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TriMet releases on-board video of “hard stop” that avoided bike rider

Posted by on December 6th, 2011 at 12:19 pm

Still from TriMet video that shows
near-collision (upper left).
-Watch video below-

Last Friday night, a TriMet bus operator had to make an extremely abrupt stop in order to avoid hitting someone on a bike. According to eyewitness accounts, the bike rider did not stop at a stop sign.

TriMet just released footage from the on-board camera. Mary Fetsch with TriMet media relations says the footage shows, “how close the bike was to the front of the bus.”

The stop was so abrupt that one passenger suffered injuries. According to TriMet, the passenger was transported to a local hospital. Fetsch says the operator was hired in February 2011 and that their name is being withheld while the incident remains under investigation.

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  • Unit December 6, 2011 at 12:33 pm

    Kudos to the driver for their quick response. Tsk tsk to the careless and selfish cyclist, who should turn themself into police and take reponsibility for the injury they caused.

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    • noah December 6, 2011 at 9:57 pm

      But if he turns himself into police, then he’ll be able to just drop the charges!

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  • q`Tzal December 6, 2011 at 12:51 pm

    Also: kudos to Trimet for releasing the video.

    Trimet: please consider doing the same for all future videos for the sake of public transparency and the reduced cost to taxpayers in long legal battles.

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    • Racer X December 6, 2011 at 1:33 pm

      As has been mentioned in the past on BikePortland…it seems TRIMET has two sets of thresholds in how it releases video records to the public…depending on how it affect’s them.

      I hope this release means that it now has a more open policy…as q’ Tzal mentions.

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      • Spiffy December 6, 2011 at 1:55 pm

        I think they only release the video right away when they know for sure that it’s not their fault…

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      • q`Tzal December 6, 2011 at 2:18 pm

        At a certain point the level of secrecy dictated by legal affairs departments only provides worse public relations then releasing video of a bus driver that was at fault.

        Hypothetically (but very often in reality):
        Yes, a public transit agency has some exposure to liability if a video goes public that shows that the bus driver was at fault.
        What needs to be weighed is the cost of a payout (out of court settlement or judicial decision) versus the cost of stonewalling the public interest before paying out a larger settlement to cover increased injury and suffering of the victim that could not afford to pay for hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of rehabilitative care out of pocket.

        I propose that even in a case that Trimet holds 100% liability that it will be cheaper for the taxpayers, to say nothing of the benefit to the victim, if guilt is determined as quickly as possible so that:
        () the victim can get what they need
        () the transit agency can correct the problem rather than pretending a problem doesn’t exist
        () the public can trust that their tax money is being spent for the benefit of the public and not simply to help pay for lawyers pay for private jets.

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  • chad December 6, 2011 at 12:56 pm

    Is this the best frame rate and resolution that these cameras capture? If there a higher res version of the video in the upper left, the person on the bike might be identifiable.

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  • Chris I December 6, 2011 at 12:58 pm

    I wonder if they need a policy revision about hard braking. It seems that in situations like this, where several people are standing in the bus, it would be better to slowly brake and hit the single law-breaking cyclist instead of injuring the innocent bus riders.

    Of course, if the bus is less full, and no one is standing, hard braking can be used.

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    • Joseph E December 6, 2011 at 1:15 pm

      I agree. In fact, in nearly every situation it is better to limit the maximum rate of acceleration. Unless the bus is about to go over a cliff or run into a train, the bus usually will come out okay in a collision. In the last post, someone wrote that MAX trains can brake at 4 mph per second in an emergency, about twice the normal maximum speed.

      In comparison, this bus looks like it went from 20 mph to 0 mph in just a couple of seconds. Good brakes, but dangerous for the riders.

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    • Eric in Seattle December 6, 2011 at 1:26 pm

      So, when someone pulls out in front of the bus the driver is supposed to count how many passengers before deciding what to do? It’s hard enough to drive a bus. The drivers I’ve encountered in both PDX and here in Seattle all do a fantastic job. I’d really hesitate to second guess them on hitting a bike vs potential injury to riders in a case like this.

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    • Jeff December 6, 2011 at 1:29 pm

      Policy revision? Seriously? This was a split second reaction, using judgement and care. You can’t set policy around those kinds of items because they become a reason to penalize otherwise responsible drivers because they might “violate the policy”. Totally asinine…

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    • Scott December 6, 2011 at 1:36 pm

      That’s like saying if someone throws a rock at your head you need to know what is behind you before ducking so you can assess whether you should dodge the rock or take it to the face for the greater good.

      You should also read up on something called the reflex arc which every thing that is alive has.

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    • Randall S. December 6, 2011 at 1:41 pm

      Did you think through what you just said? No?

      When a bus stops suddenly, it’s possible, or even likely, that someone on the bus will get hurt.

      When a bus hits someone, it is extremely likely it will kill that person, you know, like last year when a bus driver killed two pedestrians.

      The actions of the guy on the bike were reprehensible, but homicide is not an appropriate response.

      Recommended Thumb up 6

      • Paul Johnson December 7, 2011 at 9:48 am

        I’m not sure it would have been homicide, or even vehicular manslaughter, on the part of the bus driver, so much as suicide on the part of the bicyclist.

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  • wsbob December 6, 2011 at 12:59 pm

    Might be awhile before I can see this video. From viewing the video, is anyone feeling able to venture an estimation as to how close the person on the bike was to the bus upon crossing in front of it?

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    • Spencer Boomhower December 6, 2011 at 1:24 pm

      Here’s a screen capture:

      http://screencast.com/t/0LA7O1bF

      The rider looks close, even with the distortion of the wide-angle lens (which tends to make distant-looking things look further away), but the bike on the front rack helps give a sense of perspective. I would guess the rider is 8-12 feet in front of the bus.

      Terrible judgement – if not flat-out obliviousness – on the rider’s part.

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  • Esther December 6, 2011 at 1:16 pm

    I don’t know whether the person on the bike was either careless/reckless/thoughtless/inconsiderate, or simply made a very bad misjudgment about the width of the street or the speed of the oncoming bus and the complicated rate x distance = time formula–or some combination of the two.

    I do know that the crossings at Couch & Flanders are awful because of the high rate of speed on Broadway, the width (4 lanes of car traffic, plus a southbound bike lane) and the lack of signals at those intersections.
    Couch is challenging because traffic waiting to cross Burnside gets backed up, and cars & bikes trying to go down Couch gingerly inch across the intersection, unable to see if there is oncoming traffic on the other side of the road (especially bicycles taking the lane on North bound broadway). Go any day at rush hour to witness it.
    At Flanders here are less traffic jams, but the intersection is dark, and speeds are very fast because people have just come off the bridge (or because they are accelerating having gotten out of the traffic jam farther south).

    Not to recuse the cyclist from fault AT ALL, because his job was to wait to cross till he could ensure it was safe for him and others.
    But I do wish that Broadway would have additional speed reduction and more intersection safety measures put into place though. This is very close to where several people were killed by a Trimet bus last year.

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    • Nom de Plume December 6, 2011 at 1:30 pm

      Supposedly the cyclist didn’t stop at the stop sign, so all of the above.

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    • Scott December 7, 2011 at 9:45 am

      You started with “person” and then went to the gender specific “his” later in your post as other people in this thread are using. Has the gender of the cyclist been determined?

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  • Photo_analyzer December 6, 2011 at 1:17 pm

    Through extensive use of specialized and expensive photo analysis software(ms paint) I have been able to capture the identity of the scofflaw cyclist. I uploaded it to my photobucket. Have a look: http://i135.photobucket.com/albums/q145/oobligooblie/th_scofflaws.jpg

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  • whyat December 6, 2011 at 1:30 pm

    This should definitely end the notion that people on bikes aren’t big enough to hurt anyone, or cause real damage. Buses are huge and weigh a lot. This could have been much worse. Let’s have some courtesy people, and ride safe.

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    • Spiffy December 6, 2011 at 2:02 pm

      people on bikes are big enough to hurt others, but not big enough to hurt a bus…

      people’s reactions to bikes can hurt people…

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    • Barry December 6, 2011 at 2:44 pm

      Of course people on bikes can hurt others, just like people sprinting on foot can hurt others. But it’s a matter of proportion; overall bikes can and do cause vastly less damage than cars.

      In this case a bonehead in a car could have done the same exact thing – and caused the same amount damage – as the bonehead on the bike did. But then car could have caused so much more damage besides; it could have mowed down any pedestrians who might have been caught in the crosswalk, and if there had been a collision with the bus, a car would have done plenty of damage to it (and its passengers) whereas the guy on the bike would have taken almost the full force of the collision, minus enough force to put a crack in the windshield or dent in the fender.

      People on bikes can definitely do damage, but when they do – especially when compared to the damage cars do – it’s the epitome of a “Man Bites Dog” story.

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  • Oliver December 6, 2011 at 2:10 pm

    To me it looks possible that the rider was entering the frame and far side of the intersection at 13 sec when the bus was well back from the near side of the intersection.

    That would indicate that the cyclist was waiting given the amount of distance covered in the 2 secs until 16 and 17 when the bike was directly in front of the bus. If this was the case, the bus was closing at a much faster rate(what was the rate of acceleration of the bus? had it just left a stop? It looks like the bus was stationary at 12 sec) and the cyclist moving much slower than she would have been if she had run the stop sign.

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  • Joseph Rose December 6, 2011 at 2:21 pm

    Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)
    ha ha very funny ;-)
    Recommended 1

    Jonathan, I’ll be calling to get your side of the story.

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    • q`Tzal December 6, 2011 at 3:26 pm

      How does Jonathan Maus have a side in this story?

      He seems to be reporting on it same as you are: an uninvolved 3rd party.

      Perhaps BikePortland.org and thus JM is part of a straw-man argument positing that all “bicycle riding freaks” band together to defend the illegal behavior of any other cyclist?

      The person who ran a stop sign and cause the Trimet driver to panic stop was on a bicycle but could have been just as easily been driving a BMW: should you call Kuni BMW the next time a BMW driver causes an injury or death to ask Kuni BMW what their opinion is?

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      • Lazlo December 6, 2011 at 3:43 pm

        Lighten up, it was a joke.

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      • Perry Hunter December 6, 2011 at 3:44 pm

        Good God man…he’s reacting in fun to a photoshopped image putting Jonathan’s face on the rider’s head.

        Recommended Thumb up 6

      • resopmok December 6, 2011 at 3:51 pm

        see an above thread with a photoshopped photo of the blurry cyclist that has J.M.’s face pasted into it. it was just a joke. this response was accidentally posted in the wrong place.

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    • erik December 7, 2011 at 4:43 pm

      Mr Rose can you reply to the previous reply to your posting… How come this incident gets a write up and the 13 other hard stops did not ??

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  • resopmok December 6, 2011 at 3:59 pm

    And on another note, I’d just like to point out that there are in fact idiots on the road, whether they are behind the wheel of a car or between the two wheels of a bicycle. Their choice mode of transportation is not so much at issue as the fact they should probably not be operating their own vehicle if they can’t pay attention/follow the laws well enough to do so safely.

    People do stupid stuff all the time – someone tries to hit me probably once a day while I ride, whether it’s an errant door opening or someone driving down the wrong side of the road at an excessive rate of speed, directly at me. I’ve learned to pay attention, however, and have managed to avoid any serious injuries over the past ten years. Kudos to the bus driver for paying attention and jeers for the cyclist who was oblivious. As a further point, I think the perception that mostly its idiots who are driving is simply proportional to that vehicle’s popularity on the road. I can almost guarantee that if the tables were turned, there would be a lot more complaints about idiot bicyclists. It’s a lot easier to remember the bad situations that force us to react than to think of the good situations to which we are passive, but they are just as important.

    Recommended Thumb up 1

  • beelnite December 6, 2011 at 4:16 pm

    Last week it was dark, I had my lights on and I was coming up SE Salmon – headed east. I lost track of the streets and rolled right through the stop sign at SE 30th before I realized I was in the middle of a busy street. The Stop sign was somewhat obscured and there was no traffic so I simply missed it and cruised on through.

    I am glad no motor vehicles were approaching. My heart jumped a little when I realized my mistake!

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    • spare_wheel December 6, 2011 at 4:35 pm

      So how do you *feel* about being a reckless selfish cycling scofflaw?

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      • beelnite December 7, 2011 at 7:08 am

        Like I’m a skateboarder…

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        • Scott December 7, 2011 at 9:48 am

          Skate or die.

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          • shirtsoff December 7, 2011 at 6:16 pm

            YES

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  • spare_wheel December 6, 2011 at 4:39 pm

    I wonder whether emotions would have been any where near as strong if the bus had stopped to avoid a “pedestrian” scofflaw.

    I think the anger focused on cyclists has more to do with the fact that they are upsetting an established hierarchy (and look weird) than any real safety problem.

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    • wsbob December 6, 2011 at 6:19 pm

      spare_wheel
      I wonder whether emotions would have been any where near as strong if the bus had stopped to avoid a “pedestrian” scofflaw.
      I think the anger focused on cyclists has more to do with the fact that they are upsetting an established hierarchy (and look weird) than any real safety problem.
      Recommended 1

      “I wonder whether emotions would have been any where near as strong if the bus had stopped to avoid a “pedestrian” scofflaw. …” spare_wheel

      That’s a good question. Was the person in this incident riding the bike as a vehicle, or as a pedestrian astride a bike?

      Pedestrians astride bikes travel at the speed of a person on foot. This is a very important distinction, because the slower speed a person on foot travels often allows for greater opportunity on the part of other road users to see such a person in advance of their crossing in front of road users vehicles.

      People on bikes easily travel, double, triple, …quadruple the speed of people on foot, dramatically cutting down the advance visual recognition and response time available to road users.

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    • k. December 7, 2011 at 8:54 am

      I think you hit the nail on the head. As a minority on the roads, we’re subject to greater scrutiny. I’m not saying that’s right, but it is a fact.

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  • Jonah December 6, 2011 at 4:56 pm

    That looks like a light on a bike to me. Of course, brighter would be better but we have no real standards for how bright lights need to be (And many cyclists simply don’t realize how ineffective their lights are when they have dull lights).

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    • John Lascurettes December 6, 2011 at 5:38 pm

      Actually, there is a standard for how bright the light has to be. It must be visible head on from 500 feet away (there is no standard for how bright it must be from the side and lights vary greatly from one to another).

      ORS 815.280(2)(c)(B)

      The rear of the bike must have a light or retro-reflective device visible from 600 feet away when lit by the low-beams of a motor vehicle in that position.

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  • Joe December 6, 2011 at 7:29 pm

    looks like the person mis-judged the timing of the light or something.

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    • jim December 7, 2011 at 12:51 am

      Or missjudged the shape and color of the stop sign

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  • Mike December 6, 2011 at 8:22 pm

    One question I would have is, how visible is the stop sign at that intersection? This is not to excuse bad/reckless behavior (and I hate that I feel I need to add that disclaimer). However, there are two stop signs on my regular daily route that are completely obscured by trees/shrubs. It’s also possible someone had parked a big truck on the corner making the stop sign less visible.

    Also, does anyone know of a contact to report obscured traffic signals?

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    • Bike Commuter December 6, 2011 at 10:27 pm

      There is a City of Portland app for that. Seriously. I think there is a number to call too.

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  • shirtsoff December 6, 2011 at 8:24 pm

    If these passengers were wearing proper padding (sumo suits?) and adequate restraining devices this could have all been avoided.

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  • Adam December 6, 2011 at 8:46 pm

    Not to justify this cyclists’ lack of care/poor judgement etc., but I do agree with other posters that that stretch of Broadway is an absolute mess to cross on a bike during rush hour. NW Couch has no light. NW Flanders has no light. Traffic is backed up for blocks on Broadway.

    In fact. The whole of the NW quadrant is a mess for biking. Despite being the most walk-friendly quadrant in the entire city, it doesn’t even have a SINGLE bike boulevard. It’s pretty messed up.

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  • James Crawford December 6, 2011 at 11:03 pm

    If this had been a MAX train rather than abuse, the bike rider would be dead. Steel wheels rolling on steel rails are extremely energy effecient,but they have minimal traction. A max train has about ten timesthe stopping distance as rubber tired bus on an asphalt or concrete road. Keep this in mind along with the hideous capital costs the next time they ask you to vote fo light rail.

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    • Chris I December 7, 2011 at 6:25 am

      Ah, yes, but let’s also keep in mind the reduced operating costs and GHG emissions. MAX costs Trimet under $2 per boarding. Bus costs are around $2.50 per boarding.

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      • JAT in Seattle December 7, 2011 at 8:54 am

        For all the (typical) bizarre blame casting response to this post, you have provided a truly interesting fact snippet – thanks.

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  • Steelshwinnster54 December 7, 2011 at 7:49 am

    Having just read an account of this near miss, I came to gain a feeling of how others felt about the “near miss” and account of the passengers on board the bus.
    I would again say to all, LIGHTS, LIGHTS, LIGHTS!. Yes I know they are expensive, but less so than a hospital visit. As stated above, we dont know if the STOP sign is obscured, bus driver was in hurry, bad judgement on part of bicyclist, all the above. Let’s be careful, the life you save may be your own.

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  • Chris I December 7, 2011 at 8:18 am

    Why does it matter if the stop sign was obscured? Would any of you just willy-nilly ride out across a very busy street like Broadway just because you don’t see a stop sign?

    Recommended Thumb up 6

  • J.M. Jones December 7, 2011 at 9:04 am

    My Gosh! What an incredible amount of unrelated chatter about this issue….. Seems as that a person made an illegal move and it resulted in injuries to other persons. I have seen nothing that changes this in any manner. Pedestrian, bike or motor vehicle has little to do with this incident. The story mentions that a person on a BICYCLE caused a difficulty. I believe that if the idiot was in a motor vehicle the published story would have mentioned it. I ride as much as I am able, and I see lots of persons running red lights and stop signs, and more often it is the bicyclists that do this. I see it done safely, yes. I have done it myself (not very often…and not anymore) but the reality is that this practice is against the current “rules of the road.” It SEEMS the person was not illuminated well, not dressed wisely and flagrantly broke the law resulting in injury to others. I would respect bicyclists more for speaking up for, and insisting on, good riding AND driving practices instead of attempting to diffuse the issue or protect those of us who ride/drive like this person. Throughout recorded history, those groups who do not regulate themselves end up getting regulated.
    Just as an aside…how long did it take for the public majority to believe that because you rode a loud motorcycle you did not belong to a “Hells Angels” type of group?
    Sort of like 1% of the 99% is giving us a bad name…..

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  • Paul Johnson December 7, 2011 at 9:43 am

    Good example of why digital systems just suck in situations where clear, smooth footage counts. This is just choppy, grainy garbage compared to what an analog system could have accomplished.

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  • Jim T December 7, 2011 at 9:49 am

    Incidents like this really annoy me. One selfish bicycle rider (I won’t call him/her a cyclist) and the animosity level against all of us rises sharply. More fuel for the anti-bicycle people who would ban bicycles from public roads. One stupid rider makes life more dangerous for everyone else. Shame!

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  • John Landolfe December 7, 2011 at 11:26 am

    It’s a very poor move by some individual. It’s worth noting that similar moves are made countless times a day in Portland by every type of road user, causing sometimes lethal traffic accidents. But of course there’s only one type of road user: the imperfect human. I have no problem calling this person out, but I’d like to see a consistency in our social pressure to be more mindful.

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  • erik December 7, 2011 at 4:41 pm

    Would this have made the news if it was a car??
    13 hard stops ?? This is the first one i’ve heard of.
    You can call out the cyclist “BAD” and still discuss overall safety and stick up for your chosen mode of transportation against naysayers who conflate you with the scofflaw.

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  • Jrdpdx December 7, 2011 at 7:19 pm

    If the president do the United Brotherhod of Bike Riders union receives any more complaints about this cyclist they will go straight into his personnel file and if he gets 54 more complaints for various other reason, then… Well nothing will happen

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  • No Spin December 12, 2011 at 12:01 pm

    Can someone tell me what the length of a city block in old town is? The map from the website above seems to indicate 200ft.

    http://www.openstreetmap.org/?lat=45.52587&lon=-122.67705&zoom=17&layers=M

    If you take the video from frame 14734354 at time of 17:28:21 (just crossing burnside) to frame 14734390 at 17.28.29 (bike in front of bus at Flanders) you have 8 seconds and 800 feet.

    20 mph 30 fps
    30 mph 44 fps
    40 mph 58.66 fps
    50 mph 73.33 fps

    What am I missing? A slower bus doesn’t throw people around so violently. (Contingent Liability).

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    • El Biciclero December 12, 2011 at 3:31 pm

      Comparing google street view with the buildings in the bus video, it looks like the bus is actually crossing Everett at the beginning, not Burnside. That says that it took the bus 8 seconds to travel the 200-ft. block at about 25fps, or about 17mph.

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    • Paul Johnson December 12, 2011 at 6:39 pm

      assuming you meant http://www.openstreetmap.org/?mlat=45.52587&mlon=-122.67705&zoom=17&layers=M (add “m” before lat and long to get a pointer), JOSM’s measurement plugin has the centerline of the 600 block of Flanders from halfway between the car lane centerline and the bus lane centerline on 6th to the 7th avenue centerline at 248 feet.

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