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Man rear-ended while biking with child in trailer speaks out

Posted by Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) on December 4th, 2012 at 10:06 am

Photo from the scene.
(Photo: Chris Dorr)

On Thursday evening the unthinkable happened.

While waiting behind two cars at a red light on SE 60th at Division, a Portland man — with his four year-old son in a trailer behind him — was rear-ended by someone driving a car. The police haven't released many details, but I've talked with him at length. At this point, he has asked to remain anonymous because he’s conflicted about having himself and his family thrust into a public debate about biking with children.

Here's what happened...

The man was headed south from his child's preschool near Mount Tabor, at 60th and Salmon, to their home just south of Division. He chose SE 60th because it's the only traffic signal to get across Division. He was wearing a reflective yellow jacket and his trailer had a strobing rear tail-light. The last thing he recalls before impact was standing at the light, and an instinctive concern that the car sounds behind him were approaching too fast. Then he's flying through the air after being thrust up onto the hood of the car behind him, breaking its windshield, eventually impacting the car in front of him. When he came to, he realized his son was still in the trailer, which had been crumpled by one of the car's wheels. 

"I thought he was gone," he recalled, "I pulled open the mangled, flattened trailer and found him calling for me, scared, covered with blood."

"I thought he was gone, I pulled open the mangled, flattened trailer and found him calling for me, scared, covered with blood."

As we spoke, the man shared that it was difficult to talk about details. He suffers from post-traumatic stress. 

Further complicating the experience for this man is the fact that, prior to moving to Portland he had established a bike advocacy group in his old hometown. "I'd wanted to believe that cycling could make families, communities, even our planet healthier, and that it could be done safely. But clearly there's no safe way to bike home from our preschool-- not in November, and maybe not in summer, either." This is a situation of a bike advocate, on the leading edge of being the change he sought for others, coming face-to-face with his own beliefs and vulnerabilities.

Thankfully, both the man and his son were treated then released from the hospital with no major injuries. The man has a fractured vertebrae and is in a back brace, and the child suffered only cuts and bruises. Physically, a full recovery is expected. But mentally, the collision has likely forever changed the man's perspective on the safety of bicycling. 

The collision happened after dark (around 6:00 pm) and it was wet and drizzly out. Thinking back, the man now feels that "This intersection may not be worth exposing your child to, maybe not ever."

But what are the alternatives? The man crosses SE Division via 60th frequently. He feels it's the safest among few good options. "But there is a cramped sidewalk we could use — by a cafe." It's an off-set intersection and, like many parts of Portland, there's a severe lack of good, north-south bikeways to use as alternatives.

For a man who has worked to promote bicycling as a safe option, this collision raises some very difficult questions. He doesn't want to scare people away from biking with their kids; but he's now more realistic than ever about how vulnerable his child was. "The risk of a rear-end accident and the consequence of what happens if it occurs, is something I hadn't fully come to terms with before — not like this," he said.
  
He also knows that we must do more to fix these notorious "choke points."

"I think there's a lot to be learned from what happened to us. But it's not a comfortable tale to share."

It remains unclear why the person in the car behind this man failed to stop in time. I have asked the police for more details but have yet to hear back."

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Comments
  • Karen Carr December 4, 2012 at 10:14 am

    I agree that N-S crossings are a huge problem and that something should be done to fix it; meanwhile, when I have doubts about the safety of an intersection I dismount and cross it as a pedestrian in the cross-walk. Slow, but I think it's safer.

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  • Ian December 4, 2012 at 10:16 am

    I don't even have kids and this makes me feel sick. I hope this can be a catalyst for truly safe bicycle facilities, but I wish it never happened.

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    • Over and Doubt December 4, 2012 at 10:29 am

      No such thing as truly safe bicycle facilities, of course---but it would help tons if those piloting 3,000-pound-plus vehicles were consistently held accountable for distracted or impaired behavior...and/or if completely separate facilities were available for those who swing that way (including me if my child were still of trailer age).

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      • Rebecca December 4, 2012 at 11:45 am

        There truly are safe bicycle facilities, They are found throughout the Netherlands. They do this by providing infrastructure that goes everywhere free of conflict with cars. Providing biking infrastructure that removes all conflict with cars is the single most effective way to reduce accidents. Our bicycling injury rate in the USA per distance traveled is 21 times higher than in the Netherlands and our fatality rate is 5 times higher. The Dutch have prioritized people over cars to keep adults and children safe and healthy.

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        • Over and Doubt December 4, 2012 at 12:00 pm

          Agreed Rebecca--but if our injuries and fatalities can be expressed as multiples of the Netherlands', it means riders are still hurt and killed there. Which might lead us to debate what level of injuries and deaths (if any) is compatible with being "truly safe."

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          • briana December 4, 2012 at 2:04 pm

            You could say this about any mode of transportation though; In WA motor vehicle collisions are the leading cause of death for people ages 5-24. There is some level of risk involved in nearly every activity we do, the question is how to reduce the risk to an "acceptable" levels. Some may say the Netherlands has done this for cycling.

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        • Spiffy December 4, 2012 at 12:45 pm

          there can't be separate facilities 100% of the time... so if people get used to not seeing bicycles on the road then when you do have to ride on the road it seems that it would be way more dangerous...

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          • 9watts December 4, 2012 at 12:52 pm

            Well said, and besides, waiting for or demanding separated facilities does nothing for the present situation when we're decades away from anything like separate infrastructure, and in any case it lets drivers off the hook.

            Insisting on vigilance by--and better training of--drivers, enforced with real penalties is something that in principle we could do now at very little cost (comparatively speaking).

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          • Over and Doubt December 4, 2012 at 12:58 pm

            I guess what I have in mind is that people would be using both (if available) depending on context. I'm still pretty "strong and fearless" in middle age, so I ride with motor traffic. But when pulling my child when he was of trailer age, I would take every separation opportunity I possibly could. Thus, during that era of my life, I might have passed through the same area twice on the same day but navigated it two different ways--depending whether or not I was trailering the boy. I'm thinking it might be similar for others.

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          • CrankyAcid December 7, 2012 at 11:58 am

            It doesn't quite work like that. The safer it gets, the more people start to cycle, the more people start to cycle the more aware they are of cyclists. This is because there is more chance they are a cyclist themselves or someone very close to them is. Without safe infrastructure for cycling it will forever be an enthusiasts pastime and marginal as a serious transport alternative.

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          • Tim December 11, 2012 at 2:03 am

            Of course, segregated cycleways make cycling more dangerous! That must be why they have so many of them in the Netherlands where 25-30% of people cycle, including loads of kids and pensioners, and they have fewer accidents than the US.

            Well done for working it out.

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      • JonathanR December 4, 2012 at 1:14 pm

        You can bet that the driver will suffer huge consequences, not just monetarily, but also emotionally.

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        • 9watts December 4, 2012 at 1:26 pm

          I don't think we know enough to assert this for either category. Or do you know something we don't?
          Huge monetary consequences? How consistently have we seen that, even where the person on a bike is killed?

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        • SilkySlim December 4, 2012 at 2:04 pm

          Two things need to happen: the driver needs to punished, and everybody needs to hear about it. The latter is far more important in my mind. People should be terrified of the damage they can do with their cars, and drive accordingly (less, slower, with out distractions, etc.).

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        • J-R December 4, 2012 at 4:25 pm

          Just like every other collision, the inattentive driver will suffer only a slap on the wrist and will continue to believe it was "just an accident." get a lawyer and sue the H out of the motorist.

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          • wileysiren December 4, 2012 at 4:34 pm

            I hate to agree with J-R but he's likely correct. Same thing happened to me when I was hit earlier this year. No citations were issued to the driver (that crossed two lanes of traffic and t-boned me in the bike line trying to make a right) - the cop said it was because I wasn't entered into the trauma system.

            That's crap. I hope this gentleman, when he's recovered enough from his experience, heads down to the BTA to learn how to file a citizen's complaint and get citations issued to the motorist.

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          • chucklehead December 5, 2012 at 11:27 am

            before you leap to conclusions, you have no idea as to the state of the driver. Perhaps they suffered a seizure.

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            • 9watts December 5, 2012 at 1:42 pm

              perhaps. Though I'm not clear on your use of the plural.

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              • Opus the Poet December 6, 2012 at 8:23 am

                Use of the plural "they" is current best practice for referring to a person that has not been identified as to gender.

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                • 9watts December 6, 2012 at 8:28 am

                  I learn something new here every day. Thanks, Opus.

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        • bjorn December 4, 2012 at 7:44 pm

          Emotional consequences are highly overrated. Most drivers end up with a ticket for a couple hundred bucks at most even when they kill someone, their insurance covers the rest, and they never have to see the victim again or even think about it.

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          • Schrauf December 4, 2012 at 9:18 pm

            It's true. It's "just an accident", right? That is what society tries to convince us of, anyway. Collateral damage of our right to drive. Never mind the inattentiveness, or more likely, gross negligence.

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      • Ian December 7, 2012 at 11:59 am

        I completely agree, but more stringent requirements for motorists and stronger penalties for accidents involving bicycles are not the whole solution when the problem is infrastructural, as it is. There should really not be any place where a cyclist towing a child has to be within 3 feet of a car going 20+ mph.

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  • Tommy B. December 4, 2012 at 10:23 am

    This is heartbreaking. I'm really glad to hear that the kid is safe.

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  • KYouell December 4, 2012 at 10:23 am

    I'm going to assume he will read the comments and I want him to know that more than anything I'm so glad he and his son are ok. It made me ill when I first heard of this crash. As someone who bikes with my kids daily and likes riding in the rain & dark I'm not going to stop, but I'm going to be more defensive. I'll leave more space in front of me to escape into and pay closer attention to the cars in my mirror. I'm also going to complain about my heavy bakfiets a little less; hills are hard, but the kids are in front of me & as protected as they can be on a bike. And I'm going to keep taking the lane because everything I've read leads me to believe that's the safest place for us.

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  • spare_wheel December 4, 2012 at 10:28 am

    there need to be far more serious consequence for these types of "accidents" than just a few points on a DL.

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    • John Lascurettes December 4, 2012 at 12:56 pm

      True. Aside from a total equipment failure there is no "accident" here, the driver is responsible and needs to be accountable.

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      • John Lascurettes December 4, 2012 at 1:15 pm

        And before someone gets pedantic about me decrying the use of "accident", no matter what you call it, the car driver is negligent in his duties to operate the vehicle in a safe manner.

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        • Jeff December 4, 2012 at 2:05 pm

          +1 John for heading off the semantics police.

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        • tonyt December 4, 2012 at 2:18 pm

          Seriously. If the driver did not see the bike/trailer, what was he/she doing zooming up so quickly to the car ahead of them that we might assume he/she DID see? That car was obviously doing a decent clip to damage that trailer so severely. What the hell is the point of closing the distance between yourself and the car in front of you with such haste?

          Makes me think of the times I'm driving and lay off the gas in order to coast to a slow stop as I approach a red light. It's amazing how many times the car behind me will change lanes and audibly hit the gas to accelerate toward the stopped cars at the red light. Hurry up! Get to that red light first!!

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          • wsbob December 4, 2012 at 3:07 pm

            I'm very glad that that father and son escaped from this collision as relatively unscathed as they were and find it remarkable they did so escape.

            "...That car was obviously doing a decent clip to damage that trailer so severely. ..." tonyt

            Not that someone carrying a child in a child carrying bike trailer should be obliged to use it in situations where the trailer would need to withstand impact from motor vehicles...but it seems that generally, bike trailer design and construction offer virtually no protection against impact.

            Even if manufacturers were to come up with designs that offered resistance against motor vehicle impact, in the bigger picture, such a strategy may be of somewhat dubious value in terms of improving vulnerable road user safety, if using it were to somehow draw away from the objective of doing everything reasonably possible to avoid collisions happening at all.

            Just how much impact resistance a child carrying bike trailer can withstand, is exactly what State Rep Mitch Greenlick sought to draw attention to last legislative session with his very controversial and generally here at bikeportland, hugely unpopular proposal to address the issue of bike trailer safety.

            "...He was wearing a reflective yellow jacket and his trailer had a strobing rear tail-light. ..." maus/bikeportland

            Last year when the Greenlick bike trailer law proposal caused such a stir, one of the things occurring to me at the time that I thought could possibly offer a relatively easy means of improving bike trailer safety, would be to improve the visibility bike trailers present to road users, by expanding the minimum legal requirement for bike lighting and reflectivity specific to bike trailers.

            In short: though it's certainly better than none at all, more than a single strobing tail light on the trailer. Maybe, 'X' amount of square inches of reflective material, in addition to bike lights. Maybe a requirement of two or more lights, or a light of a certain square inch size. Relying too heavily for visibility on bright colors child carrying bike trailer's are covered with, isn't a good situation.

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            • El Biciclero December 7, 2012 at 12:26 pm

              "it seems that generally, bike trailer design and construction offer virtually no protection against impact."

              In this case, it seems the opposite is true. If I read the account correctly, the car must have gone over the trailer, or at least hit it with enough force to throw Dad back onto the car's hood and windshield, then forward onto the car in front of them. Injuries sustained by the child were limited to minor cuts and bruises. A kid just standing there in the street--or even being pushed in a stroller--would likely have suffered much greater injury. I have to assume that some combination of trailer, seat, and helmet worked quite well to protect this boy from what "should" have been much worse injury. The father's own account suggests that the nature of the impact was such that he was afraid his little boy hadn't survived--yet they were both home from the hospital in short order. No telling whether the trailer was actually crushed under the car's wheel (unless it came to rest and was found there), but that would give even more credence to the idea that some part of the boy's traveling environment had some pretty substantial protective effects--or else a miracle occurred.

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              • wsbob December 8, 2012 at 12:23 am

                Day after I posted the above comment, I thought to search for and check out whether Burley's tested its trailers for impact resistance/absorbtion Posted the link on the 5th, here it is also:

                http://www.burley.com/home/bur/smartlist_177/safety.html

                You'll see Burley does do a 'drop' test, and offers modest amount of info about what that consists of, and a link to a standards criteria it meets. Without having read the standards sheet, I'm going to guess the type of slow speed collisions having occurred this last week are probably the maximum impact Burley's trailers could handle.

                If Burley has done a crash test dummy type collision with an actual motor vehicle at a range of speeds banging into a bike and bike trailer, that might be interesting to look into. I'm inclined to think that building bike trailers to withstand high impacts from cars is probably self defeating. Even if, let's say, bike trailers were equipped with air bags...it's doubtful that equipment would reassure people about their prospects of avoiding trauma after being piled into by a motor vehicle traveling 25mph or higher speeds.

                Especially for people wanting to tow their kids around in bike trailers, the potential for collisions with motor vehicles would probably have them strongly favoring design, construction and funding of at least a basic grid of grade separated cycle tracks throughout Portland's neighborhoods.

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  • Emily Finch December 4, 2012 at 10:29 am

    Basically, EXACTLY what KYouell wrote above. I am so terribly sorry that this happened to you and your son.

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  • bike trailers are good! December 4, 2012 at 10:31 am

    So sad.

    Another reminder of how relentlessly violent cars are.

    I hope that maybe this can spur development of some decent infrastructure.

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  • Gregg December 4, 2012 at 10:39 am

    What a tragedy. I'm very sorry to hear that this had happened.

    I get upset knowing that many of our civic leaders fight to keep safer streets from being built (The 2030 Bicycle Master Plan) while 100s of millions of dollars are being thrown at planning the Columbia River Crossing Highway Expansion Project and the Rose Quarter Highway Widening Project.

    I hope this family can heal as quickly and completely as possible.

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    • MossHops December 4, 2012 at 12:55 pm

      Even beyond the CRC, our mayor-elect argued that the best way to safer streets for all users is to redirect more funds to filling potholes. I believe that incidences like this are a strong rebuttal to that idea.

      This has to be a very painful process for the father. I hope he has a chance (and is willing) to tell his story to the mayor and the city council members. They need to understand that families use the city streets and need to be protected. Right now, the city is at a near complete standstill on improving bicycle infrastructure. If we don't move forward on our bike masterplan, we can anticipate further tragedies of this sort.

      This sort of tragedy is avoidable. We could prioritize protecting the most vulnerable road users, but instead we prioritize traveling to Vancouver 5 minutes quicker than our current rate, we prioritize road surfaces that are pristine and we prioritize increasing the convenience and speed of automobile use over saving lives.

      The PDOT budget is not just an account of dollars and cents, it is a reflection of the priorities of our city and our leadership. It is, above all, an ethical document. On this count, the PDOT budget is a horrible, abysmal failure and is a shameful reflection of our city and our lack of concern in the loss of life that we regularly experience on Portland roads.

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  • Robert Anderson December 4, 2012 at 10:42 am

    I'll buy a box of Voodoo Donuts as a thank-you for the DA's office if they actually decide to prosecute the driver under the Vulnerable Roadway User law. Sad to say, I'm betting that they'll just let the driver plea-bargain it down to a misdemeanor charge. I can't recall ever hearing about a successful case prosecuted under VRU; maybe someone can refresh my memory?

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    • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) December 4, 2012 at 10:52 am

      Robert,

      The VRU law is flawed in that it requires that the person found guilty of it operated their vehicle in a "careless" manner. The legal threshold of what constitutes "careless" is so high that most cases do not qualify. It would have real teeth if it simply required that the victim was a VRU and the person operating the vehicle broke a traffic law.

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      • 9watts December 4, 2012 at 11:04 am

        And I thought I'd read here somewhere that in rear-end collisions it is automatically the fault of the rear-ending party. Or did I misread/misremember that?

        Thank you Jonathan for exploring this in more detail and for the very graphic photo, too. Knowing he and the trailer were well lit and reflective just goes to show what some of us have been saying here for a while now. Being lit/reflective is no guarantee of anything.

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        • El Biciclero December 7, 2012 at 12:44 pm

          Being "at fault" and being "careless" are probably two different things. I like Jonathan's idea that seems to imply that even "fault" shouldn't matter--if a VRU is injured by a motor vehicle and they were both breaking the law, the motorist should still be prosecuted under the VRU law, as they have a greater responsibility to operate their vehicles within the bounds of the law to avoid injuring and killing people.

          I hate that the streets are considered to be the equivalent of something like a military artillery range, where anybody that wanders onto them ought to expect to get blown up, and don't come crying to me when you do...

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        • wsbob December 7, 2012 at 3:07 pm

          "... Being lit/reflective is no guarantee of anything. ..." 9watts

          Actually, there is essentially a guarantee to people having their bike properly equipped for visibility...light in front, reflector or light in back, in they won't be cited for not having that visibility gear.

          And most likely, more square inches of reflectivity and lighting displayed by people that bike, will increase the ease of road users efforts to detect vulnerable road users so equipped, amidst the traffic landscape, thereby increasing their odds of avoiding close calls and collisions.

          Of course, for your own self, if you find that additional visibility measures not including a guarantee against collision are of no value to you, you're welcome to choose to go without.

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          • Tacoma December 7, 2012 at 3:41 pm

            So the guarantee for "being lit/reflective" - i.e light in front, reflector or light in back - is that one "won't be cited for not having that visibility gear" - i.e. I won't get a ticket. Thank you for pointing out the single guarantee it brings. That does provide some consolation after one is struck by a car, that at least one won't "be cited". Frankly, your comment here comes across as petty and detracts from your other comments.

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            • wsbob December 7, 2012 at 11:57 pm

              "...Frankly, your comment here comes across as petty and detracts from your other comments. ..." Tacoma

              'Guarantee' was in response to the comment of 9watts lamenting about lights and reflectivity not being a guarantee of 'anything', alluding to collisions involving a bike and a motor vehicle.

              If a 'guarantee' that maximizing bike lights and reflectivity will prevent collisions caused by another vehicle, were the only means by which people could be persuaded to equip their bikes, trailers and themselves with visibility enhancing gear, it could be very difficult to achieve that higher visibility on the part of bikes and bike trailers.

              Fortunately though, most people would probably recognize it's not reasonable to expect lights and visibility to guarantee that collisions they could come to be involved in, caused by other vehicles, will not happen.

              Despite reasonable ability to offer a guarantee against collision, in favor of increased visibility on the part of vulnerable road users, with some simple encouragement, people could possibly come to understand that enhanced visibility on their part, could very well help reduce their chances of not being seen by other road users, with the result being a collision.

              This benefit of enhanced visibility through more lighting and reflectivity is the point I tried to express in my comment. My apology if my remarks came across as not reflecting a genuine interest in improvements to everyone's safety.

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      • Rol December 4, 2012 at 11:05 am

        If there was data being sent or received via their wireless device at the time of the accident, does that presumptively meet the standard of carelessness?

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      • are December 4, 2012 at 11:10 am

        "careless" is defined at ORS 811.135 as driving "in a manner that endangers or would be likely to endanger any person or property." the threshold is not high. it is not an abstraction, and it does not require you to inquire into the driver's state of mind. rear-ending someone at a stop is likely to endanger, period.

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        • Chris I December 4, 2012 at 11:28 am

          +1

          It's so obsurd that injury accidents like this do not automatically qualify as being "careless". Did you hit a stopped object with your car? You were being careless. It doesn't matter what you were doing at the time. If anything, someone that wasn't "distracted" at the time is even more dangerous!

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        • are December 4, 2012 at 11:59 am

          in other words, the statute as a practical matter already does say what you want it to day -- violation plus injury to vulnerable user. the problem is that responding officers have not been properly trained to make the appropriate marks on the ticket form. they imagine that some high threshold of "carelessness" is required, but it is simply not the case. someone needs to step into the training sessions and clarify this.

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          • Alan 1.0 December 4, 2012 at 1:24 pm

            "...responding officers have not been properly trained..."

            So, then, who is responsible for that training? Who, once the legislature has passed a law complete with discussion about why it was needed and what it was intended to accomplish (testimony from Bjorn et al), is responsible for implementing it and its enforcement? My guess is that it is District Attorneys who have chosen not to use it, possibly due to unfavorable court decisions in other cases. But I am curious about who actually made the choice(s) not to use it, and why.

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            • are December 4, 2012 at 4:07 pm

              presumably police officers have regular trainings in some dull classroom somewhere. BTA could offer to send someone to do a one hour briefing at these. the drafters of the legislation, including ray thomas, would make credible presenters.

              the most recent change to the statute, adding paragraph (6) to make it easier for the officer on the scene to note the fact that the statute might apply, without actually committing to the charge, was put forward by BTA specifically in response to a request from law enforcement through ray. we are handing law enforcement this thing on a silver platter and they still will not take it.

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              • Alan 1.0 December 5, 2012 at 5:40 pm

                That sounds like a worthy endeavor for BTA, but even covering just the tri-county police departments, one by one, would be a big effort. Trying to cover all city and county police departments in Oregon is asking too much. Both the Oregon District Attorneys Association (ODAA), representing 36 elected district attorneys, and the Oregon Association Chiefs of Police (OACP) have conferences, meetings, and discussion and training fora, and maybe BTA could leverage those higher association levels to help spread awareness and use of 811.135.

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            • Byron December 5, 2012 at 9:05 am

              I was recently in a meeting with two officers responsible for traffic and bicycle policing. When I mentioned some of the laws that were not being enforced that cause problems for bicyclist they had no idea what I was talking about and had never heard of them. The problem is that there are so many rules and few take many of them seriously.

              As I see it the laws are routinely violated and there is no enforcement. And when there is an accident, the police and DA work very hard to come up with a reason that the pedestrian or bicyclist is in the wrong rather than punish the poor driver. I believe the only way to change this is to make a law that says that in an accident between a motorized vehicle and a pedestrian or bicyclist that the motorized vehicle is responsible, the implied liability of the Netherlands.

              It is clear to me in this case that the driver was speeding and distracted. Both of which rise the careless or even reckless. To throw the bicylist into the car in front with enough force to break the window implies considerable speed. A speed limit is an upper limit, not a lower limit, and can only be used if all conditions are good. That means that in a rain the speed limit is less and travelling the speed limit in the rain is careless and reckless driving.

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        • Bjorn December 4, 2012 at 1:47 pm

          I agree that the careless standard appears to me to be met by this, I guess one could argue that the injury doesn't meet the legal standard for serious:

          from ors: "Serious physical injury means physical injury which creates a substantial risk of death or which causes serious and protracted disfigurement, protracted impairment of health or protracted loss or impairment of the function of any bodily organ."

          To me a broken vertebrae meets that standard, or at least comes close enough that it should be up to a judge to determine. The issue continues to be police officers who are either unfamiliar with the law or not applying it properly. I don't know if it is too late for the officer to issue the citation, but hopefully whatever lawyer this guy has contacted will be advocating for that to happen. Overall it would be nice to see Chief Reese communicate to all officers that they should error on the side of using the law when a VRU is seriously injured.

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      • J_R December 4, 2012 at 6:45 pm

        If this collision, involving a motorist zooming up to stopped vehicle traffic at a traffic signal and crashing into a stopped vehicle with a strobe and a rider with a reflective vest, doesn't constitute CARELESS, the DA should public declare that the VRU law is completely useless.

        Better yet, let's have the DA attempt to prosecute under the law and let the court decide the threshold is too high. Then we can all go back to the legislature and demand something that actually does protect the vunerable from the non-careless, inattentive drivers.

        By anyone's definition, except a lawyer's, this collision meets the definition of careless.

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    • Robert Burchett December 5, 2012 at 11:30 am

      I am also glad that two people are alive and have a good prospect of recovery.

      The office of the District Attorney is in some degree answerable to political pressure--write, call, email, etc., directly as well as through city and county government.

      I am aware of a case involving a cyclist and a drunk pedestrian in this city where the cyclist, much less culpable than this car occupant, was charged with assault. He hit a jaywalker who was intoxicated, the D.A. offered to let him off with 30 days in jail and loss of riding privileges! This farce was the result of the pressure from City Hall on the D.A.'s office.

      This is not a legend, I am personally acquainted with the cyclist who was (unfortunately for him at the time) working as a messenger. He was also one of the most staid, law-abiding traffic cyclists I have ever seen.

      Outrage. Light 'em up.

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  • ladyfleur December 4, 2012 at 10:43 am

    To the dad: I'm glad you and your son came out of this horrible experience without major injuries. Please don't be hard on yourself. Drivers make mistakes and injure people on foot and in others cars all the time, not just those on bikes. You could been crossing that same intersection on foot and had equal or worse injuries.

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    • oliver December 4, 2012 at 10:49 am

      You're absolutely right. Drivers do make mistakes and injure people on foot and in cars and on bicycles all the time.

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    • mabsf December 4, 2012 at 2:49 pm

      Yupp, you are right Fleur, but when a driver doesn't pay attention, 3000 lbs of steal go array!

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  • todd December 4, 2012 at 10:44 am

    This is, of course, totally horrible. I understand the PTSD, and would never challenge this family's likely enduring fear of taking kids by bike. But suppose this family was walking instead, and struck in an intersection, with or without lights and high-vis. It certainly happens, far too often. That too would be a crime, not an indictment of the judgment of the parent in choosing to walk.

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    • Allan Folz December 4, 2012 at 10:51 am

      Right. There was the family had their 2 y.o. in a stroller that was run over by a geriatric driver while standing on the sidewalk waiting to cross the street.

      Mitch Greenlick is all hot and bothered about kids in bike trailers, but has done nothing rein-in unsafe, geriatric drivers.

      Jonathan, have the police at least indicated the age of the driver?

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      • are December 4, 2012 at 11:22 am

        yeah, or sex, race, hair color, taste in music or clothing?

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        • Allan Folz December 4, 2012 at 11:34 am

          This passes moderation?

          Unlike all those other characteristics, advancing age plays a marked and well-known negative factor on both eye-sight and reaction times.

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          • are December 4, 2012 at 12:14 pm

            "passes moderation" coming from someone who attacks "geriatrics" though there are no reported facts here indicating the age of the driver.

            stats from the 2000 census
            http://www.allcountries.org/uscensus/1045_age_of_driver_and_number_in.html
            say in 1998 there were eleven "accidents" per hundred licensed drivers, thirty fatalities per hundred thousand. among drivers over age 75 the crash rate was slightly lower and the fatality rate was slightly higher than the averages.

            but guess what. everybody below age thirty-four had worse numbers, and twenty to twenty-four was horrible. and all those people in between, twenty-five to seventy-four, although they were running stats below the average per hundred or hundred thousand, accounted for 69.7 pct. of all crashes and 69.6 pct. of all fatalities.

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            • are December 4, 2012 at 12:28 pm

              and the reason the fatality rate was slightly higher may have been that, y'know, old people are easier to kill

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            • are December 4, 2012 at 12:33 pm

              here is some more recent data
              http://www.census.gov/compendia/statab/2010/tables/10s1077.xls
              and hey, the good news is, drivers twenty-five to thirty-four have moved into first place.

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              • Bjorn December 4, 2012 at 3:23 pm

                Any data that is based on collisions per driver rather than collisions per mile driven will skew heavily towards demographics that drive more.

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            • Allan Folz December 4, 2012 at 1:01 pm

              First, I did not use the pejorative noun "geriatrics," so don't put it in quotes as if I did. I used the adjective geriatric as a modifier to the noun drivers. That is perfectly legitimate usage.

              Second, my attack, such that it was, was with Mitch Greenlick and his ham-handed desire to regulate the victims, rather than deal with the offenders.

              Third, enough with the ad numeram fallacies and the not so thinly veiled ad hominem.

              Finally, I've not suggested we go FAA on geriatric drivers. However, added regulation aimed addressing their declining faculties is entirely reasonable and would unquestionably save lives. Methinks you doth protest too much. You're obviously biased and I won't be responding any further. It's clear where I stand, and you're not going to be able to cast me as some sort of bigot.

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              • are December 4, 2012 at 2:32 pm

                please identify the ad numeram fallacies

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              • Opus the Poet December 5, 2012 at 6:46 pm

                Actually I'm in favor of going FAA on all drivers and requiring a re-test of knowledge and skills every two years (biennial review). It has proven most effective at identifying lapses in training and skills in pilots, even GA pilots (non-professional) are leaps and bounds above the skill level of most car drivers in terms of accidents per hour at the controls, especially when the added dimension of flying is considered as well as the fact that there is a much higher probability of crashing from just getting lost than there is with cars (fuel exhaustion, missing a fuel stop in an airplane is not the same as just going to the next exit in a car).

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            • Allan Folz December 4, 2012 at 1:08 pm

              First, I did not use the pejorative noun "geriatrics," so don't put it in quotes as if I did. I used the adjective geriatric as a modifier to the noun drivers. That is perfectly legitimate usage.

              Second, my attack, such that it was, was with Mitch Greenlick and his ham-handed desire to regulate the victims, rather than deal with the offenders.

              Third, enough with the ad numeram fallacies and the not so thinly veiled ad hominem.

              Finally, I've not suggested we go FAA on geriatric drivers. However, added regulation aimed addressing their declining faculties is entirely reasonable and would unquestionably save lives. Methinks you doth protest too much. You're obviously biased and I won't be responding any further. It's clear where I stand, and you're not going to be successful casting me as some sort of bigot.

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              • are December 4, 2012 at 2:35 pm

                and while you are at it, please identify the ad hominem

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      • Esther December 4, 2012 at 11:38 am

        Teens have a higher crash rate than elderly people.

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        • Allan Folz December 4, 2012 at 11:55 am

          And teens have added restrictions on their licenses... depending on the state, no driving at night except to work, no other teens in the car, etc.

          But regardless, since when does two wrongs make a right?

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          • are December 4, 2012 at 12:15 pm

            the two wrongs being, let me think, some guy and his kid get creamed at 60th and division and you come on here complaining about old people

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          • Esther December 4, 2012 at 4:01 pm

            None. I think people should have to get re-tested for their licenses every couple years. I was just able to renew my license after 9 years and won't have to renew again until 2020, and DMV had no way of knowing if I've developed some kind of impairment that affected in that time, unless I had happened to visit and tell it to a doctor who obliged with their mandatory reporting to the DMV. That's a lot of IF's. I think ALL drivers should have frequent re-testing, not just old ones, or young ones.

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            • Esther December 4, 2012 at 4:02 pm

              *None = Never (as in, 2 wrongs never make a right)

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    • Jake December 4, 2012 at 11:12 am

      Todd, sadly there are plenty of a-holes out there that DO take parents to task for walking. We have come to see anything but travel by car as being inherently risky and foolish. Of course they forget the massive casualties among motorists themselves, being the most dangerous daily activity for the majority of Americans.

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      • Rol December 4, 2012 at 11:36 am

        Walking? WALKING? The thing that met ALL the overland transportation needs of modern homo sapiens for the first 95% of its existence (before the domestication of horses)?

        What's next... breathing? "You shouldn't have been trying to breathe there."

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    • Pliny December 4, 2012 at 11:33 am

      I agree. It's completely understandable how this guys feels. However, this seems to be a case where the trailer did it's job and protected the kid.

      People get hurt getting rear ended in cars too. All you can do is either never leave your house, or take the best precautions you can.

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  • Allan Folz December 4, 2012 at 10:45 am

    What disgusts me is all the motorists out there that are going to be blaming the victim and rationalizing (implicitly their own) distracted and negligent driving with "accidents are going to happen; that guy had no business being on the streets, surrounded by cars with a small child in one of those trailers that offers no protection."

    This is every cycling parent's worse nightmare. My heart goes out to the fellow and I wish him well.

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  • Tim December 4, 2012 at 10:45 am

    Some of my fondest memories of my little boy involve riding with him on the back of my bike. Remember, that all transportation alternatives involve risks. Illegal operation of motor vehicles is the #1 cause of childhood death. Most of these children die in the parents car. At least when you are on a bike you are part of the solution and not the problem.

    I was right hooked again today by a parent turning into an elementary school. If I expected parents to look or signal before turning I would have been hit.

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    • Pete December 4, 2012 at 10:55 pm

      In my experience schools have the most dangerous intersections to ride near, by far. Distracted driving doesn't always come from mobile devices.

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  • Dan Kaufman December 4, 2012 at 10:49 am

    I do understand why this needs to be reported here BUT let's also consider that there will be other children and adults injured and killed at this intersection and it won't be extensively reported (if at all) and the safety of driving and walking with children won't be debated.

    It breaks my heart to see this photo. That could be my child crushed under that wheel. Maybe what we need to see is more pictures of auto wreckage and casualties so that we can be reminded that our transportation system is not safe regardless mode and it's all because of one mode, the automobile. Somehow we've become so accustomed to the carnage that we don't even notice it unless the victim is riding a bicycle.

    My hope is that we'll see improvements at this intersection but the real solution is to dramatically reduce auto-speeds on all of our streets and highways.

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  • peter cowan December 4, 2012 at 10:51 am

    super scary. glad they're going to be ok.

    that intersection scares me even as a pedestrian. drivers treat that section of divison as a highway, and race up to the stop light all the time.

    the best way to cross that part of division is the pedestrian signal at 57th, then you can cut over to woodward via 58th, or take the path between clinton park and franklin high school. it's a little bit out of the way if you're coming from 60th and salmon, but not *that* much and you can take 57th the whole way from salmon.

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  • Curt December 4, 2012 at 10:55 am

    Thankfully this type of incident is rare. So glad the child was not severely hurt. This reminds me of the proposed bill around the child trailers (see http://bikeportland.org/2011/01/12/rep-greenlick-says-safety-concerns-prompted-child-biking-bill-45890) - will this be raised again? Let's remember that an incident is not a trend.

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  • Smedley Basilone December 4, 2012 at 10:56 am

    This is why I don't wait for red lights. I understand he had a child with him, but if I can help it I never sit at night waiting for a light. You have to look out for yourself, because nobody else will.

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    • Tony December 4, 2012 at 11:06 am

      He was stopped behind two other cars and we're talking Division, at night, at 6PM with a bike trailer. Are you insane? Who would cross Division against the light, at night, in the rain, at 6PM, with a bike trailer.

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      • are December 4, 2012 at 12:23 pm

        i have an idea how to advance the constructive tone of this conversation. let's call each other names.

        not necessarily applicable to this specific situation, and not as a critique of how this guy handled a particular situation that happened to have a bad outcome, but

        what a red light signifies, as far as a bicyclist is concerned, is that cross traffic is likely to be flying through at something over the posted limit. the red light does not signify to the bicyclist, as it does to the motorist who is safely enclosed in a collapsible airframe, you sit here and switch into "off" mode until the light changes. people are still approaching from behind, and frankly, the guy making a right off the cross street might swing wide. sitting in an intersection is always the worst thing a bicyclist can do, even (or especially) when it is nominally required by the traffic signals. you do it if you have to, but you have to remain vigilant, and if there is an opportunity to get out, you may as well take it.

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        • Smedley Basilone December 4, 2012 at 11:21 pm

          Thank You! You expressed what I meant. "Remain vigilant, if you have the opportunity, get out of there". I think while sitting there it creates a situation where you could be a "sitting duck".

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    • spare_wheel December 4, 2012 at 12:00 pm

      even if it might not be applicable to a heavier bike with a kid trailer, i am glad you made this point.

      i also think that its best to move to the front of a line of cars and place your bike squarely in the way of the first car. unless its unsafe to do this i never sit sandwiched between tailpipes.

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    • was carless December 4, 2012 at 12:36 pm

      I am sorry, but thus just reinforces the law breaking mentality of the bike ninja class. People like you very much make those of us who actually know how to ride a bike look bad.

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      • are December 4, 2012 at 2:17 pm

        look bad or look dead, i always say

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      • spare_wheel December 4, 2012 at 3:37 pm

        what you call a law i call a statute enforced by a fee (quelle horreur!!1!) that was specifically designed for multi-ton hunks of metal.

        "the bike ninja class"

        also known as human beings who often do not have a lot of money and cannot afford to be "was carless".

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  • Andrew K December 4, 2012 at 11:01 am

    I am extremely happy to hear that both dad and son were able to come away from this without permanant injuries.

    I totally agree that there needs to be more safe and easy to navigate North/South routes within Portland. I would really like to see some pressure on PBOT and our new elected officials to put out some workable plans to make that happen.

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  • dsaxena December 4, 2012 at 11:15 am

    Very tragic story, what is the condition of the child now?

    My partner and I are planning to have a child in about two years; she is already super nervous about my safety on my bike and I've been thinking about the safety of a pulling a trailer behind me due to fear of this very type of incident, a rollover, etc. When I was in Copenhagen recently, I don't recall seeing many kids in trailers but instead saw lots of _trikes_ with kids in them. It seems to me that having the kid in front, where you can keep an eye on them, and having the stability of a single frame would be far safer than pulling a trailer.

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    • KYouell December 4, 2012 at 7:13 pm

      Yes, trikes are popular in Copenhagen, and bakfiets are popular in Amsterdam. I'm @kyouell on twitter & have been riding my kids around in a bakfiets for over a year and a half now. I'd be happy to discuss my experiences more with you. I'm sure Emily Finch (@1lessgmsuburban) would also be happy to chat about it too; she has a bakfiets and her husband has a trike (& a car). She's a tad busy this week, so if you aim your comments at her don't be surprised if it takes awhile for an answer. We do it, you can do it too. :-)

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    • Michael Miller December 5, 2012 at 2:30 pm

      A great alternative to a bakfiets or trike is an xtracycle with childseat. There are tradeoffs against either the baks or trikes, but there are definite advantages for the general usability of the bike, including being less expensive, especially if you convert a bike you already own. Ridability and handling are as good or better than the original (pre-xtra) bike, and you can haul a wide range of goods spontaneously, without having to decide to hook up a trailer or take the other bike.

      I converted an old Schwinn mountain bike into a xtracycle a couple years before I knew I was going to have a child. Once he was 8 or 9 months, I added a front child seat (Yepp Mini), which I highly recommend, and we started riding. A bit after he turned two, I replaced it with a Yepp Maxi that attaches to the rear deck. He has loved riding in both seats, and I appreciate how much better the bike handles than it would with a trailer and not having to worry about him being several feet behind me, more vulnerable and breathing at tailpipe level.

      I did add a two-point kickstand, which eliminates any stability concerns while loading/unloading the bike, locking it up, etc. (I would recommend that anyone considering hauling kids on an xtracycle -- or any other bike -- be very comfortable with the handling of the bike itself before adding a child seat.)

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  • Tim December 4, 2012 at 11:24 am

    My message to father and family: "so glad you are safe! Thanks for all your previous efforts on the behalf of cyclists. Happy riding once you are healed up."

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  • Terry D December 4, 2012 at 11:26 am

    This is terrible and should never happen. I live just north of Mount Tabor and the ONLY good route to head south is all the way to 52nd, which is a Greenway yet to be constructed (next year).

    If you compare the Master Bicycle Plan and the local roads there is an easy solution which requires no private land acquisition, but would involve....gasp....a new traffic light.

    SE 64th connects the Lincoln-Harrison Greenway to the back end of the Park's Department Headquarters. It would be easy to build a path on the back side to Division and then, with a new Bike/Pedestrian light (which they REALLY need since there is a senior community there) crossing Division at SE 64th. Then, when money and time allows, Greenway access from south Portland (which needs it desperately) can easily be achieved : SE 64th to Woodward, SE 65th to Center, then SE 67th all the way to the city limits south and the Springwater Corridor.

    Personally, I think this is one of the most important connections we need to make since this would give controlled SAFE access to Mount Tabor and the Lincoln-Harrison Greenway to all of South Portland and once you get to Lincoln, the whole rest of the central city opens up.

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  • Tyler B December 4, 2012 at 11:28 am

    Ditto on more N/S routes. I'm more inclined to focus on that (I just got a N/S route by my house, the 86/87th route in Montavilla), and it has made a big difference at major intersections like Stark/Washington. I think this is a much more productive area of focus for the cycling community than busting out the pitchforks and torches and for more "serious consequences" or prosecutions. That route of action has it's place as well, but considering how little specific info we have on this accident, it's probably a little premature here.

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  • Todd Hudson December 4, 2012 at 11:29 am

    I'm going to make a wild guess and assume the motorist was yakking on their cell phone when this accident happened.

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  • jess December 4, 2012 at 11:30 am

    glad this kid was OK.

    I watched a wonderful mother blow a loaded 4-way stop sign intersection this morning with a kid on the back. Just shook my head in disbelief.
    It goes both ways with kids and people's decisions on the road.

    The intersection is not that bad in my experience. Seems like nothing more than driven inattention, which no cyclist is safe from. I ride it a few times a week at night. Clinton is a lot better however, less traffick, and delivers you to the same general area, however crossing 52nd can be tough at night, in the rain. The traffic patterns of the entire area are affected by the presence of Franklin High School grounds/fields.

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  • Unit December 4, 2012 at 11:41 am

    Hmmm, driving a 1.5-ton object over a child in a small trailer. What an unconscionable act of violence. Now, if I walked outside and started shooting a gun randomly and hit someone, I would be accused of homicide or something similar. If I do the same thing with my car, which is proven in statistics to be hundreds of times more lethal, law enforcement looks the other way. Just sad.

    What luck that the child survived and wll recover. But we shouldn't let luck make us complacent. PPB and the DMV are the only ones who ensure the attacker is held accountable. Murder, whether intentional or through recklessness, is not ok.

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  • Dave December 4, 2012 at 11:46 am

    Remember, it's wise to not think of drivers as human; rather, they're an uncontrolled, top of the food chain predator with no natural enemies. And, nobody's hunting them--yet.

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  • Glenn December 4, 2012 at 11:50 am

    9watts
    And I thought I'd read here somewhere that in rear-end collisions it is automatically the fault of the rear-ending party. Or did I misread/misremember that?
    Thank you Jonathan for exploring this in more detail and for the very graphic photo, too. Knowing he and the trailer were well lit and reflective just goes to show what some of us have been saying here for a while now. Being lit/reflective is no guarantee of anything.

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    • Glenn December 4, 2012 at 12:57 pm

      9watts is correct in saying that being well lit is no guarantee that you will be well seen. But it sure does help. I commute daily from Vancouver to my job at PDX, about one and a half hours each way. During the winter months I never see daylight on my bicycle until spring. I have two high-power headlights and a "constellation" of tail lights, plus reflective clothing. I once confronted a driver who cut me off. He claimed he didn't see me, and perhaps so. Drivers generally are looking for other vehicles first. Their eyes are not attuned to other life on the road. Like it or not, this is a human factor we more vulnerable beings need to bear in mind. That being said, I can't tell you how frequently I come across fellow commuters ( and joggers), with some despair, who are wearing all-black clothing. And often their lighting is very weak. If I have an opportunity at a traffic signal, I cordially offer my observation on their lack of visibility. More often than not, they do not seem concerned. If my bike-sensitive eye has difficulty picking them up, how much more so for a motorist who has never been on a bike?

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      • 9watts December 5, 2012 at 10:07 am

        Lighting and reflective clothing is wise, prudent, etc. As we've seen here it can be overdone (blinding oncoming traffic, Trimet clown in orange suit, etc.) but that aside it is an area worthy of attention, advocacy, and education.
        What this tragic example highlights, however, is that all those campaigns that focus attention on the supposedly unlit or underlit human-powered modes, are misconstruing the problem, which is still inattentive drivers. European authorities get this and generally don't blame the un- or under-lit victims.

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      • wsbob December 6, 2012 at 5:54 pm

        "...being well lit is no guarantee that you will be well seen. But it sure does help. ..." Glenn

        Glenn...thanks for helping to emphasize what should be among the very top in-traffic self defensive measures people that bike amongst motor vehicles use to improve their chances of avoiding collisions and worse with motor vehicles.

        Decently bright, off the shelf, easy to recharge lights are available for around $50 and up for headlights,
        $30 for tail lights...still a lot of money for people to afford multiple lights, but one or two can be supplemented with reflective tape, which is less money...about a $1.00 a foot for 2" wide, but is very effective when headlights shine on it.

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        • 9watts December 6, 2012 at 9:47 pm

          1: being seen is good
          2: being run over is bad

          Two pedalcyclists pulling their progeny in bike trailers have in the past week now been run into by Portland automobilists, one father and child in broad daylight (scrapes, Eric see below); the other at night but well reflectivized and illuminated (hospitalized but released, see above). Poor visibility of the victims was by all accounts not a cause in either case, driver attention almost certainly was.

          Conclusion wsbob: let's just keep talking about reflectors and lights "to improve their chances of avoiding collisions and worse with motor vehicles. [...] reflective tape is very effective when headlights shine on it."

          1: being seen is (still) good
          --> you need to make yourself visible when biking = 2
          --> I need to pay attention when I'm driving = 0
          2: being run over is (still) bad

          I know you're trying to be helpful, wsbob, but this does not strike me as productive here. Instead it is starting to smell like the reflexive "was he wearing a helmet/was she wearing a skimpy dress" question.

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          • wsbob December 6, 2012 at 11:50 pm

            "...I know you're trying to be helpful, wsbob, but this does not strike me as productive here. ..." 9watts

            Then perhaps you should think about situations where people may be trailering their kids around, a bit more thoroughly.

            While additional lights and reflectivity may not have made a difference in helping to avoid a collision in the situations these most recent car/bike w/trailer collisions occurred, additional lights and reflectivity may very well be helpful in other situations people may find themselves towing their children behind them with a bike.

            Enhanced visibility reduces the potential for close calls and collisions in situations where poor visibility exist due to a variety of conditions such as poor or nonexistent street lighting. Lighting and reflectivity are comparatively cheap.

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            • 9watts December 7, 2012 at 8:42 am

              Yeah, I can think of a lot of maybes too.
              What I'm trying to understand is why you are so determined to focus not on the apparent and familiar cause in these and many other instances where cars and bikes crash, people outside of cars are maimed or killed, but on a 'fix' for a hypothetical problem not generally observed.
              Reese Wilson: straight road, middle of day
              Christeen Osborn: straight road, middle of day, reflective vest
              David Apperson: wiggly road, no shoulder, sun in driver's eyes
              Martha McLean & Essya Nabbali: straight road, middle of day
              Marcellus Tijdink: straight road, middle of day
              Steven Dayley, Hank Bersani & Karl Moritz....: straight road, middle of day, and on and on...

              To shore up your point, can you point to people we've read about here on bikeportland who have been hit by cars where inadequate illumination or reflectivity was determined to be the cause?

              And on the assumption that you can find some, would you agree that in other countries (Austria, Germany for starters) the law and public service efforts do not focus on or single out or blame the victims in instances like this but tend to find fault with drivers even in cases where we here might find ourselves expecting 'what is with the ninja-cyclists?'

              You say: "Lighting and reflectivity are comparatively cheap."
              I agree with that, but they are also, predictably, the responsibility of the human powered modes in our conversations here. Cost is hardly the most important criterion in this context. Assigning responsibility is to me a more important and prior one. The cost to me as a bicycle rider of (finally) getting the VRU law applied, or of (finally) ticketing distracted drivers at rates that conceivably might reduce that tendency, is likely lower than buying and installing and maintaining even more lights and reflective material.
              It's all about priorities.

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              • wsbob December 7, 2012 at 3:21 pm

                For people that bike, increases in the total square inches of visibility enhancing lights and reflectivity is something almost every person that bikes can relatively easily achieve...now...not weeks, months or years from now.

                New laws, or revision of old ones that attempt to somehow reduce collisions between cars and bikes may have merit in the long term, but for the short term those measures offer no relief.

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  • dan December 4, 2012 at 11:53 am

    This is horrifying...I can't imagine what the father must be feeling right now. Such a shame that we all know the driver will walk with a slap on the wrist.

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  • Jonathan December 4, 2012 at 11:56 am

    Thank you, Jonathan M., for taking the time to post this story. I hope that the family recovers quickly and that they continue to advocate for family bicycling.

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  • Over and Doubt December 4, 2012 at 12:02 pm

    Agreed Rebecca--but if our injuries and fatalities can be expressed as multiples of the Netherlands', it means riders are still hurt and killed there as well. Which might lead us to debate what level of injuries and deaths (if any) is compatible with being "truly safe."

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  • Rol December 4, 2012 at 12:16 pm

    What this is, is a case of broken trust. In addition to the raw trauma of the event, there is the realization that there has been a betrayal. Generally speaking, TRUST is a huge element of what allows advanced civilization to exist and function. Transportation is no exception. Every day, no matter what mode you use, you're putting your life, and those of your kids, in the hands of others out there. But when people fail in their moral duty, there is a sense of loss and outrage. All the angry d-bag commenters on Oregonlive feel it too; you can see it plain as day. They've probably all been betrayed already. And now, realizing their own laziness or cowardice has made them part of the problem, they're just basically resolving the cognitive dissonance any way they can. They will not generally hasten to tell you "Wow, I'm actually sort of a coward and I'm part of the problem." They will more likely say "Silly fool, it was stupid of you to trust people, just buy a tank to transport your kids in. Like I did."

    To the anonymous dad: There are only two roads to go down:
    1) Believe in civilized society, and other people (the vast majority of whom "get it" I think), and your own reasons for cycling, and the freedom or right to do so. Result: Being courageous and continuing as you were already doing. Continued physical risk. Relative absence of cognitive dissonance. "You picked up where you left off."
    2) Give up on civilized society, or the notion that people can be trusted. There does exist an argument to be made in favor of this, since in many ways we seem to be creeping toward collapse, and those who have seen such things elsewhere know it's always characterized by gradually- or precipitously-increasing entropy/disorder (which almost by definition is when "accidents" mount in frequency). Result: Less physical risk, but a quiet and sad sort of alienation, and capitulation to a powerlessness ultimately much more far-reaching than the momentary powerlessness of the crash itself. "You learned your lesson."

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  • Mike December 4, 2012 at 12:18 pm

    Probably not going to be very popular with this post: I was pretty amazed that someone who lives in the neighborhood would consider 60th as the best option (or even a viable one) at night, in the rain, near rush hour, with a kid in tow. A little bit of map examination and a test ride would reveal that you could head west 1 or 2 blocks on Salmon then south on 58th or 57th, slight jog to the right at Lincoln then straight to Division. 57th and 58th both have painted crosswalks at Divsion. Might require a dismount at Division, but you are so close to the light at 60th that it is not difficult to cross.

    Understand, that I believe they have an absolute right to safely ride on SE 60th and I think society has a duty to ensure they can do so… but unfortunately that does not mean it actually is, in those conditions.

    I'm glad to hear that father and son will fully heal and I hope they continue to ride. I also hope the driver is held fully accountable for his/her negligence.

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    • Spiffy December 4, 2012 at 1:02 pm

      Mike
      you could head west 1 or 2 blocks on Salmon then south on 58th or 57th, slight jog to the right at Lincoln then straight to Division.

      sounds like simply crossing the street you're already on would be the best option... oh, except for the dangerous motor vehicle operators...

      the best option for me is the most direct one, just like everybody else...

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      • are December 4, 2012 at 4:11 pm

        in fairness to mike's point, spiffy, there is also a light at 57th, and a great deal less southbound traffic. problem is, it dumps you nowhere, and then you are on division itself, which might be worse.

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  • Joe December 4, 2012 at 12:38 pm

    Having pulled all 3 of my kids around, this made my eyes tear up and heart sink.

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  • Chris December 4, 2012 at 12:42 pm

    Very unfortunate that this happened, and I am sure that it will take some time to get over the shock of the event. Sometimes I stand at the corner of Belmont and 39th waiting for a bus, and I observe many passing drivers. Looking at what many of them are doing (texting, talking on phone, dancing and singing in driver's seat, or wolfing down a Big Mac), it's a miracle that there aren't more collisions at intersections. Frankly, observing drivers scares the crap out if me.

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  • BURR December 4, 2012 at 12:44 pm

    Distracted driver, vulnerable road user.

    They should throw the book at the motorist.

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  • Dave Stephenson December 4, 2012 at 12:58 pm

    If the car hit the car in front of the bike, this accident becomes unavoidable, the driver had to be texting, drunk, or perhaps eating. As we know this causes accidents a minimum of 2 years with out a DL and a probation officer might make people think twice.

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  • Spiffy December 4, 2012 at 1:07 pm

    as a father who tows his 4 year old in a trailer as well this just makes me furious... I've biked that intersection (and in the lane of the 4-lane section of division up to the bike lane) in the dark many times, but I don't think I've been there with my kid... I would not hesitate to bike this route, or any route, with my kid...

    society does not have adequate discipline for what the driver deserves and I hope I'm never in this situation if somebody injures my kid with their cage...

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  • Julian December 4, 2012 at 1:19 pm

    SO relieved to hear the injury report after seeing that photo.

    I have to say that this is the worst child-on/behind-parent bike incident I've heard of in 4+ years of pretty obsessively following family cycling issues online and locally in Seattle. Cuts, scrapes, slo-mo tipovers and other scares/learning experiences on occasion, but nothing like this.

    Which will be faint reassurance for the dad but for the rest of us hopefully puts trailer and tots on bikes dangers into some (limited) perspective.

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  • jd December 4, 2012 at 1:23 pm

    I'm so glad they are okay. I hope to hear that the terrible driver is being prosecuted soon.

    We're considering what type of bike addendum to get for our youngster when we start hauling him around this spring. We'd decided against bike trailer because we cross Powell a lot in the 50s range, and the center median isn't wide enough for bike+trailer. But it doesn't sound like a rear seat would have been safer in this accident -- it sounds the driver really wanted to run over whatever was in front of him.

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  • Kevin S December 4, 2012 at 1:25 pm

    Wow. I live in the South Tabor neighborhood, ride daily, and cross that intersection by bike nearly 4x/week. Over the course of 3 years, that intersection has been a bad one for quite some time, as people are typically 1)running the light traveling E-W on Division, and 2) drivers looking to turn R onto Division commonly blow through the light, irregardless of if someone is at the crosswalk.. Also, as a parent of 2 small kids, who has a Burley, this is a nightmare come true.. horrible thing to happen- especially since all precautions (bright colors, flashing lights) were presumably used by the rider.. I'm going to go out on a limb and guess this person driving was... Texting. . . Scary stuff!
    (Recharging my bike lights as I write this!)

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  • Chrystal December 4, 2012 at 1:36 pm

    The photo is disturbing I am glad that they are both safe. Being reared on my bike is a fear I have had but lucky have never had to face.

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  • Thomas Arbs December 4, 2012 at 1:39 pm

    Such a tough story. We all know that altogether cycling with a child in a trailer is relatively safe, in fact this accident has even served to show how safe - the trailer was ran straight under, yet all the child suffered was bruises. On the other hand "altogether" and "relative" are such moot terms if it comes to you, yourself and your children. I wish this father the strength to not let doubt ruin his attitude, to grab his guts, get up again, say "shit happens" and keep cycling. You did the right thing, yes you did the right thing for your child even if in this particular case it went wrong!

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    • wsbob December 4, 2012 at 3:57 pm

      "...We all know that altogether cycling with a child in a trailer is relatively safe, in fact this accident has even
      served to show how safe - the trailer was ran straight under, yet all the child suffered was bruises. ..." Thomas Arbs

      Relatively safe. Child carrying bike trailers may offer safety protection against bumps in the road but it would seem very little protection against motor vehicles colliding with them. In this collision, the back, upper portion of the bike trailer, appears to have been nearly collapsed by the impact with the car.

      I can't decide from looking at the picture accompanying this story, but a question that occurs to me, is when a child is in the trailer, what part of the child's body would be on a similar height from the ground as parts of motor vehicles, for example, a cars' bumper.

      Another reason the child survived as injury free as he did, may likely have to do with his relatively small size.

      Also, I believe the Oregonian story of last week noted that speed of the car colliding with the bike trailer was low, which though may not necessarily be true, I'm thinking it likely was less than 15 mph. It's entirely conceivable that motor vehicles could collide at higher speeds with child carrying bike trailers towed by people on bikes stopped in traffic, almost completely pancaking bike and trailer against the car ahead.

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      • 9watts December 4, 2012 at 4:09 pm

        Let's keep in mind that the apparent condition of the vehicle (be it automobile or bike trailer) is not (in any simple way) a good indicator of how safe it was for the passenger/occupant. Once upon a time cars were made of steel and very heavy and rigid. In many accidents the car looked fine, but the passengers absorbed much of the impact and were not. Fast forward to cars designed to crumple upon impact, and the tables are turned. Car post collision tend to look awful but passenger often walk away, even in the absence/before air bags.

        Now to this Burley. The two side panels are connected with a horizontal strut at the very top of the trailer. This strut is held in place with rubber cleats and screws at each end, and a cotter pin that allows the trailer to be collapsed to put it in the trunk of your car or take up less space in the garage. It would seem that the impact, or the effort to extricate the child from the trailer caused a screw or the cotter pin to come out, thus making it appear as if the trailer was flattened. Another thing to consider is that the car rear ending the bike + trailer probably only made contact with the bike and dad via the trailer. As such, the condition of the trailer in the photo is remarkable given the injuries the dad is reported to have sustained.
        All this is a long way around saying that whatever the trailer looks like in the photo I think it is fair to say that it manifestly did some useful work in preventing more serious injury to its passenger.

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        • wsbob December 4, 2012 at 7:20 pm

          "..."I thought he was gone," he recalled, "I pulled open the mangled, flattened trailer and found him calling for me, scared, covered with blood." ..." father of son, remarking about his recovery effort with regard to his son, as reported in this bikeportland story

          The bike trailer's design and construction may have provided some undetermined degree of impact to the child riding in the trailer when the trailer was impacted. Not having been there to investigate, or read results of an investigation, how much protection might have been afforded is something to speculate on. Your theory may have some validity. The words 'mangled' and 'flattened' in describing the condition of the trailer, post collision, don't reassure me. Maybe they do some parents.

          An interesting question to me would be whether Burley or any other trailer manufacturer has their trailers undergo trailer-motor vehicle impact resistance testing. Bike helmets, probably the most well known impact resistance cycling gear, do go through testing of that sort. If child carrying bike trailers presently don't undergo such testing, maybe they should.

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          • 9watts December 4, 2012 at 7:23 pm

            "If child carrying bike trailers presently don't undergo such testing, maybe they should."

            I see your point, wsbob, but I think you're forgetting that humans have not undergone such testing either, and when out and about they are called pedestrians.

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          • Mark December 4, 2012 at 9:44 pm

            Actually, bicycle helmets are not subject to "motor vehicle impact resistance testing." They are designed and tested to provide some protection for low-speed falls from the bicycle. They are in no way intended to provide protection from the huge amount of energy in a motor vehicle collision.

            That's one of the most frustrating things for me when I read a news article about a crash involving a person riding a bicycle and a person driving a car. The media always report whether or not the person on the bicycle was wearing a helmet, even though it's largely irrelevant because they're not intended to provide protection in those instances.

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            • wsbob December 4, 2012 at 11:50 pm

              "...Actually, bicycle helmets are not subject to "motor vehicle impact resistance testing." They are designed and tested to provide some protection for low-speed falls from the bicycle. ..." Mark

              I think you're trying to say that bike helmets aren't subject to testing of impact directly against a motor vehicle, which is true in that instead of some part of a motor vehicle, a drop stand and what's called an 'anvil' is used. Nevertheless, helmets are tested for impact resistance, or maybe more accurately 'impact absorbency'. That capability can be useful even though the surface a helmet wearers head may happen to collide with during or after a collision, is a surface other than that of a motor vehicle, such as the ground, wall, lamp post, etc.

              In a collision between a bike and a car, or a bike trailer and a car, some degrees of impact would be comparable to the impact on a helmet dropped from a drop stand onto an anvil. The point I'm trying to stress, is that bike trailers aren't subject to any such test, while bike helmets are.

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  • dwainedibbly December 4, 2012 at 1:55 pm

    Outrage is an appropriate response. So is Charity. What can we do for this family? Do they have good health insurance? Is there anything they need.

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  • Rithy December 4, 2012 at 2:13 pm

    I remember there being talk a long time ago there was talk of using Mt. Tabor yard as a cut through on 64th Ave. It was part of the plans for the Mt Tabor Park Masterplan. I wonder whatever happened to that idea because 60th is a horrible street for bikes. From Burnside to Division it is narrow and cars move too fast.

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  • Sunny December 4, 2012 at 2:32 pm

    Strap airbags all over the trailer -- inner tubes perhaps. Or get a front loading cargo bike. There are nutcases behind motorized vehicles everywhere. No child should be left openly exposed to a world of nutjobs before they themselves can even make that decision to ride in traffic.

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    • 9watts December 4, 2012 at 2:36 pm

      Let's not lose sight of the fact that in this incident the trailer actually protected the child better than the dad fared on his bike.

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      • Sunny December 4, 2012 at 2:53 pm

        Aluminum "roll cage". Maybe we should all ride around with something like that.

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        • 9watts December 4, 2012 at 3:36 pm

          we should hold drivers accountable for their inattention.

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  • Organic Brian December 4, 2012 at 2:43 pm

    I tend to avoid busy arterial streets so that I avoid situations like this: lots of busy traffic and distracted drivers. On quieter streets, there are not as many car headlights pointing every which way reducing visibility due to lights pointing into eyes/light reflected in water and dirt on windshield glass, etc. It is also easier to hear if something is amiss and get out of the way. I usually only cross at a signal if the wait at a stop sign (on a residential or non-arterial street) is intolerably long.

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  • CaptainKarma December 4, 2012 at 3:20 pm

    My greatest fear as a MOTORcyclist is being rear-ended while at a stop light at night. Non-4-wheelers just don't seem to register to 4-wheeler drivers.

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  • gutterbunny December 4, 2012 at 3:39 pm

    Glad to hear that everyone is going to recover. I would say OK, but that clearly isn't the case.

    This is just another example of the completely lacking bike facilities in the outer part of the SE core. Division is a nightmare from 39th to 92nd, as is Powell and nearly every other street south of Burnside within that range.

    60th isn't a picnic either, traffic is almost always going faster than the speed limit (25 mph at that intersection). Sidewalks are horrible, cars often parked on the West side of the street.

    And really 60th shouldn't be this way, being the gateway to one of the biggest attractions in SE. Especially considering the amount of bike traffic Mount Tabor gets from rec. riders.

    Though I'm excited to see things like the bike facilities expansions in Loyd and other sections of Portland, I'm still wondering why nothing is done out here in SE.

    Our system out here is terrible, even though we have some of the best access to most of the commercial districts in the Portland Area than any of the neighborhoods in NE or N or even close in. From my house in South Tabor I can get to Gateway/205, Lents, Foster, Woodstock, Clinton, Hawthorn/Belmont, Montavillia in 10 minutes or less. Another 10 minutes I'm in Hollywood/outer Loyd, Inner SE, Sellwood, Downtown, Clackamas, outer SE. And yet to do so I have to usually ride in traffic or neglected streets that "they" labeled as Sharrows.

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  • Tomas Quinones December 4, 2012 at 3:56 pm

    I'm so glad the father and child are both on the way to recovery.

    There was an object in the road, despite ANY conditions the driver should be held fully responsible should he hit it. By hitting the trailer, he proved his is unable to maintain full control of his vehicle.

    To the DA: Please fine to the full extent of the law.

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  • Duncan December 4, 2012 at 4:08 pm

    First off I am glad that the child was not severly injured. I also have a bike trailer and that is my largest fear when hauling kiddos around.

    As a former resident of that area I have to agree though that 60th is a terrible bike road either direction and that intersection is often treated as a freeway onramp by motorists. 60th itself is too narrow by half for the two lanes and parking it has (note how many people parking on 60th park half on the sidewalk- they KNOW it is to narrow.) I only ever biked it when I was in full VC-AH mode and took the lane on the entire downhill to the stoplight, and always without the trailer. More often I would take the crosswalk and bike up the south sidewalk to 61st and into my old 'hood (South Tabor, how I miss you!), and I am generally a never bike on the sidewalk kinda guy.

    That section of Division has a lot of speeders with its two lanes either way and everyone jockeying for position with people stopping for left turns. Honestly I want that thrilled about driving my car on it- too many foks speeding up to pass you on the right to get in the left lane and slam on the brakes to make a turn. I always thought that the key to a safe N-S crossing was to slow down Division- because if Division is a freeway the feeders become onramps.

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  • Eric December 4, 2012 at 4:37 pm

    Reading this story turned my stomach. I am glad to hear that dad and kid are both doing fine but still...I'm sick about this.

    I am a year-round bike commuter but a fair-weather kid transporter. I have always wanted to be a year-round kid transporter but my spouse forbade me from using the trailer (and now the WeeHoo) in the dark and/or rain. And a situation like this is the reason why. A cargo bike or other on-bike kid transportation system can mitigate (but not completely remove) the risk of similar accidents.

    I'm going to stop arguing with my wife about this and hug my daughter when I pick her up tonight (which will unfortunately be in the car...rain and dark being facts of life in Portland in the winter).

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    • JRB December 4, 2012 at 5:22 pm

      I don't think anybody should apologize for using trailers even in poor visibility conditions or for choosing to forego hauling the kids around by bike until conditions improve in the spring. I think there is a reasoned argument to be made for both and can't criticize any parent for choosing to do one or the other.

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    • A.K. December 5, 2012 at 10:55 am

      On one hand, I understand your wife's position, but 'logically speaking' (I know, hard when your own kids are involved) I seem to recall automobile accidents being one of the largest killers of children.

      So we'll ban kids from riding in a mode that is fairly safe under the misguided notion that they'll be safer in a car, which is shown to be responsible for tens of thousands of deaths a year. It just doesn't make sense.

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  • Michael396 December 4, 2012 at 5:44 pm

    Is there any way to focus attention on this case, and keep pressure on the District Attorney's office regarding prosecution?

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  • K'Tesh December 4, 2012 at 7:02 pm

    Seems to me that this is a clear case of Careless Driving... Now if only the driver can be made CARless.

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  • Ben December 4, 2012 at 7:06 pm

    One day, someone asked me to help ban 'assault weapons', I said we should ban motor vehicles first as they kill far more people in the US than assault weapons".

    In fact the numbers are not even close. :/

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  • Niko December 4, 2012 at 11:03 pm

    I witnessed a tragic accident in Tokyo when an excited infant climbed out of the front mounted safety seat and toppled head first onto the street and into traffic- he was not ok. That scared me right out of putting kids into traffic on a bike.

    Should a company like volvo or smartcar engineer a safe trailer for kids? One that can be struck by a car and survive... how much would that cost? Is it possible?

    I think this is the only answer. I wont put be putting kids in anything flimsy in traffic. On a bike path it is ok- but not in traffic.

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    • Mabsf December 5, 2012 at 8:39 am

      The trailer th kid was in did what it was supposed to - it got mangled, but the kid survived. There is no escape from people not using equipment as you described in the accident in Japan or as the reckless driver did in this accident...

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      • wsbob December 5, 2012 at 11:57 am

        "The trailer th kid was in did what it was supposed to - it got mangled, but the kid survived. ..." Mabsf

        In the words of the father of child riding in trailer, relating his rescue of his son:

        "..."I pulled open the mangled, flattened trailer ...".

        Is part of the area of the trailer where the child is riding, becoming mangled and flattened, what a child carrying bike trailer is supposed to do when involved in a low speed collision with a motor vehicle?

        Probably not, but...guess I should have done this yesterday....I just checked, and Burley's website actually has quite an informative page at their site describing the safety issue of child carrying trailers, and efforts their company makes towards having their trailers be safe for kids, including subjecting their trailers to impact resistance tests.

        http://www.burley.com/home/bur/smartlist_177/safety.html

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  • Harry December 5, 2012 at 3:47 am

    In the list of cycle friendly cities, Portland always comes up in the top 5, behind Amsterdam, Copenhagen etc. But the truth is that any of the hundreds of small towns or big cities in The Netherlands and Denmark are safer and more bike friendly than any city in the US.

    The story fills me with horror, we have a similar trailer. But it shows that only the people can make a change. The Netherlands did not always have their cycling infrastructure, actually only since about 3-4 decades.
    And they came into place after too many children were killed and the people protested (Critical Mass avant la lettre). See the video on youtube called "how the Dutch got their cycle paths", very enlightening.

    And it saddens me to think that the fine for the driver might not be much more than the cost of the text message he was probably sending. Yes, I know, that's judging without facts, but it comes from experience seeing drivers in big cars almost hit cyclists because of it...

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    • Paul in the 'couve December 5, 2012 at 11:29 am

      Also there are many small cities in the USA which are safer and more enjoyable for cycling than Portland - just too small to get reviewed for the ratings. Many of them are college or tourist towns.

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  • Brooke December 5, 2012 at 9:05 am

    I am so glad to hear that both papa and son are OK. We live and bike in the neighborhood and have been through that same intersection with out kids in a trailer and on a longtail many, many times. Over a year ago I had an accident with my daughter on the back of my bike and it took months and months for me to feel comfortable taking her out again, but eventually...I did. (feel free to email me if you just wanna talk about it!) I just wanted to say take care & lots of healing thoughts are coming your way! best - b

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    • Brooke December 5, 2012 at 9:11 am

      oh! you can message me @pdxgirlfriday on twitter

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  • Lisa December 5, 2012 at 9:18 am

    I'm incredibly relieved to hear that you and your son are OK. The physical pain heals faster than the mental, but it all gets better with time.

    No one should have to fear for their life, fear for their child''s life, just because they ride their bike. When is the city going to take legitimate infrastructure seriously?

    Not token, poorly designed lanes next to parked cars and inadequate crossings for busy streets. Legitimate, physically separated cycletracks. We have yet to see a real one in this city, "America's bike capital".

    Infrastructure saves lives. Our life, limb, and families are worth just as much as any other citizen.

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    • 9watts December 5, 2012 at 10:16 am

      I fail to see how this is the fault of infrastructure. The person in the car wasn't paying attention, caused a horrific crash, and needs to be found guilty. End of story.

      The separated infrastructure notion that keeps surfacing here is
      (a) remote (probabilistically, practically), and more importantly
      (b) partial (even in the Netherlands you have cross traffic to deal with, and no one lives adjacent to this separated infrastructure; you still have to get to it/from it).

      I'm not arguing with you about the relative safety of cycling in the Netherlands, but I don't know that we know that it is necessarily all due to separate infrastructure, or nearly universal and far more multimodal education (for instance), or any of a number of other factors.

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      • Rebecca December 5, 2012 at 6:24 pm

        On Dutch streets where cyclists do “mix” with traffic, the design is such that cars go very slow, less than18mph, the traffic is not through traffic but just cars that have business on that block. How do I know this? I have been following David Hembrow’s blog about cycling infrastructure in the Netherlands http://www.aviewfromthecyclepath.com for a number of years.

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    • Over and Doubt December 5, 2012 at 11:28 am

      We have one, on SW Moody, but it's rather badly done.

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      • Lisa Marie December 5, 2012 at 3:55 pm

        That is not a legitimate cycletrack. It is a small portion of one road that is separated.

        And infrastructure, and lack there-of, shapes the amount of interaction possible between bikes and cars. There are no decent crossings in that area for bikes crossing Division, hence the need to hop on a more heavily traveled road get a light crossing. THAT IS AN INFRASTRUCTURE PROBLEM (coupled with driver negligence).

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  • Craig Harlow December 5, 2012 at 10:39 am

    I'm really eager to learn some broader statistics about safety when pulling a kid trailer. Is anyone aware of any stats? I've always felt that the kid trailer is such a conspicuous icon that other road users respond to with increased care in traffic.

    When the Mitch Greenlick trailer hubbub arose a couple years back, I went scouring the internet for news stories--even old ones--about auto collisions involving bike trailers, and came up totally empty. That was a strange but pleasant surprise.

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  • Barbara December 5, 2012 at 12:47 pm

    I' m so sorry to hear about this! it makes me sad and mad (at the car driver). I'm glad that you are both fine. This hit close to home as a afamily biking with small kids.
    Please don't give up biking with your kid. Please remember the statistics: the most dangerous thing we do with our kids is driving them around in a car. Dying while sitting IN a car is the number one death reason for kids (and anyone under 40 for that matter). And that doesn't even factor in the dangers of a sedentary life style or obesity. Another statistic: 50% of accidents that happen to kids in front of schools are caused by other parents. So just by walking, biking or taking the schoolbus to school, safety of kids in front of schools would increase dramatically!
    Also, car fatalities are so much lower in general in Europe for all road users, so there area lot of things that can be improved.

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  • commuter December 5, 2012 at 1:03 pm

    So sorry to hear this. I am glad both will recover fine (physically at first). As a new parent and an avid cyclist, I am starting to face this issue as my daughter is soon going to be old enough to be in trailer.

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  • GlowBoy December 5, 2012 at 1:25 pm

    Rear enders are a particular hot button issue for me because I've sustained minor injuries (while driving) TWICE in rear-end collisions in the past decade. As an aside, I frequently point out to those who express concern for my safety as a cyclist that I I have never been hurt while BIKING to work ... but I HAVE been injured while DRIVING to work. In the first instance the driver of a 5500lb SUV committed the common geriatric error of stepping on the wrong pedal; in the other, I had stopped for a pedestrian and got rammed at over 30mph by a driver who had clearly had had her eyes somewhere other than the road for quite a few seconds.

    It infuriates me that PPB often won't cite violations if not witnessed by an officer, even in injury collisions when the evidence of fault is overwhelming. I also agree with many others on this thread that if this rear-ender (a type of collision in which fault is generally implied) doesn't invoke the VRU statute then it's pretty much useless.

    As expressed above, when I'm riding solo I'll definitely ride higher-risk routes than when I have my child with me. Besides the natural increase in caution that comes with being responsible for a child's safety, pulling a trailer makes me considerably slower, further increasing the potential for conflict with cars and pushing me onto alternate routes. Although in this particular instance I might well have ended up using 60th -- while advocating loudly for the 64th/Lincoln connection.

    When my kid rode in a trailer I had added a number of square inches of reflective material to it, and equipped it with not only a blinky light but also running lights - 4 LED amber ones in the front, 4 red in the rear - to improve conspicuity. I also used a Chariot Sidecarrier, which I believe to be safer than trailers that follow behind the bike. Nothing is totally safe --- we're talking differences of degree -- but safER is safER.

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    • wsbob December 5, 2012 at 5:34 pm

      "...When my kid rode in a trailer I had added a number of square inches of reflective material to it, and equipped it with not only a blinky light but also running lights - 4 LED amber ones in the front, 4 red in the rear - to improve conspicuity. I also used a Chariot Sidecarrier, which I believe to be safer than trailers that follow behind the bike. Nothing is totally safe --- we're talking differences of degree -- but safER is safER. ..."

      Nice! Added reflectivity and multiple lights. That's the idea...simple, easy, very affordable stuff to do to enhance visibility. True about nothing being totally safe, but if you saw my earlier post from today, it's got a link to Burley's page on safety testing their trailers undergo. That company at least acknowledges safety from impact is an issue.

      By the way... . I think it can be confusing to suggest simply that Oregon has a 'vulnerable road user law', when what the state actually has is a 'Careless driving' law which in part addresses injury or death brought upon vulnerable road users by people driving carelessly.

      Maybe, 'Careless driving affecting vulnerable road users ' law.

      http://www.oregonlaws.org/ors/811.135

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      • tacoma December 5, 2012 at 11:05 pm

        Sorry, meant this to reply here.

        How is this law different from a "reckless" driving law? Is "carelessness" easier to prove? As an outsider, I thought the "vulnerable road users" law would fill the "gap" left between "reckless" driving (too hard to prove) and no applicable law. Apparently not?

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        • wsbob December 6, 2012 at 12:29 am

          It's not the best time for me to try post a thought out answer to your question, but for something to study and think about, here's a couple links to text of Oregon law having to do with 'Reckless driving':

          http://www.oregonlaws.org/ors/811.140

          On the page the below link leads to, it looks as though, (6) and (9) would be the items to look over:

          http://www.oregonlaws.org/ors/161.085

          Seems to me Oregon's law for 'Reckless driving' supported by a definition of 'reckless' on the definition page, using the word 'knowingly', is more specific about criteria needing to be met in order to cite, than is Oregon's law for 'Careless driving'.

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  • tacoma December 5, 2012 at 11:02 pm

    How is this law different from a "reckless" driving law? Is "carelessness" easier to prove? As an outsider, I thought the "vulnerable road users" law would fill the "gap" left between "reckless" driving (too hard to prove) and no applicable law. Apparently not?

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  • jim December 5, 2012 at 11:50 pm

    If ther isn't a safe place for this guy to ride with his child, he should have taken the bus.
    I know Jonathan dosen't agree with this theory, but it makes sense when the safety of your child is involved.
    That said this comment will be deleted in 5,4,3,2,

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    • 9watts December 6, 2012 at 8:05 am

      Whoa, whoa. What kind of a third class solution is that? If you're inclined to give up so easily, what's the point of ... anything?

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    • Donna December 6, 2012 at 9:48 am

      You assume the bus goes where this guys needed to.

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      • are December 6, 2012 at 12:09 pm

        the number 71 does cover the route described in the story. but it seems cumbersome, as 9watts suggests, to require someone to pay to take the bus only a few blocks when a bike and trailer would do

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        • Donna December 6, 2012 at 12:54 pm

          That, too. Trimet isn't exactly cheap these days. If one does own a car, why would one pay Trimet to ride a few blocks when one can use the car? For a few blocks, I'd certainly ride my bike.

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          • jim December 7, 2012 at 10:42 pm

            But would you put your child into a dangerous situation?

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            • 9watts December 8, 2012 at 7:37 am

              jim,

              you are implying that a bike trailer is automatically or self-evidently more dangerous than the bus. I doubt you have statistics to support this assertion. As several people here have already suggested, when this issue (relative safety of my/my child using different transport modes) is looked at closely the relative safety doesn't shake out the way I think you and some others seem to think.

              Here's a place you might start: http://www.bikesbelong.org/resources/stats-and-research/statistics/health-statistics/

              and here's just one source cited above:
              Kids who ride a school bus inhale up to a million times more vehicle emissions than the average person outside the bus.

              Marshall, J., and E. Behrentz, 2005
              Vehicle self-pollution intake fraction: Children's exposure to school bus emissions, Environmental Science and Technology, 39, 2559-2563

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            • 9watts December 8, 2012 at 8:59 am

              jim
              But would you put your child into a dangerous situation?
              Recommended 0

              If you look here:
              http://www.safekids.org/our-work/research/fact-sheets/
              it is interesting to note that in the US
              84 children were killed while bicycling in 2009
              244 while walking, and
              1,314 while in a car

              For these figured to be comparable it is of course important to know the rates at which children engage or participate in travel by these three modes, and since I don't know this my point in listing the figures is a different one; to suggest that in all three cases the cause of death was most likely a car or other motorized vehicle.

              And then there are the non-traffic fatalities of children in and around cars: another 262 (in 2007)
              "Non-traffic related incidents occur in places other than a public highway, street or road. They occur in driveways, parking lots or off-road locations and may involve bicyclists, pedestrians, non-moving and moving vehicles."

              290 children were killed by airbags alone between 1990 and 2008.

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              • Barbara December 8, 2012 at 5:38 pm

                Exactly! Statistics are an interesting thing. Take child abductions by strangers for example. There are 150 cases a year, - 1:1.5 Million chance, i.e. almost nil (and bike deaths are even lower!). However, our lovely media blow them totally out of proportion and talk for days or weeks about it. If the media would talk about every single car accident (30,000 a year) they wouldn't have time to talk about anything else anymore. And maybe people would realize that driving our kids around is actually the most dangerous thing we do to them. And that doesn't even take into account the dangers of a sedentary livestyle (I guess because they will die from obesity-related problems at age 40 and not as children). But as long as car accidents are just accepted as a necessary side effect of our mobility life style, it will never be politically feasible to make our streets safer for everyone (and slower for cars). It's not about whether we need more lighting versus more cycle tracks, we need both! And it would make the streets safer for everybody.

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    • wsbob December 6, 2012 at 11:51 am

      For a guy towing his behind his bike in a child carrying trailer, what examples might you suggest that you feel are minimally acceptable 'safe' roadway for this activity?

      In the entire city of Portland and the metro area it sits within, there are very few bike lanes, MUP's and cycle tracks physically or distance separated from motor vehicles. If someone on a bike is willing and able to get themselves and child around by a bike rather than a car, in our area, they're left with few alternatives but riding on the road amongst motor vehicles.

      Even on bike lanes directly adjoining main lanes of streets and roads...a very common example of bike lanes in our area...people on bikes are very exposed to possible collision with motor vehicles.

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  • Donna December 6, 2012 at 12:55 pm

    That, too. Trimet isn't exactly cheap these days.

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  • Eric December 6, 2012 at 2:22 pm

    Unfortunately, I had a similarly horrifying experience yesterday morning at the stoplight at NE 55th and Burnside. I was stopped at the light with my daughter in a Burley trailer behind me. Once the light turned green, I proceeded to pedal forward when the car behind us hit the trailer with my daughter inside. All I heard was a terrible sound and then before I knew it, I was on the ground. I looked and saw that my daughter appeared to be fine; the car had stopped almost immediately and the trailer was very obviously in front of the car, not under it. I think all it really did was push the trailer (and me) forward very quickly. When I asked my daughter if she was OK, she simply said, "Why did you fall down?" SHE was concerned for ME.

    The reason this happened in the first place? The guy took his eyes off the road for a second to look at the time and didn't realize I wasn't moving as fast as he thought I was. This could have gone down a hundred different ways and I have been imagining them ALL over the course of the last day and it is making me a nervous wreck. The thing that has bothered me most and has me second guessing my choice to commute with my daughter by bike is that this all occurred on a bright, sunny, clear day. On a low traffic road we've traveled hundreds of times. At a stoplight. No amount of reflective material or lights or careful, defensive biking on my part could have prevented one careless act by someone behind the wheel.

    We have been commuting successfully for the majority of the last year and a half without incident (though there have been a few too many cars willing to pass us closely at relatively high speed). We got lucky yesterday and I'm having a hard time talking myself into biking with her again. Which is sad because it was such a great way to start the day and she always enjoyed it. I'm just not sure I can continue to put my faith in the hands of a populace that can't bother to be a little extra careful in the presence of a bright, yellow trailer that very obviously has a child in it. I feel like a dunce for having done it for so long.

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    • 9watts December 6, 2012 at 9:54 pm

      Don't give up, Eric.

      You could look at it statistically. Your odds improved immensely after yesterday's incident. Very glad you and your daughter are o.k. and we heard about it from you rather than the Oregonian.

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      • are December 7, 2012 at 7:58 pm

        i hope you realize that is not how probability actually works

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        • 9watts December 7, 2012 at 9:43 pm

          I do.

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        • Help December 7, 2012 at 11:37 pm

          3 people didn't realize it.

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    • Gary Charles December 7, 2012 at 12:05 pm

      I've unfortunately known two different people who lost their lives in car accidents. One to a drunk driver and another who was a passenger in a car which was rear ended by someone who was talking on a cell phone at the time of the collision. My reaction wasn't to stop driving a car however. I also knew a person who was killed in a crosswalk at my college but I didn't stop walking places. People need to do what they believe is right for themselves but it's important to realize that no matter what you do in life, there are going to be risks.

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      • Eric December 7, 2012 at 3:47 pm

        Yeah, yeah, yeah... you can get killed in your own bed and all that. That's all well and good if it's just ME that I'm concerned about but that's just not the case now.

        Ultimately, if this could have been prevented by some action on my part- brighter clothing, an air raid siren blaring from the trailer, super blinky lights- I don't think I'd be quite so spooked. My intent is not to stop riding altogether; I'm just having second thoughts about putting my daughter in that situation.

        For the record, I'm not making any quick decisions about this and I do appreciate the support/encouragement that you've offered. I've been commuting to work by bike for 7 years now and my family's transportation situation has been built around that fact. Upending that is not a decision that can be made in a snap. And I want to set a good example for my daughter that you don't just stop living your life because of a few careless jerks. However, changes will have to be made and I have to sort out how big or small those changes will be.

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  • JerryW December 6, 2012 at 2:55 pm

    I have an opinion on placing a young child in a flimsy bike trailer then going into city traffic in the dark. But since I haven't the time or energy for the reaction from the bike geniuses here, I'll keep it to myself.

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    • SilkySlim December 6, 2012 at 3:01 pm

      I have an opinion on carelessly driving a gigantic machine through neighborhood traffic in the dark. And since I have the both a strong mind and legs, I will tell everyone about it.

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    • 9watts December 6, 2012 at 3:13 pm

      I have an opinion on making suspenseful pronouncements only to disdainfully withhold the substance.

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  • Ken Stedman December 6, 2012 at 8:22 pm

    First, this is a horrible thing to have happened, and I hope that all involved have as complete a recovery as possible.

    Second, I'd like this to be an opportunity to share some thoughts about kids in bike trailers. For most of the last 7 years, I have had my kids (1 or 2) of them in a Burley Dlite trailer (2003 model) year round (yes, in the dark and rain), now my youngest, Helena, rides herself (Jonathan rode with us a few weeks ago and posted about it. The posting also details our route). I like to think that riding in the trailer inspired her to ride herself. The only problems that we had were twice when I flipped the trailer on its side due to me cornering too fast and once when there was a fallen tree in the bike lane in the darkest part of the route (bottom of the hill on a corner) that also ended up flipping the trailer. No injuries other than a few scrapes on the rider (me). I actually feel more visible (more later) and get more space from cars when pulling the trailer than when not pulling it. We always ride in bike lanes or the road when bike lane is not available. I think that the kids are much safer in the trailer with a roll bar than on the bike, any bike, I would not transport my kids in a seat on the bike.

    My main concern was trailer visibility and it took me a while to set up my best "Christmas tree imitation" on the Burley. Mounting lights was an issue until I put lights onto the handle for pushing the trailer by hand. The Knog lights work pretty well since they have a flexible mount and they can be mounted on the lower frame (the wrong size for most light mounts that I found). Probably the best solution was inspired by a recumbent rider who put a red strobe on the flagpole, about a foot below the flag, mounted on a lot of tape around the flagpole. The flashing waving action seemed to work very well (some of you have probably passed us on Terwilliger in the last few years).

    I hope that this helps all potential trailer-tuggers (until the kids are pulling you). Feel free to contact me if you have questions about the setup.

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  • Dan December 7, 2012 at 9:44 am

    As a trailer-tugger myself, I've been trying to come up with a way to mount LEDs along the flagpole; maybe a battery pack? I agree that we should be lighting up like truckers...

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  • mikeybikey December 7, 2012 at 12:12 pm

    What I'm reading in both rear-end accounts here is a motorist being negligent. There is no amount of reflective tape or lighting that will force a motorist to pay attention, never take their eyes of the road or make assumptions about the behavior of other road users. Enough people are getting around by bike now that we are bumping into that bull running around in the china shop that no one wants to talk about.

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    • wsbob December 7, 2012 at 3:55 pm

      "...Enough people are getting around by bike now that we are bumping into that bull running around in the china shop that no one wants to talk about. ..." mikeybikey

      People here seem to want to talk about it...though few seem to want to identify and understand various factors...besides the regularly drawn upon but superficial rationale: 'driver was negligent, 'careless', etc, etc...'...that contribute to the occurrence of this kind of collision. Nor do many seem inclined to work towards devising viable responses to the problem.

      People are not error proof. Under the best of circumstances, they make mistakes. From a comment of Eric's, above:

      "...The reason this happened in the first place? The guy took his eyes off the road for a second to look at the time and didn't realize I wasn't moving as fast as he thought I was. ..." Eric/comment-bikeportland http://bikeportland.org/2012/12/04/man-rear-ended-while-biking-with-child-in-trailer-speaks-out-80772#comment-3467227

      A second, as in one second. At any rate, people doing little things like checking the time for a second while driving...or biking...is common.

      Attributing negligence works both ways, even in collisions like this one in which the father was wearing a yellow reflective jacket and had a blinkie on his trailer. The trailer's construction was obviously not sufficient to withstand an impact from a motor vehicle greater than that resulting from a very slow speed. Yet, where the potential for such a collision clearly did exist, the father did take his son out amongst motor vehicles in such a trailer. So the fact is, not to add insult to injury...the father was also negligent in this collision. To what degree negligence on either party exists, so forth and so on...is beside the point.

      The most important point raised by collisions like this one, is that a critical need exists to determine viable means by which to reduce the potential for collisions happening between bikes and motor vehicles, especially potential for collisions involving children.

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      • El Biciclero December 9, 2012 at 4:14 pm

        "So the fact is, not to add insult to injury...the father was also negligent in this collision."

        That is offensive.

        Suppose this father had been pushing a stroller or just walking with his son across the street in a crosswalk and been hit? Is he "negligent" then? Suppose they had been in a bike lane and some driver "drifted" into the bike lane and caused the same injury to them? Negligent? Come on. "Negligent" is a stronger class of irresponsibility than even "careless", and the driver who failed to maintain proper control of his vehicle, resulting in running over a father and his child, is apparently not even considered "careless", if VRU prosecution isn't happening.

        There is a degree of responsibility that is required of cyclists to keep themselves safe, true. Your apparently obsessive insistence that cyclists who don't take extreme measures above and beyond the law--or even common sense--are somehow to blame when drivers quit paying attention is nothing more than victim-blaming.

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        • 9watts December 10, 2012 at 10:05 am

          "Your [...]obsessive insistence that cyclists who don't take extreme measures above and beyond the law--or even common sense--are somehow to blame when drivers quit paying attention...."

          wsbob increasingly gives the impression of being at the Mad Hatter's Tea Party.
          Alice felt dreadfully puzzled. The Hatter's remark seemed to have no sort of meaning in it, and yet it was certainly English. 'I don't quite understand you,' she said, as politely as she could.

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        • wsbob December 10, 2012 at 11:36 am

          El Biciclero
          "So the fact is, not to add insult to injury...the father was also negligent in this collision."
          That is offensive.
          Suppose this father had been pushing a stroller or just walking with his son across the street in a crosswalk and been hit? Is he "negligent" then? Suppose they had been in a bike lane and some driver "drifted" into the bike lane and caused the same injury to them? Negligent? Come on. "Negligent" is a stronger class of irresponsibility than even "careless", and the driver who failed to maintain proper control of his vehicle, resulting in running over a father and his child, is apparently not even considered "careless", if VRU prosecution isn't happening.
          There is a degree of responsibility that is required of cyclists to keep themselves safe, true. Your apparently obsessive insistence that cyclists who don't take extreme measures above and beyond the law--or even common sense--are somehow to blame when drivers quit paying attention is nothing more than victim-blaming.
          Recommended 3

          As I also said in my post:

          "...So the fact is, not to add insult to injury...the father was also negligent in this collision. To what degree negligence on either party exists, so forth and so on...is beside the point. ..." wsbob

          I presume you did read: "...beside the point. ...", which for this discussion about a guy towing his child on a trailer over a street that has no bike lane or separated cycle track, it basically is beside the point, because the father generally may not have a viable alternative to the bike and trailer, being stuck right in traffic between cars; no adjacent or grade separated bike lane...no car...non-existent or unacceptable mass transit option.

          It is a fact though, that in knowingly assuming the risk of putting his child in that situation, most likely being well aware some person driving, for whatever reason, could fail to stop, and subsequently run into his child, the father bears a certain negligence.

          This is a different kind of inherent danger here than exists in somebody pushing their child in a stroller across the street. In and across the street situation, the person pushing the stroller has the option of not proceeding if it appears cars approaching in the street will not stop. A person towing a trailer with a bike, sandwiched between cars in a main lane of traffic doesn't have such an option.

          As far as 'obsession', amongst people commenting to this story and others here at bikeportland having to do with questions of responsibility concerning road users, certain people commenting have a remarkably persistent consistency to assume lack of attention on the part of people driving, for close-calls and collisions between cars and bikes...reflexively attempting to shift responsibility away from people biking for avoiding close calls and collisions.

          So it is that efforts towards encouraging vulnerable road users to empower themselves by taking the initiative to improve their visibility with better visibility gear...are very often dismissed nearly out of hand. So are the same efforts to encourage people that bike to better equip themselves with 'bike-in- traffic' specific road user skill that include more consistent, more conspicuous use of basic hand signals.

          Do I consider that people riding bikes in traffic, equipping their bikes with more than the legally required front headlight and rear reflector, are "...extreme measures above and beyond the law. ..." Absolutely not. Vulnerable road users have relatively easy, low-cost, obvious means by which they can enhance their visibility to road users. Taking advantage of those means isn't obsessive, (though maybe towards efforts to avoid collisions and close calls, it should be.) or extreme...it's intelligent.

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          • El Biciclero December 10, 2012 at 8:35 pm

            "...certain people commenting have a remarkably persistent consistency to assume lack of attention on the part of people driving, for close-calls and collisions between cars and bikes..."

            In this case, what else could it be other than driver inattention?? How does a driver not see a stationary bike with flashing red lights and a rider with reflective gear? It seems in this instance, the cyclist was doing everything you might normally recommend for safety by visibility--but that wasn't enough, so now you are blaming the cyclist for being there. Now, this father is "negligent" because he was legally operating according to all applicable laws and safety principles--except that he was in the street instead of...where? Should he have been on the sidewalk? Gone a different way? Driven the car? Tell us what would have absolved this cyclist of "negligence" (I don't think that word means what you think it means)??

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            • wsbob December 11, 2012 at 12:28 pm

              What I wrote was:

              "...It is a fact though, that in knowingly assuming the risk of putting his child in that situation, most likely being well aware some person driving, for whatever reason, could fail to stop, and subsequently run into his child, the father bears a certain negligence. ..." wsbob

              I don't mean to blame the father involved in this particular collision for the collision occurring. I am noting though...while at the same time acknowledging the situation people in need of people transporting their kids around where other means may not be viable....that in taking his son out into traffic amongst motor vehicles...cars in front, cars in back with no escape router whatsoever...in a bike trailer not sufficient to withstand more than a very slow speed collision, he was somewhat negligent with regards to ensuring the safety of his child.

              As bikeportland's editor-publisher-writer reports, this father equipped his trailer with a blinkie. He was himself wearing a yellow reflective jacket. Both measures that help raise the visibility of vulnerable road users to road users in general. He might have been able to do more though, taking advantage of the large surface area typical of many bike trailers, by mounting lots of reflective tape and additional lights.

              Not that those measures would have guaranteed against this particular collision occurring, or any collision occurring, but it's logical that such measures would increase vulnerable road users' opportunity to be seen by other road users, and consequently help reduce chances for collisions involving cars and bikes.

              Some readers of bikeportland recognize the importance of enhancing their visibility:

              "As a trailer-tugger myself, I've been trying to come up with a way to mount LEDs along the flagpole; maybe a battery pack? I agree that we should be lighting up like truckers..." Dan http://bikeportland.org/2012/12/04/man-rear-ended-while-biking-with-child-in-trailer-speaks-out-80772#comment-3469748

              Ultimately though, if increasing numbers of people will be interested in carrying their children around in bike trailers, at least some infrastructure that's safer for that means of travel will need to be built. I'd say without question, my town of Beaverton could certainly use some of that type of Holland style bike specific infrastructure. So could Portland and a lot of other cities. It probably won't be common for a long time to come, but there should be some, so guys like this father have at least some safer street options to tow their kid on.

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          • El Biciclero December 10, 2012 at 10:10 pm

            FYI:

            "Criminal negligence or criminally negligent, when used with respect to a result or to a circumstance described by a statute defining an offense, means that a person fails to be aware of a substantial and unjustifiable risk that the result will occur or that the circumstance exists. The risk must be of such nature and degree that the failure to be aware of it constitutes a gross deviation from the standard of care that a reasonable person would observe in the situation a reasonable person would observe in the situation."

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          • are December 10, 2012 at 10:40 pm

            westside robert says:

            "It is a fact though, that in knowingly assuming the risk of putting his child in that situation, most likely being well aware some person driving, for whatever reason, could fail to stop, and subsequently run into his child, the father bears a certain negligence."

            brought the kid into the world knowing there might be diseases. fed him knowing there might be poor food handling somewhere in the chain. sent him to school knowing some kid might do something stupid on the playground or some teacher might have aberrant tendencies. or might fail to teach him critical thinking skills.

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  • Duncan December 8, 2012 at 7:27 am

    Well I for one will be adding some lights to my trailer. I generally only pull during daylight hours but improving the visibility has already been on my mind. I am heading to bike shop today to investigate options.

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    • wsbob December 8, 2012 at 7:51 pm

      In various widths, for example 1", 2"...the silver, also orange/silver reflective tape used on safety vests can be obtained various places. Online, places can be located that have it, easily. Locally, I got some in Beaverton from a fabric store...Mill Ends, I think it's called. 5th and Western Ave. Next to the big craft store.

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  • x December 8, 2012 at 1:32 pm

    Cell phone is at fault. The cops know this. We all know it.

    I think anyone who ran down a kid while on a cell would agree they should never get behind the wheel again.

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  • tn December 9, 2012 at 6:27 pm

    Accidents happen, and people don't realize the car or bike in front of them is stopped. Bike at your own risk in mixed traffic.

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  • jim December 11, 2012 at 12:25 am

    Is the father guilty of putting his child in a dangerous situation? Yes
    Did he gamble and lose? Yes
    Does he have a right to be on the street on a dark rainy night? Yes
    Does the child have a choice of where to be? No
    I would never put my child in a situation where I thought there was a possibility that they were in danger. They are defenseless and depend on you for their safety. For the person that rolls his trailer every once in a while and says "Good your ok, lets continue" (or something like that) it's just irresponsible. If something terrible happened you would be looking back at that moment years later with regrets that you made the choice you did.To compare someone pushing a stroller to a bike/ trailer out in traffic are two totally different things, you don't push a stroller down the middle of the street. Do we need better laws to ensure child safety on bikes? It sounds like we do. Seeing small children riding on busy arterials going to school in the morning is irresponsible. The kids are unaware of what is going on around them, there are too many cars, the cars go too fast, there are too many trucks and trailers that don't mix well with bikes, parents don't teach their kids to obey traffic signals, they teach them bad habits, if you are a child you need to take extra precautions that an adult might not need to. If this type of behaviour continues we will be seeing more serious accidents.

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    • Barbara December 11, 2012 at 9:50 am

      That's the 100% safety for our kids thinking that is totally flawed. We lock our kids in at home because it is so safe (indoor air quality is the number one environmental problem, most child abuses happen by family members, childhood obesity is our biggest health problem). We drive them everywhere by car and yet car accidents IN cars is the number one death reason (and leads to obesity, see above). Have you been to a playground lately? They are completely boring for any child above 4. See also obesity problem.
      We can't keep our kids completely safe, that's an illusion. But if we keep them locked up all the time the get obese, depressed and helpless adults that still need their helicopter parents help in college and beyond.
      Another anecdote here: we had a tragic case when I was in highschool. A father didn't want his son to ride his motorcycle from their village to highschool because it was icy. The son was supposed to take the bus instead and was killed by a swerving car while waiting at the bus stop.
      So stop trying to lock up ypur children and start living! Show them an active and healthy lifestyle.

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      • Alan 1.0 December 11, 2012 at 5:20 pm

        My pediatrician was crippled by polio yet remained a vigorous hiker, swimmer and competitive sailor. He had three strapping sons. One day, one son was moping around the house nursing an arm broken in football. "Dad, why do I keep getting hurt? How can I not get hurt?" he whined. The doctor snapped at him, "Well, you could stay home and cut paper dolls..."

        My parents took me camping in the wilderness since before I could walk. If I'd been eaten by wild animals, and if there'd been an Internet full of pot-stirrers, I suppose someone would have blamed them for that ever-so-dangerous (eye roll) choice, even though staying home in the city might well have been statistically a worse choice. I am forever grateful to them for making the choice they did.

        To the Dad who had this unfortunate experience, and to all the other parents making informed choices to teach your kids how to lead a good life, make YOUR best judgements and stick with YOUR convictions. The better example you set, the better your kids will learn those important lessons.

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      • jim December 12, 2012 at 1:08 am

        Time and manor.
        You don't have to put your child in a dangerous situation for them to get fresh air and exercise. To put them on a busy street on a dark and rainy night obviously is not a wise choice. Perhaps you don't mind your child out roaming the neighborhood with no supervision? That will get them smarter in some ways and at the same time expose them to other dangers.

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    • SilkySlim December 11, 2012 at 10:24 am

      So should all just wait until the all-clear bell is sounded, and then start living right? Did you see the story today about the increase in kids walking/biking to school? The more that do it, the safer it is. Like back in the good ole' days (which I have only seen in movies) where every kid was strolling down the sidewalk and the entire community was aware and kept their eyes out.

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    • 9watts December 11, 2012 at 10:43 am

      "If this type of behaviour continues we will be seeing more serious accidents."

      You and wsbob seem to live with the White Rabbit in Wonderland where everything, but most of all logic, is inverted.
      Tens (hundreds?) of thousands of crashes involving cars happen in this country every year. Regrettably a small number (relatively speaking) also injure and kill people who were not in cars. Holding the self-propelled humans walking or cycling responsible a priori, as you and wsbob persist in doing, noting the extent to which they are either in the way of cars or inadequately visible to their drivers, is, frankly, ridiculous.

      If we took away the ubiquitous cars--their speed and mass--the problem all but disappears. Even Alice can understand that.

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      • are December 11, 2012 at 12:31 pm

        the beatings will continue until morale improves

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      • wsbob December 11, 2012 at 6:39 pm

        "...You and wsbob seem to live with the White Rabbit in Wonderland where everything, but most of all logic, is inverted. ..." 9watts

        You seem to live in a world where logic and reasoning...doesn't even exist.

        People riding bikes in traffic that includes motor vehicles, expose themselves to a range of risk of being struck by a motor vehicle. As jim, commenting above, said: "...Does the child have a choice of where to be? No ...". The logical thing then, would be for parents not to impose unreasonable risks on their children who really have little choice in choosing whether to enter into possibly dangerous situations their parent's may unwisely bring them into.

        Okay...if, as it may be...the frequency of collisions between motor vehicles and bikes carrying kids in trailers...is very small, does that make towing a kid in a trailer in the situation posed by this collision, make towing kids in similar situations, a logically good choice? I guess that's a decision involving the conscience of the parent.

        "...Holding the self-propelled humans walking or cycling responsible a priori, as you and wsbob persist in doing, ..." 9watt

        Holding vulnerable road users responsible for causing the collisions, is what I suppose you're suggesting. Nope. Certainly haven't suggested any such thing with regards to this collision...that's for sure. What I've written in my comments about the father in this collision, is that he took his child into a particularly dangerous traffic situation where his child riding in the bike trailer behind his bike, would be extremely susceptible to impact from motor vehicles approaching from behind. The father did not cause the collision: He did though, place his child in a situation where such a collision could occur.

        I'd say, in a situation where the child is being towed in a trailer behind a bike, riding the main lane of the road is more dangerous than riding to the right side of the main travel lane on a bike lane on roads that have them...even though as a number of reported collisions in Oregon over the past year have shown, motor vehicles do on occasion for various, often undetermined reasons, leave the main lane, travel into the bike lane and collide with cyclists.

        For people that bike the road, the risk where motor vehicles are present also, is always there. Where children under the protection of adults are involved, it seems to me the moral responsibility of the adult for the child's protection trumps all other concerns.

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        • El Biciclero December 12, 2012 at 3:59 pm

          How about the moral responsibility of drivers to not run over children? Doesn't the moral obligation of a driver not to run over other people trump all others? I guess not in this country, where if you get run over by a careless driver, it's your own fault.

          As has been mentioned above and below, there are countless situations that are more dangerous (statistically speaking) for children that we don't think twice about putting them into. Kids are more likely to get a concussion on the playground than while riding as passengers on a parent's bike, but we don't scold parents for turning their kids loose at the park. More kids drown in backyard pools than get killed while riding in bike trailers, but we don't scold parents for having pools--is that back door really locked at all times, and are you sure that your kid hasn't figured out how to unlock it yet? Evergreen High School in Vancouver went into lockdown this morning because they found a rifle in a classroom. Kids get bullied and beat up by other kids at or on the way to/from school all the time. How irresponsible of parents to send their kids to school! How often are kids negatively influenced by peers to get into trouble that they probably wouldn't get into if alone, yet we actually encourage kids to "make friends". My dad used to take us hiking on mountain trails when we were kids--one false step or moment of horseplay and we could have fallen to our deaths down the side of the mountain. Ever give a kid a ride on your shoulders? Did they wear a helmet? What if you had tripped and fallen? How many parents let their kids climb trees? When I was younger, I knew kids who lived on farms that were driving tractors, working with large animals, and handling dangerous equipment--including rifles--by the time they were 12. I'm sure that kind of thing still happens in the agricultural community; time to investigate farmer-parents for being "negligent".

          What would we say if this father and child had been in a car that got T-boned by another driver running a red light such that the part of the car where the child (presumably in a "safety" seat) was caved in and the kid suffered "minor cuts and bruises"? Would we be ascribing any quote-unquote "negligence" to the father for putting his child in a known risky environment? Would we be accusing the parents of not buying a big enough car? Not stopping to look before proceeding through an intersection on a green light? Not buying an expensive enough car seat? Not springing for rear side-impact airbag curtains (tsk-tsk!) What?! What blame would we place on such a parent--a parent whose child suffered the same injuries, for the same reason (an inattentive driver)??
          ...
          Crickets? Would the car-driving parent with a child injured by another, inattentive driver not be accused of "negligence"? Then not another word.

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          • jim December 12, 2012 at 6:47 pm

            If you put the kid in a car there is certainly a whole lot more protection than a bike trailer, no comparison. The T-bone incident you described, the kid would have a chance in the car, no chance in the bike trailer. It's common sense, on the farm common sense was used frequently, oblivious parents in the road with children use very little if any common sense. When you were a child walking at the edge of the cliff where you would have died if you slipped, did your father at least watch you? maybe help you in a tight spot? That would be common sense. Did your father teach you how to respect a gun? or were they just laying around for any kid to play with? You mention a lot of low risk situations, riding in a trailer is a low risk situation when it is done in a safe manner. In the dark, Rain on the windshields, A busy street with a lot going on, the risk factor was High, The cyclist gambled and lost. Hopefully in the future he will reconsider his situation, I'm sure he will always be thinking about what he can do to be safer.

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          • wsbob December 12, 2012 at 11:16 pm

            "How about the moral responsibility of drivers to not run over children? Doesn't the moral obligation of a driver not to run over other people trump all others? ..." El Biciclero

            Sure it does; can you point to anything reported about the driver of the motor vehicle involved in this collision indicating he/she doesn't uphold such an obligation? Assuming they do believe the moral responsibility of the adult for the child's protection trumps all other concerns. ...people nevertheless make mistakes under the best of circumstances.

            Assuming the father of the child involved in the collision is of reasonable intelligence and responsibility, before deciding to tow his child in a bike trailer, out in traffic amongst motor vehicles he likely was well aware that people under the best intentions and circumstances...make mistakes. Unfortunately, the odds of avoiding a collision with a motor vehicle, weren't in his favor this time. He knew there was risk, took the risk, gambled with his child's life, and the child paid.

            Certain people commenting to bikeportland are very contradictory in the area of trust extended towards the abilities of people that drive motor vehicles. Lots of negative things often are stated outright or implied in general to anyone behind the wheel of a motor vehicle, with little regard for who the person might be...someone's mother, father, brother, sister; Then, when it comes time to decide whether or not it's safe to transport behind a bike, a child in a barely crash resistant bike trailer where it could easily be rammed by a motor vehicle, the tables miraculously change: 'Of course! Cars rarely crash into bike trailers! It's probably going to be just fine, little miss, little man!'

            There's no law against carrying a child in any bike trailer on the market. I wonder if any of them have been subjected to a crash dummy test as is done with motor vehicles.

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            • 9watts December 13, 2012 at 9:18 am

              I don't see the contradiction, the double standard, you claim to see, wsbob.

              More than 3,000 people were killed, and >400,000 injured on US streets in 2010 due to distracted driving.
              http://www.distraction.gov/content/get-the-facts/facts-and-statistics.html
              Does that mean I'm not going to, should not, bike with my child on public streets? Hell no. And believe it or not I think I have statistics on my side. Furthermore, the creative mental jump you make and which I most emphatically do not, is that the problem isn't with the distracted driving--something you've barely acknowledged here--but with negligent parents. Somehow this level of danger on the streets you have naturalized to the extent that the rest of us not only need to work around it, but in failing to live up to your ever rising standards of precaution are actually culpable.
              What is particularly troubling, and frankly mystifying, to me is that law enforcement on the whole seems to share your inverted sense of who's to blame--or at least their failure to deliver justice for people on bikes leaves open that interpretation. I'm beginning to think this may be the most formidable obstacle to safer streets here in the US, in Oregon, in Portland.

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              • wsbob December 14, 2012 at 12:18 am

                "...I don't see the contradiction, the double standard, you claim to see, wsbob. ..." 9watts

                Keep trying. On the one hand, you and various people rail on and on about how terrible your consider all people that drive to be, how distracted they must be, how oblivious to or inconsiderate they must be to anything on the road except other motor vehicles.

                Then...you turn right around and say it's safe for a father to tow his child around in a flimsy bike trailer...a little steel tubing and nylon fabric...down a main lane of traffic on a busy collector street amongst all those people in motor vehicles you apparently consider to be so dangerous.

                When you figure out where you stand, maybe you'll let us all know.

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        • jim December 12, 2012 at 6:51 pm

          Bob-
          Why is it that you are the only person on this blog that makes sense? You have a gift of looking at things and questioning them, you look for what makes good common sense. Just wanted to let you know your viewpoint is appreciated.

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  • jim December 12, 2012 at 1:19 am

    There is a good reason why insurance companies do not allow bikes in drive troughs at fast food restaurants. The chances of a cyclist being hurt is much too high of a risk, They know that bikes will get bumped into by inadvertent drivers. No fault of the cyclist other than putting himself into danger. If he had a child in a trailer in a fast food drive through it would be very irresponsible and dangerous for the child. Same for banks.

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    • SilkySlim December 12, 2012 at 10:07 am

      "drive TROUGHs at fast food restaurants" - spot on!

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    • El Biciclero December 12, 2012 at 11:16 am

      Except that some fast food chains (Burgerville, e.g.) expressly allow bikes in the drive-through lane. Of course, one could say that taking a child to a restaurant is endangering the child, what with all the salmonella and e. coli outbreaks that happen. Those bugs can kill small children! Too high-risk for my kids...

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      • Barbara December 12, 2012 at 11:30 am

        Don't forget the trans fats and corn syrup waiting in those places. Ohh, and I have heard they are full of strangers, too! Never trust a stranger!

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        • El Biciclero December 12, 2012 at 11:58 am

          Indeed. We live in a world ruled by emotion: a mall shooting that kills two gets days of solid coverage (How could this happen??!! What if it happened to YOU??!! Do you have a mall-shooter escape plan in place??!!) while 30,000 people killed by cars (many due to drunk and distracted drivers) get nary a blip on the news radar. We are ruled by fears of things that look scary, even though such things might actually be far safer than some much-less-scary-looking other things. How many children in trailers or on their parents' bikes have been killed in Oregon this year? Zero? How many children have been killed BY their parents or their parent's abusive boyfriends? How many have been killed riding in cars? How many have been poisoned? Drowned? Run over while walking (on the sidewalk!!)? Yet we don't hear nearly the outrage over some of these things as we do when tragedy (or in this case, near-tragedy--thankfully) befalls someone on a bike. Then it's all about how irresponsible anyone riding a bike must be to put themselves and/or their helpless children into such unacceptably risky situations!

          The irrational safety-nannies that would scold a parent for putting children in what statistically is a relatively low-risk situation, while at the same time allowing their own kids to run up and down stairs, eat french fries, go swimming, cross the street, play with other kids, use playground equipment, wear ill-fitting, poorly-adjusted helmets to skate or ride their bikes, ride in cars, eat raisins, take baths, shoot guns(!!), ride four-wheelers, play sports, play video games for hours on end, spend hours in day-care, ski, pick up sticks, run--you all can shut your mouths.

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          • jim December 12, 2012 at 6:23 pm

            The risk factor for children playing on the freeway is quite high, No kids have been killid from playing on the freeway for quite some time. It's still a really bad idea to do so though.
            I don't understand why people are so against child safety?

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          • wsbob December 12, 2012 at 11:30 pm

            "... in what statistically is a relatively low-risk situation..." El Biciclero

            Referring to the odds, of course, that a bike trailer with a child riding in it, towed by a bike down a busy street just outside of rush hour, being struck by a motor vehicle.

            Relying on the almighty statistics, to gamble with a child's life. Hey...anybody that feels good about that kind of risk determination technique used to suggest the odds of child's safety being threatened, needn't spend another second worrying about whether their child is going to be safe behind them in a bike trailer with motor vehicle rolling up behind them.

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            • El Biciclero December 13, 2012 at 10:01 am

              See? That's the emotion talking. Cars and traffic look scary--at least from the outside--so most people bow to the almighty fear and social pressure (BAD parent! Shame! Shame!) when gambling with their children's lives.

              I ask again: if a child dies in an auto "accident" as a passenger in a car, do we accuse the parent of allowing their child to be placed in one of the highest-risk situations of all? One category of "unintentional injury death" for children is described as "transportation-related" by the CDC and is by far the leading cause of injury death for children, followed distantly by drowning and suffocation. If we assume that the vast majority of children are transported by motor vehicle, then anyone putting their child in a car is knowingly endangering that child and gambling with the child's life. Yet we hear no cries of "negligent parent!" when we hear about children dying in car crashes (if we even hear about them, since such deaths are so common as to be mundane). Why do we insist upon vilifying parents whose children are injured by the same cause--inattentive, impaired, or just bad drivers--just because the injured child happened to be doing one thing or another at the time that cause was foisted on them?
              Injured by a bad driver while in a car? Meh.
              While waiting for a bus or walking on the sidewalk? "Oh God! What a tragedy! What was wrong with that driver?"
              While riding their own bike? "Aww, that's too bad. Where were the parents? They should investigate the parents."
              While a passenger on a parent's bike? "What kind of negligent moron thinks they can tote their kid around on one of those rickety contraptions--and on the street no less??! The parent deserved to get run over--but the children! Think of the children!"

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          • 9watts December 13, 2012 at 8:57 am

            "to gamble with a child's life."
            You really don't get it wsbob, do you?

            If I remind you that ~15 children die in the US/year just as the result of car-airbags deploying, which as far as I know is about 15x more than die in bike trailers (does even one child die in a bike trailer/yr?), and more importantly, those deaths were not the result of anyone outside the vehicle making bad judgments or failing to pay attention, why do you keep inventing and harping on these convoluted, hypothetical scenarios?

            It is hard not to read your comments in this thread as an attempt to exaggerate the dangers of biking with children, while pretending not to notice the elephant in the room--the cause of very nearly all the suffering that results from what we used to call traffic accidents. Hint: it has airbags and four wheels.

            As we've already seen right here on bikeportland, all the blinky lights and reflective garb in the world isn't enough to overcome the growing menace of distracted drivers. I'd recommened re-reading some of El Biciclero's cogent remarks in this thread.

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        • jim December 12, 2012 at 6:26 pm

          Do you send your 5 year old down to burgerville by herself to get some lunch? Of course not, the place is filled with strangers that could take her away. This is why we have to be responsible as adults and not put our children in harms way

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        • jim December 15, 2012 at 1:11 pm

          What's more dangerous? the fast food or the strangers?

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  • jim December 12, 2012 at 6:28 pm

    The last message was intended for Barbara

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  • Opus the Poet December 12, 2012 at 11:33 pm

    wsbob
    "How about the moral responsibility of drivers to not run over children? Doesn't the moral obligation of a driver not to run over other people trump all others? ..." El Biciclero
    Sure it does; can you point to anything reported about the driver of the motor vehicle involved in this collision indicating he/she doesn't uphold such an obligation?

    You mean aside from running over the kid in the trailer? Nothing at all. The trailer was lighted and the rider towing the trailer was covered in reflective garments (the portion visible to the driver), and the car still hit the bike/trailer combination hard enough to smash the trailer and break bones in the rider. Aside from that there is no evidence the driver failed to not run over children...

    Stupid troll...

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    • Over and Doubt December 13, 2012 at 10:23 am

      Agreed. wsbob, you jumped the shark some time ago.

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    • wsbob December 13, 2012 at 12:00 pm

      Opus the Poet

      wsbob
      "How about the moral responsibility of drivers to not run over children? Doesn't the moral obligation of a driver not to run over other people trump all others? ..." El Biciclero
      Sure it does; can you point to anything reported about the driver of the motor vehicle involved in this collision indicating he/she doesn't uphold such an obligation?

      You mean aside from running over the kid in the trailer? Nothing at all. The trailer was lighted and the rider towing the trailer was covered in reflective garments (the portion visible to the driver), and the car still hit the bike/trailer combination hard enough to smash the trailer and break bones in the rider. Aside from that there is no evidence the driver failed to not run over children...
      Stupid troll...
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      I'll repeat it again for those that somehow aren't getting it: People make mistakes under the best of circumstances.

      Be careful in calling someone stupid, or other names which often are resorted to by people having realized they've lost a weak argument they're holding on to.

      Even though the father involved in this collision wore a reflective jacket and had a blinkie on the bike trailer, the flimsy trailer was still positioned smack dab in the middle of the main travel lane where a car could smash directly into the trailer. While I'm not calling the decision of the father to put his child in such a position, I would definitely consider it to be questionable judgment.

      Opus, I seem to recall reading from some of your past comments, that you were involved in a collision with a car. You, more than some people reading here, should be able to understand the risks involved in riding bikes on the road amongst motor vehicles. Those of us that ride have a right to take those risks for ourselves, but have a responsibility to limit that risk where children are involved.

      Any of you reading that don't like the cold hard reality I'm presenting here, can stop attempting to rationalize away a, an indisputably dangerous situation which adults in charge of children have complete control to avoid.

      "...It is hard not to read your comments in this thread as an attempt to exaggerate the dangers of biking with children ..." 9watts

      No. That's not what I've said. I have not written about children biking being dangerous, per se, but specifically that: Traveling in the main lanes of traffic with a bike towing a child in a flimsy bike trailer puts the child in a greater than usual danger of being struck by a motor vehicle.

      "...I ask again: if a child dies in an auto "accident" as a passenger in a car, do we accuse the parent of allowing their child to be placed in one of the highest-risk situations of all? ..." El Biciclero

      Flimsy bike trailers used to carry children possess none of the injury reduction features designed into motor vehicles and accessory car safety seats for kids, to guard against collision impact with motor vehicles. There are risks to children transported by motor vehicle, but in the example of comparing motor vehicles to child carrying bike trailers: Motor vehicles and car seats have numerous safety features to protect vehicle occupants against injury resulting from collision with another motor vehicle. Bike trailers built to carry children amongst motor vehicles have virtually...no such protective measures whatsoever. That's something for every parent to think about as they decide whether to tow their child out into traffic amongst motor vehicles.

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    • wsbob December 13, 2012 at 3:52 pm

      I'll repeat it again for those that somehow aren't getting it: People make mistakes under the best of circumstances.

      Be careful in calling someone stupid, or other names which often are resorted to by people having realized they've lost a weak argument they're holding on to.

      Even though the father involved in this collision wore a reflective jacket and had a blinkie on the bike trailer, the flimsy trailer was still positioned smack dab in the middle of the main travel lane where a car could smash directly into the trailer. While I'm not calling the decision of the father to put his child in such a position, I would definitely consider it to be questionable judgment.

      Opus, I seem to recall reading from some of your past comments, that you were involved in a collision with a car. You, more than some people reading here, should be able to understand the risks involved in riding bikes on the road amongst motor vehicles. Those of us that ride have a right to take those risks for ourselves, but have a responsibility to limit that risk where children are involved.

      Any of you reading that don't like the cold hard reality I'm presenting here, can stop attempting to rationalize away a, an indisputably dangerous situation which adults in charge of children have complete control to avoid.

      "...It is hard not to read your comments in this thread as an attempt to exaggerate the dangers of biking with children ..." 9watts
      No. That's not what I've said. I have not written about children biking being dangerous, per se, but specifically that: Traveling in the main lanes of traffic with a bike towing a child in a flimsy bike trailer puts the child in a greater than usual danger of being struck by a motor vehicle.

      "...I ask again: if a child dies in an auto "accident" as a passenger in a car, do we accuse the parent of allowing their child to be placed in one of the highest-risk situations of all? ..." El Biciclero

      Flimsy bike trailers used to carry children possess none of the injury reduction features designed into motor vehicles and accessory car safety seats for kids, to guard against collision impact with motor vehicles. There are risks to children transported by motor vehicle, but in the example of comparing motor vehicles to child carrying bike trailers: Motor vehicles and car seats have numerous safety features to protect vehicle occupants against injury resulting from collision with another motor vehicle. Bike trailers built to carry children amongst motor vehicles have virtually...no such protective measures whatsoever. That's something for every parent to think about as they decide whether to tow their child out into traffic amongst motor vehicles.

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      • 9watts December 13, 2012 at 4:01 pm

        You keep using the word flimsy to describe bike trailers, but as I said above I think in this instance it is pretty clear that the occupant of the trailer fared better than did the person riding the bike which was towing the trailer. The car made contact with the trailer, and only indirectly with the bike from which the father was thrown by the impact. No need to repeat the details here.
        You also keep emphasizing how the trailer was in the middle of the travel lane. The photo above doesn't suggest this to me. I don't think it should matter but you seem to.

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      • Opus the Poet December 13, 2012 at 4:24 pm

        Bob, I wasn't in any "accident", I was the victim of a violent psychopath who could not stand to see people different from him using the roads. It was a deliberate attempt to kill me because I was riding a bicycle on the only through route between my place of work and my home. The only thing that made it an "accident" was his choice of murder weapon.

        That said in spite of that I still ride my bike, because even though there are people like that out there (just not that guy, he killed himself driving drunk) there are not enough of them to make me think it will happen again. Even violent psychopaths have some kind of censoring software in their heads that keeps them from going off the deep end and killing people on the street for no reason. I'm more concerned about oblivious people who would not think of hurting anyone deliberately, but who "can't see" anything smaller than an American sedan in front of them on the roads. Those are more numerous than the guy that killed me ([Monty Python Voice] I got better[/Monty Python Voice]), but still scarce to the point of I sometimes don't see one for weeks.

        Overall riding a bike is about as safe as driving a car, even in the US. But I know from the statistics from other countries that we could be even safer by about an order of magnitude. And that that is worth all the kicking and screaming I can muster to get the changes worked through.

        I hope you have a nice life.

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        • wsbob December 13, 2012 at 6:23 pm

          Opus...did I say, or imply that you were involved in an 'accident'? I didn't:

          "...Opus, I seem to recall reading from some of your past comments, that you were involved in a collision with a car. ..." wsbob

          9watts...yes I do keep using the word 'flimsy' to describe bike trailers commonly used to transport children behind bikes. Why do I use that term to describe the relative frailty of child carrying bike trailers? As I've mentioned in earlier posts, while the trailer, though partially collapsed obviously absorbed some impact with the motor vehicle in this collision, there's no indication that a bike trailer would protect a child riding within, beyond impact arising from a very slow traveling motor vehicle. Posted speed limits for Portland area streets commonly range from 20mph to 40mph.

          An estimated speed of the motor vehicle upon impact hasn't been reported. This has left various people, including myself, making rough assumptions about what speed the vehicle was traveling upon impact.

          Even though the father was reported to have been thrown on the hood of the motor vehicle, I wonder whether the speed of the motor vehicle upon impact was greater than 15mph. In an earlier post, I included a link to Burley's site, which has info about stress tests their trailers are subjected to, but nothing on that site about protection their trailers are or aren't designed to provide children riding in them with, related to collision with motor vehicles at various speeds.

          The effects of this collision on the trailer, plus the survival and relative condition of the child riding in it through the collision seems to inspire your confidence that its design is sufficient for transporting kids in traffic amongst motor vehicles. Sorry, but I'm not so inspired.

          "...You also keep emphasizing how the trailer was in the middle of the travel lane. The photo above doesn't suggest this to me. ..." 9watts

          The motor vehicle, while apparently traveling the main travel lane of this street, collided with the bike and trailer positioned in that lane. The car hit the trailer towed by the bike. Quibble all you want about whether 'middle of the main travel lane' was, at the moment of the collision, the exact middle of the travel lane, or some inches or feet one way or other to the side of the middle: the motor vehicle still hit the trailer/bike, partially collapsing the trailer.

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      • El Biciclero December 13, 2012 at 5:42 pm

        OHHhhh. So if I drop my kid off of a bridge, my bad, I'm a negligent parent. But if I wrap them in bubble wrap and put them in a waterproof barrel first, then no problem???

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      • Paul in the 'couve December 13, 2012 at 5:44 pm

        WSBob,
        What do you feel about people who drive their kids around in a car with a car seat that isn't properly adjusted (like 70% from what I recall) or who drive 10mph over the speed limit with kids in the car, or run red lights with kids in the car, or drive distracted while talking on their cell phone with kids in the car? Is their judgment any less questionable than someone who tows a kid in a trailer?

        Cars CAUSE the hazards in transportation. The rest of us have no choice but to make the best of it as we can. Risk is not an easy thing to understand and most people intuitively get it wrong. In this case, statistically overall kids are far more likely to be injured by a dozen other activities than riding in a bike trailer. Yet, there are no good stats for injuries per mile travelled or time travelling in bike trailers. At the same time there is a big disparity between biking on a 25 or 30 mph neighbourhood collector vs. a 35mph or faster 4 lane arterial or on a rural 45 mph road or on a freeway. I tow my kids in a trailer, but I choose my routes carefully.

        There are two sides to this. 1 - 99.5% of the risk is FROM CARS being on the road. and 2 - making a decision about what level of risk is acceptable for you and your family is personal. In this case, the father's decision was certainly in the range of appropriate - at least in my opinion. The solution here is to have fewer people driving, and have people driving more attentively and have real VRU penalties.

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        • wsbob December 13, 2012 at 11:58 pm

          "What do you feel about people who drive their kids around in a car with a car seat that isn't properly adjusted (like 70% from what I recall) or who drive 10mph over the speed limit with kids in the car, or run red lights with kids in the car, or drive distracted while talking on their cell phone with kids in the car? Is their judgment any less questionable than someone who tows a kid in a trailer?

          Judgment of people doing the things you describe, in those types of situation you describe, is not less questionable than tows a kid in a trailer. They're negligent too. Fewer people in this world being negligent wouldn't be a bad thing. Should people that bike model their habits after those of people that are? No.

          Stats don't amount to much when a car is rolling up on someone riding a bike, or a child riding in a bike trailer. If it hits the person or the child, as motor vehicles did some of the people on Hwy 30 last summer, they're either done or in seriously bad shape.

          You say your need to transport a child in a trailer has you choose your routes carefully for streets with slower speed limits. Great idea. Perhaps those with less traffic and good lighting too. On quieter streets, some risk is still there, but probably less so than on a busier street. And as always: lots of light and reflectors.

          "OHHhhh. So if I drop my kid off of a bridge, my bad, I'm a negligent parent. But if I wrap them in bubble wrap and put them in a waterproof barrel first, then no problem???" El Biciclero

          El B ...Hey...I hope that was some kind of joke. If not, you probably shouldn't be talking in a public forum about dropping your kid off a bridge in a barrel whether you intend to wrap them in bubble wrap or not. And please don't think about getting in the barrel yourself and tipping it off the bridge. Seek some help. Professional counseling is available. It's not too late.

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          • El Biciclero December 14, 2012 at 9:44 am

            Heh. Good one. I'm making an analogy via metaphor (I think). What I should say is, all transport, like being dropped from a bridge, is risky--kids get injured in cars and in bike trailers. Why don't we scold parents for taking their kids out in cars? Well, according to your reasoning, it's because somehow, putting a kid in a car means that the parent has taken all reasonable precautions (bubble wrap) to avoid getting the kid injured (yet they still get injured, so did the parent really do enough??). Seems like the best answer to protect the children is not to ever transport them.

            All I intend is for folks to think about things rationally: the result of putting kids in cars has so far been vastly more tragic than the result of putting them in bike trailers, so who should we be scolding as "negligent"? We can't make all our judgments and decisions based on emotion. To make another comparison, many folks seem to buy handguns because the big, bad world full of criminals looks scary, and they think they are "protecting" themselves, yet most handgun owners are more likely to be shot (or have their own loved ones shot--accidentally or otherwise) by their own guns than they ever are to successfully fend off an attack by a scary criminal. I.e., most (not all) handgun purchasers would be safer without "protection". Emotional decisions do not always result in the best possible outcome.

            A father who transports his kid in a bike trailer is no more "negligent" than the mom who drives her kid to school every day because the school bus is "too scary".

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  • 9watts December 14, 2012 at 7:59 am

    wsbob:
    "Keep trying. On the one hand you and various people rail on and on about how terrible your consider all people that drive to be...

    Then...you turn right around and say it's safe..."

    I think I've finally figured out why we keep talking past each other. Maybe this protracted exchange will end up being useful after all.

    I think that you, wsbob, are not distinguishing btw probability and fault.

    I contend that--notwithstanding the distracted driving menace--the probability of being hit on our streets while biking is very low. I refuse to conduct myself on public thoroughfares as if I were a civilian in a war zone and potential death lurked under every motor vehicle. My chief concern on the subject of this article is law enforcement's inability to correctly assign fault. I lament the fact that those who drive cars and run into or over people on bikes tend to get off with a slap on the wrist.

    You persist in focusing on the extra precautions everyone BUT those in cars should be taking, because you, apparently, judge the probability of their being hit to be high. This leads you to distribute fault to everyone, but in your utterances it tends to fall on those NOT in cars.

    To summarize our differences.
    9watts: (fact) low probability of death or injury to cyclist;
    (hope/demand) right to ride without fear and to expect justice from law enforcement: fault will be assigned accurately in a crash.
    wsbob: (my conjecture) high probability of death or injury to cyclist; we should ride out of the way of cars and only emerge from hiding after taking many precautions: fault will be assigned based on the belief that anyone not in a car is on the road (still alive) due to the attentiveness of those driving cars.
    ... you are welcome to give your own summary, wsbob.

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    • Barbara December 14, 2012 at 8:35 am

      Thank you 9watts! WSBOB, I'm not sure what you are trying to say or want us to do. Biking is already the safest mode of travelling (not even taking into account the health effects). With 100 Million kids in the US the odds of a being one of the 130 kids biking being killed by a car is better than winning the lottery (1:15 Million), but somehwere around stranger abduction (1:1.5 Million), all are statistically irrelevant, a rounding error. You are more likley to be hit by lightning! So what do you suggest we do? You say biking is dangerous. Walking is even more dangerous and driving in the car the most dangerous thing we do. Most of us have to get to work or school somehow and even staying home is risky (obesity, depression, bad indoor air quality). So I choose the lowest risk transportation which also contributes to better personal health, better air quality and me not killing someone else while driving! It would be nice, though, if law enforcement and streetscaping would catch up and make biking even more safe and pleasurable and car drivers more responsible.

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    • wsbob December 14, 2012 at 9:57 am

      "...because you, apparently, judge the probability of their being hit to be high. ..."

      No. I recognize the likelihood of vulnerable road users being injured or killed when struck by motor vehicles, to be high.

      That brief response is all I can offer for now. More later today or tonight perhaps.

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    • wsbob December 14, 2012 at 6:39 pm

      Back again. I'm not as much interested in fault, or finding fault as I am in pre-emptive measures taken by road users to avoid travel mode conflict, close calls and collisions. Reason being, is that determining who or what is at fault and to what degree they are, or it is at fault, is an after the fact response to damage already done.

      Taking measures to avoid problems before they happen is a much better approach, especially when options available are relatively easy and inexpensive. Learning and using effective in-traffic bike specific skills, lighting and reflectivity, and choosing routes that can reduce likelihood of close calls and collisions are far more effective means of avoiding close calls and collisions than is relying on statistical percentages to decide where riding may be the safest.

      Barbara, and to all: I haven't said 'biking is dangerous'...what I will say though, is that biking amongst motor vehicles is potentially dangerous. Assuming everything goes well: ...people riding bikes are signaling...people driving are seeing the cyclists and the signals displayed. and vice-versa, then everything can flow smoothly...people get where they need to go...nobody gets hurt. Everything flowing smoothly and nobody getting hurt is the way most everyone wants traffic to work out...while not forgetting the inherently potential danger existing in situations where vulnerable road users are traveling on the road amongst motor vehicles.

      Reducing chances that the potential danger posed by vulnerable road users and motor vehicles on the road together, will turn into a close call or a collision is an effort anybody directly making decisions about the safe care of a child, must make.

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      • 9watts December 15, 2012 at 8:28 am

        "Reason being, is that determining who or what is at fault and to what degree they are, or it is at fault, is an after the fact response to damage already done."

        That is one perspective. But what about the possibility that a different, more just, approach to fault could have a positive effect on drivers tomorrow and in the future? People who commit crimes of most any variety don't expect to be caught. And if we bikeportland readers know anything it is pretty damn easy to maim or kill someone with a car in this state and suffer no penalties.

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        • wsbob December 15, 2012 at 12:11 pm

          Note: the numbers in 9watts comment excerpt below are my addition:

          "...(1). But what about the possibility that a different, more just, approach to fault could have a positive effect on drivers tomorrow and in the future? (2) People who commit crimes of most any variety don't expect to be caught. (3) And if we bikeportland readers know anything it is pretty damn easy to maim or kill someone with a car in this state and suffer no penalties. ..." 9watts

          (1): You've offered no suggestions. With respect to this particular collision, as of yet, there doesn't yet seem to have been a report about police investigation or citing for violations; what the police may or may not have come to know about the person driving, their operation of the vehicle in general and in the seconds before the collision. Incidentally: I read just a couple weeks ago in the O, that for some years...10 or so if I remember correctly, some auto manufacturers have been voluntarily installing data collecting black boxes into the vehicles they produce, in anticipation of the U.S. government's plan to require by 2014, all motor vehicles sold in this country to have black boxes.

          (2) With regards to people in general that drive, and this particular driver, that's a gross, inflammatory, unwarranted assumption. At least wait until details of a police report have been released before insinuating this driver has committed a crime.

          (3) Again: You've offered no suggestion. If you're suggesting penalties meted without regard to intent, present or not, that could be a contributing factor to collisions, say so.

          Various actions or inaction's of people operating motor vehicles that cause collisions, are not all criminal in nature. Under the best of circumstances, good drivers make mistakes occasionally leading to close calls and collisions. For situations where indication that behind the wheel conduct was not criminal, a law could perhaps be put together requiring that any road user involved in a collision in which they were found to be at fault, would be obliged to undergo a batter of tests to determine fitness to drive.

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          • are December 15, 2012 at 12:36 pm

            we already have the vulnerable user law, but it is not used

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          • are December 15, 2012 at 1:04 pm

            as i understood 9watts' point, it was not that this conduct of this particular motorist was or was not "criminal," it was that the threshold for criminal "recklessness" has been set so high that people feel comfortable operating more negligently than if the threshold were considerably lower. surely you are not suggesting that a motorist who runs into a stopped vehicle is not pretty much by definition negligent.

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  • dr2chase December 15, 2012 at 6:55 am

    wsbob, one criticism that you did not address, and it seems to be flying right over your head, is that people taking kids out on bikes are not the only people who have responsibility here. If cars are the cause of most of the danger (and they are -- remove the cars, you remove the danger. That's a very effective mitigation right there), then the people who choose to drive, and especially those who choose to drive carelessly, also bear some responsibility. A whole lot of driving is not necessary; people do it for convenience, or because they wish to allocate their time for something other than transportation. Driving speed is also a choice; 20mph is safer than 25mph is safer than 30mph. These are choices that create risks for other people. This is not a force of nature, where we tell people not to play golf in a lightning storm and think it would be ridiculous to lecture the lightning.

    I'm not small, mostly not soft, and mostly not weak. When I walk around in public, I don't just blunder around and expect people to get out of my way because they have a responsibility to protect themselves -- *I* have a responsibility not to blunder into them. The one time I recall when I did just push on forward through a crowd (I had to get off an airplane in a tremendous hurry), people were *really* pissed.

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    • wsbob December 15, 2012 at 12:42 pm

      "wsbob, one criticism that you did not address, and it seems to be flying right over your head, is that people taking kids out on bikes are not the only people who have responsibility here. ..." dr2chase

      "...If cars are the cause of most of the danger (and they are -- remove the cars, you remove the danger. ..." dr2chase

      What criticism? Nobody's saying kids taking people out on bikes are the only road users responsible for the safety of children under their care. I think it's safe to assume most people that drive, understand they're responsible not just for the kids riding in their own vehicles, but also somewhat for kids riding in other vehicles their own vehicle's movement could have an effect on...even when the other vehicle may be a bike trailer towed by a bike.

      Very good drivers occasionally make mistakes that cause collisions. They don't mean to have their car run into other things, including vulnerable road users...but it does happen. Safe travel on the road has to take this into consideration.

      It doesn't seem to me that attempting to protect children being transported over the road in fragile bike trailers amongst motor vehicles, can be very successful by administering after the fact penalties with the idea that action will reduce rates of collisions. Pre-emptive measures are probably going to be more effective. I've mentioned a bunch of such measures in earlier comments.

      Taking cars off the road is a long shot. Holland/Danish style cycle tracks effectively do that. Other people commenting to this thread have mentioned them. That infrastructure seems great to me, but probably isn't likely to be very common around here, and if so, not for a long time. Shorter term, easy measures like lights, reflectivity, routes with less traffic, are actions that can be way more quickly taken.

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      • are December 15, 2012 at 1:06 pm

        but how about simply allowing fewer people to operate cars on the roads, by (for example) revoking licenses more readily for negligent behavior that is presently forgiven.

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  • 9watts December 15, 2012 at 3:11 pm

    wsbob, you say I have offered no suggestions. My suggestion has been to hold anyone who runs over someone else accountable in a way that discourages such carelessness in the future, clearly communicates that this is not acceptable. Real penalties for these actions that you keep dismissing: "Under the best of circumstances, good drivers make mistakes."
    I don't find your framing persuasive. Some "good moms" have mentally unstable children but still keep the house full of semi-automatic guns. We can do better, expect more from people. Our streets are not a war zone. If driving is just inherently that dangerous; if people can't be counted on to stay in control, stay on task, then we should probably restrict it, as Mr. are suggests.

    "Very good drivers occasionally make mistakes that cause collisions. They don't mean to have their car run into other things, including vulnerable road users...but it does happen. Safe travel on the road has to take this into consideration."

    How you can keep exonerating drivers and reiterate your point that others need to take this 'fact' into account, take precautions to stay out of the way, is beyond me. If this isn't what Alan Durning was talking about http://daily.sightline.org/2007/04/19/car-head/ I don't know what is.

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    • wsbob December 16, 2012 at 1:54 am

      "...exonerating drivers..." 9watts

      "...Real penalties for these actions that you keep dismissing: ..." 9watts

      I've done no such thing. You, it would seem, have some kind of irrepressible urge to...conflate...is I think the word...the words of others to attempt to bolster various arguments you try to make.

      I'm not sure how to make what I've previously said and that you've excerpted above, plainer, so it won't again be co-opted to support your own or the objective of someone else.

      With the statements I made about good drivers occasionally making mistakes under the best of circumstances, rather than suggesting anything much about careless driving laws and penalties, I attempted to highlight the relative danger of towing a child in a bike trailer amongst motor vehicles, and also self defensive means people that bike can take on their own to reduce their chances of being involved in close calls and collisions.

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      • dr2chase December 16, 2012 at 6:36 am

        wsbob, I am pretty sure I understand your POV, but I don't think you are understanding mine, which is pretty close to 9watts (I think).

        First, if you accept the fact that we do in fact make intermittent mistakes, that doesn't mean we're "not responsible". Once we accept that fact, we *know we make mistakes*. That means the choice to drive a car and the choice of how to drive that car must include some consideration for "if I screw up, I might hurt someone with my car". You can't have it both ways -- if humans make mistakes, then they make mistakes, and choosing to do something where a mistake would be costly means including responsibility for the mistake. Furthermore, *other* people make mistakes, and choosing to do something that makes *their* mistakes more costly is a choice that we should also be responsible for. Putting a car on the road makes unlucky cyclist and pedestrian mistakes much more costly. Driving that car fast makes them even more so.

        Second, you act as if our own mistakes were something that we could not compensate for in our own behavior, which is far from true (as opposed to "be careful towing a child, because drivers make mistakes". I'm saying that drivers can do better). People in a hurry make more mistakes than people who are not in a hurry. "Hurry" is a choice. We can change how we do things in ways that allow time to correct the mistakes (studies of airline pilots show that they are constantly making mistakes, and are also constantly correcting them, and equipment, checklists, and training are all designed to make correction the usual case). Incentives do have an effect.

        Third, people are well-known for overestimating their skill, luck, etc. It's called the Lake Wobegon Effect, and when you measure it in a social-psychological study, it comes blaring through with about the same statistical significance as water-is-wet and sky-is-blue. If people are not reminded of their ability to make mistakes, they will underestimate it. Incentives/penalties help with this somewhat.

        And I'm pretty well certain I understand your POV -- we have a status quo, with many cars on the road. We can change that, and changing incentives is one way to start. In addition, high punishments for costly driver "mistakes" are seen as "unfair", it would be better to find ways to reduce that error rate, because humans fail to compute risk properly. But (1) right now there is frequently *no* punishment, even in cases where an assignment of fault is widely understood to apply (rear-ending another vehicle) and (2) we're not making changes that would reduce the rate and cost of these mistakes (strictly enforced speed limits, lower speed limits, strictly enforced laws on tailgating and passing distance). A lot of the "anti-mistake" measures are seen as irritating, subjective and unnecessary (Lake Wobegon Effect in full force -- "I don't make mistakes, why do I have to put up with this nonsense" / "that cop is just harassing me") and their enforcement is therefore lax. And so, people like 9watts and me say "fine, then we'll focus our attention on penalties for the mistakes that happen to have consequences" -- that's not subjective, that's not arbitrary, it will have some effect.

        And yeah, separated facilities are a great way to deal with this. I want them too. But we have a status quo, not many separated facilities. If we've got a status quo of cars on the road and flaky drivers, then we also have a status quo of no separate facilities.

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        • Help December 16, 2012 at 10:41 am

          There's an underlying assumption with your entire line of reasoning (same with 9watts). Namely that we have perfect, or even good, automobile infrastructure. We don't and it's not even close. There are bad blind intersections in almost every part of Portland. Two drivers can do everything right and still hit each other because they literally can't see over a parked car. Try backing out of a diagonal parking spot with cars on both sides of you and a crown in the road--you cannot see anything. Even worse the drivers on the road can't necessarily see your lights at the angle that you are backing up. There are interstates in some part of the country that literally require cars to merge instantaneously. And these are just a few off the top of my head.

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          • dr2chase December 16, 2012 at 10:55 am

            Ah, but Help, what you describe is UnPossible. When we go to the highway departments, etc, and say "please lower the speed limits here, it's not safe", they tell us that they cannot lower the speed limits, that drivers naturally seek a safe speed.

            So obviously, you are imagining things. Drivers seek safe speeds in such otherwise dangerous places, and the danger is thus removed.

            (I hope you can tell that I am snarking massively).

            As a practical matter, I agree with you, except that in the face of bad infrastructure, why the heck aren't drivers slowing down like those doofuses at the highway department claim that they do? If there's a blind hill that drivers cannot see over, how can they possibly think it is safe to drive too-fast-to-stop over that hill? To return to the idea of informed choices, it is not exactly a secret that our roads are sometimes screwed up, but they're not actually dangerous until someone drives a car on them.

            I did once drive over a "blind" hill at highway speed (in the fast lane, on a highway, so this is not entirely unreasonable) only to discover someone changing their tire. On the highway, in the fast lane. I did manage to stop in time, barely.

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            • Help December 16, 2012 at 11:39 am

              Someone changing their tire in the fast lane of a highway clearly doesn't want to live anymore. At some point, common sense has to be a part of the conversation.

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              • Tacoma December 16, 2012 at 4:25 pm

                Hope you don't mind an "outsider" entering the "discussion".

                Help says "At some point, common sense has to be a part of the conversation."

                I believe that is what everyone is trying to do - i.e. have "common sense" be a part of the conversation. It's just that each of us seems to have a different definition of the term "common sense". Are you trying to point out that it is "common sense" for bicycle trailers (and bicycles too) to have lights and reflectors when being used at night?

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        • wsbob December 16, 2012 at 12:51 pm

          You, and some various other people seem to feel that penalties of some degree which you've not specified, administered to people operating motor vehicles who've either been simply involved in or have caused a collision with a motor vehicle, will somehow reduce the frequency of collisions occurring between people in motor vehicles and people on bikes.

          Personally, I think there's easier and more effective means by which to help reduce those kinds of collisions, a number of which I've offered in posts to this story's comment section and others here on bikeportland. Do some of those types of things

          If you really think imposition of penalties can be a successful strategy for reducing the rate of collisions between cars and motor vehicles, confirmed as being the fault of the person driving: go ahead and pursue that strategy. I don't think the penalty approach is going to be very effective, but you and whoever else is sure welcome to try.

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      • Help December 16, 2012 at 10:45 am

        Why does anyone attempt to reason with 9watts? He/she lies about what one states (or isn't bright enough to understand) to help make an argument, has a goal of bringing us back to the good old days of 1910, and is the most hypocritical commenter on the site by a good margin. Frankly should be banned.

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        • are December 16, 2012 at 12:08 pm

          i don't think it is useful to accuse other posters of lying. an example of not understanding someone else's argument might be that a motorist cresting a hill at speed cannot know whether there is someone on the other side doing, hey, almost anything. does not have to be changing a tire in the fast lane. and again, without knowing all particulars, it is somewhat judgmental to say the person changing the tire does not want to live. so why don't you rein it in a little and try to participate in a civil conversation.

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          • Help December 16, 2012 at 6:50 pm

            I've attempted to engage in civil conversation with 9watts. It's not possible when your starting point is "all accidents are the driver's fault" and "all cars should be banned." I don't agree with most people on the site, but most engage in an honest discussion. He/she doesn't come close by a good margin.

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        • wsbob December 16, 2012 at 1:07 pm

          Reasonable opportunity to express personal views can be constructive as long as opportunity for counterpoint as needed, is provided for.

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      • 9watts December 16, 2012 at 6:02 pm

        "...exonerating drivers..." 9watts

        "I've done no such thing."

        Of course you have, wsbob.

        Perhaps you have forgotten what this story we're all posting comments to is about. Someone driving an automobile failed to pay sufficient attention to what was in front of him/her and drove into another vehicle: a father on a bicycle pulling a bike trailer with his child inside, adorned with flashing lights and reflective clothing.

        In your voluminous (31 so far) comments in this thread you have reiterated three themes:
        (1) in the presence of motor vehicles bike trailers are too dangerous to pull children in;
        (2) people on bikes should go to still greater lengths to add more lights and reflective patches to their outer garments and vehicles;
        (3) "People riding bikes in traffic that includes motor vehicles, expose themselves to a range of risk of being struck by a motor vehicle."

        Those themes, without fail, focus not on the cause of the injuries sustained in this instance and < four hundred hundred thousands of others like it every year (driver inattention), but on how those biking can and should take additional defensive actions, be on their guard, expect injury if they don't, etc. For you, cars, drivers, speeds, distractions are what they are, a given, and anyone and everyone else needs to be realistic about what they need to do to survive under these conditions, including staying off the streets.
        I'm unwilling to concede that much ground. I don't see why we can't expect, demand vastly better conditions, better terms on which to participate in traffic. What needs to give here (and by here I mean first off the story we're commenting on) is dangerous driver behavior, inattention: a change in the way law enforcement and the public understand these situations. We need to communicate just how unacceptable distracted, inattentive driving is.

        The reason I have brought up the Mad Hatter and his associates in my comments a few times is that you keep saying things like this:
        "While additional lights and reflectivity may not have made a difference in helping to avoid a collision in the situations these most recent car/bike w/trailer collisions occurred, additional lights and reflectivity may very well be helpful in other situations people may find themselves towing their children behind them with a bike."

        You willfully overlook the fact that in this case, and most other car+bike crashes I've enumerated, the problem has nothing whatsoever to do with your three themes, but with drivers who perform dangerous acts on public streets every day, and who experience the barest of sanctions.

        "...few seem to want to identify and understand various factors...besides the regularly drawn upon but superficial rationale: 'driver was negligent, 'careless', etc, etc...'...that contribute to the occurrence of this kind of collision."

        And how exactly is this rationale superficial? What else is to be learned from this and other similar crashes? You seem determined to pin some culpability on anyone *not* in the car, but it won't stick.

        "Attributing negligence works both ways, even in collisions like this one in which the father was wearing a yellow reflective jacket and had a blinkie on his trailer. The trailer's construction was obviously not sufficient to withstand an impact from a motor vehicle greater than that resulting from a very slow speed. Yet, where the potential for such a collision clearly did exist, the father did take his son out amongst motor vehicles in such a trailer. So the fact is, not to add insult to injury...the father was also negligent in this collision. [...] The father did not cause the collision: He did though, place his child in a situation where such a collision could occur. [...] He knew there was risk, took the risk, gambled with his child's life, and the child paid."

        Finally you say:
        "People riding bikes in traffic that includes motor vehicles, expose themselves to a range of risk of being struck by a motor vehicle."

        How about this instead?
        People driving motor vehicles, whether through excessive speed or lapsed attention, expose bike riders in traffic and pedestrians to a range of risks.

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        • wsbob December 17, 2012 at 12:51 am

          " "...exonerating drivers..." 9watts

          "I've done no such thing."

          Of course you have, wsbob. ..." 9watts

          Of course I haven't, 9watts. But of course, you would like to read my expressed views, contrary to what I'm saying, in support your own agenda.

          "...How about this instead?
          People driving motor vehicles, whether through excessive speed or lapsed attention, expose bike riders in traffic and pedestrians to a range of risks. ..." 9watts

          Nobody is forcing people on bikes to ride in traffic, or pedestrians to walk in traffic without exercising care for their own safety, amongst motor vehicles in traffic. People choosing to walk and bike on the road, knowing that motor vehicles are using the road, and that the potential exist for dangerous collisions, expose themselves to risks.

          "...Someone driving an automobile failed to pay sufficient attention to what was in front of him/her and drove into another vehicle: ..." 9watts

          Again and again, you assume...the person driving 'failed to pay attention'...in the absence of any definitive indication the driver failed to pay attention. A vehicle collided with a vehicle: this is known. Why the vehicle collided with the vehicle isn't known. Speculation and hypothesis can be submitted, but without investigation of and consideration of facts, no definitive conclusion of failure to pay attention can be factually drawn.

          "...For you, cars, drivers, speeds, distractions are what they are, a given, and anyone and everyone else needs to be realistic about what they need to do to survive under these conditions, including staying off the streets. ..." 9watts

          I'd essentially agree with that except for "...the streets.". Individual choice in selecting relatively safe routes to ride may include staying off of certain streets during certain hours. If you were implying staying completely off streets, I wouldn't agree with that.

          "...I don't see why we can't expect, demand vastly better conditions, better terms on which to participate in traffic. What needs to give here (and by here I mean first off the story we're commenting on) is dangerous driver behavior, inattention: ..." 9watts

          I'm not sure who you're including in "we", but everyone could demand and work for better biking infrastructure. People that bike, especially should do that. Also, if people that bike are serious about reducing 'dangerous driver behavior', they should show they're equally serious, if not more so, about reducing dangerous biking behavior. If biking advocates and people in general that bike, want to make a positive impression on the 85 percent or more people that have to either drive or ride in motor vehicles, they might consider working harder and more conspicuously to get people that bike to enhance their visibility to all road users, and to signal directional and stop intentions more consistently and effectively.

          If people that bike are expecting people that drive and ride in motor vehicles to work for a reduction in poor driving, people that bike had better be doing a better job than they have been to date, of conspicuously showing they're actively working on cleaning their own house...that is...paraphrasing your words: reducing, 'dangerous cyclist behavior'.

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          • are December 17, 2012 at 1:12 am

            i could easily watch this go back and forth for another eight or ten rounds.

            listen to yourself say these words, robert.

            "people choosing to walk and bike on the road, knowing that motor vehicles are using the road, and that the potential exist for dangerous collisions, expose themselves to risks."

            and then ask yourself this. suppose there were no motor vehicles on the road. or suppose there were very, very few. or that they were all operated by intensely attentive people, within the parameters within which actual human beings can actually control them. the first two conditions actually did obtain as recently as a hundred years ago. as those two conditions faded, there has been essentially zero effort by the culture at large to cause the third condition to come into existence. quite the contrary, in fact.

            people getting around on their own power were, and ought to be, the default users of the commons. people flinging large machines around are, and ought to be seen as, the interlopers. their ability to inflict harm should be minimized, and their privilege to wield these machines should be tightly restricted, and withdrawn for the slightest infractions.

            you disagree, and of course that is your right, but it is not as though you have not been heard here.

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          • El Biciclero December 17, 2012 at 10:15 am

            Bob-- two things and I'm out:

            "Nobody is forcing people on bikes to ride in traffic, or pedestrians to walk in traffic without exercising care for their own safety, amongst motor vehicles in traffic. People choosing to walk and bike on the road, knowing that motor vehicles are using the road..."

            This is a common theme I hear from many folks (e.g., "help" above): "Motor vehicles just are, while non-motorists choose to be out without a car". I'd like folks to realize that driving is also a choice. No one is forcing anyone to drive. Society has made driving so convenient and risk-free that people often structure their lives in such a way that not driving might pose a hardship, but it is still a choice that each person makes. Likewise, not driving isn't always someone's first choice--marketers, lawyers, and the dangerous nature of driving have made driving very expensive, and not everyone can afford to drive a car. Assuming someone is thumbing their nose at "common sense" by "choosing" to dare drivers to hit them isn't an accurate assumption. Choosing to drive has consequences. Unfortunately, the consequences of so many people's choice to drive are often borne by those who have chosen not to drive; 9watts and others are merely suggesting that some of the consequences of driving be felt by those choosing to drive when their inattention injures someone who chose not to drive. Some suggestions have been made for stiffer fines, lower thresholds of "negligent" and "careless" (resulting in easier loss of driving privilege), greater enforcement of laws designed to avoid collisions (speed limits, following distances, etc.)--all with the intended effect of making drivers realize that their own risk (mostly to their convenience or bank account) goes up when they choose to drive without paying due attention.

            Inattention then brings us to:

            " A vehicle collided with a vehicle: this is known. Why the vehicle collided with the vehicle isn't known. Speculation and hypothesis can be submitted, but without investigation of and consideration of facts, no definitive conclusion of failure to pay attention can be factually drawn."

            When a car runs into a stationary object that was present during the car's approach (i.e., didn't materialize or dart suddenly into the car's path), and is well-lit with both active and passive illumination, and--in this case, at least--was present in an area and point in time when all vehicles were required to slow and stop for a red traffic signal, there are three potential reasons for the driver's...what can we call it...realized potential collisionarity?
            1) Vehicle malfunction
            2) Driver inattention
            3) Malicious intent

            I'll just ask you to reflect on which one of these you believe to be the cause of this particular collision. Keep in mind that bee-in-the-car, seizure, blood-sugar-event, fighting-with-girlfriend, yelling-at-kids, tending-to-dog, changing-radio-station, etc. all count as "inattention". There is such a thing as unintentional inattention, but it is inattention nonetheless.

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            • wsbob December 17, 2012 at 6:13 pm

              "...Assuming someone is thumbing their nose at "common sense" by "choosing" to dare drivers to hit them isn't an accurate assumption. ..." El Biciclero

              I don't recall anyone commenting to this thread that's made that assumption.

              "...Inattention then brings us to:
              " A vehicle collided with a vehicle: this is known. Why the vehicle collided with the vehicle isn't known. Speculation and hypothesis can be submitted, but without investigation of and consideration of facts, no definitive conclusion of failure to pay attention can be factually drawn."
              When a car runs into a stationary object that was present during the car's approach (i.e., didn't materialize or dart suddenly into the car's path), and is well-lit with both active and passive illumination, and--in this case, at least--was present in an area and point in time when all vehicles were required to slow and stop for a red traffic signal, there are three potential reasons for the driver's...what can we call it...realized potential collisionarity?
              1) Vehicle malfunction
              2) Driver inattention
              3) Malicious intent
              I'll just ask you to reflect on which one of these you believe to be the cause of this particular collision. Keep in mind that bee-in-the-car, seizure, blood-sugar-event, fighting-with-girlfriend, yelling-at-kids, tending-to-dog, changing-radio-station, etc. all count as "inattention". There is such a thing as unintentional inattention, but it is inattention nonetheless." El Biciclero

              I haven't yet read today's story about the driver having been cited. I wouldn't speculate about which of three possibilities you suggest may have been the cause of the collision. I don't particularly consider a bike trailer with a single blinkie to be well lit, and certainly not sufficiently lit to tow a child in traffic amongst motor vehicles.

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              • El Biciclero December 18, 2012 at 9:57 am

                O.K., I can't resist:

                "I don't particularly consider a bike trailer with a single blinkie to be well lit, and certainly not sufficiently lit to tow a child in traffic amongst motor vehicles."

                You won't be so presumptuous as to speculate on whether the driver was paying attention or not, but you will assume that the cyclist was negligent because a bike trailer with a single blinkie--and let's not forget a rider with reflective gear--is obviously not "well lit" enough. Do you know what kind of blinkie was on the trailer (I've seen some pretty bright ones out there)? Have you inspected the reflective jacket worn by the rider and concluded that there is just "no way" a driver who was paying attention could possibly have seen it or known what it was? Did you see how far back from the intersection--where the driver should have been stopping anyway, bike or no bike--the cyclist and trailer were stopped?

                Of course, this is all moot now, since the driver was actually cited for careless driving...

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                • dr2chase December 18, 2012 at 11:33 am

                  Oh, come on. Everyone knows that cyclists are irresponsible children, but driver mistakes are human error that could not possibly be anticipated, mitigated, or prevented. If cyclists would just GROW UP and realize that they need to take some responsibility for the cars running into them, then we could all get along.

                  :-)

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                • wsbob December 18, 2012 at 12:45 pm

                  "...but you will assume that the cyclist was negligent because a bike trailer with a single blinkie ..." El Biciclero

                  I never said or implied any such thing. Way back, earlier in posts to this thread, I said I thought the father was negligent in towing his child in a bike trailer in a traffic situation...on a busy street, a main lane of traffic, used by motor vehicles... in which he likely would have known about the risks that a motor vehicle could crash into the trailer his child was riding in.

                  Some, but not all blinkies are bright, but even the brightest display their brightness over a very small lens area...typically, a couple square inches... compared to motor vehicle tail lights which commonly display their brightness over a much larger area of square inches, enabling the visibility of the vehicle they're mounted on, to be much better to road users.

                  Questions associated with choices vulnerable road users make as to how best to enhance their visibility to people driving motor vehicles, and to what precautions they should take when transporting children in bike trailers...are not moot since the person driving and involved with this collision was cited for careless driving. Traffic situations posing a danger to vulnerable road users, which vulnerable road users themselves have some ability to avoid or mitigate the effect of directly to themselves...continue to exist.

                  "...but driver mistakes are human error that could not possibly be anticipated, mitigated, or prevented. ..." dr2chase

                  I would think that most adult people of average intelligence, know and accept that people driving, sometimes even under the best of circumstances, make mistakes. This is something that a responsible person intending to ride a bike in traffic and looking after their own safety, especially if such a person intends to tow a child behind them in a bike trailer...logically would feel obliged to consider when choosing a route to ride, and how their equipment might best be made visible to other road users, in an effort towards reducing the risk of a collision with another road user.

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                • El Biciclero December 18, 2012 at 2:23 pm

                  "Some, but not all blinkies are bright, but even the brightest display their brightness over a very small lens area...typically, a couple square inches... compared to motor vehicle tail lights which commonly display their brightness over a much larger area of square inches, enabling the visibility of the vehicle they're mounted on, to be much better to road users."

                  Well, now, see? Here you are explaining why the bicycle/trailer must have been or probably was not visible enough. You're using data from the story, your own past experience, speculation about relative brightness and lens area of different types of lights, and some degree of logic to conclude, whether you state it or not, that the bike, trailer, and rider were not visible enough.

                  Is that not the same kind of reasoning that others have used to conclude that a driver running into a stationary, reflective and flashing thing must not have been paying much attention? Your objectivity seems to be as one-sided as anyone else's...

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                • wsbob December 18, 2012 at 4:39 pm

                  "...Here you are explaining why the bicycle/trailer must have been or probably was not visible enough. ..." El Biciclero

                  I'm saying that the bike trailer could easily have been made to be more visible to road users, which as a general procedure for all bike trailers used to transport children, could possibly reduce the risk of motor vehicles rear-ending bikes, from occurring.

                  I don't know for certain whether better visibility would have been enough to have prevented this particular collision; it may have been had the trailer's visibility gear been better.

                  People riding bikes, and trailers towed by bikes are rarely as well equipped for visibility to road users as are motor vehicles they travel amongst, on the road. If people want to transport kids in bike trailers in busy traffic amongst motor vehicles, being vulnerable road users...if anything, the level of visibility they display should be better than that displayed by motor vehicles.

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              • 9watts December 18, 2012 at 11:25 am

                :-)

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  • jim December 15, 2012 at 9:01 pm

    9 watts-
    it is obvious that the driver didn't do this on purpose. To fine him somehow is no solution to stop the child from getting squashed. In this incident they were lucky that the trailer was not smashed between 2 cars.
    The cyclist can do a better job of not placing himself in harms way when he has a defenseless child with him. When he is alone he can take all the risks he wants, it's his skin.

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    • 9watts December 17, 2012 at 10:27 am

      jim,

      tell me what you think of this:
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vehicular_manslaughter

      Here's the entry for the state of Georgia:

      In the state of Georgia, vehicular homicide is more properly known as homicide by vehicle. It is defined, by statute, as the unlawful killing of another person using a vehicle. To be guilty of the offense, the perpetrator does not have to have an intent to kill, malice aforethought, or premeditation.

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  • jim December 17, 2012 at 4:29 pm

    I have no issue at all with punishing the driver, that's what should be done. I think we are both agreed on that point.
    Fining him though does nothing to bring back a child that had been squashed in a trailer out in traffic. That is the issue. Should you put your child in such a precarious position where they could be injured? I say no. I think it is irresponsible for a parent to do so.

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  • jim December 17, 2012 at 4:34 pm

    If there is snow on the road and you see cars sliding into each other, are you still going to stop behind a car at a light while another is coming up behind you? I would hope not. That would be putting yourself at risk. Would the driver of the car be fined if he hit you? Not the point

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  • eddie March 9, 2013 at 8:26 pm

    Is it horrible for me to wonder what the hell this guy was doing biking will a child in tow at night, in the rain, in the middle of the lane on 60th and Division? People. Think about it. Stay the hell off the main streets when you're biking at night, especially with a kid in tow. It's not going to slow you down all that much and it will be WAY safer. This is a cautionary tale. PS. I hope they throw the book at the driver!

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    • dr2chase March 9, 2013 at 8:43 pm

      Yes, it is horrible for you to wonder that.

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    • 9watts March 9, 2013 at 8:43 pm

      Is it horrible for me to wonder what the hell this person was doing running into an illuminated, stopped bike will a child in tow - at night, in the rain, in the middle of the lane on 60th and Division? People. Think about it. Pay the hell attention when you're driving at night, especially when it’s raining. It's not going to slow you down all that much and it will be WAY safer.

      Recommended Thumb up 5

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