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Further clarification from TriMet on transit mall bus/bike crash

Posted by on August 31st, 2010 at 12:29 pm

[Unofficial graphic, not created by TriMet.]

Graphic showing location of vehicles just prior to collision.
(Graphic: BikePortland)


There has been a lot of speculation and confusion about the crash involving a TriMet bus and a bicycle on SW 6th and Morrison back on August 12th.

The bus operator turned left prior to the collision and came in contact with Richard Krebs, who was on his bicycle (he suffered serious leg injuries and remains at OHSU getting reconstructive surgery). The Portland Police Bureau issued a citation to Krebs, for failure to obey a traffic control device. The bus operator was not cited.

Photo of the crash scene. The bus in front is the one involved with the crash. Note its angle relative to the left lane it was traveling in.
(Photo: Bill Jackson)

But how exactly did the collision occur? Was Krebs cited for running the light, the “Don’t Walk” signal, or the bus’s flashing “Yield” signal? What lane was the bus in prior to its left turn? According to an update I just received from TriMet, I can now offer a better answer to those questions.

  • Both vehicles were in the left-most lane of SW 6th headed north.
  • Krebs was behind the bus “traveling at a high rate of speed” (according to TriMet). (Krebs has also allegedly stated that his brakes malfunctioned).
  • Just before making the left turn onto Morrison, the bus veered into the center lane in order to make a wide left turn, which was necessary to clear a MAX train that was stopped on Morrison at the Pioneer Square North station. (TriMet referred to this as a “button hook” turn*.)
  • The bus entered the intersection on a green light.
  • During the turn, the light changed to yellow.
  • The collision occurred on a yellow light.
  • Krebs was cited for entering the intersection on a yellow light.

And here’s what TriMet’s Mary Fetsch says about the bus’s turn signal:

“The yield signal on the back of the bus has no bearing in this incident, since it’s only used for pulling back into a travel lane after servicing a stop.”

I hope this new information and the graphic above helps to clarify what happened. Given that TriMet won’t release the video because of pending court action, more information will likely come out in the weeks and months to come.

UPDATE: *A bus operator in the comments has pointed out that the ODOT Commercial Driver’s Manual warns against making the type of jug-handle turn that the bus operator appears to have made. TriMet has said the bus made a “button hook” turn (staying in the lane), but the photos from the scene show that the bus more likely swung into the adjacent lane and made a “jug handle” turn, which the ODOT manual says is “incorrect.” Here’s the graphic from the manual:

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Comments
  • MeghanH August 31, 2010 at 12:34 pm

    How can a person on a bicycle even see over/through a turning bus to tell if the light is green, yellow or red?

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  • Brad August 31, 2010 at 12:36 pm

    Apologies to Tri-Met and for biased assumptions in 3…2…

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  • Black Dude on Bicycle August 31, 2010 at 12:41 pm

    Common sense would suggest that if you are entering an intersection and cannot see the color of the traffic signal, you should atleast be prepared to stop, get hit, or proceed with care.

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  • Matthew August 31, 2010 at 12:42 pm

    Hm, sounds like either Krebs tried to dart past the bus before it made it’s turn, or his brakes failed like he claims and he was just out of control.

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  • David August 31, 2010 at 12:44 pm

    Common sense would suggest that if you are entering an intersection and there’s a big freakin’ bus turning into your path, you back off, regardless of the color of the light.

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  • Paulie August 31, 2010 at 12:51 pm

    Thanks for following up on this, Jonathan. Now I get what happened. My original understanding was that the bike, bus, and MAX train were all on 6th. This clarifies what actually happened.

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  • GLV August 31, 2010 at 12:53 pm

    TriMet has reviewed this graphic, and verified its accuracy?

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  • Vance Longwell August 31, 2010 at 12:53 pm

    I haven’t said boo about this so far. But c’mon, doesn’t matter what the signalling devices are doing, turning vehicles have to yield to bicycle riders. I mean, isn’t that the whole justification for routing bicycles past the right-hand side of right turning vehicles?

    I’m disappointed with the decisions the victim here made, but they don’t appear to have broken any rules, or laws. These new rules on yellows are asinine, and I simply refuse to treat them as any other thing than a warning to me that a red is about to occur. The stance the Nanny State has taken with yellow lights recently is REALLY gumming up the legal-works, here. Watch now as it screws this VICTIM out of their rights in civil court.

    I’ve been in this exact same physical situation more times than I can count. Tri-Met buses, of course, have those blinkers on the sides, but they’re just not the type of equipment one has burned into the brain, like a traditional, rear-facing, turn-signal; and I’m guilty of not seeing them, quite often. In these situations, which I’ve dealt with by braking, and aiming for a sidewalk with a curb, I’m ceaselessly amazed that I escaped the notice of the operator. These folks just aren’t watching for bikes.

    See, and I was already to flame this bike rider, the past few days, and it turns out they didn’t really do anything wrong. MAYBE the yellow light thing, but eff them on that anyway.

    Nah Alex, I’ll take, “motor traffic must always yield to bikes when making turns”, for a thousand, please.

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  • Black Dude on Bicycle August 31, 2010 at 12:57 pm

    So, amber lights on the sides of vehicles indicating that a vehicle is going to change lanes or turn suddenly become irrelevant because you are on a bicycle?

    And since when was it legal to pass another vehicle in the same lane as you regardless of it is turning or not?

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  • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) August 31, 2010 at 12:58 pm

    GLV,

    the graphic is completely unofficial and has not been reviewed by TriMet. It’s my best attempt given what I’ve learned so far.

    I’ll go and make its unofficialness more clear right away.

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  • Velophile in Exile August 31, 2010 at 12:58 pm

    IF the facts are as TriMet says they are, then Krebs appears to not have exercised due caution in entering the intersection, and apparently in not properly maintaining his bike.

    Regardless, hope he heals well.

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  • Ted Buehler August 31, 2010 at 12:59 pm

    I bet this is the first time in Oregon history that a bicyclist has been cited for entering an intersection on a yellow light.

    I remain highly unconvinced of his guilt.

    From the looks of it, the bus left-hooked the bicyclist.

    Ted Buehler

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  • Nik August 31, 2010 at 12:59 pm

    It’s not illegal to enter an intersection on a yellow light.

    They still have not released enough information to justify the claim that the cyclist was at fault. He may very well have been but the detail just isn’t there yet.

    Did the bus driver signal the left turn adequately prior to pulling into the center lane. I don’t believe that anybody would attempt that pass if they were aware that the bus was pulling wide to make a left turn.

    It seems to me that it’s just an unfortunate accident that probably could have been prevented by at least one person involved being more aware, but we have to blame somebody, so blame the one who got run over.

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  • Steve B. August 31, 2010 at 1:05 pm

    Based on the evidence, it sounds to me like the person on a bike didn’t realize the bus was making a left turn. It’s possible to mistake a bus making a wide turn to the left, as just a turn to the right. Being on the bus mall, this would make even more sense since there are designated BUS ONLY lane that seem to indicated where buses should live.

    I hope the rider has a quick recovery!

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  • David August 31, 2010 at 1:09 pm

    @Vance #8:

    You’re incorrect here:

    “But c’mon, doesn’t matter what the signalling devices are doing, turning vehicles have to yield to bicycle riders. I mean, isn’t that the whole justification for routing bicycles past the right-hand side of right turning vehicles?”

    The easiest way to think about this particular case is to pretend that the bike was a motorcycle. Is a motorcycle allowed to pass a vehicle on the left in the same lane? No, they’re not.

    There isn’t a bike lane here, so this wasn’t a fail-to-yield by the bus driver–assuming that the illustration is a correct depiction of the event.

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  • are August 31, 2010 at 1:13 pm

    811.260(3) says a driver facing a steady circular yellow “shall stop” at the stop line or before entering the crosswalk, but if he “cannot stop in safety,” he “may drive cautiously through the intersection.” one might imagine that “cannot stop in safety” means you are going too fast to stop, but then how could you go “cautiously through.” so it must mean something else (in other words, going too fast to stop is not a good excuse). maybe it means if you would get rear-ended if you suddenly stopped, or something like that. in any event, splitting the lane with a bus is probably not a real good idea. but ticketing this guy seems like adding insult to injury. and if it were not just a traffic infraction it would be pretty hard to prove the charge (unless tri-met has some really sharp video). but the agency gets high marks for a very elaborate story, anyway. the problem with an elaborate story is you have to be able to defend each and every detail.

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  • slowneasy August 31, 2010 at 1:19 pm

    People are really hung up here. I know Morrison St. and it is narrow, just one lane for cars and buses and one lane with concrete bumps separating the Max from the other vehicle lane. I made a right turn yesterday on my school bus route from SW 15th onto SW Morrison using the button hook turning procedure, not the milk jug procedure that the vehicle hand book says not to use. and I had to trespass onto the Max tracks to complete the turn and I only drive a 37.5 foot conventional bus, not a 40-45 foot transit style flat nose bus. Morisson is to narrow of a street and I am putting in for a route change to SW Taylor which has two large vehicle only lanes to turn right onto. My feeling is someone is blaming the bike rider but I think there must be shared fault with the bus driver to for making this type of turn which is not recommended. Ref. Commercial Drivers Handbook pages 28-29 2.7.6 fig. 2.13 This book can be found on line.

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  • h August 31, 2010 at 1:23 pm

    The cyclist could have taken the whole lane. It is safe that way.

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  • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) August 31, 2010 at 1:31 pm

    slowneasy,

    i took a look at the ODOT manual. you’re right. TriMet said the driver made a “button hook” turn which is labeled as the “correct” way, but given the position of the bus in the photos, it looks like it too more of a “jug handle” turn, which the manual labels as “incorrect”.

    here’s the graphic from the manual:

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  • Bob_M August 31, 2010 at 1:32 pm

    There are more than 6 million traffic accidents a year in the US. This was a traffic accident. Cyclists have long had a bumper sticker slogan That said “Bikes are Traffic” Well we get the bad with the good on that deal.

    Without getting into the blame game I hope Krebs heals fully.

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  • BURR August 31, 2010 at 1:34 pm

    1. IMO, it’s possible the bus blocked the cyclist’s view of the signal.

    2. I’m with Steve B, #14, the cyclist might have thought that the bus was merging right into the adjacent bus only lane, a critical detail would be if and when the bus operator signalled his turn.

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  • trail abuser August 31, 2010 at 1:48 pm

    Reviewing photos of the bike under the tires of the bus reveals the bike in good condition(prior to the accident) with meaty brake blocks. I think the cyclist blamed “equipment failure”, when it was really the fault of the person controlling the equipment. It’s common for drivers to say their “brakes failed” when trying to dispel personal responsibility after an accident, as if all blame will then be shouldered on their car instead.

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  • Peter Smith August 31, 2010 at 1:58 pm

    Reading this further statement from TriMet/police/authorities and some commenters here is Orwellian. Once again, the official story from authorities did not add up, and once again the falsehoods and lies of omission are gradually creeping out into the light.

    First, entering an intersection on a yellow light is against the law? How is that possible? It’s not possible. Must be more misdirection by TriMet. We need to know what the actual citation was.

    They must have a good PR person at TriMet — never tell the truth, most certainly don’t be candid or honest about it, and finally, drag the truth out for as many months/years as possible — that will lessen the impact, likely reducing the calls for independent investigations, including firings and criminal investigations. They can lie to us and avoid jail time, but they can’t so easily lie to the police.

    It’s been clear to me that this was the bus driver’s fault – and the bus driver should be in jail. I highly doubt that the bus driver signaled their turn at all, much less at least 100 feet before executing their death turn, and I highly doubt that the bus driver was proceeding cautiously through that intersection, it is obvious that the driver did not cede the right of way to the cyclist, and it is obvious that the drive drove into the path of the cyclist, and then drive onto/over the cyclist.

    The driver probably saw the yellow and decided to ‘beat it’ — so the driver stayed off the brake (to keep a higher cruising speed), then quickly swerved the bus into the right lane (to get the wide turn radius), before recklessly jerking it back to the left, across the left lane, and over the cyclists leg(s).

    The bus driver needs to go to jail. The TriMet spokesperson needs to go to jail. The investigating police officer needs to go to jail.

    The specific charges against the bus driver should include:
    1) Failure to maintain lane (for the right swing-out)
    2) Failure to signal lane change and/or failure to signal lane change with required 100+ ft distance of executing the turn.
    3) Dangerous Driving Causing Grievous Bodily Harm.

    And there are probably a few other charges that should be leveled against this dangerous driver.

    And, like Dan Christensen, the driver still has a job, and is still a danger to Portland cyclists.

    p.s. i guess we have no idea if the graphic is correct or not, but it’s very helpful to at least paint a picture of what might have happened. the official story is not credible, but this graphic is — it does represent a reasonable scenario for what could have been the driver’s crimes, and how they could have led to this crash.

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  • Did I miss it? Again? August 31, 2010 at 2:00 pm

    The diagram as shown in 19 and what is the reality of the intersection do not match up. According to the diagram, the bus driver would have to pull onto the sidewalk to correctly execute a buttonhook turn.

    Also – if I were to hit a bus in the intersection because I was illegally passing it in/on a vehicle (motorized or not) with faulty brakes, well, ummm… Guess I’d have no defense.

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  • trail abuser August 31, 2010 at 2:04 pm

    “The Button Hook Scandal”

    I see semi trucks do the jug handle turn when they articulate their trailers and leave them in their lane so that following motorists aren’t attempted to pass. A Trimet bus can’t articulate to leave it’s rear in a previously occupied lane. I don’t see how the bus could have pulled off a button hook turn at that intersection with a MAX train stopped there.

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  • Ted Buehler August 31, 2010 at 2:15 pm

    Here is SlownEasy’s diagram reoriented, and flipped to illustrate left turns.

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/11599639@N03/4945899569/

    Of course, Morrison only has one driving lane, so the button-hook wouldn’t have worked anyway.

    I’m thinking the driver’s choices were to:
    1) use the MAX tracks lane to execute a conventional turn into the driving lane
    2) request a re-route
    3) execute a jug-handle turn

    Ted Buehler

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  • Jim F August 31, 2010 at 2:21 pm

    So a guy on a bike flies into an intersection on the left hand side of a bus that is making a left turn with its left turn signal on. No wonder the biker admitted fault. He’s just lucky he didn’t die.

    Common sense should tell you that you never want to enter an intersection on the side of a bus or garbage truck. It ain’t that hard to not get hit by a bus people.

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  • Tourbiker August 31, 2010 at 2:24 pm

    wouldn’t have been an accident if he had just taken the lane, and ridden responsibly.
    seriously, you don’t get it both ways.
    either be a vehicle or be a pedestrian, but don’t think you can bounce around being both splitting traffic, changing lanes without sigs, and expect the rest of the traffic to read your mind.

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  • Brad August 31, 2010 at 2:26 pm

    Reality check: Someone on our team made mistakes and got hurt. Going too fast-check. Not maintaining proper following distance-check. Not yielding to the signals of a vehicle in front of him-check. Attempting to pass another road user illegally-check. Riding an improperly maintained bike-check.

    This unfortunate incident was NOT the result of malice, diminished capacity, anti-bike bias, motor vehicle driver impairment, engineering incompetence, the editorial board of The Oregonian, swamp gas, Bigfoot, extraterrestrials, or the conniving and conspiratorial machinations of The Illuminati. A human being riding a bicycle made several judgement errors resulting in an injury accident. End of story.

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  • Stig August 31, 2010 at 2:31 pm

    In my head it’s looking like this:

    1. Cyclist was drafting behind the bus, going fast in the left lane.
    2. Bus appears to be turning right into the center lane and moves over.
    3. Cyclist comes around the bus, possibly sees that the light is yellow.
    4. Cyclist is going much too fast to safely stop due to speed or bad brakes, or combination of both.
    5. Bus proceeds to make left turn following the swerve into the center lane and collides with the cyclist.

    The ‘button hook’ maneuver may not have been possible for the bus since the MAX was present in the oncoming lane at the left turn.

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  • JAT in Seattle August 31, 2010 at 2:34 pm

    h at 18 is correct – had the cyclist taken the whole lane he would have been behind the bus and been forced to wait for the bus to finish the turn – at which point the light would have been red.

    The distinction between a correct buttonhook and an incorrect jug handle is intersting, but the fact is (and I can’t believe I’m saying this since I always hate the motor-centrist 200 Lbs of bike always loses physics reductionist argument, but…) if you’re riding on city streets you should know how busses use the road. They’re really pretty predictable.

    They make wide turns; they stop at bus stops with their tails hanging out into the travel lane; they leap-frog past you (and you past them) all the way down the road, and they follow a specified route (as designated by that number in the little frame in the back window)

    Is Krebs under an obligation to know that a special shuttle route operating that day only is going to turn at that particular intersection? Of course not. Are there are a lot of Tri-Met operators who are out to get cyclists – deliberately luring them into dangerous spots on the road then feinting with their 30,000 Lb bus (with onboard video recording and passenger witnesses) or “shutting the door” like a racer at P.I.R.? I don’t know.

    But being patient with a slower moving vehicle in front of you, or knowing that vehicles(that are in front of you) in the left lane may slow because they’re turning – those seem like courteous common sense attributes that every road user ought to have – we ask no less of motorists.

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  • freeman August 31, 2010 at 2:37 pm

    Usually, there aren’t buses turning onto this narrow street (morrison)… from the bus mall. This was a combination of events due to a traffic re-routing of the bus lines to accomadate a road closure further up the lines…

    Seems tri-met should step up and take a little responsibility for making a bad situation worse with a piss poor re-routing plan ( if it was a plan at all – are there ‘standing’ contingincies for all tri-met route closure possibilites? )…

    Have any or all of these “options” take into account other road users and what implications or aggravations these “alternatives” may present?

    Each ‘accident’ involving a vulnerable cyclist should be reviewed and examined from all possible viewpoints for future lessons we could all glean.

    Hopefully tri-met will do the same.

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  • q`Tzal August 31, 2010 at 2:40 pm

    MeghanH #1
    How can a person on a bicycle even see over/through a turning bus to tell if the light is green, yellow or red?

    Regardless of vehicle type if you are following too close to the vehicle in front of you to be able to safely obey all traffic laws you are in violation of your duties as a road user.

    Got at least one ticket for this back in my nefarious youth.

    Being able to see traffic signals, signs, crosswalks and other traffic so that you are able to yield is a basic duty of all road users.

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  • Anonymous August 31, 2010 at 3:01 pm

    freeman,

    Why should TriMet take any responsibility in this case?

    The cyclist was at fault for overtaking in the same lane as the bus was traveling.

    The rerouting has nothing to do with it. The bus was in the left lane of a one way street, in the bus mall, making a left turn.

    Do you know the action of every vehicle on the road? Just because you’ve never seen a vehicle turn left onto a particular street doesn’t mean you can assume that the vehicle won’t make that turn.

    The cyclist put themselves in a bad position making an assumption about how a vehicle would act at that particular intersection, then made some very bad decisions on how to act on that assumption.

    Thankfully they didn’t lose there life.

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  • Ted Buehler August 31, 2010 at 3:05 pm

    2 excerpts from the Oregon Driver Manual, 2010 – 2011 (Class C — non commercial)
    http://www.oregon.gov/ODOT/DMV/forms/manuals.shtml

    Right turns
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/11599639@N03/4946027041/

    Left Turns
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/11599639@N03/4946614662/

    So for right turns, you need to be aware of overtaking bicyclists, and yield to them if they’re in an actual bike lane.

    For both types of turns, you are not to swing wide.

    So, Mr. Driver was in the wrong for swinging wide. The correct action would have been to proceed forward, and radio the dispatcher for revised routing that did not involve illegal maneuvers.

    If they’re going to slap a “running the yellow” citation on Mr. Krebs, they should also slap a “incorrect left turn” citation on Mr. Driver and have an investigation as to why Mr. Driver was directed on a route he could not legally navigate. So it doesn’t happen again…

    My $0.02

    Ted Buehler

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  • Matthew Denton August 31, 2010 at 3:06 pm

    The brakes issue disturbs me. I work on my own brakes and yes I’ve made mistakes in adjusting them, but when I get on my bike after doing anything more complicated than unlocking it, (for instance, removing a wheel,) I check the brakes before I go very far. In any case, I have two of them, so at least one of them should work. (I’ll admit I’m paranoid, I also have two taillights in case the batteries die on one of them,)

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  • Seager August 31, 2010 at 3:33 pm

    This is silly. The bus turned on a left blinker, then swerved right into the middle lane, and then turned left across the path of a cyclist? Of course the cyclist was confused by this!

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  • John Lascurettes August 31, 2010 at 3:35 pm

    Regarding the Yellow Light laws in Oregon:

    ORS 811.260(4):
    (4) Steady yellow arrow signal. A driver facing a steady yellow arrow signal, alone or in combination with other signal indications, is thereby warned that the related right of way is being terminated. Unless entering the intersection to make a movement permitted by another signal, a driver facing a steady yellow arrow signal shall stop at a clearly marked stop line, but if none, shall stop before entering the marked crosswalk on the near side of the intersection, or if there is no marked crosswalk, then before entering the intersection. If a driver cannot stop in safety, the driver may drive cautiously through the intersection.

    Note the difference between that and California Vehicle Code (which based on what people are saying I think that they are used to):
    21452. (a) A driver facing a steady circular yellow or yellow arrow signal is, by that signal, warned that the related green movement is ending or that a red indication will be shown immediately thereafter.

    California defines that a yellow is simply a warning that a red light is coming (and a red light is explicitly defined as one cannot enter or stand in the intersection if the light is red).

    In Oregon, it is illegal to enter the intersection on a yellow unless it is unsafe to not enter the intersection (such as it changes when you’re 10 feet from the intersection and you’re traveling at 20mph). I was pretty baffled by that when I made the transplant to Oregon, but there it is.

    To put it another way. The Yellow is the “gray area” light in California. In Oregon it’s less ambiguous. Don’t enter the intersection unless you can’t not enter the intersection.

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  • BURR August 31, 2010 at 4:01 pm

    here’s a couple more things to consider:

    1. since the bus driver was on an emergency shuttle route – and not a normal route – he may not have been very familiar with that intersection.

    2. There’s also the matter of route selection on the part of TriMet; shouldn’t they know that this is a difficult intersection to get a bus through and select an alternate route, even (maybe especially?) on an emergency route?

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  • BURR August 31, 2010 at 4:03 pm

    it isn’t illegal to enter an intersection on yellow, in Oregon I believe the law is that you need to completely clear the intersection before the light turns red, but that doesn’t prevent you from legally entering the intersection on yellow.

    I do see a lot of TriMet operators downtown fail to clear the red light at intersections they entered on yellow.

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  • adam August 31, 2010 at 4:12 pm

    This is a perfect storm of traffic accident where any number of different decisions could have avoided it.

    Seems like the person on the bike assumed the bus was pulling into the center lane and just put his head down to pedal through the intersection, only to be hit by the turning bus. Anyone have a good guess on how fast the cyclist was going? I would like to know what TriMet considers to be “a high rate of speed”.

    Its unfortunate that TriMet has to play this game(the photos make the “button hook” turn an obvious lie) and won’t accept responsibility for a poorly chosen reroute. Oh, and don’t forget, they are sitting on the video of this whole incident – which would answer alot of the questions

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  • slowneasy August 31, 2010 at 4:27 pm

    I have a couple of more items to add to this discussion. Whom ever decided to route this particular bus from SW6th onto SW Morrison should be held accountable. The driver upon seeing the turn to be dangerous, because a turn that can’t be made safely is dangerous. The better idea though would have been to make a SF left turn. You see, I’m from SF Bay Area. Here’s how it is done: go the extra block to SW Alder, make a right turn, then a right turn on SW 5th, then a right turn on SW Morrison. It is my understanding that UPS has determined that left turns are more dangerous than right turns and attempts to route their drivers using only right turns. If a company that delivers packages to varying addresses can figure it our, why on earth do some other companies and people struggle so with being safe?

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  • bobcycle August 31, 2010 at 4:30 pm

    So if it was not possible to make a left turn around MAX without jug-handling … maybe the correct response from driver should have been wait until MAX train leaves? 30 second wait vs. potentially unsafe move that resulted in much pain and suffering.

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  • Jen August 31, 2010 at 4:33 pm

    Citing Krebs isn’t necessarily an isolated incident. I was pulled over by two policemen after I cruised throught a yellow (I felt I was going to fast to be able to adequately stop prior to the intersection) light on my bike. They were relatively nice after the first few questions and gave me a warning to stop on yellow lights.

    My only questions about it are 1) why even have yellow lights then? Just make them red and green. (I know that is ridiculous, but is it anymore ridiculous than getting a ticket for not stopping on a yellow?) and 2) how many people have they pulled over in their cars and lectured? I now stop at that light when it is yellow and routinely see two to three cars continue through the intersection right in front of police officers.

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  • slowneasy August 31, 2010 at 4:34 pm

    To bobcycle, max train not leaving read previ!ous posts to see similar comments

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  • jeff August 31, 2010 at 4:35 pm

    as for any discussion here about “not yielding to the rider”, give it up please, honestly.
    The rider was NOT in another lane of traffic where the yield would be the drivers responsibility. They were in the same lane, it was the riders responsibility to not attempt to pass the bus until it was completely out of his lane. End of story.
    Do the same folks here who think the bus didn’t yield try to squeeze there way into those same spots while driving their car? NO, you hit your brakes and wait a second. Yes, it can be a little confusing if the bus moves right to turn left (effectivelyl counter steering), but under no circumstance is it legal to shoot a lane gap because you’re impatient. Learn from his mistakes folks, as well as all of the other cycling traffic errors we’ve seen the past few weeks.

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  • slowneasy August 31, 2010 at 4:41 pm

    Some of this discussion speaks to what is written in the laws and how much we know about the laws. As a professional driver I do some research into the laws governing the way I operate my vehicles on the streets and highways because ignorance as they say is no excuse and since I am earning my living driving, I can’t afford to make mistakes that some others take for granted. For instance, is it legal in Oregon to make a right turn on a red arrow? That seems to be a common mistake here. Just ask yourself if it is illegal to make a left turn on a red arrow? Rationalization and Justification are often used by many people out on the roads, streets and highways.

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  • Mindful Cyclist August 31, 2010 at 4:45 pm

    BURR #39: Regarding #2. I would guess that people were waiting on Morrison to take the MAX and had to go across the street to catch the shuttle instead. It would be difficult for trimet to somehow announce to everyone that was expecting a train to go a few blocks away. I do agree that Morrison is maybe not the best street, but at the same time passengers need to have some idea where to catch it. (Actually, does anybody know what the route they took to pick up people and where the MAX stopped downtown?)

    And, if I am going to follow a large vehicle like a bus, there is a good chance my view of upcoming traffic signals are going to be blocked. It is my responsibility to make certain that I am able to stop. A judge or the ticketing officer are not going to care if my view was impeded and nor should they.

    #18 and #31 are correct. If you ride on 6th, take the lane and ride with traffic. It is basically downhill and the lights are timed at 12 mph. It would be very hard for even a very casual cyclist not to be able to keep up with traffic and not impede it.

    What I would really like to see/hear before I make any judgments about this is 1) the video and 2) what does he mean by having “bad brakes”?

    I am just glad the outcome was not a lot worse and hope he makes a full recovery.

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  • rider August 31, 2010 at 4:52 pm

    Peter Smith: You might be the most ridiculous person in existence.

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  • BURR August 31, 2010 at 5:03 pm

    Actually, you could blame this whole thing on the addition of light rail to the bus mall and the dumb new lane configuration, which was resoundingly criticized by all sorts of cyclists when it was first proposed; this was bound to happen sooner or later and it probably won’t be the last time, either, thanks for nothing PBOT, TriMet and Portland Business Alliance!

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  • slowneasy August 31, 2010 at 5:08 pm

    and one more thing as to the turning of a large vehicle or any car or truck and even a bike. the front wheel or wheels turn, the rear wheel or wheels pivot. it is hard to see on a shorter vehicle, such as a bike or a 17 foot car, but get a 24 foot wheel base large vehicle that also happens to be another 20 feet longer and everything changes causing the large vehicle driver to implement different turning procedures. On my bus for instance, the wheel base is 24 feet and my rear overhang is about 12 feet. That 12 feet is very dangerous because when I make a turn it is pivoting around with the Moment arm of the pivot point and the weight multiplied by something I forgot from elementary physics. The Tri-Met buses except for the Washington Park and Tri-Met lift mini buses have an even longer wheel base, but their rear overhang is shorter. Maybe Tri-Met could bring in shorter buses down town all the time, transferring their passengers to larger buses further out. Oh, I know, inconvenient for the riding public, but we all see the cost of this idea that big buses downtown are causing injuries and death what the emotional distress the drivers even when they don’t run someone over?

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  • Vance Longwell August 31, 2010 at 5:55 pm

    Lots of folks here seem to be showing some ignorance of the law. A bicycle may share an actual lane with a motor-vehicle. There’s nothing illegal in that, and there’s nothing inherently unsafe about it. So, Krebs was not over-taking, or passing, the bus, instead, he was just riding along. Krebs was in his lane, and as he was proceeding through the intersection, right, wrong, or indifferent, at this point, the bus operator failed to yield to a cyclist in their lane. Their respective legal rates of speed are irrelevant. Whether or not Krebs was positioned to see a signal, none of it matters. There’s a distinction between your lane, and a bicycle-lane, btw. Then, add to all of this the bus was making an unconventional, nontraditional, turn.

    Again, I would not have made Kreb’s decision, however, I can’t see as how he violated any rules, or laws. Even creating doubt where none should be is just Tri-Met proactively covering their liability, IMO.

    You guys. Sheesh. You’re going to doink around with this kind of thing until we’re banned from the highway in all of Portland, rather than the roughly 1300 miles we are currently banned from. If you’re not prepared for, at least, an elevated exposure to risk when mounting the saddle, and entering traffic, you are simply on the wrong mode, yo.

    Aside: I got DOORED the other day!! Argh. First pavement crash I’ve had in 20 years. Lady was parked illegally, had illegal window-tint, and do you think she so much as even saw a ticket book? I was even with her rear axle when she popped. And you know what? I STILL managed to mitigate the crash, and walk away without so much as a scratch. That, and I was already giving the door-zone a healthy-ish buffer which is SO not like me. I could’ve got whomped! Me, the bullet-proof biker.

    Dang it, I wish we had better info on the details. I mean, splendid job J, I’m sure we have what you have, and all.

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  • Vance Longwell August 31, 2010 at 6:01 pm

    …and what’s up at comment #49? rider, I’m sure I’ve witnessed you being kool here before, what gives? I’m a jerk and a half in here, and even I don’t just lay ‘em out there like that. Poor form, sir. Poor form.

    Mr. Smith is fairly easy pickings for a conventional assault on his position. Wouldn’t it be more gratifying defeating his argument in an adult manner, than to simply name-call?

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  • jim August 31, 2010 at 6:09 pm

    It never ceases to amaze me how some cyclists will allways take the side of the cyclist, no matter how wrong he was. It is illegal to pass a turning vehicle period. He didn’t have the protection of a bike lane. If he had bad brakes then he was also riding out of control- also illegal, following too close, failure to yeild the traffic signal, more things too probably

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  • jv August 31, 2010 at 6:32 pm

    In looking at the diagram and also having ridden that lane on 6th numerous times, I have to side with Tri-Met on this. The bicyclist was attempting to overtake the bus on the left – there is no bike lane here and it is very narrow. Also, (as others noted) with the presence of the MAX train on the left side of Morrison, there is no way that the Tri-Met driver could have executed the “buttonhook” maneuver, as they would not be going into that lane, but instead the right-most lane of Morrison as indicated in the diagram. This is entirely consistent with moving to the right on 6th a little bit and then turning left to Morison with the “jug-handle”, as that is what would be required in order to make that turn. Following too closely is another violation that would be applicable to the cyclist, as he was not able to stop in time to avoid an accident. If this were a motorcycle or scooter trying this maneuver around a bus, I doubt there would be as many intense opinions against Tri-Met.

    While the laws about entering an intersection on a yellow light are counterintuitive for me as well, it is every road user’s responsibility to know them, or face the consequences. I usually would weigh in the favor of a cyclist, but knowing that particular intersection, it appears that the cyclist was pushing a bit too fast, following too closely, and not exercising due situational awareness. That is the perfect storm for an accident.

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  • Seager August 31, 2010 at 6:32 pm

    What do you mean it’s illegal to pass a turning vehicle? The turning vehicle must always yield. In this case the turning vehicle changed lanes into the middle lane and then failed to yield when it made a left turn across traffic.

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  • Peter Smith August 31, 2010 at 6:37 pm

    It would be very hard for even a very casual cyclist not to be able to keep up with traffic and not impede it.

    drivers hate cyclists who decrease a driver’s max speed, even if coming up on an obvious and long-running red light. just my experience.

    regarding the speed of the cyclist, it takes a cyclist moving at 12 MPH just 2.27 seconds to travel 40 feet (the length of a bus).

    that’s not a lot of time for a biker to recognize a dangerous situation and then react quickly enough to not get hit. if you happen to be scanning the wrong side of the road at the wrong moment, you could end up under the front of a bus. in Portland, anyways.

    also, we know that any sudden bike turns require actually first turning against the direction we ultimately want to go – which makes these illegal types of big rig/bus turns even more dangerous for bikes than cars — we just don’t have the physics to be able to take such extreme evasive maneuvers.

    i also just realized why my feelings on these cases are so different from at least a few commenters here — some commenters here are Portland’s version of vehicular cyclists. it’s just that, you’re in Portland, so you’re all a bit more granola/hippie/caring/sharing than the typical vehicular cyclist. you feel like you’ve earned the right to ride in Portland, and all these newbie bikers are coming along demanding rights that you never had, so you’re a bit jealous and resentful that people like me expect bikers to be able to ride with full safety/comfort/convenience — i.e. without fear. i understand the resentment at some level, but i always thought it was more something of a snarky joke you’d make between hardened cyclist friends rather than taking joy in the pain and suffering of cyclists who’ve actually been seriously injured.

    It is illegal to pass a turning vehicle period.

    the bus was not turning — it was changing lanes (illegally).

    not sure what all the ‘bike lane’ stuff is about. one group arguing for bike lanes making a difference in this case, with some other folks arguing for ‘take the lane’. neither makes any sense.

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  • Joe R. August 31, 2010 at 6:53 pm

    Sometimes you just gotta ride slower and more defensively. This is true for both bicyclists and auto drivers. Otherwise, people are going to get hurt. It doesn’t matter if the maneuver in front of you is technically legal or illegal – if you see something unusual happening in front of you, you should slow down and be cautious. Case in point.

    Given the number of collisions that seem to repeat here in Portland between bikes and big vehicles, I take it particularly slow around garbage trucks, buses, freight trucks and the like. Anyone who has ever driven a moving van would understand why..

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  • Brad August 31, 2010 at 7:19 pm

    Get over yourself, Peter. We “resentful” vehicular cyclists that you speak of spend our time riding in reality. Traffic moves fast. The roads are inherently dangerous. Drivers don’t always see us or appreciate our presence on the streets. As a result, we pay attention and ride within our limits rather than treat riding a bike as some egalitarian fantasy.

    Mr. Krebs, it would appear, exercised poor judgement that night. You can argue legal nuances all you like but that doesn’t mean squat when taking your chances against a 40 foot long city bus. I know a bit about physics and a little about math. That knowledge tells me that 160 pounds of me and 18 pounds of bike have no prayer against a 12 ton bus. Hence, I ride defensively and always think two steps ahead. That’s smart riding.

    You appear to be the angry party. You seem upset that most indications point to Mr.Krebs being at fault for his predicament and that offends your notion, I presume, that bike riders can do no wrong and should always be deferred to by the driving public. Based on your statements above, a biker like you should be able to ride without fear. That is simply an unrealistic point of view bordering on delusion. Even if cars were to disappear tomorrow, rutted pavement, equipment failure, wet conditions, wind, terrain, poor handling skills, and a host of other variables could cause an injurious or even fatal wreck.

    Who would you seek to blame then?

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  • Kevin Wagoner August 31, 2010 at 7:47 pm

    Sad story. Sounds confusing. What is a high rate of speed on a bicycle?

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  • matt picio August 31, 2010 at 7:54 pm

    Peter Smith (#56) – “not a lot of time” – in those cases, one should follow at a greater distance, especially if one’s view is obstructed by a bus.

    “illegal turns” – the turn likely wasn’t illegal, as the bus approached it in the leftmost lane (ORS 811.340) – the turn was not recommended under ODOT’s guidelines (and possibly Tri-Met’s), but that’s not illegal.

    Riding without fear doesn’t mean without law. The state expects riders to obey the laws of the road. Following the law is an individual decision, but the existence of the law is not. If you choose to disobey it, you potentially suffer the consequences. In this case, it appears from what we know that both parties may have violated the Oregon Statutes. Contributory factors are likely road design, the route chosen by Tri-Met, the inherent poor visibility of large vehicles, and cognitive load on the operator.

    I think the main takeaway from this for cyclists is BE AWARE and expect the unexpected – and give large vehicles with poor visibility a wide berth, even when you have the right-of-way.

    The main takeaway for Tri-Met operators should be BE AWARE, double-check for cyclists before making the turn, use turn signals and make sure all signals are functional.

    And for Tri-Met’s management, a review of emergency shuttle routes, training, and policies and procedures would seem to be in order here.

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  • Vance Longwell August 31, 2010 at 8:42 pm

    KW #60 – I know, huh? Very first thing I thought reading the coverage. 54/12 is a pretty big gear, right? What is that CAT 3+ folks? 109 inches or so, right? Cadence 80-100, yeah that’s like 23-25 miles per hour on flat ground, and with no head-wind. Flat-out, yo. Peaks in the low, low thirties.

    That’s a biz dist down there, so a 20 limit. But c’mon. They’ll usually fudge ya 5 for instrumentation. And I’m to believe this guy is pulling a gear big enough to do it? Especially given the state of repair he himself admitted to?

    Jim #54 – You’re just wrong about lane-sharing, from a legal standpoint. I share Brad #59′s feelings entirely, though I am under too much scrutiny to say as much. But, we pass turning vehicles all the time. For various reasons, and under various circumstances. And it’s all perfectly legal. It’s all about the conditions.

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  • George August 31, 2010 at 10:12 pm

    So by the position of the bus in the photo it appears that the left hand turn was made using the jug handle method. In terms of the left turn signal of the bus remaining activated throughout the entire turn–
    From my understanding of a turn signal mechanism:
    Once activated, it (turn signal) is deactivated after the steering wheel is turned and then returned to center position regardless of direction of turn.
    From my understanding of a “jug handle turn”:
    This turn requires a sharp turn in one direction, a centering and then a sharp turn in the other direction.

    I am wondering if during the distance from where the steering wheel was centered to the beginning of the left turn and the time required to cover such significant distance the turn signal was not active, creating a situation where a bus to the right of the lane of travel made a negligent but unknown non-signaled left turn into an unsuspecting cyclist.

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  • Gene August 31, 2010 at 10:14 pm

    Jonathan – Thanks for trying to get the plain facts out in public. Clearly some people aren’t going to let the actual factual situation influence their opinions but some of us appreciate getting them.

    The video will eventually be released but that may be quite a while if we have to wait for the entire legal process to run.

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  • jim August 31, 2010 at 10:37 pm

    Seager #56
    if I am driving my car and the car ahead of me is turning left (we are both going same direction), it is illegal to pass that car. Sometimes people will try it anyways, they mostly crash badly and get cited also

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  • wsbob August 31, 2010 at 11:21 pm

    “…What is a high rate of speed on a bicycle?” wagoner #60

    I’d guess that in this incident, ‘high rate of speed on a bicycle’ would be a speed that’s comparatively much faster than the bus that the guy on the bike approached from behind, went on to ride alongside, and then collided with. The bus was likely slowing in preparation for the turn at the intersection of 6th with Morrison.

    From maus’s other story on this collision: “… A PPB spokesperson also says that, “The bike rider said his brakes were bad and he went into the intersection.” …”

    The bike rider says that because his brakes were bad, he went into the intersection. Sounds like he meant not to go into the intersection, but for the brakes that were bad. His reported high rate of speed and bad brakes also might have been why he came to be alongside the bus’s left side instead of behind it; if the bus is slowing down, but the guy on the bike can’t, pulling around the bus’s left side may have been an evasive maneuver on his part intended to avoid hitting the back of the bus.

    I wonder when it was, in the sequence leading up to the collision, that the bus driver looked in his mirrors for the last time, for any vehicles approaching on his left side before beginning the left turn.

    This gets tricky, because good drivers’ eyes aren’t going to be fixed on any one spot. They’ll be constantly scanning a wide field in which certain areas in the field of vision, given specific conditions and characteristics unique to the situation, may have priority over others.

    If the bike, in an evasive maneuver came around from the back of the bus just as the driver began the left turn (not the slight right turn ‘button hook or ‘jug handle’ maneuver that people are debating, and that led up to the left turn.) this cuts very close, any opportunity that exists for the driver to observe someone coming up fast on the bus’s left side.

    Even so, I’d agree that drivers have a responsibility to be on the alert for such an eventuality, and to be prepared to avoid disaster that could arise from such a situation. From maus’s August 20th, 11:41am story:

    “…A witness on the scene of collision told KGW-TV that the “Bus hit him about mid-track, pushed him over on the road. Bus driver was stopping but kinda skid to a halt on his leg.” …”

    This witness felt that the bus hit the guy on the bike (rather than vice versa as some sources are saying), but also seems to note that the driver locked the bus’s brakes at some point. Makes me wonder whether the driver tromped the brakes before contact with the cyclist, or after. Also…whether the driver did see the guy on the bike in the last seconds or split seconds before contact.

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  • trail abuser September 1, 2010 at 12:08 am

    The cyclist doesn’t have a leg to stand on. Confusing.

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  • carless in pdx September 1, 2010 at 1:11 am

    Reading a lot of speculation about this accident, and don’t really want to throw anymore gas on the fire. However, I will reiterate what others have said regarding yellow lights: they are considered as a red light. If you don’t believe me,

    A) you are from California
    B) go talk to a judge

    When I took a share the road class for being cited for turning right on a Yellow Light (7th onto Hawthorne), the judge presiding over the Q&A session clearly stated that you can be cited for not stopping for yellow. Unfortunately, I don’t even remember the last time I saw someone stop for a red light.

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  • jv September 1, 2010 at 9:18 am

    Again, to those who seem to take the side of the cyclist under the prevailing information: Would your opinion change if this had been another type of vehicle that hit the bus, like a moped or a motorcycle, instead of a bicycle? Would that maneuver passing to the left of the bus be safe for any other vehicle? If not, then it would not be safe or legal for a bicycle either.

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  • Foz-man September 1, 2010 at 10:23 am

    So people posting on this board are constantly posting about not making full stops at stop signs or streetlights because we, as cyclists, are responsible for our own safety, not a light or a sign.

    Now everyone is saying that the cyclist was not at fault. How about this, when you are biking downtown, give busses a wide bertth in all intersections and possible changes of directions.

    And why would Mr. Krebs say his brakes failed if that didn’t have to do with what happened?

    Let’s take some responsiblity people, watch out for ourselves and don’t do stupid stuff, especially when buses are involved!

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  • Brad September 1, 2010 at 10:52 am

    The failed brakes thing is interesting. In all of my years of riding I have yet to have this happen. I had cantilevers with crappy stock pads that still did the job. I’ve never had a brake cable snap (let alone both fron and rear in unison) or a disc caliper fail to engage. I’ve had mushy levers but no total failure to pull cable.

    The only time I have experienced anything akin to “brake failure” has nothing to do with the brakes. I’ve simply carried too much speed into a turn and grabbed the brakes too late. That’s my owned damned fault, not the performance of the component.

    Is that what happened here? Racing the yellow light / trying to squeeze by on the left side and the bus closed the gap? Going too fast and suddenly running out of the required real estate to stop?

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  • Peter Smith September 1, 2010 at 11:07 am

    “not a lot of time” – in those cases, one should follow at a greater distance, especially if one’s view is obstructed by a bus.

    we all need to be careful, but in the context of this crash (as best we know it happened), this ‘greater distance’ does not make sense, imo, unless you want to make the case that cyclists in this situation should not pass buses.

    I’d be surprised if the alleged yellow light had anything at all to do with this crash. Some bystander or the bus driver probably said ‘yellow light’ and the police officer needed a reason to protect the TriMet driver and so ‘yellow light’ went on the citation — and a citation had to be issued to give the police and TriMet leverage, the same way cops charge black guys they beat up with ‘resisting’.

    i want an answer on the turn signal, or lack thereof. i suspect the reason it hasn’t been explicitly addressed yet is because neither the police nor Trimet want to go on record telling an outright lie — best to provide as little information as possible.

    “illegal turns” – the turn likely wasn’t illegal

    it would be interesting to get a legal opinion on the various aspects of this case. it seems very likely to me that the bus driver broke several laws — whether that can be proven is another matter. if there were _not_ several laws broken by the bus driver, then we need to get to work legislating.

    If you choose to disobey [the law], you potentially suffer the consequences.

    there’s a legal concept called ‘Cruel and usual punishment’ — i would argue nobody should be subjected to it.

    I think the main takeaway from this for cyclists is BE AWARE and expect the unexpected

    In every aspect of ‘the system’, we need to shift the burden of responsibility and consequences off of vulnerable road users and onto non-vulnerable road users.

    check out this post and video on ‘strict liability‘ — this is where we’re going, and then further.

    That is simply an unrealistic point of view bordering on delusion.

    you’re wrong. ‘freedom from fear’, like freedom itself, is only a relative concept, and we are experiencing a ‘definite trend’ in the growing freedom from fear of motor vehicles. as the fear factor goes down, cycle mode share goes up – it’s a direct, inverse relationship.

    The cyclist doesn’t have a leg to stand on. Confusing.

    Is that the best you can do, trail abuser?

    as for yellow lights, please do not post misleading information. it is illegal to cross into an intersection on a yellow, _unless_ it is too dangerous to _not_ cross into the intersection — i.e. it can be legal to cross into an intersection on yellow, and probably was in this case.

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  • WOBG September 1, 2010 at 12:42 pm

    To sum up:

    Bike rider caught on left side of left-turning bus. *Possible* factors include inadequate brakes for the conditions, being faked out by big vehicles’ first-go-right-to-turn-left technique, risky practice of intentionally riding alongside bus instead of taking lane single-file in front of or behind bus. (In downtown traffic, a bike rider can often maintain traffic speed, making it very practical to get out and take the lane.)

    Meanwhile, TriMet is claiming buttonhook turn (for CYA?), but jug-handle may be what really happened—which would mean that the bus pretty much turned from the middle lane, not the leftmost. Also, some dispute about whether bus was indeed signaling a left turn.

    Yellow-light hairsplitting being used as something of a red herring, since both bike and bus were attempting to occupy the same space and thus were in equal violation of any yellow-light law.

    That about it?

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  • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) September 1, 2010 at 12:45 pm

    great summary WOBG, thanks!

    I just got a copy of the police report that has even more details than above. Some interesting stuff. I’m considering another post to share it.

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  • WOBG September 1, 2010 at 12:53 pm

    Brad, 71: I’ve broken a brake cable. Wasn’t a panic stop, fortunately.

    Would also be possible for cable housing to pull through various points—in a panic stop, though it might withstand a routine stop—if proper ferrules aren’t present. Vintage bikes/parts might be especially picky this way.

    Not a factor here, but folks on vintage Peugeots and such: If your rims are chrome steel—and *especially* if they’re chrome steel with embossed sides—you’re going to lose almost all stopping power when your rims are wet.

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  • spare_wheel September 1, 2010 at 1:04 pm

    “How about this, when you are biking downtown, give busses a wide bertth in all intersections and possible changes of directions.”

    How about we stop having buses cross bike lanes to reach their stops. And the funneling of bike traffic into the transit mall from pill hill and PSU is inherently unsafe.

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  • Brad September 1, 2010 at 1:36 pm

    WOBG – good points. Like the famous “Dirty Harry” line (“A man’s got to know his limitations.”), a rider must also know the limitations of his skills and the functional limits of his equipment on that ride.

    A bit off topic but, I predict we’ll see more incidents like this as we encourage more people to ride bikes without regard to handling ability, knowledge of traffic conditions, or basic maintenance skills.

    “Hey everyone! Ride your bike to work this month. Go ahead, dust off that steed that hasn’t seen action in ten or twenty years, put some air in those rotten tires, and go play in traffic! All the really cool kids are doin’ it. You don’t want to be an Earth hating embarrassment to Portland, do you?”

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  • spare_wheel September 1, 2010 at 1:52 pm

    “I predict we’ll see more incidents like this”

    It sounds like the victim was an experienced cyclist so your “be very afraid” FUD really does not apply.

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  • WOBG September 1, 2010 at 2:40 pm

    spare_wheel: Or if this can happen *even to experienced cyclists*, maybe Brad’s prediction carries *more* weight.

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  • jim September 1, 2010 at 3:14 pm

    I 2nd WOBG, I’ve snaped a brake cable before also in a panic stop

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  • middle of the road guy September 1, 2010 at 3:21 pm

    In every aspect of ‘the system’, we need to shift the burden of responsibility and consequences off of vulnerable road users and onto non-vulnerable road users.

    This is not safe. People should not be lulled into a false sense of security that others are looking out for you. Anybody who uses the ‘system’ bears the responsibility to look out for their own safety and not assume that others are. In any particular circumstance, one can be both a vulnerable and non-vulnerable user. Although I disagree with the term ‘non-vulnerable’. People still die in vehicle accidents all the time.

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  • Seager September 1, 2010 at 4:33 pm

    Jim #65,

    That’s not a realistic scenario. If you are driving behind a car and that car turns left, and you pass the car on the left, you’d be driving on the sidewalk unless the car was turning from a center or right lane.

    If the car is turning across a lane (traffic or bike, traffic in this case) it has to yield.

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  • spare_wheel September 1, 2010 at 4:38 pm

    “maybe Brad’s prediction carries *more* weight”

    I can agree with this.

    Apologies if I misinterpreted Brad’s comment – I can be overly sensitive to what I perceive as exaggeration of the risks of cycling. Despite the recent spate of posts, cycling has gotten safer in PDX over the past decade.

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  • slowneasy September 1, 2010 at 5:25 pm

    I’m curious why just the rider was cited. Maybe it was a hasty decision before all the facts were lined up? So, maybe that police report has some further facts?

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  • slowneasy September 1, 2010 at 5:53 pm

    I just remembered this. Because the bus driver was cutting into the right lane, he was looking in right mirror for traffic and possibly for his tail swing and then he would look straight ahead at the traffic light and then swing his head left to look in the left mirrors and make his turn, incorrectly. What else happens? A fast moving bike. I am sorry for the bike rider.

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  • Joe September 1, 2010 at 6:23 pm

    Heal Fast Man, regardless this sucks!
    Ive been caught in some hairy spots downtown, when you have large objects and small objects go figure. * Things happen *

    Get Well,
    Joe

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  • David September 1, 2010 at 10:06 pm

    @ Vance again:

    You say, “Lots of folks here seem to be showing some ignorance of the law. A bicycle may share an actual lane with a motor-vehicle.”

    I had originally posted saying that I disagreed with you here, but now I’m just thinking I’m wrong. Can you point me though to where we could read about this? Or maybe this would be a good one for an Ask Bike Portland?

    I’m writing this hypothetical situation as one unrelated to whatever happened with this particular case above because I want clarification.

    If you’re in the far left lane on a one-way street (no bike lane) passing cars on the left and a car is signaling to turn left, is it legal for the bike to continue without yielding to the car turning? Or is the car legally required to yield in this case?

    I’m not asking what would be courteous, or anything–I want to know what the law says.

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  • Brad September 1, 2010 at 11:09 pm

    David – My answer is NO based on the following:

    ORS 814.400 defines bicycles as “vehicles” subject to the same laws that apply to cars

    ORS 811.415 specifies that driving a vehicle to overtake and pass upon the right of another vehicle at any time is not permitted. (Obvious exception for bicycles is when a bike lane is present)

    ORS 814.430 When operating within a city as near as practicable to the left curb or edge of a roadway that is designated to allow traffic to move in only one direction along the roadway. A bicycle that is operated under this paragraph is subject to the same requirements and exceptions when operating along the left curb or edge as are applicable when a bicycle is operating along the right curb or edge of the roadway.

    So, seeing as how passing traffic on the right in the absence of a bike lane is illegal and that 814.430 clarifies that the left lane of a one way street is treated similarly, then the bike must yield to the left turning vehicle just as a motorcycle or car would.

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  • are September 1, 2010 at 11:38 pm

    814.240 forbids lane splitting by a motorcycle. the fact that the statute is specific to motorcyclists indicates that it does not apply more generally to “vehicles,” including bicycles. if you are “in the far left lane,” a motorist in an adjacent lane should yield before merging to make a left turn if s/he cannot merge with “reasonable safety.” 811.375.

    courtesy is behaving predictably and in a manner that acknowledges other road users. if there is space to let the motorist in and you do not place yourself at risk from people behind you, you can slow down to create a space to let him in. otherwise not. keeping in mind that a motor vehicle merging across you can mess you up pretty good.

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  • are September 1, 2010 at 11:40 pm

    814.240 forbids lane splitting by a motorcycle. the fact that the statute is specific to motorcyclists indicates that it does not apply more generally to “vehicles,” including bicycles.

    if you are “in the far left lane” by yourself, a motorist in an adjacent lane should yield before merging to make a left turn if s/he cannot merge with “reasonable safety.” 811.375.

    courtesy is behaving predictably and in a manner that acknowledges other road users. if there is space to let the motorist in and you do not place yourself at risk from people behind you, you can slow down to create a space to let him in. otherwise not. keeping in mind that a motor vehicle merging across you can mess you up pretty good.

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  • jim September 2, 2010 at 1:05 am

    Seager #82
    The bus hadn’t vacated that left lane, It merely put its nose into the middle lane to make the turn. The bike was attempting to pass a turning vehicle- not legal for the bike to do so. The bus has no need to yeild to someone behind him. Passing a turning vehicle when there is no lane to do so is just wrong

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  • Foz-man September 2, 2010 at 9:52 am

    Seriously, could you imagine a bus that is taking a left hand turn having to yield to a bicycle that is coming behind them? You expect a bus driver to stop, mid-turn, so this guy can use a corner to pass? There is no passing a turning vehicle , And he wasn’t passing the bus on a single lane road, he was passing it in the intersection. I’m sorry for any accident, but this rider was in the wrong and if he waited until the bus made it’s turn he would have avoided the whole thing.

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  • WOBG September 2, 2010 at 9:57 am

    jim:

    All may well be true—but the takeaway, especially for noobs, may be to take care and not get faked out by big vehicles’ counter-intuitive tendency to go one direction in order to execute a turn in the other direction. Stay behind big vehicles—even at stops—while they complete their odd machinations (’cause the drivers may not see you). Remember Tracy Sparling and quite possibly Brent Jarolimek.

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  • Seager September 2, 2010 at 10:03 am

    Jim #91

    I agree that passing a turning vehicle with no lane is wrong, but I don’t see that as being the case here. The pictures indicate that much more than just the nose of the bus was in the middle lane, which would have been a clear message to the cyclist that the bus was intending to make a right turn, not a left.

    The cyclist, not versed in “jug handle” turns, was left to decide whether to read the bus’s turn signal, which indicated a left turn (if it was on at all), or it’s motion, which indicated a lane change to the right. People screw up turn signals all the time, but when they change into the middle lane you don’t expect them to then turn across the lane they just vacated. I always go with “real world” motion over a turn signal.

    Again, the pictures indicate that much more of the bus was in the middle lane then just the nose, and thus had to yield. Turning vehicles ALWAYS have to yield – even if they are sharing a lane with a bike. This seems like a case of a bus driver not acting in a predicable manner and not checking their mirrors well enough.

    I guess we’ll see for sure when the video comes out.

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  • Seager September 2, 2010 at 10:10 am

    Also, he was hit by the FRONT tire, so he clearly was NOT BEHIND the bus. The bus had to have turned from a position on the right for him to have hit the front tire mid-left lane at that angle. If he had been behind the bus trying to pass it he would have been hit by the back tire. The bus driver failed to yield to a bike that was NEXT to him after he swerved to the middle lane, not BEHIND him.

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  • al m September 2, 2010 at 10:54 am

    My favorite place to read bikeportland comments is while I am on the can, but the commentators here seem to create a little problem for me:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fpd-wEZj6YI

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  • middle of the road guy September 2, 2010 at 11:24 am

    @95.

    Seager, the bike was traveling also, and apparently the brakes were not working.

    If the nose of the bus swerved right a bit (opening up some space in the lane, it is perfectly likely the bike continued into the space vacated by the bus…..and then the bus turned back left. hence, the cyclist ended up under the front tire.

    The bike entered the space after the turn had commenced (think of a vacuum effect) – there was no cyclist next to the bus at the time of the turn.

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  • Peter Smith September 2, 2010 at 12:11 pm

    Given that TriMet won’t release the video because of pending court action, more information will likely come out in the weeks and months to come.

    is this standard operating procedure for TriMet? that is, if TriMet was negligent or worse, do they withhold evidence from the public until after civil and criminal proceedings are over? [I don't know the answer for my own transit agencies.] or, does TriMet always withhold collision video for, say, two months or some set period of time?

    there seems to be at least three implicit admissions of guilt on the part of TriMet:
    1) withholding the video evidence,
    2) retraining of the bus driver,
    3) no explicit statement on the bus’s driver’s alleged use of a turn signal.

    i wonder if you kill someone while driving recklessly, if that causes TriMet to actually reprimand a driver?

    i understand the phrase ‘lawyer up’, but i always found it a bit unseemly when police union lawyers and transit agency lawyers, with massive budgets and experience and very close ties to the authorities, get to bring the house down on individual citizens. it doesn’t seem fair to me.

    as a taxpayer, i wouldn’t want my money being used to prevent a victim of a public entity from being fairly compensated for their suffering at the hands of that entity.

    if it’s a criminal matter, then yes, i want everyone – the bus driver, TriMet authorities, the Police, etc. – to have full legal representation, etc., but once the DA decides not to press charges, then the evidence needs to be released to the public – either outright/automatically, or maybe after some small burden of proof is met saying “There is a compelling public interest in having this video evidence released.” (b/c, I’m guessing we don’t want _all_ video released always).

    also, i’m not sure the video will tell us anything new.

    also, in all my years of driving and then bike riding, i can’t remember a single instance where a bus driver did this ‘swing wide’ maneuver (the ‘buttonhook’ vs. ‘clawhook’ vs. ‘whateverhook’ terms seem confusing to me). it just seems so inherently dangerous that, even if you were forced to do it for whatever reason, like maybe Lex Luthor had a gun to your head saying, “Make this chickenhawk turn, or else!”, you would still be so incredibly careful when doing it that it’d be almost impossible to run someone over.

    i _do_ see car drivers do this ‘swing wide’ maneuver all the time, tho, and I’ve done it as a driver, and even as a bike rider. More than not, it’s just laziness, not wanting to slow down to the appropriate speed to make a safe turn — or, as a bike rider, not wanting to lose momentum, which is fair.

    i expect that, at least for cars, which often occupy most of a lane and have to swerve into the adjacent/left lane to perform this type of maneuver, it has to be illegal. when on a bicycle, i’ve narrowly avoided cars who swing into the left lane — my lane — when/where i’m passing them — and _I_ then have to either hit my brakes hard or have to swerve left into the oncoming traffic lane. on a bike, it’s possible to make this swing-wide turn safely if you’re already taking the lane, but not if you’re occupying the bike lane — b/c then a car passing you might tag you when you swing out.

    Down with the Chickenhawk Turn, and down with Chickenhawks!

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  • Laura September 2, 2010 at 1:14 pm

    To all the people who are saying that the bicyclist was “passing on the left” please consider taking a cruise on your bike up SW 6th right now. I just did and it was a beautiful easy ride and probably the safest north-south route through downtown. There are big double white lines separating the left lane from the right hand lanes that appear to me to demarcate where the buses should be from where the cars/bikes should be. I think a lot of you may not be familiar with the transit mall so this is from the trimet website: “Cars and bikes can now travel the entire length of the Mall in the left-hand traffic lane, while buses and MAX trains use the dedicated transit lanes on the right. All bus stops and MAX stations are located on the right-hand side of the street.” Based on the facts we have now (I haven’t seen the police report) I believe that bus should not have been in the left lane in the first place and it certainly shouldn’t have deceptively moved into the middle lane and then turned left unless it was willing to come to a complete stop mid-turn to make sure no bikes misunderstood the motion. Bus drivers are trained in avoiding these types of accidents and should have been aware of this possibility, especially on a route designed as a thoroughfare for bikes. Please try to place yourself in this situation before concluding the guy on the bike had a death wish and tried to “pass.” If you were riding your bike in the left lane and a bus in front of or next to you pulled to the right you could very reasonably assume it was going into the bus lane where it belongs. Especially if this is your daily commute route and buses are rarely if ever in the left lane. If it were me I would have thought the bus driver was in that lane because he was in training or made a mistake. I encourage all of you who are blaming the victim in this situation to go try this route for yourself.

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  • AL M September 2, 2010 at 1:31 pm

    It seems to me, that if I was riding a bicycle in one of the most dangerous places on earth,(the poorly designed Portland Transit mall), then I would be damn sure to be extra careful.

    In the end pedestrians, bicyclists, and motorcyclists are responsible for their own safety.

    They will always be the ones killed or injured when colliding with the other vehicles (who of course DOMINATE our roadways).

    And why in the world would any sane person ride a bike down in that mall when there are plenty of paralleling streets that are much less of a hazard?

    Sorry, no sympathy for the bicyclist here, none whatsoever.

    The police report tells the true story.

    You can all sit behind your computers and attempt to find blame with everyone else.

    That’s the perpetual habit of the bloggers that inhabit this blog.

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  • Laura September 2, 2010 at 1:51 pm

    AL M (#100): The most dangerous place on earth? Really? There is a dedicated car/bike lane that buses do not cross to drop off/pick up. No street parking resulting in less wariness about getting doored and better visibility to see pedestrians entering the crosswalk illegally. This is much safer than, say, 82nd Avenue or the Hawthorne bridge (just examples from my commute) for that matter so I’m not really sure what you mean. Anyway, all bicylcists and drivers have to rely on their best judgement and reasonable assumptions to make split second decisions about how to respond in traffic. I was trying to state why it would be reasonable to think the bus was moving to the bus lane.

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  • Anonymous September 2, 2010 at 2:18 pm

    Maybe this all could be avoided if cyclists were encouraged to ride IN the bus lane on this section of road? You can’t be hooked from the center lane. I feel safer in that center lane with buses than I do in the left lane with all of the car traffic trying to turn. Unfortunately, the few times I have taken the bus lane I get yelled at pretty quickly by a trimet driver.

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  • jim September 2, 2010 at 2:23 pm

    Seager-
    The bus owns the lane until he has moved completely out of it.
    The bike was wrong for trying to pass a turning vehicle. yes or no?

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  • Seager September 2, 2010 at 2:31 pm

    Al M #100,

    It seems to me that if I were a bus driver in one of the most dangerous places on earth, then I would be damn sure to not swerve right and then turn left across a traffic lane and run over a cyclist.

    Your historically anti-cyclist stance does little to help the image of Trimet drivers.

    Middle of the Road #97

    I agree with your assessment. He was probably behind the bus when it swerved right and slowed down, and then beside the bus when it turned left across his path. It’s sort of a “two stage” turn, but the drivers intentions were not clear to the cyclist, and the driver should have yielded at stage two.

    I’m not absolving the cyclist of guilt, if he’d had good brakes and had been riding defensively he would probably wouldn’t have been hit. Just because the cyclist could have prevented it doesn’t mean the fault lies with him, the fault still lies with the driver who turned across a lane of traffic and failed to yield.

    We could all prevent car/bike accidents by never riding a bike again; that doesn’t mean that all car/bike accidents are our fault.

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  • Seager September 2, 2010 at 2:36 pm

    Jim #102

    No. I don’t think the picture evidence supports your scenario. The cyclist was passing a vehicle that was changing lanes into the right lane. The driver’s intent to turn left was unclear. (who moves right and then turns left?)

    If the bus had stayed completely in the left lane and not swerved right first then the cyclist would have been at fault for passing a turning vehicle. However, the bus was most likely moving right into the center lane when the pass was initiated, and didn’t begin turning left until the cyclist was next to him.

    We’ll see what the video says. If your scenario is accurate then the cyclist was wrong, if mine is accurate then the bus driver was wrong.

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  • Camelopardalis September 2, 2010 at 2:53 pm

    @99 -

    The double white line is there to keep cars/bikes out of the transit lanes, not to keep buses out of the left lane, which granted is a subtle difference but it’s an important one. Buses are permitted to use the left lane when necessary.

    I hope TriMet releases the video as well – I think where the cyclist was up to the time the bus turned (behind the bus vs alongside the bus) is an important factor that isn’t very clear right now.

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  • jim September 2, 2010 at 3:10 pm

    The bus mall would certainly be safe enough for bikes if they would just stay in the lane, not share a lane. I have noticed driving that it dosen’t slow me down much to follow a bike on that road, I usually get through pretty quickly when I am behind a bike

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  • AL M September 2, 2010 at 3:18 pm

    “The most dangerous place on earth?”

    ~~~> Laura, allegory!

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  • Laura September 2, 2010 at 3:19 pm

    Camelopardalis (#103): Yep, I certainly wasn’t saying buses could not use the left lane. It is very clear trimet was covering its butt in the design and wanted to make the mall easy for buses and trimet above all else (no right turns for cars). However, I do think that everyone can agree that the buses primarily live in the right-hand lanes, are rarely if ever in the left lane and that the heavy white lines could easily confuse a bike rider. Buses belong on the right exactly so something like this doesn’t happen. Their own design demonstrates the importance of keeping buses from having to cross over the designated car/bike lane. You can tell me legally it is OK that the bus was in that lane but what I am saying is that it was dangerous and stupid. Was it “necessary”? No.

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  • WOBG September 2, 2010 at 3:25 pm

    Al M: “Allegory”—I do not think it means what you think it means. “Hyperbole,” maybe?

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  • Camelopardalis September 2, 2010 at 3:58 pm

    @106 Laura

    Actually I think the mall design was more influenced by the city of Portland than TriMet – no operator I know is a fan of the serpentine MAX tracks and leapfrogging buses – what would’ve made the most sense is no private vehicles on the mall, trains servicing the left lane, and buses using the two right lanes to service and travel.

    And buses in the left lane aren’t extremely rare, so I disagree that it was “dangerous and stupid” for the bus to be there – if a cyclist is following a bus in that lane, there is no issue any more than a car following a bus in that lane, which I’ve done.

    If a cyclist (or a car) attempts to pass the bus in front of it in an intersection, THEN there is a safety issue, but that falls on the cyclist (or car driver), not the bus. You don’t pass in intersections, regardless of what kind of vehicle you are operating.

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  • Cyclist September 2, 2010 at 4:00 pm

    Why would any cyclist try to pass a bus on the left turning left? That’s a ridiculous death wish! If that’s tri-mets story its totally ridiculous! If the cyclist knew that the bus was turning left why would he try to pass the bus? This just doesn’t make sense. The only logical reason the cyclist went straight at the same time as the bus is that the cyclist thought the bus was going straight. The only logical reason the cyclist thought the bus was going straight was b/c the bus was in the middle lane and busses never turn left onto Morrison and no detour signs were posted. Come on Tri-met your story is ridiculous! Why would anyone want to get hit by a bus! Seriously!

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  • Laura September 2, 2010 at 4:27 pm

    Cyclist (#112) I totally agree with you! However, I don’t think trimet has claimed the bicyclist was trying to pass the bus. It is just that a bunch of people on this blog have interpreted it that way because they want to blame the cyclist for this and believe he is some stupid, aggro guy (which he’s not). I think trimet’s official story is that the bicyclist ran into the bus but they haven’t stated why.

    Camelopardalis (#111): I don’t actually know who designed the transit mall but I am thinking trimet had a pretty big role in it. Just because some bus drivers don’t like it doesn’t mean the administration at trimet didn’t suggest/approve the designated lanes for car/bike traffic. That does make it easier for buses to not have cars crossing in front of them to turn right. Regardless of who designed it, I would be suprised if putting cars/bikes on one side and buses/MAX on the other was not an attempt to increase the safety of everyone, including bicyclists. I think it would have achieved this if the bus had stayed in the clearly marked “bus lane.”

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  • Camelopardalis September 2, 2010 at 6:18 pm

    @ Laura 113

    “Just because some bus drivers don’t like it doesn’t mean the administration at trimet didn’t suggest/approve the designated lanes for car/bike traffic.”

    Honestly I think you hit the nail on the head right there – there are a number of safety hazards in the design of the downtown mall, and operator input sadly meant little-to-nothing during the design phase. There’s a huge disconnect at TriMet between the people that set the policies in theory and the frontline employees who have to carry them out in practice, and the safety issues train & bus drivers have with the downtown mall are a great example of that.

    But again, the bus is not required to stay in the transit lanes – buses are permitted to use the left travel lane, the markings are there to keep cyclists and cars out of the transit lanes (ineffectively, but that’s the idea behind them.) There is nothing inherently dangerous about buses using that lane.

    I am not blaming Krebs entirely, nor am I blaming the bus driver because there are still too many unknowns here. We don’t know if Krebs was next to or behind the bus – if he was behind the bus as the driver was going through the turn, then he would have been at fault for not stopping for the bus who got there first, rather than if they got to the intersection at the same time in which case the bus should yield to the bicycle. We don’t know how much the bus swung right into the center lane to turn left on Morrison, though eyewitness reports posted on BikePortland (comment #55 in the last update post) have said that the tail of the bus was still in the left lane. We don’t know if the bus was following a prescribed contingency route which sent the bus around a tight turn in the first place.

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  • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) September 2, 2010 at 9:07 pm

    I’ve just posted an update on this story that you should read.

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