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Rider in Flint/Broadway collision speaks out (and so do I)

Posted by Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) on June 8th, 2012 at 11:00 am

"It took losing a couple of teeth for me to definitively decide to ride a different route."
— Karl Zickrick, victim of the Broadway/Flint intersection

Given the media attention around Wednesday's nasty collision on N Broadway between Flint and Wheeler, I thought it'd be worthwhile to highlight the words of the man whose body shattered the window of the SUV.

Karl Zickrick left a comment late last night just after he returned from the hospital. Below is what Karl says about how the incident happened and about his ongoing safety concerns for that intersection (emphasis mine): (After sharing Karl's comment, I too share some opinions about that intersection and about safety in general.)

"Hi- I am the rider from this crash. I just arrived home from the hospital, and It looks like fortunately will only have scars and a couple missing teeth to show for it (and unfortunately my bike frame is destroyed). As mentioned by a couple people, I ride this route 5 days a week to get to work and have become accustomed to vehicles who do not yield at this intersection. On this particular trip I was indeed traveling in the bike lane and noticed a car beginning to turn in front of me, so as I have had to do many times at this intersection I made the judgement call to swerve around the turning vehicle rather than t-Boning it, only to have him apparently notice me at the last minutes and slam on his brakes (though the last few moments are lost). I can't speak to the evidence as seen by the police, as I only know and trust my intuition when biking around cars, and know that it has saved me from ever previously having a serious accident in the last 13 or so years of biking in cities.

I also agree that this particular intersection is one of the worst I have faced in Portland. The absolute worst was the Broadway/ I-5 on-ramp [at Williams Ave] before they added the bike signal; but this next section of Broadway has really taken the cake since then. Live and learn I suppose, but it took losing a couple of teeth for me to definitively decide to ride a different route downtown in the mornings until this intersection is adjusted.

Thanks to all that offered their sympathies, and thanks to my job for the health coverage."

Thanks to Karl for speaking out about what happened. Planners, politicians, and agency staffers can learn a lot from listening to victims of unsafe streets.

Speaking of learning... I have heard from way too many people over the years who have had to sacrifice — either themselves or someone they loved — in order to force agencies to make basic safety changes to our roads.

Look around Portland. Many of the safety improvements that have been made in the past several years — bike boxes, bike signals, signage, pavement markings — are there only because people either died or were seriously hurt and there was public pressure for the City to act.

Like Karl, I often hear about people who adjust their biking route because they are afraid to bike on certain streets. It's one thing to not ride on major arterials; but this is Broadway. This is an extremely important street in our transportation network and it serves many different types of vehicles. Unfortunately, if your vehicle is a bicycle, you are forced to either deal with several very tricky and dangerous intersections or choose another route.

I rarely hear of someone adjusting their driving route because they fear for their safety.

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Comments
  • Ian June 8, 2012 at 11:13 am

    Hear, hear! Broadway is the most direct route between work and home for me, but I've stopped riding it because Broadway feels dangerous pretty much the whole way, especially during rush hour.

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  • todd boulanger June 8, 2012 at 11:15 am

    Thanks Karl for filling in more of the details. Good to hear you are out of the hospital, healing and still on your bike.

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  • dude June 8, 2012 at 11:21 am

    J
    Have you tried to contact the driver for a statement?

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    • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) June 8, 2012 at 11:29 am

      no I have not. I didn't try to contact Karl either.

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      • dude June 8, 2012 at 12:12 pm

        It would be nice.This feels like I am reading1/2 the story.

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        • grumpcyclist June 8, 2012 at 2:15 pm

          Jonathan has stated in the past that he doesn't feel the need to get the whole story. There's very little likelihood that he'll do so in this case.

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          • Case June 8, 2012 at 2:25 pm

            Hubris grumpcyclist, pure hubris.

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          • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) June 8, 2012 at 2:33 pm

            Jonathan has stated in the past that he doesn't feel the need to get the whole story. There's very little likelihood that he'll do so in this case.

            seriously grumpcyclist?

            If I've said that in the past, I think you are taking it out of context and simplifying my perspective. That's just plain mean and wrong. I have presented many different viewpoints on this blog over the years and for many stories I do try to get the "whole story" as best as I can.

            I do this site by myself and do not have the luxury of spending my day trying to get comments from every side of a news story I do. That being said, I would never present one side of the story if the person was making harsh/mean/unfounded allegations.

            You have no idea the kind of thoughts and decision-making process I go through before posting stories.

            Thanks for the feedback.

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            • grumpcyclist June 8, 2012 at 6:20 pm

              I have yet to see you report on a bike/car collision story where you get the motorist's point of view. I challenge you to once, just once, to hold off on posting news about a bike/car collision until you have interviewed both the cyclist and the motorist in the case. Present both sides and then draw your conclusions. The fact is that the cyclist's point of view in this case IS unfounded because a) he can't remember the moments leading up to the collision and b) he's a biased party. You can run your site however you want, but don't be surprised when some of your readers think you do a pretty poor job of accurately reporting the news.

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              • Unit June 11, 2012 at 11:47 am

                I'm not sure which side of the story is missing. The rider described his actions, which were exactly what commenters here had speculated they were. He basically admitted to guessing the driver's intentions, and in this case guessed wrong. The driver's story, which incidentally WAS conveyed in the initial story, was more-or-less identical to the rider's. So I don't see anything to be gained. Best wishes to Karl for a full recovery.

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              • Kristen June 12, 2012 at 11:03 am

                Funny, I have yet to see a report from the big news channels locally on a bike/car collision where they tried to get anyone's point of view besides the motorist-- usually through the police, sometimes from the motorist themselves.

                I don't believe KGW/KATU/KOIN/Fox/The Oregonian have even tried to get this cyclist's story.

                I think BikePortland does a better job on these kinds of stories than KGW/KATU/KOIN/Fox/etc do.

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                • Kristen June 13, 2012 at 10:52 am

                  Woops, double posted for some reason.

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              • wsbob June 12, 2012 at 12:20 pm

                "...I challenge you to once, just once, to hold off on posting news about a bike/car collision until you have interviewed both the cyclist and the motorist in the case. ..." grumpcyclist

                Holding off on reporting the news about a collision until all parties involved were interviewed wouldn't even be practical; lots of times, like Zickrick in this particular collision, are injured or otherwise in no shape to be interviewed about what they were involved in. Not reporting the news until they were prepared to be interviewed would leave people uninformed.

                As to this particular collision, comments from bikeportland's editor-publisher Jonathan Maus, say that that bikeportland didn't contact either Zickrick or the driver for an interview. Karl Zickrick simply posted a comment to an earlier bikeportland story about the collision, which maus then used as a basis for this story.

                I think it would be great if the person driving the motor vehicle that Karl Zickrick met up with, were to post a comment of his own to bikeportland, personally explaining his version of the story. I'm inclined to believe that bikeportland just might then do an additional story about this collision, bringing in further perspectives about reasons such collisions occur and what might be done to prevent them in future.

                What is the chance the driver might hear about the stories reporting and commenting on the collision, posed here to bikeportland, having him decide to proceed to post his own thoughts surrounding the collision? Probably about zero.

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              • Kristen June 12, 2012 at 1:45 pm

                Funny, I have yet to see a report from the big news channels locally on a bike/car collision where they tried to get anyone's point of view besides the motorist-- usually through the police, sometimes from the motorist themselves.

                I don't believe KGW/KATU/KOIN/Fox/The Oregonian have even tried to get this cyclist's story.

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                • wsbob June 12, 2012 at 11:40 pm

                  Kristen...you reposted part of your earlier comment, the part including your feeling that big news channels haven't tried to get the perspective of cyclists having been involved and injured in collisions. It seems then that you're saying you want the big news channels to follow up with efforts to get the point of view of such people.

                  They should try to do that, and take a break from the National Enquirer type snarky remarks used as a cheap way to pique reader interest. If they were to at least attempt to do so constructively, the opportunity is there to bring to light, common, visible, but not widely enough discussed reasons the overwhelmed street infrastructure isn't able to safely meet demand under current usage applied to it.

                  The Flint and Broadway collision was not simply a case of some guy on a bike having unexpectedly and unsuccessfully entered a game of motorama roulette with a right turning SUV. The Oregonian's slim stories on the collision reflect it didn't seem to consider implications of the collision...if the paper's editor's even thought about what they might be, or even if there were some... to be worth more than brief, simple reporting of certain facts.

                  For so many people...and many working for the news don't seem to be immune to this...the inclination to attribute causes for problems in the street to one or two simple sources, instead of the more likely vast array of sources for the problems...seems to come way too easily. Instead of seriously attempting to divine the actual reasons for problems and arrive at workable solutions to them, many people seem to want to simply point fingers and blame the other person. It might feel good doing that, but that reaction to collisions is never going to arrive at satisfactory solutions for reducing them and making life on the road easier and safer for everyone.

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                • Kristen June 13, 2012 at 10:58 am

                  What I was saying, was that is 96% of the bike/car collision stories as reported on by the local major news networks, they make no effort to get both sides of the story. I have yet to see anything reported by the local news outlets that show both sides.

                  Grumpcyclist's comment indicated that JM should act more like a "real journalist" and get both sides; I was merely pointing out that the local media outlets only get one side, too.

                  Not necessarily that everyone should post follow-ups; I do agree with grump that it would be nice to have both sides of the story in the first place. But I understand that a) in the interest of reporting the story in a timely fashion, that sometimes can't happen and b) this is a bicycle blog, so the side we'll see most often is the cyclist's side.

                  Between the local media and this site, I got both sides.

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        • resopmok June 8, 2012 at 4:38 pm

          Which half of the story are you missing? The part where the city is primarily to blame for creating such a bad hazard for an intersection in the first place?

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    • Pete June 12, 2012 at 10:20 pm

      I spoke with the driver. He said he had turned on his signal 100' feet before the turn (as required by ORS 811.335), slowed down and approached the turn cautiously, checked his right turn mirror to see that no pedestrians or bicyclists were there, and just started to turn when all of a sudden BAM! From out of NOWHERE some dude on a bicycle decided to throw his body through the rear windshield!!

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      • wsbob June 12, 2012 at 11:57 pm

        Pete
        I spoke with the driver. He said he had turned on his signal 100' feet before the turn (as required by ORS 811.335), slowed down and approached the turn cautiously, checked his right turn mirror to see that no pedestrians or bicyclists were there, and just started to turn when all of a sudden BAM! From out of NOWHERE some dude on a bicycle decided to throw his body through the rear windshield!!
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        Seriously? You spoke with the driver involved in the collision with Karl Zickrick, and that's what the driver told you?

        If he's not lying, and a turn signal was displayed well in advance of the intended turn, that's interesting. Something I've yet to read is how far from the intersection it was that the collision occurred.

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        • Pete June 13, 2012 at 12:01 pm

          Sorry Bob, I forgot the tag.

          I've seen no mention of whether a turn signal was used. I live in California now where most drivers consider brake lights acceptable turn signals. I had a police officer lecture me after witnessing me yell at a driver who had right-hooked me without signaling, ignoring the fact that using a turn signal is required by law in every state I've ever lived in (and I had only yelled "ahh" to avoid being hit). In Jonathan's helmet-cam video shown on KGW several drivers are witnessed turning without signaling, yet no mention is made that turning without signaling is against the law.

          I wasn't there, but I'm just gonna go out on a limb and speculate that the driver may not have signaled. It blows me away how many people emphasize here that the cyclist is at fault for hitting the car because he was "following too closely." I suspect if these commenters were involved in a highway pileup - and highway accidents tend to be pileups because NOBODY avoids following too closely at highway speeds (Newton's laws being just too damned inconvenient) - they wouldn't have the fortitude to admit to their insurance claims adjuster that it was their fault.

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          • Pete June 13, 2012 at 12:39 pm

            sarcasm tag, that is.

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          • wsbob June 13, 2012 at 6:12 pm

            That's cool. After I posted, I got to wondering if you were kind of joking sarcastically. Also remembered after posting that the other story has a couple pics that hint where in relation to the intersection the collision occurred...appears to be at the intersection itself, what would be the start of the radius for the turn. According to Oregon law, that would be the correct place to start turning for a right turn across the bike lane...if the turn signals were on and had been for some distance leading up to the intersection.

            Absolutely correct that people on the road are way too frequently neglecting to activate turn signals sufficiently in advance of turns. Traffic on streets like that section of Broadway get wild, with it being not unusual for various people to make erratic, impulsive actions with their vehicles. In his comment, Zickrick didn't mention whether or not the vehicle had turn signals on, as well as some other details that would be important to help figure out what all contributed to the collision having happened. Various scenarios inevitably come to mind, but almost impossible to know whether one or another is correct without the involved parties volunteering what they did or didn't do, or if there were reliable witnesses.

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  • Nathan June 8, 2012 at 11:31 am

    Thanks to Karl for this statement and to Jonathan for the post.

    I think most people who ride often enough in this city go through areas where they feel their safety is compromised. Mine is a stretch on Skyline where, despite there being a 25 mile-per-hour speed limit, I've been buzzed by cars going nearly twice that. Lately, depending on traffic, I've been detouring this half mile.

    A call to action to engage policymakers in conversation without waiting for more people to get injured or worse seems appropriate.

    Does anyone know of good resource for local government contacts to voice issues to? A cursory glance at the BTA website yielded nothing.

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  • Sam Q June 8, 2012 at 11:33 am

    Another reminder to not take at face value what is reported in the main stream media. "Cyclist crashes into back of SUV that had stopped to yield to him" headline be be factual but hardly represents what happened.

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  • Babygorilla June 8, 2012 at 11:44 am

    But it wasn't the street that was necessarily unsafe, it was the person on a bike riding unsafely in an area where heightened care is required (and there are always going to be infrastructure points where heightened care is required - e.g. more care is required at an intersection than in the middle of the block).

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    • 9watts June 8, 2012 at 11:49 am

      Babygorilla:
      "But it wasn't the street that was necessarily unsafe."

      Jonathan:
      "I rarely hear of someone adjusting their driving route because they fear for their safety."

      I'm with Jonathan. I think this is a larger issue than us second-guessing who in yesterday's crash was how much at fault.

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      • DoubleB June 8, 2012 at 11:18 pm

        That has never stopped you from speculating before if the driver was at fault.

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        • spare_wheel June 10, 2012 at 12:17 pm

          defensive driving is not just about avoiding damage to your vehicle its about avoiding damage to human beings.

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    • peejay June 8, 2012 at 12:03 pm

      "...in an area where heightened care is required..."

      That's what happens on unsafe streets. QED.

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      • are June 9, 2012 at 11:12 am

        in a crowded situation you are always going to have to pay attention. that being said, this section of broadway is inherently unsafe for bicyclists and the "improvements" made by PBoT have not made it more safe. i usually enter broadway at flint, which is tricky enough, but would not tend to put me through the back window of someone stopping dead in the middle of traffic. but when i do come down broadway from 24th or 21st or whatever, and they put the bike lane inside the two forced right turn lanes for traffic exiting onto williams or interstate five, and then they try to compensate by putting in a separate signal phase for cyclists, i just skip the whole thing and merge left into the through lanes. and continue to assert the full travel lane all the way down the hill, disregarding the bike lane which continues inside several right hooks including this one. if i am in the travel lane, a motorist will not imagine i am about to pass him on the right, or if he does, i will simply hesitate behind him until he makes his move. only when he has committed to the turn will i come around on his left. but that is just me. as a practical matter, yes, this configuration is dangerous because it requires everyone to pay very close attention to what everyone else is doing. and when you have a setup like that, anyone not inside a box is vulnerable.

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        • oskarbaanks June 9, 2012 at 6:24 pm

          i just now read your tactic's for travel along this corridor. Your approach is logical and more than likely keeps you much safer, IMO.

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    • dachines June 8, 2012 at 12:45 pm

      "Riding unsafely"...I think that it is rather presumptuous, Babygorilla. Even with Karl's account there are still other variables and factors to consider.

      From what Karl has said I would say that he was riding with heightened care and attention. He clearly states that he was well aware that traffic frequently fails to yield in this location and his decision to leave the bike lane to avoid a right hook scenario further indicates his awareness.

      I fully applaud Karl's decision to leave the bike lane and enter the traffic lane behind the vehicle that was going to make the right turn in front of him. Given the situation as described by Karl, Karl's decision was one that is typically wise. I would also suggest that Karl's decision was also the "polite" one. Karl opted to not only avoid a right hook scenario, but he also opted to "share the road" with the vehicle turning right, allowing that vehicle to make its intended right hand turn. This is also "polite" because is usually allows any other traffic that might be following to continue more or less without disruption. More times than not, exponentially I would argue, Karl's decision would not only have been the right one, but quite possibly one of the safest ones. Karl's maneuver was one that people on bikes make every day and one that allows collisions to be avoided, traffic to continue flowing more regularly, keeps tensions low, and know one ever hears about because it is drama free. However, it was a very unfortunate turn of events that resulted in the ensuing collision in this case.

      All people are prone to error, regardless of their mode of transportation, and by the sounds of it, errors were made by two people in this incident. I highly suspect that neither would deny that. What is illustrated by the collision is that despite two people being aware of each other and taking actions to avoid each other, a collision still occurred! The 800 pound gorilla in this case is that the intersection is a dangerous one where bad things can, do, and will happen even when everyone is doing their best to proceed carefully.

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      • DoubleB June 8, 2012 at 11:24 pm

        What was the driver's error? Not anticipating a speeding cyclist would illegally take the lane?

        Speed by drivers is CONSTANTLY mentioned in this space, yet I never read anything regarding cyclist's speed, particularly when it comes to being able to stop quick enough to avoid an accident.

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        • Chris I June 9, 2012 at 4:44 am

          It's not illegal to take the lane when there is a hazard in the bike lane.

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          • DoubleB June 9, 2012 at 10:22 am

            What was the hazard in the bike lane? The vehicle may have been hugging it but was not most definitely not in it.

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            • are June 9, 2012 at 3:42 pm

              the hazard does not have to be in the bike lane. the hazard has to be such that staying in the bike lane is unsafe.

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              • DoubleB June 9, 2012 at 5:33 pm

                Such as? Give me an example of a hazard like that.

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                • GlowBoy June 9, 2012 at 8:17 pm

                  Such as a 5000+ pound SUV about to enter the bike lane.

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                • El Biciclero June 11, 2012 at 8:51 am

                  "Such as a 5000+ pound SUV about to enter the bike lane."
                  ...from either side. Cross traffic entering the roadway by first creeping across the bike lane is a common occurrence.

                  --Or a 200 lb. pedestrian
                  --Or another person on a bike whipping around the corner from your right without stopping

                  --etc.

                  Anything whose trajectory you can plot across the bike lane within 2 seconds.

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                • are June 12, 2012 at 1:24 pm

                  such as, i will simply not use a bike lane that is sandwiched between a parking lane and a ten foot travel lane, because i am routinely presented the hazard of an overtaking motorist passing too close on the left.

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            • wsbob June 9, 2012 at 4:03 pm

              Assuming actions exclusively on the part of the driver of the SUV truly left Zickrick, in order to avoid colliding with the SUV....with no other option than to veer abruptly from the bike lane into the nearby main travel lane occupied also by the driver's SUV, I don't see that Zickrick's taking the main lane would have been illegal.

              Description of the incident though, does kind of raise questions about whether the actions of the driver truly did leave the rider of the bike with only that one option, instead of for example...possibly maintaining a greater closing distance between himself and the driver, and applying the brakes instead of veering from bike lane to main lane at such time as he believed a sudden lane change on the part of the driver was about to happen.

              I'm not questioning whether the collision avoidance strategy Zickrick hoped would once again work for him as it had in past, was right or wrong, but simply whether to avoid the collision, that strategy was truly his only option in the seconds leading up to the collision.

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              • El Biciclero June 11, 2012 at 9:14 am

                here is my description of the four options that are usually available. It is not a question of whether you have only one, it is a question of which option do you believe, at the precise moment you are choosing one, will do you the least harm.

                The critical deciding factor for me, had I been riding Karl's bike instead of Karl, would have been how much time I had to deduce the driver's intentions. Had the driver just overtaken me and showed an intention to turn, giving the appearance they weren't going to stop? In that case, I would have likely done just what Karl did, or else try an emergency right turn, depending on space availability.

                Had I been slowly gaining on the SUV in the moments just prior, rather than the other way around? In that case I probably would have slowed and maintained a suspicious distance, or else taken the lane earlier on.

                Do I know how to bunny hop? (just kidding on that one...)

                This situation still just sound like one in which, without being able to read the driver's mind, the outcome was the same as a coin toss. Karl called heads, it came up tails.

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          • wsbob June 9, 2012 at 11:22 am

            Speed of the cyclist is what DoubleB seems to have pointedly alluded to:

            "...Speed by drivers is CONSTANTLY mentioned in this space, yet I never read anything regarding cyclist's speed, particularly when it comes to being able to stop quick enough to avoid an accident. ..." DoubleB

            Towards understanding factors contributing to this collision, the speed of the person on the bike relative to that of the person driving that he sought to veer away from, and the overall speed of both are important points to consider, in addition to other things such as what the distance was between the two road users in the...I'll say...10-15 seconds before the collision.

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        • kgb June 9, 2012 at 7:59 am

          Most likely failure to properly signal a turn or lane change. Now please state the law that leads you to believe he was illegally taking the lane.

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  • Steve B June 8, 2012 at 12:22 pm

    The Eastside Streetcar project was supposed to help fix a lot of these intersection problems but unfortunately many of those improvements were left out of the final plan.

    Now PBOT says they need to expand I-5 in order to do any fixes for bikes/peds & cars safety in this neighborhood.

    Where are our priorities?

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  • Jake June 8, 2012 at 12:23 pm

    An ignorance to signal should not have such consequences. Assume every car in front of you is going to turn right without notice and prepare accordingly.
    What about the space buffer that every traveler needs to for their own comfort and safety?
    Would this have happened if Karl was in the lane?

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    • spare_wheel June 8, 2012 at 12:51 pm

      >It's one thing to not ride on major thoroughfares like 82nd or Division or Hawthorne; but this is Broadway. This is an extremely important street in our transportation network and it serves many different types of vehicles.

      Did you really have to throw in that line about Hawthorne and Division, Jonathan. There are many cyclists who bike on Hawthorne and Division and some of them have also been injured or worse. Moreover, the comparison to 82nd is simply inaccurate. Hawthorne-Madison, like Broadway is a major facility that connects to a heavily used bridge. It should have better cycling facilities --just like Broadway.

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      • spare_wheel June 8, 2012 at 12:52 pm

        obviously this should not have been a reply.

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      • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) June 8, 2012 at 12:57 pm

        hey spare_wheel,

        perhaps that's not the best analogy... but my point is simply that broadway is not a major arterial where only crazy people ride... unlike some roads that are considered pretty much off-limits to all but the most fearless riders.

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  • K'Tesh June 8, 2012 at 12:25 pm

    I hope that Karl's experience will not fall on deaf ears.

    Heal Quickly Karl.

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  • davemess June 8, 2012 at 12:33 pm

    I'm curious about the circumstances. Did this drive just pass Karl and throw on a blinker (which would indicate to me, like him, that the car was going to make the turn) or had the car been stuck in traffic and ahead of Karl the whole time? And how long did it have a signal on?

    I feel for him, in most on road situations you're usually planning for the worst case scenario. It can mess you up when people actually operate their cars correctly (and really mess you up when they are overly unagressive, like waving your through a stop sign when it's their turn, but that's another argument).

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    • Amynishiki June 8, 2012 at 12:42 pm

      While I can't comment on this specific incident, I'll say that my biggest pet peeve about Portland drivers is that they turn on their blinkers at the very last minute.

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      • BURR June 8, 2012 at 3:44 pm

        If at all

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      • El Biciclero June 8, 2012 at 3:45 pm

        Boy howdy! Beaverton drivers are no better. "Hey everybody, guess what I just did!"

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      • lyle June 8, 2012 at 6:57 pm

        Hey-- In fairness, it's really hard to check your facebook notifications and signal at the same time. And, given the amount of people I see on their cellphones lately when driving, this would be a very likely cause for a signal being used improperly.

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  • Alexis June 8, 2012 at 12:39 pm

    Nicely put, Jonathan.
    Nearly every time I ride, I encounter at least one spot where if the city was taking bike safety and convenience seriously, there is no way they would leave the road set up the way it is. This morning it was the Naito bike lane transition near the Morrison bridge, and later 28th Ave at Sandy, where someone honked and buzzed me in the 80 or so ft before te bike lane starts.

    I'm kind of tired of PBOT pretending they take bike safety seriously while continually ceding to auto convenience.

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    • 9watts June 8, 2012 at 12:52 pm

      "I'm kind of tired of PBOT pretending they take bike safety seriously while continually ceding to auto convenience."

      This is I think also a bit of a subtle thing, even though at times it may also strike (some of) us as a glaring affront. Subtle because the manner in which PBOT could signal the 'we take bike safety very seriously' attitude is made up of dozens, hundreds? of actions/inactions, decisions (pro/con), etc.

      What Alexis may be getting at and what I often feel is that opportunities to demonstratively rectify something that blatantly endangers people who bike keep getting missed (E Burnside crossings mentioned here a few months back, signage for I-5 bridge bike paths) or bungled (Williams, new eastside streetcar tracks, various bollard installations, Broadway bridge pole in bike lane). Even if the funding or the timing is not such that PBOT (or ODOT) can act right then, it seems to me that it would be wise (from a PR perspective at a minimum) to communicate clearly how and when the change identified will occur and explain the delay.

      It is really a compound feeling that 'if X involved people in cars it would have gotten fixed years ago/never been allowed in the first place.' I have been a reader of bikeportland too long to concede that this is just some bikers whining about their pet concerns. Thanks to Jonathan's tireless efforts and everyone's participation here it is clear to me that this is far too systematic a problem.

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  • Sunny June 8, 2012 at 1:04 pm

    Sadly, had Karl maintained his lane and been right-hooked, it would be clear that the driver was completely at fault. Evasive lane switching is not considered a defense such as when drivers avoid squirrels and instead run over cyclists.

    So what do you do if you're right hooked? Try to spread the collision forces over a wider area of impact by going up and over instead of bluntly ramming the car with just your head. This is best done by standing, and after your front wheel hits, slamming your entire body over the side and top of the car(hopefully it's a car and not a giant delivery truck, in which case you're screwed).

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    • was carless June 8, 2012 at 2:37 pm

      Hmm, I normally use my brakes liberally when riding near right-hookable situations. Even one time "over the hood" can put you in the hospital and off of your bike for the rest of your life...

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      • Paul June 8, 2012 at 4:30 pm

        Funny (not really) story. When I was 15, I was left hooked by a moron who had his right turn signal on and moved over into the bike lane. He suddenly pulled a U-ey as I took the lane to pass him on the left.

        As I flew through the air and landed on the pavement beyond the car, it occurred to me that I was going to be hurt.

        Luckily, I was able to ride away that day with some minor injuries and a slightly bent Huffy wheel. The best thing I took from that incident is to just slow down and let the fool behind the wheel finish their move before I commit to anything. This sensibility works whn I am in the driver's seat, too.

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        • Paul June 8, 2012 at 4:32 pm

          And BTW, in the almost 30 years since, I have not been in any major collisions.

          Ride fast by the Columbia River. Ride smart in traffic.

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      • wsbob June 8, 2012 at 7:00 pm

        I think you and Jeremy Cohen may be the only people that have mentioned having using brakes in situations somewhat similar to this one. Karl Zickrick doesn't seem to have mentioned using or reaching for the brakes upon realizing the person driving ahead was apparently about to make an abrupt change in direction of travel.

        People reading this story and other people's comments to it might be interested in his thoughts about whether he might have been able to use his brakes, or at least the rear brake alone...which would have slowed him some while still allowing the bike to be steered...instead of attempting to veer around the vehicle.

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    • lyle June 8, 2012 at 7:07 pm

      Are you serious? The last thing you want to do is intentionally put yourself in a position to get right-hooked when it as all avoidable. You're not only risking getting hit by the front of the car and going under the wheels if they're enough behind you, but if you hit them in the midsection you can either go under the car still, or can hit it flat on the side at full speed with no deflection... or both.

      I get what you're saying about preparing for an impact and trying to be smart about it, if there's absolutely no way out, but yeah... right-hooks are to be avoided at all costs.

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  • CPAC June 8, 2012 at 1:38 pm

    I commute by bike everyday and the most dangerous transition I make is Southbound on Naito where you have to merge across two lanes to turn left across another two lanes to go on a stretch of sidewalk in order to join the MUP in waterfront park. This seems a very poorly thought-out transition (though surprisingly, the current construction that eliminates the end of the bike lane and keeps Naito at one lane of auto traffic for a bit longer makes this transition much easier).

    But the real reason I'm posting is this: I'm glad that Karl is alright and that a worse collision was avoided. But generally (whether driving or cycling) aren't we all obligated to be able to stop safely before hitting people in front of us? Had I been in Karl's situation, I would like to believe that my initial reaction to the potential right hook would be to put on the brakes and slow down (even if following that with a merge into the traffic lane).

    Whether by car or bike, it seems all our worst decisions are made when we prioritize going just a bit faster (rolling through a stop sign, wanting to keep up our momentum, etc.) above safety. The thing is, keeping that extra momentum (whether in a car or a bike) adds only microscopic amounts of time to our trips. I'd urge everybody, regardless of your mode of travel, to just s l o w d o w n.

    (And no, I'm not perfect at following this advice myself. But I still think it's the right advice.)

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    • El Biciclero June 8, 2012 at 3:50 pm

      "...aren't we all obligated to be able to stop safely before hitting people in front of us?"

      Only if the people in front of us have been there long enough to allow some time to do so. From Karl's description--and my daily experience--this appears to have been a sudden change that Karl reacted to instinctively, rather than a case of "following too close".

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  • Zach June 8, 2012 at 2:56 pm

    More discussion on the right hook best practices: A good way to stay in the bike lane yet still prevent a collision is by being ready to stay on the inside of the vehicle making the right turn for the duration of the turn. Meaning staying to the right of the vehicle the whole time, like a sidecar.

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  • John I. June 8, 2012 at 2:59 pm

    Question. When passing through an intersection in a bike lane is it improper to pass vehicles already using the intersection in the regular lanes? Or are the lanes intended to operate as two independent lanes? Should the driver yield to a cyclist who isn't yet in the lane?

    I believe drives need to yield to the cyclists. However if so It seems like flawed thinking. We are to follow the same rules as a motorist, but as a motorist you wouldn't drive (to the right) of a car while its turning right from the left lane. Clearly that would be dangerous but as a cyclist we are expected deal with this daily.

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    • El Biciclero June 8, 2012 at 5:16 pm

      It is the blessing and the curse of Oregon's bike lane laws that drivers are not allowed to drive in them. Drivers may only cross a bike lane when making a turn, after yielding to all riders in the lane. I suspect this was a concession made at the time the "mandatory use" law was written and passed: "if we are going to try to force all cyclists to keep to the bike lane, I guess we could prohibit driving in it."

      This is one of the "special" laws governing bicycle use in Oregon, and it does lead to misunderstandings at intersections. Outside of intersections, it is easy to think of the bike lane as a kind of HOV lane that keeps bikes out of the way of cars, and vice versa. Legally speaking, a cyclist should not have to change their rate of travel to make way for a right-turning motorist, because the motorist is bound by law to yield before crossing the bike lane. In practice, however, there are many drivers who either don't know this law, don't like it, or can't judge relative speeds well enough to follow it correctly. That means riders like Karl end up in situations like the one being discussed here. Rider in the bike lane should be able to continue in the bike lane, but sees a driver about to do what countless other drivers have done, and so takes preemptive evasive action, only to find out the driver had a sudden change of heart (or a sudden awareness) and is now doing what they should have been indicating they would do--and big bummer.

      If Karl had merged into the traffic lane far earlier, so that the driver did not perceive that there were any bike lane users, there would have been no need to yield. It is not appropriate to stop before making a right turn if there is a cyclist directly behind you and expect that cyclist to swerve around on your right.

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      • DoubleB June 8, 2012 at 11:30 pm

        As a driver, I just take the lane.

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        • El Biciclero June 9, 2012 at 1:34 pm

          Which lane?

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          • DoubleB June 9, 2012 at 5:35 pm

            The bike lane. Illegal or not, it's just safer for all involved.

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            • wsbob June 9, 2012 at 7:09 pm

              DoubleB
              As a driver, I just take the lane.
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              El Biciclero
              Which lane?
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              DoubleB
              The bike lane. Illegal or not, it's just safer for all involved.
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              Some people consider motor vehicles allowed to travel in the bike lane in preparation for right hand turns as is done in California...to be safer for people traveling by bike, by somehow reducing circumstances that contribute to 'right hand hooks'. Since this still involves motor vehicle traffic entering bike lanes, though in theory, at a further distance from the intended turn, the potential for right hooks is still present. If there's a clear explanation of how the 'motor vehicle travel in bike lane right turn procedure' is safer for people traveling by bike than it is to prohibit motor vehicle travel in the bike lane for that purpose, someone ought to post it here.

              A simpler, more straightforward, more economical remedy to right hooks would be for road users of all vehicle travel modes to make greater efforts become better acquainted with how their laws require them to proceed with regards to right turns where bike lanes are present. Learning to activate or display turn signals starting at the required distance in advance of turns would be a great place to start.

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              • Opus the Poet June 9, 2012 at 8:37 pm

                Merging into the bike lane is safer because the driver isn't trying to do 2 things at the same time, and the merge is at speed instead of throwing a barrier across the bike lane like a right hook does..

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                • DoubleB June 9, 2012 at 10:43 pm

                  Exactly. Merging into the bike lane to prepare for a turn is like changing lanes. Drivers literally do it all the time. But if I'm about to turn (not right on red which poses even more difficulties), I've slowed down if not completely stopped and I'm mainly looking for pedestrians in the walkway. Now to add to that is a cyclist in the bike lane that may be travelling as fast as the speed of regular traffic. It's dangerous. It's the rough equivalent of making a right turn in a car from a left lane.

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                • wsbob June 10, 2012 at 12:10 am

                  I appreciate your thoughtful replies, both of you, Opus and DoubleB, but I don't think examples of circumstances you've suggested offer a convincing case that the 'motor vehicle travel in bike lane right turn procedure' can be any safer than Oregon's right turn across the bike lane at the intersection.

                  In terms of hazard posed by each action, there's not a lot of difference between a right merge into the bike lane in preparation for an eventual right turn at an upcoming intersection, and a right turn across the bike lane at the intersection. In the latter, some instances would exist where the main lane traveler might alternately have to be on the watch for both cross-street traffic and traffic in the bike lane, but I'm not sure at the moment how frequent those circumstances would be. I suppose at red lights and stop signs.

                  "...Merging into the bike lane to prepare for a turn is like changing lanes. Drivers literally do it all the time. But if I'm about to turn (not right on red which poses even more difficulties), I've slowed down if not completely stopped and I'm mainly looking for pedestrians in the walkway. Now to add to that is a cyclist in the bike lane that may be travelling as fast as the speed of regular traffic. It's dangerous. It's the rough equivalent of making a right turn in a car from a left lane." DoubleB

                  In the above excerpt, it seems you're referring to a right turn being prepared to be made by someone in a main travel lane, across the bike lane at an intersection. If a road user in that situation has as you've describe it...slowed down if not completely stopped in preparation for a right turn, according to required procedure, intention to turn would be indicated by either turn signals; lights or hand version.

                  Bike traffic, approaching from behind the main lane road user would see both the main lane road user having stopped, and that a turn signal was displayed...and should accordingly slow to allow the vehicle ahead of them preparing to turn, to complete its turn before proceeding either through the intersection or to the stop line, depending upon status of the traffic control devices...stop sign/stop light...at the intersection, if there are any.

                  Bike traffic in the bike lane, seeing ahead, a slowed down, right turn signal indicating road user in the main lane should not be traveling at speed in the bike lane; it should itself slow down to prepare for what the main lane right turn signal indicating road user user may or may not do.

                  Does that sound complicated and susceptible to road user error? Sure...emphasizing the importance of increased efforts to have road users of all modes of travel become more knowledgeable and skilled in traveling amidst traffic.

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                • DoubleB June 10, 2012 at 1:19 am

                  Do you drive? I don't mean to be an ass, but this is just flat wrong as any experienced driver can tell you:

                  "In terms of hazard posed by each action, there's not a lot of difference between a right merge into the bike lane in preparation for an eventual right turn at an upcoming intersection, and a right turn across the bike lane at the intersection."

                  The cyclist continuing straight, just like a pedestrian, has the right of way whether I have a turn signal on or not. By law, I'm supposed to look out for them at an intersection while preparing to turn. So I have to look at pedestrians crossing the street from both ways and then another layer of traffic travelling at a different speed (from both cars and people) behind me.

                  You'd never have a car take a right turn from the 2nd to right lane (unless both lanes are turning right), so why would you ask a car to cross a lane of bike traffic continuing straight.

                  Your entire argument seems based on cyclists slowing for turn signals. In my experience that certainly isn't the case. And by law, they don't have to anyway.

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                • wsbob June 10, 2012 at 11:08 am

                  "... cyclists slowing for turn signals. In my experience that certainly isn't the case. And by law, they don't have to anyway. DoubleB

                  Some people traveling by bike do slow for turn signals displayed by main lane road users prepared to make right turns across the bike lane at the intersection as prescribed by Oregon's law. This should become standard practice for handling this situation.

                  Someone riding in the bike lane, slowing and allowing a main lane lane user ahead of them that has displayed turn signals and is preparing to make a right turn across the bike lane at the intersection... to complete the turn before proceeding through the intersection themselves is...I'll say it slightly differently...similar in some ways to allowing a road user to make a lane change once their signal has been displayed; as on multiple lane highways.

                  It's true though that it's not uncommon for people on bikes riding in the bike lanes to not slow down and wait for a main lane road user ahead of them, turn signal displayed...to make the turn. I think there's a number of reasons for this. Part of what creates this situation is that the concept of bike lanes relative to conventional lanes of the road sharing the same road space is still fairly new and evolving. All road users share a certain confusion over how to handle situation like this one, because there is no recommended, formal standardized procedure for it.

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                • El Biciclero June 11, 2012 at 1:55 pm

                  "All road users share a certain confusion over how to handle situation like this one, because there is no recommended, formal standardized procedure for it."

                  How about this (from ORS 811.050):

                  "A person commits the offense of failure of a motor vehicle operator to yield to a rider on a bicycle lane if the person is operating a motor vehicle and the person does not yield the right of way to a person operating a bicycle...upon a bicycle lane."

                  To me, this outlines a pretty clear, formal, standard procedure: when you get ready to enter or cross another lane of travel, you must yield to whoever is already there. What is lacking is knowledge of the formal, standardized procedure, or else comprehension or willingness to comply with the formal, standardized procedure. In this particular case, it appears to me that the motor vehicle operator only perceived the need to follow the formal, standardized procedure after the rider upon the bicycle lane had perceived an immediate need to violate the procedure. So we have an ironic twist wherein the cyclist was lured into doing the "wrong" thing just before the driver decided to to the "right" thing.

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                • wsbob June 11, 2012 at 3:11 pm

                  El Biciclero at June 11, 2012 at 1:55 pm

                  You suggestion doesn't address the problem DoubleB raised about people riding in the bike lane at speed past people driving in the main lane that are waiting at the intersection for bike lane traffic to clear before crossing the bike lane for right turns.

                  Passing at speed, slowed or stopped vehicles waiting to cross the bike lane is one of the hazards DoubleB feels is a problem associated with the bike lane use law Oregon uses, compared to that used by California. I think it's right that people driving motor vehicles should wait for bike traffic to clear before crossing the bike lane for turns as specified in ORS 811.050, but I also feel it's right that people on bikes using bike lanes, by slowing down as needed, should in some situations help people driving motor vehicles to make turns across bike lanes.

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                • El Biciclero June 11, 2012 at 5:37 pm

                  "You suggestion doesn't address the problem DoubleB raised about people riding in the bike lane at speed past people driving in the main lane that are waiting at the intersection for bike lane traffic to clear before crossing the bike lane for right turns."

                  I didn't think I was making a suggestion; I pointed out the clear, formal, standardized procedure from the applicable law for how motor vehicles and bicycles in bike lanes are to interact at intersections in Oregon. You mention the prescribed procedure again right in your statement: "people driving in the main lane...waiting at the intersection for bike lane traffic to clear before crossing the bike lane for right turns."

                  That's it. Drivers must wait for bike lane traffic to clear, just as they would wait for crosswalk traffic to clear, just as they would wait for auto traffic to clear, just as they would wait for train traffic to clear, for crying out loud, before entering a space in which any such other traffic has the right-of-way. Anything else cyclists might choose to do is either "being nice" or "saving one's own skin", it has nothing to do with the prescribed, standard (at least in Oregon) procedure.

                  Here's an example: have you ever seen someone turn left from a driveway into the center refuge lane and wait to merge into the main travel lane? They sit and wait, maybe with a blinker on, for the through lane to clear so they can merge back into it. Do drivers in the through lane slow and stop to let such re-mergers back in? They might, but is that what the law says? No. And anybody waiting to merge into the through lane is darn well going to wait and yield, because they are under threat of actual physical harm if they don't. Turns out a lot of drivers are much less careful when the threat of physical harm is to someone else, which is why confusion has arisen around bike/car interactions. Drivers don't give a crap half the time, and cyclists have developed strategies for compensating for/kowtowing to driver indifference/ignorance.

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                • wsbob June 11, 2012 at 11:25 pm

                  Whether you're suggesting or simply pointing out existing law, I think the fact remains that people traveling in the bike lane at speed past people in the main travel lane having slowed or stopped in preparation for a right turn across the bike lane is a potentially hazardous situation which many experienced people traveling by bike in the bike lane have learned to counter by slowing and allowing main lane traffic (talking about one car here, not three or five or whatever...taking turns.) to cross the bike lane before themselves proceeding through the intersection.

                  But you're certainly correct that by the letter of the law, people traveling in the bike lane don't have to wait for people in the main travel lanes to make their right turns across the bike lane before proceeding; if they so choose, they can speed right on by in the relatively narrow space that bike lanes tend to be. It's not what I'd advise people to do, but maybe some other people would advise them to do so.

                  "...Drivers don't give a crap half the time, and cyclists have developed strategies for compensating for/kowtowing to driver indifference/ignorance ... ." El Biciclero

                  In saying things like this, I don't see that you're giving credit to the vast majority of people on the road that are driving with extreme regard for vulnerable road users traveling by bike and foot. Without maybe having thought about it, when you casually throw around terms like 'drivers' it sounds like you haven't considered that it includes people's moms and dads, aunts and uncles...people that care very much about not hurting anyone traveling the road.

                  With rising populations' demands on them, roads and streets get increasingly complex and difficult to travel safely. Everyone needs to help each other in getting through what can sometimes be a big mess. l hope you'll keep working on directing more of your energy into presenting realistic, viable ideas that can help make roads easier and safer for everyone to travel by all necessary modes of travel.

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                • El Biciclero June 12, 2012 at 9:38 am

                  "when you casually throw around terms like 'drivers' it sounds like you haven't considered that it includes people's moms and dads, aunts and uncles...people that care very much about not hurting anyone traveling the road."

                  Sorry for that--I usually include a qualifier such as "many" or "some" when referring to bad drivers, but sometimes I type too fast and leave that important part out. I do realize that many--even most--drivers do care about how to proceed safely along the road without harming anyone. My blanket statement suggesting all drivers don't care was over the top and I know it's not true.

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  • DavidM June 8, 2012 at 3:11 pm

    Looking for fault in this situation, turn signs, no turn signal, etc, is pointless. The simple truth is that this is a dangerous area, designed for cars and motorized vehicles with very little consideration given to anyone else's safety. No human being, traveling via bike or car, is perfect, and having dangerous areas with high volumes of different modes of traffic is a recipe for disaster. I have been in this same situation so many times, luckily avoiding collision, that I can only feel that it is time for not only do many of these dangerous areas be considered with real seriousness, minus politicalization, from transportation officials, but lawmakers need to start making the laws clear, concise, logical and enforceable. For instance, if a motor vehicle in the left lane turns on its signal and then crosses the path of a car in the right hand lane and a collision occurs, no one questions the fault of the accident, yet if the same thing happens crossing a bike lane, then the fault somehow is questionable. Does that makes sense? No. The laws need to clarify these encounters and road design needs to reflect the realities of how these vehicles interact. Oregon laws feel so much more like loose guidelines right now when it comes to bicycles. On top of that, there needs to be higher levels of education for drivers on how to deal with bicyclists. Being a transplant to Oregon, I was flabbergasted that there were questions on how to operate a vehicle around a horse drawn carriage on the driving test, but not a single question about operating a motor vehicle around bicycles. (yes I know the questions are random, but some things should be a mandatory part of the tests) Drivers who cause collisions with those on bikes or pedestrians, should face mandatory education programs or something along those lines. Does this mean that as people who travel by bike, we will have to accept some stricter rules of the road? Yes, naturally. I think it is a good tradeoff for fewer casualties and deaths. Nobody out there is intentionally trying to cause collisions, that is a simple fact, but road design, legislation, and education are not keeping up with the growing needs of this community.

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  • Joe in Wilsonville June 8, 2012 at 3:12 pm

    GET WELL! we are really lucky to have ppl that try and make change here
    sometimes regardless of the outcome, never give up!

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  • Fred Lifton June 8, 2012 at 3:34 pm

    Looking for a silver lining here... I have done the exact maneuver Karl describes many times in order to avoid right-hook situations. As several commenters pointed out, it's a common and rational practice if you've spent any time at all cycling in city traffic. But recently, especially in the Williams/Vancouver/Broadway corridor, I've noticed many more drivers are learning to actually look for bikes to their right. As Karl learned, the hard way, this makes the old, "take the lane and go around" move more dangerous and it confuses the driver who is attempting to yield for you. To me, while I don't have a solution, it does somewhat hopefully suggest that Portland drivers are becoming more conscious of bikes, at least on busy bike-ways.

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    • daisy June 8, 2012 at 4:09 pm

      Fred, I think you're right that some folks are really good about looking out for cyclists. I also am always stressed when I'm driving and there's a bike lane on my right and I'm turning right. I look and check and look and check, but the whole set-up is just so wrong. Preaching to the choir, I know.

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    • are June 9, 2012 at 3:51 pm

      take the lane and go around is not dangerous unless you were in the bike lane to begin with, which does give a confused message. the bike lane here is simply not a safe place to be, at all, period. don't be in it, and the motorist will not think you are passing on the right. on the other hand, there are ten other people on bikes who are using the bike lane, and the motorist may be stopping for them, so be ready to stop behind the motorist. either PBoT should put in a diverter preventing right turns onto wheeler or the striped bike lane should be removed and replaced with sharrows.

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  • Ed June 8, 2012 at 3:56 pm

    Everyone's the smartest guy on the street in regard to riding safely and oh so smug until their number's up and they crash. Personally, I just assume that any car on my left is likely to turn in front of me, with or without a blinking turn signal, and I don't pass or only very slowly. But I'm sure I"ve just been lucky so far.
    Different subject: Are some people just so full of venom that they enter mean comments on blogs just to release it? A guy very kindly shares his experience, for our possible benefit, after losing 2 teeth and his bike and someone's got to dis him? Jonathan keeps us informed, best he can, by himself, gives us a forum to form a community, at no cost to us, and someone else has to chew him out and ridicule him? It's OK to criticize at times, but at least be respectful and kind.

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    • daisy June 8, 2012 at 4:09 pm

      It seems whenever someone is injured or even killed, many cyclists rush to tell us why that would never happen to them.

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      • oskarbaanks June 8, 2012 at 6:11 pm

        @ daisy... You and Ed make very valid points. Peeps like to yammer on about emotional things, Ed's comment on luck is also very true. But at the same time, I personally have cycled and motorcycled countless hundreds of thousands of miles and never once rear ended a vehicle while riding two wheels. I say this NOT to come off as a condescending twit really,it is more to the point that I care for others, and hate to see them get hurt doing something that should be joyous. Ed is also very accurate to point out that every car on your left is not to be trusted, ever. Actually, no car anywhere within 100 yards, in ANY direction is to be trusted! Always ride with one finger on the front brake, and always be looking for an exit. Always.

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      • Kristen June 12, 2012 at 1:45 pm

        Cyclists rush to tell us why that would never happen to them so we can learn and maybe, hopefully, not have it happen to us.

        At least, that's what I take out of it. YMMV, as always.

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  • Frank June 8, 2012 at 4:10 pm

    I nearly got creamed a few months ago in EXACTLY the same spot, exactly the same way, by a very similar vehicle! Driver encroaches bike lane to turn right to get to Grandma's Place (think so anyway, kids in SUV), I move left to avoid right hook, and LOOK left to make sure I'm clear. While I'm looking over left shoulder she hits the brakes! I look up in terror, slam on my brakes... right before contact, she sees whats happening and, luckily for me, accelerates through the turn. Keep in mind that's hard for her to do, since her eyes are on the mirror and not on the road at that point. She must have seen me going "NOOOOOOO-O-O-O-O-O" in slow motion.

    Nowadays I usually take alternate routes: Tilamook to Vancouver and lower Steel Bridge. It only costs me a few minutes but I arrive in a good mood and in one piece.

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  • Jeremy Cohen June 8, 2012 at 4:14 pm

    I want to thank Karl for his comments/perspective. I too ride a daily route (with child on back of xtracycle) that has too many spots that are dangerous BY DESIGN for cyclists. What I am reading from some posters on this site is that the prudent way to ride is to "assume every driver is going to right hook" and ride accordingly. While I agree this is a great safety strategy, it is a terrible transportation policy.

    I have been nearly right hooked countless times, including a car turning the WRONG WAY onto a one-way going LEFT--how could I have possibly anticipated that one? And in each case, I have taken evasive actions which includes braking aggressively, as well as going around the turning car on the left, as Karl tried to do. What is bothering me about this "every car is a potential right hook" is that this is a problem that is utterly unique to our mode of transportation. Can you imagine if car drivers had to drive like every time they were proceeding straight through an intersection in the right hand lane the car in the left hand lane might decide to cut them off and turn right in front of them? Of course drivers don't have to drive like that because the roads are designed in such a way that turning vehicles enter the lane closest to the intended turn direction to make the turn.
    Cyclists, ONLY cyclists, constantly have to be prepared to stop and/or avoid cars turning into OUR lane. That is bad design and unsafe and I DO NOT want to be a story on this site or any other--please lets fix this.

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  • pfarthing6 June 8, 2012 at 4:33 pm

    That sort of thing happens to me regularly on my back road route in SW. Car passes fast, doesn't see the stop sign we are both approaching, then stops just as fast. It's kind of down hill a bit, so I could be on their bumper if I chose, trying to pass them, or keep up, or whatever one does when totally annoyed with crap like that, but I don't. I keep my distance and wait until they are out of my way entirely.

    Really, there's absolutely no way to run into the back of another vehicle, even should they slam on their brakes, if you are keeping a safe distance.

    I know it isn't always possible to keep a distance, but personally, I've never been forced to tailgate anybody, which from what I've read, is exactly what Karl did, even if only briefly, as he tried to veer off and pass on the left of the vehicle. He didn't have a large enough buffer to react. It's that simple and it happens all the time between cars, only a little unusual with a bike colliding with the rear of a car, but not impossible so it seems.

    A smarter choice would have been to slow down, back off, and wait until he was sure what the car was doing. Yes, annoying, but is the alternative worth it?

    Patience and Caution are the best safety improvements we could make to any intersection by a long shot.

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  • pfarthing6 June 8, 2012 at 4:58 pm

    Saw the video and wow, yeah, that looks pretty dangerous! ODOT says they don't have the money, but how much money would it cost to just put down some cement barriers and make it a one way street? Cars can come out, but not turn in? I can't see any other way to solve that problem because it's not really a 90 degree turn, it's a merge onto another street, which is always kind of problematic, even when being careful.

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  • resopmok June 8, 2012 at 5:15 pm

    Even though the cyclist seems to be technically at fault in this collision, I would stop short of actually blaming him for the manner in which he was riding. I think the missing piece of memory (between moving left and impacting the rear of the vehicle) was spent looking over the left shoulder to ensure there was space, and by the time he looked back, he was already staring down the window. Once accustomed to a commuting route, when our "autopilot" kicks on, we are already familiar with common problems that arise and are preprogrammed to deal with them. Karl was simply doing what he has had to do many times before in dealing with discourteous drivers at a dangerous intersection.

    I would imagine that the driver doesn't regularly drive the route, as they would otherwise be accustomed to watching for cyclists prior to the turn, or in the habit of simply cutting through with little regard for a cyclist's rights. I believe the driver probably panicked when they caught a glimpse of Karl in the side view mirror, realized they had in fact just passed him and were about to cut him off by turning into his path. They slammed on the brakes, and into the window he went.

    So who is really to blame? I'm with the others who say it's not the operator of either vehicle, but those who designed and approved such a dangerous intersection. Either the entrance to Wheeler from Broadway needs to be closed or the city should find a way to mix auto and bike traffic before the intersection. I believe the city should also re-evaluate what it considers to be safe infrastructure in other places, including bike lanes adjacent to parallel parking. Alternatively, licenses could be distributed only to those who can prove their competency on the road instead of being given to all who can breathe for the rest of their lives.

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    • DoubleB June 9, 2012 at 5:53 pm

      Why is it so hard to believe that a cyclist is at fault? He ran into the back of a stopped vehicle.

      And the consistent blaming of government agencies is getting old. Yes, it's a dangerous area to ride (and drive) in. So are countless other areas in the city. I work in NW Portland. 22nd and NW Everett is a bad intersection and I've witnessed 4 accidents there in the past 18 months and there is constant honking by drivers. There are a variety of reasons why its bad (1-way traffic on Everett lends itself to speeding, 22nd is very tough to see, heavy pedestrian traffic, etc.). The answer would be a traffic light at the intersection. It would solve every issue. That's not going to happen, certainly not any time soon. So I need to take responsibility in this situation by a) choosing not to drive down this road or b) slowing the eff down on Everett because I understand the issues the drivers at 22nd place. It costs me a grand total of 2 seconds tops and I've never had a problem there.

      The cyclist mentions that he rides this daily so he knows (and acknowledges) the dangers, yet he clearly rode his bike in an unsafe manner. The answer was to slow down through this part of the ride. It would cost him some time (I don't know how much), but it would help ensure his safety.

      Everyone on this site constantly asks drivers to slow down and with good reason. But shouldn't we ask ourselves that question as well? Or is always everyone else's fault but the cyclist's?

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      • are June 9, 2012 at 6:13 pm

        my gripe with PBoT, doubleB, is that they have taken a tricky situation and made it considerably worse. i can live with tricky situations, including this one, but the paint and the signage (coupled with the mandatory sidepath law) mislead cyclists and motorists into situations like this that really do not need to happen.

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        • DoubleB June 9, 2012 at 10:51 pm

          That's a general issue with how Portland wants to handle their bike traffic which makes sense as a discussion topic.

          Those aren't the comments I'm referring to. I'm talking about people who discuss changing traffic patterns and roads (closing off Flint or Wheeler for instance), want to eliminate the right on red concept, or want to develop separate bike and traffic signals. I've been on this site for a month now and everyone has their pet concept of how to improve the most dangerous section they ride in. It's completely unrealistic that that's going to all get done. If you're a regular cyclist, progress towards bike utopia is going to be slow and clumsy. So let's all deal with the reality of the situation instead of visiting Mr. Rourke on Fantasy Island.

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      • kgb June 10, 2012 at 9:45 am

        Why is it so hard to believe that this motorist failed to properly signal before making this turn. The cyclist was making an evasive move at the last minute because the motorist failed to signal (on 10% of drivers appear to know what a turn signal is). If motorist would jsut obey the traffic laws we would all be much much safer. If cyclist all obeyed the laws (which everyone should) we would all be marginally safer.

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      • resopmok June 10, 2012 at 4:50 pm

        If the government is going to issue driver's licenses to every person who is a legal resident, whether that person has proven continued competency behind the wheel or not, then they should take at least a modicum of responsibility for those people's actions on the road. Since all these people are behind the wheel of heavy machines capable of maiming or killing other people, it's necessary to prioritize safety over efficiency. And if they can't provide safe infrastructure, then the policy about issuing licenses should be revisited. We (the people) put the government in charge to take care of these problems, and when they don't, I guess we should blame the cyclists.

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  • dwainedibbly June 8, 2012 at 6:02 pm

    I have done the same maneuver in similar situations a lot of times and it does put me close to the rear of the vehicle that I'm preparing to go around. I guess I'm going to have to re-think that idea.

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  • Greg June 8, 2012 at 6:08 pm

    Jeremy Cohen
    ... Can you imagine if car drivers had to drive like every time they were proceeding straight through an intersection in the right hand lane the car in the left hand lane might decide to cut them off and turn right in front of them? Of course drivers don't have to drive like that because the roads are designed in such a way that turning vehicles enter the lane closest to the intended turn direction to make the turn.
    Cyclists, ONLY cyclists, constantly have to be prepared to stop and/or avoid cars turning into OUR lane. That is bad design and unsafe and I DO NOT want to be a story on this site or any other--please lets fix this.
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    That's a excellent positioning of the problem, Jeremy! US infrastructure should pretty much *never* put cyclists into the suicide slot:

    http://kentsbike.blogspot.com/2007/10/avoid-suicide-slot.html

    People look at cycle tracks in NL or Denmark and don't understand that they exist in a context where right turns on red don't exist and bicycles generally have their own traffic lights. If you're going to do bike lanes in a US context, it's best to have them turn into sharrow at intersections indicating that bikes need to merge into traffic or move to the right of the right turn lanes *unless* you're going to ban rights on red *and* give cyclists their own signal. (And if you do do all that, cycle tracks can be wonderful. I've definitely had a ball riding in Copenhagen and Groningen. But half measures can really suck.)

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  • Kevin Wagoner June 8, 2012 at 8:52 pm

    I was glad to see you included this statement Jonathan.

    "Look around Portland. Many of the safety improvements that have been made in the past several years — bike boxes, bike signals, signage, pavement markings — are there only because people either died or were seriously hurt and there was public pressure for the City to act."

    I feel like our government is completely complacent when it comes to safety. Your other story today on the Trama report adds evidence to that.

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  • Dwainedibbly June 9, 2012 at 8:01 pm

    Am I just old, or did anyone else think of Davis Phinney?

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  • Two Wheel June 10, 2012 at 12:06 pm

    Karl, I hope you heal up quickly. I still like the idea of bicycle helmet cameras front and back.

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  • kriss June 10, 2012 at 2:32 pm

    I have a feeling if a bicyclist had been rear ended by a car at an intersection because the car had no reason to expect that a bicyclist would stop at a stop sign, you all would have different comments. Frankly, as a cyclist, I've had this nearly happen more than once and I blame each and everyone who breaks laws.

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  • liz s. June 11, 2012 at 12:59 pm

    Get better soon Karl!

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