Rider injured on Hawthorne Bridge shares her side of the story

Posted by on May 11th, 2009 at 9:01 am

Erica Rothman as of this morning.
(Self-portrait)

24-year old North Portland resident Erica Rothman was on her way to get a tattoo on Wednesday evening when a collision with another bike rider on the westbound side of the Hawthorne Bridge sent her to the Emergency Room (read accounts from an eyewitness and from the man she collided with).

Fortunately, despite tumbling onto the bridge’s coarse metal grating, Rothman sustained only scrapes and bruises. She was discharged from the ER Wednesday night with 17 stitches on her face, two staples in her elbow, and some major road rash on her shoulder.

Story continues below

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“My final recollection is of a dude, a young guy on a bike, speeding by me very quickly… we knocked handlebars… I lost my balance and was trying to compensate… and then I saw the grate coming at me…”
— Erica Rothman

On the phone Saturday she said her face was very swollen. “I look like a manatee,” she said, and in an email she wrote, “It’s so swollen my mom may not recognize me.” Despite her injuries Rothman is in good spirits. “Day by day I’m getting better,” she said, “It’s traumatizing and inconvenient, but it will heal with time.”

Rothman is thankful she’ll make a full recovery and expects to be up and riding again in a few weeks, but she’s concerned about her medical bills and the loss of her beloved bike.

Rothman says her memory of the incident is a bit hazy due to the painkillers she was given at the scene by EMTs, but from what she can recall, her crash was caused by one man’s dangerous riding.

According to Rothman, she was riding along in the middle of the bridge pathway when she noticed some pedestrians ahead. “I like to give pedestrians a lot of space,” she recalled, and so she started to veer over to the left. Before doing so, she said she quickly checked over her shoulders and saw a few bikers, “but no one that seemed to be coming up super fast.”

hawthorne bridge scene

Heading east on the
Hawthorne Bridge.
(Photo © J. Maus)

“My final recollection,” she continued, “is of a dude, a young guy on a bike, speeding by me very quickly…we knocked handlebars…I lost my balance and was trying to compensate…and then I saw the grate coming at me…”

Rothman said she didn’t recall hearing any signal that the man was approaching, but that it’s possible she just didn’t hear it. “I’m willing to give him the benefit of the doubt that he did signal.”

After she came to, she remembers that the man who caused the wreck stopped to check in with her and the two exchanged information. Rothman later called the other rider and the two spoke briefly about the incident.

Shortly after the crash, in an attempt to set the record straight after we published an eyewitness account of the crash, the man who collided with Rothman offered his side of the story. He said it was just an unfortunate “accident” and that Rothman, “turned her bicycle to the left and our handle bars slightly hit each other” just as he began to pass her.

At this time, Rothman is trying to decide her course of action. “For my part, all I want is my bills paid, my bike fixed, and an apology.”

“It won’t be easy, the first couple times I think it will be a bit of a shake-up… but you gotta do what you gotta do.”
— On riding across the bridge again

She said she isn’t angry or vengeful toward the man, but she does feel that it’s important that recognition is given that he was “biking very dangerously”.

Even though she realizes the man did not intentionally cause her any hardship, she said, “I don’t want to take this guy to court with the intent to take him to the cleaners or anything. These things happen, but at the same time there is some culpability here. I do feel there was some fault.”

Rothman is an experienced bike rider. She does not own a car and she logs about 100 miles a week on her 11 mile, round-trip commute from her home in North Portland’s Kenton Neighborhood to downtown Portland where she works as an administrative assistant in a residential drug and alcohol rehabilitation facility.

When asked what type of rider she was, Rothman said she’s definitely an enthusiast and fits “somewhere between the hipster and the REI category.”

Rothman has not yet talked to a lawyer and said she doesn’t really know her options at this point. She plans to file a police report and then take it from there.

Rothman plans to start attending law school in the fall at Lewis and Clark College, a commute that will take her across the Hawthorne every morning. “It won’t be easy,” she said, thinking about confronting her fears of riding across the bridge every day, “the first couple times I think it will be a bit of a shake-up… but you gotta do what you gotta do.”

One thing she knows for sure is that she’ll never bike without a helmet again. She had one on during this recent crash, but told me she sometimes (used to) go without.

With medical bill stacking up, and the loss of her sole means of transportation, Rothman sounded quite concerned about what lies ahead. Rothman says her frame is straight and she can still ride it. However, she estimates damages to be about $300-400.

If you’d like to donate to help Erica with her bike and her medical bills, we’ve set up a little PayPal button (this goes through BikePortland and all funds will be forwarded to Ms. Rothman):





*UPDATES:
— KATU-TV was out on the bridge Friday evening to cover the issue. They did a nice piece with interviews from riders and from PBOT employees:

NOTE: We love your comments and work hard to ensure they are productive, considerate, and welcoming of all perspectives. Disagreements are encouraged, but only if done with tact and respect. If you see a mean or inappropriate comment, please contact us and we'll take a look at it right away. Also, if you comment frequently, please consider holding your thoughts so that others can step forward. Thank you — Jonathan

138 Comments
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    Lillian May 11, 2009 at 9:12 am

    Well wishes for a quick recovery!

    And Jonathan, it might be helpful to add what size bicycle she’d need.

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    amanda May 11, 2009 at 9:19 am

    Oy. How scary. I remember after an incident with a car while biking (I did not get injured) that it took me awhile to get back up to speed and bike normally with the normal amount of precaution. So, my advice to her is to take that part a bit slow.

    Anyway, best wishes for a full recovery and few long-term repercussions.

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    buzz May 11, 2009 at 9:21 am

    Hopefully someone has a bike they are not using and can give (or at least make her a great deal on) to Erica. If I had an extra one, I would do it.

    Glad to hear you are doing better and hope you are able to get riding soon!

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    Allison May 11, 2009 at 9:25 am

    I was talking to my fiance about this – I’m not sure this would have helped in the least, but I know there are times when I would have appreciated it – what if it was customary to acknowledge a call of “On your left/right” with “Thank you” or “go ahead!” I try to do this anyway when I’m being passed – but the idea is, if you don’t get a verbal response, maybe repeat louder? Frequently I call “on your left” and I know quite well they didn’t hear me – especially joggers/pedestrians sometimes have headphones on and I shock the heck out of them when I do pass. Maybe if he’d realized Rothman hadn’t heard him, he’d have given her a wider berth or repeated himself and she might have had a chance to react.

    Anyway, I for one intend to respond verbally when someone verbally signals a passing – if you think it could help the general safety, maybe you can, too. Think of it as the co-cyclists’ version of making eye contact with a turning driver.

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    Anonymous 2 May 11, 2009 at 9:26 am

    Let’s see if Anonymous Rider steps up and does the right thing by Ms. Rothman.

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    Pete May 11, 2009 at 9:28 am

    Get well soon. Is anyone setting up a recovery fund to help with hospital bills and a new bike?

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    Ben May 11, 2009 at 9:32 am

    If you don’t have a bell on your bike and you ride in the city, go get one and put it on. It’s the unequivocal bike sound, fulfills your legal requirement to warn peds you’re passing, and helps other bikers too. Use your bell! For great justice!

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    gb May 11, 2009 at 9:32 am

    Glad that Erica is healing.
    And that she emphasized the importance of helmets.
    I had a tumbled last Friday, with a hard knock of my head to the pavement. The only thing that saved me from a serious concussion and an ambulance ride was my helmet.

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    indy May 11, 2009 at 9:33 am

    He said it was just an unfortunate “accident” and that Rothman, “turned her bicycle to the left and our handle bars slightly hit each other” just as he began to pass her.

    This is the critical piece of information. He is at fault. No riders should ever be close enough to touch, and since he was overtaking her, it is his responsibility to make sure he can pass safely.

    Quite amazing he made the comments he did without an attorney present, it’s rather self-incriminating.

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    Paul Tay May 11, 2009 at 9:42 am

    The various charges on the passing bike driver: reckless driving, passing too close, and speed too fast for conditions.

    I would definitely hate to be the passing, outta-control HEEL. According to Oregon statutes, bicyclists are DRIVERS of VEHICLES. We should be held to the same accountability as other DRIVERS of VEHICLES.

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    Burk May 11, 2009 at 9:45 am

    Here is your chance to do the right thing anonymous bike dude…

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    Matt Picio May 11, 2009 at 9:49 am

    I hope that Erica’s recovery goes quickly and smoothly.

    Jonathan, since the frame is straight and it sounds like the bike is repairable – can you publish the name of whichever bike shop Erica takes it to? When I had my collision last year, a collection of friends anonymously paid a large part of my repair costs directly to the shop I had it at. Perhaps one of the local bike shops would be willing to accept some payments on Erica’s behalf from those who’d like to contribute to fixing the bike.

    Best wishes on your recovery Erica!

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    Paul Tay May 11, 2009 at 9:53 am

    I take exception to the KATU remark about cyclist forced into “traffic.” Bikes ARE traffic.

    The only thing keeping me from rolling with motor vehicles on the Hawthorne is the steel-grated surface.

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    Jonathan Maus (Editor) May 11, 2009 at 9:59 am

    Matt,

    Her bike is at the Community Cycling Center. They don’t have anything set up to take in donations from the community for a specific thing like this.

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    peejay May 11, 2009 at 10:02 am

    In other news, PBOT held Motorist Education Events throughout the city this past weekend at the scenes of all recent motor vehicle crashes. The estimated 150+ locations, staffed with all available personnel as well as volunteers from the “motorist community,” provided safe pull-off areas for drivers to complete their mobile calls and finish applying make-up. Airbags were installed free of charge to vehicles that did not have them, and lights and brakes were tested for operability.

    “We’re not trying to assign blame here to any of the individual drivers involved in these shocking incidents,” PBOT spokesman Chevy McDrivealot said. “We just want to hold the entire driving community to a higher standard. Perhaps we have to consider a radically new driver certification test.” McDrivealot also said that at seven recent fatal crash sites, the Bureau was evaluating whether to ban car traffic entirely in the immediate area.

    Crews from all local TV stations covered these driver education events, where the news coverage included interviews with residents who questioned why driving is still allowed within city limits after this latest wave of motorist-motorist crashes.

    One motorist interviewed at the event on SE Morrison St and 7th Ave said “I’ve been driving for years, and it’s just not getting any better out there. I hope the city does something to protect us from ourselves. It’s crazy out there.”

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    DJ Hurricane May 11, 2009 at 10:03 am

    Best wishes for a full recovery, Erica.

    I still don’t understand how one looks over one’s shoulder immediately before making a decision to move left to pass (the pedestrian) and then fails to see the approaching rider.

    I also don’t understand how, if a rider passes and bumps you from the left, you then start or continue moving leftward over 3 feet (the approximate width of passing rider) to fall off the sidewalk.

    My guess is that Erica will have a particularly good grasp of the concept of “contributory negligence” by the time she gets to her torts class at L&C.

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    Kt May 11, 2009 at 10:09 am

    +1, Indy, about the responsibilities of the overtaking rider.

    Glad to hear her bike is mostly okay, too! Get better soon, Erica!

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    Rixtir May 11, 2009 at 10:10 am

    Probably a better grasp than you’ve got, DJ. The act of falling after somebody bumps you isn’t “contributory negligence.”

    No shortage of “blame the victim” types here.

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    Zaphod May 11, 2009 at 10:12 am

    I understand how one might look over ones shoulder and not see an approaching rider if they’re going fairly fast or obscured by the complex gratework and motor traffic in the background.

    I also understand how if an overtaking rider touches my handlebars that might cause me to steer left with little choice in correcting.

    My guess is that Erica is a pretty good rider after logging so many miles. It also seems she is rather strong of character as she “doesn’t want to take him to the cleaners” but instead just wants what is fair.

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    Rixtir May 11, 2009 at 10:12 am

    And glad to hear you’re OK, Erica. Manatees are great, aren’t they?

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    Idegen May 11, 2009 at 10:14 am

    DJ Hurricane, good thing for Erica that Oregon is a comparative negligence state and not a contributory negligence state.

    However, I do tend to agree with the rest of your post.

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    Paul Tay May 11, 2009 at 10:19 am

    #15, peejay, reminds me of this Street Roots issue!

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    peejay May 11, 2009 at 10:21 am

    Get better soon, Erica. And yes, it’s almost always the overtaking rider’s fault. No reason to think it’s not in this case.

    But please, is the amount of coverage appropriate for the scale of the incident?

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    DJ Hurricane May 11, 2009 at 10:24 am

    Rixter (#18),

    I’m not blaming the “victim.” I really don’t understand how you go 3+ feet to the left after someone bumps you from the left. Do you?

    Idegen (#21), I think it might be bad for Erica that Oregon is comparative negligence. Whereas there might not be a finding of contributory negligence for failing to see the rider approaching, she might get her award reduced for that. But obviously, that’s just speculation.

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    philbertorex May 11, 2009 at 10:26 am

    Hang in there Erica. I had a crash under similar circumstances three years ago. It was really hard the first few times to ride past the place where I crashed. But after awhile, the anxiety disappeared and I began enjoying the ride again. So, once your bike is ready, ride and overcome.

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    naomi May 11, 2009 at 10:27 am

    peejay: the amount of coverage is totally appropriate because this story is very educational for some riders, and a reminder on safety issues for others. There is a lesson to be learned here.

    I feel so angry at the cyclist who caused this though. He needs to step out from behind his anonymity and pay for Erica’s bike repairs and bills. He knows he’s at fault.. he knows it for sure.

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    Diogo May 11, 2009 at 10:36 am

    It’s pretty obvious that most people have a bias against fast riders and pro- whoever sounds like a victim (that is, got injured). That, to me, is the only evident thing about this case.

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    Jonathan Maus (Editor) May 11, 2009 at 10:36 am

    peejay wrote:

    “is the amount of coverage appropriate for the scale of the incident?

    peejay,

    we first covered this issue in Dec. of 2006. Last summer, the community again raised the question and the county said they were looking into solutions.

    Now, a serious crash has happened. The crash could have been fatal and we all know it was inevitable.

    bike/ped traffic is going up all the time and this is one of the most highly bike trafficked bridges in the country.

    I think, given all that, that this is an important story.

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    Rixtir May 11, 2009 at 10:39 am

    EVen the rider who made the unsafe pass admits that she lost control of her bike after their handlebars touched. That’s how she went 3 feet to the left. And blaming her for the crash is “blaming the victim.”

    If it were a contributory negligence state, she would only win her (hypothetical) case if the rider who passed her were 100% at fault. If she was found to be at fault in any amount– even 1%– she would lose her case.

    In contrast, in a comparative negligence state, she wins her (hypothetical) case as long as the other rider is more than 50% at fault. Of course, her award for damages will be reduced by the percentage of fault that she bears for the crash.

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    DJ Hurricane May 11, 2009 at 10:39 am

    I agree, Jonathan.

    I think peejay’s point, if I may, was that given the rate of use, there is actually a remarkable lack of serious user conflicts on the Hawthorne. And just focusing on the one problem we know about may make it seem otherwise. Nevertheless, as I say, an issue worthy of close coverage.

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    naomi May 11, 2009 at 10:44 am

    Diogo,

    Yes, people who race across the bridge, trying to squeeze past people without having the room to do so and end up causing “accidents” for other cyclists… yeah, I’m biased against those riders. Proudly so.

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    DJ Hurricane May 11, 2009 at 10:47 am

    Rixter, I can see how someone bumping you could cause you to lose control momentarily. But I can’t see how it would cause the result here.

    Are you saying that you have no obligation to look over your shoulder before moving left to pass? If not, then I can see why you conclude no fault by Erica. If you agree with me that you do have such an obligation, have you met it by falsely concluding no one is passing you?

    And really your accusing me of “blaming the victim” is getting sorta silly. I am reaching a reasoned conclusion. If you disagree, fine. But do we really need to make it about who’s blaming who and what agenda they have, or can we just have a conversation about this?

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    John Lascurettes May 11, 2009 at 10:55 am

    @Allison (#4):

    I do that (acknowledge a passer’s call) too when I can. A simple thumbs up or a quick “okay” sign with my left hand is great for both letting the passer know that I heard them and that I really appreciate them giving me the audible. I cannot stand it when I get buzzed close on N Williams with zero audible, especially when I’m ringing my bell about to overtake another cyclist too.

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    lacorota May 11, 2009 at 10:56 am

    Wish you a healthy and speedy recovery. I’ll opine that after a few years’ inner city commuting, I’m convinced that road rage makes no distinctions . . . SUV, Dodge Ram, Beemer, or retro-bicycle.

    The only difference is the weapon of choice. The selfish attitude is consistent across the board.

    Why can’t we slow the F—k down during peak hours for the short span of a bridge?

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    Matt Picio May 11, 2009 at 10:58 am

    DJ (#31) – Erica stated that she looked over her shoulder and judged that the riders behind her weren’t coming on fast enough to be a danger.

    She was going around a pedestrian, the blame is clearly on the overtaking cyclist, who should have slowed his approach and accounted for the possibility that she’d be far enough to the left to prevent safe passing.

    Your reasoned conclusion is fallacious – it doesn’t fit the known facts.

    As for how does someone go 3 feet left after a collision – it’s obviously never happened to you. Once you lose your balance, and especially if after the initial contact Erica’s front wheel contacted the other cyclist’s back wheel, recovery can be very difficult, and the bike can easily travel 3′ or more to the side.

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    DJ Hurricane May 11, 2009 at 11:03 am

    So Matt (#34), you’re saying that if you’re passing me and and I want to move into your path to pass someone, look back and judge that the you are not approaching me fast enought to be a danger, then we collide, I have no fault?

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    Bob_M May 11, 2009 at 11:04 am

    DJ Hurricane #31

    the result could occur by countersteering. Next time you are riding and there is no traffic, try a little experiment: gently push out on your right handlebar. This initiates a right turn. Push out on the left: left turn. The bump by a faster rider would push out on the left bar, countersteering the victums bike into a left turn. Strange but true

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    Rixtir May 11, 2009 at 11:11 am

    She lost control, and likely overcompensated (she says “I tried to compensate”). It happens– and the person who bumped her is still at fault, even of she overcompensated.

    She also says she did a quick shoulder-check, and saw nobody coming up on her “super fast.” In a hypothetical case, it would be up to the trier of fact– a judge or a jury– to decide if her shoulder check was adequate under the “reasonable person” standard. My guess is that her shoulder-check would meet the reasonable person standard, and once she’s met her duty, it would be up to the person passing her to pass in a safe manner.

    So, according to her, we have a cyclist approaching pedestrians, looking over her shoulder, and seeing nobody coming up on her, preparing to move left to pass the pedestrians. And between the time she checks, and the time she begins to pass the pedestrians, another cyclist passes her, “speeding by me very quickly.” And that account of him riding faster than the other cyclists on the bridge is borne out both by the eyewitness, and by the account the anonymous cyclist gave. Present those accounts to the trier of fact, and you are most likely going to get a finding that she met her duty to make a safe pass, and he did not.

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    Matt Picio May 11, 2009 at 11:15 am

    DJ (#35) – That’s correct, as the overtaking cyclist it’s my responsibility to wait until I can safely pass. That’s the law, and it’s common sense and common courtesy.

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    Idegen May 11, 2009 at 11:19 am

    Rixtir, I agree if you only presented the Erica’s facts to the trier, then she would likely win. However, there are many facts that are not clear in any of the stories and there are some conflicting facts between the three stories. I think a careful trier would have to consider things like the actual speed of both parties, whether Erica just glanced casually or made a careful effort to see what was behind her before moving over, whether the warning given by the passing cyclist gave proper notice, how minor the bumping of the handlebars was, and so on. Unless more witnesses come forward, I don’t know if we are going to resolve these things on this forum, and I think it is best left up to a court rather than making judgments here.

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    Phr3dly May 11, 2009 at 11:19 am

    DJ, I too am puzzled by the exact details of the incident. Personally I have chalked it up to fuzzy recollections by all involved.

    But to answer your immediate question, if a rider on your left bumps your bars, your bars will turn right. When your bars turn right, you will turn very quickly and sharply to the left. If the other rider was moving quickly and is past you, it’s not at all surprising that you will end up in the road.

    Not saying that’s exactly what happened here. Just that it could explain the seeming discrepancy.

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    Anonymous May 11, 2009 at 11:28 am

    Two different issues here.

    1. Passing when it is not safe to do so.

    2. Changing lanes when it is not safe to do so.

    Both are the responsibility of the person making the maneuver.

    Now in this case Ms. Rothman could be found guilty of the bad lane change since she was changing her direction of travel. This would assume you could say there are distinct lanes of travel in the MUP.

    The anonymous cyclist when starting to pass could be considered doing so in a safe manner because without Ms. Rothman’s changing lanes there would not have been a collision.

    Now take the Basic Rule and Apply it to this case and it points both cyclists not riding for the conditions presented by the MUP. Due to the way in which the path is used by both pedestrian and cyclist, a cyclist would have to ride knowing that other cyclists are going to maneuver to avoid pedestrians and other users of the path. Thus making both passing and lane changing a questionable maneuver.

    So could fault lie equally with both parties?

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    Michael M. May 11, 2009 at 11:31 am

    How is there enough room on the Hawthorne bike path to pass anyone riding in the cycling lane? It’s essentially one lane — there shouldn’t be any passing going on. If you’re cycling in the area marked for pedestrians and you’re coming up on pedestrians, as it appears Ms. Rothman was and did, then absolutely you should look over your shoulder to ascertain whether any cyclists are coming up in the cycling lane behind you, before you move over into it. That’s not a 100% guarantee that you’ll see them, or be able to get an accurate enough assessment of their speed. OTOH, whatever the speed of the second rider, unless the second rider is practically on top of you when you move in the lane, he or she should be slowing down rather than attempting to pass you. It sounds like Mr. Anonymous was trying to pass Ms. Rothman when he shouldn’t have been and easily could not have. I fail to see how this possibly can involve any negligence on Ms. Rothman’s part.

    I think I will henceforth refrain from riding in the pedestrian area at all, even when there aren’t any pedestrians around. I usually move over, to let faster cyclists by, but its too dangerous when there are jerks like Mr. Anonymous who haven’t mastered the concepts of sharing and courtesy.

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    Jim F May 11, 2009 at 11:35 am

    I stay off of the Hawthorne Bridge and the entire Riverbank Esplanade during the good weather months — too many people out strolling. I realize some folks have no choice and can’t avoid the bridge, but people like the speedster who caused this accident need to slow the F— down and be careful. This time it was Erica. Next time it might be a 5-year-old kid.

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    pat h May 11, 2009 at 11:49 am

    “…painkillers she was given at the scene by EMTs…”

    EMT-Basics do not give “painkillers”. _Paramedics_ would. Please correct this.

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    Rixtir May 11, 2009 at 11:51 am

    Idegen, 40:

    I agree, all of those would be issues to consider. In particular, I think the basic speed law would be at issue in this incident, and I don’t think that issue works in the passing cyclist’s favor.

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    solid gold May 11, 2009 at 11:59 am

    well, there are definitely some testosterone racer types every morning on the bridge, passing within centimeters, with visions of lance armstrong in their spandexed heads.

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    Wes Robinson May 11, 2009 at 12:50 pm

    pat h, paramedics are considered a type of EMT in Oregon. See OAR 333-265-0000(17)

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    WOBG May 11, 2009 at 12:53 pm

    Said it before, so sorry for the rerun:

    FOLLOW THE #$*&$%$%() SURFACE MARKINGS ON THE BRIDGE.

    1. Cyclists, *stay* left so you don’t have to *weave* left to pass peds.

    2. Fast cyclists, chill on the bridge and hold your position. Don’t ding your danged bell or bark “On your left” to make slow riders move right, into ped conflicts and danger.

    Those two things would have prevented this crash. It is, in effect, a narrow bridge–and ought to be a no-passing zone.

    PDOT, how about laying down a double-line stripe between the bike and ped lanes? And maybe “No passing” markings every xyz feet in the bike lanes? Might help until there’s something better.

    Finally, something I haven’t seen addressed yet: If everyone on the bridge at rush hour were dinging bells every time they were about to overtake someone, the cacophony would make it difficult to know the meaning of any individual ding. Bells may not be all that effective in congestion.

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    G May 11, 2009 at 1:01 pm

    A couple things in her account don’t mesh together very well.

    …she said she quickly checked over her shoulders and saw a few bikers, “but no one that seemed to be coming up super fast.”

    a young guy on a bike, speeding by me very quickly…we knocked handlebars…

    So either their was someone able to handle tour de france speeds while swerving between cyclists or their was a misjudgment of speed and distance.

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    steve May 11, 2009 at 1:04 pm

    In a previous post, the faster cyclist is referenced as a ‘rider’. This cyclist is now referred to as a ‘victim’. Nice, Jonathan. Very subtle.

    They are both victims. Of perhaps their own carelessness and definitely an inadequate infrastructure. Either way it should not be up to you to define their roles for us. More of that imaginary bias you keep hearing so much about.

    A few questions that seem like they need asked and will be, if she makes the mistake of initiating a lawsuit.

    Did Erica give audible warning to the pedestrian she was passing as required by law?

    Did she signal her intent to change lanes as required by law?

    Did Erica have a mirror installed on her bike and did she check it before making her lane change?

    Would any of you operate a motor vehicle in the manner it appears Erica did? Head out to 205 and swerve into the lane on your left as someone is overtaking you. Best of luck.

    Another poster summed up most of the comments quite well with this gem, “Have you ever noticed that everyone going faster than you is insane, and everyone moving slower is an idiot?”

    In other news cars are still maiming and murdering on a daily basis. Too bad we can’t get a similar response as with this isolated incident.

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    weastsider May 11, 2009 at 1:27 pm

    Accepting a bike/ped traffic jam is anathema for some. I see it all the time on the Hawthorne and the Springwater.

    I have little sympathy for the male (no-surprise) rider here. There are two lanes (not three) on these multi-use paths. Sorry, we don’t need more lanes, folks, we just need to deal with it for two @#$%^$& minutes.

    To these me-first passer I ask, have you ever de-boarded an airplane, been stuck in a motor-traffic jam, exited a crowded auditorium? It’s the same deal. You don’t get to say “on your left” and then wiggle your way through unless it’s an emergency or you are an ass.

    I’ve read all the accounts… If I was Judge Wapner the passer would be paying all of Erica’s bills related to the wreck(not accident) he caused.

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    DJ Hurricane May 11, 2009 at 1:31 pm

    Matt (#39), you are incorrect in answering yes to my question.

    Erica (the person passing the pedestrian and being passed by the cyclist — this is just descriptive, the modes are irrelevant) has an obligation to exercise reasonable caution to ensure that it is safe to pass. See #38 & #40. To that extent, it is possible as a matter of law for Erica to be partially or wholly at fault here.

    One (major) issue for a trier of fact will be whether Erica met her oblgiation with the check over her shoulder that she gave. Rixter (#40) says she did, but I don’t regard him as particularly objective here given what he has said about the situation thus far.

    On the one hand, it seems obvious that if you check and don’t see someone who is in fact there you haven’t done a competent job. On the other hand, Anonymous’ speed may have been too fast for conditions, as Rixter points out, making him difficult to see if the check was performed at the appropriate time and with appropriate diligence.

    It’s not clear to me — nor can it possibly be to you based on the facts we have and without witnessing the incident — precisely how this plays out.

    And that was my point all along. You have all jumped to the conclusion that Erica was without fault, or at the very least that Anonymous is primarily at fault, and in doing so revealed your bias.

    As an aside, Matt, you are correct that Anonymous has an obligation to only pass when safe. However, that obligation does not require the operator of a passing vehicle to refrain from passing in any situation when the passed operator could move into his/her path. Otherwise, it would not be an obligation to pass safely, but effectively a prohibition on passing.

    So, contrary to Rixter’s repeated exhortations, I’d just like to say that I really am not attempting to “blame the victim.” I’m pointing out that you should not so quickly jumpt to conclusions just because people sometimes ride too fast on the Hawthorne and that pisses you off.

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    steve May 11, 2009 at 1:39 pm

    Another way of looking at this scenario, weastsider, would be a one way highway with two lanes of travel. Two cars are traveling abreast, the one to the left is traveling faster than the one to the right.

    An even slower moving vehicle, say an Amish family in a buggy, is in the right lane of travel directly in front of the slower car. Instead of the car in the right lane slowing so as not to smash into the Amish, the driver of the slower car simply swerves/slams into the car in the adjacent lane.

    That account is what both of the involved parties are describing. If I were Wapner and in Oregon where I could percentage the blame, it would be 100 percent on the driver swerving from their lane of travel.

    Fortunately, I am not Wapner. My opinion is that all the blame should be laid at the feet of the designers of this inadequate infrastructure.

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    Matt Picio May 11, 2009 at 1:39 pm

    Michael M (#43) – There is no cycling “lane” per se. The county deliberately did not stripe the sidewalk. The circular pavement markings are supposed to indicate use without mandating a specific width. That said, in many cases there is not enough room to pass on the cycling side.

    WOBG (#48) – The markings are guidelines, not absolute – the middle of the path is a gray area. There is enough room in many cases for a cyclist to stay in the center or slightly right-of-center and another cyclist to safely pass.

    As for the bells and “on your left” – I always use that when passing peds, and some cyclists ahead of me think that I mean them. One even turned around and yelled at me for it. I think your basic point to calm down and slow down is valid – it’s easy to misread signals on the bridge, even when everyone is using audible and hand signals.

    And PBOT can’t stripe the bridge, it’s a county bridge. If you have suggestions, consider showing up at the county bike/ped meeting this Wednesday in the Boardroom Conference Room at the Multnomah Building (501 SE Hawthorne) at 7pm.

    G (#49) – Or they were outside her sightline, or any number of factors. Sometimes it’s hard to judge those things with a brief glimpse, even if one has a mirror – this is why the burden of care lies with the overtaking cyclist.

    steve (#50) – Good questions, although there was no “lane” to change, so while your basic point regarding safety is valid, there was no legal requirement to signal.

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    DJ Hurricane May 11, 2009 at 1:50 pm

    It seems clear to me that the basic speed rule applies here. But it’s not proper to conclude that someone going “faster than the aggregate” was violating the basic speed rule.

    If you don’t believe Anonymous and believe Erica that Anonymous was going too fast, fine. You believe one person and not the other. But that’s all you’ve got. I don’t know whether Anonymous was violating the basic speed rule.

    I’d also like to point out 814.410. I’ve bolded the relevant portion:

    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]

    This all begs the question as to whether this area on the Hawthorne is a sidewalk. If you look at the definition of “bike path” (the other possibility; see 801.160), it probably does not apply and thus it is a sidewalk. Anyone have any thoughts on this?

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    DJ Hurricane May 11, 2009 at 1:55 pm

    “[T]he burden of care lies with the overtaking cyclist.” Matt Picio, #54.

    Matt, this statement applies to BOTH parties in this case. Erica had the same burden as Anonymous, to only pass the pedestrian if it was safe.

    You seem to be ignoring the fact that Erica was also passing someone. That’s how she ended up in the path of Anonymous, remember?

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    Jim Lee May 11, 2009 at 1:56 pm

    I shall donate my green Schwinn Tiger–with a new chain and new $200 wheels–to CCC specifically to help Erica get a replacement!

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    KJ May 11, 2009 at 2:07 pm

    As far as Erica not seeing Anonymous, it could have been he was simply in her blind spot when she checked. We all have one in each eye, easy to forget that if something/or someone) is in just the right spot, you can’t see it.

    http://faculty.washington.edu/chudler/chvision.html

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    weastsider May 11, 2009 at 2:13 pm

    Steve, your outsider’s analogy and opinion are worthless.

    This is a multi-use and multi-direction (for pedestrians) path without lanes (which it doesn’t need).

    I ride this bridge at least weekly and it is not safe for one bike to overtake the another while the other is passing pedestrians.

    People need to suck it up and realize that the sign says “bike riders MUST yield to pedestrians”. Common sense dictates that if one rider is or will be yielding pedestrians other riders must yield to that rider. It’s that simple! ARGUMENT OVER.

    It’s time to grow up and share. I am so fn sick of male riders trying to put the might-makes-right motor-paradigm into our multi-use paths.

    If you don’t like going slow get off the GD path and knock yourself out on the motorways! And for god sakes please stop knocking us into the motorways.

    It’s disturbing to me that this even has to be argued here.

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    Pete May 11, 2009 at 2:23 pm

    And the award for least speculative, most productive comment goes to… Jim Lee! Kudos and Karma to you, Jim.

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    toddistic May 11, 2009 at 2:26 pm

    “I am so fn sick of male riders trying to put the might-makes-right motor-paradigm into our multi-use paths.

    If you don’t like going slow get off the GD path and knock yourself out on the motorways! And for god sakes please stop knocking us into the motorways.”

    Gotta love feminists… so because two people have an accident on a MUP, one of which is a man now all men are trying to enforce their motor-paradigm. That’s right, all MEN are motor paradigm weilding nazis trying to subject the weak frail woman onto the road violently!

    Not only do you insult men by your comments, you also insult women potraying them as being weak and slow. Nice going!

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    Diogo May 11, 2009 at 2:30 pm

    naomi #31,

    You may not like people who ride fast, but if you project your bias into a concrete case and rush to the judgment of who is at fault base on that bias – you will be doing justice a disservice.

    Incidents have to be judged objectively according to the facts, not according to your liking or disliking the attitude of some type of people.

    I read the witness’ report and found it unreliable because the facts were overshadowed by his pre-existing personal grudge.

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    Diogo May 11, 2009 at 2:43 pm

    “I am so fn sick of male riders trying to put the might-makes-right motor-paradigm into our multi-use paths.” that’s priceless! LOL!

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    weastsider May 11, 2009 at 2:49 pm

    Well, Todd I’m happy to be an observant, y-chromosomed feminist. I can tell you that in 100s of hours of riding MUPs I have never been cut off, passed on the right, bumped, or squeezed over by a woman.

    Say what your want about women drivers, being dicks on the MUPs… I haven’t seen it.

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    WOBG May 11, 2009 at 3:03 pm

    @Matt, #54: Thanks for the info. Is there a source doc you can point us to, in which the city/county, etc. defines mid-path as a gray area? (Just curious, don’t mean to be contentious.)

    weastsider: Plenty of women are fast, too. And I’m not sure I could always peg the gender–whether innate or chosen–of who’s passing me. Oh well–at least you are blessed with a clear worldview, just like Rush and the televangelists.

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    steve May 11, 2009 at 3:05 pm

    And of course if you haven’t seen something it doesn’t happen. Your comments are riddled with so many logical fallacies they are not even worth addressing.

    Sorry you are such an angry person, weassider. I hope you feel better soon.

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    steve May 11, 2009 at 3:05 pm

    I ride the bridge daily.

    And of course if you haven’t seen something it doesn’t happen. Your comments are riddled with so many logical fallacies they are not even worth addressing.

    Sorry you are such an angry person, weassider. I hope you feel better soon.

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    Rixtir May 11, 2009 at 3:14 pm

    DJ, #53:

    One (major) issue for a trier of fact will be whether Erica met her oblgiation with the check over her shoulder that she gave. Rixter (#40) says she did, but I don’t regard him as particularly objective here given what he has said about the situation thus far.

    Actually, I said something a little different.

    According to Erica, she looked. And the other two accounts– anonymous rider and eyewitness– both support Erica’s account regarding his speed. In fact, it’s not even clear from any of the accounts that the anonymous rider was maintaining a steady speed– it’s at least possible, given all three accounts, that his speed may have varied depending on conditions. If he did slow before “committing” to pass her, as he puts it, she may well have misjudged his speed.

    Consider this entirely speculative scenario, for example (note that it fits with both her account and his account): He calls out “left” before “committing” to passing her. She doesn’t hear him, but does a shoulder check to see if anybody is approaching “super fast.” She doesn’t see anybody approaching “super fast,” because he hasn’t yet “committed” to passing her. He sees her shoulder check, and assuming that she’s responding to his c all of “left,” he commits to passing her. Just as he pulls even with her, she begins to turn left to pass the pedestrian.

    Of course that’s just speculative, and not meant to convey what actually happened, but it IS meant to explain (by example) how it’s possible to do a legally adequate shoulder check and still not see somebody approaching.

    Now consider a different scenario: He’s maintaining a steady speed, which is much faster than the “aggregate” speed. She does a shoulder check, but doesn’t see anybody so close to her as to make a move to the left unsafe, and because a shoulder check is by nature brief, she is unable to accurately judge his speed as being faster than the “aggregate.”

    Given her statement that she checked over her shoulder, and all three statements that he was riding fast, with those accounts presented to a trier of fact, “you are most likely going to get a finding that she met her duty to make a safe pass, and he did not.” That’s not quite the same thing as saying she met her obligation, but in my opinion, most people, putting themselves in her place, would agree that if she looked over her shoulder before passing, and didn’t see somebody approaching– particularly if that somebody was in violation of the basic speed law– would find that she met her legal duty. And there’s even evidence to support my opinion– most people here, having read all three accounts (i.e., having heard the evidence), place the fault for this crash on the passing cyclist. I don’t think he’d get a different result before a trier of fact.

    Again, that’s not quite the same thing as me declaring that she met her duty.

    On the one hand, it seems obvious that if you check and don’t see someone who is in fact there you haven’t done a competent job. On the other hand, Anonymous’ speed may have been too fast for conditions, as Rixter points out, making him difficult to see if the check was performed at the appropriate time and with appropriate diligence.

    That is the crux of the problem that any trier of fact would have to resolve.

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    Rixtir May 11, 2009 at 3:25 pm

    Regarding weastsider’s comment, the issue that she’s raised isn’t that men are fast and women are slow. And it’s not that ALL men behave like dicks on the MUP. The issue she’s raised is that whenever somebody is being a dick on the MUP, it’s invariably a male rider.

    I can see how it’s much easier for people here to attack their own strawmen than to deal with what she actually said, though.

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    Mitch Conners May 11, 2009 at 3:28 pm

    The one thing that’s not being mentioned here as a possibility is that she drifted into the passing rider. I see this all the time, I’m passing on the left and the person next to me is inexperienced and riding in an S shaped pattern.

    I find this declaration that we know the passing driver is completely at fault a total jump to conclusions.

    If he managed to stay upright but she managed to steer three feet over to the left after being bumped to the ride that suggests poor riding.

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    KJ May 11, 2009 at 3:34 pm

    weastsider:

    Yay male feminists!

    However, I am a feminist too and observant and I have experienced just such things from women cyclists.

    …and may have done such things myself as a faster than the average cyclist while learning how to share the road on a bike…hums innocently…(I am impatient and like to ride fast, but I have amended my ways considerably since educating myself on etiquette and laws…)

    However we are statistically fewer in number on bikes in general.

    I just can’t blame the patriarchy for this one. Only personal behaviour. Anecdotal evidence is just that, anecdotal, doesn’t hold water in a debate.

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    Rixtir May 11, 2009 at 3:38 pm

    It’s amazing to me how many people here make the same lame arguments about cyclists who crash that drivers make when they hit cyclists. Unless all those drivers are right about “accidents” being our fault after all…

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    DJ Hurricane May 11, 2009 at 3:47 pm

    Regarding “lame arguments,” Rixter I suggest you see your bare assertion that jurors would likely conclude the duty to safely pass was met by looking for approaching riders and not seeing the one that was there. That’s simply incredible. I did get a good laugh, though!

    If you’re still not convinced, see your bare assertion that a majority of anonymous blog posters blame Anonymous for the collision, so that is the way a negligence case would be decided by a jury.

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    Rixtir May 11, 2009 at 4:20 pm

    DJ, do the math. MOST people commenting here, having read three different accounts of what happened–in other words, they’ve heard the evidence– and have concluded that the cyclist who passed was at fault. Do you really believe that a judge or jury, having heard the same evidence (and of course, at trial, there would be further elaboration on what exactly happened), would reach a different conclusion?

    Talk about bare assertions!

    At least my *opinion* has some basis in fact (most people having heard the “evidence” have decided that the passing cyclist is at fault, and thus, it’s likely that a jury or judge would reach the same conclusion)– as well as law (he has legal issues revolving around unsafe speed, unsafe passing distance, failure to exercise due care, failure to maintain a proper lookout, all maybe partially mitigated if she failed to see him when she should have seen him).

    Now, about those lame arguments we get from drivers:

    Driver buzzes cyclist, hits cyclist, claims cyclist “swerved” into driver’s path. Check, we’ve seen that same lame argument here.

    Driver buzzes and hits cyclist, driver blames cyclist for not holding a straight line. Check, we’ve seen that same lame argument here.

    Driver buzzes and clips cyclist, cyclist loses control, driver blames cyclist for losing control. Not sure I’ve seen that one from drivers, but it certainly fits the pattern of the other two “it was the injured cyclist’s fault” arguments, and check, we’ve seen it here.

    All that’s missing is “I didn’t see her.”

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    DJ Hurricane May 11, 2009 at 4:29 pm

    Rixter, come clean. You’re a slow rider and those fast, scofflaw riders make you mad as hell. You jumped to conclusions right away and you’ve been backpedaling and justifying ever since. If I’m representing Anonymous, my only voir dire question for guys like you is “Do you think people ride too fast on the Hawthorne?” Boom, you’re out and your pre-existing bias doesn’t matter. I seriously hope you’re more objective in evaluating cases for your own clients

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    old&slow May 11, 2009 at 4:43 pm

    Rixter and DJ Hurricane, you need to take this outside.

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    Rixtir May 11, 2009 at 4:44 pm

    DJ, you’re veering into stupid territory now. I haven’t had any run-ins with “fast, scofflaw riders.” I have been startled– once– by somebody passing, but it wasn’t so close as to be a buzz. It was just unannounced.

    But glad to see that you’re making ad hominem arguments (you’re just a slow rider, and you’re mad) now– it means you’ve run out of steam on the facts, the law, and logic.

    Oh, and lest we forget, one more driver’s argument we’ve seen here:

    “You cyclists should get out of my way and get up on the sidewalk where you belong.”

    Classy.

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    Jonathan Maus (Editor) May 11, 2009 at 4:49 pm

    DJ Hurricane and Rixtir,

    your legal analysis is fine, but please don’t make this into a personal, back-and-forth.

    if you guys want each other’s contact information, let me know. Maybe you two could go grab a beer and hash this out in person.

    thanks,

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    commuter May 11, 2009 at 4:56 pm

    A comment about speed; I notice a lot of posts calling for cyclists to slow down on the Hawthorne, since the passing cyclist was going “too fast”. Let me just say that speed is relative and there are cyclist that ride really slow…If someone is going 10mph in front of me, I am going to pass at 15mph. Now I would do so with plenty of room but I can see how the other cyclist would view me as riding “too fast”.
    From my experience, if you are riding too slow, a slight bump can cause you to swerve and veer off course. Balancing the bike becomes a little harder. Anyone here done the Bridge Pedal? Lots of examples of this type of veering when the road starts to incline and everyone is trying to avoid other cyclists. On the other hand, if you maintain a steady speed, you are actually more steady on the bike than expected.

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    Mitch Conner May 11, 2009 at 4:58 pm

    Rixtir I’m not impressed by the content of the conversation on either side at this point, but I do think it’s very apparent that you’re judging all of this based on your personal biases. That doesn’t mean you’re wrong, but it doesn’t mean you’re right either.

    The eye witness accounts on all sides are quite different from either other. The two most consistent accounts are from the passer and the injured. It all comes down to if you think he didn’t have enough room to pass or she drifted into him. There’s no real evidence to conclude who’s account is correct. Any other “facts” are just a creation of bias.

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    DJ Hurricane May 11, 2009 at 5:10 pm

    Rixter, I don’t mean to make an ad hominem argument. I apologize for making it seem otherwise. Aside from the substantive arguments we’ve both made, I do believe your opinion here is being driven by a strong personal bias.

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    peejay May 11, 2009 at 5:15 pm

    Are some people claiming that it’s never the slower rider’s fault? Leaving the particulars of this case aside, and with the full knowledge that I try to be supportive of new riders, I have seen and been party to many incidents where the slower rider caused a disruption to the traffic flow that could have led to a crash. Weaving, unpredictable behavior, inattention, sudden changes of position – all are dangerous activities I have seen every day on the roads, done by slow riders and fast riders alike.

    I’m sorry, but I don’t buy the idea that the slowest rider is always right, nor that we should all line up behind them and pass after the bridge. What if that rider in front of you is going at walking speed and barely able to control their bike? Or riding two-abreast with a friend and oblivious to those behind them?

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    commuter May 11, 2009 at 5:32 pm

    #83
    I also think riding with your ears plugged in is a bad idea. You can say ‘on your left’ all you want but if people are oblivious it becomes dangerous.

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    Rixtir May 11, 2009 at 5:47 pm

    Mitch, if a pass is so close that a collision can only be avoided if both parties maintain a straight line, the pass does not likely meet the requirements for a safe pass under Oregon (or any other state’s) law.

    Again, that would be a question for the trier of fact, but “safe distance” doesn’t mean “as close as you want, as long as you don’t crash,” and even if it did mean that– and it doesn’t– this pass doesn’t even meet that dubious standard.

    From both statutory and case law, what I think “safe distance” means is that your pass doesn’t cause a crash. And that would mean that in order to be a safe pass, if a crash does happen when you pass, it’s not because you passed too close, but because the person you passed really did swerve into your path, in a way that would be considered “unreasonable.” Thus, a slight deviation from the cyclist’s “trajectory” would not be unreasonable (on the part of the cyclist), but suddenly and sharply veering left across the lane would be “unreasonable.” How close each of the actors was to either end of these extremes would likely be determinant of whether or not the pass was unsafe.

    Other factors that would have to be considered in determining whether the passing cyclist was at fault or not would be whether the passing cyclist was observing the basic speed law, whether the passing cyclist was keeping a proper lookout, whether the passing cyclist was exercising due care, whether the injured cyclist was keeping a proper lookout, and whether the injured cyclist was exercising due care.

    Now, as to what I’m making my judgment on, it’s based on all three accounts. They all agree that one cyclist attempted to pass another, they all agree that the passing cyclist was riding faster than other cyclists. And both the passing cyclist and the cyclist being passed agree that their handlebars touched as she attempted to pass the pedestrians. Absent any evidence that she suddenly veered sharply across the lane to the left, that sounds to me like he was making an unsafe pass, probably exacerbated by the other factors I discussed above.

    And thus, absent any evidence that she veered sharply to the left, the only other questions raised are whether she kept a proper lookout, and whether she exercised due care. If she failed to observe either of those duties, she would likely bear some fault for the collision. But that would not relieve the passing cyclist of his own responsibility, if any, for the collision, although it would reduce her award of damages.

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    Doug Allen May 11, 2009 at 5:48 pm

    Can someone (who actually knows) explain the law about passing? I thought that the vehicle being passed has the right-of-way.

    Whenever I pass another cyclist, either we communicate clearly back and forth, or I ride so far to the left that no matter how far they swerve, we will not contact each other, or I wait.

    When on a street, I will adjust my distance from the right to maintain a safe position from doors, debris, etc. as allowed by law. Must every deviation from a straight line be precededed by a backward look? If so, where does the law require this? If I swerve into a passing bicyclist (or car) in my own lane, say to avoid a door, am I legally at fault? I thought the onus on the passer was absolute.

    My own conclusion from this incident is that if the five principles of the “Smith System” were taught to all vehicle operators, many such accidents could be prevented.

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    Rixtir May 11, 2009 at 6:07 pm

    DJ, what I’m basing my opinion on is laid out in post 84. However, to the extent that I may have a personal bias, it’s a bias for behaving courteously and safely around others.

    peejay,

    Weaving, unpredictable behavior, inattention, sudden changes of position – all are dangerous activities I have seen every day on the roads, done by slow riders and fast riders alike.

    I’m sorry, but I don’t buy the idea that the slowest rider is always right

    Agreed. However,

    nor that we should all line up behind them and pass after the bridge. What if that rider in front of you is going at walking speed and barely able to control their bike?

    It’s still up to the person passing to make sure that the pass is safe, particularly so if the person ahead is unsure. Suppose it was an SUV driver behind the unsure cyclist– does the fact that the cyclist is unsure justify an unsafe pass? Or does it call for even more caution on the part of the driver?

    Or riding two-abreast with a friend and oblivious to those behind them?

    Not legal for them to impede the “normal and reasonable movement of traffic,” and furthermore, as a matter of courtesy, they should single up when conditions call for it, but other vehicles still have a responsibility to pass them safely.

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    Rixtir May 11, 2009 at 6:49 pm

    Doug Allen,

    Here’s the basic responsibility of both parties in a pass:

    811.410 Unsafe passing on left; penalty. (1) A person commits the offense of unsafe passing on the left if the person violates any of the following requirements concerning the overtaking and passing of vehicles:
    (a) The driver of a vehicle that is overtaking any other vehicle proceeding in the same direction shall pass to the left of the other vehicle at a safe distance and shall not again drive to the right side of the roadway until safely clear of the overtaken vehicle.
    (b) Except when overtaking and passing on the right is permitted under ORS 811.415, the driver of an overtaken vehicle shall give way to the right in favor of an overtaking vehicle and shall not increase the speed of the overtaken vehicle until completely passed by the overtaking vehicle.

    And the law for cyclists on sidewalks:

    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:…
    (c) Operates a bicycle on a sidewalk in a careless manner that endangers or would be likely to endanger any person or property.

    And here’s the Oregon law for motor vehicle operators when passing cyclists:

    811.065 Unsafe passing of person operating bicycle; penalty. (1) A driver of a motor vehicle commits the offense of unsafe passing of a person operating a bicycle if the driver violates any of the following requirements:
    (a) The driver of a motor vehicle may only pass a person operating a bicycle by driving to the left of the bicycle at a safe distance and returning to the lane of travel once the motor vehicle is safely clear of the overtaken bicycle. For the purposes of this paragraph, a “safe distance” means a distance that is sufficient to prevent contact with the person operating the bicycle if the person were to fall into the driver’s lane of traffic. This paragraph does not apply to a driver operating a motor vehicle:
    (A) In a lane that is separate from and adjacent to a designated bicycle lane;
    (B) At a speed not greater than 35 miles per hour; or
    (C) When the driver is passing a person operating a bicycle on the person’s right side and the person operating the bicycle is turning left.

    Finally, here’s the law on careless driving:

    811.135 Careless driving; penalty. (1) A person commits the offense of careless driving if the person drives any vehicle upon a highway or other premises described in this section in a manner that endangers or would be likely to endanger any person or property.

    The person passing you always has a duty to make a safe pass. If the person passing you can only avoid hitting you by your maintaining a straight line, the pass is not a safe pass. Thus, if you have to adjust your lane position to avoid a hazard, the person passing you should not be so close that you will be hit if you adjust your lane position. That doesn’t necessarily mean that you should suddenly swerve without looking to see if it’s safe to swerve, but emergencies happen, and the person passing you has a duty to make allowances for your need to avoid road hazards. Exactly what circumstances constitute a failure to meet that duty will be up to the trier of fact to determine, but claiming that a collision is your fault because you rode around a pothole isn’t going to get much traction in court.

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    DJ Hurricane May 11, 2009 at 7:23 pm

    And I think the single most important fact about this case is one I stated way back in #57. BOTH cyclists were executing passes at the time of this collision.

    Also Rixter, you excerpted ORS 814.410 and omitted subsection (d), which I regard as obviously relevant here. I wonder whether you agree?

    I included the entire text of ORS 814.410 at #56 and specifically asked your opinion about this sentence:

    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.

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    Mitch Conner May 11, 2009 at 7:28 pm

    Rixtir, you are misrepresenting my words. I’m floating the possibility that she moved into the passer which could have been a number of inches or feet. If it was feet then I would consider her to be at fault. Again, we don’t know how close they were when the pass was attempted.

    You’re assuming that the space was too tight when the passer attempted to pass. There’s nothing to support your claim unless you cherry pick the accounts, again, showing bias.

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    Rixtir May 11, 2009 at 7:52 pm

    Mitch, If you feel that I’m misrepresenting what you’re saying, I apologize, it’s not intentional misrepresentation.

    It’s true– if she had to move a few feet, instead of a few inches, to collide with the passing cyclist, the more likely the pass was safe, and she was at fault.

    But the eyewitness does say that Erica was about two feet from the edge of the sidewalk, which would indicate that a pass on the left would have been very close indeed.

    The passing cyclist says she was riding “just to the right of the middle of the path.” She says she was riding in the middle of the path. I’ve only ridden the Hawthorne bridge a few times, so I’m not familiar enough with it to determine if “middle of the path” is equivalent to “two feet from the edge of the sidewalk”– in fact, I’m not even clear if they mean “middle of the entire MUP,” or “middle of the cycling lane portion of the MUP.” From the context (discussing the pedestrian ahead), they seem to mean that Erica was riding in the middle of the entire MUP, although it’s also possible that the pedestrian was in the cycling lane.

    Wherever it was that she was riding, if she was two feet from the edge of the sidewalk, then the pass to her left was very close. If she was further to the right, then there *may* have been enough room to pass, depending on conditions. And as you said, how unsafe the pass was would depend at least in part on whether she turned a few inches or a few feet before colliding with the passing cyclist (“partly,” because there’s also the question of whether she was given sufficient room to pass the pedestrian without colliding with a passing cyclist.)

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    Rixtir May 11, 2009 at 7:59 pm

    DJ, I don’t regard that sentence as being particularly relevant when there is pedestrian traffic, cycling traffic, or other conditions which, under the basic speed law, would require a reduced speed.

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    DJ Hurricane May 11, 2009 at 8:40 pm

    I thought that’s what you might say, Rixter. But it IS relevant. It says that you don’t have to slow down just because you’re on a sidewalk. And it’s read in tandem with the basic speed rule. Your response shows that you have already concluded that it was necessary for Anonymous to slow down from “faster than the aggregate” and that his failure to do so constituted fault. That may or may not be true.

    FYI, I do ride the Hawthorne every day and, if we assume Anonymous’ account was accurate as to Erica’s position, then I believe that he would have had ample room to pass her. And, riding just to the right of the path, she would also have had ample room to pass a pedestrian without moving left by much, if at all. It COULD have been a safe pass given what we know.

    Obviously, there is disagreement as to the facts, and different people are reporting different things (just to the right of the center v. two feet from the left edge). That’s why I can’t explain how you can be so sure that Anonymous bears all/most of the responsibility, unless…

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    KJ May 11, 2009 at 9:04 pm

    DJ:
    Ok I am trying to see your argument. But It just doesn’t jive for me.

    Even if they were both executing passes, doesn’t the placement of Erica ahead of Anon give her right of way? And if she is moving left to avoid pedestrians, who have right of way over her..doesn’t that also make her movement left more important than anon’s desire to pass?

    I am trying to see how someone who is looking to pass in this scenario can not make the prediction that Erika is going to need to move left and that they don’t have time to pass her. She should not have to predict the movements of cyclists behind her as she is navigating obstacles in front of her. Many people I see do not even bother to check behind them. So kudos to her for doing so.

    But sometimes things come up unexpectedly that people riding in front of us need to swerve for, like dogs, or children or whatever, a photographer backing up. Those cyclists won’t have the luxury of checking to see if someone is trying to pass them, they are going to avoid hitting the person who has come into their path.

    The thing that gets me here is, she needed to move left to avoid pedestrians, which *should* be apparent to those riding behind her that she would need to maneuver left. Anon clearly stated he saw the peds too.

    The peds have right of way and are also an obstruction to Erica. She NEEDS to move left, where else is she goign to go? The peds need her to move left, so it seems like anyone behind them should be yielding.

    I am trying but having a very hard time seeing how Erica is at fault. Fault does seem to lie on anonymous for passing unsafely.

    And I pass people on the bridge and I ride fast. I try to so do when safe and yield when appropriate but don’t think I have any bias in this.

    I would not have passed in this situation based on what I know from these three accounts. But I also don’t know anon’s reasoning for thinking it was safe, he probably does not see things the way I do! =)

    The ‘fault’ I can find with Erica’s behavior is that she was riding in the middle and not to the left to begin with, so she would not need to move out of the way for any but the pack-pedestrian variety. But even then, I can’t call that fault. Since many cyclist do this to let the faster folk pass. It’s nice, polite I guess…

    But I do think this makes them more unpredictable, and so I treat them with more caution if I am going to pass them and make sure I am aware if they are going to need to merge back before I can pass ’em safely. I would rather we all kind of ride predictably, when we can, and talk/signal to each other when we need to pass, etc.

    Rixtir And Mitch:

    The bridge walkway is 10.5 feet, so far as I have been able to find. Wide enough for two bikes to comfortably ride side by side with no other users.

    If she was riding dead in the middle of the path, her wheels would be at 5.25′ from either side of the path and her width would be about 2′? out from either side of center (if we give ourselves a 4′ radius buffer), so 3.25′ from either curb? Leaving 2.25′ on either side? I am trying to visualize this, if I am off let me know.

    To my level of comfort anyways, there really isn’t quite room to pass someone riding in the middle of the path without them a bit more to the right. I would be dinging my bell and saying on your left before attempting to pass such an individual.

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    i'm doin' better! May 11, 2009 at 9:07 pm

    On my ride home tonight down Riverfront Park, it was called to my attention I was riding too far right. That, coupled with this discussion, has redoubled my effort to be an aware and concientous rider. Let’s all try to be a little more careful out there.

    In reflecting on the events, a friend and I realized that the more modes of transit you use (car, bike, run, walk, train), the more aware you are of the impact you have to other modes. If you’re a lycra-clad commuto-racer, try running on the Hawthorne Bridge. It may open your eyes.

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    Rixtir May 11, 2009 at 9:20 pm

    Here’s the thing about that section of the law. It says that when operating on a sidewalk, you have to ride at an ordinary walking speed when you cross certain points, where your path approaches or crosses that of auto traffic– as you enter crosswalks, as you cross driveways, etc. The law then specifies that you don’t have to reduce your speed on other portions of the sidewalk.

    That allowance is overridden, however, by two other laws– the one requiring you to yield to pedestrians on the sidewalk, and the one requiring you to ride in observance of the basic speed law.

    It’s analogous to the posted speed limit on the highway. While the posted limit may be 65 MPH, that doesn’t mean you’re allowed to drive at 65 MPH, regardless of conditions. If you’re in the middle of a blizzard, or if traffic is stalled, you’re not going to be able to point to that posted 65 MPH limit as a defense for driving too fast for conditions.

    And so it is on the sidewalk. Although the law says you don’t have to ride at reduced speed on certain portions of the sidewalk, the basic speed law is still going to govern. If it’s safe to ride faster than a walking speed, then you can do it. If it’s not safe, then you can’t. And if there are pedestrians in your path, the law will require you to yield to them. And if there are cyclists in your path, the law will require you to exercise due care. The fact that one law says you don’t have to ride at a walking speed doesn’t negate those other laws; they are controlling.

    I think Anonymous’ riding speed is a question for the trier of fact– was it excessive for conditions? Obviously, that would depend upon whether it played a role in the collision. But again, there are numerous other questions as well– was his pass safe? Was her pass safe? Were both cyclists keeping a proper lookout? Were both cyclists exercising due care? It’s not JUST a question of Anonymous’ speed, but that certainly is one question that must be asked.

    Given that you’re more familiar with the Hawthorne than I am, and assuming that she was riding on or near the center of the MUP (rather than the center of the cycle lane), what is the distance between her and the curb (i.e., the distance you consider to be “ample room to pass”)?

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    Rixtir May 11, 2009 at 9:32 pm

    # 95:
    In reflecting on the events, a friend and I realized that the more modes of transit you use (car, bike, run, walk, train), the more aware you are of the impact you have to other modes.

    That’s certainly been my experience.

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    Joe May 11, 2009 at 9:35 pm

    Ever since reading about this story, the only reportage I’ve wanted is what the perp looked like.

    This has been strangely absent, though we know every other detail.

    I’m thinking the “well-known in the bike community cyclist” that viciously, callously grated this girls face is either a friend of Maus’, a perl district condo mate, or even himself.

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    Blah Blah Blah May 11, 2009 at 10:02 pm

    How come the fast riders should slow down? Why can’t the slow riders speed up?

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    Rixtir May 11, 2009 at 10:03 pm

    #94:

    The bridge walkway is 10.5 feet, so far as I have been able to find. Wide enough for two bikes to comfortably ride side by side with no other users.

    If she was riding dead in the middle of the path, her wheels would be at 5.25′ from either side of the path and her width would be about 2′? out from either side of center (if we give ourselves a 4′ radius buffer), so 3.25′ from either curb? Leaving 2.25′ on either side? I am trying to visualize this, if I am off let me know.

    I just measured one of my drop bar bikes, and one of my flat bar bikes. 9″ out from center on the drop bar, 12″ out from center on the flat bar. So two bikes riding side by side on the MUP, as far left as possible without overhanging the road, would take up about 3 – 4 feet, with their bars touching. If he’s as far to the left as possible without overhanging the road, and she’s as far to the right as possible without overhanging the pedestrian path, that leaves 15″ to 27″ between them as he passes. And in fact, she was riding the center line, so throw in another 9 to 12 inches between them, making for a potential 24″ to 36″ between them as he prepared to pass.

    I would agree with DJ that that is ample passing distance– however, that’s best-case scenario, assuming that he was as far left as possible, and she was as far right as possible. He says he was “hugging the left edge of the path as safely possible,” but we don’t really know what that means. Was he one foot from the edge? Two feet? We don’t know. Even one foot passing distance *might* be safe, or might *not* be safe, depending on conditions, including their speed differential and whether or not she needed to move left to yield to pedestrians.

    One point that KJ raised and has otherwise been overlooked (I think) is that Erica probably shouldn’t have been as far to the right as she was– it created a need for her to weave as she yielded to pedestrians who were properly placed on the path. I agree, she may have been doing it to be courteous to faster riders, but hugging the right and weaving to avoid obstacles can have disastrous results, whether on the MUP or the street.

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    Ted Buehler May 11, 2009 at 10:12 pm

    >>I think I will henceforth refrain from riding in the pedestrian area at all, <<

    Best comment, we should all ride slow, keep to the left, play it safe.

    I can’t believe that folks are defending a “fast rider” that was involved in a wreck on the most treacherous bridge deck in town. It’s nuts to be out there with a crowd of mixed skill/mixed speed users and expect to go around passing people. Next time something happens it may well be their face that gets mangled by the bridge deck then run over by an SUV…

    Serious question for ya’all — why don’t the speedsters ride the Morrison Bridge? It’s faster, smoother, lots more space. Just a few blocks away, there’s plenty of lanes to work with. If I liked riding fast, I’d be way more comfortable there than on a congested sidewalk.

    Best hopes for a speedy recovery, Erica. You’re very lucky it wasn’t a *lot* worse. And the bike community is lucky that “the crash that brought the issue to the forefront” didn’t kill one of us…
    Ted Buehler

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    Ted Buehler May 11, 2009 at 10:20 pm

    Oh, I forgot about the steel grate section on the Morrison bridge, it’s across all the lanes, right? Maybe the county could put a hard surface on the outside lanes of the Morrison or Hawthorne bridges to give the faster folks a place to ride, it’s not like cars go particularly fast anyway.
    Ted Buehler

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    Pete May 12, 2009 at 1:09 am

    Wow, this has gotten entertaining! BP comments have often been rift with emotion, but between the speculation, legal analysis, armchair infrastructure redesign, name calling, and even sexism allegations, the fact remains we have an injured cyclist who needs our assistance and a “perp” (someone called him) who likely didn’t intend to injure anyone and was responsible enough to stay at the scene and perform his legal and moral obligations.

    Hope you get well soon Erica, and get back on the iron horse in no time. Also hope the people who actually witnessed what happened help sort it out properly if/when the time comes.

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    Barbara May 12, 2009 at 7:37 am

    Hawthorne Bridge has basically one “lane” if that for bicyclist & one lane for Peds each way. With cyclists expected to yield to peds & not pass to closely.
    For some reason other cyclists think ringing a bell or on your left means the have the right of way & those in front need to get out of the way which they don’t. Instead the one wanting to pass need to slow down & yield to those in front of them & pass when & if its safe to do so. No different than when in a car. We have the 3 ft passing law for cars so why any different for cyclist to cyclist or peds especially on a narrow sidewalk.

    A few legal questions. Bicyclists are considered “vehicles of the road”. DMV requires an accident report when damages exceed $1500 & in all accidents involving bicyclists & peds within 72 hours after an accident. So shouldn’t we be filing reports in all the accidents that occur with cars or peds period? Certainly would flood the DMV. Yet insurance companies won’t pay anything in a bicyclist-bicyclist accident unless they file against the homeowner’s insurance. In 03 a cyclist trying to pass on the right when I was on the right (not on a bridge) slammed into me & broke to ribs. Medical bills were inexcess of $5000. Since they didn’t have homeowners I was SOl. Not right!

    Also wondering how & what legal protections or ramifications since this accident occurred on a “sidewalk”. Do DMW rules not apply and the bicycle now not a vehicle? Can or will a ticket be issued against the “reckless, speeding” cyclistsince on a sidewalk? Would it have made any different if on on roadway?

    I’ve been commuting since the 1980 & log 4000 miles a year. I was assaulted by a pedestrain on the Burnside Bridge who grabbed my bike & tried to tried to throw me into the street when we shared the sidwalk. I wrote commissioners etc. No long afterwards they moved the bike lane to the street acknowleding that the sidewalk wasn’t adequate & unsafe.

    Possibly speed limit signs like “12 mph” while on the bridge & “yield to all those in front” would help or at least establish some legal guidelines.

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    DJ Hurricane May 12, 2009 at 8:31 am

    KJ (#94), I think you’ve got the crux of the issue. My point was never to argue that Anonymous was not at fault and made a safe pass. It was to cut off the rush to judgment that was going on here, some of it by people who should know better.

    There is enough ambiguity in the facts, both in precision and in differing accounts, such that this will need to be litigated if neither party feels like they should have to pay for the costs.

    My guess is that there is negligence on both sides. Erica should have seen Anonymous when she checked over her shoulder. Even though he may have been required to yield to her, it would still not be proper for her to move into his path if she should have seen him coming.

    And Anonymous should have been able to execute his pass without colliding with Erica. It may have been reasonable for him to believe that he would have enough distance to pass her safely even when she moved to the left to go around the pedestrian. But, when he didn’t, he should have been able to brake adequately to prevent the collision mid-pass.

    But that’s just a guess. I wasn’t there, and, as I say, there’s plenty of ambiguity. I just wish that people would not be so quick to reach conclusions when they don’t have all the information, about either the facts or the law. Many, many people have done that. It helps nothing, and it creates sort of a mob mentality.

    That’s not going to help us solve this problem so that we don’t have another awful injury like Erica’s, or worse.

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    Jonathan Maus (Editor) May 12, 2009 at 9:07 am

    Barbara,

    RE: your question about filing DMV reports. The DMV only takes reports that involve a motor vehicle. They don’t care about bike on Bike or bike on ped crashes…. it’s actually an interesting issue that deserves more looking in to.

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    OnTheRoad May 12, 2009 at 9:26 am

    Agree with #95. Everyone who bikes across the Hawthorne should try walking across. If you are especially brave, try this at PM rush hour. Definitely eye-opening.

    Those 10 mph “slow” cyclists look pretty intimidating, when they are coming right at you. And bikes passing within arm’s length with no warning is also nerve-wracking.

    One ped friend of mine will not use the north-side MUP because it is too scary. Bikes coming down hill, squeezed into narrower lanes at the Esplanade Ramp, with the railing between the sidewalk and roadway, is downright dangerous for peds.

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    DJ Hurricane May 12, 2009 at 9:53 am

    I’m one of those people who uses the sidewalks and MUPs as a pedestrian as well as a cyclist. I’m often walking my dog, and it sucks. My dog does a good job of staying by my side, but sometimes she goes side to side a bit on her leash. She needs a little leeway. Most people don’t signal their pass, as the law requires, and pass too close and spook her.

    Given the constraints on widening the sidewalk or putting up a barrier and the inevitable increase in bike and pedestrian traffic, the only viable solution is to put bicyclists in the outer lane and off the sidewalk. There is no reason why motor vehicles cannot be restricted to a single lane through the middle of the bridge. It’s not like this is the only bridge into downtown. Sometimes it is a zero-sum game and here we need to make a value-based and safety-based decision to make getting across the bridge easier for bicyclists and pedestrians.

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    Matt Picio May 12, 2009 at 10:38 am

    DJ Hurricane (#56) – My recollection from Multnomah County Bike/Ped meetings is that it is classified as a sidewalk.

    (#57) – I’m not forgetting that at all. The situation is complicated by the fact that there is only one “lane”, analogous to a single-lane residential street. If a bike was riding up Salmon, and an overtaking car decided to pass, and a second car, further back decided to pass the first car at that time, and the cars bumped each other, who is at fault? Where does the burden of care lie?

    WOBG (#66) – It’s a general comment based on logic rather than a legal definition based on statute. If there were a stripe separating bike from ped, then it’s clear-cut. In the absence of demarcation, how does anyone decide where the divider is? It’s nebulous, therefore a legal gray area.

    peejay (#83) – I don’t see anyone making that assertion here. I see a number of people speaking to the particulars of *this* incident, and the fact that there is more than one independent corroborating witness. Anyone who wants to argue that the fault lies with the slower rider in *this* instance needs to present a compelling reason why the other witnesses are also “wrong”.

    DJ Hurricane (#103) – We’ll have to agree to disagree on this one. I don’t think there’s much ambiguity in this specific instance – the accounts from Erica and the eyewitnesses correlate fairly closely. The main point of ambiguity is whether she signalled that she was moving left. Erica was under no legal obligation to do so, however, since she was not moving into a separate lane.

    Then again, as many have pointed out, it’s not just about the letter of the law, but in sharing the road, being aware, and signalling one’s intentions. I’m not saying that those factors were absent in this particular case, but they certainly seem to be absent in many of the interactions with cyclists who’ve posted comments to this story, myself included.

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    DJ Hurricane May 12, 2009 at 10:53 am

    Matt, you are simply wrong about Erica’s obligations. Go look at Rixter’s posts again. You repeatedly ask who has “the burden of care” as though it’s one person or another. It’s both. Everyone has the burden to exercise due care. Even if we accept the idea that the Hawthorne Bridge is “one lane,” that does not change.

    You say “it’s not just about the letter of the law, but in sharing the road, being aware, and signalling one’s intentions.” That IS the letter of the law. That’s the requirement of due care!

    Respectfully Matt, you make many pronouncements about what is or is not the law without really knowing.

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    BURR May 12, 2009 at 11:38 am

    #107 and 108. I’ve been walking a lot on the bridge in the past year and I agree it isn’t that pleasant for pedestrians. I’ve managed best when walking opposite the direction of bicycle traffic, that is, eastbound on the north sidewalk and westbound on the south sidewalk. That way you can see the cyclists coming towards you from a long way off and they don’t surprise you when they pass too close and without warning. Plus during rush hour you have the added advantage of walking on the opposite side of the bridge from the heaviest bike and car traffic.

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    Rixtir May 12, 2009 at 12:03 pm

    DJ, #105:

    Erica should have seen Anonymous when she checked over her shoulder.

    Maybe, maybe not.

    If a reasonable person, exercising due care in their duty to observe, would have seen him approaching, then yes, she should have seen him too. If a reasonable person, exercising due care in their duty to observe, would for some reason not have seen him approaching, then no, she should not have seen him. It all depends on whether it would have been obvious to somebody exercising due care in their duty to observe that he was approaching. It’s possible to conceive of instances in which it wouldn’t be obvious that he was approaching, and it’s probably also possible to conceive of instances in which it would be obvious that he was approaching.

    Even though he may have been required to yield to her, it would still not be proper for her to move into his path if she should have seen him coming.

    Yes.

    One thing that would have really helped Erica here– even if Anonymous was 100% at fault– would be a mirror. With a mirror, she could have monitored what was behind her much more easily, and I think more observantly, than she could with a shoulder check. It doesn’t really rise to the level of a legal requirement, but I think if she had been using a mirror, she would have seen him coming, and could have perhaps taken steps to avoid the collision.

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    Ted Buehler May 12, 2009 at 12:35 pm

    >>One thing that would have really helped Erica here– even if Anonymous was 100% at fault– would be a mirror.<<

    Okay, but Mr. Anonymous has probably observed that less than 5% of bridge riders use a mirror, and so to go flying along through a mixed group of cyclists/peds of unknown riding skills is simply playing Russian Roulette. With your life, and with others.

    You’re blaming the victim.

    Even if Erica and 100 of her closest associates go out and buy mirrors, there will still be about 4000 Hawthorne Bridge riders without them, and Mr. Anonymous will still be risking everyone’s well being be riding recklessly.

    Plus, Mr. Anonymous would have clipped that mirror and caused a bigger wreck.

    I ride with a mirror most of the time. You’re still not going to have 100% success with mirror checking or shoulder checking on the Hawthorne Bridge. There’s way too much background clutter, there’s no depth perception with a mirror, and you need to pay absolute attention to what’s in front of you, you sometimes can’t afford a 4″ wobble from doing a double shoulder check.
    Ted Buehler

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    slort May 12, 2009 at 12:53 pm

    why pass?

    wait until the end of the bridge. we can all stack up for a couple hundred yards, can’t we? you wouldn’t pass a combine on a busy two way road in a car, why take the risk.

    Slow down, look around, stay upright.

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    DJ Hurricane May 12, 2009 at 12:55 pm

    Rixter, I think I made clear that my “should have seen” statement was speculation about what had happened. That seems to be the most likely possibility to me: IF you do a proper job of checking, chances are that you will see someone who is there.

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    steve May 12, 2009 at 12:59 pm

    Did Erica give audible warning that she was initiating a pass around a pedestrian?

    If not, she is in violation of the law.

    If not, she now also bears at least some percentage of blame, as an audible warning may have alerted the overtaking cyclist of her intention to veer into his path of travel.

    Also, she may or may not bear a burden of negligence for failing to signal her intention to change lanes. Obviously this depends on proving there are ‘lanes’ of travel. I think anyone who has ridden there would not find that to be an outlandish assertion. No matter what you think about it, these issues will be brought up during litigation, by parties less biased than many of you.

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    steve May 12, 2009 at 1:06 pm

    One could also argue that she failed to meet the standards of due care, by failing to equip her vehicle with an adequate mirror. Though not required equipment, it is still a readily available and common piece of safety gear, highly suited for the area she regularly operates her vehicle.

    Failing to see the rider with her alleged shoulder check could also be argued as to not meet her requirements under the law.

    Obviously there are just as many charges and questions that need asked of the over taking rider. Most of you skipped right past all that troublesome thinking and charged straight into lynch mode.

    The point being, there is no clearly defined victim here and it is a shame that Jonathan insisted on presenting this in such an exploitative manner. We get enough of that already!

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    Jonathan Maus (Editor) May 12, 2009 at 1:13 pm

    steve,

    Erica Rothman is a victim because she fell onto a metal grate and suffered injuries. She’s a victim of the metal grate if nothing else.

    You should know that my use of the word “victim” in reference to Ms. Rothman was troubling to me as well. I knew that some folks would jump on it. However, please realize that I use it in this case as a descriptive term and out of a lack of something better… and not as a way to assign blame on any individual involved in this incident.

    On a personal opinion note, given what I know so far about this incident, I bet a court judge would rule in favor of Ms. Rothman.

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    DJ Hurricane May 12, 2009 at 1:18 pm

    Jonathan:

    I think “the injured cyclist” would have worked just fine.

    Are you saying you bet a court would assign 0% fault to Erica?

    As we discussed above, in Oregon you get assigned a percentage of fault and, if it’s over 50, you don’t recover anything. If it’s under 50, your damages are reduced by that amount.

    For example, if someone were judged to be 10% at fault and had $10,000 in damages, the other party (90% at fault) would only pay $9,000.

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    WOBG May 12, 2009 at 1:19 pm

    Matt #106: Cool, there is no statute to cite for the idea of the lane boundaries being a gray area. Therefore, let’s stripe the lanes and eliminate *the perception* of a gray area.

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    WOBG May 12, 2009 at 1:20 pm

    D’oh! Meant Matt #109.

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    Rixtir May 12, 2009 at 1:57 pm

    Rixter, I think I made clear that my “should have seen” statement was speculation about what had happened. That seems to be the most likely possibility to me: IF you do a proper job of checking, chances are that you will see someone who is there.

    There’s seeing someone, and there’s seeing that someone is going to attempt to pass. I think those are two different things. For example, if she did a shoulder check, saw him, but he was hanging back momentarily while he gauged whether he could pass, she would have seen him, but not seen him approaching at a fast clip. Or even if he was approaching at a fast clip, would that have registered with a shoulder check? Perhaps if he was very close when she checked, perhaps not if he was not very close when she checked. Would a reasonable person have spent any significant amount of time looking back, trying to gauge the speed of cyclists who are not very close behind her? I think that’s what’s at issue here.

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    steve May 12, 2009 at 2:04 pm

    Jonathan,

    If she fell onto the grate as a result of her own actions, the grate would technically be the victim. That and everyone else who was traumatized by viewing her actions and the result of them. Or, she is a victim and the other cyclist is at fault. This however, has not been established and it is borderline unethical for you to present this story the way that you have. I am sure it has generated a lot of traffic for the site though!

    That is why “injured cyclist” would be far less biased and inflammatory. As DJ points out above, there will quite probably be an amount of fault proportioned amongst both parties (as in most traffic accidents). And as we all know, you are not a judge, nor are you privy to all the facts. You certainly are not aware of all the relevant legal nuances of this matter.

    You plainly state your bias and are attempting to rationalize it now. Just the facts, ma’am.

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    Jonathan Maus (Editor) May 12, 2009 at 2:15 pm

    steve and DJ,

    thanks for your feedback on my use of the word “victim” in reference to Ms. Rothman.

    I agree with you that “injured cyclist” is a better way to put it. I have changed the headline.

    And steve, I’m not sure what I’ve done to make you so suspicious of everything I write. there is no conspiracy here. i am not pushing agendas. I have biases and feelings about things just like you and everyone else. I am not a journalistic robot.. i make mistakes and i am always open to correcting them.

    thanks for reading and for your comments.

    cheers.

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    steve May 12, 2009 at 2:19 pm

    Thank you for being open and responsive to criticism Jonathan. It is clearly what separates you from many of your colleagues, and is much appreciated.

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    Rixtir May 12, 2009 at 2:28 pm

    One could also argue that she failed to meet the standards of due care, by failing to equip her vehicle with an adequate mirror. Though not required equipment, it is still a readily available and common piece of safety gear, highly suited for the area she regularly operates her vehicle.

    I think that’s a slippery slope you don’t really want to go down. For example, consider that blinkies are not required by law, for either night or day use. Using your line of reasoning, a driver who hits a cyclist could argue that although not required equipment, a blinkie is still a readily available and common piece of safety gear, highly suited for safely operating on the street– even in daylight hours– and the cyclist should have been equipped with one. The same argument could be made about any number of useful but not required safety items– helmets, horns, reflectors, hi-viz clothing, reflective vests, disc brakes… The list is only as limited as the imagination of the defense attorneys compiling the excuses. While it may or may not be couched in terms of the cyclist’s duty, it will inevitably shift the blame away from the driver, and onto the cyclist.

    For a real world example, a cyclist in Chattanooga was killed earlier this year by a driver who buzzed him. Although he was, according to his friends, “lit up like a Christmas tree,” the grand jury did not indict the driver. Afterwards, it was suggested that if the cyclist had been wearing a reflective vest, perhaps the driver might have been indicted. Really? So now we have a NEW and entirely fabricated out of thin air equipment standard to meet if we want justice? And what happens when we meet that standard? A new and invented-out-of-thin-air requirement to shift fault away from the driver and onto the cyclist? “Perhaps if he had some strobe lights attached to his helmet…”

    The duty of care will always be whatever a “reasonable person” would do in that situation, but i think we should really be careful about creating standards for duty of care that extend beyond meeting whatever equipment standards the law requires. It’s not to say that blinkies, or helmets, or disc brakes are bad ideas; it’s just to say that we shouldn’t be establishing duty of care standards that require cyclists to go beyond what the law requires in order to meet their duty of care.

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    steve May 12, 2009 at 3:17 pm

    Rixtir,

    You should know (I am assuming you do know, but are simply ignoring it to favor your faulty line of argument), that failing to wear a helmet has already been used to allocate blame in cyclist/motor interactions.

    This, despite the fact that helmets are not required by law. I agree that it is a slippery slope, yet it is one we are already sliding down.

    If I were representing the overtaking cyclist, I would absolutely bring issue with her lack of available safety gear, as representative of a lack of reasonable precaution and care. If you wouldn’t, I hope that you are not seeing much court time these days.

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    Rixtir May 12, 2009 at 3:26 pm

    In the UK, yes. I’m not sure it’s been done yet in the U.S., although it may have been.

    I’m certainly not against mirrors (I bought one just before this story broke), I wear a helmet, I use a blinkie, etc. I’m not even against establishing new standards for due care. But I think that a fundamental principle for standards of due care based on equipment should be that people have proper notice of their equipment requirements, by establishing those equipment requirements statutorily.

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    steve May 12, 2009 at 3:32 pm

    It has been done in the states and appears to be an increasingly common argument, particularly in high dollar injury litigations.

    Standards of due care are not bound by ordinance or law. If they were, we would not need the separate distinction, the applicable laws and statutes would suffice.

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    Rixtir May 12, 2009 at 3:47 pm

    Behavioral standards are not bound by statute (although statutes do address some behavioral standards), and that’s not a problem, because they’re based on what a “reasonable person” would do in that same circumstance. Most people have the common sense to meet, or at least know, what those behavioral standards are. Don’t, for example, change lanes without first looking– whether or not a statute commands you to look before changing lanes.

    What concerns me is the artificial creation of equipment standards, behind closed doors, with no notice to people as to what equipment they are expected to be in possession of. It’s akin to double secret probation. If the equipment is important enough to constitute a standard of due care, it should also be important enough to be included in the statutorily-required equipment standards.

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    DJ Hurricane May 12, 2009 at 3:49 pm

    Now Rixter, the quote from steve you discuss at #126 seems to me to be a perfect example of the criticism you leveled earlier of people making the same argument with respect to Erica that motorists make about cyclists. And excellently addressed as well.

    Jonathan (#124): The whole community (not just the “bike community”) owes you and the BP team a huge debt for covering this issue. Me and my co-workers agree that the Hawthorne design was and is “an accident waiting to happen.”

    This is a great example of an important issue where local bike advocates (BTA and others) should be spending their time.

    IMHO, if the advocates in this town lived up to their reputation, there should be an organized effort/petition to get the outer lanes dedicated for bike travel and the sidewalk dedicated exclusively for pedestrian use.

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    steve May 12, 2009 at 3:56 pm

    I share your concerns Rixtir, I really do. But my empathy with that plight does not make the fact that these issues are already being addressed outside the parameters of equipment statutes less relevant.

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    Ted Buehler May 12, 2009 at 5:40 pm

    Jonathan (124) — do you know if there have been proposals to put a hard surface on the outside lanes of the bridge to allow use by bicycles?

    As for someone’s comment on the 12′ shared use sidewalk on the Morrison Bridge alleviating this problem, it will only help if bicycle traffic stops growing. Otherwise a skimpy 12′ 2-way path with sketchy connections will absorb about 1 yr of traffic growth, not even enough to alleviate the current congestion.
    Ted Buehler

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    SkidMark May 13, 2009 at 1:01 am

    I think I would have observed Erica’s riding style and decided to just “chill out” and ride behind her.

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    Erica Rothman May 13, 2009 at 9:13 am

    By way of an update, I have gotten my bike back from the Community Cycling Center, and I rode it home. (They were kind enough to knock a bit off of parts for me – thanks, CCC!) I’m giving myself another day or two before tackling the commute again, but I aim to be back on my wheels soon. Plus, the stitches come out today. Woo hoo!

    Thanks to the entire Portland cycling community, and bikeportland.org and its readers in particular for all of your support and kind words. At this point, I’m grateful to be well enough to consider riding again soon. Fault and blame are not priorities.

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    Rixtir May 13, 2009 at 9:24 am

    Glad you’re getting well, and glad you’ll be back on your bike soon.

    They’ve got a link to this article up on the Lewis & Clark Law Library home page, by the way. You’re a celeb. 😉

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    lacorota May 13, 2009 at 11:26 am

    Hurray for you! All the same, I’ll think thrice before I risk passing a fellow cyclist without significant safe margins. Far as I can tell, my schedule has never been so demanding I need to risk others’ safety for a selfish need to be out front.

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    Dan Christensen May 14, 2009 at 9:38 am

    My wishes for making a good and fast recovery. If their can ever be a good from a bad this incident may be that. It has start the slow wheel grinding on a solution.

    Big hug.

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