Urban Tribe - Ride with your kids in front.

Vancouver collision leaves questions and a teen in critical condition

Posted by on January 23rd, 2009 at 1:47 pm

Screenshot from Columbian.

A 13-year old boy remains in critical condition today in a Portland trauma center after a collision with an SUV in Vancouver on Wednesday.

According to the Vancouver Police Department, middle school student Kristopher Miles was struck while riding his bike in the marked crosswalk on SE 136th (at SE 7th, map). The official notice from the police department states that 28-year Andrea Dickinson had stopped at the stop sign on the opposite side of the street, but that she struck Miles as she crossed the street and dragged him and his bike 100 feet before stopping.

Miles — who was reportedly not wearing a helmet — is still (as of noon today) suffering from critical head, shoulder, and leg injuries due to the collision.

Story continues below


According to an article in the Columbian, Dickinson was not arrested or ticketed and speed and/or impairment is not a factor at this time. The crash is still undergoing investigation.

Given the initial description of the crash by the Vancouver Police Department, I am curious to follow how this turns out. There are several questions I have about this (I’ve left a message with the police investigator but have not heard back).

First, why wasn’t Dickinson cited at the scene?

A reader from Vancouver, sent along the Washington State law regarding bikes in crosswalks. First, RCW 46.61.755 states that “every person riding a bicycle upon a crosswalk…must be granted all the rights and is subject to all duties applicable to a pedestrian”. Then, RCW 46.61.235, titled “Crosswalks”, states that (emphasis mine):

(1) The operator of an approaching vehicle shall stop and remain stopped to allow a pedestrian or bicycle to cross the roadway within an unmarked or marked crosswalk

Also, why did it take 100 feet before Dickinson realized she had a boy and bike underneath her Chevy Blazer? Was she distracted? Was her radio turned up?

According to a chart (that we’ve published in the past) from the Portland Bureau of Transportation, a car would be going about 30 mph to take 100 feet to stop:

“The Effects of Speed on Stopping Distance” – Graphic: Portland Bureau of Transportation

Questions and concerns about this collision are also being discussed over in the Portland Bike Forums. One poster, jr98664, is familiar with the intersection and says the woman in the SUV would have had about 100 feet of acceleration before the collision.

This is a tragic situation and I hope some answers emerge.

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  • Hart January 23, 2009 at 1:52 pm

    Not to be sexist, but every time I’ve ever been hit or had a close call, it has always been at an intersection with a girl in an SUV on her cell phone.

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  • Matthew Denton January 23, 2009 at 2:04 pm

    So she “stopped” at the stop sign, and either got up to 30 mph on the far side of the intersection, (I don’t know the intersection in particular, maybe it is really big, but that would be an impressive stunt even for a professional drag racer,) or was so distracted that she didn’t notice that she’d hit someone…

    Or maybe we should go back to the beginning. Maybe she blew the stop sign at, ohh, about 30 mph…

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  • Jessica Roberts January 23, 2009 at 2:04 pm

    Hart, really? We need to start the comment thread with that?

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  • KJ January 23, 2009 at 2:12 pm

    You are being sexist, Hart.
    Firstly, a 28 year old woman is not a girl.

    I’m usually almost right hooked by older men.

    Any person is capable of crappy driving, biking or walking, it’s pretty gender neutral.

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  • kww January 23, 2009 at 2:25 pm

    I think that whenever there is an accident, the cell phone records of the driver(s) should be subpoenaed, and if they were on the phone at the time, then it should be a ‘special’ penalty.

    Secondly, I would like to slap all the cops in the head when they write in their report, that the bicyclist was not wearing a helmet.

    Are helmets the law in Wash state? If not, it should not be in the report.

    It is another way that police pre-determine at least a portion of the guilt on the bicyclist.

    Oh, and when I slap those cops? It will be with a 3000 pound hammer, about the weight of an SUV. Don’t worry though, they will have a chance to strap on a $10 bicycle helmet so they will be protected.

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  • Allison January 23, 2009 at 2:25 pm

    The not being cited seems pretty fishy – striking a pedestrian is always against the law. Double for one inside a crosswalk. Was her car so incredibly large she couldn’t see the child and so heavy there was no impact? Blowing throw a stop sign seems more likely – although if I’d just been in any kind of accident, let alone one that sent a kid to the hospital, I’d be in no shape to lie to cover my traffic infraction.

    I wish the child had been wearing a helmet. I know our European bike brethren don’t bother with them and they don’t seem to suffer ill-effects, but it’s just not safe out there. Apparently even in the crosswalk.

    Oh, and all my right hooks were men, generally 20-40 who looked at me, saw that I was there, but didn’t want to have to wait for me to cross the intersection, so they sped up to turn right. And commercial vehicles, of course. I feel like I see more women-driving-badly when I’m behind the wheel of my own car. Bad drivers come in all shapes and sizes. But a cell phone makes even a good driver a bad one.

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  • Jeff TB January 23, 2009 at 2:26 pm

    I don’t think Hart is being sexist by stating his experiences.

    But I have to agree with Jessica: bummer of a way to start the thread.

    My experiences are different than Harts. All genders, all nationalities, all kinds of vehicles. They’re all out to get me. (especially cabs)

    Jonathan, Thanks for following this. I ride near here on the way to work. I’ll be interested to see how vancouver handles it.

    I hope for a speedy recovery.

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  • Allison January 23, 2009 at 2:27 pm

    kww, I’m pretty sure there’s a helmet law for those under 16. And it helps explain the severity of the injuries.

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  • Matthew Denton January 23, 2009 at 2:29 pm

    And to think I bit my tongue to avoid saying what I wanted to say, which is “She lied about the stop sign! Lets have the attorney general investigate, obviously she was probably sleeping with the kid!”

    Sorry. I’m a little on edge right now. After the demonstration tonight, I plan to drink heavily.

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  • matthew January 23, 2009 at 2:30 pm

    @hart & denton Please stop your sensationalist drivle. If you guys have a valid point to make just state your case. Muckraking is out of fashon.

    My sympathy’s go out to both people involved. Often police investigate incidents further to establish a provable case in court. If the driver was at fault hopefully this will be dealt with though proper legal channels and be resolved. The blame game elieviates no pain and only muddies the issue. I sincerly hope the young man fully recovers. I’ve been in several accidents with cars (I have 4 frontal crowns and the facial scars to prove it)while on my bike and know exactly what he is dealing with. It just sucks. Period.

    Hang in there son, there are lots of us pulling for ya.

    Matthew dntwn Vancouver

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  • Hart January 23, 2009 at 2:32 pm

    My experiences are different than Harts. All genders, all nationalities, all kinds of vehicles. They’re all out to get me. (especially cabs)

    Precisely. Everybody has different experiences, and I’m pretty sure there’s a girl out there on her cellphone going, “You would not believe it but I just hit the EXACT same guy on a Peugeot as I did last month!”

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  • Hart January 23, 2009 at 2:34 pm

    Hart, really? We need to start the comment thread with that?

    Uh, the topic of the thread’s already a downer. Would starting off with a prayer have pleased you?

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  • K'Tesh January 23, 2009 at 2:35 pm


    When I was hit, it was a male, 19, who wasn’t using a cell phone at the time.

    I don’t think gender has any bearing on this issue.

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  • Hart January 23, 2009 at 2:38 pm

    Neither do I. That’s why I said it was only the pattern that I had experienced. Not saying anything other than I bet the girl was on her cell at the time.

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  • matthew January 23, 2009 at 2:47 pm

    Yes Allison #8 there is a helmet law in Vancouver. It applies to riders of all ages. It was also enacted by the city councel with more of an emotional argument than any factual basis. This has been covered in several earlier articles on the blog so I’ll not get too into it but the basics are that helmets reduce the incidence of traumatic brain injuries by less than one percent. Mandating helmet laws give cycling a higher percieved risk and is antiproductive as far as safty is concerned. And yes I do wear a helmet.

    Matthew dntwn Vancouver

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  • Julie January 23, 2009 at 2:51 pm

    again, hart, a 28-year-old woman is not a girl… she’s a woman. and if you don’t think gender has any bearing on the issue, why bring it up?

    here’s to a speedy recovery for the kid!!

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  • Hart January 23, 2009 at 2:53 pm

    I never said the girls who have hit me or almost hit me were 28 years old. I’m pretty sure this woman was not one of them. YOU keep imply for some reason that this was the same woman.

    And I never said that gender was the common factor (notice where I said “Not to be sexist”), I said that SUVs and cellphones’s were the common factor. Cool your jets, kid.

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  • canuck January 23, 2009 at 2:59 pm

    Helmets are mentioned in the same way that seatbelts are mentioned when a fatality occurs in auto collisions.

    These pieces of information are pertinent to the case and causality of death and are collected by the police at all incidents.

    It’s not a case of pointing fingers, just an issue of collecting all information. The same way that cell phone usage is being reported.

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  • Pete January 23, 2009 at 3:16 pm

    “Was she distracted?”

    The media always makes a point to report if the cyclist was wearing a helmet or not. What do y’all think, should they make it a point to report whether the driver was texting or talking on a cell phone at the time?

    Not to start another helmet war, but it is indeed a shame he wasn’t wearing one, which would be breaking the law here in Oregon and a city ordinance in Vancouver IIRC.(?) Trust me, I’m by no means ‘blaming the victim’ here (nor advocating helmet laws), it’s just sad to see this happen time and time again. I really hope he comes out of this well and heals fully and quickly.

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  • GLV January 23, 2009 at 3:18 pm

    “Are helmets the law in Wash state? If not, it should not be in the report.”

    Helmets are the law in Vancouver. But you’re right, the fact that this child was not wearing a helmet clearly is irrelevant to the fact that he is “suffering from critical head…injuries.” A helmet would not have protected him at all. {rolls eyes}

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  • Peter January 23, 2009 at 3:35 pm

    Some have sympathy for both parties — not me — my sympathy goes out to the driver because she had to stop long enough for the mangled boy and bike to be pried off her SUV. I’m sure she had places to go. Not to mention, who knows if the SUV was damaged. I’m sure she has to keep up appearances and all.

    Also, the first comment of any post is always the most important, and so it must be carefully weighed by any individuals who might, in fact, be the first to post. If you are unsure of whether or not your comment will be posted first, then please be sure to post only good postings.

    Sexism needs to be challenged always, even when there is no evidence of sexism. This is especially important in incidents where a young man has been mashed by an SUV — it puts the focus back where it belongs – on sexism.

    On a serious note, 100 feet to stop at 30 MPH? It only takes 45 feet or less to stop once you decide to do it (‘stopping distance’) — how long did he have to think about stopping before actually deciding to stop? How could you not see the kid? Street View shows things are pretty deserted around there – trees and whatnot on only one corner — i.e. the sightlines are great. You would have to have been distracted greatly to miss a human on a bicycle at this intersection.

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  • Hart January 23, 2009 at 3:40 pm

    ROTFL. Nail on the head, Peter. Nail on the head.

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  • D. :Jason Penney January 23, 2009 at 3:59 pm

    Newtonian physics: if she had 100 feet to accelerate to 30 mph, she averaged over 6.5 mph per sec. I also calculated she crossed that 100 feet in about 4.5 seconds.

    This is freakin’ HAULING. She was in a terrific hurry to get across the intersection. This kind of acceleration can get you a “speed racing” ticket in Oregon; I don’t know what the law is in Washington.

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  • K'Tesh January 23, 2009 at 3:59 pm

    I got interrupted when I was posting… wanted to add:

    My thoughts and prayers go out to Kristopher and his family.

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  • Brian January 23, 2009 at 4:02 pm

    This makes me sick.

    I will grant you that I don’t know the details of this assault (it does not look like an accidental collision). But it seems obvious to me that this person who was driving the car should be in jail. How can you do that to somebody and not be in jail. Driving without looking where you are going is like firing a gun into a crowd. You should get the same punishment.

    Based on the picture above this was a direct head on collision. She was either going way to fast or not paying any attention.

    Why does our society tolerate this?

    There is a 13 year boy in the hospital. You people are talking about ‘girl’ vs. ‘woman’, ‘sexism’, and ‘Helmut status reporting’, and joking about it. wtf. Be enraged. Be focused. Demand change.

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  • dahoos January 23, 2009 at 4:20 pm

    “Helmets are the law in Vancouver. But you’re right, the fact that this child was not wearing a helmet clearly is irrelevant to the fact that he is “suffering from critical head…injuries.” A helmet would not have protected him at all. {rolls eyes}”

    Thank you GLV! I believe in every state there is a helmet law for up to a specific age. (generally 16, I believe) KWW, I’d take a “$10 helmet” over none at all. At least some of the more severe injuries could have been lessened. A 3000 lb. hammer will hurt, but if you can take some defensive precautions to lessen the pain, wouldn’t you?

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  • Opus the Poet January 23, 2009 at 4:24 pm

    There is a lot in this report that makes no sense. I also checked Streetview, and agree the sightlines are nearly perfect. Assuming the report on stopping at the 4 way stop was true then she must have floored it to get to the point where it took 100 feet to stop after hitting the cyclist, or while traveling at a more normal speed from the stop she probably took a few seconds to recognize she hit something. This will require forensic analysis of the bike and the motor vehicle to determine what happened…

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  • Hart January 23, 2009 at 4:29 pm

    There is a 13 year boy in the hospital. You people are talking about ‘girl’ vs. ‘woman’, ‘sexism’, and ‘Helmut status reporting’, and joking about it. wtf. Be enraged. Be focused. Demand change.

    We all grieve in our own ways. I think there’s something to be said for gallows humor. I think illustrating whether the driver was on a cell phone or not is pretty well intertwined with your idea of demanding change.

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  • matthew January 23, 2009 at 4:34 pm

    @Peter#21 Thank you for your kind, thoughtful and non judgemental comments. A real breath of fresh air. Calming, cleansing…. gimme a big hug you lug!

    How about checking Webster’s for the definition of accident? It’s a tragedy no matter who was at fault. Do you think the gal meant to hit the boy?

    Matthew dntwn Vancouver

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  • Allison January 23, 2009 at 4:59 pm

    Opus #27 – it’s possible they didn’t cite because there was evidence to a more significant charge and after that evidence is gathered, they may charge her with something more significant – a citation might cause a double jeopardy issue.

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  • garrison scott January 23, 2009 at 5:03 pm


    She should be in jail for wreckless driving….period…the report does not make any sense….sounds like rookie cops
    or she “knew” someone. Regret and bawling your eyes out does not change
    she hit and critically injured a boy in the crosswalk.
    PS..you portlanders squabble like a bunch of girls Gus NYC

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  • Allison January 23, 2009 at 5:09 pm

    Perhaps it has been hashed out on these pages – I searched but found only broken links – so if possible, I’d like to know more about “helmets don’t prevent brain injury.” The first googling I did said that between 45% and 88% of bicyclists’ brain injuries could have been prevented by the use of a helmet. When you say “1%” do you mean “1% of brain injuries” or “1% of traffic incidents”? Because, honestly, the idea that helmets are only marginally effective doesn’t make intuitive sense.

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  • AJ January 23, 2009 at 5:15 pm

    Looking at Street view it looks like this isn’t a 4 way stop. Only 7th street has a stop sign. Unless the photos are old and the intersection has changed. The article also claims the boy was in the cross walk leaving me with the impression of a panted crosswalk, which I don’t see in the street view. (Can someone make some recent photos available?)

    I hope and wish for the boy to recover completely!

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  • hemp22 January 23, 2009 at 5:26 pm

    i’m seriously hoping the boy gets better…and also that we eventually get a clear story of how the event transpired.

    I don’t think the age or gender of the driver makes them more or less likely to be doing something that distracts them from the road.
    I certainly hope the driver wasn’t on a handheld cell phone, since that is illegal in Washington.
    But it could easily also be a GPS, or stereo or whatever – It seems like something must’ve been distracting her.

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  • Opus the Poet January 23, 2009 at 5:27 pm

    The numbers depend on the methodology used for the study. The oft-cited 85% number is from a single hospital in Oz the first 6 months after their helmet law went into effect, and has been discredited numerous times. The reason most cyclists are so down on helmets is the weak standard used in the US (CPSC) that basically protects if you fall over at a walking pace or slower, the “Artie Johnson Maneuver” named for the slapstick TV comic in the 60s that used the shtick as a running gag. Basically the standard is set of a 12.5 MPH impact, anything faster is only a reduction in the severity of the brain damage, not prevention, and in a motor vehicle/bicycle crash is pretty much useless. Also because cyclists have nothing between themselves and the impacting vehicle except what clothing they wear (the rallying point of the World Naked Bike Ride) that even though most bicyclists that are killed have severe head trauma, they also have such injuries as to be unsurvivable even if bike helmets provided perfect protection.

    Note: I wear a helmet every time I ride, the most protective helmet I can afford (full-face DH MTB helmet) I’m still in the camp that says a helmet doesn’t do much good. But it is the only PPE that we have available and as such I will use it. I will fight tooth and nail against any laws that require using it, however.

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  • bahueh January 23, 2009 at 5:38 pm

    #15…less than one percent? where do you get your data because you seem to be the only one with access to it?

    please stop making up false statistics.

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  • PoPo January 23, 2009 at 5:47 pm

    The only details of this accident I’ve heard are from reading this story.

    Regarding the process for citation issuance and traffic investigation, I assume Washington is like Oregon and that there is plenty of time (months) to issue traffic citations or even issue criminal charges, if it is finally determined that they are merited.

    It is natural that people would like answers quickly, and wonder what is going on. A potential explanation for the delay, however, is that the Vancouver Police are taking their time figuring things out and making a decision about what to do. They also may need time to consult with the prosecutor to see what, if any criminal charges might be applicable. That is the tact the PPB tries to take with serious collisions like this.

    When police respond to a critical incident, they want to slowwwww everything down. Take measurements, talk to everyone around, take photos, draw diagrams, search around for clues, and basically do everything they can do dissect a moment, or a few moments, into all the different instants and actors that make it up. Then they want to write it all down. And then discuss, and talk with lawyers. And then decide how to proceed.

    This is in direct conflict with the need of the press to provide up to the minute news, fill a 24-hour news cycle, and the general anxious curiosity of all of the rest of us.

    It is frustrating, but I think better investigations come to those who wait.

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  • Ken Wetherell January 23, 2009 at 5:53 pm

    @matthew “helmets reduce the incidence of traumatic brain injuries by less than one percent.”

    What is the source of this data you provided?

    My personal experience with hitting my head after slipping on ice is that I would have been dead or severely brain damaged without my helmet. As it was, I swore for 5 minutes, then continued on with my ride…counting my lucky stars I was wearing my helmet.

    I’ve had the same experience on skateboards in skateparks on three occasions. All incidents hurt like hell and I know I would have sustained serious brain damage without the helmet.

    For those readers who ride without helmets and have never hit their head on the road before, please consider wearing one. I truly want you to be safe. In my experience, helmets have been highly effective in preventing serious injury.

    I hope this young man returns to full health soon.

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  • Schrauf January 23, 2009 at 9:01 pm


    There is a lot of info on the internet regarding why helmets are overrated.

    It’s not that helmets do not increase protection. They always do some good in instances where there is a head impact, except maybe in very rare cases of whiplash, which can be worsened by a helmet.

    However, it is the side effects of not only helmet laws, but also general helmet use that is so widespread that it is almost socially unacceptable to not wear a helmet, that concerns many cyclists.

    The concern is that fewer people will begin riding, and ride consistently, if such bulky and cumbersome equipment is viewed as necessary without exception. It is generally accepted that more cyclists on the road increase safety for all cyclists, as motorists become more aware. The theory is that, on average, in societies with less helmet use, the increase in safety to any single cyclist as a result of using a helmet is more than offset by the decrease in safety resulting from fewer cyclists on the road and more dangerous conditions caused by clueless drivers.

    And yes, there are other arguments such as helmets are pretty dang wimpy and may not do much in many types of crashes.

    I wear a helmet most of the time because I live in Spokane and like most cities in Washington, there is a helmet law. This state is about the strictest in the nation for helmet laws. But having said that, I would choose to wear a helmet about 50% of the time if I had the right to choose. Long rides on rural highways? Yes. Flying down steep hills? Yes. Less intense rides in town? No. Just not worth the slight increase in safety. I also do not wear a helmet when I hike or use stairs. Such activities are comparable to many bike rides.

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  • Allison January 23, 2009 at 10:03 pm

    Hm… it’s given me something to consider. I do think the state of medical technology being what it is, less severe brain injury is probably going to result in a significantly better prognosis.

    This idea that higher speed or car-bike incidents are not significantly affected by helmet use – that might be true. But it’s a pretty tiny proportion of the incidents. Lower speed incidents happen a great deal more frequently and that’s where helmets do their most good.

    I’d be interested to know exactly how much a helmet law decreases ridership – and would it be possible to offset with other things that increase ridership in a way that doesn’t result in head injuries. This idea of helmets as “cumbersome equipment” is a bit preposterous to me.

    And every person who speaks out against a helmet law has to assure me that they wear a helmet. Helmet usage is standard anyway – why shouldn’t it be universal?

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  • kww January 23, 2009 at 10:10 pm

    Thanks to Opus (35) on the helmet clarification. Helmets are designed for a fall, not armor from a physical confrontation with a SUV.

    I do not mean to dissuade anyone from wearing a helmet, especially on shared roadways. In fact, I encourage it.

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  • Jonathan Maus (Editor) January 23, 2009 at 11:37 pm

    helmet shmelmet… what I think is interesting about this incident is that there’s absolutely no explanation yet as to why/how this woman, in broad daylight, with perfect visibility could not just hit the boy, but then drag him 100 feet.

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  • Joe Rowe January 24, 2009 at 12:07 am

    We need a law that gives authorities easy access to the cell/text/e-whatever records of anyone on the road who causes any injury or near miss.

    The last 3 years I’ve worked much harder to avoid cars that seem to have no pilot. The driver is almost always texting, dialing or holding the phone.

    I’m just guessing from the facts this far but time will tell if this was an “accident”. What else could explain the car speed and the victim being dragged so far?

    The reporters did not mention if a sobriety test was given.

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  • Sarah O January 24, 2009 at 12:08 am

    Many of my very closest calls happened in borad daylight, when I was obeying traffic signals. It’s as simple as distraction. people behind the wheel get netirely too comfortable. 99 times out of 100, when they gun through an unnoticed stop sign, there’s no cyclist or pedestrian there. It’s just that one time that we see stories like this.

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  • Jim January 24, 2009 at 1:30 am

    I would certainly think that there is still going to be citations issued at a later time. It’s not a perfect system so perhaps she may luck out. My prayers are for the boy to be ok. I am sure that at some point it will make a big difference to him to know there are so many people like you all behind him, pulling for him. We should all make a big card and have lots of people sign it. maybe someone out there has some art back grond and can come up with something appropriate. Is there a way to do an online card that everyone can sign? Jonathon what do you think? is this something up your alley?

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  • robert January 24, 2009 at 9:13 am

    I think Washingtons law is unfair to motorists if it really says that you have to yield to a bicyclist in a crosswalk.

    A crosswalk is designed for someone going about 3 mph. If someone enters a crosswalk at 10-15 or 20 mph its *really* difficult to see them especially if the driver is trying to make a right turn and the bicyclists is going against traffic on the sidewalk.

    I think had he been in the road where the driver was no doubt looking for other vehicles than this would not have happened this way.

    Most of us who walk quite a bit know that sidewalks BARELY work at walking speed and I’m also sure that we have all had to stop on a dime as a pedestrian because a motorist did not see us.

    Even if a bicyclist and motorists are going the same direction its very easy to right hook a bicyclist on a green light cycle. Imagine yourself driving an automobile approaching a green light and getting ready to make a right turn. Now to your right is a line of parked cars blocking your view of a 10 year old boy who is actually passing you on the sidewalk. As soon as you get ready to make your turn at 10 mph suddenly the boy is right in front of your car in the crosswalk where he had the “walk” symbol. Again, sidewalks were not designed for bicycling speed. They just were not and its unreasonable to expect anyone on the road to just instantly stop if someone enters a crosswalk at bicycling speed.

    To immediately blame the driver no matter the situation or suicidal infrastructure is something that I have noticed a lot on this blog and frankly it bothers me. It also shows a lack of understanding on behalf of some of the readers about traffic flow. That is coming from someone who does not own a car and works in this industry as a profession.

    I do not think this was any more evident than when the two fatalities in two weeks happened. Portland’s notion that you can have a straight thru lane to the right side of a possible right turn lane is to blame for those crashes. I realize the law says that you have to yield to a bicyclist in a bike lane but I would challenge any of you to climb into a large truck and go around making right turns in Portland and see if you could honestly avoid every bicyclist who may be passing you on the right. I’m the first one to want to prosecute motorists but some infrastructure and bicycling styles make collisions *really* difficult to avoid. That is especially true when we build bicycling infrastructure or ride on sidewalks which is totally contrary to all other traffic flow principles that we all know so well.

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  • robert January 24, 2009 at 9:17 am

    I’ll add one more thing to my comment above.

    We absolutely HAVE to let parents know that riding on the sidewalk is a *safe* alternative to riding on the street. The separation from automobiles is just an illusion as these crashes almost always occur at intersections anyway. If a child lacks the judgement to stop at stop signs and red lights then they almost certainly lack the judgement to stop their bicycle at every intersection and driveway, look both ways, and walk their bicycle across.

    Many parents slap a helmet on their child and tell them to stay on the sidewalk “where its safe.”

    Brutal and cruel advice.

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  • robert January 24, 2009 at 9:18 am

    Dang it. I meant to write “NOT” a safe alternative.

    NOT a safe alternative to riding on the street.


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  • buglas January 24, 2009 at 10:05 am

    I recommend going back and reading the original article in the Columbian along with the reader comments and then looking at the street view of the intersection.

    Kristopher was reported as northbound on the west side of 136th. That would put him as moving against the flow of traffic on his side of the street. That would also mean he was not hidden behind a line of stopped cars as he approached the intersection.

    Ms. Dickinson was westbound on 7th. It was about 2:30 PM, so she didn’t have the sun in her eyes. She was at a four way stop, so she didn’t need to “punch it” to fit through a gap in cross traffic.

    Now it’s entirely possible that Kristopher came blasting into the crosswalk from Ms. Dickinson’s left side after she pulled away from her stop sign. What I have a problem with is the distance it took for her to stop after the collision.

    I wish the best for both of them. I can’t help but have a sense of “There but for the grace of God go I”.

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  • JR Time January 24, 2009 at 12:01 pm

    This is horrific and it just shows the total disregard for human life drivers up here have. In the end, one of these drivers need to be hung. End of story. I hope the child’s family sues the girl for everything he has, her family has, even what her dog has. There has to be a stand made. An example made, one so strong that even the most incompetent, lack of regard driver will not be able to ignore.

    I had a run-in with some “tough” guy last week out on the Columbia Scenic Hwy. He tried multiple times to hit me by swerving as far as the ditch. Through the drama of it, i didnt manage to catch his license plate number. But i know that the cops wont do much. Eventually someone is going to be packin some heat, and shoot one of these people. I know i and some others are getting to that point. Im sick and tired of it being ‘ok’ for others to put my life in jeopardy just because they are so close minded.

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  • matthew January 24, 2009 at 12:02 pm

    bahueh#36 I’m not making this up.

    When the Vanc city council was pushing the helmet law through I did alot of reading on helmet laws and efectiveness. I’ll try to find the study that referenced this stat. The only comprehensive studies were done in europe and I believe I found it in link on one of the Amsterdam bike blogs. I found the stat incredulus and the figure stuck in my head. I also remember that internal organ failure and trauma had a higher incidence and effect on cyclists than tbi’s. Another thing that’s hard to believe.

    The other things I learned were that mandating helmets gives people a perception that cycling is a high risk activity and lessens their desire to engage in it. What really makes a difference is ironicly is that with larger numbers of cyclists interacting with traffic and pedestrians the lower the accident rate becomes. With larger numbers of cyclists on the road both drivers and riders have much more interaction, get used to eachother and know where the other should be and what they sould be doing. This also implies that both parties are following the laws or at least the accepted rules of the road. I’ve never been to Amsterdam but have a few friends who stayed there for several week last year and they witnessed only one cycling accident and it was a gal who went down on a light rail track. They seemed pretty amazed that they saw no others since to thier eyes bikes were zipping around everywhere and cyclists and drivers had some disregard for traffic lights and stop signs. Perhaps some of you may have fist hand expierience with this or cycling in Europe. I’d like to hear from you. I do find it odd that with just a larger number of cyclists on the road there is a lower percentage of driver/cyclist accidents. I do think that by providing seperate lanes for various users contributes to their overall safety as well.

    Any first hand info or references to specific studys would be greatly appreciated.

    Be safe, enjoy the wind in your face….

    Matthew dntwn Vancouver

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  • Opus the Poet January 24, 2009 at 12:38 pm

    Just to defuse a statistic before someone else posts it, 70% of cyclist fatalities were not wearing helmets. Not stated was if there were fatal head injuries, or superficial head injuries, or if the head injury was pertinent to the fatality.


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  • John January 24, 2009 at 12:48 pm

    As to how the kid was dragged 100 feet:

    I’d expect it was the usual way anything hit by a car gets dragged 100 feet. If you drive smack into something that didn’t just fall from the sky, you probably didn’t see it. People do this all the time. Sometimes they drive smack into the back of an entire car they failed to notice. We even have a popular term, rear-ended, reserved for this common event. I’d suggest that the sequence of events went something like this:

    Looks good to the left, same to the right, go time! (accelerating) Still looking clear both ways. Bang! WTF was that? Huh, my car never made that noise before. What’s that other noise? (turn down the radio) Well, crap. Sounds like something’s dragging, I’d better stop and see what that is.

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  • Domann January 24, 2009 at 2:13 pm

    I didn’t think this story could be any more sad and pathetic until I read the comment thread.

    Let’s hope this poor child heals and that we can all grow up some day.

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  • Drewid January 24, 2009 at 7:39 pm

    I think that what this boils down to is tolerance by our society for poor driving skills. The jury box is full of people who would not want to take responsibility for smashing into someone because they were not paying attention. The cop would rather let the motorist go without citation, because when he puts himself in her shoes, he wouldn’t want to accept responsibility for what may happen while he is driving and simultaneously reaching into the back seat for a doughnut. We would rather let society bear the cost. All you have to do is say “I didn’t see him” and you are off the hook.

    The media distracts it’s readers by bringing up helmet issues, which have nothing to do with incidents like this. I guess some of us here have picked up this bad habit.

    I remember standing in line at the DMV listening to this elderly lady (with what I felt was the beginning stages of dementia) argue with the clerk about her failure of the multiple choice test. She probably got her license renewed somehow, and could very well be the genesis of another tragic crash. Meanwhile, 15 year old kids who barely have a concept of mortality are out there motoring about.

    Getting a drivers license should mean that the recipient has the skills and wherewithal to drive safely. That means taking responsibility for having a clean windshield, and paying complete attention to what you see in front of it, etc. There are almost no accidents; only crashes.

    One question is did the cop let this lady simply drive away? Perhaps there was a medical issue with her, or was she sleepy? Since it is possible she is at fault, having her continue to drive is inviting another disaster.
    A big shift in the way society looks at this needs to happen before things will change much. All we can do is keep chipping away; trying to get the driver to be responsible. Unfortunately, having the license to drive a giant chunk of metal down the road does not come with the commensurate weight of responsibility these days. It’s the wild west out there.

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  • Schrauf January 24, 2009 at 8:33 pm


    I agree a helmet is not cumbersome equipment to many people, but to some it is, and it is enough to discourage cycling as a mode of transportation. Yeah, you can carry your helmet with you into stores and such as you go about errands, but it can be a discouragement. Not to mention another’s point in this thread, that helmet use increases the perception that cycling is dangerous, and therefore persuades even more people from trying it.

    Regardless, hopefully the victim recovers, and the suspect, if guilty of negligence (as it appears), pays the price. We are way too accepting of vehicle induced assault and violence in this society.

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  • q`Ztal January 24, 2009 at 8:37 pm

    Robert #46
    It’s not Washington’s law about crosswalks, it’s the National Uniform Vehicle Code. It lets cyclists choose to be a road vehicle or sidewalk & crosswalk user. To my knowledge there is nothing stating a crosswalk speed limit. Any speed limit for crosswalks would also apply to pedestrians; this is politically untenable. It is of course dangerous to ride through a crosswalk at any speed higher than walking speeds because drivers will not look for high speed travelers on sidewalks or crosswalks.

    What is your profession? Seeing as we, the readers, show a lack of understanding of traffic flow. Perhaps you could write an article, for BikePortland, enlightening us as to our ignorance. If you truly have something valuable to add as a (your profession here) then Mr. Maus should post it prominently just as Ray Thomas’s “DIY toolkit for citizen prosecutions”

    John #53
    The point here is have to assume the innocence of the driver, by law. If we go with that assumption and that she began to stop AS SOON AS she realized that hit the cyclist then the driver’s speed was 30MPH. Research has shown that 30MPH stop takes ~100ft when the driver’s reaction time is taken into account.

    So we are at a scientific impasse:
    How did the driver get to 30MPH (or more) in 100ft (the distance from crosswalk to crosswalk per Google Earth) so that her 100 ft stopping distance is reasonable?
    If she never achieved 30 MPG, how was the driver impaired/negligent (cell phone, texting, makeup application, bad brakes) such that she failed to stop her vehicle for 100 feet after impact with the cyclist?

    As we can see from the picture on the Columbian article the bike under the center of the SUV; almost perfectly centered with no indication it was run over by a tire. Therefore the bike impacted the FRONT of the SUV. So your last assumption falls flat on the legal basis that a driver is responsible for not impacting anything IN FRONT of it.

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  • robert January 24, 2009 at 8:49 pm

    The national uniform vehicle code is a suggestion for traffic laws from a non-profit group. Its not the nationwide standard.

    I also do not get the attitude in your response but I guess that is par for the course on internet boards?

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  • Rixtir January 24, 2009 at 8:50 pm

    I don’t know about Washington, but in oregon, there is a speed limit for bicycles approaching crosswalks:

    814.410 Unsafe operation of bicycle on sidewalk; penalty. (1) A person commits the offense of unsafe operation of a bicycle on a sidewalk if the person does any of the following:
    (a) Operates the bicycle so as to suddenly leave a curb or other place of safety and move into the path of a vehicle that is so close as to constitute an immediate hazard.
    (b) Operates a bicycle upon a sidewalk and does not give an audible warning before overtaking and passing a pedestrian and does not yield the right of way to all pedestrians on the sidewalk.
    (c) Operates a bicycle on a sidewalk in a careless manner that endangers or would be likely to endanger any person or property.
    (d) Operates the bicycle at a speed greater than an ordinary walk when approaching or entering a crosswalk, approaching or crossing a driveway or crossing a curb cut or pedestrian ramp and a motor vehicle is approaching the crosswalk, driveway, curb cut or pedestrian ramp. This paragraph does not require reduced speeds for bicycles at places on sidewalks or other pedestrian ways other than places where the path for pedestrians or bicycle traffic approaches or crosses that for motor vehicle traffic.
    (e) Operates an electric assisted bicycle on a sidewalk.
    (2) Except as otherwise specifically provided by law, a bicyclist on a sidewalk or in a crosswalk has the same rights and duties as a pedestrian on a sidewalk or in a crosswalk.
    (3) The offense described in this section, unsafe operation of a bicycle on a sidewalk, is a Class D traffic violation. [1983 c.338 §699; 1985 c.16 §337; 1997 c.400 §7; 2005 c.316 §2]

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  • robert January 24, 2009 at 8:58 pm

    Now there is a law that makes sense.

    The problem is that no one inexperienced enough to ride a bicycle on the sidewalk would probably ever read that.

    We had one classic quote in the newspaper here from a college kid hit by an suv in the crosswalk. ” The light was green so I went for it.” BAM!!!

    People just do not understand the dangers of sidewalk riding. They seriously think its safer and do not realize the dangers of the intersections.

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  • Jeff WIlls January 24, 2009 at 9:55 pm

    AJ, re:
    “Looking at Street view it looks like this isn’t a 4 way stop. Only 7th street has a stop sign. Unless the photos are old and the intersection has changed.”

    The intersection of 136th & 7th was upgraded to a 4-way stop last summer. I live about a mile from there and ride/drive through there frequently. The old 2-way stop was nasty, but I still see plenty of poor behavior there.

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  • Steven J January 25, 2009 at 4:02 am

    Re: Rixter #59

    “Operates the bicycle at a speed greater than an ordinary walk when approaching or entering a crosswalk, approaching or crossing a driveway or crossing a curb cut or pedestrian ramp and a motor vehicle is approaching the crosswalk, driveway, curb cut or pedestrian ramp. ”

    Bikes are true Hybrid vehicles.

    when operating in a crosswalk /sidewalk, we are bound by Pedestrian laws.
    on the road, vehicle code.
    Kids are not taught the difference as a general rule.

    I also find it incredulous that it took a third of a football field for her to stop. Pretty obvious she was distracted by something.
    Problem is.. distracted is normal for a car these days, and as long a lawmakers are the same ones making these bonehead mistakes, change will be slow.

    Remids me of a while back I tried to get some data on how many Lawyers each year are arrested for DUI.
    and how many of those see any jail.

    Mostly, Get well Kris. You are Cherished.

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  • robert January 25, 2009 at 10:10 am


    Thats true but I have to see a sidewalk bicyclists behave as a pedestrian. I typically see them go through the intersection at full bicycle speed.

    This is brought about by ignorance and/or fear.

    Ignorance because they believe that riding on the sidewalk is safe.

    Fear because many people just want to get the hell on through the intersection as quickly as possible.

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  • matchu January 25, 2009 at 5:53 pm

    Schrauf (#39) thank you for the concise and thorough overview of the concerns why people should not be so particularly transfixed on the relatively minor issue of helmet use within the greater picture of bicyclist safety in a car-centric society. I wear a helmet myself whenever I bike, but I wish more people understood why it causes me and others to cringe when people say things like, “Yep, yep -another cyclist not wearing a helmet. It’s a shame..” Blaming the victim for someone else’s carelessness is always in bad taste I feel.

    Also, I used to walk around this particularly intersection for years and it’s scary. Despite being next to a middle school and thus a reduced-speed, school zone, people race through the area with alarming speed. Part of the problem is how much clear visibility drivers have. You can down the road in either direction with visual obstacles for half-a-mile. And given the wide nature of the road, people may feel emboldened to drive faster than is permitted under the law. Given this, I’m not sure how the driver did not see or anticipate the young cyclist. I hope the victim makes a thorough and full recovery. It’d be nice to have him survive into the future and give his input on the matter.

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  • matchu January 25, 2009 at 5:55 pm

    Sorry for a second post but I needed to clarify one of the sentences in second paragraph:

    “You can [see] down the road in either direction with[out] visual obstacles for half-a-mile (at least).”

    All right -fixed!

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  • Moo January 26, 2009 at 7:53 am

    I say she was talking on her cell phone…and is most likely a crappy driver on top of it.

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  • Jason January 26, 2009 at 9:12 am

    I was about Kris’s age the first time I was hit by a car while on a bicycle. Many miles and 25 years later, what shocks me a bit that this collision was at an intersection and the bicycle ended up well underneath the vehicle (well beyond the impact).

    If one “proceeds with caution” through an intersection, last-second braking might knock a cyclist off a bike with the bike ending up under the front bumper. Over the years, I’ve picked friends up from the ER after they were hit when a driver failed to yield at a stop. None of them had a car make it 30 yards beyond the intersection with the bike underneath.

    The Columbian photo really triggered that thinking in me. It’s as if the driver was still accelerating after she hit the cyclist, or was going quite fast at the point of impact. I guess that point is made, but will the authorities investigate?

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  • chelsea January 27, 2009 at 12:20 pm

    i cannot conceive of ANY situation in which it would take that long to realize you hit someone, after having supposedly just stopped at a stop sign. she HAD to have been hugely distracted or intoxicated. this is not okay. people need to pay attention or stay the hell out of the driver’s seat. it only takes one second to cause irreparable damage.

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  • Family Member of Kris February 1, 2009 at 2:54 pm

    As a family member of Kris I can tell you it is being investigated by the police. You all hit it on the nose. Yes the 6 ft tall 13 year old should have been wearing a helmet (of course to them it is not cool). We need to work on that for all for sure.
    As for the driver – Many questions – You didn’t feel a person and a bike under your car as you drug them 100 feet?
    Kris needs your prayers as he is still in a coma and in critical condition.

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  • Kevin February 28, 2009 at 7:32 am

    # 57

    I don’t know about Washington laws but I can tell you that Oregon does indeed have a speed limit in crosswalks for bikes.
    You may not travel faster than an ordinary walk when on a bike.
    citation here: http://short.to/1ay5

    Anyone who rides a bike should attend one of the BTA workshops and/or get a copy of Ray Thomas’ book “Pedal Power”. Invaluable information!

    Condolences to the bike rider.


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