Woman riding bike struck by MAX train in Gresham

At about 2:20 this afternoon, a woman attempting to cross E Burnside on SE 181st Avenue was hit by a MAX train. The woman remained conscious at the scene and sustained non life-threatening injuries (a possible broken leg).

According TriMet spokesperson Bekki Witt, they believe the woman on the bicycle was heading southbound when she heard the audible warnings going off and saw a westbound Blue Line MAX train pulling into its station to her right. When she proceeded forward through the intersection, she was struck by the eastbound train. “She thought it was the westbound train, but didn’t see the eastbound train coming,” said Witt, basing her information on witnesses and police interviews taken at the scene.

View looking south on SE 181st crossing Burnside. The westbound MAX platform is to the right.

The MAX has a “split station” at this location where the eastbound train stops at a platform to the east of the intersection (to the woman’s left) and the westbound train stops at a station to the west (on the woman’s right).

There were 50 people on the train and the line was delayed 40 minutes. Witt says standard policy in these situations is for the operator to be immediately relieved of duty and given a blood/urine test. We’ll keep you updated if necessary.

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)

Founder of BikePortland (in 2005). Father of three. North Portlander. Basketball lover. Car owner and driver. If you have questions or feedback about this site or my work, feel free to contact me at @jonathan_maus on Twitter, via email at maus.jonathan@gmail.com, or phone/text at 503-706-8804. Also, if you read and appreciate this site, please become a supporter.

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Jackattak
Jackattak
13 years ago

Gah! Poor girl! Glad she’s OK for the most part and nothing life-threatening. Hope she gets back in the saddle soon and doesn’t let this get her down.

Jessica
Jessica
2 years ago
Reply to  Jackattak

My injuries weren’t as simple as the reports stated. I broke 6 vertebrae, which I am still kn rehab for, 4 ribs, plate and pins to rebuild my knee, now 2 surgeries for that one, and top it all off with a 2 week coma.

But I am doing well now. Still in rehab, but moving much better.

wsbob
wsbob
13 years ago

“split station” In the picture, I don’t see crossing arms that would come down over 181st to block road traffic from proceeding across the tracks when trains approach the station. What signaling is there to halt traffic? If whatever signaling is there was working properly, what accounts for this collision?

Mindful Cyclist
Mindful Cyclist
13 years ago
Reply to  wsbob

Generally speaking, I don’t see many of the arms that come down in E Portland like there are in Beaverton.

Sounds like there were two trains and she got confused of which train was going which way or she did not see the Eastbound one because it was hidden from the incoming Westbound one.

Regardless, I am glad she was still conscious and if she got away with only a broken leg, she is pretty lucky as it could have been a lot worse.

Paul Johnson
13 years ago

Beaverton also doesn’t have the trains running on-street except on Lombard.

Paul Johnson
13 years ago
Reply to  wsbob

Crossing arms are not required for railroad crossings. Heck, signals aren’t even required for crossings (trains always have right-of-way at crossings, unsignaled crossings count as yield unless explicitly posted stop). ***[Moderator: deleted remainder of comment]***

Jessica
Jessica
2 years ago
Reply to  wsbob

You are actually right. There were no sign or sign in that spot. And if you are on the Gresham side Crossing, the train to Hillsboro is hidden behind it. I just didn’t see it coming.

Sean G
13 years ago

wsbob – There are no guards at these intersections. SE 181st is five lanes and a pretty busy street, I used to go through this intersection quite often.

If the signals were working correctly, the woman on the bike would have been crossing against the light… cross traffic on Burnside would have a green light, and the crosswalk would have a stop signal.

Luckily for her, the eastbound train would have been slowing down to enter the station on the opposite side of 181st. I hope she has a speedy recovery and the train driver (whose view would have been blocked by the westbound train) is OK and back to work soon.

Spiffy
Spiffy
13 years ago
Reply to  Sean G

this is exactly how I pictured it happening too… it’s an unusual MAX stop so you don’t expect it…

now I know what the delay was that people were talking about on the green line…

wsbob
wsbob
13 years ago
Reply to  Sean G

Sean and some and everyone else that has, …thanks for thinking about and answering questions about what signals relative to the passing of trains, exist at this intersection that road users and pedestrians should be considering before proceeding to cross the tracks.

Especially when the signals are on, but even if they aren’t, people have to acquire the habit of looking down the tracks before actually crossing the tracks. Once it’s in front of your field of vision, the trains are a 200′ long wall, that can block the view of a train coming from the opposite direction on the other set of tracks, if such a train happens to be coming.

The trains are fairly loud at a brisk speed, but as the trains reduce speed to stop at a station, they’re very quiet quite a ways distant from the actual station stop. Almost whisper quiet. For people that don’t look before crossing, on these two points is where it can be really easy to make a mistake and get too close to a train.

Shetha
Shetha
13 years ago

This intersection is one I have ridden through hundreds of times on my commute. The traffic signals control the traffic flow to coordinate with MAX trains. Similar to downtown. I doubt the woman had a “green” if two trains were coming. So sad to hear of the collision and I hope the lady is OK.

Bob R.
Bob R.
13 years ago

The signals in that intersection feature regular automotive signals (green/yellow/red) and pedestrian (walk/don’t walk) signals. Additionally, a flashing indicator icon of a train flashes whenever a train is approaching the intersection from either direction.

Pedestrians (and cyclists using the crosswalk) should honor the pedestrian signals even when in the median platform area.

Looking at a Google Street View photo (which may be out of date), it seems that one element missing here which is present at newer max stations is a large “Look both Ways” sign in the trackway.

cyclist
cyclist
13 years ago
Reply to  Bob R.

Reason number one why cyclists should get in the habit of obeying traffic signals. I’m truly sorry she got hurt and hope that the damage done was minor, but the lesson here is that a red light should not be considered optional, whether or not you think it’s safe to proceed.

Paul Johnson
13 years ago
Reply to  cyclist

If you travel, it’s a good idea to read up on the local ordinances, though. For example, Idaho allows bicycles and Oklahoma (as of last month) and Missouri allow bicycles and motorcycles to treat a solid red light the same as a stop sign. That said, in such situations as today’s accident, even if it is legal to proceed on solid red when clear, it’s still not legal to enter the intersection when there’s cross traffic coming…

CaptainKarma
CaptainKarma
13 years ago
Reply to  Paul Johnson

Why motorcycles?

Paul Johnson
13 years ago
Reply to  CaptainKarma

State lawmakers are apparently under the impression that the sensor loops are scales and that motorcycles and bicycles are too light to trip the sensors, and stopped two-wheelers have a tendency of getting rear-ended on 65 mph highways with traffic lights.

q`Tzal
q`Tzal
13 years ago
Reply to  cyclist

All road users need to be aware of their surroundings

PERIOD

Paul Johnson
13 years ago
Reply to  Bob R.

The signals in that intersection feature regular automotive traffic signals

Fixed that for you.

Paul Johnson
13 years ago
Reply to  Paul Johnson

Hmm, strikethrough didn’t happen on the “automotive” part as intended.

Any rate, the signals apply to all traffic when present, in the absence of more specialized signals (such as transit, bicycle and pedestrian signals). Some places (sapulpa, ok, for example), intentionally leave pedestrian signals dark until someone presses the button so quicker pedestrians can legally cross on green, while the rest can press the button to light the signal and wait for a walk sign (though once the pedestrian signal is lit, pedestrians do have to wait even if the traffic signal is green).

Bob R.
Bob R.
13 years ago
Reply to  Paul Johnson

Yes, point taken on “traffic” rather than “automotive” but I hope you see that I was merely attempting to describe the signal configuration for that intersection.

Spiffy
Spiffy
13 years ago
Reply to  Bob R.

this accidents supports my theory about those blinking train signs being a waste of money… there’s already a red light, and the extra signal doesn’t seem to be helping…

middle of the road guy
middle of the road guy
13 years ago
Reply to  Spiffy

Not when you choose to ignore them.

Eric
Eric
13 years ago

Sounds to me like she ran a red light.

Red Five
13 years ago

Please tell me we’re not gonna crucify Tri-met for this one?

Marcus Griffith
Marcus Griffith
13 years ago

Hope she is okay.

Look BOTH ways around tracks.

Tourbiker
13 years ago

Trains stop on either side of that Intersection means that the train had to have been stopped shortly before entering, lower speeds means she is dang lucky.

EastPortlandGal
EastPortlandGal
13 years ago

First, this accident happened in Gresham, not East Portland. Second, very few MAX crossings along the blue line to Gresham have crossing arms. Most just have ordinary traffic signals.

Red Five
13 years ago

Is there really much difference between East PDX and Gresham?

david...no the other one!
david...no the other one!
13 years ago

Let’s also remember that there is a LOUD Max train signal, that goes clang clang clang when trains are MOVING. I guess it’s always better to be alive wrong, than dead right. Best wishes to her.

Mike
Mike
13 years ago

***[Moderator: commented deleted, sexist]***

suburban
suburban
13 years ago
Reply to  Mike

OT
Mike
The word “perhaps” is well used in your post.
As many of such “cyclist meets moving object” stories, questions abound. However, you may have confused your own thoughts for a relevant inquiry. Your mind, while important to steer your life, will be more helpful to us, the readers, with either another sentence, or a more useful single sentence. I identify with “being late for an appointment” and I also ride bikes and trains. It is mindful to bring hard questions to all such situations, and parties involved there within. Thanks for beginning to ask the hard questions.

Mike
Mike
13 years ago

***[Moderator: commented deleted 11 years too late, ugly and meanspirited]***

Alex Reed
Alex Reed
13 years ago

People who are giving this woman grief,

Let the person without sin cast the first stone.

Paul Johnson
13 years ago
Reply to  Alex Reed

***[Moderator: commented deleted 11 years too late, ugly and meanspirited]***

Alex Reed
Alex Reed
13 years ago
Reply to  Paul Johnson

***[Moderator, repeated some deleted comments above, in order to respond—I’ve removed]***

But maybe there were extenuating circumstances not recorded in this article! It’s pretty short, and doesn’t include the woman’s perspective. That’s why I think it’s a good idea to give her the benefit of the doubt.

Paul Johnson
13 years ago

***[Moderator: commented deleted 11 years too late, ugly and meanspirited]***

Jessica
Jessica
2 years ago

Hello everyone. I noticed there are a lot of people here with many options about what happened to cause this accident. Maybe I can help answer some questions. I was the cyclist that was hit that day. There was no arm that goes down on the crossing. I was not drinking. I was not attempting to beat the oncoming train. Yes there is a loud signal, which was already sounding due to the train I had just gotten off of. This was a simple accident caused by a blind spot where one train was block while rounding the corner at just the wrong moment when the train going the opposite direction prevented me from seeing it. I was in a coma for 6 days. In the hospital and rehab for almost a year. Broke 4 ribs, 6 vertebrae and have had 2 knee surgeries since. I am doing well, although still in rehab for the spinal injury. But I was lucky to be able to walk after the extent of injury to my spine. I hope this clears up any confusion.

soren
soren
2 years ago
Reply to  Jessica

I’m glad that you are doing better and still making progress in your recovery. Most of your critics have also come close to being hit while riding but are too narcissistic to express the empathy that comes from shared vulnerability.

Lisa Caballero (Assistant Editor)
Editor
Reply to  Jessica

Thank you for writing Jessica. I’m sorry about some of the mean-spirited comments here, I apologize for them.

BikePortland now moderates our comments section, so these would not be approved if the article were posted today. Plus, geez, the sexism …

I wish you well and hope that you continue to benefit from the rehab.