Urban Tribe - Ride with your kids in front.

Bus operator cited in collision with cyclist

Posted by on June 29th, 2007 at 10:07 am

[Updated: 10:56am, 6/30]

The Portland Mercury blog reported an incident this morning that happened yesterday afternoon between a TriMet LIFT bus (the smaller ones used for transporting disabled riders) and a bicyclist near the intersection of NE Multnomah Street and NE Grand Avenue (Google Map of location).

Here’s an excerpt from the account published by the Mercury (it’s from an email sent to them by a friend of the cyclist):

“Drew was hit by the front of the bus as the bus made a left turn right into him. His track, fixed gear bike got lodged under the bus and he was thrown off his bike. The bus driver immediately came out of the bus yelling at Drew accusing him of “coming out of nowhere” and swearing that she had the right of way…

…The police are trying to blame Drew because of having a track bike but the bike locked up because of his intense back-pedaling (braking) and left a ridiculous skid-mark in the street. I believe he is looking into getting a lawyer because of the accusations that he’s at fault and in case Tri-Met tries anything else in the insurance wranglings.”

I contacted TriMet PR person Mary Fetsch and here’s what she said,

“This unfortunate incident occurred yesterday between the cyclist and a LIFT bus (25′ in length). The LIFT operator was cited, so clearly the driver was in the wrong.”

Fetsch says the driver was cited by the Portland Police Bureau for Failure to Obey a Traffic Control Device.

Traffic Division Commander Mark Kruger is aware of the incident and says it has been investigated by Officer Cari Phebus. Kruger says he’ll follow up with me on Monday with details from her report.

NOTE: We love your comments and work hard to ensure they are productive, considerate, and welcoming of all perspectives. Disagreements are encouraged, but only if done with tact and respect. If you see a mean or inappropriate comment, please contact us and we'll take a look at it right away. Thank you — Jonathan

  • Anonymous June 29, 2007 at 10:18 am

    i wonder how this would have turned out with a front brake?

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  • Matt Picio June 29, 2007 at 10:25 am

    Possibly head over handlebars and under the bus, instead of bike under bus.

    Front brake is irrelevant from a liability standpoint if the bus turned into him. All vehicle operators are responsible for checking their blind spot before changing lanes. As for braking, a \”ridiculous\” skid mark clearly meets the definition of the statute. Hope the cyclist got photos of his own skid mark – that makes great evidence if he ends up in court.

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  • Matt Picio June 29, 2007 at 10:25 am

    Is Cari Phebus one of the six officers trained in bicycle investigations?

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  • Logan 5 June 29, 2007 at 10:40 am

    Jonathan, at Blogtown, you mentioned that the driver was cited by Trimet. What does that mean? Not the police?

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  • a.O June 29, 2007 at 10:48 am

    Jonathan, Is Drew OK?

    Matt, I\’m not sure that the lack of a legal brake really *is* irrelevant legally. It seems clear to me, based on the above-stated facts, that Drew\’s braking worked as well as or better (as you point out) than a legal brake would have. But Drew\’s conduct could constitute negligence per se. This is a doctrine that says that, when a statute sets a particular standard of care, violating it is per se negligence (i.e., fault). For example, if a speed limit is set at 35 and someone is going 45, even if someone else causes the accident the speeder may be partially at fault because they did not follow the 35 mph standard of care. There is at least an argument to that effect here if the brake was not legal. This likely depends on some particular details of OR tort law — where\’s Cecil?

    Anyway, Drew *definitely* needs a lawyer here. You wouldn\’t want surgery without a doctor, and the same thing applies for getting reimbursement for an accident without a lawyer…

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  • Anonymous June 29, 2007 at 10:48 am

    matt – yes, yes, the bus is at fault, of course. but a bike with caliper brakes on the front and back, traveling at the same velocity would be able to come to a stop in a much shorter distance without skidding (aka controlled). i have many vehicle encounters where i have the right of way but had to brake _hard_ to avoid an accident, that i would not have avoided on a fixie.

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  • Jonathan Maus / BikePortland June 29, 2007 at 10:51 am

    Logan 5,

    thanks for bringing this up. I need to clarify who cited the driver. I initially assumed TriMet meant they cited the driver internally, but now after thinking about it I am not clear.

    I\’m expecting a call back from TriMet with a clarification and will update when I can.

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  • Jonathan Maus, Editor June 29, 2007 at 10:57 am

    The driver was cited by the PPB for Failure to Obey a Traffic Control Device.

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  • Mr. Viddy June 29, 2007 at 10:59 am

    My daughter works for Tri-Met LIFT services and according to her the driver involved in this incident is well known in her office as being a real jerk with tendencies to road rage.

    This doesn\’t mean he was at fault but it makes me wonder if it doesn\’t have something to do with his claim that he did not see the cyclist approaching.

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  • tonyt June 29, 2007 at 11:12 am

    \”The bus driver immediately came out of the bus yelling at Drew accusing him of \’coming out of nowhere\’\”

    That reminds me of when I got hit by a lady who ran a red light.

    When the cop asked me which direction I was coming from, I pointed up the road, and the woman objected and claimed that I had been coming from a completely different direction.

    Fortunately I had many witnesses. (she got no ticket)

    People screw up and they blame others because it CAN\’T be their fault.

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  • Logan 5 June 29, 2007 at 11:12 am

    Thanks for the legwork on that Jonathan.

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  • spencer June 29, 2007 at 11:14 am

    some tires skid like butter, some dont skid at all. skidding is not indicative of stopping power or distance. in fact, if a ridiculously long skid mark (on the street, not on the underpants) was made it would indicate a buttery slippery tire which would increase stopping distance. there is a reason cars have ABS, so they DONT skid and lose traction with the road.
    tell me, purveyors of fixies, was any thought put into your skid when you put on your tires?. i ride w/ a brake, but i only use it for emergencies because a skid doesnt stop the bike as fast as BOTH a brake and skid.

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  • Josh June 29, 2007 at 11:28 am

    Drew is home but in pretty intense pain, as you\’d imagine. He has to go see a surgeon today for further examination, I believe. I want it to be said, as I\’m the one who wrote the letter to the Mercury this morning, that I\’m not a biker, aspiring maybe but not yet a biker, and so if my descriptions of the incident don\’t make sense, I\’m sorry. I was relayed the story by Drew\’s girlfriend and thought the Mercury should hear about it. I hope an official account surfaces to clarify my story\’s inadequacies. I\’m happy to hear about the citation and hope this opens the door for Drew to be taken care of financially so he can recover and so he can rebuild the bike he\’s worked so long to build in the first place. One more bummer, he was planning on participating in the cycle from Seattle to Portland, or vica versa, on that bike.

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  • maxadders June 29, 2007 at 11:58 am

    If I had an accident on my bike and needed to drum up some public outcry to make things right, I sure as hell wouldn\’t mention I was riding a fixie or track bike. Especially if I were riding brakeless.

    That\’s like shooting yourself in the foot. Or admitting that your inability to coast doesn\’t actually provide the \”zen-like ability\” to spot hazards (like, for instance city busses) sooner.

    Sounds like Drew might be a little inexperienced in the world of brakeless fixed riding, since you mentioned that his now-crushed bike was only a week old.

    A skid\’s effectiveness depends on many factors including tire, psi, road surface, road conditions and most of all technique. And while trying to outdo each other in \”longest skid\” competitions might look cool, it\’s exactly the opposite of what you need to accomplish in an emergency situation: maintain traction, slow the wheel and stay in control.

    At least now Drew can now claim all sorts of cool messenger injury elite street cred from that one time where he took out that bus.

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  • Todd B June 29, 2007 at 12:05 pm

    Remember, that most (if not all) urban transit buses in this region also have a front mounted camera which will be helpful in determining fault in this and other traffic crashes/ incidents.

    Has anyone requested to see this footage yet (FOIA)?

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  • Cecil June 29, 2007 at 12:21 pm

    Oh dear, AO, don\’t get me started on negligence per se – if you think the Fazzolari Trilogy was baffling, you don\’t even want to look at the statutory tort case 😀

    But seriously, Oregon is a \”comparative negligence\” state. That means that a defendant can present evidence to the jury of the plaintiff\’s actions to the extent those actions may have contributed to the accident. If the plaintiff was more than 50% responsible, he goes away with nothing. Up to 50% responsibility, his total damage award is adjusted to reflect his percentage of fault. For example – if his damages are $10,000 and he is 50% at fault, he gets $5,000.
    If the plaintiff was violating a law that was enacted to promote safety, that violation could very well be evidence of his comparative fault. I would anticipate, however, that even if there were not a law that could be interpreted to require brakes on fixies, the court would most likely consider the fact that Drew was riding a brake-free fixie (I know, I know, some readers want to add the word \”redundant\” here, but that\’s really not the point of this post – that too would be an issue for argument in court) relevant to his comparative fault

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  • Matt Picio June 29, 2007 at 12:25 pm

    A_O – I see and understand your point. I certainly defer to the expert opinions. As always, it depends on the circumstances of the incident, which none of us (presumably) witnessed.

    You made a really great point – if the rider was in excess of the speed limit, he yielded any right-of-way he may have otherwise had (Oregon law).

    As for the driver being cited for failure to obey a traffic control device, I am not surprised. I\’ve witnessed Tri-Met drivers driving through some pretty orange lights on many an occasion.

    I don\’t know Drew, but I hope he recovers quickly and has no lasting injuries, and I hope that the Tri-Met driver calms down. I don\’t care who\’s at fault, yelling at the cyclist you\’ve just hit with a bus is really…. inconsiderate, among other things. What happened to common concern for the well-being of others?

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  • John Boyd June 29, 2007 at 1:05 pm

    \”comparative negligence\” … defendant can present evidence to the jury of the plaintiff\’s actions to the extent those actions may have contributed to the accident.

    Ad absurdum, Drew is somewhat at fault for simply being a cyclist and not also a motorist. Why on earth would someone make them self vulnerable like that?

    Remember, ONE judge has found FG are not also a brake and ONE judge has found that they are also a brake. No other decisions have been rendered.

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  • wsbob June 29, 2007 at 1:53 pm

    \”Drew was hit by the front of the bus as the bus made a left turn right into him.\” Matt Davis/portland merc blog

    I\’m trying to figure out what happened here. Had the cyclist been moving before the bus hit him? Sounds like he might have been stationary. I wonder if the driver just made that stuff up about the cyclist “coming out of nowhere”, or whether the cyclist was merging from somewhere into a lane in front of the bus.

    The police cited the driver for Failure to Obey a Traffic Control Device, so the officer apparently was able to ascertain something definite in that respect.

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  • a.O June 29, 2007 at 2:08 pm

    Glad to hear Drew is OK, considering.

    Now that we know OR is a comparative negligence state, this could end up being a very interesting civil case with regard to the brake issue. As Cecil says, this is the kind of thing that could reduce a damage award if the court holds that Drew was not in compliance with the brake law (or perhaps even if he was). Given the law\’s stopping distance standard, the skidmark may actually may be key evidence indicating whether or not he was compliant if a fixie without a handbrake *can* be compliant. I think either way this would be one ruling re the brake law that will get appealed.

    @ #17: Tri-Met drivers routinely run red lights downtown. And I agree that it says a lot about someone as a human being who gets out of a vehicle and yells at someone who has just been struck by a f*&$ing bus, regardless of who was at fault!

    @ #18: Drew\’s choice of vehicle is very unlikely to be seen by a court as a reasonable basis for apportioning fault.

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  • John Boyd June 29, 2007 at 2:23 pm

    Fine speculation, however read 815.280(2)(a) again for ref to any performance standard, and note that isn\’t one. Then also the first two unitalicized words of my post 18.

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  • a.O June 29, 2007 at 2:38 pm

    @ #21: Ah, note that what isn\’t one of what? I\’m afraid I don\’t understand your post.

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  • John Boyd June 29, 2007 at 2:44 pm

    Sorry, just that there is not currently a distance standard.

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  • a.O June 29, 2007 at 2:46 pm

    Oh, right. I was thinking of the Mark Ginsberg bill.

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  • Cecil June 29, 2007 at 3:13 pm

    Whether the statute requires a fixie to have an additional mechanism by which to stop its forward momentum would be a question of law for the trial court to decide, not a jury. If the court concluded that the statute does require a separate break, then the jury would need to determine whether his non-compliance with the statute was a factor in the accident . . .

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  • Martha S. June 29, 2007 at 3:28 pm

    He hits a guy with a BUS and the first thing he does after is YELL at the guy he hit? Damn, that\’s cold.

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  • ME June 29, 2007 at 3:52 pm

    I was swiped by a bus full of passengers/witnesses by on Interstate near the Rose Garden. The idiot was going north and turned right, onto the mall…well there I was on his right side getting swiped. I had to ride after him and stop the bus to just get an apology. It took him five minutes, but he finally fessed up he didn\’t see me. He was probably laughing at the water cooler the next day.

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  • Dabby June 29, 2007 at 3:52 pm

    It sounds to me like if he had had multiple calipers brakes, and for some reason tis would have helped him stop faster, which I don\’t think it would have, it sounds like faster stopping would have placed him under the bus, instead of in front of it where he ended up.

    When I was hit, on my track bike, I actually sped up to try to get out of getting hit, which made the judge drop the idea of a fixed gear being the cause. I did ultimately lose the case, but it was never again brought into question.

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  • josh m June 29, 2007 at 3:58 pm

    Having a front brake likely would not have made a difference at all.

    In February I broke the crank on my track bike and used my back up conversion for a couple weeks. There was a front brake on this bike, however, the whole time I was riding this bike, I never touched the front brake. There were a few \”emergency\” stops I did, that I still didn\’t use the front brake.

    \”Anonymous\”, have you even rode a fixed gear bike for a long period of time? or are you just making assumptions?

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  • N.I.K. June 29, 2007 at 4:24 pm

    I fail to see how all the hypothetical alternate breaking mechanism scenarios might change the fact that a cyclist was struck by a bus. I don\’t mean that in the \”stop pointless debate!\” way, but rather, \”in either case, the bus would have hit the cyclist\”. Here\’s hoping Drew gets a judge with enough common sense to see that fact instead of burning time on a theoretical pissing contest.

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  • Greg June 29, 2007 at 5:33 pm

    Two points:

    1) Drew might well have not been able to stop in time with a front brake. I don\’t want to point 2 to suggest otherwise. And furthermore, failing to yield and then hitting someone shouldn\’t be okay if in some hypothetical best equipment case the person you hit could have avoided you.

    2) You get most of the useful bike braking out of your front wheel. So if you like being able to stop, get a front brake.

    The always helpful Sheldon Brown on braking:


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  • Adam8 June 30, 2007 at 8:12 am

    RE: #31
    Uh, sorry Greg, but you\’re just plain wrong on point two there. If the majority of your braking power came from your front wheel/brake, then the back end of your bike would, by the laws of momentum, \”crash\” into the front end and be thrown over the handlebars for lack of anywhere else to go. The only way to make a safe stop is to slow your rear wheel, however you may accomplish that. Admittedly, a front brake, IN ADDITION TO THE REAR, would slow you down more quickly, but only having a front brake is a sketchy business if you want to keep your teeth.

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  • Andre June 30, 2007 at 12:40 pm

    Adam8 you could seriously stand some practice on this whole bike riding with hand brakes thing and it would change your mind. It can be easily proven by chapter 4 in any physics book that a hand brake on the front is vastly more effective and safe if you know how to use it than using only rear wheel braking.

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  • Dabby June 30, 2007 at 1:12 pm

    A hand brake on the front is a much more dangerolus proposition, especially in an emergency braking scenario.

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  • N.I.K. June 30, 2007 at 1:21 pm

    Phhht. Front brakes as sketchy business = old wives\’ tale.

    I use my front brake almost exclusively -the back only ever gets used in wet weather when rim brakes are much less efficient- and I\’ve never once gone over the bars due to bad braking. This may have to do with the fact that in proper front brake usage, squeezing the lever is a carefully-incremented action, with the force being applied gradually across the lever\’s length of travel instead of being jammed down upon hard (even in an emergency stop – it may happen *fast*, but it\’s incremented!), and that I lift up off the saddle and shift most of my weight to the back of the bike to offset weight distribution (think of the bike as a lever), but the majority of the braking force is indeed coming from the front wheel, and my teeth are intact. There\’s a *tiny* amount of technique involved, but luckily it\’s not especially technical technique, and most people can manage it just fine.

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  • N.I.K. June 30, 2007 at 1:29 pm

    \’course, it\’s also worthwhile noting, especially since dyed-in-the-wool Dabby posted while I was writing my posting, that I\’m not a messenger darting between unbelievably narrow spaces on a regular basis; if I were, I\’d almost certainly be using a combination of front and back brakes much more regularly. I can see where the powerful rear braking forcing of a fixie comes in handy in those circumstances…though I can\’t say I quite get a skid alone being good in that sort of setup, unless locking the rear wheel while still moving forward can allowed a highly-skilled rider to either bail or successfully maneuver out of harm\’s way because a full-on stop isn\’t anticipated. I\’d like to hear the full-on explanation from one of you experienced no brakes folks, just because I\’m curious (and yes, that\’s sincere curiosity, not the \”I challenge you…\” sort).

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  • wsbob June 30, 2007 at 1:35 pm

    Back brake vs front brake? I think problems with only one or the other are partly a novice thing. Both together are good, that\’s why bikes, other than trendy fixies, have them. People without experience that get on to a bike with only a front break that stopped sharply could get into a problem.

    Some people can get used to riding almost anything with a fair degree of safety; zbomb bikes, tall bikes, clunkers, fixies, but when establishing the parameters of what a law might be, it\’s always safest to go with what the average person that\’s going to be using the equipment might reasonably manage.

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  • Matt Picio June 30, 2007 at 2:48 pm

    You can brake with the front brakes to a point. When you use solely the front brake the entire bicycle becomes a lever pivoting at the front axle. When the frictive force of your stop exceeds the weight of you + bike, then your bike will pivot around your front axle and deposit you in front (unless you\’re quick to reduce pressure on the front brake).

    Basic science. Would it have done any good in this situation? Who knows – not enough information.

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  • joel June 30, 2007 at 3:57 pm

    \”i wonder how this would have turned out with a front brake?\”

    i fail to see how a front brake on the bike wouldve stopped the bus from turning into the cyclist.

    surely there are more relevant questions to ask first when responding to a post like this.

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  • bjorn June 30, 2007 at 4:04 pm

    #37, people riding recumbents have a more upright riding position allowing people to see more easily. That sounds safer for other road users to me, perhaps we should only allow people to ride on expensive recumbents. We don\’t use a what is the safest kind of vehicle for the average user test for cars/trucks/suv\’s, why on earth would we disallow whole classes of pre-existing human powered vehicles on the basis that the average person might not be able to ride them as safely as a different potentially more expensive type of hpv.

    The test should be if the operator is operating the vehicle in a safe manner or not. Sounds like the cop on the scene judged that the driver of the bus was the one operating unsafely and cited him, not the cyclist.


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  • peejay June 30, 2007 at 4:33 pm

    Seems to me that the rider had the right of way and was not even obligated to stop at all. The bus turned into him. Whether he had brakes or not is as relevant as whether he had health insurance: both would have helped, but neither has anything to do with assigning or apportioning fault.

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  • josh m June 30, 2007 at 5:24 pm

    Why is it that a fixie with out hand brakes is \”trendy\”. I see a lot more bikes with gears and both front and rear hand brakes, wouldn\’t these technically be more \”trendy\”?

    And on top of that, I see many more fixed geared bikes with a front hand brake than with no hand brakes at all. So I wouldn\’t call a fixed gear without hand brakes \”trendy\”, since only a small percentage ride them…

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  • wsbob June 30, 2007 at 5:46 pm

    No offense intended in my reference to fixies as trendy. It\’s just a simple observation that while in the past, multi-geared/braked bikes seem to have generally been the standard, in downtown for example, now it\’s as though every kid and his dog has to have a fixie to cruise around on. I\’m sure it\’s not just kids getting them, but it does seem as though fixies have been enjoying an extraordinary wave of popularity.

    I still haven\’t heard more specific details of the bus/bicycle collision; whether the cyclist was moving when hit. Even though the driver was found to be at fault, it might be helpful to know why the driver apparently failed to see the cyclist.

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  • SKIDmark June 30, 2007 at 8:33 pm

    Considering when I was mess(enger)ing in Boston almost everyone (who was a messenger) had a track bike without handbrakes in NINETEEN EIGHTY SEVEN, I would say that a track bike on the street without handbrakes is TRADITIONAL, not trendy. Janky fixed gear conversions, now that\’s trendy.

    If this is Drew the Bike Messenger then he has plenty of experience riding, but nobody can really be prepared for a car or truck making a traffic violation and slamming into you.

    There are two kinds of (bike or motorcycle) riders, those that have crashed and those who will.

    The left turn into an oncoming bicycle (or motorcycle) is a classic scenario, as is the statement \”I didn\’t see him\” (an admission of negligence) and \”he came out of nowhere\” (track bike riders are magicians, they appear out of nowhere and stop without brakes). When I got \”left-turned\” the motorcycle cop that arrived on the scene issued a ticket to the car driver for \”Failing to yield to oncoming traffic\” but this was a world away in Pomona, California.

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  • Disco D June 30, 2007 at 9:16 pm

    So regarding the brake issue…anyone ever wonder why skateboarding/scooter riding is legal but fixies aren\’t? I certainly trust the braking system of a fixie better than either of those.

    I know the obvious answer is the speed difference, but most of the \’fakengers\’ you see crusing around don\’t look like they are going more than 12-15mph anyway.

    Actually maybe I should shut my mouth before some lawmaker tries to require some sort of braking system on a skateboard 🙂

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  • VR June 30, 2007 at 10:27 pm

    First – this has nothing to do with the incident. From what I have read it sounds like the bus was 100% at fault.

    Now on to the secondary discussion:

    The front brake is at least 70% of your stopping capacity.

    This is well established, and true in Motorcycles as well as bicycles.

    Wikipedia: In the case of a typical upright bike braking to decelerate at 0.5 g (4.9 m/s² or 16 ft/s²), more than 90% of the force comes from the front brake, whereas rear wheel braking by itself is inadequate in an emergency.[3]
    Bicycle and motorcycle dynamics

    PENNDOT: For a powerful stop, squeeze the brake levers harder and harder — the front always three times as hard as the rear.
    Bicycle Safety: Using Your Brakes

    Spadout: However, the most effective technique for powerful stopping is to use the front brake almost exclusively.
    During braking (either with the front or rear brake), the bike deceleration causes a transfer of weight to the front wheel. This means that there is more force pressing the front wheel to the ground, and the back wheel nearly none. Therefore, the front wheel can generate more frictional braking force than the back wheel before locking up and skidding.
    In an emergency stop, it is important to grab the front brake and press it hard to stop in the minimum possible distance. The rider should shift his or her weight as far to the rear as possible to avoid flipping over the handlebars. Maximum deceleration is accomplished by maintaining enough pressure on the front brake such that that the rear wheel is barely touching the ground, just before lifting up. In reality this is not practical for most cyclists. Instead, use light pressure on the back wheel and hard pressure on the front. The back wheel is primarily useful as an indicator—when it starts to skid, reduce the pressure to both brakes to prevent the rear wheel from lifting, then increase pressure to both again.
    Brake Technique

    I have taken the Motorcycle Safety Foundation\’s beginning rider course once, and the Experienced Rider course twice (I try to take it every so often to keep my skills honed). They always show the data about front brakes being more than 70% of your stopping force.

    I know from personal experience that on a motorcycle and a bicycle you can stop SIGNIFICANTLY faster when using the front brake.

    With most tires and most road surfaces and most bikes – you are more at risk of skidding the front tire and laying the bike down, than you are of going over the handlebars.

    If you have really grippy tires, really good brakes, and a nice dry clean surface – you can go over the handlebars if you were to grab the front brake extremely hard.

    Of course I could make up any scenario for any type of vehicle which could be theoretically possible.

    But for 99.99% of bike riders, you will be able to stop far faster using a combination of front AND back brake. Heavy on the front.

    Anyone who is claiming the front brake is dangerous is simply ignoring reality and the physical facts.

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  • wsbob July 1, 2007 at 1:01 am

    \”janky\”. I like that word! Track bikes are traditional. Actually, though, I can\’t say I\’ve ever had occasion to really learn what unique features they have that distinguish them from janky conversions.

    Janky fixed gear conversions ridden by throngs of weinie limbed dewey eyed suburb fashion cut-outs is what I\’m thinking about when I say trendy. But I don\’t want to complain too much, because they and the fakengers are kind of fun to see around nonetheless. And anything that can get someone on a bike can\’t be too bad, right?

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  • N.I.K. July 1, 2007 at 2:14 am

    I can\’t say I\’ve ever had occasion to really learn what unique features they have that distinguish them from janky conversions.

    As a non-expert, non-trackbike owning cretin, I\’ll start you off (sorry folks, night ended early!).

    First and foremost, track bikes usually don\’t have dropouts at the end of the rear triangle, they have \”track ends\”. They look a bit like a U rotated 90 degrees counter-clockwise viewed from the drivetrain side of the bike. Most conversions will be much more obvious due to having at least the reverse of this, or even slightly-more vertically oriented dropouts. Modern mass-produced bikes w/ completely vertical dropouts are generally considered poor candidates for a conversion.

    The geometry of the frame is quite a bit different as well -the angle of the headtube as well as the rake of the fork is quite a bit more steep than on your typical roadbike. As such, the handling is quite a bit different…think of the rather imprecise, wide sweeping turns made on the bikes you may have ridden as a kid vs. your first real MTB vs. your first real road bike…it\’s generally a bit more slight and precise. This is one of many reasons to respect velodrome racers and all others who zip on the track bike at high speeds in the face of danger.

    Others will cover everything I\’ve missed, which is probably a lot.

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  • wsbob July 1, 2007 at 11:39 am

    N.I.K., thanks for the intro, re; track bikes. It\’s a bit off topic, but I figured fittings and frame geometry was a likely to be a significant distinguishing factor in a track bike. Steep fork angles with shorter trail probably make for the kind of quick, darting manoeuvre that a rider needs to be able to make to jump into openings in the lead.

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  • matchu July 1, 2007 at 11:40 pm

    In reply to #46. When I was 12 and returning home from delivering newspapers I happened upon a situation where I needed to stop suddenly. In my panic I gripped the front brakes and went flying over the handle bars. It took a few days to pick out all of the gravel that was lodged into my hands. Admittedly this has not happened a second time, but there\’s been a few times were an accidental grab on the front brakes has started to pull my back wheel up. It happens. As such I empathize with people who have reservations about relying upon a front brake; however, I\’m glad to hear that your personal experiences have been more forgiving.

    The usage of both front and back breaks though is very effective and should never be disregarded as you and others have pointed out.

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  • peejay July 2, 2007 at 5:35 am

    All this discussion of the merits of front brakes is entirely beside the point of this posting. Let me repeat:

    A cyclist was hit by a bus. The cyclist had no obligation to stop. The bus turned into him. End of story.

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  • I\’ve gone over the handlebars twice in my life. Once, I was wailing down Hawthorne at 35+ mph, and coming into the 5-way intersection at 11th & Ladd. Some large bovine of a woman in a small Japanese import made a left turn off Hawthorne (eastbound) onto 11th (against the light, left turn on red), then proceed to cut across all three lanes of traffic into the right lane — across my intended path. In that case, though I did have my rear brake locked up and my front brake squeezed firmly, it was the positioning of a small automobile in my path that caused the bicycle to stop and me to continue over the handlebars, landing in the middle of the intersection, vaguely remembering that the light had just turned yellow, and looking up to see a wall of traffic headed down 11th in my direction…

    The second time, I may have been applying front brake pressure, but it was a ditch at the bottom of a downhill trail that caused the bike to stop and me to continue over the handlebars. Had I not been braking, it\’s possible that the bike would have rolled through the ditch and up the other side.

    I still use front brakes today, extensively when I need to stop NOW. As mentioned above, they provide 70-90% of the stopping power of a bicycle (also above 60% for automobiles).

    As for the bus driver — too bad he hadn\’t memorized the Ten Commandements for Motorists:

    1. You shall not kill.
    2. The road shall be for you a means of communion between people and not of mortal harm.
    3. Courtesy, uprightness and prudence will help you deal with unforeseen events.
    4. Be charitable and help your neighbour in need, especially victims of accidents.
    5. Cars shall not be for you an expression of power and domination, and an occasion of sin.
    6. Charitably convince the young and not so young not to drive when they are not in a fitting condition to do so.
    7. Support the families of accident victims.
    8. Bring guilty motorists and their victims together, at the appropriate time, so that they can undergo the liberating experience of forgiveness.
    9. On the road, protect the more vulnerable party.
    10. Feel responsible toward others.

    3,4,5,7,9 and 10 seem particularly appropriate, and 8 might be useful now in the post-accident time period.


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  • josh m July 2, 2007 at 6:58 pm

    My first roadbike, the rear brake cable broke, so I only had a front brake on it. I had adjusted the front brake so it didn\’t lock up, so if i yanked on it, I wouldn\’t end up over the bars. I usually keep all of my front brakes like this.
    Not long after, I got a job as a Security Officer. One of my postings was at the Steel Plant on Johnson Creek. I was riding down the Springwater at a pretty good clip(end of the day)and someone flagged me down. Being used to only haveing a front brake on my road bike, my instinct was to pull the front brake, which I did, and I went up and over the bars. good times. nice junk out of my knee and arms. Pretty embarrassing.

    Track bikes also have a higher bottom bracket(thus the sizing on a track bike is going to seem smaller than it looks), which w/ track cranks allows you to take sharp turns while still pedaling.
    Do to the more compact of the frames, you often can\’t fit full fenders on, and you have toe over lap, some more than others.

    A lot of people are riding fixed gear/single speed bikes because they\’re cheaper and easier to maintain. I am sure some ride because \”it\’s the cool thing\”, but for the most part, that\’s why. Plus fixed gear bikes are more power efficient. the momentum carries you for the most part. Plus, there\’s no better feeling than passing some guy going up hill all decked out in lyrca and a $2k aluminum road bike, while I am on my steel track bike w/ one gear. 😉

    And besides, you get awesome(er dumb as shit)comments like, \”OH ANOTHER FIXED GEAR\” as you pass them 😉

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  • NoChain July 3, 2007 at 3:04 pm

    Peejay has echoed the sentiments of many here: \”A cyclist was hit by a bus. The cyclist had no obligation to stop. The bus turned into him. End of story.\”

    In terms of determining LEGAL fault here, yes, that probably is the end of the story (ignoring the potential complications caused by fixie not having brakes).

    But is that the whole story?

    Whether you\’re in a car but especially if on a motorcycle or bicycle, just following the basic rules of the road is not enough. It\’s enough to keep you from colliding with everyone else who is also following the rules of the road, but what about those guys who, like the bus driver, blow it from time to time? You need to go beyond the basics to protect yourself, and that includes not entering an intersection without making sure that everyone else has noticed you and is yielding to you.

    It\’s not your legal responsibility to take that extra step, but it is my experience that it\’s not very difficult to take on the higher level of responsibility, and well worth it. You\’ll know you have adopted the appropriate attitude, habits and practices when stupid behavior by drivers doesn\’t surprise or annoy you any more, much less put you in danger.

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  • peejay July 3, 2007 at 5:10 pm


    While I agree with your point that one is responsible to go beyond the limits of what is required by law to preserve one\’s health, I was getting a little frustrated by people spending all their time on the brakes/no-brakes debate as if they were on topic on this thread. It isn\’t. It\’s an entertaining debate, but it\’s also generally argued by people on both sides who have already made up their minds, so I don\’t know how useful it is. And it\’s not the central point to the story here. Other subjects we should be discussing that are more germane to the thread are: TriMet\’s policies regarding dangerous bus drivers; training of bus drivers in collision avoidance; the possibility that the roadway may need improvements to make similar collisions less likely; possible changes in traffic laws; police behavior during the crash investigation; the health of the victim. Fixie brake discussion would rank, oh, about 37th on my list.

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  • NoChain July 3, 2007 at 5:23 pm

    Peejay, well, I think it is relevant to note that 70% of a bike\’s braking power comes from the front brake, and a no-brake fixie is inherently a rear-brake-only system. But, then, so is any bike with just a coaster brake, which is legal.

    As to your list of what this thread should be about… is what I would put at the top of the list; the topic of my previous post: the ability of the cyclist, any cyclist, to avoiding falling victim to such a crash, through the employment of appropriate attitude, skills, habits and practices, including clearing an intersectin before entering it. If all cyclists did that, we\’d have nothing else to talk about. And since we\’re much more likely to be able to affect the behavior of cylists than drivers, that\’s why it\’s on the top of my list. Everything else is, oh, about 37th on my list.

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  • SKiDmark July 3, 2007 at 6:35 pm

    You will have that attitude , NoChain, until it happens to you.

    I don\’t understand how any of you can be so sure that slowing down or stopping would have been the best course of action anyways. If he had been going faster he may have made it in front of the bus. He could have also hung a fast right and been alongside the bus as it completed its left turn. The idea that the only course of action would be stopping indicates a lack of understanding of how to react in an emergency situation.

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  • wsbob July 3, 2007 at 10:35 pm

    Note that in the perpetuation of his relentless argumentative strategy, NoChain, relating to collisions that are not the fault of cyclists, assumes without basis, that the cyclists in question do not, on any level, take the preventative measures he speaks of, even though they may well have.

    The point of this strategy seems to be to direct attention away from the at fault source that create collisions of this kind: Faulty motor vehicle drivers.

    Further, the strategy seems directed towards having those concerned with greater safety for cyclists and motorists alike on public roads, resign themselves from efforts to accurately identify and address the true problems that contribute to these kind of collisions: Faulty motor vehicle drivers.

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  • JeremyE July 3, 2007 at 11:02 pm

    But vehicular cycling will save you from the idiots, just like defensive driving will save you from the idiots. Just like it worked when I was rear-ended at a stop light, twice. I suppose I could have just accelerated into the intersection and into oncoming traffic. And like it worked when my mom and grandma were hit by a drunk driver. They could have driven up onto the curb instead of pulling as far right as they could. Oh wait, it won\’t work all the time. I guess sometimes it really is somebody\’s fault.

    And now back to NoChain to tell us how we could all do it better and it\’s really all our fault. (And just for clarity, I am aiming for dripping sarcasm – yeah, I know it undermines what I say, but it just may be time.)

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  • NoChain July 3, 2007 at 11:11 pm

    Skidmark, I didn\’t say anything about slowing down or stopping.

    Wsbob, you misunderstand. It seems to me that most cyclists have the attitude that since drivers are operating the deadly weapons, the onus is on them to make sure they never hit anyone; the implied flipside of that view, whether it is recognized or not, is that the onus is NOT on the cyclist to make sure he is not hit by an errant motorist. I believe that when such an attitude is held by a cyclist, it leads to behavior that is not as careful as it could be. Robert Hurst address this point in much more detail in the one or two chapters on responsibility and vigilance in his book, The Art of Urban Cycling.

    It is certainly possible, but highly unlikely in any given situation where a collision occured, that anyone, either the motorist or the cyclist, took all the preventative measures possible to avoid a collision. This is why I assume it is very likely that there were preventative measures that were not taken by both the motorist as well as the cyclist, especially in predictable situations such as a simple intersection conflict.

    This is a forum for cyclists, is it not? Therefore the focus should be on what CYCLISTS can do to prevent falling victim to all but the very tiny percentage of all bike-car collisions where the cyclist truly could have done nothing to not be hit.

    Left crosses are one of the most common type of bike-car collision, very predictable, and quite preventable. See Collision Type #6 at http://www.bicyclesafe.com for a decent start. But the key is to be vigilant and avoid putting yourself in a position where you need someone to notice you, unless you\’ve first verified that they have noticed you.

    Clearly, such verification did not occur in this case before the cyclist put himself in harm\’s way. Was it his legal responsibility to do so? No. Was it his personal responsibility to do so? That\’s up to him, but I highly recommend that everyone reading this takes on as much responsibility for their safety as they possibly can. Avoid putting your safety in the hands of others, especially drivers.

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  • NoChain July 3, 2007 at 11:16 pm

    Jeremy, yes, rear-enders when stopped at a light and drunk drivers careening unpredictably out of control are examples of those very rare situations where truly nothing could have been done. But a classic and very predictable textbook left cross is not one of those very unusual situations.

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  • steve July 4, 2007 at 11:25 am

    Would everyone please, kindly stop feeding the troll? The posts where his initial trolling, baiting post is ignored, he simply stops posting. Let him spout out his nonsense, then let\’s carry on as usual. Everyone wins.

    Why encourage him to hijack yet another thread?

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  • wsbob July 4, 2007 at 1:47 pm

    Steve, thankyou. Yes, for quite some time, I\’ve been aware of the destructive, diversionary tactics of Troll-NoChain at work, but I\’ve been waiting for others to confront him for what he\’s doing.

    If he and people like him are truly interested in taking issue with the faults of cyclists that contribute unnecessarily to collisions, they should feel welcome to do so, but in a responsible manner that does not handicap efforts to address the correction of problems created by faulty motor vehicle drivers.

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  • SKiDmark July 5, 2007 at 8:54 am

    No Chain : The only part of comment #57 directed specifically at YOU was the first sentence.

    Actually, you wrote about braking power. What about braking power is not about slowing or stopping?

    Anyone who thinks they can avoid every potential collision or accident is just fooling themselves. There are two kinds of cyclists : those that have crashed and those who will.

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  • SKiDmark July 5, 2007 at 8:59 am

    For what it\’s worth, here is what i wrote on the Mercury Blog:

    The Tri-Met Bus took a left turn into him, so what kind of bike he was riding and how it is equipped has nothing to with it. He may or may not have been able to stop on a bike with caliper brakes, or he may have locked up the front wheel too and been in an even bigger world of hurt. The bus driver failed to yield to oncoming traffic. That is not the cyclist\’s fault by any stretch of the imagination.

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  • a.O July 5, 2007 at 9:03 am

    Please listen to steve, @ #62. This is becoming extremely tiresome.

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  • peejay July 5, 2007 at 10:04 am

    SKID, a.O.:


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  • brian July 9, 2007 at 1:35 pm

    He got hit by a bus! Who cares what he was riding? Front break or no! The law should always come down hard on people who do the hitting.

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