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Sandy sidewalk collision raises issues

Posted by on June 30th, 2011 at 9:03 am

Location of collision.
(Google)

A man was hit by someone riding a bike while walking on the sidewalk near NE 31st and Sandy Blvd over the weekend. The incident was covered on the KGW evening news last night.

KGW’s story focuses on 68-year old John Blunk, the retiree who was struck by the bike and who spent the night in the Intensive Care Unit with a head injury as a result. Blunk is upset because the police didn’t respond to the incident, he has a hospital bill to pay, and he has no idea who the bike rider is (he’s asking the person to come forward).

Watch the KGW coverage in the video below:

According to KGW, police didn’t respond because there was no clear crime committed (it’s legal to bike on sidewalks in that area).

This story raises some important issues.

  • If you are riding a bike and you collide with someone on a sidewalk, you have the moral and legal obligation to exchange information. It’s just the right thing to do, especially when someone gets injured.
  • While riding on the sidewalk, Oregon law (ORS 814.410) clearly states that you must; give an audible warning before passing a person walking, yield to all people on foot, ride with caution, and ride at walking speed in crosswalks and curb ramps.
  • This is one of those legal situations where bicycle operators are treated more like walkers than like motor vehicle operators. On sidewalks, people riding bikes have the “same rights and duties as a pedestrian on a sidewalk or in a crosswalk.”
  • The KGW video includes an interview with a nearby shop owner who talks about sidewalk bikers as a real problem, zooming too close to customers. While rude riding is certainly not cool, the larger issue is that NE Sandy Blvd is inaccessible and dangerous to many riders. It’s a high-speed arterial street with six lanes of car traffic (four traffic lanes and two parking lanes) and no dedicated space or signage for bicycling. The result is that many people rely on the sidewalks to reach destinations and to stay safe. (We reported on Sandy Blvd bike conditions back in May.)

By the way, in Portland, it’s only illegal to ride a bicycle on a sidewalk within the following boundaries downtown: S.W. Jefferson St., Front Avenue, N.W. Hoyt Street and 13th Avenue (note that there is an exception if you are riding on the sidewalk “to avoid a traffic hazard in the immediate area”).

For more information about bicycling on sidewalks, read these helpful articles from Swanson Thomas & Coon:

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Comments
  • Kate June 30, 2011 at 9:15 am

    I thought it was illegal to ride on the sidewalk unless you were riding at “pedestrian speeds,” which means very, very slow.

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    • tonyt June 30, 2011 at 12:12 pm

      Kate, I believe that speed restriction applies to crosswalks.

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      • shirtsoff June 30, 2011 at 8:00 pm

        It does only when entering said crosswalk. Once in you may go whatever speed is appropriate and safe to do so.

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        • Eileen July 1, 2011 at 3:34 am

          Obviously a speed that makes pedestrians feel unsafe is inappropriate. I would like to see cyclists give the same care and attention to pedestrians as they wish to see from cars.

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          • Opus the Poet July 1, 2011 at 9:18 am

            +1 to that. Also -1 to conditions that make cyclists feel that the only place they have to ride is on the sidewalks.

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    • banjo June 30, 2011 at 1:37 pm

      thats how it should be. riding any faster on the sidewalk should hopefully be illegal and ticketed as it is very dangerous. when i’m walking on a sidewalk i wont move out of the way for an approaching racing bike on the sidewalk.

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    • are June 30, 2011 at 2:02 pm

      crosswalks and driveways, and only when there is a motor vehicle crossing your path. yet another automobile-centric statute. the idea is that the cyclist will not surprise the motorist by coming out of nowhere.

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    • wsbob June 30, 2011 at 2:21 pm

      “…I thought it was illegal to ride on the sidewalk unless you were riding at “pedestrian speeds,” which means very, very slow. …” Kate

      ORS 814.410, (1), d. is vague, or at least confusing about whether people riding bikes on sidewalks are obligated to travel at pedestrian walk speeds:

      “…(d) Operates the bicycle at a speed greater than an ordinary walk when approaching or entering a crosswalk, approaching or crossing a driveway or crossing a curb cut or pedestrian ramp and a motor vehicle is approaching the crosswalk, driveway, curb cut or pedestrian ramp. This paragraph does not require reduced speeds for bicycles at places on sidewalks or other pedestrian ways other than places where the path for pedestrians or bicycle traffic approaches or crosses that for motor vehicle traffic. …”

      It’s section 2 of this ORS statute that says:

      “…(2) Except as otherwise specifically provided by law, a bicyclist on a sidewalk or in a crosswalk has the same rights and duties as a pedestrian on a sidewalk or in a crosswalk. …”

      1-d seems to say that people riding a bike on the sidewalk don’t have to reduce their speed to that of an ordinary walk. I suppose the rationale here may be that, on surfaces including sidewalks, since people on foot, such as runners (assuming it’s accepted that people are still pedestrians when they run.)…move faster than an ordinary walk, so should people on bikes also be able to move faster than an ordinary walk.

      In light of collisions like the one that occurred in this incident, it’s important to consider what speed people riding bikes on sidewalks should be allowed to travel. On sidewalks, should people riding bikes be allowed by law to travel faster than an ordinary walking speed…say 3.5mph? The speed a jogger travels…7mph to 11mph? Maybe faster?

      The way in which numerous people have been seen riding their bikes on sidewalks is quite a point of contention amongst sidewalk users. In the news and in casual conversation, it’s a complaint regularly voiced, that cyclists ride too fast on sidewalks, especially when people are present.

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      • Opus the Poet July 1, 2011 at 9:23 am

        Problem with that is a very fit person can maintain 12 MPH (5 minute mile) pretty much indefinitely, moderately fit people can hold 10 MPH (6 minute mile) for several miles.

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  • Perry Hunter June 30, 2011 at 9:23 am

    I hate to see folks riding on the sidewalks. Just stay off…

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    • noah June 30, 2011 at 3:16 pm

      Care to share your reasons?

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      • Paul Johnson June 30, 2011 at 3:31 pm

        Other road users aren’t expecting vehicles on the sidewalks, the collission rate for bicycles on the sidewalk is extremely high compared to more conventional maneuvers, pedestrians shouldn’t have to dodge vehicles in a pedestrian haven, sight lines for bicycle operators leaves them riding into blind spots far more frequently…really this is all obvious stuff.

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  • A.K. June 30, 2011 at 9:23 am

    Ugh, get off the darn sidewalks people! If you are scared of that particular street, go a block over. If you need to access a business on that street, go SLOW for gosh sakes – you should be going slow enough that you can brake for someone and not have any issues.

    I know it’s not illegal outside of downtown, but pedestrians shouldn’t have to be worried about getting mowed down by us.

    It is possible to get around this city without using the sidewalks – I did 30 miles last night from SE PDX to the tip of St. Johns and back, and the only sidewalk used was when I went over the Broadway bridge.

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    • Elliot June 30, 2011 at 9:43 am

      I agree with your general sentiment, but this area is a clear exception. Here’s a map: http://bit.ly/krPq1W. Take a look around – there’s no way to just “go a block over”. There are some streets with no alternate routes and where riding in the street without a bike lane is way too intense for most people. Sandy is a prime example.

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      • NF June 30, 2011 at 10:21 am

        Yes! Some commercial streets in Portland do not have parallel routes: Sandy, Foster, Cully, and many arterials in East Portland. These streets must receive higher quality on-street facilities because there really is no other option.

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        • banjo June 30, 2011 at 1:38 pm

          cully is pretty good now :)

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      • A.K. June 30, 2011 at 10:28 am

        Well, you COULD zig-zag around a bit and avoid Sandy. I don’t mind doing that, but I guess it’s not everyone’s cup of tea if they are trying to get somewhere in the absolute minimum time possible.

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        • Esther June 30, 2011 at 10:57 am

          There are also a number of businesses right here (Fantasy, Tonic, the thrift store, etc.) where getting off Sandy doesn’t make any sense if one of those business are your destination (or departure point).

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          • A.K. June 30, 2011 at 11:52 am

            Like I said in my original post, if you need to patronize a business and have to take the sidewalk, you should have the courtesy to go slow enough that you can brake and avoid issues. If you’re just trying to get down the street fast, get into the street or find another route.

            I feel like this sort of situation is avoidable if the cyclist is going a proper speed for the situation. I’ve had plenty of joggers do the classic “no look about-face u-turn” near me on the springwater, but since I wasn’t blasting by them at an inappropriate speed, there was no issue.

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      • mabsf June 30, 2011 at 10:29 am

        Ok, so you don’t get one block over, but 2 or 3… there is Ankeny on one side, several nice side streets on the other… well worth to go 10-15 blocks out of your way by avoiding accident or if you want to ride at a good speed…

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        • Esther June 30, 2011 at 10:56 am

          Um, Ankeny is like 10 blocks away where this collision occurred, and the freeway is on the other side – no side streets.

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          • mabsf June 30, 2011 at 2:45 pm

            Hi Esther,
            just trying to illustrate the point that you can plan your bike to get nearly everywhere… it’s just not always the most direct route…

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          • Mindful Cyclist July 4, 2011 at 8:49 pm

            I used to live in the Hollywood District. If I were heading downtown, I noticed very little difference in time if I went down Tillamook to 28th and down to Ankeny. There are a lot fewer lights (they are not synchronized on Sandy) and a lot less car exhaust to inhale.

            Unless you are patronizing one of the businesses, there are alternatives that are just as quick. Even more so, past the Hollywood Dist going SW, there are fewer and fewer business open.

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      • gumby June 30, 2011 at 5:23 pm

        I almost never ride on sidewalks, but I have on that particular area because there are no real viable alternatives and Sandy is not a good street to ride.

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    • Esther June 30, 2011 at 11:25 am

      A.K., I used to live in St. Johns and agree it is totally possible to go from SE to there without using any sidewalks, as I did so every day.

      However, Sandy is a different story- it’s kind of as if neither Interstate or Greeley had bike lanes, and people coming from St. Johns either had the choice to 1. use the sidewalk on Interstate, 2. take the lane on Interstate or Greeley, or 3. go all the way over to Mississippi, Williams or Rodney, to use a bike facility or neighborhood street. Yes, you could go farther out of your way and take a neighborhood street or bike lane. But, a heck of a lot of peple would choose 1. or 2.

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  • Elliot June 30, 2011 at 9:27 am

    From my personal, unscientific observations, sidewalk riding in Portland is most common along high-speed arterial streets that have no bike lanes and that also have no easily accessible parallel route. Sandy definitely fits the description.

    I see sidewalk riding regularly on E Burnside from 33rd to 70th-ish, and along SE 82nd (I happen to drive those streets often lately).

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    • Esther June 30, 2011 at 10:59 am

      Yep. From 28th and west, there are a ton of bikers these days, mostly using the road & taking the lane. But east of the 28th? A good number of them (probably half, or more) are using the sidewalk.

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  • Chris I June 30, 2011 at 9:31 am

    Sounds like his experience is very similar to that of people hit by cars on their bikes. Police don’t care unless you call them, and even then, they don’t (and often can’t) do anything.

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  • Andrew Seger June 30, 2011 at 9:34 am

    I hate using the sidewalks, makes me feel like a second class citizen. There are a couple sections where the city might think about just putting a bike lane on the sidewalk, though. For instance from Holladay heading south on MLK past the convention center is that anecdotally many people on bikes are riding on. I used to take the far right lane on MLK but the streetcar tracks have really made that a more dangerous move.

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  • David June 30, 2011 at 9:36 am

    “the larger issue is that NE Sandy Blvd is inaccessible and dangerous to many riders.”

    Jonathan – I think the larger issue is really that most sections of Sandy – even after the redesign that spurned the road diet option – are unsafe for people on bikes AND on foot.

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  • sabernar June 30, 2011 at 9:43 am

    David, I was about to quote the same line:

    “While rude riding is certainly not cool, the larger issue is that NE Sandy Blvd is inaccessible and dangerous to many riders.”

    That line seems to push the blame for the accident off the cyclist and onto the city. Sure, that section of the city sucks for cyclists, but it doesn’t give cyclists permission to ride recklessly. The cyclist is still 100% responsible. He/she could have ridden a block or two over, or WALKED their bike while on the sidewalk, or any number of things. Don’t blame the street conditions when we should be blaming the cyclist.

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    • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) June 30, 2011 at 9:46 am

      sabernar,

      In my opinion the City does have some responsiblity here. Bottom line is that Sandy lacks bike access. A key commercial corridor in America’s most bike friendly city simply should not be so inhospitable to people on a bike.

      And who said the guy was riding “recklessly”? We don’t know how the crash happened, so let’s not speculate as to fault. And let’s not always think about who is to blame. Things happen. Issues are raised. It’s not always productive to search for blame. Finding blame often wastes energy that should be spent on fixing the larger issues that lead to the situation in the first place.

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      • David Parsons June 30, 2011 at 9:58 am

        “And who said the guy was riding “recklessly”?”

        Before a hit-and-run? I’d not say that’s absolute proof of reckless driving, but it’s a pretty good indication, wouldn’t you think?

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        • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) June 30, 2011 at 10:01 am

          David,

          This doesn’t sound like a hit-and-run to me. Did you watch the video? The person on the bike stayed at the scene, but no one asked for his/her contact information.

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          • David Parsons June 30, 2011 at 10:03 am

            Well, the article said he “stayed at the scene, but then left without giving his name”; it’s not a classic hit and run, but he did knock this fellow out and then sailed away without leaving any information.

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          • Rain Panther June 30, 2011 at 10:27 am

            Hit-and-run? Not exactly. But reckless? For sure. Look, if you’re riding on the sidewalk it’s your responsibility to be able to avoid hitting pedestrians. That means going slow, paying attention and yielding to people on foot. If you find yourself in a situation where you’re looking down at the guy you just collided with lying in a puddle of his own blood, guess whose fault it is. Seriously, if you’ve hit someone you’re doing it wrong. It’s not the pedestrian’s job to see bikes coming and scurry out of the way. If you’re in a hurry, you’ve got two alternatives available: ride in the street or choose a different route. I understand your perspective, that this illustrates the need for a better solution for bike traffic in the area, but that agenda doesn’t negate this person’s responsibility to behave in a way that doesn’t endanger others.

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          • Alan 1.0 June 30, 2011 at 1:40 pm

            Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)
            This doesn’t sound like a hit-and-run to me. Did you watch the video? The person on the bike stayed at the scene, but no one asked for his/her contact information.

            ORS 811.705 (1)(c) (“Failure to perform duties of driver to injured persons,” i.e. hit and run) says, “Give to the other driver or surviving passenger or any person not a passenger who is injured as a result of the accident the name and address of the driver…” It doesn’t say anything about being asked; the onus is on the driver (rider in this case) to provide the info. It might have helped if the cops had responded but it’s still up to the rider (vehicle operator) to identify themselves.

            If a car driver had injured a bike rider, stopped while the rider was loaded into an ambulance, and then left without identifying themselves, wouldn’t you call that hit-and-run?

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        • rider June 30, 2011 at 10:10 am

          We also don’t know the speed the bicyclist was riding. Even at walking speeds you could potentially bump someone to the ground. Heck, just yesterday I was walking through a store and a little kid came flying out of an isle and I couldn’t stop my momentum quickly enough and knocked her to the ground. I doubt a 68 year old man was flying anywhere, but on foot you can quickly change directions and move several feet nearly instantaneously. If the sidewalk’s not wide enough to give berth you could hit a pedestrian on your bike even while riding in an exceptionally cautious manner.

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        • Forseti June 30, 2011 at 10:26 am

          No. Is it ever possible for a pedestrian to be at fault? What if the guy suddenly turned into the path of the person on the bike without looking, as I have seen happen numerous times on the Springwater?

          You dont’ need to give your contact information to someone who has injured themselves by their own fault. Not saying that’s what happened here, but there may be a perfectly good reason why the person riding the bike did not give contact info.

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          • spare_wheel June 30, 2011 at 10:44 am

            Similar to my view of cyclist-motorist interactions on the road I believe the burden of proof should always be on the cyclist not the pedestrian.

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          • Rain Panther June 30, 2011 at 11:11 am

            Forseti,
            First, I think it’s kind of a specious argument to equate the sidewalk at 31st and Sandy with the Springwater Corridor, a mixed-use path where the likelihood of bike traffic is painfully obvious. Second, like the article says, “If you are riding a bike and you collide with someone on a sidewalk, you have the moral and legal obligation to exchange information.” You don’t get to unilaterally decide that you’re not at fault.

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          • RWL1776 June 30, 2011 at 12:52 pm

            What if the victim was a customer who just walked out of the door of a business, and did not even have a chance to look left or right before exiting the door? Also, many businesses/buildings have doors that swing out, which means any cyclists should be alert that at any second you could be doored, by a door!

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      • Ed June 30, 2011 at 11:01 am

        When I ride my bike on a sidewalk or MUP, it is my responsibility to keep control of my speed, ride safely, and try not to startle or frighten people walking in a pedestrian place.

        We don’t know whether the person riding the bike was taking reasonable care or not, but it certainly illustrates why you always should.

        When in doubt, ride slow and be friendly. Imagine you are a car and they are on a bike. The next time you see that person they may well be driving next to you.

        Wouldn’t it ruin your day if you ran into someone’s child?

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      • jeff June 30, 2011 at 11:48 am

        how exactly is the city to blame for this individuals bad decisions? I’ve ridden around Sandy many times in the past year and have never used the sidewalk or hit a living person. the apologist thing is a pretty weak stance.

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    • BURR June 30, 2011 at 12:17 pm

      The city absolutely should share the blame and the liability for crashes like this if they repeatedly and routinely failed to provide adequate safe street facilities for cyclists to use.

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      • middle of the road guy July 5, 2011 at 12:29 pm

        How nice of you to think only of the injustices done to cyclists instead of the fact that an old man got run down. Nice priorities.

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  • Nick V June 30, 2011 at 9:51 am

    I hope Mr. Blunk is fully recovered and finds out who hit him so irresponsibly and carelessly. Everyone, PLEASE slow down in those situations. Not to change the subject, but almost as big of a crime is the $33K bill for one day in the hospital. Ridiculous.

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    • Esther June 30, 2011 at 11:00 am

      They did say that he actually has insurance and will have to pay *something*. which I guess would be his co-pays. They did play up the $33k figure a bit too much, IMO.

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      • Mike June 30, 2011 at 12:05 pm

        I my case, my deductible is $6000. I’d say that is *something*; especially if all I did was step out of a storefront onto the sidewalk and was run down by a cyclist.

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        • Nick V June 30, 2011 at 12:23 pm

          Spot on. We don’t know all the facts apparently, but I’m not sure how the cyclist can be defended here. Seems he was going fast enough ON A SIDEWALK on a VERY busy street to seriously hurt someone. Man up and slow down.

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  • kent June 30, 2011 at 10:02 am

    All cyclists need to understand that the sidewalk, even on Sandy, is NOT safer than the street. Drivers are much less likely to see you on the sidewalk, especially when turning corners and into driveways and parking lots. Plus, the rider has to pay attention to so many more things. Your risk of injury and of injuring someone else is much higher when riding on sidewalks.

    Stay off the sidewalks unless you’re willing to ride at walking speed.

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  • Todd Boulanger June 30, 2011 at 10:12 am

    This is also a weakness in the protections that pedestrians (and cyclists) have when hit by a vehicle owner without insurance or a hit & run. A sizable minority of drivers choose to not carry insurance in Oregon.

    In this case the vehicle was a bike which does not have the ability to get vehicle insurance – even if you tried. Perhaps the city council or the legislature can add a fee on all vehicle policies to set aside funds to cover such events. (We already all pay for it through higher hospital bills.) If Portland reaches it’s goal of having a high percentage of traffic as cyclists and pedestrians then fewer of us will have car insurance to cover such costs.

    I hope either party has homeowners or renters insurance to cover these costs.

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    • Bjorn July 1, 2011 at 5:14 pm

      The pedestrian should probably look into his motor vehicle insurance if he has it, I think this would fall under uninsured motorist coverage.

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  • Todd Boulanger June 30, 2011 at 10:15 am

    And Yes – Sandy does bring up the point that Portland has a lot of bike unfriendly arterials that need to be rebuilt. The easy bike projects are done. Now the hard political work is at hand. Do we have to wait another generation or until a Trimet project comes along?

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  • Don June 30, 2011 at 10:19 am

    The few times I’ve had to ride down Sandy to get from far north to downtown, I took the sidewalk the whole way. It’s narrow, a little confusing at intersections, and a pain in the ass, but there’s nothing else you can do. The road is madness.

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    • spare_wheel June 30, 2011 at 10:55 am

      The risk of being hit from behind by fast moving traffic is in my experience far less than the risk of being hit as you exit the sidewalk at an intersection. Sidewalk riding is IMO less safe than quote unquote blowing stop signs. I’d support a total ban of sidewalk cycling.

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  • Tom June 30, 2011 at 10:31 am

    The fact that the victim was hit hard enough to cause a head injury is strong (but not conclusive) evidence that the cyclist was riding too fast. Looking at the picture, this is clearly a location where people coming out of a doorway without much warning are an obvious hazard. The lack of a good bike route is no excuse for riding too fast for the conditions.

    While the victim might have made a sudden move, the collision suggests that the cyclist failed to yield to a pedestrian as required by law.

    To me, the wording of the article and later comments by the author put much of the blame on the city rather than the cyclist.

    By implying that inadequate facilities are an excuse for riding in an unsafe manner, you also allow a driver to argue that making an unsafe pass of a cyclist is justifiable because the city did not provide adequate facilities for both to share the route.

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    • Alan 1.0 June 30, 2011 at 10:56 am

      “By implying that inadequate facilities are an excuse for riding in an unsafe manner, you also allow a driver to argue that making an unsafe pass of a cyclist is justifiable…”

      Several such comparisons to car/bike collisions come to mind. For one, was the pedestrian wearing a helmet?* And for those who say the biker didn’t hit-and-run, would you say the same thing about a driver who initially stopped but then left the scene without identifying themself?

      *Hint: no, I’m not suggesting that pedestrians be required to wear helmets.

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    • Rain Panther June 30, 2011 at 11:18 am

      Exactly my point. The fact that pedestrians can sometimes behave erratically is not a reasonable excuse- that behavior should be expected. If there’s any doubt at all that the sidewalk can accomodate passing, then… sorry, but your ass needs to stop. Same thing I’d say if this scenario involved a car and a bike. If you’re not sure you can pass safely, then you’ll just have to wait a second or two.

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    • Psyfalcon June 30, 2011 at 1:07 pm

      A head injury is just strong evidence that his head hit the ground. Many people have balance issues, that even brushing them could cause them to fall.

      As a side note, its a reason wearing a helmet is a good idea. No, it wont help if your head is directly struck by a car, but if that car knocks you over, and you land on your head, it might.

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  • Byron June 30, 2011 at 10:39 am

    I understand the fear of riding in the street, but the answer is not to ride on the sidewalk unless you go slowly. I cringe when I see bicyclists ride on the sidewalk. I am an avid biker, ride my bike daily to work and other errands. But I also walk and don’t want to be hit, nor do I want to hit someone.
    The answer is for the city to make the streets better. In the meantime I ride in the lane and take the lane. This makes drivers angry and times but I feel safer. Sandy has enough lanes that cars can pass me. I don’t ride next to the parked cars, I am at least three feet away from them to protect myself from dooring. Also the typical speed on Sandy is such that cars must pass with enough room so that if you fall they won’t hit you, that is, the speed is above 35 mph. That means that even if you are by the parked cars they have to give you at least half the lane and if they have to give you that much then making them move over into the other lane is better. I also can move to the right if they try and squeeze by.
    Motor vehicles need to realize that the streets are for everyone. If there is not a bike lane and there are no streets nearby that have bike facilities, then take the lane. It doesn’t matter if it is Sandy, Burnside, or any other major street. They more bikes do that the more that vehicles learn to expect that kind of behavior. You may get yelled at by impatient drivers, but I feel safer doing that than riding on the sidewalk or beside the curb or parked cars.

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    • Esther June 30, 2011 at 11:21 am

      I agree that riding on the street & taking the lane on Sandy is generally actually better and safer, BUT that is appropriate for strong & confident cyclists like us, who have bright lights and knowledge of the law and statistics around riding on the sidewalk vs. riding in the road.
      The people I tend to see riding on the sidewalk on Sandy don’t look like they necessarily have either of those things. A lot of them are riding mountain bikes, which tend to go slower and have less pickup speed at stops, which can also make you feel less safe if you’re not keeping up as much speed. Some of them are pretty young and look inexperienced.

      In fact, I myself have hopped up on the sidewalk at Sandy at times, either because I was missing a rear light and was absolutely *terrified* that someone coming up behind me in the dark wouldn’t be able to see me; or because I’d just gone grocery shopping at Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s and realized I was going too slow; etc.

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      • Spencer Boomhower June 30, 2011 at 3:16 pm

        Esther,

        Yep, I occasionally hop up on the sidewalk on Sandy too. Either as a last leg getting to someplace like the Bike Gallery near 53rd (which is weirdly difficult to bike to), or going from Hancock toward the Whole Foods, where the bike lane ends and directs you onto… The sidewalk: http://bit.ly/mgthSg

        Once on the sidewalk I go super slow if there’s anyone else around, giving people on foot a massive buffer zone.

        As others have said here, you’re at more risk riding on a sidewalk, at least at intersections and driveways.

        And riding in such a way that you can’t keep from running into someone is serious jerky behavior. The worst of the worst imo.

        But a sidewalk can be a welcome refuge, or it can just make getting to a destination on a busy street more convenient.

        Also, I know a four-year-old who will be taking off the training wheels soon, and we’re not sending him out to fend for himself on the street just yet thankyouverymuch. So the sidewalk it is.

        Let’s just figure out ways to be ultra-respectful of others sharing that space, especially those who are moving more slowly and are more vulnerable.

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    • Chris June 30, 2011 at 11:27 am

      I understand what you are going for. But I am not going to hit (again) to make a point.

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  • Joe Rowe June 30, 2011 at 10:56 am

    The police should have done their job. If the victim was knocked over by a fellow pedestrian wearing a t-shirt there is still a crime.

    That’s my 2nd point. Any jerk can wear a t-shirt and commit a crime. Anyone can grab a bike and commit a crime. The news media needs to stop pushing the bikes v. Everybody myth here.

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  • Spiffy June 30, 2011 at 11:22 am

    the larger issue is that NE Sandy Blvd is inaccessible and dangerous to many riders

    inaccessible? it’s hard to ride in NE without accessing this street, it’s in the way most anywhere you go… I think you meant “unacceptable”…

    also, in the article you forgot to mention that Sandy is a designated City of Portland bikeway… that adds a lot of angles to the story…

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    • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) June 30, 2011 at 11:25 am

      Actually, I meant inaccessible. That’s a frame I’m using to try and explain that high-speed arterials w zero dedicated space for bicycles are, for all intents and purposes, not accessible to many people who choose to go by bike.

      As for the “City Bikeway” designation, that isn’t as big a deal as you think… It turns out that they lay that definition on pretty much every street in the system, more as a planning precaution (so that someday, when time comes, it will be easier to actually build a bikeway on it). the designation itself has very little to no actual policy strength or leverage.

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      • David June 30, 2011 at 1:36 pm

        “As for the “City Bikeway” designation, that isn’t as big a deal as you think… It turns out that they lay that definition on pretty much every street in the system.”

        To clarify, City Bikeway and Major City Bikeway are the classifications that apply to most arterials, as well as residential streets with existing or planned bicycle facilities. The vast majority of streets (“pretty much every street in the system”) in Portland are residential streets that have a Local Service bikeway classification.

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  • Chris June 30, 2011 at 11:24 am

    I agree for the most part cyclists should ride on the road, but there are a few SE Portland “intersections of death” that I don’t even bother trying to stay on the street anymore (west on Woodstock/82nd for one.)

    I can’t hate on people riding on the sidewalks without knowing all the details.

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  • Spiffy June 30, 2011 at 11:28 am

    As he came out of a store, he was hit by a fast-moving bicycle riding on the sidewalk.

    He shouldn’t be on the sidewalk — that’s a “no-no”

    sounds like he admittedly wasn’t looking where he was going since he doesn’t think bikes belong on the sidewalk and probably wasn’t looking where he was going… yes, just my assumption…

    the bike rider should obviously come forward since it sounds like he didn’t do anything wrong, other than leave the scene without giving contact information, which I’m not sure is required (since no statute was cited)… I’d leave my info, but not because I thought I had to… if somebody is an idiot and runs into me only injuring themselves I don’t feel obligated…

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  • Toby June 30, 2011 at 11:28 am

    He should have been wearing a walking helmet…

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    • Spiffy June 30, 2011 at 11:39 am

      I’m glad somebody asked!

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  • dan June 30, 2011 at 11:31 am

    Jonathan, any information on where to send donations towards Mr. Blunk’s medical bills?

    I have to see the cyclist at fault here. Riding on a sidewalk means riding at walking speed and leaving room for unexpected changes of direction / speed by pedestrians.

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  • Spiffy June 30, 2011 at 11:38 am

    wait, I just watched the video and this guy came out of Fantasy for Adults @ 3137 NE Sandy… I can certainly see distraction being an issue for him here… will Mr Blunk be cited for walking while distracted if the bike rider comes forward and states that Mr Blunk walked right out of the store into his path?

    oh and how come nobody has sarcastically asked “was the pedestrian wearing a helmet?” hehe…

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    • Chris June 30, 2011 at 11:54 am

      I didn’t hear anything about him coming out of Fantasy. they just said someone working there came out to help him.

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      • Spiffy June 30, 2011 at 1:44 pm

        the camera operator always went to that spot on the ground in front of their door when talking about him being knocked down… that to me is them pointing to the accident location… but could just be lazy reporting… I’m not always right, just opinionated… (:

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    • Mike June 30, 2011 at 12:07 pm

      Unless the guy was intoxicated, it shouldn’t matter what store he walked out of.
      I imagine you would not defend a driver for hitting a cyclist if the cyclist was in a bike lane but listening to an ipod (distracted).

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  • wsbob June 30, 2011 at 11:56 am

    “…On sidewalks, people riding bikes have the “same rights and duties as a pedestrian on a sidewalk or in a crosswalk.” …” maus/bikeportland

    Sidewalks aren’t really made to ride bikes on for serious traveling. Sidewalks are made for people to travel on by foot. People have been allowed by law, to ride bikes on sidewalks because of a lack of adequate conditions for bike travel on the street.

    Bikes are vehicles for travel representing a significant weight…around 22lbs for a road bike, sometimes 30lbs and more for cruisers. The weight and balance issues of bikes on sidewalks should be considered additional duties on the part of people riding bikes on sidewalks, to other sidewalk users.

    A person running or jogging on the sidewalk also probably carries a greater burden of duty to take care not to collide with other sidewalk users.

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  • tom June 30, 2011 at 11:59 am

    I ride s.e. Powell from 82nd to 52nd regularly , there is NO bike lane on Powell in that section , and I cant keep up with traffic..I don’t like to do it, but the sidewalk is the only option.

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    • Psyfalcon June 30, 2011 at 1:13 pm

      In this case, you do have the option of 4 blocks over, you’d need to take Woodward and avoid the dirt section using Franklin to about 75th.

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      • Spiffy June 30, 2011 at 1:47 pm

        that would negate their use of an efficient direct route… I’ve taken the lane on Powell… and on Sandy, and on 82nd, and on Foster… some people don’t like it, but they’re great streets when you want to get somewhere…

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        • Mike June 30, 2011 at 2:55 pm

          So a direct route for the commuter trumps the safety of the vulnerable road/sidewalk user?

          I believe Psyfalcon was informing Tom that there are better alternatives for that route than taking the sidewalk.

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          • Spiffy July 1, 2011 at 8:41 am

            sorry, I meant that taking the lane on Sandy is better than going 4 blocks over to avoid riding on the sidewalk… I’ve only ridden the sidewalk on Sandy for a block to get to a business after coming in off a side street…

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  • BURR June 30, 2011 at 12:14 pm

    people ride bikes on the sidewalk on NE Sandy (and other east side arterials like Hawthorne) because they don’t perceive these streets to be safe for cycling.

    When are these streets finally going to get bike lanes or at least sharrows is the question everyone should be asking.

    that said, I’ve definitely seen an uptick of sidewalk riding all over town, including downtown, mostly newbies or casual riders from the looks if it.

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    • Spiffy June 30, 2011 at 1:49 pm

      Hawthorne gets a bad rep but I think it’s a great street to ride on… it’s slow up past 39th where there’s only one lane, and down below that there’s an entire extra lane you can take without getting in the way of people using the other lane…

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      • BURR June 30, 2011 at 2:08 pm

        Hawthorne would be better with sharrows, in fact the city’s Hawthorne Plan called for the installation of sharrows on Hawthorne when they were approved by the MUTCD. That happened several years ago now, but still no sharrows.

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    • Bjorn July 1, 2011 at 5:16 pm

      It also doesn’t help that frequently motorists, and sometimes cops are telling people they shouldn’t be riding in the street on Sandy. Someday it will be illegal to scream get on the sidewalk at someone just because they are trying to ride down the street.

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  • rootbeerguy June 30, 2011 at 1:06 pm

    There is no Front Ave anymore. So the ordinance is not good? Anyway I prefer not to ride on sidewalks but sometimes i have no other options.

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  • felix June 30, 2011 at 1:27 pm

    poor guy was just trying to get his wank on at the booths and BAM! ;)

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  • esther c June 30, 2011 at 2:13 pm

    I ride on the sidewalk occasionally when it is not safe to ride on the street. When I do I ride as slow as I can and still stay upright. And with one foot unclipped if I’m on a bike with clips.

    I would think even if you’re not at fault in any collision you’d still be required to give your name and contact information.

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  • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) June 30, 2011 at 2:35 pm

    Alan 1.0

    Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)
    This doesn’t sound like a hit-and-run to me. Did you watch the video? The person on the bike stayed at the scene, but no one asked for his/her contact information.

    ORS 811.705 (1)(c) (“Failure to perform duties of driver to injured persons,” i.e. hit and run) says, “Give to the other driver or surviving passenger or any person not a passenger who is injured as a result of the accident the name and address of the driver…” It doesn’t say anything about being asked; the onus is on the driver (rider in this case) to provide the info. It might have helped if the cops had responded but it’s still up to the rider (vehicle operator) to identify themselves.

    If a car driver had injured a bike rider, stopped while the rider was loaded into an ambulance, and then left without identifying themselves, wouldn’t you call that hit-and-run?

    Alan,

    I noted in the article that the person on the bike had a legal obligation to give his information. I said it’s not a hit and run, because, from my understanding of what happened (which is far from detailed), the person on the bike didn’t “run”. They stayed. To me, that’s a lot different than a “hit-and-run” which tends to mean someone who did something wrong and then tried to flee.

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    • Alan 1.0 June 30, 2011 at 2:51 pm

      Thanks for clarifying. I guess I’m looking at it from a legal angle (811.700 and .705 are what amount to “hit and run” law in ORS), while you’re considering a more common use of the term “hit and run.” In either this real case or a hypothetical but similar car/bike case, I would agree with a judge recognizing the vehicle operator’s initial behavior in mitigating their sentence (and even more so if the operator came forward in the following day or two), but it still feels to me like a double standard when bike folks aren’t willing to hold this rider to the same standards as the driver in the hypothetical case.

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    • Spiffy July 1, 2011 at 9:00 am

      thanks for the ORS… looks like most of that applies…

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  • Bob_M June 30, 2011 at 3:00 pm

    Comment deleted huh? You should have read it before I softened the content.

    I was almost run down in the down town area by a guy riding wheelstands (with skill and speed) on the sidewalk. Unless there is less than a block to get to the destination, bikes should not be on the sidewalks Exceptions to this would be children and I would give a pass to tourists.
    IMHO.

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  • dan June 30, 2011 at 3:06 pm

    Wheelstand=wheelie? Hitting you would probably have been as bad for him as for you. In fact, he might have gotten the worst of it.

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  • Spencer Boomhower June 30, 2011 at 3:22 pm

    This:

    According to KGW, police didn’t respond because there was no clear crime committed (it’s legal to bike on sidewalks in that area).

    Made me think of the recent story from Mississippi:

    http://bikeportland.org/2011/06/23/sadness-in-the-south-mississippi-crash-spurs-anger-activism-55360

    According to the Sun Herald newspaper, DA Allgood says there was no felony because, “the motorist didn’t leave the scene, wasn’t impaired, and didn’t intentionally or negligently hit Morgan.” (Note that witnesses had to surround the driver and reportedly “dragged her” from her car to prevent her from fleeing.) The only state law that applies is Mississippi’s 3-foot passing law, which is a misdemeanor.

    Isn’t hurting other people against the law? Or is it only against the law if you do it with something other than a vehicle?

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    • Alan 1.0 June 30, 2011 at 3:24 pm

      Or does it depend on what kind of vehicle?

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      • Spencer Boomhower June 30, 2011 at 3:32 pm

        I don’t know, but it seems like in both cases the fact that there was a vehicle (in one case a bicycle, in another case a car) being used nullified the fact that one person badly hurt another.

        If I was juggling chainsaws on the sidewalk and through my own negligence let one fall on a passerby, I feel certain that the cops would respond, and the DA would press some fairly serious charges. But present a similar danger – and cause comparable damage – to others by means of a vehicle, and you’re likely to get away with it.

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  • Joe Rowe June 30, 2011 at 4:32 pm

    The perp here broke the law. 811.705. The rule is the same for cars and bikes.

    Even if the old guy had been pushed down by a fast paced marathon runner, the victim is still a victim.

    It’s obvious why people don’t use their real names to post comments. It’s because of all the double standards. I see a lot of cyclists who want certain standards when hit by cars, but not the same standard when a bike is alleged to be the perpetrator.

    The man got knocked down and knocked out. It does not really matter if the perpetrator was walking, on a bike, or in a car.

    We also don’t know all the info here. There are times when the bike has a legal right to share space with others, and there is no blame or liability when someone dies.

    http://blog.seattletimes.nwsource.com/crime/2010/04/21/pedestrian_killed_when_hit_by.html

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  • dwainedibbly June 30, 2011 at 5:04 pm

    If you want the bikes off the sidewalk (on Sandy, anyway), get rid of on-street parking. This incident could have been prevented by a Complete Streets policy.

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    • A.K. June 30, 2011 at 5:18 pm

      I wish people would stop blaming the city for something that was the fault of a rider going too fast for the conditions.

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      • BURR June 30, 2011 at 5:20 pm

        the city has a responsibility to make all public streets within it’s jurisdiction safe for and accessible to cyclists.

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        • Lazy Spinner June 30, 2011 at 9:14 pm

          Citation please? I’m aware of no such legal requirement nor is there a generally agreed upon definition of what safe and accessible for cyclists means.

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        • A.K. July 1, 2011 at 9:35 am

          I still don’t think that’s an excuse, and an individual is still personally accountable for their decisions – in this case, riding their bike on a sidewalk and hitting a pedestrian.

          I get the fact that it’s a dangerous area to ride – but that doesn’t override the good/correct decisions the person riding their bike needs to make for themselves.

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      • Spiffy July 1, 2011 at 9:02 am

        yes, I don’t really see the city at being at fault for anything… it was either a distracted pedestrian or an out of control cyclist…

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    • middle of the road guy July 5, 2011 at 12:35 pm

      It could also have been prevented by the cyclist.

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  • Roger Averbeck June 30, 2011 at 6:21 pm

    A technique to use downtown, or on busy crowded sidewalks like in the Hawthorne biz district: Get off your bike and walk it the short distance to / from the bike rack or side street intersection… Pedestrians have the right of way on sidewalks!

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  • eli bishop June 30, 2011 at 9:53 pm

    booooooooo, for the rider not acting responsibly! if there was an injury, even if you think you didn’t cause, it, you stay and trade information. then you call a lawyer. :)

    also, PLEASE please please put a bike lane on sandy!

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  • MIke July 1, 2011 at 8:10 am

    Could it be that someone on a bicycle did something wrong? Of course some of you will try to find blame somewhere else but the fact is it was stupidity that caused this accident. Face the facts, cyclists can do dumb things!!!!

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    • Spiffy July 1, 2011 at 9:05 am

      could be… one of them did something stupid… problem is that we have more info on the pedestrian than on the cyclist…

      we’ll all berate whoever seems more at fault at the time more info comes in… (:

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  • Ted Buehler July 2, 2011 at 2:12 pm

    spare wheel wrote
    “The risk of being hit from behind by fast moving traffic is in my experience far less than the risk of being hit as you exit the sidewalk at an intersection.”

    Not really.

    You can make sidewalk riding at intersections risk-free by slowing to the speed of pedestrians and being very cautious.

    There’s nothing you can do about getting rear-ended by an inattentive driver who’s going 50 mph on Sandy.

    Even if the “risk” is “low,” it’s not fun getting rear-ended on arterials. Just ask my left hip.

    Ted Buehler

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    • Paul Johnson July 2, 2011 at 4:57 pm

      Risk and consequences are disconnected in much the same way cause and correlation are.

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    • spare_wheel July 4, 2011 at 3:42 pm

      Sorry that you were hit and hope you are recovering well.

      I have been hit in an intersection while proceeding slowly. Nothing can protect you from the inattentiveness of road users.

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  • kevin July 4, 2011 at 1:33 am

    a few weeks ago a truck hit a cyclist on the side of the road. the trucker said he had to choose between a head on colission with a car or hit the bike. someone on this very forum said “why is the choice never to slow down and wait to pass safely?” why the double standard now?

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    • are July 4, 2011 at 3:47 pm

      really? the very same person made both comments? that’s inconsistent, alright.

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      • Kevin July 4, 2011 at 6:59 pm

        I applaud your maturity and contribution to further discussion.

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        • are July 5, 2011 at 4:46 pm

          my point, kevin, is that there are in fact people on this very discussion board saying a cyclist on a sidewalk should slow down.

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  • middle of the road guy July 5, 2011 at 12:39 pm

    It is just amazing to me that over 90% of the comments are focusing on the cyclist and whether or not it is okay to bike and do whatever you want on the sidewalk.

    Some old many is in intensive care, and the focus here is on what rights cyclists have to bike on pedestrian walkways.

    A responsible person would have left their identification. Stop blaming the city and the actual vicitm. Whatever infrastructure issues there may or may not be, you have a responsibility to use the existing ones in a responsible manner. Stop using the “society/Infrastructure made me do it”.

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  • beth h July 5, 2011 at 3:44 pm

    An awful lot of comments here for what ought to be a no-brainer:

    1. The bike rider should’ve stayed and pestered someone official until they took his info. He didn’t. He blew it. Hope he comes forward and does the adult thing but my Inner Cynic sort of doubts that he will. Sad. I’d like for him to prove me wrong.

    2. Sandy Blvd is a pretty awful place to ride a bike. This is what forces many to ride on the sidewalk.

    3. Riding a bike on the sidewalk is never a great idea, but until bicycle infrastructure catches up with demand it’s not clear what else can be done. I’d suggest voting — first with my email (to my elected officials, demanding better and safer bike amenities), and then with my wallet (avoiding businesses on streets that don’t offer safe bike infrastructure — and telling them why). In Portland, this still leaves me plenty of places to spend my money.

    4. In the absence of licensure and insurance laws, bicycle riders (or their parents, as the case may be) are not absolved from personal responsiblity. Further, repeated failure of bicycle riders to exercise their personal responsibility will only serve as ammunition for the license-and-insure-everything set to push through legistlation requiring bicyclists to register and insure their bikes. Is this where we want to go? I don’t.

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    • Tacoma July 5, 2011 at 4:08 pm

      “…and then with my wallet (avoiding businesses on streets that don’t offer safe bike infrastructure — and telling them why).”

      This is an option that I don’t think of often enough but might actually be more effective than one would expect. Following through on this option, however, may require difficult choices, especially if one really prefers these places. Thanks, Beth, for reminding us.

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    • spare_wheel July 5, 2011 at 5:37 pm

      What else can be done:

      \ |_
      \ |_
      \ |_
      \ |_
      \ ^Fearful but safe cyclist
      ^Safe cyclist

      _________
      even safer cyclist: |__bus_|_|
      oo o

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      • spare_wheel July 5, 2011 at 5:38 pm

        darn missing spaces.

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