Urban Tribe - Ride with your kids in front.

Updated: Police; Truck driver will not be cited

Posted by on October 11th, 2007 at 4:00 pm

[Updated 5:12 pm, 11:21 pm – updated sections are italicized.]

Lt. Mark Kruger of the Portland Police Bureau says his team has finished their preliminary investigation of the fatal bicycle collision that happened earlier today at W. Burnside St. and SW 14th Ave.

Kruger says they are not issuing any citations at this time and that the driver’s blood and urine tests showed no signs of intoxication.

Now, the Police report will be submitted to the District Attorney and the DA will consider whether or not the truck driver has any criminal liability.

Here’s more on the citation issue from BikePortland contributor and frequent commenter, Police Officer Robert Pickett:

“Citations can be issued long after the fact. In the most serious cases, the police will be as methodical and careful as possible in the investigation, so that, among other things, any potential prosecution won’t be tarnished. This might mean that a citation isn’t issued until a later time. (And of course it could mean that a citation isn’t eventually issued.)”

Once the DA has looked it over, the report will go back to the lead investigator at the Police Bureau, Peter Kurronen. Kurronen then has sole discretion as to whether or not the truck driver should receive a citation.

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  • BURR October 11, 2007 at 4:02 pm

    not even a $242 failure to yield ticket?


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  • pushkin October 11, 2007 at 4:03 pm

    This may be the straw that breaks the camel\’s back.

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  • BURR October 11, 2007 at 4:04 pm

    it\’s time to purge all the anti-bike cops from the traffic division

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  • tonyt October 11, 2007 at 4:05 pm

    Failure to yield???? Hello?

    De facto failure to yield?

    At a loss for words.

    Obviously the rules do not apply when WE are the victims, so I\’m trying to remember why it is that we are supposed to obey them.

    Oh right, they\’ll write me a ticket.

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  • Zach October 11, 2007 at 4:06 pm

    Rinker Materials
    6400 S.E. 101st Avenue
    Portland, OR 97266

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  • rixtir October 11, 2007 at 4:06 pm

    Perhaps PPB hasn\’t yet heard of the vulnerable users statute?

    Let\’s make sure the D.A. has heard of it…

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  • Zach October 11, 2007 at 4:06 pm

    DA\’s office:

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  • BURR October 11, 2007 at 4:08 pm

    if enough cyclists show up we could shut west burnside down this evening

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  • Zach October 11, 2007 at 4:09 pm

    I\’m there.

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  • Dave J. October 11, 2007 at 4:09 pm

    What a joke. A total, utter, yet not-at-all-surprising, joke.

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  • pushkin October 11, 2007 at 4:11 pm

    So if I\’m driving my car in the left lane of a one way street and I turn right into the path of the car on the inside lane and kill the driver then I don\’t get a ticket?

    Thanks for the quick traffic lesson PPB.

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  • rixtir October 11, 2007 at 4:16 pm

    I think it would be far more insulting to have the driver prosecuted on a $242 failure to yield ticket than it would be to issue no ticket at all.

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  • dotrob October 11, 2007 at 4:21 pm

    I\’m not defending anyone either way, but for those of you outraged that no citation was issued, a similar situation happened Wednesday where a driver hit and killed a motorcyclist who had the right of way:



    It\’s much the same situation, in that a car struck and killed someone on two wheels who had the right of way, claiming he was hard to see.

    Keep your eyes open out there.

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  • Not putting up with this!! October 11, 2007 at 4:22 pm

    \”if enough cyclists show up we could shut west burnside down this evening\” – BURR#8

    Well, being as failure to yeild is obviously not illegal at the corner of 14th and West Burnside, the police shouldn\’t have a problem with this.

    What time? Should this possibly be organized with a day or two of notice to increase turnout?

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  • Dave J. October 11, 2007 at 4:26 pm

    If they don\’t charge the driver, the only thing they could possibly say is that he had started his turn well before she arrived at the intersection, and that she ran into the truck. That seems to fly in the face of what eyewitnesses were reporting (in the previous thread), namely, that the cyclist and truck were waiting alongside each other for the light, and that they went at the same time, and she was hit. They also said that there were no tire marks from the bike, so we\’re supposed to believe that she was proceeding N. on 14th toward Burnside (which is downhill) and just without looking rode right into the side of the truck? Sorry, not buying that.

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  • destin October 11, 2007 at 4:27 pm

    give a date and i time, i will be there.

    this is an outrage.

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  • pushkin October 11, 2007 at 4:28 pm

    Comment 14 –

    Friday would be a great day for this. And the impact would be greater if the cyclists were to assemble in silence. No shouting, no talking, no sloganeering, just silence.

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  • encephalopath October 11, 2007 at 4:31 pm

    Can a Citizen Initiated Violation Prosecution be made by a third party, or does it have to be done by the person in the accident?

    ORS 153.058 – I\’ve looked through the statute briefly, but don\’t see anything definitive either way.

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  • a.O October 11, 2007 at 4:31 pm

    I\’ll be there. In fact, I\’m going to ride through there on my way home today.

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  • b dot October 11, 2007 at 4:35 pm

    friday sounds good but good luck on getting a silent crowd

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  • a.O October 11, 2007 at 4:40 pm

    encephalopath, this is the kind of thing that won\’t be addressed in the statute, but my guess is that a judge will find that a third party does not have standing to bring such a suit. But I suspect this has never been tried, so you never know. Ask Mark Ginsberg. If anybody knows, he does.

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  • motown October 11, 2007 at 4:41 pm

    i would show up and block burnside. i\’ve delt with too many cops who are prejudiced against bikes…even the ones who ride. let them deal with the traffic problems. this is wrong wrong wrong. i want to be safe on the road.

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  • Do it tonight October 11, 2007 at 4:44 pm

    today would have more impact – 7pm

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  • Zach October 11, 2007 at 4:47 pm

    I\’m thinking that a candlelight vigil in the intersection would be the most appropriate response. Friday\’s likely the best day, too.

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  • rixtir October 11, 2007 at 4:47 pm

    I would say Ray Thomas is the one who would know, given his role in uncovering this hidden gem.

    It is an interesting question, because the statute isn\’t clear about that point, but I suspect a.O. has the correct answer.

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  • Jonathan October 11, 2007 at 4:49 pm

    I\’ll head over there

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  • Karl Rohde October 11, 2007 at 4:49 pm

    The Bicycle Transportation Alliance is deeply saddened by this horrific incident. We are stunned by reports that there will be no citation issued. We will follow the investigation very closely to discern how they could conclude that the driver was not at fault.

    We encourage all cyclists to be vigilant and safe in an environment that contains negligent and outright hostile elements. We will continue our efforts to improve the safety of bicyclists through engineering, education and enforcement.

    Our condolences go out to the family and friends of the cyclist.

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  • andy October 11, 2007 at 4:51 pm

    It\’s amazing how effectively Kruger cut out the rest of the legal system, just by saying \”no citation will be issued.\” Who needs judges or juries?

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  • rixtir October 11, 2007 at 4:55 pm

    andy, a vulnerable user of a public way prosecution, and/or a wrongful death suit, will be far more powerful than a failure to yield prosecution.

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  • not a lawyer October 11, 2007 at 4:57 pm

    Wow, so everybody here is apparently a lawyer. Nobody seems open to the possibility that:

    a. it was indeed an accident
    b. cyclists can be and frequently are at fault in accident situtation
    c. frequently break the very laws they complain about automobiles breaking (running stop signs, for example).

    And wear your helmets. You cannot complain about other people not respecting your safety if you do not respect it yourself.

    Do I drive, yes. Do I ride (defensively), yes.

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  • JT October 11, 2007 at 5:01 pm

    andy..not how the legal system works…sorry. think about it..

    I\’ll be there tonight at 7pm…I\’m not blaming anyone…believe it or not, accidents do happen and sometimes the \”blame\” lies on both parties involved..the actions of one can negate the outcome. what does a 242$ ticket do to help the family with their loss or the driver with his/her lifetime guilt?

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  • wyatt October 11, 2007 at 5:01 pm

    I\’ll be there.

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  • BURR October 11, 2007 at 5:04 pm

    a $242 failure to yield ticket doesn\’t seem like much, but it firmly establishes fault in the crash, which makes the results of any follow-up civil actions that much more certain.

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  • rixtir October 11, 2007 at 5:04 pm

    believe it or not, accidents do happen

    It\’s possible that she was both riding completely legally, and not positioned safely for crossing the intersection. If the driver can\’t see you because of where you\’re positioned, there\’s not much the driver can do to keep from hitting you.

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  • ScottB October 11, 2007 at 5:05 pm

    Police often do not issue citations so as to not prejudice prosecution by the DA. Sometimes (not often enough) if the DA does not file charges the police then issue a citation.

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  • encephalopath October 11, 2007 at 5:06 pm

    A failure to yield conviction isn\’t about the money or punishment. It\’s about establishing fault.

    Having the traffic court find the driver at fault for the accident is an important piece in the puzzle of further legal remedies.

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  • Slick October 11, 2007 at 5:07 pm

    why is the outcry so much more intense with this death than with the death from earlier this year? http://bikeportland.org/2007/08/29/man-dies-after-bike-on-bike-collision/

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  • rixtir October 11, 2007 at 5:09 pm

    a $242 failure to yield ticket doesn\’t seem like much, but it firmly establishes fault in the crash, which makes the results of any follow-up civil actions that much more certain.

    True, I suppose, but if the driver was negligent, it\’s really not necessary to have that little piece of paper to successfully prosecute the case.

    And I would still feel insulted to have this incident reduced to a \”failure to yield.\” That should be reserved for fender benders. When somebody suffers serious injuries or death, that\’s a whole other level of violation we should be talking about.

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  • rixtir October 11, 2007 at 5:12 pm

    why is the outcry so much more intense with this death than with the death from earlier this year?

    Us vs. Them hypocricy.

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  • rixtir October 11, 2007 at 5:14 pm

    Us vs. Them hypocricy.

    Actually, now that I think about it, the cyclist who died in that incident was the one who violated the other cyclist\’s right of way.

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  • Jonathan Maus (Editor) October 11, 2007 at 5:17 pm

    note: I just updated this post with a bit more information about how the investigation and potential citation might play out.

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  • Carl October 11, 2007 at 5:17 pm

    There will be a slow ride up Burnside to the site of the accident tomorrow (Friday).

    It will start from the west approach of the Burnside Bridge (where the Burnside is closed to motor vehicles).

    Meet at 6pm.
    Ride at 6:30.

    Candles, flowers, notes…bring whatever you think is appropriate.

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  • Tim October 11, 2007 at 5:18 pm

    You can\’t fail to yield if you can\’t see anyone you need to yield to.

    Everyone seems to be blaming the driver, but the fault doesn\’t seem self-evident to me.

    Consider this scenario:

    The driver approached the intersection with turn signal on, and stopped. The cyclist then approached the intersection, and pulled alongside the truck, right into his blind spot. The light turns green, he checks his mirror and proceeds to turn, right into the cyclist\’s path.

    I think it\’s a terrible event no matter who is to blame, but I really hesitate to jump to conclusions so fast before all the facts are in.

    If I am dead wrong in my understanding of the relevant law, or if I am missing something that undeniably establishes the driver\’s culpability here, I\’d greatly appreciate it if someone could enlighten me.

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  • Tbird October 11, 2007 at 5:31 pm

    I\’ll be there tonight

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  • Carl October 11, 2007 at 5:32 pm

    (Sorry to use the term \”accident.\” It\’s so ingrained. My apologies.)

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  • Dan (teknotus) October 11, 2007 at 5:34 pm

    There is a special Breakfast on Hawthorn Bridge tomorrow.


    The sun won\’t rise until 7:23 tomorrow. I\’m planning on bringing a light for that as well.

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  • Curt Dewees October 11, 2007 at 5:36 pm

    Tim\’s comment (#43) seems to make the most sense out of this tragic death. It\’s possible that the driver never saw the cyclist and never knew she was there .. until it was too late.

    This is one of the biggest problems with striped bike lanes: Cars and trucks turning right have to cross them, even when bikes are going straight thru. The result: Car & truck drivers don\’t always see the cyclist (who presumably has the right-of-way). And even when the car/truck drivers DO see the cyclist, they don\’t always yield the right of way. [I\’m not saying that\’s what happened in today\’s death. I wasn\’t there. I obviously don\’t know.]

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  • rixtir October 11, 2007 at 5:37 pm

    Tim, post 43:

    I think you laid out one scenario that would explain why a driver might not receive a citation, or even be negligent.

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  • leftcoaster October 11, 2007 at 5:44 pm

    It is hard to figure out how something like this could happen, since according to the witness statements the truck was not going fast and stopped immediately when someone yelled for him to stop.

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  • jp October 11, 2007 at 5:50 pm

    Beyond whether the driver is or isn\’t at fault, planners need to reconfigure how bike lanes are laid out. How many bikers have been hit and/or died due to autos making right turns? Relying on the driver to yield to bikers isn\’t working!

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  • a.O October 11, 2007 at 5:50 pm

    The question in Tim\’s #43 scenario is whether the duty of due care requires a driver to be aware that there is a bike lane to his/her right and, before executing a right turn and while stopped at an intersection, to pay attention to his/her rearview mirror for bikes approaching the intersection from behind. I think it does. And I would litigate that.

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  • xb October 11, 2007 at 5:55 pm

    i f\’ing hate to say it, but the scenario in #43 is all too common and, so sadly, mostly the bikers fault. i come up parallel to left-turners all the time. but i know they have the right of way — even if they are cars and i \”know\” they see me. now, if the biker was there first, the trucker is negligent, as he should have seen her. its just a guess, but the biker pulling up is a common site.

    this doesnt negate the tragedy if its the case, and it also doesnt mean we shouldnt consider that there may be ways to help prevent this — more the reason for separate bike lanes, and so forth. and, yes, education in the bike community.

    i ride with my child in tow all the time, and it has really helped me to think twice about every move i make, and learn not only what lame things drivers may do, but consider why they may do them (and why they might not be so lame).

    i am hoping to make it by tomorrow night (cant tonight), cuz awareness is good for everyone … keep your eyes open drivers and bikers alike. peace to the family and friends of the biker. and hopefully some answers too.

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  • xb October 11, 2007 at 5:56 pm

    (sorry i meant right turners…. too frazzled to proofread?)

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  • Kevin Wagoner October 11, 2007 at 6:04 pm

    If something gets organized can someone send me an email so I can participate?

    Thank you

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  • Jordan October 11, 2007 at 6:11 pm

    Everybody this tragic event reminds us to be defensive and aware of the other vehicles on the road. It very difficult for the driver of a large truck to see his or her right and rear. Take note of the signs on the back of trucks that say \”This vehicle takes wide right turns.\”

    My thoughts go out to the family and friends of the woman who died.

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  • Tim October 11, 2007 at 6:15 pm

    a.O (#49):

    I think your suggestion is a good standard for \”due care\” in this situation. My scenario posited the cyclist pulling up alongside, into his blind spot, so even if he was exercising \”due care,\” or perhaps even \”extra care,\” he might not be at fault, for example, if he didn\’t happen to be looking at his mirror during the second or two she crossed his range of view.

    Instead of–or in addition to–focusing on the possibility of the driver\’s personal negligence, I would also focus on how those mirrors are mounted on trucks. For example, if the configuration allows too much of a blind spot, we might see positive change in the standard of \”due care\” required of trucking companies in the installation of range-of-sight equipment on large vehicles (and on this note I suggest that the \”wide right turn\” notices mentioned by Jordan in #55 help to put other vehicles on notice), rather than pinning the blame on a single individual who might have done everything he could have.

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  • Jessica Roberts October 11, 2007 at 6:20 pm

    I just don\’t understand how the law can state that bicyclists have the right of way in a bike lane, but it isn\’t failure to yield when a driver fails to yield to that right of way.

    That\’s not a rhetorical statement. I really don\’t understand. Can anyone explain to me?

    Because if I were in a car, and I stopped at a stop sign, and the cross traffic didn\’t have to stop, and I decided to proceed and I hit a car, I would expect to receive a ticket. And I don\’t see how this is any different.

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  • wsbob October 11, 2007 at 6:27 pm

    I\’m not surprised this happened. On the bike this summer it became clear to me that bike lanes at intersections have this potentially fatal flaw that compounds the possibility that motor vehicle drivers will not see a cyclist to their right in a bike lane at an intersection.

    At least as one solution to the problem to consider, at intersections, bikes should be merging with motor vehicles or vice versa as seems to have been suggested by earlier comments by other people.

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  • a.O October 11, 2007 at 6:37 pm

    Tim @ #56:

    I understand the facts of your scenario, but I disagree with your conclusion that it is not negligent to fail to notice the cyclist approaching from behind before she entered the blind spot given the driver\’s knowledge that he/she would be turning right across a bike lane. I think this is a reasonable standard of care to hold someone driving a truck to and I think there is a good chance that a Portland jury would find that this does constitute negligence.

    Suing Rinker Materials and getting a large judgment is likely to make people owning and operating these trucks engineer better mirrors. That kind of product change enhancing security has regularly occurred as a result of tort litigation.

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  • Tbird October 11, 2007 at 6:37 pm

    \”… bike lanes at intersections have this potentially fatal flaw that compounds the possibility that motor vehicle drivers will not see a cyclist to their right in a bike lane at an intersection.\”

    Just an idea:
    Take for example the eastside of the Hawthorne: A sign telling \”Joe Leadfoot\” that he/she must \”yield to bikes\” actually seems to work. Perhaps a solution is to sign darn near any right turn on a bike lane with a similar heads up. Post it on the stripe separating bike/ auto lanes with a few bollards leading up to it. Ok, yes this might cost some $, but it\’s better than another tragedy like this.

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  • Anonymous October 11, 2007 at 7:01 pm

    I\’m torn.

    The more I thought about it on my ride home, I kept thinking more like Tim #43, which unfortunately puts the responsibility of \”due care\” on the deceased.

    Yes there is the letter of the law, but we all know that there are things that you do and do not do in order to enhance the likelihood that you live through the day.

    Either way though, I would think that a ticket would be issued and it would be hashed out in court.

    And Mr. #30, I suggest you come to the silent ride tomorrow night and make your concerns known then. Especially your 3rd point. That\’ll go over well.

    Re: your first point, there are hardly ever \”accidents.\”

    An accident would be someone\’s tire blew out, a tree fell into the road, you hit an oil patch. Those are accidents (although you do get into \”maintaining your equipment\” with the tire thing).

    Almost all the time though, it\’s negligence, recklessness, or inattention. Pick one. One of the two parties involved here screwed up.

    I worked in a machine shop years back. If I had ever hurt myself or someone else, and then said, \”It was an accident\” I would have gotten smacked. It\’s amazing that people are more careful when operating a lathe than than when jumping in a 3,000 vehicle like it\’s a god given right.

    ugh. I\’m done now. Sorry for going on so long. No winners here. Everyone lost.

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  • Lee Hoffman October 11, 2007 at 7:16 pm

    I have seen so much of this legalized slaughter ,I t sickens me that AHUMAN LIFE IS TREATED LESS BECAUSE OF THE MODE OF TRANSPORTATION THEY CHOOSE!!! When will death on a bike matter,to Police? ,city government….Stop Killing us!!!!!

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  • Mr. Viddy October 11, 2007 at 7:37 pm

    I do not own a car, I do not drive a car. I bike and walk everywhere. However, it pains me to see so many people jumping to the conclusion that the driver was at fault in this tragic death. Not a day goes by that I don\’t see both cyclists AND motorists doing stupid or careless things.

    Let\’s show our respect for the departed but stop with the finger pointing.

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  • Jessie October 11, 2007 at 7:57 pm

    Why don\’t you all wait until the investigation is complete to see what the police are actually doing? Nobody here saw what happened so put down the damn pitchforks. It sounds like the fault of both involved, though, as usual, the biker lost. Don\’t think that regardless of the outcome, the driver will ever get off scott free too. You can\’t just shake off killing someone on accident.

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  • Schrauf October 11, 2007 at 8:02 pm

    Several comments have said a biker in a marked bike lane should not pull up and stop at the front of that bike lane if another vehicle on the left is there first and turning right (eventually across the bike lane).

    If there is not bike lane, I would agree. But with a bike lane, I thought it was entirely legal and proper for the biker to go to the front, and at that point the turning vehicle must yield, whether there first or not. The biker has his OWN LANE, and other vehicles must always yield to a vehicle in a lane before crossing said lane.

    Right? I\’ve always assumed this, but I could be wrong.

    Having said that, I can understand an exception for a large truck with a likely blind spot – the biker should yield and wait behind the already stopped truck, if the truck has its turn signal on, bike lane or not. Similar to how a large truck sometimes veers left and takes (needs) two full-size lanes to turn right – if it is clear the truck is turning (blinker on), other cars don\’t drive up on the right side of the truck and block its turn or enter its blind spot.

    This is just a theoretical \”best practice\”. I have no idea what happened with this collision or who was at fault.

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  • jleiss October 11, 2007 at 8:10 pm

    I agree with Viddy: cyclists could drive more defensively. Today, I was bumped by a car (my handle bars, from the side; I did not lose control). It was frightening, and I was initially angry, but in fact, I was as much at fault – and as dumb – as the vehicle. While either the driver or myself could have prevented the situation, once we realized what was happening, we were also both able to prevent it from being worse.

    Having said that, however, and without particular reference to this case, I think a lot of the anger felt toward the city is misdirected – I believe A.O. could shed better light on this subject, but it seems to me that Oregon has particularly weak laws when it comes to fatal car crashes.

    If my understanding is correct, a majority of states have laws that would allow for prosecution under manslaughter charges in cases not resulting from criminal negligence; I understand that Oregon does not. Without judging this biker or driver, it seems that Salem could and should pass laws that allow for something between a citation and a murder charge, and that clarify for police how they should proceed in situations such as this one.

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  • Jonathon Severdia October 11, 2007 at 8:13 pm

    A couple of months ago, I was hit by a car that turned right into me just north of the Fred Meyer up in that same area. I banked with the car such that by the time he hit me, I was pushed into a rear wheel skid but did not fall down. Sonuvabitch almost drove away from the scene, and then tried to blame ME for not seeing him (he was _behind_ me when he initiated his turn).

    Though there may come a time when I will need every ounce of luck I can muster, it was not on that day. Here is what The Complete Book of Bicycle Commuting says about the subject:

    \”If you are caught off-guard by a motorist making a right turn from your left side, brake if there\’s time, then quickly turn into the side street with the car. This evasion is so easy and sure that motorist right turn accidents need rarely be a serious problem. Remember, though, that the quick turn only works if you are close to the car. If you wander off to the far right of a wide lane, you not only won\’t see the car begin the turn as soon but also will be unable to turn quickly enough–the car will already be going sideways before it reaches you\”

    I read that book pretty well up and down before I ever rode a bike on city streets. I grew up on a street where cars drive forty miles an hour over the speed limit, so it only made sense. But cycling in traffic anywhere is not a walk in the park. Education, attitude, and experience are absolutely critical if you want to avoid being crushed like a mouse, so if the words \’carefree\’, \’childlike\’ or \’zen\’ resonate with you, please get your fill someplace else. Without laying blame for the accident itself, it seems like this poor girl naively entered herself into a situation which should have immediately raised red flags and sounded off submarine klaxons. I deeply implore everyone who has not yet done so to read a book about defensive cycling techniques, and tattoo the lessons into your somatic nervous system. Harsh your mellow though it may, the price of security is eternal vigilance.

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  • Thom October 11, 2007 at 8:45 pm

    Not seeing her because there\’s a lot of blindspots in a big, elevated truck seems likely.

    But \”not seeing\” something doesn\’t change the fact that he failed to yield the right of way. I\’ve been t-boned (in my car) because I didn\’t see another car coming. I told the cop I didn\’t see the car, but it apparently doesn\’t matter: I still got a ticket. (btw: it was at the crest of a hill and the oncoming car was hidden. I was exonerated in court.)

    Whether there was a blindspot or glare on the windshield or whatever, the fact is the driver failed to yield. Undoubtedly, he failed to yield accidentally, or perhaps he failed to use \”due caution,\” but he definitely failed to yield her right of way.

    I\’m trying to imagine what about the accident would warrant not issuing the citation. Because \”I didn\’t see her\” isn\’t a valid excuse.

    Doesn\’t Portland have video cameras running in some downtown intersections?

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  • SKiDmark October 11, 2007 at 8:48 pm

    The bicyclist had the right of way.

    She did not deserve to to die.

    \”I didn\’t see her (or him).\” is NEVER an excuse.

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  • sad October 11, 2007 at 9:30 pm

    I\’m really having a hard time with this one – to me, I think both are at fault, as the driver didn\’t yield, but I also blame the cyclist for putting herself in that position. The number one rule for when you drive a car is to be defensive; never assume that the other guy is paying attention or sees you. Always assume that the other guy is dangerous and always be aware of your surrounding. The same needs to be said for when you\’re on a bicycle. Yes, it was failure to yield, but if you were the driver sitting in the truck and you see nothing to yield to, what would you do? If I didn\’t see anybody, I\’d assume that it was clear and would make the turn. Are we requiring that drivers need to sit at a new green light for 5 seconds just to make sure everything has cleared before moving? (Which, isn\’t a bad idea – Once again, drive defensively) Yes, he failed to yield to something he couldn\’t see, which I guess could be negligence, or it could be an accident that could have been prevented by both parties. Bike lanes are just a bad idea and its time that bicycles are REQUIRED to take the lane when in the downtown area. NO MORE BIKE LANES!!! If there was no bike lane and she was taking the lane as any other vehicle would have done, she would have been queued either in front of of behind the truck, and we wouldn\’t have to talk about this horrible trajedy.

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  • Peter W October 11, 2007 at 9:43 pm

    re: #13 dotrob

    \” for those of you outraged that no citation was issued, a similar situation happened Wednesday where a driver hit and killed a motorcyclist who had the right of way… claiming he was hard to see.\”

    Actually the Hillsboro police will cite the driver who hit the motorcyclist in that case. I just got this response from
    Lieutenant Michael Rouches:

    \”You are right on the issue of the citation, we are going to cite the driver, we first have the crash team investigate and then check the driver\’s blood for any imparing drugs or alcohol.
    We then forward the case to the district attorney\’s ofc for review in case any criminal charges could apply as to extrene negligence or recklessness.
    Those don\’t appear to be factors, but we will at the very least cite the driver.
    This has been a very tumultuous issue as the tragic nature of the crash doesn\’t fit the imposition of the penalty.\”

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  • Flyingdog5000 October 11, 2007 at 10:04 pm

    I can shed some light on the \”not issuing a citation\” issue. If the investigating officer were to issue a citation for say Failure to Yield to a Bicyclist in a Bike Lane (ORS 811.050) and the driver immediately pleaded guilty and paid the fine, it makes it difficult to later prosecute for a criminal violation due to double jeopardy. So the investigating officer by not issuing the cite is leaving the door open for more serious charges if the D.A. or Grand Jury chooses.

    Having said that, its unlikely that there will be any criminal charges regardless of who was at fault as it would be extremely difficult to prove that the driver of the cement truck knowingly or negligently (remember that negligence is a legal term and not always the same as the Webster\’s version) drove into the cyclist. It\’s very likely that he didn\’t, in fact couldn\’t, see her if she stopped right next to him

    I\’m suprised that these types of collisions don\’t happen more often as the design and configuration of many types of vehicles, like large trucks, makes it difficult for drivers to see immediately to the side below the level of their windows.

    When I\’m in that situation, I make it a point to actually pull a little in front of the vehicle if possible and look back at the driver and try to make eye contact. That gets me out of their blind spot and I know they see me.

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  • Todd B October 11, 2007 at 11:03 pm

    Yes the design of most if not all freight rigs and trailers do not seem to be very respectful of vulnerable road users (bicyclists and peds).

    It would be a big help to the operators (and other road users) if trucks had some modernization in design:
    – low mounted front and middle lamps for turn signals, to allow stopped bicyclists/peds, cars to see that they are turning in cases of low speed turns (like most new cars from Europe)
    – wheel and fender guards so bikes, peds, motorcyclists are not sucked under a rear axels when they are turning sharply – expecially those dual rear wheels

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  • PoPo October 11, 2007 at 11:14 pm

    Citations can be issued long after the fact. In the most serious cases, the police will be as methodical and careful as possible in the investigation, so that, among other things, any potential prosecution won\’t be tarnished. This might mean that a citation isn\’t issued until a later time. (And of course it could mean that a citation isn\’t eventually issued.)

    It seems \”Truck Driver Will Not Be Cited\” could be potentially misleading, as it is probably more natural to mentally add the word \”ever\” to the end of the headline rather than the word \”today.\” It is better explained later in the article, but I wonder if that was the updated part?

    Jonathan, thank you for the information added later. But would it be possible to display the article in a way that makes it more clear what was the original information and what was the additional information? Sometimes you display your edits. Knowing how the article read before and after the update might allow us to better understand the context behind the initial comments posted.

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  • NPBike October 11, 2007 at 11:27 pm

    #72 thanks for the clarification if it\’s correct that explains a lot for me.

    A suggestion: Every wednesday at 9:30am the Portland City Council (mayor runs the police bureau) meets and the first portion is open communication; anybody want to organize, sign up and speak for 3 minutes? it\’s easy and media is always there.

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  • erin g. October 11, 2007 at 11:33 pm

    Speaking of making the news, I commend Jonathan for his efforts to hold other news outlets accountable for how they cover bike-related stories. Whereas some reporters are very supportive and sensitive towards cyclists’ position and perspectives, some jump toward favoring drivers while implying blame toward cyclists, even before facts roll in. Television and print publications reach the masses, and those types of outlets could play a key role in making the shift in awareness, sensitivity, and respect that is needed if bikes and motor vehicles are to safely share these roads. Some outlets have made great strides in supporting this movement, whereas others show plenty of room for improvement in reporting.

    Perhaps I am misinterpreting or over analyzing, but does anyone else see a problem with this story and police report verbiage:


    Rather than saying that \”a truck collided with a cyclist\” it says that the \”cyclist collided with the truck…\” I know that complete details of this investigation are to be determined, but it seems evident that the truck ran over or “collided” with the young woman, not vice versa (leaving any talk of “blame” aside here; it is unfair to draw conclusions about the driver, as we don’t know all of the facts, and we haven’t heard the individual’s perspective. Let’s be fair and careful before jumping to conclusions). Now, I have seen what happens when cyclists fail to look and collide with parked or stopped cars. But this incident does not sound like a case of a bike cruising into a truck. I think that we should focus on the big picture here and not become stagnated by minutia, but this was one small reporting detail that did catch my eye. I hope that the media addresses this case in a manner that does justice to both the cyclist and truck driver. And I hope that it does the right thing: use this horrific loss as a sad opportunity to raise awareness about how our shared streets can and must become safer- as lives are on the line- rather than fueling detrimental “vehicles vs. bikes” conflicts and mentalities.

    Also, as far as reporting goes, Jonathan, I support you in posting the photograph of the post-fatality scene. The victim’s body and identity were not tactlessly exposed in the photo. It was a sad look at the scene of a tragic event that we must keep in our minds forever. I understand that some were upset by the photo, and that is certainly understandable. But I don’t believe that posting it was gratuitous or disrespectful. These are strange times; we live in a society where adults and children abundantly absorb fictitious, removed representations of death on a daily basis via television dramas, movies, and video games, yet sometimes fail to see the reality behind life and the tragedy of death when it happens in our community and around the world. The mass media is a key player in propagating this cultural phenomenon- where people become so removed from important realities and facts, so distracted, that some don’t seem to care. Back during the Viet Nam War, television news showed real, raw footage of what was happening over there every night, and what it looked like as soldiers returned (in flag-draped boxes, rolling off military planes on conveyer belts). This is what American families watched as they ate dinner. These days, I feel that we are too often deprived of such frank, honest reporting. Perhaps if Americans in general were less removed from the realities that surround us, we as a society would have more consideration for the profundity of human life and death, whether while driving out on the road, keeping eyes carefully peeled for cyclists, and on other levels. Again, this is a general observation, not an accusatory remark towards the truck driver involved in today’s tragedy (the blind spot possibility is so sad in both directions). Ultimately, thank goodness for our community- this online forum and catalyst for unity. What is happening here gives me hope; people are coming together- connecting rather than disconnecting (a paradigm shift in how “news” generally works). Portland is a predominantly positive place to be, and we can’t forget that during this time.

    Thanks to those who’ve organized a vigil. The idea of slowly walking the bikes sounds very powerful, respectful, and meditative; good thinking. Be strong, be peaceful, and be careful, everyone. Let\’s all come together around this tragedy.

    Finally- most importantly- my heart aches tonight for the loss of this young woman’s life. My deepest sympathies go out to her family and loved ones. I will be thinking of her as I ride each day.

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  • ryan October 11, 2007 at 11:42 pm

    The loss of life is always tragic.

    That said, I agree with the above posters that something must be done about right turns by trucks and cars in relation to bike lanes.

    I both bike and drive within Portland often and earned my defensive cycling skills navigating San Francisco by bike only for about 7 years. When in my small pickup in Portland, sitting at a red light with my blinker on, I always check the right mirror and look over my shoulder to see if there is a cyclist present or oncoming in the lane to my right.

    I always yield (being a cyclist myself) and try to make eye contact with the cyclist, in either my mirror or over my shoulder and through the rear window. More often than not, the cyclist is defensive and just sits there looking clueless. What to do? Do cyclists know they have the right-of-way?

    Other times I think that cyclists are often surprised that I even yield at all (mostly notably on Interstate Avenue). Once we make eye contact they usually proceed through the intersection while I wait to make a turn and they often give wave a thanks.

    The obvious defensiveness present on the part of cyclists in most of these situations tells me that the majority of the motorists do not yield or are not even aware that cyclists have a right-of-way in the bike lane when traveling through an intersection.

    Personally, when on a bike, I always try to merge into traffic at red lights.

    Something obviously needs to change, but what? I think it is much more of a design and education issue than a punitive issue.


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  • Spanky October 12, 2007 at 7:45 am

    Knowing that one is the holier than thou bicyclist occupying a bike lane does not add up to having license to ignore your own duty of due care if (and it is a big if) the bicyclist pulled alongside the signalling cement truck, stopped and then proceeded when the light changed ASSuming the cement truck driver would see her.

    We all have a duty to exercise due care under the circumstances as we encounter them, to avoid a risk of harm to ourselves. Just because he was driving the big bad dump truck and she was on teh bicycle, one can not assume he is the functional equivalent of the devil, and she was Mother Teresa.

    I posted in the other thread re: bicyclists in blind spots on large trucks making right turns. It is an issue bicyclists and drivers both need to be aware of, and both need to exercise care. But it occurs to me the bicyclist is in the best position to know when the risk exists. A truck driver does not encounter a bicycle at every corner at which a right turn is being made.

    Think how the cement truck driver must feel.

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  • Steve Brown October 12, 2007 at 8:10 am

    Change the law!!! I too have been hit in a bike lane by a car making a right hand turn. The incident occurred in West LInn.No citation was issued. According to West Linn Police it was not their policy to issue citations for regular motor vehicle accidents.
    That being said we need to adopt California law. California requires the a vehicle making a right hand turn to occupy the bike lane. Very simple and effective.

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  • jleiss October 12, 2007 at 8:33 am

    I like all this talk of defensive biking tactics. It is helpful for me, as a recently minted biker. So here\’s my contribution: While I don\’t do this often, one strategy I use at busy intersections (other than merging with traffic) is to move over into the pedestrian walkway. It is usually farther away from traffic and unlikely to be in anybody\’s blind spot.

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  • Babs October 12, 2007 at 8:55 am

    As a non-cyclist, I see too many times where the cyclist puts themselves in situations that aren\’t safe. Are they above the law? The other day while sitting at a red light at a MAJOR interesection in Beaverton, a cyclist came up alongside me in the bike lane and proceeded to cross a major intersection against the light, snaking his way through 4 lanes of cross traffic. That\’s just plain stupid and asking for an accident.

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  • Groundshero October 12, 2007 at 9:15 am

    I think the horribly stark contrast between the huge and heavy cement truck and the exposed cyclist makes this fatality harshly moving to a greater audience. The lack of citation shows the vulnerability of all cyclists to be institutional as well as physical.

    As Schrauf describes, my practice is that if I have a bike lane, it\’s mine to use and I go the front. If there\’s not, I line up with traffic at an intersection, rather than passing on the right. Even if there is a bike lane, I\’ll hang behind a first-in-line car with a turn signal on, or wheels not completely pointed straight. I assume they can\’t see me, had a bad day, are changing radio stations, drinking coffee and on the phone, want to turn right on red and beat pedestrians into the crosswalk.

    Question #1: I know where the typical blindspots are with cars. Where are they for large trucks, like cement trucks or semi-trucks?

    Question #2: Do any legislators, council members, or other policy and lawmakers monitor this site?

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  • Peter W October 12, 2007 at 9:38 am

    re: 81

    Babs, I\’m curious what intersection that was and how much traffic?

    Do you mean it was like what messengers in NYC do – ride in front of cars forcing them to slow down in order to avoid hitting (which would be stupid)? Or was he crossing lanes that didn\’t have traffic? Or was the traffic stopped?

    just curious.

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  • Too Sad October 12, 2007 at 9:39 am

    This obviously is a very tragic event. As a Bicycle rider, motorcycle rider and trucker, I can see different points of view As a Bicycle rider and motorcycle rider, I Realize that I will lose if insist on my legal right of way when I\’m up against 4 and 5 thousand pound cars and 80 thousand pound trucks, making sure I am seen and even giving right of way when I have it legally, is often used by me to avoid becoming a grease spot on the road. As a trucker, these rigs have blind spots, directly behind you, and right along the cab near the right front wheel.
    Unless, the truck has a Right Front Fender mount mirror and I didn\’t see one in the photos, and all mirrors are properly adjusted. Common sense tells me NOT to pull up alongside a heavy truck (perhaps even with its right turn signal on?) but to hold back. If the driver didn\’t see her, as he states, it makes sense that perhaps she pulled up alongside him in his blindspot after he was stopped? Lets with hold judgement until all the FACTS are in. This is a lose lose for everyone, someone has lost a daughter, sister friend and the driver has to live with the fact he has killed someone his fault or not.

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  • Tim October 12, 2007 at 9:43 am

    Thom (#68) wrote

    But \”not seeing\” something doesn\’t change the fact that he failed to yield the right of way.

    I disagree. I don\’t see how you can yield right of way to someone if you have no idea that someone is there.

    If you check, and you see no one, you presume you have the right of way, and you go. This is how all traffic operates. Unless the driver was negligent in some way (which has yet to be established), I cannot see how a \”failure to yield\” citation is justified.

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  • Too Sad October 12, 2007 at 9:45 am

    re: the post about California law requiring vehicles making right turns to occupy the bike lane. Trucks require lots of room to make right turns, being up against the curb does not allow them to make said turn either at all, or without pulling out into oncoming traffic, This law would work well for cars but not large trucks

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  • Babs October 12, 2007 at 9:52 am

    185th and Walker. There were actually 2 bikes there (they weren\’t together). One guy was sitting at the stop light in the bike lane on 185th going southbound waiting for it to change (right next to me – traffic was stopped). Another bike came up, waited for a clear space to cross Walker and even though our light was still red on 185th, he went across 2 lanes, then waited for cars to pass and crossed the last 2 lanes. The other cyclist in the bike lane next to me stayed until our light turned green. I do note that the bike that crossed against the light was a dude all decked out in cycling clothes where the guy that stayed behind was an everyday person, probably on the way home from school or something. Possibly he was not as confident of his ability on a bike as the first guy. Still say it\’s wrong because if I did that in a car, I would be running a red light.

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  • avgh October 12, 2007 at 10:33 am

    wow, even if he was totally sober and it was a complete accident the girl is dead. isn\’t that called manslaughter?

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  • Qwendolyn October 12, 2007 at 10:34 am

    why is the outcry so much more intense with this death than with the death from earlier this year? http://bikeportland.org/2007/08/29/man-dies-after-bike-on-bike-collision/

    It\’s a good question and I think it deserves some thoughtful reflection.

    I don\’t think it is about hypocricy. Loss of life is always tragic, but this incident has several elements that make it especially tragic and sad.

    The victim was young, for one thing. When the young die, it is like someone has snatched away an infinity of potential. What would she have been? What beautiful things would she have contributed to the world?

    Also, the particulars of how she died are especially horrific. And the fellow from Mcmenamins who posted elsewhere that he was with the victim for a few minutes before she died and that she was so full of love. I mean, riding by there yesterday I felt a bone chilling cold. –It\’s just really sad.

    As people have posted, it is as if our society accepts the deathly consequences of our car culture as some kind of collateral damage. As though society has collectively said: \”senseless human death is the price we pay to drive cars.\” Which is a sad conclusion to come to. Since there was no car involved in that other incident, that element is somehow less tragic.

    I hope that none of the above is offensive to anyone…car drivers, or friends and family of the either yesterday\’s victim or the guy who died in the other incident.

    Also, again: condolences to friends and family. …There is not much else to say.

    Everybody please be careful…

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  • Helen Wheels October 12, 2007 at 10:45 am

    Driver not cited. So what else is new? Bicycling and walking aren\’t taken seriously by the auto-centered as valid forms of transportation. We read countless times that a driver gets away with murder because \”they didn\’t see\” the pedestrian/cyclist.\” If a car hits a car, that excuse NEVER flies.

    You can bet your life that if the truck driver had hit a car and killed the driver, he/she would\’ve been charged with manslaughter or something.

    Oh, maybe not. Because the driver worked for a BUSINESS, and we don\’t want to make a BUSINESS be responsible for anything. However, had the driver been in a privately owned vehicle, THEN the driver would have been cited.

    Mindless majority rules.

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  • Jason October 12, 2007 at 10:53 am

    OK. It sounds like the majority of the cyclist that post on this site seem to agree the driver was some how at fault. Because he was not following the law and you want the book thrown at him regardless of the facts.

    So when you do your memorial bike ride up Burnside tonight are you going to follow the traffic laws that apply to you?

    If you don\’t. No wonder vehicles and bikes can\’t get along. When you don\’t even respect your own rules. Doing the right thing might actually change something.

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  • Z-mon October 12, 2007 at 11:22 am

    As a fellow cyclist, I\’m deeply saddened every time I hear of tragic accidents involving bike riders. However, as a humanitarian, I feel the same when I hear of auto related deaths as well.

    Many posting here seem to want to think that the driver maliciously ran down this cyclist or something. When I think about the details released at this point, I can see how this easily could have happened.

    Stopping next to a truck of this size, with it\’s mirrors that sit well above the height of a rider\’s head, it\’s easy to see how it\’s possible the driver had no idea that she was there.

    The dreaded right turn scenario is an all too frequent cyclist related accident. It\’s one we should all anticipate as we ride near autos through intersections. Riding near big rigs of this size only increases that risk. My main question, that I have yet to see an answer to in the reports, is whether or not the driver\’s turn signal was on?

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  • Tim October 12, 2007 at 11:24 am

    avgh (#88):

    Under Oregon law, manslaughter is a type of criminal homicide. Criminal homicide occurs when, without justification or excuse, someone intentionally, knowingly, recklessly or with criminal negligence causes the death of another human being.

    If the driver was sober, and exercised due caution, it\’s not manslaughter or any other type of criminal homicide.

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  • brian October 12, 2007 at 12:27 pm

    Lots of posts on this thread. Too many for me to read.

    Bottom line for me is that the truck was in motion and he could not see where he was going. His truck was moving through space he could not see. How can that possilby be not negligent. I\’m sure people are going to tell me how this happens all the time. But I still think it is wrong. When you are in motion. You need to have visibility into the space your are moving or don\’t move. Or if you drive through space you can\’t see and you strike something, their should be consequences.

    It is exacly like driving with your eyes closed. It\’s probally legal but it should not be.

    You kill somebody when driving where you can\’t see. That is negligent homicide in this layman\’s book. The lawyers may call it something else, or nothing at all.

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  • V-Strom October 12, 2007 at 12:30 pm

    The design of the bike lane is horrible and counter intuitive to how traffic (of all kinds) naturally flows. To me, this is no excuse for just proceeding straight through an intersection from the furthermost right hand side of a lane if any traffic, especially right turn signalling traffic is present. I commute by motorcycle most days and I have had this scenario many many times even in intersections where there is no bike lane. In any case, any lawsuit IMHO should be directed at the city/DOT and their stupidly designed bike lane/intersection interface.
    Because the rear axle of a large truck cuts closer to the inside of a turn than the front, a vehicle/person occupying the inside lane to a turning truck can be lulled into a false sense of security if they are watching the front wheels of the truck negoiate the turn. They are almost essentially hit from behind by a vehicle that is mostly in front of them.
    In any case, we as humans should have compassion for all involved including the driver of the truck. I imagine how he must feel as well as those who loved the deceased.
    In closing, as usual, a big rally set to impede traffic is not going to help the plight of riders and as usual will only sow more seeds of animosity. A garden of which is already growing with far too much vigor. Let change begin with you. You be the rider that changes the dominant paradigm and respects the traffic laws. IMHO that will get you far more respect and the needed attention to the cycling infrastructur that you ultimatly desire.

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  • rixtir October 12, 2007 at 12:33 pm

    Common sense tells me NOT to pull up alongside a heavy truck (perhaps even with its right turn signal on?) but to hold back.

    The problem is common sense takes time and life experience to develop, and a 19 year old isn\’t going to have the same life experience to draw upon that someone 20 or 30 years older will have.

    Yes, we cyclists need to use our common sense, but we also need to develop and draw upon a body of common knowledge on safe cycling practices– developed only through the collective time and experience of all cyclists– that will help keep us safe.

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  • John October 12, 2007 at 12:56 pm

    As a driver, a cyclist and a former long-haul truck driver, I can see how accidents like this happen. I was brought up to respect trucks and give them the room they need to operate and this applies if I\’m driving my car or riding my bike.

    I don\’t know how local trucking companies handle things like this, but I drove for Werner and their attitude was that any accident was their drivers fault. Too many accidents will cost a driver their job even if no citations were given. And yes, if you were to drive/bike into my truck it would be my fault for not seeing it coming and doing my best to avoid the accident.

    I don\’t know if this applies to this driver, but it does apply to drivers for the big national companies.

    That being said, I\’m sorry the accident occured and my condolences go out to her friends and family.

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  • Babs October 12, 2007 at 1:01 pm

    Yes, rixtir, I think you\’ve said it well. Experience is a key factor here, sad as it is. I am teaching my 19 year old to drive a car. He has had his permit for several months now but his lack of driving experience has caused him to make errors that a grown adult like myself would not make. My heart goes out to the families of both the victim and the driver of the truck.

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  • Thom October 12, 2007 at 1:53 pm

    Tim (#85):

    The point I make about it being failure to yield is that (presumably) she has the right of way. Her lane went straight. His crossed hers. He (presumably) did not yield her right of way.

    Not seeing her (due caution) or malice (intent) doesn\’t change the facts of what happened.

    Consider this hypothetical: If I don\’t see a stop sign, blow through it and hit a pedestrian, me not seeing the stop sign doesn\’t change the fact that I blew the stop sign. Later, in court, I could say that there was a tree growing in front of the stop sign, show a picture of it, and be held blameless.

    The question is: Should the cop cite me in the first place? Maybe, maybe not.

    However, having read Comment 72, I think I can see why the police wouldn\’t cite the driver. With the \”double jeopardy\” concept in law, that makes a ton of sense.

    On a separate note: can I just point out that this has been one of the more civil comment threads (on BikePortland) for a tragedy of this magnitude?

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  • Two sides October 12, 2007 at 2:10 pm

    Part of the problem is that bike lanes entice us to pass on the right or pull up on the right of a vehicle stopped at a light. Where else in the world of traffic that drives on the right, do you find a right hand lane is not a turn lane but the left hand lane is. This is just poor traffic planning.

    Pulling up in the bike lane beside a larger vehicle requires you to find the drivers line of sight and get in it. In the case of large vehicles that pretty much means putting yourself 10 feet in front of the truck and jumping up and down.

    I\’ve seen it a lot in other cities where the bike lane dividing line is a dashed line within a certain distance of an intersection. This basically indicates that the bike lane is a legal turning lane.

    Some will say that just takes away from our rights to the road as cyclists, but if it eliminates the situation where a vehicle turning right has to cut across a traveled lane of traffic then I\’ll deal with being delayed.

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  • Smithy October 12, 2007 at 2:39 pm

    Whatever happened to cyclists taking the lane and waiting their turn?

    I cycle, and drive a car. At least once a day, I see fellow cyclists making decisions that could end their lives. Whether that\’s failing to take a lane, failing to have bright front and rear lights, failing to wear a helmet, or listening to music while riding.

    This woman\’s death while regrettable, was preventable. She could have taken the lane behind the truck and waited her turn. Just because you have the right of way (pedestrians > bicyclists > cars, etc.) doesn\’t make you bulletproof or put you in the right all of the time.

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  • Thoughts on Riding Safely » patch October 12, 2007 at 2:40 pm

    […] on the placement of a ghost bike at the scene Oregonian ghost bike story BikePortland.org report on no traffic citation for the truck […]

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  • Tim October 12, 2007 at 3:23 pm

    Thom (#99):

    Thanks for taking the time to explain, your example makes sense. Not sure if you\’ve convinced me, though. 😉 I\’ll have to think about it from that angle.

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  • livermore October 12, 2007 at 7:27 pm

    Take the lane. Drivers often don\’t see me when I pull up to their right after they\’ve stopped, especially downtown – they don\’t expect us to be there. After a few close encounters I now either wait to see their intent, if I\’m in the bike lane, or I take their lane and follow. I\’d rather be alive than \”dead\” right.

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  • Chris H October 12, 2007 at 9:12 pm

    There are a lot of comments pointing out the various blind spots of different vehicles. Drivers are responsible for knowing the limitations (blind spots) of their own vehicles. Otherwise they shouldn\’t be on the road. The guy driving the truck lacks competence and somebody is dead because of it.

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  • Chad October 12, 2007 at 10:11 pm


    Have you ever driven a truck???

    I drive a truck about the size of your average cement truck nearly 200 miles a week in Portland, I also ride 60 miles a week commuting back and forth to work. Needless to say I can definately see both sides of this issue.

    Comments like the one above show our ignorance to other users of the road and help foster a \”us vs. them\” mentality that will, if left unchecked, create an all out war on our city streets that we as cyclists will always lose due to our obvious vunerabilities.

    We expect cars to undertand what it\’s like to ride a bike, why then do we feel that we are somehow excempt from trying to understand what it is like to drive a truck, bus, or any other large vehicle.

    It\’s important, as bicycle commuters, to show that we are not only forward thinking when it comes to our own personal transportation, but also that we are forward thinking when it comes to ALL forms of transportation that we share the road with in that we take the time to imagine what it\’s like to drive something other than a bike.

    It will keep us all alive longer AND help us peacefully co-exist with our on road neighbors.

    The tragedy that is shared by the victim\’s friends and family AND the driver of the truck will remain heavy upon their hearts long after we\’ve all moved on to the next finger-pointing session.

    They are all in my thoughts tonight.

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  • Hawthorne October 12, 2007 at 10:40 pm


    I hear you…and yes I have drive a truck like that. Having said that, as a person driving the larger vehicle you have a greater responsiblity. Simple and true.

    Do I feel for the driver of the cement truck? Sure. Did he have a larger obligation (which he failed to uphold)? Yes.

    There are not two sides to this story. One person is dead. Another person was driving a lethal vehicle.

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  • Mike October 12, 2007 at 10:49 pm

    I am an avid rider, and driver.

    I drive a 25\’ Box Truck, and do my absolute best to keep an eye out for riders that pull up alongside me like that, and even with the best mirrors on our trucks that money can buy, you STILL cannot see someone on a bike pull up next to you.

    Out of habit, I always pause once the light turns green for 1-2 seconds, just to make sure, and I have still had riders pull up alongside at full speed, with no lights, or helmet, and just glide by me without paying attention to what my intentions were (blinkers).

    This is not the first time its happened with this kind of accident, and wont be the last.

    Its sad for the rider who lost her life tragically like this, but the outrage at the driver is uncalled for. What is he supposed to do, shut the truck off, get out, walk around, and make sure there is nothing he can hit?

    Bikers need to take responsibility for their actions, and safety out there.

    I wear a helmet, have a flashing LED light in front, flashing red LED in rear, and a small bell if needed, to warn people around me that I am there. I ALWAYS assume a driver is going to turn in front of me, and watch a drivers head turning and looking at things to guage what their intentions are (it does work)

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  • Jonathon Severdia October 13, 2007 at 6:31 am

    Here is my proposal about one thing to do:

    One night, three hours. High school gymnasium. Defensive cycling crash course. EVERYONE comes; make it entertaining so everyone stays. No one who rides in Portland should continue to be unaware of basic survival techniques and attitude, and this will surely amend that.

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  • sunmon October 13, 2007 at 8:09 am

    biker at fault

    The truck driver was stopped, had his signal on. Why would you pull up alongside a vehicle that is turning right? She obviously did not pay attention and see his turn signal. She should have stayed back behind, parallel to the trucks rear bumper, and let him turn, since he was there first. He was definately not at fault. You people are extemists and hopefully will get cited for willfully delaying traffic now that there is record on here as to your plans.

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  • TedBiker October 13, 2007 at 8:59 am

    What have the courts decided in the past? As I mentioned in another posting, I was hit by a car turning right without a turn signal in May. The police refused to investigate and the insurance company for the car claims that I was liable. I asked how they came to that conclusion and they said they investigated themselves and decided. As a result of their bill, my credit rating has been danaged and I have been charged by my car insurance company with an accident – even though they did not pay for the damages caused by the bicycle.

    Is there any opportunity to challenge such a claim, without going to court? The Insurance Company says the only way to determine liability is to go to court, in which case it is MY responsibility to prove the car at fault.

    Since being hit, I have noticed how easy it is while driving to NOT look carefully to the right – it takes due diligence on the part of the driver and the bike rider. I have always been very cautious – I would not have been a rider for decades without being so. But what is the consequence to the driver of a car for not being cautious – NOTHING!

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  • Curt Dewees October 13, 2007 at 9:52 am

    I\’ve heard a rumor that an eyewitness at the scene of Tracy Sparling\’s death *says* that the truck driver didn\’t activate his turn signal until AFTER he had run over and crushed Tracy Sparling to death.

    If this (rumored) eyewitness is correct, then it\’s likly that Tracy Sparling felt perfectly safe in pulling up alongside the truck and waiting for the light to turn green

    If the truck the driver was NOT signalling a right-hand turn, Tracy Sparling could have logically assumed that, when the light turned green, the truck driver would drive straight ahead in his lane, and that she could safely remain in her lane.

    Who is this rumored eyewitness? If you are out there, please come forward and speak out! This question about whether or not the drive used his turn signal makes a HUGE difference in whether or not the truck driver is criminally negligent.

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  • wsbob October 13, 2007 at 11:04 am

    Re; Curt Dewees comment: It doesn\’t surprise me at all that the cement driver\’s truck may not have had the signal light on, at least not while it was immobile, waiting for the light to change.

    Usually when I\’m driving, if I\’ve got to wait at a light that takes a long time to change, I leave the signal off until the light changes, because who wants to listen to that click-click-click for 3 minutes? Maybe that\’s a bad habit.

    Of course, if the witness really did see the turn signal light come on after colliding and running over the cyclist, that suggests something much more serious.

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  • Mick October 13, 2007 at 11:19 am


    Annoyed by the click-click-click? That\’s your reason?

    Please, stay off the road. You are not intelligent enough to be trusted with a car.

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  • pat rogers October 13, 2007 at 11:56 am

    I have to say that the overall quality of the comments on this site is at once insightful and earnest. However, there are some comments that do not lend any real justice to the situation or enhance the creditability of the already stout biking community. That is to say, when writers resort to overly generalized statements about where people live (e.g. The Pearl), what they drive, (e.g. SUVs, TRUCKS…etc), or social status (e.g. part of the business community), in a negative undertone, it mitigates the great effort and thought that the vast majority of writers have placed into making this both an informative and thought provoking forum. In short, when we axiomatically resign ourselves to blanket assumptions and categorize vast swathes of people without cogently offering specific facts to support our personal perspectives, we then acquiesce to exercises of lazy intelligence and the promotion of personal vitriol.
    Specifically, the comments of blog # 90, reflect a point of view that is at best not well thought out and researched, and at worst, plain wrong and inflammatory. Without getting into the superfluous and non-meritious discussion of who is to blame for this tragic accident, the statement that businesses are overtly protected and thus not held accountable is tethered with its own non-factual bias. Is that supported by real facts, either quantatilvely or on a qualitative basis? The fact, is that businesses are much more susceptible to being sued and being held accountable, just on the mere fact that they have deeper corporate pockets, making them much more visible targets for potential plaintiffs . My entire point here is that in order to make this a constructive and pragmatic discussion, we need to yes, speak from the heart, but also articulate our views past antidotal perspectives and provide factual support for our views.

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  • wsbob October 13, 2007 at 1:51 pm

    Hah! Thanks Mick for that great advice! I knew somebody would respond in the manner you did. I wish I could say that my practice of not turning the signal on until the light changes is unique to me, but it\’s not. It\’s common. You\’re supposed to signal 100\’ from and intersection, so sitting at an intersection waiting for the light to change might be illegal, but are you going to get cited if you turn the signal on before you roll?

    The point of me mentioning it, is that generally, in the case of motor vehicles situated conventionally in front of or behind the vehicle you happen to be driving, this isn\’t a problem, and that\’s why I think I and a lot of other drivers follow this practice. You\’re not going anywhere…you\’re just sitting there, so nobody needs to know where you\’re going until the light changes, until now, with the introduction of bike lanes.

    Everybody in motor vehicle can generally see each other far more easily than they can a bicycle, especially a solitary bicycle pulling up on their right side in a bike lane after motor vehicle traffic has been immobile while waiting for a light to change. This and the the inevitable lapse in concentration of motor vehicle drivers waiting for long duration traffic signals to change contributes to the creation of what I feel is a fatal flaw in bike lanes at intersections.

    I haven\’t yet looked at the bike box people are talking about, but maybe that\’s an answer. The wide blue line seems as though it would be helpful at this intersection. Something obviously needs to be done though.

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  • Deb October 13, 2007 at 2:25 pm

    I think an important distinction is being missed during the discussion about failure to yield and whether the truck driver should have seen Tracey before he turned right.

    Many people have made reference to situations like someone running a stop sign and still being held responsible, even though the person says they didn\’t see the stop sign. What\’s important in this type of situation is that the person COULD HAVE seen the stop sign if they had been looking, it was in plain view but they weren\’t paying attention or chose to ignore it. It sounds like this is the situation that applies to many of the bicycle-vehicle collisions people have talked about here, where the drivers COULD HAVE seen the bicyclists if they had been paying attention, or they did see the bicyclists but still didn\’t yield. But I don\’t believe this situation applies to the truck driver in Tracey\’s case.

    The probable situation in the tragic collision between Tracey and the cement truck was that the driver COULD NOT see Tracey without leaving his position behind the wheel. Many people have talked about it like the truck driver could have looked to his right before turning and seen that Tracey was there, but that is not true if she had stopped in his blind spot. The driver of a big truck sits up very high, so it\’s not the same as automobile drivers who can see what\’s next to them. And even a very responsible truck driver who regularly checks the rearview mirror could miss the moment when a bicylist pedals into their blind spot.

    I believe Thom\’s post #68 illustrates this difference, even though it seems like Thom contradicts himself in his conclusion. Thom was cited for turning in front of another car and causing an accident, even though Thom told the police officer that he didn\’t see the other car. Then Thom goes on to say that he was exonerated in court because the other car was hidden due to a hill, so he COULD NOT have seen it under normal driving conditions. This means Thom wasn\’t held responsible for the accident because of this critical distinction – he COULD NOT see the car before he turned, so it wasn\’t because he didn\’t use due caution, or wasn\’t paying attention and failed to yield.

    I didn\’t understand what Thom meant when he stated \”…\”I didn\’t see her\” isn\’t a valid excuse.\”, when that\’s exactly the excuse he successfully used in his own case, so that\’s where I thought there was a contradiction.

    I also had some thoughts about rixtir\’s post #96, about cyclists needing to draw on a body of common knowledge that takes time and experience to develop. We could ensure that common sense practices and knowledge of the laws are provided to all bicylists, new and experienced, if all bicyclists had to be licensed by passing a written test. This is how motorists learn the basics when they start driving, and I don\’t understand why bicyclists would not want to have that same advantage.

    How many people know there is an Oregon Bicyclist Manual available at DMV (and online at http://www.oregon.gov/ODOT/TS/docs/Bike/2006_Bicycle_Manual.pdf)? It has a section titled \”When You Should Take a Lane\” that states \”You should also take a lane when you\’re traveling at the same speed as traffic. This will keep you out of motorists\’ blind spots and reduce conflicts with right-turning traffic.\” I think this section would apply to most bicycling in downtown Portland, since I often see bicyclists passing motorists on downtown streets. I believe it could have saved Tracey\’s life if she had known about it, so could someone please explain why there isn\’t more support for licensing bicyclists?

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  • peteahome October 13, 2007 at 5:55 pm

    If there is a bike lane striped right up to the intersection, then I would say the city has liability in this tragic accident for allowing such a dangerous design to be used. Such a bike lane would encourage an inexperienced bicyclist to travel to the right of right-turning motor vehicles, setting them up for this sort of accident.

    Facilities should make it easier to travel safely, not harder.

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  • not a lawyer October 13, 2007 at 11:19 pm

    Is a cyclist ever at fault for anything?

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  • David October 14, 2007 at 6:00 am

    As I posted on the other thread (the rider & Bus Driver), many are ready to codemn the cement truck driver without having \”been in their shoes\”.

    Fortunetly, there are cooler geads out there. Be honest with yourself. Although this is not the case here, how many of us have cut across four lanes of traffic with a wave of our hands…our ran a red light in fron of throngs of cars…we can\’t have it both ways.

    If we want to be treated with more respect, we have to act the part as well. No, that dosen\’t excuse blatent rudeness on the anyone\’s part, but why wait for the other guy to act first?

    Thus far as the facts have been presented, I don\’t believe citations are warranted. (Yes, I am a rider) The tragic death of Tracey was involutary. If something new surfaces, my stance may change. Shouldn\’t we be the better people? No wonder we are fighting such an uphill battle.

    Be safe and assume nothing. It may be the law for them to yield, but that will do you no good when you are sitting in a wheelchair or in a coffin.

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  • David October 14, 2007 at 6:01 am

    Now if I could just learn to type so enough to be typo free…..regrets.

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  • BURR October 14, 2007 at 1:22 pm

    #117 \”\”When You Should Take a Lane\” that states \”You should also take a lane when you\’re traveling at the same speed as traffic. This will keep you out of motorists\’ blind spots and reduce conflicts with right-turning traffic.\” I think this section would apply to most bicycling in downtown Portland, since I often see bicyclists passing motorists on downtown streets.\”

    So why does the city insist on installing hazardous door-zone right-hook bike lanes in the downtown core, and why is the police bureau ticketing cyclists who use better judgement common sense and ignore these death-trap bike lanes???

    #118 \”If there is a bike lane striped right up to the intersection, then I would say the city has liability in this tragic accident for allowing such a dangerous design to be used. Such a bike lane would encourage an inexperienced bicyclist to travel to the right of right-turning motor vehicles, setting them up for this sort of accident.

    Facilities should make it easier to travel safely, not harder.\”

    Bingo on all counts!

    Unfortunately, I doubt there will be very much change at either PDOT or the PPB in response to this tragedy, it will continue to be \’business as usual\’….


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  • Big Diesel October 14, 2007 at 6:48 pm

    As a PROFESSIONAL truck driver, I am wondering how many more cyclists will be injured or killed due to the cyclists mentality that they think they own the road. It is sad that the young lady lost her life for not being aware of her surroundings, but that is a typical cyclist thought process……

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  • wsbob October 14, 2007 at 9:39 pm

    I hadn\’t heard that this young woman cyclist, Tracey Sparling, rode her bike with the mentality that she owned the road. Maybe Big Diesel has some kind of inside line on that sort of information that the rest of us don\’t have.

    Based on the little bits of information about her posted on various threads on this website and in other news stories, she strikes me as having been kind of a squeaky clean, bright minded kid, inclined to watch her p\’s and q\’s, rather than one of the more annoying, bleep-you, nihilistic hipster, don\’t mess up my phoof-do with a helmet types.

    I\’m guessing that Big Diesel is not representative of all the professional truck drivers out there. I\’m guessing that at least some of them read some background material before painting everyone on two wheels with the same broad brush.

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  • Caroline October 14, 2007 at 9:49 pm

    I agree with a few other people – I don\’t think a citation is necessary, given it seems the cyclist made a mistake by assuming the truck driver could see her, blinkers or no blinkers (face it, most people don\’t use blinkers anyway). I\’m not sure the truck driver had any way to see her (looking at pictures of the truck I can imagine he had a huge blind spot at his passenger bumper), and he will suffer plenty knowing that he killed a young lady on accident. It\’s not intentional, it\’s not criminal, it\’s not homicide, people. It\’s a MISTAKE. TWO BIG MISTAKES. People make a lot of them!

    My deep condolences to the families of the victims.

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  • Matt Picio October 15, 2007 at 9:58 am

    wsbob (#116)

    Mick said it poorly, but he\’s right – the annoyance of the \”click click click\” is no excuse. All motor vehicles should use turn signals, ALWAYS. And yes, in the 22 years I\’ve been driving, I always have, and have been made fun of because I do it on deserted roads at 2 in the morning. Our habits carry over, and if you let that bad habit carry over, you are a danger to everyone on the road, including yourself. Turn signals are the best preventative safety measure ever put on a motor vehicle. Not using them should be criminally negligent.

    If you can\’t be bothered to use them because they annoy you, please, please, PLEASE do not drive anything with a motor until you develop the habit of using them.


    To those who find it so easy to blame the truck driver – he was making a right turn onto Burnside, which requires a wide turn to avoid crossing into oncoming traffic. Please realize that as with bicycles, starting from a complete stop is the most dangerous time for a truck – the driver is looking left to make sure cross-traffic is not going through the red light illegally, he\’s watching his mirror so his truck doesn\’t clip any poles, canopies, etc, and he\’s watching that he doesn\’t clip any oncoming traffic with his front left bumper, all while trying to see that ped or cyclist in his right-side blind spot. You can\’t look everywhere simultaneouly. The cyclist, meanwhile, is at very low speed with no manueverability and no place to go. It\’s a bad situation, and the two main culprits here are not the driver, nor the cyclist. The two main culprits are bad design and bad engineering. That bike lane should be inboard of the right turn lane, and the lanes should cross half a block back, when vehicles are still in motion and manueverable. And that truck should be designed with better visibility. The truck builder is as responsible in this case as the trucking company – bad design goes all the way back to the manufacturer.


    And as for Kruger – high-speed cyclists passing cars on the right have NOTHING to do with this particular case. His use of a tragedy to sell his personal anti-cyclist crusade is appalling. This incident occurred when both vehicles were starting off from a dead stop. The mainstream media reporting likewise reflects an anti-bike bias. The stories themselves are usually quite balanced overall, but the opening paragraphs are invariably slanted against bicycles, and many readers will put down their papers in disgust (or change the channel) long before hearing the other side, safely vindicated in their ire towards those \”crazy bike people who don\’t pay taxes and break the laws\”.


    Oh, and to those who rightfully point out \”I didn\’t see them\” isn\’t an excuse – you\’re absolutely right. Unfortunately, sometimes it\’s the TRUTH. And although they are always legally responsible, that dosn\’t mean it was their fault (in the moral, not legal sense). Have some compassion – they can\’t see in all directions at once. If they\’re changing the radio, or on a cellphone, or not paying attention, that\’s one thing – but some of these people just are in the wrong place, at the wrong time, and the circumstances of a bad intersection or stretch of road make it impossible to register everything around them. It can happen to everyone, even the best of us.

    The best way to avoid THIS type of incident, IMO is to require ALL commercial trucks to have a passenger who can physically look out the window and check the blind spot for the driver. This would not only prevent this kind of accident, it would open up a huge new source of minimum-wage employment for the unskilled. Not to mention reducing workers\’ comp claims since there would be someone to help drivers move and unload stuff in the truck, etc.

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  • Michele October 15, 2007 at 10:18 am

    The driver of the truck should have yielded, and therefore should be cited. Even if he didn\’t see the cyclist to his right, there were people crossing the street on foot from the opposite side of the intersection (near Everyday Music). I know this because this fatality occurred right in front of my coworker, who was the pedestrian yelling for the driver to stop, as described in the Oregon Live blog: http://blog.oregonlive.com/breakingnews/2007/10/cement_truck_crushes_bicyclist.html

    So tragic.

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  • Bicycledave October 15, 2007 at 12:34 pm

    I like your idea of a passenger required. I\’m all for full employment. The blind spot could also be fixed with technology. Convex mirrors at the corner of the cab might do it. If not then it could be done with video cameras. Of course this does nothing about the problem of too many things to watch at one time. I also like the bike box idea (where bikes stop in front of autos instead of to the side) which may have prevented this tragedy.

    I don\’t blame the driver. He\’s just a poor guy trying to make a living in the wrong place at the wrong time. Hate for the driver will not bring Tracey back nor will it make anyone feel better.

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  • Sergio October 15, 2007 at 3:55 pm

    I will not use turn signals to annoy Matt Picio!

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  • Matt Picio October 15, 2007 at 5:14 pm

    Oh, I don\’t care if you annoy me or not. It\’s not a matter of annoyance, it\’s a matter of safety.

    It doesn\’t matter anyway – it\’s enforced about as often as cars parked in the bike lane.

    I think a lot of motorists don\’t belong on the road. I think a lot of cyclists don\’t belong on the road.

    Thank god the world doesn\’t revolve around what *I* think. Or a_O, or Rixter, or Dabby, or Jonathan, Donna, Carl or Sergio. I\’m just glad we can all express our opinions, and have dialogue on all these subjects.

    Also thank god that the laws are written from consensus and compromise rather than any one person\’s views. The laws suck, but they\’re the lesser of most evils.

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  • wsbob October 15, 2007 at 8:44 pm

    Well, as I said before, I do use my turn signals. I\’ve always used my turn signals in what, up until the introduction of the bike lane, has been a reliably safe way to inform other users of the road what my intentions are when I\’m prepared to make a turn.

    The introduction of the bike lane is likely to require an adjustment in driving practice on the part of many drivers in addition to myself. In fact, this practice is really more than a simple readjustment in driving practice of individual drivers. It really amounts to a change in the actual culture of driving. From what I, and apparently others as well, can tell, bikes and roadway directional devices to accomodate them have a ways to go before they\’re fully assimilated into general road use.

    I suppose when, from a personal perspective someone relates a driving practice that could use some improvement, it\’s inevitable that some people will respond by issuing unrealistic ultimatums.

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  • not a lawyer October 15, 2007 at 9:01 pm

    \”The truck builder is as responsible in this case as the trucking company – bad design goes all the way back to the manufacturer.\”

    Get real. That\’s like saying the bike manufacturer is at fault for not putting airbags in the handlebars.

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  • Big Diesel October 16, 2007 at 3:54 pm

    Cyclists just don\’t get it… Its not a cyclist\’s god given right to be above the law in regards to traffic laws.

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  • Ross Williams October 16, 2007 at 5:29 pm

    \”One of the two parties involved here screwed up.\”

    Both did. But only one paid for it with her life.

    The important question is what can be done to make those same screw ups less likely or less fatal in the future. Mirrors are one thing that seems obvious.

    It seems to me there is an inherent contradiction between a through lane for traffic, including bikes, that mnotor vehicles need to turn across.

    So the idea of having vehicles pull into the bike lane to turn is another one worth exploring. (I am not sure it is really true that trucks would not do that. I think they would pull into the bike lane and then swing their front end out to make the turn with their back still blocking the lane.

    But I think in the meantime, we ought to assume, as I think most pedestrians do, that until there is a clear indication to the contrary, a turning vehicles won\’t yield.

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  • wsbob October 16, 2007 at 10:56 pm

    What cyclists would you be talking about Big Diesel? Do you really know of any particular traffic location where cyclist road use consistently backs up your allegation, or are you jut trying to build a convenient defense for the time when your own self indulgent driving habits result in a collision with a vulnerable road user?

    I\’d say the vast majority of people on bikes using public streets and roads go out of their way to observe roadway laws and regulations, easily on a level equal to that of motor vehicle operators. Exceptions exist in both cases, except that in the case of bikes as common mode of commute transportation, they are the relatively newer component in the overall transportation infrastructure. It\’s their increasing presence that requires significant adjustment from motor vehicle operators to what for decades here in the Portland area, has largely been the exclusive domain of motor vehicles.

    I don\’t think broad generalizations or simplified excuses are going to help resolve complex issues related to coexistence of varied types of vehicles on public roads. For awhile to come, there\’s going to have to be some significant adjustments to the traffic infrastructure from numerous points.

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  • a.O October 17, 2007 at 12:59 pm

    Nicely said, wsbob.

    Amazing how all-too-common events like this really draw the wackos out of the woodwork. Thanks for sending them scurrying back into the darkness of their own stupidity.

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  • Caroline October 17, 2007 at 8:48 pm

    Even with your new traffic laws and fancy-pants mirrors and goody-goody drivers and well-behaved cyclists, people are still going to die on the street. There is no FINAL SOLUTION to this problem. We need to allow for accidents to happen occasionally, especially in a \”bikey\” town, and let them pass as such. Accidents. A sorry reality.

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  • Sam Knox October 20, 2007 at 11:45 pm

    I\’m not a bicyclist, but I was employed as a truck driver for more than 30 years. The last 12 of those 30 years were spent in a concrete transit-mixer that was, for all practical purposes, identical to the one involved in this accident.

    Television news reports showed that the truck had a convex mirror mounted just below the passenger side flat mirror, and a convex mirror mounted on the front of the right fender.

    If those mirrors are clean and properly adjusted, there is no \”blind spot\” on the right side of the truck. The images in a convex mirror are small and distorted, but a bicyclist stopped AT ANY POINT alongside on the right would have been plainly visible to the driver.

    If eyewitness accounts that the cyclist and truck were both stopped at the intersection before the accident are correct, then my opinion as a professional driver is that the operator of the mixer is 100% at fault in this case.

    Sam Knox

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