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  #1  
Old 08-05-2011, 02:47 PM
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Default Rear-ended on West Union

This link from OregonLive has comments that overwhelmingly lay fault at the feet of the cyclists, which is typical out here.
I know many of you ride our roads for commuting, recreation, camaraderie and because its so beautiful, that I'd like you to weigh in.

Please keep the discourse civil and honor the memory of Diego Reyes.
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Old 08-05-2011, 05:44 PM
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It is a rather sad event and my condolences to all involved.

If the incident was indeed 1/2 mile before the intersection, IIRC, the incident, westbound, would have been right over a hill, not a curve... A hill that gives me chills every time I summit it because of the simple fact that once over the rise, you disappear.

It is my hope that rather than comments leading to fault, that our legislators start realizing that "slow moving vehicles" like bicycles really deserve their own lane, especially if normal traffic patterns are considered "impeded" by cyclists. What is 4 more feet of asphalt if it can save a life? These roads are maintained regularly... some legislation that requires the extra roadway at the time of service would go a long way to making "sharing the road" a reality.
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Old 08-05-2011, 05:55 PM
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Hal, as you're likely well aware, extreme comments at oregonlive are par for the course. When I checked the 29 comments to the story you posted the link to, there were some of them laying fault to the people riding bikes, but there were others, including yours, holding the driver of the vehicle responsible, as well as other factors.
I believe the O has posted published four, maybe five stories about this collision so far within the last few days. Some of the comments to the first stories were particularly dumb, hard core O regular simple minded remarks. This particular story you posted the link to had at least some people that seemed sincerely interested in understanding why and how the collision occurred, and what could be done to avoid similar ones in future.

In comments to bikeportland's main page story, a number of people have been skeptical that the 'around 9pm' (sunset reported as 8:35 by other people commenting.) time when the collision occurred was really significantly dark enough for visibility of the people on bikes due to lack of daylight to have been a cause of the collision. That's a fair question.

Other people have maintained that since Oregon law allows the option of a light or a reflector on the rear of the bike, a reflector should be enough visibility for an alert motor vehicle road user to notice people riding bikes after sunset on 55mph country roads unlit by street lamps.

It seems kind of a pointless exercise to try and assign fault in this collision, to one party or the other, when some very fundamental realities of the road situation in question haven't been acknowledged and prepared for in advance, by the people that were involved in this collision and that were using the road. Traveling out there, it's obvious these roads are country roads, two lane. I don't know about how the roads are posted for speed. No signs generally means basic rule.

The people on the bikes and the person driving the vehicle were most likely aware of all the above. Both were likely loosely acknowledging what should have been fairly obvious to them about the road they were traveling. Maybe the person driving the motor vehicle should have only been driving 20mph as he approached the curve, even though the road allows the basic 55. Just guessing, there's probably very few people on bikes on the road past sunset. An alert person driving a vehicle on the road would probably notice something like this, and take it as a sign that traveling the basic speed around a corner that his vehicle could comfortably handle, was safe. And then, he suddenly comes upon two people in the main lane (that's the way I remember reading the description of how the people on bikes were spread out across the road before the collsion. I believe it was reported that one of the people may have been riding to the right of the fog line.).

Would the people on bikes not have been aware that the occasional motor vehicles passing them at this time of night, were traveling very fast? Assume that they were aware of this, and that they'd prepared in advance for the ride by going beyond the minimum legal requirement, all having bright planet bike tail lights, or super bright Dinotte tail lights, maybe reflective vests and what not too.

Assume they had all this gear. Rounding the corner at...let's say 55mph...is the chance that the driver would not have hit these people on bikes better? No difference? Assume the person driving the vehicle, despite the people on bikes having all this visibility gear...had still collided with the people on bikes. How might the response to the collision and the inclination to assign fault have been different.

When all is said and done, it's still an area of unlit country roads where anyone choosing to ride or drive, needs to prepare for the attendant conditions. It's probably going to be a long while before these roads get equipped with street lights (and besides...who really wants those ugly things out in the country?), bike lanes, or even wide shoulders.

If these country roads are to be safe and functional for everyone, some extra give and take, beyond what's legally required or allowed, is going to have to be drawn upon, by all types of road users out there.

Last edited by wsbob; 08-05-2011 at 06:00 PM.
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Old 08-05-2011, 06:15 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Simple Nature View Post
It is a rather sad event and my condolences to all involved.

If the incident was indeed 1/2 mile before the intersection, IIRC, the incident, westbound, would have been right over a hill, not a curve... A hill that gives me chills every time I summit it because of the simple fact that once over the rise, you disappear.

It is my hope that rather than comments leading to fault, that our legislators start realizing that "slow moving vehicles" like bicycles really deserve their own lane, especially if normal traffic patterns are considered "impeded" by cyclists. What is 4 more feet of asphalt if it can save a life? These roads are maintained regularly... some legislation that requires the extra roadway at the time of service would go a long way to making "sharing the road" a reality.
Just noticed a comment to the main page story, posted by someone that says they rode to and inspected the crash site today. It's a little hard to follow, but worth reading: person commenting Kaitu, bikeportland main page story re West Union Jackson Quarry collision
"...The scene of the accident wasn't straight or flat. All the news outlets just mark the West Union/Jackson Quarry intersection but it was about 1/4 mile away from there where the conditions are very different. It was on the uphill run going into a left turn with yellow warning arrows. Judging from the skids and debris I saw today, they were about 2/3 of the way up the hill and well into the curve which means he would just have been starting the turn when he encountered them. ..." Kaitu
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Old 08-05-2011, 08:45 PM
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Default Basic Rule 811.100

My condolences to all the families faced by tragedy this week. It has been a bad week for bikes and pedestrians around the Northwest.

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No signs generally means basic rule.
Good point. I hadn't looked it up in ORS before. Basic Rule 811.100 specifically covers both unposted roads with a speed limit based on the type of road (rural, business, residential, etc) and actual maximum safe speed--below that limit--based on a judgement of "reasonable and prudent" including "Visibility" and "Any other conditions then existing" (and more, but those two fit this case).

Personally, that law seems like a good fit for collisions such as this one or the guy who hit Joey Harrington. I really think drivers (and riders too, if they're at fault) should be ticketed routinely in collisions, whether it's for "following too close" like Harrington or the Basic Rule in this case. I don't say that with malice toward Aaron Hughes (the driver on West Union) or any presumption that he was exceeding the speed limit, and I'm not advocating throwing the book at him or locking him up for life, but simply that I think there should always be a record of who was involved in every such serious collision, and that record be available for the future, in case the driver is involved in more than one such "accident" and may be deemed an excessive risk to continue their driving on public roads.

As far as the shoulder on West Union, I'll bow to those who've ridden it in person, but I did a surf-by on Google Streetviews. The road's speed limit is unposted after an initial 20mph school zone. It is signed with a "bike" symbol and "SHARE THE ROAD" about 3 miles east of the collision site, just west of where it crosses NW Helvetia Rd. Anyway, the shoulder at the site of the collision (it's pretty easy to place it based on the WSCO photo in OregonLive, particularly the amber corner arrow) looks to be between 1 and 2 feet wide, to the right of the fog line, followed by a shallow, very gently sloping ditch. It looks like I could ride on the shoulder, or dive off of it and diagonally through the ditch at a fair clip, while maintaining control, certainly as fast as I could ride up that moderate hill. My normal riding position on that road would be a foot or two to the left of the fog line, but that shoulder appears to be an adequate escape route. (PS - Simple Nature, I wouldn't object to more routes with a truly good shoulder.)

Again looking at the sheriff's picture, there seems to be enough room for a car to pass a bike in one lane on that road, albeit closer than comfort and safety would have it. And, while that corner has a no-passing stripe, I wonder why the driver couldn't have moved left enough to avoid the riders. And I wonder what position the riders were in, in that lane, how far right, how far apart.

Without trying to assign legal blame, it seems to me that both the riders and the driver made bad choices which combined to a perfect storm. Any good to come of it will be in "lessons learned" by others.

BTW, as I typed this I watched outside and kept notes. As of 8:40 the sun is down, automatic porch lights are coming on, visibility is waning, and there is no doubt that I would have turned on my lights already, car or bike. 8:50, it's quite dark, street lights are all on, all the cars have their lights on, colors are almost gone (except in the sky). 9:05, sky colors are fading, just a hint of pink in the far northwest horizon, a cat on the street wasn't visible until a car got about 100 feet from it. 9:15, northern sky is pale green, farther south stars coming out. It's night.

Diego Reyes, I am so sorry for your passing and the tragedy for those who survive you. I'm glad your last experiences included good friends, bucolic countryside and beautiful sky.

Last edited by Alan; 08-06-2011 at 07:04 AM. Reason: NOT posted 55!
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Old 08-06-2011, 05:54 PM
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I rode out there today. Frustrating, because, by observing the road, I couldn't really tell exactly where the collision occurred. Kaitu's description of where he says he saw signs identifying where the collision occurred weren't specific enough. So, a quarter mile east of West Union/Jackson Quarry?

If the exact location of the collision can be identified, it might be worthwhile to have some sort of acknowledgement posted out there for a few months. Some sort of...I know this is difficult...'positive reminder'...that all road users need to consider extra means of taking precautions to avoid further such collisions, is important. Riding out there, it was as if there never was any collision, let alone a consequential death, related to use of the road.

I know some people would just like country roads to not be used for cycling purposes. Acting according to their urging doesn't seem a wise or prudent use of the countryside. Some of the people that live out there also work out there, and use the roads to support those things, but those activities aren't the only reason we protect open land. The countryside also serves as a refuge, a restorative respite from working life wherever that may be.

This was today about 4pm. About the traffic, I'd describe it as not too many cars, but ones there were driving 40-45-50mph. Not a really friendly place to ride a bike anymore, compared to 10-15 years ago. Saw some serious gal riders west of Jackson Quarry on West Union. They were unfazed by the traffic, which kind of surprised me. Also rode Cornelius Pass from Germantown to West Union. Motor vehicle traffic on that section of Cornelius Pass is like a rabid dog.

Last edited by wsbob; 08-07-2011 at 06:01 PM.
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Old 08-06-2011, 07:43 PM
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I was on a non-group ride and was at the Jackson School/West Union intersection when an older fellow hits the brakes in the gravel next to me as I was turning left to go to North Plains. He was warning me of the incident and that someone died recently and that my trike was virtually invisible. All I could think to do is tell him I was aware of all these things and thanked him for his concern. What do these drivers really expect of us? I have bright blinkies on the trike and I have reflective tape all over it now. I have a helmet blinkie to the back, I wear dayglow and I have my eyes rivited to my mirrors. I also stop for stop signs and signal my intent. There really isn't anything else I can do except avoid riding into the sun or riding in the dark, neither of which I do, consciously.

As for that section of West Union, I go up Jackson Quarry to the Helvetia Rd. just to avoid West Union. From West to East, it is a pretty nice road even though you have to climb to the church for a bit. The downhill run all the way to West Union is well worth it though. And it really is a low traffic route.
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Old 08-06-2011, 11:04 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Simple Nature View Post
I was on a non-group ride and was at the Jackson School/West Union intersection when an older fellow hits the brakes in the gravel next to me as I was turning left to go to North Plains. He was warning me of the incident and that someone died recently and that my trike was virtually invisible. All I could think to do is tell him I was aware of all these things and thanked him for his concern. What do these drivers really expect of us? I have bright blinkies on the trike and I have reflective tape all over it now. I have a helmet blinkie to the back, I wear dayglow and I have my eyes rivited to my mirrors. I also stop for stop signs and signal my intent. There really isn't anything else I can do except avoid riding into the sun or riding in the dark, neither of which I do, consciously.

As for that section of West Union, I go up Jackson Quarry to the Helvetia Rd. just to avoid West Union. From West to East, it is a pretty nice road even though you have to climb to the church for a bit. The downhill run all the way to West Union is well worth it though. And it really is a low traffic route.
I think part of the answer to increasing visibility...maybe 'awareness' is a more apt and descriptive word regarding bents, is expectation on the part of motor vehicle road users. Because I'm not driving very much, I suppose my personal observations aren't a very good gauge, but it doesn't seem that I see many bents on the road. A lot of people driving motor vehicles may not be seeing enough of them on the road to have it registered on their consciousness to be on the lookout for them.

When I have seen them, some configurations seem significantly more difficult to readily become aware of, than bikes that place their riders in an upright position. Something about the main mass of people's bodies as they ride typical recumbents, being lower than that of standard bikes.

You've equipped your bike with way more than the minimally required visibility gear, so I'm not sure what more you could do to make your bent more visible to people driving motor vehicles.

It's more than just a little depressing for me to experience again, which I haven't for awhile...the intensity of motor vehicle use on these country roads. It's beautiful countryside, yet the people driving cars seem to feel compelled to drive very fast. They don't seem inclined to slow down for a slower vehicle, such as a bike, unless the apparent need to is inescapable. On West Union, I noticed today, three or four cars approaching me from behind, that did drop the speed traveled 5-10mph, but only because a car was approaching from the other direction.

What people driving motor vehicles this way are doing, that's actually worse than the tension and danger inflicted on people riding bikes that they pass in this manner, is bringing about a gradual and escalating general degradation of the countryside ambiance. The fact is, I think it's a degradation of the countryside's soul, for anyone disposed to the idea that parts of the earth where people live and recreate inherently possesses such a thing as a soul.

The loss isn't just to people using the road, but to residents and visitors as well. Go to the countryside to experience peace and quiet, only to be assaulted by the harsh WHOOSH-WHOOSH of cars speeding by at 50mph, unless you somehow get far away from the road. 30mph tops, would cut the sound, not to mention the physical danger posed, way down, but how people...the public...could ever be persuaded to support such a low speed out on country roads with almost every car and motorcycle on the road being high speed machines, is hard to imagine.

Last edited by wsbob; 08-06-2011 at 11:06 PM.
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Old 08-08-2011, 10:35 PM
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Kind of embarrassing for me, but fact is, I've been confused about exactly where the collision occurred, due to reading the new Washington County bike map incorrectly, it seems. Sorry if my confusion has confused anyone else. I'll post the latest comment from Kaitu, which describes the location in more detail.

Kaitu August 8, 2011 at 10:27 pm

I actually live out here so I drive by the site every day. There is a very obvious mark on the road where it happened and (as of Sunday night) a blue and white bouquet on the side of the road. I actually gave a description a little further up but here it is again. There are a total of 4 hills between West Union School and Jackson Quarry. The first is immediately before Groveland, the second is just after that big curve to the right after Groveland, the fourth is the one that kind of plateaus immediately before Jackson Quarry, this happened on the third hill, almost exactly halfway between Groveland and Jackson Quarry and the one just after the christmas tree farm (the hill with a single house at the top of it). http://bikeportland.org/2011/08/03/s...omment-1914293
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Old 08-08-2011, 11:14 PM
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If you compare the picture from the Washington County Sheriff's Office (WCSO) to Google Streetviews, it's pretty clear where it happened. Cruising Streetviews is a lot of bits to suck through a small straw (dialup), so here's a map with a push-pin at the site. It is between 0.5 and 0.6 miles SE of Jackson Quarry Road, just yards past the second driveway SE of JQR.
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