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Police release details of fatal collision at SE Mill/148th

Posted by on October 2nd, 2012 at 1:45 pm

A man died while bicycling on Sunday night; but the police have been so busy with five other major crashes (including several fatalities), they have only now been able to share more details with us.

According to the Portland Police Bureau (PPB), at just after 9:00 pm, 48-year-old James Querirolo was riding northbound on the sidewalk on the east side of SE 148th Ave while a person (name not yet released) operating a Hyundai Santa Fe (small SUV) was headed southbound on 148th. She attempted to make a low-speed left turn from 148th on to SE Mill eastbound. “The driver had completed about 90% of her turn when the cyclist rode off the sidewalk and directly in front of her. She could not avoid striking the cyclist,” reads a PPB statement.

My sketch of how the collision might have
happened, based on PPB investigation.

“This was a low-speed impact, with the bicycle and vehicle left almost undamaged,” the statement continues. “We have been told he died of head and neck trauma,” said PPB Sgt. Todd Davis, who responded to the scene on Sunday. “I honestly can’t say if a helmet would have saved him.”

Davis also points out that Querirolo did not have any lighting equipment on his bicycle.

According to the investigation, the driver of Hyundai was not impaired by drugs or alcohol and speed was not a factor in the collision. As for Querilolo, Sgt. Davis says, “We are waiting for the toxicology report from the Medical Examiner’s Office to determine if alcohol played a role in the cyclist’s death.”

This is the second fatal bicycle collision that has happened on Portland roads this year.

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  • benjdm October 2, 2012 at 1:49 pm

    “She could not have avoided striking the cyclist”? Really? How about not turning until the traffic going straight has cleared her path?

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    • Travis Fulton October 2, 2012 at 2:15 pm

      He was coming off the sidewalk at night with no lights. So yeah, if you’re turning and someone pops out in front of you where you don’t expect it a collision might not be avoidable.

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      • Craig Harlow October 2, 2012 at 4:04 pm

        …not if he entered a crosswalk riding at a walking speed. In that case, his disposition toward the turning auto is the same as for someone entering the crosswalk on foot. In that case, then I’m pretty certain that the person driving is responsible to (1) check and (2) be sure that the crosswalk is clear of users, and also that nobody on the sidewalk is likely to enter the crosswalk, before she completes her turn. If the other person was riding their bike too fast upon entering the crosswalk, then he would be at fault.

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      • Randall S. October 3, 2012 at 1:16 pm

        Based on the picture, it looks like the cyclist was riding on the sidewalk at night with no lights adjacent to street with a dedicated cycle lane. I’m pretty fanatically pro-cycle, but I’m going to say this was probably this one wasn’t the driver’s fault.

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    • John Lascurettes October 2, 2012 at 2:17 pm

      Cyclist was likely the one breaking the law here, entering the crosswalk at more than walking speed from a sidewalk. If the cyclist was going walking speed, the driver would not have been as likely to hit him (and would have been the one breaking the law had she done so).

      Had the cyclist been in the bike lane, clearly marked in the photo, or otherwise in the street instead of the sidewalk, the driver would fully have been at fault.

      Riding at speed on a sidewalk is simply not recommended; it is against the law to do so over walking speed when entering crosswalks and crossing driveways whenever automobiles are present for exactly this reason.

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      • John Lascurettes October 2, 2012 at 2:18 pm

        Note: I have no idea what speed the cyclist was riding at.

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        • Spiffy October 2, 2012 at 3:07 pm

          and humans can walk up to 8 mph…

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          • John Lascurettes October 2, 2012 at 4:38 pm

            Try that one in court.

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            • Chris I October 3, 2012 at 7:42 am

              I walk at 4-5mph everywhere I go.

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      • Tim W October 2, 2012 at 2:50 pm

        Note that the cyclist wasn’t using any lights. It is required that a person biking use a headlight after dark. It’s dark at 9 pm on a fall night So yes, the cyclist was breaking the law. I think some people underestimate how seriously (and dangerously) difficult it can be to spot a quickly moving cyclist when they choose to ride without lights after dark.

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        • Craig Harlow October 2, 2012 at 4:06 pm

          That only applies when riding a bicycle upon the roadway–not when riding on a sidewalk.

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          • John Lascurettes October 2, 2012 at 4:40 pm

            But then the speed limitation comes into play because he was on the sidewalk, entering the crosswalk. ~3-4 m.p.h. is the limitation (“normal walking speed”).

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          • matt picio October 2, 2012 at 4:49 pm

            Perhaps not, but they were still likely in violation of ORS 811.280 – Failure of driver entering roadway to yield right of way. (http://www.oregonlaws.org/ors/811.280)

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      • wsbob October 2, 2012 at 2:52 pm

        Oregon law ‘Unsafe operation of bicycle on sidewalk’: http://www.oregonlaws.org/ors/814.410

        Check out (1)(d). To imply about rate of speed a person on a bike entering a crosswalk from a sidewalk may travel, Oregon law specifies a “…an ordinary walk…”. Roughly 3 mph.

        For people on bikes riding on sidewalks, other than entering a crosswalk, Oregon doesn’t require limitation to the speed of an ordinary walk.

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        • q`Tzal October 2, 2012 at 5:02 pm

          Somehow I think that the Oregon Vehicle Codes “Basic Rule Law” would apply here even if the verbiage does not specifically mentioned bicycles or sidewalks.

          In this case the cyclist was going too fast for conditions (a vague gray area left open for police interpretation) and violating the Basic Rule by ninja cycling.

          In an optimal Libertarian scenario the cyclist would have the right to ride as unlit, invisible and unsafely as they wish because they take full responsibility for their actions.

          This cyclist’s survival was hindered by his lack of awareness of his invisibility and further lack of understanding that no one expects users to exit a sidewalk or crosswalk at high warp.

          This exact scenario needs to be the next Portland cycling PSA.
          The driver needs to be shown as attentive and contentious making the left turn and the cyclist needs to appear in the the frame as if he is an unloading bird of prey. The video needs to terrify both drivers that cyclists do this and casual cyclists that might pull this stunt unaware of their invisibility and rude/illegal high speed use of the sidewalk system.

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      • 9watts October 2, 2012 at 3:38 pm

        The aerial view makes it seem likely that both parties would have had fairly good lines of sight (darkness aside). Or is it possible that there were parked cars between the sidewalk and bike lane? I’d think the police would know either way.

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    • Phil Kulak October 2, 2012 at 2:18 pm

      What traffic? This guy was on the sidewalk. He’s not “traffic” on the sidewalk, and he’s not a pedestrian because he’s moving too quickly. This is exactly why you don’t ride on the sidewalk. Let’s not all race to crucify this driver now.

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      • Craig Harlow October 2, 2012 at 4:06 pm

        We don’t know the speed at which he was riding.

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  • peejay October 2, 2012 at 1:50 pm

    Bicycling on the sidewalk is very safe. Crossing the street from sidewalk to sidewalk is very, very dangerous. Sad all the way around.

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    • q`Tzal October 2, 2012 at 5:12 pm

      Sidewalks are dangerous every place an automobile can cross, and ie. driveways.

      Drivers entering are busy navigating traffic while aiming for a small entrance. This scenario describes the only right/left hooks I’ve ever been involved in it 30+ years of cycling.

      Drivers exiting are worse in my opinion: they don’t have their focus on safety fully engaged yet because they are still on private property. They enter and obstruct sidewalks without thought to see “real traffic” out in the road. Often drivers exiting across a sidewalk are not aware of its existence until someone is using it.

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  • Steve B. October 2, 2012 at 1:53 pm

    My heart goes out to Mr. Querirolo’s family.

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  • GDorn October 2, 2012 at 2:18 pm

    Don’t be a ninja.

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  • Dan October 2, 2012 at 2:35 pm

    A few points, not exactly related.

    1. I wouldn’t say that bicycling on the sidewalk is safe. I don’t like my kids doing it because they’re more likely to get hit by someone backing out of their driveway. The road at least gives them more of an escape path, and makes it a little more likely that they’ll be seen.

    2. I doubt the driver would have seen him even if had been in the bike lane. Unless there were parked cars there, it seems that a bike on the sidewalk would have been about as visible to this driver as a bike in the bike lane.

    3. If you’re turning across 3 lanes of travel (oncoming car lane, bike lane and crosswalk) it’s your job to anticipate that someone might be traveling in any one of those lanes and be prepared to yield to them. Is there any evidence that the driver slammed on her brakes? I mean, I’m assuming that the cyclist was travelling at a consistent speed before he went off the sidewalk – is it possible that he was sitting there as she turned the corner, and then all of a sudden shot into the intersection?

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    • matt picio October 2, 2012 at 4:54 pm

      That’s fair, but consider in point 3 that PPB’s report states the driver was making a low-speed turn. That seems to indicate that caution was taken. Beyond that, it’s all pure speculation in the absence of evidence.

      This is a terrible tragedy for the cyclist, his family, and the driver. Even if the driver bears any culpability, it doesn’t mean they planned it, or that they aren’t human, or don’t feel remorse or guilt. (even in cases when they are guiltless) The real issues here are training, enforcement, and engineering. That road was designed 50+ years ago under a completely different paradigm.

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  • Alexis October 2, 2012 at 4:56 pm

    This collision illustrates a classic problem in car-bike collisions: the driver is the only one around to tell the story, so we only know one side. Even in the best case of “I didn’t see the person until I couldn’t possibly avoid them”, a driver might not have exercised all the attention and caution you could hope for in looking for other road users, and there are plenty of cases where it’s clear that a driver’s account of a collision is ridiculous and self-serving (hitting someone because of driving into the sun and not being able to see, and blaming it on the cyclist for being invisible, for example), or even outright untrue.

    So It’s hard to know in any one case if that’s going on or not. And in the end, it’s not very helpful to debate about it. The basic problem lies with a system that licenses this type of unsafe interaction. We need to build safer and smarter.

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  • Roger Averbeck October 2, 2012 at 5:01 pm

    Very sorry to hear of this tragic crash. The assumption seems to be that the cyclist was travelling faster than walking speed in the crosswalk.

    If it had been a pedestrian, walking north in the crosswalk, wearing dark clothing and without lights, would this crash have happened?

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    • annefi October 3, 2012 at 12:13 am

      Pedestrian or cyclist, either way the sidewalk user had the responsibility to stop, as the car was 90% through the turn. Sidewalk users don’t have the “right” to hurl themselves into a crosswalk they’ve arrived at AFTER a car is already there and progressing through.

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      • Caleb October 3, 2012 at 2:11 pm

        Agreed, especially given the dark sky, unlit bicycle, and the wide road.

        People have commented in other threads that cyclists can be more aware than drivers due to the different conditions of the vehicles they use. From my limited and subjective perspective, the idea seems rather prevalent on this site, so I’m a bit surprised nobody has mentioned anything relating to the cyclists’ awareness until the above comment. Why expect only one party in an incident to be aware?

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  • q`Tzal October 2, 2012 at 5:26 pm

    This exact scenario needs to be the next Portland cycling PSA.

    The driver needs to be shown as attentive and contentiously making the left turn and the cyclist needs to appear in the the frame as if he is an uncloaking bird of prey. Then pull back to a grainy traffic camera view as a stunt cyclist takes the hit.

    The video needs to terrify both drivers that cyclists do this and casual cyclists that might pull this stunt unaware of their invisibility and rude/illegal high speed use of the sidewalk system.
    It needs to show in pictures that need no explanation that some caution MUST be exercised by cyclists who chose to ride in daft ways.

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  • Mike danapoint October 2, 2012 at 10:49 pm

    Bad infra. Good street lighting and protected bike lane with minimum crossings could of likely prevented this and many other tragedies.

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  • My Magic Hat October 2, 2012 at 10:56 pm

    Anyone would have hit this guy. Too bad it had to be something big enough to kill him.

    Let it be shown to Portland PD: Cyclist dead not because of running a stop sign or a red light, not because of a lack of headgear, but because he rode after dark without lights; and being on the sidewalk probably didn’t help.

    Maybe biketown needs to be ticketing cyclist behaviors that are actually unsafe, instead of using “enforcement actions” to ticket people for violating the right of way of non-existent, hypothetical road users.

    Recommended Thumb up 4

  • Tourbiker October 3, 2012 at 7:01 am

    You don’t get it both ways…riding unlit improperly AND righteously indignant.

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  • Joe October 3, 2012 at 1:46 pm

    no win :( RIP

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  • Kristen October 3, 2012 at 1:47 pm

    This bears repeating:

    “Pedestrian or cyclist, either way the sidewalk user had the responsibility to stop, as the car was 90% through the turn.” –annefi

    Oregon’s crosswalk laws are specific about this sort of thing.

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    • 9watts October 3, 2012 at 1:51 pm

      And presumably we know the ’90% through the turn’ business not just because the driver said so but from examining the details of the crash, the position of each party in the crash, tire tracks, etc. I certainly hope so.
      I have learned (here) that sometimes statements about the details of crashes are not the whole story.

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      • wsbob October 3, 2012 at 2:27 pm

        “…the ’90% through the turn’ business…” 9watts

        According to this bikeportland article, the police either investigated this collision, or were in the process of conducting one. Get a copy of the police investigation report. See if it explains how the 90% of turn figure was determined.

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      • John Lascurettes October 3, 2012 at 4:08 pm

        Look at the arial shots. She’d have had to have nearly completed the turn before hitting him as the crosswalk where he was hit is perpendicular to the street onto which she was turning. I’d venture to say she was closer to 100% “turned” onto the road at this point. The officer was being generous in interpretation to at least seemingly say, “there was a modicum of chance that had she looked ‘harder’ before completing the turn she could have seen him.”

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        • 9watts October 3, 2012 at 4:18 pm

          Isn’t this sort of tautological, though? Crosswalks are by definition perpendicular, and people crossing in them who are hit are hit once the person in the car crosses the cross walk–which has to be once they’re done turning. Nothing too novel about either of those things. But speed, sight lines, and visibility to me seem the more important parameters to untangle.
          Having said that, eye contact seems a minimum threshold if I’m going to assert my right in a cross walk. At night I can’t establish that so I’m going to be extra vigilant/wait.

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  • His Niece October 3, 2012 at 3:58 pm

    So, all I see here is that everyone wants someone to be ‘at fault’. Why? it was a tragic accident that killed my Uncle, my moms brother and my grandmothers son. We will miss him dearly regardless of who’s ‘at fault, he’s still gone!

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    • 9watts October 3, 2012 at 4:28 pm

      Of course fault is not the most important thing. But I think some of us get in a groove over that question because often someone, or some set of circumstances are at fault. Understanding how this works/what or who failed to prevent this can be useful in working toward making these awful collisions less likely in the future.

      Not all these are *accidents* in the sense of being unavoidable.

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      • q`Tzal October 4, 2012 at 10:19 am

        This is what primarily makes humans different from animals; we can learn from mistakes of others that we have not made ourselves.

        This requires unemotional (often viewed as insensitive by victims and family) rational analysis of horrible tragedies.

        This does not preclude sympathy and empathy but those emotions will always feed back in to a desire to not have that happen to oneself. This leads back to where I started.

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  • Alan 1.0 October 4, 2012 at 12:10 am

    Speaking generally and mostly not about this tragedy (but with it in mind, and Rickson, and so many others where a complex situation raises such questions, and with a nod to 9watts reply to His Niece about why we discuss fault) I’d like to reflect on various connotations of the word “fault.” Beyond simple definitions (synonyms: mistake, error, shortcoming, failing) there are larger social meanings as well as our own personal views of traffic safety, roadway designs, and riding and driving practices. And, as in disasters of most any kind, there are nearly always multiple faults in nearly all roadway collisions.

    There’s the legal perspective: who violated what laws? It seems to me as though that is often under-emphasized by police, the group whose job it is to assign such “blame,” by not issuing citations for all the violations which led to–or could have resulted from–the crash. That tendency has been widely noted to have a bias against bicyclists. Personally, I’d like to see all those involved in collisions cited for all relevant offenses, including both driver and rider. Yes, in some ways it is adding insult to injury (which I think is part of why cops often don’t cite in accidents), but the fines could be mitigated in court and I’d like a documented record of the operator’s misuse(s) of public roadways. As insurance companies well know, such histories correlate very well with predicting future incidents.

    There’s the insurance company’s view, partly based on citations and the legal perspective, but also negotiated between companies based on other factors (road conditions, traffic, driver history, weather…). (And sometimes dragged into court…a whole other discussion of torts, reforms and the powers of money.)

    There’s the wisdom of “defensive driving” and safety practices, which tend to be above and beyond legal requirements, although in some edge cases they may contradict lawful practices. I see the gist of quite a few comments on this blog falling into this category, and I feel it is a helpful thought process and a way to hopefully stay safer, ourselves. There are shortcomings and pitfalls to that sort of analysis, though:

    – Projective, protective and wishful thinking…”oh, I never do that so I’d never get hurt.” (subtext: so it’s their fault)

    – There’s a fair amount of folk wisdom, anecdotal evidence and personal experience which may or may not reflect reality, or which may include such personal factors that it’s hard to apply to general situations. (bunnyhop?)

    – The actual science backing up some of the ideas is (IMO) limited in scope, timeliness and applicability (see debates about and with Forester, for example). Look how little PDOT’s engineers really have to go on for green boxes, special signals, bike lanes, etc. Hopefully *good* studies will provide better answers than we have now, but part of that involves having good data and that, in turn, relies on proper law enforcement use of citations and accident reports.

    – Lack of publicly available facts about specific incidents, and resulting assumptions and misunderstandings.

    There are probably other, less categorical meanings of “fault,” too, like breaking common practice or habits we take for granted.

    Finally, I can’t help but think of the “strict liability” concept of many European countries, where more lethal machines’ operators are burdened with a greater responsibility for avoiding more vulnerable ones. Using this case as an example, the car’s headlights should have illuminated sufficient distance for the driver to see a vulnerable road user and be able to take precautions to avoid an unexpected action. The Dutch would have a very different perception of this collision than many here.

    My condolences to Mr. Querirolo’s family.

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    • 9watts October 4, 2012 at 7:52 am

      Thanks for that missive, Alan. If you don’t already know this book, I highly recommend it. It is right up your alley.

      Risk and Misfortune: The Social Construction of Accidents, by Judith Green

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      • Alan 1.0 October 4, 2012 at 11:14 am

        Thanks!

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