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Matt P.
01-30-2007, 09:02 AM
This morning I had my first ever collision with another cyclist, on the Springwater Trail just east of the bridge over McLoughlin.

Details:

Crash Location: 45 degrees, 27 minutes, 34.6 seconds N latitude, 122 degrees, 38 seconds, 30.8 seconds W longitude. Roughly near the intersection of SE Clatsop and McLoughlin, about 10m east of the east end of the Springwater bridge over McLoughlin.

Crash Time and Direction: Approximately 7am, January 30th, 2007. I was overtaking the other rider, both of us were westbound on the trail.

Conditions: Dark but not full night. Visibility clear to about 20', diffuse out to about 100'. No clouds, dry pavement, no precipitation. Roadway was a paved chipseal path approximately 8' across, with about 2-3' of grassy shoulder on each side, flanked by a steep (45 degree or more) embankment dropping more than 20' to either side.

Safety Equipment: He had operating lights and a helmet, but no rear mirror. I had operating lights, helmet, bell and mirror. I used the bell as audible warning of my impending pass.

Cause(s) of Crash: There were 4 factors that caused the crash. First, I was riding very fast - closure speed was approximately 20mph. Second, the other rider crossed the centerline and moved all the way to the left of the lane without checking behind him for other cyclists. Third, the other rider did not signal his intent to turn right, nor that he was slowing down. (At this point there was enough light for me to make out hand signals) Fourth, and the immediate cause of the crash, I passed on the right.

Notes: By the time I realized that the other rider was going to continue drifting all the way left and leave me with no room to pass, my options had narrowed to A: Maximum braking (unsafe), B: Continue left onto the grassy shoulder (unsafe, and likely to put me over and down the embankment), or C: Pass on the right. I chose C, and had I reached him 1 second earlier, I would have passed him without contact, though I would have scared the heck out of him. He and I both broke cardinal rules of cycling, which is the real cause of the crash, but it would have been better had I been riding slower.

Jonathan Maus
01-30-2007, 11:22 AM
dang Matt,
sorry to hear about that. thanks for the detailed report.

Matt P.
01-30-2007, 09:18 PM
Actually, this crash has inspired me - I may start cataloguing the various safety issues on the Springwater Trail and write something up to send the Parks Department. This accident also would not have happened if the ramp from the trail to McLoughlin was properly designed. It's much harder to approach the ramp from the east than from the west, and you have to slow down so much that balance becomes an issue. Bad balance on a narrow trail with no guardrails and a tight switchback on the side of a steep embankment with a fence in the ravine at the bottom is not my idea of a safe ramp.

There's also the sinkhole at the east end of the bridge over Johnson Creek at Tideman Johnson nature area, the lack of reflective paint on the railing for the new path into the nature area, the deteriorating reflective paint on the anti-car posts at the trail/road junctions, the lack of consistent signage and markings, the use of chipseal rather than "real" asphalt, the degraded road surface east of 82nd, the lack of warning signs for cars that enter and leave the parking lots for Precision Cast (and the shrunken and less visible stop signs), and the lack of a pedestrian signal at Johnson Creek Blvd.

I'm sure there's more I haven't thought of yet, or have forgotten.

Thanks for the concern re: the crash. I'm okay, just minorly dinged up. And the bike is virtually unmarked. (though I had to spend 5 minutes finding my GPS, which flew out of its holder and tried unsuccessfully to sail over the little bluff down to McLoughlin)

mike_khad1
01-31-2007, 06:26 AM
Just my two cents. I ride the springwater most every day - Sunnyside road to Lloyd Center. Re- "20 mph closure". Assuming the cyclist ahead was doing 10 mph and you were doing 30 mph. I don't think that is a safe speed on a multiuse path. There are families walking with toddlers (some with reflectors, most without), people walking unleashed dogs, and on occasion, my 8 year old daughter on her bicycle. 30 mph on a streetside bike lane is one thing but on the multiuse path it is another.

Attornatus_Oregonensis
01-31-2007, 08:16 AM
Just my two cents. I ride the springwater most every day - Sunnyside road to Lloyd Center. Re- "20 mph closure". Assuming the cyclist ahead was doing 10 mph and you were doing 30 mph. I don't think that is a safe speed on a multiuse path. There are families walking with toddlers (some with reflectors, most without), people walking unleashed dogs, and on occasion, my 8 year old daughter on her bicycle. 30 mph on a streetside bike lane is one thing but on the multiuse path it is another.

Also unsafe is people walking without reflectors after dark, people walking unleashed dogs, parents not providing appropriate supervision of children, and pedestrians generally being unaware of the fact that they are not the only people on the trail.

My daily commute on the Springwater has taught me that, although there are many less than ideal physical conditions at various points along the trail, the major risk factor for accidents is trail users, both pedestrians and cyclists, being unaware of what's behind them and consequently unaware of the fact that, if they move rapidly laterally in either direction, but generally to the left, there is a distinct possibility of being hit by a cyclist.

This lack of awareness underscores the need for cyclists to use bells when passing, which is something I believe Matt said that he did. Again, my experience has been that, even when you use your bell (and mine is pretty loud), people are still often unaware. In fact, I have had several experiences in which I have repeatedly and constantly rung my bell for ~ 50 yards while approaching people who are obliviously occupying the entire trail only to find that it is not until I am right next to them before they realize that they are blocking my route, and frequently the entire trail.

When I ride into work at 6am, at certain dark points on the trail I am often mere feet from joggers (10-15 feet) before I am able to see them clearly even though I have a fairly strong front light.

Both pedestrians and cyclists need to be more aware of their surroundings on the trail. Even very slow speeds are unsafe if people are oblivious to their surroundings. It stands to reason that, on a multi-use trail, cyclists have a right to actually use the trail by riding at such a speed that allows them to get adequate exercise or to efficiently reach their destination. Let's not slow cyclists down simply because people behave recklessly -- if people observe proper safety precautions, there is no need for a strict speed limit. If people refuse to observe proper safety precautions, cyclists might as well dismount and walk their bikes.

JayS.
01-31-2007, 01:44 PM
Sorry to hear about your accident. I'm glad everyone is ok.
I have a bell but rarely use it. I find it much more effective to announce "bike (or bicycles) on your left" or some such thing. I get a much more immediate response and convey more info than "ding,ding". I can also warn people from further away because a voice carries better than a bell. Ether way it seems most folks look over there left shoulder to see what is approaching and how fast. This brings them further to the left before they step to the right. Of course sometimes they look over the right shoulder.

How do the rest of you feel about bell or horn instead of voice .

JayS.

Jonathan Maus
01-31-2007, 02:41 PM
it's not a matter of what you use, it's simply being courteous.

whatever you use it should be considerate of other people. a loud bell moments before passing doesn't do all that much good...and a quick bark of "on your left" can also be rude.

It's a matter of being tactful and nice as you pass and never speeding closely past someone until you are sure they know you're there.

assumptions can lead to collisions.

Haven_kd7yct
01-31-2007, 03:59 PM
I have a bell, and I use it.

I also use my voice, after giving the ol' bell the ding several times. Most people "get it" after hearing the dinging and verbal warning, and actually thank me for the warning.

However, most casual bike users (read: most of the bike users on the off-street trails) don't a)know what a dinging bell means; b) understand "on your left" (I've had people swerve to their left thinking that's what I mean, I understand this is a European thing); and c) aren't paying any attention to anything outside of their individual experience.

When I ride on the streets, I have less of a problem with the peds/other cyclists. Probably because being on the road one must pay more attention to one's surroundings to avoid injury. Threat of pain appears to be a good motivator in this instance! :)

Anyway, Matt, hope you are doing better, and I hope your experience continues to motivate you! :)

Kristen

jami
01-31-2007, 09:43 PM
matt p., hope you weren't hurt badly. 20 mph seems like a bad speed to fall off one's bike at. sounds like mr. meandering-left misinterpreted your bell as a call to go right in a hurry. whoops.

taking the thread tangent embarked upon by others, i don't think pedestrians and small children owe us anything. they shouldn't have to wear reflectors or listen for bells or even stay right. walking is their right. nature intended it. if we bikes start to get angry with them for exercising basic rights that prevent us riding at top speed, we're not much better than cars that tell us we "belong" on the sidewalk because they need to get to the mcdonalds twenty seconds faster.

it would be nice if there were a place extra-speedy bikers could go that would have neither cars to mow them down nor pedestrians and clueless doot-de-doo bikers (like me) to get mowed down. if any city's gonna do bike freeways, it'll be portland. for now, we share.

Attornatus_Oregonensis
02-01-2007, 08:18 AM
i don't think pedestrians and small children owe us [cyclists] anything. ... for now, we share.

Yes, there is always going to be more than one user on the trail, regardless of whether they're walking, rollerblading, riding, or crawling. That's why both the law and common sense dictate that we all exercise reasonable prudence when using the trail. That's why a reasonable pedestrian would look over his or her shoulder before darting across the trail. He or she would have reason to know that a cyclist may be approaching from behind. Likewise, that's why a reasonable cyclist would use a bell or voice when passing. We all owe each other a duty to exercise reasonable care. You may disagree with that, but you cannot change it. The alternative policies will either increase accidents or spoil everybody's fun.

mike_khad1
02-01-2007, 09:02 AM
I feel there is a fundamental difference between the way I ride on the bike lane on the side of a road to the way I ride on the Springwater Corridor or the I-205 Bike Path. In essence, on the multi-use paths, I am the "car" and I need to watch out for the other users. Even if the other users are not being as responsible as I'd like - no reflectors, no leash, etc. - that doesn't eliminate my need to ride in a safe manner.

Attornatus_Oregonensis
02-01-2007, 09:39 AM
I feel there is a fundamental difference between the way I ride on the bike lane on the side of a road to the way I ride on the Springwater Corridor or the I-205 Bike Path. In essence, on the multi-use paths, I am the "car" and I need to watch out for the other users. Even if the other users are not being as responsible as I'd like - no reflectors, no leash, etc. - that doesn't eliminate my need to ride in a safe manner.

I can't see why anything would ever eliminate your obligation to ride in a safe manner. All users have the responsibility to "watch out for the other users," regardless of what form of transport they are using or where they are.

jwdoom
02-01-2007, 10:59 AM
taking the thread tangent embarked upon by others, i don't think pedestrians and small children owe us anything. they shouldn't have to wear reflectors or listen for bells or even stay right. walking is their right. nature intended it. if we bikes start to get angry with them for exercising basic rights that prevent us riding at top speed, we're not much better than cars that tell us we "belong" on the sidewalk because they need to get to the mcdonalds twenty seconds faster.

They owe us exactly the two things Jonathan mentioned, courtesy and tact. Which we also owe them. If you're doing anything at night you need to make yourself visible. It's just stupid not to. "Rights" have nothing to do with it. Morons (permanent or temporary) who insist on being fashionably ninjalike on the Springwater, or the Eastbank or the 205 bikepath certainly do not have the right to become human caltrops that injure themselves and cyclers

Simple Nature
02-01-2007, 07:05 PM
Okay, Death Race 2000 is a an excellent cult flic that glorifies the sport of "Tag" with your fellow citizens. But this is only a movie!

MUP's are what we wish roads could be... safe places to wander and explore at our leasure. There will always be one among a dozen that wants to push the limits and feel the peel of the tires on curves or just let it all hang out on a particularly fun patch... Fact is, children will be children... hense, watch for children signs... Gabbin' housewives will always be in their own little world owning everything within site as their world (note: they don't have eyes in the back of their heads)... Our older generation may on occation have trouble processing what is going on in their space much less lack the ability to react... and of course, the youth with their iPods deafening their senses pre-maturely. Then you have the multitude of cyclists in all their own glories (and dreams) likely catching that arobic buzz thereby closing in their senses.

This is the reality of where you are. This is not a road or freeway... Thank GOD our freeways are more sane than what we deal with on the MUPs.

THERE IS NO ROOM ON THE MUP AT 30 MPH WHEN OTHERS ARE PRESENT! THERE ARE NO COMMON RULES OF THE ROAD... Deal with it!

If you wanna go fast, ride with the cars... If you wanna respect your neighbor, slow down to their speed... be respectful... and ALWAYS assume the person in front of you will make the wrong move at the right time. ALWAYS! No one has a right to overtake another on a MUP unless and UNTIL it is safe to do so. Besides... is it not more excersize to slow (WAY) up for a pass and then get back up to speed WHEN THE COAST IS CLEAR?

I don't care how wide the path is, people will do the dumbest things... Seen it, done that, been there!

BTW, glad you are both okay!

Matt P.
02-22-2007, 11:23 AM
This is a late reply, but I thought I should address a few comments as to speed and multi-use paths.

The difference in speed in my case was about 20mph - I was traveling 22-24mph just before the crash (not an accident, it was preventable) began to unfold. At impact I was traveling I would guess 8-9mph.

There is no numerical speed limit AFAIK on multi-use paths. There is, however, safe for conditions. I don't ride 20+ mph around pedestrians. I do ride 20mph around other cyclists, because usually they ride predictably in a straight line at 10-12 mph. A 10mph closure rate is safe under most circumstances. The day of the crash, I could see well past my stopping distance in both directions. We were the only 2 trail users within sight. The pavement was clear and dry, the sky was clear and dry. If road conditions had been worse, I'd have been riding slower. If there were additional cyclists besides the one, I'd have been riding slower. Had he been riding erratically, I'd have been riding slower. Had there been any pedestrians anywhere nearby, I'd have been riding slower and giving them a WIDE berth.

My mistakes were not slowing down more when he cut into my lane, and passing him on the right, and not giving enough audible warnings. That wasn't enough to cause the crash, though. His mistakes were not looking behind for other cyclists before moving left, going WAY left of the centerline to make his turn, and not signalling that he was going to turn. The combination of all those factors is why the crash took place. If I'd realized an instant sooner how slow he was actually moving, I would have slowed down in response, and I might have realized he intended to turn.

I absolutely agree that if there are other trail users nearby, one should slow to a reasonable speed, and I think Mike is right on with that. I also think that under most circumstances a 10mph closure rate is perfectly safe. My high rate of closure stems from misreading his speed. This is exactly why we have hand signals in the first place.

Thanks for everyone's concern over my well-being. I had a large black bruise on my hip for 2 weeks, and my wrist hurt for a while, but I am ok and completely recovered. Neither bike sustained any damage and the other guy wasn't injured.

Oh, and to jami's comment about pedestrians not owing anyone anything: Yes, they absolutely have to be aware of their surroundings -looking around them and listening around themselves. There are lots of things that can harm and kill pedestrians and especially children - if you aren't aware of your surroundings then you deserve whatever happens. Sure, nature intended them to walk. Nature also intended them to be eaten by predators, hit by lightning, struck by falling rocks, etc, et. al. Watch two kids collide into each other at full speed or watch a runner slam into an elderly woman walking on the same path who suddenly turns left to walk to the fence and feed the ducks. We *all* have a responsibility to watch out for everyone else. I was watching out for the guy I hit, but apparently not enough. I'll be riding slower in the early mornings now that I know my ability to judge the speed of cyclists is impaired at twilight.

Matt P.
02-22-2007, 11:38 AM
This is the reality of where you are. This is not a road or freeway... Thank GOD our freeways are more sane than what we deal with on the MUPs.

THERE IS NO ROOM ON THE MUP AT 30 MPH WHEN OTHERS ARE PRESENT! THERE ARE NO COMMON RULES OF THE ROAD... Deal with it!

Have you driven freeways recently? I dispute that they are more sane - people cutting other people off at 55mph, changing 3 lanes to catch an exit at the last second, etc. If there are *any* screw-ups at that speed, everyone involved gets seriously injured or dies. MUP fatalities are exceedingly rare, and even injuries are very uncommon.

Oh, and there *are* common rules of the road - stay to the right except when passing, obey all traffic signs and signals, don't drive too fast for conditions. The last one is the problem, since it requires a judgement call. The other two are fairly ironclad. These rules apply to MUP just as they do to roads.

Just because everyone disobeys the common rules doesn't mean they don't exist. I think a big problem is that parents don't train their kids to be cautious on the trails like they do to be cautious in the street.

PDXOutdoors
09-27-2011, 02:25 PM
I'm consistently amazed that there aren't MORE collisions on these paths. I find it dangerous that there aren't center lines painted on all multi-use paths. Most users seem fairly courteous and stay to the right, look around them when changing direction, and signal when possible, but there is a large minority of what I like to call "bear snacks" in public thoroughfares of all kinds, and I think that clear marking of lanes of travel would do a LOT to remind all of us that at most we're entitled to only half the path for our travel.

Are there any other threads here that discuss this issue? I'm thinking of starting a campaign to get some paint down, at least in the high-density areas like the Waterfront, and certain stretches of Springwater.

wsbob
09-27-2011, 04:15 PM
I'm consistently amazed that there aren't MORE collisions on these paths. I find it dangerous that there aren't center lines painted on all multi-use paths. Most users seem fairly courteous and stay to the right, look around them when changing direction, and signal when possible, but there is a large minority of what I like to call "bear snacks" in public thoroughfares of all kinds, and I think that clear marking of lanes of travel would do a LOT to remind all of us that at most we're entitled to only half the path for our travel.

Are there any other threads here that discuss this issue? I'm thinking of starting a campaign to get some paint down, at least in the high-density areas like the Waterfront, and certain stretches of Springwater.


Maybe start a discussion thread in the 'General Discussion' subforum, titled something on the order of 'MUP Functionality, Issues and Ideas'; your choice, of course.

MUP use in some settings, has morphed beyond the uses that likely were imagined by the people that designed and built them. I think MUP design and construction probably was always carried out with the idea they'd be used to some degree by commuters, but not sure that the degree imagined, included great numbers of very serious commuters, mixed in with leisurely riding recreational riders, ambling about from one side of these paths to the other, often unexpectedly across the paths of commuters.

More people taking up bikes for commuting will likely be gravitating to MUP's like the Waterfront Greenway Trail and the Springwater Corridor Trail. Bikeportland's editor/publisher just posted a story about this on the front page today (I haven't read it yet.). People are very likely going to have plenty of ideas about how MUP's upgrades or designs should evolve, so it this could be a very good discussion to present in a more visible location in the forums.