Urban Tribe - Ride with your kids in front.

Photos and thoughts from the scene of Barbur fatality

Posted by on December 17th, 2010 at 9:53 am

Scene of fatal crash on SW Barbur Blvd-3

Looking south on Barbur about .3
miles south of SW Hamilton. The
orange paint is where Angela Burke’s
body came to rest. The apartment complex is
in the upper left.
(Photos © J. Maus)

Last night I went out to SW Barbur to get a better sense of the scene of the fatal crash that occurred there Wednesday night.

By way of markings in the street painted by Portland Police Bureau crash investigators, Angela Burke’s body came to rest about three tenths of a mile south of where SW Barbur Blvd (99W) crosses SW Hamilton. The collision occurred directly across the street from a parking lot and just a few feet north of the entrance to the Town and Country Apartments at 4800 SW Barbur (map).

This map gives you a sense of Barbur’s curvature.
The A marks the spot where Burke’s body came to rest.
Also note the TriMet bus stop to the south.

Barbur in this location has four five (!!), wide, standard vehicle travel lanes, 4-5 foot bike only lanes on both sides of the street, and a center turn lane. The posted speed limit is 35mph, but most cars go 40-50 (I drove to the location and was passed by several people as I went 35 mph).

Portland Police investigators say that Burke was attempting to cross the street when she was hit by Caleb Pruitt (who was jailed and then released on charges of DUII and negligent homicide). If that’s the case, it’s likely she was preparing to cross from the west side of Barbur over to the apartments on the east side of the street. In the photo below, the yellow arrow shows where Burke’s body was found and lights from the apartment building can be seen in the upper right (this view is looking north on SW Barbur from the west side of the street)…

The lighting of the road in this area is sporadic.

Hoping to find out more about Burke (so far all I know is that she’s from Albany, New York), I approached several people at the Town and Country Apartments. I met a woman who saw the aftermath of the crash from her balcony. After the police left, she put a candle on a plate, walked over to the street where Burke’s body came to rest, and placed it on the cement barricade as a memorial.

Scene of fatal crash on SW Barbur Blvd-4

This warning sign is no more than
100 feet south of where Burke was hit.

The woman I met (she didn’t want her name used) is a transit user, and said many people in her building and an adjacent apartment complex also take the bus. There’s a stop just a few hundred feet south of were Burke was hit (on the west side of the street, meaning they all have to cross Barbur to get home). Neighborhood activists have been trying to get the city and the state to put a more substantial crossing treatment there for years.

“That poor girl,” the woman said, “It’s just really ridiculous… People need to just slow down. It’s just not safe.” The woman told me that police use this corner as a speed trap. She also said she’s ready to write a letter to the city and the apartment building manager to try and bring more attention to the safety issues at this location.

To give you another perspective on where this happened, watch the little video below. I shot it walking in the bike lane near where Burke was hit…

My visit to the scene answered some of my questions about where and how this might have happened, but questions remain. I’ll learn more in the coming days. Stay tuned for updates and for information about a possible vigil and demonstration at the site early next week.

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  • Esther December 17, 2010 at 10:01 am

    Jonathan – I haven’t been to that location on bike in awhile but I looked at it on google maps, and just south of the pedestrian crossing the speed limit turns to 45 (link) which means that many drivers who use it often and are familiar with the limits, are probably accelerating in anticipation of the speed limit change. I think you can get up to 9+ mph over the speed limit before you even get dinged for speeding which means that many of them are probably accelerating to over 50.

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    • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) December 17, 2010 at 10:06 am

      Yes Esther, the speed limit does go up to 45 just south of here. And yes, people go quite fast in this area… which is typical when you have wide roads and a culture where driving fast is a selling point but where the consequences of that speed are merely “accidents.”

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  • fredlf December 17, 2010 at 10:19 am

    Every time I come back from a long backpacking trip or other wilderness excursion I am struck by how dangerous the human-built environment is. We have built for ourselves an environment where immediate death or serious injury is literally a few inches away almost everywhere outside our houses.

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    • Lance P. December 17, 2010 at 10:32 am

      We can thank ODOT for that. Really any DOT for that matter.

      If ODOT was an elected office, they would have been thrown out a long time ago. There are over 50 deaths this year alone that fall on the laps of ODOT. But I guess that is a small insignificant price to pay for a speedy congestion free trip.

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  • Spiffy December 17, 2010 at 10:46 am

    is that first picture a body outline as the caption suggests? it looks like a bike outline, which makes it very eerie to a person riding a bike… or maybe she and her bike were thrown as one unit…

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    • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) December 17, 2010 at 10:54 am

      My hunch — and I’m still waiting to talk with crash investigators — is that those markings are where her body came to rest. The woman in the apt. building said that’s where she was. … but I’m not 100% sure.

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  • David Feldman December 17, 2010 at 10:54 am

    It’s at least good to hear that there is some speed trap activity on Barbur. It is a street with chronic speeding; police should step up enforcement and the state should allow them to raise speeding fines to both a revenue-producing and behavior modifying level. What could be a bigger win/win than making money and saving lives at the same time?

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  • Robert Stapleton December 17, 2010 at 10:54 am

    Awful things like this make me wonder if people will EVER truly understand how dangerous cars really are.The truth is that we all accept the fact it’s not a matter of IF this is going to happen,it’s when, where,and who. It’s sad to think that we are willing to sacrifice so many lives for our own selfish convenience.Although it’s true that we have to be vigilent to fix problem areas on our roadways,it seems like a forever losing battle,like putting a bandaid on a broken arm.

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  • Andrew December 17, 2010 at 10:58 am

    Thanks, ODOT!

    Now let’s, as a region, take over these orphan state highways.

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  • Owen Walz (Friends of Barbur) December 17, 2010 at 11:17 am

    Thanks for giving this the attention it deserves Jonathan.

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  • Robert Stapleton December 17, 2010 at 11:22 am

    This “problem” goes way beyond ODOT,as long as there are people,cars,and alcohol this will continue to happen on a regular basis. This is NOT an “accident”,this is the unfortunate result of an ignorant and irresponsible culture.

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  • shirtsoff December 17, 2010 at 11:29 am

    I don’t believe the following is the primary factor behind this tragedy but it is worth mentioning as many of us move apart in cars, on cycles, as pedestrians, or whatever mode of transportation we use: Oregon law, ORS, permits pedestrians to cross a highway (read: roadway) if there is not a marked crossing within a 150 feet of their location in either direction. A lot of people do not seem aware of this which makes observing the law difficult and dangerous for pedestrians and cyclists wishing to utilize it (who are regarded under Oregon statutes as pedestrians when entering initially into crossings no faster than a pedestrian would but may speed up once in the crossing). As always, there must be sufficient stopping time/distance for vehicles approaching.

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  • shirtsoff December 17, 2010 at 11:30 am

    Ooops.. that should read “…as many of us move *about* via cars, on cycles…” in the first sentence

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  • cyclist December 17, 2010 at 11:48 am

    It needs to be repeatedly restated that this didn’t happen because of poor lighting, it happened because she was hit by a DRUNK DRIVER.

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    • are December 17, 2010 at 6:01 pm

      it happened because the drunk was driving a car

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    • q`Tzal December 17, 2010 at 8:04 pm

      )) Alcohol impairment (primary cause)
      )) Road segment speed set too high (this causes drivers to become habituated to the excess speed and innured to the hazards)
      )) Substandard lighting (not sufficent for urban density nor for the combination of set speed limit and poor sight lines)
      )) Unmarked pedestrian crossing (not legally a crosswalk so drivers ignore it; also poor sightlines on crossing vs. posted speed limit)

      While DUII is the obvious cause it is also obvious to anyone who has driven an auto that it is very VERY easy to get distracted enough to kill and maim.

      We claim the right to the “freedom of the open road” as if it were in the Bill of Rights but that and all other freedoms should be curtailed where they curtail other citzens basic freedom to life.

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    • Seth Alford December 18, 2010 at 1:08 am

      I agree that the primary reason for this tragedy was Ms. Burke was hit by a drunk driver.

      But it’s been nagging me whether lighting did play a part in why Ms. Burke crossed where she did. The orange outline in the bike lane in Jonathan’s pictures is north of the signed but unmarked crosswalk.

      Here’s a link to a video of that crosswalk, from my helmet cam from 11/27/2010. Note that this video is of me travelling NORTHBOUND, stopping, and then crossing that crosswalk. Remember that the crash last Wednesday happened further north of this crosswalk.


      The orange outline in the bike lane is also north of where a row of street lights on the west side of Barbur were out, at least as of last Tuesday 12/14/2010. That’s the last time I bicycled that section of Barbur after dark.

      I don’t remember when I first noticed those lights were out. But I do remember thinking that that the telephone poles of the non-working street lights had red/orange tape wrapped around them. I remember thinking, “Oh. Orange tape. The City knows that these street lights are out. So I guess I don’t need to call them to tell them to get them fixed. I’ll just get told that the City will get to it when they get to it, like when I asked for street sweeping of leaves on Capitol. And I already alerted the LAB and the BTA twice, recently, once about those leaves and once about the tree limbs on Capitol. And I don’t want to go to that well too often.”

      Below is a link to my video from last Tuesday night. You can see where the section where the west side street lights were out. Please note that THE STREET APPEARS DARKER IN THIS VIDEO THAN IT ACTUALLY IS AT NIGHT, because my CountourHD helmet cam does not do a good job with nighttime video. Jonathan’s video is much more representative of what it looks like after dark.


      Did Ms. Burke not walk all the way south to the signed but unpainted crosswalk, not just because she wanted to save a few steps, but because she wanted to avoid the dark area on the west side where the lights were out? Or had she tried the crosswalk previously, found that cars did not yield, so she was conditioned to not bother using the crosswalk anyway, because the crosswalk offered no additional safety?

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  • dpmf94 December 17, 2010 at 12:39 pm

    I ride this stretch several times a week on my way to work. I’m sickened but not surprised by this. The way in which the crash is reported to have happened also echoes a feeling I’ve had for awhile that, in an odd way, Barbur is more dangerous for peds than for bikes.

    If your destination requires *crossing* Barbur, not just at the apartments, but at Hamilton/Corbett, Terwilliger, Bertha, Capitol Hwy, etc. – you are stepping out into an environment in which the infrastructure encourages drivers (intoxicated or not) to take risks, by offering them the chance to get someplace *fast* if not for those pesky lights/crossings/double yellow lines/human beings in the roadway.

    Because one more or less has to take the lane to navigate the bridges and the Naito offramp safely, bike traffic on Barbur is more or less limited to cyclists who are aware of and comfortable conforming with the expectations of vehicle throughput – and they tend to do just fine. Given the relatively few intersections between Terwilliger and Carruthers, there is relatively little potential here for right hooks and other common dangers of the urban cycling environment. But the result is that what should be the main connection between SW and downtown given its level grade, is limited to confident to fearless end of the spectrum.

    I’m with @Andrew in that the fundamental structural cause here is ODOT’s indifference and inattention to the impact of state highways on the communities they pass through. And it’s not just in the City – look at the impact of TV Hwy on downtown Hillsboro, or of Farmington and Canyon Rd. in Beaverton.

    I can’t tell you how many times I’ve called about a non-working bike loop or some such, just to be told, with a sigh, that the intersection is under ODOT jurisdiction. Ditto w/ the efforts to get a crosswalk beacon for the apartments.

    If the BTA or anyone else is looking for good advocacy goals that don’t require state $ in this budget environment – I think this is it: Some sort of formal process for redress of the local safety and accessibility problems created by state highways. I can see this working politically on the state level b/c it’s a problem in small towns and suburbs too, and not just in the Metro area.

    Hmm… maybe we need to pedal out to Carlton and ask how they got the speed limit lowered to what is it – 20mph – on OR-47!

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  • mello yello December 17, 2010 at 12:43 pm

    There needs to be a head moving campaign. I see too many pedestrians tuned out of the surrounding chaos, self-oblivious to the impending warning of wayward collision. Situational awareness.

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    • Jackattak December 17, 2010 at 4:23 pm

      I know you’re joking and all, but that’s not even close to funny in this situation. Someone died and to even joke that it could’ve been avoided had she been more aware is bad humor, sir.

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      • q`Tzal December 17, 2010 at 8:06 pm


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  • Julia December 17, 2010 at 12:56 pm

    As a friend of Angela’s from Albany, it is really touching to see the genuine concern from those who were never able to meet her. There are many adjectives that may be used to describe her, but what stands out the most was her willingness to not only listen, but to actually empathize if you needed to talk to someone, even if you didn’t know her very well. She was also one of the most sweet, outgoing people I have ever met, as her presence was realized as soon as she arrived. I hope that this tragic incident does bring attention to what seems like a dangerous “crosswalk”, as well as bicycle safety as a whole. Motorists often have the attitude that they are the only ones deserving use of roadways, which is unacceptable. Angela was taken far too early, and this should not have happened, nor should it again.

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  • Peter W December 17, 2010 at 1:27 pm

    Considering how few alternatives there to Barbur for cyclists in that corridor (and there are zero alternatives for people living on Barbur who need to cross it), the speed limit must be reduced. There is no way 45mph is a safe speed for a street with so many people biking (or walking) on it.

    Another thought – what would be the effect on the road-safety consciousness of the nation if Google displayed the location of every traffic fatality on Google Maps?

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    • q`Tzal December 17, 2010 at 8:09 pm

      I’d like to have the option to have Google Map navigation route around know high risk areas when possible.
      Also active trip rerouting in the event of a crash ahead.

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    • q`Tzal December 17, 2010 at 8:12 pm

      Or perhaps a heads-up style warning for all drivers that the intersection ahead averages 1 crash/2 hours: it has been 130 since the last crash. Please be careful.

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  • K December 17, 2010 at 1:51 pm

    Jonathan: from Google maps, it looks like Barbur in this location (i.e. between SW Hamilton and the junction with SW Capitol Hwy) actually has five – not four – vehicle travel lanes; two lanes southbound and three northbound. It would seem relatively straightforward to remove one of the northbound vehicle traffic lanes along this stretch of SW Barbur to create more space for bike/ped facilities at either side of the road (buffered bike lanes and/or new sidewalks). Of course, that’s in the assumption that ODOT would be willing to sacrifice some of the existing car traffic space for the increased safety and comfort of cyclists and pedestrians. Crossing 4 lanes of high-speed traffic would also be a little less daunting than crossing 5 lanes of traffic.

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    • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) December 17, 2010 at 1:57 pm

      thanks for that Kris,

      you’re absolutely right. Wow. There are five full travel lanes and a center turn lane. I would love to know if all that capacity is actually needed. Seems like we could use this space more effectively without any impact on existing traffic flow while making that traffic flow much safer and creating a more sane and livable streetscape. thanks.

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      • K December 17, 2010 at 2:42 pm

        Jonathan: Judging from the width and the double yellow lines , the “center turn lane” is actually just a safety buffer between northbound and southbound traffic. Of course, it’s ironic that ODOT is willing to sacrifice a generous amount of road space to mitigate the risk of car-on-car crashes, but they seem reluctant to sacrifice road space to provide similar protection of cyclists and pedestrians. Then again, it does reflect the existing reality that most bike lanes in the U.S. are just glorified roadway shoulders, with not much more protection than some paint.

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        • Kt December 20, 2010 at 9:15 am

          I was just going to post that! Since the two center yellow lanes do not have any dashed line next to them, they are not turn lanes. Just a buffer, as K says.

          Still— 5 lanes, 3 uphill and 2 downhill, and no crosswalks/sidewalks??? Lunacy.

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  • Duncan December 17, 2010 at 2:01 pm

    I am so sorry for the loss of your friend.

    Why is it that we cannot have speed phto ticket things like they have for red light runners? Seems like a few of those would encourage drivers to moderate their speed.

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  • spare_wheel December 17, 2010 at 2:37 pm

    Julia, Thanks for posting and my sympathy for your loss.

    “Seems like a few of those would encourage drivers to moderate their speed.”

    The proliferation of red light cameras has proven to be very effective. PDOT *needs* to start installing static radar speed cameras.

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  • CaptainKarma December 17, 2010 at 3:21 pm

    There are speeder/camera/radar vans in PDX. I usually see the white vans in outer SE where roads are flat & straight, Doesn’t seem right.

    They have to post a sign a certain distance etiher way from their setup to warn drivers that they are being subjected to speeder/cam/radar enforcement. Also doesn’t seem right.

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  • joey December 17, 2010 at 3:22 pm

    This is a street with only cars in mind. It should not be. It needs to be a “complete street” for everyone. Slow down the cars. Get rid of some lanes.

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  • deborah December 17, 2010 at 4:06 pm

    Thanks for going out there to shoot that video Jonathan! It gave a great perspective of how dangerous an area it is and how perilous it is for those that have to cross at that point. Hopefully some changes will come of it.

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  • Robert Stapleton December 17, 2010 at 4:23 pm

    You can discuss the details of that particular chunk of road forever but that is NOT the real problem !!! It’s the mentality of the people driving the cars ! The public roads are NOT a giant race track or a video game.Those are human beings not obstacles !! Personally I don’t think I’m safe walking or riding ANYWHERE cars are present. I live across the street from a Fred Meyer store. I have to walk across only 2 lanes of traffic and it doesn’t matter if you use the crosswalk or not,there are cars whipping close by me or bearing down on me at speed every time. Then you have to deal with the parking lot,people speeding,passing eachother,passing just inches from me with no concern whatsoever.It’s the people that will always be the problem,not the place.Add alcohol,cellphones,etc.,to the mix and it’s downright terrifying !!!! We are sacrificing lives for the flimsy reason of convenience regardless of the body count.Face up to the REAL problems folks and do something about it !! The next time you are in a position to drink and drive OR walk/bike across a roadway that doesn’t seem safe-DON’T !! And have some consideration for others,it’s MUCH more important than you think.

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  • Lisa December 17, 2010 at 7:00 pm

    What a sad and lonely place to die. Poor Angela. I am so sorry for everyone who knew and loved her.

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  • Stripes December 17, 2010 at 10:30 pm

    A few years ago, PBOT undertook a major high crash corridor safety project on another big arterial – 82nd Avenue. As a result, for the first time ever, pedestrian crossings with median islands were installed at intervals along the corridor – unprecedented for a roadway owned by ODOT.

    PBOT said they were planning to carry out similar high crash corridor projects along other roads in subsequent years.

    Barbur Boulevard sounds like a major candidate for this.

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  • Stripes December 17, 2010 at 10:33 pm

    Also, regarding capacity. It seems insane that Barbur Boulevard needs this many lanes. There are SO many busy roads that all pointlessly parallel each other within just a few blocks in this neighborhood – Macadam, Barbur, I-5, and Terwilliger. Why are they all needed? That would be like having a Powell Boulevard in SE every three blocks. Insanity. There’s more concrete roadway than houses.

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  • malka December 18, 2010 at 8:43 am

    Jonathan’s video gave me the chills. I was recently on the look-out for an apartment and considered, albeit briefly, one of the complexes along Barbur. What deterred me was this very issue of speeding motorists on a major thoroughfare. It just didn’t seem like the safest bicycle commute (“safe” being a relative term).

    The truth is, every time I head out on my bike, I have in the back of my mind that it may be my last. Does the average motorist think this way? My instinct says probably not. It is a testament to my love of cycling–not my trust in the average motorist– that I continue to navigate the streets of Portland by bike. Perhaps Angela Burke’s life was a similar testament. May her soul rest in peace.

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  • h December 18, 2010 at 11:54 am

    ODOT posts lower speed limit to 35 mph or less on state highways through small towns. Cant it lower for big cities?

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  • Hot Rod December 19, 2010 at 1:32 am

    A most sad situation for this young woman and her family. My deepest sympathy to them.

    I would like to know what exactly happened. If I am crossing a street, a drunk will not hit me because I will not get in front of ANY car, drunk or not. Now, if the drunk swerved wildly to intentionally hit me then I guess he could kill me.

    On a high speed road, I would be particularly aware of cars to make sure I did not get in front of one.

    IF he was going in the same direction as she was, and crossed over the white line into the bike lane and hit her from behind, then I can understand how that could happen. There is nothing the cyclist can do to prevent that other than to wear bright reflective colors and have flashing lights.

    ODOT can do something to help prevent that however – they can and should put a beefy rumble strip along the line separating bikes and cars. It looks in the photo as if the only separator is a white paint line. Not good enough on a high speed road.

    I would NOT be in favor of the elevated sidewalk concept as illustrated elsewhere on this site unless it had some kind of handrail or barrier to prevent bikes from falling off into car traffic.

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    • Seth Alford December 19, 2010 at 3:46 pm

      I’ve ridden over “beefy rumble strips.” That trades one hazard for another, in my opinion. Sure, you notify the cars that they are leaving the motor vehicle lane. But you also create a road surface that can make it easier for a bicyclist to crash.

      Why would a bicyclist want to leave the bike lane and go over the rumble strips? To avoid a hazard in the bike lane, such as a storm drain stuffed with leaves, leaves covering the bike lane, a puddle of unknown depth, shrapnel from a Tri-Met tire chain, or another slower moving bicyclist. I’ve encountered all of these on Barbur.

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  • Hot Rod December 19, 2010 at 1:53 am

    What was the blood alcohol level of the car driver?

    Very important: what color clothing was Angela wearing, did she have significant reflective material on her or her bike, and did she have bike lights front and rear?

    I am SHOCKED at the number of cyclists who wear red or green or blue or BLACK! clothing. That is not intelligent behavior. I am more shocked that local bike shops SELL BIKE CLOTHING MADE FROM LOW VISIBILITY COLORS!

    Note to cyclists: you are on a bicycle – you have no protection around you – the ONLY thing that will protect you is your brain (stay out of the way of cars) and making yourself stand out like a beacon on a dark night. IF the car drivers can see you, most will not hit you. Car drivers are distracted, the streets are dark, people in the US are getting older and their night vision is getting worse. USE YOUR BRAINS PEOPLE! MAKE YOURSELVES VISIBLE! Do you want to whine about cars hitting cyclists or do YOU WANT TO DO SOMETHING TO HELP PREVENT IT FROM HAPPENING? Car drivers are not “bad” people; they are just people and many are also cyclists.

    We do not know the particulars of this tragedy but TODAY, RIGHT NOW is the time for all cyclists to commit to their own safety. DO NOT DEPEND ON OTHER PEOPLE TO KEEP YOU SAFE!!!

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    • wsbob December 19, 2010 at 6:58 pm

      “… I am more shocked that local bike shops SELL BIKE CLOTHING MADE FROM LOW VISIBILITY COLORS! …” Hot Rod

      Bike shops can’t stay in business stocking stuff that people won’t buy. Hi-vis and reflective clothing hasn’t quite gotten hip enough that great numbers of people are demanding it. There’s encouragement though, in the fact that it’s seen in use on the street, more and more.

      Also, media exposure helps; in the last few days, a number of times on the tv, I’ve seen a station commercial featuring one of the news guys with his bike on the eastside esplanade, wearing a hi-vis green jacket. Looks good on him. That’s the kind of thing that helps people get to thinking it’s something they’d like to wear.

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  • Hot Rod December 19, 2010 at 1:57 am

    The ONLY acceptable colors for bike clothing are yellow and orange and their fluorescent variants, and possibly fluorescent light green.

    Is this stuff ugly? Butt ugly. But it will save your life.

    Buy stick-on reflective tape and apply it ALL OVER your bike.

    Be seen. Save your life.

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  • Mark Hagar December 19, 2010 at 4:56 pm

    Portland cyclists, consider organizing a Ride of Silence Tribute ride honour Angela, and to continue to raise awareness to motorists, that they need to be aware of cyclists out on public roadways.

    Mark Hagar
    Ride of Silence, Vice President, (US Director, Tribute Ride Coordinator), Mentor
    Ride of Silence, MI Director, 2005-2011 Grand Rapids MI USA Organizer
    “Silence Can Be Deafening”

    The 2010 Ride of Silence:
    321 locations world wide, 26 countries, 7 continents, 0 words spoken, A million powerful memories.

    Join the Ride of Silence Cause on Facebook:

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  • Hot Rod December 19, 2010 at 9:23 pm

    The most effective way to make motorists aware of cyclists is for cyclists to take their safety into their own hands, invest in high visibility clothing, lights, and reflective tape so that NO MOTORIST will be unaware of them.

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  • Hot Rod December 19, 2010 at 9:34 pm

    Bike shops might do a lot more business if more people perceived cycling as safer. Hearing news of another cyclist killed by a car each week is probably helping to keep people in their cars. High visibility clothing might reduce the frequency of such bad news and make people perceive cycling as an acceptable risk.

    It would be an interesting statistic for the police to keep track of: what percentage of cyclists hit by a car are wearing high visibility clothing/lights/relfectors.

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  • Kt December 20, 2010 at 9:31 am

    Hot Rod– I agree that red, and certain shades of green and blue are not good for visibility.

    I also agree that people on foot and on bikes need to be aware of their surroundings– and I also believe that people driving should be aware of THEIR surroundings.

    However, the tone of your posts seems to place the blame on the dead.

    The police and media reports say that she was attempting to cross the street. From the position of the outline on the road, it looks to me like she was GOING to cross, but never got the chance to get very far before being struck and thrown BACK into the bike lane.

    I’m not seeing this as her fault here. I’m seeing a failure in infrastructure, and a failure in decision-making on the part of the driver.

    It is a tragedy, to be sure. My thoughts go out to her friends and family.

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  • Hot Rod December 22, 2010 at 12:00 am

    I’m not blaming anyone because I don’t know all of the facts. It sounds like the driver is at fault at first read, but sometimes things aren’t that simple.

    I agree with your infrastructure and driver argument at first glance. Dark street, drinking, possibly speeding driver driving an Ahole-mobile that should never have been manufactured in the first place – 300 hp car my aching butt – Subaru engineers should be …..well, I can’t say it legally.

    HOWEVER, I am very concerned about why she “was GOING to cross, but never got the chance to get very far before being struck and thrown BACK into the bike lane”. To me, this indicates that perhaps she moved into the path of a car. Perhaps the driver swerved and hit her, or went into the bike lane, and in that case it may be 100% his fault. BUT, I am very concerned that perhaps she moved into his path and that would be her fault. If she wasn’t wearing high visibility clothing, and that contributed to the driver not seeing her until it was too late, then she must take part of the blame.

    There has not been a complete description of what happened, or what she was wearing, or how fast he was traveling, or what his blood alcohol level was, and if it was going up or going down, and on and on, and we may never know the facts.

    My problem is this: As a cyclist, I do everything in my power to stand out like a sore thumb so I am visible to the dumbest, drunkest, most thick skulled dumbass on wheels so they don’t hit me; and as a car driver I want all other cyclists to do the same so I do not hit them, and I see far too many thick skulled cyclists who have no concept of the importance of visibility to their safety. This driver COULD be innocent.

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    • wsbob December 22, 2010 at 1:47 am

      A story in the Oregonian tonight by Maxine Bernstein reported an estimate by…I believe, the police…that Pruitt was driving 75 mph. Given what ‘Malaki’ is quoted saying in maus’s story ‘Vigil brings light to tragic stretch of Barbur Blvd’, that…even faster, is believable.

      The road has long, gentle radius’s, and is downhill into Portland. Maus in his story reports: “… The posted speed limit is 35mph, but most cars go 40-50 …”. I’ve driven the road frequently. That’s the general speed of traffic there.

      Someone traveling over the speed limit as much as Pruitt is speculated to have been traveling, could have made his car very difficult or impossible for Burke to hear or see as she was on the verge of starting to cross. Scenario: she looks down the road…listens…the road seems clear…she takes a step or two, but because Pruitt is driving so fast…all of a sudden his car is there … .

      She likely would have been fine if the drunk and high Pruitt, even though in that condition, he shouldn’t have been driving at all…was driving Barbur as a road, rather than a race track.

      Bright clothing and lights are definitely helpful in having drivers see pedestrians and cyclists, but with driving excesses as great as Pruitt’s were, all bets on survival with such a driver present…are off.

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  • Hot Rod December 25, 2010 at 11:52 pm

    In the video it took a vehicle about 10 seconds to get to the camera but I don’t know how fast the vehicle in the video was going. If the drunks car was going twice as fast, it would have taken 5 seconds. Of course, we can’t say at what point she may have seen the car approaching, or if she might have been using earphones, not heard the car approaching so never looked up to see it until it was less than a second away, etc.

    I’m guessing that you can’t find a car driver who can drive fast enough to hit me on that curve, because when I cross the street I’m on alert, and I will not dawdle.

    I am not convinced that it is totally the fault of the car driver – although it sounds as if a large share of the blame is his for excessive speed, drinking and driving, etc. IN fact, it may be that most drivers who were not speeding and who were not drinking would not have hit the cyclist even if she were sitting still in the middle of the road – that assumes she was visible enough for a normal driver to see her, recognize what she was, decide to stop, and have time to brake to a stop. If she was nearly invisible due to dark clothing, a dark street, no lights,etc, then she has to share in the blame. That may be the deciding factor – if she were invisible even to a sober driver then the drunk cannot take all of the blame.

    This is all just thinking out loud and is certainly not conclusive in any way. Perhaps the drunk will confess and admit that it was totally his fault if that is the case.

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  • Hot Rod December 26, 2010 at 12:31 am

    I read on this site that the driver was found guilty of drinking/driving in 2004 and went through some kind of “program” for that.

    That’s enough for me. Even if the cyclist was not visible due to lack of brightly colored clothing, then the car driver should be punished severely for being a repeat offender. He did not learn. We as a society gave him a chance to learn from his mistakes and he did not learn and now a young vibrant woman is dead. He must pay the maximum penalty allowed by law. I doubt it is possible, but he deserves a minimum 10 years in prison and medical alteration that will cause alcohol or drugs to make him violently ill for the rest of his life.

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  • Seth Alford January 7, 2011 at 7:35 am

    Seth Alford
    …. of where a row of street lights on the west side of Barbur were out, at least as of last Tuesday 12/14/2010. That’s the last time I bicycled that section of Barbur after dark.

    As of last Tuesday, 1/4/2011, that row of street lights was working again.

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    • Seth Alford January 9, 2011 at 6:47 pm

      Here’s helmet cam video, before and after the lights were fixed, for comparison.

      Again, Please note that THE STREET APPEARS DARKER IN THIS VIDEO THAN IT ACTUALLY IS AT NIGHT, because my CountourHD helmet cam does not do a good job with nighttime video. Jonathan’s video is much more representative of what it looks like after dark.





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