Urban Tribe - Ride with your kids in front.

Man dies in bike/truck crash on West Union near North Plains – Updated

Posted by on August 3rd, 2011 at 10:31 pm

(Photo: Wash. Co. Sheriff)

A crash between a someone operating a pick-up truck and three people riding bikes on a rural road in Washington County resulted in life-threatening injuries. The crash happened at about 9:00 pm on Wednesday night.

According to news reports, the collision took place on NW West Union Road about 1/2 mile east of the intersection with Jackson Quarry Road (map) just after 9:00 pm. A pick-up was heading westbound prior to the collision. Two of the people riding bikes, one man and one woman, are suffering life-threatening injuries.

Approximate location

This section of NW West Union is a very popular road for bicycling. I rode on it for our recent family bike-camping trip and have ridden it twice in the past two weeks (I do a loop that goes out on NW West Union and then turns right (north) on Jackson Quarry). I’ve commented in the past about how dangerous these rural Washington County roads are.

Near the intersection where this collision occurred, West Union takes a sharp bend and Jackson Quarry spurs to the northeast.

I’m still waiting to find out more details on this crash and will update this post when I learn more. If anyone knows the victims or saw the crash, please get in touch with me via email or telephone (503-706-8804). In the meantime, stay tuned to local network TV news for the latest on the 11:00 pm newscasts.

UPDATES: According to KGW news coverage, the bikes where going westbound and were hit from behind by the pickup. The reporter also said the speed limit on this stretch of road is 55 mph and that the riders did not have lights. A police officer in the KGW report said that the people were riding “in the road” but it’s important to remember that there’s no shoulder to bike in on this road. One of the bikes, a mountain bike with front suspension, was embedded into the front grill of the truck.

– Also, a lot is already being said about the riders not having lights. This was a rear-end crash. Keep in mind that the law does not require people on bikes to have a rear light, only a rear reflector visible from 600 feet. More on bike lighting requirements here.

– According to KGW, one of the riders has died. The names have also been released: Courtney Acosta-Grates, 30; Diego Reyes, 23, of Vancouver, and Melanie Diaz, 30.

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  • Pete August 3, 2011 at 10:44 pm

    Hope going out for speedy and thorough recoveries.

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  • Amy S. August 3, 2011 at 11:04 pm

    Did the police check the cell phone use of the driver? The Oregonian reports the car hit 3 bikes.

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  • Spiffy August 3, 2011 at 11:10 pm

    yikes! you’re seriously negligent when you take out multiple vehicles like that…

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    • middle of the road guy August 4, 2011 at 9:56 am

      because riding bikes on an unlit road is not negligent.

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      • Duncan Watson August 4, 2011 at 10:53 am

        It isn’t. And it is the driver of the motor vehicles responsibility to not outrun his headlights. It is obviously the motorists fault.

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  • Joseph E August 3, 2011 at 11:26 pm

    I always use a rear light at night, but it’s important to remember that only a standard rear reflector is required:

    “C. The lighting equipment must have a red reflector or lighting device or material of such size or characteristics and so mounted as to be visible from all distances up to 600 feet to the rear when directly in front of lawful lower beams of headlights on a motor vehicle.”

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  • wsbob August 4, 2011 at 12:13 am

    This “…West Union Road near the intersection of Jackson Quarry Road…”, would be just down the road from the Helvetia Tavern, a very popular, great place for burgers beer. Swell view, beautiful countryside.

    9pm is too late to be riding these roads without front and rear lights…good, nice and bright ones, and some reflective gear would be beneficial too…regardless of whether the law says you’re legal with just a reflector.

    During the day, the roads out there are generally safe to ride, even without shoulders…but when the sun goes down, even with lights, they aren’t roads I’d really want to be riding. Population increase over the last 10-20 years has deteriorated the safety of these roads for other than motor vehicle travel.

    If the speed limit is 55…general rule, I suppose, it certainly would be nice if the speed were lower. 40mph, maybe 35mph. Worth keeping in mind though, that this still is the countryside. That’s probably why 55 is allowed to stand. There isn’t housing developments, street lights and grid streets out here. It’s just fields. Dark out there. Beautiful for enjoying the moonlight. Long stretches of road that lends itself to high motor vehicle speed.

    Previous comments to this story already have somebody jumping to conclusions and implying that the driver of the motor vehicle was “…seriously negligent. That’s premature, possibly not even a valid conclusion for this collision situation. It’s a beautiful place out in the country to ride a bike, but make allowances for the fact that it’s not city type riding conditions.

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    • Duncan Watson August 4, 2011 at 10:55 am

      Actually, it is not premature. It is illegal to outrun your headlights in a motor vehicle. Driving too fast for conditions. If he hit a refrigerator in the road that fell off a truck earler, it would also have been the motorists fault. And the bikes had reflectors that were visible from 500ft. Look at the picture, the evidence is pretty strong at how fast the driver hit that mountain bike.

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  • john August 4, 2011 at 12:13 am

    In my opinion, if a bike is considered a vehicle and cars are required to have rear lights, why aren’t bikes required to have the same? It makes no sense and I cringe whenever I someone comes into the shop I work at and they ask what the law is and just buy a front light….I always preface the law with my advice, which is to guy a good light set. Especially a good rear. Red lights are usually harder to see than a white light is anyway, so get a GOOD rear light, not just a cheap one….$25 isn’t that much to possibly prevent an accident like this one.

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    • Gabriel Nagmay August 4, 2011 at 11:09 am

      There is a very good reason. The reflected light from a car’s headlights is going to be brighter then most any battery powered tail light on a bike.

      This is the same reason that street signs (on a dark road) are so effective at night.

      When someone loses control of their vehicle and plows into a stop sign … do you blame the stop sign for not having a light?

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      • BURR August 4, 2011 at 11:56 am


        Amber and yellow reflectors also are brighter than red reflectors, and reflectors on your pedals or cranks will be in motion, are highly visible, and clearly identify the reflecting source as a bicycle.

        While reflectors don’t provide a lot of safety with respect to cross traffic at intersections, if installed correctly on a bicycle they are highly effective for both oncoming and overtaking traffic.

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  • Tom August 4, 2011 at 1:02 am

    As a car free person and truck driver all in one, I have almost taken out a group of kids on a country road in the last week, and a couple on another country road. They had no lights and no reflectors. Speed limit 55, I was doing that and still only saw them at the very last second and had to swerve hard to not hit them. No shoulder, white line and then ditch. I hate driving on these road because I imagine having to ride on them all the time.

    I really hope everyone comes out of this ok, but will put a some amount of blame on the riders in this case. You need lights or good reflectors on roads like this. I have two very powerful rear facing lights on at all times and still I know I am only so visible.

    I wish the world were different then it is, but we must all take responsibility for what we do. If I were stranded with no lights at night on a country road, I’d turn off the music and have my mirror ready, and when I saw or heard a car coming, I’d get the heck off the road, they can barely see you, if at all.

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  • Hart Noecker August 4, 2011 at 1:26 am

    Why no mention of whether they were wearing helmets or not? I thought helmets always prevented injury from cars.

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  • Brice August 4, 2011 at 5:58 am

    This incident is unfortunate. My former boss always had a great saying in reference to lighting. “There’s a difference between being legal and being safe.”

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    • Mr. NonPC August 4, 2011 at 8:57 am

      I’d like to validate all the teachers of light safety and kindly ask them to quiet down now. There are no real details as of this morning. The photo shows the car in the shoulder. That’s about all the info we have.

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  • fiets503 August 4, 2011 at 6:11 am

    “There’s a difference between being legal and being safe.”


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  • q`Tzal August 4, 2011 at 6:11 am

    If my very expensive tail light was hit (on my bike) by a large American passenger truck at speeds in excess of 55MPH i’d be willing to bet the responding police would be unable to identify the remaining non-functional pieces as a light.

    Heck, most automotive lights don’t survive a 20MPH collision.

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  • fiets503 August 4, 2011 at 6:15 am

    9pm is too late to be riding these roads without front and rear lights…good, nice and bright ones, and some reflective gear would be beneficial too…regardless of whether the law says you’re legal with just a reflector.
    […]That’s premature, possibly not even a valid conclusion for this collision situation. It’s a beautiful place out in the country to ride a bike, but make allowances for the fact that it’s not city type riding conditions.

    Very good points, wsbob. Although that graphic picture above brings terrible images to my mind, I still find myself wanting to hear the driver’s side of the story before making a judgment for myself.

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  • q`Tzal August 4, 2011 at 6:41 am

    The reflector only requirement is a law that reinforces our freedom to make a decision that, while marginally safe at some times, is quite dangerous at other times.

    There is insufficient data to make any conclusion as to fault at this point.

    If we don’t go down the “nanny state” path of requiring certain levels of luminosity for cyclists perhaps we should lobby the FWA & USDOT for a new sign in the MUTCD to be places on rural drag strips/roads:
    “WARNING: Popular route for unprepared cyclists

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  • Schrauf August 4, 2011 at 7:21 am

    Sunset was 8:35, so “just after 9” would have been heavy dusk. That actually can be sometimes be the worst light condition possible – everything is a flat gray and it is not yet dark enough for colors or reflective items to jump out as well in a headlight as well as they do at night. And rear lights, if they had them, don’t stand out as well either.

    More facts will help clarify if the basic speed rule was violated. Regardless of other contributing factors.

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  • Dan O August 4, 2011 at 7:26 am

    Bike light snobs. Well mounted, good reflectors can be highly effective.

    That said, ~9:00 PM this time of year might be about the worst time to rely on reflectors only, as it’s not quite dark enough yet at that time for reflectors to contrast, or for motorists to be relying so much on what is illuminated by their headlights to see where they’re going or what they may be about to plow into, and I would agree that a good blinkie could have been the difference, but it’s speculation, and I hesitate to blame the bicyclists for being mown down (as I see strongly implicated above).

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  • bumblebee August 4, 2011 at 7:29 am

    Laws are not a substitute for prudence and common sense.

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    • q`Tzal August 4, 2011 at 9:23 am

      Tell that to the cop that tickets you for not touching the ground with your foot when you fully stop your bike.

      OW! OW! OW! DON’T TAZE ME! I’m not resisting arrest!

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  • Noel August 4, 2011 at 7:38 am

    Rural Washington County has so many great roads to ride with very little traffic and mostly courteous drivers. However to access them you have to “run the gauntlet” on West Union.

    This stretch of road is crying out for shoulders. The 4 miles between Helvetia Rd. and North Plains has no parallel roads to use as an alternative, and conflicts there are inevitable.

    My thoughts are with those involved in this crash and hoping for a full recovery from all injuries.

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  • Spiffy August 4, 2011 at 7:45 am

    if these were pedestrians then nobody would be questioning their lights… I realize these bikes may not have had rear reflectors, but it still sounds like that truck was driving faster than it could see… it happens a lot since people know the road, but they never think there could be something new in their way…

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    • Chris I August 4, 2011 at 7:56 am

      You don’t think that people would be questioning why they were walking in the travel lane on a 55mph road at night? There are legal rights, and there is common sense.

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      • Spiffy August 4, 2011 at 1:12 pm

        I wouldn’t question it in that spot, no shoulder… it’s road and then ditch… there’s not enough room to walk without having to use the road or fall into the ditch…

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    • Scott August 4, 2011 at 10:11 am

      I’ve ridden that road and if the truck was actually going 55mph then it is also possible that the cyclists forgot their lights because they were strapping on their flux capacitors.

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    • Todd Boulanger August 4, 2011 at 7:41 pm

      True…but most likely the local PD or reporter would say they were wearing dark clothes…etc.

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    • V raymond August 7, 2011 at 5:34 pm

      I live in helvetia and would never ride or walk on this road in the evening.this accident happened on a very dangerous blind corner.lights or not it is not the place to ride at night safely

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  • RRRoubaix August 4, 2011 at 8:01 am

    I ride those roads a lot and cars and pickups are a constant threat. At that time of day(/night), at that speed, I’m not in the least surprised that all three bikes were hit- there is zero shoulder and no place to go.
    My thoughts go out to the victims -and the driver. (Assuming he/she is guiltless…)

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  • Machu Picchu August 4, 2011 at 8:01 am

    Regardless of who is “at fault” in this specific incident, almost all the solutions above sound like how to compensate for cars being allowed to go the same speed with poor visibility as they are in full daylight. Improving your own visibility is wise, but there’s an opportunity here to encourage speed reduction as well. Most driver training discourages overdriving the range of your headlights, yet rarely are speed limits reduced at night to back that up.

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    • Joe C August 4, 2011 at 8:40 am


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    • middle of the road guy August 4, 2011 at 9:59 am

      That’s why they have lights.

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  • aaron August 4, 2011 at 8:32 am

    This is very sad news. I ride this loop 1-2 times a week. in fact i went on a ride there tuesday between 7pm and 8pm. It is a beautiful area to ride. Very few cars on the road, but the cars that do pass are moving fast, 55+ mph. With little to no shoulder in this area it can be dicey.

    Last night, i heard the fire truck and ambulance heading out from downtown hillsboro. It’s very sad to hear they were heading to an emergency involving bicyclists.

    Hoping for a speedy recovery to the 3 cyclist.

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  • Judd August 4, 2011 at 8:49 am

    Have to agree with some of the previous comments about lights and the law..Regardless of the law, there is some responsibility that we all, as riders, share; to be seen. Bike lights, back and front, are a necessity-regardless of the law. Reflective tape on the bike and rider are, from my experience, easier to see than lights. If I am ever hit by a car, I never want to give the driver the excuse that they didn’t see me!

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  • Canuck August 4, 2011 at 9:00 am

    While reflectors are the legal minimum there are issues with them in that the require the light to reflect off them. If the collision was to the east of the intersection, then you are dealing with rolling hills. The vehicle lights might not have caught the reflectors until the vehicle was almost on top of the bike. What with them both the bikes and trucks changing height and attitude, bike going up hill, reflector pointing down, car going downhill lights pointing down.

    To the west of the intersection there is a curve in the road, but basically level ground. If the bikes were around the corner, the reflectors would not catch the light until the truck hand also rounded the corner and again the truck would almost be on top of them.

    So even though reflectors are legal they are the minimum requirement.

    I hope everyone recovers from this one.

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  • velowocky August 4, 2011 at 9:05 am

    A couple weeks ago after Jonathan Maus posted about the roads out here I sent an email to the county expressing my concern with this very section of road. The response I received was actually pretty detailed and courteous.
    There is a process available to submit minor improvement suggestions and another for major projects suggestions. Bike lanes on West Union falls in between those two options but the county seems to have their eye on such a project. I believe the project number to refer to is #220.
    If you have a minute this might be an excellent time to express your concern about the safety of all road users on NW West Union. The speed differentials are way too high and the road is one of the few escape routes for cyclists looking to get away from traffic. This is the email for the capital improvement transportation office for Washington county:


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  • esther c August 4, 2011 at 9:06 am

    Who was it who originally said, “you might have the right of way, you don’t have a force field.” And that same reasoning would apply to rear lights. Nice bright white and red blinkies are the way to go.

    I hope everyone recovers without serious consequences, let their be no head injuries please, as they are so devastating.

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  • single track August 4, 2011 at 9:10 am

    There is right and there is ‘dead right’. I’ve given up on being right and I’ll continue to avoid the ‘dead right’ side of the argument. thats why i wear bright colors and have multiple blinkies, and I avoid riding at dusk or into the sun/light like the plague. Its only a matter of time before we are all hood ornaments. we need to do our best to be visible. I wish a solid and quick recovery to these folks.

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  • Susan Otcenas August 4, 2011 at 9:33 am

    Jonathan said” I’ve commented in the past about how dangerous these rural Washington County roads are.”

    Yes, you have, and I wish you would tone it down. You are only adding fuel to the fire for those people who say that we should not be allowed to ride out here.

    These roads out here are NOT terribly dangerous, when everyone respects the rules of the road. Drivers have a responsibility to share the road, pay attention, and not pass too closely. Cyclists have a responsibility to SHARE (not hog) the road, pay attention, be aware of their surroundings, and be visible.

    When everyone plays by these rules, the roads out here are no more dangerous than anywhere else.

    I ride West Union several days a week; I live out here. I completely disagree that West Union needs either a shoulder OR a bike lane. There’s just NOT so much traffic on this road; at any time of day a motorist can safely pass by using the oncoming lane. Note I said “can”. Whether they “do” – or don’t – pass safely is the real issue.

    The problem is not the road or the lack of a shoulder/bike lane. The problem is that motorists are in a hurry and are often discourteous to cyclists. And frankly, cyclists are often discourteous to motorists and don’t take adequate care to be safe and visible. That is not a West Union or rural Washington County issue. It’s a problem everywhere.

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    • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) August 4, 2011 at 9:50 am

      I disagree Susan.

      You are a very experienced rider and therefore you have a certain perspective on these roads.

      In my opinion, every non-freeway road needs to have adequate bike access. I wish we could rely on people being courteous and operating their vehicles in a safe manner, but with zero shoulder, zero traffic calming, and high speed limits, that type of behavior is even less likely.

      Also, having no shoulder gives many people the false perception that the road is only for motor vehicles β€” which obviously isn’t the case.

      I rode on West Union right where this crash happened while towing my 4 month old son, and 5 and 8 yr old daughter. We ride as far to the right as possible and still got yelled at by people saying absurd things like, “This road isn’t for family riding!” and “Idiots!”.

      I do not think there’s a credible threat to bike traffic being prohibited on this road. There would be massive civil unrest and outcry if anyone even proposed that β€” which is a testament both to how important/popular this road is for bicycling and how ridiculous an idea that is.

      Sorry if you think I should “tone it down.” I think the opposite. People need to speak up and have WashCo use the ample right-of-way that exists along these roads to make a wider shoulder. They could do it very inexpensively by laying pavement only rated for weight of people and bikes, not cars and trucks.

      Thanks for your comment.

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      • wsbob August 4, 2011 at 10:44 am

        “…In my opinion, every non-freeway road needs to have adequate bike access. …” maus/bikeportland

        That’s a very general summation. West Union and Jackson Quarry Rd generally have had…do have…adequate bike access for people to ride bikes on single file as necessary, during the day, and possibly at night if well illuminated. Adequate bike access for persons riding a bike, and towing a child in a bike trailer, implying a big wide shoulder, for “…every non-freeway road…”, is a nice idea, but considering these roads are part of many miles of roads out in the country, not the city…probably a long time coming.

        “… People need to speak up and have WashCo use the ample right-of-way that exists along these roads to make a wider shoulder. They could do it very inexpensively by laying pavement only rated for weight of people and bikes, not cars and trucks. …” maus/bikeportland

        If you’ve got some figures that indicating it would be inexpensive to add shoulders to West Union Rd between say….Schute Rd and Jackson Quarry, or…between Schute and North Plains ( the latter being the reported destination of the people on bikes according to the latest O report.), or West Union Rd and the Helvetia Tavern, post them. Total those distances up, and I think that turns out of be a fair amount of mileage, that would require a lot of materials and labor to add shoulders. If the shoulders aren’t rated for cars and trucks, I hope that doesn’t mean they’d be damaged by cars and trucks driving on them in emergency situations.

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        • Spiffy August 4, 2011 at 1:24 pm

          you say single file, but it’s legal to ride 2-abreast because you’re allowed to take the entire lane in this area… any time of day…

          I’m sure you’d get a LOT of flak from motor vehicles, but no tickets from cops…

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      • Charley August 4, 2011 at 11:02 am

        Absolutely these roads need shoulders. Why shouldn’t they have shoulders? I can think of three reasons why they should.

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      • Paul Johnson August 4, 2011 at 11:34 am

        Even the freeways should have good bicycle access. And in Oregon, they do.

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      • are August 4, 2011 at 11:57 am

        bike access is one thing. adding pavement everywhere is another. what we need is for motorists to slow the hell down.

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        • single track August 4, 2011 at 1:24 pm

          “BASIC RULE”, as cyclists OR “PEOPLE on BIKES” are traffic, such accidents are ultimately the fault of the driver in the rear, regardless of lighting responsibilities. FAR MORE NEEDS TO BE DONE AT THE DMV for LISCENSURE TO ALLOW ADEQUATE SAFETY for all road users

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          • A.K. August 4, 2011 at 1:29 pm

            Yes, it’s my understanding that if you rear-end someone, you are always responsible (at least for insurance purposes), because if you were driving according to the conditions you would have appropriate time to react and stop/avoid the collision.

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      • Adam August 4, 2011 at 12:18 pm

        You took your 4 month old and a 5 and 8 year old on a 55mph(often 60+) road with no shoulder or bike lane? Just because you can legally do something does not mean you should.

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        • Hugh Johnson August 7, 2011 at 5:33 pm

          I know…I’m shocked he’d put his family in that kind of danger. Sorry, legal or not it’s just not worth it.

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          • wsbob August 7, 2011 at 6:40 pm

            I rode out there yesterday…Saturday, looking for the exact location of the collision. Rode back and forth on West Union between Cornelius Pass Rd, across Jackson Quarry some distance. Reports never stated exactly, but my sense was that the location was somewhere east of Jackson Quarry. Still, I didn’t notice any debris on the road. No skid marks. There hasn’t been any bike memorial placed out there. Probably should be. Traveling that section of the road, it’s as if the collision never happened.

            Time of day I was there, was 4pm. Lots of bright sunlight. As Lynn says below, traffic wasn’t heavy. There were three, four cars every minute or so, but they nearly all traveled very fast…45-50mph. Unless they absolutely have to (for example…cars from other direction.), the cars don’t slow down for people on bikes ahead of them.

            Between C-pass and JQ, the road right of the white fog line varies erratically in width. Some short sections of the road seem to be about 3′ wide, but most of the road has maybe 4-5 inches to maybe a foot of ‘sort of’ shoulder. For anyone thinking of towing a child in trailer, it’s something to keep in mind.

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      • Lynne August 4, 2011 at 1:58 pm

        I’m with Susan. Most of the roads out here just don’t have the volume of traffic that would make them dangerous to ride on.

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    • wsbob August 4, 2011 at 11:15 am

      “…The problem is that motorists are in a hurry and are often discourteous to cyclists. …” Susan Otcenas

      I’m not riding West Union Rd regularly as you are, so I can’t judge first hand, but I’m assuming the number of motor vehicles traveling the road has increased significantly over the last 10 years or so, like it has up on Skyline Boulevard. Maybe you can help to confirm or dismiss that assumption.

      People in a hurry are a big problem out in the countryside. Just this last Tuesday, I took a ride to the summit of Chehalem Mtn. Beautiful ride, not too many cars. On the long descent, 30mph-35mph for me on the bike, 3-4 motor vehicles on different occasions, passed me in rather abrupt, high speed maneuvers. They didn’t wait any brief 5-10-20 second period for me to notice their presence that would have allowed me pull to the far right side of the road…they just zipped on by me.

      Just one of the passing maneuvers was a bit close for the oncoming car that approached the motor vehicle, but all of the passes seemed excessive to me. If they’d just given me a few seconds, I’d of been happy to move over and give them room, even pull to the side if I’m holding up a string of cars. On occasion as needed, I’ve done this on Humphrey Blvd (near Council Crest.).

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      • Susan Otcenas August 4, 2011 at 2:59 pm


        I’m not riding West Union Rd regularly as you are, so I can’t judge first hand, but I’m assuming the number of motor vehicles traveling the road has increased significantly over the last 10 years or so, like it has up on Skyline Boulevard. Maybe you can help to confirm or dismiss that assumption.

        I’ve lived in Washington County for 14 years and have ridden West Union regularly during most of that time. It is indeed a “gateway” road to much of the awesome riding out here. I ride it both weekends and weekdays, with the weekday rides typically after work, and sometimes in the dark, late at night.

        Has traffic increased in the past 10 years? Yes, but not dramatically so, or at least that’s my impression. The City of North Plains has certainly grown, but there isn’t much development on West Union beyond that.

        The busiest time of day on West Union is during the morning and evening “rush”, which probably comes as no surprise. Still though, there’s rarely so much traffic that a vehicle can’t move almost immediately into the oncoming lane. And, West Union is nearly flat ( a few small rollers) and quite straight, so the sight lines are generally very good.

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        • wsbob August 4, 2011 at 7:40 pm

          Susan…hey thanks for the report back. I had an idea the traffic might have picked up more dramatically in the last 10 or so years, so it’s good to have the perspective of someone that’s riding the road regularly.

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        • Paul Johnson August 4, 2011 at 8:11 pm

          Given that most folks in Washington County didn’t know where West Union Road was 10 years ago because there was nothing out that far, I’d say the increase in traffic on WU is a factor of infinity.

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    • Kristen August 5, 2011 at 8:42 am

      I agree with most of what you are saying; however, I also agree with JM that “People need to speak up and have WashCo use the ample right-of-way that exists along these roads to make a wider shoulder.”

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  • Scott August 4, 2011 at 9:35 am

    An impact like that would be sufficient enough to remove most lighting systems from a bike. Police siding with the driver in an auto/bike incident is not unique. Not much should be made of the light issue until the injured parties have had a chance to speak on what they had/had not equipped their bikes with.

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    • middle of the road guy August 4, 2011 at 10:01 am

      And a bunch of people on bikeportland siding with the cyclist no matter what is not unique either.

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      • Scott August 4, 2011 at 11:16 am

        You would not like to hear the side of the cyclist as well as the driver? Or are you just saying you trust police implicitly?

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    • Marco August 4, 2011 at 1:50 pm

      Bare minimum the mounting hard ware for a rear light would likely still be attached to the bike. If it was a clip-on light, that very well could be thrown, but it would still be “on the crash site”. I would bet if they did have rear lights, atleast 1 of the 3 would still be found easily if not still attached.

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  • Brad August 4, 2011 at 9:38 am

    Just like the old real estate axiom, “Location, location, location!” this is all about, “Conditions, conditions, conditions!”.

    ALL road users are responsible to operate safely and appropriately for the conditions.

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  • S brockway August 4, 2011 at 10:26 am

    From the photo, there seems to be ample reason to believe that some “Following to Close” as in the Joey Harrington situation was involved (bike in grill).

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    • Chris August 4, 2011 at 11:38 am

      I don’t think you can jump to that conclusion by looking at the picture. Very loose use of the word “ample” here.

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    • Canuck August 4, 2011 at 1:07 pm

      The bike is in one piece and still upright, does that happen at 55mph?

      You could say that this indicates the driver was slowing before the impact.

      There you have two different opinions based on a photo.

      We don’t know the context of the photo. Is that the first bike hit or the last? Is the position of the truck on the road where they were driving or did they pull over after the accident? What do the skid marks indicate if they are present?

      You can’t take one photo and make any statement about blame.

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  • Charley August 4, 2011 at 11:03 am

    This “like or dislike” thing makes me think of a room full of people cheering or booing. It’s kind of weird. Dislike.

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    • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) August 4, 2011 at 12:09 pm

      thanks for the feedback charley. I’ll keep this feature going for a few days and then make a decision to keep it or not.

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      • Spiffy August 4, 2011 at 1:28 pm

        I like it… gives me a good gauge of what the BP community thinks…

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      • Schrauf August 4, 2011 at 4:31 pm

        I love it and hate it. Jonathan, please consider a separate blog post for us to solely discuss this feature, so we don’t hijack or interrupt on-topic posts.

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    • wsbob August 4, 2011 at 3:21 pm

      I’m not sure I like the app either, or think it’s such a great idea. Seems it could allow for a kind of simple minded participation rather than solid thinking, as you said “…room full of people cheering or booing. …”. For sporting events, that’s o.k., but when it’s serious issues being discussed, maybe not.

      Also, it’s not unrealistic that people might play games with it, so ‘like or dislike’ numbers displayed could be manipulated and may not actually reflect a very honest, as Spiffy puts it, “…gauge of what the BP community thinks…”. Still, today, the results have been kind of fun to watch.

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  • Marco August 4, 2011 at 11:05 am

    I would be interested to know what direction and side of the road this occured on. From the map this is a corner and it very well could be that the riders would not have been visible for a long distance. I am also a heavy proponent of very good rear lighting. To mention hitting 3 cyclists is very possible. When cycling together in the road, they may have been side by side or atleast very close to on another.

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  • Waltzing Matilda August 4, 2011 at 11:31 am

    I believe in lights on bikes. I live in Virginia where it IS the law that bikes need lights between dusk and dawn. MY rule of thumb is: If cars need their lights, so do I. During high traffic hours I even run my helmet light in the day time because I noticed on someone else it increases visibility. Our city recently got a grant so they coudl hand out rear blinkie lights at the National Ride Your Bike to Work check-in. I took four of them and handed them out to my night time co-workers who ride bikes. I’m on the board of directors of a local non-profit that will help people who ride their bikes to/from work buy good lights and other safety equipment.

    However, sometimes it does not matter how safe you’re trying to be, if a motorist is distracted – you’re toast. I ride with blinkie lights on my helmet and on my bike. One night I was riding home after dark, and a friend commented on how visible I was. I jokingly said, “I’m very devoted to the cause of not becoming road pizza.” The very next morning I got broadsided by an SUV that ran a stop sign. I am 6’1″ in my bare feet. Up on my pedals I’m even taller. I was wearing a neon pink pike helmet with a blinkie light on it. Yet, somehow this chick didn’t see me – right in front of her. Fortunately, neither I nor my bike were injured as bad as we could have been. My guardian angel must have been putting in overtime hours that day.

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    • q`Tzal August 4, 2011 at 12:36 pm


      Non-professional drivers … Just. Aren’t. Looking.

      I was 2 days in to a 5 week CDL course when t was demonstrated to me plainly: whilst driving at a consistant speed through a heavy merge interchange car after car would attept to merge THROUGH a 48 foot trailer.

      Makes you long for robotic self driving cars.

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  • john August 4, 2011 at 11:37 am

    Originally from farm country in N. Dak. You never out-drive your headlights. Ever. Especially on a corner or a hill or etc. You slow way down. Could be someone’s cow out, a horse or deer on the road. People, cows, horses, goats, sheep, deer, skunks, racoons will use the road. IMHO, people in cars shouldn’t think it’s OK to take a chance killing them.
    Those bikes had reflectors for God’s sake. I see them in the picture.

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    • El Biciclero August 4, 2011 at 1:54 pm

      Pesky unlighted cows.

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  • Chris August 4, 2011 at 11:50 am

    I think lights should be standard issue on bikes. Shops should step up and not sell bikes without including them. If the consumer is so inclined, they can take them off.

    Kind of like how a gun shop should not sell a gun without a trigger lock. IMO this is a moral responsibility of a gun shop – maybe bike retailers should adopt the same mentality.

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  • pdx2wheeler August 4, 2011 at 11:57 am

    Anything in life involves risk. Riding your bike with lights involves risk; riding without lights involves risk… I personally choose to lower my risk of unexpected death by using proper lighting on by bike at dusk/night. However, others prefer a more risky path and ride without adequate lighting, helmets, bright clothing, bells, repair kits, etc… Good or bad, Oregon law gives you this freedom, to choose your own path and assume the personal risk you’re comfortable taking while riding your bike. I’m okay with that! It’s the law and that’s what we, as a community, have come to an agreement upon…

    Maybe we should reconsider our agreement in some way? I’m okay with that too! Until then, “Share the road.”

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  • BURR August 4, 2011 at 12:01 pm

    Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)
    People need to speak up and have WashCo use the ample right-of-way that exists along these roads to make a wider shoulder. They could do it very inexpensively by laying pavement only rated for weight of people and bikes, not cars and trucks.

    while these roads might deserve shoulders, I doubt that they could do it inexpensively in the manner you suggest, since once the shoulder is there, it will be used by cars and trucks and will need to meet design standards for vehicles, and not just cyclists.

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  • wsbob August 4, 2011 at 12:18 pm

    Absolutely these roads need shoulders. Why shouldn’t they have shoulders? I can think of three reasons why they should.
    Like or Dislike: 2  0

    “…Why shouldn’t they have shoulders?…” Charley

    Shoulders would be nice. Where’s the money for the shoulders? It’s the countryside. Relatively few people live out there, so property taxes from that area aren’t going to amount to what they would from city property for city infrastructure improvements.

    These two lane no shoulder roads have been acceptably functional, utilitarian country roads for decades. It’s new types of road users, such as increased numbers people living in the suburbs, driving in their motor vehicles and more people out on bikes for recreational purposes that have pushed the safety limits of the country roads. Are these new types of road users prepared to come up with the dough to equip roads like West Union Rd and Jackson Quarry with shoulders, and pay for the maintenance they require, to these roads safer for biking? If so, put a bond measure for that sort of thing on an upcoming ballot. Let people vote on it.

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  • S brockway August 4, 2011 at 12:29 pm

    I know The photos and news clips show things at night, but the report states About 9:00pm. So I wonder if it was dark enough for reflectors or lights to be functional and if the headlights on the truck were on? This time of year 15 min. to one side or the other 9:00pm could be day or night.

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  • Waltzing Matilda August 4, 2011 at 12:52 pm

    And I hate to say it – when this gets to court the driver will get less of a punishment, be ordered to pay less, etc because the cyclists didn’t have lights. Even though he shouldn’t have been outrunning his lights. He was in the wrong. But, when there’s a bicycle involved many people want the bicycle to be at fault. People are going to be sympathetic to, “They didn’t have lights. I didn’t see them….”

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    • are August 4, 2011 at 2:02 pm

      again, the argument you are actually making here is for the need for a cultural shift, not for lighting per se. and by arguing for lighting (or helmets, or shoulders), you are sustaining the second class status of cyclists on roadways.

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      • meh August 4, 2011 at 2:31 pm

        How is arguing for lights making cyclists a second class road user?

        Asking that bikes have the same level of equipment to ensure visibility sounds like putting them on an even par with cars.

        Shoulders/bike lanes, only make a cyclist a second class road user if the law requires them to only use roads with shoulders/bike lanes.

        But the post you responded to didn’t mention shoulders only lights.

        As for helmets, there’s no law right now requiring them on adults so that’s a moot point and again wasn’t even mentioned in the post you responded to.

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        • are August 4, 2011 at 4:42 pm

          you cannot put a bike “on an even par” with cars by dressing it up with lights. the kind of lighting we are talking about is intended specifically to protects a bicyclist from (wait for it) cars. therefore. when you insist that a cyclists “should have” had lights because a motorist outran his own headlights, you are putting responsibility exactly where it does not belong, on the weaker party. anyway, that’s may argument.

          and actually, to take my argument to its logical conclusion, let me suggest that operators of dangerous machinery should be made second class users of public roadways. in other words, i am not looking for “par.”

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          • Paul Johnson August 4, 2011 at 4:45 pm

            Never mind that even automotive lighting is for the benefit of being visible to other road users first, and illuminating the driver’s view second.

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        • are August 4, 2011 at 4:44 pm

          and golly, you’re right, the particular post to which i nested my response did not mention shoulders (mentioned a hundred other places on this board) or helmets (the other thing you generally hear about when a cyclist is injured by a motorist, and which also has the effect of misplacing the blame — in other words, i was making an analogy).

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  • Joe August 4, 2011 at 12:59 pm

    looks like someone was distracted. check the skid marks on the road.

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    • single track August 4, 2011 at 1:30 pm

      or driving past their lights or more likely here driving with only the ambient light as many OR drivers do

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      • Paul Johnson August 4, 2011 at 3:50 pm

        Most drivers who grew up and learned to drive here in Portland tend to drive with their headlights on day or night just to save the hassle, since lights are required for bicycles and motorists alike from dusk till dawn, when it’s raining or snowing, when it’s smoky, dusty or foggy, and in all safety corridors.

        Makes the tourists harder to spot in the crowd because they’re less visible having their lights off during the day whether or not they’re required…

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        • Psyfalcon August 4, 2011 at 7:27 pm

          I’ve seen plenty of drivers without their lights in Beaverton. For some reason, being over the west hills makes it more prominent. Canyon road/ TV HWY is terrible for this.

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  • Spiffy August 4, 2011 at 1:36 pm

    the KGW report on the rider that died misquotes (I hope) Maus saying that a rear light visible to 600 feet is legally required…

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    • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) August 4, 2011 at 1:42 pm

      Dang. that’s unfortunate. She must have misheard me. I’ve emailed their editors to change the website, but the TV report is over and done. Oh well. At least they used the part where I mentioned that it’s important for everyone – in car or on bike – to operate safely.

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    • El Biciclero August 4, 2011 at 2:01 pm

      Most people don’t even know the laws that apply to their own vehicles, let alone a totally different kind of vehicle. Also, many folks live by a set of imaginary laws. If they think it, it must be [il]legal. This is likely the cause of any “mishearing”: interpreting through the filter of a preconceived misconception.

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  • velowocky August 4, 2011 at 2:11 pm

    Gear geek alert:
    I hemmed and hawed over whether to purchase my my L&M tail light (90 bucks). It’s a lot of dough but it has turned out to be a great purchase. Way, way brighter than anything else out there and because it charges on a USB (the battery is integrated) it’s always at full power. Except for the sunniest of rides it stays on. If you don’t mind the price and do a lot of low-light riding one of the models like it are really worthwhile. Sorry to make a product pitch but it has been great. Of course blinkie-type lights are good too.

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    • spare_wheel August 7, 2011 at 1:19 pm

      the l&m 180 vis is rated at ~35 lumens which is approx the same as the new 1 watt pb turbo and boomer rear usb (37 and 30 lumens respectively). the translucent boomer is an awesome little light and can be had for <$20 if you get it in on sale. (i bought two boomers at biketiresdirect for $14 a piece.) t

      hese new chip-based leds are uhmayzing and its just a matter of time before we have cheap 100 lumen rear blinkies.

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      • wsbob August 7, 2011 at 4:28 pm

        Description provided on biketiresdirect for knog boomer USB says “…15 Lumens…”, not 30.

        $14 for a boomer would be quite a markdown, because biketiresdirect lists them at $39.99. Planetbike’s tail lights don’t do USB.

        Problem with all of these lights is that though some of them are bright, the display area continues to be very small. Brightness is good, but it seem to me that area of display would also help improve visibility of people down the road for people approaching approaching them from behind. Just buying more lights and mounting them near each other is one approach some people take as a means of increasing visibility by way of a greater display area.

        Might not hurt though, for bike light designers and manufacturers to take a look at engineering single panel lights that would cover more square inches than most current light seem to, which is what? Ranging from about one to three inches?.

        Just measured the back of an old seatpost bag I still use. It’s got a kind of square back panel measuring 6 by 4 inches. A 24 sq inch flat panel light could fit there nicely. Battery held inside the bag. A newer, smaller seatpost bag I use on a different bike measures four by four inches. A 16 sq inch light could fit on the back of it.

        Logically, more LED’s to cover a larger area, would use more power. Maybe this is seen as an insurmountable obstacle to creating the kind of consumer lights I’m thinking of.

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  • Noa August 4, 2011 at 2:41 pm

    Reading these comments is driving me crazy
    My roommate is in the hospital and her boyfriend just died!
    Please be kind and remember we are talking about human lives here. They didn’t realize they were going to be out that late, they were going on an innocent bike ride through the country side.
    I just lost a friend and have spent the day in the hospital by my best friend’s bed side and I had to ride my bike to the hospital.
    All I can say is please be safe! everyone, every minute of the day!

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  • craig August 4, 2011 at 2:54 pm

    I cannot ‘like’ or ‘dislike’ Noa’s comment. I just want to express condolences to her and to all those close to this sad event.

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  • Jim F August 4, 2011 at 2:56 pm

    Big thumbs down to the “like/dislike” buttons.

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    • q`Tzal August 4, 2011 at 9:09 pm

      Do we agree with you with a thumbs up or thumbs down?

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  • wsbob August 4, 2011 at 3:09 pm

    You took your 4 month old and a 5 and 8 year old on a 55mph(often 60+) road with no shoulder or bike lane? Just because you can legally do something does not mean you should.
    Like or Dislike: 3  6

    Bear in mind also, that maus was hauling his kids in a bike trailer behind a bike, as part of a group of people on bikes, some of them also with bike trailers, potentially making passing maneuvers far more difficult for faster motor vehicle road users than it would be for motor vehicle road users to pass a single bike or two or three on the road.

    Maus and his friends being the kind of considerate people I expect they would be, I suppose they probably split up the group at least somewhat to enable people in cars to pass more easily on these type of roads. Nevertheless, motor vehicles passing bikes hauling trailers is still going to be more difficult, and comparatively more dangerous to the people associated with the bike trailer rig.

    It’s probably inevitable that greater difficulty in passing vehicles traveling the speed of bikes is going to make some motor vehicle road users accustomed to unobstructed high speed travel on country roads, agitated. Assuming that bike touring and general riding out on the county’s roads continues to expand, maybe that will help them overcome the agitation somewhat…relax and get used to the occurrence of more bikes on the road, and generate support for improved shoulders and so forth. Maybe it would cost less to just install slow vehicle/bike turn-outs periodically along certain commonly used country roads.

    For now, people that ride bikes out on these country roads are well advised to better than legally equipped to ride them, especially at night.

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  • thomasGuide August 4, 2011 at 3:13 pm

    Given the very tragic accident that occurred last night, which was very avoidable unless the driver was drunk or distracted, I think it is necessary to reexamine the laws concerning lights. Most, if not all European countries require front and rear lights, for a good reason. A reflector is not a suitable means to alert a driver. Any other vehicle on the road is required to have them, and since bikes are considered vehicles, they should have them as well.

    As for shoulders or separate bike paths, I think they are a worthwhile investment for the city and surrounding counties. They will increase bike safety, and reduce the very apparent conflict that exists between cyclists and drivers. I just got back from a 6 week bike trip around N. Europe, and spent countless hours riding on separate bike lanes or bike tracks. For the most part it was very safe, and judging from the number of kids riding as well, I think many parents felt the same way. Of course, shoulders, tracks, separate bike paths cost money, but I think the benefits over the long run outweigh the cost. Also, compare to building highways and new roads, a bike lane is cheap. It is not going to happen overnight, but hopefully the bike community will continue to speak up and be heard.

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  • biking2work August 4, 2011 at 4:18 pm

    I’m with Susan. Most of the roads out here just don’t have the volume of traffic that would make them dangerous to ride on.
    Like or Dislike: 4  0

    I think the dead and injured would disagree with you on that one.

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  • STR August 4, 2011 at 4:39 pm

    Shoulders would be nice. Where’s the money for the shoulders? It’s the countryside. Relatively few people live out there, so property taxes from that area aren’t going to amount to what they would from city property for city infrastructure improvements.

    Washington County has money for it alright. They are notorious for tearing up perfectly good roads, only to have to chipseal, repave, and restripe them. Last year helvatia, Meek Road, and a few others got the treatment. This year they are planning on tearing up a perfectly good section of Evergreen, which has a bike lane, and is NOT a bottleneck (I drive/ride this road everyday) so they can work on their fixation of making every arterial 5 lanes and 55+ mph. I’ve lost track of how many road projects they’ve done on this road since I moved here. Meanwhile, NE 25th, off that same section of Evergreen, IS a bottleneck, has no bikelane, no shoulder to speak of, 45mph speed limit, and is the main road commuters use to get to the Intel campus. They ignore it.
    “We’d be happy to work on your bike projects, but we spent all our money on other stuff so we could ask for more.”
    Oh well, they added a shoulder on Cornellius Schefflin after Tim O’Donnel was killed on it. It’s sad but maybe after this event they will finally do something on West Union.

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    • wsbob August 4, 2011 at 7:56 pm

      STR, yours is an interesting point. How valid it is in the actual doing of things, getting things done, I don’t know. I’ve just a very little experience following how infrastructure projects pan out. Once in hand, it can be hard not to waste money.

      I remember bikeportland stories addressing the phenomena of redundant infrastructure work and efforts to get bureaus to co-ordinate better so as not to waste time and money. Hard to do effectively I suppose. The planning and engineering phases seem to be able drag out forever, wasting lots of money.

      So if someone were able to manage the county’s budget so as to put a nice big shoulder on West Union and Jackson Quarry, I’d be all for it. No four lane main travel lane conversions though. It really would be beneficial it seems, if the speed limit were brought down some…45 mph tops, maybe 35, and with shoulders added, be able to encourage more people to use country side roads for recreational use that would be compatible with and complimentary to the area agribusiness.

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  • bumblebee August 4, 2011 at 5:59 pm

    Beyond the issues of safety–lights, bike lanes/shoulders, appropriate traveling speed, etc–there is an undeniable fact that human life has become increasingly debased in our culture. Particularly the weak and vulnerable.

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    • Opus the Poet August 5, 2011 at 9:17 am

      I clicked “like” not because I like the sentiment, but because I agree with your statement. I suspect that the people that clicked “dislike” also agree with the statement and don’t like the reality of it.

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  • Natalie August 4, 2011 at 6:21 pm

    9 pm, open road, in a truck on a country road (aka without regular patrols)? I wouldn’t be surprised, based on that photo and a general knowledge of how drivers operate when they think they’re alone, that this guy was going 65 mph or more. On a flat road with proper headlights, it doesn’t matter what the hell was on the back of these folks’ bikes, these bikes were visible to anyone actually watching the road. For those of you who are getting on your high horses to preach about bike lights, take a freaking breath of fresh air and consider that we really don’t know what happened and that it’s incredibly inappropriate, disrespectful, and straight up distasteful to just start lecturing these people who are in the hospital or dead.

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    • Kaitu August 5, 2011 at 12:01 am

      Just curious, do you even know where this road is? The scene of the accident wasn’t straight or flat. All the news outlets just mark the West Union/Jackson Quarry intersection but it was about 1/4 mile away from there where the conditions are very different. It was on the uphill run going into a left turn with yellow warning arrows. Judging from the skids and debris I saw today, they were about 2/3 of the way up the hill and well into the curve which means he would just have been starting the turn when he encountered them. Not familiar with a reflector that can be seen when the headlights aren’t hitting it.

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      • Natalie August 7, 2011 at 8:13 pm

        A left turn? Did you see the photo above? If this guy was driving so carefully at an appropriate speed, how the heck do you hit 3 bikes with the right side of your truck while turning left and going uphill?

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  • eric August 4, 2011 at 7:12 pm

    as a guy who hears lots of violent remarks about cyclists i will assume a p/u truck on a country road was probably speeding. as a commuter, racer, and former messenger i believe these cyclists put themselves in almost the worst scenario possible. riding on a 55 mph country road at night w/o lights or helmets assumes a total lack of judgement. with those descriptions and the pictures of the off-brand/ low-end bikes i can’t help but see three people that decided to go for a nice casual bike ride on a summer night w/o any regard for the risks involved. i don’t even ride on Marine dr. after dark. most of my training rides are on HWY 30 but once time changes that even stops. as a cyclist it bothers me to hear these people being described as “cyclists”. they were “people on bikes”. it’s not the same and it gives an image of arrogance and irresponsibility to those who consider the risks and make the efforts to minimize them. that said my heart goes out to everyone affected by this tragedy. including the driver who will no doubt live with his own pain and sense of guilt.

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  • Kevin Wagoner August 4, 2011 at 7:23 pm

    The West U and Jackson Q roads are brilliant rides from Portland. This is very sad. Ironically I just got my new Let The Journey Begin map of Washington County (notes cycling routes). It list Jackson Q as moderately suitable and West U as less suitable.

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  • Todd Boulanger August 4, 2011 at 7:42 pm

    Sad to say its been a tough week for Vancouverites cycling in Oregon. This crash and the coast crash both involved folks from this side of the river.

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  • Todd Boulanger August 4, 2011 at 7:44 pm

    Thanks in both cases that the drivers stayed to provide aid.

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  • q`Tzal August 4, 2011 at 8:00 pm

    Regarding the topic adding a shoulder to this type of rural road:

    The auto driver didn’t see the cyclists, why would he see the painted line?
    As a former +100MPH country road driver why would I limit my driving to within the line if I NEED more road?

    What stops drivers, used to driving for weeks without ever seeing any body on THEIR stretch of road, from kinda wandering back and forth across the paint because no one is ever there?

    What happens to this wonderful sholder, that was installed cheaper because it was built to lower load bearing specs, falls apart because slow farm and other heavy vehicles have been driving and parking on it but the government refuses to repair it because it was substandard and the “real” road is just fine?

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  • Laurel August 4, 2011 at 10:01 pm

    My god. 23 years old. So sad.

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  • Joe C August 4, 2011 at 10:35 pm

    Is it just me, or is the important issue NOT why these people were without proper bike-lights and MORE why we have built environments–lacking proper multi-modal facilities–that encourage speeding and unsafe nighttime (and anytime) driving?

    I’m sorry. I never drive so fast at night I can’t stop or swerve quick enough to avoid killing someone else–or myself. Period.

    Honestly, the blame-the-victim mentality on display here is pretty sickening. Have some of you no empathy? Driving at an unsafe speed is like walking around with a loaded gun. If someone is walking through a sketchy neighborhood at night and suffers a gunshot wound, do we say “Why weren’t they wearing a bulletproof vest?”

    We should be talking about what we can do to make roads safer for all, rather than what legislation we can force people to conform to whenever they just want to move around the places they live, work and play. Otherwise we as Americans will only continue to add to the tens of thousands killed each year on our—demonstrably—unsafe roads.

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    • Kaitu August 5, 2011 at 12:14 am

      I have yet to see anything that says he was driving at an unsafe speed.

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      • Opus the Poet August 5, 2011 at 9:10 am

        I’m going to weigh in on this one, if you hit 3 vehicles from behind, lighted or not, then you were travelling at an unsafe speed. This was in a rural area where wildlife and livestock could be in the road, it is incumbent upon drivers to drive so that they can come to a stop in the distance that they can see clearly ahead of them.

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  • Marcello August 4, 2011 at 10:40 pm

    This did not happen at night. I looked outside today, a few minutes before 9 pm, roughly the same time after sunset as the day of this collision, and there was plenty of daylight to see bikes and other vehicles clearly. The whole discussion about reflectors (and I see a spoke reflector clearly in the picture, so I am skeptical of the police report of no reflectors) is IMO irrelevant. West Union and the rural roads around that area see quite a bit of bike traffic, and the big yellow “Share the road” signs around there should be a signal to car drivers to pay more attention to the other vehicles on the road.

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    • wsbob August 4, 2011 at 11:45 pm

      Spoke reflectors show up to traffic approaching from a bike’s side, not the rear of front.

      Check out Schrauf’s comment:


      He reports that yesterday, sunset was at 8:35. That would make 9pm, if not pitch black, dusk. That’s low visibility daylight.

      Might have been plenty bright, in your opinion, where you looked out outside today…before 9pm, but how about where this collision occurred? There, the sun drops behind the hills, putting the road and everyone using it, at the very least, in deep shadow.

      The destination of the people on bikes is said to have been North Plains. In other words, they had a ways to go yet. Let’s say…10-15 minutes. So that means it would be 9:10-9:15 before they got home. Is your thought that it would still have been plenty bright if they’d arrived at North Plains without mishap?

      Check out this comment by Noa, somebody that explains they’re friends of the people on the bikes:


      “…They didn’t realize they were going to be out that late, they were going on an innocent bike ride through the country side. …”

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      • Marcello August 5, 2011 at 12:03 pm

        I know how spoke reflectors work. I am questioning the police statement that there were no reflectors on the bikes. Clearly not true. These may have department store bikes that come with spoke reflectors, and reflectors on pedals and on the back, the minimum legal requirement. If they did not remove the spoke reflectors, I don’t see that they would have removed the other reflectors. Also, the hills in the area are to the north, and on the west side there are many miles of flat farmland all the way to Banks and the Cascade Range foothills. Not much in the ways of shadows right after sunset.

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        • wsbob August 5, 2011 at 3:59 pm

          “…I am questioning the police statement that there were no reflectors on the bikes. Clearly not true. …” Marcello

          Did anyone from any responding police agency actually say there were no reflectors on the bikes? I checked the county sheriff’s office website press release. Not even a press release for this collision there, but the Oregonian articles reported the sheriff’s office spokesman, Dave Thompson saying the bikes didn’t have lights. None of the Oregonian news articles quote a sheriff or a police spokesman as saying the bikes had no reflectors.

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  • Kaitu August 4, 2011 at 11:49 pm

    Speaking as a driver who was born and raised at the furthest point in the “Helvetia Loop” from Sunset, I’m sure I’ve seen a myriad of you out here on these roads personally.

    I honestly believe that the driver behavior comes from years of dealing with the kinds of bikers who AREN’T polite like you guys. I experience three types of bikers out here:

    A) Polite bikers – You tend to ride in smaller groups of no more then 6-8. You’re the ones who actually stop at stop signs, move over in areas where you know we can’t pass otherwise, and slide into a single-file formation (or at least staggered) to allow those of us who live out here to get where we’re going. Sadly, you only make up 20-30% of the bikes I encounter out here.

    B) Antagonizing Bikers – These are the ones I see probably 70-80% of the time. They ride 2-3 wide (which is perfectly legal but makes it near impossible to pass out here), they’re also the ones who will blow through stop signs like the ones at Helvetia and West Union and then flip me off because I got to the intersection first and had already started moving before they even got there (yes, that has happened more than once there).

    C) Training – Teams of 50-80 that constipate the roads by snaking out far too long to ever safely pass out here (some are polite enough to make passing holes so I can kind of leapfrog in the straight stretches but not many). Don’t see too many of those but they tend to show up more right before a race is held out here.

    Sadly we spend so much time dealing with type B that we have to assume that everyone on a bike is going to do something stupid (like swerving out to the center line while I’m in the middle of passing or speeding up significantly when I try to pass then slowing down again when I get back behind). I’m getting better at telling the type A’s from the type B’s and have really been trying to be nicer to the bikers that are sharing the road instead of owning it.

    As for the accident, considering the time and location, he probably didn’t see them until he was almost on top of them and, considering the uphill they were on, they were probably moving substantially slower which would have amplified the impact. For those of you familiar with the area, you leave West Union School heading toward North Plains, cross Groveland, bank to the right, go up and down the small hill with the cattle pasture on the left, the road curves to the left then has that uphill run with the left curve starting about 3/4 of the way up (next to last hill before the Jackson Quarry intersection with the lone house at the top and all the yellow arrows).

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  • Duncan August 5, 2011 at 7:28 am

    I have long believed that all roads should have 3′ wide shoulders on rural roads- not just for bikes, but also for pedestrians, and I think that 55 MPH is pretty high for that stretch of road . . . that being said there is nothing wrong with saying that not having a light on your bike is more dangerous than having one- particularly at dusk.

    We all are responsible for our own safety, and people should be encouraged to think proactively about ways to protect themselves- and having a bike light is cheap insurance.

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    • esther c August 6, 2011 at 9:27 am

      Perhaps 55mph is too fast a speed limit for any road without shoulders might be another point. At 55 if you go off the pavement and over correct its easy to flip a car. I don’t like driving 55 on these types of roads and don’t.

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  • Susan Otcenas August 5, 2011 at 8:45 am


    I’m with Susan. Most of the roads out here just don’t have the volume of traffic that would make them dangerous to ride on.
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    I think the dead and injured would disagree with you on that one.

    biking2work – that’s a bit of a ridiculous thing to say. It only took ONE vehicle to harm these 3 cyclists. There is absolutely no indication that there was any volume of traffic at all on that road at that time of night. In fact, because I ride West Union all the time, day and night, I can say with a fair degree of confidence that it is highly UNlikely that there was any other traffic at that time of night, other than the vehicle that hit them. Had the driver seen them, (s)he could easily have moved into the oncoming lane to pass safely.

    West Union (west of Cornelius Pass, which is outside the UGB) is just not a heavily trafficked road. Yes, it’s 55mph, but there’s simply not a lot of volume on it. *Especially* at that time of night.

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  • deborah August 5, 2011 at 8:52 am

    You know – I was curious about this when I read the article, but I wanted to see the sunset time and dusk last night to be sure. 9pm is FAR from pitch dark. It’s dusky, but I wouldn’t think dark enough to completely ram into 3 people! I wonder if driver distraction had more to do with this than actual lighting…you know the whole ‘I didn’t see you’ line that we even get in full daylight.

    Granted, I know that dusk is sometimes even more dangerous time. Cloudy days apply too. But I’m having a hard time believing that an alert driver would have been unable to see 3 people dead center in the road. It’s just not that dark at 9pm.

    I’m ALL for lighting, but I think that this might just be a case of distracted driving. Why don’t we implement some sort of cellphone records check when people are in collisions involving death? Seems like the next step in the distracted driving ‘crackdown’.

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  • Joe August 5, 2011 at 10:47 am

    looks like someone was distracted. check the skid marks on the road.
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    why so many dislikes? what I trying to say is the truck should be able to see whats in front ?

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    • Alan 1.0 August 5, 2011 at 11:45 am

      I don’t know ‘why’ on the dislikes, seems like a reasonable post to me, but I did wonder about where you saw skid marks? I don’t see them in the photo above, and I’m pretty sure that truck has anti-lock brakes which tend not to leave marks.

      Also, distraction might be one reason for sudden, late braking, but the road’s curve and hill crest, or gathering dusk, might have hidden the bikes, too. Careful on the speculation!

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  • Joe August 5, 2011 at 5:00 pm

    Alan 1.0
    I don’t know ‘why’ on the dislikes, seems like a reasonable post to me, but I did wonder about where you saw skid marks? I don’t see them in the photo above, and I’m pretty sure that truck has anti-lock brakes which tend not to leave marks.
    Also, distraction might be one reason for sudden, late braking, but the road’s curve and hill crest, or gathering dusk, might have hidden the bikes, too. Careful on the speculation!
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    ok my skid mark post was NOT in disrespect to the cyclists, I ride alot and see ppl drift into the bike lane, so did the truck just plow them? or driving way to fast. * I think both * seeing the way ppl drive.
    anyway bottom line very sad roads can’t be shared.
    and humans have to suffer so bad.

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  • Rajesh_Kumar August 6, 2011 at 12:08 am

    I have lived in that area for about 19 years now and ridden that road thousands of times. Its on my commute loop to Intel and the main east-west artery connecting a bazillion other roads with great riding in rural Washington County. There really isn’t another alternative unless you go several miles north to Helvetia/ShadyBrook/MasonHill or go south of Hwy26. So for several miles stretch, West Union is the only road, literally. Its mostly flat but has some blind curves and small but rather steep rollers which can easily hide bicycles. I use a reflective Hi-Viz vest AND 400 lumen tail lights (probably 20-40X brighter than a typical blinkie). Even so, I routinely get close calls from distracted drivers. The issue is NOT hi-traffic. Even though traffic has increased a lot in the last two decades, it is still tiny compared to what I see in Portland and suburbs. The issue is very high speed (people going >70 mph) combined with distracted drivers on the rollers. I think a 45mph or 35mph speed limit atleast in the curvy sections would help a bunch. My condolences to the cyclists. I am on that road 5 days a week so this hits very close to home.

    In fact, I was on that road that day around 7 pm on my commute ride after work so this sent a chill down my spine. Hope the cyclists recover fast.

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  • jim August 6, 2011 at 1:38 am

    I heard that the truck had just came around a curve. Also it wasn’t clear if the bikes were riding next to each other ? single file at the side of the road?
    Reflectors (if they had any?) might not have shown up at the angle of the curve untill the bikes were right in front of him. I would recomend a rear light and reflector tape around the frame so you can be sean from the side also.
    I would definately not ride on a road where cars do 55 after dark, I think that is really poor judgement

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  • t.a. barnhart August 6, 2011 at 11:25 am

    were any of the riders wearing helmets? after all, in a similar incident, that’s what saved Joey Harrington’s life

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  • wsbob August 6, 2011 at 12:47 pm

    t.a. barnhart
    were any of the riders wearing helmets? after all, in a similar incident, that’s what saved Joey Harrington’s life
    Like or Dislike: 1  0

    Oregonian stories have reported that the people riding bikes, that were involved in this collision, were not wearing bike helmets.

    Especially because of the reported speed…55mph…of the vehicle that collided with the people on bikes, that they weren’t wearing helmets, as usual, opens up a certain amount of speculation that bike helmets could not have significantly countered any impact sustained in a collision with a motor vehicle traveling such a speed.

    Seems to me, there’s room to consider that if people on the bikes had been wearing them, helmets could have been beneficial in this type of collision. Even the most severely impacted person survived the impact, and lived for a number of hours after. In this collision, if people’s heads were injured, while not being able to defend against a 55mph direct impact, bike helmets, may have been able to reduce the severity of a secondary impact.

    Seems as though the bike helmet Joey Harrington was wearing when he was involved in a collision probably helped reduce his head injuries. Reports have been to the effect that he flew up over the hood of the vehicle, hitting the windshield with head and shoulder. People not particularly receptive to the idea of bike helmet use probably take exception to casually stated claims that use of the helmet saved Harrington’s life.

    If they’re saying that it wasn’t actually ‘the helmet’, exclusively, that saved his life, they’re probably right, because lots of factors together led to that positive outcome. I tend to think that Harrington’s use of a bike helmet certainly did not hurt his chances of minimizing serious injury to his head or brain, and may well have helped minimize injuries.

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    • t.a. barnhart August 6, 2011 at 2:30 pm

      i have a big mirror on my helmet (made & sold at Bike Gallery). would i have seen the headlights? been able to do anything about it? i don’t know. might i have had a better chance than these folks. possibly.

      Joey credited the helmet. i know mine saved my life (20 feet thru the air & landing on the back of my skull? no doubt). helmets give you a chance. in most accidents, they probably save your life. but in the end, they are only one part of a massive safety/education upgrade we need to protect bicyclists and help drivers.

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      • PdxRunner August 7, 2011 at 8:22 pm

        Bike helmets help when the bicyclist hits the pavement at lower speeds. They are NOT designed to help when being hit by a car at 55mph. They are also not designed to protect from multiple impacts, as what generally happens when being hit by 3000+ lbs at 55 mph. Do I wear a helmet? Every ride, they help alot when we hit the pavement at low speeds, has happened to me many times. They MAY help in a auto/bike accident, probably not. Many Auto/Auto accidents cause brain injuries, but we don’t blame drivers for not wearing a helmet, pedestrians helmets?

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  • jim August 6, 2011 at 10:28 pm

    I am an advocate for helmets, I think it is naive to think you dont need one. It dosent take much to ruin your life, or to spend the rest of it being spoonfed.
    I also think that it should be the riders own personal choice if they want to wear it or not. I dont want govt. making every decision about my life, what kind of litebulb, forcing people to buy health ins., how warm or cool your house is. We are supposed to be a free country, that is why our ancestors came here.

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  • Chris August 7, 2011 at 9:01 pm

    Just checked on Google Maps. There is a yellow caution sign recommending 35 MPH through the corner. My guess is that the driver was travelling much faster than this.

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  • Kaitu August 8, 2011 at 2:07 pm

    Just checked on Google Maps. There is a yellow caution sign recommending 35 MPH through the corner. My guess is that the driver was travelling much faster than this.

    Once again, the place marked on the map above is NOT the site of the actual crash. It’s 1/4-1/2 mile further down the road. There is no reduced speed sign. there is a warning of a curve and a pair of yellow arrows at the top of the hill to reinforce it.

    I actually drove through there last night around 8:55. Was going to take pictures of what it looks like at that time of night but someone was laying a memorial bouquet at the site and I felt that would be disrespectful. For all of those who are saying that it’s “plenty light” at that time of night, you may be right in some areas. The factor I didn’t take into consideration is that the distant horizon runs very close to the top of that hill. At that time of night there is a bright red ring on the horizon from where the sun has set. At 100-150 feet away I had trouble seeing the hazard flashers of the people leaving the flowers and I knew they were there. If they hadn’t crested the hill yet (which, it is obvious from the scene they hadn’t) then they would have been in the shadow and silhouette of that bright horizon. Just a thought.

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    • wsbob August 8, 2011 at 8:13 pm

      I appreciate your going out there, but it’s a bit hard from your description, to tell exactly where along the road the collision site was. I rode out there this weekend…no debris left to show where it happened. Kind of guessing it was a bit west of the power line. If I recall correctly, just after the power line, the road does a dip and a rise before the final long descent to Jackson Quarry.

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      • Kaitu August 8, 2011 at 10:27 pm

        I actually live out here so I drive by the site every day. There is a very obvious mark on the road where it happened and (as of Sunday night) a blue and white bouquet on the side of the road. I actually gave a description a little further up but here it is again. There are a total of 4 hills between West Union School and Jackson Quarry. The first is immediately before Groveland, the second is just after that big curve to the right after Groveland, the fourth is the one that kind of plateaus immediately before Jackson Quarry, this happened on the third hill, almost exactly halfway between Groveland and Jackson Quarry and the one just after the christmas tree farm (the hill with a single house at the top of it).

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        • wsbob August 8, 2011 at 11:21 pm

          Thanks…I think I’ve got it straight now. It seems I didn’t ride quite far enough west on West Union. I met some girls on road bikes, probably close to where you’re describing the location, and asked them. They were traveling eastward, so they probably passed right by the site. All they knew was the intersection of West Union/Jackson Quarry roads. Glad to hear someone has put a flower memorial there.

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  • Hart Noecker August 8, 2011 at 10:42 pm

    While probably the rarest of collisions, being rear-ended by a fast moving car is probably the least avoidable. By the time you can hear that the car is not going to pass you but instead strike you from behind, the vehicle is likely only a few feet behind.

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