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Cyclist runs into downtown MAX train

Posted by on May 8th, 2007 at 5:41 pm

I just got off the phone with Eric Hesse from TriMet and he confirmed that a cyclist was involved in a collision with a MAX train at 4:08pm today.

According to Josh Collins with TriMet Operations Communications, a cyclist riding northbound on SW 9th ran into the second car of a two-car MAX train that was headed west east on SW Yamhill (map).

Collins says the cyclist sustained superficial, non life-threatening injuries, never lost consciousness (even though he was reportedly not wearing a helmet) and was taken to a hospital for evaluation.

The initial tip I received about this story differs from TriMet’s official report. Here’s the tip I received:

“The MAX train just hit a biker at 9th & Yamhill. He seems to be alive but he’s coughing up blood. Witnesses have sketchy details, they say the biker was going up 9th and crossed in front of the train.”

Other than that, I have not heard directly from any witnesses on the scene or from the cyclist. I’ll update this post if/when I receive further information about the incident.

NOTE: We love your comments and work hard to ensure they are productive, considerate, and welcoming of all perspectives. Disagreements are encouraged, but only if done with tact and respect. If you see a mean or inappropriate comment, please contact us and we'll take a look at it right away. Thank you — Jonathan

  • Matt Picio May 8, 2007 at 6:00 pm

    A three car train? Were they towing a dead unit or something? Was there anyone on the train?

    I hope everyone involved is ok.

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  • Max Hit May 8, 2007 at 6:04 pm

    Glad the cyclist is alright.

    Since “the cyclist ran into the …” shouldn’t the title of this post read:

    “Downtown MAX train hit by Cyclist”

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  • marc May 8, 2007 at 6:06 pm

    who hit who? how do you hit the second car but cross in front of the train?

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  • Jonathan Maus / BikePortland May 8, 2007 at 6:19 pm

    I apologize for the inaccurate reporting. I have now heard from TriMet Operations and I have updated the post. I also changed the title. thanks.

    At this point, all the details I have are from TriMet Operations. I have not heard from witnesses or from the cyclist involved in the collision.

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  • Wes Robinson May 8, 2007 at 6:37 pm

    “MAX train that was headed west on SW Yamhill”

    Is this right? The Yamhill tracks are generally for eastbound trains.

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  • no one in particular May 8, 2007 at 8:17 pm

    Also, 9th is a southbound street… was he riding the wrong direction?

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  • Aaron B. Hockley May 8, 2007 at 8:28 pm

    All I know is that due to this dimwit who never learned to look both ways, it took me nearly 2 hours to get home as a result of the subsequent MAX shutdown/delays.

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  • Dee May 8, 2007 at 8:50 pm

    Please God let him be on a fixed gear. Or at the very least not wearing a helmet. Trimet could then throw their hand in the air and say “what could we have done”.

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  • peejay May 8, 2007 at 8:53 pm

    Not only that, but TriMet were up to their usual tricks of kicking off extra bikes. I got on a “tall” car at Sunset and no one hassled me, but they escorted two bikes off the front “low” car.

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  • peejay May 8, 2007 at 8:58 pm

    So, is it true about the bike going northbound? If so, that’ll make two crashes and one death in less than a week.

    What can and should we do to get the information across that wrong-way riding is the most dangerous thing you could ever do on a bike? I usually shout out “Wrong way, pal” to the offender, but maybe that’s not enough.

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  • Dabby May 8, 2007 at 9:45 pm

    I heard or saw on a bloggity blog type thing something about a cyclist in lycra hitting the front of a Tri Met bus, does anyone know about this? Couple of days ago?

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  • Joe May 8, 2007 at 9:51 pm

    This sounds very strange.. I can’t wait to hear the details on this…

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  • Martha S. May 8, 2007 at 10:23 pm

    It does seem like this is the second case of a cash involving a cyclist riding the wrong way. Just last week I saw three unlit (and I think un-helmeted) cyclists riding the wrong way on a one way street. After living in Corvallis for years, where cyclists don’t seem to understand that bike lanes HAVE a direction, I had thought that this was a non-issue in Portland; but I seem to have been proven wrong.

    Clearly this IS an issue and it needs to be addressed.

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  • Klixi May 9, 2007 at 2:22 am

    It’s basically impossible to be hit by the MAX unless you are being extremely careless. It’s not like those things can swerve in and out of lanes. They’re fixed on a track and only go through intersections when they have the right of way. If this guy was cycling the wrong way then obviously he wouldn’t have any visible traffic light/signal to let him know if oncoming traffic was coming from eastbound/westbound. If the cyclist was indeed cycling the wrong way he deserves a hefty fine.

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  • Brad May 9, 2007 at 7:56 am

    To sum up:

    A moron on a bike collides with the second car of a MAX train during normal operations. Said idiot was traveling the wrong way on a one way street but that little road rule certainly does not apply to riders as any reader of BikePortland will tell you. Rules that trample upon our beloved bikey culture and freedoms need not be followed.

    Anonymous tipster with pro-bike / anti-everything else bias lets Jonathan know about the incident but embellishes the facts to make the incident both life threatening and clearly Tri-Met’s fault. Jonathan prints a responsible update with more real facts however, the two wheeled peanut gallery starts spinning yarns about three car trains traveling the wrong way during rush hour while ignoring traffic signals.

    And we wonder why the car crowd has such an easy time painting us with a big can of Krylon High Gloss Whacko? Please keep this thread going! I anxiously await various theories blaming global warming, Mayor Potter, Officers Barnum and Balzer, the Bavarian Illuminati, Tri-Met, and the Freemasons while absolving our intrepid two wheeled revolutionary brother.

    If there was only a huge taxpayer funded educational billboard turned backwards on SW 9th…

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  • tonyt May 9, 2007 at 8:14 am

    Thanks for your thoughtful contributions Brad.

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  • Dropped May 9, 2007 at 8:35 am

    Seriously — you’ve got to be pretty damn stupid to hit a Max train on your bike.

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  • JJ May 9, 2007 at 8:51 am

    Wow Brad, for someone who requested “civil discussion” involving “constructive feedback” only a couple of threads back, you sure are being a douche now.

    Anyway, Dropped and Klixi are right — there is no way this could be anything other than the fault of an extremely stupid cyclist. But I’m looking forward to BURR explaining to us how we’re blaming the victim again. Getting the word out that it’s dangerous to ride the wrong way is getting easier and easier every day, isn’t it?

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  • Matt Picio May 9, 2007 at 9:17 am

    I think the concern a few threads back was more against licensing than education.

    I’m all for education. And unless there were extenuating circumstances, apparently this cyclist hasn’t seen the “Get Real – MAX weighs 55 tons” signs around downtown. One thing Tri-Met has been really good about is advertising the dangers of being hit by their vehicles. I’m sure that the cost of manpower, time and lost revenue from schedule affects due to accidents has encouraged this.

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  • N.I.K. May 9, 2007 at 9:19 am

    And we wonder why the car crowd has such an easy time painting us with a big can of Krylon High Gloss Whacko?

    It doesn’t take much effort when people not only engage in stupidly dangerous law-breaking behavior, but then, to top that off, people in the community itself are quick to chastise the remainder of the community as nutjobs whose so-called values obscure the most simple forms of reason, logic, and common sense. The “I’m not like them! I’m one of the good ones!” attitude is not a good way to command the respect of either the cyclists who don’t know or don’t care that there are rules that need to be followed or the non-cycling public at large.

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  • felix May 9, 2007 at 10:14 am

    T R A I N!!!!!

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  • Wyatt May 9, 2007 at 10:18 am

    “And we wonder why the car crowd has such an easy time painting us with a big can of Krylon High Gloss Whacko?”

    Is anyone else tired of kissing the collective car community’s ass?

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  • Logan 5 May 9, 2007 at 10:39 am

    It’s not just the “car crowd”, it’s also those of us who recognize that many modes of transportation are needed.

    I’m glad that person did not get hurt. Now I can laugh about how funny it must look to a MAX passenger when somebody’s face smooshes up against the window from outside.

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  • peejay May 9, 2007 at 10:53 am


    You are contributing nothing to this discussion. Absolutely nothing. Who has defended wrong-way riders? Anybody? Anybody? Didn’t think so.

    But I bet you’ll be ready to defend the woman who honked her horn at me because she wanted to make a right turn off Main St two seconds before the light went green. I was in her way because I didn’t blow the traffic light, because I didn’t want to tarnish the bike community’s image, of course.

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  • Jason May 9, 2007 at 11:05 am


    Thanks for the laugh!!

    That was great!

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  • David Dean May 9, 2007 at 1:33 pm

    Yeah, it would be nice if this blog had a simple form of user moderation. That way we could show disdain towards flame-bait without having to dignify it with a response.

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  • Logan 5 May 9, 2007 at 2:03 pm

    peejay, in answer to the question “Who has defended wrong-way riders?”, here are some comments from the other day.

    “Whether the bicyclist was doing anything illegal or not the accident still most likely ensued after some idiot driver failed to adhere to the most basic of all driving imperatives”

    “I don’t see that it matters which way he was facing… ”

    “I’d think that the driver failed to look both Left and Right, and to the left again. ”

    “The crux of the matter is that the car culture will go on killing until our society is honest with the consequences of an auto-centric policy and realizes that there ought to be fundamental changes.”

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  • tonyt May 9, 2007 at 2:37 pm

    Yes Logan, those are cases where people did defend them in the context of the fatal wrong way story.

    But really, for this story, no one defended the guy who collided with the MAX. In fact, there was no shortage of people who immediately called him an idiot or some variation on that theme. Yet Brad chose this story to be inflammatory and claim that people were defending wrong way riders when none were doing so.

    Given that, perhaps Brad’s comment would have been slightly more appropriate if it were offered alongside the defense comments in the other story.

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  • Sasha May 9, 2007 at 4:27 pm




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  • Tony West May 9, 2007 at 5:24 pm

    I did not witness the actual accident, but I arrived shortly after. After reading this post I think it looked a little worse than it was.
    When I showed up, he was sitting upright in the middle of the car lane near the tracks, conscious but certainly out of it. He seemed very dazed. He had a little blood on his forehead and a lot more on his lips. I don’t know if he was just bleeding or indeed coughing up blood.
    After ten minutes or so he began vomiting pretty intensely. After five minutes or so he sort of just started dry heaving loudly. He seemed very disoriented which is understandable after running into a train, but I felt as if there was more to it. Like maybe he had been drinking. That could be a false assumption on my part though. The meds later cut his shirt off and I noticed a couple scratches on his stomach. Handlebar scrapes I’m guessing. They did put a neck brace on him and loaded him onto a gearnie (spelling?) and into the ambulance.
    As far as the bike goes it sustained fairly minimal damage. A tacoed front rim and a crooked seat. Not much of a lose. It seemed like a Wal-Mart special.

    Hope this helps.

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  • ryanknapper May 9, 2007 at 5:50 pm

    I must have walked right past you, Tony West. I passed by as the medics were trying to get the neck brace on him. The scene was exactly as Tony West described.

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  • SKiDmark May 9, 2007 at 7:46 pm

    Yes, in the context of a person being hit and KILLED and the driver DRIVING OFF and then hiding, and ditching the car while the passenger (or was she the driver?) refuses to cooperate, then and pretty much only then it doesn’t matter that the rider was riding the wrong way , because he still would have been in the bike lane regardless of his direction of travel, which is one place where a car driver should be looking for bikes, especially in FRONT of them.

    Nice run-on sentence , huh?

    Don’t take me out of context, Logan5, I will call you on it.

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  • Tom May 9, 2007 at 7:57 pm

    I have an honest question for everyone out there, I just hope it doesn’t come across as flamebait.

    So no one supports going the wrong way on a bike, right? No one wants to change the laws to allow us cyclists to do that, right? So why do so many people support changing the laws to allow us to go through stop signs? It seems that is nearly as dangerous.

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  • SKiDmark May 9, 2007 at 8:57 pm

    I don’t think slowing down and looking for crossing traffic and then coasting through an intersection is any more dangerous than coming to a complete stop and then proceeding across the intersection. The key of course is that you have to actually look, (you know, pay attention to your surroundings) which it seems that a lot of people both in cars and on bikes seem to have trouble doing. Nobody wants to legalize blowing stop signs like they are not even there.

    For the record anytime I encounter someone in the bike lane, I tell them “You are going the WRONG WAY.”

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  • Cecil May 9, 2007 at 9:52 pm

    So, I am wondering, because so many posters are saying that they make a point of telling wrong-way cyclists that they are going the wrong way, am I the only one to whom the inevitable, invariable, universal and, frankly, frightening, response is to tell me that I am a bitch, that I should go f**k myself, and to threaten me with bodily harm? It is for this reason that I no longer feel safe telling those wrong way folks that they are creating a hazard. And before you ask – yes, I was polite and non-confrontational in my attempts to draw their attention to the hazard the were creating . . . I am not exactly a threatening presence, even if I tried to be . . .(maybe that’s my problem)

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  • N.I.K. May 9, 2007 at 10:07 pm


    My guess is that the folks who are telling the truth probably either have a *very* commanding presence or are just good at shrugging off the insults and empty threats. Maybe both. I’d guess that about 2/3 of the folks I’ve called out on such issues have reacted with hostility and this is speaking as a guy who’s 6′ tall, medium build, and has a pretty loud voice.

    Where does the in-progress correction need to come from, then? Cops! For some reason, the *threat* of there being very real and immediate consequences that *don’t* involve waking up in the hospital registers with some people, whereas from other folks like you and me, people get pissed because they’re being told they’re wrong by a seeming know-it-all and it makes them feel bad.

    Which is not to say don’t take action yourself, but hey, I know *I* pick and choose who I tell it to.

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  • jami May 10, 2007 at 12:14 am

    my impression is that this guy, and the wrong-way guy killed last week, may have (had) a touch of mental illness. while it’s important to educate cyclists about the pretty much constant danger they’re in, i have my doubts about whether that would have helped these specific guys.

    is there anything we can do to improve the safety of people who biologically can’t think very clearly? maybe it seems like a tangent, but biking incidents reported on bikeportland have made me really aware of how broadly having no access to preventive health care affects people. i don’t have a solution, but i think we’d all do well to keep our fellow cyclists in mind next time we have a chance to vote for or against better health care coverage.

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  • Dave Thomson May 10, 2007 at 8:42 am

    Thanks for the laugh Brad. Like any other group of people we get carried away with our sense that we must be always right. A little lampooning is a good thing.

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  • Rian May 10, 2007 at 9:01 am

    I happened to be on a MAX that was a few stops behind the one involved in the accident. They told us that there had been an accident involving a train at Pioneer Square.

    So I am patiently waiting, imagining what 55-tons will do to a human body. I have this picture in my mind of a pedestrian getting destroyed by a train. So I arrive at the Galleria stop and disembark.

    Still pondering this poor souls fate I am walking from the MAX line towards Powell’s and witness the most insane person I’ve seen all week.

    A hulk of man, about 30-years-old, 5’9″ 190-lbs., without any helmet or protective gear, riding a *skateboard* down hill at an insane speed … IN TRAFFIC.

    This was like 4:30 PM, the beginning of the evening commute, cars everywhere going 30 mph and this guy is weaving between them, in and out of traffic lanes, like its no big deal.

    He was blowing through lights, traveling way faster than other traffic, swerving into on-coming traffic to dodge cars.

    But I guess he didn’t have anything to worry about, he obviously owns the street and is probably invincible.

    Random story. Apologies.

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  • Tony West May 10, 2007 at 1:54 pm


    I totally saw that guy too.
    He was intense.

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  • SKiDmark May 10, 2007 at 2:00 pm

    I get a “f**k you” every now and again, but I’ve never been or felt threatened.

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  • Michael Russell May 11, 2007 at 2:47 pm

    Dude, Tony Snow, you are everywhere!

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