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View Full Version : Struck on SE Mill Plain Blvd in Vancouver. (OR 914 CUU)


jr98664
04-09-2009, 12:12 AM
Location: Eastbound SE Mill Plain Boulevard between SE 126th and 131st Aves (http://tinyurl.com/c2p8ec).

At 5:55 pm on April 8th, 2009, I was cycling to Mountain View High School for marching band practice. It's rush hour, so I'm traveling the same speed as all of these cars, taking up the entire width of the right-hand lane (All three lanes are under twelve feet, I believe). Like always, cars are safely and politely passing. Then comes up some jerk who starts honking. I check to see if it's safe and move over a few feet to allow him more room to get out of my way.

He then moved forward, and instead of moving to the left edge of the lane, he buzzed me within inches. Not only that: he then intentionally swerved into me. The car struck the side of my bike, mainly my left hand and handlebars. As he was pushing me into the curb, I lost control of my bike, but was able to leap off before I crashed or anything, luckily saving my bike in the process. Leaving me standing in the middle of the road, he didn't even slow down. The phone was immediately to my ear after having called 112 (it's closer to the send button than 911 and works the same for my phone). Then while on the phone with dispatch, he quickly took the next right off of Mill Plain at 131st Ave. I immediately told them the location and asked for the police. Before I was even off of the phone, an ambulance (I told them not to send one), a full-sized fire truck, and two police cars showed up. Talk about service!

Thankfully, a woman coming home from work witnessed the entire incident and called the cops as well. From her position in the middle lane, she could clearly see the car intentionally swerve into me. She pulled over and thankfully she was also positive of the plate number. I was pretty sure it was OR 341 CUU, but she was positive that it was 914 CUU. My plate came up as stolen, and hers came up as a Honda Prelude, similar to the small black, two-door car that the two white twenty-something men had been driving.

For my first time actually getting hit, I'm pretty happy. My hand is fine, and I don't notice any damage to my bike. At most, I wasn't scared, just deeply shaken. Yet, I was able to ride off twenty minutes later just fine. With the plate and a witness, I'm hoping that the police can track down these guys for hit and run, not to mention unsafe passing of bicycle and improper use of horn.

djasonpenney
04-09-2009, 02:58 AM
I am appalled at the flagrant nature of your assault, but I am relieved that neither you nor your property suffered significant damage.

I am also extraordinarily gratified by the public's response, especially that of the witness who stayed with you. It's too easy for this kind of incident to become a he-said-she-said with no ultimate consequences.

Note that I used the term "assault." This was a careful chosen term. It will be interesting to see how this plays out in the courts. You *will* keep us up to date? It sounds like your assailant can kiss his overseas travel plans good-bye, as a felony conviction for hit-and-run will bar him from having a passport *for life*.

Also, if you can get the assault-and-battery conviction, we can rest easy knowing that his future employment will entail a fry pot and a broom, since he will fail a pre-employment criminal background check.

Oh yes: doesn't hit-and-run also imply a drivers license revocation? Yes! Now *he* is a bicyclist!

Finally, I believe it is important for you to seek legal councel *immediately*. The fact that you are (I believe) a legal minor makes this even more important.

P.S. -- There is thing motorists have called "liability insurance." Can you say "pain and suffering"? There, I *knew* you could. Do you realize that, after your lawyer is done with this twerp, you will have scored a large part of your college education?

djasonpenney
04-09-2009, 04:04 AM
Location: Eastbound SE Mill Plain Boulevard between SE 126th and 131st Aves (http://tinyurl.com/c2p8ec).

[snip]
taking up the entire width of the right-hand lane (All three lanes are under twelve feet, I believe).
[snip]
Then comes up some jerk who starts honking. I check to see if it's safe and move over a few feet to allow him more room to get out of my way.
[snip]


Strictly as a teaching moment--not to second guess your decisions at the moment, or to offer criticism of any kind--if you could do it over again, would you move to the right of that twelve foot lane to encourage the motorist to pass?

K'Tesh
04-09-2009, 09:07 AM
What a story, I'm glad you're OK to tell us!

Hopefully the ASSHATS in the car will be found and soon before they hurt someone, and justice will be served.

Be Safe Out There!
God Bless!
K'Tesh

JeffW
04-09-2009, 10:41 AM
First of all, I'm glad you're ok!
Second, I only live a couple miles from where this took place and often travel a parallel route. I'm curious about your rationale for taking Mill Plain as a opposed to, say, SE 7th. I generally try to avoid Mill Plain altogether--car, bike, run--and thus opt for either SE 7th or McGillivray. Do you find Mill Plain to be faster?

jr98664
04-12-2009, 05:27 PM
I'm curious about your rationale for taking Mill Plain as a opposed to, say, SE 7th. I generally try to avoid Mill Plain altogether--car, bike, run--and thus opt for either SE 7th or McGillivray. Do you find Mill Plain to be faster?

More or less, thanks to the wonders of suburban development patterns, that is precisely the answer. With a cursory glance of my route, it might appear that I'm simply choosing the same route that one would probably drive for lack of time to have devised a better route. It's actually quite the opposite, in that I've carefully analyzed each of my available routes, riding them all multiple times to find the best one.

More or less, my actual route planning begins at the four-way stop at NE 97th and 9th Street (http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&hl=en&q=NE+9th+St+%26+NE+97th+Ave,+Vancouver,+Clark,+Was hington+98664&ie=UTF8&cd=1&geocode=Ffg5uAIdH66x-A&split=0&sll=37.0625,-95.677068&sspn=23.875,57.630033&ll=45.621181,-122.545624&spn=0.042981,0.069695&z=14) to get to one of the two main driveways of Mountain View High School (http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&source=s_q&hl=en&geocode=&q=1500+SE+Blairmont+Dr,+Vancouver,+WA+98683&sll=45.621181,-122.545624&sspn=0.042981,0.069695&ie=UTF8&ll=45.621181,-122.545624&spn=0.042981,0.069695&z=14). Let's look at my options:

Looking at the Vancouver bike map, the first obvious route would be to take 97th south to 10th, which then turns into McGillivray. Unfortunate, this route has quite a few things going against it. Right off of the bat, 97th between 9th and Mill Plain isn't that great. The map says it has bike lanes, but that's not the case: at one point, it narrows down to no more than twenty feet of pavement. Even worse, this point is at a the crest of hill. While I could care less about bike lanes, it's not a good thing. Strike one. At the other end of the route, it would also involve a left turn into the school, including a left turn at a four-way stop sign that gets very backed up in the morning. While there are bike lanes here, the only help me avoid traffic if I'm going straight. Strike two. To avoid that nasty left turn, I would have to go down to Parkcrest, which while it has bike lanes, would bring me through two more four-way stops, bringing the total to at least 7 four-way stops and the longest distance of any of the routes at about 4.7 miles. By comparison, all of the other routes have a bike lane right up to a right turn into one of the school's driveways. Strike three.

The next option you presented was SE 7th Street. I have a couple of problems with this route. It would be a little out of the way to get to 7th by route of 97th and 10th, so I would probably end up taking NE 9th to 112th/Chkalov. Unfortunately, there are a couple of problems with 112th and Chkalov. I'm on the committee responsible for making 112th Ave and Chkalov into the City of Vancouver's next safety corridor, and let me tell you, Chkalov is one of the most dangerous stretches of any road that I know of in Vancouver. The lanes on NE 112th are actually under 10 ft. wide in most places. While I have no problem taking the entire lane, some cars don't seem to enjoy me being safe. Worse is the enormous intersection of Mill Plain and Chkalov. Not only is it the largest and most likely the most dangerous in all of Vancouver, it takes sometimes as long as two minutes to get through heading southbound. Now 7th would seem tame in comparison, but the bike lane actually disappears for a short stretch (I would much rather have none than one that isn't continuous). The very same speed cushions that are suppose to calm traffic on 7th also make it that much more dangerous. I'm not entirely sure why, but the speed cushions do no extend very far into the bike lane. While this makes it smoother for bikes, it almost seems to let cars think it's okay to quickly veer into the bike lane to avoid the need to slow down. When I mentioned this to the engineer with the City who was actually responsible for their design, he found this surprising as something that he had never considered. Even more surprising to him was when he asked about cars doing it in front of a cyclist. He said he would never do it, especially after having just passed a cyclist, and was very surprised that a car had come within three feet of hitting me while doing it on my ride there that day. On top of that, the way from 136th to Parkcrest is rather crooked, and littered with stop signs. At almost 4.35 miles long, this route was never seriously considered for my daily commute.

My usual route of NE 9th to 136th is much nicer in comparison. NE has relatively little through traffic with speed cushions and surprisingly enough with sharrows. Yes, sharrows! On top of that, there is a shoulder/parking lane the entire way from 112th to 136th that is usually empty of parked cars almost the entire way. It's also rather nice riding past a foggy cemetery and a few fields every morning. As calm as this road is, it's usually the nicest part of my morning commute. Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end, and I must turn onto 136th Ave. Looking at the map, this would appear to be a good bike route. Think again: the bike lanes are only four-feet wide at their widest. As I have mentioned before, a high schooler on a bike was killed on this stretch of road about two years ago. As soon as the road curves towards Mill Plain, there's no way you're going to find me in the bike lane, especially as I will be making a left turn onto Mill Plain at the light. With a good deal of traffic turning left at the light, I would say that the left turn arrow is often times on longer than the green for heading straight. While this puts me on Mill Plain for half of a mile, I do avoid the out of the way, stop-sign-ridden side streets. Ideally, 9th street would connect to Hearthwood Boulevard on the east end, and let me avoid 136th and Mill Plain altogether, but it looks like these plans were axed thanks to the City's financial situation. At exactly 4.2 miles, this is my preferred route if I'm not in a hurry, clocking in within a minute either way of about 18 minutes.

At exactly 3.9 miles, however, Mill Plain can be a great deal quicker. With the usual green wave, I can shave off at least two minutes this way, bringing it sometimes as low at only 13 minutes. With only one or two stop signs, this route is also a great way to wake my muscles up in the morning. Once I get onto Mill Plain, the closest I get to stopping isn't even having to do a track stand. I'm still in the process of analyzing whether it's quicker to get on Mill Plain at 97th, or go over to 104th first, but either way, I seem to end up riding the front edge of a green wave almost the entire way.

Like I said before, I really have no problem just taking the entire right hand lane of most any road. I've even done it on the freeway when necessary. In most situations, I would even prefer if there weren't bike lanes in the first place. As assertive as I tend to be while cycling, I really have no issue of taking Mill Plain for two miles between 104th and Parkcrest Avenues. Most drivers are perfectly capable of passing safely.

On Mill Plain, along with most busy, multi-lane arterials, I find that thanks to the imperfection of human calculation so far as traffic flow is concerned, there are only really two types of traffic. The first is what I ride in on Mill Plain most often, and that's under-capacity traffic. At this point, there aren't even enough cars to need more than the lanes in which I am not riding. Because of human error, traffic rarely ever seem to flow at maximum capacity for very long. As soon as this happens, you go to rush-hour, or over-capacity traffic. In this case, cars are using all three lanes, but at speeds no faster than my 25 mph. In either of these situations, my presence does not slow down the other motorists any significant amount. It's only a problem when they make it one, as these idiots did. As it was their fault, I still can't find a good reason to stay off of Mill Plain. Often times, I would actually go so far as to say that I usually enjoy riding on Mill Plain. Then again, maybe it's just the adrenaline from drafting behind an (off-duty) ambulance saying that. :cool:

JeffW
04-12-2009, 10:22 PM
I hope you don't think I was chastising you for taking Mill Plain--I wasn't, I was simply curious. :) I've only been been in the area for about a year and half and very rarely go north of Mill Plain (by any mode of transport), so I can't speak to knowledge of the facilities and/or safety there. I'm all for taking the lane when the conditions warrant it, and do so in a few spots along my commute, most notably WB SE McGillivray @ Chkalov to prevent a right hook.
My commute through Vancouver is pretty simple: from roughly SE 15th St & SE 103rd to HP. The most direct route is McGillivray to whatever the street past Burgerville is and then threading through to 29th and then down 176th. I deviate on the way home by continuing past 164th on 29th until it intersects w/ McGillivray. Yeah, all the stops on McGillivray suck, but I find it keeps me from zoning out. The route rarely warrants such situational awareness, but I'm usually glad I'm alert when I notice someone getting ready to buzz me (usually only two types of vehicles: either an Escalade or a bimbo box). Quick sprints from the stop signs can add a little variety if I get bored. It's 4.8 miles and being fat and out of shape on an old, crusty, fredly mountain bike, I can usually manage in about 22 minutes depending on the 3 stop lights. When I take my wife's Oma, it's closer to 32, but I arrive much less sweaty. :D

jr98664
04-13-2009, 09:24 AM
I hope you don't think I was chastising you for taking Mill Plain--I wasn't, I was simply curious. :) I've only been been in the area for about a year and half and very rarely go north of Mill Plain (by any mode of transport), so I can't speak to knowledge of the facilities and/or safety there. I'm all for taking the lane when the conditions warrant it, and do so in a few spots along my commute, most notably WB SE McGillivray @ Chkalov to prevent a right hook.
My commute through Vancouver is pretty simple: from roughly SE 15th St & SE 103rd to HP. The most direct route is McGillivray to whatever the street past Burgerville is and then threading through to 29th and then down 176th. I deviate on the way home by continuing past 164th on 29th until it intersects w/ McGillivray. Yeah, all the stops on McGillivray suck, but I find it keeps me from zoning out. The route rarely warrants such situational awareness, but I'm usually glad I'm alert when I notice someone getting ready to buzz me (usually only two types of vehicles: either an Escalade or a bimbo box). Quick sprints from the stop signs can add a little variety if I get bored. It's 4.8 miles and being fat and out of shape on an old, crusty, fredly mountain bike, I can usually manage in about 22 minutes depending on the 3 stop lights. When I take my wife's Oma, it's closer to 32, but I arrive much less sweaty. :D

No worries, Jeff, I never took it as such. I've actually just been waiting for a chance to write down all of the reasons why I've chosen my route for myself, but I've never found a reason until now. Thanks for the prompt. I've always thought it funny how much thought and analysis I can put into finding the best route. My old commute from Fisher's Landing was actually down to the best combination of the shortest distance and the minimum number of stop signs at which I wasn't taking a right (for the reason that it's usually much quicker to take a right than going straight or left.)

The most interesting part is that I actually used to live right along your commute route, and in between my apartment at SE 168th & 29th and Briarwood & McGillivray, it would appear that I took the exact same route, just in reverse. I waited every morning for a year at the light at 164th & 29th, I even have a scene in a short film of mine where I'm waiting there. (If I haven't posted the film, "An Epic Ride" before, you might want to remind me to do so later. It has quite a few scenes of cycling in Portland that everyone might enjoy.) The funny thing is that for the year that I lived there, I never even noticed that there was a bike lane at that light until some RACC riders were waiting it, to the right of the right turn lane—I always just sat on the sensors in the through lane. I've called and talked with the city about fixing this, but unfortunately, it's not paving season yet. (They'll also be ruining my effectively 11-foot-wide bike lane on EB SE 15th St this spring—don't remind me..) I always looked forward to powering up the short slope on Village Loop, only to get cut off almost daily when taking a left at McGillivray. On the way home, I would just take McGillivray to 166th Ave (Are the trucks still illegally parking here?) and then across 29th home. While we're on the subject, have you ever had problems being detected heading EB on McGillivray at 164th? At night, I would never be detected, as I didn't see sensors in either the bike lane or through lane. Again, I've called the city about this, but who knows whether they've dealt with it or not.

On a side note, for most of my cycling, I took stayed south of Mill Plain as well. Until you get a ways out, you're really not missing all that much. ;)