Urban Tribe - Ride with your kids in front.

Driver in fatal Eugene crash “pushing to make helmets mandatory”

Posted by on July 30th, 2008 at 3:51 pm

Screen shot from KVAL-TV video.
(Watch video here)

My story about Senator Floyd Prozanski’s intention to expand Oregon’s mandatory helmet law has gained steam. It was sent out on the AP newswire this morning and outlets across the state have picked it up.

I’ve done several media interviews about it today, and while doing some background reading, I came across an interesting story from Eugene.

According to KVAL (a CBS TV affiliate), the driver in the fatal bike/car crash that took the life of David Minor on June 2nd, is now “devoting her life to bike safety and is pushing to make helmets mandatory for everyone that rides a bicycle.”

KVAL reports that Williams has started a “one-woman crusade towards bike safety,” and she has already started emailing lawmakers in Congress and at the state level. KVAL also reported that:

“Williams says she feels sick every time she sees a cyclist not wearing a helmet. She said since she can’t take back the life that was lost at least she might help save another.”

That type of statement is familiar for proponents of helmet laws. I remember Vancouver Washington Mayor Royce Pollard saying something very similar before their City Council voted 5-1 in favor of an all-ages helmet law back in February.

It will be very interesting to see how this discussion moves forward. Whether you are for or against this law, rest assured that it will be a big debate for the foreseeable future.

— The Eugene Register-Guard has also reported on Ms. Williams’ feelings on this crash and on helmet laws.

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  • bahueh July 30, 2008 at 3:54 pm

    two sides to every tragedy…
    but I\’m sure the \”anti-helmet\” fanatics on this site will continue to cry foul..

    gotta wonder how much gray brain matter it would take to make them consider differently…

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  • Forseti July 30, 2008 at 4:00 pm

    I feel sick every time I see Latasha Williams.

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  • RyNO Dan July 30, 2008 at 4:03 pm

    Thousands of deaths per year in cars. Do motor vehicle drivers wear helmets yet ?

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  • ian July 30, 2008 at 4:06 pm

    I love this logic-\”If you were wearing a helmet when I ran you over with my car, then you might be alive and I wouldn\’t feel so guilty\”

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  • 007 July 30, 2008 at 4:10 pm

    What about pedestrians? How many of them have been killed by human-controlled automobiles.

    Skiers, snowboarders, skateboarders – all have been killed by head injury. Mandatory for one mandatory for all.

    I always wear a helmet BTW.

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  • must be comforting July 30, 2008 at 4:13 pm

    It must be comforting to blame causing someone\’s death on an inanimate object that the dead person didn\’t happen to be wearing at the time. This is the equivalent of someone shooting someone to death and then becoming a \”bullet proof vest advocate\”.

    Everytime I see someone walking around without kevlar I think, what if I shot them, they might die… I wrote my congressman, they should pass a law…

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  • Val July 30, 2008 at 4:16 pm

    Here\’s an idea that could save a life: how about if Latasha Williams agrees never to drive a car again? That would truly be helpful, in contrast to insisting that we all be required to protect ourselves from drivers. Cars traffic is not an immutable force of nature. It is us, and we can change it. Let\’s focus on the danger, so that it can be eliminated. Focusing on those endangered allows it to go unchecked.

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  • toddistic July 30, 2008 at 4:18 pm

    bullsh!t, who cares some car driver who murdered one of ours, now thinks what\’s best? its a good thing im going on vacation for a week, i need the downtime from morons.

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  • Paul July 30, 2008 at 4:19 pm

    I know a guy who died because he was knocked over at a bar and hit his head on a stair corner. He wasn\’t wearing a helmet. Message: how the hell can you enforce such a law? People get hurt all the time doing all kinds of things. Walking, running, driving, showering, skiing, cycling, golfing, climbing ladders… Maybe we should castrate every man since some of them rape. I\’m all for wearing a helmet when one feels appropriate, but a law to enforce it? It\’s our choice.

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  • Maculsay July 30, 2008 at 4:21 pm

    Pretty interesting stuff. My first 25 years of cycling did not include a helmet. Had to have one for the motorcycle, and I agree with that, although living a couple of years in Maine allowed me to make a couple of isolated motorcycle rides without a helmet, and it was terrifying (but deliciously so).

    A lot of my shopping and pleasure trips in outer NE never see a busy road, just nice, easy residential streets. I rarely use a bicycle helmet during these trips, and probably would miss the ability to continue that practice. All trips downtown include a helmet.

    Knowing that anything can happen at anytime, regardless of the circumstances, makes me feel a bit guilty when I ride without the styro. If it becomes law, I\’ll certainly comply. It must have been dumb luck all those early years of riding down long flights of stairs, into chain link fences, and doing en-do\’s into the pool without too much trauma – or maybe enough trauma that I can\’t see the importance of always riding with a helmet…

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  • Russell July 30, 2008 at 4:22 pm

    Mandating helmets to prevent against automobile caused fatalities is akin to mandating bullet proof vests to prevent gun violence. Why not deal with the perpetrator of the violence and not those who suffer from it? I say we make all guns squirt guns and all cars out of balsa wood with a nice downy exterior.

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  • Russell July 30, 2008 at 4:23 pm

    Oh, disclaimer to my statement above. I wear a helmet, I\’m not anti-helmet. In fact, I\’m pretty damn pro-helmets, just not mandating them.

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  • toddistic July 30, 2008 at 4:25 pm

    i say we organize a day of protest. when you arent in the saddle, wear your helmet. when you are in the saddle, take it off.

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  • Ian July 30, 2008 at 4:32 pm

    I say we organize a protest. Lets ride our bikes without helmets into brick walls and so many of us will have brain damage that…errrrr I can\’t remember my point.

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  • 007 July 30, 2008 at 4:35 pm

    I do feel sympathy for Ms Williams. It sounds like she is really suffering. However, I don\’t think mandatory helmets are the answer. Apparently the helmet wouldn\’t have mattered in this case.

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  • GLV July 30, 2008 at 4:35 pm

    \”who cares some car driver who murdered one of ours\”

    I ride and bike every day, and drive probably 4 days a week. Am I one of yours, todd, or one of theirs?

    Seriously, let me know.

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  • John Russell July 30, 2008 at 4:36 pm


    I did a very similar thing right around the time that helmet law was passed in Vancouver. I wore my helmet all day at school just to make a point, and then I didn\’t wear it on my bike.

    It sure is a great conversation starter.

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  • toddistic July 30, 2008 at 4:36 pm

    Doesn\’t it go something like

    Those who sacrafice freedom for security deserve neither.


    I think I\’ve made my point.

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  • Ian July 30, 2008 at 4:38 pm

    Val #7,

    What a cold hearted statement. Did this young woman purposely mow down a person? What if you accidentally killed someone while riding your bike would you want people attacking you? Accidents happen remeber to follow the rule of the road but above all follow the laws of physics!

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  • toddistic July 30, 2008 at 4:39 pm


    She is not a cyclist, yet she thinks she can justify her taking of a life by encouraging through ignorance a law that is purely unconsitutional. I wear a helmet however, its my decision. Not the state. I do not wear a helmet when I\’m on springwater or tooling around outside my house on the street.

    As for you, you\’re one of mine. 🙂

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  • Gabriel McGovern July 30, 2008 at 4:40 pm

    I ride both a bicycle and a motorcycle and wear a helmet when on the saddle of either. However, I long ago came to realize that these helmets are for single-vehicle accidents only. In other words, they may save your skull if you fall down, but do very little to protect you from being run over.

    Yes, there are the odd cases you can site. But, if helmets we\’re truly a shield against car accidents – then even pedestrians should be required to wear them.

    Personally, I believe that helmets should be a choice. We need to educate people to the benefits, not arrest/fine them using a law. Remember when helmets weren\’t cool? Education has already done far more then this law would.

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  • Dennis July 30, 2008 at 4:40 pm

    I\’ve found a much better solution:

    remove all seatbelts from cars, and place large iron spikes in the middle of the steering wheel. People would drive amazingly careful, while staring down a bunch of sharp spikes in from of their face.

    Better yet, bring the speed limit down to 12.5 miles per hour in all urban, and suburban areas.

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  • John Mulvey July 30, 2008 at 4:42 pm

    What is this, bizarro world? Ms. Williams has been so victimized that she wants our elected officials to protect motorists from the agony she\’s been through… Sheesh.

    Here\’s an idea: how about ticketing drivers who don\’t yield to bicycles. Or educating them to do better. I\’d be happy with either or both, but unfortunately we\’ve got neither.


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  • Anon July 30, 2008 at 4:47 pm

    I don\’t know if this link will work, but it\’s worth looking at. It\’s from the Register Guard Newspaper and details this accident.

    Might be a good read before you call Ms. Williams a murder, or before you claim the taking of a life was her doing.


    Jonathan – Background might have been nice considering how much snark can happen.

    That being said, a helmet law is ridiculous.

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  • Ian July 30, 2008 at 4:52 pm

    \”Here\’s an idea: how about ticketing drivers who don\’t yield to bicycles.\”

    Just how do we enforce this one? It is the same as yielding to pedestrians. It sounds good on the outside but the laws of physics don\’t always agree.

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  • Caroline July 30, 2008 at 4:55 pm

    As a nurse I disagree helmets are the answer. There is no \”answer.\”

    Like I\’ve said, helmets won\’t necessarily save your life, but they don\’t make it that much worse.

    Someone please give Latasha a big hug.

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  • Opus the Poet July 30, 2008 at 4:57 pm

    Requiring helmets to protect cyclists from cars is like requiring women to wear styrofoam chastity belts to protect against rapists, uncomfortable and ultimately useless. I wear a helmet every time I ride but I don\’t wear it to protect me from cars, I wear it in case I fall off my bike (as I have done once or twice in the past).

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  • Forseti July 30, 2008 at 4:59 pm

    \”Here\’s an idea: how about ticketing drivers who don\’t yield to bicycles.\” (#23)

    \”Just how do we enforce this one?\”(#24)

    If there were an easy way for bicyclists, pedestrians, and other vulnerable roadway users to issue citations to drivers, would you use it?

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  • bahueh July 30, 2008 at 5:06 pm

    Caroline…you cannot come onto this site and start logically like that..its not accepted well.

    you have two choices here: 1) you either bitch and moan or 2) impersonally berrate a woman you don\’t know who simply wants to get a message of safety out to everyone… 🙂

    whether she\’s the right messenger is a different issue…

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  • bahueh July 30, 2008 at 5:08 pm

    hey, didn\’t Minor blow through a stop sign to cause this collision?

    anyone else care to remember that?

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  • Paul Vincent July 30, 2008 at 5:09 pm

    Yes, I\’m absolutely for anything that protects people from activites that make them healthier. Now we just have to require people to wear helmets in the shower and when walking, wear PDFs when swimming, and drive at speeds below 20 mph on the interstate. At or about that speed the the chance of a fatal accident must surely become statistically nil. Sure, it\’ll cost a bit, but think of all the lives we\’ll save.

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  • joeb July 30, 2008 at 5:10 pm

    The one time I haven’t worn a helmet in the last year is when I carpooled, my helmet got separated from my bike and I forgot it. With a mandatory helmet law, I would have had to drive, bus or bike hoping the police I pass on the way home are busy or just plain not interested in enforcing the clothes I am wearing on my head. I would be furious about a ticket for this one time and screw driving just to avoid it!

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  • Maculsay July 30, 2008 at 5:19 pm

    Minor\’s accident – Googled and found: \”An EPD press release states: \”A very preliminary review of the investigative information indicates that speed does not appear to have been a factor. It appears that both parties likely had green lights, and that the bicyclist made a left-hand turn into the vehicle’s path.\”

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  • John Mulvey July 30, 2008 at 5:25 pm

    I\’m not sure what the laws of physics have to do with anything… I want some police officer in this state to issue a ticket once in a while for cars that don\’t yield to bicyclists who have the right of way. Police officers currently have all the legal authority they need to issue tickets to such drivers. They don\’t.

    Bicyclists are entitled to the protection of the law and they aren\’t getting it. Instead we get nonsense \”stings\” against bikers and misguided crusaders like Ms. Williams and Mr. Prozanski.


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  • Ray July 30, 2008 at 5:27 pm

    Answer: 4-way stops, cameras, barbed wire atop of concrete barriers at every intersection.

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  • RonC July 30, 2008 at 5:30 pm

    I don\’t know where I come down on this issue. It seems that some posters here are being pretty hard on Ms. Williams. She did nothing wrong in this accident. The cyclist turned in front of her. Nothing she could do but watch the carnage unfold, a nightmare that could happen to any one of us that even occasionally drives a car or truck.

    I can understand how she would wonder if a life could have been saved had a helmet been worn, a question who\’s answer we will never know. Certainly the primary cause was that moment of inattention when David Minor turned his bike into the path of a 3500 pound automobile. Should wearing a helmet be legally mandated? We have laws that require drivers to wear seat belts. Are helmets to bikes what seat belts are to cars?

    I wear a helmet when riding out of respect for my wife, family, friends, and myself. I encourage others to wear one as well. But is a law a good idea, or just another obstacle to encouraging practical and sustainable transportation?

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  • wsbob July 30, 2008 at 5:31 pm

    I\’m just wondering if anyone reading or commenting has actually heard or read what Latasha Williams beyond the brief interview contained in the KVAL story? Do any of you know details of the collision and whether Latasha or David Minor was clearly responsible for it. There seems to be a lot of presumption going on here.

    By the way, there\’s another story from KVAL in addition to the one editor Jonathan Maus posted the link to:

    Helmet could have saved cyclist…KVAL story

    And here\’s an excerpt from it:

    \”EUGENE, Ore. – Emergency medical technicians say that a Eugene bicyclist killed last week would be alive today if he had been wearing a helmet.

    “He would have suffered some traumatic injuries, yes,” said Medic Amy Kline of the Eugene Fire and EMS Department. “But if he’d had a helmet on, he may very well have survived.”

    Medics told reporters that wearing safety equipment is of utmost importance.

    Authorities in Eugene reported 27-year-old David Minor died when his bicycle collided with a car.\”

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  • John Peterson July 30, 2008 at 5:31 pm

    did anyone catch that interview on fresh air about traffic saftey? the interesting thing was in the Netherlands where bike commuting is like 30% hardly anyone wears a helmet.

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  • Roger Horner July 30, 2008 at 5:40 pm

    I\’m still rather new to commuting from Vancouver to PDX (I\’ve been doing it for 18 months now), and I couldn\’t imagine not wearing a helmet. A mandatory law isn\’t going to solve the issue. A law is only going to create more of a reason for people to not use a bicycle as an alternate form of transportaion.

    I do believe as a community we should be modeling and supporting the use of helmets for everyone. For those who choose not to cycle I feel they should be responsible for the outcome of not using a helmet if they are injured while cycling.

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  • jonno July 30, 2008 at 5:50 pm

    Bike helmet != bike safety

    Bike helmet == potential factor in reducing brain injuries

    More cyclists on the road == bike safety

    It\’s pretty compelling that studies show more cyclists mean safer cycling, but mandatory helmets mean fewer cyclists. It seems to me that mandatory helmets will result in less overall safety for cyclists. Will anyone pay attention or will this just be another frenzy of stupid?

    I always wear a helmet when I ride — the lessons of the two recent un-helmeted bike crashes (Eric Davidson and Karl Hugo) are enough to convince me that reducing traumatic brain injury is a worthy goal.

    But mandatory helmets? They\’re \”bike safety\” for people who have no clue what the phrase means.

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  • Paul Tay July 30, 2008 at 5:55 pm

    Mandatory helmet law is a great way for cops to shake down some black kid for BWB, biking while BLACK. Probable cause and all that crap.

    But, I HEART the BRAIN bucket I nabbed at MCBF for 10 clams!

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  • jb July 30, 2008 at 5:56 pm

    I really think a helmet law will present the message that bicycling is a sport, a dangerous one at that. Not one of \”bicycling is transit, fun, and something for everyone.\”

    Turn it in to a \”dangerous sport,\” and suddenly fewer people will be willing to move to bicycling to and from work, around their neighborhood, or even to the park.

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  • Pete July 30, 2008 at 5:56 pm

    Wow, I\’m a bit disconcerted by some of these posts. How can you lay fault on this person just because she was less vulnerable? Not every accident where a cyclist is hit by a car is caused by driver negligence! And some of you publish posts literally saying \”us\” and \”them\” then wonder why the media latches onto it?

    Personally I think her efforts would be better spent educating drivers and cyclists on being aware of each other and the laws meant to provide mutual safety. I don\’t think requiring helmets for adults is useful and am thankful there isn\’t a law the rare times I forget to grab it, and I know damn well it won\’t prevent me from being hit. I too think she\’s misguided, but it doesn\’t warrant a personal attack.

    RyNO Dan (#3): bike riders may have to contend with regulations pushed by \’safety advocates\’, but motor vehicles are regulated by lawmakers influenced by the insurance industry, so cars get bumpers, roll cages, seat belts, air bags, anti-lock brakes, and the latest push for electronic suspension. Let\’s hope the people in that paradigm don\’t start trying to regulate bikes!

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  • Deborah July 30, 2008 at 5:59 pm

    As my out of state family has commented to me, Oregon is such an intersting state, we can\’t pump our own gas, we can have a DR prescribe a lethal dose for assisted suicide and now mandatory helmet laws?

    I wear my helmet, I\’ve taken headers and they hurt.

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  • KWW July 30, 2008 at 6:00 pm

    Latasha may be in Eugene, but I smell her bullshit all the way up here in Portland.

    Some problems I have with this whole episode:

    One of the most common accidents for bicycles and motorcycles are when they make a legal, safe left hand turn into traffic and someone one in a speeding cage mows them down. It is also one of the most common car-car accidents.

    Now the Eugene police in their wisdom cleared Latasha of all wrong doing. I have to wonder how deep the police dug into the investigation. Did they go through her cell phone records to see if she was on the phone (this should be mandatory for anyone who is involved in a traffic death while on or in a vehicle). Did they measure skid marks? I can\’t find any information on the web about this case.

    In all likelihood, they could not measure skid marks, because Latasha probably never applied her brakes because she never saw David Minor (even though he was right in front of her).

    Now here\’s the slippery slope: in police logic, they follow the vehicle code, barring any evidence of skid marks – and the vehicle code states that anyone making a lane change (Mr. Minor) is responsible for their own safety and others around them.

    Which translated by the Eugene Police it states: Since David Minor was making the left hand turn into traffic, he is responsible for his own death.

    Which translated to car drivers who hate bicylclists: Don\’t bother locking up the brakes for a bicycle making a left hand turn, you\’ll just leave incriminating evidence.

    I really want to believe that the Eugene Police have some hard evidence that rightfully clears Latasha in the case, but until I read or see something that changes my mind, I\’ll mark this one down to typical Police aversion to costly investigations.

    Less you think I have a beef against the Eugene Police, let me emphatically state, I have never been to Eugene in my life and have no grudge against Police in general. But I read about the same police conclusion too many times to count in similar circumstances.

    My second beef is with Latasha going on the news. I feel this is a pro-active tactic to mitigate any future civil suit at worst (prompted by laywers); and misguided logic at best….

    To paraphrase a recent Yuhuda Moon strip linked here recently:

    It\’s a car problem, why make bicyclists try to fix it with a (fucking) styrofoam hat?

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  • Adam July 30, 2008 at 6:09 pm

    I strongly support wearing a helmet but I\’m not in favor of forcing them to.

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  • Pete July 30, 2008 at 6:12 pm

    jonno (#39): very well put.

    Anon (#24): I think this is a really well-written article. Thank you! Though some may tell Jack Moran that a bicycle is a vehicle…

    The latest OregonLive article has a poll some may want vote in, and no comments from the haters… yet.

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  • Joe July 30, 2008 at 6:13 pm

    well well, so a helmet would have saved his life, I really think some drivers need to change habits, I was wearing my helmet today, but the car that was going to right turn t-bone me would have got me good. cell
    phone in a hurry driver. same old story!

    I say drivers need to be punished! simple. get behind the wheel and force yourself all over the road.. come on!

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  • mele July 30, 2008 at 6:24 pm

    what about devoting your life to educating drivers about sharing the road ??

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  • Joe July 30, 2008 at 6:27 pm

    mele i do everyday by riding a bike! be nice and all that! what does it get me?
    well near misses!

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  • Ian Stude July 30, 2008 at 6:30 pm

    Because of the myriad of emotions involved in cases like this, I think it\’s easy for people to go off-course with their best intentions. What is it that cyclists, motorists, and pedestrians really want? Efficient and safe movement from one place to another. We want safe streets and safe communities. But we also want to get where we\’re going without a lot of hassle. This requires that we act responsibly, take reasonable precautions, and be mindful of the many other people around us who are also just trying to just get where they\’re going.
    My point in this is to say that helmets are a reasonable precaution, but that mandating their use is not. Mr. Minor did not die because of his lack of a helmet. He died because he steered his bike into the path of an oncoming vehicle. The helmet would have done nothing to prevent this incident. It is highly questionable if it would have mitigated the results. Safety and acting safely does not come from an object. After all, many many people still die on our highways and streets long after the enactment of seat belt laws.

    What we truly need to protect ourselves from tragic death or serious injury on our roadways is better education of all roadway users (especially those behind the wheel of 3000lb vehicle), better roadway design that emphasizes safety OVER efficiency, and comprehensive laws that actually create a safer environment (like significantly lower speed limits).
    I only wish it were as easy to get Ms. Williams and Mr. Prozanski on board with supporting these much needed, real solutions to this very real problem.

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  • Sky July 30, 2008 at 6:43 pm

    Life is about choices, and the right to make your own choices.
    If you want to wear a helmet, wear a helmet .
    If you want to believe that there is a higher power controlling weather or not you hit your head when you fall, believe.
    If you want to smoke when you know that it can and will kill you, smoke.
    If you want to act condescending when you discuss ones right to wear or not to wear a helmet, act condescending.
    So when does it stop being your your life ? I might be wrong but, I believe it\’s when you don\’t have the right to make choices.
    When that happens I\’ll be the one riding everywhere with out a helmet! The reason being it\’s not really my life to lose anymore.
    Please everyone make your own choices…

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  • Jonathon Severdia July 30, 2008 at 6:48 pm

    Ok, #7: Latasha Williams in fact hasn\’t driven a vehicle since the crash. She has made this drastic life change voluntarily. RTFA next time, hopefully before flapping your embarrassingly misinformed pie-hole. That, would truly be helpful.

    #8: To you who cry bloody murder of one of our tribesmen, was I drafted unawares into the bike community? Seriously, was I clubbed over the head with a U-lock one night and dragged off to the recruit depot? Because I don\’t want to be anything that you are. I\’m just a guy trying to use the road, and it\’s paleolithic, \”Let \’em all go to hell, except Cave 76\” comments like yours that make unaffiliation necessary. What evidence informs your certainty that Latasha Williams (Team Motorist) was at fault for the death of David Minor (Team Cyclist), let alone that it was willful homicide?

    Because I have just read the articles, and from what scenario they describe, I think David Minor likely caused his own death, by turning into another vehicle, when both of them had green lights. It looks like his turn, his deviation from predictable linear behavior, his inattentive mistake is what cost his life. Impeccable scholarship, I know, and yet I\’m struck by the sense that such open-minded pedantry is beyond not only your attention span but indeed well outside your mental solar system.

    Frankly, I\’m skeptical that you are anything but a robot programmed by your prior politics. But don\’t feel too bad; it\’s lonely thinking for myself. You, on the other hand (not nearly far enough away), have ample company. Just let me know when the tribe is gathering, so I can head for the fucking hills, mmmkay?

    Now then, I don\’t support helmet laws even though I\’ve worn mine 100% of the time since my own brush with death. That said, I\’m giving Latasha Williams\’ a pass on this one. It is clear that her actions are compelled by a deep grief, and not by guilt. I do not extend amnesty to those of you who criticize this woman beyond the content of her agenda. You are all gremlins.

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  • djasonpenney July 30, 2008 at 7:20 pm

    Sigh. I\’m pro-helmet, but does anyone see the irony in a motorist pushing for helmet laws? What, so she can operate her murder vehicle with less diligence?

    Unless she shows for her press interviews riding a bicycle, she has no right to speak for the cycling community.

    And, keep in mind, a helmet has saved my life…twice.

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  • michael July 30, 2008 at 7:43 pm

    Why the hell are you attacking her??
    She killed a biker and now she wants to do something about it to make sure it doesnt happen to anyone else, or at least lower the chances. Youve never hit and killed anybody im assuming so you have NO IDEA what she\’s going through. Maybe if it was you in the car driving your opinions would be different.

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  • Racer X July 30, 2008 at 7:47 pm

    Yes…I am pro guns…so I believe all children should wear bullet proof vests. You just do not know when \’accidents\’ happen when hunting or cleaning weapons.

    Who knows?!

    Yes helmets for passengers (w/o airbags) too.

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  • Evan July 30, 2008 at 8:17 pm

    Wearing a helmet won\’t stop you from getting hit by a car. Neither will waiting to cross the street until you have the walk sign. Should we ban pedestrians from crossing the street too, to protect them?

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  • Kt July 30, 2008 at 8:56 pm

    Ian, #51, you have hit the nail on the head.

    And yes, I too see the irony: a motorist who killed a cyclist is pushing for a mandatory helmet law for cyclists. I would have hoped that she would be pushing for something bigger, like road user education to be taught in schools.

    I disagree with this idea of a mandatory helmet law. I wear a helmet, it\’s my own choice. If you don\’t wear one, well, it\’s your brains…

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  • Vetnut July 30, 2008 at 8:57 pm

    I used to be in favor of mandatory helmet laws, but after reading the responses posted here, I\’ve changed my mind. There aren\’t enough functioning brain cells in Portland to justify helmets!

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  • Anonymous July 30, 2008 at 9:01 pm

    1) Helmets work at load speed impacts like falling and maybe if a car pushes you off your bike–not if you really get hit.
    2) There was a study showing drivers will drive closer to bikers with helmets…
    3) I\’ve found that it\’s more difficult for me to look behind me with a helmet on
    4) Better biking facilities, traffic calming, and making side streets open for everyone like in Germany so cars can expect kids to be playing in the streets, bikers in the streets, etc. Separated facilities for bigger roads. Etc. will all prevent more accidents than helmets (which prevent no accidents) and fewer accidents means fewer injuries.

    And, incidentally, I wear helmets when going on rides longer than 2 miles, more or less. For short \’to the store\’ rides I don\’t. I\’m not anti-helmet I just don\’t need to be told when to use one by politicians and drivers who pretend like that\’s how you stop bike accidents. It\’s not.

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  • D.Whoosie July 30, 2008 at 9:13 pm

    A general theme in the post above is that of frustration that main stream media and culture continues to blame the victim for their own abuse, death, etc.

    Blame the woman for being raped, blame the American Indian for being massacred, blame cyclists for the injuries they sustain when in collisions with automobiles…
    In all these cases there is a need to step back and question the larger hidden structure (white supremacist patriarchy and car culture alike). What about cars existence at all? They\’ve only been around for like 100 years, do they deserve a \’naturalized\’ status– untouchable? Does the trajectory of civilization deserve a \’naturalized\’ status, how about Patriarchy?…Power flows down the hierarchy, so does blame. And the same sh*t has been happening since the beginning of civilization…It\’s disgusting.

    D Whoosie

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  • Val July 30, 2008 at 9:25 pm

    Ian (#19): Why coldhearted? I know that if I had been the driver, I would never want to drive again. In fact, that is pretty much how I feel, anyway, but an experience like this would put me in that frame of mind even if it had never occurred to me before. Apparently I am not alone in this, as Jonathon (#53) has pointed out. The fact that Latasha has taken this to heart to the extent of changing her habits certainly gives weight to her intentions, but I must stand by my principle of adressing situations like this by reducing the danger, rather than placing the responsibility on those endangered. Further food for thought here: http://tinyurl.com/698ukh and here: http://tinyurl.com/663kb4 It is true that we do not live in Amsterdam or Copenhagen, but our goal should not be to simply accept the deadly nature of car traffic and escalate our defences, but to change the nature of that traffic. I am trying to change this every time I choose not to use a car, and anyone else who makes that choice makes that change, and makes us all safer, too. That is truly helpful.

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  • Ian July 30, 2008 at 9:26 pm

    Who is really the victim here? Yes you should know how to judge traffic if you are making a left turn. Yes you should avoid hiting cyclists when you drive.

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  • HelmetHead July 30, 2008 at 10:04 pm

    As a fan of Darwin, I oppose any helmet laws AND anything, including stop signs, lights, and yield signs that restrict cyclists from moving freely. After all, we have moral superiority over those murderous drivers and we deserve to ride any way we want. The population needs a good thinning out, and by using natural selection, we should be able rid ourselves of a significant proportion of the feeble-minded pretty quickly.

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  • Morgan July 30, 2008 at 10:11 pm

    Seriously y\’all,

    Are we really this kind of group? Has sarcasm and snarkiness over-ridden our ability to be \”good people\” and not trolls? Personal attacks are low, kids, just low.
    This woman has been a part of a horrible experience, TAKEN A LIFE, and is now trying in her own way to help a community not have to go through the pain that comes with a life (or lives) being removed from this world while participating in the sport/lifestyle readers of this blog love.
    For those who fault her without knowing all of the facts (I\’m not saying I have them, but I\’m damn sure most of the finger-pointers in this group don\’t either) perhaps they need to examine their reasons for their intense anger in this situation.

    Look. She may not get the fact that in her specific instance, a helmet probably would not have helped, but saying it is \”My choice\”, or \”It only hurts the cyclist\”, or \”who is she to say\” only speaks to a very \”me-centric\” attitude towards life. I would very tentatively say that the recent incident of the Karl family would speak to the pain that is experienced by others in head-injury bike situations (I say that with deep sadness and support for the family, and I do not mean to be offensive to them by bringing it up).

    Honestly, what is wrong with wearing a helmet? Is it that big of a restriction of your freedoms to have a law saying you should be wearing safety equipment while operating a vehicle that in the hands of a fit user can exceed 20 to 25mph on the flats and exceed 40 or 50mph on a downhill?
    Do we need another reason for the over-zealous cop to give bare-headed riders a hard time? Maybe not for some of you.

    But to me, the answer is \”Yes\”. If we want/demand equal footing as road-users, then we need to be good stewards of it by following the laws set(man, I\’m gonna get reamed for that one…). I personally don\’t think that bringing up shortcomings of other road-users (yeah, I mean cars) justified OUR not following the rules of the road.

    I don\’t want another serious \”preventable\” accident on a bike OR with a car to hurt someone I know or might want to get to know! 🙂

    Ok, go ahead and flame if you must,but have the dignity to sign your name, not your \”handle\”.

    -Matthew Bianchi

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  • Morgan July 30, 2008 at 10:34 pm

    Morgan 22:11 wrote:
    \”I would very tentatively say that the recent incident of the Karl family would speak to the pain that is experienced by others in head-injury bike situations\”

    I\’m sorry, I meant \”The Hugo family\”.


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  • joe July 30, 2008 at 11:05 pm

    I appreciate Ms. Williams\’s desire to do something to improve bike safety. Hopefully, she is working on ways to improve the safety of vulnerable roadway users. I think that there are many ways to improve the conditions on the road – this law seems to be well intentioned and misinformed.

    Kudos to the Editor for breaking this sort of news – getting picked up by the wire services is quite a coup.

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  • Jonathon Severdia July 30, 2008 at 11:23 pm

    @61: I get incensed whenever some personal tragedy is rubbernecked here on BikePortland and the comments turn, as they always do, to \”well how does this affect the bike community?\” Not every experience has to fit neatly into an explanatory framework. Sometimes shit just happens, and I find it supremely disrespectful whenever people try to connect some complete stranger\’s suffering to their own personal life narrative.

    It\’s bad enough when some narrowly defined topic, say the bike community, is expanded by this puerile need for continuity. But, D.Whoosie, now you come to rip out the pallid fibers of someone elses\’ fading life and weave them into your righteous saga of the subjugation of the entire planet by my half of the equation. Wowzers, a cyclist turns his bike into a car and apparently my anatomy is to blame. I don\’t think I can come up with the words. I\’m gonna have have to let Susanna Breslin, courtesy of BoingBoing, do the talking on this one:

    \”Jesus Christ, if this is what degrees in gender studies hath wrought, polysyllabic bloggers still carping about the patriarchy, please fucking stop handing them out.\”


    Ok, I do have a few words: everything is natural. Yes, really; everything! Even misanthropic nihilists and foolish people who exalt victimhood. That\’s right, we\’re a part of it too, whatever it is…

    @62: Val, very cool of you to see the forest through all the thorny bushes I lays down and not get bent out of shape over my criticism of your oversight. From now on, I shall think of your pie-hole as a pastry-chute.

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  • Donna July 30, 2008 at 11:45 pm

    No, but since they are far more likely to experience a traumatic brain injury than cyclists are, it would be ridiculous not to include them in any kind of proposed mandatory helmet use legislation.

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  • Dan Kaufman July 30, 2008 at 11:47 pm

    It infuriates me to see this woman trying to be the poster child for helmet laws for so many of the reasons stated so well already: #4, 6, 7, 8, etc.

    I am not advocating for the this law.

    BUT, I am so tired of the refrain that if cyclists need helmets motorists and pedestrians need helmets, too.

    Motorists are strapped inside a protective metal cage and pedestrians are not charging head first down the road at 15 MPH.

    Yes, I know there are plenty of articles that supposedly show that using a helmet is NOT safer, perhaps even MORE dangerous. Of course, there are articles that show that helmets can and do save lives and plenty of trauma nurses who\’d back that up.

    So, at some point I\’ll rely on common sense, anecdotes, and observation.

    There is a reason almost every major sport that propels it\’s players through space at high speed typically use helmets.

    Can you bicycle faster than a speed skater? Probably. Do speed skaters contend with cars and curbs? No.

    That said, I am still opposed to this law?

    The main reason cyclists have to ride so fast is to keep up with cars. Look at a video of cyclists in Copenhagen http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a_8dGodhGtI Count the number of drop bar road bikes (and helmets) you see. Not many.

    If it weren\’t for way bikes have to interface with cars in this country many of us would never be riding fast enough to need a helmet.

    As Val #7 so eloquently put it, \”Let\’s focus on the danger, so that it can be eliminated. Focusing on those endangered allows it to go unchecked.\”

    Let\’s make it safe enough to ride a bicycle without a helmet NOT make a law that makes us think we are doing something about the danger when we aren\’t.

    Until then, though, I\’ll often be wearing a helmet.

    Of course, I\’ll also be yelling at you from my car window when you aren\’t (kidding)

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  • Graham July 31, 2008 at 12:07 am


    EUGENE, Ore. – Emergency medical technicians say that a Eugene bicyclist killed last week would be alive today if he had been wearing a helmet.

    \”He would have suffered some traumatic injuries, yes,\” said Medic Amy Kline of the Eugene Fire and EMS Department. \”But if he’d had a helmet on, he may very well have survived.\”

    So, this reporter transformed, \”may very well have survived,\” into, \”would be alive today.\” Within the span of three sentences, inconclusive is made conclusive. What the heck?


    I choose to wear a helmet, but I\’m against a helmet law.

    I feel for Ms. Williams, especially after hearing a recent episode of This American Life on this very topic: about the torment a guy feels after he accidentally kills a girl who swerves her bike in front of his car. In that episode they make the point that post traumatic stress is actually worse for people who are *not* at fault in a fatal crash. This is because people who *are* at fault are at least able to change the behavior that caused the crash. Whereas people like Ms. Williams feel there\’s nothing they could have done, and nothing they can change. Short of ceasing to drive, which she apparently has done.

    I hope we can get out heads around how awful she must feel, just out of simple empathy.

    At the same time, I hope she understands how her pushing for a helmet law for cyclists might rub some people the wrong way. I mean, my first thought upon reading this story was: what\’s next, is Senator Atkinson\’s friend going to be pushing for a mandatory kneepad law? (My first reactions generally tend to be on the snarky side of things.)

    However, upon reading more about Ms. William\’s story – that she was not at fault, that the cyclist cut in front of her, that she so badly wants to do something to help make things right – most of my snarkiness abated.

    I applaud the spirit of her effort, just not the tactics.

    The cars are the danger here. Why not pass a law to cover *them* in foam? How about getting cars off the road?

    OK, so no one\’s going to go for that?

    Then how about public outreach just *asking* cyclists to ride safer, and to wear helmets? Asking respectfully, as if we\’re grown-ups (whether or not that\’s actually the case), and asking this in the name of the drivers – like Ms. Williams – who genuinely care about our safety.

    I think there\’s a lot of them out there. I think a lot of the vitriol directed at unsafe cyclists is from drivers terrified they might kill somebody. Unfortunately that concern gets translated into rage, and righteous indignation.

    And laws. Lots and lots of laws. And cops staging stings, and writing tickets.

    I\’d much prefer an expression of the concern in its raw form to another law taking away another personal freedom.

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  • GreggB July 31, 2008 at 12:44 am

    @Forseti A way to issue tickets, at low/no costs to myself…would I use it? Hell yea! In-fact, I can imagine a group of cyclist picking problem intersections, and \”correcting\” them through civilian-run volunteer sting operations.

    If civilians were allowed to videotape, and then cite reckless drivers, therefore correcting them, while also educating the public at large through the ensuring media frenzy…that might actually save more lives, than the piddly stings that the PBB occasionally targets against motorists and cyclists.

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  • Steven J July 31, 2008 at 3:07 am

    Well said Graham.
    I too am for wearing a helmet, without a law.
    wearing one without a law sends a message. I care about my noggin.

    In all but the simplest of crashes, seems to me all a helmet does is give a \”false sense of security\” Still, having it and not needing it is better than needing it and not having it.

    DOT only rates em at under 15mph?.
    only argument there would be city zones where we can easily ride traffic speeds.

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  • Shooter July 31, 2008 at 5:12 am

    Anon #24,
    Thanks for the link, its always good to get the facts before trashing someone. Sad to see how many people jumped on the \”she\’s a murderer\” band wagon without knowing what happened.

    As for helmets, I wear one all the time. This is the same argument that occurred before they made motorcycle helmets mandatory in California. After the initial uproar people complied, and helmets got better looking. I especially liked they ones that looked like German WWII army helmets with the spike on top.

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  • Ian July 31, 2008 at 8:14 am

    So the \”cyclist\” here want every car to yield to them? You guys are insane (note: not all cyclist are insane). While I agree you should do your best not to hit cyclists who dangerously break the law, cyclists should not attempt to make dangerous left hand turns when they dont have the R-O-W. It seems to me to be somewhat irrelevant the speed this woman was traveling (key word somewhat). If I were making a left hand turn in a 40 mph zone I would assume the oncoming traffic was going 70 mph… it\’s called a factor of safety. Of course the insane members of the cycling community will say I am an A-hole but this is some good advice. It would be great if we could avoid tragic accidents like this in the future. My deepests sympathies go out to all parties involved.

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  • beth h July 31, 2008 at 8:27 am

    While this woman\’s regret and pain are clear, and certainly not to be made light of, I don\’t see the logic of her thesis: \”if I make sure every bike rider wears a helmet then I won\’t have to be held accountable if another bike-car collision happens–\”

    If she really wanted to make a difference for bicyclists\’ safety she\’d do as I did nearly twenty years ago, and refashion her life so that she wouldn\’t have to drive a car anymore. Sorry to be so blunt and bull-headed but I have genuinely lost my patience with car culture and the sloppy thinking that it engenders.

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  • JP July 31, 2008 at 8:28 am

    She looks happy!

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  • bob July 31, 2008 at 8:33 am

    Cycling is freedom

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  • tonyt July 31, 2008 at 8:41 am

    Helmets good.

    Someone using the government to make me wear one? Bad.

    I realize that some of you have a hard time wrapping your head (no pun intended) around the concept that someone can be in favor of wearing helmets (most of the time) but be against the law, but really, try to use that brain you are so intent on having the government protect.

    Look at this story. This is yet another example of car culture wanting to force restrictions on bikers so people in cars don\’t actually have to do anything differently and can comfort themselves with the idea that it\’s really been our fault all along.

    Good thing those super-smart and oh-so-caring car people will help protect us by forcing US to do something.

    Wouldn\’t want to increase fines for speeding tickets or anything.

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  • Jonathon Severdia July 31, 2008 at 8:43 am

    Graham, thank you for your articulate, insightful, even-keeled, long format post. Have you considered starting your own bicycling vlog? The guy who posted immediately before you has one, and he supports #8\’s bloody murder hypothesis. I can\’t be the only one who is sick of shrill histrionics like this getting the audience. You\’ve already signposted your own media pedigree; I\’ll bet you could easily position yourself as the NPR to Crankmychains\’ Fox News, and let the outcome of the competition determine just how mature Portland\’s bike community really is.

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  • wsbob July 31, 2008 at 8:49 am

    Steven J, to the extent that it may be true that some people have a \’false sense of security\’ regarding the kind of protection a bike helmet can provide them: this probably because they\’ve either poorly informed or misinformed about just what level of protection a bike helmet is reasonably capable of.

    The protection a bike helmet can offer is still worthwhile. People may just need to be better educated about what it is. Completely dismissing the value of wearing a helmet while riding a bike in situations that call for the protection a bike helmet can offer hardly seems beneficial.

    It\’s the impact to your head and brain that a helmet can offer you protection from….the rapid deceleration of your head inside your skull. Even in a severe collision with broken bones and what not, a bike helmet might make the critical difference between life, death or life long damage.

    I\’m not up for the bike helmet mandatory use law, but people really do need to become more aware of the value of wearing a bike helmet while riding bikes in certain situations.

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  • John Benton July 31, 2008 at 8:51 am

    It’s funny when Sam proposed his grocery bag fee a lot of the positive posts on blogs were from “bikerdude”, “cyclistguy”, and assorted new age “progressive” types that love the government to be in the face of people THEY disagree with. I say bring it on, not only mandate bicycle helmets, but make them have a horn, lights and mirrors too. Gotta love having big brother blow wind in your direction for a change.

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  • David Dean July 31, 2008 at 8:53 am

    This is evidence that helmet laws are motivated by victim blame.

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  • Adriel July 31, 2008 at 9:06 am

    The real problem here is driver safety, has anyone tried to contact Latasha and open a dialogue with her? It seems we have a very motivated individual who if properly educated could be emailing for real changes and not just a \”helmet law\”

    A helmet did not kill David, a car did. She needs to come to grips with that. It is far more important to control motor vehicles than protect against them.

    Personally I would like to see ad campaigns similar to the THINK campaigns in the UK. And I would like to see motorists have to take an anger test and written driver test every renewal.


    these are some of the THINK ads, powerful stuff. People should be traumatized against driving unsafely BEFORE someone dies.

    I did find her reunion.com site, it is the first google result if you type her name and Eugene.

    you have to create an account to email her.

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  • kg July 31, 2008 at 9:11 am

    More like evidence that we don\’t live in a bubble and doing stupid things on a bike can have negative consequences for people other than the cyclist doing the stupid things. In this case a cyclist doing something stupid may affect all cyclists.

    Note: I always were a helmet because I like my brain the way it is.

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  • Myra July 31, 2008 at 9:27 am

    Most bikers are not using their brain so saving it with a helmet seems counter productive. As much as I dislike bikernazi\’s and their claim that they are always victims and that everyone else is wrong. As much as they point out transgressions of others to make their transgression unseen as in blaming cars. You would think after all this I would be against Helmet laws, You would think I would be Pro-anything that makes some one on a bike more likely to die.. Sadly I am not. I love life, and bikers should all live so I am pro-helmet. Sorry to burst all your bubbles but bikers deserve life, even if they are the biggest abusers of road laws out there.

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  • Myra July 31, 2008 at 9:28 am

    Most bikers are not using their brain so saving it with a helmet seems counter productive. As much as I dislike bikers and their claim that they are always victims and that everyone else is wrong. As much as they point out transgressions of others to make their transgression unseen as in blaming cars. You would think after all this I would be against Helmet laws, You would think I would be Pro-anything that makes some one on a bike more likely to die.. Sadly I am not. I love life, and bikers should all live so I am pro-helmet. Sorry to burst all your bubbles but bikers deserve life, even if they are the biggest abusers of road laws out there.

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  • Adam July 31, 2008 at 9:30 am

    I think that it\’s nuts to do any serious riding without a helmet when operating a vehicle that is inherently not self-stable, i.e., that would fall over if you let go of it (like bicycles and motorcycles), but I don\’t think it needs to be a law. One of my friends growing up nearly killed himself cracking up on his bike in an accident involving no other vehicles. Still, this commercial is just stupid.

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  • Aaron July 31, 2008 at 9:35 am

    I believe in helmets (it saved me from a concussion with no car involved). But I agree with Forseti (#2). Do pedestrians wear helmets. Do people who go hiking in the woods wear helmets?
    Latasha needs to examine the DOT records and understand that autos are the highest cause of death and they can\’t all be helmetless cyclists.
    I wonder if the cyclist she killed died of head trauma or a combination of other injuries?

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  • Graham July 31, 2008 at 9:37 am

    #73 Steven J – Thanks!

    #79 Jonathon Severdia – Wow, thanks for the encouragement. I mostly ramble on this much as a means of procrastinating work :). But these issues are important to me, and I\’m wanting to talk about them more and more. That\’s why I\’m really glad Jonathan maintains this fantastic forum. If it was my gig, I\’d just have to find some means of procrastinating it :). Still, the effect BikePortland has is inspiring, and it would be great to be able to make anywhere near that kind of contribution.

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  • Aaron July 31, 2008 at 9:40 am

    I ammend my previous post.
    Looking for her on the internet I found this statement from the news.

    EUGENE – \”I\’ve been called a killer,\” says 31-year-old Latasha Williams. \”I\’ve been called a murderer.\”

    Williams hasn\’t driven a car since June 2. That was the day she collided with cyclist David Minor along 13th Avenue and Willamette Street in downtown Eugene.

    If everyone who kills with their car responded this way, the death rate would plummet.

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  • Cruizer July 31, 2008 at 9:49 am

    Just heard Thom Hartmann on KPOJ say he\’s in favor of the bike helmet law for all riders. His reasons: 1)the stats in today\’s Oregonian that 730 of the 767 U.S. bicyclists killed in 2006 were not wearing helmets and 2) that we all pay the emergency room charges for non-insured bike accident victims.

    I\’m surprised. Hartmann usually researches things and sees the whole picture. The station\’s \”POJ POLL\” today concerns expanding the helmet law and is currently running 60% Yes and 40% No.

    Please go and vote.


    You could probably easily get a guest spot on his show and lay out all the cons to a bike helmet law.

    For the record, I always wear a helmet, even though I know it would be of very little effectivess in most conditions. But I value being allowed to make my own decisions.

    If Oregon passes this law Portland will go from being an admired, forward-looking city to a laughing-stock to European cyclists who\’ve managed quite nicely to get along without helmets.

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  • richard July 31, 2008 at 9:50 am

    Seriously. In this case, the onus should be on motorists, not on cyclists. If motorists are at fault, then shouldn\’t they be the ones to suffer the consequences of their actions?

    If a cyclist blows through a stoplight and gets killed, then that\’s the cyclist\’s fault. Thus cyclists are required to stop at lights. If a motorist hits a cyclist, then the cause should be examined and laws considered to prevent it happening again. By forcing cyclists to wear helmets, the blame is unfairly shifted and no progress is made.

    It seems like the end goal is more attentive users of calmer, mixed-use streets. Helmets aren\’t conducive to that goal. Behavior modification is.

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  • Bill Cameron July 31, 2008 at 9:52 am

    Speaking as a person who rides a bike just about every day and who drives a car several times a week—but is neither a cyclist nor a motorist, just a person—I support any law that that outrages the sanctimonious and self-righteous.

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  • Dude July 31, 2008 at 9:59 am


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  • k. July 31, 2008 at 10:06 am

    All you people automatically jumping on drivers for automatically being at fault are ludicrous. I sure hope that no cyclist ever has to blow a signal into the side of your car in order to prove that. I support something like a vulnerable highway user’s bill but trust me, if there ever is one, it\’s not going to automatically shift liability to drivers, nor should it. That would just be stupid.

    And as far as the helmet debate goes, debate it solely on its merits please. The law is not intended as a means of shifting liability, it\’s only intended to save lives. Please people, smarten up.

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  • Ambrown July 31, 2008 at 10:06 am

    The ridiculous attitudes displayed in this thread are the very reason the Oregonian gets away with publishing \”bike vs cars\” articles and we can\’t escape the \”bikers are elitist jerks\” meme that permeates the bike discourse outside of our friendlier progressive media. A woman who was not ruled at fault for an accident is taking it upon herself to improve bike safety, a goal that undoubtedly everyone on this board would agree with. While we might have different opinions as to how to achieve this goal, the fact that this woman feels personal guilt for the incident and wants to \”devote her life\” to bike safety is admirable, and she deserves our respect.

    I don\’t support a total helmet law, but only because of the issues of economic justice (helmets aren\’t cheap) and selective enforcement (who\’s more likely to get pulled over, a 30 year old white guy riding through Irvington on his expensive commuter bike or an 18 year old black kid in N. Portland?). Nonetheless, perhaps we can work together to find different ways of promoting helmet use; subsidized helmets, increased distribution at community coops, helmet discounts when purchased with a bike, raising the age of mandatory helmet users to 18, etc.

    Or we can be counterproductive and vilify this poor woman in Eugene for her efforts to prevent traffic fatalities.

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  • Ian July 31, 2008 at 10:31 am

    Where is Ralph Nader when you need him?

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  • Ramona Heights July 31, 2008 at 10:53 am

    Judging from recent stop sign enforcement \’stings\’ and the amount of under 17 year old black kids I see w/o helmets in NoPo, I\’d say the white guy will be the one getting tagged by this most often.

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  • SkidMark July 31, 2008 at 11:09 am

    Who is most likely to not be able to afford a helmet? Poor people. Who will be targeted if this law goes through? Poor people.

    A helmet law for cyclists is not about safety. It\’s about being able to pull people over and give them a fine. It\’s about decreasing liability for insurance companies. It\’s only about money, safety is a secondary concern.

    I still can\’t get over the fact that when a cyclist dies under the wheels of a car, it is still their fault no matter what. Either they shouldn\’t be in the street, or they should have been wearing a helmet. There are other injuries that can cause your death that a helmet does not protect you against, and people die while wearing helmets all the time.

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  • KT July 31, 2008 at 11:19 am

    The good senator from Eugene pushed for and succeeded in getting the \”safe passing law\” passed.

    Now if the good senator from Eugene can figure out a way to make that new law work, and educate everyone (and I do mean EVERYONE) who uses the roads in Oregon about the new law, I for one would be a happy camper. Rider. Driver. Person.

    A law requiring helmets for everyone who rides a bike in Oregon is like a bandaid on a broken leg. What is it about bikes and cars that makes people think we need a helmet law?? I would love to see Ms Williams and the good Senator respond to that question.

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  • Racer X July 31, 2008 at 11:25 am

    The POJ poll is now:

    Do you think Oregon should require all bicyclists to wear helmets?
    Yes 53.49 % No 46.51 %

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  • Whyat July 31, 2008 at 11:59 am

    Post #45- Way to make every driver guilty until proven innocent.

    God forbid a woman who is found not at fault tries to actually PROTECT other BIKERS. While I\’m not for a helmet law things should be obvious from recent events:

    1. Williams is a well intentioned person, and her post accident behavior should make this obvious.

    2. Not wearing a helmet can have serious effects on people besides just the biker. Someone should ask Karl Hugo\’s daughter if her father\’s helmet habits have affected her life in any way.

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  • Russ July 31, 2008 at 12:05 pm

    I think I\’m going to become an advocate against fast food to save Williams from her apparent impending series of heart attacks. I obviously need to rescue her from her poor choices.

    As for the usual liberal silliness about helmets being oppressive on the poor: Wal-mart sells CPSC helmets for $15, and for those who are so oppressed by our capitalistic system they can\’t afford one of these; thankfully there are those who do something to help them rather than talk about the horrors of living in the the fascist United States over Cappuccinos at their local lefty coffee house.


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  • Ian July 31, 2008 at 12:13 pm

    It\’s funny how the same people that want seatbelt laws are the same people that oppose helmet laws.

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  • grant July 31, 2008 at 12:43 pm


    Read the story. This driver was not at fault. The cyclist turned left into oncoming traffic.

    Yes the cyclist died under the wheels of a car driven by someone who had nothing to do with how that cyclist got under the wheels.

    The hypocrisy on this board gets so thick at times.

    Car bike collision. Evidence points to driver at fault. Driver is a homicidal maniac trying to kill everyone on two wheels.

    Car bike collision. Evidence points to cyclist is at fault. Don\’t jump to a snap judgment wait until all the evidence is in.

    I may not support a helmet law but this woman is traumatized by this incident and through that trauma still cares enough to do something positive.

    She could be out there campaigning to ban all cyclists from the roads.

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  • Carl July 31, 2008 at 1:40 pm

    As a gun owner, I feel sick whenever I see someone walking around without their bulletproof vest.

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  • Torfinn July 31, 2008 at 2:34 pm

    Nanny state FTW please save me from myself if you could.

    Paging Harrison Bergeron.

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  • David July 31, 2008 at 4:17 pm

    Wearing a helmet reduces the risk of head injury in an accident, whether it be due to a collision with another object or otherwise (read: not all accidents are caused by collisions with cars). If someone wrecks (or even simply falls over because he/she fails to clip out) without a helmet, why should I (or any of us for that matter) have to indirectly subsidize his/her medical bills for a possible head injury through payment of higher insurance premiums? The cheapest collective fix is to require helmets. Just like we require wearing seatbelts in cars. For me, this has nothing to do with \”cars vs bikes\” or an overbearing government — it just makes economic sense.

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  • Adriel July 31, 2008 at 5:37 pm

    You know what makes even more economic sense? Not paying $1000/hr for medical expenses because everyone is so hopped up on health insurance. I think if we outlawed health insurance, your argument would go away because medical bills would plummet.

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  • SkidMark July 31, 2008 at 5:48 pm

    grant, read my post again. My point is no matter who is at fault,the cyclist somehow always gets blamed for dying. People have a tendency to comment that either the cyclist should not be riding in the street (like Myra) of they should have been wearing a helmet (all the safety goons).

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  • Driveabus July 31, 2008 at 5:48 pm

    Gee David. Do you work for an insurance company? You could be their poster child.

    Helmets are a choice for an adult. No state/corporate dictates are warranted or wanted. I wear a helmet but its my choice. If the state says I have to then maybe I stop wearing a helmet.

    There really are far more important things to worry about. And far more important things for the weak-kneed, spineless Oregon legislature to spend their time on.

    Just my opinion.

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  • Cøyøte July 31, 2008 at 6:03 pm

    David (#109), that is a tired argument, that never did make much sense. What is public cost of driving? This country is suffering asthma and obesity epidemics. Our climate is changing. World wide people are struggling to buy food with an ever increasing share of our food being turned into fuel. Our air is polluted with ozone, CO, and a myriad of nasty particulates. Our water is polluted with hydrocarbons, metals from oil drips and friction materials, and PAH\’s from rubber tires. We are fighting a trillion dollar war to preserve our addiction to driving, and soon we likely be starting another one. We donate vast amounts of public land so people can park there cars for free. We are compromising our wilderness areas to drill for more oil. We loose 42,000 people a year to cars in this country, and 1.2 million world wide every year. Where is the economic sense in that? The cheapest collective fix, is to stop or reduce driving, An expanded helmet law will reduce the number of cyclists.

    The percentage of non-car involved bicycle accidents injuries is tiny. I am sure Ms Williams does feel bad, even though it was not her fault. I am sure I would be freaked out too, but a helmet law is putting the burden on the wrong party. In that sense, it is nothing like seatbelt laws – Bikes are not dangerous, cars are.

    Perhaps the greatest flaw with an expanded helmet law greatest flaw is perpetuating the black plague of our time: Car-Head.

    Do you want to see more or less bicycles out there?

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  • Russ July 31, 2008 at 6:04 pm

    I agree wearing a helmet should be a choice, however…

    I don\’t think society should necessarily be responsible for the outcome of what turns out to be an unsafe choice.

    This creates a problem since the obvious outcome would be tossing people from hospital care who don\’t have coverage or cash/assets to seize and refusing them SSD payments. Most would consider something like that barbaric, but I do think it\’s pretty hypocritical to say \”it\’s my choice\” and then accept taxpayer money when your choice ends in your death or disability.

    I\’m not quite sure you can have both maximum freedom and a complete social safety net.

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  • wsbob July 31, 2008 at 7:48 pm

    Is the \’don\’t expect me to pay for the expense of your freedom\’ line, one of those libertarian positions? I forget.

    I suppose some people will inevitably feel that way, but a little thought should reveal how fundamentally flawed that idea is at present. As fellow citizens, we commonly pay the expense of each others freedoms in innumerable ways. We could probably set up some kind of system where every conceivable burden placed upon society by the acts of individual citizens could be itemized and priced out, but if so, be prepared for a lot of flushing, cause under such a system, freedom pretty much is going down the toilet.

    Realistically, regarding mandatory use of helmets while riding a bike, it\’s conceivable (but not certain) that the day may in fact come when frequency of injuries and resulting massive medical expenses caused to society by uninsured people riding bikes while not wearing a helmet become so great that government has to do something about it, such as mandating the use of a bike helmet while riding a bike.

    Do any statistics exist to prove that time has arrived? If there aren\’t, I believe that allowing adults to judge on their own, the circumstances where use of a bike helmet is advisable for their personal safety, is presently a freedom our society can certainly afford.

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  • William July 31, 2008 at 8:23 pm

    I am impressed with the passion of this debate.
    It is a fact, cars kill people, and not just cyclists, but walkers and motorist too. Car are very dangerous. It would be a much better world if they had not come to dominate it.
    Did they even have stop signs or signal lights in the years there were bicycles but no cars?
    But since there are cars, and one time a helmet did save my brain (so that I can make these comments) I wear one every bike ride.
    I was in Eugene and saw the ghost bike when David Minor was killed. Very sad.

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  • revphil July 31, 2008 at 8:39 pm

    I feel sick when I smell exhaust fumes.

    has someone already posted this? because I want someone to say it, but I really dont want to read 116 comments to find out.

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  • Joel July 31, 2008 at 10:05 pm

    Grant, thank you for pointing out a very significant fact about this situation. While nobody here knows the true facts, what is reported is that David Minor steered his bike across oncoming traffic.

    The majority of the posts here assume that David Minor is a victim just because he was riding a bicycle and Latasha Williams \”took his life\” because she was the driver of the automobile. This kind of mob mentality from the bike community is sickening.

    A friend of mine had a very interesting speculation: what are the chances Mr Minor was riding a fixie w/o brakes? This thought arose due to the proliferation of fixed gear bikes finding their way between the legs of unskilled riders in the name of fashion. Cyclists, being human, are no more immune to stupidity than drivers of automobiles.

    While I don\’t agree that the government should require all cyclists to wear helmets, I commend Latasha Williams for doing something pro-active in response to this traumatic experience.

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  • KWW July 31, 2008 at 10:19 pm

    I think the point that everyone is missing is that I don\’t believe the police performed a proper investigation.

    I believe Ms. Williams got off because off a LACK of evidence.

    When police arrive at a scene like this they look for evidence. No skid marks? Then they CAN\’T prove speeding.

    It is usually impossible in a case like this to prove that someone driving a car was inattentive or speeding after the fact, unless there are witnesses.

    Look at the crime scene photo:
    Register Guard Photo

    I am seeing the crumpled bike, I am seeing the Mr. Minor\’s shoe lodged under the front left wheel, I am seeing the exploded windshield, I am seeing the blood.

    You know what I don\’t see?

    Skid marks.

    Where are the skid marks? It appears that Ms. Williams never locked up her brakes.

    Even if her 1990 Oldsmobile has ABS (and MOST Olds didn\’t in 1990), it would of left some evidence on the road.

    I think the Eugene police owe the bike community an explanation.

    If there is evidence that proves Ms. Williams innocent, fair enough, but I remain skeptical until I read it.

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  • Joel July 31, 2008 at 10:59 pm

    KWW, thanks for the link. That clearly disproves the no brakes speculation. Nice to know.

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  • wsbob July 31, 2008 at 11:41 pm

    re; the crime scene photo: That looks like one hell of a hard impact…roof of the car caved in…the full weight of his body probably hit it. How much force does it take to do something like that to one of those tin cans anyway?

    This is probably why the paramedic surmised he might have survived if he\’d worn a helmet. His head probably didn\’t impact something hard till his body hit the pavement. Very depressing.

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  • KWW August 1, 2008 at 12:14 am

    Many vehicle codes state that even if your right of way is violated, you can not willy-nilly plow through that vehicle as if it wasn\’t there.

    Further, if a driver causing an accident due to inattentiveness, they the driver is liable.

    The Eugene police are being selective about what they see.

    Too bad David Minor isn\’t around to speak up for himself.

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  • grant August 1, 2008 at 7:42 am


    So what if \”many\” codes state something, what does the Oregon code state?

    How can the driver cause this accident? If the cyclist had not made the left turn it wouldn\’t have happened.

    Once again the police are out to screw the cyclist. It\’s always the drivers fault.

    How do you know what the police did in their investigation? If you have the police report please post it. Did you talk to the witnesses? Do you know how much time the driver had to react to someone crossing their path?

    When does responsibility lie with a cyclist? When does inattentiveness on the cyclist\’s part become relevant?

    Supporting cycling doesn\’t mean you have to be an apologist for bad cycling.

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  • Adriel August 1, 2008 at 7:49 am


    \”I agree wearing a helmet should be a choice, however…

    I don\’t think society should necessarily be responsible for the outcome of what turns out to be an unsafe choice.\”

    I believe obesity should be a choice but…
    I believe walking without a helmet should be a choice but…
    I believe smoking should be a choice, but…

    Hopefully you are intelligent enough to understand what I am saying.

    When obesity and smoking are illegal, then maybe, just maybe we might consider a helmet law. Both of these things have a higher risk of death than cycling without a helmet. Why pick on cyclists? What about pedestrians? They have the same risk of head injury as cyclists, statistically. (Actually it appears that a pedestrian is MORE likely to sustain a head injury).

    Let us PLEASE stop getting distracted from the real issues. Motorists need to exercise MORE CARE when operating their vehicles. How can we accomplish that? Every cyclist whether you want to wear a helmet or not needs to drop the issue and focus on the real problem, the lack of safety on the roadway because of the driving habits of motorists.

    If you want to wear one, I respect that, but it is not the salvation of cyclists everywhere.

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  • Ian August 1, 2008 at 9:02 am

    Why is it that the vast majority of bikers hate when cars buzz them on the road yet I always see cyclists buzzing pedestrians in cross walks? (note: I don\’t condone either behavior.) It seems I see a lot of talk but not a lot of action.

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  • Jonathan Maus (Editor) August 1, 2008 at 9:15 am

    \”Why is it that the vast majority of bikers hate when cars buzz them on the road yet I always see cyclists buzzing pedestrians in cross walks? (note: I don\’t condone either behavior.) It seems I see a lot of talk but not a lot of action.\”

    I agree Ian, there\’s a huge problem with people on bikes not being courteous to others…. but there has been \”action\” to improve things.

    We\’ve written about it several times on this site, PDOT has produced a \”Share the path\” brochure, the BTA has passed out free bells on the Eastbank Esplanade.

    it will take time and more effort to shift this mentality and increase the civility of all road users.

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  • Ian August 1, 2008 at 9:31 am

    I guess it is just harder to see people doing the right thing because people that don\’t do the right thing stand out so much more. Thanks for the post Jonathan.

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  • Russ August 1, 2008 at 11:08 am

    I realize my post was sort of fantasy land talk and has implementation issues, however, it\’s also what civilizations do – make social contracts. The contract says: I have such and such responsibilities to society (and as such perhaps give up x,y,z freedom), and in exchange society has obligations to you to maintain safety and order and provide care.

    The push and pull here I alluded to is twofold: What is the line where you give up too much freedom for too little safety and/or too much \’order\’? Secondly, what do you do with those who refuse to follow through with their responsibilities, but still want society to be obliged to their welfare?

    Bike helmets, like tons of other issues fall into this category – from obesity to cigarette smoking, to negligent driving. Is it giving up too much freedom for too little safety? I think so, but others disagree.

    My personal point is that I don\’t want to work 50 hours a week in small part to fund the SSD of the jackass who attempted to jump a jet ski from a lake into a swimming pool and impaled his crotch on an iron gate. So while it isn\’t going to happen, and as barbaric as it is, I\’d prefer a system where if someone does something really stupid, they really just suffered the consequences for it on their own.

    As for the \”real\” problem, the real problem is some bikers and drivers don\’t want to take responsibility for themselves.

    Some biker want to ride without a helmet or disability/life insurance with a wife and kid at home and roll intersections while saying safety is all about motorists and how badly they drive.

    Drivers want to talk on their phone while further expanding their ass with a fast food burger in the other hand and claim that the only law that matters is the law of physics and displacement (considering how hard it is to have criminal consequences for mowing us down if they are judgment proof, they are sadly right).

    As far as this particular problem goes, I deal with it by carrying well researched insurance, wearing a helmet on my bike in traffic, obeying traffic devices, and keeping my hands at 10 and 2 on my car wheel while not eating/talking on the phone/etc. I also try to become more skilled on my bike/motorcycle/car so that I\’m better prepared to avoid a collision.

    If you don\’t do that, fine. I just don\’t like that I\’m responsible for you if you miscalculate. We shouldn\’t always be obligated to be our brothers keeper.

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  • steve August 1, 2008 at 1:40 pm


    We get upset because cars routinely kil people when they hit them. Bikes rarely hit anyone and it is a statistical anomaly when they actual injure or kill someone.

    If you were thinking clearly, you would not even need to ask such a silly question.

    Why do people complain when my bullets whizz past their ear and yet no one complains when my Frisbee floats by?

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  • KWW August 1, 2008 at 2:01 pm

    Grant #123:

    Since you asked, here is what the Oregon\’s vehicle code states regarding \’due care\’ with regard to motorists and bikes:

    814.400 (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.

    I interpret \’due care\’ to mean that just because someone violates your right of way, you still have to exercise a good faith measure to avoid an accident.

    It is also very true that you don\’t put yourself in a life threatening situation, particularly on a bicycle.

    Two sides of the same coin, yes?

    Problem is that the Police did not assign blame in the accident, other than stating the fact that Mr. Minor made a left hand turn. With regard to 814.400 (3) they are silent.

    I want to believe that the police went over and beyond an a quick read of vehicle code regarding left turns in their interpretation, but time after time it doesn\’t happen. You only have to go as far as \’search\’ button on this site to see how many drivers have killed bicyclists and have not even gotten a slap on the wrist.

    So I can see your side of the story Grant. You believe the Police. But for myself to believe that I have to see some evidence that Ms. Williams complied with ORS 814.400(3).

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  • Ian August 1, 2008 at 2:16 pm

    COMMENT 129,
    That is such an ignorant comment it is scarry. You promote irresposible biking because it is \”safer\” than irresponsible automobile driving. So a bike hitting a pedestrian at 25 mph isn\’t deadly?

    \”Why do people complain when my bullets whizz past their ear and yet no one complains when my Frisbee floats by?\”

    How does this comment even relate to anything? Are you suggesting we all walk around in bubbles?

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  • Ian August 1, 2008 at 2:28 pm

    \”Why do people complain when my bullets whizz past their ear and yet no one complains when my Frisbee floats by?\”

    I\’d rather not have anything thrown at my head.

    Steve: would you rather have your arm cut off or have your leg cut off…. though I would hope there are other options.

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  • steve August 1, 2008 at 6:17 pm

    Ian, you sad little troll, I do not promote irresponsible biking.

    I simply answered the ridiculous question you posed. The reason why cyclists get pissed off when buzzed by lazy people like yourself, is that we can be killed by your recklessness.

    But I forgot,in your little world every cyclist whizzes by pedestrians at will with complete disregard.

    In my world, there are the same percentage of asshats operating cars, as well as bikes.

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  • Grant August 1, 2008 at 7:57 pm


    You choose to doubt the ability of the police to do their job, I don\’t.

    You have no knowledge of the case other than looking at a picture and assuming that no skid marks puts the blame on the driver. Without knowing the approaching speed and time to react the lack of skid marks does not indicate driver inattentiveness.

    Why would 814.400(3) have to be mentioned at all if they determined the driver was not at fault. That in itself is a statement regarding 814.400(3).

    As for the lack of punishment in many of these cases this has been more an issue with the DA\’s office wanting the investigation to be completed before charges were laid. The police can lay all the charges they want, it\’s up to to the DA to take the evidence and make it stick.

    A lot of the animosity directed at the police force should be focused on those who prosecute the cases based on the charges. How many of these charges have been dropped or downgraded by the DA?

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  • wsbob August 2, 2008 at 12:37 am

    Russ, the line is costs, deaths and injury. If there aren\’t extraordinary numbers of all three, laws implemented to prevent them may be seen by people as excessive.

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  • Adriel August 2, 2008 at 6:15 am

    You know what meeds all 3? The current automobile infrastructure.

    43,000 people die and 2.6 million people are injured by the unsafe operation of the automobile.

    We need to put a lot of time and energy there, and save those lives and those injuries. We need a \”Safety is no Accident\” campaign that shows that most \”accidents\” on the road are preventable, and not having a collision is no accident.

    We need motorists to expect that driving a vehicle is a tedious crappy job, and to expect to spend the due care to the roadway at all times. It is not your kitchen where you can make a sandwich on the way to work.

    We already have the laws, we just need enforcement.

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  • Ian August 2, 2008 at 10:43 am

    \”In my world, there are the same percentage of asshats operating cars, as well as bikes.\”

    I would agree with that. The only difference is that I view both vehicles as deadly and find it pointless to argue which is more deadly. I said I don\’t condone buzzing either cycle or pedestrian. I do think there are a lot of responsible cyclists out there. You appear to have many preconceived notions about automobile operators.

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  • jami August 2, 2008 at 11:37 pm

    1. why is she wearing a bikini top on the teevee news?
    2. either he biked like an idiot or she drove like one. neither of those things would be prevented by me losing half my rent for forgetting my helmet.

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  • Eileen August 3, 2008 at 7:32 am

    I don\’t think the argument against a helmet law is that helmets don\’t offer protection and as long as you, as a community, keep using that as your main argument, you are going to lose this thing. Also, trying to insist that it\’s more dangerous to just walk around so pedestrians should be required to wear helmets is also going to help you lose this thing. I think both of those arguments will be pretty easy to refute.

    Jami, lol at comment #1. No kidding! What a spokesperson she makes.

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  • Grant August 3, 2008 at 12:52 pm

    Gee Jami, Eileen,

    If how someone looks is so important to their message, I guess we better get Rev Phil a haircut and some new clothes.

    When you can\’t win the argument I guess you have to pick on whatever you can to pull down the other side.

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  • Eileen August 3, 2008 at 1:38 pm

    You\’re right Grant, I\’m ashamed of my own cattiness. It was really hard to resist though! I think I have to take a break from this site because it\’s making me really b—-y.

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  • Ashley August 3, 2008 at 9:20 pm

    I appreciate her focus on safety, but mandatory helmet legislation feels like a secondary prevention stratedy. I\’d like see her focus be on primary prevention- i.e. the education surrounding road safety for motorists and cyclists. For instance working with the DMV to create share the road training regarding not just cars, as people seem to only be tested on, but peds and bikes too. Or share the road classes for new riders, etc.

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  • Ben August 4, 2008 at 7:04 am

    1. Buy a helmet.
    2. Wear it, fool.

    Quit pretending this a plot by evil car culture-ists to keep you from feeling the wind in your hair. I\’ll agree tho, it\’s pretty funny-but-not-ha-ha-funny to have Latasha on TV in a bikini telling us to wear more protective clothing.

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  • raymond bray August 6, 2008 at 5:00 am

    I have no problem with wearing a helmet. It IS a good idea.
    On the other hand forcing me to wear one is against my rights. I have a right to ride my bike without one. The only person endangered is myself. Its one thing to force children to wear a helmet. Its is completely another thing to force adults to wear one. Talk about BIG BROTHER in action.
    How about we force motorists to take training on how to spot cyclists. That would save more lives. Without passing some Orwellian law that effects my personal choices.

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  • Peter August 6, 2008 at 8:18 am

    Why has no one posted personal contact information?

    But seriously, you people should be wearing helmets. Passing a law however won\’t make more people do it, so I think the law idea is kind of dumb. Personally I would like to see everyone relax, I think all goals on the road should be getting from Point A to Point B with out a.) getting hurt and b.) hurting anyone else.

    I\’ve found that it takes 1 bad cyclist for a driver to get a negative opinion of bikes, and its also true that it take 1 bad driver to make cyclists hate cars.

    When I took drivers ed the only mention of bikes was \”they are on the road, do not hit them\”. I think there needs to be a good part of the drivers ed program that teaches what the law says about bikes on the road, as many people do not understand the law.

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  • Peter August 6, 2008 at 10:16 am

    ACK, stupid typing of \”You people\”. I should have said \”cyclists should wear helmets\”.

    I did not mean to come off hostile right off the bat. I apologize for the mistype.

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