Truck operater cited in this morning’s crash (and other thoughts from the victim’s husband)

Posted by on September 15th, 2010 at 3:57 pm

As we continue to discuss the right hook crash that happened at NE Couch and Grand this morning, I thought I’d share a comment just left by the victim’s husband. He includes new details (which I’ve put in bold) as well as a piece of his mind about safe driving habits.

“As the victim’s husband, I can assure everyone she’s shaken up and in pain, but will hopefully be fine, with only three broken bones in her foot and a few nice lacerations.

Her brand new KHS will need extensive repairs. And one of her socks, a very nice and beloved sock, was also ruined. Miraculously, her shoe was pulled off her foot before the blood started gushing.

The driver was cited for a bike lane violation and the police, in my opinion, did a pretty fair job of handling the case. One was even so kind as to transport the broken bike to the hospital for me, so I could attend to my injured wife.

The driver I found to be apologetic and a nice guy.

But saying that — as a daily bike rider myself who also drives — I’ll also say this to drivers: LOOK IN YOUR MIRRORS BEFORE YOU TAKE A FUCKING RIGHT TURN… especially on Couch.

If everyone did that one, simple, little thing, we wouldn’t have these problems. As for Jill, she did nothing wrong, and had been riding legally in the bike lane.”

Well said Brian. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and keep us posted on Jill’s condition.

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Joe
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Joe

word, get well!

Amos
Guest

Brilliant. Couldn’t have said it better myself.

Brewcaster
Guest

Assuming your mirrors have no blind spots.

scoot
Guest
scoot

Glad to hear she’s going to be okay. I hope she has a laptop so she can spend her recovering days on a comfy sofa ordering socks from Sock Dreams.

Anonymous
Guest
Anonymous

There is no excuse for right hooking a cyclist. When I drive, I make damn sure I’m clear before making a right turn. If you’re not sure if a cyclist could even potentially be in your blind spot, then re-check and re-check again. If you’re not up to the task as an automobile driver, then park your car permanently.

jim
Guest
jim

Driving a truck you have to anticipate looking for bikes long before you turn. If this means slowing way down, then do it. if you move your head around enough you shouldn’t have a blind spot, although that is still a posibillity…
This really shouldn’t happen, perhaps the driver needs to be more attentive, pay more attention to his task…

John Lascurettes
Guest

… Check your mirrors AND look over your shoulder. If you have a blind spot, you haven’t adjusted your mirrors properly or you shouldn’t be driving the equipment until you get the right mirrors (there is a requirement for vehicles pulling beds or trailers to have the right mirror extensions).

Rob
Guest
Rob

I’m curious about how this happened: Does anyone know if the truck came up from behind the rider prior to the turn, vice versa, or were they proceeding side-by-side?

John Lascurettes
Guest

Rob, it doesn’t matter where the bike rider was in relation to the truck driver (front, next to or behind). If the truck driver could not complete the turn without impeding the flow of traffic in the next lane (the separate and marked bike lane), he must yield to that lane. That is the law. I explain this over and over to my co-workers that don’t ride bikes and who complain about bikes “passing them on the right.” The same is not true when there is no separate side-path.

Paul Tay
Guest
Paul Tay

#5, Anonymous, not to blame Mrs. Michaeltree, but, maybe bike lanes are way over-rated, and cyclists could help cagjaaaas by rollin’ in front of the vehicle, not in the blind spot? Naaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah.

old&slow
Guest
old&slow

Bike lanes in the downtown area are just stupid, ill thought out and unnecessary. Just take the lane and screw the law. IF all the “bike advocates” here would just STFU and stop demanding this stuff, this would not happen.
Bike lanes are great on 40MPH commuter roads like Barbur, etc. No reason for them in the downtown area.
Thanks a lot all you “advocates”, I hope she is doing well and recovers from this and next time, just gets in front of the damn truck and stops with this “bike lane” nonsense.

JJ
Guest
JJ

From an out-of-state reader, does Oregon law still require drivers to unsafely turn across a bike lane instead of the much safer merging into the lane for a turn? I’ve read some conflicting reports about whether that law was changed recently or not.

Requiring drivers to merge into the bike lane eliminates right hooks, unless the cyclist is on the sidewalk, or very unwisely tries to pass in the gutter, instead of going around the vehicle trying to turn.

JJ
Guest
JJ

Here is what California says:

“When you are making a right turn and are within 200 feet of the corner or other driveway entrance, you must enter the bicycle lane to make the turn. Do not drive in the bicycle lane at any other time.”

This is, IMO the only correct way. Vehicles of any kind should always been in the rightmost lane for right turns, and the leftmost lane for left turns.

Cutting across an active traffic lane is madness.

I find it hard to believe that a supposed bike mecca essentially legally mandates right hooks. If the law hasn’t been changed….why not? Surely there are enough activists willing to shove some common sense into the law books.

John Lascurettes
Guest

JJ, unfortunately, that is still the Oregon law (turning across the lane instead of first yielding then merging into it like in California) and even more unfortunately, it’s the BTA’s position that the law should stand. I agree with you, it’s madness and extremely confusing and unintuitive to people who drive who don’t also ride bikes in traffic.

Brad
Guest
Brad

PDX as “Bike Mecca” is very overrated. We’ve got lots of bike users and politicians that say and sometimes do the right things but we have been passed by cities and states that have put real thought into bike law and infrastructure.

John Lascurettes
Guest

JJ, more info on the Oregon-California difference: http://blog.oregonlive.com/multimedia/2007/10/right_of_way_animation.html

jim
Guest
jim

Well put JJ

TonyT
Guest
tonyt

With Paul Tay on this one.

At major, MULTI-lane intersections like this one, it makes no sense to shove bike lanes all the way over to the right just so they can go straight. It’s like a freakin’ afterthought. It’s lazy design.

There are a number of options, but one might be that bike lanes should transition into an obviously marked multi car/bike lane similar to the marked lanes one sees on bike boulevards. There should be no separate right turn lane to the left of this lane. For a brief amount of time, bikes and cars move together, they get through the intersection, and if they must, separate into separate lanes again afterward.

I cross a similar intersection every workday at Broadway and Grand. If there is traffic present I take the lane. The BIG lane. I’m not going to bet my life on someone looking in their mirror AND actually seeing me.

There needs to be a more honest look taken at major intersections. They have different challenges and a different dynamic. They have higher volume traffic, more commercial (large) vehicles, a larger concentration of visiting drivers, and simply more distractions. There is little room for error.

If the city wants to seriously offer these sorts of intersections to the more casual rider as a safe route, they need to do a much better job of thinking them through.

Oh yeah. One other thing. The new bike boxes at Clinton and 39th are slippery as snot. Where’s the texture?

Rob
Guest
Rob

John (#9), while it may not matter legally who was in front, it does matter from a safety perspective. I’ve seen many a cyclist ride up from behind a car with its right turn signal on and blithely cruise right on by. This is putting your life in the hands of an anonymous driver who may or may not be looking out for you. Something that I learned years ago is to never trust the other person and always assume that they don’t see you. (It’s actually something that was drilled into me in a motorcyle course and saved my skin more than once.)

Rob
Guest
Rob

By the way, I’m in no way implying that this cyclist was in the wrong. She may very well have been riding defensively – even when we do everything right we’re still very vulnerable…

Paul Tay
Guest
Paul Tay

RE: “I’ve seen many a cyclist ride up from behind a car with its right turn signal on and blithely cruise right on by.”

What are bike lanes teaching clueless cyclists?

Paul Tay
Guest
Paul Tay

NOT gonna happen:

RECOMMENDATION OF THE BICYCLE ADVISORY COMMITTEE TO STOP USING BIKE LANES.

WHEREAS, bike lanes encourage cyclists to roll in the motorists’ blind spot;

WHEREAS, bike lanes encourage cyclists to roll in the “door zone”;

WHEREAS, requiring motorists to cross bike lanes, instead of merging, while making a right turn is unsafe for cyclists;

WHEREAS, overwhelming evidence across the country indicate bike lanes are unsafe for cyclists.

IT IS HEREBY THE RECOMMENDATION OF THE BICYCLE ADVISORY COMMITTEE OF THE CITY OF PORTLAND, OR THAT PORTLAND BUREAU OF TRANSPORTATION STOP USING BIKE LANES, REMOVE CURRENT INSTALLATIONS, AND UNDERTAKE A MAJOR CAMPAIGN TO EDUCATE CYCLISTS TO ROLL IN THE LINE OF SIGHT OF MOTORISTS.

Red Five
Guest
Red Five

It is time for BIKE JIHAD! Join me, my brothers and sisters in defeating the 4-wheel infidels! 72 Fixies await you in heaven.

James Sherbondy
Guest
James Sherbondy

First, REALLY glad to hear that the rider is OK.

Second, I ride this part every day. My two cents on how to stay safe, take the lane till you’re past Grand. It’s a downhill run the whole way to the Burnside bridge and the lights are timed so that even a mediocre rider can keep up with the flow, barring of course the idiots who gun it from light to light. It’s very tempting to jump into the bike lane when the cars get backed up, but don’t do it. suck a little exhaust and then blast by the cagers AFTER Grand.

Thirdly, Red Five, I think it’s time to get a new microwave man, yours has become a bit leaky.

Adams Carroll (News Intern)
Guest

RE: potential for a bike lane law change.

Back in 2006, the Lt. of the PPB Traffic Division, Mark Kruger, advocated to the Bike Advisory Committee to change our law exactly like JJ mentions above.

Here’s my story on it:
Police propose bike lane law change.

After the death by right hook of Tracey Sparling in October 2007, Kruger was in the media, telling them basically “I told you so” and once again advocating for Oregon to adopt the California style bike lane law.

At the time, the response from PBOT was that they wanted to protect the power of the bike lane and they felt that allowing cars to encroach upon it would open up a pandora’s box wherein bike lanes would lose some of their standing as safe places to bike (both in a mental and practical sense). There was also the response from PBOT that all the CA law does is move the potential conflict point back away from the intersection.

hope this bit of history is helpful. A legislative session is coming up and PBOT and the BTA are making lists of things to work on… if enough ppl think a bike lane law change is a good idea than it might be worth a more in-depth discussion.

Paul Tay
Guest
Paul Tay

If PDX BAC renounces bike lanes and declares them UNSAFE, Tulsa, OK and the rest of America, working on our own bike plans and fighting the entrenched cagjaaa mentality, would point your way.

Adams Carroll (News Intern)
Guest

Paul Tay,

Can you share some of the evidence you have that bike lanes are “unsafe”?

I think a much more accurate argument is “some bike lane designs are unsafe”. Bike lanes themselves, i feel, are absolutely great in some situations. However, I agree that engineers need to go beyond bike lanes. They’re really a 1990s tool that, because lack of funds and political will to do major street redesigns, we haven’t given up on.

ideally, we’d still have bike lanes in some situations where they make sense, but in more high-volume areas we’d have more clear and substantial bikeways — like real bike traffic lanes with their own signage, physical separation, signal phases, etc…

the problem with some advocates is that “take the lane” and “bike lanes suck” fall on deaf ears of most cities because the bike planning profession is convinced that novice riders they’re trying to reach need places away from cars to bike in.

Paul Tay
Guest
Paul Tay

RE: “the response from PBOT was that they wanted to protect the power of the bike lane…”

Why would anyone want to protect the power of a proven KILLER?

RE: “Open up a pandora’s box wherein bike lanes would lose some of their standing as safe places.”

Were bike lanes safe places to begin with?

If anyone on the BAC is afraid of losing street space to horsepower happy cagjaaaa, imagine what cyclists would gain, IF you guys would use the spare change to edukate cyclists to take the WHOLE lane and stay in cagjaaa line of sight.

NF
Guest
NF

“…within 200 feet of the corner”

-just a note that in Portland, this would have the driver in the bike lane for the entire block. Ours are shorter than most.

Paul Tay
Guest
Paul Tay

J. Maus, et al:

Exhibit A

Exhibit B

Exhibit C

For more, google “bike lanes dangerous.”

Adams Carroll (News Intern)
Guest

Paul,

most reasonable people/planners/engineers etc — even in Portland! — realize that bike lanes are not the best treatment. what I’m saying is that the problem is, we haven’t yet been able to push to the next big solution… yet!

you’ll note PBOT is working on bike boulevards and other, non-bike lane solutions.

also, the problem with the exhibits above is that the people who have the biggest “bike lanes are dangerous” voice have usually followed that up with take-the-lane/vehicular cycling solutions… my point is that when the momentum is around breaking in new/novice riders, city’s are simply not moving in the “take the lane” direction.

So what’s the solution? It’s easy to criticize but harder to work on a real solution.

saying we need better education is great, everyone agrees with that! but how do we pay for it? how is it best implemented (a license?), etc..

Paul Tay
Guest
Paul Tay

RE: “the problem with some advocates is that “take the lane” and “bike lanes suck” fall on deaf ears of most cities because the bike planning profession is convinced that novice riders they’re trying to reach need places away from cars to bike in.”

“The fallacy has been to cram ‘good medicine’ down people’s throat because the experts’ thought it was good for them.” Fisher, E. G., and R. Reeder. Vehicle Traffic Law. Traffic Institute, Northwestern University, Evanston, IL, 1974, 20, 29.

“Much of what has gone on in highway design and operation practice has represented activity without sufficient thought.” Highway Safety, Design and Operation. Report 93-7. Subcommittee on Investigations and Review. Committee on Public Works, U.S. House of Representatives, July 1973.

Paul Tay
Guest
Paul Tay

RE: “most reasonable people/planners/engineers etc — even in Portland! — realize that bike lanes are not the best treatment. what I’m saying is that the problem is, we haven’t yet been able to push to the next big solution… yet!”

In the meantime, people die or seriously injured, NEEDLESSLY. How many more Tracy Sparlings does PDX need to just say NO to bike lanes?

RE: “my point is that when the momentum is around breaking in new/novice riders, city’s are simply not moving in the “take the lane” direction.”

Cities are not moving simply because the concerned parties, cyclists themselves, are not moving. If the PDX BAC comes out against bike lanes, it will have major results, not just in PDX, but also, here in Tulsa, and across America.

RE: “Saying we need better education is great, everyone agrees with that! but how do we pay for it? how is it best implemented (a license?).”

Oh, right. There’s all the money in the world to build more bike lanes, proven killers, but, NOT one dime to include bike driving ed into regular driver’s ed, NOT one dime for 30 second PSA’s, and NOT one dime for bus bench ads? Help me out, people! WHAT AM I MISSING?

ac
Guest
ac

the merge can work, but it needs to be striped so that all road users can expect the crossover…the expectation on the part of all users is key

example of unsafe situation: no striping for a safe right turn at NW Everett & 14th…traffic coming off 405 slides thru an unmarked parking lane across the bike lane to turn right onto Everett on the red light (lots of vehicles come thru here during rush so it could really benefit from some regulation)

example of safe situation: striped right turn lane on NE Vancouver south of Fremont, lane dedicated to right turns onto Fremont Bridge…traffic coming down Vancouver makes noted efforts to merge safely with cyclists

rider
Guest
rider

A month or so ago I was riding up Vancouver and at a light a driver rolled down his window and asked the cyclist in front of me how he was supposed to make a right turn with a bike lane, e.g. who yields to who, can he make the turn on red, etc. It was great that he was educating himself, but’s he’s just one of many who doesn’t know how this all works. I wish there was some sort of “The More You Know” campaign that helped educate bicyclists and drivers alike. I think it would reduce much of the tension and accidents.

ac
Guest
ac

i guess my point above is that the CA style right turn leaves a lot to chance, and the immediate situation is a fleeting agglomeration of driver experiences and reactions put into action in an instant

at least a striped or controlled intersection sets some rules, if not physical barriers

Adams Carroll (News Intern)
Guest

Rider wrote:
“I wish there was some sort of “The More You Know” campaign that helped educate bicyclists and drivers alike.”

— this is a great idea and something local advocates should definitely push ODOT/PBOT to do more of. They have a safety budget and more could be done to feature bike/car traffic law issues

Paul Tay, you wrote:
“In the meantime, people die or seriously injured, NEEDLESSLY. How many more Tracy Sparlings does PDX need to just say NO to bike lanes?”

— 1) data shows that right hooks usually result in only minor injuries and are comparatively not as dangerous as many other collision types. 2) there have been no other “Tracey Sparlings”

“There’s all the money in the world to build more bike lanes, proven killers, but, NOT one dime to include bike driving ed into regular driver’s ed, NOT one dime for 30 second PSA’s, and NOT one dime for bus bench ads? Help me out, people! WHAT AM I MISSING?”

— You’re missing some facts. 1) there’s not “all the money in the world” to build more bike lanes. funding is still a struggle. 2) “proven killers”? i just don’t agree w/ that and feel it’s not a productive label at all. 3) getting bike driving into driver’s ed isn’t about money, it’s about advocacy and political will. 4) there have been bus bench and other bus ads promoting bike safety.

El Biciclero
Guest
El Biciclero

“…turning across the [bike] lane instead of first yielding then merging into it…”

If it is possible to yield before merging, how is it any harder to yield before turning?

IMO, the biggest advantage of bike lanes is that when other traffic is backed up, I have a legally sanctioned lane of traffic–analogous to an HOV lane–in which I can (cautiously) keep moving while cars are stopped. Allow the California merge, and the main road I travel for 4 or so miles on my way home will change from 2 lanes and a bike lane in each direction to 2 lanes and a right turn lane in each direction. I’d be just as stuck in traffic as any car driver (much to their delight, I’m sure).

Additionally, my non-scientific anecdotal study of current driver behavior suggests that most drivers are less likely to yield when merging than they are to yield when turning.

The only advantage I can see to changing this law might be that when cyclists are inevitably run over by drivers “yielding, then merging”, there ought to be zero question about who is at fault.

Paul Tay
Guest
Paul Tay

RE: “– 1) data shows that right hooks usually result in only minor injuries and are comparatively not as dangerous as many other collision types. 2) there have been no other “Tracey Sparlings”

Is it because of bike lanes or education? Define “minor injuries.” If I had obey Oregon or any other state ride-right statutes and roll bike lanes all day long, I would have died a million deaths.

RE: “1) there’s not “all the money in the world” to build more bike lanes. funding is still a struggle. 2) “proven killers”? i just don’t agree w/ that and feel it’s not a productive label at all. 3) getting bike driving into driver’s ed isn’t about money, it’s about advocacy and political will. 4) there have been bus bench and other bus ads promoting bike safety.”

If you guys have put enough cash into education instead for more misguided bike lanes, Mrs. Michaeltree, et al are STILL not getting the memo.

How many more “minor injuries” of newbie cyclists do we need before “reasonable” people/planners/engineers get the message? Do we really want to teach newbie cyclists the WRONG lesson from the get-go?

Adams Carroll (News Intern)
Guest

if folks are interested in the bike lane debate… back in August 2006, I addressed the exact issue in a story titled, Bike lanes, a haven or a hazard?

lots of great discussion that comment section.

Adams Carroll (News Intern)
Guest

Paul Tay wrote:

“How many more “minor injuries” of newbie cyclists do we need before “reasonable” people/planners/engineers get the message? Do we really want to teach newbie cyclists the WRONG lesson from the get-go?”

— Paul, the dominant thinking in urban bike planning right now is that you won’t have any “newbie cyclists” to teach if you don’t have any bike-specific facilities for them to ride in. For as bad as some people think bike lanes are, the big city has the more of them than anywhere else — Portland — also has the highest rate of daily bike use. is that a bad thing? would Portland have as many riders if we didn’t have as many bike lanes?

Joe
Guest
Joe

Some bike lanes create right hooks, I feel meaning cars always try and beat you to the turn, even if they just passed you. Im not racing you Mr.Car

Most of the time I avoid a right hook but feeling/seeing the car movements as they pass me, but thats not always the case.

Must have wings on my back or just luck.

be safe enjoy the ride
Joe

Paul Tay
Guest
Paul Tay

RE: “Portland — also has the highest rate of daily bike use. is that a bad thing? would Portland have as many riders if we didn’t have as many bike lanes?”

Ok, there’s critical mass, along with some collateral damage and “minor” injuries. With the benefit of hindsight, looking at the whole picture of the PDX culture, I dare say you would have the warm bodies on the road, even if “reasonable” people/planners/engineers took the high road and insisted on education before misguided engineering. Even before bike lanes, there were enough assets on the ground to sound “reasonable” to accommodate newbie cyclists. Those assets belong to TriMet.

RE: “the dominant thinking in urban bike planning right now is that you won’t have any “newbie cyclists” to teach if you don’t have any bike-specific facilities for them to ride in.”

Yep. NOBODY likes wiseguys to say, “Why would “reasonable people/planners/engineers discourage “newbie cyclists” with PROVEN killer bike-specific facilities that put meat in blind spots and door zones?

J. Maus, I GIVE UP. Let’s go get a BEER!

spare_wheel
Guest
spare_wheel

“it makes no sense to shove bike lanes all the way over to the right just so they can go straight. It’s like a freakin’ afterthought. It’s lazy design.”

i agree completely. if we want to encourage cycling it should be cars that are forced to slow down and look before taking a right — not cyclists.

“striped right turn lane on NE Vancouver south of Fremont”

i think this is exactly the kind of treatment needed. in the context of a highly utilized route cars should be channeled away from cyclists rather than be forced to compete for space. bike boxes also do nothing to eliminate conflicts when the light turns green. dedicated turn lanes solve this issue.

beth h
Guest

Paul Tay — what is your solution for, specifically, NEWBIE (and/or older/slower) cycists to help them feel and be safer on the roads?

In your answers, please formulate how you plan to get motorists on board with your vision, and where the money is coming from.

Thank you.

h
Guest
h

if i arrive at an intersection before the front car, the driver may not realize i am at the other side. I wait for the front car to move first before me because I dont know for sure what the car is going next…. that is my basic biking defense…

Joe Rowe
Guest
Joe Rowe

I feel there is an elephant in the room here. The reason why this woman got hit at this trouble spot is the same reason why we have a lot of trouble spots. Even parked cars win out over bikes.

I’ll quote another person here: “PBOT has succeeded in stacking the BAC with members who all agree with PBOT’s agenda”

There’s another spot where this problem has mostly been solved by removing some parking… There’s a big potential for right hooks on N. Vancouver Ave as cars attempt to turn right and get on the Freemont bridge.

a) Parking spots have been removed to promote bike safety.

b) There is a bike lane next to a curb side bus only lane. This gives bikes and cars a lot of side to side room over a long stretch. Both bikes and cars can see each other and slow down. The bikes go straight, the cars turn right

c) The pavement is clearly striped, and the bike lane does not vanish and reappear.

What can improve Couch and Grand?

1) The BTA? Hmm. They want to raise funds, but not a fuss. When was the last time they had any call to action.

2) The BAC? AKA a toothless lapdog.

3) Join me in the a new group of bike activists.

http://www.activerightofway.org/

Click the link on the right to join the discussion list.

GlowBoy
Guest
GlowBoy

Sorry Paul Tay, but you ideological VC advocates aren’t going to make bike lanes go away. Selectively citing studies doesn’t make you right.

I’m a long time rider (and practice VC when I’m not in a bike lane), but you can (figuratively) pry bike lanes out of my cold dead hands! No way am I going to try to share the lane with 45mph traffic out here in Beaverton.

Getting rid of bike lanes can have one of two possible effects: (1) drastically reducing the number of riders, leaving only those aggressive enough to ride VC, achieving VC’s elitist agenda or (2) if people decide to ride anyway, you’re going to get a whole lot of folks killed. HANDS OFF MY BIKE LANES!

GlowBoy
Guest
GlowBoy

And by the way, going to the idiotic California law isn’t going to make things any better for cyclists. If drivers can enter the bike lane to make a right turn, then they’re going to sit there BLOCKING IT while they wait for peds to cross.

Oregon’s rule — and honestly, most drivers get this — is you never drive IN the bike lane; you CROSS it. Turning across the bike lane is conceptually no different than making a left turn across opposing traffic. You wait for traffic to clear, then cross it. You never, ever, ever drive IN it. No way is switching to the California law going to make much of a dent in right hooks. Instead it will force a lot more cyclists out into the higher-speed general purpose lanes. On 25mph urban arterials this might not be a big deal, but on 40-45mph suburban arterials it becomes a much more serious problem.

ac
Guest
ac

+1 to post #49