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Fatal crash in Washington County

Posted by Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) on June 9th, 2007 at 9:42 pm

[Updated 6/10 at 2:33 pm]

66 year-old Timothy O'Donnell was killed on Friday while on a group ride with the Portland Velo bike club. He was struck by a motorist from behind as he attempted to make a left-hand turn. The crash took place in Cornelius, about half-way between Hillsboro and Forest Grove. Here's the press release from the Washington County Sheriff's Office:

On June 9th, 2007 at 12:14pm Deputies with the Washington County Sheriff's Office responded to a crash on NW Cornelius-Schefflin Road near NW Long Road (map). A group of five bicyclists were riding south on Cornelius-Schefflin Road and were preparing to turn east on NW Long Road.

As the second cyclist in the line signaled for the turn a vehicle also traveling south on Cornelius-Schefflin began to pass the group of bicycles. The vehicle, a 2008 Dodge Avenger, struck the signaling bicyclist while it was still in it's lane of traffic.

The bicyclist, 66 year-old Timothy O'Donnell of Aloha, died at the scene. The driver of the vehicle, 26- year- old Jennifer Knight of Hayden Idaho, was cited for Driving While Suspended, Careless Driving, and Passing in a No Passing Zone.

Timothy was a member of local cycling club Portland Velo and was riding with four others (none were hurt) when the crash occurred.

Carlo Delumpa, president of Portland Velo, came upon the scene shortly after it happened (read his full comment):

"I, like many members of our club who knew Tim, are going through both grief and anger and it helps to see so many people in the community step forward with positive actions. ...As a club, we are focusing now on supporting the O'Donnell family as well as the Velo members who were with Tim and who are going through some very hard re-hashing of yesterday's events."

Since the motorist was cited with Careless Driving, this is the type of case where the the BTA's proposed "Vulnerable Roadway Users" bill (which is currently just one Senate vote from becoming law) could be used to enforce a stiffer consequence in lieu of jail time or the more serious offenses of vehicular manslaughter or homicide.

Stay tuned for more developments.


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Comments
  • Klixi June 9, 2007 at 9:50 pm

    She broke three laws (all at the same time) that resulted in someones death. And all she\'ll get is a slap on the wrist. In a sad way, reading this stuff here each day makes me hate Portland. It\'s not Portlands fault really, but it seems like drivers can be as wreckless as they want to be and pay a very small price for their actions - while cyclists pay with their lives.

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  • true June 9, 2007 at 9:54 pm

    driving while suspended, careless driving, passing in a no passing zone...and not vehicular homicide?!?!

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  • Brian Ratliff June 9, 2007 at 10:18 pm

    Was this one of the Portland Velo riders? I wasn\'t on the ride, but I ride with them somewhat regularly and their route was through this intersection.

    My lord! :(

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  • hanmade June 9, 2007 at 10:27 pm

    I know this doesn\'t apply here, but I would like to see our DMV driver\'s test ask a series of questions about how to deal with cyclists in traffic. We need to raise the driver\'s awareness of their responsibilities for everyone, not just the other vehicles. Maybe this concept could be then farmed out to other states, become national.

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  • Jeremy June 9, 2007 at 10:59 pm

    Something needs to change. Vehicular homicide is appropriate at the least --in my very non-professional opinion. Just a terrible tragedy committed by a careless individual that will not pay appropriately for her actions. There is no justice for cyclists killed by careless people in automobiles. My condolences to this victim\'s family.

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  • Martha S. June 9, 2007 at 11:03 pm

    Jesus Christ! If this isn\'t strong evidence of why we need a law to protect vulnerable roadway users I don\'t know what is. This is truly, truly tragic. I feel like I should wear a black armband on the naked bike ride.

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  • Gary June 9, 2007 at 11:17 pm

    Tim is a member of Portland Velo.

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  • Thomas W. June 9, 2007 at 11:24 pm

    RIP. May God give strength to the survivors of the victim. I work out in Hillsboro and will try to leave flowers at the scene.

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  • SKiDmark June 9, 2007 at 11:31 pm

    I would like to point out that the Sheriff\'s Department may still be filing charges against her in addition to citing her at the scene. In a way the fact that she was cited at the scene is a step in the right direction. How many times has this sort of thing happened and no tickets were issued?

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  • JeremyE June 9, 2007 at 11:52 pm

    I took the opportunity to write my legislators immediately when I saw the news. What an awful crime. My thoughts to the family and friends of Mr. O\'Donnell and especially to the riders with him who watched him die.

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  • pencap June 10, 2007 at 4:27 am

    what a shame, 66 years old and out of nowhere a careless irresponsible 26 year old takes his amazing life away. I for one will not be satisfied unless the reckless driver sees major jail time. If she gets a friken fine it\'ll just send a message out that a cyclists life is only worth $750
    RIP Tim

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  • pdxcommuter June 10, 2007 at 7:45 am

    Here\'s an edited email which I sent to Sheriff Rob Gordon of Washington County, in which I criticize his deputies for not arresting Knight on the spot for vehicular homicide. I also suggest that maybe the Washington County Commissioners should take greater control of his department. I cc\'d my commissioner, Desari Strader; the County Commission Chair, Tom Brian; and Dick Schouten, another Comissioner who is also a bicyclist.

    Dear Sheriff Gordon:

    (The link on your main web page at http://www.co.washington.or.us/cgi/sheriff/lec.pl has a bad email address for you. I am re-sending this email using the address I see at http://www.co.washington.or.us/sheriff/admin/complain.htm I suggest you have someone fix the main web page.)

    I read in the bikeportland.org blog, at http://bikeportland.org/2007/06/09/fatal-crash-in-washington-county/ and in the Oregonian at http://blog.oregonlive.com/breakingnews/2007/06/aloha_bicyclist_dies_after_bei.html that Jennifer Knight was merely cited after she murdered bicyclist Timothy M. O\'Donnell, who was signaling for a left turn.

    Why was Knight not arrested for vehicular homicide and immediately thrown in jail? Is it just because she killed a bicyclist, and not a \"real\" road user? Need I remind you that O\'Donnell had every right to use the road that day? And with a suspended license, Knight did not?

    To say the least, I am extermely disappointed in the inactions of your department. Perhaps it is time that the Washington County Board of Commissioners took greater control of your department.

    ....

    ----end of email----

    --pdxcommuter

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  • pdxcommuter June 10, 2007 at 7:54 am

    Here are the email address for Sheriff Gordon:

    rob_gordon@co.washington.or.us

    And here are email address for the Washington County Commissioners:

    tom_brian@co.washington.or.us

    dick_schouten@co.washington.or.us

    Desari Strader, Andy Duyck, and Roy Rogers all list cao@co.washington.or.us as their email address.

    If you are in Washington County, you can figure out which Commissioner represents you by looking at the map at

    http://www.co.washington.or.us/deptmts/cao/bd_comm/map/s_commap.htm

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  • Jorge June 10, 2007 at 7:57 am

    Dammit...not again.
    My condolences to the family of the rider.
    I fear this fate every time I ride.
    Godspeed Timothy

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  • Mark C June 10, 2007 at 9:01 am

    I was out riding with Portland Velo yesterday in a different group. I was not aware anything like this happened until I read the paper this morning. What a tragedy.

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  • Mark R June 10, 2007 at 9:14 am

    This is terrible news and my condolences go out to friends and family. More likely than the Sheriff\'s Office making a decision as to whether more serious charges are appropriate, the Sheriff\'s Office will forward the matter to the District Attorney\'s Office for consideration of what criminal charges are appropriate. It is not uncommon for the Sheriff\'s Office to do so. The DA\'s Office ultimately decides which charges are formally filed in court and brought to a grand jury for their consideration of whether there exists sufficient evidence to support felony charges. That may take a few days or longer. For me, now is a time to express to his family and friends (and the biking community) our sadness. While we also need to monitor closely how the matter is handled, we need to be careful to respond appropriately to ensure justice.

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  • JE June 10, 2007 at 9:19 am

    Poor Jennifer...

    Every motorist should always have their list o\' excuses handy in the vehicle.

    Dog distracted me
    Kid distracted me
    Cell Phone
    Sun in eyes
    Bee flew threw window
    I never saw him

    That Jennifer was cited at the scene by a law enforcement officer is simply shocking.

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  • Chris June 10, 2007 at 10:02 am

    This is what I sent to the sheriff Gordon and cc\'d the WA County Comm\'s

    Dear Sheriff Gordon,

    I am incredibly saddened by the senseless death of the cyclist, Timothy O\'Donnell. I am incredibly angry that Jennifer Knight was not arrested under manslaughter charges at the scene and taken to jail. I find the decision of your officers very frustrating. Why wasn\'t she arrested for manslaughter? She killed a cyclist while driving with a suspended license and passing in a no passing zone. She had no right to be on the road and yet she receives a slap on the wrist after killing another human being. I can\'t comprehend the decision of your officers.

    As a bicycle commuter, recreational cyclist, father, husband and voting member in this community, I am deeply concerned by the lack of serious charges for Jennifer Knight. My heart goes out to the friends and family of Timothy O\'Donnell. I can\'t imagine how they must feel right now. But I can imagine that they feel much worse knowing that your police department takes their father\'s, friend\'s, husband\'s, neighbor\'s and/or coworker\'s death so lightly.

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  • L.T.D. June 10, 2007 at 11:12 am

    I\'m just curious....what about man slaughter.... didn\'t see that listed anywhere?

    The biggest \"global\" problem with this type of EXTREMELY UNFORTUNATE event - Realistically, what would have made a difference..........other than somehow instilling in people a minimal inherent level of mindfulness

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  • Andrew June 10, 2007 at 11:14 am

    The \"Vulnerable Users Bill\" HB3314-A is in the state Senate. There\'s a link on this page to the BTA Blog with updated info:
    http://www.bta4bikes.org/btablog/2007/06/06/latest-on-vulnerable-users-bill-hb3314-a/

    According to the blog, a final vote was imminent. According to the legislative web site, a work session is scheduled for tomorrow: Monday, June 11.

    The bill adds penalties and education for drivers who harm bicyclists, pedestrians or other vulnerable users of our roads.

    The BTA has asked people to contact their state Senators urging passage. Our Senator, Ryan Deckert, told me he supports the bill.

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  • Jim O'Horo June 10, 2007 at 11:22 am

    My heartfelt condolences to Timothy O\'Donnell\'s family & friends.

    In addition to all else that is troubling about this story is what\'s missing. License suspensions are frequently a result of substance abuse. I see no mention of Jennifer having been tested for DUI. Such testing would seem logical to me in light of the damage done.

    Also troubling is the fact that she\'s an out-of-state driver and was sent on her way with nothing more than a few pieces of paper. If the District Attorney does decide to file criminal charges, the state is now faced with an extradition proceeding. With a suspended licence I suspect there\'s also no insurance. What\'s to prevent her from simply disappearing? I hope the police at least had the presence of mind to impound the car.

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  • Mary Z June 10, 2007 at 11:43 am

    I am extremely saddened by the death of a fellow cyclist in our community. My heart goes out to the family and friends of Timothy.

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  • Josh June 10, 2007 at 11:53 am

    Cyclists traveling down the side of a 45-50 mile an hour country road. They decide to make a left hand turn causing them to potentially cross into traffic coming from behind them. Obviously this person didn\'t look behind before turning or he would have seen the truck coming and decided against endangering his life.

    I agree that if the driver was driving with a suspended licence then she should face what\'s coming to her, but please don\'t just focus on what she did wrong. If you care about living then be aware! Look behind you when making a left turn!

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  • dan June 10, 2007 at 11:56 am

    Here\'s a letter I just sent Rob Gordon:
    Dear Sheriff Gordon,
    It upset me to hear about the death of Timothy O\'Donnell yesterday, but I was appalled to find out that Jennifer Knight was allowed to leave the scene without being arrested on criminal charges. If it wasn\'t bad enough that she attempted to pass a cyclist (soon to be deemed a \"vulnerable roadway user\" by the State Senate) in a no-passing zone causing his death, she was also driving illegally with a suspended license. Come on Rob, even Paris Hilton is in jail for that now, and she didn\'t kill anyone. Because Jennifer was allowed to leave the scene and go on her merry little way, she could be out driving right now for all we know. I\'m sure I don\'t need to remind you that the kind of person who would drive on a suspended license once would do it again in a heartbeat, but I just did. Also, in case you don\'t have the definitions handy, OR 163.005 states (and the bold is mine): (1) A person commits criminal homicide if, without justification or excuse, the person intentionally, knowingly, recklessly or with criminal negligence causes the death of another human being. I don\'t think you can argue that she did not recklessly cause the death of another human being, so then what? Well, OR 163.118 states that: (1) Criminal homicide constitutes manslaughter in the first degree when: (a) It is committed recklessly under circumstances manifesting extreme indifference to the value of human life. Seems pretty clear-cut to me Rob. And, as violation of OR 163.118 (Manslaughter in the first degree) is a Class A felony, I can\'t comprehend how she was allowed to leave the scene. Even if you don\'t agree with the \"extreme indifference to the value of human life\" (which I do, because obviously her need to get where she was going, illegally, and fast, took precedent over Timothy\'s life), you can drop it to manslaughter in the second degree and it\'s still a Class B felony. But whatever, you cant change the past, and she wasn\'t arrested. In light of that though, I not only think it would be fair of you to push the DA to file manslaughter charges, but I also think you personally owe it to Timothy\'s family and friends. A careless woman just destroyed this man\'s life, and you are one of the few people with enough clout in the situation to see that justice is done.

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  • Gary June 10, 2007 at 11:57 am

    I believe that citing her on the spot was a poor decision. It is my understanding that if she quickly pleads guilty to the \"infractions\" before criminal charges are filed, she would avoid any criminal culpability. The DA needs to dismiss the cites pending a grand jury review of the case.

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  • Elly June 10, 2007 at 11:59 am

    I\'ve just written to my state Senator, Kate Brown, to ask her to support the Vulnerable Roadway Users Bill.

    If you live in NE, SE, or Milwaukie, she\'s your senator as well. Her email address is

    sen.katebrown at state.or.us

    If you\'re in another district, you can go to votesmart.org to find out who your state senator is and how to contact them.

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  • Carlo Delumpa June 10, 2007 at 12:34 pm

    Hi all-

    Thank you so much for your support of Tim and his family, and of our community of cyclists as well. This occured during one of our group rides, on a very frequented route and road, and to a very experienced cyclist. I, like many members of our club who knew Tim, are going through both grief and anger and it helps to see so many people in the community step forward with positive actions.

    I was at the scene shortly after the accident happened with a couple of Portland Velo leadership team members. It was not a sight I want to ever see again, but it was especially bad for the four riders with Tim, and who saw the entire incident happen. As a club, we are focusing now on supporting the O\'Donnell family as well as the Velo members who were with Tim and who are going through some very hard re-hashing of yesterday\'s events.

    I do hope that once the official police reports are available, that we as a cycling community will have addtional good fodder to get the law regarding vehicular homocide enacted. We are one of 4 states who do not have one currently and we are by far the most active cycling community in the US (at least that\'s what I like to believe).

    We will share more details regarding services for Tim, a place people can send cards and thoughts to the family and things Portland Velo will be doing to celebrate one of our friends. Those details will be available at our website - http://www.portlandvelo.net.

    Thank you again for all your support and wishes for the O\'Donnell family. Please feel contact me at carlo@portlandvelo.net if you have any questions, comments or concerns.

    Cheers-
    Carlo Delumpa
    Portland Velo

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  • Edward June 10, 2007 at 2:23 pm

    I\'ve only ridden on Cornelius-Schefflin Road a handful of times, always to get from Roy Rd. to Wren Rd (about 200-300 meters), but from that experience alone I know that it is a terrible road to ride on. There\'s little to no shoulder and the traffic -- which is abundant -- absolutely flies. I\'ve been pretty damned frightful each time I\'ve done it. I think it\'s time to find an alternate route for my Forest Grove loop.

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  • Lynne June 10, 2007 at 8:27 pm

    \"Cyclists traveling down the side of a 45-50 mile an hour country road. They decide to make a left hand turn causing them to potentially cross into traffic coming from behind them. Obviously this person didn\'t look behind before turning or he would have seen the truck coming and decided against endangering his life.\"

    She was straddling the yellow line trying to get past them, while they were signaling left. She saw them. Just couldn\'t wait the 5 seconds for everyone to be safe. Roadway users in the front have the right of way.

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  • Ken June 10, 2007 at 9:56 pm

    Josh (#23)

    All I can say is \"wow\"

    You read the same article I did, the one that said that the driver was cited for:

    \"Passing in a NO PASSING LANE\"
    \"CARELESS DRIVING\"
    \"Driving while suspended\"

    and you came to the conclusion that the victim who \"was hit in his lane\" must have turned in front of the vehicle without looking? Are you serious? And you post this in a forum that will be looked upon by his friends and loved ones? Did we read the same article? Either I need to get my eyes checked or you have an agenda. Since I have 20/20 I wonder which is the case....

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  • Oregon Call to Action » patch June 11, 2007 at 6:58 am

    [...] bikeportland.org story of Tim O’Donnell’s death, with lots of reaction in the following comments [...]

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  • Josh June 11, 2007 at 7:01 am

    The agenda is to try to get people to become more aware and safe. You should always look behind you when potentially crossing into a motor vehicle\'s way. If he would have looked then he probably would have seen the truck coming on too fast and trying to pass, and he would probably be alive to tell the story.

    I don\'t know what really happened. But what I do know is that he would have probably still been alive if he would have been more aware of the environment around him and not just assumed that he was safe.

    I\'m very sorry for his family but how can I make people start respecting potential killers.

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  • Michael R June 11, 2007 at 7:02 am

    Have all of you who are Oregon residents contacted your legislator about HB3314A yet?

    If not, why not?

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  • Brad June 11, 2007 at 8:10 am

    Josh - you made my point. You were NOT there and you don\'t know what happened other than what you read in brief articles. You are making suppositions about the safety procedures of the riders involved.

    How about refraining from your \"agenda\" until you actually have a friggin\' clue?

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  • Carlo Delumpa June 11, 2007 at 8:10 am

    Josh-

    You are making assumptions that, while possible and plausible, are not by any means the whole story. The cyclists involved in the incident have ridden that road dozens of times, are extremely aware and cautious at that particular intersection, and had signalled - and looked back a number of times. I do not know what was going through Tim\'s mind at the time the accident happened, but I knew him to be a safe and mindful cyclist.

    The fact is that there are a myriad of factors that contributed to the accident including the weather, the speed limit of that section of road (55 MPH), the driver\'s lapse of judgement in passing unsafely, the actual speed the driver was going. She was on them before they even heard her. We will have to wait for the complete police report and analysis before we know all the facts.

    Your comment of \"he would have been alive if...\" is extremely insensitive and disrespectful to his family and to those cyclists who have to deal with the images of that day. You, nor anyone else, knows what Tim assumed or thought, what he saw or didn\'t see, what he heard or didn\'t hear. I ask only that you consider the other factors that contributed to this tragedy before you pass such a public and harsh judgement on one of our friends who, by the way, is not here to defend himself to you (not that he owes anyone that).

    I do agree with you that tragedies like these are a wake-up call to the cycling community to go the extra mile in safety, awarenes and predicatbility while doing anything that involves being on a roadway. I have become known for my rants on safety and if aything good can come out of this, maybe more people will ride more carefully.

    This is a time to come together, not point fingers. And as easy as it is to be angry at the driver, we need to wait for all the facts before coming to conclusions about her as well. What we should be angry about is our state law that neither protects us nor ensures the appropriate level of justice in these situations. It is time for all of us to do what we can to help get HB3314 passed.

    We have to believe that safety on the road is a shared responsibility involving all participants including vehicles, bikes and pedestrians. In that regard I do agree with you.

    Carlo

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  • ME June 11, 2007 at 8:13 am

    Sorry Ken #30, Josh is right. To bike on that road is scary enough, and to understand the traffic patterns and speed should tell cyclists to be overly cautious. Anytime I want to cross traffic to turn, especially out in the rural areas, I double check...if not more, depending on the road layout. And signaling is another part of this unfortunate equation. I will wear my arm out, just holding it out to signal for longer periods of time. And doing so while looking back repeatedly. I\'m sorry for all those who knew Tim, but we all need to remember to be overly cautious in these areas.

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  • Evan June 11, 2007 at 9:00 am

    Do I hear civil suit?
    Please???!!!
    Sue the girl and anyone who can be connected and give all the money to the BTA or something. Driving in western Oregon on a suspended Idaho license? Come on!

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  • Andy June 11, 2007 at 9:10 am

    I just received this link from a good friend of mine who is part of the above-named riding group. I was shocked and saddened to hear about the tragic death of the cyclist. My sentiments regarding the legal action that was taken is also similar to everyone elses. I do have a questions though, after the citations were issued...did they also allow the driver to take her car and go on her way?! Driving with a suspended license is no joke, although its amazing how many people do drive with suspended licenses. There is a reason for such suspensions so why is law enforcement so cavalier in their enforcement of the offense especially if something like this results from their lack of enforcement. And whatever happened to \"protect and serve\"?! In this case, its abundantly clear that said motto is just a punchline at the end of a cruel joke. My condolences go out to the mourning family and friends. This was truly a senseless tragedy.

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  • brian June 11, 2007 at 10:52 am

    This case, like every senseless \'road\' fatality is a tragedy. And it is a case in point of why the \'Vulnerable Users Bill\' is a waste of time and money. It would not prevent this type of crime. It would not penalize the criminal in an appropriate way. This person needs jail time.

    Drivers like this one, who kill are committing premeditated murder. I don\'t care if you hit a bicyclist, a pedestrian, or another vehicle. You should go to Jail. You should not go to traffic class, and pay a moderate fine, and \'lose\' your license for a bit.

    I don\'t care what you are driving and where you are driving it. That 50 mph excuse some folks are throwing out there is a croc. If it is not possible to slow down safely to deal with another legal road user, unexpected pedestrian, or the sudden appearance of wild-life the the speed limit on that road is not appropriate for the road use.

    You MUST be in control of your vehicle. The only way to deter these crimes is with significant up front enforcement and follow-up up held by the courts.

    Make people AFRAID to not follow the rules, or this country will continue to suffer 50000 road fatalities a year.

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  • Josh June 11, 2007 at 11:44 am

    Carlo you are completely right, in everything you say. I don\'t mean to be insensitive to the family or anyone personally greaving for this loss.

    My only excuse is for you and everyone to look at every comment before mine and notice that this seems the flow for every time an accident happens. We blame the driver for 100% of the accident. I was brought up that every accident is preventable. Yes it\'s sad that he had to die, and this may not be the time for questions like these. Unfortunately when the time comes to discuss what we as individuals can do to ensure our own safety the blog post falls down the list, it\'s forgotten, and we don\'t get a good conversation going.

    Yes the driver was probably 100% at fault. We\'ve hashed that. But that does not mean that we should sit back, crucify the driver, and leave it at that.

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  • Klixi June 11, 2007 at 12:46 pm

    The sheriff (Rob Gordon) responded to my scathing email:

    Rob Gordon
    to Norine, me
    More options 9:24 am (3 hours ago)
    We generally respond to events and have little control over the headlines. I might suggest that if you want to do more than send a venting e-mail, you should contact your legislative contingent (assuming you are an Oregon resident) and ask them to put some teeth in the laws.

    We enforce the law, we don\'t write them.

    - Sheriff Rob Gordon

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  • Gene June 11, 2007 at 1:36 pm

    Josh (#40),
    Thank you for stating that you are not intending to be insensitive. In your defense, you may not be aware of the numerous discussions of your same point that most contributors here have read and/or been a part of. Nearly all of them \"get\" it and have already incorporated into their personal cycling habits. I\'m sure others would be glad to discuss further with you about our personal responsibility in accident prevention. Please, just not right now. Thanks.

    My condolences to family, friends, and community.

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  • C & D June 13, 2007 at 3:37 pm

    ~~To the Family of Tim O\'Donnell~~

    Hoping you get these wonderful support messages. My husband works at the same Company yours did and they are all grieving as you are for the tragic loss of your husband. It is always a sad thing to hear when someone you know passes away in such a tragic way.
    I do not always believe in our justice system, But I do believe something good will come out of his passing.
    Please accept our condolences on your loss and his buddies at Aero Air will truly miss him.

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  • Antonio June 13, 2007 at 6:22 pm

    Messaages need to be sent to the D.A. for this consideration. For instance I am sure the D.A. does not know she was involved in an accident 2 weeks ago in Idaho. This involved hurting her daughter with the seatbelt. Last winter she wrecked 2 cars in St. Helens. Last winter she drove off the road in Scappoose and flew for over 50 feet. She is an angry person and transposes her anger to her driving. She has a serious anger problem with all persons she confronts with.
    The athorities need to investigate her history more thoroughly from everywhere she has driven and lived. When someone is killed a complete investigation is done. Why not here. She killed someone and went home and had dinner that night. This is just wrong.

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  • Teresa June 13, 2007 at 9:31 pm

    Thank you to all of you, except maybe Josh, for your kind thoughts and concerns. My uncle should not be dead. Tim was the most cautious and thoughtfull cyclist I know. I did not know about this website until yesterday when someone told me about it. I have been looking through the website and I was not sure if I wanted to look at the recent headlines section. I am really amazed by this response. I am a cyclist and like most of you I am sure, have had several close encouters on the road. The tragedy Saturday is just too much. I am so angry and do not know what to do. There are so many issues to consider. I want to write some sort of article that brings up all of the issues and incorporates views from all sides. I am a little bit out of it right now, but I am glad to have found this website and read through these comments.
    Thank you.

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  • John C. Ratliff June 14, 2007 at 6:49 am

    I have just sent the following e-mail to my senator, and to Senator Kruse of Douglas County. I urge others to do the same. Here is my e-mail:

    Dear Senator Avakian and Senator Kruse

    Iit has just come to my attention that there is a very important bill coming up in the Senate, the \"Vulnerable Users Bill, HB 3314A.\" As a member of the Bicycle Transportation Alliance, as a bicycle commuter who cycles to work 4 days a week, and as a bicyclist who has twice on commutes been hit by vehicles, I urge you to vote \"Yes\" on this bill.

    Let me explain my support for this bill. Oregon traffic has become very bad, especially in Beaverton. Both of the times I was hit by a vehicle were on Fridays, and so I don\'t even try riding on Fridays anymore. Drivers are impatient, and this impatience is encouraged by TV ads and our general driving culture. By requiring drivers who seriously injure or kill cyclists or other vulnerable users of the roadway to pay $12,500, and have their license suspended for one year, or to complete 100 to 200 hours of community service and pass a special driver education course, there would be accountability built into the system. Currently, there is no accountability, even if a cyclist or pedestrian is killed by outrageous behavior. Right now, we in Washington County just lost a bicyclist to a driver who ran into him as he was making a legal left turn from one rural road to another, and the driver attempted to pass in a no-pass zone. If you are interested, here are two stories about the crash:

    http://blog.oregonlive.com/breakingnews/2007/06/aloha_bicyclist_dies_after_bei.html#comments

    http://www.portlandvelo.net/

    I am a Certified Safety Professional with 28 years in the field. When we work on controls in the workplace, we ensure that all the workers are given the responsibility to act in a safe and healthful manner, the authority to act, and accountability for their actions (both positive and negative). It should work the same on the roadway for all users of the road. Under HB 3314A, both drivers and cyclists would have accountability. There was a case in Corvallis where a cyclist hit and killed a pedestrian, and that person would come under this act too if it were to pass.

    For over 18 years I was a resident of Roseburg, in Douglas County. The Douglas County area has some of the finest cycling areas in the State of Oregon, and my family took advantage of them. One evening, we were at a function for Mercy Medical Center, where my wife worked. An acquaintance began talking about how he would purposely try to \"clip\" cyclists who were using the roadway with his pickup truck. He did not like cyclists, and was showing them how he felt. We pointed out that our family was part of those people who cycled in Douglas County, but it made no difference to him. I was recently at a conference in Philadelphia, and met a researcher from the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), who was also a bicyclist. She related another incident in a different state where her bicycling partner was run off the road by a pickup. This is happening across this nation, and this belligerent culture toward bicyclist must stop. The Vulnerable Users Bill is one way to at least have drivers take notice that there will be some accountability for their driving behavior, and bicyclists too.

    The Tuesday, June 12th, 2007 Editorial Page of the Oregonian newspaper had an ironic headline for an editorial. \"A twisted view of nature.\" \"If pigeon hobbyists are convicted of killing raptors, tough sentences would deter similar crimes.\" The irony of this is that these hobbyists may get more punishment than a driver who kills a bicyclist, or a bicylist who kills a pedestrian.

    I hope that you will take a serious look at the Vulnerable Users Bill, HB 3314A, and vote in favor of it.

    Thank you.

    Respectfully,

    John C. Ratliff
    Certified Safety Professional

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  • pdxcommuter June 14, 2007 at 7:17 am

    Teresa, my thoughts and prayers are with you and your family.

    I too got an email back from Sheriff Gordon:

    We investigate the scene and issue citations or make arrests as the law allows. That decision is then reviewed by the elected District Attorney. If he feels that additional charges are supported, he will charge them. This is ultimately a legislative issue and I encourage you to contact your contingent in Salem.

    - Sheriff Rob Gordon

    I sent a follow-up letter to Sheriff Gordon, with cc\'s to several County Comissioners. See previous postings in this thread for those email addresses. I also cc\'d my state senator and representative. Find your senator and representative at http://www.leg.state.or.us/findlegsltr/

    I also sent a copy to Washington County District Attorney Robert Hermann. Mr. Hermann\'s web page does not give his email address. But, email to Robert_Hermann@co.washington.or.us has worked for me, previously.

    ----edited follow-up email appears below----

    While I am not a lawyer, I can read the Oregon Statutes (ORS) at http://www.leg.state.or.us/ors. I think that the law allowed your deputy to charge Knight with manslaughter under ORS 163.118. I understand that other people may have already pointed this out to you. (See http://bikeportland.org/2007/06/09/fatal-crash-in-washington-county/#comment-414031 .)

    Let me expand on what they said.

    ORS 163.118 says:

    163.118 Manslaughter in the first degree. (1) Criminal homicide constitutes manslaughter in the first degree when: (a) It is committed recklessly under circumstances manifesting extreme indifference to the value of human life;

    O\'Donnell died as a result of Knight\'s trying to pass over a double yellow line, so I think that the \"extreme indifference\" test has been met.

    ORS 161.085(9) defines \"recklessly\":

    (9) ?Recklessly,? when used with respect to a result or to a circumstance described by a statute defining an offense, means that a person is aware of and consciously disregards a substantial and unjustifiable risk that the result will occur or that the circumstance exists. The risk must be of such nature and degree that disregard thereof constitutes a gross deviation from the standard of care that a reasonable person would observe in the situation.

    Knight was driving with a suspended license. Your press release at http://www.co.washington.or.us/sheriff/media/ftl_bik4.htm says that Knight is \"of Hayden Idaho.\" Presumeably, then, her license was suspended by the state of Idaho. That tells me that in the state of Idaho\'s opinion, Knight should not be driving.

    Idaho must have suspended her license because Knight\'s driving represented a risk to the citizens of Idaho. If her driving was an unacceptable risk for Idahoans, then it was also an unacceptable risk for Oregonians. Knight consciously disregarded Idaho\'s opinion, and drove anyway. That meets the \"disregards a substantial and unjustifiable risk that the result will occur\" test in ORS 161.085.

    What about \"the standard of care that a reasonable person would observe?\" Idaho told Knight not to drive. Was it reasonable for Knight to have driven, anyway? Under what standard of care would the hypothetical reasonable person, having been told not to drive by the state that issued their driver\'s license, go ahead and drive anyway?

    Perhaps if there were a life and death emergency, where there was no other option, then a reasonable person would drive with a suspended license. Was there such an emergency in this instance? You do not mention it in your press release, so I think I can assume that there was not.

    So, no, Knight\'s actions do not meet the reasonable person standard.

    Your deputy therefore could have charged Knight with criminally negligent homicide under ORS 163.118. While it is too late for that, it is not too late for District Attorney Hermann to do so.

    ....

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  • Michael June 14, 2007 at 11:20 am

    I would like to set the record a little straight, hopefully to settle questions about bicycle safety issues and how a kind person left us.

    To Tim\'s family, I would like to say that he was the type of person that gave me something to laud in the human race; I am grateful that I knew him, even if only for a short ride. He was generally cautious and concerned about other riders and his own safety.

    Carlo and the other Velo leaders and riders have been so helpful through this whole experience.
    -----
    Tim had looked over his shoulder. He was looking when he was hit. He had looked back several times before signaling and moving left into traffic. The oncoming car was silver and did not have headlights on. The day was grey and overcast. She was moving like a bat out of hell. The first time I knew she was there was the sickening crunch of car tearing into flesh and bicycle. I remember this too well. I was looking at his face and bike as the car hit him. It was my turn next to turn left.
    -----
    One last thing. We had a paramedic along on the ride and the EMTs were there in about one minute. All emergency people were more than helpful and if anything could have been done it would have. Martin only had time to push on Tim\'s chest a couple of times before the EMTs arrived.

    To Drew and Andy, if you ever see this, thanks. Thanks so much.

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  • Doug Rennie June 14, 2007 at 1:21 pm

    Antonio (posting of June 13): What is the source of your information about the horrendous background of the driver who killed Tim O\'Donnell? If this is all true, then we need to let both the DA and The Oregonian know how to verify it. If true, The Oregonian wants to keep pursuing this travesty. This is some serious ammo to use in our pursuit of a vehicular homicide law so, Antonio, let us know where you got this info. Thanks. Doug (rainguy@comcast.net)

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  • Antonio Gramsci June 14, 2007 at 4:08 pm

    Here is my letter to the Sheriff:

    Dear Sheriff Gordon,
    I\'ve read some of your thoughtful responses to people inquiring about the procedures of your officers in the case involving the young woman who caused the death of Timothy O\'Donnell. One thing that puzzles me, however, is why driving on a suspended Idaho license in Western Oregon, passing in a no passing zone, and causing the death of another on the road wouldn\'t constitute a prima facie case for manslaughter? Even in the absence of a specific \"vehicular manslaughter\" law, do your officers really lack the discretion to ever apply manslaughter charges to a motorist??

    Thanks in advance for your time.

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  • Antonio Gramsci June 14, 2007 at 5:08 pm

    Sheriff Gordon replied to my question about the discretion of officers to charge negligent motorists with manslaughter:

    We do arrest for manslaughter on occasion. These cases usually involve
    alcohol or drugs, thus raising the negligence bar to meet the
    requirements. I\'m not sure what comments you\'ve read, but if you
    haven\'t read the web site below, you might give it a look. It explains
    the law pretty well and is not written by police or prosecutors.

    http://www.stc-law.com/bicycle.html

    - Sheriff Rob Gordon

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  • NoChain June 15, 2007 at 1:15 pm

    First, my condolences to Tim\'s family, friends and loved ones. But I hope we can all learn something from this so that his death is not in vain.

    I would like to understand what the driver did that you all think was so terrible. I understand the result of her driving with a suspended license and crossing a double-yellow while passing cyclists resulted in a horrible tragedy, but is what she did really all that bad? What did she do?

    My understanding is that this was a straight stretch of rural highway, great sight lines, probably 12\' wide lanes, a fog line, and no paved shoulder. They were approaching a T intersection. What I\'m particularly interested in is discussing what was likely to have been happening about 10 seconds prior to the crash.

    Assuming the cyclists were traveling at 15 mph and the driver at 60 mph, that\'s 22 feet per second and 88 fps respectively. So, 10 seconds prior to the crash, the driver was about 880 feet from the point of impact, while the cyclists were still 220 feet back. Now 200-250 feet prior to a left turn is arguably the appropriate place for cyclists to start looking back, signaling and merging left, precisely so that others know what they\'re up to and can plan accordingly, but cyclists, even \"experienced\" cyclists, rarely actually do this. In our culture, cyclists are conditioned to stay right as long and as much as possible, and tend not to leave the right side until literally the last second or two before the left turn. So in all likelihood at 10 seconds/220 feet out, they were just riding along near or on the fog line, leaving no indication whatsoever that they were planning on turning left in about 200 feet.

    But, at 10 seconds prior to impact, the driver was 660 (880-220) feet behind the cyclists, and closing quickly at the rate of about 66 feet per second. That was the time for her to decide what to do, and she basically had 3 choices:

    A) slow down to 15 mph and wait until a legal passing zone

    B) keep going and pass, closely, within the lane (with or without some slowing too).

    C) keep going and pass, but adjust left crossing the double-yellow a bit so as not to pass too closely (with or without some slowing too).

    Apparently, she chose Plan C. Is that so bad? Consider if the cyclists had not turned left (remembering that at this point they probably were not giving her any indication that that was their intention yet). She would have passed them while they continued riding along the fog line without incident. Would that crossing over the double yellow seemed so terrible? Would her suspended license have been relevant? Haven\'t we all had countless motorists, including cops, pass us exactly like this? Would a cop have cited her for reckless driving? Would anyone have even noticed or thought twice about such a move? Yes, while technically illegal, what she apparently did, cross a double yellow in order to pass some cyclists, is quite normal and certainly not unpredictable.

    So what happened? What happened is that the cyclists apparently waited until the last second or two to start their turning process, glanced back, apparently did not notice her (one of the riders there has surmised that her silver car on a gray day was a factor, another possibility was they were just not paying attention), and Tim suddenly signaled left and moved out into her path long after she was committed to Plan C and before she had a chance to do anything to avoid hitting him midstream in her passing maneuver.

    Was the driver really being all that careless? That\'s not so clear to me. Weren\'t the cyclists the ones who were definitely careless here? I mean, moving left into the path of a fast moving motor vehicle, whether such a move is preceded by a signal or not, would clearly be a violation of her right of way if they had been turning left into a driveway instead of a side road. The fact that she had a suspended license, that it was an intersection with a street rather than a driveway, and that the lane was so narrow she had to encroach over the double yellow to pass safely are really legal technicalities that easily could have not been applicable in a slightly different scenario. So I don\'t understand what she did that was all that wrong. But I do see that the cyclists seemed to have not looked behind very carefully prior to moving left.

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  • NoChain June 15, 2007 at 1:32 pm

    pdxcommuter wrote: \"O\'Donnell died as a result of Knight\'s trying to pass over a double yellow line, so I think that the \'extreme indifference\' test has been met.\"

    With all due respect, this would never hold up in front of any jury, and the D.A. knows it. Why? Because just about every potential juror has encroached into an oncoming lane over a double yellow in order to pass cyclists safely countless times in his life. In some states (Ohio), this action is explicitly legalized. In other states, it is generally understood to be acceptable, though technically against the letter of the law. It is hard to argue that something that is legal in one state constitutes \"extreme indifference\" in another.

    The alternative to allowing motorists to encroach across a double yellow to pass cyclists, officially or unofficially, is motorists having to slow down from highway speeds to cyclist speeds whenever cyclists are on the highway in narrow lanes on 2 lane highways with double yellows. That would only exacerbate the animosity towards cyclists. Careful what you wish for...

    The only lesson I see here is this: look back carefully and without drifting, before moving left or right, making sure it\'s safe and clear to make the move, before making the move. If you get hit, then you obviously didn\'t check carefully. There is no way to get around that.

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  • Logan 5 June 15, 2007 at 2:49 pm

    Antonio, I would also like the know where you obtained that information on the car driver\'s history.

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  • wsbob June 15, 2007 at 3:41 pm

    NoChain, unless you have some very specific information, there\'s aparrently a lot of assumption going on in your speed/distance gap reduction calculations. There\'s something that really bothers me about a car traveling 60 mph on a two-lane country road overtaking a line of cyclists traveling 15 mph, regadless of how clear the sightlines are. What about the \"basic rule\"? This just doesn\'t seem safe under any circumstances. 30-35 mph for the car seems closer to a safe and reasonable passing speed for such a situation.

    There were witnesses to this incident. People probably saw how far in advance of the intersection Timothy O’Donnell was when he started signalling. If he was even only 100\'from the intersection when he started signalling, she would have been wrong to attempt passing him. Still going 60 mph only 100\' from the intersection? Well, was she, and if so, what is it about that do you not understand is wrong?

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  • Gene June 15, 2007 at 4:09 pm

    NoChain (#52 and 53),
    First, I want to let you know that I appreciate the care you took in preparing and presenting your questions and following notes.

    Next I want to ask if you really want to listen to the answers to your questions about what the driver did that was really so bad? Do you really want to listen enough to actually understand what is so terrible about what she did?

    Side note to Jonathan: Do you want this discussion to happen in the comments to this article or would it be better to move it to its own separate discussion stream? Feel free to do what you wish but I wanted to ask out of respect for the family.

    Back to topic: NoChain is asking a question that needs to be answered in a thoughtful, methodical approach because I think there are a number of people that are really going to need this broken down in order to understand. I mean if no one were injured in this crash (definitely not an \"accident\"), this is just a close call and both groups think members of the other group are rude and inconsiderate but everyone is OK.

    I won\'t presume to think that I can answer this question by myself but one facet of the answer relates to \"margin for error\" and our society\'s \"accidental\" car culture (to quote Elly). The driver chose option C that reduced her margin for error so low that when her choice turned out badly, she was unable to compensate and someone paid for it with his life. And our society is so immersed in our car culture that we can\'t even see how narrow our margins for error have become as we drive around \"efficiently\" from one place to another.

    So, NoChain, I hope you really want to listen to the answers because they are there if you really want to understand.

    Again, my condolences to the family.

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  • Jonathan Maus / BikePortland June 15, 2007 at 4:40 pm

    \"Side note to Jonathan: Do you want this discussion to happen in the comments to this article or would it be better to move it to its own separate discussion stream? Feel free to do what you wish but I wanted to ask out of respect for the family.\"

    Gene,
    I appreciate your concern, and I respect the family too,... but for now I will let this discussion keep going. Thanks for keeping tabs.. let me know if you have any feedback.

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  • NoChain June 15, 2007 at 5:52 pm

    wsbob - I\'m guessing about the 60 mph speed. I don\'t know what the speed limit is there. If unposted it\'s 55. If it\'s less, and she was driving slower, then the number can be adjusted accordingly, but I don\'t think it will make much difference. Regardless of her speed, she\'d have to make the critical decision about what to do about 10 seconds out, and 10 seconds is still 220\' at 15 mph, considerably more at 20 mph, for the cyclists, so I doubt they were signaling that early (though they should have been, in addition to paying attention to traffic beind them, and that\'s my point).

    At 100\' feet out that seems like a normal/natural place for cyclists to start thinking about turning/signaling. But that\'s only 4 seconds out. It\'s too late. Well, it\'s too late to claim the right of way simply by signaling if someone in the process of passing them was less than 4 seconds behind them, which she clearly was by that point (since she hit him before they reached the intersection, and, thus, in less than 4 seconds).

    Note that this analysis applies largely independent of the speed at which she was traveling, and really only assuming a speed in the range of 35 mph or more.

    Gene, I hear what you\'re saying but I think there needs to be some reasonable reality check on the part of cyclists here. The cars are there, and they are that fast and heavy. There is no getting around that. We need to ride accordingly, not continue to bang our heads against their hoods hoping against hope that they will change. WE have to change. We have to take more responsibility for our safety, and do more in understanding the complexities of traveling on a bicycle on roads with motor vehicles. The onus is on us, because it matters to us much more. And I don\'t think we\'re doing ourselves any good if we start demanding that motorists be prevented from crossing double yellows when they pass us.

    Having said that, it\'s not that bad. But the current norms and habits of cyclists, even the \"experienced\" ones who don\'t do much that is blatantly wrong, is not good enough. For example, it\'s not accepted in the cycling community that everyone, without exception, needs to know how to comfortably give a good long back to effectively evaluate the situation behind by turning his or head without drifting from his line of travel. It\'s a crucial skill, can be learned with only a little practice, but very few cyclists can actually do it. And that\'s only one example.

    Have a good and safe weekend, everybody.

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  • NoChain June 15, 2007 at 5:56 pm

    I also want to say if she was speeding excessively I would think that there would be evidence of that and she would have been cited for that accordingly. It will be interesting to see what the \"reckless driving\" charge is based on and whether it sticks.

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  • wsbob June 15, 2007 at 8:03 pm

    NoChain, I don\'t have the article before me, (I think it was in yesterday\'s Oregonian in Duin\'s column), but there was a comment from one of the riders behind Timothy O\'Donnell that witnessed the crash. After hitting and catupulting Timothy high above the roof of the car so that it passed under him as he was momentarily suspended there, Jennifer Knight\'s car proceeded to drive into the ditch. Seems like excessive speed just might have been a factor here.

    Also, this business of how many seconds one user of the road is behind another user of the road is fine for attempting to re-enact a crash incident, but it is not the factor used to determine when to start signaling for a turn. I don\'t have the Oregon Driver\'s Manual before me, but I seem to recall that it states that 100 ft from and intersection is a proper distance to start signalling for a turn. If Timothy O\'Donnell did actually follow this regulation, he did what he should have been expected to do by other users of the road. Jennifer Knight, the driver of the killing car should have known this.

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  • Antonio Gramsci June 15, 2007 at 11:47 pm

    The issue here is very simple. No inquiry about precise geometries or other mathematical details is really necessary in this case. It is simply this: Like MADD has done with drunk driving, we need to make the cost excruciatingly high for careless driving, particularly when it is done by someone who is not even in possession of a valid license, particularly when it results in the death of another human being.

    MADD\'s campaign against drunk driving has had results: The good ol\' boy attitude about drinking and driving is OVER, history, kaput. The same needs to happen to people who think they can get behind a wheel if they don\'t have a valid license. And if they DO get behind a wheel without a license, then they need to know there\'s going to be absolute HELL to pay if they get into an accident, and then MOST of them will be goddam careful. They\'ll be CREEPING along on the kinds of roads where Timothy O\'Donnell was killed -- or they will avoid them altogether.

    This is all so simple that I\'m astonished anyone here really needs to debate it...

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  • [...] anger lit up the comments of a posting about the accident at bikeportland.org and an online story in the [...]

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  • NoChain June 16, 2007 at 9:20 am

    Antonio, believe me, I wish it were that simple. But the analogy with MADD fails on one crucial point: the legal definition of drunk driving is scientifically determined. The definition of careless driving is much less clear. Which brings me back to the essence of my original question: what exactly did she do that constitutes careless driving?

    Wsbob, perhaps excessive speed was a factor here. Never-the-less, and this is not meant to excuse any of the driver\'s irresponsible behavior, but prudent cyclists should be prepared for close passes at excessive speeds when riding near the fog line on narrow rural roads, and ride accordingly. That\'s one reason I don\'t ride the fog line, but at least a couple of feet left of it -- I don\'t want my position to invite close passes -- but that\'s just another aspect of the trickiness involved with riding safely on narrow rural roads I originally mentioned. When you\'re riding a few inches from the edge of the road, you\'re implying that you\'re okay with having that narrow of a space on the side, so it\'s not unreasonable for motorists typically ignorant of cycling to assume that you\'re okay with approximately the same minimal space on your left. And, so, they pass too closely.

    This is the kind of stuff taught in basic traffic cycling courses, but most \"experienced\" cyclists think they have no need for such courses, that they already know everything they need to know. Then they ride the fog line on narrow rural roads, not understanding how that invites close passes, and don\'t realize that they drift as much as several feet from their line of travel when they signal and look back. That\'s the tragedy here, how preventable this was, despite the irresponsible behavior of the motorist over which we have no control.

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  • wsbob June 16, 2007 at 1:45 pm

    NoChain, I hear you on the issue of anticipating close calls on country roads. I remember reading about the cyclists riding the fog line. What I never did quite understand clearly, that is if it\'s ever been clearly stated, is where the cyclist, Timothy O\'Connell was in relation to the roadway lanes width once he started to signal for the left turn.

    Riding the fog line as a means of keeping the road open for faster, passing vehicles is fine as long as the slower vehicle is set upon a straight ahead course. When the slower vehicle begins to prepare to make a left turn, it\'s time to occupy the breadth of the lane just so vehicles behind will understand the vehicle\'s presence there, along with the appropriate signal, indicates that a manooeuvre is in the process of being initiated.

    From the spotty details that have been disclosed so far, i.e., he was signalling 90\' ahead of the next closest cyclist, and the car driver Jennifer Knight was straddling the double line in her attempt to pass the cyclists, leads me to think O\'Connell was likely to have been occupying the breadth of the lane (somewhere near the center)as he prepared for his left turn. Witnesses will have to help establish where he was in the lane, and how far from the intersection he was when he started to signal for the left turn.

    If Timothy O\'Connell made some careless, last minute left turn prep from the fog line, that\'s one thing. There\'s witnesses who\'ll be able to establish whether or not this was the case. At this point, I\'m far from being able to understand exactly why Jennifer Knight drove her car into cyclist Timothy O\'Connell as he signaled for a left turn. Lets let investigators collect the facts and make as exact a determination of what happened as is possible.

    Really though, a cyclist can do everything right; occupy the lane with a safe margin from approaching vehicles, signal far enough in advance, look back repeatedly, and still get fatally hit if for some reason the driver of a motor vehicle does not stop their vehicle.

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  • NoChain June 16, 2007 at 2:29 pm

    wsbob - This has been a fruitful conversation. I think we\'re almost on the same page. I certainly agree it\'s possible to be legitimately occupying a lane and getting hit straight from behind. I just think it\'s very unlikely, and that doesn\'t appear to be the case here, for the reasons I discussed earlier.

    One more point though. Having the general right to occupy a lane, to move and turn left, etc., does not mean a cyclist necessarily has the right to claim that right in a particular situation simply because he signaled. This too seems to be often not fully appreciated by many cyclists. Yet we know that when driving on a multilane road, signaling alone does not establish right of way to change lanes. If someone else is occupying that lane, or is in the process of passing you in that lane, you don\'t have the right to cut into it just because you signaled; and if you do, and a crash results, it\'s your fault.

    Similarly, whenever we (motor- or bi-) cyclists change lateral position within a lane, we need to make sure it\'s clear and safe before we move to the new position. Signaling does not give us the right to simply move, nor does it require anyone who is in the process of passing us to abort the pass (this gets legally muddy when the pass itself is technically illegal, but the underlying principles and rules arguably still apply for practical purposes if nothing else).

    Remember, if the speeds were 60 and 15 mph (88 fps; 22 fps), and she was 1/2 second from passing him when he looked back, she was still 33 feet back (closing speed is 88-22 = 66 * 1/2 = 33) when he first signaled, turned his head and saw her, and could easily have inadvertently drifted left the couple of feet required to be in her path during the same 1/2 second she need to reach him.

    And even if he had been signaling for a few seconds prior to looking back and drifting left, she was under no obligation (again, ignoring the illegal passing zone complication) to yield the right of way to him to move to a new lateral position that was in her path, and it\'s not unreasonable for her to expect him to not actually move until after she had passed. So the fact that he had been signaling I don\'t think matters much. Establishing right of way before moving laterally is always much more important than signaling. If this wasn\'t a no-passing zone, I suspect she wouldn\'t have been cited at all.

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  • wsbob June 16, 2007 at 3:51 pm

    Well, NoChain, I don\'t see how I could expand upon what I\'ve already said without more details. As I said earlier, the responsibility to determine as closely as possible what happened will have to fall to the witnesses and the investigators.

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  • pdxcommuter June 17, 2007 at 3:49 am

    NoChain, regarding the issue you raised about the extreme indifference test versus prohibiting passing on a double yellow in general: OK, perhaps you are correct.

    But, could Knight\'s driving while suspended also satisfy the extreme indifference test? (Note, again, I am not a lawyer.)

    Re Antonio Gramsci\'s comment in #61: I\'m on MADD\'s email list. They recently sent me an email saying that they wanted to go after drivers who drive drunk, get their licenses suspended, and continue to drive anyway.

    Yes, I know that we do not know whether or not Knight\'s license was suspended for DUI. But tougher penalties for that might have prevented Lindsey Llaneza from killing 2 bicyclists and injuring another in Portland several years ago. See http://bikeportland.org/2006/01/06/lindsey-llaneza-trial-starts-monday/

    Here\'s part of what the MADD email said:

    There has been a news explosion over the fact that Paris Hilton drove drunk, had her license suspended, and then continued to drive anyway. What has not been mentioned is that she is one of 500,000 people do this same thing each year; studies shown that 50 to 75 percent of people who have their license suspended for drunk driving continue to drive without a license and many of them are continuing to drive drunk. We are trying to raise $500,000 by the end of June to combat these 500,000 unsafe drivers and we need your help.

    ....

    MADD\'s Campaign to Eliminate Drunk Driving will help stop these 500,000 offenders by 1) replacing long license suspensions with restrictions on driving that require offenders to use ignition interlock devices and 2) increasing penalties for driving while suspended to help deter people from committing this crime. In fact, a MADD-supported bill is on its way to the Governor of Illinois that does both of these things. Unfortunately, we need this in all 50 states and we currently have it in only three.

    The email goes on to ask for a donation. The email also has a link to a web page which will send an email to your legislators asking for ignition interlocks for those convicted of DUI: https://secure2.convio.net/madd/site/Advocacy?pagename=homepage&page=UserAction&id=477

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  • Antonio June 17, 2007 at 10:02 am

    Doug Rennie,
    This info has come from a very extended neighbor that lived in St.Helens. You can find more info from the public records files marriage records in oregon. Relatives in North Plains, relatives in Post Falls Idaho, Shaw last name. That is all I know. The neighbor has moved with no known location. Good luck in your search. I hope the system will come to justice for this incident and all other incidents that may happen. God forbid they happen. But when people drive that should not be allowed on the road they need to be held accountable.

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  • JeremyE June 17, 2007 at 12:46 pm

    NoChain,

    If she is attempting to pass on a double yellow, she has no right-of-way, laterally or otherwise. It is illegal. The only time she could have passed across a solid yellow is if she were turning left (not according to reports) or if the lane was blocked (not simply slower traffic). While I\'m sure everyone appreciates you attempting to saddle blame on the cyclist based on conjecture and fuzzy math and some might even agree that Tim and the group could have done more to be even more defensive, at some point you just have to be able to acknowledge that hitting a vehicle from behind is almost without exception the fault of the driver coming from the rear. As others have said, if you have not left time to adequately stop as you approach a vehicle from the rear, you are violating the basic rule (and yes, you can be ticketed for failing to follow the basic rule of driving to the conditions).

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  • Doug Rennie June 17, 2007 at 8:51 pm

    Sheriff Gordon says that she was cited for \"careless\" rather than \"reckless\" driving.
    I\'m having more than a little difficulty accepting this.

    \"Careless\" driving suggests to me a driving infraction that results from simple careless behavior, i.e. being distracted by blabbing on a cell phone, or looking down to grab a coffee cup, turning around briefly to chat with someone or check on a child in the back seat, in other words, taking your eyes off the road when you shouldn\'t, just not paying full attention to the act of driving. The result would be something like temporarily drifting into the oncoming lane, or going off the road onto the shoulder for a few seconds. Even if the consequences were more severe, they would still be the result of failure to focus fully on driving the car to the exclusion of other activities. Stupid and irresponsible, but nothing more.

    What Jennifer Knight did was NOT an act of simple carelessness, rather it was a conscious, willful action. A decision, again a WILLFUL DECISION with plenty of time to think about what she was doing, to cross over a solid line in direct violation of a no-passing zone, and then attempt to \"get around\" a cyclist who had clearly signaled a left turn, and was in the process of making this turn. This stretch of road is a long, straight line so you clearly and easily see at least several hundred yards ahead. She obviously saw what was taking place in front of her, and still decided, yes DECIDED (no simple act of carelessness here, no \"mistake\") to break several laws and endanger the lives of 5 people, ultimately killing one. My God, if this NOT reckless driving, what is? Do you really have to be drunk or stoned to be cited for reckless driving? What she did is even worse because she was NOT drunk, and therefore fully aware of what she was doing.

    But she is only guildy of \"careless\" driving. What crap.

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  • John Ohnstad June 17, 2007 at 10:16 pm

    Doug-

    You are right on here with what is defined as careless driving. What needs to happen is action on our part...pressing legislators to pass HB 3314 and then press even further with this momentum. As Sheriff Gordon has been quoted in the above comments, \"...we don\'t make the laws, we enforce them...\"

    Now is the time for action folks...

    I have a letter from Tim\'s wife that she has made available to send to our State Senators and press them to pass HB 3314.

    For those who would like this letter, please email me at john@portlandvelo.net and I will reply with her letter ASAP.

    Thanks to all in advance for their support in pressing the politicians (who work for us by the way) in making this happen.

    Regards,

    John

    John Ohnstad
    portlandvelo.net

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  • NoChain June 18, 2007 at 11:43 am

    Jeremy,

    I certainly agree \"that hitting a vehicle from behind is almost without exception the fault of the driver coming from the rear\". But that applies to when the slower vehicle up ahead is and has been in the driver\'s path, not to a vehicle that is suddenly and unexpectedly moved into the driver\'s path so quickly that the faster driver has no reasonable time to react.

    As near as I can tell, the motorist was not approaching the cyclists from (directly) behind them, she was in the process of passing them along a separate/adjacent lateral line. When someone is being passed, he is obligated to not interfere with the passing. The \"passee\" is supposed to maintain speed (certainly not speed up) and lateral position during the pass. An impact due to sudden swerving or drifting by the passee into the path of the passer is not the fault of the passer.

    The fact that the passing was technically illegal here muddies the situation somewhat, but the (in this case tragic) practical implication of the underlying principle for the passee to cooperate with the passer during a pass, and not interfere with the pass, still applies.

    I\'ve seen all too many \"experienced\" cyclists take their left hand off the bars to signal while turning around to look behind him, and swerve left in the process, to ignore the probable role of this very common error being a factor in this tragedy, particular considering the reports that he did drift into her path, and the apparent lack of any witnesses, including those riding behind him, denying that this is what happened.

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  • NoChain June 18, 2007 at 12:01 pm

    Doug has speculated as to what the driver did wrong that he feels should be considered \"reckless\":

    \"cross over a solid line in direct violation of a no-passing zone, and then attempt to \"get around\" a cyclist who had clearly signaled a left turn, and was in the process of making this turn. This stretch of road is a long, straight line so you clearly and easily see at least several hundred yards ahead. She obviously saw what was taking place in front of her...\"

    Were they signaling early enough for her to have recognized their intent at the point where she needed to decided to slow down or pass? Even if they were, does that obligate her to yield to them? I always interpret a left signal prior to merging left as a request of faster traffic to yield to me, not as a declaration that they must yield. I always wait to see that they have slowed for me and are yielding to me before move left.

    So perhaps it was technically illegal to cross over the solid yellow in order to pass, and certainly not particularly polite to decide not to yield (assuming she had sufficient advance notice), but is it really reckless for her to assume that the cyclists would not choose to move into her path?

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  • Gene June 18, 2007 at 1:49 pm

    Two questions:

    1) To quote from the original post:

    \"The vehicle, a 2008 Dodge Avenger, struck the signaling bicyclist while it was STILL IN IT\'S LANE OF TRAFFIC.\" (Caps are mine for emphasis.)

    Would this be relevant at all that she did not fully move into the other lane? While maybe not \"reckless\" (for the courts to decide), certainly careless and tragic that she did not provide a greater margin for error by moving fully into the other lane (though it was illegal at that point) or by waiting behind as she would for another motor vehicle.

    2) Would the discussion be different if the other vehicle had been a car that had slowed to 15mph to turn?

    In your defense, I assume that by now you agree with nearly all the points other have made and are just nitpicking about the definition of the term \"reckless\".

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  • NoChain June 18, 2007 at 2:19 pm

    Gene,

    I think a better analogy than a car that had slowed to 15 mph to turn, is a motorcyclist that had slowed to 15 mph to turn. There is certainly no need to move entirely into the oncoming lane when passing a motorcyclist, particularly one who is biased to the right side of the lane. Note that a motorcyclists would probably establish ROW in the left part of the lane prior to slowing. The cyclists only had ROW in the right part of the lane when they were already moving only 15 mph. Signaling does not give a cyclist ROW in the left part of the lane. What gives him ROW there is the lack of anyone else having ROW there. And someone in the process of passing him has that ROW (so he doesn\'t), ignoring again the no pass zone complications.

    The question of whether what the motorist did was reckless is my main question, and has been from my first post here. I don\'t think she did anything too out of the ordinary. The point is this is something that all cyclists can and should be prepared for, and ride accordingly.

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  • Gene June 18, 2007 at 4:03 pm

    NoChain,
    Glad that we have able to clarify your main question. To quote from your original post (#52), you stated:

    \"I would like to understand what the driver did that you all think was so terrible. I understand the result of her driving with a suspended license and crossing a double-yellow while passing cyclists resulted in a horrible tragedy, but is what she did really all that bad? What did she do?\"

    You used the term \"terrible\" and the phrase \"really all that bad\". You did not use the term \"reckless\" or even \"out of the ordinary\". Your original words were not very precise and gave a much different connotation and feel to your post than your most recent comment. Would you agree that her actions don\'t have to be \"reckless\" to be \"terrible\"? (Though it is truly a sorry legacy of our car culture that her actions could be classified as \"terrible\" but not \"reckless\".)

    I agree with you that many of us need to increase our cycling skills and awareness, maybe even more than we know. The one skill you mention about riding in a straight line is critical as is learning about lane position. And, yes, we need to anticipate poor driving behavior. But let\'s keep pushing for car driver accountability too. We need it all.

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  • wsbob June 18, 2007 at 5:47 pm

    I\'m hoping that an intensive investigation of this incident and fatal collision will be conducted, including a graphic re-enactment as clearly as possible indicating distances between cyclists, the car driver in relation to the road and intersection.

    In the letter to the editor in the Oregonian, a statement from the guy riding behind the fatally injured cyclist, Timothy O\'Donnell, said that O\'Donnell was 90 yds ahead of him when the Jennifer Knight\'s car passed him. In other words, the cyclists were not riding in a close pack, but apart from each other to the extent that approximately 6 car lengths lay between the two cyclists. So even though Knight may is entitled to expect slower going cyclists to yeild to her faster speed in a passing manoeuver, I do not see that this is the case when cyclists, like any legitimate users of the road are distanced to the extent that multiple passing would pose an unreasonable danger to anybody.

    I\'m guessing that O\'Donnell was within a 100\' of the intersection when he started to signal and commence his turn manoeuver. Witnesses will have to confirm that. As far as I\'m concerned though, based on my feeble recollection of what the Oregon Driver\'s Manual actually states, once any vehicle signals and commences a turn consistent with regulations, drivers are merely notified of request, but are absolutely obligated to yeild to the driver making the turn. More than a law, this is just common sense.

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  • wsbob June 18, 2007 at 10:13 pm

    Sorry, the following correction to the second to last sentence in my post:

    \".....drivers are not merely notified of a request,...\"

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  • JeremyE June 18, 2007 at 11:07 pm

    I\'m afraid \"cooperat[ing] with the passer\" really is still a crappy way of assigning blame to the dead, NoChain. Here\'s why I really dislike your line of reasoning in the practical sense, since the legal sense is fairly well exhausted at this point:

    I was riding along a road with no shoulder, elevated above onion fields yesterday. Normally quiet, little traffic. As it leaves the onion fields, the road goes through a series of small rollers, just big enough to hide a vehicle. As I\'m riding up the first of the rollers, I see a red Chevy S-10-type truck oncoming and have a jacked-up maroon Dodge full-size roaring up behind me (probably speeding, definitely violating the basic rule of a narrow elevated road commonly used by slow-moving vehicles). The road is split by a double-yellow (yeah, that\'s not just technically a no passing zone, for the record).

    Seeing we were all three going to meet at about the same time, I maintain my line about 4 feet from the fog line and begin to try to communicate with the driver to slow down with my left hand out moving it down and back (tough, I know, since there is no common, legally recognized signal for slow-the-f-down-jerkwad).

    Dude continues to accelerate as all three of us crest the roller at the same time. The S-10 bails to his right, kicking up gravel. I bail to my right hopping into the ditch. Dude in the Dodge speeds up and continues on his merry way straddling the double-yellow.

    Bottom line: A situation that could have caused a major crash never would have happened had jerkwad in the Dodge slowed down and waited the 300 yards it took to get to the stop sign and NOT attempted to pass illegally.

    Quite frankly, O\'Donnell\'s death discussed here probably saved me as I was thinking about it specifically and ready to bail when jerkwad met the S-10 and I at the same time. And to clarify, my newfound awareness does not absolve jerkwad of his responsibility to follow the dang traffic laws. Sometimes I really wish we were more like Europe and did not give licenses out just because you have a pulse and can guess a few multiple choice questions right.

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  • NoChain June 19, 2007 at 11:25 am

    wsbob, you believe that \"once any vehicle signals and commences a turn consistent with regulations, drivers are [not] merely notified of [the] request, but are absolutely obligated to yeild to the driver making the turn.\" You are not alone. Most cyclists seem to believe this too, not to mention many motorists.

    But the fact is that the person turning (or changing lateral position) does not have right of way over the person going straight along an adjacent parallel line. You have right of way to continue going straight along your line, but you can only turn (or change lateral position) if it is clear and safe to do so without violating anyone else\'s right to continue going straight (unless they explicitly yield to you). Again, I\'m ignoring the complications here due to this being a no-pass zone.

    This basic rule - that turning traffic yields to through traffic - applies not only in every state, but every country in the world, so far as I know.

    The idea that all one has to do to establish right-of-way to turn or change lateral position is clearly signal intent is very dangerous. I urge you to wipe that notion from your mind as quickly as possible. If broader understanding of this rule and its implications is what comes out of this tragedy, that would be a very good thing. R.I.P., Tim.

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  • NoChain June 19, 2007 at 11:38 am

    Jeremy, I\'m sorry you feel I\'m trying to assign blame to Tim. I\'m not. That may, however, be an unavoidable unintended consequence of the point I am trying to make: riding on roads with motor traffic can be very tricky, and, among other things, it\'s important to not change lateral position (more than a few inches) without first making sure it\'s clear and safe to do so. Whether or not that was a factor in this incident doesn\'t really matter. What matters is that as many cyclists as possible understand it to be true, and ride accordingly, so that we can reduce the incidence of tragedies that can be avoided with better understanding of this.

    I\'ve been in situations similar to the one that you describe, and applaud your efforts to recognize and try to manage it. The most important thing is to establish and maintain, with continual updates to the front, rear and sides, situational awareness. Without being aware of each situation as it unfolds, there is no way you can manage it.

    The only thing I might have done differently is when, noticing that riding 4\' out from the fog line and using the slow/stop left arm signal was not causing the Dodge driver to slow down, I (assuming there was still time enough) would probably have moved even further left, left of center, looked back and/or zigged and zagged. That usually gets their attention. Don\'t forget to smile, wave and nod afterwards!

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  • Gene June 19, 2007 at 12:07 pm

    And that would be correct--drivers moving laterally must yield. To cite rule #4 of the Rules of the Road from \"The Science and Politics of Bicycle Driving\" found at humantransport.org/bicycledriving:

    4. Yielding when moving laterally. Drivers who want to move laterally on the roadway must yield to traffic in their new line of travel. Yielding means looking behind, to the side, and in front and waiting until the movement can be made without violating the right of way of other highway users.

    I\'m sure this can be found from many sources but the rule is to yield. You are also correct to acknowledge that you are ignoring the complications arising from this being a no passing zone.

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  • NoChain June 19, 2007 at 4:41 pm

    Gene, note sure if you\'re disagreeing with me or not, but when a motorist has already moved laterally in order to initiate a pass, she is moving along one line, while the cyclists she is passing, or planning on passing, are moving along another parallel line. The obligation to yield prior to moving laterally in that case is on the cyclist up ahead that she will be passing - he must not move laterally into her path. He must yield. He does not have the right to move left and initiate his turn simply because he signaled properly first. He almost must yield to anyone already moving straight into the space he intends to occupy. Again, ignoring the complications arising from this being a no passing zone. This is critical for all cyclists to understand, respect, and ride accordingly. It could save your life.

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  • John C. Ratliff June 19, 2007 at 6:39 pm

    NoChain,

    I think what you said about yeilding is wrong. Here is what you said above:

    \"wsbob, you believe that \"once any vehicle signals and commences a turn consistent with regulations, drivers are [not] merely notified of [the] request, but are absolutely obligated to yeild to the driver making the turn.\" You are not alone. Most cyclists seem to believe this too, not to mention many motorists.

    \"But the fact is that the person turning (or changing lateral position) does not have right of way over the person going straight along an adjacent parallel line. You have right of way to continue going straight along your line, but you can only turn (or change lateral position) if it is clear and safe to do so without violating anyone else\'s right to continue going straight (unless they explicitly yield to you). Again, I\'m ignoring the complications here due to this being a no-pass zone.

    \"This basic rule - that turning traffic yields to through traffic - applies not only in every state, but every country in the world, so far as I know.

    \"The idea that all one has to do to establish right-of-way to turn or change lateral position is clearly signal intent is very dangerous. I urge you to wipe that notion from your mind as quickly as possible. If broader understanding of this rule and its implications is what comes out of this tragedy, that would be a very good thing. R.I.P., Tim.\"

    Here is what the Oregon Driver\'s Manual states on page 43:

    \"Yielding Right of Way

    \"There will be many times when you need to yield or slow down so another vehicle can proceed safely. Yielding simply means you must slow or, if necessary, stop your vehicle to allow another vehicle or a pedestrian to continue on their way safely.

    \"The right of way law does not give anyone the right of way; it only says who must yield. Stop signs, yield signs, and traffic signals control
    traffic at busy intersections. They tell drivers who may go without stopping or who must stop and yield right of way to other drivers, bicyclists, or pedestrians.

    \"At an intersection where there are no signs or signals, you must look and yield the right of way to any vehicle in the intersection or approaching
    from your right at the same time. The diagram on the right illustrates a right of way situation. The car yields to the truck if the car is going straight ahead. If the car turns left, it yields to both the truck and the bicyclist. The truck yields to the bicyclist.

    \"Here are some important rules and guidelines
    about right of way. Study them carefully:

    • ...When you make a left turn at an intersection or into an alley, private road, driveway, or any other place, you must yield the right of way to oncoming traffic until it is safe to turn...

    • ...If you enter an intersection while exceeding the speed limit, you give up any right of way you may have had.\"

    My reading of this is that the following traffic must yeild to the left-turn vehicle.

    Here is what the Oregon Driver\'s Manual says about Bicycles:

    \"Bicycles

    \"Bicycle use on streets and highways is growing daily, both for exercise and transportation in city areas. The same traffic rules and regulations apply to both bicyclists and vehicle drivers. A major problem for drivers is the ability to see bicyclists, especially at night. Sometimes they may be in the blind spot of your vehicle. When you approach a bicyclist, keep on the lookout and slow down. Give them plenty of room when passing and be prepared to stop suddenly. Bicyclists have the same rights and duties as drivers of motor vehicles, except those which obviously cannot apply to a bicycle rider. In addition, bicyclists have some special rules to follow. To avoid conflict, drivers of motor vehicles need to know the rules:

    • You must yield to bicyclists at intersections, the same as you do for other types of vehicles.
    • Do not crowd bicyclists. Wait for a clear stretch of road before passing a bicyclist who is moving slower than your motor vehicle in a lane too narrow to share. Remember, the bicycle is a slow-moving vehicle and this may require you to slow down. The greater the speed difference between you and a bicyclist, the more room you should allow when passing...

    Riding Rules
    To become more confident in your riding skills, please obtain the Oregon Bicyclist Manual at your local DMV office, or the online version at: http://egov.oregon.gov/ODOT/HWY/BIKEPED.
    As a bicyclist in Oregon, you must be aware that bicycles are considered vehicles. You have the same rights, duties, and responsibilities as vehicle drivers. Bicyclists must ride in the direction of traffic and as near to the right side of the road or street as is practical. On a one-way street in a city, a bicyclist may ride as near as possible to either the right or left side of the street or roadway.
    There are some exceptions to this rule, such as when a bicyclist is overtaking and passing another bicycle or vehicle, when a bicyclist is getting ready to make a left turn, or when a bicyclist is riding at the same speed as traffic. A bicyclist also does not need to keep right if a lane is too narrow to let a bicycle and vehicle travel side-by-side, or if riding
    close to the edge of the roadway is unsafe because of parked vehicles, fixed or moving objects, animals, or road surface hazards. When lane width permits, bicyclists may ride side-by-side along Oregon roads...
    ...Signal your intentions clearly and in plenty of time. There are two ways you may signal a right turn. Use the standard, upturned left arm signal (see drawing on page 34), or extend the right arm straight out to the right. The signal does not need to be given continuously for the last 100 feet.\"

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  • Gene June 19, 2007 at 11:16 pm

    Yeah, I wasn\'t very clear on my post regarding whether I agreed or not. Mostly I was just confirming that you had stated the rule correctly and then cited where I had found the rule.

    Regarding how I understand this to apply to the cyclist, I agree that, before moving laterally, the cyclist must look behind to see that a move would not impede someone in the line to which they wanted to move--i.e. that other traffic in that line was far enough behind to not be a threat.

    As for what actually happened in this case, we can only surmise as we were not there, but certainly I agree that a cyclist must always look behind prior to moving laterally to be in compliance with this rule of the road. What really complicates matters in this case is the no passing zone and the T-intersection. I believe John has some comments above related to that.

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  • wsbob June 19, 2007 at 11:16 pm

    I had some idea the road approached a \"t\" intesection. Not sure, but doesn\'t really matter at this point for the discussion. If Knight was straddling the double line trying to pass O\'Donnell, and he crossed in front of her, the most likely reason that would have happened is that both car and bike were at or in the intersection. No user of the road, excersing care and responsibility, with the exception of emergency or law enforcement vehicles with appropriate lights flashing, attempts to pass someone in an intersection when that person has signaled, indicating the intention to turn left. Except jerks and crazy people.

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  • NoChain June 20, 2007 at 9:41 am

    John, you say your \"reading of this is that the following traffic must yeild to the left-turn vehicle.\" I\'ve read and reread the laws you cited, and I don\'t understand how you conclude this. None of the examples apply specifically to this situation: one driver merges left into the path of another driver passing the first on the left: who is supposed to yield to whom? If the first driver is already in front (in line) of the second, and is signaling left and slowing, then yes, of course, the second needs to yield to the one in front of him.

    Anyway, if you want to get technical with the law, check out 811.375:

    811.375 Unlawful or unsignaled change of lane; penalty. (1) A person commits the offense of unlawful or unsignaled change of lanes if the person is operating a vehicle upon a highway and the person changes lanes by moving to the right or left upon the highway when:

    (a) The movement cannot be made with reasonable safety; or

    (b) The driver fails to give an appropriate signal continuously during not less than the last 100 feet traveled by the vehicle before changing lanes.

    http://whiz.to/~papera/ORS/811.html

    Note that moving left or right upon the highway is considered a lane change.

    If one is struck as soon as he starts moving left, I think that shows that the \"movement cannot be made with reasonable safety\". I seriously doubt the cyclist gave a signal for 100 feet (over 4 seconds at 15 mph) prior to initiating the movement.

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  • NoChain June 20, 2007 at 9:53 am

    As to the complication of this being a no-pass zone (or even an intersection with another road), I think it\'s a technicality which can happen to be used to penalize the motorist, but is not relevant to the behavior of the cyclist.

    After all, this could have easily happened on a stretch of road where passing is legal, and the cyclists were turning left into a roadside business on the other side, or something like that. In any case, I think we can all agree that a cyclist\'s behavior with respect to looking back to make sure it\'s safe before he moves left from the right side should not vary based on whether he\'s in a no-pass zone or not.

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  • JeremyE June 20, 2007 at 10:04 am

    \"If one is struck as soon as he starts moving left, I think that shows that the \"movement cannot be made with reasonable safety\". I seriously doubt the cyclist gave a signal for 100 feet (over 4 seconds at 15 mph) prior to initiating the movement.\"

    You doubt it, yet you are, in fact, assigning culpability to the rider while you a) don\'t have all the facts and b) claim to know details you could only know if you were there. Assuming things to assign blame is still not cool and undermines your points, despite your valid assertions that folks need to be situationally aware.

    Regardless of what O\'Donnell did or did not do, the driver put everyone involved in a dangerous (nay, deadly) situation by an ILLEGAL ACT (actually several, but who\'s counting, right?). You can\'t argue your way around that.

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  • NoChain June 20, 2007 at 11:28 am

    Jeremy, you\'re missing my point. I have no objection with throwing the book at the driver for her obvious ILLEGAL ACT. My point is that what she did was, practically speaking, quite normal (not unusual) and should be expected by all cyclists, who should ride accordingly. Certainly we should not ride as if we won\'t be passed while we\'re at the right edge of a lane simply because we signaled and there is a solid stripe for our direction and/or we are approaching an intersection.

    Even if O\'Donnell was in compliance with 811.375 (b) and signaled for 500 feet prior to moving left, doing so would not obviate him from complying with 811.375 (a) -- not moving left when it is unsafe to do so.

    But what\'s much more important here than the laws of Oregon, are the laws of human nature, physics and common sense, which all say one should make sure road space is clear and is not occupied, and is not to be occupied within the next few seconds, by an object weighing 3,000 pounds and moving at 45 mph before we move into it.

    I think all the emphasis on the relatively common and not unusual ILLEGAL ACT of the driver in this case takes too much attention, particularly within the cycling community, from the power and control that cyclists have to avoid falling victim to these relatively common and not unusual ILLEGAL ACTs.

    Any cyclist out there who thinks simply signaling for a second or so (or even 10 seconds) obligates motorists to yield to him is another O\'Donnell tragedy waiting to happen. That\'s what I\'m trying to prevent, because many of the comments here indicate this is what many cyclists believe. If bringing attention to this wrong-headed attitude saves just one cyclist life -- and it could potentially save dozens per year if this understanding was widespread in the cycling community and thousands of cyclists developed their habits accordingly -- then my objective here would be achieved.

    The resistance within the cycling community - from widespread refusal to learn much less follow the rules of the road, to lack of interest in taking cycling classes and reading books on traffic cycling - to accepting efforts to save cyclist lives by bringing attention to the role of cyclist behavior in cyclist safety, an area where we have untold levels of interest and control, is really bizarre. In contrast, there seems to be unlimited interest in focusing on an area where we have very little influence: blaming motorists.

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  • wsbob June 21, 2007 at 12:20 am

    NoChain, you have a habit of trying to imply that the worst behavior exhibited by certain cyclists using public roadways exemplifies standard riding behavior of all cyclists using public roadways. Now why would you be trying to do that? Surely not for the benefit of cyclists or motorists. There are bad riders and bad drivers, but cyclists or drivers in general are not predominately affected by the kind of responsibility evasive mentality you suggest. Of course, there is a dramatic state of adjustment both are finding themselves obliged to confront as a result of increasing numbers of both cars and bikes on roadways. The presence of greater numbers of both on roads together has been seen to bring out some of the worst behavior from some members of both parties, but this doesn\'t neccessarily mean that greater numbers of cyclists will elect not to aquire and use good and safe riding techniques as they share public roads with cars and trucks.

    I\'m not sure why you don\'t seem to understand the situation regarding cyclists using hand signals to indicate an intention to turn to others driving or riding on roads with them. A cyclist or any vehicle using hand signals for an appropriate period of time prior to an actual turn absolutely obligates the person behind to yield to the person making the turn. Obviously, signals do not guarantee that the person behind will stop. The manoeuver is made in part, on faith, all other precautionary steps taken, that the person behind will actually stop, even though there\'s no absolute way to know that they will.

    This is why I and others have essentially said, that in certain situations, even though a cyclist may do everything right, the driver of another vehicle might not, resulting in some kind of mishap. Training, safety courses and laws effectively addressing the need for exercising greater responsibilty for ones driving and riding habits is likely to help minimize such mishaps and worse, but the risk a person on a lighter vehicle is susceptible to from a heavier vehicle may always be a reality as long as they are on the road together. And I am not in favor of banning one or the other from the roads.

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  • NoChain June 21, 2007 at 7:48 am

    wsbob, you write: \"The manoeuver is made in part, on faith, all other precautionary steps taken, that the person behind will actually stop, even though there\'s no absolute way to know that they will.\"

    Faith has no role in determining whether someone is yielding to your signal. You should always look and verify that they are actually yielding before you move into the space in question.

    Again, the overtaking driver on a parallel path has no obligation to slow down, much less stop, simply because a cyclist up ahead has signaled his desire/intent to move/turn left. Now, if the cyclist is so far up ahead that he can easily move left long before the motorist reaches him, and, so, the situation becomes a driver of a slow vehicle being approached from behind by a driver of a faster vehicle, then of course the faster driver is obligated to slow and not hit the slower vehicle (cyclist) from behind. Perhaps that\'s the situation you\'re thinking of, because there I agree, faith has a role (though I use a mirror to verify the requisite slowing is actually taking place even in those situations, but that\'s beside the point).

    But according to all the reports I have read, that is not at all what happened here, in which the driver apparently had insufficient time to react, much less avoid hitting, the cyclist who drifted in front of her. That\'s why all they can cite her for is driving without a license and illegal passing. That\'s why the D.A. says there are no grounds for \"reckless\" driving. If she came up behind a cyclist who was directly in front of her, and had been there for some significant amount of time, and simply ran him down, that would be a totally different story. But what almost certainly happened here is that within a matter of a few seconds, if not fractions of a second, before she was to pass him, the cyclist took his left arm off the bars to signal, looked back, and drifted into her path. Learning to avoid drifting when switching from 2-arm to 1-arm steering requires not a lot, but some, practice for most (drifting in the direction of arm removed from the bars is typical). This, combined with being in a situation where he was planning on turning left, and probably being as unaware of the fast approaching overtaking motorist as the cyclist behind him reports that he was, explains why he would quickly and unexpectedly swerve left into her path.

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  • NoChain June 21, 2007 at 9:49 am

    wsbob, one more thing regarding this: \"A cyclist or any vehicle using hand signals for an appropriate period of time prior to an actual turn absolutely obligates the person behind to yield to the person making the turn.\" This is false. It doesn\'t matter how long the signaling is happening, the one moving laterally always must yield to the overtaker. Presence establishes right-of-way; signaled intent never establishes right-of-way.

    There are two requirements to turning or moving laterally:

    yielding to anyone who has a right-of-way claim to that space, signaling so that everyone who may be affected is notified of your intent sooner rather than later.

    #1 is much more important than #2. No matter how long you signal prior to moving, the requirement to comply with #1 is still there.

    For example, when driving on a freeway and getting stuck behind a slow truck you might have your left signal on for 30 seconds or longer as a faster stream of traffic passes by you, no one yielding. It doesn\'t matter. You must continue yielding to them, unless and until one of them chooses to yield to you, and slows down to let you in.

    The same principle applies when a cyclist at the right side of the road intends to move left in order to make a left turn. He must yield to anyone passing on his left, no matter how long he has been signaling, and if he is hit as soon as he moves (or seconds later) then he did not yield, by definition.

    Also, if he has enough time to move left and establish right-of-way in the lane (by traveling in a given position for a significant amount of time), and then is hit, then the whole issue of whether he signaled prior to moving left is moot. Then also it could not be said that he \"drifted\" in the driver\'s path. But in this case how much has been made of the supposedly significant fact that he had signaled, the reports of him drifting into her path, and the lack of any claims by any witnesses that he had established right-of-way before he was hit make it quite clear that this was not the situation here.

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  • NoChain June 21, 2007 at 9:51 am

    The two requirements for turning or moving laterally referred to above should have been formatted as follows:

    1) yielding to anyone who has a right-of-way claim to that space

    2) signaling so that everyone who may be affected is notified of your intent sooner rather than later.

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  • Matt Picio June 21, 2007 at 4:57 pm

    Do we know if they were riding on the shoulder or in the lane? If they were in the lane, then they\'re entitled to the full lane - the indication of a turn warns drivers behind that they need to slow down. A cyclist moving left within their own lane is not violating any of the statutes.

    Distances and speeds can also be deceiving and difficult to judge, even if you\'re an experienced rider. What seems \"safe\" may not be, especially if you have 55+ mph traffic on a 45 mph road.

    In any case, the other posters here are correct - it\'s difficult and probably unwise to make specific comments about this incident without knowing the facts, and AFAIK none of us were there.

    As an aside, so many drivers are unaware of yielding / passing / merging laws that their behavior is unpredictable to begin with.

    I strongly believe there should be more driver education, and that Oregon road tests should include some sort of testing involving passing cyclists on the road and yielding to pedestrians in unmarked intersections.

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  • John C. Ratliff June 21, 2007 at 9:47 pm

    NoChain,

    First, this is what the Oregon Driver Manual 2004-2005 states for bicyclists and signaling:

    \"Signal your intentions clearly and in plenty of time. There are two ways you may signal a right turn. Use the standard, upturned left arm signal (see drawing on page 34), or extend the right arm straight out to the right. The signal does not need to be given continuously for the last 100 feet.\"

    Second, the overtaking driver has the duty and obligation to yeild to the turning cyclists in an intersection when the cyclists is turning left, especially if they are in a \"no pass\" area and the cyclist has signaled a turn. To not do so endangers everyone, contrary to what you say above. I\'ll give an example.

    If I am in a vehicle, and signal a turn onto a side street, I would expect that a following car would slow down rather than come around me in an attempted pass. To attempt a pass is to invite a collision.

    This is exactly the situation on this road. The following car cannot pass safely, and so should not attempt a pass in this situation. The fact that the pass would be illegal in this place is another piece to show that the pass is not to be made.

    You stated above:

    \"Jeremy, you\'re missing my point. I have no objection with throwing the book at the driver for her obvious ILLEGAL ACT. My point is that what she did was, practically speaking, quite normal (not unusual) and should be expected by all cyclists, who should ride accordingly. Certainly we should not ride as if we won\'t be passed while we\'re at the right edge of a lane simply because we signaled and there is a solid stripe for our direction and/or we are approaching an intersection.\"

    What you fail to realize is that this is \"normal\" only for car-bicycle interactions. It is not normal for car-car interactions. Nor is it legal for either. You also say, \"Presence establishes right-of-way; signaled intent never establishes right-of-way.\" An illegal pass does not establish right-of-way in a legal sense. It establishes a \"might-over-right\" attitude that leads to fatal accidents. Think about it. Would she have attempted this kind of a pass if it was a log truck attempting the turn?

    John

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  • wsbob June 21, 2007 at 11:44 pm

    NoChain, I\'ve essentially said to you before, if there is something you have read that leads you to believe O\'Donnell turned in front of Knight as you say he did, why don\'t you repost that material here or provide the links to it? I may have missed the account you\'re referring to. I\'ve not noticed any very detailed accounts of what happened in this incident, so if you know of them, lets see them. If O\'Donnell is the party primarily responsible for this accident through improper turning procedure, and Knight was driving as any reasonable driver should in such a situation, I\'ll gladly extend any apologies due.

    My sense, based on the words of the cyclist following some 90 yds behind O\'Donnell when Knight hit him, is that Knight utterly disregarded due caution called for in this situation and as a result, is due no apologies.

    So, NoChain, if you can provide what you say you have read that proves or suggests as you are saying, that O\'Donnell suddenly turned in front of Knight, I will be interested in reading it, as will probably others following this story.

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  • steve June 22, 2007 at 9:07 am

    Following Nochain\'s asinine logic, all cyclists should ride like timed and scared children.

    Desperately clutching to whatever inch of \"safe\" road is allotted us.

    Of course there are dangers. As in most things calculated risk comes into play. This incessant quibbling over a string of hypotheticals and imagined situations, is tiresome and offensive.

    Post after post, enough already! Some one just tell him he is right so we can all be rid of this nonsense!

    In case you missed it a person lost their life Nochain. You are not smarter and more aware than the rest of us. Kindly get off your freakin soap box already.

    Sheesh!

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  • NoChain June 22, 2007 at 12:06 pm

    wsbob, this is from an article in the Oregonian:

    \"O\'Donnell, riding second in the single-file line, signaled for a left turn, drifting left as he prepared to turn. \"

    http://blog.oregonlive.com/breakingnews/2007/06/aloha_bicyclist_dies_after_bei.html

    It\'s also practically inconceivable how he could have been struck if he hadn\'t drifted left into her path while signaling. It would mean he was on course, not drifting, swerving or turning, for a significant amount of time, and she just ran him down from behind, or she swerved right into him. None of the articles or witness reports even hint that this is what happened.

    John, you say that what I \"fail to realize is that this is \'normal\' only for car-bicycle interactions.\" I don\'t. Roads are often signed and striped conservatively. For example, speed limits on curves are set based on the requirements of trucks with relatively high centers of mass (motorcyclists can often safely double or even triple these speeds). No-pass stripes are painted based on normal conditions, like a 55 mph car passing a 45 mph truck. The sight line requirements are much higher for that situation than for a motorist passing a bicyclist who is riding near the fog line. If Knight had been riding a Yamaha she wouldn\'t have had to cross the solid stripe at all in order to pass, but could easily have presented the same risk to a suddenly drifting O\'Donnell. In some states it\'s explicitly legal to cross the solid stripe in order to pass a bicyclist. So, yes, what\'s normal for car-bikes is not necessarily normal for car-car. There are probably hundreds if not thousands of instances this very minute of cars passing bicyclists all over this country by crossing over a solid stripe, many undoubtedly in situation where it\'s conceivable for the cyclist to start signaling and moving left, and no one\'s batting an eyelash. Know why? Because the cyclist being passed isn\'t suddenly and unexpectedly drifting into the path of the overtaking motorist. This kind of pass is very normal. It certainly should not be unexpected by bicyclists, and we should ride accordingly: make sure it\'s clear and safe to occupy space before moving into it.

    And Steve, you say my logic indicates \"all cyclists should ride like timed and scared children.\" Not at all. I\'m just calling for common sense and due care: make sure it\'s clear and safe to occupy space before moving into it. And remember that merely signaling does not obligate anyone to yield to you; you must yield to through drivers before you move laterally into space they are about to occupy. This is not rocket science, nor does it imply being scared or timid. It\'s about respect, the kind of respect the ocean swimmer must have for the power of the ocean. This is the kind of respect we road bicyclists must have for the traffic that is our environment. Having this respect also has nothing to do with hypotheticals, as it is manifested in simple practices we should all be following on every single ride.

    Wsbob, yes, in hindsight, it\'s tempting to say that \"Knight utterly disregarded due caution called for in this situation\". But considering what she did was relatively normal behavior for the way motorists commonly pass cyclists, even legal in some states, I don\'t think the claim of utter disregard for due caution is necessarily appropriate.

    But drifting into space without first making sure that it is not about to be occupied by an overtaking motorist does seem like disregarding due caution to me, with or without having the benefit of hindsight.

    In summary, I think what you\'re all assuming (please correct me if I\'m wrong) is that from the moment O\'Donnell first signaled, Knight could have, and therefore should have, yielded, period. Now, she claims she never saw him signal. Maybe she\'s lying. Or maybe he signaled and there was insufficient time for her to notice. We don\'t know, but my point is it doesn\'t matter, because even if he did signal, even if he did signal for a significantly long time prior to moving left, that would not have obligated her to yield, except for the arguably irrelevant issue of her having to cross a solid stripe in order to pass him here because she was driving a Dodge rather than riding a Harley.

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  • Qwendolyn June 22, 2007 at 2:38 pm

    OK

    I didn\'t read all of NOCHAIN\'s posts, but I have to call him out on his math in post #52

    \"15 mph and the driver at 60 mph, that\'s 22 feet per second and 88 fps respectively\"

    60mph is 880ft/second

    and

    15 mph is 220ft/second

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  • NoChain June 22, 2007 at 3:44 pm

    Qwendolyn,

    o 5,280 feet in a mile
    o 60 * 5,280 = 316,800 feet in 60 miles.
    o 3600 (60 * 60) seconds in an hour.
    o 316,800 / 3600 = 88
    o 60 mph = 316,800 ft/hr = 88 feet/second.

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  • wsbob June 22, 2007 at 3:51 pm

    \"...drifting left as he prepared to turn. \" from the above linked Oregonian article.

    That\'s not a definitive statement indicating O\'Donnell incorrectly veered into Knight\'s path as he commenced turning. Who\'s even making that statement? A witness? No. Aparrently, it\'s the writer(s) and his interpretation, based on who knows what information they had before them.

    Many details need to be known about this incident before an accurate, definitive conclusion can be drawn. Where was O\'Donnell in relation to the intersection when he began \"..drifting...\" left? If O\'Donnell was second in the line, who was first, what was that person doing, and how far apart from each other were they?

    If Knight was attempting to pass O\'Donnell in the intersection or less than 100\' before it, she shouldn\'t have been. Some motor vehicle drivers habits are bad, but passing in intersections or before them where the vehicle being passed is travelling 15 mph or more is not relatively normal or safe driving.

    I hope somebody besides the police are conducting an investigation to find out what really happened on NW Cornelius Shefflin Rd. The driver should have been held in custody pending drug and alcohol tests and possibly a psych evaluation. The driver killed somebody, almost certainly due to major negligence on her part. We should want to know exactly what the source of that negligence might have been so as to be able avoid it happening again.

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  • NoChain June 22, 2007 at 4:45 pm

    Yes, wsbob, it\'s not a definitive statement, but it also happens to be consistent with all the other reports, and no one has presented a scenario in which he could have been hit if he had not drifted as reported in that article. Can you?

    It is not illegal or abnormal to pass in an intersection approach, and, again, it\'s common practice. Anyone who expects to not be passed simply because he is approaching an intersection is another O\'Donnell tragedy waiting to happen.

    What would you want an investigation to determine? Where he was when he began moving left? Assuming that could even be determined, what difference would it make if it was 200, 100, 50, 25, or 10 feet prior to the intersection? Regardless of where he was, he apparently drifted left into space before he verified it was clear and safe to do so. That\'s something to be avoided independent of where you are.

    You wondered about where the cyclist ahead of him was, as if that might be relevant. Again, what difference does it make? Perhaps he was far enough ahead to have already crossed. Maybe he was ahead but still riding at the edge of the road. Clearly, he wasn\'t as far left as O\'Donnell, or he was already clear after making the turn. Why do you think it might matter which it was?

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  • JeremyE June 22, 2007 at 4:45 pm

    NoChain said \"We don\'t know, but my point is it doesn\'t matter, because even if he did signal, even if he did signal for a significantly long time prior to moving left, that would not have obligated her to yield, except for the arguably irrelevant issue of her having to cross a solid stripe in order to pass him here because she was driving a Dodge rather than riding a Harley.\"

    You\'re right. Silly me to think a driver passing when not one but two rules of the road are being broken is not irrelevant. I\'ve been convinced. It\'s all the cyclist\'s fault.

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  • NoChain June 22, 2007 at 5:24 pm

    Jeremy, the legal term for \"relevant\" in this context is \"proximate cause\".

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Proximate_cause

    What we\'re really discussing here is whether her legal transgressions were \"proximate causes\" of the crash. That is, were they causes that lead directly to the crash?

    The suspended licence issue is the easiest to see that it is not a proximate cause, since she, or any other driver, could easily have done the exact same thing with a legal license.

    Crossing the solid center stripe is not quite as clear. But consider that if she hadn\'t been breaking that rule (by being in a state where crossing a solid center stripe is legal to pass cyclists, or if she was riding a motorcycle and so not needing to cross the center stripe, or if the lane was 15\' wide instead of 11\' wide, or if there was paved shoulder or bike lane and O\'Donnell was riding in it), but still otherwise passing him in the same manner (same passing distance and relative speeds), he would have been in the same peril if he signaled, turned and drifted in the same manner. That indicates her crossing the stripe is not a proximate cause of the crash and is what I meant by it being arguably irrelevant to the issue of whether he signaled, and for how long, prior to drifting left.

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  • wsbob June 22, 2007 at 6:19 pm

    NoChain, what other reports? The one you provided is slim to nothing in terms of describing what happened. Nobody really knows what happened at NW Cornelius Shefflin Rd, that\'s why an investigation is in order.

    Sure I can speculate on a scenario where O\'Donnell could have been hit while exercising all due caution: The riders were riding the fog line, but 100 or so feet from the intersection, O\'Donnell, thinking to make a turn at the intersection ahead, moved to the center of the lane, occuppying the lane for the turn he was preparing to make. Meanwhile, Knight, some considerable distance back, is driving fast, straddling the double line in her attempt to pass all the cyclists in one fell swoop.

    O\'Donnell, (90 feet ahead of the next closest cyclist) looking back and signalling as he continues to approach the intersection, perhaps sees Knight in the process of passing multiple cyclists some distance back, yet having reached the beginning of his turn, crosses from the middle of the lane to the left of the lane, crossing the double line, knowing that because he is signalling, because he is approaching an intersection, and because there is ample room for Knight\'s car to fit in between him and the next closest cyclist behind him, it\'s reasonable to expect that this is what will happen.

    But instead of doing so, Knight just plows on ahead at 60mph, straddling the double line, and runs right into O\'Donnell.

    NoChain, at long last, all I can say, is, you are the reckless driver\'s and the homicical maniac driver\'s best friend if you really believe the liberties with common sense, responsibility, and the law, that you are suggesting are common and acceptable.

    You\'re entitled to your opinion NoChain. I just hope it doesn\'t give other irresponsible motorists a sense of justification that would lead them to continue injuring and killing legititmate but vulnerable users of the road. I think this is my last comment on the subject for now.

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  • Qwendolyn June 22, 2007 at 7:23 pm

    RE: post #100
    My apologies. Your math is right.

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  • Robbin June 23, 2007 at 11:25 am

    Attention All:

    I overheard a person (an employee at St Helens Community Federal Credit Union) talking about the inlaw who killed the cyclist earlier this month. By their conversation they are friends or family or both of the woman. Apparently she is from St.Helens and has family in North Plains and in Scappoose.

    Jennifer Knight the person who caused the sad death of Tim O\'donnell is going to court this week at Washington County. It is either Monday,Tuesday or Wednesday. I think all media and every bike rider and supporter of the vulnerable users bill/law should show their support by asking if drug tests and alcohol tests were done. So spread the word and check the dockets (media journalist investigators) to make sure the court date is shared with everyone.

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  • John C. Ratliff June 23, 2007 at 2:23 pm

    NoChain stated: \"It is not illegal or abnormal to pass in an intersection approach, and, again, it\'s common practice. Anyone who expects to not be passed simply because he is approaching an intersection is another O\'Donnell tragedy waiting to happen.\" Actually, in Oregon at least, it is illegal, and thus the citation issued.

    John

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  • Ken June 23, 2007 at 2:50 pm

    I thought it was illegal as well John. I think it is in most if not all states. Attempting a pass at an intersection is an invitation for an accident. Most people entering the roadway from a sideroad are only watching for traffic coming their direction and are not expecting to see a car coming the wrong way down their lane while attempting to pass someone.

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  • NoChain June 25, 2007 at 12:08 pm

    John and Ken, she was not cited for passing in an intersection approach. Passing there would have been legal had there been two lanes, or the lane was wide enough for her to pass while the cyclists road near the right side. So passing at an interesection approach is not illegal per se, and is certainly normal behavior.

    She was cited for crossing a solid center stripe into the oncoming lane in order to pass; that\'s illegal, and no one is challenging that.

    What I\'m questioning is all of you who seem to be assuming that simply doing that made it a proximate cause of the crash.

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  • Rebecca June 25, 2007 at 10:41 pm

    It could have easily been any one of us for any number of reasons and has been with so many other lives over the years.
    I think the advocacy work that is being done is important and should continue, but I think real change will not occur until we connect with average Joe motorist. We\'re viewed and discussed as \"cyclists\" instead of \"my sister, my neighbor, my kid\'s teacher\".
    I want to see a media campaign as powerful as the \"truth\" campaigns a few years back aimed at educating motorists in regards to cyclists and other vulnerable users. We live in a thriving creative, cycling culture here, let\'s put down our calculators, stop splitting hairs and utilize the most effective tool available today - the media. Im talking very informative, basic facts that you only know when you ride a bike AND drive a car such as \"when approaching a cyclist on a hill, back off at least two car lengths until you have a clear line of site to pass\" or \"glass & debris are often in the bike lane and that is why sometimes cyclist ride on or over the fog line\" or \"cyclists are just people exercising - not (always) fanatical liberals hell bent on screwing with your commute\". Or something along those lines, I\'m sure this community could make at least 10 powerful TV/Print/Radio ads to air (perhaps gratis) on local media. Also, work with the DMV to update Driver\'s Manuals & tests to include a few questions regarding cycling/motorist interactions. You put all that together with the excellent Vulnerable Users bill and some changes may begin to occur.
    My heart reaches out to the family and friends of all of our fallen comrades, and my prayers go to each of us every mile of the road. There is always a \"car back\".

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  • NoChain June 26, 2007 at 5:45 pm

    Rebecca, you seem to assume that a proximate cause in these collisions is the motorist not driving with due caution in the presence of bicyclists.

    We already annoy them because we\'re relatively slow and sometimes we\'re in the way. Now they have to drive with extra levels of caution in case we suddenly swerve out in front of them? That will just annoy them more, and cause an even bigger discord.

    I find that when I ride visibly and predictably, I\'m given all the due caution I require. A driver who does not care a smidgeon about me will still seek to avoid the hassle of hitting me, and that\'s more than good enough.

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  • JeremyE June 26, 2007 at 8:37 pm

    Still arguing the cyclist is at fault with someone who was not arguing with any of your points, merely stating more driver education about what to do around cyclists would be a good thing in any instance. Sheesh, wsbob was right; \"you are the reckless driver\'s and the homicical maniac driver\'s best friend if you really believe the liberties with common sense, responsibility, and the law, that you are suggesting are common and acceptable.\"

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  • NoChain June 26, 2007 at 10:36 pm

    Jeremy, the next 5, 10, or 100 times you ride on any 2-lane road with a solid center stripe, please take note of whether any motorists pass you by crossing that center stripe, which is just as technically illegal as what Knight did in this case, and you tell me how outraged you get at each instance.

    The primary purpose of that law is to prevent head-on collisions when moving into the oncoming lane to pass a car where the sight lines are not sufficient to do so safely. This is often not the situation at all when a car driver is passing a bicyclist, where encroaching across the center stripe is required in order to pass the cyclist with a little more space. Again, what Knight did is even legal in some states.

    To imply that she is a \"homocidal maniac driver\", or that I am a friend of such drivers, simply because she crossed a solid stripe to pass a cyclist and I\'m pointing out that doing so is not really that big a deal, and is actually quite common and normal, is totally inappropriate and entirely missing the point.

    But I guess it\'s primal in human nature to want to defend those in your own tribe, and blame those in the other tribe, regardless of the known facts. I just would hope that in this relatively literate internet subset of our culture, we could rise above these primitive instincts.

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  • JeremyE June 27, 2007 at 12:36 am

    Actually, it pisses me off every time it happens. Usually, they squeeze me because they know they are not supposed to be passing anybody there. As you yourself mention, the reason for the double yellow is it is hazardous to pass there due to a physical obstruction. I cannot stand those who would endanger my life, their life and the lives of anyone in an oncoming vehicle simply to save a few precious seconds. Those who would act as apologists for that behavior offering the excuse that everybody does it apparently didn\'t get the message my mom sent me growing up. Just because everyone else is doing it does not make it okay because a) not everyone is doing it (and there have been quite a few who did wait until we crested that hill or rounded that corner) and b) it\'s still illegal.

    I am a bit curious as to which states besides Vermont allow passing across double yellow. Vermont only allows it if you\'re not in one of a laundry list of conditions which you would be in every time you hit a double yellow in my neck of the woods.

    And for the record, I did not imply the driver in this case was a homicidal maniac. I simply agreed with wsbob that with your innumerate excuses and rationalizations as to why passing anyone, cyclist or not, in a no-pass zone (yeah, that\'s what the double yellows mean unless there is something immovable blocking the road, not simply going slower than you want) is somehow normal, safe, or otherwise okay and ignoring harm it might cause to someone else would make you a great friend to those who would violate the law willfully to harm someone with their vehicle. You practically write out a defense for what should be (and Gov. Kulongoski willing will be) indefensible.

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  • wsbob June 27, 2007 at 2:53 am

    \"To imply that she is a \"homocidal maniac driver\", ....simply because she crossed a solid stripe to pass a cyclist....\" nochain.

    Except that, NoChain, you don\'t know that she \"simply crossed a solid stripe to pass a cyclist\", nochain. The public doesn not know, and you do not know, nor have you offered any proof that Knight\'s actions in this respect were so benign, yet this is what you seem to assume and repeat ad nauseum.

    NoChain, who have you heard say, or where have you read that Jennifer Knight \"simply\" crossed a solid stripe to pass a cyclist\"? How about letting some facts filter down before you blather on any further about how motorists traveling 65 mph, straddling double-\"no passing\"-lines on two-way/two-lane roads at or near an intersection in the process of attempting to pass a bicyclist, are doing something \"simple\"?

    Well, I suppose some people do find killing other people with their cars to be \"simple\". Especially with people like you NoChain, to rationalize away any shred of responsibility they may have for what they do behind the wheel in situations like those surrounding the death of cicylist Timothy O\'Donnell.

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  • NoChain June 27, 2007 at 8:44 am

    wsbob. You make my point. We know that she crossed the stripe. We don\'t know anything else. Yet she is vilified by the cycling community. Based on what?

    Yes, it\'s possible that he had moved out earlier, long enough to establish right of way in a position away from the side of the road in the center of the lane, and then she decided to pass despite his presence, and just ran him down. But it\'s also possible, and I suggest much more likely, that he accidentally drifted left into her path as he signaled left and looked back right as she happened to be passing him.

    And regardless if the latter is actually what happened, this is a good opportunity for all of us to remember that it\'s important to make sure we all know how to signal and look back without drifting, to not be surprised if we are passed on a narrow rural 2 lane road with a solid center stripe for our direction, and to know that when we are riding at the edge of the lane, simply signaling does not give us right of way to space further to the left. We also have to look and make sure that no one is passing us before we move left.

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  • Attornatus_Oregonensis June 27, 2007 at 9:25 am

    NoChain, surely by now you should understand that your arguments are not persuasive. The cyclist was in his lane and the woman\'s act of passing him -- which was expressly prohibited by law -- is what killed him. He had the right to the lane. She did not have the right to pass. It\'s very simple.

    Your attempt to cast the cyclist at fault for moving left in the lane while the driver passed him is *totally* unsupported by Oregon law. ORS 814.430(b) & (c) give the cyclist the right wherever there is an inadequate shoulder or whenever executing a left turn to occupy any area of the lane. The law also imposes a duty on motorists to exercise due care with respect to cyclists. Timothy was IN THAT LANE and EXECUTING A LEFT TURN when he was killed. There was NO RIGHT TO PASS HIM IN THIS SITUATION. Simply put, you are wrong.

    Your suggestion that we should be aware of our surroundings in these situations demonstrates a remarkable grasp of the obvious conclusion from this tragedy. Thanks very much for your insight.

    The implication from your suggestion that this behavior is *acceptable* because it is the norm on rural roads is completely unwarranted and something no cyclist I know can accept. The reason passing across a double yellow line is illegal is that it is unsafe for everyone involved. Also, there is no \"technical/non-technical\" distinction in the law. If it\'s illegal, it\'s illegal. We\'re passing laws right now that will make it increasingly clear to people that if they can\'t follow the law well enough to avoid killing people, then they\'re going to pay a heavy price. You and the rest of America would do well to heed that warning.

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  • NoChain June 27, 2007 at 11:04 am

    Attornatus, legally speaking, Knight was at fault for crossing a solid stripe. The issue is whether doing that was a proximate cause for the tragedy that followed. Apparently, the DA doesn\'t think so, or at least he doesn\'t think a jury could be convinced it is.

    You write: \"your suggestion that this behavior is *acceptable* because it is the norm on rural roads is completely unwarranted and something no cyclist I know can accept\".

    I\'ve never said crossing the solid stripe is acceptable. Whether it is or is not is beside the point. The point is that it is the norm, and cyclists should ride accordingly, in order to be safe.

    Besides, the key to safety is habits and expectations. For example, the reason we should stop at stop signs and red lights is to be in the habit of doing so, and to not be in the habit of rolling them, to be prepared for the one situation where it matters. Similarly, we should always look back without drifting to make sure it\'s clear and safe before we move left, so that we\'re in the habit of always doing so; so that our subconscious habits will prevent us from even being able to move left without looking first. And that habit should kick in whether the center stripe is dashed or solid.

    My argument isn\'t about assigning fault. It\'s about recognizing behavior that could actually save cyclist lives, instead of playing the blame game in an area (driver behavior) where it\'s unclear there is much if anything that can or should be done.

    What are you actually hoping to accomplish anyway? Even in the long run, do you seriously think that tens of millions of drivers (including most law enforcement officers) are going to change their behavior (which you seem to acknowledge is the norm) with respect to no longer passing cyclists on narrow two lane roads just because the center stripe is solid all because in one or two cases per year (if that), that behavior might be obliquely related (at best) to a cyclist death? Get real. I have a news flash for you: regardless of the merits of such an effort (which are dubious at best) it\'s not gonna happen. What a huge waste of time and resources.

    Why not focus on something that can actually help cyclists be safer, and save cyclist lives?

    Pop quiz: what percentage of cyclists do you think can comfortably, safely and reliably take a hand off the bars to signal and look back for two seconds without veering off course? Despite the fact that one can learn to do this with just a few minutes of practice, I\'d be genuinely surprised if 25% of the cyclists out there can do it, and wouldn\'t be surprise if the number is less than 10%. When was the last time you tested yourself on this?

    Here\'s a challenge to anyone out there still paying attention to this thread. Over the next few days, on an empty road with a stripe (a shoulder or bike lane stripe is perfect), test yourself. Ride on or next to the stripe in a straight line, look ahead, remove your left hand, look back, count \"one thousand and one, one thousand and two\", then turn back around and note if you\'re still on course or if you veered. If you veered, try it again a few more times until you can do it without veering. It shouldn\'t take more than a few minutes to become expert at it. But it does take a few minutes of practice, and it\'s good to test yourself every week or so. Let us know how it goes.

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  • Attornatus_Oregonensis June 27, 2007 at 11:17 am

    You\'re wrong about the DA\'s consideration of proximate cause; that\'s not how the analysis goes. If there is no criminal charge brought here, it will not be because of proximate cause. It\'s far too complicated to detail here. But once again, you\'ve invented a rule to suit your conclusions. That\'s why your analysis has zero credibility with me. And your speculation that the DA has already made the decision on whether to charge is also highly dubious. You really just don\'t understand the things of which you speak.

    And do I really think that we are going to change drivers\' behavior? Yes, I do. You just sit on the sidelines and watch. Your bold italics won\'t change my mind.

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  • steve June 27, 2007 at 11:32 am

    Thanks for bringing some more sanity to this A_O.

    I am a bit of a prick, and my posts keep being deleted, owing to my opinion of Nochain.

    If you and Wsbob keep it up, hopefully no one reading this will be deluded by this guys nonsense.

    Thank you!

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  • NoChain June 27, 2007 at 11:42 am

    A_O, I\'m just going by what the DA has been quoted as saying, and by my own experience in similar cases.

    You also wrote: \"And do I really think that we are going to change drivers\' behavior? Yes, I do. You just sit on the sidelines and watch.\"

    I haven\'t seen driver behavior change in almost 50 years, nor have I seen much significant difference (there are plenty of differences that are not significant to safety) in driver behavior from one state to another, or even between here and other countries, even in countries where the driver is always held at fault for crashes with bicyclists. But good luck with that and bagging your head against a wall.

    I\'d rather work on something that can actually make a difference in increasing cyclist safety: changing cyclist behavior.

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  • NoChain June 27, 2007 at 12:44 pm

    A_O, I found the article I had read earlier:

    http://www.oregonlive.com/argus/stories/index.ssf?/base/news/1181937290248320.xml&coll=6

    -------------------------------
    Driver who hit bicyclist likely won\'t be charged

    While the investigation isn\'t completely closed, the Washington County District Attorney\'s office said Wednesday that it doesn\'t appear an Idaho woman can be criminally prosecuted for causing the death of an Aloha bicyclist north of Cornelius.
    ...
    \"There has to be something more than just a simple driving violation,\" Quinn said. Factors like impairment, extreme speeds or reckless driving could bring it to the level of criminality, he said.
    -------------------------------

    So, apparently, there is no evidence of \"impairment, extreme speeds or reckless driving\".

    Anyone try the test to see if they can signal and look back without veering yet?

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  • Cecil June 27, 2007 at 12:47 pm

    Just an observation re: proximate cause. I will admit that I have not had the occasion to research the issue in a criminal context, but for the record the Oregon courts no longer adhere to the concept of \"proximate cause\" as it relates to liability in a civil negligence action. We can thank Justice Linde and the Fazzolari Trilogy for that - accordingly, every time I see \"proximate cause\" being bandied about here as the end-all and be-all of liability, I cringe :-)

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  • Attornatus_Oregonensis June 27, 2007 at 1:14 pm

    The important point here, NoChain, is that you make stuff up and attempt to pass it off as though it\'s real, as though you understand something that you in fact do not. You did it with the law around passing and you did it with proximate cause. Zero credibility.

    The issue of whether a criminal charge will be brought here is irrelevant to your mischaracterization of the law on passing. This issue has more to do with the existence of an appropriate criminal law than anything else. It certainly does not have to do with the anti-social behavior of the driver or with society\'s willingness to appropriately punish this behavior. That\'s why the Legislature and *real* cycling activists have been working on the vulnerable roadway user and vehicular homocide bills. In the future, in Oregon, this type of conduct *WILL* be subject to substantial penalty. And yes, this is the kind of thing that *will* begin to change driver behavior.

    You go right on ahead with your victim blame and your blindingly obvious conclusions regarding the need for cyclists to be aware. I, for one, won\'t be listening.

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  • Attornatus_Oregonensis June 27, 2007 at 1:19 pm

    Cecil, I\'m interested in hearing more about this issue. You seem to be a fountain of information on Oregon case law. I have no opportunity to do such research in my practice (renewable energy, environmental and natural resources), but these are fascinating details, and I did not go to school in Oregon. What\'s the Fazzolari Trilogy?

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  • NoChain June 27, 2007 at 1:36 pm

    A_O, I\'m curious to know what specifically I wrote regarding \"passing law\" or proximate cause that you think I made up.

    From the beginning I\'ve stated that this tragedy could just as easily have happened at a place where the center stripe was dashed instead of solid, assuming the cyclists were turning left into a roadside stand or something on the other side of the road.

    In that slightly different case there would be noting to cite the driver with, even if the vulnerable road user bill passes.

    That\'s why I say this whole thing hinges on a relatively minor technicality (the driver crossed a solid stripe when passing) and that there are much more important factors involved. The level of resistance to merely acknowledging this rather obvious fact, much less considering the implications in depth, is alarming.

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  • Cecil June 27, 2007 at 1:40 pm

    A.O. - that\'s because I am an appellate geek. As for your question (and anyone else who cares) (and if you don\'t care, just stop reading now) - the Fazzolari Trilogy were three cases decided by the Oregon Supreme Court in 1987 (see Volume 303 of the Or Reports). Fazzolari v. Portland School District 1J was the lead case, and involved the school district\'s liability for the sexual assault of a student by a stranger on school grounds. It is a famously convoluted and obtuse opinion (a Hans Linde specialty). The other two cases were Donaca v. Curry County, which involved the County\'s liability for overgrown weeds that blocked highway visibility, leading to an accident, and Kimbler v. Stillwell, which addressed GI Joe\'s liability for the death of someone shot with a gun stolen from a GI Joe\'s store. In those cases, the Oregon Supreme Court held that the traditional \"black letter\" laws of negligence that were drilled into lawyers in torts class were not the law of Oregon. Instead, in Oregon, the rule is that \"liability for harm actually resulting from [the] defendant’s conduct properly depends on whether the conduct unreasonably created a foreseeable risk to a protected interest of the kind of harm that befell the plaintiff.\" The court concluded that this approach did away with the legal concept of \"proximate cause\" because if the defendant\'s act was the cause in fact of the harm, and if the harm was a foreseeable result of the act, then all those other things that we talk about when we talk about \"proximate cause\" (such as intervening acts, subsequent acts by other parties, etc.) simply don\'t matter. In a later case, Buchler v. Dept. of Corrections, the court did some backing and filling (overruling Kimbler in the process) but preserved the essence of the Fazzolari holding.

    Interestingly, in a couple of more recent decisions, the Supreme Court has appeared to begin to back away from the Fazzolari formualtion and has said some things that smack of \"proximate cause,\" but when called out on it, they have denied it and said that Fazzolari remains the standard.

    Bored yet? Told ya, I\'m a geek . . .

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  • Cecil June 27, 2007 at 1:48 pm

    No Chain - I\'ve tried your test in the past, and yes, I can do it. But maybe that is a factor of having ridden a bicycle for long distances on narrow country roads, crowded city streets, and busy highways for over 35 years. Then, of course, there is also to factor of (1) using a rear view mirror in addition to looking back to check the blind spot;(2) the fact that it doesn\'t take that long to check a blind spot; and (3) you don\'t have to turn your head all the way around like Regan in The Exorcist to check for traffic even if you don\'t have a rear view mirror. Of course, if you have any sense, you have a rear view mirror. Tim O\'Donnell had one, and he knew how to use it.

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  • Cecil June 27, 2007 at 2:00 pm

    A.O. (and all) in the interest of full disclosure I should point out that I have spent much of the last 3 years launching a full-frontal assault on Fazzolari - AO, if you are at the firm I think you are at, ask Charlie Adams for a copy of the Lyche brief that he and I co-authored for the 9th Circuit a while back . . . it will tell you all you\'d ever want to know about Oregon negligence law :-p

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  • NoChain June 27, 2007 at 2:59 pm

    Cecil, I\'m not a lawyer and certainly do not have a legal understanding of \"proximate cause\". I\'d heard of it, glanced over the Wikipedia article, and ran with it. What it means to my lay self, and what I intended to convey, was what is expressed by the words you used above (if I understand them correctly): \"the conduct unreasonably created a foreseeable risk to a protected interest of the kind of harm that befell the plaintiff.\"

    Would you agree that in this case the relevant question is: Does crossing a solid center stripe in the process of passing a cyclist on a two lane highway unreasonably create a foreseeable risk to the right-of-way of the cyclist being passed?\"

    Given the hundreds if not thousands of times I\'ve been passed by drivers crossing solid stripes on narrow two lane rural roads, including law enforcement officers, and that doing so is actually legal in some states (I believe Ohio is one of them, someone else mentioned another state), I think that is a very difficult claim to make. If you did, I think you would have to base it on the foreseeable possibility that someone could enter the roadway from the intersection (the presence of which is why the center stripe is solid here - it\'s dashed in the other direction), forcing the passing driver to suddenly merge back into his lane, striking the cyclist in the process. But since that\'s not what happened here at all (no one entered the roadway, there is no evidence that Knight suddenly swerved back into the lane and that\'s why O\'Donnell was hit).

    By the way, I use a mirror too. If O\'Donnell had one and knew how to use it, why was he hit? Even if he had moved left properly and uncharacteristically (for most cyclists) early to establish right of way in the lane well before Knight was in the process of passing him, proper mirror use includes periodic (every few seconds) rear scans, especially if you\'re in the middle of the traffic lane on a 45 mph highway traveling at around 15 mph. Even with a speed differential of 35 mph, that\'s about 50 feet per second, so even 10 seconds prior to impact Knight should have been only 500\' behind him; with 5 seconds to go, only 250\' back. That\'s plenty of time to notice the unfolding situation and abort to the shoulder, not that it would have been his responsibility to do so, but it would seem to be the natural thing to do. That\'s why I think an unintentional swerve into the path of the passing car is a much simpler and more likely scenario.

    Also, whether you have a mirror or not, the ability to turn your head around to assess the situation behind you for a good two seconds, without veering, is a very useful and important skill. I see too many mirror-using cyclists over-rely on their mirrors. Turning your head around to look back not only gives you a better rearward assessment than the limited view through the mirror, it also serves as a communication method to passing motorists. I never rely on a mirror look alone before moving left; always look back by turning your head for a full assessment before moving laterally.

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  • Attornatus_Oregonensis June 27, 2007 at 3:19 pm

    That is really interesting. Although the court\'s analysis in the Trilogy is not boring (to me), it *is* baffling. By the way, I am at the same firm as Charlie Adams.

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  • Cecil June 27, 2007 at 3:26 pm

    No Chain, as the court would tell you, the answer to your question is one of fact and is dependent on the totality of the circumstances. Weather conditions, other traffic, the existence of intersections, driveways, the condition of the road surface, light and shadow, curves or straight, the driver\'s record, other distractions, etc.

    As for why Tim O\'Donnell was hit if he was checking his rear view mirror, I was not with him on that ride so cannot - and will not even try - to answer for him. All I can tell you is that I rode with Tim sometimes, and like everyone I ride with, he used his mirror properly (which, as I said before, I agree includes turning one\'s head to check for blind spots before moving from your line, whether it is to turn or to merely drop back).

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  • JeremyE June 27, 2007 at 4:27 pm

    NoChain, you\'re wrong about Ohio. Double yellow is no passing there, too. I can\'t find any exceptions. I mentioned Vermont, but only in specific cases that seem to indicate they use double yellow in more places that we do around here. I\'ve never been to Vermont so I don\'t know how they stripe.

    Since I asked earlier, do you actually know of any state in which the behavior is, in fact, verifiably legal as you have previously claimed or are you simply hoping nobody will call you on that particular argument as to why the driver\'s behavior was \"normal\"?

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  • Cecil June 27, 2007 at 4:38 pm

    I lived in Vermont, and the only exception I remember to the \"no passing on a double yellow\" rule is when you are behind a very slow-moving piece of farm machinery (they\'ve got a lot of that in VT). I can\'t say that VT has MORE double yellow lines, but it certainly has a lot of narrow, winding country roads. One thing I can say for Vermont is that in all the years I lived there, I never had a fellow Vermonter try to run me off the road with their car or demonstrate any animosity at all toward my presence on the road. The Mass-holes up for the weekend, on the other hand, were an entirely different story.

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  • NoChain June 27, 2007 at 5:20 pm

    Well, I was hoping no one would call me on it because I can\'t remember where I read it. I can\'t find it now, but I did find one reference that misunderstands CA law to mean it is legal there.

    It says:

    ------------
    Suggestions for passing a cyclist safely:

    ...
    4. Cross a double yellow line only when it is safe (MVC 21751).
    ...
    -----------------

    http://www.marinbike.org/Campaigns/ShareTheRoad/Motorists.shtml

    And that\'s on a bike advocacy page, illustrating how normal crossing a double yellow line (only when it is safe) in order to pass a cyclist is often considered to be.

    Anyway, this point is not crucial to my argument, which really hinges on the fact that the whole solid center stripe issue is a technicality, since this scenario could easily have taken place in a nearly identical situation except the cyclists were turning left not onto another road, but to some destination on the other side of the road, where the center stripe would have been dashed. In that case the passing would not have been illegal. Again, the level of resistance to merely acknowledging this rather obvious fact, much less considering the implications in depth, is alarming.

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  • NoChain June 27, 2007 at 5:45 pm

    Found it. It was Ohio.

    Again, not that this is crucial to my argument, but it does illustrate, in general, how crossing a solid stripe in order to pass a bicyclist (in this case any vehicle moving at less than half the speed limit, which in this case is under 22 mph) is often considered \"normal\".

    What is particularly relevant is how the exceptions are all a function of it being safe to move into the oncoming lane, and have nothing to do with with putting the \"passee\" in jeopardy.

    4511.31 Establishing hazardous zones.

    (A) The department of transportation may determine those portions of any state highway where overtaking and passing other traffic or driving to the left of the center or center line of the roadway would be especially hazardous and may, by appropriate signs or markings on the highway, indicate the beginning and end of such zones. When such signs or markings are in place and clearly visible, every operator of a vehicle or trackless trolley shall obey the directions of the signs or markings, notwithstanding the distances set out in section 4511.30 of the Revised Code.

    (B) Division (A) of this section does not apply when all of the following apply:

    (1) The slower vehicle is proceeding at less than half the speed of the speed limit applicable to that location.

    (2) The faster vehicle is capable of overtaking and passing the slower vehicle without exceeding the speed limit.

    (3) There is sufficient clear sight distance to the left of the center or center line of the roadway to meet the overtaking and passing provisions of section 4511.29 of the Revised Code, considering the speed of the slower vehicle.

    ...

    Effective Date: 01-01-2004; 09-21-2006
    -------------------------
    http://codes.ohio.gov/orc/4511.31

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  • NoChain June 27, 2007 at 6:44 pm

    Cecil, you wrote: \"I agree includes turning one\'s head to check for blind spots before moving from your line, whether it is to turn or to merely drop back).\"

    The purpose of turning one\'s head even when you have a mirror is not to check for blind spots. With helmet and glasses mirrors, by slight head angle adjustments blind spots can be eliminated.

    The purpose of looking back with a head turn prior to moving laterally, again, is twofold:

    1) To get a good broad field of view using both eyes. Peripheral vision is better, depth perception is more accurate and you are much less likely to overlook the presence of, say, a gray colored car on a gray day against a gray background with both eyes looking back than one eye looking in a mirror.

    2) To communicate your interest/intent to move laterally to others. Yes, a hand signal does this too, but there is something very innate and instinctive about a head turn look back that instantly communicates this. In fact, one of the advantages of a mirror is that it allows looking back without turning your head in situations where it may be undesireable to miscommunicate an intent to move left with a head turn (perhaps you\'ve had drivers yield to you in response to your head turn look back when all you wanted them to do is pass you so you could move left after they\'ve passed you). But once the road appears to be clear for moving left in the mirror, then there is no substitute for an actual head turn look back.

    Such a look should not be mistaken for a quick fraction-of-a-second head-turn glance, by the way. A good look back requires a couple of seconds usually.

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  • JeremyE June 27, 2007 at 8:40 pm

    It\'s definitely not legal in California, regardless of what the Marin folks would like. It\'s a class I traffic offense (21460(a)). Looking up other states info, it\'s really surpising how many stories pop up from people shocked to find their behavior when they pass against a double yellow is not appreciated by their fellow motorists and law enforcement. You\'d think people would figure it out.

    The code you cite talks about hazardous (not prohibited) passing zones but the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles states in its Digest of Ohio Motor Vehicle Laws double yellow pavement lines indicate passing is prohibited (with no exeptions listed). Given the significant difference between hazardous and prohibited in both common language and legal terms and my never having been to Ohio much less versed in their traffic code, I wonder if the statute cited applies, but I\'ll give on Ohio. Any others?

    And for the argument that the double yellow is a \"technicality\", what do you think the law is? It\'s a series of technicalities because if it weren\'t technically illegal, there wouldn\'t be a law for it.

    Prudence is great for cyclists and all, but responsibility to follow the dang law doesn\'t evaporate when you sit behind the wheel of an auto and come upon a tractor, cyclist, pedestrian, horse and buggy or whatever isn\'t going fast enough.

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  • wsbob June 27, 2007 at 11:39 pm

    From the D.A.\'s comments in the article NoChain provided a link to:

    http://www.oregonlive.com/argus/stories/index.ssf?/base/news/1181937290248320.xml&coll=6

    I would not be so quick to come to the conclusion that Jennifer Knight was not responsible for cyclist Timothy O\'Donnell\'s death. From the article:

    \"Senior Deputy District Attorney Chris Quinn said that while any death is tragic, under Oregon law, a person must be in a culpable mental state to be charged with a crime.\"

    This only suggests that police don\'t believe Knight was frothing at the mouth crazy, drunk, or some other form of mental culpability, and as a result, they can\'t charge her for a crime on this basis. The possibility remains that Jennifer Knight caused the accident through careless disregard for vulnerable human life in her operation of a motor vehicle.

    Jennifer Knight did not simply cross a solid line, or as I seem to remember it described, a double solid line, in order to pass a cyclist.

    Everyone please remember that cyclists and Knights car were at or somewhere near an intersection when this happened, possibly within viewing distance of that intersection, which, if so, Knight should have acknowledged as an additional reason not to consider passing any cyclists until she had passed through the intersection in whatever position she was in relation to the cyclists before she collided with Tim O\'Donnell.

    The article says:

    \"The Washington County Sheriff\'s Office investigation into the crash found Knight was at fault, but that her actions were unintentional, said WCSO Sgt. David Thompson.\"

    That\'s just saying that she wasn\'t out to deliberately run over a cyclist. The statement goes on further to say that Knight was at fault for the crash and consequently, cyclist Tim O\'Donnell\'s death. Except for lack of appropriate law on the books at the time, this sure seems to be criminally negligent homicide.

    There were witnesses at the scene. One saw O\'Donnell fly up in the air upon being hit by Knight\'s car, and wrote about it in a letter to the editor/Oregonian (I can\'t seem to find it). In that letter, he also stated that O\'Donnell was signalling prior to the turn. Just because Knight says she didn\'t see signals doesn\'t mean she really didn\'t, or that O\'Donnell didn\'t signal early enough, or long enough, or without wavering a bit as he turned his head to look back.

    If O\'Donnell brought about his death by some half-baked marginal hand signals, fine, lets hold the excuses for Knight until the witnesses are prepared to comment on that, and put her in the clear if she is so deserving.

    I agree, it can be acceptable, if illegal in Oregon, for a car to pass a cyclist on a two-way/two-lane double solid no-passing marked road, if the view ahead is clear, the lane is not occupied by a cyclist, and the manoeuver is not occurring at or near an intersection by a car travelling 65mph contrasted with the 15mph speed of the cyclist.

    I think an independent investigation is in order, and I hope O\'Donnell\'s family has either had one done or is considering it. Even if they can\'t charge Knight, knowing exactly what everybody did that day might save someone else\'s life in the future.

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  • NoChain June 28, 2007 at 9:17 am

    NOTE: the following is stated in hypothetical terms, and does not necessarily reflect on any particular actual event.

    wsbob, you wrote: \"I agree, it can be acceptable, if illegal in Oregon, for a car to pass a cyclist on a two-way/two-lane double solid no-passing marked road, if the view ahead is clear, the lane is not occupied by a cyclist, and the manoeuver is not occurring at or near an intersection by a car travelling 65mph contrasted with the 15mph speed of the cyclist.\"

    What constitutes \"lane is not occupied by a cyclist\"?

    In particular, if the cyclist is riding as far right as practicable in the lane, but still in the lane, is he occupying the lane, per your condition, or not? I would say not; do you agree?

    More to the point, if at the point when a motorist initiates her pass of a cyclist up ahead the cyclist is riding \"as far right as practicable\", but then he suddenly and unexpectedly swerves left into her path in the process of taking his hand off the bars to signal and look back, do you think such a pass can still be \"acceptable\", regardless of whether it is made by crossing a solid stripe or not?

    Doesn\'t the very fact that the driver crossed the center line, despite it being illegal to do so, serve to show her intent to choose a path around the cyclist, at least relative to where he was when she initiated the pass, rather than into him?

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  • wsbob June 28, 2007 at 6:20 pm

    It seems as though I\'ve written an explanation to this question of yours before, NoChain, and for some reason, it does not sink in.

    My thinking is that when a cyclist is as far to the right side of the lane as reasonably possible, they are occupying the lane but allowing the maximum remaining space in the lane to the left of them for faster vehicles such as cars, to pass them with reasonable care.

    Cyclist Timothy O\'Donnell on the other hand, was preparing to turn left. My thinking here, is that when a cyclist riding in a forward direction and to the right side of the lane in order to allow cars to reasonably pass them by, has it in mind to turn left at an intersection up ahead, it is at this point that they begin the process; looking back, signaling, etc., of moving from the right most side of the lane to the center of the lane, thus fully occupying it and so indicating to motorists behind that passing the cyclist at this time, especially on a double solid/no passing marked road must not be undertaken with the same readiness as might be the case when the cyclist is at the far right side of the lane.

    According to a witness, in the person of the cyclist riding behind him, O\'Donnel signalled to turn left. The witness may have seen, but did not say in his letter to the Oregonian, how O\'Donnell made the transition from far right side of the lane to the center of the lane as he approached the intersection where he intended to turn. It would be helpful to hear from the witness about this.

    You NoChain, seem to be obsessed with the idea that O\'Donnell must have drifted abruptly, without properly signalling, into the path of Knight\'s car. Where is the slightest bit of proof that he did so? Reporters that used the word \"drift\" to describe O\'Donnell\'s actions? A D.A. that finds they cannot arrest Knight for a culpable state of mind?

    He may have, but I\'m not yet convinced this is the case. The witness in his letter to the O indicated nothing of the sort. Also, O\'Donnell and possibly the other four riders, being of what I believe is a local cycling club, are experienced riders familiar with this road.

    I\'d be inclined to think that they knew of the intersection ahead in advance, and with this road\'s particular level of danger in mind, made a special effort to initiate the entire process of the left turn with care appropriate to the situation. I\'d like to hear more of what the witness(es) have to say about this.

    Regardless, this won\'t change the fact that Knight was driving on a suspended license, attempting to pass 5 cyclists on a narrow, two-way/two lane, double solid line no-passing marked road, at, in, or very close to an intersection as she travelled 65mph to their approximately 15mph.

    The witness said O\'Donnell was catupulted over the top of Knight\'s car when Knight hit him. I\'d interpret that to suggest she hit him straight on, impacting the back wheel first. Given that Knight was allegedly straddling the double line as she passed the other three cyclists, that would seem to also suggest that prior to her hitting him, O\'Donnell had been in the center of the lane, and was crossing the double lines in the radius of the left turn.

    Did O\'Donnell drift abruptly from the right most side of the lane, rather than from the center of the lane, all the way over to the double lines? Why would he do that unless he was virtually in the intersection (where Knight should not have been passing him on the left at all, under almost all circumstances)? But again, unless somebody shows reason to suggest otherwise, I\'m doubtful that O\'Donnell made any sort of abrupt drift to the left on this road, let alone one from the far right side of the lane to center of the lane or to the double solid lines.

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  • Winslow June 29, 2007 at 5:03 pm

    No Chain,

    In response to your post #72, the point is that the driver of a motor vehicle must be in control of her vehicle at all times. If I am driving through a neighborhood and your 6-year-old son runs out from between two cars and I hit and kill him with my car because I could not stop in time, I am sure you would not run out and apologize to me for your son\'s actions. Nor do I expect that you would make exceuses for me. It would be MY FAULT because 5 was not in control of my vehicle, i.e.- I was not driving with appropriate caution for the circumstances. Add to that that I was breaking multiple V&T laws at the time, and I am sure that when the police arrive you would be pointing your finger in my direction and saying something like \"There\'s the irresponsible, dangerous driver that KILLED MY SON!\"

    Get it now?

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  • [...] more information about the accident, visit bikeportland.org.Comment on this post advertisement advertisement Comment on the \"Driver Pleads No Contest, [...]

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  • wsbob July 1, 2007 at 12:43 am

    I noticed a link in the WW notice (link to notice in post 145)for a story about Timothy O\'Donnell printed in the Beaverton Valley Times. In case some of you would like to read it:

    http://www.beavertonvalleytimes.com/news/story.php?story_id=118184163316156400

    The story gives quite a bit of info about the kind of person Timothy O\'Donnell was, and what kind of cyclist he was.

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  • NoChain July 2, 2007 at 11:44 am

    Winslow, neither I nor the law holds a driver responsible for hitting a child (or dog or deer) that suddenly and unexpectedly runs out into the street into the path of a motor vehicle. Yes, the ideal defensive driver will never hit anyone or anything no matter what, but it is unreasonable to hold all drivers up to that ideal standard.

    This weekend I was on a walk with my daughter and her friend and some other adult family members. At one point the kids and I got a bit behind, and suddenly the boy ran ahead to catch up with the other adults. He had always stopped and waited before crossing streets before, but this time he kept on running, right in front of a tow truck. Luckily the driver noticed him and stopped in time, but it could easily have gone the other way, and it would not have been the driver\'s responsibility. Ultimately, it would have been mine. I waved \"thank you\" and \"sorry\" to the driver, not \"you bastard\". But in the end it would have been a preventable tragedy that is no one\'s fault, which is how I see this tragedy as well. The focus should be on how such tragedies can be prevented in the future, whether it\'s keeping kids from running into the street, or bicyclists from swerving into the path of (even illegally) passing motorists.

    That said, I do think there is room to argue that Knight was passing O\'Donnell too closely. I mean, if she was passing him with less than a foot or two of clearance, and he only swerved 20 inches or less, then what she did can be argued to be unsafe and dangerous. However, reasonably safe passing distances of cyclists in our culture are not commonly understood, so even that would be a tough sell with a jury.

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  • NoChain July 2, 2007 at 12:05 pm

    wsbob,

    We have of two possible general scenarios. There is a lot of room for variance in the details of what happened, but no matter what happened, I think it\'s safe to say that it\'s consistent with one of these two general descriptions.

    1) The cyclist was riding near the right side, looked back, saw it was clear and safe to move left, signaled, moved left, rode there long enough to establish right of way, and then was hit from behind.

    2) The cyclist was riding near the right side, then moved left (either by inadvertently swerving while looking back, or for some reason not seeing the car), and was hit from behind moments later, the driver not having enough time to notice and avoid hitting him.

    Given that the driver was straddling the center line, she obviously saw the cyclists and had moved left to pass them. Given that she saw the cyclists, it\'s just hard for me to understand how she would overlook the one riding right in front of her in her path, and just ran him down. Again, no one has said this is what happened. Is that what you think happened?

    It just seems that some version of scenario 2 is much, much more likely. Not only that, but it\'s consistent with all the emphasis by witnesses and observers on the claim (that I do not doubt) that he was signaling, apparently based on the misunderstanding that simply signaling gives a cyclist the right to move left.

    Note that if he had established right of way in the center of the lane prior to be being hit (per some version of scenario 1), whether he was signaling or not at the time he was hit would have no relevance.

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  • NoChain July 2, 2007 at 12:15 pm

    wsbob, at the link you cited, there is this comment from a user named \"KT\":

    \"There is clear fault in this case, and it does not apply to the vulnerable road user who was properly signaling to make a turn, using the roadway in a legal manner.\"

    Again, we see the apparent assumption that a cyclist who was \"properly signaling to make a turn\" has carte blanche right to do whatever he has to do to make that turn, and car drivers have to yield to him because he is a \"vulnerable road user\". In fact, there seems to be an underlying comparision in that respect between cyclists and pedestrians, for whom the rules of the road are totally different (indeed, drivers are obligated to yield to pedestrians who initiate an intent to cross the road. But it\'s a mistake to apply the principles and expectations about the treatment of pedestrians by drivers to the principles and expectations regarding the treatment of cyclists by drivers.

    Cyclists [i]are[/i] drivers, and are subject to the [i]same[/i] rules and responsibilities as are drivers of vehicles. Pedestrians are subject to a completely different set of rules and responsibilities from drivers (including cyclists).

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  • JeremyE July 2, 2007 at 3:17 pm

    \"Cyclists are drivers, and are subject to the same rules and responsibilities as are drivers of vehicles. Pedestrians are subject to a completely different set of rules and responsibilities from drivers (including cyclists).\"

    Wow. Never have more incorrect words been spoken about bicycles as vehicles in Oregon. We have quite a few different rules and responsibilites than automobiles, just as motorcyclists, tractor-trailer rigs, motorhomes, and various classes of vehicles do. Distilling it to black and white when it comes to the law ignores the complexities bestowed on bicyclists that give some common responibilites with autos and pedestrians and some entirely unique. You don\'t really think the ubiquitous bikes and law seminars are simply because we\'re all the same.

    Besides, if rights and responsiblities really were the same, you wouldn\'t be arguing that another vehicle really has the right to pass against all legal requirements for that location, would you?

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  • NoChain July 2, 2007 at 3:43 pm

    \"Never have more incorrect words been spoken about bicycles as vehicles in Oregon. We have quite a few different rules and responsibilites than automobiles, ...\"

    Jeremy, please reread my post. I wrote that cyclists are subject to the same rules and responsibilities as are drivers of vehicles, not drivers of automobiles.

    Of course there are some differences for cyclists as compared to drivers of automobiles, just as there are differences for drivers of motorcycles, tractor-trailer rigs, motorhomes, etc. But those are all relatively minor vehicle-type specific exceptions. The rules and responsibilities for pedestrians are entirely different. In contrast, the vast, vast majority of the rules and responsibilities that apply to the drivers of one type of vehicle also apply to all drivers of other types of vehicles, and to cyclists.

    As far as the unwritten rule to pass over a solid center stripe in order to pass... when motor traffic is stopped, the space to the right is a door zone, and the oncoming lane is clear, I as a cyclist have frequently crossed that solid center stripe in order to pass the stopped motor traffic. I\'ve seen motorcyclists do it too.

    Same rules, same rights, same responsibilities...

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  • Gene July 2, 2007 at 4:15 pm

    An interesting analysis of the Rules of the Road can be found at:

    http://www.humantransport.org/bicycledriving/index.html

    Go to the essay titled \"The Science and Politics\". It also includes a discussion on America\'s Taboo against Bicycle Driving. I found it fascinating.

    JeremyE, regarding your comment in #150:

    \"Besides, if rights and responsiblities really were the same, you wouldn\'t be arguing that another vehicle really has the right to pass against all legal requirements for that location, would you?\"
    I don\'t believe NoChain is arguing specifically about the \"right\" to pass against all legal requirements. He\'s just saying that it is not uncommon in our culture for this to occur.

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  • NoChain July 2, 2007 at 4:33 pm

    \"I don\'t believe NoChain is arguing specifically about the \"right\" to pass against all legal requirements. He\'s just saying that it is not uncommon in our culture for this to occur.\"

    Yes, Gene, that is correct, of course.

    And thanks for the link to humantransport.org. Those guys do a lot of good work. It\'s sad how these basic ideas are so unknown in most bicycling circles.

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  • wsbob July 2, 2007 at 7:28 pm

    I find myself responding with mostly a very sad laugh as I continue to read NoChain\'s relentless determination to apparently not find fault with the completely unreasonable, irresponsible and lethal driving habits of Jennifer Knight that led to the death of cyclist Timothy O\'Donnell NW Cornelius-Schefflin Road near NW Long Road.

    \"But in the end it would have been a preventable tragedy that is no one\'s fault, which is how I see this tragedy as well.\" comment 147, NoChain

    Get a clue NoChain. Wake up. I know you can\'t be this stupid. Was the tow truck driver some 26 year old with a suspended driver\'s license driving 65 mph down a country road, attempting to illegally pass a line of cyclists?

    There were 5 cyclists negotiating their way down that two-way, two-lane, double line no-passing marked lane. O\'Donnell was second in line, allegedly 30 yds from the next nearest rider back. Exactly where Knight hit O\'Donnell on the roadway is not known to the public, but it seems quite possible, even quite likely, that before she hit O\'Donnell, she had been in the process of passing the three cyclists behind him. Theoretically, if they also were each 30yds apart from each other, that would mean, as I believe to quite possible in this situation, that Knight was in the process of making a continuous pass of the cyclists, that, up until the point she collided with O\'Donnell, was 90 yds, or 270 ft.

    Big hurry. No time to wait and pass each cyclist individually and safely. Just a hot-shot little driver who\'s assured indirectly and directly by various people, that it\'s o.k. to blow off (show them no respect) cyclists if you have to deal with them on the road in your car.

    I believe it\'s quite possible that she didn\'t see cyclist Timothy O\'Donnell properly signaling to turn left, because she was in such a hurry to pass all 5 cyclists in one fell swoop, making a total of 360 feet on this two-lane, double line no-passing marked lane. Except that, in her haste, she may have failed to notice the intersection up ahead, and O\'Donnell signaling to make a turn there.

    Of course, improving road safety, and awareness on the part of cyclists to the lethality of failing to acknowledge each other\'s legitimate presence on public roadways will help to prevent this kind of tragedy in future.

    Even should these preventative measures begin to be done more effectively, such tragedies as the death of cyclist Timothy O\'Donnell, will ultimately, only be preventable by educating and encouraging people not to be drivers like Jennifer Knight, preventable by taking people that are determined to drive like Jennifer Knight, off the road.

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  • JeremyE July 3, 2007 at 12:03 am

    NoChain #151 - Reread the whole sentence you quoted. It lists differenty types of vehicles. Yeah, I got you the first time, though apparently you are not very well versed in what vehicles are if you couldn\'t put that together from the list.

    And as far as you passing against the law, all of a suddent it clear to me now where you are coming from. As I have said all along, just because people do it does not make it safe, prudent or legal. Apparently now we all know what would happen if folks started jumping from bridges in front of you.

    By the way, now that you have decided that it is okay for some rules to be broken (in spite of the fact breaking them can cause injury or death), why are you trumpeting the we all live by the same rules? It seems to undermine your argument. Fact is we don\'t live by the same rules when we drive different vehicles. Many rules are the same but some very significant ones are not, especially when it comes to bicycles. You should spend a little time with the BTA or the League of American Bicyclists on those particular points.

    Gene #152 - I got the gist of that quite a while ago. Absolving drivers of responsibility to abide by the law, even if it is a few seconds or even minutes of inconvience, when it is putting a rider\'s life (mainly mine, but I\'m selfish that way) in danger still burns my britches.

    As I\'ve said before, it\'s not just cyclists who need an education about safe practices on roadways and it should be much tougher to get and keep a driver\'s license in this country than to be able to see and breathe.

    Great link, by the way. I\'ve visited them before and have them bookmarked already. I tend to agree with the majority of their recommendations. I really would love to see all roadways get the recommended width in this state.

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  • Gene July 3, 2007 at 10:10 am

    JeremyE writes:
    \"Absolving drivers of responsibility to abide by the law, even if it is a few seconds or even minutes of inconvience, when it is putting a rider\'s life (mainly mine, but I\'m selfish that way) in danger still burns my britches.\"

    I\'m onboard with that. See post #56. My heart has been sick about this event (and another I read about in Seattle last year) and I want to make it stop. I\'m thinking every poster here has that same sick/angry feeling.

    I\'m with you too that it\'s not just cyclists that need education about safe practice (though I need to make a note to NoChain here that advocating for personal responsibility and better education for drivers certainly doesn\'t mean cyclists are absolved from their responsibility for knowing the rules and improving their skills). We need it all--driver accountability and education, cycling awareness and responsibility. Probably obvious but I had to state it. Glad this forum is available for these discussions. I believe it will make a difference.

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  • NoChain July 3, 2007 at 11:31 am

    Wsbob, I\'m incredulous about this, which is really the heart of your argument:

    \"I believe it\'s quite possible that she didn\'t see cyclist Timothy O\'Donnell properly signaling to turn left, because she was in such a hurry to pass all 5 cyclists in one fell swoop, making a total of 360 feet on this two-lane, double line no-passing marked lane. Except that, in her haste, she may have failed to notice the intersection up ahead, and O\'Donnell signaling to make a turn there.\"

    Again, this is just another version of scenario #1 from post 148:

    \"1) The cyclist was riding near the right side, looked back, saw it was clear and safe to move left, signaled, moved left, rode there long enough to establish right of way, and then was hit from behind.\"

    You say it\'s \"quite possible\". I guess we\'ll have to agree to disagree on how likely this is. I say, extremely unlikely, and, if that\'s what happened, this is a very very rare type of exceptional collision about which we have no more reason to worry than being hit by a meteor.

    Yet, you conclude: \"such tragedies as the death of cyclist Timothy O\'Donnell, will ultimately, only be preventable by educating and encouraging people not to be drivers like Jennifer Knight, preventable by taking people that are determined to drive like Jennifer Knight, off the road.\"

    I, for one, have no problem with the Jennifer Knights that are out there, because I take full responsibility for my safety, and ride accordingly. I suggest others adopt a similar attitude, and ride (and drive) accordingly.

    Now, if she or someone like her actually wanted to take me out, and intentionally used their vehicle as a weapon, yes, I would be vulnerable to that. But I am not about to leave myself open to being hit by someone simply because they didn\'t see me. I\'m far too easy to be overlooked to rely on being seen. It\'s on me to make sure I\'m only using space that is clear and safe to use, whether it\'s because no one else is using it, or because I\'ve confirmed that all others with whom there may be a conflict for that space have noticed me, and have yielded to me. But that\'s true whether I\'m riding my bike, motorcycle, or driving my car. That\'s what operating in traffic is all about. It\'s not that hard, but it\'s also not a cruise in the park.

    Assuming we need to get all the Jennifer Knights off the roads before cycling will be safe is a) absurd, and b) makes cycling seem much more dangerous than it really is. And it\'s certainly not something that cycling advocates should be perpetuating. To the contrary, we should be pointing out that with the right attitude, skills, habits and practices, cycling is very safe, even with all the Jennifer Knights out there.

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  • NoChain July 3, 2007 at 11:57 am

    Jeremy, you wrote: \"NoChain #151 - Reread the whole sentence you quoted. It lists differenty types of vehicles. Yeah, I got you the first time, though apparently you are not very well versed in what vehicles are if you couldn\'t put that together from the list.\"

    I don\'t understand what I wrote that caused you to think I\'m not very well versed in what vehicles are. There are many different kinds of vehicles, that have very different types of physical and operational characterists. Yet, with a relatively few vehicle-specific exceptions here and there, the SAME rules of the road apply EQUALLY to all drivers of vehicles, AND to all cyclists. Google for \"vehicular cycling\" or \"same roads same rights same rules\" if you are unfamiliar with this concept.

    Then you write: \"now that you have decided that it is okay for some rules to be broken (in spite of the fact breaking them can cause injury or death), why are you trumpeting the we all live by the same rules?\"

    When I write about the rules, I\'m not talking about the letter of the law, with which almost no one is familar, I\'m talking about the common sense rules upon which the laws are based and according to which people actually operate.

    In fact, crossing a solid stripe in order to pass in certain special circumstances, when it is safe to do so, is exactly the kind of common sense \"same rule\" I\'m talking about.

    Note that in this case the reason for the solid stripe (someone at the upcoming intersection possibly turning into or across the oncoming lane during a pass) had nothing to do with why this tragedy occured. Again, this pass would have been perfectly legal in Ohio (and possibly other states) and could have just as easily occured a bit earlier on this road where the center stripe is not solid but dashed, and the cyclists were turning left into a roadside stand or something other than a road with an intersection. I\'ve brought that last point up probaby a half dozen times and everyone keeps ignoring it. The whole \"illegal passing zone\" factor is not very relevant because the reason it\'s illegal to pass here had nothing to do with the reasons this collision occured.

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  • NoChain July 3, 2007 at 12:18 pm

    Gene, #156 is an excellent post, and I agree. I certainly think there could be some benefit in getting drivers to understand better about how to pass cyclists safely. But, I think that would be much more difficult than getting cyclists to understand how their behavior affects drivers, and how they can use their behavior to affect the drivers to behave in ways conducive to the cyclist\'s safety. Sorry for that mouthful, but let\'s take the problem of \"close passing\" as an example.

    On narrow roads with narrow lanes cyclists naturally ride very close to the outside edge of the road. What is not well understood by cyclists is that doing so encourages close passing. But it makes sense if you think about it from the perspective of a motorist.

    Most motorists are not sure how to pass cyclists safely, and are naturally nervous about it. But if the cyclist up ahead is riding just a foot or even a few inches from the edge of the road, can you fault them for assuming that that\'s all the space they need on their left as well? Conversely, a cyclist who has placed himself three feet from the edge is much more likely to get at least three feet on the other side too. Every cyclist I know who has experimented with this reports similar results, but most cyclists seem reluctant to actually try it, perhaps because it seems unnatural or unsafe to be \"out there\". But once you do it and experience the fantastic results, there is no going back.

    The one main exception is when you\'re further left, but still are leaving just enough room for a car to squeeze in - in those cases sometimes they still try to squeeze in, and there it\'s helpful to be even further left to make it clear in no uncertain terms that the passing motorists must move into the adjacent lane to pass.

    It is my experience that once drivers are resigned to having to change lanes or cross the center stripe in order to pass, that they do so, with rare exceptions, with plenty of passing space.

    So yes, it would probably help to teach motorists about safe passing, but what seems to be much more effective is for the cyclist to learn what to do to induce safe passing behavior out of motorists naturally. Call it on-the-road training in-real-time if you\'d like. And the more cyclists that did this, the sooner more motorists would learn to do it without any help from the cyclists.

    If you do this on your commute at the same time of day regularly, you realize how effective your training is by riding at a different time one day, with a bunch of drivers who you have not yet trained. The difference is remarkable. At your regular commute time, the drivers need fewer hints about what to do; at the unusual commute time, the drivers need a lot more help.

    There is no more effective motorist training method out there then YOU doing on-the-road training in real-time. Ride accordingly, and have fun!

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  • Gene July 3, 2007 at 3:23 pm

    NoChain wrote (#157):
    “I, for one, have no problem with the Jennifer Knights that are out there, because I take full responsibility for my safety, and ride accordingly. I suggest others adopt a similar attitude, and ride (and drive) accordingly.”

    Thanks for your comments on my earlier post (#156). That post was indeed heartfelt. But I gotta call you on your point above. I don’t know that you realize how condescending it sounds. And I’m sure you are not meaning to insinuate anything about this situation in particular. I know you want just to encourage all cyclists to think about their personal riding habits and how our riding styles influence drivers of cars but gosh you have done it awkwardly. (Understood that it is often more difficult to have this discussion in writing that in person.) At least you acknowledge that you would be vulnerable if she wanted to “…use her vehicle as a weapon”.

    What about the cyclist from Illinois last year that was riding on the shoulder and was hit and killed from behind by a woman that swerved onto the shoulder while she was DOWNLOADING RING TONES TO HER PHONE! She also had a “problematic” driving history and should not have been on the road. When WSBob uses the description “… people that are determined to drive like Jennifer Knight”, I believe he means this kind of driver. Maybe there is a case to not lump them in the same category but I do, and I’m guessing WSBob does too

    As you stated in your post, we may need to “agree to disagree” but I believe you and WSBob are starting from different assumptions and are talking about different kinds of drivers. I do agree with most if not all your points about vehicular cycling as this type of riding helps me keep certain on-road conflicts from occurring but I don’t think you meant your post to come across the way it sounds to me.

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  • NoChain July 3, 2007 at 5:07 pm

    Gene,

    I apologize for sounding condescending to you and everyone else. It IS difficult to have these types of discussions in writing rather than in person.

    Of course I recognize the type of driver who poses a threat to even the most defensive among us is out there. I think the classic example is that drunk driver who killed Ken Kifer by veering across the road from the oncoming side. I just think that the type of driver Knight represents is much more common and does not pose anywhere near the kind of threat to the experienced and vigilant cyclist that most people here seem to think. After all, all she did that was wrong was cross a solid center stripe in order to pass some cyclists. This is very common behavior for which we can and must be prepared.

    I just think it\'s a big mistake to group a driver who makes a common and very predictable act, arguably behavior in which most if not all drivers have engaged, into a classification with truly out of control drivers for which cyclists have no way to prepare. It\'s a big mistake because it makes cycling seem much more dangerous that it really is, already arguably the biggest reason keeping cycling from being more popular.

    There are about 800 cyclists killed per year in the U.S., most involve motor vehicles. We know that in about 50% the cyclist did something blatantly wrong (like riding at night without lights, riding the wrong way, etc.). So if you do nothing blatantly wrong, your odds of not getting killed out there improve by 100% over the average cyclist. But I think it\'s important to consider the remaining 50%, particularly in terms of whether they had been preventable by the cyclist, though he did nothing blatantly wrong.

    Defensive driving instructors teach that in every collision, the crash could have been avoided by EITHER of the drivers involved. We can argue about whether that applies to 100% or 99.95% of all collisions, but in any case I see no reason for why this would not apply to collisions in which cyclists are involved. If true, that means in all but a handful of the 800 fatal crashes per year, the cyclist could have prevented it. Think about that. Kifer\'s death falls into that unpreventable category, as probably does the woman you write about (though there is a hypothesis out there about what cyclists could do to make themselves less likely to fall victim to \"inadvertent drift\" type collisions, which involves moving out of the bike lane or shoulder and into the vehicular traffic lane during significantly long gaps in same direction traffic for various reasons, including to be more likely to be noticed by traffic approaching from behind, and thus making them less likely to choose to attend to a distraction during the critical moments before and during the pass).

    At any rate, I don\'t think that this tragedy falls into that very rare \"unpreventable-by-the-cyclist\" category, and so, it\'s inappropriate to use this tragedy to grandstand the dangers of riding a bike on roads, blowing the actual threat way out of proportion.

    Cycling is quite safe, and is particularly safe for the vehicular cyclist who engages in well-understood basic defensive driving practices that prepares him for the actual common and exceptional behavior of drivers out there. This should be the message of bicycling advocacy, but first it needs to be widely understood and appreciated within the cycling community, and we have a long way to go to achieve that.

    Instead, we have a lot of misguided fear mongering and posturing within the community for \"special vulnerable user treatment\" and \"separate space\" which are implicitly based on the assumption that cycling is inherently much more dangerous than it actually is. In the long run, these efforts work against the interests of cycling advocacy: making cycling actually safer and more popular.

    Just one more thing, with respect to the \"more space\" issue. It should be noted that even if this road had 16 foot wide lanes instead of 11 foot lanes, it would have made no difference. In fact, the driver simply would not have had to cross the center stripe in order to pass, but the cyclist would still have had to look back and cross her path in order to make the left turn. Yet the calls for \"more space\" are made anyway, as if that would make a difference.

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  • BURR July 4, 2007 at 1:41 am

    Hi Serge.

    A little birdy told me to tell y\'all to check \'NoChain\'s\' (aka Helmet Head\'s) post history at BikeForums.net:

    http://www.bikeforums.net/member.php?u=27472

    Draw your own conclusions.

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  • [...] Nick Deshais | Email | Print An accident report obtained by WW shows that a driver who hit and killed a cyclist in rural Washington County at the beginning of June had more than a suspended license in her [...]

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  • wsbob July 10, 2007 at 10:42 pm

    Thanks Gene, I\'m not assuming what kind of driver Jennifer Knight is. I\'m going by the description of driver Jennifer Knight reported in the newspaper: a 26 year old with a suspended license that insisted on driving anyway, and in the process, disregarded obvious rules and laws of the road, with the death of a cyclist as a result.

    Jennifer Knight is not an average driver. She appears to be an unusually careless driver whose driving habits are particularly dangerous to other people using the road. The hazard represented by these kinds of drivers is one that has to be addressed and countered in a number of ways. Taking such people off the road, after other efforts have failed, is one of those ways.

    I believe most of us here have been extraordinarily respectful of the occasionally constructive comments of commenter NoChain that ultimately have turned out to be primarily self-indulgent, argumentative, rambling.

    As long as I thought the points raised by this commenter represented a sincere concern about the possibility of contributing factors to the Knight-O\'Donnell collision that were contrary to those reported by at least one witness in the Oregonian newspaper, I tackled them, considering that others might also believe similarly.

    In this new era for Oregon of cyclists and motorists finding themselves in closer and more frequent proximity to each other than perhaps ever before, responding to such concerns arising from collisions like the Knight-O\'Donnell tragedy seems like a good way to better familiarize cyclists and motorists with the potentially lethal dynamics between the two vastly different kinds of vehicles.

    After a certain period of patient explanation to contrary comments thrust forward by one person only, it begins to be clear that the thoughts expressed aren\'t sincere or intended by that person to be constructive.

    Somewhere, based on NoChains comments, apparently there is a world, far, far away, where everybody drives a car like Jennifer Knight, and everybody rides their bike like commenter NoChain. It\'s a perfect world in which by virtue of the excellent biking practices of the NoChain model, none of the people ever get hurt, at least not those on bicycles. A

    In the real world, people do not function so uniformly, and it probably is not realistic to ever expect them to. That accounts for why roads, vehicles, and laws regulating their use are designed for as closely a representative cross-section of humanity as is possible.

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  • PBM July 11, 2007 at 10:17 am

    NoChain (53):

    Crossing a solid yellow line in Oregon is illegal, regardless of the physics or circumstances. I\'m an avid roadie and bike commuter who\'s been cited for crossing a yellow line (slightly to give room to cyclists, and safely, less than 100 ft. before a passing zone at ~20 MPH on a rural road with no other traffic). Picture the absurdity of forcing the cyclists out into the road (Dee Highway) while being pulled over, emphasized by three bike racks on my roof and \"I Share The Road\" bumper sticker. We in Oregon can only hope to become as progressive as Ohio and enforce laws by applying them to public safety, instead of neglecting our primary mission and deflecting responsibility to Salem. The HR County Deputy who cited me didn\'t share his opinion toward cyclists (as one WA County Deputy actually has), but I suspect I know what they are...

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  • [...] on Jennifer Knight case This is just a short update to the story first covered by [...]

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  • Ken July 29, 2007 at 9:54 am

    Thanks for the link to the updated article. You might wonder if having that many accidents in such a short time would make one pause and think about whether or not one should be driving, but I guess not in this case.

    It is also a clear demonstration of a lack of character that she was late for, and had not paid her first \"installment\" for her fines. You might think that killing someone would at least make you straighten up your act, but again, I guess not in this case.

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  • wsbob July 29, 2007 at 11:58 am

    Vagabond Shark, thanks for the story and the link to the Forest Grove News-Times story that has some excellent news and information. the link for the News-Times story follows:

    http://www.forestgrovenewstimes.com/news/story.php?story_id=118539132490529700

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  • rixtir July 29, 2007 at 2:52 pm

    So Serge has taken his \"Blame the Victim\" show to Portland. Wow.

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  • wsbob July 29, 2007 at 9:25 pm

    ristir, Serge is...?

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  • Anonymous July 30, 2007 at 10:40 am

    NoChain. He spent voluminous amounts of bikeforums.net bandwidth blaming Tim O\'Donnell for his own death, as he does with every cyclist death. When that didn\'t go over very well on BF, it appears he brought his \"Blame the Victim\" show here to bikeportland. And he\'s still burning up bandwidth to blame Tim O\'Donnell for his own death. The word \"obsessed\" comes to mind.

    To put it in perspective, NoChain lives in San Diego.

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  • rixtir July 30, 2007 at 10:40 am

    NoChain. He spent voluminous amounts of bikeforums.net bandwidth blaming Tim O\'Donnell for his own death, as he does with every cyclist death. When that didn\'t go over very well on BF, it appears he brought his \"Blame the Victim\" show here to bikeportland. And he\'s still burning up bandwidth to blame Tim O\'Donnell for his own death. The word \"obsessed\" comes to mind.

    To put it in perspective, NoChain lives in San Diego.

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  • SKiDmark July 30, 2007 at 11:33 am

    The following is heavy sarcasm.

    Well of course it\'s the cyclist\'s fault. Doesn\'t he know bikes are dangerous? If you don\'t want to get hit by a car then you shouldn\'t ride a bike.

    End heavy sarcasm.

    I don\'t know what living in San Diego has to do with it, I am from there. I am sure people get hit on bikes down there in posh areas too like LaJolla and North County, and I bet the deaths are treated much the same way they are here. I know first hand how a motorcycle accident with a car is treated, when the car driver is not insured and runs a red light. Nothing happens. Good thing I was wearing a full-face helmet and had Blue Cross.

    As far as this particular unfortunate accident and death is concerned, the person who hit him was driving on a suspended license, which to me means there is some sort of previous recklessness or negligence. There are only a few things you can get your license suspended for: driving without insurance, DUI, more than 4 tickets in one year, failure to appear, and not paying your tickets. To me this indicates she is a careless driver, the kind that wouldn\'t \"see\" a cyclist, and hit and kill one. I for one, am sick of inattentive, distracted drivers getting a slap on the wrist for hitting pedestrian and cyclists. The penalties need to be tougher, or drivers will never take these situations seriously.

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  • Jim O'Horo July 30, 2007 at 11:35 am

    Don\'t you folks get it yet? This character is just playing head games with you all. The best way to deal with him is to ignore him. He gets off every time you respond to one of his outrageous, stupid posts. Then he fires back something else to twist your tail some more. Don\'t respond to him. Don\'t even acknowledge he exists. Eventually he\'ll go away.

    Regards.

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  • wsbob July 30, 2007 at 11:45 am

    Rixtir, thanks. Not sure why you made the comment you did about NoChain/Serge in comment #169, at this time. The Vagabond Shark comment doesn\'t seem to reflect his line of thinking.

    It would be quite a stretch to conclude that the News-Times story supported his line of thinking, although the story\'s headline and lead-in paragraph make a point of emphasizing that Jennifer Knight might not have received correspondence from the DMV informing her that her license had been suspended, given that the suspension occurred the day before she drove and fatally killed cyclist Timothy O\'Donnell.

    Even technically not knowing that the license had been suspended, Jennifer Knight must have had some sense of understanding that her manner of driving was dangerous. Or maybe not. Maybe she\'s just one of those people that is totally clueless.

    I wonder what NoChain/Serge\'s trip really is. The act of trying so hard to divert reasonable levels of responsibility away from motor vehicle drivers for the extraordinary threat they represent to vulnerable users of roads seems to suggest something strange going on in his head.

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  • rixtir July 30, 2007 at 11:57 am

    I wonder what NoChain/Serge\'s trip really is. The act of trying so hard to divert reasonable levels of responsibility away from motor vehicle drivers for the extraordinary threat they represent to vulnerable users of roads seems to suggest something strange going on in his head.

    NoChain is a recreational cyclist who lives in San Diego. He feels that it would hurt cycling advocacy (which in his view means getting people on bikes) if cycling were perceived as something dangerous. Therefore, when there\'s an injury, or a fatality, due to a collision between a motorist and a cyclist, NoChain will always blame the cyclist, because to blame the motorist would suggest that cycling can be dangerous.

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  • rixtir July 30, 2007 at 11:59 am

    I forgot to mention that when there are no facts to support blaming the cyclist, NoChain liberally invents facts to support his conclusions. It\'s his modus operandi.

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