Fatal crash in Northeast Portland

NE 106th and Weidler

This evening at about 5:30 pm, 49-year old Cary Bernick of Southeast Portland was killed while riding his bike on NE Weidler near the intersection with NE 106th in East Portland (map link).

The Portland Police Bureau say Bernick was riding against traffic on Weidler (which is one-way westbound at that location) and was “in a lane of traffic and not using the bicycle lane” when he was hit. It also appears from their statement that the man was riding on the south side of the street, opposite from the side with the bike lane. The PPB has also confirmed that the man was not wearing a helmet.

Story continues below

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Here’s more from a witness, as reported by The Oregonian:

“According to Ron Dean, who works in the area, the cyclist is someone he has seen collecting cans and bottles in the neighborhood.”

This is a view looking west on NE Weidler as it approaches NE 106th. The man who was killed would have been riding toward us on the left hand side.

This is very sad news. Just last week we held our monthly Get Together event in Outer Southeast and several of the people who showed up live near the area of this crash. One of the topics they shared was how daunting it can be to cross these major arterial streets. As a result, many people ride the wrong-way or on the sidewalk. We will never know why this man chose to ride the wrong way, but I hope people keep that in mind as they think about this tragedy.

This is the first fatal bike crash in Portland since the fall of 2007. There were no fatalities in 2008.

Stay tuned for more information as it becomes available.

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Maculsay
Maculsay
13 years ago

Three blocks from me. Folks are always riding against the one-way traffic on Weidler/Halsey. Pretty close to that new bike shop, though.

Krampus
Krampus
13 years ago

The clouds around 5:30 tonight were LOOMING.. it was very dark out at that time and I’d imagine some cyclists were caught without their lights. Always have your lights!

As bikesnob says, don’t be a bike salmon

John Steg
John Steg
13 years ago

My heart goes out to this poor fellow. As a biking resident of this neighborhood I’d like to echo the takeaway point made about the dangers of circumventing these big intersections due to their inconvenience — I’m guilty of this practice. Ride safe everyone.

joe adamski
joe adamski
13 years ago

I don’t know the guys age, but when I was a kid,we were told to ride facing traffic as it was safer. This misinformation is still out there.

I am still a proponent of some sort of skills testing/education. If we have to ‘share the road’ we better know what we are doing.

Kathleen McDade
13 years ago

Ditto what John said…I’m thinking through how I negotiate crossing Halsey northbound on 111th now.

chriswnw
chriswnw
13 years ago

Sounds like a ***deleted due to insensitive comment — Jonathan**. That street is only two lanes.

Joe Rowe
Joe Rowe
13 years ago

Email
theresebottomly@news.oregonian.com

Ask the Oregonian to report seat belt notes in every car accident if they continue to mention helmets in bike accidents.

Or ask them to kill their bias by leaving out details on helmets.

They love to mention the lack of helmets but don’t mention seat belts, or lack of, in most car accident reporting.

No mention of belts in these recent reports:

http://www.oregonlive.com/news/index.ssf/2009/04/dallas_man_killed_in_motorcycl.html

http://www.oregonlive.com/clackamascounty/index.ssf/2009/04/fatal_crash_closes_99e_in_milw.html

http://www.oregonlive.com/clackamascounty/index.ssf/2009/04/victim_identified_in_fatal_cra.html

http://www.oregonlive.com/news/index.ssf/2009/04/fatal_traffic_accident_blocks.html

http://www.oregonlive.com/news/index.ssf/2009/04/identities_released_in_sandy_d.html

Here is the cyclist death from today
http://www.oregonlive.com/news/index.ssf/2009/04/police_investigate_fatal_accid.html

Zaphod
13 years ago

Be safe out there. Can we hold off on snarky thoughtless commentary for just a moment when someone has died? Please.

Bjorn
Bjorn
13 years ago

Riding the wrong way without a helmet seems to have been a factor in this case, but I would like the City to take a hard look at the environmental factors at play here too. This cyclist was probably heading to either the fred meyer or the winco a couple blocks from the site of the collision to return cans. There is no good low traffic route to get to either of these locations. High speed arterial streets are much more dangerous to cyclists than slower low traffic residential streets.

old&slow
old&slow
13 years ago

joe, asking the oregonian to be a responsible news outlet is asking a lot. ***this sentence deleted due to a personal insult — Jonathan***

Rixtir
Rixtir
13 years ago

If the cyclist was in the lane of traffic, and riding against traffic, he obviously bears some responsibility for this crash. Despite any alleged negligence, what I’d like to know is what conditions existed that prevented the driver from safely avoiding hitting the cyclist?

b
b
13 years ago

i used to commute to and from my old job along this route. i would regularly see people riding against traffic (on weidler especially).
none of them ever seemed too concerned with their surroundings or safety.
they rode at a leisurely pace, yet slightly erratic (weaving about).
and every so often, you’d even get people in those electric wheelchairs doing the same thing.
i once saw a dude dragging a trash can behind his wheel chair against traffic down 148th.

i do my best to say something as i pass these people (and i admit sometimes i’m more polite than others). but honestly, i doubt most of them really care if they are endangering themselves and others.

outer NE and SE is chock-full of gnarly intersections (especially around i-205). i stared into the face of death ever morning and afternoon, trying not to be killed by the notorious right-on-red-at-30mph off/on ramp-ers. doesn’t matter if you’re walking your bike in the cross walk and have the signal… you are roadkill.

therefore, it’s up to you to pick your battles and negotiate these intersections responsibly.
and honestly, i feel theres a group of people who do….and another that could really care less.
i’m all for community education, especially with youth.
however, i also realize that some people will continue to choose to ride like a moron.
hairy intersection or not, no one has to resort to riding down weidler against traffic.

we always harp on drivers about not losing their cool about waiting a few extra seconds or minutes during their drive.
well as cyclists, we should remember the same thing.
sometimes lower traffic streets/ bike boulevards / etc may be a block or two out of our way… but is that extra 30 seconds really gonna be unbearable?
i mean i understand that you want to show off your new pink deep V’s all the way from SE 12th and Hawthorne down to 52nd. but why run the risk of getting doored, impeding traffic, angering motorists, etc… when you could easily hop over on salmon? i’m SURE even salmon has some sweet pedestrian babes to dig your bar spins!

TS
TS
13 years ago

The Oregonion mentions (the lack of a) helmet (which I don’t really care about), but says nothing about lights. What I really want to know was did the cyclist have a front headlight? Any lights or reflective material at all?

Condolences to the cyclist’s family, and to the driver, too. That’s going to be a traumatic memory all around.

Jonathan rightly asks the question we should all be asking: How can we reduce/prevent this from occuring to someone else?

Martinn Reis
13 years ago

Saddens very much me to read that so many people are automatically blaming the victim or making excuses for the driver. The fallen cyclist is not able to tell his side of the story, is he?

While riding against the traffic flow is usually risky that should not mean that you deserve to die or be hit.

My whole heart goes out to the family and friends.

In heaven, everyone rides a bicycle.

Jeff
Jeff
13 years ago

I detect a poorly veiled attempt by a few here to somehow relieve the cyclist of blame in this case, despite his clearly poor, poor choices. That said, it’s a sad state of affairs all around, and my heart goes out to the guy.

I personally resent the implication that because of some traffic routing and street design choices that have been very long in the making, that cyclists are “forced” to make the dangerous, reverse traffic choice he made… C’mon, there’s always a safer option than that. Get off and walk if you have to or go up and around a couple blocks… Personally responsibility and common sense STILL rule the day….

kgb
kgb
13 years ago

There is no excuse for riding in the manner described here.

Bent Bloke
Bent Bloke
13 years ago

This is a very sad reminder of why it is important to follow traffic regulations. Traffic laws are intended to make the streets safer for all.

My heart goes out to the family of the victim, and to the motorist, who must be hurting emotionally.

BB
BB
13 years ago

Why not just install a contra a flow bike lane? There is ample room.

matt picio
13 years ago

TS (#14) – While the lighting conditions may have been poor due to the weather that was moving through at the time, I’m not sure lighting was really relevant – the collision happened 3 hours before sunset, and it’s fairly common for people to ride during the day without lighting or reflective clothing. If the truck was running without lights on (also common during the day), reflective clothing wouldn’t provide any additional benefit.

Not trying to make excuses for the victim, but criticizing him for not having lights or day-glo while riding in the daytime smacks of the old “wear your helmet in the shower” argument.

The proximate cause is riding the wrong way on a one-way street, and the question is how do we encourage people not to do that?

My condolences to the family and friends of the deceased, and also to the driver who struck / was struck by him.

Mike
Mike
13 years ago

Tragic. And with sunset not ’till 8:15pm, I would also have been caught without a light at 5:30pm – if that was the case here since no one knows if he had a light or not.

While cyclists have every right not to wear helmets, everyone still should!!! They’ve twice saved my life.

resident
resident
13 years ago

This short 10 block section of one way couplet in the midst of two way thouroghfares is inconvienient for all modes of transport. I frequent several small businesses in the area and notice eratic and irrational behavior by all. Lots of cutting through parking lots at speed to avoid backtracking or sitting at a light. People just arent paying attention through there. This is a business district right off 2 major interstates with poor street design, not a lazy section of low traffic neighborhood streets.

So be safe, watch your surroundings, and take the extra 30 seconds to bike on the right side of the road and obey the traffic laws. Peace to all and happy safe cycling!

bahueh
bahueh
13 years ago

love it…folks here want to blame everything but the guy choosing to ride in the opposite direction of traffic…
news report last night said he simply swerved into the oncoming lane and was hit by a side view mirror of a large truck…

feel bad for the driver and all witnesses…from the interview I saw last night, they looked really shaken up by it after giving the guy CPR and watching him die…

old&slow
old&slow
13 years ago

J. Maus, you publish a flippant comment regarding a person’s death posted just hours after he died and then delete my comment where I just called out the person for being so callous? It’s your site but your editorial judgement seems kind of bizarre.


old&slow,

please point out the “flippant comment” you refer to and I will take a look at it.

You directly referred to another commenter as “a dick” and myself and another reader (who emailed me privately about it) did not feel it was appropriate.

sorry if you feel my judgment is “bizarre”. I have moderated about 80,000 comments so I feel I have a pretty good sense of how to right the ship when it starts to go off course.

Thanks,
–Jonathan Maus

Anonymous
Anonymous
13 years ago

I find it amazing that there are not more of these tragic accidents. There are ALOT of very bad cyclist around here. And even more bad drivers.

I’m sorry for the meaningless loss of human life. I really don’t have a clear picture of what happened, but people really need to be safe out there.

Wearing a helmet is common sense. Giving cautious regard to the flow of automotive traffic is common sense.

Adams Carroll (News Intern)
13 years ago

Want to add that just because some people (including myself) want to discuss how the bicycle facility could be better, it doesn’t mean we are completely absolving the actions of the man who was killed.

Obviously, he likely made a poor choice (although we’ll never know what exactly happened because he’s dead)… but a system that only accommodates one mode of travel is also a poor choice.

Glen B
Glen B
13 years ago

While there may be a bias from the media when reporting helmet usage, I do find the information helpful.

I’m always trying to gauge the level of risk I take, and minimize it while still enjoying cycling. Yesterday for example, because of the low light, I did ride my commute with a yellow jacket and front and rear lights.

When I read about an accident, I want to know about the rider and his/her safety choices. It helps me evaluate my own behavior.

While you can argue the point, I observe that most of the careful and serious cyclists that I know and respect ALLWAYS wear helmets. If you show up for a group ride with the Portlandvelo club for example, without a helmet, someone will either lend you one or ask you to come back another day (with helmet).

Helmet use is sort of an ‘indicator’ that helps the reader to understand the choices being made by the cyclist. The same can be said for reporting blood alcohol level or lighting.

Ride safely and have fun,
Glen

old&lsow
old&lsow
13 years ago

I thought the comment no. 7 about it being a “darwin” incident right after if happened was pretty flippant. Comment no. 9 also thought the same.

thanks old&slow, I’ll check those out right away. — Jonathan

Paul
Paul
13 years ago

I would like to comment on something b mentions in a post above. Finally someone points out the situation with people riding down major/busy roads. I have biked as my main transportation for the last 8 years in this city. I have only had 2 or 3 close encounters and they where all minor. I am not trying to say I am invincible I am just pointing out the fact that I never ride down any busy roads bike lane or not. Actually I am not even really a fan of bike lanes. I think they give you a false sense of security when they really just put you in danger most times.

Almost every destination in this city can be reached by taking back roads and only crossing busy ones. And, when I cross if I have to I get off my bike and walk, run or do whatever it takes. Every time I see people on Hawthorne, Alberta, Powell, MLK…… I get so frustrated because it is so simple. I would even vote to ban bikes on some of these major/busy roads.

Jason
Jason
13 years ago

I can’t agree more with John Roe (#8) and disagree more with Glen B (#27).

Much media and police bias is evident and reinforced when helmet use is noted. It is often irrelevant to the accident and is used as a way to shift blame to the cyclist, regardless of his/her error. It’s almost like blaming a rape victim because she was wearing a skirt.

Seat belt use is often noted in auto accidents, but seat belts are required by law and clearly save lives.

Lack of a helmet does not cause nor is it indicative of any choice made in operating a bicycle on a roadway. A better analogy for cars is airbags. How would this sound, “The driver of the truck clearly ran the red light and collided with a pontiac grand prix, severely injuring the occupants. The grand prix that was being driven did not have airbags.”

Is the statement about airbags relevant to the crash? Perhaps, but lack of airbags does cause accidents nor indicate poor judgment in operating a vehicle. Since there is already an inherent bias against cyclists in the eyes of many motorists and law enforcement officials, it does not help anyone to note absence of a helmet.

Besides, does anyone really think a bike helmet will protect them from a 4000+ pound vehicle? Mine protects me to some extent from impacts with pavement if I fall, but it is clearly and explicitly not designed to protect against impact from a moving automobile. Helmets are tested as if you fell and hit your head on the road.

DUH!
DUH!
13 years ago

I would say there’s a big difference between someone dying as a ‘victim’ in a car crash and someone orchestrating the car crash with their lack of judgement and using oncoming traffic to commit suicide.

If one makes the choice to drive head on into a truck, a foam helmet is NOT going to make a difference! EVER!

Let’s check in with reality real quick and see what’s going on:

Q-Is it OK to ride my bike into oncoming traffic on a super busy arterial street even if I have my helmet and front light on?
A-NO!

Q-Is it OK to drive my car the wrong way down a one way street if I have my lights on?
A-NO!

Q-Should we expect a life threatening situation if one were to choose to ignore all traffic laws and drive ANY vehicle down a one way street into oncoming traffic?
A-YES

Q-Does a person value their life and the safety of others if they choose to endanger themselves with blatant and obvious disregard for their surroundings?
A-NO

From reports I heard this morning the cyclist was a man in his late 40’s! And from where I stand any grown adult who drives their vehicle the wrong way down a one way street is NOT a victim, they are the instigator of the accident – all others involved, the driver, and the witnesses are the victims.

Like it or not, we are all responsible for our OWN safety, and it is extremely irresponsible and foolish to expect others to be more aware, and take better care of those who obviously don’t care for themselves or their own well being.

I have a difficult time calling this man a ‘victim’ especially when there was a bike lane heading East on the other side of the block on Halsey. I have no issue naming him as the responsible party though.

I’m not happy any one is dead, but taking responsibility isn’t always fun – but you usually don’t die or endanger others by being responsible for your actions – this man would still be alive if he bothered to care for himself.

lady
lady
13 years ago

this is very sad. I was in the car with my father and we seen this man lying down on the ground with thwo big gases on in his forehead and another on his chin there was glass everywhere on the ground and this man was breathing very hard. We seen a cab van stopped witch is most likely what hit him this man was also breathing very heavily. some one at the 77 bus stop then ran over to try and prop his head up with a shirt to stop a lil bit of the breathing. I couldnt sleep knowing that this man that I seen laying there was not okay. I am so sorry to hear that this happend. it is very sad he was not wearing a helmet this could have been prevented dif he would have rode on the other side of the stree.

lady
lady
13 years ago

What was meant to be said is that he had two big gashes and the man wanted to stop some of the bleeding

bryndildaddy
bryndildaddy
13 years ago

[i]This is the first fatal bike crash since the fall of 2007. There were no fatalities in 2008.[/i]

Actually, wasn’t the kid in Beaverton killed by the TriMet bus in 2008?

SkidMark
SkidMark
13 years ago

While it is a tragedy,the cold hard reality is that is is the result of ignorance. He was riding against traffic, many people who do this think they are supposed to, they think it’s safer to see the cars coming toward them. In some rural areas in the US it’s still on the lawbooks to ride against traffic. People still teach their children to ride against traffic, and on the sidewalk. Two things need to be done, people need to be educated, and it needs to be enforced, and by enforced I means a verbal warning with an explanation of what the laws are.

Mike
Mike
13 years ago

There were several deaths in the Portland area in 2008, but non in Portland proper, that’s the distinction when they say “no Portland bicycle deaths in 2008.”

SkidMark
SkidMark
13 years ago

The thing about saying that a cyclist wasn’t wearing a helmet is that there is the implication that they would still be alive if they had been wearing one, and that is not always true.

Mike
Mike
13 years ago

Joe #8 – Motorcycles do not have seat belts.

E
E
13 years ago

Articles which point out that a dead cyclist was not wearing a helmet make me feel better about wearing mine. This may be a false sense of security. I have read several articles which point out that those killed in a traffic accident were not wearing seatbelts – as I recall these are typically stories of carloads of teenagers going off the road or something like that. Don’t know if it makes any difference.

I feel bad for the driver. I’m sure he was completely unprepared for a bicycle coming toward him in his lane like that. I’m sorry we will never know why the cyclist made that choice, since we will never know what could be done to prevent others from doing the same.

Steven J
Steven J
13 years ago

attempting to squelch my fears, I attempt to reason away the life lost here, only to be reminded again of how truly short life is.

My heart goes out to the spirit of Cary.
much love to his family in mourn.

in the end you can only do so much to promote your own safety.
And why I get so furious at drivers throwing around 3000lbs of steel seemingly unaware.

KruckyBoy
KruckyBoy
13 years ago

I personally think that it is completely relevant to know whether a biker was wearing a helmet or whether a driver was wearing a seat belt. While neither is a guarantee of safety, both are personal choices which GREATLY increase the chances of surviving many types of accidents.

#35- there is the implication that they would still be alive if they had been wearing one

I personally think there is the implication that they would have increased their chances of being alive. A helmet saved me from a traumatic head injury in December. It was a personal decision, and because of it, you DIDN’T read about me on Bike Portland, or the Oregonian.

Either way, any fatal crash sucks no matter who is at fault, or who should of but didn’t do something.

Joe Rowe
Joe Rowe
13 years ago

We face a deadly combo of bias from both reporters and cops. Cops write reports on bike deaths/injuries, and the press love to flame that bias to sell papers. It often becomes police spokespersons blaming the dead cyclist before any facts are known, and later the papers claim it is not their fault “because the cops said it was true”.

Cops go easy on victims in cars, and very often don’t bother to make note of the many laws broken related to the accident, distracted by cell, too fast for conditions, lack of seatbelts etc. Seat belts should be noted in every accident report. My guess is that reporters leave out mention of belts even when the cops include it. Why? For a variety of reasons, including angry calls from the family of the diseased.

Ms. Bottomly from the Oregonian told me they simply report the relevant info that the cops give them. But it’s not that simple.

Here’s a good bikeportland story on cop bias
http://tinyurl.com/bikebias1

scoot
scoot
13 years ago

RIP, Mr. Bernick. For all we know, he may have been momentarily confused, thought he was on Halsey and realized he was screwed in the same instant as the driver. I once made a quick right to escape a really hostile driver freak behind me – right onto a one-way coming toward me. There were no cars in sight, but it sure scared me. My instinct was to hop onto the sidewalk, fast, so there I was, going the wrong way on a one-way AND on the sidewalk. Things go wrong and end badly all the time.

SkidMark
SkidMark
13 years ago

I don’t think most people put that much thought into it. They just think that a helmet would have saved the rider’s life. People equate helmets as some sort of magic shield against injury and death. I’ve seen post about bicycle and motorcycle fatalies where the rider has died of multiple injuries, like head injuries and internal organ injuries, and you still get a bunch of helmet zealots parroting how the person would still be alive if they had been wearing a helmet. Ther is nothing to bear this out. You can still die from head injuries, helmet or no.

BTW I wear a helmet more often than not. You’re lucky a helmet has only saved you from a traumatic head injury once, I’d be dead about a hundred times over.

Paulo
Paulo
13 years ago

#27, Glen B: I’m not sure this guy was a serious cyclist, or even a cyclist at all. Perhaps he was just a person riding a bike, many of which aren’t experts on cycling safety, gear, proper routes and such.

lothar
lothar
13 years ago

It’s interesting to see how an article about a guy who seemed to do everything right to provoke a collision devolves in to a debate about the media and the right not to wear personnel protection devices. I think it strays from the moral of the story . I think it cheapens what happened and keeps one in denial that he or she is just as much, or more responsible for their safety than the opposing forces.

huey lewis
huey lewis
13 years ago

#15 no one *deserves* to be hit or killed when doing things in traffic that are in stark opposition to what you should be doing in that traffic. but it’s not shocking. and if you are hit it stands to reason that you might very likely be the one responsible for being hit/killed.

also, there is no such place as heaven so let’s focus on biking and biking safely here in portland, on earth, in reality.

Rixtir
Rixtir
13 years ago

The problem with simplistic assignments of blame (see post #30 for a good example) is that they make it seductively easy to turn off our questioning minds.

It’s possible that this cyclist was 100% to lame for his own fatal accident, but the mere fact that he was riding against traffic doesn’t give us enough information to make that determination. There was another party– the driver– involved, so it’s proper, essential, even, to ask “Was there anything that the driver could have done to avoid hitting the cyclist (who was undeniably negligent if he was riding against traffic)”?

Did the cyclist truly swerve into the driver, as was apparently reported on the news? And who reported that the cyclist swerved into the driver– an independent eyewitness, or the driver? If that report is based on the driver’s statement, rather than the statement of an independent eyewitness, I think it’s important not to just accept it at face value. After all, “he swerved into me” is one of the two main excuses drivers use when they hit a cyclist (the other being “I didn’t see him.”). Those two excuses cover a multitude of driver’s sins, and whenever a driver resorts to one of those excuses, it’s incumbent upon us to examine it for truth, because a dead cyclist can’t tell his side of what happened. On the other hand, if independent eyewitnesses confirmed that they saw the cyclist riding against traffic, and that they saw the cyclist swerve into the truck, then, and only then, can we be certain that all of the fault in this crash belongs to the cyclist.

chad
chad
13 years ago

We can armchair quarterback sometime into next week about who’s at fault and to what extent, but I’m seriously interested in the point Jonathan is trying to stress which is if the lack of bike facilities could have contributed to this tragic event.

When my commute used to primarily be the N Williams/N Vancouver bike lanes I believed all of Portland was nothing but bike awesome.

Since October, due to a job change I now work north of Columbia Blvd off of 33rd Ave and am now forced to navigate my way across Columbia Blvd twice a day using sidewalks and partially off-road paths while semi trucks and cars drive six inches from me at 50mph.

Yes, I know the city would like me to use the 33rd Ave bridge to cross Columbia and Lombard but has anyone in the Office of Transportation even looked at that bridge and it’s complete lack of bike facilities and high vehicle speeds?

I know I’m not alone in having trouble crossing Columbia, and back to the point, I know I’m not alone in having to ride through parts of town with little or no bike facilities.

True, riding the wrong way probably led to this death, but is it possible that this guy forced to “be in the wrong” by the lack of bike infastructure in a part of town that is mostly ignored by the Office of Transpotation?

Don’t get me wrong, PDX is still bike heaven, but this incident will hopefully bring awareness to the lack of bike infastructure in “non-pearl district” areas of town.

xiousgeonz
13 years ago

It is good to hear the question “why would he ride against traffic?” instead of the unspoken “well, sigh, it’s a shame, but he *was* riding against traffic.” We should not be accepting loss of life without protest.