A new directive at the Police Bureau?

According to an experience this morning by a reader, a potentially significant and positive change has been made at the Portland Police Bureau: a new directive that says all bike-related collisions will be investigated.

I share his story below (more analysis follows):
___

A little after 8:00 am this morning, Jasun Wurster was riding his bike westbound on SE Madison Avenue, approaching the intersection with Grand before pedaling over the Hawthorne Bridge.

Jasun was riding in the bike lane when a Subaru Legacy cut in front of him, causing him to run into the rear bumper and get knocked to the ground. Luckily Jasun was not hurt, but it’s what happened next that’s important.

Wurster’s traffic crash report:
a sign of change at the Police Bureau?

There just so happened to be a Portland Police officer parked in the bus lane just a few feet from the collision. After both Jasun and the driver of the Subaru had stopped to check in with each other, the officer approached.

“First, he wanted to make sure I was OK,” Jasun said, “and then he told me that a new directive had come down that all bicycle collisions are to be investigated.”

Sure enough, the officer phoned for backup from the Traffic Division. When the Traffic Division officer showed up, he immediately conducted a rudimentary investigation and found the Subaru driver was at fault and in violation of ORS 811.050, failure to yield to a bicycle in a bike lane.

The driver, who Wurster says was initially very kind and sympathic, began to object and complain once the citation was issued. Wurster was shocked at what happened next, “The cop was very stern with him and said, ‘would you still be complaining if you had killed him?’.”

Wurster told me that the driver was “taken aback” after hearing that from the cop and he added, “I was very proud of the PPB this morning.”
____

If Wurster’s story is true, and assuming the officer was not misinformed, this would be a big departure from the previous policy that said traffic crashes are only investigated if they met certain criteria. One of those criteria — which unfortunately comes into play with many bike/car collisions — is that one of the victims must have sustained “Level 1 Trauma” injuries (essentially very serious or life-threatening) before an investigation is automatically triggered.

Investigations are key because they allow the responding officer to find fault and issue citations immediately (this has ramifications for the public dialogue around traffic safety and for any ensuing insurance claims).

The Police Bureau’s crash investigation policy as it pertains to bike-related collisions has been a point of contention for many years. The policy was thrown into the spotlight in early November of last year when Siobhan Doyle was hit by a car that turned into the bike lane she occupied. Doyle sustained very serious injuries, but because she was not deemed to have reached the “Level 1 Trauma” threshold by the EMTs on the scene, no investigation was made and the driver was not cited (this is the case that spurred a local group of activists to file a citizen-initiated citation).

[It’s important to note that I’m sure the current policy of not issuing a citation at fatal collisions would remain. (This is something the DA tells the Bureau to do, as to not interfere with their investigations).]

If indeed this new directive has been issued (and I’m still trying to confirm it), it would mark a significant, and very positive step forward in the Bureau’s effort to improve the safety of vulnerable road users.

Let’s hope that it is true and that it’s just the first of many more steps forward.


UPDATE, 3:21pm: It looks like the new directive isn’t quite as amazing as first thought…but it’s still great news. Read this update.

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)

Founder of BikePortland (in 2005). Father of three. North Portlander. Basketball lover. Car owner and driver. If you have questions or feedback about this site or my work, feel free to contact me at @jonathan_maus on Twitter, via email at maus.jonathan@gmail.com, or phone/text at 503-706-8804. Also, if you read and appreciate this site, please become a supporter.

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joe adamski
joe adamski
16 years ago

Halleluah!

bahueh
bahueh
16 years ago

I cannot believe it…no way…I\’m almost floored…

a.O
a.O
16 years ago

Whaa…..?

Holy Cow! If true, this would be a HUGE step forward for our fair City.

pinkie
pinkie
16 years ago

One big f*in\’ YEAH!!!!!

zac
zac
16 years ago

glorious!

Fritz
Fritz
16 years ago

It\’s about freakin\’ time!

wsbob
wsbob
16 years ago

Give that officer a cigar! Lucky for Wurster that the cop happened to be right there at that moment. I wonder if the officer happened to actually see the collision take place with his own eyes. That might help to make believers out of them. This new directive is a nice departure present for Officer Kruger.

Adams Carroll (News Intern)
16 years ago

Well folks, from what I just heard from the PPB, there will be a new directive, but it won\’t quite go as far as \”every bike-involved collision.\”

Read this just-posted update for the latest.

Sherry
Sherry
16 years ago

oh so that\’s what was going on this morning. I approached the intersection on my bicycle just as PPB backup was arriving…

true
true
16 years ago

Nice.

I\’m even happier that there were no injuries. Win-Win.

Jasun Wurster
Jasun Wurster
16 years ago

Yea, I am glad that I am OK and the PPB totally surprised me with their actions on this one.

Though upon further inspection of my bike the front fender got smashed and is cracked to the point of being broke in half (better it than me).

When looking over the bike with the traffic officer I was mainly focusing on if the wheel was still true. The crash report is really helpful because I was kinda in shock and would not have trusted myself to get the insurance info. Though the officer did initially write my address down wrong.

A question I have is how do I make a claim against the drivers insurance to get a new fender… plus instillation? Do I just call them up or do I go through my auto insurance?

Natty
Natty
16 years ago

Jasun,

For just a fender, I\’m quite certain the driver would cover out of pocket rather than through his insurance.

Here you bicycle would be covered under your household or tenant\’s insurance not your automotive.

Stripes
Stripes
16 years ago

Super awesome! I wonder what the sudden impetus for this was? Perhaps possibly –

* The departure of Lt Mark Kruger this week
* Tracey Sparling\’s aunt\’s powerful speech in front of PPB Police Chief Rosie Sizer at the Safe Sound and Green streets hearing this week
* One of PPB\’s own motorcycle officers being run down and taken to hospital by a car this week at NE 28th & Sandy

Donna
Donna
16 years ago

I\’m glad that you\’re ok, Jasun. It sure is nice to experience feelings of hope for a better future on a Friday.

beefa
beefa
16 years ago

Jason.

You should indeed bring your bike in to a shop and let them give it a thorough inspection. There could be a hair line fracture. Who knows. If there is, you need to fill out a accident report within 24 hours of the collision, regardless whether or not the officer filed one himself. This is key because the drivers insurance company will do everthing in their power to get out of paying for your bike. Cross all the T\’s and dot all the I\’s. Do not wait.

Good luck. It seems you have some.

Siobhan
Siobhan
16 years ago

Jason,

If you need any input on the process just let me know.

You should go get checked out by a doctor, and you should let your (auto) insurance company know so they can file a claim, and fill out an accident report with the DMV.

Glad to hear that you are all in one piece!

KTesh
KTesh
16 years ago

Jason,

Glad to hear you\’re unhurt! Loved the quote from the cop…

God Bless!

Opus the Poet
16 years ago

I still think I\’m dreaming.

Opus

tonyt
tonyt
16 years ago

Well, since I certainly give the PPB grief when they do wrong, I have to give them praise when they do right.

Amen! This is great! Really, this could go a long way to legitimize the presence of peds and cyclists in public space.