Fatal hit-and-run on SE Foster Road

Posted by on May 4th, 2007 at 4:48 pm

[Thanks to Lieutenant Mark Kruger of the Portland Police Bureau Traffic Division, Anita at KATU-TV and Aaron at KGW-TV for help on this story.]


At 3:51 this afternoon 58-year-old Jerry Alvin Hinatsu (name has not been released) was killed by a hit-and-run driver in outer southeast Portland while riding the wrong-way in the bike lane.

Arrow shows location of crash.
Click for map

According to Lieutenant Mark Kruger of the Portland Police Bureau Traffic Division, the crash occurred just outside of the Franz Bakery Outlet at SE 115th and SE Foster Road (map). A mid-late 90s, maroon Honda Accord pulled away from the driveway and onto SE Foster Road, colliding with the cyclist who was riding eastbound in the westbound bike lane.

The motorist they are trying to track down is allegedly a heavy-set hispanic woman with long, straight hair whose name is possibly Jen. Her license plate might include the numbers 176.

Kruger told me they have two witnesses to the crash. One of them was the passenger in the motor vehicle in question. Immediately after the collision, the passenger got out before the driver sped away. Kruger says the passenger is not cooperating with the investigation.


UPDATE: They have found and arrested two women in this case. The Oregonian Breaking News Blog has the story (thanks to Gabriel for the heads up).

Sara Ann Lance (L) and Cynthia Amaya, both 28, are charged with failing to perform the duties of a driver, hindering prosecution and tampering with evidence. Both women claim that the other was driving at the time of the crash.


UPDATE:
From the Oregonian (article here):

“Portland police have identified a bicyclist killed Friday afternoon as 58-year-old Jerry Alvin Hinatsu. Hinatsu was illegally pedaling the wrong way in the bike lane and did not wear a helmet, police said.”

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80 Comments
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    encephalopath May 4, 2007 at 5:28 pm

    That bike looks really straight to have just been involved in a fatal accident. Unsettling somehow…

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    lyle May 4, 2007 at 6:35 pm

    hopefully she bought something at the franz bakery store and used plastic when she did.

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    Qwendolyn May 4, 2007 at 6:37 pm

    dammit I’m tired of hearing about stuff like this

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    David May 4, 2007 at 6:40 pm

    Do we know if the cyclist was doing anything illegal? This is tragic…..I hate hearing about stuff like this.

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    Darren May 4, 2007 at 7:05 pm

    The Eastside Ride of Silence just got longer. Join together May 16th.

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    Timmy May 4, 2007 at 7:23 pm

    What is the Eastside Ride of Silence?

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    Tomas Quinones May 4, 2007 at 8:06 pm

    Timmy, I believe Darren is referring to this: http://www.rideofsilence.org/locations-domestic.php?s=OR#OR
    I’ll be there, in black.

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    Jim O'Horo May 4, 2007 at 9:09 pm

    David asked: “Do we know if the cyclist was doing anything illegal?”

    According to the story “The cyclist was riding the wrong way in the bike lane”

    Yep, that’s illegal.

    If there wasn’t a lot of damage to the bike, maybe he died of head injuries. Was he wearing a helmet?

    I’m sure there will be lots of questions about this collision in the days to come. Regardless of who did what, it still seems to me to be a needless tragedy.

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    Jonathan Maus / BikePortland May 4, 2007 at 9:15 pm

    in david’s defense, he made his comments (about whether or not the cyclist did anything illegal) before I had updated the post with that information.

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    N.I.K. May 5, 2007 at 12:42 am

    How do we go about this sort of situation?

    It’s sad that a human life has come to an end, but said human being was riding the wrong way. This sort of situation does nothing but confuse the hell out of me every time: if I’m sad, I’m setting up a law-breaker who’s set a bad example as a possibly unfit martyr. If I’m not sad, I’m an insensitive asshole with an overripe penchant for the letter of the law claiming it was the poor fellow’s own damn fault he’s dead.

    Really: as a cycling activist, what’s the “right thing” to do? I’m confused.

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    Matthew May 5, 2007 at 2:09 am

    N.I.K., I’m having that problem too… (Don’t get me wrong, hit and runs are bad, but that is a different problem: Yes, the driver shouldn’t have driven away, but the real issue was that the bike got hit in the first place.)

    I see people going the wrong way in bike lanes all the time, (and it is a real pain because it means that I normally go ahead and take the traffic lane cause I’m fairly sure that they aren’t going to.) Is the problem that people don’t know they shouldn’t ride the wrong direction? Or do they know and not think it was a big deal? And the bigger question: How do you convince people that they should ride safely? I have no real problem with police writing those people tickets, (that is how we deal with cars that don’t drive safely,) but most people (bicyclist and car operators alike,) don’t tend to like that method, so… (The only compromise that I can think of is for bike lights like they do in NYC: Issue them a ticket that requires them to get lights within 24 hours or pay a fine.)

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    Klixi May 5, 2007 at 2:20 am

    Well, like it or not, generally laws are there to protect us. If you’re in a car and you get killed because you run a red light, that’s a clear indicator that the result of breaking a law is an unwise thing to do. That’s why it was really hard for me to sympathize with everyone nabbed in the Ladds Addition sting. Yes, getting ticketed sucks, but being run over sucks even more. Yes, that is unlikely to happen, but it IS possible. I really feel bad for the cylist in this story, but riding the wrong way in the bike path?! Come on! If bikes are to be treated as cars, we must start acting like it. Each day I see dozens of cyclists weaving through cars, running reds, etc. People want to speak of modeling PDX after Amsterdam… I lived in Amsterdam for 8 months while on assignment, and let me tell you that the reason cars and bikes exist in such harmony there is because of the respect. Here in the states there is this whole “us vs them” mentality, even present on this very blog. And these snarky signs I see cyclists tape to their bags and bikes “my vehicle doesn’t take a war in Iraq to run”. That is not the way to get drivers to respect us.

    I’ll now step off my soap box. Shame on the driver for not having the dignity to stop. While I don’t know the circumstances, it’s possible (even likely) that she would have faced no criminal charges if she hit a vehicle (car or bike, still a vehicle) breaking the law by riding the opposite direction. Instead, the driver ran. Now she (if it is indeed a she) can count on some serious punishment. Hurts my head just to think about incidents like this.

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    David Feldman May 5, 2007 at 5:55 am

    Are there more hit and runs lately? Whether the victim is a cyclist, driver, or pedestrian they sure are in the news more.

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    Elly May 5, 2007 at 7:39 am

    Am I the only one here who learned as a kid always to walk and bike on the left side of the street, facing traffic? This is still a common myth in much of the country. It’s not common-sense, but it’s deeply ingrained. There’s a need for serious education and outreach about wrong-way cycling. People just have no idea, they think they’re doing the right thing. Be a bit kinder, folks.

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    true May 5, 2007 at 8:12 am

    N.I.K et al –

    I don’t think you’re wrong, and I doubt you’re an insensitive #######, but maybe it would be a good idea to just have a waiting period before the critique. The poor fellow just died, and there’s a person out there freaking out (I would be freaking out) about having just killed someone. Maybe a day or two of respect for the dead.

    RIP

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    David May 5, 2007 at 8:30 am

    Elly – in the past I’ve heard that from people. People think it is safer to face traffic because they can see the cars coming and get out of the way if they need to. Definiely deserves myth status imo.

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    Benign Neglect May 5, 2007 at 9:24 am

    After hearing that a father ran over his toddler son with a motorized mower and this story, my thoughts are that we are far too casual with cars and motors etc…. it feels like we turned a grizzly into a pet!
    Driving is something that a lot of people do while making phone calls, listening to music and having conversation (and I am not claiming that the driver did this!)… but in fact they are operating heavy machinery.

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    Severt May 5, 2007 at 9:46 am

    Whether the bicyclist was doing anything illegal or not the accident still most likely ensued after some idiot driver failed to adhere to the most basic of all driving imperatives which is to look both left AND right before pulling out into the street.

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    Donna May 5, 2007 at 10:28 am

    Elly, I was raised to ride on the wrong side of the road, too. Fortunately, a very nice police officer set me straight when I was about 14. (He even gave me his card to give my dad if I got in trouble for riding opposite to what I was taught.)

    I am of the understanding that it is actually safer to face traffic while *walking*.

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    Attornatus_Oregonensis May 5, 2007 at 10:44 am

    There are some tort cases that say you are negligent if you walk with traffic. Thus, to avoid having any partial fault for being in a collision with a vehicle, you should walk toward oncoming traffic. But of course this is not true for bikes. And most of the bike lanes in PDX have arrows to indicate the proper direction. But wrong-way riding is still pretty common practice. I find it difficult to believe you would not know or deduce the proper direction after riding a few bike lanes. I always tell people they’re going the wrong way if I see them doing so. That’s probably the only thing we can do to help make this sort of tragedy a little less common.

    So sad. And needlessly compounded by the drier, who instantly made herself a felon independent of any fault from the collision.

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    N.I.K. May 5, 2007 at 11:28 am

    @true:

    See, you help illustrate the problem. Allow me to rephrase.

    Here’s the problem: a cyclist is dead because of a combination of their own law-breaking and the negligent behavior of a motorist who couldn’t be bothered to look both ways before merging into traffic. If I claim so much as “what a horrible tragedy, another cyclist run down by a motorist”, it’s going to seem as though I’m politicizing the issue and ignoring the fact that the cyclist was riding the wrong way. However, to even voice this concern, I’m considered cold, or maybe even a bit anti-bike, because I’m ignoring the fact that the motorist likely just darted into traffic without looking, putting anyone who may have been coming along, whether on bike or in car or on foot, in considerable danger, and the fact that the careless person behind the wheel couldn’t be bothered to stop and see if they could help or take responsibility for their actions.

    And then, to think about how the cyclist’s family and friends must feel… I’m torn up about this and my only connection are the cycling and fellow-human-being angles. How do you deal with the pain of losing someone you care about when you know they were partially in the wrong? Does your mind go back and forth between where to lay the blame while simultaneously grieving for the loss of this person? How intense and horrific a feeling it must be.

    So, true, no critique. Just sorrow and confusion, like I said. All I can really do at this in terms of making a contribution to dealing with this specific tragedy is be on the look out for this car we’ve got a description of and be ready to phone the police and hope this woman is brought to justice. Hit-and-run drivers need to be taken off the road for everyone’s safety. This, however, does not change the ultimate thrust of the situation: no matter through whose actions, a person is gone before their time. Nothing can change it.

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    SKiDmark May 5, 2007 at 1:50 pm

    I don’t see that it matters which way he was facing or whether he was wearing protective head gear NOT required by law. Perhaps he should be given a ticket posthumously.

    The car crossed into the bike lane, KILLED HIM, and then took off. Felony Hit and Run, I believe. The passenger has been charged with Impeding an Investigation, according to Kruger. The woman driving needs to be in jail.

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    SKiDmark May 5, 2007 at 1:54 pm

    My point is that he was in a bike lane.

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    Timmy May 5, 2007 at 2:10 pm

    i agree with the 18th comment. I’d think that the driver failed to look both Left and Right, and to the left again. The fact that the driver fled the accident, makes me believe that the driver wasn’t doing anything good at the time.

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    Jim O'Horo May 5, 2007 at 3:06 pm

    This was a low-speed crash where the motorist was just pulling out from a parking lot. Since the bike wasn’t badly damaged, there probably wasn’t a huge impact. I hope we can learn the specific cause of death. I would not be surprised if it turns out to be brain injury. I know that wearing a helmet is not required by law, but I suspect this may have been a survivable crash if a helmet was worn.

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    Jonathan Maus / BikePortland May 5, 2007 at 3:25 pm

    thanks gabe. I’ve updated the post.

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    SKiDmark May 5, 2007 at 6:29 pm

    There really is no way to test whether a helmet can be the deciding factor in surviving a crash, as the same person can’t have a fatal crash without a helmet, and then have the identical crash while wearing a helmet. Can we please put this speculative idea to rest?

    He died because he was hit by a car.

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    Charlie May 5, 2007 at 9:23 pm

    If anyone finds out what happened, let us all know. Did the cyclist hit the car? Or did the car hit the cyclist?

    What color was the cyclist wearing? Was he wearing a helmet?

    Just to let you know in advance, I wear yellow and have at least two functioning bright flashing lights facing the rear. And at least one in the front. Yellow is a color that can be seen for A LONG way before a car gets to me. So, if I’m hit from behind by a motor vehicle, let there be no doubt: they did it on purpose. No questions asked.

    Typically I ride rural roads where there is less congestion so I’m visible, typically, for a long way before they get to me. Being visible can be more difficult in an urban area such as this most recent accident. I’d still make every attempt to be sure they have no excuse like: “I just didn’t see him/her.” Use flashing lights and YELLOW or BRIGHT ORANGE clothes (not red, not blue, not green).

    Don’t give drivers an opportunity not to see you.

    Flashing lights front and rear please. Day and night. Invest in Eveready and Duracell stock!

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    Hawthorne May 5, 2007 at 10:44 pm

    You know, many of the responses here make me sad.

    Take a look at where he was biking. Is that a bike and ped friendly environment? Do you know why people often go the wrong way in bike lanes? Because it is so freakin dangerous to get to the other side.

    Why don’t we focus our energy on making Portland a safe place to be a cyclist and pedestrian in town?

    As for helmets, blinking lights, yellow…fine, I guess. But if our minds were not so warped by living in a car centric culture these would not be needed. Really, look to Denmark and the Netherlands. Do they tart up in neon and helmets then and blame accidents on the victims if something goes wrong?

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    Todd B May 5, 2007 at 11:19 pm

    With the recent news updates (KOIN 11PM tonight) on this sad incident – there may be more to this other than a driver hitting a wrong way bicyclist…as each occupant of the car is saying the other was the driver and that neither occupant gave aid to the victim. So both are in jail tonight.

    The other sad thing is that whomever was the driver at the time likely would not have had a ticket issued if they had just stayed and given aid.

    In more bike [and pedestrian] friendly communities (Netherlands, etc.) traffic law would have placed more responsibility on the driver as operator of a more powereful and regulated vehicle thus enforcement would have issued a ticket, the driver would have had greater operator’s training (to look right and expect unexpected traffic), the bicyclist would have had bike ed in grade school, and the bicyclists would be using more convenient and logically designed facilities that would minimize the benefit of wrong way riding. Wrong way bicycling is both rarer and less risky in the Netherlands and Demark – for all the previous items – plus being reinforced by the majority of riders not doing it.

    Portland (as a community) for all its bike struggles seems to be minimizing wrong way riding behavior as a portion of all bike traffic…compared to 10 to 20 years ago.

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    Todd B May 5, 2007 at 11:19 pm

    With the recent news updates (KOIN 11PM tonight) on this sad incident – there may be more to this other than a driver hitting a wrong way bicyclist…as each occupant of the car is saying the other was the driver and that neither occupant gave aid to the victim. So both are in jail tonight.

    The other sad thing is that whomever was the driver at the time likely would not have had a ticket issued if they had just stayed and given aid.

    In more bike [and pedestrian] friendly communities (Netherlands, etc.) traffic law would have placed more responsibility on the driver as operator of a more powereful and regulated vehicle thus enforcement would have issued a ticket, the driver would have had greater operator’s training (to look right and expect unexpected traffic), the bicyclist would have had bike ed in grade school, and the bicyclists would be using more convenient and logically designed facilities that would minimize the benefit of wrong way riding. Wrong way bicycling is both rarer and less risky in the Netherlands and Denmark – for all the previous items – plus being reinforced by the majority of riders not doing it.

    Portland (as a community) for all its bike struggles seems to be minimizing wrong way riding behavior as a portion of all bike traffic…compared to 10 to 20 years ago.

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    Darrell May 6, 2007 at 12:55 am

    This kind of accident just pisses me off in a couple different ways.
    Primarily, it looks like the driver(s) totally shucked any responsibility for the accident for unknown reasons. Secondly, this may have been a case where a helmet saved a life (it is not clear if the victim was wearing one or not)- it is *not* speculation that a helmet will absorb energy during cranial impact, and I think it is ridiculous to state that helmets have no measure in cycling fatalities – every bit of energy absorbed externally is energy the body does not have to absorb – basic physics. Remember that the head has the furthest to travel before hitting the ground on a conventional bike.
    This is not Europe and yes, we actually do live in a car-centric culture, and that is the psychological challenge of cycling in the US. I assume I am unseen until eye contact with drivers OR my 1 watt LEDs burn spots in the eyes of drivers behind or in front of me.

    Sorry for the rant. It is a tragedy that another cyclist has died, whether it was preventable or not. As one of the most vulnerable thing on wheels sharing the road, I feel we have the responsibility of doing everything we can to protect ourselves.

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    andy May 6, 2007 at 3:45 am

    We all can sit here and rant and rave about how horrible this is, but do we really know what the root issue is here? If you have read the past posts carefully you can pick it out. The issue here is two fold, a lack of education of both riders and drivers, and this on going battle between riders and drivers.

    We currently are living through a cultural change which is bringing the conflict of riders versus drivers, to the fore front. I personally believe that we have done this to ourselves (society as a whole not just riders or drivers) over the years by teaching and accepting that bikes are not vehicles and do not require the same amount of access as autos. We as cyclists are relegated to the right side of the road kicked to the curb, as if we do not have the right to be on the road. Until we as cyclist begin to act consistently in our approach to riding we will never be accepted. We need to begin educating not only our own families but our friends who are drivers (if you do not have any then you need to make some so you can spread the news about our condition). We need to advocate laws that do not single out cyclist but bring us onto common ground with motor vehicles so we have access to the same laws and remediation. (Do you know it is almost impossible for a motorist to be charged with anything other than reckless driving for hitting a cyclist?)

    Okay I am finished here, since I more than likely lost half of you already but I am not done working to educate those around me about cycling and the issues we face. If you see a poorly behaved cyclist you owe it to all of us to say something, and if you see a poorly behaved motorist you owe it to all of us to say something. Silence can be just as harmful as being abusive so be tactful…

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    Cecil May 6, 2007 at 7:14 am

    In case anyone is interested, the Washington Court of Appeals, Division One recently (as in last week) affirmed a judgment that a driver was not negligent when she pulled out of a driveway and struck a cyclist who was traveling the wrong direction in the bike lane – the jury was allowed to consider the cyclist’s behavior in traveling the wrong way when it considered whether the driver acted reasonably when she did not look in the cyclist’s direction when pulling out of the parking lot – the cyclist had asked for a jury instruction to the effect that a bike lane was not part of the road and, therefore, the rules of the road regarding direction of travel did not apply to him. The court did not think much of that argument.

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    Qwendolyn May 6, 2007 at 12:36 pm

    Hawthorne in post #30 is spot on.

    If you ever leave inner SE, then you realize that there are areas of town where it is extremely dangerous to ride a bicycle.

    Any debate about helmets, or educating cyclists is nothing more than thinly veiled classism.

    The crux of the matter is that the car culture will go on killing until our society is honest with the consequences of an auto-centric policy and realizes that there ought to be fundamental changes.

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    true May 6, 2007 at 1:48 pm

    Thanks Hawethorne and Qwendolyn –
    I have the pleasure of commuting across 82nd and Foster and beyond and back everyday, and it’s horrible. Everytime I bike the kid to the doctor’s office at Eastport Plaza I seriously question my decision not to have a car, or even better, an armed tank. It’s just nasty out here, and that’s one of the reasons that I’m having a hard time criticizing the individual’s behavior in this case. Keep focusing on education and infrastructure, not the deceased. That’s how we get more safeways like the I-205 bike path…

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    The sanity May 6, 2007 at 3:24 pm

    This makes me so sad. What kind of person hits someone and then runs away? I don’t care WHAT the bicyclist was doing, it was nothing he deserved to die for.

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    Jacque May 6, 2007 at 5:47 pm

    Charlie, In this situation, it is stupid to ask what color the rider was wearing, if a helmet was on his head, or if he had lights, etc. He was going the wrong way in a bike lane on busy Foster Blvd. where there is the potential to be smashed into by a driver exiting a parking lot several times per block. That is first and formost the problem here, as far as rider behavior goes. Choose a more appropriate post and get back up on your soapbox there.

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    Jim O'Horo May 6, 2007 at 7:00 pm

    The cyclist has been identified on the evening news. He was a 58-year old who worked at a nearby auto shop & commuted back & forth to work. Sorry, I didn’t catch his name. I’ll watch the 11:00 news to see if it’s mentioned there.

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    Jacque May 6, 2007 at 7:56 pm

    This story just keeps getting gets sadder and sadder.

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    Jonathon May 6, 2007 at 8:29 pm

    “Am I the only one here who learned as a kid always to walk and bike on the left side of the street, facing traffic? This is still a common myth in much of the country.”

    In primary school they taught us to bike with traffic and walk against it. Perhaps the message varied in locations with time. Still, bicycles should not be on the same roadways as cars. The existing streets are for cars and cars only. Give the bikes a designated space on the sidewalk or their own pathways. Let’s stop this nonsense. Too many have died as it is already.

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    Hawthorne May 6, 2007 at 9:36 pm

    Jonathon,

    You are pointing to the wrong “nonsense.” The per capita fatality rate (all fatalities, not just bikes) for the US in more than double (and in cases almost triple) that of Japan and many Western European countries.

    Perhaps our mentality that “streets are for cars and cars only” is part of the problem. You can get bikes off all the streets you want but the fact remains that our approach to roadway design is literally killing people. Let’s start designing them for all modes and to save lives. As you note Jonathon, too many have died as it is. So let’s really deal with it and solve the problem- and that doesn’t include reinforcing a car centric approach.

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    Timmy May 6, 2007 at 9:52 pm
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    Timmy May 6, 2007 at 9:57 pm

    Sad, so sad. I hope the two women get convicted of vehiculer Manslaughter.

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    Jon May 6, 2007 at 10:27 pm

    If your anyway familiar that stretch of Foster, then you know that the speed limit is posted at 45 MPH (at least it was about six weeks ago when I drove it last). There are times that vehicles will be going faster trying get to the top of the hill at SE 122 where Faster merges into one lane. There have been a few traffic stings here for speeding where the speeds have been clocked at 50-55 MPH. So in defense of a driver trying to merge into on going traffic can be imposing.

    One other note is that anyone traveling westbound on Foster on that stretch road on a bike can build up quite a good clip of speed since it is a steep hill. So I can see where some smart attorney will argue that with the bicyclist going the wrong way, could have been speeding down the hill and he could have been hidden from parked cars, then it was the bicyclist who was at fault. With this scenario the driver might have gotten away with hitting the bicyclist if it wasn’t for fact of leaving the scene of the accident. Any sane drive looks both ways for cars/bike and slow walking pedestrians on the sidewalks (and long boarders and rollers bladders these days), but it is hard to also look for speeding bicyclist, long boarders, and rollers bladders going the wrong way too! Lets be honest with our selves, we are small targets when viewed from a distance. Usually we are not know for our blazing speeds… so we can do pretty good job on faking out a vehicle driver, pedestrian and fellow bicyclist (well not for some) when we are going to pass in front of them when were going at a good clip!

    Please don’t flame me for this, but this will be the argument for the driver… you watch! I am just stating the facts, as they will happen. Right or wrong, their attorneys will use this in their defense.

    Last thing, this stretch of SE Foster was never designed for this much vehicle traffic… even with the addition of bike lanes they are going to have to widen the road further down where it enters Happy Valley and that is going to take dollars… lots of em. When they do though, we will have to be willing to argue with the planners to have them put in a concrete barriers between the vehicle traffic and the bike lane where it rounds the hills further east.

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    Klixi May 6, 2007 at 10:52 pm

    Hinatsu’s son said his dad was planning on giving him the bicycle he was riding when he was killed. The son said he had just talked to his dad the night before the accident. Hinatsu had just gotten a PlayStation and wanted his son to teach him how to use it.

    That last sentence made me tear up. Both women involved in this, regardless of who was driving, deserve many years in prison.

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    N.I.K. May 6, 2007 at 11:00 pm

    The existing streets are for cars and cars only. Give the bikes a designated space on the sidewalk or their own pathways. Let’s stop this nonsense. Too many have died as it is already.

    You’re saying put dedicated bike paths in some locations that benefit the handful of people who live close enough to them to make use of them, and let all others ride on the sidewalk? What infrastructure exists for the flow of bicycle traffic on sidewalks in densely-populated areas, particularly in regards to crossing at intersections? And what about more sparsely-populated areas that lack sidewalks? I don’t want to go off the subject too much, but this sort of thinking only *reduces* the bicycle’s role as a serious means of general-purpose transportation. No offense to those of you only interested in recreation and short mile-or-less errands, but quite a lot of us have longer distances to travel for legitimate purposes and a limited number of hours in the day. You might as well ask me to go ahead and spend my hard-earned dollars on a car, automotive insurance, gasoline, and all the other expenses incurred while you’re at it.

    In relevance to the discussion, even if this man had been riding on the sidewalk, likelihood is that whichever of these two women was really behind the wheel wouldn’t have seen him crossing the area in front of the driveway as the car pulled out. Fact is that sometimes, some motorists are irresponsible and that’s why this guy’s dead.

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    weastsider May 6, 2007 at 11:47 pm

    #36- “Any debate about helmets, or educating cyclists is nothing more than thinly veiled classism.”

    The comment above is thinly veiled classism.

    As we move towards bicycle nirvana, we should expect and encourage cyclists to care about safety. Otherwise we won’t all get there.

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    Attornatus_Oregonensis May 7, 2007 at 8:12 am

    From the O: “According to witness reports, the car was pulling out of a bakery outlet shortly before 4 p.m. Friday in the 11500 block of Southeast Foster Road. Police said Hinatsu was illegally pedaling the wrong way in the bike lane and not wearing a helmet.”

    Whenever I see something like this, whether I am riding or driving, I say something to the person. It seems almost inevitable that such behavior will result in a serious problem, and I’m not sure what else I can do to prevent it. Nobody ever seems to listen to me — probably they think I’m somewhere between classist and insane — but I’m just trying to help. Based on the witness accounts, I will be extremely surprised if the cause of death is not brain injury.

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    Qwendolyn May 7, 2007 at 8:13 am

    “we should expect and encourage cyclists to care about safety. ”

    Right…so the fatally injured cyclist didn’t care about safety. I get it.

    But if he had lived in a well-off neighborhood without a damn frogger 55mph highway gammit to run and had an expensive road bike, then that means he cared about safety?

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    beth h May 7, 2007 at 8:18 am

    This has been a tough discussion to read all the way through. Lots of accusations, hypothesising, and finger-pointing by lots of people. Yes, both parties made mistakes. Yes, someone got killed when he rode the wrong way down the street; and the driver abdicated her responsibility when she sped off after the crash.

    But the bigger fact here is that we DON’T live in freaking Amsterdam and never will. And too many people are holding up Amsterdam like it’s some great shining beacon, The One True Way for the whole world, without understanding why it won’t play in Peoria (or even many parts of Portland).

    The underlying issue remains this: The historic American psyche, rooted as it is in its own sort of Manifest Destiny of demanding more open space so we can conquer it, is at the heart of our inability to make the changes necessary to acheive Amsterdam-like qualities in our traffic picture. We can’t do it with our traffic because we can’t do it anywhere else — our schools, our housing, our jobs.

    Europeans grew up in places where they ran out of room hundreds of years ago and had to learn to get along in smaller spaces because there simply was no other choice. They also grew up in places less racially, ethnically and socially diverse and much more homogenous than most American cities.

    Americans demand more elbow room because we’re used to that, generationally and historically, all the way back to our colonial days. We want elbow room. We don’t want to live so close to our neighbors (because they’re not like us — 150 years ago ranchers didn’t like sheepherders and neither of them trusted “city folk”; now whites don’t want to live so near to blacks).

    It’s a mindset that has helped to shape our car culture (remember freeways and white flight to the suburbs in the 1950’s) and continues to lie at the root of our approach to city planning, education and sharing of resources. It’s a reality that is so rooted in our land and our national history that I doubt we’ll ever truly get around it on a large scale, at least in a European sort of way.

    Yes, there are pockets of respect here and there. But the idea has not caught on in a societal way. And until it does, we won’t see the kinds of changes that need to happen in order for people to be able to move about safely OUT of cars.

    There is much bigger stuff, painful stuff, going on here that lies beneath our efforts for safer cities and streets, and I think we need to look at it honestly and openly in order to move ahead in a positive way.

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    Anyonecanaffordsafety May 7, 2007 at 8:50 am

    Qwendolyn, no… if he had worn a $15 helmet and would have used one of those nifty crosswalk signals (free and easy to use) to get to the other side and ride on the CORRECT side of the street then yes he would have cared about safety.

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    peejay May 7, 2007 at 8:57 am

    Can we all agree that safety is good, and unsafe behavior is bad, without getting into some discussion of fairness and blame?

    And like any violation, the incidence of the illegal behavior is influenced to a large degree by bad planning. Wide streets with no impediments will lead to speeding motorists no matter how many tickets are handed out. Wide streets that are hard to cross will lead to wrong way bicyclists, also. Properly designed roadways encourage safe and legal behavior more than any enforcement or “education” program could. It’s time to start challenging our expectations of those who design our infrastructure, and build the safety right in.

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    Hawthorne May 7, 2007 at 9:16 am

    Beth,

    As it’s said, “be the change you want to see.”

    Being able to get around safely is not indigenous to the Netherlands- there are many parts of Asia as well where you don’t have to put on fully body armor before heading out on your (of course, there are plenty where you do!).

    It seems to me that you and many are too quick to give up and just accept the auto centric paradigm. Just look at the amazing changes that have happened in Portland since the time the BTA was first formed and people told those dreamers it could never happen here.

    Hey, I still wear a helmet when I head out and if I wanted to live in Amsterdam, I’d move there. But that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t keep working to change things here. The fatality rate on US roads is more than double most of the rest of the developed world. Yeah, that’s for autos as well. Dealing with things honestly means taking a good look in the mirror and not just accepting that this way of being is somehow manifest destiny.

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    Jonathan Maus / BikePortland May 7, 2007 at 9:29 am

    It should be noted that contrary to popular belief, the Dutch are not a super-human race of genetically predisposed cyclists. (I borrow this idea from Roger Geller of PDOT).

    The difference is that unlike the U.S., their leaders recognized and then acted upon the fact that cars were beginning to choke their cities.

    We recognized it, but because of the powerful cultural and political force of our Big Three Automakers, we did nothing about it.

    instead, we made it worse by spending billions on freeways and encouraging people to use them.

    now we’re paying the price for that decision with lives and an epidemic of obesity, asthma and oil addiction.

    Remember, Amsterdam’s revival of bikes only started in the 1970s. they made the big decisions it takes to re-think transportation in their city.

    We can do it too, but it takes bold leadership and a clear message that the current path we are on is not the right one.

    fighting and scratching to find $100K to help us find the way is not indicative of the kind leadership we need.

    as long as we are seen as a special interest or “activists” every time we ask for something, we will remain marginalized (both politically and on the roads).

    We must become not just a “part” of the conversation, but we must lead the conversation and help dictate the direction and decisions that come from it.

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    Attornatus_Oregonensis May 7, 2007 at 9:37 am

    Hell yeah!!

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    Qwendolyn May 7, 2007 at 9:50 am

    “if he had worn a $15 helmet and would have used one of those nifty crosswalk signals (free and easy to use) to get to the other side and ride on the CORRECT side of the street then yes he would have cared about safety. ”

    This is simply not true.

    What if his destination is in the middle of the block, as well as across the street?

    Then would you have him go past his destination to the next intersection with a crosswalk signal, cross the street and then backtrack?

    That sounds fine in theory but the reality is that it is not reasonable. Suppose the next intersection is a half mile away? Or farther?

    Suppose someone is in just such a situation and is on the sidewalk riding towards traffic. Then imagine someone has parked their car and blocked the sidewalk –forcing them briefly into the street riding towards traffic.

    The alternative is to backtrack or cross four lanes of traffic.

    I don’t know if that is the case specifically here, but it’s irrelevant.

    The point is that there are times when it is actually safer to ride against traffic. You can shake your head and tsk-tsk all you want. It’s true. Given a choice between froggering across four lanes of traffic or briefly entering the street heading the wrong way I think most people would agree which is safer.

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    bicycledave May 7, 2007 at 10:15 am

    I think most people are pro bike but they just don’t realize it. We just need to frame the debate properly.

    Making roads safer for bikes is not about taking rights away from motorists, but it is about making our air and water cleaner which will put more salmon and stealhead in the rivers. What citizen is pro pollution or anti-fish?

    It is about reducing noise, reducing traffic congestion and making it easier to get around the city. How many are pro noise or pro congestion?

    I have plenty of hope that things will continue to improve.

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    Attornatus_Oregonensis May 7, 2007 at 10:23 am

    “What if his destination is in the middle of the block, as well as across the street?”

    If you’re afraid to cross traffic, then you use the crosswalk at the closest intersection and walk or ride the half block on the sidewalk. When riding on the sidewalk, be aware that many people won’t look when pulling out and limit your speed accordingly. And wear a helmet. That’s reasonable. Riding the wrong way in a bike lane is not. (Nor is failing to look both ways when pulling out or leaving the scene.)

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    Jonathan Maus / BikePortland May 7, 2007 at 10:34 am

    re: framing the debate.

    instead of demanding what we need (from politicians, planners, and the public), we should focus on what everyone will get as a result of a more balanced transportation system.

    as advocates, we shouldn’t ask for anything.

    we should simply offer bicycles as a practical, cheap, and efficient solution to the problems we face (health, congestion, air quality, etc..).

    if we enter into a battle, both sides will entrench themselves in the same old defensive, emotional rhetoric that has so far not gotten us where we need to be.

    In a battle there will are winners and losers…and no one wants to lose.

    But…

    if we enter into a cooperative discussion about how to solve problems we all face, everyone wins.

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    Brad May 7, 2007 at 10:43 am

    Qwendolyn,

    You could not be more wrong in your assertions that rider convenience outweighs a pragmatic approach to safety.

    A half-mile to the next crosswalk? Any reasonably fit rider can cover that distance in roughly two minutes or less. A $15 helmet? Not an unreasonable cost for the protection it provides against head trauma. By your logic, cars should be able to pull U-turns or cut across people’s lawns / sidewalks if it saves them a few moments of commute time.

    Cyclists are traffic. We are not immune or exempted from the rules of the road. We do not have special rights or privileges compared to autos. We are not divinely protected when we fail to utilize common sense. Rants like yours only marginalize the important work done by real advocates and just play to the biases of those opposed to cycling in general. Jonathan and Beth H. have summed it up correctly. Exercise your free choice if you wish but stop using your personal rationales and scofflaw attitude to turn this rider into a martyr. This is simply a tragic and very avoidable fatality – nothing more.

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    Dropped May 7, 2007 at 12:27 pm

    Sometimes cyclists are actually at fault when they get hit. Yeah, hard for many of you to believe.

    From what I’ve read, I would bet the car drivers get charged for leaving the scene of an accident, but I can’t see why they would be at fault for the actual accident. Wrong way in the bike lane on a busy street? Dumb, dumb, dumb. Not to sound too insensitive, but the herd has been thinned.

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    Logan 5 May 7, 2007 at 12:46 pm

    I think it’s sick how so many of you automatically believe the car driver(s) should be burned at the stake simply for getting in a collision with the cyclist. Believe it or not, cyclists do have a duty to respect the laws of the road like everybody else and they can contribute to a crash. Wasn’t there a couple accidents this year involving intoxicated cyclists?

    And yeah, both of the car occupants should be locked up for a long time simply because they ran. Add more time if it’s proven that they were truly at fault for the death of the rider.

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    Dabby May 7, 2007 at 1:15 pm

    “Still, bicycles should not be on the same roadways as cars. The existing streets are for cars and cars only. Give the bikes a designated space on the sidewalk or their own pathways. Let’s stop this nonsense. Too many have died as it is already.”

    This statement, made by Jonathon above, is idiotic, and supremely ludicrous…

    What kind of jaded person would it take to type this, let alone actually believe it?

    Sadly, the kind of person this takes appears to represent a large percentage of our driving population…….. according to the amount of insults and advice hurled from car windows at passing cyclists………and sadly, I doubt that this thought process will really ever change….. especially with high profile deaths stemming partially from abuse of bike lanes……..

    I must mention that riding the wrong way in a bike lane is one of the worst things you can do for you own personal well being.

    It is the realm of crazies and tweak mxer’s, not thinking cyclists……..

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    Jim O'Horo May 7, 2007 at 2:32 pm

    Jonathan: RE post #42. There’s solid statistical evidence that a properly marked bike lane is the lowest risk place for a cyclist to operate. Statistically, sidewalks are at least 16x as hazardous as any street and maybe as much as 40x as hazardous as riding in a bike lane. Paradoxically, another study showed that it may be slightly more hazardous to ride a sidewalk facing traffic than to ride in the street facing traffic. I don’t know why this is, but the numbers are there. If you doubt me, I’d be happy to meet with you and show you the two surveys. For these reasons I disagree with your suggestion to abandon the streets to cars and move to sidewalks & bikepaths. Incedentaly, the first survey showed bikepaths second only to sidewalks as hazardous.

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    Jim O'Horo May 7, 2007 at 2:44 pm

    It seems pretty clear that the person primarily at fault for this collision was the cyclist. He was riding illegally the wrong way. As soon as he started doing that he effectively gave up all his rights to the road and all chance of recourse. He paid a huge price, and his family continues to suffer. I too don’t feel he deserved to die for his mistake, but he did. However deplorable the two women’s behavior was after the collision (and is WAS disgusting), they didn’t kill him – he is responsible for that.

    Also, I don’t understand why Sara Lance is being charged with hit & run. She might have wanted to leave, but every report I’ve heard says that she was there when the police arrived, and they had her in custody when the car was abandoned, so how did she tamper with evidence?

    The cyclist didn’t deserve to die, but the women don’t deserve to be lynched either.

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    N.I.K. May 7, 2007 at 2:52 pm

    Statistically, sidewalks are at least 16x as hazardous as any street and maybe as much as 40x as hazardous as riding in a bike lane.

    Beyond that, look to the immediate reality of things and try examining just how well-maintained the sidewalk is in our beloved Portland alone. Be sure to take note of all the tree roots making the surface an uneven mess of crazy angles and broken concrete, the many non-ramped curbs that are 5 or more inches off the surface of the road at intersections…it’s just not fit for biking in a lot of places.

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    coyote May 7, 2007 at 3:44 pm

    Hey Lao Tsu (#61), did you you burn one this morning? (Disclaimer: That is a joke).

    I think you are right, to be an advocate for change, without adovcating a technology, is to go into the discussion without ego. You will see the goal and realize that others may have better ideas than you. And if you all is balanced others will see the merit in your ideas.

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    dayaram May 7, 2007 at 4:05 pm

    The victim in this acident was a neighbor of mine for several years.(he moved away) He used a bicycle in the neighborhood often since he could no longer legally drive. He was, like so many other people, a ‘cyclist” by default in that he had no other means of transport. Certainly he made a “bad choice” but he was not a bad person. It makes me sad and a bit angry to see some of the postings above that seem to turn him into some sort of objectlessonfor poor behavior or someone who deserved tobe “thinned out” of the herd. Compassion for all of us is a better goal.

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    SKiDmark May 7, 2007 at 4:32 pm

    Nothing like a bunch of cyclists blaming the cyclist. It makes me sick. It doesn’t matter what way he is facing, he was within a bike lane, where a car isn’t supposed to be, and where a car has to yield to a bike, and he was hit and killed by a car, which took off, leaving him for dead. The lack of a helmet is not what killed him, it was that fact that a car hit him. If the car hadn’t hit him he would still be riding, he would still be alive.

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    The sanity May 7, 2007 at 5:28 pm

    “It seems pretty clear that the person primarily at fault for this collision was the cyclist.”

    It doesn’t matter because he’s dead. He paid the ultimate price for his mistakes. May he rest in peace and may we all learn from this. End of story.

    On the other hand, the driver of the vehicle is not absolved of her part in it. I think if drivers in general were more aware, this would not have happened. I personally NEVER want to be behind the wheel when another person dies and would feel responsible for that death no matter the circumstances. The fact alone that these 2 women fled the scene is worth being put in jail. To me, that is the lowest of the low.

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    Logan 5 May 7, 2007 at 6:27 pm

    SKiDmark, cars are allowed in a bike lane when CROSSING it to drive out into traffic (and in a few other circumstances as well from what I’ve read). Give a driver a break , it definitely takes more attention to Share The Road with cyclists(as we all want) and having them disobeying the traffic laws makes it all the more difficult.

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    Allow me to share the story of a friend of mine — let’s call her “E.”

    Up until her mid-20s, E had never ridden a bicycle. She grew up with an over-protective mother — in Gresham — and just never got the chance or the encouragement to learn.

    Then, after a lot of prodding by me and her other friends (and some experiences riding a bicycle in Black Rock City that proved to her that she could actually do it and it was fun), she started to ride the bike that her friends gave her.

    And, after a couple of years, she started riding the bike to work!! Two years previously, remember — she had never ridden a bike at all, was scared of them, and couldn’t conceive of getting over her fears enough to ride in traffic, even on a weekend on a neighborhood street!

    Then, one day, E was riding her bike in a bike lane, and this other guy was riding his bike the wrong way up the bike lane towards her. She decided to steer to the right so that he could pass her on the left, even as she screamed at him that he was going the wrong way…

    …and from around her left side another bicyclist came flying to pass her, and slammed head-on into the wrong-way bike dude.

    Who was not wearing a helmet.

    E rode ride into the ensuing catastrophe.

    When all was said and done, wrong-way dude went off in a meat-wagon, bleeding profusely from the head.

    E required ten-plus stitches in her knee and didn’t ride again for over a month.

    What’s the point behind this story?

    A bicycle lane should be treated like a one-way street. You don’t ride the wrong way up it unless you’ve got a DAMN good reason… and if you do, then you’d better go OUT OF YOUR WAY to be careful, because it is likely that you WILL cause an accident, and it is likely that YOU will be the one hurt in it.

    Right?

    cheers,
    ~Garlynn

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    Hawthorne May 7, 2007 at 7:30 pm

    “Give a driver a break , it definitely takes more attention to Share The Road with cyclists.”

    Look, I don’t want to string the driver up but I also don’t want to give her a break. It takes more attention to share the road? Goodness. It takes some attention for me to fire my 30-06 rifle as well. Somehow, I struggle through the difficulty and have yet to hit a person. Dumb luck, I guess? I just hope one of those ignorant hikers doesn’t cross my path when I’m out target shooting, though. I mean, some of them don’t wear bullet proof vests and have the audacity to dress in subtle earth tones instead of vibrant orange. Once one walked off the trail and straight through the woods when I was all set to squeeze one off. The idiot didn’t even have any blinking lights on!

    So yea, the cyclist was partly at fault. The driver was partly at fault. The huge difference is that one was operating a multi thousand pound vehicle that kills on impact. The other difference is that we continue to accept a landscape and cities designed for cars instead of people.

    This is all especially depressing coming from a segment of cyclists who seem to want to blame a dead crash victim. Sheesh. Is this the same website community that almost went into revolt over a crack down on stopping at stop signs?

    We need to focus on the problem. And that problem isn’t with the cyclist or even the driver- it’s the design and priorities of our transportation system. Let’s contine to focus our energy on making that safer for all people.

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    Logan 5 May 7, 2007 at 8:36 pm

    Hawthorne, I wasn’t referring specifically to that driver (she deserves no leniency), I was referring to drivers in general. There are many that have no problem using the road together but riding a bike illegally does not help us as a whole.

    That real sad part of this is that if she hadn’t tried to run away, she would most likely would have only been given a fine.

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    TCS May 8, 2007 at 7:08 am

    Well, the late Mr. Hinatsu certainly put the lie to the hopeful thought that you can throw down a little paint on the pavement and keep everybody safe.

    Most Americans haven’t had any bike instruction since their training wheels were removed. Why are we surprised as a society when cyclists ride like self-taught 5 year olds?

    TCS

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    BURR May 8, 2007 at 11:05 am

    The flip side of course, is that the driver’s license exam is ridiculously easy to pass, you actually don’t need to have taken a driver training course in order to pass the exam, there is never any follow up training for older motorists, and it’s virtually impossible to lose your driver’s license once you’ve got it.

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    Dabby May 8, 2007 at 11:49 am

    On the note of defending the cyclist…..

    I understand that someone died, and that is a sensitive issue……

    But, the reality of the situation is that now, this can be used to show the circumstances that may possibly be avoided by using bike lanes properly…..

    Not to attack the cyclist, but to educate others….

    There is no problem doing this, any more than there is a problem using the example of the driver as to what not to do when pulling out into a bike lane.

    This is the same reason that the police dept. makes sure that they state (publicly) whether or not a rider involved in an accident was wearing a helmet……

    The problem may lie in people being insensitive about it…………

    And, yes, I was also taught as a youngster that you should ride and walk against traffic. This was later changed to walk against, and to ride with…..

    Luckily, I realized the problem with this early on, and did not follow such advice…….The big problem we faced was people throwing beer bottle at us as we rode by……

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    SKiDmark May 8, 2007 at 4:12 pm

    Logan5 said:
    SKiDmark, cars are allowed in a bike lane when CROSSING it to drive out into traffic (and in a few other circumstances as well from what I’ve read). Give a driver a break , it definitely takes more attention to Share The Road with cyclists(as we all want) and having them disobeying the traffic laws makes it all the more difficult.

    Care to exlain to me why a driver can’t see a bicycle coming toward them? Or why it was OK to just drive off after hitting and killing him?

    Also, cars disobey traffic laws as well. I wondering if not looking in the direction you are travelling is against the law?

    I drive a car, I see cyclists, because I am looking for them. If a ever hit one, I would stop, I wouldn’t run off.

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