fortunatley not in my agency) far too many fatalities. Then there was an effort by federal state and local governments to educate the public and try to make some positive changes. This was the "Give "Em A Brake" campaign and it made a difference. It was tremendousley expensive until you compare the cost to the savings realized by reducing the number of accidents. It was a carrot and stick approach. There was a long term PR campaign that drove home the point that these orange people out there in the road were ordinary folks, just like the motorists, their friends, neighbors and families. The road and utility workers and their employers tightened up their methods of operation and did some training in the rules and requirements for working in traffic. Equipment was upgraded... signs were made bigger, colors changed, etc. Laws were changed to reflect the current state of traffic and made it more painful to break the law ("Fines Double in Work Zones"). I can't quote any statistics on the success of this program but I can say that the difference on the street was very noticeable and our (the worker's) rapport with the motoring public became more pleasant and cordial.

    I think this approach could work in regards to the interactions of cyclists and motorists as well. It would be expensive. The government will have to foot the bill. It's just another part of living in a civilized society. The role of Advocacy Groups should be to convince local state and federal governments to carry their share of the load. They might also look into the possibility getting some help from private philanthropic organizations (Gates, Buffet, Knight etc.). As individuals, we need to let our elected officials know that we want this problem dealt with, now. Ask the ones who are on our side to do more; ask those who are noncommittal take a stand; call the others and raise hell. Let them all know that we mean to have something done and help them to see that it can work in their favor. We may have to accept the fact that it is time to have a "hidden" tax to help share the cost... like the excise tax on car tires.

    Something has to be done. Let's get it started.

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  • Deedee June 26, 2006 at 6:37 pm

    Bill's response reminded me of a somewhat recent River City Bicycles ad where they ask "Is your neighbor's life worth 10 seconds? Sister. Brother. Parent. Friend." It's a pretty powerful ad. I think of it often when I see cars pass my husband with only a couple inches to spare.

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  • bArbaroo June 28, 2006 at 8:24 am

    This is not just a cyclist's issue. Runners, walkers, and pedestrians are also at risk. I have a friend in the hospital -lucky to be alive after being hit my an RV while running. I would like to see the cycling community unite with those other groups to do some of the things that Bill mentions.

    On another track -how can we band together to help those that are victims? I know that the victims, their friends, and families, all need support when something like this happens.

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  • Graciela June 25, 2009 at 10:23 am

    Ok, I have a lot to say on the subject of runners on rural roads. I live in a very rural area on a narrow road with lots of curves and hills. One lady jogs towards traffic, which is her right, but never moves off the road when a car is approaching. The element of surprise is always there when you come across her suddenly in front of your car. She almost cost my son and two very small grandkids their lives. He was doing 35 mph (the speed limit there) when all of a sudden she appears. He quickly swerved to the left and almost smashed into a guy hauling a bobcat. I can't tell you how many others have had near wrecks, including me. I confronted her and she basically told me to shove off. She is the only one that does not move off the road. Everyone else that walks or jogs out there move out of the way. I have lived out here for 15 years and have never encountered the rudeness of this woman. Everyone living out there has complained but she refuses to move off the road when a car approaches. She called the sheriff not too long ago because of speeders (have never even seen a police car out there - ever) and they showed up and ticketed drivers. May I mention that this particular lady owns a home that is worth a couple of million. When I called the sheriff and complained about the near accident with my son, I got a snotty reply "well mama, did she do anything?" My conclusion is that this lady thinks she owns the road, will not get off to the side and the sheriff will not show up (unless she calls and complains) until either she is hit, or she causes someone to die or get seriously injured. I would appreciate any suggestions.

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