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ODOT, State Police step up safety push for Reach the Beach ride

Posted by Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) on May 2nd, 2013 at 3:07 pm

"It was a tragic situation that we want to avoid this year. Greater awareness may help us do that."
— Louis Torres, ODOT Region 2

After a traffic collision claimed the life of a 65-year-old Camas man during the Reach the Beach ride last year, the Oregon Department of Transportation, the Oregon State Police (OSP), race organizers and other officials are being proactive about safety this time around.

The ride is on May 18th and it attracts nearly 3,000 riders who pedal to the coast from four different starting locations (including Portland).

In a statement released today, ODOT urged people driving on the route to consider other options because there will be, "several thousand bicyclists who will be sharing space with motorists on rural highways in Washington, Yamhill and Tillamook counties." In particular officials are concerned about OR 22 and OR 130 (Little Nestucca Road) because they are "narrow and can be a challenge when motorists and bicyclists are sharing the road."

Last year, Steven Dayley was riding in the shoulder of Hwy 18 east of Grande Ronde when he was hit by a man driving a pickup. The man in the pickup failed to stop in time for the car in front of him and veered to his right before striking Dayley.

Louis Torres, a spokesman for ODOT's Region 2 shared via email with us today that last year's fatality, "Was a tragic situation that we want to avoid this year," and that, "Greater awareness may help us do that." Beyond that tragedy, Torres said they've got a new traffic safety coordinator in Region 2 who's taking a "very proactive approach" to these type of events. ODOT and OSP plan to use a media push to encourage safety and they play to specifically focus on reducing the number of motor vehicles on OR 22 and OR 130.

Also in today's statement from ODOT and the OSP were a list of safety tips for people biking and driving. Among their bike safety tips is a suggestion to ride, "in a single file." This is noteworthy because riding single file on a social, group ride is no fun — and it's also not legally required. Riding two abreast is legal in Oregon under many circumstances. As we explained in a Bike Law 101 post back in 2011, ORS 814.430 clearly states that riding two abreast is legal as long as you remain within one lane of traffic, motor vehicles are able to pass safely, and you ride single file if one or more vehicles begin to stack up behind.

The driving safety tips include: "When you are entering a popular bike or pedestrian area, expect that you may encounter them and slow down ahead of time; Ditch the distractions such as cell phones so you can focus on driving; Only pass bicyclists if it is safe to do so; slow down and give bicyclists ample room"; and perhaps the most important thing for everyone to remember on big rides like this, "Be patient."

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Comments
  • Chris I May 2, 2013 at 3:30 pm

    Were there ever charges filed, or a citation for last year's death? Seems like careless driving at a minimum...

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    • 9watts May 2, 2013 at 6:04 pm

      Was that a rhetorical question? If you have any doubts ask Opus the Poet for statistics.

      "Ditch the distractions such as cell phones so you can focus on driving"

      The rest of the admonitions seem about right but this one, not so much. The implication is that those distractions are o.k. outside of "a popular bike or pedestrian area."

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  • Erik May 2, 2013 at 3:57 pm

    Has there been any proactive conversations by organizers with the Amity police department so riders aren't ticketed this year. Or has the route been changed to not go through Amity this year?

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  • Jimmy May 2, 2013 at 4:15 pm

    I won't even consider participating unless it bypasses Amity.

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  • Indy May 2, 2013 at 4:35 pm

    "...and you ride single file if one or more vehicles begin to stack up behind."

    So, an essentially useless law. Am I supposed to ride backwards?

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  • A.K. May 2, 2013 at 4:50 pm

    Re: Amity, I did the ride last year and had no problems going through Amity. They had electronic billboards up advising motorists to watch out for cyclists during the event, and had police officers directing traffic. I think they fixed that after 2011.

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  • Sunny May 2, 2013 at 5:38 pm

    Google Streetview captured asphalt markings made by the investigators at the accident site. I wouldn't be surprised if they have heavy patrols on that stretch of 18 this year.

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  • Sunny May 2, 2013 at 5:48 pm

    They should just skip 18 altogether and have police escort riders across at Fort Hill, then ride to Hall, through a private drive to 22. 18 barely has a shoulder between 22 and last year's accident.

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    • was carless May 2, 2013 at 7:13 pm

      It doesn't go all the way to Hebo Rd.

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  • Sunny May 2, 2013 at 6:14 pm

    If they wouldn't put riders on 99W from Sherwood to Newberg, then Dayton, and onward, why would they shove riders on to an accident prone section of 18? Ford Hill/Yamhill River road run almost parallel and hardly has vehicle traffic. The route needs to change.

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  • Opus the Poet May 2, 2013 at 10:11 pm

    if I have the right wreck, the driver got a ticket for failing to maintain his lane. I think they gave him the maximum fine and court costs, a little less than $300 for killing a human.

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    • Jeff M May 2, 2013 at 11:16 pm

      Not downplaying the token fines or the incident, but there should have been a civil settlement in addition to them. I think insurance policies are required to pay some amount for injury and death at the fault of the driver (mine does) and then there are civil lawsuits above that.

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    • Ron May 3, 2013 at 10:25 am

      Exactly. It is unbelievable that a driver's negligence that causes a death of someone abiding by the law results in no real consequence.

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  • daisy May 2, 2013 at 11:39 pm

    I did Reach the Beach last year. The worst part was getting harassed by a few guys in a car. They swung around and drove back to harass cyclists a couple of times.

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    • Sunny May 3, 2013 at 12:27 am

      Maybe bring a small camera this year and document the harassment. The appeal of riding in numbers is greater safety and awareness.

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    • Chris I May 3, 2013 at 7:48 am

      Call 911 and report them as a drunk driver next time.

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  • Doug Reid May 3, 2013 at 7:52 am

    I am riding in the RTB this year and I plan on being extra careful in Amity. I hope that the police are watching motorists as well as cyclists. I would be a wealthy person if I had a dollar for evey unsafe and illegal time I have been passed by a motorist during by commutes to and from work or on recreational rides.

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  • dmc May 3, 2013 at 9:14 am

    Given the option of swerving to the right side of the road to avoid impact with another automobile, a motorist will always will almost always take the life of a cyclist.

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  • Sunny May 4, 2013 at 4:31 am

    FWIW, if anyone wants to see a life-size Optimus Prime from the Transformers cartoon or the Scooby Doo Mystery Machine, they're at the southwest corner of Main and Pinehurst in Newberg. At the Crestview to Highway 219 intersection, turn left(south) instead of right(north) and take the second right(Pinehurst) down to Main and look left -- it's HUGE, can't miss it. If you then go right on Main(north) all the way to the end it'll reconnect with the RTB route.

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  • Jobrie May 20, 2013 at 3:06 pm

    RTB 2013: The stretch on Hwy 18/22 is nothing less than a death trap for cyclists, and is just a matter of time before another fatal accident happens. The west bound shoulder in non existent in spots plus the grooved asphalt makes it treacherous.The motorists treat that straight stretch of road as if it is a drag strip and ODOT's plea for caution is useless. The bridge you need to cross a just before the right turn on Hwy 22/Hebo Rd has no shoulder, and this year 5 of us were single file, wheels tight up on the concrete curb and a semi past us with oncoming traffic so the driver had no wiggle room. Inches was all that separated us from his mirrors and one mis-guided wobble from any of the bikers would have ended in disaster. Something needs to done, save the rhetoric ! . They should treat that stretch the same way you would treat a construction zone. Flaggers and closed lanes ...

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