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Minivan rolls into local bike shop; a tragedy averted

Posted by on May 19th, 2008 at 11:47 am

A minivan rolled into a bench outside
Citybikes on Saturday.
(Photos: Spencer Boomhower)

Citybikes, a popular local bike shop with two locations in Southeast Portland, experienced a close call at their store on SE 8th and Ankeny on Saturday.

In what must have been a surreal experience, two men in the path of the slow-moving minivan were able to move before getting it, but a bike was not as lucky.

According to Citybikes employee Matthew Ceravolo, just before opening time on Saturday, a blue Nissan minivan traveling south on SE 8th ran a stop-sign and hit another car that was traveling west on Ankeny.

Reader Spencer Boomhower rolled by the scene just after it happened and sent in this photo:

Bike Angels must have played a part in this surreal collision.

The collision reportedly left the minivan driver “stunned” and she proceeded to veer in the direction of Citybikes’ front entrance. The van rolled over the curb, ran over a sign post, and then smashed into a cob structure and bench in front of the shop — pinning a bicycle under its bumper and narrowly missing two people who were directly in its path.

Ceravolo says there were several people waiting for the shop to open when the collision happened — including two who were able to move out of the path of the oncoming vehicle.

“One guy on the bench got up and ran away” remembered Ceravolo, “and another guy who was sitting on the cob structure, saw the minivan approaching and managed to just like pull his legs up as the car came in.”

Luckily the minivan was rolling slowly and Ceravolo says there were no major injuries or major structural damage to the building.

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  • Alison May 19, 2008 at 11:55 am

    What\’s with the cars hitting bike shops around here?

    I\’m relieved to hear that noone was hurt and the building is OK.

    Our builing was hit in December and it took months to get it fixed. (All is well now, even better than before. Thanks to everyone who helped.)

    Alison
    Community Cycling Center

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  • a.O May 19, 2008 at 12:07 pm

    Tellyawhatmanthatdangoleminivandrivernearlydangolekilledsomebody.Dangoleluckyman.

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  • Qwendolyn May 19, 2008 at 12:23 pm

    re: a.o.

    i passed the cartoon bar this past week and the above looks very much like an unauthorized cartoon character imitation.

    make no mistake, –we will shut you down.

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  • Boomhower May 19, 2008 at 12:51 pm

    a.O. I think you\’re confusing \”Boomhower\” with \”Boomhauer.\” Happens all the time. :)

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  • a.O May 19, 2008 at 12:59 pm

    Tellyawhatmandangole,mybadman.Talkinboutdangolecopyrightinfringementman.

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  • ralph May 19, 2008 at 1:14 pm

    Consider this. Bike commuter has a major mechanical issue with their bike. They have no easy way to transport it to their LBS. The dig around and find the keys to the stinky internal combustion vehicle they left in the garage 6 months ago. They hop in said vehicle and head down to the the bike shop to arrange for repairs.

    Through a combination of a lack of preventative maintenance on the vehicle, and atrophied driving ability, when finally approaching their destination they cannot find the brake levers on the steering wheel.

    Voila, car drives hits bicycle shop.

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  • Racer X May 19, 2008 at 1:17 pm

    Possible Portland Tribune Headlines this Thursday:
    \”Intersection Repair Projects Dangerous\”

    \”Cobb Structures Distract Drivers, Unsafe for Pedestrians\”

    \”Drivers Demand Drive thru Service at Portland Bike Shops\”

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  • Racer X May 19, 2008 at 1:30 pm

    Also…nice photos too… the perspective with the \’ghost bike\’ flying away from the car wrecked on top of the bike was very nice – good eye for content.

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  • Jason P. May 19, 2008 at 1:39 pm

    Seriously, I\’m glad no one got hurt. Do we get to put up a \”ghost human\” for the bike that got hit?

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  • Qwendolyn May 19, 2008 at 1:42 pm

    a ghost human..?

    oh, do you mean like those mime guys only painted white?

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  • Boomhower May 19, 2008 at 2:14 pm

    One other note: someone at the scene told me the minivan driver was stunned by the impact, and that was why the driver allowed the van to continue rolling into the sign (and bike, bench, and store). However, I noticed the van\’s airbag had deployed, and I wonder if that might also have contributed to the lack of control.

    Racer X: thanks!

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  • Dave Sohigian May 19, 2008 at 3:56 pm

    RacerX: \”Drivers Demand Drive thru Service at Portland Bike Shops\” = Awesome.

    I wonder if hitting bike shops has to do with them being more common than Starbucks here in Portland.

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  • Tranny May 19, 2008 at 4:31 pm

    Conversely, have you guys noticed how many cyclists are running into lube shops and auto repair shops?

    Just the other day, in fact, I took out an Oil Can Henry\’s while cruising on my fixie. What a bummer…

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  • Joe May 19, 2008 at 6:52 pm

    I just hit a curb riding home.

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  • KTesh May 19, 2008 at 10:02 pm

    I hit the snooze bar today, no injuries.

    What is it with motor vehicles and buildings? Two bike shops, and my apartment complex*? WTF?

    Glad nobody was hurt.

    Rubberside Down!
    K\’Tesh

    *years ago, I was napping in my floor apartment when a pickup\’s brakes failed, and it rolled directly on top of the bed… of the person who lived below me. Nobody was hurt, but the bed was totaled. I thought that it was earthquake at first.

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  • KTesh May 19, 2008 at 10:03 pm

    Make that:

    \”*years ago, I was napping in my apartment when a pickup\’s brakes failed, and it rolled directly on top of the bed… of the person who lived below me. Nobody was hurt, but the bed was totaled. I thought that it was earthquake at first.\”

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  • Aaron May 19, 2008 at 11:13 pm

    It\’s very simple. A car is very complicated and travels at speeds that the average person (with little training) isn\’t prepared to react to. That\’s why \’accidents\’ happen. As long as cars are on the road, and DMV is lax, than people/buildings will be struck.
    It really stinks.

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  • David May 19, 2008 at 11:24 pm

    I was there on Saturday. I saw a car blow through that stop sign also. Warm weather= bad driving? This was third driver I saw do this in three days.

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  • Joe Rowe May 20, 2008 at 1:23 am

    The photo of the bike angel mural with the car hitting a bike shop is awesome. And the comments here made me Laugh out Loud. Awesome. We could have a bike ride of silence for all the buildings hit by cars in the last few years: City Bikes and the CCC. Seems the more grassroots, the more at risk. If buildings are not safe, what is?

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  • Edith MInde May 21, 2008 at 8:15 am

    Dear everybody,
    I am the driver of the van. This was my first accident since I got my drivers\’ license in 1969, and I want to clear up some of the comments. We were avid bikers, too, until my husband had a series of heart surgeries – and I don\’t with something on any of you because you won\’t be able to bike anymore, either.
    What happened was not a \’stinky, neglected vehicle\’. Those who know the place, might have observed the tree in front of the stop sign that covers it almost completely, and that\’s why some of you have seen other cars \’run the stop light\’.I stepped on the brakes, but the weight of the car rolled on, and when the engine stopped and the airbag went off, there was no way of steering or braking possible, and I rolled helplessly toward the building – something that would happened to any of you, too, if you should ride a car occasionally.
    Please, look at both sides of the fence, and some of the quite self righteous comments would not have been made. Do you think I had \’fun\’ destroying not only property but also messing up a great day for so many people?
    My name is Edith Minde, my e-mail address is mindesco@yahoo.com, and I invite anyone to please send friendly and unfriendly comments directly to this address.
    Edith MInde

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  • Edith MInde May 21, 2008 at 1:39 pm

    Correction to the letter from Edith Minde – it should read as follows:

    \’…series of heart surgeries – and I DON\’T WISH SOMETHING LIKE THAT ON ANY OF YOU because you won\’t be able to bike anmore, either.\’

    Some people are not as lucky as, for example, Ralph (one of the unforgiving bloggers), to be healthy and strong and not dependent on the use of a car – congratulations! He does not know me, but he concludes that my driving abilities are atrophied, my car is a stinky internal combustion vehicle, and that it was not maintained well. Maybe Ralph might like to know that automatic prevents the use of brakes and steering wheel when the engine stops. And: Dear Ralph, please stay healty and well so that you may be able to bike until your old age!
    Edith

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  • a.O May 21, 2008 at 1:45 pm

    Edith, thanks for your explanation.

    People here can be a bit sensitive about drivers since they have killed or injured some of our friends and family members and because they cause so much pollution, but we know not everybody can ride a bike and that even some who can choose not to.

    Regardless, you have to have a thick skin once your name gets in the paper (believe me, I know). I\’m glad you and everyone else was OK – keep a close watch out for those stop signs!!

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  • Boomhower May 21, 2008 at 2:32 pm

    Hi Edith,

    Sorry to hear about the series of problems that led to this unfortunate event, and that you\’re not able to bike anymore! I was wondering if maybe that air bag had something to do with it…

    Reading the comments here, I don\’t sense a lot of bad feelings directed your way. It\’s more amazement over the sight of a car crashing into a bike shop, and relief the guys on the bench were not hurt.

    I re-read Ralph\’s comment:

    \”Consider this. Bike commuter has a major mechanical issue with their bike. They have no easy way to transport it to their LBS. The dig around and find the keys to the stinky internal combustion vehicle they left in the garage 6 months ago. They hop in said vehicle and head down to the the bike shop to arrange for repairs.

    Through a combination of a lack of preventative maintenance on the vehicle, and atrophied driving ability, when finally approaching their destination they cannot find the brake levers on the steering wheel.

    Voila, car drives hits bicycle shop.\”

    I really don\’t think Ralph is talking specifically about you or your car in that comment. Instead, it looks to me like he\’s jokingly speculating on the possibility that the driver of the car was a bicyclist who had spent so much time on a bike that he forgot how to drive a car, and wouldn\’t that be ironic.

    I\’m sure none of this is any fun for you, and my heart goes out to you and your husband. Still, like a.O says, people here can get a little fired up at the sight of a car nearly crashing into a biker. I just don\’t think anyone here is consciously trying to throw salt in your wounds. Best of luck to you.

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  • Matthew Denton May 21, 2008 at 3:41 pm

    Back when I drove to work I\’d turn my car (manual transmission) off when it was sitting in traffic on a downhill, (Sunset Hwy,) because there wasn\’t any reason to leave it turned on. And the regular brakes don\’t work when the engine is off in that car either, (more accurately: the pump that keeps the brake lines under pressure runs off the engine, so after a few presses of the brakes, the pressure has dropped in the lines and it stops working,) but the parking brake runs off a cable, (just like a bicycle,) and so it works all the time. Which is why the parking brake is sometimes called the emergency brake. No offense to Eidith, but my impression of automatic drivers is that they don\’t know much about the parking brake. (They don\’t tend to set it because \”P\” in an automatic tends to be more effective anyways.)

    The original Honda Insight, (which turns it\’s engine off automatically in the same situation,) actually had a sensor to detect a lack of brake fluid pressure and turn the engine back on in that case. In later generations of hybrids, they\’ve changed the pump so that if the car is \”on\” but the engine isn\’t, the pump still continues to keep the pressure up…

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  • Edith MInde May 21, 2008 at 6:19 pm

    Thank you, all of you who responded so kindly. Everyone at the scene was very kind, too – and since I am black and blue on places that are not made for \’show and tell\’ you made me feel better.

    I hate Automatic, but when my old gear shift VW Bus died after 20 years, there was no affordable gear shift car in sight to buy. I know about emergency brakes, but on Saturday I could not reach it because the airbag was in the way, and I thought that my car was on fire because of the thick smoke from the air bag. It was a conglomerate of horrible circumstances, and I thank those who helped me to not become hysterical!
    Edith

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