Posted by Michael Andersen (News Editor) on June 16th, 2014 at 3:09 pm
TriMet is investigating an incident in which a man claims that a TriMet operator blew him off after a bus pulled in front of him while he was riding his bike, prompting a collision.
The encounter took place June 6 at 4:30 pm, leaving the man, Erik Holm, with what he described as “minor pain in my left shoulder, injury sustained when I used my left arm to brace against impact with the bus at oblique angle.”
Here’s Holm’s account of what happened, which he sent to TriMet (links added by BikePortland):
At 16:29 PDT on Thursday, June 5th, 2014, I was riding my bicycle up the hill Eastbound on SE Harrison Street in Milwaukie, Oregon approaching the intersection at Hwy 224, travelling approximately 11 mph. I was in the traffic lane off to the far right hand side of the roadway near the curb.
As I approached the red light, I was back roughly 150 feet from TriMet stop #2568 when I heard TriMet bus 3133 Line #75 approaching from behind and quickly accelerate to get up past me, at which point I was only 50 feet from the stop.
While I was maintaining my lane of travel, the driver suddenly right-hooked me as he maneuvered the front end of the bus over to the curb at the stop, effectively pinching me into the curb as I approached less than 30 feet from the stop. The rear of the bus never passed my position, and I was contacted by the bus at an oblique angle. I placed my left arm out and ahead of myself as a means to brace against the impact with the bus, which occurred directly over the passenger side rear wheel well. My left shoulder was injured during the impact, and my bicycle sustained damage as a result of the collision.
Immediately following the collision, I moved myself and my bicycle off the roadway and walked along the sidewalk to the front door of the bus to address the driver – a smaller man of dark complexion, late 40s to mid-50s in age, with an indiscernible accent. I asked the driver if he was aware that he had struck me, and his response was: “I know. I saw you. You’re fine.”
Unsure of how to respond, I said that I would be contacting the driver’s supervisor, at which point the driver closed the doors and left the scene of the accident.
- The driver admitted that he saw me before the collision, thereby he knew I was there.
- The driver admitted that he was aware of the fact that his vehicle had made contact with mine.
- The driver subsequently fled the scene of the accident without providing any required information, failing to perform the duties of a driver pursuant to ORS 811.700 which is a Class A misdemeanor.
- I sustained an injury during the collision. ORS 811.705 determines that leaving the scene of an injury accident is a Class C felony.
Holm contacted TriMet almost immediately via Twitter. TriMet’s communications staff replied within five minutes, reporting in a direct message 15 minutes later that “Operations is looking into it.”
In an email to BikePortland on Thursday, June 12, TriMet spokeswoman Roberta Altstadt wrote that the agency is “conducting an internal investigation into the incident. As Mr. Holm said, we have been in contact with him. We take complaints such as this very seriously. As this is an ongoing investigation, we have nothing further we can release right now.”
On Monday, TriMet spokeswoman Mary Fetsch wrote that “it remains under investigation as we are awaiting getting a formal statement from Mr. Holm. He told our staff today that he was leaving on a trip out of the country until late next month, so we have paused this matter until he returns.”
Though this seems to be unrelated to the incident at hand, it’s worth noting that Holm tweets frequently about the frustrations (and occasionally the pleasures) of riding TriMet, because it’s possible that this shaded the agency’s response to him and his willingness to report this incident. Though we haven’t yet heard the TriMet operator’s account of this seemingly scary collision, let’s hope TriMet gives a thorough investigation not just to this incident in particular but to the circumstances surrounding the bus operator’s choice to leave the scene.