Cyclist survives run-in with MAX

Posted by on October 7th, 2007 at 4:25 pm

[Updated 10/8, 2:13pm]
[Updated 10/9, 9:18am]

max and bike (old shot from archives)

(File photo © Jonathan Maus)

Somehow, a cyclist survived a run-in with a MAX train on N. Interstate Avenue today.

Here’s the Oregonian’s report:

“A bicyclist who was hit by a MAX train and ended up lying flat underneath it seems to have gotten away with non-life-threatening injuries, rescuers said.

A southbound MAX train hit the bicyclist, James R. Kuhlman, 46, of Portland about 11:45 a.m. at Interstate and Greeley avenues…

Kuhlman was riding downhill on Greeley Avenue when he crossed the train’s path, police said.

The train’s operator honked and braked, stopping about a train car’s length from the intersection, said Susen Ritchey, 57, of Portland, who saw the accident.

By that time, Kuhlman was underneath the train’s second car, and his bike had been pushed out onto the street…Kuhlman went to Legacy Emanual Hospital & Health Center with some broken bones, said Sgt. Brian Schmautz of the Portland Police Bureau.”

According to a comment below, Kuhlman was following a competitor in the Portland Marathon when the incident occured.

KATU-TV has a report, video and photos. They say that witnesses claim Kuhlman, “tried to dart across the tracks in front of the train at the last second and the operator blew the horn, but it was too late..”

KATU also says the only way he survived was by laying between the tracks as the train rolled over him?.

Did anyone happen to see it? Or perhaps know James Kuhlman?

UPDATE: Portland Fire and Rescue photographer Dick Harris has posted a few photos from the incident. Here’s one of them (view the rest on this forum post):

Photo by Portland Fire and Rescue photographer Dick Harris
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31 Comments
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    JE October 7, 2007 at 5:51 pm

    I go though this intersection almost every day and I cannot see how a cyclist could end up hit by the Max.

    I suspect the cyclist was on Greeley (the road, not the little bike crossing) and blew both the red light and the right turn only sign. When he arrived at the center of Interstate Ave, he discovered why the light and sign were there. The way those roads come together, it is difficult to see what\’s coming down the hill when you\’re on Greeley. Thus the light.

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    Ettatron October 7, 2007 at 8:05 pm

    The Portland marathon was happening around the time the accident occurred (the route went right by there). I wonder if that had something to do with it?

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    andrew October 7, 2007 at 8:30 pm

    I\’m amazed that guy lived. I was running the marathon today and came onto the scene shortly after he was hit. I wasn\’t really sure what was going on, a bunch of cop cars and a fire truck had converged and the MAX was stopped. One cop was interviewing runners who\’d witnessed the accident. It wasn\’t until I ran a little farther and saw the bike jammed between the two MAX cars. The bike was trashed, frame folded, wheels taco-ed. I looked back and saw the firefighters and cops looking under the second car.

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    bjorn October 7, 2007 at 11:04 pm

    Just saw the newschannel 8 story about this. The cyclist was traveling in the same direction as the train and said he got too close. The police said that he will not be cited for any traffic infraction. There were no signals or stop signs involved.

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    nate October 8, 2007 at 7:45 am

    Hard to imagine how the design of the intersection had anything to do with it. Greeley is a great route. Let\’s not start acting like the rest of America and always blame some lack of law or order. Accidents happen.

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    Lazlo October 8, 2007 at 8:20 am

    I still don\’t see how this could happen unless he was northbound on Interstate turning left onto Greeley. The story says he was going downhill, so I assume they mean southbound. Even running the light onto Interstate, he would have had to cross the southbound Interstate lanes and go the wrong way to get near the tracks. If he was traveling the same direction as Max, there was a curb to jump.

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    snapper October 8, 2007 at 8:32 am

    It said on the news he was trying to avoid marathon runners.

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    Lazlo October 8, 2007 at 8:33 am

    Yeah, the runners probably forced him across Interstate near the tracks at the point the left turn lane crosses them.

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    brd October 8, 2007 at 8:51 am

    The intersection is perfectly safe.

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    a.O October 8, 2007 at 9:10 am

    Although the original account depicted his injuries as \”non-life-threatening,\” today\’s O describes him as in critical condition. Not that they\’re mutually exclusive, but sounds a little more extensive.

    His family has refused to release any further info on his condition, so we probably won\’t know much there. Still, I would like to know more about how this happened. It\’s still a mystery to me as well.

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    Megan October 8, 2007 at 11:14 am

    Yes. I know him. He is my uncle. My uncle james. pray for him.

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    rixtir October 8, 2007 at 11:40 am

    There\’s no mystery at all. There is, however, An Inconvenient Truth, Portland style.

    The train operator blew his horn and hit his brakes. He wouldn\’t have hit his horn unless the bicyclist was in his path. The train operator\’s action makes it clear that the bicyclist was in his path before the collision.

    And to get there, the bicyclist had to run a red light.

    He says he \”got too close\”– understatement of the year.

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    rixtir October 8, 2007 at 11:56 am

    Third collision between a train a cyclist this year, incidentally.

    The first was in May, when a cyclist riding the wrong way on a one-way street blew through the intersection (intersection controlled by a stop sign on the opposite side of the intersection, to assist those going, you know, the right way…) and rode into the side of a MAX.

    The second was in June, when a cyclist who was trying to beat the train discovered the hard way why that is a bad idea.

    And now this one.

    Oh, the mystery.

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    Matthew October 8, 2007 at 12:23 pm

    He wasn\’t crossing at the official bike crossing, at least, based off of KATU\’s photos. (The official bike crossing point takes forever to give you a green, which I think has a lot to do with why a lot of people either run it, or use the car one instead…)

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    toddistic October 8, 2007 at 12:43 pm

    I heard he was riding a brakeless fixie!

    I kid, I kid.

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    a.O October 8, 2007 at 12:59 pm

    Maybe you\’re right, rixter. I don\’t know. That was my point.

    My current point is that maybe it\’s also a good idea to actually find out what happens before you decide what happened.

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    Doug October 8, 2007 at 1:25 pm

    Maybe the city should put signs up at MAX intersections advising bicyclists that getting hit by a MAX train could kill you. It\’s possible that this cyclist didn\’t realize that he might get hurt if he crossed against the signal.

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    Donna October 8, 2007 at 1:27 pm

    I was reading through the posts and it would be nice to have people concerned about the rider, not how it happened and making unwarranted accusations.

    James is one of our best friends. He is not from Portland, but was following the race… someone we know was running. And, since no citation will be issued, it is pretty clear this was an accident.

    Injuries are critical. Due to lack of concern I will not provide any more detail.

    If you can find it in you, please say a prayer for James and his family. That is what they need right now.

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    Two sides October 8, 2007 at 1:50 pm

    I would like to offer up some support to the driver of the train. Nothing is more upsetting to a professional driver than being in an accident where someone is injured.

    These drivers have to deal with people who don\’t understand the physics of the situation on a daily basis. Trying to stop something that big and heavy on a dime is darned near impossible.

    I know some of these guys and they take it very hard when these things happen.

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    Jenn October 8, 2007 at 3:05 pm

    Despite if this accident was his fault or not, people make bad judgement calls and don\’t deserve to suffer anymore in their time of need.

    I hope that everyone in this accident will be okay (Max driver, James + his family.)

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    Matthew October 8, 2007 at 3:17 pm

    \”And, since no citation will be issued, it is pretty clear this was an accident.\”

    They don\’t automatically issue citations in every situation, so the lack of one doesn\’t say a lot… But a lot of people here don\’t believe in \”accidents.\” This was a collision, someone made a mistake, (not necessarily James, it could be a bad intersection design,) and it could have killed James. We want to know who made the mistake, and why, and what can be done so that it doesn\’t happen again…

    But don\’t take that as lack of support for James, what we all really want is for him to have never been hit in the first place.

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    Jonathan Maus (Editor) October 8, 2007 at 3:22 pm

    RE: accidents vs. crashes.

    Here\’s how one PDOT insider defined it for me…

    \”These are crash events that are there because of choices people made that either increase or decrease the likliehood of the predictable and preventable event occurring.\”

    works for me.

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    Barbara October 8, 2007 at 7:33 pm

    I was in the marathon & was there just when the train came to an abrupt halt. Then saw the mangled bicycle between the wheels & the raised concrete that separates the wheels from the roads. We were shouting to get aid & then as I continued on waved to the motorcycle cops & police cars speeding to indicated where to stop. That was followed by the firetruck, ambulance & then Heavy rescue truck. As a long time cyclist it was very sobering & all I thought about for the last mile & a half (& the rest of the evening until I heard about it on the news) was the person that I didn\’t see & wondered how anyone could survive & how unimportant the marathon was compared to that. I remember seeing the cyclist meandering on the outside (left of the right lane) of the course like he was with someone he knew before it happened. Speed didn\’t in my mind play a part in it & it wasn\’t at an intersection.

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    Matt Picio October 8, 2007 at 11:43 pm

    Donna, don\’t let some of the comments here fool you into thinking there\’s a lack of concern from the readers of this site. Only a small percentage of the readership actually comments on the posts, and many of them are decent caring people who just come across differently in print.

    I hope James heals quickly and completely, and I hope that the MAX driver is doing ok.

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    ray October 9, 2007 at 11:52 am

    I wonder if having one of those railroad crossing doohickies would help. You could still go around it if you had a mind to, but it might deter a few people

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    rixtir October 10, 2007 at 10:58 am

    According to the paper, he clipped a curb and fell.

    My mistake, and my apologies to everybody, for assuming that he was at fault. I hate it when other people make assumptions about accidents without knowing all the facts, and that\’s exactly what I did.

    Live and learn, I guess.

    My apologies, James.

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    Donna October 10, 2007 at 3:09 pm

    Rixtir, I appreciate those who admit when they have made unwarranted accusations without having all the facts. I can\’t get into details, as I noted before, about our good friend James. However, the Oregonian wrote a really great article today which gives the community all the information needed to move forward and let this blog die. I dread the moment he feels strong enough to surf the internet. It is going to be hard to read all of the negative pieces. Although there is some positive, we all know 1 negative to 100 positive, the negative still outrules. Please, I beg you, please let this be the last note.

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    wsbob October 10, 2007 at 11:19 pm

    I read the article too. Geez…while riding right next to the train, gets so absorbed watching his fiancee run, that he falls under the train. That\’s one heck-uv-a display of devotion. Somebody that day was sure looking over that cat\’s shoulder.

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    Todd Boulanger October 22, 2007 at 11:20 pm

    How about outfitting Portland\’s trams, trains, and streetcars with pedestrian catchers? (It may not have helped in this case.)

    See a photo of a modern one:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Catcher_under_a_tram.jpg

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    david October 23, 2007 at 11:03 am

    this is the same intersection my car was destroyed at by a simi coming south on interstate when I was making a protected left turn onto greeley. the trucker ran a yellow or red light and was going slow enough to catch me going on the green. this is a very dangerous intersection in my opinion.

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    Calvin October 25, 2007 at 4:06 pm

    Wow, lucky, James Kuhlman is now ranked up as one of the luckiest men alive. I am very happy and relieved that he survived.

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