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Update: Bike operator cited for running into bus in transit mall collision

Posted by on August 30th, 2010 at 3:23 pm

Richard Krebs’ bike rests under the
wheel of a TriMet bus after the
collision on August 12th.
(Photo: Bill Jackson)

TriMet has released an update on the investigation of a collision involving a bus and a bike in downtown Portland on August 12th.

TriMet Communications Director Mary Fetsch says that following a review by the Portland Police Bureau Traffic Division, the man operating the bicycle, Richard Krebs, was given a citation for “failure to obey a traffic control device” (ORS 811.265). The bus operator was not cited, but was “provided retraining” according to Fetsch.

Fetsch also adds that the on-board video of the collision is not publicly available yet because, “… it is material evidence that may be used in court in relation to the citation.”

According to details of the crash relayed by TriMet and the Police Bureau, here’s how the collision occurred.

The man on the bike and the bus operator were headed northbound on SW 6th Ave in the left lane. As they approached SW Morrison (NE corner of Pioneer Courthouse Square), the bus operator swung wide to execute a “buttonhook turn” in order to clear a stopped MAX train that was stopped at the platform on Morrison. The man on the bike, who was on the left side of the bus, then “ran into the side of the bus as it was making the left hand turn.” A PPB spokesperson also says that, “The bike rider said his brakes were bad and he went into the intersection.”

At the time of the collision, the bus was on a temporary shuttle route due to a MAX train service interruption.

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Paulie
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Paulie

Failure to obey a traffic control device? If the light was red (or yellow) for the bicyclist, wasn’t it red (or yellow) for the bus too?

I don’t see how a bus, turning left across two lanes of traffic, can have the right of way over someone going straight in the left-most lane. Maybe I don’t understand the directions each party was going. It sounds like the bike was in the left lane, northbound on 6th, and the bus was in the far right lane, also pointed north on 6th, but then made a left turn across the middle and right lanes. Do I have that wrong?

Brewcaster
Guest

Ah, Paulie, you forget that Trimet has special rules regarding when they change lanes. No, not kidding. They have that little yield sign on the back that blinks. You have to yield to the bus when that is on. Car or bike. Sad story.

anthony
Guest
anthony

Paulie, I believe “traffic control device” can also refer to “WALK/DON’T WALK” signals, and as has been previously stated, it seems the cyclist may have been riding on the sidewalk, so he may have had a DON’T WALK signal.

The other possibility, if he WAS riding on the street, is that the light was red, but since 6th and morrison are both one-way, it is legal to turn left on the red, whereas it is, of course, illegal to go straight on red ever.

Biker
Guest
Biker

I am very confused. The max track is to the far right. That means that the bus couldn’t have “turned left around a stopped Max train.” There is a special signal for the Max or buses on the right, but not for the center lane. The traffic control signal on the bus is at the rear, a big yield sign. Depending on where the bike was when that was turned on would be a big question. I would still like to argue that making a left turn from the center of the street is bad whether you are a bus, car, truck, or bike. So the bus doing something bad means nothing if the bike could have done something bad? In other words, the bike has no rights! Or did I miss something along the way?

trail abuser
Guest
trail abuser

The MAX train was halted because of the suicide so the bus probably had the right of way taking over the duties of the train along the MAX tracks. The cyclists even said he didn’t have brakes(or was his excuse for not stopping). At least he’ll likely be able to collect for medical bills(if he’s medically uninsured) under Oregon’s PIP coverage through Trimet or his own auto policy.

jeff
Guest
jeff

Bad brakes, eh?

Bob_M
Guest
Bob_M

The description of events does not draw a clear picture of what happened. It is possible that the bus had initiated the left turn before the light turned, and being a lumbering beast was proceeding slowly through what was then a red light. It is possible then that the cyclist failed to stop and hit the bus.
All the facts are not in, but the PPB have made a determination, and I see no reason to rant about how the police conspire with Tri-Met to withhold the rights of cyclists.

Ely
Guest
Ely

If the guy on the bike said his brakes were bad, then he knows he was in the wrong. Debate over.

@ Biker, there is a MAX track on Morrison too. I think that’s the one the bus was going “around”. And in a turn that tight, a bus has no choice but to make it from the center lane. (This is where the flashing yield sign comes in handy.) However, given how tight that turn is, sending a bus that way is a recipe for disaster and Trimet should have known better. IMO.

jeff
Guest
jeff

The track is in the center. The only way I can figure this happened is that the bus started the turn at the end of the green or during the yellow and completed the turn while it was red, when the cyclist went through the red.

Elliot
Guest
Elliot

I think you missed the close on your strikethrough html…

Elliot
Guest
Elliot

Given all the confusion, can TriMet please release a diagram of the collision if they’re not going to give us the video? They say a picture is worth a thousand words, but in this day and age it also preempts a hundred speculative blog comments.

Seager
Guest

So, the bus (legally?) made a left turn from the center lane, cutting off the left lane, and the cyclist in the left lane has to yield? Even with bad brakes it appears the bus didn’t give the cyclist enough time to stop (or swerve).

I don’t agree that Trimet turn signals should be legally binding traffic control devices.

suburban
Guest

Giving a citation is a step in the right direction.

jeff
Guest
jeff

Come on folks, TriMet does not have “special rules”. Buses have to drive in traffic and follow laws like everyone else. Is it so difficult to believe that the cyclist acted in an illegal manner here (riding on sidewalk or running red), because I find it quite easy to believe. I don’t think TriMet drivers are saints by any means.

I agree with Elliot, a diagram would do wonderful things to alleviate the speculation.

Troy
Guest
Troy

How many drivers have broken laws and injured cyclists without a resulting citations? But apparently it’s necessary when a cyclist is responsible for an incident? Isn’t the bike wedged under the bus and the threat of loss of life penalty enough?

trail abuser
Guest
trail abuser

Video is indisputable. I believe the cops have to have definitive evidence from witnesses or video to issue citations when a thorough investigation of physical evidence and involved parties is inconclusive.

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)
Guest

folks,

sorry the mechanics of what happened on the road have not been made crystal clear yet. I’ll work on figuring out the turning movements and will make a diagram asap.

cyclist
Guest
cyclist

The Yield sign on the back of TriMet buses is a real traffic control sign, if it’s blinking and you fail to yield you can get cited. Think of it like the stop sign on the side of a school bus when it opens its doors.

At the intersection in question the MAX tracks are in the right lane on 6th and the left lane on Morrison, I assume that when they say the bus was turning around the train they mean turning around the train on Morrison.

The cyclist claiming brake failure leads me to believe that the cyclist pretty much has accepted fault in this case, however I’m waiting for the video before I make any decisions.

malka
Guest
malka

At least I learned something from this discussion! I didn’t know that the yield signal at the rear of buses was an actual traffic control device. Not that I’m in the habit of trying to pass buses on a bike!

Blank
Guest
Blank

Not that it has anything to do with this but…
ORS 811.167 buses are only supposed to use that yield sign immediately after picking up/discharging passengers. Though I’ve seen it being used to change lanes from time to time.

Jerry
Guest
Jerry

Bikes, like vehicles have to have operating brakes per ORS. The biker could be cited for this too.

Camelopardalis
Guest
Camelopardalis

#3 “is that the light was red, but since 6th and morrison are both one-way, it is legal to turn left on the red, whereas it is, of course, illegal to go straight on red ever.”

Not true – in any intersection where a left turn would put a vehicle in the path of an oncoming train, it is illegal to make the left on red. Northbound on 6th at Morrison is one of those intersections because 6th will have a red light if a westbound train is coming up Morrison. There are also “NO TURN ON RED” signs up at that intersection for that reason.

Michael Miller
Guest
Michael Miller

blank @20: Likewise, I have seen buses simply signal left and force out into traffic, without using the flashing yield sign. That’s not covered by 811.167 and would presumably constitute failure to yield on the bus driver’s fault.

Agreed, in any case, that 811.167 would be irrelevant in this case.

Dylan
Guest
Dylan

I also wondered if the “traffic control device” refers to the bus’s yield sign. http://www.oregonbikelaw.com/?p=46 has some details on the law – and it sounds like if this were the case the citation would be “Failure to Yield Right-of-Way to Transit Bus”.

As a trimet rider, I’m glad they have the signals – there are many bus stops where congestion would make it virtually impossible to reenter the roadway otherwise.

And as I cyclist, it’s a bummer when approaching a stopped bus with it’s signal on. :-\

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)
Guest

Dylan (and others),

I am checking with TriMet to see which “traffic control device” the man on the bike disobeyed.

As for how the collision happened. I have just edited the story to reflect what I am now much more confident in relaying about the crash. Here it is…

“The man on the bike and the bus operator were headed northbound on SW 6th Ave in the left lane. As they approached SW Morrison (NE corner of Pioneer Courthouse Square), the bus operator swung wide to execute a “buttonhook turn” in order to clear a stopped MAX train that was stopped at the platform on Morrison. The man on the bike, who was on the left side of the bus, then “ran into the side of the bus as it was making the left hand turn.” A PPB spokesperson also says that, “The bike rider said his brakes were bad and he went into the intersection.” ”

If I had some GIF animation skills i’d put something together.

trail abuser
Guest
trail abuser

Those yield signs mean it’s time to draft.

Peter Smith
Guest
Peter Smith

If a story doesn’t add up, a story doesn’t add up.

It sounds like a cut and dry case — the bus didn’t signal, and left-hooked the cyclist — that’s it. If the bus did signal, it wasn’t early enough. If the driver did signal and it was early enough (a stretch), then the driver still chose to turn into the path of an oncoming biker — intentionally or otherwise, we don’t know yet, but if it was daylight, we’d have to assume it was intentional, in which case the driver should go to jail forever.

The Portland police ticketed the cyclist because they took the word of the bus driver — in spite of the bus driver’s account, presumably that s/he signaled, which lacks credibility.

Victims of violent crimes often blame themselves — especially when they’re in shock — there’s no surprise there.

And even if a cyclist or pedestrian fails to yield right of way to a motorized vehicle, I’m _hoping_ that it is still not permissible, by law, to run the errant cyclist/pedestrian over. I’m not sure what new laws we need to actually make this law enforceable, but it needs to get done.

Cyclists have to signal stops and turns at least 100 feet either before they ‘execute’ a turn or stop. What are the turn requirements for buses if bikes have to signal at least 100+ feet out? I think it’s the same — if the bus is moving, you gotta give 100+ feet warning. Given that a bus is 40 feet long, that would only give a cyclist 60 feet to react instead of 100.

Am I supposed to believe that the bus was signaling his left turn at least 100 feet before executing his turn, and then suddenly just happened to find a cyclist throwing himself under the bus’s front wheel? C’mon.

The only question that remains is whether or not the bus driver targeted the cyclist or not. Did the bus driver see the cyclist and then ‘accidentally’ run him over? Or did the bus driver ‘just’ not bother to look for people who had the right of way — cyclists and/or cars?

We’re lucky the cyclist wasn’t crushed to death. I’m not sure how the bus driver is not in jail. At some point, Portland cyclists will demand action. I don’t blame y’all for wanting to wait until the video comes out, but we’ve got to make it illegal to run people over, regardless of who is ‘at fault’.

Pedestrians and cyclists should not have to pay with their lives and livelihoods for simple mistakes — riding your damn bike to work should not be a life and death endeavor.

It is possible that the people responsible for engineering this crazy left-turn-across-lanes situation should also be in jail. I think that should probably happen. All of them should go to jail for six months and think about how they’re going to fix the situation when they get out.

We need to get rid of all one-ways, too.

Seager
Guest

This really does sound like BS. The bus turned, the bike went straight. Turning traffic should always have to yield, esp when turning across traffic.

Patrick
Guest
Patrick

@Peter Smith – Chill out man, you act like it was you under that bus and not the other unfortunate guy! And please, let’s not call this a “cut and dry” case when it’s clear from all the comments above that this is anything but. We still have no conclusive knowledge of who (if anyone) was at fault here. Your ranting is neither constructive nor fair-handed, so please exercise your right to free speech but kindly be reasonable.

To me it seems that this accident largely stems from the bus driving an irregular route caused by the interrupted MAX services and was a freak situation which experienced riders might not anticipate or be able to avoid. And sad as it is, there may not be any new lessons to learn from it – though we can definitely emphasize the practice of defensive riding and minimizing left had turns by buses.

Joe Rowe
Guest
Joe Rowe

We will have to wait for the video and day in court, with first hand accounts under oath.

This could be the fault of
a) cyclist
b) bus driver
c) both

It’s not clear what happened. It is clear Tri-mess is not waiting, and very concerned about their messy image.

Tri-mess sounds guilty when they describe a left hook as this: “(bike) ran into the side of the bus as it was making the left hand turn.”

The Santa Clara police used similar marketing when an officer fell asleep and ran down 3 cyclists. The cops knew this at the scene, yet fed reporters stories about how bikes ride 2 abreast.

http://www.mercurynews.com/ci_8517048?source=most_viewed

bramasole_iowa
Guest
bramasole_iowa

Nobody has noted that the Walk/Do Not Walk signs are not always synchronous on both sides of 5th & 6th Avenue intersections.

At several intersections the west side of the street (where the bicyclist was at) will have a Do Not Walk sign for north-south pedestrian traffic, while the east side of the street will have a Walk sign for north-south pedestrian traffic.
In this scenario, it is possible for the bus to have a right-of-way while the bicyclist failed to yield to the Do Not Walk sign.

John Lascurettes
Guest

If both cyclist and bus were using the left lane as stated, there is no room to share the lane. My assumption is that the bike rider must have been following the bus initially. Because if the bike was in front, we wouldn’t even be discussing this.

To be able to even attempt to pass the bus, the rider would have had to done it as the bus swung wide to the right for its buttonhook turn to the left.

At issue then is whether the bus signaled its buttonhook turn well before starting the maneuver. This is what should be answered in court.

Spiffy
Guest
Spiffy

when I saw the posted title on this I thought “ha ha, we were all wrong, it really was the cyclist”… and although I initially thought it was the cyclist’s fault I changed my mind later to implicate the bus driver…

but after reading the weird sequence of events I’m still blaming the bus driver…

from the pictures of the scene it’s obvious that the bus turned from the middle lane, not the left lane… whether it was originally in the left lane and swung into the right lane is irrelevant… it still needed to cross that left lane after entering the right lane and it failed to ensure that it was safe to do so…

I think most of us have all had this situation with a long semi truck turning right… they turn from the 2nd to right lane, or swing left, and then they make their right turn, and if something gets in that right lane they stop and wait for the vehicle to get out of their way…

I still want to see the TriMet video…

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)
Guest

spiffy wrote:

from the pictures of the scene it’s obvious that the bus turned from the middle lane, not the left lane

I just want to make it clear why – according to TriMet – the bus looks like it was turning from the center lane. The bus had to avoid a parked MAX train on SW Morrison…. therefore it had to swing out wide to the right prior to making its left turn. is that clear?

Did I miss it? Again?
Guest
Did I miss it? Again?

Peter Smith has ruled. Case closed.

slowneasy
Guest
slowneasy

Jonathan, somebody obviously gave you information about the turning movements of the bus because the nomenclature used is exactly that which is used in the Commercial Drivers hand for the State of Oregon, except there is one GLARING ERROR. The turn described as a Button Hook Turn is actually a Jug Handle Turn according to my training and said document pages 28-29 section 2.7.6 It is illustrated and labeled in figure 2.13. check it out and it will clear up the type of turn, but not the information you got from your source.

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)
Guest

thanks slowneasy,

I have gotten information about the crash from both TriMet and the Police Bureau spokesperson. However, like some of you, I still have questions. I am trying to get a copy of the police report/investigation so that I can figure out exactly 1) where the bus and bike where prior to the turn and 2) what “traffic control device” the bike didn’t comply with.

Once i have a clearer picture, I’ll either update this post or do a follow-up post. thanks

Laura
Guest
Laura

I was not there and don’t know the details of the accident beyond what has been published but I have known Rick forever and he has always been self-deprecating and humble to a fault. I think that fact combined with almost losing his leg (and probably being on many heavy pain killers and/or in a lot of pain constantly since the accident) caused him to take the blame. I can’t wait until this is decided in court based on facts. The bus should have seen him and given him the right of way. Period.

slowneasy
Guest
slowneasy

At the ATU 757 union meeting a couple of weeks ago we heard from another driver that the bike rider called the bus driver from the hospital to apologize. Of course, this would be considered here say and not admissible but does speak to Laura’s #38 statement about her friend being an honorable and humble person.

slowneasy
Guest
slowneasy

As a bus driver, it is obvious to me that collisions between buses and others are going to continue to happen until the people who control the money for buses and drivers get it through their heads that large buses although seemingly necessary to transport the masses don’t belong downtown or anywhere else that safe driving practices are being overruled by those people who have either never been behind the wheel of a large bus or the value of one human life being averaged against statistics. It is like the collateral damage mindset in the military.

matthew vilhauer
Guest
matthew vilhauer

jonathan-thanks for your continuing efforts to clarify the incident. yes a diagram would be helpful but the info needed may not be available for some time. i’m trying to hold off judgement till the video and all facts are laid out but it does seem like the rider tried to pass on the left when the bus swung wide to the right to execute the button hook left turn.

wsbob
Guest
wsbob

John Lascurettes’s #32 comment details important questions such as whether the bus driver signaled, when/where, and where the guy on the bike was in relation to the bus within the block as all of this transpired.

Maus’s post #34 reminds us that there was a light rail train stopped, which the bus had to drive around.

The guy on the bike at some point finds himself to the left of the bus. In the far left lane, now ahead of the train? In the middle lane with, and alongside the bus?

Guy on the bike is reported to have said something about failed brakes:

“… A PPB spokesperson also says that, “The bike rider said his brakes were bad and he went into the intersection.” …” maus/bikeportland

Spiffy
Guest
Spiffy

Jonathan Maus wrote:

I just want to make it clear why – according to TriMet – the bus looks like it was turning from the center lane. The bus had to avoid a parked MAX train on SW Morrison…. therefore it had to swing out wide to the right prior to making its left turn. is that clear?

Spiffy wrote:

whether it was originally in the left lane and swung into the right lane is irrelevant…

it’s clear, but doesn’t matter to me… the bus looks like it’s so far swung to the right as to be in the middle lane… and at that point it’s turning left from the middle lane, not the left lane, regardless of where it originated… the bus video should help clear that up though…

I’d like to add that if the bus had to swing that wide simply to avoid the train that it should have slowed and waited 30 seconds for that train to move so that it wouldn’t have to swing entirely into the other lane to turn left…

and if that train was stuck there and couldn’t move due to some closure then the bus should have taken a different route… it doesn’t need to follow the tracks exactly during a temporary outage… people can be inconvenienced a little more to travel an extra block…

KWW
Guest
KWW

Sounds like the bike was passing the bus in the intersection, never pass a vehicle in an intersection for your own safety.

maxadders
Guest
maxadders

I’m a little disappointed that the rider admitted his brakes were “bad.” As a general rule, you should never admit fault after an accident– even if you’re embarrassed, even if you think you may actually be somewhat at fault. It’s best to keep your mouth shut and let the authorities work with what evidence they have. Don’t give them anything else to use against you.

I’d hate to think that Trimet / PPB pounced on the “Bad brakes” statement as an easy way to let the bus driver off the hook, but I wouldn’t put it past them. Especially when what seems like a routine bike accident immediately turns into such a heated debate.

matt picio
Guest

Peter Smith (#27) – Wow, Peter, that’s a lot of assumptions you’re making. According to the current draft of the story, the cyclist and bus were both traveling in the left lane. We don’t actually know when the bus started signalling, so whether it was “too soon” is speculative. If both vehicles were in the traffic lane, then the one in front has the right-of-way. The bus would have continued to have the right-of-way until it had fully left the lane. (and we don’t know at this point if it ever did)

(some) Questions that remain:
1. Was the cyclist alongside the bus when the bus signalled its turn?
2. Was the cyclist paying attention to the signals?
3. Were all blinkers on the bus functional at the time of the collision?
4. Was the cyclist in any of the bus’ blind spots?

Cyclists are permitted to pass on the left within the traffic lane only if it is safe to do so. It looks like what happened here based on the account is that the bus swung wide to make the turn, the cyclist interpreted that as the bus returning to the right-most lane, and the bus then swung across the cylist’s path. Until we know more of the details, it still cannot be strongly argued one way or another who was at fault.

And I see that John (#32) just stated the same in far fewer words.

Spiffy (#33) – It’s still not so obvious – if the cyclist was behind the bus in a blind spot when the bus started to move over for the left turn, the operator may not have even known there was a cyclist there. This is a prime case where those on this list may not be aware of the difficulties involved in manuevering large vehicles. It’s not possible in many cases to be aware of all surroundings when performing a turn with these vehicles – they are INHERENTLY UNSAFE. The long-term solution is:

1. Continually educate operators of the necessity and procedures for PROPER USE OF TURN SIGNALS.
2. Continually educate cyclists as to the restrictions and dangers of large vehicles like buses and commercial trucks and how to avoid the situations where they become unseen by the operator
3. Enact policies and perform traffic design that minimizes the number and scope of instances where large vehicles and cyclists come into potentially deadly conflict.

Laura (#38) – With respect to both you and your friend, it’s not that clear-cut. Unless an objective picture of the vehicle moments can be constructed from Tri-Met’s video records and eyewitness testimony, we may never actually know where fault lies. Certainly Tri-Met’s policies, procedures and training should be questioned, as should the design of that intersection and of the bus mall, as should the individual driver’s record. There are instances where everyone does the right thing and a collision still happens. Without the facts, we are all just speculating.

Ted Buehler
Guest
Ted Buehler

From the sounds of it, the bus made a left turn from the right lane, crossing two lanes of traffic to do it.

If this is indeed legal, I doubt that the bus driver can expect everyone to magically get out of the way.

And if that LED “yield sign” was indeed blinking, it certainly wouldn’t have been visible to traffic in the far left lane until the bus had cleared the MAX train by at least 50′. So if it turns out that the yield sign is indeed the traffic control device that Mr. Krebs failed to obey, I’d be skeptical that its a chargeable offense. If he ran the red, that’s another matter. And just because he admits to “bad brakes” doesn’t mean he’d have been able to avoid getting left-hooked even if he had good brakes.

I’m still interested in Trimet’s policy on when a bus can make a left turn from the right lane on the transit mall…

Thanks for keeping us updated, Jonathan.

Ted Buehler

Kt
Guest
Kt

I’m still confused.

I’d like to see a diagram, too. And I’d like to know what Traffic Control Device the cyclist supposedly violated.

The pictures make it look like the cyclist was riding along in the left lane, not in the crosswalk. So unless the light turned red, I’m not sure what traffic control device they’re talking about.

And so what if the bike’s brakes were bad? That could mean he has worn brake pads, not that he doesn’t have brakes.

It sounds to me like the bus did not yield to other traffic prior to the turn, and didn’t signal his intention to turn– therefore,the cyclist couldn’t stop in time due to his brakes being in less-than-ideal condition and crashed into the side of the bus.

That’s just my speculation, however; until there’s a diagram and some clarification, it’s all I got.

+1, Maxadders #45.

spare_wheel
Guest
spare_wheel

ban cyclists and cars from the transit mall!

Laura
Guest
Laura

Matt Picio (#46): The bus driver should have checked to his left and if he couldn’t see to his left he should not have made the turn. I believe that any driver (car or bus) making any turn needs to ensure they don’t run over cyclists who are sharing the lane and going straight. It is on the person who is turning to double check.

wsbob
Guest
wsbob

How can the bike be in the left lane if the train is there? The bus isn’t going to be in the left lane…because the train is there. It was probably in the middle lane, preparing to turn left, though some people are speculating it might have been way over in the right lane.

The bus needs to turn left; its signals are either on, or they aren’t. If the bike was in the same lane as the bus, behind the bus and the bus turn signals were on, the guy on the bike should have noticed them. Even if the guy on the bike was at one point in the left lane, behind the train with the bus ahead of him in the next lane over…the bus turn signals, if they were on, should have been visible to the guy on the bike.

The guy on the bike said his brakes were bad. Someone making a statement like that usually means the brakes aren’t doing the job they’re supposed to; they aren’t allowing the person to stop their vehicle, or at least not in sufficient time to avoid potential disaster.