Urban Tribe - Ride with your kids in front.

Cycle-Pak founder dies while riding home from work

Posted by on August 9th, 2006 at 7:16 am

[Mike Wilberding in May 2006]

I received a sad email yesterday. It was from a reporter, looking for someone to interview about the death of Mike Wilberding last Saturday in Beaverton.

I had to double-take at the name, but quickly realized it was the same Mike behind Cycle-Pak, one of my first advertisers here on BikePortland.org.

At 6:22pm August 1st, Mike was riding home from work going eastbound on SW Fifth Street in Beaverton when an oncoming car turned left in front of him. The driver said the sun was in his eyes and that he never even saw him. The police have cited the vehicle for failure to yield to a bicycle.

Mike was taken to OHSU and passed away Saturday from the injuries. He was 58.

My heart goes out to his family and friends.

Mike’s company, Cycle-Pak was just getting off the ground. He had exhibited at the Seattle Bike Expo and was trying to grow awareness for his nifty corrugated bike shipping boxes here in Portland.

I met him at the Free Geek Bike Swap Meet back in May. I was working on an article about him and his company and he was going to send me some background information for the story.

The reporter that informed me of the tragic news is hoping to write a story about the crash in tomorrow’s Valley Times newspaper. If you knew Mike, he would like to interview you. Please contact Kevin Harden at (503) 546-0736 or email him at kharden[at]commnewspapers[dot]com.

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  • joy August 9, 2006 at 9:16 am

    a man dies and the driver is cited for “failure to yield to a bicycle.”
    What kind of world is this?

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  • andy August 9, 2006 at 9:56 am

    161.085 Definitions with respect to culpability. As used in chapter 743, Oregon Laws 1971, and ORS 166.635, unless the context requires otherwise:
    (10) “Criminal negligence” or “criminally negligent,” when used with respect to a result or to a circumstance described by a statute defining an offense, means that a person fails to be aware of a substantial and unjustifiable risk that the result will occur or that the circumstance exists. The risk must be of such nature and degree that the failure to be aware of it constitutes a gross deviation from the standard of care that a reasonable person would observe in the situation. [1971 c.743 §7; 1973 c.139 §2]
    163.145 Criminally negligent homicide. (1) A person commits the crime of criminally negligent homicide when, with criminal negligence, the person causes the death of another person.

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  • Richard August 9, 2006 at 9:58 am

    Wow. It seems like the reports of cycling deaths car+bike accidents have been getting more frequent. Or I’m just paying more attention… I have to admit it makes me a bit nervous. I also find it insulting that a driver was only charged with failure to yield. Shouldn’t an incident like this warrant a manslaughter charge?

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  • andy August 9, 2006 at 10:03 am

    Seems to me that if you do not follow the laws of the road, and you cause a death of another person, you are criminally negligent. If the police aren’t going to fully apply the law, any protections we have on the road are pretty well shot.

    $242 hunting licenses to kill cyclists, anyone?

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  • Nick August 9, 2006 at 10:25 am

    I hate hearing about this stuff. When do we get to hurt a motorist when we hit them?

    I love my bike, i love my ride to work, I hate all the crap in between.

    Sun in my eyes. . .total BS. If it was another car I think this person would have seen it.


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  • Susan Otcenas August 9, 2006 at 11:28 am

    This is my neighborhood. Sun in his eyes at 6:22 pm??? Total BS. I’m going to try to ride over there tonight or in the next few days and take a picture of the sun’s position in the sky at 6:22 pm. It just isn’t that low.

    And even if it WERE that low and the sun WERE truly in the driver’s eyes, then he was clearly criminally negligent for making a turn when he was unable to determine whether or not the lane was clear.

    I always feel so powerless when I hear about tragedies like this.


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  • Dabby August 9, 2006 at 11:48 am

    Yes, this is crap.
    Full vehicular manslaughter charges should apply, as we are forced to deal with being listed as motorized vehicles as the law states.
    How may times this year alone have cyclist been hit, hurt, or killed, with no or minimal charges going to the motorist.
    Heads should roll in the Beaverton police dept.
    Roll ’em right into the holes, where the wetlands they ruined used to be…

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  • C3PNo August 9, 2006 at 12:51 pm

    Wot if it was a family of 5 crossing the street? Failure to yield to a family? Y’think?

    Nah nah

    Time to set a precedent: Sober, Negligent Homicide=jail time, license suspended, comm serv, fine towards a general fund maintaining literature and staff for a “driver re:cycling” program.

    Intox version?: License revoked for LIFE. There is no such thing as a right to drive. Operation of a motor vehicle is a PRIVELIGE granted (and revokable) by the state government.endrant

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  • SKiDmark August 9, 2006 at 1:08 pm

    How about a nice involuntary manslaughter charge? Negligent homicide? Anything besides a slap on the wrist?

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  • Russell August 9, 2006 at 1:18 pm

    Every time a bicyclist dies and the driver that killed them walks with no charges or just a ticket, I can’t help but feel little less outraged and a little more helpless and resigned.

    $242 hunting licence sounds about right. These stories make me ill.

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  • Allen August 9, 2006 at 1:45 pm

    When I began riding my bike 10 miles to/from work this summer I loved every minute of it and shared my new-found joy with Mike, a co-worker in my group who I knew was an avid cyclist.

    When we all received the news of Mike’s cycle accident a week ago we were all totally shocked and immediately saddened. As we learned of his massive injuries and complications, it was readily apparent this was not a mild accident. When we received news of his passing on Saturday, our hearts were incredibly heavy. I cannot begin to imagine the magnitude of grief his family and closest friends are suffering.

    It is incredulous that the offending driver was only cited for ‘failure to yield’. And I am torn between my desire for fairness to Mike and his family and the thought that what would be the correct punishment to the auto driver could potentially take many if not all the remaining years of the driver’s life and his/her family. But right now my heart is so heavy for Mike’s family.

    With the death of 2 riders in Forest Grove earlier this summer (I live in FG) and with Mike’s death, I’m seriously wondering if I should be continuing to cycle to/from work.

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  • Paul August 9, 2006 at 2:14 pm

    Anyone put in a call to the Washington Co. DA or Beaverton PD about investigations or pending charges? (Anyone who lives out there will get further than a non-resident of the county.)

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  • Brad August 9, 2006 at 2:57 pm

    Sun in the eyes…I thought that was only used by outfielders who missed a routine fly ball. Sickening!

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  • West Cougar August 9, 2006 at 4:04 pm

    Sad and outrageous truth is juries won’t convict. Juries are all drivers and think to themselves… those crazy cyclists, I almost hit one this morning, but for the grace of God it could be me sitting there.

    Indeed, this morning (in Beaverton) I was cut-off approaching a stop sign by a 50-something lady in a Buick. Later in the same ride, another one (old lady in a Buick, different color this time) pulled out in front of me while I was at top speed coming down a hill on Hall Blvd. She knew she shouldn’t have… hesitated twice, in fact making it worse, but in the end didn’t want to wait on me an extra 20 seconds and “thought she could make it.” At least that is what I’m sure she would have told the police had I not missed her.

    Yes, it is an utter outrage! People get in cars and become completely impatient and totally selfish.

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  • Qwendolyn August 9, 2006 at 4:34 pm

    I’m really saddened to hear news like this.

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  • tim August 9, 2006 at 7:50 pm

    this guy was super nice a only knew him from the swap meet at free geek a god damn shame

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  • Jeff Scott August 9, 2006 at 8:05 pm

    I sit here, reading the comments, and think back to the pair of riders from Forest Grove, and to a couple of teenagers that had a near miss (on skateboards, with other friends on “dirt” bikes), and to the streets in my own neighborhood. As a occasional cyclist and a driving commuter(distance and health prohibit me from making the 8 plus mile ride between work/home) I’ve had some very scary near misses from another car, while I was driving mine. People are passing me in the emergency lane/bike lane, because I won’t go as fast as they want on Farmington Road, even around blind corners. I was so mad, that a young driver pulled this, I followed him for about 2 miles honking my horn. Of course he just waived at me without using all his fingers, and ignored me. When I got to work, a co-worker advised me against such behavior, as he might retaliate back by shooting at me (you never know). I counted at least 6 cyclists using this stretch of road, and it’s a miracle that he did not connect any of them. (right place/wrong time). What the (explicative) are people thinking, I’m gonna pass the slow jerk that won’t speed 15,20,25 mph over the posted limit, to do what, do pull the same stunt again to get around the next driver along the road, and again?

    I don’t know of an effective answer/measure, prosecute violators to set effective examples, raise awareness, lobby to change laws, urge media for more coverage (as an attempt to raise awareness)?

    I sat in the cafeteria at work and overheard a conversation about one who got pulled over and cited for speeding. The individual went on about the inconvience of having to pay fines, etc. When another co-worker asked if this experience was going to change his driving habits, the response was No, he would speed again tomorrow, as he cited a laundry list of have-too’s aggresive timelines.

    I wonder if the insurance industry can further influence a driver’s behavior, ie: suspending or dropping coverage, increased premiums, certainly they must be aware when something substantial happens.

    As for me, I talk with my peers at work, friends, family, parents and children at school, I ask questions, or bring up an event, as an example and reminder, to slow down and pay better attention. Would it be any different if a semi-truck or construction/farm vehicle stomped over a honda, toyota? I once witnessed a terrible accident in Salt Lake on I-80/I-15 interchange, where a semi-tractor, triple trailer combination hauling paper products (very very heavy), turned a Toyota MR-2 into a 6 in thick slab, even the motor sheered off and got mashed up.

    As cyclists, we must be very defensive riders, and avoid getting pinned up in these circumstances (as best we can), but a population of drivers must also change behaviors, become truly responsible, and adjust schedules/life-styles, and habits.

    I worry for my child, my friends and peers who ride both pedal bikes, and motorcycles, and even those who drive well, but would have little to no chance in a mis-matched collision (Big SUV meets Civic, or Geo-metro).

    What happened to the cyclist who took a rear-view mirror to the back of the helmet on West Union? I think was earlier this spring, but the problem existed last year too.

    My perception, a much larger population will need to become actively involved before we can make effective changes, but I don’t know where to start or what to do, other than to be a “sounder” with my friends, family, peers, and community. I don’t care who you are, what your situation, being late or work or an appointment is not worth the injury or life of another.
    My thoughts and prayers are with you all, -ride/drive safely.

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  • marc August 9, 2006 at 9:01 pm

    the family should file a civil lawsuit, win, and publish the news far and wide.

    also i would hope ANY cyclist that witnesses some of the behavior from drivers would write the details down and file a police report.

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  • Jim August 9, 2006 at 9:12 pm

    I work at Intel and commute almost daily by Bike. It could have been any of us.

    Please, don’t give up on cycling. Work to solve the real problem – negligent driving.

    If everyone rode thier bicycles to/from work the health crisis that looms in America would be solved and I wouldn’t have to worry about my brother in Iraq….we wouldn’t need to be there.

    I’m riding in the Portland Bridge Pedal this weekend and will be spreading the word to all that I see to contact the police to seek true justice for this crime. Be the vocal minority for your own sake.

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  • organic brian August 9, 2006 at 11:17 pm

    COMING SOON (pending approval from riseup.net): a mail list for discussing how we’re going to make it more difficult for dangerous drivers to keep driving, and how to change the system so that driving a motor vehicle is presented as serious business.

    Could someone from the BTA please fill me in on what is being done in these areas:
    – Criminalizing dangerous driving: when someone is killed and the collision was the result of preventable driver error, it is required that the responding officers treat it as a crime. If at all possible, it is punished w/ a manslaughter or criminally negligent homicide charge.
    – Denying driving privileges to dangerous drivers: those who have repeatedly been caught driving recklessly, or have ever driven drunk, either do not ever drive again or must go at least a year w/out driving. Driving w/ a suspended license for either of these reasons is put on the same legal level w/ homicide.
    – Driver’s license: making it more difficult to pass both the written / driving tests, including (lots) more questions about peds / cycles, re-testing every few years.
    – Bringing media attention to dangerous driving.

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  • Dabby August 10, 2006 at 1:10 am

    Also, certainly, if you can’t see, even if it is from the sun, you should not go!!!!!
    When is it ok to drive if you can’t see?
    I wonder if they checked to see how dirty this drivers windshield was. As a driver myself, I know that a little bit of dirt amplifies the suns effect on vision.
    Alot of dirt makes it impossible to see.
    So, even a dirty windshield is grounds for vehicular manslaughter, if you kill someone, anyone, pedestrian, other driver, or cyclist

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  • anita August 10, 2006 at 9:00 am

    I too ride to work daily…mere 5+ miles to work DT one way. However, I wonder almost daily if my life will end by some crazy motorist. (I am one of the FEW cyclists who actually ‘long pause’ at side street stop signs, and STOP at red lights. I watch with amazement at fellow cyclists who blow past me through a red while myself and the motorists watch. I wonder what the motorists are thinking, it they think this justifies their lack of regard for us cyclists) I also have seen and personally experienced crappy behavior from motorists…not yielding, not paying attention, or just being downright rude. I tell my friends and coworkers that if they are going to kill someone and get away with it, they should do it with a car to a cyclist.
    How (expletive) are the traffic laws which encourage reckless driving behaviors of motorists? I demand change and would hope that if anything ever happens to me, that my family/friends would lobby tirelessly to see my killer justly convicted!
    My heart sinks each time I hear of another cyclist death. How many more?

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  • Preston August 10, 2006 at 9:52 am

    This is my neighborhood as well. Every single day someone does something stupid. So yes, I will be calling the mayor, the police, whomever. And yes, I think a good initiative would be to finally once and for all get the govt. to recognize driving as a privelage and not a right. When I hear of something like this or the guy that gets his 5th DUI it infuriates me. At some point you should just lose your license at the very least. First for 5 years, then maybe for life. And guess what, you have to ride a bike. And if you don’t like it, go to hell. Because you’re a menace. I’ve personally (while driving my car) gotten no fewer than 7 people arrested for driving intoxicated or aggresively. I’ve tailed them, called the police and watched them get hauled away in the paddy-wagon. I have zero tolerance for driving dangerously. But there’s nothing you can do as a cyclist. Someone cuts you off, almost kills you, whatever and then drives away before you can even get a license plate. This has to stop. And flipping the script on what rights motorists have would be a good starting point.

    And finally, the sun is in your eyes? Someone made a great point earlier. If you can’t see, hit the brake. That’s like driving with frost on your windows. Could you do that and your defense would be, “my windows were frosted”. Jebus!!

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  • grace August 10, 2006 at 9:55 am

    This does not surprise me.
    7 years ago my husband and I were cycling down the bike lane on 185th. Traffic on our left was stacked up due to the light at Baseline & 185th.
    Out of nowhere a car crosses the bike lane and my husband flies, literally, over the hood of the car. We were traveling at agood clip. I was right behind him and braked in time.The car crossed two traffic lanes into a construction drive way to turn around. The stacked up traffic allowed him to cross. He had no visual on what was coming down the bike lane OR the sidewalk. As my husband lies on the pavement w/ paramedics and I talk to the police and the ambulance arrives. The officer admits he has no training on the matter and does not give a ticket to the 19 year old driver. I was too pumped up on adrenaline and concern for my husband to argue. Fortunately he did not sustain life threatening injuries, mostly soft tissue damage and neck and back problems.

    We consider ourselves highly experienced cyclists, yet continue to have frequent occurances both as cyclists and pedestrians in the Beaverton area.

    One of our biggest gripes is observing drivers disregard the bike lane and use it as a car turning lane. We often get aggravated drivers behind us although we are legitamately in the bike lane.

    I have seen pedestrian sting operations around Beaverton. with so many more bikes on the road how about a sting operation for those disregarding the bike lane?

    Something has got to be done.

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  • Brad August 10, 2006 at 9:58 am

    I’ll ask a question…what is more important fight at this time: more bike infrastructure or vastly improved law enforcement to protect cyclists?

    In a perfect world we get both but for the near term, I wonder if we would get more cooperation and attention in Salem if we traded expensive bike lanes, boulevards, etc. for tougher cyclist protection laws and criminal prosecutions of drivers that harm cyclists? Could we get bipartisan support from Dems that like alternative transport and GOPs that love law and order but hate spending road dollars on bike lanes?

    In my opinion, a few well publicized “show trials” with drivers getting sent to “PMITA” prison for negligent homicide and cyclist aimed road rage would be a more effective and scary educational tool for drivers than thousands of PSAa or “Share the Road” signs. Thoughts?

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  • sh August 10, 2006 at 10:07 am

    I echo Anita’s comments. I too have become a “long pauser” at stop signs and lights. Why? Because I never trust drivers to be attentive and just as importantly, I genuinely feel that with the current tension between bikes and cars, anytime I’m on a bike in traffic I’m representing for other cyclists. Giving motorists an excuse to dismiss the safety of cyclists in general by riding thru reds is unnecessary and counter-productive (gawd, i just said “counter-productive.”) Side observation: most of these light-runners seem do it to make up time as they’re slow, slow, slow on spin; pedal faster people! Then stop at the damn light. See? Easy. Yes.

    But that is a small battle, I want to know what I can do for the larger one: criminalizing reckless driving. I’m incessed, I’m frustrated, and man, I’m ready to work for change.

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  • Preston August 10, 2006 at 10:28 am

    Brad, your comments are right on. This is EXACTLY what I was saying when the whole bike lanes argument came up. The blind defenders of bike lanes seem to miss the point that if motorists drive recklessly, aren’t punished for it and can kill people and get a slap on the rist, nothing short of separate bike tunnels is going to do any good. Enforcement and education should be the points of focus right now.

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  • Jasun Wurster August 10, 2006 at 10:40 am

    I totally agree with Brad. So what bicycle organization in Portland exists that we as citizen cyclists can work together on real legislative change that provide everyone proportional protection … as opposed to Public Service Announcement and paint on the road?

    My guess is that one does not exist. Maybe some of us should get off my ass and form one … including myself.

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  • Jasun Wurster August 10, 2006 at 10:42 am

    And yet again … I need to proof read.

    “Maybe some of us should get off our ass and form one … including myself.”

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  • Preston August 10, 2006 at 10:58 am

    Indeed. The BTA is good for some things, but I think they’re afraid of tackling this. Or else it’s not part of their mission. Either way I don’t think there’s a group that fights for something so common sense.

    Motorists don’t have a “right” to drive. This needs to be reintroduced as a general principle. Furthermore it needs to be introduced as a general principle that wrecklessly endangering the lives of others (whether in a car, on a bike, whatever) is serious.

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  • West Cougar August 10, 2006 at 11:00 am

    Reckless negligence already is criminal. However, let me repeat, it takes a *jury* to send someone to jail. See post 14.

    The only way to get juries to send these drivers to jail is to do a national campaign that totally changes the culture/attitude of driving. As was done previously by MADD with drunk driving.

    Good luck with that. I wish you all the best.

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  • Steve August 10, 2006 at 11:01 am

    All the calls for criminalization and punishment make it sound like too many cyclists have been drinking conservative kool-aid.

    While mourning, let’s focus on progressive and creative solutions.

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  • Brad August 10, 2006 at 11:12 am


    We need prosecutors to get these cases in front of a jury and that is the current problem. Presently, the cop at the scene writes a $242 citation and that’s the end of any criminal charges. Therein lies the issue. A ticket is not a deterrent to most drivers. If the average driver (and his insurer) knows that an error in judgement or lack of attentiveness will cost at least tens of thousands in legal defense fees and public embarrassment, then you will see an attitude shift. Civil cases are nice but we all know that the car insurance company pays on those claims and it never gets reported because the victims sign a “no blame, we’ll stay quiet” clause when they get the settlement check.

    I want to see prosecutors do their job. After all, they have no issue going after drivers who engage in road rage against other drivers or who accidently hit kids playing in the street. Why not extend the same vigor when bikes are involved?

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  • Susan Otcenas August 10, 2006 at 11:15 am

    So, last night I went to the location and took several photos (and a rather crappy out-of-focus video), with the sun in the same position as it would have been on 8/1 (time adjusted for slightly earlier sunset). The sun is quite high in the sky, well over the trees. I also took some photos of oncoming traffic, so one can see the position of the sunlight in the faces of the drivers (including a Beaverton Police Officer, who felt the sun was high enough in the sky that she didn’t even need her visor down.)

    I think these photos debunk the the bogus excuse that the sun was in the drivers eyes.


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  • Brad August 10, 2006 at 11:23 am


    Progressive solutions like…? I don’t think that Mr. Agressive Driver Yakking on Cell Phone will change his habits because a solitary “Share the Road-In Memory of…” sign is placed on a Beaverton street and bike lanes are marked with blue paint. Softly sold, PC “education” plans take a generation or more to have any effect. Otherwise AIDS, drug abuse, unwanted pregnancy, child abuse, spousal abuse, hunger, pollution, etc should have disappeared within a few weeks because the Ad Council made some slick PSAs and ran them on television.

    Enforcement of the law and punishment for those convicted of breaking the law is not “conservative kool-aid”, it is a universal notion called justice.

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  • Preston August 10, 2006 at 11:31 am

    “All the calls for criminalization and punishment make it sound like too many cyclists have been drinking conservative kool-aid.

    While mourning, let’s focus on progressive and creative solutions. ”

    Conservative? So not wanting to get killed makes one conservative? What would be the progressive solution? Ban cars? Join hands and sing koombaya until they stop killing us? Criminy.

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  • Ssanch August 10, 2006 at 11:43 am

    As a cyclist that has been hit by a driver, I agree that you can NOT stop riding / commuting. I would also say that we cannot make this an US vs. THEM issue, because unless you do not own a car, I’m sorry to say that at times we are also THEM.

    I agree with grace in that we need to educate the ones that are enforcing the Laws, as well as the general public, cyclists and drivers. The officer at my accident stated they he was unsure just what to do, so no ticket was ever issued. This only made it harder when dealing with the insurance Agencies, but that is a different story.

    As much as I like to see bike lanes on all our roads, if they are not maintained ( clean ) then they serve no purpose and can be more of a risk. The more improved that a road surface is the more risk of accident there is. I would rather see these $’s spent on campaigns that educate drivers and new cyclists, as we are not 100% with out responsibility. There are repercussions for our actions and as one person stated “to drive is a privilege and not a right “

    In this case the driver hit and killed a cyclist and was given only a token ticket. When was it decided that a cyclist life is any less important then say a Mother and her child crossing the road? That would not have been a case of failure to yield, and would have held a much higher consequence.

    I guess what I’m trying to get across is that all change has to start with YOU. Every time you get the chance to talk with a co worker that is having a rant about “ a cyclist did this, or a pedestrian did that” if you can resist adding fuel to the fire and try to make them see it from another perspective then you have just made a difference That would make us ambassadors of change rather than resistors.

    The key is public awareness which includes awareness that there are repercussions. Now I know in Portland there are executives in advertising agencies and Nike that are avid cyclists as well. Why not approach them to make a great looking public service announcement that at least brings up awareness. Kind of like that fire campaign…”it’s not about saving a life, it’s about saving YOUR life”. very affective and simple.

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  • organic brian August 10, 2006 at 11:46 am

    Steve said:

    “All the calls for criminalization and punishment make it sound like too many cyclists have been drinking conservative kool-aid.

    While mourning, let’s focus on progressive and creative solutions.”

    Steve, let’s hear your ideas for progressive and creative solutions. Ideas that result in motorists beginning to see driving as the deadly serious business that it is.

    In the meantime, those of us who feel that increasing consequences (given the human nature of self-centeredness which may never change) is the most effective way to discourage dangerous driving will focus on that.

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  • Preston August 10, 2006 at 12:01 pm

    Yesterday I was riding in the bike lane on Broadway heading away from downtown Portland on the east side of Portland. A car turned right around me and I yelled “hey!”.

    Literally, that’s all I yelled. He proceeded to stop in the middle of the intersection, get out of his car and start to threaten me. As if daring to yell that he should watch where he is driving is an offense worthy of assault and battery. His excuse? “I was in his blind spot”.

    Yeah. That’s what we’re up against. Against that kind of lunacy. The kind of lunacy that almost gets us all killed on a weekly basis and has taken the life of this individual, what progressive solution will work? It’s time to demand that the laws be enforced and that driving, as a privelage to be taken seriously, be enforced. How many more of us have to die?

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  • Jasun Wurster August 10, 2006 at 12:02 pm

    Pronunciation: k&n-‘s&r-v&-tiv
    Function: adjective

    Definition: Tending or disposed to maintain existing views, conditions, or institutions.

    I think that the only conservative viewpoint is one to exclusively use PSA’s, white paint and rely on a lobbying association to make a change.

    Then again I tend to be on the liberal side of the road.

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  • organic brian August 10, 2006 at 12:15 pm


    I’ve noticed that each time there is a new death, there is a lot of passion about making change, lots of great ideas. Then, the article scrolls off the main page and the ideas become just text in the bikeportland.org archive.

    Starting today, there is a new mail list, for those who want to work to make reduce dangerous motorist behavior to make streets safer. This will have a different focus than the BTA (more bike lanes) and groups like the Southeast Uplift Bike Safety Committee (traffic calming, safe routes, etc.) though we will work with these groups. This group will not be concerned with alienating donors / sponsors, or how politic the proposals are. We’re going to find out how to have motor vehicle drivers held accountable for criminally negligent driving, and MAKE IT HAPPEN. We’re going to find out how to create a traffic education media campaign that is so intense, every driver will hear five times per week that:
    – cyclists are traffic
    – cyclists have a right to occupy a lane and in fact should for safety at times
    – cyclists have the right of way in a bike lane
    – driving is a privilege, not a right
    – you should never drive where you can’t see
    – when you exceed the speed limit, or fail to yield when the law requires, or drive while distracted and you kill someone, you are a murderer
    … we’ll not just talk about it but MAKE IT HAPPEN. We’ll continue the “Share the Road” campaign, encouraging cyclists to ride as ambassadors for cycling and not self-centered jerks. We’ll work on how to change any aspect of dangerous traffic conditions for cyclists and pedestrians. The more we can do to reduce the perception that riding a bike for transportation is dangerous, the more people will ride and the fewer motorists there will be. All this we’ll figure out and do together, I certainly don’t want to be anybody’s leader. I’m merely creating this forum to focus all the passion I see out there into actual concrete real-world change.

    The list is here:

    Please join this list if you’re passionate about decreasing fatalities and want to work for change. This will be a place for action-oriented people, PLEASE DO NOT JOIN IF debating is a hobby for you, or you need online forums as a social outlet, or your “activism” is all done behind a computer keyboard on message forums.

    I look forward to seeing you there! Let’s turn this around and bring motor vehicle driving behavior out of the dark ages.

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  • grace August 10, 2006 at 12:21 pm

    what are your ideas Jasun?

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  • Preston August 10, 2006 at 12:22 pm

    I like your passion, but there’s a reason “negligence” and “manslaughter” are also part of our legal and moral venacular and “murder” is not the only term. That being because at any point someone could accidently do something to lead to someone’s death. I could walk into an intersection too soon, cause a car to veer into a telephone pole and kill that person. Would I be a “murderer”? I wouldn’t make that part of the charter, is what I’m saying. 🙂

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  • jami August 10, 2006 at 12:28 pm

    any time someone kills someone with their car, they should lose their licenses for life. i don’t think jail time is appropriate for a genuine accident, but neither is it appropriate for someone to say “whoopsies! sunny day! sorry ’bout your dad/brother/uncle/friend there!”

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  • Preston August 10, 2006 at 12:42 pm

    I don’t disagree about losing one’s license.

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  • Brad August 10, 2006 at 1:12 pm

    If the fatality is accidental, let a jury make a determination of guilt and subsequent penalties rather than the beat cop on the scene.

    I’ll offer hunting accidents as an example. If I accidently shoot and kill my hunting buddy, the local police or sheriff is going to conduct an investigation and forward that information to the county D.A. The prosecutor’s office will determine whether this is a crime of negligence or simply a tragic accident.

    A game warden doesn’t just issue a $242 citation and a warning to be more careful next time. That’s what seems to happen with cyclist deaths. The cop issues a ticket for some sort of moving violation and it is “case closed” for all but the grieving family and friends. That’s what needs to change. At least do a proper investigation! If this driver ran over a small child in a school zone, we would know his name, see his mugshot on TV, and a grand jury would be mulling over charges next week.

    Why isn’t the law applied equally to those who hit cyclists?

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  • sh August 10, 2006 at 2:04 pm

    Organic brain:

    Cool. Thanks for creating a first step.

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  • West Cougar August 10, 2006 at 2:07 pm


    DA’s are reluctant/don’t bother to take it to trial because they know a jury won’t convict. You have to convince 12 other folks that as adults have never been on a bike themselves (the defense attorney will see to that) that the nicely dressed and utterly contrite person sitting before them deserves jail for not seeing one of those ‘crazy, unpredictable, aggressive’ cyclists.

    It is an uphill battle, and the few times I see a DA try they invariably lose. They can’t even get a conviction when the driver is gabbing on a cell phone or leaning over to fiddle a CD into the radio! Take a look at the case history. (Albeit tough with The Oregonian’s stupid 30 day time-out on news stories.)

    Again, the jurors sit there and think “I almost hit one of those cyclists once, they *are* hard to see.”

    Just to be clear, I don’t buy that excuse one bit. It is a total load of crap. And I’d never be allowed on a jury involving a cyclist’s injury/death with even a modestly competent defense attorney. But it is what most people have been allowed/conditioned to think. The same was thought regarding drunk driving for a long time as well.

    It took MADD many years to change public opinion, and there are still drunk drivers going around killing people and getting off with veritable wrist-slaps. In fact the Oregonian reported on one just yesterday. I think it was 5 years prison, which could translate to less than 2 years time-serve if a treatment program is taken by the guilty. The freakin’ Mother of the killed 21 year-old and very badly injured 12 year old was quoted being completely non-judgemental to the drunk driver. Huz-zah for her. As for me, I am furious. There is no excuse and polite company should demand strong, uncertain punishment.

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  • grace August 10, 2006 at 3:03 pm

    great first step organic brian.

    Here’s another that I did for myself.

    Become familiar by reading Oregon laws regarding cycling. They can be viewed at the follwing website:


    I did not know it was legal for cars to use the bike lane. I was confused I guess because Portland police did a sting operation in N.Portland regarding cars using the bike lane to turn.
    Cars were ticketed.

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  • Jasun Wurster August 10, 2006 at 3:38 pm

    Hi Grace,

    First, I got to commend Organic B. for taking the first step in setting up a dedicated forum. It is also very necessary for me to acknowledge why I am part of this discussion; a person has been killed and dominate culture that is comfortable with this as an acceptable loss to protect their lifestyle.

    Ok, some of my ideas that are more in the direction of challenging the status quo, hence liberal, that specifically apply to drivers killing cyclists:

    – Have an organization forces this issue to be addressed by providing legal resources for a criminal court cases to be tried by a jury.

    – Empower and provide resources to individuals with a common legislative goal to enact change. Do this not through the myopic represented by a board of an individual association, but that of individuals in an organized community. In other words, every person is a squeaky wheel requesting the same thing,

    – Helping out ghostbike@gmail.com to have an online resource where there is a map (I am thinking Google style) so that people can adopt a ghostbike to maintain it. Also, create a campaign to educate people in positive ways that they remember while they are driving. This involves not paying for ad space but actually standing on a street doing something that is socially uncomfortable … ok, maybe possible violating a minor city ordinance as well.

    – Work with school boards to make driver education classes start out the class on a bicycle for a few weeks to learn the rules of the road. Draft and submit legislation that rises the driving age to 18 who do not take driver safety classes.

    – Draft and submit legislation that requires any collision involving a pedestrian or cyclists be investigated at the request of the injured.

    – Draft and submit legislation that requires all drivers that kill a pedestrian or cyclists to pay to attend a mandatory safe pubic road usage class before they get their license back. Kinda like how drunk drivers have to pay to take classes to get their license back.

    – Draft and submit legislation that forces insurance companies to insure operators of all legally recognized vehicles on public roads. I so wish I could get full coverage insurance for myself and my bicycle like driver and their car. This includes theft.

    – Have an organization that individuals can coordinate actions to individually express their will to municipal, legislative and corporate entities in ways that some conservative associations frown upon. Chalk and phone calls happen to be my favorite.

    – Have an organization that is can coordinate with ‘strange bedfellows’ on certain issues that most Liberals (Note: Big L) would shy away from. Example: to me this sounds like a very pro-life issue, granted I am in disagreement with Pro-Lifers when life starts … but I think we all can agree that you are living when you are riding a bike. Being killed by a car on a bicycle is kinda similar to their ‘defenseless child argument’.

    Grace, I have many ideas. Mainly I am frustrated at people telling me that “There is an organization that already does that and since you are not a member then you have no right to talk”. Or “You are going to screw up all the work that so-and-so has done because you are not doing it their way”.

    And my personal favorite … “You are making the rest of the bicycling community look bad by doing something that is radical and diffrent”. Please refer to the what some referred to the notorious Grant’s Park Picnic … http://bikeportland.org/2006/07/24/bike-picnic-goes-peacefully-as-planned/ More so the comments leading up to that on prior comments.

    We have lost one cyclists in the most tragic way possible. How many other people who were at one time willing to ride a bicycle have put it in their garage never to ride again because the conservative mindset is the only “accepted” one? At one time the language and rhetoric that got bicycle lanes and legal recognition were liberal … the above ideas are very much in the same vein for I feel that we still have a long way to go.

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  • SKIDmark August 10, 2006 at 7:55 pm

    Anybody who thinks that being outraged about this and calling for criminalization of “accidents” like this is a conservative viewpoint has never been on the ground, in pain, bleeding, with broken bones, their bike in a heap 10 feet away from them while some car driver is saying “sorry I didn’t see you”.

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  • pdxcommuter August 10, 2006 at 8:03 pm

    Contact information for Beaverton Mayor Rob Drake:


    Drake’s email address:


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  • pdxcommuter August 10, 2006 at 8:04 pm

    Here’s the story in the Valley Times:


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  • pdxcommuter August 10, 2006 at 10:58 pm

    Here is a copy of the letter I am sending to the Washington County District Attorney, Robert Hermann. I got the address from the County’s web page. The web page does not give an email address.

    I think that simply killing a bicyclist is reason enough for Mr. Hermann to prosecute this case. But, as I see from previous comments (#48, for example,) and from what I have heard elsewhere, prosecutors won’t pursue these cases because they cannot win them. So I gave Mr. Hermann another reason to prosecute: the location where this happened is right next to a park frequented by families with children.

    If you feel like writing to Mr. Hermann, do so. It’s been my experience that when public officials get a lot of letters, they tend to pay attention. It does not always work, but it works better than doing nothing at all. Feel free to use this letter as a starting point for your own letter. If you do that, modify or delete the last paragraph. The usual caveats about writing to public officials apply, including: try to be polite, and don’t use curse-words, etc.


    August 10th, 2006

    Robert Hermann
    District Attorney
    Washington County
    150 N First Avenue, Suite 300
    Hillsboro OR 97124-3072

    Subject: bicyclist killed in Beaverton

    Dear Mr. Hermann:

    I’m a bicyclist. I live in Washington County. I see in today’s _Valley Times_ that Michael J. Wilberding was struck and killed by a car, driven by Aaron M. Hessel, on August 1st, 2006. The police cited Hessel for failing to yield to a bicyclist in a bike lane. Police are quoted in the _Valley Times_ as saying that Hessel was “blinded by the sun and apparently did not see Wilberding’s bicycle.”

    Failing to yield? A traffic citation? Why is Hessel not facing a more serious charge? Why was Hessel not arrested and put in jail?

    Please prosecute Hessel to the fullest extent of the law. Hessel has a responsibility to not run over and kill other users of the road. Hessel has a responsibility to not move his car if he cannot see where he is going. Hessel should get time in jail for his crime, both as punishment for his actions, and to send a message to all the other car drivers that driving a car is a deadly serious business.

    Fifth and Washington, where this accident occurred, is right next to a park which has a large fountain, which is frequented by families with children, especially on hot days. Beaverton’s Farmer’s Market is also held nearby. If you are not going to prosecute this “just because it’s some bicyclist” then shame on you! But, you could at least prosecute this because of the danger this represents to families in Beaverton!

    Finally, if you kept a copies, you will note that this letter is very similar to letters which I wrote you earlier this year, and last year, also about the deaths of bicyclists, in Forest Grove and Sherwood. It’s way past time for your office to do something about this.


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  • organic brian August 10, 2006 at 11:25 pm

    Here is another great place to get a summary of Oregon statutes pertaining to cyclists and pedestrians:

    ODOT helpfully put that together to save having to search through the statutes.

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  • organic brian August 10, 2006 at 11:38 pm

    Jasun, those suggestions are so excellent. I want to mention here the usefulness of the Portland Indymedia website. Getting like-minded people together for actions is as easy as posting to the online calendar (it’s a totally open calendar, no login required) and creating an article for the newswire (also totally open but moderated to reduce SPAM / inappropriate posts):

    Also, the ghostbike.org website is in development now and will have a very sophisticated Google-based map showing all Ghost Bike memorial locations. Having a means to adopt-a-memorial has been talked about, great suggestion. The site just has a placeholder now, but soon the content being worked on will be made public. The site will also link all the Ghost Bike efforts such as the ones in Seattle, Chicago, and Pittsburgh which is the original Ghost Bike city.

    I really liked the letter above by pdxbikecommuter.

    Tonight I went to the annual meeting of Willamette Pedestrian Coalition and they’re already doing a lot in the realm of motorist education / safer streets:

    I look forward to seeing what becomes of all this passion and motivation for safer streets.

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  • […] The crash in Beaverton last week that claimed the life of Mike Wilberding has sparked outrage and spurred action from citizen activists. […]

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  • Ralph Smith August 11, 2006 at 9:22 am

    Jonathan, I am organizing a reunion of one of the Intel groups that Mike was member of. This is an annual thing and this year we are planning it specifically as a memorial to Mike.

    My fellow organizers and I would like to invite anyone that would want to join us. The details are not worked out yet, but this would be very informal, probably a beer after work.

    Can you help me figure out how to best contact the part of the cycling comunity that Mike was involved with?

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  • janet August 12, 2006 at 10:48 am

    A Tennessee cyclist was killed August 9th by an out of control driver. The charges, at this time, are “criminal homicide”. The story is an extremely bizarre series of events ending in the loss of a father, husband, and caring community member. Jeff Roth was a physical therapist in East TN and avid cyclist. He was very safety conscious (got me addicted to volvos) and was on a familiar and open road often traveled by cyclists. Please visit the links below, read this unbeleivable tragedy, and send any support you can to Jeff’s family and friends… thank you…. Janet Neely



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  • […] The emailed response (full text is below) was also sent to several other citizens who had written him with their questions and concerns regarding the recent death of Mike Wilberding. […]

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  • […] We then drove out to 82nd and Powell and while Hoesly was writing up a guy in Escalade for turning left on a red light (the driver said the sun was in his eyes (sound familiar?)), I heard a call come over the radio. The dispatcher said, “That guy that has been written up in the paper for harrassing ladies on his bike is at River City bike shop.” […]

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  • Phil August 15, 2006 at 9:26 am

    How fast was this guy going? Disregarding the BS about sun in his eyes, if he was driving fast enough to kill someone outright, I’m guessing he was trying to rush through a gap in traffic to avoid the need to actually slow down and / or stop and take the care needed to execute the turn safely.
    This is reckless driving and when it results in death is negligent homicide.

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  • Todd August 15, 2006 at 6:59 pm

    I think everyone needs to stop and think rationally for a second. The bottom line is that accidents happen. When we ride our bikes, we all want to have the same rules as cars. I am sure that the individual driving the car has more guilt than any ticket could cost. Unfortunate things happen, but lets not forget that the driver of the car is going through a pain which none of us hope to ever have. The family has publicly said that they DO NOT blame the driver for the death. It’s a shame that people have to exploit the situation in order to try and be heard.

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  • […] Citizen activists mobilzed by the death of cyclist Mike Wilberding on August 1st have channeled their emotions into a traffic safety awareness action. The event will be held on September 1st from 4-6pm at SW 5th and Washington Streets in Beaverton (the intersection where the crash occured). […]

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  • […] Concerned citizens from Portland and Beaverton came together last Friday for a traffic safety awareness action. The event took place just a few yards from the intersection where Mike Wilberding was killed on August 1st. […]

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  • […] On a more somber note, the family of the late Mike Wilberding came to camp to lead a memorial ride with some of Mike’s friends from Intel. I ran into Dayn Wildberding (Mike’s son) and he showed me these special jerseys they had made and said about 20 of Mike’s friends would ride into the hills and have a ceremony to remember his dad. […]

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  • […] On Friday there was another fatal crash on a rural road in Washington County that is very popular with cyclists. Like a previous incident in Beaverton, the motorist claimed the sun was in her eyes and recent reports state that no charges have been filed. […]

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