Cielo Dock Sale runs through the 29th

Carnage updates: Sun glare on 142nd, new crosswalks on SE 17th & more

Posted by on July 16th, 2013 at 5:36 pm

Should you be allowed to drive into this?
(Photo © J. Maus/BikePortland)

As many people seemed to notice, last week was particularly thick with serious on-street collisions. We’re continuing to track relevant parts of several cases. Here’s the latest on four of them.

No criminal charge from SE Division and 148th: As KOIN reported yesterday, the Multnomah County District Attorney’s office has declined to seek criminal penalties in the case of Neftali Cabrera-Escobar, 36, whose car struck and killed Brian Francis Kenny, 62, in April. The reason is that the DA determined that sun glare made it physically impossible for Cabrera-Escobar to have seen Kenny, and therefore that Cabrera-Escobar wouldn’t be found guilty of a crime.

He did receive a traffic citation for careless driving resulting in the death of a vulnerable road user and remains liable for civil penalties.

It may seem strange that it’s not illegal to drive a car at potentially fatal speed even when it’s physically impossible to see where you’re going. So we talked to Senior Deputy District Attorney Kirsten Snowden to discuss the law.

“In order for there to be charges in the case of serious physical injury or death, you have to have recklessness,” Snowden said. “When we typically file charges in connection with a case like that is when there’s alcohol or other intoxicants involved, or obviously when there’s very high speed … potentially even texting could rise to the level of gross negligence in certain circumstances. … In order to sustain a criminal charge, we have to prove that someone consciously disregarded an unjustifiable risk of serious injury or death.”

So what is and isn’t an “unjustifiable risk”? Snowden allows that there’s some room for interpretation, but said the only way to change practice in such situations would be to amend or add to Oregon’s laws governing manslaughter and criminally negligent homicide.

“While it’s a horrible tragedy, it just doesn’t rise to the level of a criminal charge,” she said.

Update 7/17: Snowden’s colleague Chuck Sparks calls to note that Cabrera-Escobar “was at fault,” shouldn’t have been driving as quickly as he was into the sun, and did receive a civil citation (added above).

Crosswalks coming to SE Milwaukie McLoughlin and 17th: Matthew Charles Casperson, 22, was still in critical condition Monday after being overtaken by a turning garbage truck as he rode across a wide crosswalk on his bike. ODOT and TriMet staff, however, say the intersection where he was injured will get a “substantial improvement for pedestrians and bicyclists” this November.

ODOT Transit and Active Transportation Liaison Jessica Horning contacted BikePortland Monday to spell out those planned changes, which will include pedestrian countdown timers for each crossing, “a new signal phasing so that the pedestrian crossing on McLoughlin no longer occurs at the same time as conflicting left turns from SE 17th Ave.” and crosswalks at all four crossings, instead of the three the intersection has now. (One of the four is currently marked as “closed” by a permanent barrier.)

You can see a sketch of the planned new paint markings here, and a diagram showing the new signalization plan (including the future light rail line along the northeast corner of the intersection) here.

Citation issued for Division and 122nd: Police issued a citation Monday to Hector Perez, 34, who collided with a van and suffered critical but not fatal injuries after heading on his bike through stopped traffic. Perez rolled in front of the van as it proceeded in Division’s left-turn lane, according to KOIN.

Benefit for Dave Collins: On a slightly happier note, co-workers of Dave Collins, who was injured last week while biking on Fremont, are organizing a benefit for his medical bills. “We will be meeting at Emmanuel Hospital at 4 p.m. to see Dave and then we’ll be leading a bike parade ride to the Lost & Found on North Gay,” writes Kyle Kautz, Collins’ colleague at PDX Pedicab. “There will be drink specials for Dave, and Brock from Adventure Galley will be spinning records.”

Get well soon, everyone.

Email This Post Email This Post

NOTE: At BikePortland, we love your comments. We love them so much that we devote many hours every week to read them and make sure they are productive, inclusive, and supportive (heck, sometimes we even fix your typos!). That doesn't mean you can't disagree with someone. It means you must do it with tact and respect. This is our business and we do not tolerate mean commenters who add nothing of value to the discussion.

Unfortunately, we are not robots and we don't always catch everything. You can help by notifying us if you see inappropriate comments. Thanks! — Jonathan and Michael

  • dr2chase July 16, 2013 at 5:41 pm

    Nobody can predict that the sun will be low in the sky late in the day, or that it will be unusually bright. This decision makes perfect sense. I myself am often surprised to discover that water is wet.

    Recommended Thumb up 48

    • John Lascurettes July 17, 2013 at 8:39 am

      Please tell me that the driver of the “low sun” case at minimum got a exceeding basic speed citation. It would be absurd if the demonstrably unsafe practice was not penalized in some way. Because even though a civil case can be made, it helps the civil case if there are other infractions or misdemeanors on record (should be a felony, but I digress …)

      Recommended Thumb up 2

    • wsbob July 17, 2013 at 9:10 am

      Accompanying photo of street view obscured by sun glare:

      “Should you be allowed to drive into this?
      (Photo © J. Maus/BikePortland)”

      What’s bikeportland’s editor/publisher’s answer to that question? Because it’s not provided here, at least not directly so.

      I doubt many people seek out sun glare to drive into. Sun glare is a natural phenomena people are obliged to deal with. I don’t see many efforts in comments to this story, suggesting how people may work to deal with sun glare. Jim’s: “Use the broadest polarized sunglasses you can along with a visor.”, seems to be the only comment with suggest a way to deal with it.

      When they think about the conditions surrounding them, vulnerable road users…people on foot, bike, etc, also can be aware of sun glare posing a problem. Part of their responsibility associated with safe use of the road, is to be aware of such conditions and how they can affect the safety of road users, including their own, taking precautions accordingly.

      Recommended Thumb up 0

      • John Lascurettes July 17, 2013 at 9:40 am

        Polarized sunglasses, I live by them (and as a rider, it helps me drivers in cars because it cuts the glare on windshields).

        But the other way to deal with sun glare: slow the frick down. That’s the basic speed law: you can legally only drive as fast as you can see or react to the road conditions ahead.

        Recommended Thumb up 20

        • wsbob July 17, 2013 at 6:34 pm

          Slowing down often doesn’t improve the ability to see through sun glare. Because of trees, buildings and other objects between the sun and people on the road, sun glare often isn’t a constant; it flashes into the drivers eyes for brief seconds, or momentarily, not for a duration of time that many drivers realistically be expected to not drive if they had somewhere to be.

          People driving commonly slow down in response to sun glare. Traffic reports routinely note sun glare to be a factor likely responsible on certain days, times of day, for traffic moving slower.

          Recommended Thumb up 0

      • Paul in the 'couve July 17, 2013 at 9:59 am

        1) use your car’s visor
        2) wear sun glasses (have them available in the car
        3) wear a hat or at least hold up your hand
        4) If you can’t see Slow Way The Heck down and proceed with great caution
        5) if you really can’t see what is front of you, pull over and stop.

        Recommended Thumb up 12

        • Paul in the 'couve July 17, 2013 at 10:04 am

          Oh yeah, if you know it almost sunset and know you are going to be driving into and know that you don’t have sunglasses or that it is a problem for you…. WAIT 10 minutes….

          Recommended Thumb up 7

      • Paul in the 'couve July 17, 2013 at 10:03 am

        BTW – glare in a camera is not a substitute for what people can see. The eye (if healthy) reacts better than a camera shutter in general – although with correct settings etc. one may take a better picture, even still a human eye can see better.

        Recommended Thumb up 3

        • q`Tzal July 17, 2013 at 2:53 pm

          Unless you are over 40 or especially over 60 years old.
          Some people’s eyes simply don’t work in glare (wife’s)
          Some people with 20/15 or better “eagle eyes” have almost no measurable depth perception (myself).

          Don’t Panic.
          Expect the unexpected.

          Recommended Thumb up 0

          • Paul in the 'couve July 17, 2013 at 3:07 pm

            :) — (if healthy) … yes my eyes are getting worst especially in low light.

            Recommended Thumb up 0

      • spare_wheel July 17, 2013 at 12:19 pm

        “Part of their responsibility associated with safe use of the road, is to be aware of such conditions and how they can affect the safety of road users, including their own, taking precautions accordingly.”

        I disagree vehemently with your comment. It is the responsibility of those who operate lethal heavy machinery to slow down or stop operating the machinery when conditions become dangerous. Failure to do so is narcissistic and in some circumstances sociopathic.

        IMO, driving at high speeds in the context of sun glare is just as reprehensible as driving while intoxicated.

        Recommended Thumb up 9

        • Tacoma July 17, 2013 at 3:52 pm

          “It is the responsibility of those who operate lethal heavy machinery to slow down or stop operating the machinery when conditions become dangerous. Failure to do so is narcissistic and in some circumstances sociopathic.”

          spare_wheel, I’m guessing you understand this is a new thought to many in American society? Based on the DA’s decision NOT to prosecute, the message I’m understanding from Brian Kenny’s death is that he (or any other vulnerable) was/is responsible for recognizing the danger and “clearing the way”.

          I’m not sure exactly where the line for responsibility should be set, I just hope your message – that “those who operate lethal heavy machinery” should “slow down or stop operating the machinery when conditions become dangerous” is not thrown out or lost.

          Recommended Thumb up 3

        • wsbob July 17, 2013 at 6:49 pm

          “…It is the responsibility of those who operate lethal heavy machinery to slow down or stop operating the machinery when conditions become dangerous. …” spare_wheel

          It should go without saying, that for the safety of all road users, people driving motor vehicles are obliged to alter the operation of their vehicle as needed in response to hazardous conditions. The responsibility drivers have, to meet this obligation, doesn’t relive vulnerable road users of their responsibility to be aware of traffic conditions and take precautions accordingly.

          Recommended Thumb up 0

          • Caleb July 18, 2013 at 10:52 pm

            In general I deliberately avoid using the word “should”, but at this instance deliberately say vulnerable road users should not be expected to be aware of sun glare inhibiting drivers’ safe driving ability, because the threat to their safety comes from automobiles controlled by people who can possibly anticipate and definitely observe any sun glare, whereas vulnerable road users don’t have drivers’ windshields between themselves and the sun with which to get any tangible sense of sunlight’s effects on the variously shaped and dirtied windshields in proximal use.

            Recommended Thumb up 2

    • q`Tzal July 17, 2013 at 1:10 pm

      Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol : CRIME
      Driving Under the Influence of prescription drugs : CRIME
      Driving too fast for conditions : CRIME
      Driving dangerously because that’s what everyone else does : ….. Needs to be a crime.

      Recommended Thumb up 5

  • Bjorn July 16, 2013 at 5:49 pm

    Amending the law to make it easier to prosecute incidents like this criminally has proven very difficult and there is generally a hesitancy to prosecute without intoxication because DA’s feel that anytime you have an case where the defendants attorney can just say this could have happened to you to the jury that it will be very difficult to get a conviction especially where jail time is involved. That was the framework within which the Vulnerable Road Users law was written. The VRU was used in this case which I am very happy to see as after we pushed it through we have seen many officers be very hesitant to actually use it. If convicted this driver will have to choose between 200 hours of community service and drivers training, or a one year license suspension and $12,500 fine. There is a lot of evidence that drivers who are unlicensed due to a suspension or revocation are far more likely to be involved in injury crashes. I would like to see a criminal penalty for driving on a suspended license, because it seems to be the only way to get some people out from behind the wheel, but jails cost money and it has been hard to get bills through in Salem that will cost the state money.

    Recommended Thumb up 8

    • wsbob July 17, 2013 at 8:50 am

      “…and it has been hard to get bills through in Salem that will cost the state money.” bjorn

      More to the point: bills that will cost money to people of the state. Locking people up so they can’t drive, probably can’t be a viable response to bad driving.

      Recommended Thumb up 0

      • El Biciclero July 17, 2013 at 9:24 am

        “Locking people up so they can’t drive, probably can’t be a viable response to bad driving.”

        Taking away their cars can. Charge them for towing fees, then sell the car at auction. A Suspended/revoked driver caught driving around should be treated like a felon with a firearm.

        Recommended Thumb up 12

        • wsbob July 17, 2013 at 6:55 pm

          Put something together and suggest it to a state legislature rep, and advocacy group, or someone else that could help you. Decide what offenses you think taking away somebody’s motor vehicle, would be an appropriate means of addressing the problem.

          Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Richard Allan July 16, 2013 at 5:52 pm

    “potentially even texting could rise to the level of gross negligence in certain circumstances”

    “Potentially”? “Could”? “In certain circumstances”?

    It frightens me that a prosecutor could believe there are circumstances in which texting while driving would NOT be gross negligence.

    Recommended Thumb up 38

  • Kevin Wagoner July 16, 2013 at 7:33 pm

    The news is bad but I’m really glad you are covering it to help keep the carnage in front….maybe our community will get more sick of it and as a result get more proactive in preventing it.

    Recommended Thumb up 14

    • AndyC of Linnton July 16, 2013 at 11:08 pm

      Hear hear.

      Recommended Thumb up 4

  • are July 16, 2013 at 7:43 pm

    “a new signal phasing so that the pedestrian crossing on McLoughlin no longer occurs at the same time as conflicting left turns from SE 17th Ave.”

    no comment

    Recommended Thumb up 3

  • Matt July 16, 2013 at 8:12 pm

    My mom taught me to look both ways before crossing the street…

    Recommended Thumb up 3

    • Opus the Poet July 18, 2013 at 11:01 pm

      Doesn’t help if the car that hits you wasn’t driving on the street you are crossing when you start crossing, like the guy that got hit by a garbage truck making a left. You can look all you want but the weapon vehicle is behind you and travelling the same direction then turns across your bow and runs you over.

      Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Adam July 16, 2013 at 8:34 pm

    How about a green bike box on SE 17th at 99E? Perhaps that would have prevented the trash truck right hook.

    Recommended Thumb up 1

    • was carless July 17, 2013 at 8:59 pm

      this would be one of those intersections where a bike box would likely work really well – since the light cycles are do long, vehicles on 17th always have to stop for the red light.

      Recommended Thumb up 0

  • 9watts July 16, 2013 at 8:36 pm

    We seem to have no problem coughing up $4 billion of money we don’t have and were to have paid back with plenty of interest for generatyions for a freeway expansion, but ODOT is will to sweep up some crumbs for the pedestrians…. only after someone is nearly killed at a given location, or better yet, several some ones. It will be a good day when the CRC cabal has to hold a bake sale to fund their crazy nonsense.

    Recommended Thumb up 10

  • Pat Franz July 16, 2013 at 10:02 pm

    Was the driver’s windshield clean? How long had they been driving at speed, not being able to see? Did they slow down at all when they couldn’t see?

    How high of a bar is “reckless”? Bloody high, apparently.

    “consciously disregarded an unjustifiable risk of serious injury or death”- continuing to drive without being able to see what’s in front of you sure seems like a conscious decision. And if you don’t know who’s out there in front of you, that seems to me to be taking an unjustifiable risk with someone else’s life. How does this not compute?

    Recommended Thumb up 13

  • Nick Falbo July 16, 2013 at 10:11 pm

    I’m having difficulty accessing the google docs links (it attempts to connect to portlandafoot.com through google.) is it just me?

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • anon1q2w3e4r5t July 16, 2013 at 10:26 pm

    The first story of this post reminds me of a similar incident. A guy made a left turn on a street and hit a bicyclist from behind. I was riding ahead of the guy, so I didn’t witness him hit the bicyclist, though, I did hear the crash. The bicyclist was knocked down, but was not seriously injured. The guy was explaining to everyone at the scene that he didn’t see the bicyclist because of the glare of the sun. But, the irony was that while he was giving his explanation, I noticed he was wearing sunglasses.

    Recommended Thumb up 2

  • jim July 16, 2013 at 11:45 pm

    Use the broadest polarized sunglasses you can along with a visor.

    Recommended Thumb up 2

  • Donna July 17, 2013 at 1:50 am

    Well then, the DA hath spoken. If Cabrera-Escobar remains liable for civil penalties, guess that’s the only way to go for Brian Kenny’s family. Hope there’s something to sue for.

    Recommended Thumb up 3

  • dan July 17, 2013 at 2:58 am

    What about the Basic Rule? Why doesn’t that apply to Mr. Cabrera-Escobar?

    All travel on public streets and highways is subject to the Basic Speed Rule. The Basic Speed Rule states that a motorist must drive at a speed that is reasonable and prudent at all times by considering other traffic, road and weather conditions, dangers at intersections and any other conditions that affect safety and speed. In other words, drivers are expected to use good judgment in selecting their speed.

    Recommended Thumb up 19

  • JRB July 17, 2013 at 7:58 am

    I understand everybody’s outrage, but the DA is not saying that Cabrera-Escobar didn’t do anything wrong, just that his wrongful conduct did not rise to the level of criminal conduct. Wrongful conduct in and of itself does not constitute a crime, it must be coupled with a criminal mental state, usually that the person knowingly engaged in the wrongful conduct.

    Only in crimes against persons is the standard lowered to recklessness and that is still a very difficult standard. It is actually more difficult than proving knowing conduct because you have to prove what is in someone’s head. Intent can usually be proven by the conduct itself. When somebody snatches a purse on the street, juries are allowed to infer that the snatcher meant to steal the purse from the act itself.

    What is reckless conduct is subjective and its these gray areas in the law which keep lawyers like me employed and the courts in business. I think Bjorn hit the nail on the head when he said this would be a tough prosecution because jurors would likely empathize with the defendant. That being said, things considered reckless today were not considered reckless as little as 50 years ago. Standards evolve and the day may not be too far away where society as a whole decides that conduct like Mr. Carbera-Escobar’s is criminal.

    Recommended Thumb up 3

    • John Lascurettes July 17, 2013 at 8:44 am

      “knowingly engaged in wrongful conduct” – does driving too fast for conditions not count? Doesn’t being negligent of that fact make one potentially criminally negligent. Ignorance of the law is not protection from the law.

      At minimum, she violated the basic speed law (driving too fast for the conditions) but I saw no mention of her even getting an infraction for that handed down to her. Ridiculous.

      Recommended Thumb up 4

      • John Lascurettes July 17, 2013 at 8:46 am

        I do acknowledge that a criminal felony charge would be hard to make stick – but c’mon. Charge her with some misdemeanor at least – throw the civil case a bone.

        Recommended Thumb up 2

        • JRB July 17, 2013 at 9:41 am

          For what it’s worth, I think this is an open and shut civil case for the many reasons you and others have already mentioned. When there is a criminal conviction for the same conduct that a person is being sued civilly for, the criminal conviction carries considerable weight in proving a civil wrong. Most negligence cases, however, are made without them. Think of Ron Goldman’s family prevailing in their wrongful death case against OJ Simpson despite Simpson’s acquittal.

          In cases where the victim survives, they may be better off if the perpetrator is not convicted of a crime because the perpetrator is free to presumably work and therefore compensate the victim. It’s a different question as to whether the community as a whole is better off. Criminal justice is not primarily about making victims whole, that’s what civil justice is for, but protecting the community

          Recommended Thumb up 6

          • John Lascurettes July 17, 2013 at 10:59 am

            Thanks for your professional insight, JRB. That helps ease my angst on this.

            Recommended Thumb up 2

    • wsbob July 18, 2013 at 12:46 am

      “…“Investigators do not believe that vehicle speed was a factor,” the Portland Police Bureau reports. Instead, “the vision of the driver may have been affected by the setting sun.” …” http://www.koin.com/2013/04/14/sunset-blindness-linked-to-fatal-se-portland-crash/

      “…Update 7/17: Snowden’s colleague Chuck Sparks calls to note that Cabrera-Escobar “was at fault,” shouldn’t have been driving as quickly as he was into the sun, and did receive a civil citation (added above). …” andersen/bikeportland

      Civil citation, or violation he’s reported to have been cited for, was ‘Careless Driving': http://www.oregonlaws.org/ors/811.135. Wondering what the history of that citation is…whether he was issued that citation on the day of the collision in April, or instead, sometime after.

      Also: whether ‘quickly’ was the word Chuck Sparks used to describe the speed Cabrera-Escobar was traveling.

      And whether the DA’s office Snowden and Sparks learned, by way of witnesses, cameras, etc, of a certain mph speed the driver’s car was traveling at, or if by their thinking, the citation was valid simply on a rationale, that if a motor vehicle operator claims their car came to be in a collision due to sun glare, the reason for that collision must be that the motor vehicle was being driven too quickly into the sun.

      Back in April at least, investigators believed vehicle speed wasn’t a factor. Did they subsequently, somehow come to change their determination on this?

      Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Granpa July 17, 2013 at 8:25 am

    Carnage starts with car. Coincidence?

    Recommended Thumb up 5

  • Spiffy July 17, 2013 at 9:41 am

    what part about driving while you can’t see isn’t recklessness?

    anybody that thinks it’s not recklessness to drive a motor-vehicle when you can’t see where you’re going should have their license revoked…

    Recommended Thumb up 6

  • BobBobberson July 17, 2013 at 9:53 am

    I am an east-coaster in a car-dependent area looking to move to Portland sometime in the future specifically because of the alt transportation options. Are you worried the “carnage in front” type articles might turn off others from pursuing (or seeing) biking as a valid option?

    Does it give non-bike-friendly people the idea “see, biking is dangerous”? Or are those people probably not readers of this blog to begin with?


    Recommended Thumb up 1

    • Michael Andersen (News Editor) July 17, 2013 at 11:16 am

      Bob, it’s a good question. Right now the site is in the middle of what my boss, Jonathan, calls a “mini-advocacy campaign” to call attention to the problems that do happen — that we all know happen, and need to know happen — on our streets. As part of this we’re also taking care, when we can, to identify the problems behind the problems and how they can be fixed.

      Biking in Portland, like biking anywhere else, is great, but it could be greater!

      Recommended Thumb up 6

  • Jonathan Gordon July 17, 2013 at 10:41 am

    Amazing how the person driving into blinding sunlight and subsequently kills someone riding a bike receives no penalty, but the person who rides their bike into a van and puts themselves in the hospital receives a citation. He should have said the sun got in his eyes.

    Recommended Thumb up 6

    • Jonathan Gordon July 17, 2013 at 11:23 am

      Ah, just seeing this now in the sun glare case: “He did receive a traffic citation for careless driving resulting in the death of a vulnerable road user and remains liable for civil penalties.”

      Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Paul in the 'couve July 17, 2013 at 1:15 pm

    I think perhaps we should consider (re-consider) the fine differentiation in the current law between careless and reckless and negligent. I’m no lawyer, but it seems likely these terms and much of the general legal distinctions between them come from the English common law history and date back to a time long before automobiles. Few analogies come to mind other than firearms. I really can’t think of anything else that was in the hands of many common people 125 years ago that was similarly dangerous. But even that analogy totally fails to compare to the motor vehicle operator phenomena. We have a dangerous type of machinery that is routinely operated by 80% or more of people over 16 on a daily basis with these machines running up and down every public right of way in every city at all hours of day and many people spend hours per day in their cars. Every single one of these vehicles is a greater hazard to the public when in motion that anything we have ever seen with the possible exception of firearms, and even there until at least the 1860’s or so, firearms were not near as deadly as they are today.

    What I think we are seeing is that the legal system simply can’t cope with applying the old common law terms and legal tradition to this circumstance. On the one hand there is intent and negligence, but the very activity of driving a motor vehicle AT ALL is more dangerous that anything anyone ever did in the middle of a city up until 1900. When the ordinary operation of a machine is so disproportionally dangerous to the public and yet completely ubiquitous the distinction between an “unavoidable accident” (a la: it was impossible to see him), careless driving and negligent homicide is pretty much arbitrary.

    What we see is the distinction in practice is made based on information that has little to do with the actual circumstances and essentially boils down to if you aren’t DUI and you don’t leave the scene then at worst you might get a careless driving ticket.

    I propose cycling advocates work on some new legal definitions and attempt to pass them in the states – OR and WA for starters.

    Recommended Thumb up 6

    • JRB July 17, 2013 at 4:29 pm

      Paul, at risk of misinterpreting what you wrote, you seem to be suggesting that the terms “careless,” “negligent” and “reckless” as applied in the law have remained static since before the advent of the motor vehicle. That is not true. As I posted before, the law changes to reflect evolving community standards of justice. Conduct that was unlawful 20 years ago is now lawful and conduct that was lawful 20 years ago is now unlawful. What constitutes carelessness, negligence or recklessness under the law have also continued to evolve.

      The successful litigation related to exposure to second hand tobacco smoke is a good example of this. The dangers associated with tobacco use were well known even before the first public health advisories were issued in the early 60s, but I doubt airline flight attendants would have been successful seeking damages for exposure to secondhand smoke if they had brought their suit in the 70s rather than in the 90s when society’s tolerance for the risks arising from smoking had changed considerably.

      Raising public awareness and consciousness regarding what should be unacceptable risks is the key to changing attitudes which in turn leads to changing the law. Active transportation advocates like Jonathan, Michael and those who follow and post on bikeportland are hopefully leading such a change in attitudes in regards to the risks posed by motor vehicle operators.

      As a side note, I’ve always loved the show “Law and Order.” While it certainly exaggerates things for entertainment value, it’s usually pretty sound when it comes to the law, and, more to the point, it shows how the law evolves. A number of the episodes show the prosecutors and defense attorneys pushing to expand the boundaries of the law to achieve justice, just as happens in real life.

      Recommended Thumb up 2

      • Paul in the 'couve July 17, 2013 at 4:53 pm

        JRB, thanks for the response. Briefly, I agree with you, the law evolves both in terms of statutes and how it is implemented by the court system. Yet, I am sure you agree that history and precedence are also there and that for lawyers each of the words we are discussing involves a particular legal interpretation?

        What I am wondering out loud is if there isn’t a different direction we might try? We have passed “safe passing” laws and “Vulnerable Road User” laws and “rule of two” laws etc. trying to improve the safety of the roadways by threatening to punish drivers. Yet the statutes seem to not work. DAs won’t prosecute them, juries won’t convict on them, etc.. This does go to your point about “leading a change of attitude” in this regard. I don’t oppose that at all.

        Within that effort, would it be worth considering the idea of an initiative or a constitutional amendment or just plain legislation that specifically adresses culpability and responsibility for operating dangerous machinery in the public road way? Certainly this is the kind of idea that would take at least a decade and would be a seriously up hill battle. The point is that actually moving the discussion (and the legal needle) from specific road behavior like passing etc. to the overall idea that the safety of everyone on the street must come first in the minds of drivers and that very usual distraction and carelessness is actually criminal negligence when you happen to be piloting 5,000 pounds of SUV at 40mph.

        Recommended Thumb up 2

        • JRB July 17, 2013 at 5:35 pm

          In short, I agree. It’s been mentioned before, but I think the movement that finally led to concerted enforcement and the legislation of stern penalties for DUI is an example of how it can be done and was an important step in the direction where many of us want to go. Today, our society doesn’t find texting/phoning while driving or failing to adjust to adverse driving conditions like sun glare as reprehensible as imbibing intoxicants and getting behind the wheel, but it wasn’t that long ago DUI was considered only a minor faux pas. Yes, I think it can be done, and legislation is the swiftest and surest way but it will take a group of dedicated people willing to make great sacrifices of their time to make it so.

          Recommended Thumb up 3

    • Paul in the 'couve July 19, 2013 at 8:37 am

      Just came across this blog post by David Hembrow who disagrees very strongly with my thoughts. Thought I’d share it here. I’m still thinking about it. My first reaction isn’t about “law” or “liability” but the basic idea that David and I agree upon: Driving cars is going to continue to be one of the most dangerous things most people do. David is English and writes from the Netherlands. I wonder, in the USA do we have a lot further to go to convince the public that driving everywhere is a bad idea? How to we go about doing that? I can see that sometimes you use honey but other times use the biggest hammer you can get……

      Recommended Thumb up 1

      • Paul in the 'couve July 19, 2013 at 8:38 am
      • wsbob July 19, 2013 at 9:18 am

        Sustainable Safety is the transportation infrastructure concept Hembrow advocates for most strongly, which is the main point of the article to which you provided the link to.

        He’s a realist, recognizing that people are commonly fallible, and that rather than imaging that collisions between vulnerable and non-vulnerable road users can be accomplished by ever greater fines and penalties, to a considerable extent as demonstrated in the microcosm transportation of Amsterdam and Copenhagen, safer active transportation can be accomplished with infrastructure suited specifically for walking, biking, etc. Infrastructure whose safety arises from it being distanced somewhat from infrastructure people use to travel by motor vehicle.

        In the U.S., people will likely begin to drive less as communities and roads here are planned and built in ways that don’t oblige or mandate driving everywhere. It’s expensive and inconvenient to build something like a cycletrack along Foster Rd…of course…but if people are hoped to consider driving less than they currently do because their walking/biking infrastructure is lousy, satisfactory infrastructure for walking and biking must be built.

        Recommended Thumb up 2

        • wsbob July 19, 2013 at 11:48 pm

          Proofread correction:

          “…He’s a realist, recognizing that people are commonly fallible, and that rather than imagining that reductions in collisions between vulnerable and non-vulnerable road users can be accomplished by ever greater fines and penalties, to a considerable extent as demonstrated in the microcosm transportation infrastructure of Amsterdam and Copenhagen, safer active transportation can be accomplished with infrastructure suited specifically for walking, biking, etc. …”

          Recommended Thumb up 0

  • spare_wheel July 17, 2013 at 1:47 pm

    Slowing the speed of these urban freeways would help motorists stop treating these intersections like highway ramps. When I cycle in the 35-45 mph Portland periphery I often see motorists roll quickly through intersections without even a glance at the crosswalk. I really hope that PBOT and the city of portland begin to aggressively challenge ODOT’s dangerous urban speed limits.

    Recommended Thumb up 3

  • Organic Brian July 17, 2013 at 1:53 pm

    Another wreck yesterday: white SUV at NE Multnomah & 15th, on 15th a few feet from the intersection, mangled bike under SUV. I saw a very road-rashed and apparently angry guy in cycling tights, standing wordlessly with a woman in an expensive dress who appeared to be occasionally crying. It looked like the SUV had turned either left or right from Multnomah, crossing the path of the cyclist in the Multnomah bike lane. There were I think 3 police cars at the scene.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Doug Klotz July 17, 2013 at 11:26 pm

    17th and McLoughlin.

    I’m glad to hear that ODOT will put the left turns in a separate phase from the ped crossings. I’m surprised they’re doing that.

    That said, it’s still a very wide intersection. I wonder if a median island in McLoughlin couldn’t have been acheived by sliding the north curb line a little further north east of 17th. It looks like there’s adequate room between the sidewalk and the light rail tracks. Further east of there the LRT tracks are climbing a grade, but I think they’re fairly level here. Could be wrong.
    The signal phasing will really help, though.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Joe Adamski July 18, 2013 at 7:44 am

    wouldn’t this be a basic rule rule violation, operating at a speed greater than conditons allow?

    The basic rule assumes sound judgement, something people greatly lack.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Paul Atkinson July 18, 2013 at 3:36 pm

    The glare exception to safe speed bothers me a bit. Does this mean that if I were driving my car on the Sunset Highway, for example, and just sped right into the back of somebody while blinded by the sunset…no crime has been committed? The worst I could get is a careless driving violation? Even if I put the other people in the hospital?

    Or would a different standard be applied if it were a car that I hit, and not a bicycle?

    (This is purely hypothetical…I haven’t hit anybody. I’ve barely driven at all this month — woo hoo.)

    Recommended Thumb up 0

    • wsbob July 18, 2013 at 4:36 pm

      The office of the District Attorney’s conclusion about this collision seems to be that whatever unspecified mile per hour speed Neftali Cabrera-Escobar was traveling, neither that or anything else the driver did, made this a criminal act.

      The DA’s office thinks he didn’t intend to hurt or kill anyone, but that that the collision was due to him, in bikeportland’s words: “…driving as quickly as he was into the sun. …”.

      Because it leaves open the possibility intent was present, your presentation of the hypothetical you offered, of yourself driving into someone on the Sunset Hwy, sounds more like an act that could be a crime.

      Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Opus the Poet July 18, 2013 at 11:14 pm

    The difference in terminal ballistics between motor vehicles and bullets are such that cars are to bullets as guns are to pea shooters. Bullets are 9% fatal, while motor vehicles are, depending on speed between 5% and 99.9999999999% fatal, with the 5% being at 20 MPH and below and the absurd number of 9s at speeds exceeding 50 MPH.

    Someone needs to ask the DA if shooting someone “because the sun was in their eyes” is criminal or not, and why the much more lethal motor vehicles are treated less stringently when they are so much more deadly.

    Recommended Thumb up 3

    • spare_wheel July 19, 2013 at 10:12 pm

      “Bullets are 9% fatal, while motor vehicles are, depending on speed between 5% and 99.9999999999% fatal, with the 5% being at 20 MPH and below and the absurd number of 9s at speeds exceeding 50 MPH.”

      People who drive not only put themselves at risk they also put others at risk — no matter how carefully they drive.

      Recommended Thumb up 1

  • TMbusdriver July 22, 2013 at 6:18 pm

    “Crosswalks coming to SE Milwaukie and 17th…”

    I take it you mean, “Crosswalks coming to SE McLoughlin and 17th”?

    Recommended Thumb up 0

- Daily bike news since 2005 -
BikePortland.org is a production of
PedalTown Media Inc.
321 SW 4th Ave, Ste. 401
Portland, OR 97204

Powered by WordPress. Theme by Clemens Orth.
Subscribe to RSS feed

Original images and content owned by Pedaltown Media, Inc. - Not to be used without permission.