The TriMet/bike incident has the spread across the country, but unfortunately of all the parties involved only the cyclist has made a statement. TriMet has been silent (they sent me a statement but it did not address this issue specifically), the driver is deceased, the passenger has not been found, and no witnesses have stepped forward, until now.
OHSU employee Phillip Wilmarth was seated in the middle of the bus and his account of that morning adds useful context about why the driver and passenger acted the way they did.
He mentioned how the mood on the bus was very stressful, “The bus was totally full and I think the drawbridge must have been up or something because it took us forever to get over the bridge…people were getting impatient to get downtown…there was a tremendous negative vibe on the bus.”
And according to Philip, this tense mood was made worse because “it was very apparent that the driver didn’t like cyclists. He was verbally negative toward cyclists before we even got on the bridge. I was surprised to hear his comments because you think of drivers as sort of authority figures.” It was also clear to Phillip that by the way the driver interacted with passengers and other motorists that he was “just one of those drivers you can tell hates his job…you know, a real ***hole driver” and that the driver’s “animosity toward bicyclists fanned the flames of the passenger.”
When the cyclist walked in front of the bus, Phillip recalls the driver saying it was illegal for someone to stop the bus and how he himself wasn’t able to leave the bus to do something about it. According to Phillip, “it was clear that he was sort of hoping someone else would step off and do his dirty work.”
And we all know what happened next.