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Fatal bike/car collision on Powell Blvd. in Gresham

Posted by on December 13th, 2007 at 12:36 pm

[Updated: 12/13, 3:05pm, 5:17pm, 10:35pm - see below]

Several readers have emailed me a report on KGW.com about a bicycle-involved fatality in Gresham.

According to KGW it happened late this morning on SE Powell Blvd. at W Powell Loop, east of Powell Butte Nature Park (Google Map link of location).

Here’s a snip from their report:

“The cyclist died at the scene, according to police. The driver stayed at the scene and was cooperating with police. Investigators don’t yet know who was at fault.”

I don’t have great contacts at the Gresham PD, but will try and keep this post updated as best I can.


More information has been coming in via the comments below (thanks everyone!). Here are a few snippets from them:

  • This fatality happen just a few blocks east of Portland’s border with Gresham
  • The Oregonian has more information:

    “About 9:20 a.m., a male bicyclist headed east on Powell Boulevard veered into eastbound traffic, said Sgt. Claudio Grandjean, a Gresham Police Department spokesman. Police have yet to release the identity of the bicyclist, who died at the scene.”

  • There is a bike lane on the street where the collision occurred, whether or not the person operating the bicycle was in the bike lane can’t be confirmed yet.
  • A ghost bike has been prepared for the victim and it will be erected at the intersection tonight.
  • The Oregonian and KGW are reporting that Gresham police have already placed blame on the man on the bike. Oregonian: Bicyclist killed in Gresham when he veers into traffic, police say; KGW: Police: Killed bicyclist turned into car’s path on Powell Blvd.
ghost bike for cyclist killed in Gresham-1.jpg
(Photo © Jonathan Maus)

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Comments
  • Nuada December 13, 2007 at 1:14 pm

    \”Investigators don\’t yet know who was at fault.\”

    Unless there were witnesses, who can speak up for the deceased to help determine that? I hope the witnesses come forward.

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  • Andrew Plambeck December 13, 2007 at 1:20 pm

    Regardless of fault, another road tragedy in the Portland area. My thoughts and prayers are with the cyclist and his or her family.

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  • Adam December 13, 2007 at 1:28 pm

    Does anyone know the time the accident occured? I live right around the corner from that spot and I know how dangerous it is to ride in that part of town. It\’s unfortunate that it takes something like this but hopefully PDOT and Gresham will make more effort to improve this area and not just inner Portland.

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  • Joe December 13, 2007 at 1:42 pm

    biker down.. RIP

    Joe

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  • Matthew December 13, 2007 at 1:42 pm

    Adam: This happened in Gresham, so PDOT (PortlanD Office of Transportation) can\’t do anything about it…

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  • Stripes December 13, 2007 at 1:43 pm

    If you go to Googlemaps, you can see the Streetview of the crash site. My question – from looking at these photos, is that just an extra-wide car shoulder at Powell, or is that supposed to be a bike lane? If it\’s a bike lane and the cyclist was riding in it, I\’m not seeing any bike symbol markings. Just curious. Letting motorists know where to anticipate bikers is important.

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  • Qwendolyn December 13, 2007 at 1:53 pm

    Take a look at the where the Portland-Gresham border is.

    This happened literally almost right on the border.

    link to map

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  • Russell December 13, 2007 at 2:10 pm

    Stripes (#6)-

    You should always be expecting cyclists, you should always be expecting children or elderly individuals to need to cross the road. Cyclists and pedestrians are not relegated to \”only specific areas,\” except in very specific cases (such as bikes between NW Hoyt, SW Jefferson, 13th and Front St where they are not allowed to ride on sidewalks). Your argument is simply ludicrous and takes the RESPONSIBILITY away from motorist to be aware of their surroundings.

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  • peejay December 13, 2007 at 2:35 pm

    I looked at the google satellite image, and I can see a bike symbol on the north side of W Powell Blvd. I also see a cyclist on the south side, at the intersection. As for Powell Loop, it looks like there\’s a bike lane leading out from the intersection, but not in the other direction. Can we get some confirmation?

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  • Kristen December 13, 2007 at 2:37 pm

    Russell definitely has a point. As a motorist, you have the responsibility to make sure your intended path is clear and that you are aware of your surroundings– especially as it relates to other road users, whether it\’s a cyclist, another motorized vehicle, a pedestrian, a skateboarder, or an animal.

    RIP to the cyclist… KGW\’s picture of the scene is horrifying. It\’s not very respectful of the cyclist and their family and friends to show a yellow tarp-covered body. What ever happened to allowing others their dignity?

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  • Peter December 13, 2007 at 2:45 pm

    [Moderator: Feel free to delete my previous comment - this is an exact duplicate, except for the tinyurl instead of the huge gmaps url.]

    Here is a link of the google maps street view. The exact location is not where the crash occurred, but just before the intersection that the rider would would just gone through if he/she was traveling east. The report says the accident happened just east of 182nd Ave. This location is just west of 182nd Ave., but facing East:

    http://tinyurl.com/2hattm

    Looks like a pretty typical intersection to me, except it kinda looks like there is a bike lane, which would not be typical for most of America.

    The intersection is large, though, so it definitely looks dangerous.

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  • Stripes December 13, 2007 at 2:45 pm

    Apologies – I think my point was misconstrued. What I was trying to get across was, if there *is* a bikelane there on Powell, it should be frequently marked as such with a bike symbol. It certainly doesn\’t negate a motorist\’s need to be always aware!

    To clarify my point – one of the problems I encounter when cycling on Highway 30 out to Sauvie Island, is that the bike lane only marked with a stencil very, very infrequently.

    As a result, most vehicles to do not *know* it is a bikelane, and just think it\’s an extra shoulder for them, or worse, a parking lane!

    Result? I often have to dart out on my bike into 60mph traffic to bike around parked cars blocking the bike lane.

    If that bikelane had bike symbols along the equivalent of every two blocks or so, I bet cars would park in it far, far, far less often.

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  • Anonymous December 13, 2007 at 2:48 pm

    This is what oregonlive is reporting.

    Bicyclist killed in Gresham accident
    Posted by The Oregonian December 13, 2007 12:58PM
    Officials expect to reopen Southeast Powell Boulevard in Gresham about 1 p.m. today after a bicyclist\’s death this morning.

    About 9:20 a.m., a male bicyclist headed east on Powell Boulevard veered into eastbound traffic, said Sgt. Claudio Grandjean, a Gresham Police Department spokesman. Police have yet to release the identity of the bicyclist, who died at the scene.

    The incident occurred near the western section of Southeast Powell Loop. Powell Boulevard was closed to traffic after the incident.

    – Brad Schmidt

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  • Paul S December 13, 2007 at 2:50 pm

    Stripes: that\’s not just a wide shoulder, it\’s a bike lane. The Bike There map shows a bike lane on Powell (blue line)…also a bike lane marker is visible about in Google Maps about 1/2 mile SE of the crash site (in front of the Highland View apts.)

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  • Adam December 13, 2007 at 3:10 pm

    Matthew (#5)

    I understand that this occured in Gresham but it was practically on the Portland border. I also said PDOT and Gresham, not just PDOT. My reasoning for mentioning both organizations is because there are many dangerous intersections and roads in outer SE that are very similar to where this incident occurred.

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  • Keith December 13, 2007 at 3:14 pm

    I ride that way when the weather permits. Powell Blvd. has very good bike lanes in each direction, but Powell loop does not.
    The speed limit there is 40mph, but people average 45 – 50. I know there is a sewer grate just east of the intersection that
    crosses 2/3 of the bike lane if memory serves me. I can\’t tell by the photo if it is the east intersection of Powell loop which has a traffic light, or the west intersection that does not have a light but a stop sign.

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  • Logan 5 December 13, 2007 at 3:44 pm

    \”Cyclists and pedestrians are not relegated to \”only specific areas,\” \”

    Really. Do peds have the privilege of walking down MLK? Are cyclists allowed in the auto lane on Powell?

    \”As a motorist, you have the responsibility to make sure your intended path is clear and that you are aware of your surroundings\”

    This applies to all roadway users.

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  • Qwendolyn December 13, 2007 at 3:48 pm

    In response to Logan 5 post #17

    \”Are cyclists allowed in the auto lane on Powell? \”

    Yes. If it is to avoid a hazard in the road, then the law allows it.

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  • Dan (teknotus) December 13, 2007 at 3:48 pm

    I slipped on ice a few times on my ride in. I stayed extra far away from things like sewer grates. Anyone know if there was ice out there this morning? Most bike lanes aren\’t wide enough to fall over, and stay out of traffic. I can just imaging going over an icey grate, and falling into traffic.

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  • bahueh December 13, 2007 at 3:50 pm

    Logan..
    cyclists are allowed to ride on Powell..
    they can legally do it…although I doubt they can do the speed limit or stay far enough to the right to enjoy a margin of safety that other streets provide.
    same goes with those cyclists who choose to ride up Hawthorne or Division…not a wise choice when there are better and safer alternatives available to them. doing something, simply because you can, doesn\’t make it always a good idea.

    as for today\’s accident…tragic…but the facts are not out yet.

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  • Peter December 13, 2007 at 3:52 pm

    Here are a couple more Gmap links. There are two intersections of W Powell Loop with W Powell Blvd, of course:

    First intersection with W Powell Loop as you head east on W Powell Blvd:
    http://tinyurl.com/29xzzu

    Second intersection with W Powell Loop as you head east on W Powell Blvd:
    http://tinyurl.com/yt2rf3

    GMaps screws up a bit – the icon shows up on the wrong place on the map, but the picture and navigation remain correct. You can look up and down by dragging your mouse, move up and down the street, turn around, zoom in, etc.

    The only thing I can imagine happening is a car pulled out a bit too far from the Loop street, onto the Blvd, forcing the biker out into/onto the Blvd, where he was hit by a car racing up behind him.

    I still don\’t buy that story, though. Bikers don\’t swerve out into traffic, even if it\’s headed in the same direction. And the word \’veer\’ leaves a lot to be desired. Sounds like a cover-up. Probably a police officer or someone else \’official\’ killed the biker.

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  • peejay December 13, 2007 at 3:55 pm

    I\’m not satisfied by the explanation that the cyclist \”veered into eastbound traffic\” without knowing 1) is that really true? (what evidence other than the driver\’s word); 2) what circumstances might have forced the cyclist to leave the bike lane? and 3) how fast was the motorist going?

    There\’s lots more to know.

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  • benschon December 13, 2007 at 4:07 pm

    Here\’s a better shot of the area where the crash occurred, near the intersection with Powell Loop.

    http://tinyurl.com/3ax4m6

    That frontage is near a defunct QFC. It has very generous bike lanes on both sides, but traffic also whips through there very quickly. Sadly, it\’s just a stone\’s throw from the Springwater Corridor bike/ped trail to the south.

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  • BURR December 13, 2007 at 4:15 pm

    I believe Powell Blvd is a state highway, in whic case ODOT is the responsible transportation agency.

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  • Mmann December 13, 2007 at 4:19 pm

    Dan (#19)

    I rode into Gresham about 7 this morning, north of here (Burnside). Yes, a little ice, especially on the bike lane. I was actually in the traffic lane when safe to avoid the icy patches. Not implying this was relevant, but perhaps.

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  • Adam December 13, 2007 at 4:39 pm

    Has anyone heard if there were any witnesses? How reliable of facts are we going to get if the only source of info is from the driver?

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  • Dave J. December 13, 2007 at 4:44 pm

    This is my wife\’s commute route to work in Gresham, so I\’ve driven it quite frequently. The road itself is ok, but there is quite a bit of recklessness by cars along that route. It gets especially treacherous during a.m. and p.m. rush hours if someone is turning off the road and other traffic veers around them to avoid slowing down, often just veering right into the bike path without bothering to check for cyclists.

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  • Keith December 13, 2007 at 4:51 pm

    Now that I know exactly which part of the
    loop that is, I know after 4 years of commuting that way that I have seen many
    people do a rolling stop before entering
    Powell because it is hard to turn left
    or right from the stop sign when there is traffic.

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  • true December 13, 2007 at 5:03 pm

    RIP

    My thoughts are with the family. I hope witnesses emerge to clarify events a little.

    I slipped on an icy patch this morning inches away from traffic at Holgate and 82nd. I didn\’t go down, thankfully, but I was scared out of my mind for a moment.

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  • Joyce December 13, 2007 at 5:15 pm

    From KATU:

    GRESHAM, Ore. – Gresham police say a bicyclist was hit by a car and died near Southeast 182nd and Southeast Powell Boulevard Thursday morning.

    The accident took place at about 9:20 a.m.

    The cyclist, described as an adult male, died at the scene. The Gresham Police Crash Team is investigating. The identities of the cyclist and the driver of the car have not been released.

    Police said they believe the cyclist was riding across Southeast Powell Boulevard when he was hit. They also said the driver of the car stopped and cooperated with police.

    Officers closed Powell Boulevard in the area while investigating the collision.

    From KOIN news:

    Gresham Bicyclist Killed By PT Cruiser

    GRESHAM, Ore. – An early morning bike ride ended fatally for a man in Gresham.

    Around 9:20 a.m. Thursday, police say, a PT Cruiser stuck a bicyclist near the intersection of Powell and Powell Loop in Gresham.

    The speed limit on that stretch is 40 mph. Investigators are still sifting through the evidence.

    The driver has been identified as 25-year-old Gresham resident Josh Aden. He stopped immediately and is cooperating with authorities.

    The identification of the cyclist, a white adult man, has not been released.

    Police say they are focusing on whether speed was a factor. It does not appear that alcohol or intoxicants were involved. There is one witness. Once the point of impact is determined, police will be able to say who is at fault.

    The crosswalk is unmarked. If the cyclist was in the crosswalk, he was not at fault.

    Police have closed Powell Boulevard for westbound traffic from Powell Loop and closed the road for eastbound traffic at 182nd at the old QFC building.

    12/13/2007
    I find the headline of the KOIN news article interesting — It\’s as if the car, not the driver was responsible for hitting the bicyclist. We don\’t see headlines like \”Man killed by knife/gun,\” but when it comes to traffic collisions, the blames (if any) are usually on the weapon (cement trunk/garbage truck/PT Cruiser) instead of the perpetrator.

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  • Jonathan Maus (Editor) December 13, 2007 at 5:23 pm

    Just FYI, the ghost bike pictured below is on its way to the location of the collision.

    \"ghost

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  • Stripes December 13, 2007 at 5:31 pm

    I agree.

    Cars don\’t drive themselves. People drive them. Cars don\’t cause crashes. The people driving them do.

    A headline more along the lines of \”Car driver hits bicyclist\” seems more accurate to me than \”Car hits bicyclist\”.

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  • Matt Picio December 13, 2007 at 6:09 pm

    Joyce (#30) and Stripes (#31)

    There are some parallels – headlines frequently say things like \”Man killed with machete\”, \”4 dead in local shooting\” and \”Woman hung in closet, police suspect foul play\”. In none of those examples is a person mentioned as what killed the victim. That someone was behind the wheel is implied, just as \”shot\” implies a gun, \”hung\” implies a rope or cord, and \”stabbed\” implies a knife. I wouldn\’t read too much into the headline.

    The reporting actually is remarkably tame compared to other examples we\’ve seen recently, confining itself to the facts without assigning nor implying blame. Joyce\’s quoted account in particular is an excellent piece of journalism – detailed and reasonably unbiased.

    I think I mentioned in a prior post, one reason the weapon is usually stated to have killed someone is because cause of death is pretty straightforward. To say that the driver killed the cyclist implies a number of things, none of which have yet been proved in a court of law. By stating the object rather than the wielder, the paper avoids liability.

    It\’s fairly likely that the cyclist may have swerved to avoid something/one in the bike lane and unfortunately the car in the traffic lane was close enough that the driver couldn\’t avoid him. Who knows? It\’s too bad there was only one witness, because multiple witnesses would help the police reconstruct the crash. Fortunately, by determining the impact point, skid marks and other evidence, they\’ll probably still be able to determine what happened, it\’ll just take longer.

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  • Anonymous December 13, 2007 at 6:33 pm

    my thoughts are with the cyclist\’s family and friends. I\’m so sorry for your loss.

    …and (kristen #10)I am also appalled at the way that KGW is handling coverage with no apparent sensitivity towards the victims loved ones. This is not the first time Amy Troy and KGW have disregarded common descency in order to sensationalize a story. Shame on them.

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  • Fred December 13, 2007 at 7:53 pm

    So bicyclists who were at fault get a \”ghost bike\” to memorialize the fact that they caused their own death?

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  • pat h December 13, 2007 at 8:35 pm

    From the above News Report:
    \”…Once the point of impact is determined, police will be able to say who is at fault…\”

    This is misleading. It could determine who is \”at fault\”, but also the position and/or intent of the cyclist matters. If the cyclist had the intent of turning left, then positioning himself someway (in car traffic) is legal. Similarily, if he was trying to avoid a hazard, he was legal. However, it is dificult to prove intent of a deceased person.

    Really sad.

    I have lost most of my faith in the police and DA with all of these bike vs. car fatalities in the last few months. Nearly makes me want to be a lawyer and sue these damn people killing cyclists.

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  • pat h December 13, 2007 at 8:46 pm

    So, I just read it more carefully. The articles imply that the cyclist was in an unmarked crosswalk. (so my previous coments aren\’t quiet as relevant).

    The only obligation a ped/biker has in a crosswalk is to give a driver enough (resonable) room to stop before entering their path. The law is abigious how much time (i.e., space for a driver to react and then stop their car) should be given.

    I have nearly gotten rear-ended stopping for peds on Woodstock (and yelled out). My car is small and has good 4 wheel disk breaks. A light touch will stop me quickly. The big SUV behind me (with the driver talking on a cell, slowing their reaction time) with drum brakes in the back and leaf spring suspenion, will take much, much longer to stop even from 25 mph.

    While it is easy to blame the operators (drivers and cyclist) we should not forget about safe design. A nimble, small car designed not to kill peds is a lot better to get hit by than a SUV. I highly recomend the book _High and Mighty_ about SUV safety and myths.

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  • Lidwien December 13, 2007 at 9:25 pm

    In response to Burr: Powell used to be a State Highway, but in the City of Gresham jurisdiction has recently been transfered to the City, after the road was improved. In the City of Portland it is still a State Highway.

    How very sad, regardless of whose road it is.

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  • Carl December 14, 2007 at 12:39 am

    http://tinyurl.com/yppe48

    If the KGW photograph is correct, the small tree that you can see in this streetview image (link above) is where his bike and body came to rest. That point is in the WESTbound lane, but there were spraypaint markings all over the street (both sides). Ugly.

    It is a sad stretch of road made even sadder by the fact that most motorists probably don\’t even notice or know the reason behind the new splotches and spraypaint markings that appeared on it today.

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  • Tom Hastings December 14, 2007 at 7:25 am

    Part of why we \”dart\” out into car/truck lanes is that even when we do have bike lanes they are virtually always in far worse shape–especially for our smaller tires–than are the car lanes. During the recent deluge, in lower areas like Greeley down by Swan Island (my commute), the bike lane alone was under 4-6 inches of water and you cannot leave that to merge into 50 mph traffic. Weaving around or smashing into storm drains that are often 2-4 inches below grade is a great way to die. We are pushed into fast traffic, wounded or killed, and then blamed. We need more change. More lanes. More basic driver education. More proper maintenance on bike lanes. More bike arterial routes that are separate from cars and trucks entirely. Every poor biker like the Powell person is a target for drivers both careful and careless and we are virtually always blamed. This has to change.

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  • Jeff Richardson December 14, 2007 at 9:35 am

    I drove by there while Powell/hwy 26 was closed for the investigation. Channel 6 news van on site and a camera man out there.

    The bicycle and the tarp were still out in the road. My opinion was that it was far enough past the intersection that this was not a matter of a bicyclist having to do anything because of something that happened at the intersection – it looked to be a good 40 yards beyond the intersection.

    Traffic is fast there and often heavy during rush hours – speed limit is 40 and often cars are doing 45. But the bike lanes are clearly marked and generous in size. There is also a more than generous sidewalk. (In response to someone elses post – there is NO parking along that section of road)

    I can only see 3 possibilities. The bicyclist swerved into or went down into traffic. He tried to turn to cross the road somewhere other than an intersection or crosswalk in a very stupid place. Or, the car was in the bicycle lane for some reason.

    FYI – bicyclist and pedestrians pretty often try and cross Powell in places other than intersections and crosswalks during heavy traffic. Sometimes all of 10 yards from a perfectly good crosswalk and at night while wearing dark clothes. Pretty stupid behavior on that street.

    My heart goes out to the family as well as to the traumatized driver of the car. I spent several years commuting exclusively by bike while I went to college and now commute by motorcycle part of the time. I know how dangerous it can be out there and have had many close calls myself.

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  • Jeff Richardson December 14, 2007 at 9:39 am

    BTW – this didn\’t happen at 9:20 as reported. I went by prior to 9:00 in the morning (Maybe 8:45). I had a meeting to be at in Portland at 9:30 and was 20 minutes early.

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  • Wayne December 14, 2007 at 11:20 am

    I have to take exception to Tom\’s note above about darting out into traffic to avoid problems in the bike lane. When I drive a car, I would NEVER just dart into the next lane because there\’s an obstacle in mine; I\’ll slow down, try to edge around it, try to merge with the other lane or whatever, but I would never just leap into the next lane in my car thinking that I had a right to do that just because MY lane was now blocked. When I ride, I keep that same thought. I\’m not about to assume that I may take the first lane of motor vehicle traffic just because something obstructs me in the bike lane — I\’ll check for oncoming traffic, I\’ll slow down, I\’ll do whatever it takes to do it safely. I see far too often riders just doing dumb things (like darting out into traffic) because their bike lane was blocked and God forbid they should slow down! Sure, we have the RIGHT to use the motor vehicle lane if the bike lane is blocked, but we don\’t have the right to TAKE the motor vehicle lane from someone who is already there. Just like any motor vehicle, we must signal our intention to CHANGE LANES, because that is what we are doing, and we must only proceed when it is safe to do so. Believing that we don\’t have to abide by that basic rule of driving is to court disaster.

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  • Tom Hastings December 15, 2007 at 7:31 am

    Wayne is correct, of course. That is why I put dart in quotes. But when we move correctly into a traffic lane from our bike lane because some car or truck or bus has it blocked, we are viewed as infringing on others\’ turf and language such as \”dart\” is used to imply that we are at fault. That may or may not be the case, but when we are moving at 17 mph and cars are moving twice as fast, our legitimate traffic maneuvers are often resented and we are labeled with verbiage such as dart or swerve. Thanks for the clarification, Wayne. We will be the ones hurt by cars every time and I should have been more clear in my language.

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  • Peter December 15, 2007 at 3:25 pm

    it does sound like it could have been the bicyclists fault – i guess we need to call out the NTSB to have a thorough investigation – that way we\’ll have a full whitewash report in about a year\’s time.

    if it really was the bicyclist\’s fault, then i, too, feel bad for the driver. would be a sucky situ. but he\’d be able to get on with life – if it\’s not your fault, it\’s not your fault.

    onto the biker – not to pile on, but what was he thinking not wearing a helmet anywhere, much less on a dangerous road/highway?

    that\’s the height of irresponsibility, and i\’d like everyone to really give it to people who think they\’re too cool to wear helmets. if you\’re not wearing a helmet, you shouldn\’t be riding – period. end of discussion.

    also, that the cyclist was 72 makes me think that maybe he was just careless and not as quick/clever as he would have been at 20 or 35. i think of all the times i\’ve narrowly avoided death on a bicycle by being an all-around athlete – great with balance, etc. – it almost surprises me that there aren\’t more bicycle deaths.

    if the dude had a helmet on, this would have been no big deal, relatively speaking. because he didn\’t have a helmet on, he may have caused his family/friends untold suffering, and may have destroyed the life of an innocent person – the person driving the car. caused the taxpayers immensely, drummed up driver/rider tensions unnecessarily, etc.

    in short, i don\’t give a flying **** what you think you\’re entitled to – wear a ********* helmet!

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