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Spate of collisions across state, region highlight passing dangers

Posted by on August 20th, 2014 at 9:47 am

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The aftermath of a collision in eastern Oregon.
(Photo: OSP)

There have been four (officially recorded) rear-end collisions involving a bicycle rider in the past week. One of them resulted in a fatality and the other three resulted in serious injuries. The incidents have occurred throughout Oregon and nearby southwest Washington.

While the incidents are unrelated, the uncommon frequency (two happened on the same day) led to a response by the Oregon State Police earlier this week. In an official statement published on August 17th, they said: “OSP urges all drivers to be alert for bicyclists and other vulnerable highway users. When approaching from behind, make sure there is adequate room to safely pass on the left of the bicyclist(s).”

Here is a brief description of the four collisions:

August 13th:

rear-enderKOGA.hwy126_mp9.1
(Photo: OSP)

Frederick Bouwman, a 53-year-old Canadian man on a bicycle tour was hit while biking westbound on the paved shoulder of Highway 126 east of Powell Butte in Crook County. That’s about halfway between Redmond and Prineville in eastern Oregon. Bouwman was struck from behind by the front quarter-panel of a GMC Sierra pickup. He was “ejected from his bicycle and seriously injured” according to the OSP. As of August 13th, an enforcement decision was still pending the outcome of the investigation.

August 13th:

rear-ender-hwy47
(Photo: OSP)

At about 5:00 pm, a 56-year-old man named Juan Garcia died after he was hit from behind by a Chevrolet van driven by Richard King. The collision occurred on Highway 47, about two miles north of McMinnville. Police say King fell asleep at the wheel prior to striking Garcia, who was riding northbound on the shoulder. While not enforcement decision has been made yet, the OSP says “Driver fatigue is being investigated as a contributing factor.”


August 14th:

rear-end-lead
Street view of NW 63rd Street in Vancouver. Not much room for error on a road like this.

Our office mate (and landlord) Todd Mobley of Lancaster Engineering was hit while riding on NW 63rd Street in Vancouver on his way into work Thursday morning. According to Clark County Sheriff’s Office, the collision was caused because the driver of the car, Jacob Piel, “was trying to retrieve a pacifier that his child in the back seat had dropped.” Mobley suffered a broken sternum, a concussion, and many lacerations all over his body. The police cited Piel on suspicion of driving while suspended and Negligent Operation of a Motor Vehicle in the Second Degree.

August 16th:
In the southern Oregon city of Grants Pass, a 62-year-old woman was seriously injured when she was struck from behind while riding along Rogue River Highway. Ardena Cameron (from Roseburg) was riding in a line of five other bike riders when an 86-year-old man driving a Chevy pickup ran into the back of her. The driver, Aaron Toller, was cited for Careless Driving. According to the OSP, Toller, “… told the investigating trooper that oncoming traffic prevented him from moving to the left as he was approaching the bicyclist.”

In all three of the Oregon cases, the driver of the motor vehicle could be guilty of violating the state’s safe passing law (ORS 811.065) which states that,

“The driver of a motor vehicle may only pass a person operating a bicycle by driving to the left of the bicycle at a safe distance and returning to the lane of travel once the motor vehicle is safely clear of the overtaken bicycle. For the purposes of this paragraph, a ‘safe distance’ means a distance that is sufficient to prevent contact with the person operating the bicycle if the person were to fall into the driver’s lane of traffic.”

Regardless of the enforcement outcomes, these collisions highlight an increasingly important issue in Oregon: Rural road safety. In a state that takes bicycle tourism very seriously, the number of people riding on rural roads will only increase in the months and years to come. If we are encouraging people to get out and ride on these roads, we have a responsibility to make sure they are as safe as possible.

For more on Oregon’s safe passing law, read our January 2014 installment of Get Legal with Ray Thomas.


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Comments
  • Lynne August 20, 2014 at 10:06 am

    change lanes to pass. Don’t pass if you don’t have clear line of sight. Don’t pass if there is oncoming traffic. What part of this do some vehicle operators not get?

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    • Phil August 20, 2014 at 10:33 am

      Well, if you cram yourself all the way into the gutter of the road, you’re pretty much telling drivers to pass you at all costs.

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      • 9watts August 20, 2014 at 10:39 am

        I disagree.
        How is that different from: Skimpy dress = asking for rape?

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        • luke sherry August 21, 2014 at 5:42 pm

          Road safety is everyone’s job. It is a collaborative effort, and edge-riders are bad collaborators (even though they are often riding the edge in a misguided belief that it is helpful). If you are on the road you should be a driver and follow driver rules, regardless of whether you are driving an automobile or driving a car.

          Not raping someone is something you should be able to do for yourself. Of course I would always recommend helping your friends, and even strangers, to not rape anyone.

          http://slutwalkphoenix.wordpress.com/how-to-prevent-rape/

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          • luke sherry August 21, 2014 at 5:44 pm

            i meant to say ‘regardless of whether you are driving an automobile or driving a bicycle.

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        • Dan Gutierrez August 21, 2014 at 6:06 pm

          It differs because passing is not analogous to rape. Passing is an avoidance behavior, rape is an attack. Rather than try to assign blame in the abstract, recognize that bicyclist lane use behavior strongly influences motorist passing behavior, as can be seen in this helpful infographic:
          https://www.facebook.com/iamtrafficorg/photos/a.147236078766448.32399.135322779957778/156467597843296/?type=3&permPage=1

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          • Cheif August 22, 2014 at 2:31 pm

            The issue isn’t passing, it’s people crashing their cars into people on bikes. Crashing your car into someone is an attack.

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          • 9watts August 24, 2014 at 9:03 pm

            “Passing is an avoidance behavior, rape is an attack.”

            I think El Biciclero said it well here recently. Some folks have an untoward urge to pass; feel compelled to assert their primacy when encountering a person bicycling, their obsessive need to get out from behind a cyclist. I don’t think passing someone under those circumstances is an avoidance behavior but a compulsion.

            This is not the post I’m looking for, but a similarly well-phrased post on roughly the same subject:
            http://bikeportland.org/2014/08/20/spate-collisions-across-state-region-highlight-passing-dangers-110178#comment-5397756

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    • 9watts August 20, 2014 at 10:34 am

      The part about ‘but being in a car means I own the road.’

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    • Paul Atkinson August 20, 2014 at 10:38 am

      Clearly you are not taking into account all the environmental factors, such as THAT BIKE IS IN FRONT OF ME! AND IT’S A BIKE! MUST PASS NOOOOOOWWWWW!

      I mean, if you didn’t pass the bike instantly, you might have to slow down. It’s even possible you’d have to employ the brake to do so. Where does the humiliation end?

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      • El Biciclero August 20, 2014 at 11:32 am

        I’ve heard the sentiment expressed by drivers on multiple occasions that a cyclist riding on the white line “is forcing me into oncoming traffic!” “Forcing”, yes—that’s it. Why can’t the cyclist be “forcing” drivers to slow down? No, they are “forcing” drivers into oncoming traffic. I’ve also heard the darker sentiment expressed that if a driver has to “choose between a head-on collision with oncoming cars or running over a cyclist”, they would run over the cyclist. The notion of a third choice, i.e., “slowing down”, does not even occur to many drivers. What if the choices were restated as, “if you had to choose between slowing down or having a head-on collision, which would you pick?” But then those choices assume that murder is not an option.

        I’ve been passed on my bike while taking the full lane and exceeding the speed limit (granted, by only 2 mph, which is far below the 10 over that most drivers prefer) on multiple occasions. I’ve been “passed” at a STOP sign in a parking lot painted lane while stopped on the center line with my left arm extended—by a driver who pulled up and stopped on my left (fully in the oncoming lane), and then proceeded to turn left ahead of me.

        I can’t help but think that the drivers who engage in such obviously illegal and irrational passing behavior would not have even considered it if I had been on a motorcycle. There are just too many drivers who fundamentally believe that cyclists do. not. matter. Not one tiny bit.

        On a bike? You might as well be a plastic bag blowing down the street in the breeze.

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      • Jason H August 20, 2014 at 9:29 pm

        Seriously. That about sums it up.

        Almost hit last Fri. South of Cornelius on Johnson School coming up to the stop sign Tongue while doing EVERYTHING you should. 700 feet back took a long look back, car approaching 1/4 mile back. Indicated with left arm out extended for 5+ seconds while moving over to the left center of lane. 200 feet back from stop indicate the left turn at the stop again and almost have my hand slapped by the wing mirror of that approaching car as they go around me now less than 150 feet from a stop they’re going to have to stop at anyway whether ahead or behind me. Then the 60+ woman driving probably wet herself when a car turned the corner and she was in their lane. I knew what was about to play out so did a hard brake as she inevitably swerved back into my lane.

        Well, since she now had to stop I went around her and gave her a very strong piece of my mind about her pathologic need to pass a bicyclist no matter the place, speed or danger involved. Her clung-to justification: I was “slowing down in her path” Yeah, for the F***ING stop sign! The thought of waiting in line behind me as I did everything another vehicle would do NEVER even dawned on her as appropriate.

        Mood not improved when 2 miles down the road middle aged guy in a pickup gave an extended honk while I waited to turn left (again repeatedly indicated and initiated while he was pretty far back) just because I yielded for an oncoming car before turning. Again behaving exactly as a motor vehicle would, and again while doing so considered an obstacle that another 2 tons of steel wouldn’t have been. Guess I’m lucky I didn’t get “coal rolled”. But for some the mindset that we have any rights at all, regardless of whether we “play nice”, is anathema. Plastic bag in the wind.

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        • Dan August 21, 2014 at 12:44 pm

          I think their ability to see PAST you when you’re in the middle of the lane makes them feel like you’re not really there, and shouldn’t be there.

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      • was carless August 21, 2014 at 1:11 pm

        Many people hold that same attitude towards every vehicle on the road. Just look at the freeway!

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    • Alan 1.0 August 20, 2014 at 11:05 am

      Amen.

      Still, there are multiple failure modes in these cases. King was “fatigued.” Piel was distracted and had a suspended license. So, I’ll add “don’t drive at all if you can’t pay attention and be careful.”

      Also, I notice that Bouwman, Garcia, Cameron and Prime (posted below) were all hit by trucks (pickups or vans). Those are wide vehicles with worse outward visibility. Drivers of such vehicles need to exercise that much more care on the road.

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      • Dan August 20, 2014 at 12:12 pm

        The people who seem to be the worst passers on Skyline generally are the ones driving the biggest trucks.

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  • spare_wheel August 20, 2014 at 10:08 am

    “… told the investigating trooper that oncoming traffic prevented him from moving to the left as he was approaching the bicyclist”

    we need a vehicular *assault* law.

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    • Alan 1.0 August 20, 2014 at 11:40 am

      and long-term advocacy follow-up so that law enforcement uses it.

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    • estherc August 20, 2014 at 8:07 pm

      Really, this is assault. He chose to hit the cyclist with his car rather than slow down until it was safe to pass.

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      • 9watts August 20, 2014 at 8:33 pm

        I’ve long suspected that something similar happened with Hank Bersani.
        http://bikeportland.org/2012/04/02/collision-on-99w-outside-monmouth-claims-life-of-wou-professor-69758
        As some of us suggested in comments on that story, had Marvin Ford passed with room to spare the whole thing probably would not have happened. No one quoted in that story even considered Marvin Ford to have been passing Hank. It is as if El Biciclero’s ‘you might as well be a plastic bag blowing down the street in the breeze’ line were all we need to know about how much attention anyone in law enforcement pays people cycling in situations like these.

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      • wsbob August 20, 2014 at 8:51 pm

        estherc
        Really, this is assault. He chose to hit the cyclist with his car rather than slow down until it was safe to pass.
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        Are you sure about what you’re saying? On what facts are you basing that, whatever you want to call it: theory, assumption, conclusion, etc. Sure, I read the news story as many other people likely have, and the quote of the words of the person driving sound bad, but it’s very possible they don’t tell the full story.

        Which does not necessarily mean the actions of the person are any more excusable than they seem to be now. It would though be kind of helpful if more people devoted some thought to what things may have contributed to this collision having happened, before assuming that the person made a decision to let their car collide with someone on a bike.

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      • El Biciclero August 21, 2014 at 11:38 am

        I actually kind of agree with wsbob here. The driver definitely chose to pass unsafely, with insufficient space, creating a situation where the probability of making contact with the cyclist was greatly increased, but it doesn’t necessarily mean the driver was deliberately aiming for the cyclist, or knew with certainty that he was going to plow into her, but did it anyway just to avoid braking. It could be a case of “I thought I could make it” that turned out to be misjudged. Not saying he didn’t do it intentionally, but we can’t say he did, either.

        With that said, however, “careless” seems a bit light to me. “Negligent” or “reckless” would be more appropriate IMO. Slowing would have been the correct thing to do given any doubt whatsoever that a pass could be made safely. “Recklessly endangering another person” would apply, IM “IANAL” O. Unless he did do it on purpose, the only vehicular assault charge that could be applied would only apply if the driver were drunk at the time AND had a previous drunk driving or assault record, OR a car was legally considered to be a “deadly weapon”, which I don’t think it is. The more I look at it, the more the law appears to be actually designed to let dangerous drivers off the hook.

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        • wsbob August 21, 2014 at 4:11 pm

          “…The driver definitely chose to pass unsafely…… but did it anyway just to avoid braking. …” El Biciclero

          Based on the very limited information available so far in the OSP statement in reference to the collision, there’s no certainty Toller chose, under what exactly were the circumstances, to pass the person riding . In fact, bikeportland’s report on the collision doesn’t even say Toller, the driver in this collision passed the person on the bike, but instead, “…ran into the back of her.”.

          The OSP has an opportunity those of us reading here most likely don’t really have, which is direct access to the source to try figure out if there were more reasons than oncoming traffic, that led to Toller running into the back of someone on a bike.

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          • estherc August 21, 2014 at 4:41 pm

            He hit him from behind, not side swiping.

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            • wsbob August 22, 2014 at 10:15 am

              Yes: not ‘passing’, as El Biciclero suggests. Toller rear ended the person riding her bike. Why? Not to make light of such
              incidents, but inquiring minds should want to know why collisions happen. I hope the OSP can make get more info on why this collision occurred.

              Last year, by coincidence, I happened to talk for a few minutes at a coffee shop, with an OSP officer. One of the things he happened to tell me right away, was about the dramatic increase in workload in recent years, due to budget and staff cutbacks. I don’t remember the specifics, but it was a huge area that each officer was responsible for calls to. I should know better how those resources are spread out. Many people should because the available resources have a direct correlation to how much ability the police have to investigation collisions, among the many other things on their ‘to do’ list.

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          • El Biciclero August 22, 2014 at 10:21 am

            Well, OK, based on my assumptions that we are discussing the Grants Pass case of Aaron Toller and Ardena Cameron, and that Toller saw Cameron, which is based my inference that if he claimed he was prevented from moving over, he must have known there was something to move over for, he had three choices: a) move over anyway and risk a head-on, b) continue straight ahead either believing or not believing he would hit the cyclist, c) slowing down until he was no longer prevented from moving left. I further assume that since the driver was aiming to achieve a position on the roadway that was farther ahead of the cyclist’s position, that he was indeed attempting to “pass” the cyclist in one manner or another.

            We know he chose option b, the only thing we don’t know is whether he knew with certainty that he would hit the cyclist. If he did know with certainty that he would hit the cyclist and still refused to slow down (i.e., acted intentionally or knowingly by not taking action to avoid it), then estherc is correct: intentionally running over someone is probably fourth degree assault. If he did not know with certainty that he would have hit her, then it apparently could be fourth degree assault if the driver was considered “reckless” instead of merely “careless”. Unless the driver was drunk, and had been convicted of drunk driving or some other kind of assault in the past, it cannot be first degree assault. It could be a higher degree of assault if the driver manifested “extreme indifference to the value of human life”, or if a motor vehicle could be classified as a “deadly weapon”. Regardless, “careless” driving is a relative slap on the wrist, and I wonder whether “careless” was chosen specifically over “reckless” to spare the driver from the possibility of further charges of assault, or as you suggest, OSP have secret knowledge and have impartially rendered a decision of “careless” because that’s what the “facts” indicate.

            For reference:

            ORS 163.185 Assault in the First Degree
            ORS 163.175 Assault in the Second Degree
            ORS 163.165 Assault in the Third Degree
            ORS 163.160 Assault in the Fourth Degree

            Note particularly the use of the words “intentionally”, “knowingly”, “recklessly”, and “deadly weapon”.

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            • wsbob August 22, 2014 at 11:08 am

              ‘b’ sounds about right, although again, we reading about the collision from only a couple brief news reports, are hard pressed to know why Toller didn’t prevent his motor vehicle from colliding with the lady on her bike. The OSP may have a fairly good chance to figure this out.

              It’s anyone’s guess why this collision happened, but more than guessing should be called on to figure out what happened here. There’s a number of hypothetical scenarios that could be drawn on. I think it’s true that there are people driving that deliberately target other road users and run into them to damage property, injure or kill. Also, that some people driving do not have, or have lost the skills or ability to be able to safely respond to emergency situations safely.

              Possible as well is that other circumstantial conditions not mentioned in the news story, or not yet determined at the time of the police statement released, did not leave the person driving, the option to do other than he did.

              No certainty about whether any of the scenarios I suggested, apply here, can really be known, until someone looking into the collision first hand, finds out what they can. It’s important that people reading about emotion provoking collisions, not jump to extreme conclusion without solid info to back them up.

              Thanks for posting the links. I’ve got to run, so I can’t right now, review the Oregon law language differences between ‘careless’ and ‘reckless’ driving. From my recollection, given what readers of news stories alone could gather, at this point, ‘careless’ may be the most serious charge the police could cite for at the time of the collision.

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            • wsbob August 25, 2014 at 12:39 am

              In today’s Oregonian, Sunday, the 24th is a report on another collision, this one in Washington State, involving a person driving and a person riding a bike. Story says “…Police say driver fatigue played a role in the collision Sunday that killed 52-year-old Ellen Dittebrand of Mosier…”.

              http://www.oregonlive.com/pacific-northwest-news/index.ssf/2014/08/police_say_driver_fatigue_cont.html

              If after all investigation is completed, ‘driver fatigue’ remains as a key contributing factor to the collision’s occurrence, that would likely exclude ideas some people reading the story may have, that there was intent to collide with the person riding.

              One of the earlier collisions featured in this bikeportland story, also reportedly had driver fatigue cited as a contributing factor. Consider the difficulty in preventing or reducing such collisions by deterring people’s inclination to drive while fatigued. States, through the creation of laws, regulations and penalties, have worked to curb the tendency of some people that drive for the commercial trucking industry, to drive while fatigued.

              Probably in part because the type of driving differs so much from that of commercial driving, people not driving professionally, don’t have similar measures to discourage them from driving fatigued.

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              • 9watts August 25, 2014 at 6:02 am

                “people not driving professionally, don’t have similar measures to discourage them from driving fatigued.”
                Before giving up on this, I’d like to know what the Vision Zero folks have to say about this matter. I could well imagine that social sanctions, penalties, enforcement could go a long way toward curbing this. It is really no different, and perhaps(?) easier, to imagine reining this in than drunk driving.

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            • El Biciclero August 25, 2014 at 11:12 am

              Huh. Didn’t even see this one before:

              ORS 811.060 Vehicular Assault of bicyclist or pedestrian. Who knew? There is a Vehicular Assault law in Oregon…

              …Note again, however that “recklessly” is the standard of operational disregard required for application of this statute. Merely being “careless” absolves one of vehicular assault. Note also that the wording is careful to define assault as contact between the recklessly driven motor vehicle and the pedestrian, rider, or rider’s bicycle. The contact clause would be met in the Toller/Cameron case, but consider that an aggressive driver who merely swerves at a cyclist, causing the cyclist to ditch, or otherwise crash into something else, such as a parked car, etc. could not be accused of vehicular assault. Also note that if contact between an aggressively driven motor vehicle and a bicycle merely results in damage to the bicycle, but not “injury” to the rider, no assault. Again, the law seems carefully crafted to let drivers off the hook in all but the most obviously egregious circumstances.

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  • Lynne August 20, 2014 at 10:09 am
  • K'Tesh August 20, 2014 at 10:17 am

    “… told the investigating trooper that oncoming traffic prevented him from moving to the left as he was approaching the bicyclist.”

    I hope the prosecutor reminds him that if you can’t safely pass you are REQUIRED to not pass until it is safe to do so (and the judge revokes his license for hmmm… 100 years or so).

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    • Alan 1.0 August 20, 2014 at 11:26 am

      A 100 year suspension would be overkill considering that the driver, Aaron Toller, is 86 years old.

      On that collision, the Oregonian reported he was “cited for careless driving” and “Police urged all drivers to be alert for bicyclists and ‘other vulnerable highway users.’” It sounds like ORS 811.135 was used in that case. I wonder why it was not used in the other Oregon cases.

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      • wsbob August 20, 2014 at 7:19 pm

        “…Aaron Toller, is 86 years old.

        On that collision, the Oregonian reported he was “cited for careless driving” …” Alan 1.0

        A couple days ago, I read that in the Oregonian as well, so it’s surprising that the citation wasn’t mentioned in this bikeportland story. Difficult to be very certain relying on brief details in the OSP statement and news stories so far, but it seems there may be solid grounds for the charge. Same with the collision involving a fatigued driver, though no report so far that a citation has been issued to that person.

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    • dan August 20, 2014 at 2:06 pm

      Exactly! This makes my blood boil. If it was a narrow bridge, would he have slowed down and waited his turn? But since all he had to do was hit someone with his truck, why slow down? How is this not manslaughter?

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      • dan August 20, 2014 at 2:07 pm

        Oops, not manslaughter without a fatality, my bad. Still, you see what I’m getting at.

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  • Todd Hudson August 20, 2014 at 10:29 am

    Those motorists to police: “I didn’t see them.”

    Police response: “Well okay then! Though we’re going to have to give you a $150 traffic citation.”

    This is sarcasm, but yet very close to the truth.

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  • 9watts August 20, 2014 at 10:36 am

    I (still) wonder how Christeen Osborn is doing? And whatever happened with Wanda Cortese who ran into her and nearly killed her in broad daylight?

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    • Dan August 20, 2014 at 3:44 pm

      It would be useful to have a shared Google doc where people could post updates on these accidents. I’d like to see the result of the pending enforcement actions, and hear how the victim is doing. These are all unfinished stories.

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      • Dan August 21, 2014 at 12:49 pm

        Jonathan, how about a story reporting on the resolution to these cases, the ones reported here when they happened?

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  • TonyJ August 20, 2014 at 10:42 am

    Don’t forget this one a few weeks ago: http://www.newsregister.com/article?articleTitle=bicyclist-struck-not-seriously-injured–1407269399–14082– It was hot, you know, and she got sleepy. But hey, he had a helmet!

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    • 9watts August 20, 2014 at 10:58 am

      “The impact sent Klein airborne for about 80 feet before he hit the shoulder of the highway and slid/rolled until coming to a rest.”

      Yikes!

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  • Alan 1.0 August 20, 2014 at 10:50 am

    Five in six days! On 10 August in Shelton, WA, a bike tourist from England aiming to cross the US was hit from behind on the first day of his ride. Seriously injured, reports say he will recover. “The Washington State Patrol says the pickup driver swerved to avoid another vehicle and hit 29-year-old Steven Prime, who was riding on the shoulder.”

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  • Nick August 20, 2014 at 10:56 am

    Current sentiment and policy: “F*** the vulnerable.”

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  • Rob Chapman August 20, 2014 at 11:17 am

    Enough is enough. Drivers need to start wondering if bicycle riders are carrying guns. It will help them pay attention when they are behind the wheel.

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  • jeff bernards August 20, 2014 at 11:42 am

    I’ve been bike touring for 42 years, twice around the world. A mirror is a must, it saved my life 3 times on my last trip alone. I wouldn’t go to the grocery store without one. I put mirrors on my girlfriends and her daughters bikes, they reluctantly let me. Now? they wouldn’t go anywhere without one. I have a saying “ONCE YOU GET A MIRROR, YOU’LL NEVER LOOK BACK.”

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    • Librarian August 20, 2014 at 2:10 pm

      I have a mirror and definitely advocate using one, but I also have noticed that when I look back, drivers seem to slow down. It’s as if they’re thinking that my looking back means I’m considering moving in front of them, which is usually the case. But then, I only ride on city streets where drivers are used to having to slow down for traffic, not on highways.

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    • El Biciclero August 20, 2014 at 4:05 pm

      Librarian is correct: looking back is a form of communication with drivers. At the very least it lets them know that you see them, and strangely, sometimes seems to be their first clue that you are a real person, not a “bike”. I agree that mirrors are great and I use one 99% of the time, but sometimes a gratuitous shoulder check lets drivers know you’re a real person—and you might be up to something they need to pay attention to.

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  • GlowBoy August 20, 2014 at 11:50 am

    Coincidentally, my first close call or significant conflict with a car happened two days ago. I was riding for two blocks in the right lane on Farmington Road in central Beaverton (the streets on the north side of the streets don’t align with those on the south side, see) and an impatient driver decided he HAD to pass me NOW, and couldn’t wait 3 seconds for the car in the left lane to go by. I’d thought I was taking the lane, but obviously not sufficiently because he squeezed by me anyway, coming within inches.

    I reported the incident to Beaverton PD, but the reasonably-sympathetic cop said no crime was committed so there’s no thing they can do.

    In other words, “you might as well be a plastic bag blowing down the street” pretty much sums it up.

    Per Rob Chapman’s point above, I have wondered for some time when some cyclists will start packing heat. Not going to do it myself, but I can envision a time when a highly publicized incident or two causes drivers to give us a little more respect.

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    • TK August 20, 2014 at 1:22 pm

      “the reasonably-sympathetic cop said no crime was committed so there’s no thing they can do.”

      Not true. Next time ask the officer to read the drivers manual (see my previous post).

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  • Mick O August 20, 2014 at 11:59 am

    GlowBoy
    <p Not going to do it myself, but I can envision a time when a highly publicized incident or two causes drivers to give us a little more respect.
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    Spoiler alert: Guns won’t solve this

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    • Rob Chapman August 20, 2014 at 12:45 pm

      Drivers aren’t afraid enough of hitting people with their cars and they need to be. If we can help them develop this fear we should.I’m fed up with the disparity of force on the roads. Any suggestions?

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      • El Biciclero August 20, 2014 at 3:42 pm

        Most drivers only fear being injured or wrecking their cars. The threat of a large repair bill and the hassle of getting a vehicle repaired is the only real deterrent to running over things.

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    • Paul Swanson August 20, 2014 at 3:10 pm

      Indeed. And fear isn’t the same thing as respect.

      Video cams would be better, and cheaper. If you capture unsafe passing on video, turn it in to the authorities.

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      • El Biciclero August 20, 2014 at 3:22 pm

        This will not do you any good unless you have a clear shot of the driver’s face so they can be identified.

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        • gutterbunnybikes August 22, 2014 at 7:42 am

          And that needs to change. Tickets should be issued to the owner of the vehicles, regardless of who was driving like parking tickets.

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      • GlowBoy August 20, 2014 at 3:37 pm

        An 808 #16 cam, rather than a gun, is going to be my response to this. Because riding a bike in America is at least as perilous as driving a car in Russia.

        I recognize that optimally you need to be able to identify the driver, but video evidence is a lot more convincing to a jury than a victim’s description of the incident. Regardless of whether a case goes to trial, what really matters at ALL levels of the legal system is what a jury would think.

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    • GlowBoy August 20, 2014 at 3:33 pm

      I’m not so sure of that, Mick. I’m old enough to remember when a spate of highly-publicized freeway shootings across the country caused a LOT of people in many metropolitan areas to change their perspective on how they drove – and specifically, whether they thought it was a good idea to initiate or escalate conflicts with their fellow drivers.

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  • Tim August 20, 2014 at 12:14 pm

    Question for law enforcement-
    Has a driver ever been cited for unsafe passing of a cyclist when they didn’t actually injure the cyclist?

    I suspect that this is another law that is never enforced unless there is a serious injury.

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    • 9watts August 20, 2014 at 12:18 pm

      Only if the unsafely passed person-on-bike was a cop (see rollin’ coal thread here recently).

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  • Andy K August 20, 2014 at 12:25 pm

    Cyclists, you can help increase passing safety by discouraging it where appropriate. Do not encourage unsafe passing on roadways without a bike lane by hugging the curb. Take the center of the lane. This is especially true in areas with right-side hazards like catch basins, debris, and doors.

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    • El Biciclero August 20, 2014 at 12:35 pm

      See my comment above—doesn’t matter what lane position you choose, many drivers will pass, as is their perceived God-given right, regardless of how much discouragement you offer.

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      • Dan August 20, 2014 at 7:07 pm

        Was just passed too closely by a ‘driver’ in a ‘look at me’ orange convertible on Hoyt on the way home tonight. There are stop signs at every intersection in this direction, and I was riding in the middle of the lane at a pace faster than cars drive through here (I know because I’ve been commuting this way for 3 years now, and am frequently stuck behind much slower cars here). I take this road despite all of the stop signs because most ‘drivers’ know that Glisan is faster for them. Of course, right after he gunned it and swerved around me, he had to stop 50 feet ahead at the next stop sign and wait for a bunch of peds in the intersection. I yelled at him for a bit, and he said that I was taking up the whole road and that he rode bikes too. Whoop-de-do.

        I might be coming around on those robot cars. Those things might be a good idea after all.

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      • gutterbunnybikes August 20, 2014 at 10:15 pm

        Yep, but they will nearly always slow down before doing so.

        The sound of cars accelerating to pass after they have slowed down is a large part of the creepy factor for people new to taking the lane. However, it is nearly always a good thing, because it usually means they slowed down before passing. Even if they pass too close, it is at least a sign that they are aware of you.

        If the engine pitch doesn’t change when the car approaches and passes, it means they a haven’t slowed down – which is much more dangerous. It means they are likely to have not noticed you.

        The way the car sounds as it approaches and passes tells you nearly as much as a mirror does, if you know how to listen.

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        • El Biciclero August 21, 2014 at 11:08 am

          Totally. I rely on my rear-view “hearer” almost as much as my rear-view mirror. Sounds indicating the most danger: tires slowing down on my left = right-hook alert; engine revving behind = unsafe pass alert. Most of the time it is something I hear that prompts me to check my mirror.

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    • Mike August 20, 2014 at 1:10 pm

      If it unsafe to pass and a car or cyclist holding up traffic isn’t it required by law for the person impeeding traffic to yield. Taking the lane is fine until there is 5 or 6 cars being held up. This is true for trucks and cars.

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      • dan August 20, 2014 at 2:08 pm

        That’s true, but that law is universally ignored by drivers, as you will know if you’ve ever been behind an RV heading up to Mt. Hood.

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      • El Biciclero August 20, 2014 at 4:21 pm

        The requirement to “yield”, by which you must mean “pull over out of the way”, is conditioned on there being “an area sufficient for safe turnout”. Depending on where you are riding/driving, such areas may not present themselves until several cars are backed up behind you.

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      • Paul in The 'Couve August 20, 2014 at 10:38 pm

        In addition to what El Bicciclero mentioned, “impeding traffic” is an ambiguous definition in Oregon code and specifically does not apply on streets in commercial districts, or on streets where two cars can not pass opposite directions, and is also just generally ambiguous enough that it is difficult to interpret how it applies at all on city streets. On non-arterials, my interpretation is that “impeding traffic” is legally difficult to achieve, riding at anything over 10mph and certainly 15 is fast enough. Not that there are any cops monitoring traffic or enforcing speed limits, much less “impeding traffic” on side streets.

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        • Spiffy August 21, 2014 at 10:16 am

          it also specifically refers to “drivers”…

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      • was carless August 21, 2014 at 1:44 pm

        No, you have to actually yield to the vehicles in FRONT of you, not BEHIND you. As people do not have eyes in the backs of their head and are not generally travelling backwards on a road/street/highway, people driving vehicles need to be aware of where they are going, and steer their vehicle in such a way as to avoid hitting other objects.

        This is basic logic.

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  • Chris I August 20, 2014 at 1:01 pm

    The fact that Aaron Toller was only cited with careless driving is outrageous. He basically admitted that he intentionally hit the rider to avoid oncoming traffic. How is this not reckless driving or even attempted murder? What if the slow vehicle had been a farm tractor? Could he have used the same excuse?

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    • wsbob August 21, 2014 at 9:39 am

      “…He basically admitted that he intentionally hit the rider to avoid oncoming traffic. …” Chris I

      Toller has made no such admission of intentionally colliding with the person riding. His own words do not yet, even appear to have been reported. In this bikeportland story, there is the following, about what Toller reportedly said:

      “…The driver, Aaron Toller, was cited for Careless Driving. According to the OSP, Toller, “… told the investigating trooper that oncoming traffic prevented him from moving to the left as he was approaching the bicyclist.” …” bikportland

      So what things should the person driving have done that he may or may not have done, to avoid colliding with the person on the bike? Rather than by idle theorizing and assumption, through actual interviewing and investigation, the OSP may be able to find the answer to that question.

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      • 9watts August 21, 2014 at 9:54 am

        credulity rears its head.
        wsbob, why would we want to interview Toller, again, about this? Is it conceivable that by now he’d have collected himself enough to answer strategically. Someone in his circle of friends is sure to have reminded him that a far more promising strategy is to say either ‘the sun was in my eyes,’ or ‘he darted into the road in front of me.’

        I’ve never understood your (especially yours but also others’) interest in asking the driver of the car that just ran over or into someone on a bike for their explanation of the situation. You wanted us to ask Wanda Cortese more questions too back then. What could we possibly learn from such an interview, besides the temptation for the driver to answer strategically? I think this sort of rabbit hole is why some countries have a strict liability approach to matters like these.

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        • wsbob August 21, 2014 at 10:11 am

          “…What could we possibly learn from such an interview, …” 9watts

          What may be learned, is information that could lead to an understanding of why the collision occurred. People making assumptions made about somebody they’ve never met or talked with about anything aren’t likely to help towards accomplishing this.

          One of the reasons countries that use the concept of ‘Strict Liability’ to assign liability for the consequences of of collision, may be so they can limit having to look into why collisions occur, or whether people involved in them have violated rules and regulations of the road.

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        • Spiffy August 21, 2014 at 10:19 am

          it’s the difference between assault and negligence…

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  • TK August 20, 2014 at 1:20 pm

    I think a big part of the issue is that people misinterpret the speed limit as a speed you are *entitled* to go, rather than the maximum speed you are *allowed* to go. In the Oregon Drivers Manual (http://www.odot.state.or.us/forms/dmv/37.pdf), the first subheading under Speed Regulations is the Basic Rule Law, which states “you must drive at a speed that is reasonable and cautious for existing conditions.” It further states: “If you drive at a speed that is unsafe for existing conditions in any area, at any time, even if you are driving slower than the speed limit, you are violating the basic rule.” Nothing in the drivers manual implies anything about anyone’s right to go the speed limit at all times.

    Of course I am preaching to the choir here, but I do feel that better awareness of the actual rules-of-the-road would lead to much safer driving. At a minimum, I feel that with every tragic accident, reporters should feel obligated to point out the Basic Rule Law to help inform drivers of the real purpose of the speed limit.

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    • Spiffy August 21, 2014 at 10:21 am

      every speeding driver is well aware that they are breaking the law…

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    • was carless August 21, 2014 at 1:47 pm

      Most people view it as a minimum.

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      • davemess August 22, 2014 at 10:52 am

        driving instructor in my drivers ed class almost 20 years ago basically said as much.

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  • Cheif August 20, 2014 at 1:52 pm

    Assaulting someone on accident or due to negligence should be worse in the eyes of the law than assault on purpose.

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  • Jeff August 20, 2014 at 1:55 pm

    Andy K
    Cyclists, you can help increase passing safety by discouraging it where appropriate. Do not encourage unsafe passing on roadways without a bike lane by hugging the curb. Take the center of the lane. This is especially true in areas with right-side hazards like catch basins, debris, and doors.
    Recommended 1

    Did EXACTLY this yesterday traveling east on SE Salmon (bike boulevard, sharrows, slight downhill so I’m going about the speed limit) with my kid on the back of my longtail. Didn’t help.

    Driver revved around us and cut us off about 20 feet from the stop sign at 11th. I caught her at the stop sign at 12th. There’s a good chance I wouldn’t have reacted at all if it had been just me on the bike. That my kid was riding with me when this happened…let’s just say it was cathartic.

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  • Librarian August 20, 2014 at 2:15 pm

    Before getting a driver’s license, everyone should have to demonstrate they know the rules of the road for vulnerable users as well as cars. Better yet, they should have to spend a month getting around by bike. Didn’t I read recently, maybe on BP, that questions about bicycling law had been added to the Oregon licensing exam?

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    • Paul Swanson August 20, 2014 at 3:08 pm

      Provide bicycling education training in grade school, middle school and high school. Not only would it promote safe cycling, it would prepare the students for safe driving since cyclists must follow the same rules as drivers, with a few exceptions.

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  • Dave August 20, 2014 at 2:18 pm

    Wear neon, use blinkers in daytime and a mirror and remember–hicks in the sticks will drive with their DICKS!!!!!!!!!!

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    • Tim August 21, 2014 at 9:32 am

      What would you call this statement if someone substituted your social group for “hicks”.

      Having ridden extensively in cities and very rural areas, I have found the more rural the friendlier the drivers. In a week long tour of very rural areas of eastern Oregon we had no close passes and over 80% friendly waves.

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  • J August 20, 2014 at 2:36 pm

    The sad thing, for me, is that drivers don’t seem to have any qualms about slowing down for a slow moving tractor, or stopping completely for a deer or livestock.

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    • Chris I August 20, 2014 at 3:10 pm

      Merely because they are concerned about something that might injure them. If they hit a deer or a tractor, there is a decent chance that they will be injured in the process.

      The next time you go to the grocery store, notice how drivers treat you differently when you have a cart in the parking lot and when you don’t have one.

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    • El Biciclero August 20, 2014 at 3:32 pm

      …or for pedestrians when making a right turn across a crosswalk, or for other drivers waiting for an opening to make a left turn, or for other motorists creating such a long queue at a stop light that everyone has to wait more than one signal cycle to proceed through an intersection, or for someone’s dog trotting across the street, or for flaggers at construction sites, or to read freakin’ electronic billboards/freeway signs, or to rubberneck at some kerfuffle on the opposite side of the road, or to search for a parking spot, or wait for a parking spot when they think someone is about to give one up, etc., etc….

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      • Jeff August 20, 2014 at 4:30 pm

        Or sometimes they will stop for no apparent reason whatsoever. Scares the bejeezus out of me. Pass them? They could choose that time to go. Wait? They could back up!

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        • El Biciclero August 21, 2014 at 11:50 am

          Heh. I was illegally taking the lane for safety reasons a few weeks ago and had fallen in behind a car with which I was keeping up, speed-wise. This apparently unnerved the driver to such a degree that she pulled over into the bike lane and stopped, apparently to let me pass…?? Again, if I had been following her on a motorcycle or in another car, she would have kept on her merry way with no problems; but seeing a bike operated as a vehicle (especially at the speed limit of 30) freaked her out too much.

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  • Tim August 20, 2014 at 6:18 pm

    Just noticed this – “Street view of NW 63rd Street in Vancouver. Not much room for error on a road like this.”

    There is at least 60 feet of roadway and 8 feet of shoulder. A car is typically less than 6 feet wide. In most of the world this road is good for at least 10 lanes. So how is there not much room for error?

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    • 9watts August 20, 2014 at 6:25 pm

      ice observation.
      Carhead + poor driver training = need for lots of room to make mistakes all the time?

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      • Tim August 21, 2014 at 9:19 am

        So we agree. It is the driver, not the road that is responsible. I find two way 10-foot wide rural lanes the best riding.

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    • GlowBoy August 20, 2014 at 7:07 pm

      A 6 foot wide car still needs an 11 foot wide lane, just as a 2 foot wide bike needs a minimum 5 foot wide lane.

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      • 9watts August 20, 2014 at 7:15 pm

        “A 6 foot wide car still needs an 11 foot wide lane”

        Really? In Germany there are rural two-way roads that are 9′ wide, including both fog lines. It’s quite eye-opening to realize this when you’re used to our super-wide roads. It all depends on speed, practice, and circumspection.

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  • estherc August 20, 2014 at 8:06 pm

    I don’t understand why choosing to hit someone with your vehicle rather than slowing down isn’t considered some sort of felony assault.

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    • wsbob August 20, 2014 at 8:36 pm

      “I don’t understand why choosing to hit someone with your vehicle rather than slowing down…” estherc

      Assuming that’s what happened in one of the collisions covered in this bikeportland story.

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    • 9watts August 20, 2014 at 9:31 pm

      estherc,

      check out Opus the Poet’s post from July 26, 2012 at 9:14 pm

      http://bikeportland.org/2012/07/26/man-struck-while-bicycling-on-highway-101-south-of-bandon-75176#comment-3095317

      Opus the Poet
      I was just reading the other day that HFB have gone from 1 out of every 22 fatal wrecks to one in four. In my blog i notice that the reported wrecks are even higher than that, about half of the wrecks are hit-from-behind, and a goodly number were people that saw the cyclist but just didn’t move over to pass. The ones where the cyclist gets hit riding off the side of the road, not even on the road, are the most troubling to me because all the driver had to do to not cause a wreck was to stay on the freaking road. Why is it so hard for drivers to stay on the road? And why when drivers hit cyclists that are not on the road do LEO not bother to arrest the driver for criminal incompetence?
      Recommended 1

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      • wsbob August 20, 2014 at 10:08 pm

        “…And why when drivers hit cyclists that are not on the road do LEO not bother to arrest the driver for criminal incompetence?” Opus the Poet

        Anywhere in the U.S., is there even a law for, ‘Criminal Incompetence’, by which a law enforcement officer could arrest someone for such a level of incompetence?

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        • 9watts August 21, 2014 at 9:21 am

          Probably not. What does that tell us?

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  • Joe August 21, 2014 at 9:06 am

    We have to change way ppl drive on these narrow roads, I’m faced with ppl that over react or under react. I’m traffic and transportation too… can we stop blaming the riders and get some of these ppl that shouldn’t be driving of the road. I’ve had ppl use force to make a point passing me? Why? If you take lane some will follow so close and all it takes is on small mishap. So sad this story. Don’t feel the police really hear us out regarding dangerous driving habits.

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  • Dave August 21, 2014 at 9:15 am

    Allow me to suggest a ballot initiative that will certainly not pass, but petitioning for it will generate publicity and PR. The initiative would be to remove all criminal penalties for auto theft and vandalism going by the logic that the state ought not to give the property of drivers any higher regard than drivers give the lives of other road users.

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  • Joe August 21, 2014 at 9:46 am

    Yes its like my car is more important than a human life law. Or I’m in a hurry get out of the way because I’m more important. The US has long way to go before we really understand the modes of bike transportation and respect on the roads that seem to be killing fields.

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  • Joe August 21, 2014 at 11:32 am

    Totally Dave your correct, example in what was country we have a traffic circles and it’s 15mph but drivers will speed past and cut you off before entering. Get to rural roads look out for huge trucks and speeding suv’s some diving habits tell me they will have kids that drive the same as they do. Lotta fokes shun down on cycling in burb area’s because of social pressure to be car centric it’s as if owning one makes you successful or shows wealth. Lol not true! Caged=trapped

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  • My Magic Hat August 21, 2014 at 2:24 pm

    Holy crap! I had no idea riding a bike was so . . . Wait a sec . . . So 4 people on bikes were hit by cars this week STATEWIDE? So, nearly .000167% of Oregon’s bike trips ended in a collision this week? I had no idea riding bikes was so safe!

    So, how many people were injured in cars, bathrooms, and kitchens?

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  • wsbob August 21, 2014 at 4:55 pm

    Pedestrian rather than bike related collision, occurred in June, driver fatigue determined to be a key factor, reported on in the O today:

    http://www.oregonlive.com/portland/index.ssf/2014/08/driver_of_charter_bus_that_str.html

    Person driving was cited for ‘Careless Driving’. It would likely be generally agreed that most people can tell whether they’re tired or fatigued. It would probably be very difficult to determine by test, in a practical way, how much sleep any given person has had, relative to how fit they are, by being absent of fatigue, to safely drive a motor vehicle.

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    • Cheif August 22, 2014 at 2:49 pm

      Driving while under the influence of lack of sleep is just that.. Driving under the influence.

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  • Nicholas Skaggs August 22, 2014 at 10:41 am

    I know it’s late to the party, but last night I came across the Fly6 and thought of this article. It’s a combination taillight and rear-mounted camera in a really sleek, cyclist-oriented package. Cool stuff!

    http://fly6.com/

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  • GlowBoy August 30, 2014 at 8:16 pm

    Oh no, another hit-from-behind collision today, this one fatal:

    http://www.oregonlive.com/pacific-northwest-news/index.ssf/2014/08/cyclist_killed_in_reported_hit.html

    This happened on US 30 near Rainier, which like I-84 where last Sunday’s death occurred, has a very wide shoulder. Personally I’ve always felt safe riding on 30, but obviously even an 8-12′ shoulder isn’t enough when someone drifts over the fog line.

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