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Person that rear-ended child trailer cited for careless driving

Posted by Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) on December 17th, 2012 at 10:51 am

The Portland Police Bureau have issued a citation to the person who was driving their car and failed to stop in time to avoid a man who was stopped in front of them on his bicycle. The man on the bike was pulling his son behind him in a child trailer and it was crumpled under the car's bumper.

The collision happened on the evening of November 29th while a man on a bike was on SE 60th waiting at the red light on SE Division. Thankfully, the low-speed collision resulted in only minor cuts and bruises to both the man and his four year-old son. Even so, it has sparked a lively discussion about the safety of biking with children.

Many readers have asked me for more details about this incident.

Today, the Portland Police Bureau Traffic Division informed me that the person driving the car has been cited for "Careless Driving with an accident." The infraction comes with a $435 fine. The PPB also mentioned that the child was not wearing a helmet (Oregon law requires all children under 16 to wear a helmet; but only when riding a bicycle). The PPB added that there was "no indication of impairment on anyone's part." I don't yet know whether "impairment" includes distracted driving, but the fact that a determination of careless driving has been made leads me to believe that the person in the car was not as attentive to the road as they should have been.

Under Oregon law (811.135), a person is guilty of careless driving if they operate a vehicle "in a manner that endangers or would be likely to endanger any person or property." (For what it's worth, if the collision had resulted in serious injuries or death, the Vulnerable Roadway User Law would have been triggered.)

- For more background, read Man rear-ended while biking with child in trailer speaks out.

UPDATE, 10/19 at 9:47 am: There is some confusion about the law regarding whether or not children under the age of 16 are required to wear a helmet or not. As we reported in October 2011, a child in a bicycle trailer is not required to wear a helmet because the Oregon Department of Transportation does not consider a trailer to be a bicycle.

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  • poser December 17, 2012 at 10:57 am

    "The PPB also mentioned that the child was not wearing a helmet"

    I'm sorry... WHA??!!!! Seriously?! Is this true? Parent FAIL!

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    • Psyfalcon December 17, 2012 at 11:16 am

      Maybe, but it has been well covered that helmets are not designed for impacts with motor vehicles. They are designed for a fall from a bike (which can also happen if you're hit by a car, the ground is a secondary place to hit your head.)

      A trailer though is a bit more unlikely to tip over and subject the occupant's head to the pavement.

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      • poser December 17, 2012 at 11:37 am

        A car bumper seems perfectly aligned to impact a child's head when said kid is sitting in a trailer. While that may not be what the helmet was specifically designed for, I'm going to go out on a limb here and say it might help more than a piece a fabric. If you feel that is having a helmet on your kid's head in a trailer on 60th at night is overkill, then by all means, don't put a helmet on your kid's head.

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        • Scott December 17, 2012 at 1:53 pm

          An airbag can kill a child. It's not a parenting fail to make a decision like not putting a helmet on a child. It's a parenting decision. Not your kid, not your problem.

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          • Dan V December 17, 2012 at 1:57 pm

            As a side note, you are NOT required to put a helmet on a child in a bike trailer (whether or not it's a good idea is another discussion) by law. Helmet are required on riders and child seat passengers however.

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    • mikeybikey December 17, 2012 at 11:22 am

      and what gives you the right to pass that judgement? (Hint: the answer is nothing)

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      • poser December 17, 2012 at 11:53 am

        "Parent FAIL" did sound a bit judgmental, didn't it. Sorry, that wasn't really the intention. The intention was to advertise to all the cycling parents who might be reading this that if you're riding your kid in a trailer down 60th at night, you should have a helmet on your kid. I live a few blocks from 60th, and I know how many idiot drivers drive down the 25mph arterial as if it's a 45mph arterial. I've probably riden down towards that light a few hundred times, many times with my kids on the back of my Xtracycle (and probably more than a few times with my kids in a trailer)—I have a pretty good idea of how dangerous that intersection is, and not only would I never take the lane with my kids in a trailer behind me, I would advise any parent who rides their kids around in trailers *not* to take the lane headed southbound on 60th approaching the intersection at SE Division with their kids in a trailer (and particularly if the kids aren't wearing helmets).

        Wow that's a lot of words. I'll bet more than 50% of readers tuned out before they got past "25mph arterial..." - not very efficient. A more efficient way to communicate all that is "PARENT FAIL!"

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        • Scott December 17, 2012 at 1:55 pm

          You are the first parent ever that is making no mistakes. You should be a politician.

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      • chucklehead December 27, 2012 at 2:51 pm

        common sense, perhaps?

        I find it ironic that many people on this site are far to happy to point out what drivers should do and how they should behave but when it comes to criticizing a fellow cyclist they are strangely silent.

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    • Dave December 17, 2012 at 11:59 am

      The helmet has nothing to do with this instance, as it's completely irrelevant to the situation. The issue at hand is that the person driving the car hit them, in a situation when the person driving obviously should have easily been able to avoid doing so. It's not a person's duty to protect themselves from other people's reckless or irresponsible behavior (or we'd also all be required to wear bullet-proof vests every time we left home).

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      • 9watts December 17, 2012 at 1:06 pm

        Don't tell wsbob that :-)

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      • Chris I December 17, 2012 at 1:08 pm

        Completely wrong. This is child neglect. We have laws in this country for a reason. You are required, by law, to use a safe child seat in a car, and you are required, by law, to equip your children with helmets while cycling. Children cannot be expected to understand what is safe and prudent, so it is the parent's responsibility to do so.

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        • Dave December 17, 2012 at 1:13 pm

          Chris, what I'm saying is that the issue of whether the child is wearing a helmet or not has no bearing on this specific case, because the case has to do with the negligent driving of another individual. Regardless of whether the child was or wasn't wearing a helmet, the person driving the car was negligent, and that is the point of this case. Focusing on the helmet simply deflects part of the guilt in this case where it is not deserved.

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        • Dave December 17, 2012 at 1:19 pm

          I would also say that it's greatly misleading to look at the system of law to provide a framework for what is responsible or irresponsible or right or wrong in a moral sense. Certainly, there is some overlap between the two, but do you consider a law requiring a minimum speed limit of 35mph on a city street to encourage responsible behavior (for instance)? There is a great deal of law that is there in order to (for instance) move traffic faster, to increase profits, to funnel money into very specific places. These laws could be said to in fact encourage *irresponsible* behavior. I'm just saying, there's a lot more to think about in life than strictly whether something is legal or not.

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          • Scott December 17, 2012 at 2:01 pm

            Yes Dave. Harping on the helmet and citing the parent for it reminds me of things I have heard placing an amount of fault on women in sexual assault cases. It is a deflection tactic to parse blame away from the dominant. Males in sexual assault, cars in transportation choices. I am not comparing the crimes in any way. Just how dominant factions in society use tactics to deflect portions of blame from themselves.

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            • Chris I December 17, 2012 at 2:19 pm

              Alright, alright. I'll concede defeat. It is not our place to critique him for his choices. The discussion here should be about the driver. But we live in a dangerous world, so when I take my children in a trailer, I will make sure they are wearing properly fitting helmets, god forbid something like this happens to us. Yes, ideally, we wouldn't get hit by cars out there; but it happens, so you have to be prepared.

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              • Dave December 17, 2012 at 2:21 pm

                Right, and that's perfectly reasonable, and you have every right to put a helmet on or put one on your child, I just think that we have to be careful how we frame these things, because there is a huge tendency to shift blame (even subconsciously), and we don't want that, or things will only get worse.

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              • Scott December 17, 2012 at 2:23 pm

                Do you put them in bullet-proof vests for school? I am not trivializing anything. Just saying there is a precedent so how far does your high horse travel?

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                • Chris I December 17, 2012 at 7:07 pm

                  Given that auto accidents are the leading cause of death for children, and school shootings are somewhere near the bottom, I don't think that would be logical.

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              • are December 17, 2012 at 9:11 pm

                "auto [crashes] are the leading cause of death for children." the data refers to children who are passengers _in cars_. using your own logic, where does autos crashing into bike trailers rank?

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      • wsbob December 17, 2012 at 11:19 pm

        "...It's not a person's duty to protect themselves from other people's reckless or irresponsible behavior..." Dave

        In large part, it is the individual's responsibility to protect themselves from other people's reckless or irresponsible behavior. Precautionary measures taken are part of this.

        Even if helmets aren't legally required to be worn by children riding in bike trailers, if travel in comparatively dangerous traffic situations is planned, children riding in the bike trailer and wearing bike helmets is probably a very good idea. Out on quiet country roads, the park, Sunday Parkways...maybe not; on busy collector streets and thoroughfares, probably so.

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        • Opus the Poet December 20, 2012 at 2:40 pm

          So Bob, do you wear a helmet every time you drive, and a bullet-proof vest every time you leave the house? Because those are just common-sense measures to protect you from other people's mistakes. Head injury is a major cause of death in older model cars without airbags that haven't been fitted with 5-point harnesses like my last 2 cars.

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          • wsbob December 20, 2012 at 11:19 pm

            "So Bob, do you wear a helmet every time you drive, and a bullet-proof vest every time you leave the house? Because those are just common-sense measures to protect you from other people's mistakes. ..." Opus the Poet

            Besides you, who says wearing a helmet every time you drive, and a bullet-proof vest every time you leave the house is just common sense? Doesn't sound like common sense at all. I have heard people make those suggestions, but only as an attempt to counter the benefits of wearing a bike helmet for protection against head impact in a crash while riding a bike.

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      • chucklehead December 27, 2012 at 2:53 pm

        Well, I am not going trust others to make the correct decisions when it comes to my own well being.

        Do you lock your house when you leave or do you simply trust that nothing bad will happen and that if you get robbed you had no way to affect that outcome?

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    • Spiffy December 17, 2012 at 12:45 pm

      there was no extra room in that trailer after impact... a large helmet doubling the size of the possible contact zone could have resulted in a broken neck or worse... I'd say not having a helmet helped in this situation...

      my kid still always wears a helmet in the trailer...

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      • Chris I December 17, 2012 at 1:15 pm

        Thank you, doctor.

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    • tonyt December 17, 2012 at 1:10 pm

      No, the parent made a different decision than you would have based on the information and experience that they had with their child.

      I started riding my kid around in a trailer before he was big enough to wear a helmet. Stuffed a bunch of blankets around him.

      How many kids die in car wrecks who would survive if they were wearing a helmet? Parent fail?

      I would also argue that the child in the trailer does NOT fall under the wording of the OR statute mentioned by "Pete" above.

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      • are December 17, 2012 at 3:39 pm

        this is a key point. helmets worn by occupants of motor vehicles could in theory prevent head injuries and death, but the fact these people are not wearing them is _never_ mentioned in media reports.

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        • dr2chase December 19, 2012 at 11:10 am

          And it's not just "many" -- head injury risk in auto crashes is in the same ballpark as head injury risk in bike crashes (it may be down slightly since airbags have become more widespread, but it used to be about half of all serious head injuries). And since driving is sedentary, less risk of sweaty-head.

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        • chucklehead December 27, 2012 at 2:54 pm

          you seem to be leaving out that there are other safety devices in the car. Are there other safety devices in a bike trailer that I am unaware of?

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          • El Biciclero January 4, 2013 at 12:43 pm

            No, what is being pointed out is that additional safety devices could make driving a car safer, just as additional safety devices could make riding a bicycle safer. Are you suggesting that cars currently protect their occupants from all possible head injuries?

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    • Mike January 4, 2013 at 12:03 pm

      certain trailers unfortunately don't well accommodate helmets, they tend to fall forward on children's faces

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  • tonyt December 17, 2012 at 10:57 am

    Does Oregon law cover children in trailers?

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    • Pete December 17, 2012 at 12:47 pm

      This is what I wondered (just for the sake of argument); is a passenger in a bike trailer considered a "bicycle rider"? Logically, probably... explicitly, no:

      814.485 Failure to wear protective headgear; penalty. (1) A person commits the offense of failure of a bicycle operator or rider to wear protective headgear if the person is under 16 years of age, operates or rides on a bicycle on a highway or on premises open to the public and is not wearing protective headgear of a type approved under ORS 815.052.
      (2) Exemptions from this section are as provided in ORS 814.487.
      (3) The offense described in this section, failure of a bicycle operator or rider to wear protective headgear, is a specific fine traffic violation. The presumptive fine for failure of a bicycle operator or rider to wear protective headgear is $25.

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  • 9watts December 17, 2012 at 11:05 am

    Thanks, Jonathan, for the update.

    Interesting to me that the penalty here seems to have been stiffer than what Wanda Cortese got for leaving the road and running over and nearly killing Christeen Osborn in broad daylight on a straight stretch of Hwy 101 back in July.

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  • Chris I December 17, 2012 at 11:17 am

    Wow. Who would put their child in a fabric box at bumper height on a street like 60th? Unbelievable...

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    • 9watts December 17, 2012 at 11:19 am

      Wow. Who would risk running over someone else's child on any street? Unbelievable...

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    • El Biciclero December 17, 2012 at 11:28 am

      See here for that discussion.

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    • Mabsf December 17, 2012 at 11:34 am

      Wow, who would think that we accept streets in our neighborhoods where you can't ride around with your kids in trailer...

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      • Chris I December 17, 2012 at 2:22 pm

        Hi Chris. This is Jonathan. I appreciate the comments you make on this site and I'd love to publish them; but unfortunately they often include name-calling and insults. Please clean up your comments a bit so I can approve them. Thanks!

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    • A.K. December 17, 2012 at 12:21 pm

      Wow. Who would expect vehicle operators to actually pay attention and not run into things? Unbelievable...

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      • Ratty Nation December 17, 2012 at 9:02 pm

        Jonathan Maus drives a car occasionally. Is he one of these vehicle operators that don't pay attention and run into things all the time? Or is he exempt from this generalization because he writes for a popular bike blog?

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        • 9watts December 17, 2012 at 9:36 pm

          "run into things all the time"

          Did anyone say that? 400,000 injuries and 3,000 deaths/yr due to distracted driving are large numbers, but I wouldn't characterize that as 'running into things all the time.' Nor did anyone say that all drivers fail to pay attention. In fact quite the opposite is true as you can surely appreciate. Which is precisely why holding those drivers who do fail to pay attention to higher standards seems not only imperative but also reasonable.

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        • wsbob December 17, 2012 at 11:40 pm

          "...Is he one of these vehicle operators that don't pay attention ..." Ratty Nation

          It seems human beings in general aren't able to direct 100 percent attention to any given task for sustained periods of time. People's attention commonly roams over a variety of points of interest, even while in the midst of carrying out one particular task.

          An exception to this seems to be certain autistic people with extraordinary powers of concentration and focus that they're able to direct to various tasks, performing them far better than most people could ever imagine doing.

          Realistically, it seems to me it's very important to recognize the limitations of concentration and attention that people generally can be expected to sustain, and how that relates to potential danger posed to vulnerable road users on certain heavily trafficked streets.

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          • Paul in the 'couve December 18, 2012 at 12:10 am

            "Realistically, it seems to me it's very important to recognize the limitations of concentration and attention that people generally can be expected to sustain,....."

            Which to me means recognizing that having nearly everyone driving around in 4,000 to 6,000 pound machines that REQUIRE care and attention to opperate safely for nearly every single trip and purpose from running kids to / from school and soccer practice to picking up a gallon of milk is a patently stupid decision.

            You've said it WSBob - we can't generally expect people to be able to operate cars safely. It is impossible. Drivers are always going to kill people. The solution to that is to get people out of cars.

            Defending people in cars and placing the blame for accidents on people who are not endangering the public is NEVER going to increase safety. The fewer hazards on the road, the faster and more inattentively people will drive. The fewer consequences the less drivers will think about their choices and the more we perpetuate the idiocy.

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            • wsbob December 18, 2012 at 1:23 pm

              "...Defending people in cars and placing the blame for accidents on people who are not endangering the public is NEVER going to increase safety. ..." Paul in the 'couve

              While there certainly are people quick to blame people biking for collisions between motor vehicles and bikes, I don't think it's accurate to conclude the public generally blames people that bike for collisions between motor vehicles and bikes.

              "...Which to me means recognizing that having nearly everyone driving around in 4,000 to 6,000 pound machines that REQUIRE care and attention to opperate safely for nearly every single trip and purpose from running kids to / from school and soccer practice to picking up a gallon of milk is a patently stupid decision. ..." Paul in the 'couve

              Many motor vehicles on the road around 2000 lbs...but the process of motor vehicles becoming the predominate mode of transportation leading up to and continuing on from this day, has probably been more one of evolution than decision. Well...I'll make a little joke here for the motor vehicle weary: Or devolution.

              I'd believe it's fair to say that many people driving or obliged to be driving, aren't happy with the situation of so many moments of daily life being overwhelmed by motor vehicle use. Nevertheless, that is the current situation which everyone would be well to recognize is essential to deal with as safely as reasonably possible while efforts are gradually made to have transportation infrastructure once again allow walking and biking to be practical, enjoyable ways to get around.

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              • Paul in the 'couve December 18, 2012 at 1:33 pm

                WSBob - I'm not talking to or about the general public hear. You, consistently you, place the blame for accidents EVEN when the driver is clearly in error on the cyclists. The case of the video in Beaverton with the cyclist going through a cross walk with the light being struck by an inattentive driver comes to mind. Then this case in which it is manifest that the drive was fully at fault and violated the most fundamental rules of the road - YOU consider the cyclist to be NEGLIGENT (a word I don't think you know what it means) and spend 10,000 words pontificating on what the CYCLIST should have done better because YOU don't think we should expect motorists to actually take responsibility for driving and very dangerous and potentially destructive machine while NOT being capable of doing so responsibly - something you admit it virtually impossible to do.

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                • wsbob December 18, 2012 at 5:27 pm

                  Paul in the 'couve
                  WSBob - I'm not talking to or about the general public hear. You, consistently you, place the blame for accidents EVEN when the driver is clearly in error on the cyclists. The case of the video in Beaverton with the cyclist going through a cross walk with the light being struck by an inattentive driver comes to mind. Then this case in which it is manifest that the drive was fully at fault and violated the most fundamental rules of the road - YOU consider the cyclist to be NEGLIGENT (a word I don't think you know what it means) and spend 10,000 words pontificating on what the CYCLIST should have done better because YOU don't think we should expect motorists to actually take responsibility for driving and very dangerous and potentially destructive machine while NOT being capable of doing so responsibly - something you admit it virtually impossible to do.
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                  I don't really remember much about the details of the collsion in Beaverton; I seem to recall it involved the flashing yellow lights some intersections use. Beyond that, you seem to be distorting and conflating various things I've written to support a view you apparently want to hold. That's your choice.

                  The cyclist in this collision was negligent in not taking sufficient precautions for their own safety and that of their child, which isn't to say they caused the collision.

                  I don't think I wrote previously about whether or not I thought the person driving in this collision was at fault, but that I didn't agree with the assumptions being drawn by other people that the cause of the collision most certainly must have been careless driving, when the possibility of other causes existed, not known without some investigation.

                  Contrary to your claim about what you seem believe I think, I do think the public should expect people to take responsibility for driving the vehicles they do. It is possible for people to drive motor vehicles responsibly and safely. The vast majority do exactly that.

                  Nevertheless, there are exceptions, and under the best of circumstances, even the best drivers make mistakes. This is something that everyone that bikes, particularly when they're towing children behind their bike in a trailer, should be considering as they decide what means to use to make their ride on the road amongst motor vehicles, to be safe as possible.

                  Funny about 9watts list of car weights. Years back, I used to have a 75 VW Scirocco, a little sports sedan. It weighed 1852 lbs.

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                • Paul in the 'couve December 18, 2012 at 5:59 pm

                  WSBob says "The cyclist in this collision was negligent in not taking sufficient precautions for their own safety....."
                  When we know he had a reflective coat on, a blinky on the the trailer (which most also have reflectors and reflective material) AND he was stopped behind a car (which even Bob admits should be visible) at a RED LIGHT. The cyclist was fully stopped in the road long enough to turn and physical observe the car approaching and judge it's speed - according to the original article. WSBob call's this NEGLIGENCE. The speed limit on the street is 25 mph and although it is an arterial it is a RESIDENTIAL street. The driver not only didn't see the cyclist in time, it also failed to slow approaching a RED LIGHT. But the cyclist is negligent because a) he shouldn't have been there and b) he should have had some unspecified number of additional blinking lights.

                  WSBob - you don't even know what negligence actually means. As for your well established pattern of giving the benefit of the doubt and excusing motorists while advocating for cyclists to stay out of the way and act like the road is a kingdom for cars that pedestrians and cyclists are only given the dubious privilege of accessing as long as we stay out of the way and should carry a fully lighted christmas tree for visibility - everyone who reads here regularly knows already.

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                • wsbob December 18, 2012 at 11:04 pm

                  "...When we know he had a reflective coat on, a blinky on the the trailer (which most also have reflectors and reflective material) AND he was stopped behind a car (which even Bob admits should be visible) at a RED LIGHT. The cyclist was fully stopped in the road long enough to turn and physical observe the car approaching and judge it's speed - according to the original article. WSBob call's this NEGLIGENCE. The speed limit on the street is 25 mph and although it is an arterial it is a RESIDENTIAL street. The driver not only didn't see the cyclist in time, it also failed to slow approaching a RED LIGHT. But the cyclist is negligent because a) he shouldn't have been there and b) he should have had some unspecified number of additional blinking lights. ..." Paul in the 'couve

                  My feeling is that the cyclist with responsibility for the safety of a child he was towing behind a bike, in a bike trailer minimally equipped for visibility to other road users, and for impact protection offered to the child riding within, was negligent for having decided to take the child out on the main lane of a busy collector street after dark during rush hour ( the tail end of it actually...approximately 6:30pm.).

                  The person driving didn't stop, and crashed into vehicle...a bike with bike trailer attached...waiting for the light behind two motor vehicles...and therefore is at fault for the collision. With the announcement that the person driving has been cited for careless driving, the police have identified more specifically what was the cause of the collision. A full text of the official police announcement may have been provided via link posted to the previous story about this collision, but if so, I've yet to read it.

                  "...WSBob - you don't even know what negligence actually means. ..." Paul in the 'couve

                  So you apparently think. That's fine. Nothing's stopping you from explaining for everyone reading here, your understanding of 'negligence', as it relates to actions of people involved in this collision.

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                • El Biciclero December 19, 2012 at 12:12 pm

                  "Nothing's stopping you from explaining for everyone reading here, your understanding of 'negligence', as it relates to actions of people involved in this collision."

                  Not to speak for Paul or anything, but here's a clue:

                  "Negligence" is more severe than "carelessness" (this from legal definitions of the two terms). It could be argued that being "at fault" in a collision is more severe than not being at fault. It is empirically demonstrable (from police records/citation) that the driver was determined to be "careless" (not "negligent"), AND the driver was determined to be "at fault".

                  This tells even the casual observer that in the realm of official discourse, the cyclist cannot be considered "negligent":

                  - Cyclist's behavior was less severe than motorist's by virtue of being "not at fault".
                  - Motorist's behavior is classified as "careless" in citation issued.
                  - Therefore, cyclist's behavior should be classified as less severe than "careless".
                  - Since "negligent" is more severe than "careless", cyclist cannot be considered "negligent".

                  At worst, we can only accuse the cyclist of being something less severe than "careless". Maybe "imprudent"; perhaps "overly tolerant of risk", but certainly not "negligent". If you're wondering about some folks' seemingly hostile responses to your assertions about the cyclist's judgment, it might be because you are using an overly-severe and damning term for whatever level of responsibility you are holding him to. Using the term "negligent" also implies that you consider the not-at-fault cyclist to be more responsible for the collision than the at-fault driver. That's two strikes against any position you want to take, regardless of what you are actually trying to say.

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                • wsbob December 19, 2012 at 6:31 pm

                  "...an overly-severe and damning term for whatever level of responsibility you are holding him to. Using the term "negligent" also implies that you consider the not-at-fault cyclist to be more responsible for the collision than the at-fault driver. ..." El Biciclero

                  The word 'negligence' is part of common parlance, as well as being a word used in legal writing. It should have been obvious that it was in the casual sense that I've used the word to describe my feelings about the father's judgment in deciding to take his child out in a bike trailer in the situation he did.

                  Use of the word 'negligence' to describe his judgement doesn't imply he caused the collision. Because some readers have questioned it, at least a couple times I've written that the father didn't cause the collision, but still was negligent. To me, the word 'careless' sounds more like an action word; doesn't fit. I don't think 'imprudent' fits either .

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                • wsbob December 21, 2012 at 12:08 pm

                  dr2chase
                  wsbob, in that long list of "other reasons" for running into people, did you notice that no matter what the cause, the consequences are made worse by higher speed? This is why you will find cyclists and pedestrians nattering on about speeding, even minor speeding, which is something that you conveniently ignore. It makes all those crashes worse, no matter what the cause. Very many (30%? 60%?) drivers speed on non-freeway streets. It can be automatically enforced, but those error-prone humans raise an enormous stink whenever this is proposed. Apparently you should be talking to drivers, a lot, about the ubiquity and inevitability of human error.
                  And "cautioning" people is giving them safety advice. Here, watch: if you don't have magneto-driven daytime running lights on your bicycle, especially if you are transporting a child, you're negligent. Drivers can easily fail to see you because they're not expecting to see bicycles, and a bright light helps. You don't want to rely on batteries; you can forget to charge them, they can go bad surprisingly quickly. If you're not using very fat tires on your urban-travel bicycles, especially if you are transporting children, you're negligent. It's too easy to lose control of your bicycle if you encounter cracks in the road, or slotted grates. The people I know who've had bad crashes recently, the cause was a pothole; fat tires help with potholes by cushioning the impact.
                  In terms of why people raise seemingly irrelevant issues like helmet-wearing in automobiles, it's because the risks have been studied, and these things that you call "negligent" are about as risky as transporting yourself or your children in a car, and a light helmet (to supplement the gross crash protection provided by the car itself) would do a lot to cut that risk. (And why don't you know this already, if you think you are so qualified to pontificate on other people's risky behavior?) So if two things have equal risk, and you call one of them negligent, then why wouldn't you call the other one negligent? It suggests some sort of a bias, perhaps unconscious, on your part. I suspect that your attention is very much drawn by the relative novelty of bicycle transport and the seeming "obviousness" of risks from the rear. One of the first rules of effective cycling is that the "obvious" risks from the rear are not nearly as large as you believe them to be -- yes, they have been studied, and they are rarest in urban and commuting cycling.
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                  "wsbob, in that long list of "other reasons" for running into people, did you notice that no matter what the cause, the consequences are made worse by higher speed? This is why you will find cyclists and pedestrians nattering on about speeding, even minor speeding, which is something that you conveniently ignore. ..." dr2chase

                  Nah... . I don't ignore or otherwise dismiss he danger of excessive speeds. If you want to talk about excessive speed just say so.

                  "...And "cautioning" people is giving them safety advice. ..." dr2chase

                  Giving people advice is: 'I advise...I advised...etc. '. If someone asks for advice, and the response is advice offered, that's advise. Everything else is just ideas, suggestions, etc, presented.

                  Between here: "...In terms of why people raise seemingly irrelevant issues like helmet-wearing in automobiles, ...", and here: "....commuting cycling." in your comment, it seems to me that what you're doing is attempting to build a rationale for ignoring danger existing in particular for people riding bikes or towing kids in bike trailers, that's inherent in certain traffic situations some people, like the father towing his child in a bike trailer decided to ride.

                  If you take comfort in statistics, allowing them to have you feel it's safe to take a child into a busy traffic situation with a child towed behind you in a flimsy, bike trailer with minimal reflectivity and illumination, I suppose that's what you and other people that feel similarly will do. Good Luck.

                  "...I suspect that your attention is very much drawn by the relative novelty of bicycle transport and the seeming "obviousness" of risks from the rear. ..." dr2chase

                  You must be joking...there's nothing particularly novel about bike transport. It doesn't just seem to be obvious that collisions from the rear can happen: It is obvious they can happen. They do happen, and frequently. That they haven't happened more frequently in collisions involving bike trailers than they have to date, is likely do to a number of factors...too lengthy to elaborate on here.

                  You've been using that word 'pontificate' lately. Something to do with 'pompous' and 'dogma'. Okay...I had to look it up. For 'dogma', here's the first of three defs from WordWeb: " 1. Characterized by assertion of unproved or unprovable principles ..." WordWeb. What you're attempting to get at, using that word with regards to various written is vague. The word 'pompous' doesn't even rate. Big deal. I guess you don't like what I write here. No problemo. Don't punish yourself. Go ride your bike. Don't read what I've written. I promise I won't bill you any amount over what you've been billed already, which is...nothing.

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                • wsbob December 21, 2012 at 12:11 pm

                  "wsbob, in that long list of "other reasons" for running into people, did you notice that no matter what the cause, the consequences are made worse by higher speed? This is why you will find cyclists and pedestrians nattering on about speeding, even minor speeding, which is something that you conveniently ignore. ..." dr2chase

                  Nah... . I don't ignore or otherwise dismiss he danger of excessive speeds. If you want to talk about excessive speed just say so.

                  "...And "cautioning" people is giving them safety advice. ..." dr2chase

                  Giving people advice is: 'I advise...I advised...etc. '. If someone asks for advice, and the response is advice offered, that's advise. Everything else is just ideas, suggestions, etc, presented.

                  Between here: "...In terms of why people raise seemingly irrelevant issues like helmet-wearing in automobiles, ...", and here: "....commuting cycling." in your comment, it seems to me that what you're doing is attempting to build a rationale for ignoring danger existing in particular for people riding bikes or towing kids in bike trailers, that's inherent in certain traffic situations some people, like the father towing his child in a bike trailer decided to ride.

                  If you take comfort in statistics, allowing them to have you feel it's safe to take a child into a busy traffic situation with a child towed behind you in a flimsy, bike trailer with minimal reflectivity and illumination, I suppose that's what you and other people that feel similarly will do. Good Luck.

                  "...I suspect that your attention is very much drawn by the relative novelty of bicycle transport and the seeming "obviousness" of risks from the rear. ..." dr2chase

                  You must be joking...there's nothing particularly novel about bike transport. It doesn't just seem to be obvious that collisions from the rear can happen: It is obvious they can happen. They do happen, and frequently. That they haven't happened more frequently in collisions involving bike trailers than they have to date, is likely do to a number of factors...too lengthy to elaborate on here.

                  You've been using that word 'pontificate' lately. Something to do with 'pompous' and 'dogma'. Okay...I had to look it up. For 'dogma', here's the first of three defs from WordWeb: " 1. Characterized by assertion of unproved or unprovable principles ..." WordWeb. What you're attempting to get at, using that word with regards to various written is vague. The word 'pompous' doesn't even rate. Big deal. I guess you don't like what I write here. No problemo. Don't punish yourself. Go ride your bike. Don't read what I've written. I promise I won't bill you any amount over what you've been billed already, which is...nothing.

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              • 9watts December 18, 2012 at 1:35 pm

                "Many motor vehicles on the road around 2000 lbs..."

                ...and here I thought we were finally putting that anachronism to bed.
                2,000 lbs has not been a good approximation of US vehicle weight for more than 70 years. 2005 sales-weighted average new light-duty vehicle curb weight (U.S.): 4,144 lbs
                http://www.scribd.com/doc/31355489/25/Historical-vehicle-weight-trends

                Specifically:
                sports car: 3,186 lbs
                subcompact: 2,701 lbs
                compact: 3,128 lbs
                midsize: 3,258 lbs
                large: 3,909 lbs
                import luxury: 3,614 lbs
                minivan: 4,264 lbs
                fullsize van: 4,925 lbs
                small SUV: 3,672 lbs
                midsize SUV: 4,500 lbs
                large SUV: 4,985 lbs
                and so on....

                http://energy.lbl.gov/ea/teepa/pdf/lbnl-3143e.pdf

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              • dr2chase December 19, 2012 at 9:39 pm

                I'm going to regret this, but what the heck.

                Wsbob, note that the dad on the bike was obeying all applicable traffic laws, and exceeding requirements for visibility of trailer and self. You call this better-than-law-abiding behavior "negligent".

                You also claim that it's pointless to throw-the-book at drivers who harm other people through "human mistakes".

                Consider, if you will, that very many drivers don't obey all applicable traffic laws, and by doing so, make "human mistakes" more likely, make them harder for other people to avoid, and make the consequences more costly. This happens all-the-time -- drivers speed, fail to pass safely, fail to come to a complete stop, fail to stop at stop lines, etc.

                This is worse than "negligent", right? Why are you focussing so much attention on a law-abiding, harmless cyclist, when law-breaking drivers in harmful cars are failing to take steps *specified by law* to mitigate their human errors?

                Law-breaking ought to be worse than law-abiding, and you're going on endlessly about how someone who was taking steps above and beyond those required by law was "negligent", and bending over backwards to excuse "human mistakes" by drivers who are actually (quite often) breaking the law and sometimes causing great harm in the process.

                Yet somehow, for you, this continual, pervasive, and risk-enhancing lawbreaking is not negligent, is not worse.

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                • 9watts December 19, 2012 at 9:48 pm

                  dr2chase,
                  I'm telling you, it's the Mad Hatter's Tea Party.

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                • wsbob December 20, 2012 at 1:02 pm

                  dr2chase
                  I'm going to regret this, but what the heck.
                  Wsbob, note that the dad on the bike was obeying all applicable traffic laws, and exceeding requirements for visibility of trailer and self. You call this better-than-law-abiding behavior "negligent".
                  You also claim that it's pointless to throw-the-book at drivers who harm other people through "human mistakes".
                  Consider, if you will, that very many drivers don't obey all applicable traffic laws, and by doing so, make "human mistakes" more likely, make them harder for other people to avoid, and make the consequences more costly. This happens all-the-time -- drivers speed, fail to pass safely, fail to come to a complete stop, fail to stop at stop lines, etc.
                  This is worse than "negligent", right? Why are you focussing so much attention on a law-abiding, harmless cyclist, when law-breaking drivers in harmful cars are failing to take steps *specified by law* to mitigate their human errors?
                  Law-breaking ought to be worse than law-abiding, and you're going on endlessly about how someone who was taking steps above and beyond those required by law was "negligent", and bending over backwards to excuse "human mistakes" by drivers who are actually (quite often) breaking the law and sometimes causing great harm in the process.
                  Yet somehow, for you, this continual, pervasive, and risk-enhancing lawbreaking is not negligent, is not worse.
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                  You're misconstruing what I've written. I haven't called pop's better than law abiding behavior 'negligent'. The negligence was in the judgment involved in deciding to take a child out into that type of traffic situation, with insufficient safety measures taken.

                  I've also not said there wasn't merit in taking careless, reckless or otherwise dangerous driving people to task for posing a risk to other road users, but if someone is to be cited, penalized and so on, it should be done on more than assumption. And...I've not said that the judgement of the father, which to me seems negligent, is worse than all the instances of poor driving that occurs on a day to day basis.

                  The father did follow the law, and obviously, that wasn't sufficient to protect his son. In many situations where the law applies, people can't rely entirely on the law for their safety. The power of the law has limited reach. Society can't afford to have police officers at every dangerous intersection across the city, 24-7 to catch bad drivers and to caution ill advised parents hauling their kids around in flimsy bike trailers amongst motor vehicles in dangerous road conditions. People still must rely on their good judgment in deciding whether a situation they're entering into is safe.

                  I've written before, that people can make all kinds of ruckus about poor driving and infrastructure, with the objective of making biking biking be a safer mode of transportation amongst motor vehicles. It's fine to do that, but actual results from those efforts are long term. Benefits from good judgment used by people that bike in deciding to take measures providing for the safety of themselves and children they're watching over, can be had...now...immediately.

                  9watts...since it's all you seem to find this discussion to be...enjoy your tea.

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                • dr2chase December 20, 2012 at 1:20 pm

                  wsbob, I have many many ideas about how people can ride their bikes more safely (with or without children), but I do not call people "negligent" just because they don't follow my advice. You're assuming quite a lot about the quality of your opinions right there.

                  The assertion that various traffic infractions by drivers leads to danger is not just "an assumption". The relation of speed and risk to pedestrians (and therefore, to stopped cyclists) has been measured, and there is a rapid escalation of risk between 20 and 30mph. Enforcement can be automated, it does not require police personnel.

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                • wsbob December 20, 2012 at 11:05 pm

                  dr2chase
                  wsbob, I have many many ideas about how people can ride their bikes more safely (with or without children), but I do not call people "negligent" just because they don't follow my advice. You're assuming quite a lot about the quality of your opinions right there.
                  The assertion that various traffic infractions by drivers leads to danger is not just "an assumption". The relation of speed and risk to pedestrians (and therefore, to stopped cyclists) has been measured, and there is a rapid escalation of risk between 20 and 30mph. Enforcement can be automated, it does not require police personnel.
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                  "...but I do not call people "negligent" just because they don't follow my advice. ..." dr2chase

                  And it's well you don't. I'm not offering advice, and if I were, I wouldn't be calling them negligent if they didn't follow it. What I have written numerous times to the stories about this collision, is why and in what sense I feel the father towing his child in a bike trailer, under the circumstances, was negligent. It's the judgment of people, not of just this particular father, but of any adult responsible for the safety of a child, that take them into dangerous traffic situations with flimsy bike trailers, that I feel is negligence.

                  You may have lost track of at what in particular I've criticized various people speculating about what caused the person driving to crash into the bike and bike trailers. The criticism was leveled at their 'assumption', that careless driving was the cause of the collision, before any information from the police or other investigation, that the person driving had driven in a 'careless' manner. If early on, it had been somehow known the person didn't deliberately run into the bike and bike trailer, then I think 'motor vehicle loss of control' would have been the next basis from which to check what things may have been responsible for that loss of control.

                  Crashes don't occur only from careless driving. Sometimes they occur from reckless driving, or medical episodes, or mechanical failure, and other reasons as well. If an accurate understanding of why any given collision has occurred is to be gained, and if a constructive remedy is to be arrived at...education, penalty, sentencing...actual factors that contributed to the collision should be considered. That's if society truly is prepared to continue improving conditions for all, meting justice where it's due.

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                • dr2chase December 21, 2012 at 5:19 am

                  wsbob, in that long list of "other reasons" for running into people, did you notice that no matter what the cause, the consequences are made worse by higher speed? This is why you will find cyclists and pedestrians nattering on about speeding, even minor speeding, which is something that you conveniently ignore. It makes all those crashes worse, no matter what the cause. Very many (30%? 60%?) drivers speed on non-freeway streets. It can be automatically enforced, but those error-prone humans raise an enormous stink whenever this is proposed. Apparently you should be talking to drivers, a lot, about the ubiquity and inevitability of human error.

                  And "cautioning" people is giving them safety advice. Here, watch: if you don't have magneto-driven daytime running lights on your bicycle, especially if you are transporting a child, you're negligent. Drivers can easily fail to see you because they're not expecting to see bicycles, and a bright light helps. You don't want to rely on batteries; you can forget to charge them, they can go bad surprisingly quickly. If you're not using very fat tires on your urban-travel bicycles, especially if you are transporting children, you're negligent. It's too easy to lose control of your bicycle if you encounter cracks in the road, or slotted grates. The people I know who've had bad crashes recently, the cause was a pothole; fat tires help with potholes by cushioning the impact.

                  In terms of why people raise seemingly irrelevant issues like helmet-wearing in automobiles, it's because the risks have been studied, and these things that you call "negligent" are about as risky as transporting yourself or your children in a car, and a light helmet (to supplement the gross crash protection provided by the car itself) would do a lot to cut that risk. (And why don't you know this already, if you think you are so qualified to pontificate on other people's risky behavior?) So if two things have equal risk, and you call one of them negligent, then why wouldn't you call the other one negligent? It suggests some sort of a bias, perhaps unconscious, on your part. I suspect that your attention is very much drawn by the relative novelty of bicycle transport and the seeming "obviousness" of risks from the rear. One of the first rules of effective cycling is that the "obvious" risks from the rear are not nearly as large as you believe them to be -- yes, they have been studied, and they are rarest in urban and commuting cycling.

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  • Mabsf December 17, 2012 at 11:44 am

    I think we need to start a discussion about driving behavior in the early winter month: drivers seem to regularly too fast for road and visibility conditions. I feel that they go "faster" to get more quickly out of the dangerous conditions or that they feel so cocooned by the darkness that they have no visual gage to see how fast they actually go.
    While I am happy that the person was fined, I am not sure if it was appropriate enough to the damage.
    About helmets and trailers: I am always baffled how the law dictates that we need to put helmets on our kids in trailers, yet the bike industry is very slow to a make trailers in which kids can sit comfortably with helmet... This is a real WTF catch 22!

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    • 9watts December 17, 2012 at 11:47 am

      For that matter, why aren't kids in cars required to wear helmets? Vastly more of them are injured and die in cars (or by deploying airbags) than in bike trailers (leaving out discrepancies in the numbers of children traveling by those two modes).

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      • Chris I December 17, 2012 at 2:26 pm

        Actually, you will find fairly strict laws and recommendations for children in cars. Newer vehicles have passenger airbag disable switches, and the newest ones have pressure sensors. If you purchase the correct safety seat (most don't), your child will be extremely safe in even the worst of collisions.

        http://www.safercar.gov/parents/RightSeat.htm

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      • chucklehead December 27, 2012 at 2:56 pm

        because they have seatbelts.

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        • dr2chase January 3, 2013 at 1:32 pm

          That's not a good enough reason. Drivers and passengers in cars with seatbelts have about the same risk, per hour, as riders on bicycles, and auto crashes are a major cause of serious head injuries even with seatbelts. Therefore, it makes at least as much sense to consider whether helmets might be appropriate equipment for people in cars. It might make more sense because car occupants are not engaged in physical activity, and hence need not deal worry about cooling and sweat.

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    • Paul December 17, 2012 at 12:47 pm

      There is no Oregon law that dictates children use helmets while riding in a bicycle trailer. Only as a passenger on THE bicycle.

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      • 9watts December 17, 2012 at 1:03 pm

        Thanks, Paul. What is one to make of the fact that the police and the media outlets (apparently) know the law so poorly?

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        • Paul December 18, 2012 at 11:38 am

          That's a very good question! :)

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  • jd December 17, 2012 at 1:00 pm

    I've noted the lack of identifying info in these stories. My guess is it was a teenager from the high school up the street, in which case maybe she shouldn't drive at all for a few more years, and yeah, she probably should stay anonymous. But why won't the police tell you if she was texting or talking on her phone, since they're so ready to add details like helmet use.

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    • Tony December 17, 2012 at 2:16 pm

      my sources indicated it was a middle-aged female. just my sources tho...

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  • Erinne December 17, 2012 at 1:23 pm

    Only $435 for nearly killing a child? That is not nearly enough!

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  • Nate December 17, 2012 at 1:41 pm

    Any further word on the Vulnerable User statute? Was that not invoked (based on no mention)?

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  • Scott December 17, 2012 at 1:50 pm

    Good thing they didn't hit a Spotted Owl. They could have been in some real trouble.

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  • tnash December 17, 2012 at 2:55 pm

    They would have been seen if they had been using a huge number of blinky lights, yes? Separated bike lanes is the long term answer, but for now, if I were towing my daughter in the dark/rain, I would get a few of those traffic barricade lights for the back of the trailer:
    http://www.awdirect.com/barricade-light-type-a-c-12-volt/safety-cones-traffic-cones/?gclid=CKnR3YLEorQCFQWonQodpAsAZA&epc=AWSEPLA&CID=AWSEPLA&ci_src=17588969&ci_sku=TML02&ef_id=UM89cgAATmvtoFL0:20121217225336:s

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    • Dave December 19, 2012 at 9:54 am

      No guarantee they would have been seen - what if the driver was looking elsewhere as they hit them (which seems likely anyway)...

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      • Paul in the 'couve December 19, 2012 at 10:19 am

        YEP - just yesterday crossing in a marked cross walk with my kids (pay careful attention) a driver blew by me and even thought I was jumping and yelling at her 2 ft from her window as she went by she didn't even see me - because she WASN"T LOOKING at the road. No number of lights and such will help for drivers who are distracted and oblivious.

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  • Babygorilla December 17, 2012 at 3:53 pm

    Paul
    There is no Oregon law that dictates children use helmets while riding in a bicycle trailer. Only as a passenger on THE bicycle.
    Recommended 8

    ORS 811.195 makes it illegal to have a passenger in a bike trailer at all. There might be some exception in another statute that I haven't been able to locate.

    (1) A person commits the offense of having a passenger in a trailer if the person operates a vehicle on a highway while towing any type of trailer that contains a passenger.

    (2) This section does not apply if the person is operating any of the following vehicles:

    (a) A commercial bus trailer.

    (b) An independently steered trailer.

    (c) A trailer towed with a fifth wheel hitch if the trailer is equipped with all of the following:

    (A) Safety glazing materials that meet the standards established under ORS 815.040 (Standards for window and windshield material) wherever there are windows or doors with windows on the vehicle.

    (B) An auditory or visual signaling device that a passenger inside the vehicle can use to gain the attention of the motor vehicle driver towing the vehicle.

    (C) At least one unobstructed exit capable of being opened from both the interior and exterior of the vehicle.

    (3) The offense described in this section, passenger in trailer, is a Class D traffic violation.

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    • Sunny December 17, 2012 at 4:03 pm

      "except those parts by their nature are inapplicable to bikes"...this statue clearly was not meant for bicycles

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    • Dan V December 17, 2012 at 4:29 pm

      So, don't take your bike trailer on the highway.

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    • todd December 18, 2012 at 1:09 pm

      Can we get any clarity around this, please? I mean not that I think that Babygorilla was unclear...

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  • jim December 17, 2012 at 4:08 pm

    So a child only has to wear a helmet if they are actually pedalling? If they are just sitting there they are not "Riding"?

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    • jim December 17, 2012 at 4:10 pm

      We need one of the bike lawyers to give us some clarafication on this one

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      • are December 19, 2012 at 3:59 pm

        as pointed out, the key is whether 811.195 falls in the category of vehicle regulations that "by their nature" are inapplicable to bikes. the word "motor" does not precede "vehicle," and there would seem to be a pretty straightforward argument that, yeah, a bike could tow a trailer.

        on the other hand, it is obvious none of the three exceptions could possibly apply to a bike trailer. but there might be an argument that the typical bike trailer meets the intent of exception (c), in that the passenger can easily communicate with the pilot and can readily escape.

        there do not appear to be any appeals court decisions under the statute, even as to motorists.

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        • jim December 20, 2012 at 8:17 pm

          I supose a bike could tow a wagon also, I seldom if ever see children wearing helmets in wagons

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  • Babygorilla December 17, 2012 at 4:50 pm

    Highways in Oregon's vehicle code are defined to encompass pretty much all roads in the State.

    And actually the full version of the "by its nature" statute states the vehicle laws apply to bicycles except when "[t]hose provisions which by their very nature CAN HAVE NO application" to bikes. Of course the law banning passengers in trailers has an application to bicycles. Nothing in the very nature of that ban "can have no" application to bikes.

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  • My Magic Hat December 17, 2012 at 6:59 pm

    1st of all, what is being said in this article is that pretty much everybody understands that the DRIVER WHO RAN OVER THE KID IS AT FAULT. Duuhh.

    Arguing that the kid and his dad just shouldn't exist on a public road in their own neighborhood reveals all manner of mental defect.

    I know it's a scary thought that you might kill someone with your car so easily. Deal with it. SLOW THE F#@k DOWN! When you see red lights in front of you, someone is stopping. They're not going to move. Hit the brakes, dammit!

    If - while driving in my car - I happen to approach someone in front of me, IT MEANS THEY WERE THERE FIRST! As the driver of 2 or 3,000lbs of mass, I am responsible for their safety from my vehicle.

    And Chris I, you're a Moron. The only laws being broken here were violated by the driver. Biker Dad did everything right, according to the law. If anyone is guilty of child neglect, it is the driver for assuming that everything on the road would be protected by a roll cage.

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  • GlowBoy December 17, 2012 at 9:10 pm

    As a parent, I get pretty sick of people who go around criticizing others' parenting choices. Get yer own kids! VERY rarely does this come from parents who are currently raising children of their own, by the way. Almost invariably the critique comes from those who either have never raised children or have an empty nest.

    Seems like the parent here wasn't breaking the law, and I'm sure we are many years away from having any conclusive evidence as to whether helmets actually save the lives of kids in bike trailers, especially in light of the increased risk of rotational injuries and the fragility of small children's necks.

    All that said, it seems to me that although trailers greatly reduce the chance of pavement impact, the risk of head impact is still not insignificant, and for now my guess is that the benefit outweighs the risk. There's a lot of uncertainty and I'm not going to condemn anyone else's decisions about helmets and trailers, but MY parenting decision always involves helmeting my kid up in the trailer.

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  • Babygorilla December 17, 2012 at 10:08 pm

    The parent was breaking the law, by having an unauthorized passenger in a trailer (based on the unauthorized passenger law cited above, to which no one has cited an exception for people hauling passengers in bike trailers).

    Doesn't make the person driving the car innocent. Or make the parent at fault for the collision.

    Change the law. Until then, hauling kids in bike trailers is against the law (my take on that statute which is open to someone pointing out contrary law) and companies and individuals who promote it could be subject to lawsuits if someone is injured (and maybe not even if someone is not injured if someone gets creative with unlawful trade practices / consumer protection act statutes). It's the American way.

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  • Babygorilla December 17, 2012 at 10:18 pm

    tonyt
    Does Oregon law cover children in trailers?
    Recommended 1

    Yes. Al passengers in a bike trailer are prohibited under ORS 811.195, adult or child, helmet or no regardless. No exception in that statute seems applicable to allow it and I haven't found, and no one has cited, a reasonable interpretation of another statute that would allow passengers in bike trailers without being subject to citation.

    Seems to me the BTA should look to change this if their board / members think this is bad law. If a passenger is seriously injured, this law on the books could seriously impair remedies for the injured under our comparative fault system.

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  • gutterbunny December 17, 2012 at 11:28 pm

    At least there was some punishment, and I'm not about to judge another parent on there choices, considering that I don't wear one either (and quite frankly because they aren't designed for high impacts).

    Hopefully the victims can get an insurance settlement.

    and BTW -------Babygorilla

    ODOT specifically says there is no laws governing bike trailers in Oregon.

    http://www.oregon.gov/odot/ts/Pages/bicyclistsafety.aspx

    look towards the bottom of the page.

    I'm guessing that they would know better than you would.

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  • Babygorilla December 18, 2012 at 6:19 am

    ODOT's statement pertains to design / safety standards for bicycle trailers, not their use. And general statements by an agency do not override the plain language of statutes.

    Even if ODOT had the authority to interpret that statute I cited and promulgate a rule regarding the use of bicycle trailers to allow passengers (and I doubt ODOT has the authority to make rules regarding traffic laws), such an interpretation would likely be held unreasonable if challenged.

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  • Dan December 18, 2012 at 7:25 am

    Hmm, if trailering was already illegal, why was Rep Greenlick trying to ban it (and failed)?

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  • Babygorilla December 18, 2012 at 9:40 am

    Dan
    Hmm, if trailering was already illegal, why was Rep Greenlick trying to ban it (and failed)?
    Recommended 1

    Because not all of our legislators (or police, or citizens) know every law on the books and court decisions interpreting those laws. I pointed out that law the seems to pretty clearly prohibit passengers in a bike trailer for a point of discussion. I could be completely unaware of another statute somewhere in the ORS or caselaw interpreting this particular statute that authorizes passengers in bike trailers.

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  • Craig Harlow December 18, 2012 at 9:40 am

    Once could take the view that the trailer is in effect a giant full-body helmet, as long as the child is correctly bucked into it.

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    • Craig Harlow December 18, 2012 at 9:48 am

      "buckled" not "bucked"

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  • mark December 18, 2012 at 11:22 am

    Oregon Law may not cover it but Darwin's Law does.

    tonyt
    Does Oregon law cover children in trailers?
    Recommended 1

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    • 9watts December 22, 2012 at 2:22 pm

      "Oregon Law may not cover it but Darwin's Law does. "

      mark, where do distracted drivers (not to mention the vehicles they are piloting) enter the evolutionary sequence? You invoke Darwin glibly--and I would say callously--but I'm not sure your joke makes much sense here.

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      • are December 22, 2012 at 4:21 pm

        i think he might mean godwin. darwin had a theory, not a law.

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  • Sunny December 18, 2012 at 11:45 am

    Too much disinformation in here.

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  • Joe December 18, 2012 at 12:50 pm

    How about removing drivers lic for a year.

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  • J-R December 18, 2012 at 1:31 pm

    I'd like to know why the Vunerable Road User law apparently didn't apply in this case. Can someone please explain?

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    • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) December 19, 2012 at 9:48 am

      J-R, That law is only triggered if the collision results in someone suffering a "serious injury or death."

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      • J_R December 20, 2012 at 6:35 pm

        Jonathan: According to your article on December 4 "The man has a fractured vertebrae and is in a back brace...." It's heartening to know that a fractured vertebrae is not a serious injury.

        Once again, it appears that only death is cause for concern among the PBB and the DA's office. Even then, it's not likely conclusive, since there's still the cop-out about proving the driver was "careless."

        So the Vulnerable Road User law is simply a worthless sop to those pesky cyclists. The legislators can pretend to be concerned by passing a law that provides no penalties. They might as well have designated it as applying only during the sixth week of any month.

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  • El Biciclero December 18, 2012 at 2:39 pm

    From the story:
    "For what it's worth, if the collision had resulted in serious injuries or death, the Vulnerable Roadway User Law would have been triggered."

    Pretty much the standard criteria; somebody has to be maimed or die before meaningful action is taken.

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  • Joe December 18, 2012 at 4:00 pm

    dang someone has to die first? really! sounds like we need to revise this law

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    • El Biciclero December 19, 2012 at 10:22 am

      "...someone has to die first?"

      ...or be seriously injured. I guess a cracked vertebra isn't too "serious". Makes me wonder whether if the rider/father hadn't been wearing a helmet and suffered a serious head injury...VRU prosecution? Are cyclists shielding drivers from prosecution by wearing safety gear? Makes me further wonder whether the result of careless driving is the best indicator of the gravity of careless driving. Accidentally (carelessly) discharging a firearm is taken pretty seriously even if there is no "serious injury or death".

      I think this is a prime example of how institutionalized acceptance of vehicular violence has become. No harm, no foul, right?

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      • El Biciclero December 19, 2012 at 11:03 am

        Also, I thought transport to a hospital was some kind of criteria for classifying incidents like this. Weren't both the father and son transported to the hospital? Is emergency transport only used to determine whether an incident "happened" (gets reported) or not? Does it have no bearing on whether an incident meets the VRU law threshold?

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  • GlowBoy December 19, 2012 at 11:58 am

    Wow, even though a cracked vertebra can potentially affect someone for the rest of their life, it doesn't count as a serious injury? Does the injury have to be potentially life-threatening?

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    • are December 19, 2012 at 3:50 pm

      per ORS 161.015(8), "serious physical injury" is injury that "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."

      don't know much about cracked vertebrae, but it may not fall in this category. yes, the law needs to be changed, but getting even this much was a pretty hard fight.

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  • Babygorilla December 20, 2012 at 4:21 pm

    Jonathan:

    You provided an update on the "helmet under 16 issue," but you don't seem to offer any personal or outside "expert" insight on ORS 811.195, which seems to pretty clearly prohibit any passenger in a bike trailer.

    The only other real reference I could find to that law was a comment by Matt Picio here a couple of years ago, where he seemed to think it prohibited passengers in bike trailers.

    This seems like something the BTA should fight to fix. If there is a serious tragedy involving serious trauma or death child in a bike trailer, an insurance defense lawyer would absolutely rely on ORS 811.195 to argue that the parent was comparatively at fault. Given the lack of criminal penalties for careless / inattentive drivers, even with the vulnerable user law, the only recourse of a victim to assist with medical bills is a civil action to trigger insurance coverage. This law could potentially eliminate that recourse.

    Plus, there seems to be a lot of bike shops and bicycle manufactures promoting pulling children in bike trailers in this town and state. If it is illegal to do so, that opens up a huge liability hole for them if there is such a serious tragedy.

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  • 9watts December 20, 2012 at 10:33 pm

    wsbob responding to dr2chase: "You're misconstruing what I've written."

    wsbob responding to 9watts: "Nope. Certainly haven't suggested any such thing with regards to this collision...that's for sure."

    wsbob responding to Barbara: "I haven't said 'biking is dangerous'..."

    wsbob responding to 9watts: "No. That's not what I've said. I have not written about children biking being dangerous, per se, but specifically..."

    wsbob responding to dr2chase: "What criticism? Nobody's saying kids taking people out on bikes are the only road users responsible..."

    wsbob responding to El Biciclero: "I don't recall anyone commenting to this thread that's made that assumption."

    wsbob responding to 9watts: "I've done no such thing."

    wsbob responding to El Biciclero: "I never said or implied any such thing."

    wsbob responding to are: "Typically, you also didn't state what you consider my 'premise' to have been...little wonder, since I didn't present one..."

    wsbob responding to El Biciclero: "I stated no such premise. That's not even an accurate summary of various things I've written relative to I said."

    I don't see a pattern? Do you?

    The Dormouse shook its head impatiently, and said, without opening its eyes, `Of course, of course; just what I was going to remark myself.'

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  • 9watts December 27, 2012 at 6:37 pm

    a 'wsbob special' a heavily reinforced Burley bike trailer with wooden paneling. Lots of extra surface area to augment with your choice of reflective material and/or strobe lights.

    http://monterey.craigslist.org/bik/3496369325.html

    Maybe Jonathan will bring it back for you? :-)

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    • wsbob January 3, 2013 at 6:55 pm

      Some serious and reasonable suggestions that may not be a great departure from Burley's present designs, for making a safer trailer for transporting kids behind a bike:

      Easy: more square inches of reflective tape than currently used. A couple weeks ago out walking, I saw a Burley Lite parked at a bike rack in Beaverton. I didn't check and double check, but I don't recall it having even as many square inches of reflective tape as a typical construction worker's vest that flaggers standing out on the road directing traffic wear. A kid in a bike trailer is exposed to some of the same level of traffic danger that a flagger is exposed to. Seems as though a little kid in a bike trailer deserves at least as much personal protection from traffic as an adult flagger has.

      Fairly easy: One of currently most popular 2 watt, usb rechargeble bike tail lights can be had for $30. Not much of an investment for just one, but they're very small. To help protect a kid being transported in a bike trailer, saving up to mount about 4 or 6 of them for $120-$180, mounted somewhat together for a bigger display might be a worthy investment.

      Fairly easy, but a wild, very geeky idea: carry a hand held stop sign, and display it when stopped at intersections. Haven't checked them out, but I imagine they're fairly lightweight, so it's just a matter of whether it could mounted on the bike to be conveniently accessible upon arriving at an intersection.

      Much harder: It may be time for companies such as Burley to begin developing a bike trailer, featuring chassis and body components designed to offer some degree of crash resistance to impacts produced from impacts with motor vehicles. The type of impact a bike trailer designed to transport children might receive from motor vehicles colliding with it, is, as this collision was, likely to be direct. Manufacturers should be considering this, and with hopefully modest additions to overall trailer weight, attempt to produce more crash resistant chassis and bodies, maybe going to a uni-body style as auto manufacturers have done.

      9watts, you do seem to love your tea, but perhaps for awhile, it might be best for you to become a teetotaler.

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      • dr2chase January 3, 2013 at 7:15 pm

        I dunno wsbob, seems to me like you can only get so much protection from passive elements. I think that some shaped charges facing to the rear, designed to dismantle an oncoming auto, truck, or tank as it impacts the trailer, would be much more effective at protecting our vulnerable young, and might even weigh less than safety measures that depend on brute strength.

        Drivers would have to be more careful, but since they seem to have a lot of ideas about how other people should avoid danger, I think they'd be okay with this. You'd probably want your children to ride in the backseat of your car, just in case.

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        • wsbob January 3, 2013 at 11:27 pm

          Your words sound like those of a defeatist. Joking here about blowing up other road users isn't funny. I hope in future, you'll spend more of your time considering the use of serious, practical ideas that can reduce some of the danger posed by motor vehicles to kids towed behind bikes in bike trailers.

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          • Opus the Poet January 4, 2013 at 9:33 am

            I think your satire detectors are defective, but in case they aren't, the shaped charge post was trying to make the point that the only way to get people in motor vehicles to respect vulnerable users is making hitting a vulnerable user as dangerous for the motor vehicle operator as it is for the vulnerable user. My suggestion that people be forced to wear helmets and bullet-proof vests was also satirical in nature, a reducio al absurdum (and I know I mis-spelled that, my Latin stinks) of taking precautions against other people's actions to the extreme.

            Really though we could save a lot of gas and money and wear and tear on the roads by taking the requirement for airbags out of the crash test and making people wear helmets instead. My racing helmet weighed 3.3 pounds, airbags and support structure weighed 800 pounds on the car model that replaced my last car from the same manufacturer. The 3.3 pounds comes and goes depending on how many people are in the car, that 800 pounds of airbags and support structure stays there no matter how few people are in the car. You're carrying head protection for 4 people every time you drive even if there is only one head to protect, and the ridiculousness only gets worse as passenger capacity increases.

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            • dr2chase January 4, 2013 at 10:11 am

              I think it was just human error that caused him to miss the satire; I hear it happens all the time, which is why you should wear a helmet while reading blog comments.

              And I don't know where he got the idea that this was defeatist. Think of the possibilities :-). What might work better is "airbag with extreme prejudice; if you consider that even a 5000lb SUV has an area of 16000 square inches, it would only take an air pressure of 1/3 of a psi to lift it if applied equally underneath. This is a human-friendly pressure, and if deployed carefully, it might be possible to tilt or flip the car away from the precious cargo in the trailer. When not protecting children from stray SUVs, it could be used as a sort of bouncing toy, or to help rescue people leaping from burning buildings.

              However, it is quite disheartening to learn that airbag infrastructure weighs 800 pounds; that makes this idea seem less practical, at least without an electric motor assist. Are you sure you are accounting for the weight properly?

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            • wsbob January 4, 2013 at 1:15 pm

              "...Really though we could save a lot of gas and money and wear and tear on the roads by taking the requirement for airbags out of the crash test and making people wear helmets instead. ..." opus

              You may find your suggestion amusing, but it's not one that would likely be considered to be realistic, adoptable idea for saving gas or increasing safety in motor vehicles.

              I think though, that bike trailers for child transport offering better crash resistance against impacts with motor vehicles, and simple, affordable aids to greater road user visibility, likely would be considered realistic, adoptable measures that could be put in place to increase the safety of kids transported by bike, in bike trailers.

              Joking here about maiming other road users by whatever means, isn't funny: even if that type of joke is intended to be satirical.

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            • wsbob January 4, 2013 at 11:51 pm

              Motor vehicles use a wide range of different air bag types: those parked in the steering wheel hub are one, but there's also door mounted air bags, and passenger side air dash bags. I'd be curious to know whether those systems weigh over 20 lbs. Some of you may recall a story from a few years back about thieves that had developed a big business in stolen automobile air bags. Suggestion being, those systems aren't very heavy or big.

              Air bags used with bike trailers, are kind of fun to think about, but I'm not sure they could ever be considered practical. The better approach to safety, is people taking advantage of measures that help them keep from being hit in the first place.

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              • 9watts January 5, 2013 at 8:06 am

                "The better approach to safety, is people taking advantage of measures that help [others] from being hit in the first place."

                wsbob, we agree!
                How to avoid getting hit in the first place? Well, we know that measures taken by hittees have a low chance of success since the hitters are not, typically, paying attention, so if we're hoping to nip this problem in the bud, we should focus on the problem, eh? - How to get hitters to pay attention - Hm. Well we do have distracted driving statutes. Maybe revisit those, even enforce them?

                Encouraging people biking to follow your earlier suggestions of lugging extra stop signs around and mimicking the behavior, garb, and insurance class of highway flaggers is both ridiculous and, typically, puts the entire onus (as you are wont) on the hittees.

                "carry a hand held stop sign, and display it when stopped at intersections."
                "To help protect a kid being transported in a bike trailer, saving up to mount about 4 or 6 of them for $120-$180, mounted somewhat together for a bigger display might be a worthy investment."
                What's next? 5mph bumpers?
                Maybe you should try out some of your suggestions first, and report back.

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  • 9watts January 3, 2013 at 6:58 pm

    I'm totally into tee, and tea too.

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