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Oregonian steps up bike safety coverage

Posted by on October 30th, 2007 at 2:27 pm

(Note: The Oregonian has changed
the page headline to “Bikes and cars”)

Over the weekend, the Oregonian posted an expanded, multimedia look at the topic of bike safety in Portland.

The page (which is unfortunately titled “Bike versus car” after some back and forth emails with their online editor Mark Friesen, the Oregonian has changed the headline to “Bikes and cars”–thanks Mark) summarizes their recent coverage and offers video, graphs, and a cool Google Map with details on 700 bike crashes that occurred between 2003-2006.

One of the videos features an informal interview with reporter Jeff Mapes. Mapes — who recently referred to Portland cyclists as “an important micro-constituency” — has just returned to full-time work at the Oregonian (he mostly covers politics) after a sabbatical to research an upcoming book on the urban bicycle movement.

Mapes was also part of a Portland contingent that traveled to Amsterdam back in 2005.

Check out all the multimedia goodness.


[Please note: I received a ton of emails pointing out this Oregonian coverage. I appreciate that, but in the future, take a look at my “In the media” links before sending me tips of local media coverage. (You’ll notice I tagged this one on Sunday.)]

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PoPorixtirBURRPaul Taybrady Recent comment authors
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toddistic
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toddistic

They did not include the Clinton St. road rage incident earlier this year from what I could tell.

EcoDave
Guest
EcoDave

Toddistic, The data are from 2003 to 2006. I looked for that incident too, but then saw the graph\’s subtitle.

Jonathan, Other than on your fine area of the internet, is there an official place to report car/bike collisions that do not amount to injury or significant monetary damages?

BURR
Guest
BURR

It is a well documented fact that crashes involving cyclists are under-reported, often because the police refuse to take information at the scene, or file a police report. I believe the DMV data base is based on self-reported data, something motorists are required by law to do but not cyclists, so more under reporting is likely there as well.

That being said, I note that the highest concentration of crashes involving cyclists appear to occur on ingress and egress points to the main Willamette River Bridges used by cyclists – the Hawthorne, Burnside and Broadway, where both cyclists and motorists must come together to cross the river.

No amount of money thrown at Bike Boulevards is going to correct safety deficiencies at these locations as they are all on arterial streets.

Lenny Anderson
Guest

Kind of a wierd map…Springwater still a rail line. Would be more helpful if you could overlay bike network.
No crashes in Ladd\’s circle…must explain why PPB was out in force there.

a.O
Guest
a.O

And thanks to the Oregonian for naming it \”Bike vs. Car.\” The epitome of sensationalism.

9watts
Guest
9watts

Their little animation comparing CA and OR law stipulating how cars are supposed to relate to bike lane space before executing a right turn is pretty lame. The California car has 4-wheel steering (not a common option up here I\’d venture) and the bike rider is conveniently nowhere to be seen as the car performs its power-slide into said bike lane, as opposed to appearing alongside it in the Oregon law animation. This representation leaves out everything that makes this issue contentious or interesting. Perhaps this shortcoming could have been compensated by adding a bit of text elaborating on the many dangerous/frustrating/plausible variations not represented.

BURR
Guest
BURR

In the sidebar, under the heading \’Rules of the Road\’, they are still quoting Kruger\’s oversimplified version of ORS 814.430 from the Sunday 10/28 article.

Also in the sidebar, there is a map of the downtown sidewalk riding exclusion zone, per Lt. Kruger, which fails to indicate that it is legal to ride on the sidewalk in the South Park Blocks between SW Jefferson and SW Salmon.

[–NOTE: Oregonian online editor Mark Friesen heard your comments and just left a comment saying \”I\’ve updated the map to reflect that sidewalk riding is permitted in the South Park Blocks.\”]

tonyt
Guest
tonyt

I\’ll second BURR\’s contention that bike/car collisions are underreported.

When I was hit by a car running a redlight, it was not reported. So that was another bad car/good bike collision that doesn\’t get added in the mix, adding disproportionate weight to any bad bike/good car collision that IS reported.

And yes, BURR is also correct that you are permitted to ride on the sidewalks in the South Park Blocks.

Hey Oregonian, would you please do your own research rather than relying on Kruger? Please!

Dabby
Guest
Dabby

I suppose you would all remember that this info is probably based on PPB accounts of bike accidents, of which many are never investigated, reported, nor cared about.

The police have stated many times that they do not collect info on wrecks involving bikes and cars unless there is some sort of really serious injury to either party.

This is another fine example of the police doing as little as they can to protect the citizens, while still retaining their fat paychecks.

Aaron
Guest
Aaron

One other interesting observation is that the only crashes shown are inner east and downtown. There are apparently no crashes in Washington Cty, Gresham, or Lake Oswego.
hmmm.
And I\’ll second that we need to get Kruger the hell out of his position. It\’s easy to find facts to support preconcieved conclusions.

Todd Boulanger
Guest
Todd Boulanger

Or the missing crashes in Vancouver for that matter (The Oregonian covers Clark County news and selss ads up here, but…)

There is a Vancouver bicyclist who is working to add a Vancouver page to the http://www.ghostbike.org/ site.

PoPo
Guest
PoPo

I have heard from older officers that the police used to officially \”investigate\” all traffic crashes. This means taking and recording statements from all drivers and witnesses, taking measurements and drawing sketches of the accident scene. Such investigations can sometimes take hours to complete.

I assume that as our population increased, crashes increased, and the number of officers decreased, the powers-that-be decided to somehow limit the number of full-on investigations officers were conducting to prevent them from being too busy on traffic crashes to do other police duties. They created the below-listed criteria to decide when full investigations would be conducted.

(When you read below, please note that \”trauma system entry\” means not simply an injury requiring a trip to the emergency room, but the trauma unit at the emergency room, which is a much more serious situation.)

In crashes that don\’t meet these criteria, officers assist with an exchange of information, which usually means checking drivers licenses and insurance info, and writing all information on carbon paper copies so every party has one. This does not take so long.

There is a lot of pressure on patrol officers to remain \”available\” to answer the next 911 call in their district. My experience has been that officers will generally do their best on a particular call, but will not dally on it if they don\’t need to.

If an accident results in a fatal or near-fatal injury, patrol officers will call a special team of traffic division officers to investigate the crash, so as to have the experts working the most important crashes.

Mandatory Traffic Investigations:

a. Fatal crashes.
b. Physical injuries with entry into the Regional Trauma System by on-scene
EMS personnel.
c. Drivers who are under the influence of intoxicants.
d. Drivers that fail to perform the duties required of them at the scene of a
traffic crash (hit and run).
e. Hazardous material spills: Members should determine if a trained motor carrier officer is on duty from Traffic or other precincts to assist in the investigation.
f. An emergency code run by the police, whether or not a police vehicle was involved.
g. When a citation is issued to a driver involved in a crash for a violation other than a vehicle licensing, operator licensing or financial responsibility statute.

rixtir
Guest
rixtir

I assume that as our population increased, crashes increased, and the number of officers decreased, the powers-that-be decided to somehow limit the number of full-on investigations officers were conducting to prevent them from being too busy on traffic crashes to do other police duties. They created the below-listed criteria to decide when full investigations would be conducted.

Here\’s how that works in the real world.

My mother (in another city) is in a parking lot. The driver behind her is impatient, so he squeezes between her and the parked cars, but manages to clip her car as he squeezes by. He parks, and starts to go into the store, ignoring her demands for his license and insurance. Finally, with the police on the phone, he reluctantly provides the information. When she makes the claim to his insurance company, he denies everything, and eager to avoid a payout, his insurance company agrees that he did not hit her, and that the damage to her vehicle is \”old\” because there\’s rust on it. This was a brand new car, only a couple of months old, so it was impossible for it to be \”old\” damage– the rust came from the rain and delay in getting the damage inspected.

She never got compensated for the damage he did to her vehicle.

Not that the police department or the insurance companies care.

Matthew
Guest
Matthew

All drivers are required to file an accident report within 72 hours if there is more than $1500 in damage, or any injuries. (This is regardless of if the PPB show up and make some mis-statements to the press, or just eats donuts and ignores you.) There is even a special section in the form for bicyclists injuries. If the driver doesn\’t file, their driving privileges are supposed to be suspended, but I don\’t know how often that is actually enforced.

http://www.oregon.gov/ODOT/DMV/driverid/accidentreport.shtml

Bicyclists aren\’t drivers and aren\’t required to file, but it does prompt the question: Can you call the DMV and ask about your accident, and get the driver in trouble for not filing the report?

Paul
Guest
Paul

On vehicle damage or even injury issues, I wouldn\’t place too much of the blame on the police. It was the driver who made the error – or was negligent. And usually, as much as we\’d like it to be criminal – it is a civil issue. That is for a jury (or adjuster) to decide and not the officer on the scene. While recent citation issues are awful and make my blood boil – it is the role of civil suits to make people – or sadly their familied – whole.

BURR
Guest
BURR

Perhaps it\’s not just Kruger and the PPB, perhaps the District Attorney isn\’t doing his or her job too well either. On the other hand of course, the DA relies on information gathered by the police, Catch-22.

Mark Friesen
Guest
Mark Friesen

Thanks for the feedback, everyone. You all make a fair point about the \”Bike versus car\” headline. I\’ve changed that. I\’ve also updated the other map to reflect that sidewalk riding is permitted in the South Park Blocks.

Mark Friesen
The Oregonian

janel
Guest

Thanks Mark, Steve and Oregonian for this. Any sort of coverage that gives non-cyclists more of an understanding of what is like to ride the streets on a bike is great!

It seems like nearly all of the crashes are at intersections. Is this a reality or due to the way the crashes were reported or inputted?

It would be nice to have the bike network (which I know you can upload into google Earth). Actual bike traffic would be great too (PDOT could estimate based on bike counts).

For the data section I have always wanted to know the percent crash/fatality rate of cyclists, peds and motorists in Portland. You would probably have to take into account miles traveled and/or time spent traveling.

brady
Guest
brady

Taken from the interactive map, here is something amazing: how can someone going straight fail to yield the right of way to someone making a left turn?

Huh? Is this a Krueger special?

S.W. Campus Dr. and S.W. Terwilliger Blvd.

June 15, 2005, 7 p.m. The bicyclist, a 39-year-old man, was headed south. A passenger vehicle, driven by a 30-year-old woman, was headed north and turning left. The cyclist suffered serious injuries in the collision. Authorities listed the cyclist\’s failure to yield the right of way as the primary cause of the crash.

Paul Tay
Guest

From the animation comparing the OR car-in-bike-lane rule to the CA rule, the bike is in the blind-spot, right-passenger side, of the motorist.

It is safer for the bicyclist to be in front, line of sight, of the motorist.

I can understand PBAC reasoning. They are afraid of losing their rights. The reality is bicyclist ALREADY had all their rights intact, BEFORE bike lanes.

Chalk it up to another symptom of Forester\’s cycling inferiority complex.

The \”ride right\” segregation of bikes is NOT working, people.

BURR
Guest
BURR

Re: the Cali animation

1. The bike lane stripes in Cali don\’t run solid up to the intersection, they become dashed prior to the intersection

2. the dashed Cali bike lanes also allow the cyclist to merge out of the bike lane, either in front of or from behind to pass the turning vehicle on the left; this is in contrast to having to brake when the vehicle merges into the bike lane, as shown in the animation.

rixtir
Guest
rixtir

Taken from the interactive map, here is something amazing: how can someone going straight fail to yield the right of way to someone making a left turn?

Huh? Is this a Krueger special?

S.W. Campus Dr. and S.W. Terwilliger Blvd.

June 15, 2005, 7 p.m. The bicyclist, a 39-year-old man, was headed south. A passenger vehicle, driven by a 30-year-old woman, was headed north and turning left. The cyclist suffered serious injuries in the collision. Authorities listed the cyclist\’s failure to yield the right of way as the primary cause of the crash.

Just a guess, but if she had a left turn light, and he had a red light and blew the light, then he would be failing to yield.

BURR
Guest
BURR

If he ran the light the violation would be failure to obey a traffic control device, not failure to yield

rixtir
Guest
rixtir

If he ran the light the violation would be failure to obey a traffic control device, not failure to yield

Yep, you\’re right. I can\’t find anything in the code that would be an applicable offense called \”failure to yield.\”

PoPo
Guest
PoPo

rixter #13.

Yeah, I totally understand about how frustrating that would be for someone. The assumption is that the insurance companies will step in to help sort the matter out. Did your mother\’s insurance company not go to bat for her, or at least compensate her for it?

Another real world way to look at it is we have 11 patrol officers on duty in Southeast Precinct on a Thursday afternoon, 2 are testifying at court, 2 are dealing with a domestic disturbance, 1 is transporting a shoplifter to jail, four (plus a K-9 and a sergeant) are trying to contain an track a burglar who was spooked out of a house by a sleeping resident. If 2 are busy investigating accidents with no serious injuries, that leaves nobody to respond to the armed robbery call that comes in, or worse.

The accidents are absolutely a serious deal to the people involved. It might be one of the most alarming and/or time occupying thing to hit them for the whole month or year.

But the big picture folks have to try to triage and allocate resources in as reasonable a manner as possible. (I\’m not one of those big picture people, so I\’m not actually sure why I\’m defending them!) I just wanted to provide that perspective.

The precinct doesn\’t usually get that busy, but I\’ve been working at times that it has–even when officers aren\’t tied up on traffic accident–and we have so many high priority calls that dispatchers are begging officers to finish what they are doing so they can be sent to the next crisis. It stinks to call 911 in extreme crisis and being told that all officers are busy, please wait for one to drive down from St. Johns.

We are desperate for new officers by the way. People are retiring quicker than we can hire, and way fewer people are applying. I encourage people to check the website at porlandpolice.org and see about applying.

brady #19

I think some of the descriptions from that interactive map are off. I\’m pretty sure I did one of the investigations it lists, and I believe that the article listed one of the directions of travel incorrectly, saying north instead of east. Fail to yield to a bike in the bike lane was the cause, however, to which the article concurred by saying that the motorist failed to yield.

PoPo
Guest
PoPo

And Mark,

Thanks for being so open and humble about changing the title of the online article. That is an example of community building.