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Man in fatal Gresham collision identified

Posted by on December 14th, 2007 at 10:36 am

[Updated 12/14, 11:19am]

A ghost bike has gone up near the crash site.
(Photo: Jill N.)

The Gresham Police have identified the man who was killed on Powell Blvd. yesterday.

According to Sgt. Claudio Grandjean of the Gresham Police, the victim was 72 year-old Jan Jansen Hendrik.

At this time, Grandjean says all the evidence they have shows that Mr. Hendrik appeared to veer out into motor vehicle traffic for an unknown reason. He says this is based on a combination of physical evidence at the scene and eyewitness accounts.

He adds that currently, investigators are “trying to unravel whether the driver of the vehicle was speeding or not.”

However, since the posted speed was 40 miles per hour, it’s highly unlikely the motor vehicle could have stopped in time to avoid the collision.

Sgt. Grandjean is speaking with the officers on the case this morning and an update on the investigation should be available soon (see latest update below).

Volunteers erected a ghost bike near the scene of the collision last night.

UPDATE – 11:18am: Here is the latest information just released by the Gresham PD:

Police are continuing to evaluate the physical evidence and witness statements but have learned this so far:

HENDRIK was riding a bicycle eastbound on Powell near W. Powell Loop. He was traveling in the bike lane, on the south side of Powell. JOSH D ADEN, 25, also of Gresham, was driving a PT Cruiser, also eastbound on Powell. Witnesses say HENDRIK suddenly veered in front of the vehicle driven by ADEN, causing ADEN to hit the bicyclist. ADEN remained at the scene and has cooperated in the investigation. HENDRIK was not wearing a helmet. No citations have been issued or arrests made, but the investigation is continuing.

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    erin g. December 14, 2007 at 10:59 am

    My heart goes out to Mr. Hendrik’s friends, family, and loved ones. May they find some peace in knowing that some of us out here are inspired to know that a 72-year-old individual was going about his day by bike. If I live into my 70’s and beyond, I aim to be like Jan Jansen Hendrik- with the wind in my face and two wheels beneath me as I navigate the road and life in general. Rest in peace, to another member of our community.

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    Paul Tay December 14, 2007 at 11:41 am

    Based just on my reading of the crash, I say Mr. Grandjean was trying to avoid a road defect or debris in the bike lane. He did not look before veering out in front of the PT cruiser.

    More of the bike lane-induced collision? Naaaah. You guys wouldn\’t wanna lose your RIGHTS by giving up bike lanes, right?

    Suppose we give the same ghost-vehicle treatment to the 42,000 who died because of motor vehicles too? Naaaaaaaaaah. NOT enought ROW.

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    Joe December 14, 2007 at 11:46 am

    Paul Tay
    December 14th, 2007 11:41

    Based just on my reading of the crash, I say Mr. Grandjean was trying to avoid a road defect or debris in the bike lane. He did not look before veering out in front of the PT cruiser.

    I feel the same.. sometimes the cars are hug\’n the white line also..


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    Schrauf December 14, 2007 at 12:30 pm

    Love how the police report contains the classic reference to the lack of a bike helmet – so common in police and media reports, even when not applicable.

    Did he have head injuries? THEN mention helmet use, even though use is not legally required, because with head injuries it is still applicable to the situation. Otherwise, helmet use should not be implied to be any more important than how many gears his bike had, or whether he had padded bike shorts.

    All this does is attempt to blame the cyclist for his death, even when it is not a factor.

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    Kirsty December 14, 2007 at 12:31 pm

    How very sad.

    On a note somewhat related to this posting regarding senior cycling safety, the City of Portland\’s Office of Transportation in coordination with Portland Parks & Recreation, runs a bicycle programme especially for seniors.

    The programme teaches (or sometimes, reteaches after a several decade gap)seniors on car-free or low-traffic streets how to safely ride a bicycle.

    We provide all of the bicycles (3-wheelers for stability), helmets and other safety accessories for the class, and focus on teaching seniors things like –

    * How to check your bicycle for safety before you begin to ride
    * How to safely operate everything on your bicycle (you\’d be amazed how many advances in bicycling technology have been made in the 50-plus year gap since many seniors last rode – particularly brakes, and gears!)
    * What the rules of the path and of the road are, and how to follow them
    * What sorts of dangers you need to look our for on the road or path as a cyclist, and how to anticipate such dangers
    * How to choose routes around the city that, as a beginner bicyclist, are as safe and car-free as possible, and how to choose locations to cross main arterials safely

    You can find out more about the City\’s Senior Cycle programme here –

    If you have a friend or relative that is thinking of beginning to ride a bicycle, or if you know a senior that currently rides and might want to take this class, they are welcome to get in touch. We anticipate classes starting up again in the Springtime of 2008.

    Many thanks,

    Kirsty Hall
    Community and School Traffic Safety Partnership
    City of Portland Office of Transportation

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    Joe December 14, 2007 at 12:42 pm

    Ok i roll without a helmet on low key days.
    but what has always saved me was my sick sence of the motor traffic..sic/sick.. whatever..When i did a face plant helmet
    didn\’t help..

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    Rawn December 14, 2007 at 1:22 pm


    \”Love how the police report contains the classic reference to the lack of a bike helmet – so common in police and media reports, even when not applicable.\”

    Please note that whenever there is a motor vehicle fatality, police always mention whether seat belts were worn by the occupants.

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    Paul Tay December 14, 2007 at 1:33 pm

    #5, Kristy, what are you guys telling people about bike lanes?

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    Matt Picio December 14, 2007 at 2:13 pm

    Paul Tay (#2) – I\’m not sure how a lack of bike lane would have helped in this situation. It\’s a 40mph road, and even if the car maintained a 4\’ separation from the bike, avoiding a bike at that speed is difficult. (I\’ll acknowledge that the motorist should slow down when passing bikes, and be more aware, but that\’s a driver education issue)

    Comment about the story – I\’m presuming this quote: \”Witnesses say HENDRIK suddenly veered in front of the vehicle driven by ADEN, causing ADEN to hit the bicyclist.\” is from the police report. They would have been more accurate had they said \”and ADEN was unable to avoid hitting the bicyclist\” rather than \”causing ADEN to hit the bicyclist\”.

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    Sarah December 14, 2007 at 3:09 pm

    In response to #9. Matt it is all in how things are worded. Is it me or does the police have a bias against riders? Just wondering.

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    Paul Tay December 14, 2007 at 3:24 pm

    Matt, the lack of a bike lane would have ENCOURAGE Hendrik to ride in the MIDDLE of the lane, causing Aden to pay attention. According to the 1974 Ken Cross study, rear-end collisions of bicycles by motorists are commparatively RARE. Why?

    The danger is so apparent to the motorist that they slow down, signal the lane change, and pass in the OTHER lane.

    The bike lane ENCOURAGE Hendrik to ride in a manner that made Aden likely to collide in a rear-end fashion during an emergency on Hendrik\’s part.

    Hendrik likely tried to avoid some debris or pothole. SUMBODY go check that spot.

    During the emergency, he didn\’t look back to see Aden. Aden was traveling on a roadway that allow speeds NOT consistent with bicycle speeds.

    Shouldn\’t roadway design be held to some account? Shouldn\’t traffic engineers, classically trained in an auto-centric culture and college curriculum, be held to some responsibility? Naaaaaaaah.

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    Curt Dewees December 14, 2007 at 3:29 pm

    I remember reading somewhere that the media decided to always include info about helmet-wearing in stories about bicyclist deaths because they would get dozens of phone calls and letters from folks demanding to know whether or not the deceased had been wearing a helmet. So now it\’s standard editorial policy to include this information, whether or not it\’s relevant to each particular incident.

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    Paul Tay December 14, 2007 at 3:52 pm

    Curt, et al, I feel your pain. But, I believe the helmet information is actually helpful ENCOURAGEMENT and EDUCATION to wear helmets.

    Certainly, I would howl if helmet use was legislatively mandated. But, I think there should be some INSTITUTIONALIZED encouragement of such.

    As the hapless victim of the dreaded rear-ender myself, I suspect a helmet might be relevant. Hendrick\’s body would have left the bicycle, gone airborne, and landed on his back. Presumably, the head would have met the pavement violently.

    Johnathan, could we get the ME autopsy on the cause of death and site(s) of injuries?

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    Sky December 14, 2007 at 4:38 pm

    #7 \”Please note that whenever there is a motor vehicle fatality, police always mention whether seat belts were worn by the occupants.\”

    The reason this is mentioned is that it\’s the law to wear a seat belt. Not so for helmets. It is still not a crime to ride your bike without a helmet! Just as we did as children.

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    Paul Tay December 14, 2007 at 4:48 pm

    #14, Sky, I remember a time when cops mentioned seat belt use BEFORE it was law. Not knowing too much about police procedures, I suspect they routinely note safety devices that could be relevant to the investigation, especially if the ME comes back with traumatic head injury as cause of death.

    Yes, I think cops and the legal system are BIASED against bikes. But, the helmet information is a NON-issue.

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    Logan 5 December 14, 2007 at 5:02 pm

    \”It is still not a crime to ride your bike without a helmet! Just as we did as children.\”

    Children indeed.

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    Centennial Neighbor December 14, 2007 at 5:06 pm

    The road , bikelanes, sidewalks are a year old and are in excellent shape. I didn\’t see any debris in the lanes. I live right by the site. Very sad!

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    Sky December 14, 2007 at 5:09 pm

    I do think that helmets are a good thing much of the time. Flying down the hills of 101 comes to mind. The freedom to choose to go for a short ride around my home free of a gourd cover is not something I would like to give up.

    I also remember a time when it was repeatedly mentioned that eating to much of a bad thing and watching to much TV would make you fat. That has worked great!

    What is taking more lives and costing the public more. Bicycle head trauma or obesity.

    Done, sorry for the thread-jack.

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    Paul Tay December 14, 2007 at 5:25 pm

    Probably preachin\’ to the choir, but, I would NOT leave the driveway WITHOUT a helmet.

    But, if some idiot at the Oklahoma State Sausage Factory threatened to fine me $25 for not wearing one, I might be tempted to risk head injury just to spite them. Pretty twisted logic, but, what the hey?

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    geoffrey December 14, 2007 at 6:42 pm

    It\’s great to have faith in the capability and integrity of police but \”veered in front of the vehicle\” in a report can mean anything from the motor vehicle was in the bike lane to the cyclist was not riding in the bike lane and was where the police would not accept he was entitled to ride. It could also mean he was in the left side of the bike lane and the motorist was in the right side of the car lane and didn\’t leave sufficient room in passing. As long as bike lanes remain exceedingly narrow and prone to accumulating debris it must be accepted that cyclists have entitlement to the car lane and so it is incumbent on the motorist to pass safely as it is for the motorist to pass another motor vehicle safely. Why the police insist on propagating the myth a bicycle and a motor vehicle can safely cohabitate abreast in a single live lane astounds me.

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    Paul Tay December 14, 2007 at 7:02 pm

    There something in car-bike interactions called \”effective\” distance. If the motor vehicle, moving at 40 mph, and approaching a bicycle moving at 10 mph, the \”effective\” distance could be too close to make the emergency manuver of avoiding debris or pothole in the bike lane.

    Both Hendrick, age 72, and Aden, moving three times Hendrick, might have mis-judged the \”effective\” distance. Maybe cops were biased. But, since we weren\’t there, we have to extrapolate from their report.

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    geoffrey December 14, 2007 at 7:34 pm

    Mr Tay. I fail to see how the victim could have misjudged nor how he could have reacted to the presence of the vehicle driven by the motorist. On the other hand it should be incumbent on the motorist to pass the cyclist in safety regardless of the cyclist\’s road position. This is as it is with another motor vehicle and as long as a bicycle is regarded as a vehicle it should be likewise.
    I quite agree with you with respect to speed limits on public roadways. Where grade separated bicycle pathways can not be provided motor vehicles should be limited to 40 kph or 25 mph. The fatality rate for bicyclists struck in 60 kph zones (~35 mph) is about 95%. The fatality rate in 40 kph zones I believe to be less than 10%.

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    Paul Tay December 15, 2007 at 11:58 am

    Geoffrey, Hendrick is 72 years-old. Maybe he misjudged \”effective\” distance. Maybe he got it right and the motorist in the wrong. We don\’t really know. All I can do is speculate, guesstimate, with the information at hand.

    If cops were EVEN-handed, the motorist should be charged with excessive speed for condition, in presence of bicycle. See a bike, slow down. Go too fast, nail a bike, get ticket. Problem SOLVED. But, of course, it was not too long ago, PDX cops were busting heads at the Critical Mass.

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    2ndaveflyer December 15, 2007 at 3:54 pm

    So Paul(#24)…say you\’re riding your bicycle on a road, like Mr. Hendrick was, with a 40 mph speed limit. You are in a bike lane. A car comes up behind you in the lane adjacent to your bike lane. You see a big pile of glass and a hole a foot deep ahead of you and decide, or act instinctively, and turn directly into the path of the car coming up from behind you. How slowly would the car have to travel to prevent your probable death in the event of a collision? Would you be willing to be hit from behind by a pickup truck travelling 20 mph? How about 15 mph?

    We often bemoan on this site the lack of understanding and experience that motorists seem to have for we cyclists making our way about town. It\’s pretty clear this cuts both ways. Go get a car, fair cyclist, if you can find one and have a license, and drive around town halving your speed every time you pass a cyclist in a bike lane. Report your experiences back here online while your car is getting fixed at the shop.

    I do not wish or mean to critize Mr. Hendrick for a second for his actions on his bicycle. I don\’t know what they were and likely will never find out. I may have done the same thing under the same set of circumstances, whatever those really are. But each of us should know that if we leave the bike lane suddenly for any reason, bee in the helmet, hole ahead, or heart attack, we will likely be killed if a motor vehicle is coming up behind us…even at 15 mph.

    It is impractical and naive to think that motor vehicles should be held accountable for accidents where pediestrians or cyclists suddenly move in front of the vehicle leaving the operator no time to react or safely stop. There is no provision for this in our traffic laws and there shouldn\’t be. As you ride your bicycle about town, one of the things you should know, without a second thought or doubt, is that if you swerve in front of a big hunk of steel moving even just a little bit faster than you, there is a good chance you will be killed. Don\’t look for a law to save your butt…think about what you\’re doing on your bike and develop good safe riding habits.

    It is getting rather somber reading about all these bicycle deaths. My heart also goes out to Mr. Hendrick\’s family and friends and a smile crosses my face thinking about him out there at 72 years old still spinning the pedals.

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    Antonio Gramsci December 15, 2007 at 6:27 pm

    And now for an all-encompassing solution to the problem of traffic safety, please read
    \”Towards a eugenic theory of traffic safety\”

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    Antonio Gramsci December 15, 2007 at 6:30 pm

    The only proper moral philosophy to adopt that is consistent with a fully motorized society like that of the United States is to conclude that a 72 year old man (or one of any age) riding a bicycle who cannot react in time to a hazard on the road shoulder and veers into an adjacent lane to avoid is a fit candidate for summary execution.

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    Scott December 16, 2007 at 8:02 am

    Well reasoned and argued 2ndaveflyer!

    As cylists we will always be the underdog in mishaps with motorized vehicles. The laws of physics and nature rule. Therefore, we cannot depend on laws, painted lines or the \”good nature\” of car drivers to protect us. It is our responsibility to do everything we can to ensure our survival on the streets.

    Yes, we hope cops and drivers will do their part, and for the most part they do, but we have to assume the worst everytime we take to the steet!

    Antonio: summary execution on our public streets has been going on since cars were invented! You drop a french fry on the car seat, you look down to pick it up then you drift into the oncoming lane of traffic. Bam, a log truck takes you and your family out in a heart beat. It\’s not fair, it\’s not pretty, but it\’s the law of physics. Big heavy truck flattens little tiny car. EVERY TIME!

    I guess we should pass a law requiring log trucks to slow to 25MPH when approaching smaller vehicles?

    The bottom line is that we, as cyclists, have to do everything that we can to keep ourselves safe. We can\’t count on strangers to do it. If we do everything that we can to protect ourselves and someone else screws up, takes us out, then we, or our estates make em pay big time.

    Everyone be safe and have a Merry Christmas!

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    Paul Tay December 16, 2007 at 9:05 am

    Formerly privileged attorney work-product for wide release:

    RE: Bike-motor vehicle collision in Gresham.

    ISSUE: Prior to the application of brakes, as indicated by skid marks, does motorist Aden\’s speed meet the definition of a traffic offense or violation, as defined by Oregon Revised Statutes?

    RULES: O.R.S. 811.100 says a violation of the basic speed rule occurs when motorists travel at speeds \”greater than is reasonable and prudent. To establish what is \”reasonable and prudent,\” drivers are required to take into account a) The traffic. (b) The surface and width of the highway. (c) The hazard at intersections. (d) Weather. (e) Visibility. (f) Any other conditions then existing.

    Analysis: Motorist Aden\’s speed is not known from the available public sources. KGW-TV8 reports police observed skid marks, which would indicate Motorist Aden\’s speed at the time the said motorist applied brakes.

    As per O.R.S. 811.100, Motorist Aden\’s speed seem to reasonable and prudent under the existing traffic condition. Traffic seem to be fairly light, with no other vehicle present, except bicyclist Jensen.

    Geometric factors, i.e. surface and width, of the roadway, weather, and visibility conditions do not preclude Motorist Aden from moving at whatever speed he/she was going, prior to applying brakes.

    When applying tests for hazards and \”any other conditions existing,\” not specifically defined, i.e. presence of bicycle, Motorist Alden seem to be in violation of the basic speed rule, as defined.

    A hazard, bicyclist Jensen, existed to preclude a speed prior to applying brakes, that would cause skid marks.

    \”Any other conditions then existing,\” bicyclist Jensen, preclude Motorist Aden from moving at such a speed that would cause skid marks.

    At whatever speed Motorist Aden was moving, to be established by examination of the skid marks, the speed, prior to Motorist Aden applying brakes, is greater \”than is reasonable and prudent.\”

    CONCLUSION: Traffic within the State of Oregon are well-known to include bicyclists. Motorists are generally well aware of the high probability of encountering bicyclists on any given roadway segment. Slow-moving bicyclists are generally considered pre-existing conditions of the roadway which are routinely taken into account by motorists moving at reasonable and prudent speeds. Motorist Aden should be charged with the violation of the basic speed rule, O.R.S. 811.100.

    Respectfully submitted.

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    antonio gramsci December 16, 2007 at 2:32 pm

    In a society such as that of the US where there is intense addiction to motor vehicles, the only social measure that can keep us safe is a balance of terror: motorists must become as frightened of the consequences of injuring or killing a bystander with their machinery as the rest of us are of getting hit. It worked for MADD: alcohol-involved motor vehicle fatalities have been halved since MADD\’s pathbreaking introduction of new, much more draconian enforcement against drunk driving starting in the 80s.

    It doesn\’t matter if the driver \”couldn\’t \” have avoided this particular accident or not: the point is that, if there is even the slightest doubt at all, then the driver should be arrested, held for questioning, and have the vehicle impounded indefinitely for a thorough safety inspection, with criminal charges forthcoming in the event that any deficiencies are found, either in the safety maintenance of the vehicle or the driver\’s conduct.

    I guarantee you that once people know the kind of hell that could be in store for them, we will have millions of much slower, more cautious motorists overnight.

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    antonio gramsci December 16, 2007 at 3:38 pm

    By the way, although eventually speed limits should be lowered, it would be politically impractical to pursue that right now. First we need a campaign of zero-tolerance for careless motoring to put the fear of G-d in people. Then, once the majority of drivers are softened up and have \”voluntarily\” slowed way down out of fear of the legal consequences of being held responsible for a serious injury or fatality, it\’ll be easy to take the formal step of actually changing the posted speed limits.

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    Tiah December 17, 2007 at 12:33 am

    I am sad to read about Mr.Hendrick\’s death. I wish his family and friends comfort in this difficult time.

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    Curt Dewees December 17, 2007 at 12:14 pm

    re: #28 \”CONCLUSION: Traffic within the State of Oregon are well-known to … \”

    Subject-verb agreement? I hate to see the effectiveness of your well-reasoned argument diminished by poor grammar. (ie \”Traffic … is well known … \”)

    (I know: Nit-picking.)

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    Schrauf December 17, 2007 at 4:30 pm

    Rawn #7 said: \”Please note that whenever there is a motor vehicle fatality, police always mention whether seat belts were worn by the occupants.\” in response to \”Love how the police report contains the classic reference to the lack of a bike helmet – so common in police and media reports, even when not applicable.\”

    Ah, Rawn, seatbelts are required for all occupants of motor vehicles. Helmets are not required for adult cyclists. That is the whole point, which you missed by a mile. The media and police go out of their way to mention actions of cyclists that are not illegal and, until more facts are known, may not have contributed to injury or death – usually to place blame on the cyclist.

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    Paul Tay December 17, 2007 at 5:34 pm

    From available public sources, there is NO evidence to indicate bicyclist Hendrick veer in front of Motorist Aden.

    Even if he did veer in front of motorist Aden, Hendrick was already in front and has right-of-way. When bicyclists are on the road, motorists have the duty to exercise due care, O.R.S. 811.005Aden\’s speed was not reasonable or prudent enough to stop in time to avoid rear-ending Hendrick, a violation of O.R.S. 811.100, the basic speed rule.

    Also, 811.060 Vehicular assault of bicyclist or pedestrian; penalty. (1) For the purposes of this section, “recklessly” has the meaning given that term in ORS 161.085.

    (2) A person commits the offense of vehicular assault of a bicyclist or pedestrian if:

    (a) The person recklessly operates a vehicle upon a highway in a manner that results in contact between the person’s vehicle and a bicycle operated by a person, a person operating a bicycle or a pedestrian; and

    (b) The contact causes physical injury to the person operating a bicycle or the pedestrian.

    (3) The offense described in this section, vehicular assault of a bicyclist or pedestrian, is a Class A misdemeanor.

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    Paul Tay December 17, 2007 at 5:40 pm

    If motorist Aden had to apply the brakes in such a manner as to cause skid marks, wouldn\’t that establish prima facie evidence that the speed BEFORE applying brakes was NOT reasonable or prudent, and thus, RECKLESS?

    It seems to me the collision just by itself is prima facie evidence, under O.R.S. 811.060.

    Chime in all you legal eagle types. Help me out, Mionske.

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    Matt Picio December 18, 2007 at 12:44 am

    Paul (#11) – Respectfully, your conclusion doesn\’t necessarily follow – the absence of a bike lane does not encourage people to ride in the middle of the lane. In fact, Oregon law requires cyclists to ride as far to the right as practicable, and they may only take the lane under specific circumstances. Most of us who cycle in Oregon stay pretty close to the right, and take the lane only when the edge is unsafe, or if it would put us in the door zone, or if there isn\’t enough space to ride safely WITHOUT taking the lane (which is one of the specific circumstances referred to above).

    What would help is greater education for drivers and cyclists. The problem is, there is no effective way to make education mandatory – you can\’t FORCE people to learn, you can\’t force them to obey – you can only punish them when they don\’t obey.

    Frankly, I\’m not convinced that bike lanes *are* more dangerous, I\’m only convinced at this point that Oregon drivers for the most part don\’t understand bike lanes and don\’t pay enough attention to their driving. I have yet to see a bike lane study that takes into account motorist and cyclist education and training.

    In any case, this is a tragic incident, and I feel for the victim\’s family. I hope the crash investigation team determines an accurate cause, and I hope that if there was any negligence on the part of the motorist, that the motorist is dealt with appropriately.

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    blurt December 18, 2007 at 6:55 am

    So a driver in their lane obeying the law is guilty when another driver performs a maneuver that caused them to skid to avoid a collision?

    If I open my door into oncoming traffic and cause a collision I am at fault. If I pull into traffic from a side street without looking and cause a collision I am at fault. If I perform a right turn across a bike lane and cause a collision then I am at fault.

    The basic law is that the person performing the maneuver has to ensure it is safe to do so.

    This is a tragedy, someone died and no one knows why they cyclist swerved into traffic, but to put the blame on Mr. Aden at this point is going a little far.

    It seems like some people on this site want to twist the law to make sure it is always the driver who is at fault. Compare this to all the right hooks that have happened. Apply the current logic and every cyclist is at fault because the vehicles all made maneuvers where they didn\’t do it in a safe manner endangering others. Mr. Aden is at fault because he was placed in a position of having to try and avoid someone else\’s unsafe move.

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    Anonymous December 18, 2007 at 8:44 am

    Thank you blurt, I was hoping that someone would say what you said.

    I began reading after an altercation with a cyclist, while I was in my car. Everything I was doing was 100% legal while their actions were not. I was driving down the road in my car lane going the speed limit and they came towards me down the center of my lane (Going the wrong direction obviously). I was harassed, berated, etc.

    Because I had been considering getting a bike and commuting on days where my work didn\’t require a car, I thought I\’d hop onto BikePortland and read a little more about the bicycling world.

    I am a logical, caring person. Suffice to say, after hearing the attitudes of people on this site, and witnessing the behavior of cyclists on the streets, not to mention the amount of times downtown I have nearly been hit by cyclists riding on the sidewalk (NOT at a pedestrians pace!), I have been convinced that the Portland Bike Community is not one I want to be involved with.

    When I hear \”Share the road\”, it should be sharing the road with all, not only when it is convenient to me.

    I will be trading my car keys for running shoes rather than for a bicycle.

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    Chris December 18, 2007 at 9:50 am

    Sounds like the cyclist committed an unsafe lane change.

    Like a garbage truck moving right to make a turn. It really sucks when people aren\’t aware of their surroundings.

    Condolences to the family.

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    Siobhan December 18, 2007 at 11:17 am


    That is sad to hear… As a person who commutes by car, jogs (a ton), and chose to commute by bike also… I think you will really be missing out by not getting on a bike. Don\’t let a few comments and a jerk on a bike dissuade you from using a valid form of transportation.

    Getting on a bicycle should not be a radical political act. No matter what mode of transportation you choose, you will eventually run into a jerk or two (whether they be on bike, on foot, or in a car). By your logic — you can\’t tell me you have never been cut off in traffic, given the finger when it wasn\’t due, or just had senseless close calls by people who aren\’t watching for you while they are driving. Do you curse the car as a mode of transportation for the way other car drivers may treat you from time to time? Do you pledge to not drive because of the way other people act? What is going to happen when you are driving and a jogger pounds on your hood because you are a millimeter into a crosswalk?

    The mode of transportation doesn\’t define you or determine your personality, or how you treat others. Just because you choose to ride a bike DOES NOT mean that you suddenly magically become part of portland\’s bike community. It just means that you are a logical caring guy/gal who is attempting to enjoy a ride on a bike. Do it, you\’ll love it.

    And to the point, someone died in a tragic accident and my heart goes out to the family.
    It\’s only natural for people to question and speculate and try to work it out in their minds when they don\’t have all the facts. There is a discussion going on and just because there are comments here and there speculating and requesting things that may not seem logical to you does not indicate that it is representative of the bike community as a whole.

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    Antonio Gramsci December 18, 2007 at 12:21 pm

    One thing that seems to be perpetually missed in these discussions is the following:


    Whether that someone made a mistake or not does not affect this. You must make all efforts possible not to kill someone on the roads, even if they have made a mistake that has put them in danger.

    If you take all efforts possible to avoid injuring or killing someone, yet you still do, then you are not legally culpable. If, however, you fail to take any effort that you could have made to avoid injuring or killing someone, then you are at fault.

    The problem with the current system is that WE DON\’T KNOW whether, in any given case, a motor vehicle operator has taken all possible efforts to avoid injuring or killing in the event of collisions. The reason we don\’t know is because investigations are extremely shoddy. No thorough inspection is done of the machinery involved to verify if all safety equipment is properly installed and functioning. No thorough questioning is done of the operator. Etc.

    A thorough investigation would require impounding the vehicle for several days to schedule an exhaustive inspection — at the vehicle operator\’s expense, naturally, unless the operator can show proof of a recent equivalent inspection in the previous month. A thorough investigation would require sitting the operator down in a formal, austere setting where investigators could thoroughly question the operator, with the assistance of legal counsel if the operator so chose. None of these steps are usually taken.

    If such steps were taken, we would find innumerable instances where motor vehicle operators have failed to take all precautions that they should have taken, and that in some cases might have saved lives. We would also find that the fear of having to submit to such an intensive ordeal would persuade many more drivers to drive far more carefully and pay far more attention to the safe maintenance and operation of their machinery.

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    blurt December 18, 2007 at 1:36 pm


    Once again you are implying that the driver has to be responsible for the actions of the cyclist.

    Again apply this logic to the right hooks that have happened. The cyclist are responsible for the actions of the drivers.

    Or just apply your logic to everyday life. No one would be able to leave their houses for fear of being responsible for the actions of others.

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    wsbob December 18, 2007 at 10:58 pm

    I\’d have to also urge anonymous(comment #38) to hold off drawing generally unfavorable conclusions about the bike community as he describes it, based on his reading here and observations of cyclists downtown. As far as commuting is concerned, downtown and perhaps in the metro area in general, biking is in some ways a new frontier.

    Much has yet to be done to better clarify standard, safe riding practices and responsibility. One excellent way to do this is for many more people to recognize their ability to be one of the people to decide what those riding practices and responsibilities should be, by seizing the opportunity to get out on a bike themselves, becoming an active member of the new biking commuter public. There is strength in numbers.

    This weblog allows opportunity for people to express a wide range of attitudes about this world of bikes and cars together. I beg to differ if anonymous\’s suggestion is that attitudes expressed here are unanimously insensitive to those of others not using a bike for recreation or transportation. A reasonably wide range of attitudes find their way here. I\’d argue that the majority are reasoned and moderate with a few extreme viewpoints thrown in here and there. The best way to try swing that balance in the direction they think is more accurately representative is to personally post their own comments here with greater regularity.

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    Paul Tay December 19, 2007 at 10:34 am

    Matt, #36, 811.295 Failure to drive on right; exceptions; penalty. (1) A person commits the offense of failure to drive on the right if the person is operating a vehicle on a roadway of sufficient width and the person does not drive on the right half of the roadway.

    (2) A person is not required to drive on the right side of the roadway by this section under any of the following circumstances:

    (a) When overtaking and passing another vehicle proceeding in the same direction under the rules governing this movement in ORS 811.410 to 811.425 or 811.808.

    (b) When preparing to turn left in an intersection, alley or private road or driveway.

    (c) When an obstruction or condition exists making it necessary to drive to the left of the center of the roadway, provided that a driver doing so shall yield the right of way to all vehicles traveling in the proper direction upon the unobstructed portion of the roadway within a distance as to constitute an immediate hazard.

    (d) Upon a roadway divided into three marked lanes for traffic under the rules applicable on the roadway under ORS 811.380.

    (e) Upon a roadway restricted to one-way traffic.

    (3) The offense described in this section, failure to drive on the right, is a Class B traffic violation.

    814.400 Application of vehicle laws to bicycles. (1) Every person riding a bicycle upon a public way is subject to the provisions applicable to and has the same rights and duties as the driver of any other vehicle concerning operating on highways, vehicle equipment and abandoned vehicles, except:

    (a) Those provisions which by their very nature can have no application.

    (b) When otherwise specifically provided under the vehicle code.

    (2) Subject to the provisions of subsection (1) of this section:

    (a) A bicycle is a vehicle for purposes of the vehicle code; and

    (b) When the term “vehicle” is used the term shall be deemed to be applicable to bicycles.

    (3) The provisions of the vehicle code relating to the operation of bicycles do not relieve a bicyclist or motorist from the duty to exercise due care.

    814.430 Improper use of lanes; exceptions; penalty. (1) A person commits the offense of improper use of lanes by a bicycle if the person is operating a bicycle on a roadway at less than the normal speed of traffic using the roadway at that time and place under the existing conditions and the person does not ride as close as practicable to the right curb or edge of the roadway.

    (2) A person is not in violation of the offense under this section if the person is not operating a bicycle as close as practicable to the right curb or edge of the roadway under any of the following circumstances:

    (a) When overtaking and passing another bicycle or vehicle that is proceeding in the same direction.

    (b) When preparing to execute a left turn.

    (c) When reasonably necessary to avoid hazardous conditions including, but not limited to, fixed or moving objects, parked or moving vehicles, bicycles, pedestrians, animals, surface hazards or other conditions that make continued operation along the right curb or edge unsafe or to avoid unsafe operation in a lane on the roadway that is too narrow for a bicycle and vehicle to travel safely side by side. Nothing in this paragraph excuses the operator of a bicycle from the requirements under ORS 811.425 or from the penalties for failure to comply with those requirements.

    (d) When operating within a city as near as practicable to the left curb or edge of a roadway that is designated to allow traffic to move in only one direction along the roadway. A bicycle that is operated under this paragraph is subject to the same requirements and exceptions when operating along the left curb or edge as are applicable when a bicycle is operating along the right curb or edge of the roadway.

    (e) When operating a bicycle alongside not more than one other bicycle as long as the bicycles are both being operated within a single lane and in a manner that does not impede the normal and reasonable movement of traffic.

    (f) When operating on a bicycle lane or bicycle path.

    (3) The offense described in this section, improper use of lanes by a bicycle, is a Class D traffic violation.

    814.489 Use of evidence of lack of protective headgear on bicyclist. Evidence of violation of ORS 814.485 or 814.486 and evidence of lack of protective headgear shall not be admissible, applicable or effective to reduce the amount of damages or to constitute a defense to an action for damages brought by or on behalf of an injured bicyclist or bicycle passenger or the survivors of a deceased bicyclist or passenger if the bicyclist or passenger was injured or killed as a result in whole or in part of the fault of another.

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    Paul Tay December 19, 2007 at 10:42 am

    Matt, #36, The problem is, there is no effective way to make education mandatory – you can\’t FORCE people to learn, you can\’t force them to obey – you can only punish them when they don\’t obey.

    Right, I got it. So, Oregon has NO TV, radio, or newspapers for public service announcements. AND, Oregon has NO public schools from which to teach bicycle driver ed. BTW, what is the legal age for driver\’s license in OR? Do public skools NOT teach drivers ed in high skool?

    Frankly, I\’m not convinced that bike lanes *are* more dangerous.

    Of course not. Certainly wouldn\’t want to do a study that associates right-hooks to bike lanes, wouldya? Naaaaaaaaaah.

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    Paul Tay December 19, 2007 at 10:49 am

    #36, Most of us who cycle in Oregon stay pretty close to the right, and take the lane only when the edge is unsafe, or if it would put us in the door zone, or if there isn\’t enough space to ride safely WITHOUT taking the lane (which is one of the specific circumstances referred to above).

    Shouldn\’t you take the lane if \”operating a bicycle as close as practicable to the right curb or edge of the roadway,\” and in the bike lane, put you in the BLIND spot of the passing motorists?

    Is it \”practicable\” to be in the bike lane and in the motorists\’ BLIND spot?

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    Antonio Gramsci December 19, 2007 at 9:27 pm

    When you are operating heavy machinery in an environment that exposes numerous bystanders to the risk of that operation, then you will find, in other contexts, that that is exactly the way it works: You are responsible for the actions of others, insofar as those actions in combination with the proximity of your heavy machinery create hazards that they did not voluntarily agree to submit to.

    Consider a crane operator, for example, or any other heavy machinery operator. If the operator observes that an individual has strayed into a dangerous position on the jobsite, then the crane operator would be required to take all possible measures to prevent harm to that individual. If the crane operator failed to take any reasonable and necessary measures to protect that individual\’s safety, he would probably get fired, lose his operator\’s license, or possibly even worse. If the crane\’s safety features had been disabled or tampered with, so too would liability fall on him, or on any others responsible for the proper maintenance of the machinery.

    Unfortunately, we don\’t enforce the same standards for automotive machinery operators that we do for any other kind of heavy industrial machinery. Part of the reason for this is that automotive machinery is operated in environments that are not limited access, so our society considers it \”impractical\” to do so. It will take a considerable political upheaval the likes of MADD\’s movement against drunk drivers to change these social norms. It is imperative that we do so.

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    Antonio Gramsci December 19, 2007 at 9:52 pm

    Zero Tolerance for Careless Driving

    To reiterate: We must develop a culture of ZERO TOLERANCE for careless driving.

    Forty thousand Americans are killed every year in automobile collisions.

    If just one of them could be saved by applying far more rigorous standards of care to the operation of automotive machinery, then it\’s morally imperative that we do so.

    If you are killed by a careless driver, then you are just as dead as if you were killed by a drunk driver. Why should our tolerance for the former be any greater?

    Of course, the definition of \”carelessness\” depends on our standard of due care. But please read for an explanation of the moral obscenity of putting the burden for safety on bystanders, IRRESPECTIVE OF THEIR INCOMPETENCE OR NEGLIGENCE.

    Whence the necessity to apply very rigorous investigative standards to ensuring that automotive machinery operators are held to very high standards of due care. Automobiles that have been involved in deadly or life threatening collisions need to be thoroughly inspected at the owner\’s expense, just as would other heavy machinery so implicated. Their operators must be thoroughly crossexamined.

    Will this make many people wary of driving automobiles? In due time, yes, it will. Just as many people would be wary of being airplane pilots, crane operators, or other kinds of hazardous equipment operators in which the safey of numerous bystanders rests in their hands. Operating automotive machinery is a deadly serious undertaking and should not be treated any more lightly than other kinds of heavy machinery. If you can\’t hack it, then take public transportation and leave it to professionals.

    We should all feel a certain twinge of outrage at the status quo, in which the day-in, day-out carnage and loss of innocent lives is rationalized and treated as a mere statistic. Business as usual is not acceptable. It ought to be abundantly clear to anyone who is not simply a rabid apologist for motorism that these results are not simply an isolated byproduct of \”some people occasionally being careless.\” A problem of this magnitude is systemic. It is the SYSTEM that needs a radical overhaul.

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    wsbob December 19, 2007 at 11:40 pm

    \”Is it \”practicable\” to be in the bike lane and in the motorists\’ BLIND spot?\” Paul Tay

    Our present traffic management infrastructure is not that simple, though things might be easier if it were. What if the cyclist in a bike lane slightly precedes a motor vehicle driver(with a huge blind spot as some cement trucks seem to have) to their left as they approach an intersection, and as they both sit there waiting 2-3 minutes for light to change, the motor vehicle driver forgets the cyclist is there?

    However traffic management infrastructure evolves, it needs to do so in a way that enables full awareness and acknowledgment of bikes and motor vehicles to each other\’s presence on the streets together.

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    blurt December 20, 2007 at 8:03 am


    Apples and oranges comparison between a driver on the road and a heavy machinery operator.

    The crane operator has specific laws requiring them to make a safe area to operate the crane.

    Yes there should be zero tolerance for careless driving and in this case it was not the operator of the vehicle that was careless.

    I am a cyclist and it is always a tragedy when anyone dies on the road , but to absolve cyclists of any responsibility is absurd.

    Your sense of entitlement and double standards is amazing. It is always the drivers fault for you.

    Let\’s apply your logic to a cyclist in a bike lane to the right of a line of motor vehicles moving at 5 mpg. The cyclist is moving at 15 mph passing on the right as is allowed by law. One of those slow moving cars, without signaling or warning veers into the bike lane in front of the cyclist. The cyclist does what they can to avoid the collision but still run into the car.

    By your logic the cyclist is responsible for this collision because they didn\’t take the proper precautions by not passing on the right and not being ready to allow any vehicle to cross over their path.

    Not every bike car incident is the fault of the driver and a fair and balanced view is required to avoid this us vs them antagonism. It\’s about sharing the road.

    At some point there has to be personal responsibility. You appear to forfeit that responsibility and make it everyone else\’s job to keep you safe.

    Please post all your travel plans for the next month, including routes and times. I want to make sure I am well away from these areas because I expect you will be stepping off curbs in front of cars and riding your bike erratically in traffic expecting everyone else to worry about your safety since it is their responsibility.

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    Antonio Gramsci December 20, 2007 at 12:01 pm

    You still dont get the point. YOU REALLY DONT GET THE POINT AT ALL. And I dont think its for lack of intelligence or any personal deficiencies on your part. Rather, your not getting the point is simply symptomatic of a much larger social problem.

    Ofcourse Im not going to wildly veer into traffic on a whim. I value my life and plan to take all feasible measures to protect my personal safety. And particularly given my acute awareness of the hazards of automobiles and the virtual lack of any legal accountability for their operators, I certainly am not trusting anyone else with my safety!

    You keep insisting on comparing auto operation to other activities that bear no comparison in terms of hazard, and yet when I attempt to draw a comparison between comparably hazardous activities, you reject it.

    Let us return, though, to the comparison you rejected so quickly out of hand. You are precisely right that the difference between a crane operator (as well as practically any other heavy industrial machinery operator) and the motor vehicle operator is that the former operates in a restricted access environment — a point I already noted before you.

    Automotive machinery operators, unlike most other operators of heavy machinery, are allowed to operate in uncontrolled environments surrounded by bystanders whose level of training and preparation is unknown, and from whom no informed consent has ever been obtained. And yet, unlike these other heavy machinery operators, they can expect to do so with no enhanced level of scrutiny as to their conduct compared to other road users.

    Now who is the one with a sense of entitlement here?

    Yet I do not expect this state of affairs to change overnight, quite the contrary, no more than MADD expected all motorists involved in deadly collisions to be breathtested for alcohol overnight — yet it eventually did happen. It can and will change, but only through the decisive intervention of militant activists, just as was the case with MADD and drunk driving.

    Once again, it does not matter who was \”at fault\” in this particular instance. What DOES matter is that, if all motorists had the expectation of greatly enhanced scrutiny of their actions in the event of serious injuries or fatalities, most of them would exercise far greater care. Many would even VOLUNTARILY slow down when they thought conditions warranted it, simply to avoid even the possibility of undergoing the ordeal of an exhaustive collision investigation. Absent such measures, and in the current environment, it would not be rational to expect such a thing from most of them.

    Please get it through your head: We are not living in a \”peaceable kingdom\” where we can all \”share the roads\” in tranquility. We are living in the midst of an ongoing bloodbath: According to statistics cited by JL Crawford of Carfree Cities, the number of fatalities in automotive collisions every year in the US alone exceeds the total number of fatalities in train wrecks in 100 years of locomotive history in the ENTIRE WORLD.

    EXTREME MEASURES ARE WARRANTED AND NECESSARY to counter an extreme situation such as the one we are in. You are absolutely right that such extreme measures will not be politically feasible if they can be portrayed as \”us vs. them\” where the \”us\” in question is a tiny minority of cyclists. That is why I think that cyclists should be largely a bit part in the public face of any such movement. In fact, I would name my organization \”DAMM\”: Drivers Against Motorized Mayhem, and the public face I would choose for it would be primarily motorists but sometimes also other road users that have been victimized by careless and reckless drivers. This is quite feasible, given that there are many drivers who ARE very scrupulous and yet have suffered enormous harm at the hands of careless ones, as many have even noted numerous times right here on bikeportland.

    The eventual result must be an enhanced level of scrutiny and care, to the point that even run-of-the-mill, not especially careless or reckless drivers will always be second guessing themselves, with the expectation that at any moment they could face a costly ordeal, possibly through no fault of their own — just as drivers who have had even a tiny amount to drink now live with the fear that they could face legal consequences that aren\’t \”fair,\” strictly speaking. However, this degree of discomfort and imposition on individual drivers, while seemingly \”unfair,\” is socially necessary and morally justifiable in order to save countless lives.

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