Esplanade closure begins February 1st

TriMet bus operator makes abrupt stop to avoid bike rider – Updated

Posted by on December 3rd, 2011 at 12:52 pm

Last night a TriMet bus operator made an abrupt stop – causing some injuries to passengers – in order to avoid someone riding a bicycle in downtown Portland.

The man on the bike reportedly failed to stop at a stop sign.

I first heard about it on the Twitter feed of Joseph Rose, a reporter for The Oregonian. I’m following up with TriMet, but thought in the mean time I’d share a first-person account just sent in by a reader:

I was on a #9 bus last night at about 6:15pm. We were travelling north on SW Broadway. As we came to Everett street, a cyclist with no lights darted across the path of the bus, mortally close, causing the driver to bring the bus to an immediate halt. The cyclist did not stop.

Everyone in the bus was thrown forward. I was sitting in the farthest aft of the three seats facing the back door, and ended up landing on the guy sitting next to me. Honestly, it was a fright.

One man, who appeared to be in his late sixties – early seventies was on the floor unable to move. A young woman “banged up” her knees. I worried that the extent of her injuries might not have been immediately apparent. The injured man was taken out by ambulance. The driver was emotionally shaken, as were, to varying extents, the passengers. Other people sustained minor injuries. We all had to exit the bus and get on the next one.

I am a cyclist… I do not have a single anti-cyclist bias in my body.

This individual cyclist’s irresponsible actions actually hurt people in a quantifiable way. I had conversations with other cyclists on the bus, and we were all in agreement that this individual was a complete jackass. Of course, incidents like these hurt us all. Stupidity begets stupidity.

I don’t know if Trimet investigates things like this, or if they make their investigations (or maybe the camera footage) public, or if you could craft this information into something productive, but I thought it prudent to at least make mention of.

I’ll have more on this as soon as I can. This story was posted from my phone as I’m away from a computer.

UPDATE, 7:46pm: Here’s more from TriMet Media Relations rep Mary Fetsch:

“Just received the supervisor’s report from the scene: Bus was traveling northbound on Broadway and at Flanders Street, a bicyclist rode in front of the bus. The bicyclist came from west to east on Flanders.

…it’s unfortunate that people were hurt when the bus had to stop quickly to avoid a collison. A TriMet bus weighs 20 tons and cannot stop quickly. This incident is a reminder to be safe on the roads and for everyone to focus on safety first.”

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  • Alexis December 3, 2011 at 1:21 pm

    The first-hand reporting has been divided as to whether the rider disregarded a red signal or a stop sign, and this account is also giving a description of where the event occurred that doesn’t quite add up. Right now, the 9 is shown as traveling north on 6th according to TriMet’s website. 6th is fully signalized, while Broadway has a stop sign for cross traffic at Couch and Flanders and signals at Davis and Everett. So either the bus was off the current route, the current route is out of date, or the description of the incident is not correct in all details.

    I hope that these details can be resolved with further investigation to get an accurate of what happened, since it’s likely that a lot of angry rhetoric about “scofflaws” will accompany any reporting about this.

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    • DJ December 3, 2011 at 2:12 pm

      Pretty sure the 9 is one of the buses being re-routed down Broadway that use the stop in front of Embers.

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    • Emily December 3, 2011 at 3:35 pm

      Some of the buses downtown busses, including the 9, 4 and 44, are traveling a different route than usual. They are turning left off of 6th onto Ankeny, then right onto Broadway going north, then turning again onto Everett after crossing Burnside.

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  • Champs December 3, 2011 at 1:32 pm

    And somewhere last night, there was a guy trying to say that “a bus nearly tried to kill me.” Somehow people like this are always plagued with “drama” like that, but never the cause.

    Take this with a grain of salt, but the four wheeled maniacs all but fell away from my car-free adult life after I got a helmet, some lights, and started playing by the rules of the road. I don’t have to ride with fear or anger anymore.

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    • Alex Reed December 4, 2011 at 8:28 pm

      Lucky you, Champs! I get “buzzed” or beeped at almost every week, despite playing by the rules, only riding on low-to-mid motor-vehicle-traffic streets, and using lights and often a helmet. Maybe I play by too many rules. Taking the lane, which I do for safety whenever there are parked cars next to me or within the next block, seems to infuriate some people.

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  • AL M December 3, 2011 at 2:02 pm

    You don’t have a time on this do you?

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    • Domes December 3, 2011 at 2:05 pm

      The time is noted in the first sentence of the account.

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  • Brian December 3, 2011 at 2:30 pm

    As I understand it, all Trimet buses have cameras on board, both filming the inside of the bus, and the bus driver’s view of the street ahead.

    I hate it when bicyclists do idiot things like this. And I say this as a full-time cyclist.

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  • Domes December 3, 2011 at 4:18 pm

    It would be interesting to see both the exterior and interior camera feeds.

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  • Dan Packard December 3, 2011 at 4:38 pm

    I think T-Met is re-routing buses from NW 6th ave to Broadway during construction of new building on NW 6th between Couch and Davis. Altho, I don’t see a service alert about this on for the #9.

    Sorry to hear about injuries to all the innocents. It’s amazing how suddenly a bus can stop with air brakes. In this case, if true, it would have been more appropriate for Darwin’s law to apply to the cyclist. I can envision the scoundrel now, riding unlit in the dark, with a pea green coat, no helmut, a beer in bag in one hand and right thru the red light in front of the bus. These are the kind of people that give all us cyclists a bad name.

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    • Cecil December 4, 2011 at 8:11 am

      What’s wrong with pea-green coats? I’ve got
      one, and I stop for all stop signs 😉

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  • shirtsoff December 3, 2011 at 5:11 pm

    This is why there should be seatbelts on all motorized vehicles including buses.

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    • meh December 3, 2011 at 5:33 pm

      Gee taking away personal choice to use safety devices?

      Do you support helmet laws?

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    • was carless December 3, 2011 at 9:48 pm

      You’ve heard of standing-room only, right? You realize thats a literal term, right?

      You must not realize it, but most transit lines in the world have standing room areas on buses and trains.

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      • A.K. December 5, 2011 at 11:38 am

        I was on a train in Japan so crowded that if there was an emergency stop I don’t think I would have been injured, as I could not have moved from the space I was occupying very easily.

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  • Ted Buehler December 3, 2011 at 6:13 pm

    Two thumbs down to bicyclists recklessly running stop signs.

    I’m glad the bus driver was paying close attention, and I hope the injured recover quickly.

    Ted Buehler

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    • disgusted December 3, 2011 at 9:52 pm

      I witnessed my co-worker make a left turn on a red light on a bike. A few weeks prior that co-worker was at a meeting/forum in a neighborhood where cyclists and motorists were at odds and some serious threats were expressed on behalf of some motorists which prompted the meeting. So why is it that cyclists who are disguising themselves as advocating for safe riding run stop lights? Sorry but Portland cyclists who want “their” rights as cyclists to be protected and recognized need to stop the double standard and start obeying the traffic laws. I’m so disgusted by this mentality of righteousness of some of these BTA toting cyclists who think they can run a stop sign or light? This is a perverse attitude in Portland and cyclists need to start owning up to it!

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      • matt picio December 4, 2011 at 2:24 pm

        “Disgusted” why would you think that a “do as I say, not as I do” attitude wouldn’t also apply to people who consider themselves cyclists? And it’s not a “so-called cyclist” simply because they don’t have their own lives in order. Does a divorced man or woman lose the right to speak about marriage? Is a person a so-called vegetarian if they eat meat twice a year at family holidays? It’s completely acceptable to advocate for something without being perfect yourself.

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        • disgusted December 4, 2011 at 5:09 pm

          WOW! These things you mention are not breaking the law. So yes if you run red lights don’t go asking motorists to obey the law if you can’t. Eating meat is a whole other issue that is a personal choice whereas breaking the law can affect many lives. Your perfectness has nothing to do with the law, either you obey it or you don’t. Ha,”vegetarian eating meat on the holidays”…that’s profound, sounds like you need an extra hour at the therapists this week, or at least by the “holidays”

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          • Scott December 5, 2011 at 10:07 am

            You are 100% free of any and all moving violations for the entire time you have been a driver? You have never been in an accident or fender bender? Are you there God? It’s me Margaret…

            To err is human disgusted.

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          • Unit December 5, 2011 at 10:53 am

            Pretty obvious who needs the therapy here.

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  • Paul Johnson December 3, 2011 at 7:42 pm

    It would be nice if the compliance rate for red lights and stop signs in Portland wasn’t effectively zero for all modes. Going from Beaverton to the Rose Garden for a hockey game, my buddy and I counted 27 cars, 8 TriMet buses, 3 bicycles, 1 MAX train disregarding red (or in the MAX’s case, horizontal bar) signals on the trip from 185th and Highway 10 to the Rose Quarter via Murray, 26 and downtown surface streets.

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    • matt picio December 4, 2011 at 3:08 pm

      That’s a pretty hyperbolic statement. If the compliance rate were “effectively zero”, there would be a *lot* more collisions, injuries and deaths than we’re currently seeing. Hyperbole isn’t really helpful to the discussion, nor to addressing the issue(s).

      Yes, non-compliance is a non-zero phenomenon, but overall, the vast majority of transportation users are complying with traffic control devices. It’s very easy when looking for non-compliance, to notice it. In research, that’s known as “selection bias”. People who refuse to comply with the law are potentially a problem – but to do anything about it, we need to look at how widespread the issue is, whether non-compliance is actually causing a safety issue (or breeding conditions which may result in a safety issue in the near future), and why non-compliance is occurring. Then we can figure out possible solutions (you can’t effectively solve a “problem” until you understand it, except by blind chance or through trial and error).

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      • Paul Johnson December 5, 2011 at 6:30 am

        We already have a lot more collisions than most cities because the compliance rate is extremely low. Take a look at that ITO World map that was posted the other day. Traffic is our 9/11 here.

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  • Dabby December 3, 2011 at 10:58 pm

    It is amazing how when Tri Met is not at fault they immediately state what happened..
    But when a driver is at fault it is a whole different story….Can you say union? I knew you could.
    Just saying…

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    • noah December 4, 2011 at 12:51 am

      Yep, non-unionized employers always admit blame without hesitation.

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    • Paul Johnson December 5, 2011 at 6:36 am

      If you’re jealous of their working conditions and the fact they actually have protections against actions taken in honest accidents or mistakes, then perhaps you should get a union job yourself instead of implying a race to the bottom is a good thing.

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  • Joseph E December 3, 2011 at 11:56 pm

    This is why bus brakes should have limited power. If this was a Max train or streetcar, the guy on the bike might be toast, but at least no one else would have been injured (Even in emergency stops, the trains and streetcars can’t stop fast enough to throw people to the floor).

    I don’t have much sympathy for the bike rider this time.

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    • some guy December 4, 2011 at 12:52 am

      Maximum braking effort on a MAX train, in emergency braking mode, is roughly 3.9mphps. It’s not “limited” in any way. emergency braking activates dynamic, friction, and magnetic brakes, to their full power (normal “service” braking is roughly 3.0mphps, at full application).

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      • Joseph E December 6, 2011 at 1:14 pm

        That means it takes almost 8 seconds for a MAX train to stop, if traveling at 30 mph. And 4 mph per second is only about twice the usual acceleration of a (stopping) streetcar or train. At that rate, you can fall over if not holding on to something, but few passengers would be seriously injured.

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    • Paul Johnson December 5, 2011 at 6:22 am

      The trains take longer to stop because each car weighs, minimum, 110 tons, empty. So, assuming a two high-floor car train (something that hasn’t run since 1997), that’s 220 tons. And people aren’t exactly light here.

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  • wsbob December 4, 2011 at 12:38 am

    “This is why bus brakes should have limited power. If this was a Max train or streetcar, the guy on the bike might be toast, …” Joseph E

    And if instead of an adult on the bike, it’s a little kid? The importance of being able to stop the bus as soon as possible in case of emergency probably has to over-ride possible risk of injury to bus passengers in the event of abrupt stops.

    I’m wondering who is going to pay for the injured people’s medical bills. In a situation where people on the bus are not hurt due to negligence on the part of the driver, the transit agency, or the city, but rather…to some road user that flees and can’t be identified apprehended and arrested, does Trimet nevertheless have some liability to pay injured passenger’s incident related medical bills?

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    • jim December 4, 2011 at 1:58 am

      I don’t believe that legally the city has to pay for injuries, damage. Portland has a history of paying anyways without a fight. Thats my guess anyways. I tried to get money from a road construction project that dropped a big chunk of roadbed material on the fender of my car and made a dent and failed.

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    • Rol December 4, 2011 at 2:03 am

      It’s almost like a hit-and-run, in that the at-fault party is absent. If that happens in a private automobile, the driver’s insurance covers it. So maybe TriMet is insured in some way that covers it, or maybe they’re so big they cover it themselves.

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    • Doug Smart December 4, 2011 at 3:04 pm

      I have a family member who was injured a few years ago when a TriMet bus made an emergency stop. She was told she would need to file a claim against the motorist the bus driver was avoiding. Of course, that driver was never identified.

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  • Rol December 4, 2011 at 2:38 am

    I’d just like to gently discourage everyone from inadvertently repeating (including by denying it or complaining about it) the meme that cyclists are a homogeneous group that is capable of being represented or emphatically-not-represented by this one particular jackass. Some things should be obvious. For example, I’m white, but I don’t go around condemning and distancing myself from the misdeeds of every white guy. They’re bad deeds whether the guy is white, black or purple. In a similar way this guy’s being on a bike is not an important part of this. A person operating a vehicle broke the law and caused an accident.

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    • April December 4, 2011 at 11:09 am

      But other people *do* see one cyclist as representing the whole bunch. It’s not fair, but it’s true.

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      • matt picio December 4, 2011 at 3:13 pm

        It’s true, but should one live their life based on the perceptions of others? Do what you have to for safety’s sake, and according to your own conscience. In my case, I’ll continue to point out the fallacy when I see it directed at me – no one should be considered “representative” of Group X, regardless of whether Group X is a “group” by birth or by choice.

        If individuals choose to be willfully ignorant, there’s nothing any of us can do about that unfortunate fact.

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        • meh December 5, 2011 at 7:15 am

          Because many here paint all Trimet drivers based on one Trimet’s drivers actions.

          Many here decide all drivers are “cagers” because some get behind the wheel and are idiots.

          The “cycling community” on this blog are as guilty of grouping everyone into convenient bundles as others are of grouping cycliest.

          If you’re not willing to see the world as individuals, then don’t expect the world to see you as an individual.

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    • wsbob December 4, 2011 at 12:10 pm

      It’s becoming more generally accepted that bikes are vehicles and legitimate means by which to travel roads, yet bikes as vehicles on the road represent their own significant potential for danger that larger vehicles don’t necessarily pose.

      Because of their relatively smaller size and, in most cases, lower level of illumination, bikes traveling the street can be harder to see than a car or a truck.

      Persons riding bikes are more vulnerable to injury and death than people traveling within motor vehicles, placing a greater burden of responsibility for not colliding with such road users, on the shoulders of people that drive motor vehicles.

      A lot of people on this bus may have paid for the negligence of this person riding their bike, for the reason that the bus driver could not see the bike at 6:15pm in the evening in time to slow down more gently, whereas had it been a car with its very bright, big headlights, and much greater size, the driver.

      All of these things and others make for the fact that a collective, cultural application of pressure on people that ride and disregard common rules of the road, is in order.

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  • steve scarich December 4, 2011 at 8:14 am

    Interesting that this comes the same week as the PSU ‘study’ on local bike-riders disregard for stop signs and lights. I am wondering why the editor of this blog has chose to ignore that obviously significant report.

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    • Chuck December 4, 2011 at 8:33 am

      It’s a site devoted to bike advocacy. Not many organizations whose goal is to advance a particular position are going to highlight instances which jeopardize that goal.

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    • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) December 4, 2011 at 10:13 am


      I didn’t choose to ignore anything… but thanks for reminding me about that story. I haven’t really looked into it much yet and we still don’t know much details about this incident. I’ll consider doing some follow up early next week. Thanks.

      And Chuck,

      As the founder and publisher of this site I can assure it isn’t “devoted to bike advocacy” nor is it a “goal” of mine to “advance a particular position.” Like Steve, I think you are jumping to some sort of conspiracy/propaganda theory that just doesn’t exist.

      Thanks for reading.

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      • steve scarich December 6, 2011 at 8:38 am

        Jonathan, I was not implying a conspiracy, just that a ‘study’ (notice parentheses) which has such significant implications to the cycling public, would, it seems to me, have drawn your interest. I suspect if the amazing statistics in the so-called study were reversed, it would have created a fire-storm on your blog.

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      • wsbob December 6, 2011 at 10:38 am

        I also missed reading about the PSU student study. Oregonian/Joseph Rose did a story on it on November 29. Haven’t read any of the 82 comments yet, but will skim over some of them later. Link to the story:

        …and to a link to the student’s findings that Rose included in his story:

        Daisy’s comment, down the list a bit:

        “The PSU study was a student project for class. So not really a “PSU study.”. ”

        Conducted by students at PSU, it’s a PSU study. A remark from one on the students having conducted the study, quoted in Rose’s story, about the caliber of the study (‘Cole’ is Aaron Cole, a member of the study group):

        “…“While the study probably wasn’t thorough enough to be considered scientific,” Cole said, “we thought this paper could at least lead to more discussions about safety concerns and bicycle conflicts with pedestrians on campus.” …”.

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    • Alexis December 4, 2011 at 12:32 pm

      It’s a bit of a stretch to call that report “significant”, to say the least. The students who did it mention in the Rose article that it probably doesn’t qualify as scientific. They looked at three very unusual locations over a short time period.

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    • daisy December 4, 2011 at 5:51 pm

      The PSU study was a student project for class. So not really a “PSU study.”

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  • spare_wheel December 4, 2011 at 9:46 am

    i for one have never run a stop sign or a red light. cyclists who break traffic ordinances are a menace to society. its time to call for a 3 strikes and you are out campaign for cyclist scofflaws.

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  • esther c December 4, 2011 at 10:49 am

    It is infuriating when anyone, cyclist, pedestrian, driver acts or behaves in such a stupid manner that it endangers the safety of others. Kudos to the bus driver for his quick reactions.

    Maybe its time we started trying to do a little policing of other cyclists. Should we start a campaign to remind other cyclists we saw riding at night without lights or blatantly running stop signs and lights without looking for cross traffic that it is not cool. It would also send the message they they are on their own, not supported by the mainstream cycling community.

    Think peaceful protest march and anarchist starts breaking window. Think guy who threw the firecracker and got kicked out of the crowd at the Occupy rally downtown. Maybe the majority of us that like to ride safely need to let people know that these boneheads are not one of us.

    Do we need a new meme? Something to yell at these boneheads so they’ll know they’re on their own and not part of the community?

    These are our streets and we want to keep them safe.

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    • wsbob December 4, 2011 at 11:49 am

      “…Maybe its time we started trying to do a little policing of other cyclists. Should we start a campaign to remind other cyclists we saw riding at night without lights or blatantly running stop signs and lights without looking for cross traffic that it is not cool. It would also send the message they they are on their own, not supported by the mainstream cycling community. …” esther c

      Good idea, but sensing from comments made to the subject in past stories, one that seems to be not a particularly popular idea amongst people that read bikeportland.

      That aside, communicating to road users that casually disregard common rules of the road is a major challenge, because the people that do this type of thing don’t want to listen to people responding to a need to counter their mindset.

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      • matt picio December 4, 2011 at 3:17 pm

        wsbob – minor nitpick, not popular among those who *comment* on bikeportland, which is a distinction I think should be made. The majority of readers do not comment, for whatever reason. I think it’s a discussion worth having – we live in a society for a reason – if any of us is individually incapable of compromise in *any* form, then that individual really shouldn’t be part of society – living in a group, even a “group” of two, requires compromise at some point.

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        • wsbob December 4, 2011 at 11:53 pm

          “…minor nitpick, not popular among those who *comment* on bikeportland, which is a distinction …” matt picio

          You’ve offered a valid distinction. Not everyone that reads, comments. If that weren’t true, there would thousands of comments to each story, rather than dozens of comments sometimes reaching to a couple hundred.

          Not to draw away from the proposal esther c ventured in terms of possibly “…trying to do a little policing of other cyclists. …”. Something has to, and one way or another, good…bad…maybe a bit of both…will change regarding the tendency of some of the people riding to disregard common rules of the road that endanger other road users besides themselves.

          Gradually more consistent self awareness and self consciousness related to on the road actions of everybody that rides will probably have to do more than actual police law enforcement ever will be able to accomplish, if for no other reason than the city’s residents simply can not afford to hire enough police officers to achieve compliance through enforcement details and citations.

          Under today’s perspective on road use, how common might it be for people that ride or drive to think about the consequences of their pulling in front of a bus load of people…for the people on the bus? Is it possible the guy on the bike that pulled in front of the bus did not consider that in order to avoid maiming or killing him, the bus driver by having to stop abruptly, would indirectly bring injury to his passengers?

          Maybe there is a need for an increase in public education that covers a broader base of road use consideration.

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      • steve scarich December 6, 2011 at 8:35 am

        Funny story; I was riding in a bike lane. I came up behind a guy towing a trailer with his child in it. He was weaving around, all the way into the car lane, while he jabbered on his cell phone, riding one handed. I passed him, and (I admit I was a bit rude) I said “hang up your phone and ride”. He caught up with me at a light, and was screaming at me to mind my own business, and I actually thought he was going to get off his bike and punch me. This has happened virtually every time that I try to suggest better behavior by cyclists (or drivers, for that matter). I’ll leave policing to the police in the future.

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        • El Biciclero December 6, 2011 at 11:17 am

          There’s a reason cops carry weapons: people do not like being told they are doing it wrong. Especially if they don’t believe they are doing it wrong.

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        • wsbob December 6, 2011 at 12:26 pm

          Re; Steve Scarich’s funny story: Not very funny at all actually, but I think I understand what he’s saying.

          As I’ve said elsewhere ‘policing’ and ‘self policing’ do not necessarily mean, and in most cases should not mean a road user initiating a direct, face to face confrontation with another road user they feel has failed to observe rules of the road or common courtesy on the road.

          Also, ‘policing’ and ‘self policing’ can be a general community terms not necessarily connected to law enforcement details, citations and arrests by law enforcement officers.

          I think some of the people reading this story and comments to it, may have some good ideas about ways to ‘police’ and ‘self police’, and I hope they’ll work on some of those ideas and pass them on.

          All of us as a community are faced with the challenge of achieving a higher level of road user compliance with the rules of the road and common courtesy on the road. The challenge has to be met if roads are to to be a practical, safe way to get around.

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    • Randall S. December 5, 2011 at 8:22 am

      When drivers start doing “a little policing of other drivers” then I’ll jump on your “a little policing of other cyclists” bandwagon.

      Until then, it’s the job of the police to do “a little policing.”

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      • A.K. December 5, 2011 at 11:13 am

        Further, I *have* corrected other bikers (as they were not cyclists, and yes there is a distinction) and either been ignored or cussed at.

        In short, it doesn’t go very well as I’m not seen as an authority figure in a stranger’s eyes. I know how I’d react if someone tried to “correct” my behavior, and I’d probably tell them to mind their own business, if I’m being honest here. While I don’t run red lights, I do skip stop signs in some areas when there is no traffic around, or I come as close as a stop as possible without stopping, look, and proceed through – so I’m certainly not perfect. So that also makes me a bit of a hypocrite when correcting others, and I’ve since stopped trying.

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      • wsbob December 5, 2011 at 12:37 pm

        I’ll stick up for esther c’s suggestion here:

        …that “…Maybe its time we started trying to do a little policing of other cyclists. …” , because it’s a good and valid suggestion. It’s a timely suggestion as well.

        Portland residents don’t have the money to hire a number of additional police officers that would be necessary to affect a greater compliance with rules of the road and traffic controls. People need to be encouraged to be more conscious of the effect their presence on the road can potentially have on how well the road is able to function.

        Suggestions about ‘policing’ and ‘self-policing’ don’t particularly imply road users facing each other down on the street about real or perceived infractions of the law or road user consideration for fellow road users.

        Acts of ‘policing’ and ‘self-policing’ on the part of road users as an overall group can take the form of greater self awareness of responsibility in use of the road. Helping along this line could be better education offered to the public related to the potential, wide sweeping consequences of each individuals actions on the road.

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      • middle of the road guy December 5, 2011 at 3:53 pm

        Don’t justify your own shortcomings by pointing them out in others. It comes off as smug.

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  • maxadders December 4, 2011 at 11:07 am

    To play devil’s advocate: ever notice how many Trimet busses blow through stale yellow lights? I’ve seen some very, very questionable driving when it comes to stopping for yellows. I’m not talking about the light turning green > yellow as the bus travels through the intersection, but rather the driver speeding up to “make” the yellow just as it turns to red. I’m not saying the cyclist in the story isn’t at fault, but stopping for red lights is everyone’s responsibility and if we’re generalizing– then I’d say busses run their share too.

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    • matt picio December 4, 2011 at 3:21 pm

      Very true, and in case anyone reading this isn’t already aware – if it’s safe to stop for a yellow light, you are required BY LAW to do so in Oregon. You can “run” a yellow light here and get ticketed. (if you don’t believe that, ask Mark Ginsberg, or Ray Thomas, or other traffic-related attorneys)

      I’ve also witnessed a number of Trimet drivers running yellows (and the occasional red) to make up lost schedule time. It’s a problem, but I’m not sure that the bus is a more common issue than any other mode.

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      • Allan December 7, 2011 at 1:50 pm

        Also, buses get extended greens and yellows at times if they’re running late

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  • Justa December 4, 2011 at 11:32 am

    I *always* slow at stop signs, but if there is a wide range of clear visibility and no cross traffic to be seen, I am going to run that stop sign.

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  • Alexis December 4, 2011 at 12:51 pm

    So, is now a good time to discuss how difficult it is to cross Broadway during rush hour at unsignalized intersections? This probably applies to all modes, but it’s particularly true for people walking or cycling because of the longer time required to cross the street.

    Yes, it is illegal and idiotic to cross in front of moving traffic, especially a bus, especially without stopping. But a lot of incidents that are directly caused by poor behavior are an opportunity to examine the larger system that makes bad behavior attractive in the situation, and take an opportunity to think about how to make the street safer.

    I used to occasionally take Couch, which is a marked green route on the Portland city bike map, from NW or the Pearl down to 3rd, and getting across the traffic at Broadway was a complete nightmare, so after a while I gave up and started taking Everett, which is signalized (but not marked as a bicycle-friendly route; you have to be willing to take the lane on a high-traffic street). Flanders, also a marked green route, suffers from most of the same problems as Couch:

    The traffic is extremely heavy and people are very aggressive about attempting to get through lights, resulting in a lot of intersection-blocking, so that even if you could cross because of fully stopped traffic, you can’t because someone is blocking your way or blocking visibility of your way. The road is very wide and with so much traffic, even if there isn’t anyone in the intersection, visibility of the full crossing is poor. Because of the congestion it’s rare for there to be much time when there’s actually no traffic coming or stopped. If you’re trying to wait until most traffic stops (while the lights are red), you’re subject to the poor visibility issue and may make judgment mistakes where you can see that most traffic is stopped, but not all. The differing flows of traffic in the bike lane and standard travel lanes add to the challenge.

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    • wsbob December 4, 2011 at 1:29 pm

      Alexis…those are good points you’ve made about difficulties related to crossing Broadway at un-signaled Couch and Flanders streets, but are you thinking the street situation there impairs visibility to the point a person on a bike attempting to cross Broadway at Flanders would have difficulty seeing a bus coming down the street?

      In terms of height, buses stand way above cars. The eyesight of most adult people on bikes is above the roofs of most cars (recumbents excepted.). If there’s a street related reason the person on a bike that crossed in front of this bus could not see the bus, let’s hear it.

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      • Alex Reed December 4, 2011 at 2:00 pm

        I agree with Alexis that Broadway is very difficult to cross in that area. I take Couch going westbound, but it’s dicey. Sometimes I walk my bike and assert my right to cross at the unmarked crosswalk, but that’s almost as scary as riding across the intersection.

        Here is my idea for how the street design problems COULD have (in theory, hypothetically) not caused, but contributed to, this accident:
        -Cyclist is riding down Everett. He knows the crossing at Broadway is dicey and tenses up.
        -He thinks he sees an opening and decides to go for it without stopping.
        -Due to not taking enough time, he completely misses the TriMet bus coming straight for him.

        Don’t take this comment to mean this actually happens. But street design issues can contribute to accidents even when one party is clearly at fault.

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  • al m December 4, 2011 at 1:00 pm

    “Can you say union”
    ~~~>Can you say “liability”?

    “Bus drivers blow yellow lights”
    ~~~>How many pedestrians were killed by bus drivers last year vs car drivers?
    Your attempt to jump on the latest fad, (evil maniacal bus drivers, all of them) ongoing now for about 2 years, is quite irrelevant to the issue at hand.
    There are indeed reckless bicyclists, those that navigate recklessly weather it be car, bike, or bus, cause needless injuries to themselves and others.

    According to the new “transparent policy” somebody could request the video of this incident and they will provide it, within 5 days.

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  • spare_wheel December 4, 2011 at 2:23 pm

    *the netherlands has a larger cycling mode share than denmark.

    *the netherlands is widely recognized to be the safest nation in which to ride a bike.

    and yet…AND YET…the netherlands is notorious for having cyclists who flagrantly disobey traffic laws.

    i find the dutch attitude towards scofflaw cyclists to be refreshing: if a cyclist (or pedestrian) wants to dart across a signal, its completely up to them to risk their life.

    out of solidarity with my anarchich dutch cycling comrades i will occasionally violate minor traffic laws. the larger the audience…the better.

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    • Domes December 4, 2011 at 2:55 pm

      In the context of this article, where people were injured physically and emotionally who did not dart in front of traffic, it would seem that you have no regard for the feelings of others. It would seem that you think that your actions don’t effect anyone but yourself. I wonder if those values are shared by your anarchic brethren in the Netherlands?

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      • matt picio December 4, 2011 at 3:28 pm

        Good points, but are the situations comparable? How schedule-obsessed are the buses there? How big or small in relation to Trimet buses? US vs. Europe is never an apples-to-apples comparison because there are too many points of difference: technical, cultural, social, and political.

        In many of these discussions (this isn’t aimed at you, Domes, just a general comment), I wonder how much of the argument is due to actual safety concerns and how much is not letting one arbitrary group of people “get away with something” that another group or the general populace cannot.

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  • dwainedibbly December 4, 2011 at 2:58 pm

    Kudos to the bus driver for his quick action.

    I roll through stops signs all the time (it’s a conservation of momentum thing), but only when there is zero cross traffic and, holy cr@p, never when there is a bus coming! Red light? I stop every time and wait for green.

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  • Spiffy December 4, 2011 at 3:58 pm

    another instance where an accident should not have been avoided… the bus driver had a chance to take a bad driver off the road and instead took the damage themselves…

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  • eric December 4, 2011 at 9:33 pm

    i for one have never run a stop sign or a red light. cyclists who break traffic ordinances are a menace to society. its time to call for a 3 strikes and you are out campaign for cyclist scofflaws.
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    I for one have never run a stop sign or a light. Drivers who break traffic ordinances are a menace to society. It’s time to call for a 3 strikes and you’re out campaign for vehicular scofflaws.

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    • spare_wheel December 5, 2011 at 8:01 am

      irony much?

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  • esther c December 5, 2011 at 2:07 am

    I think there is a major difference between treating a stop sign or stop light like a yield sign and brazenly running either without looking for cross traffic.

    Yielding instead of stopping, while illegal, harms no one. In many instances it keeps the cyclist safer by keeping us out of the way of cars, for example less likely to be right hooked.

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    • wsbob December 5, 2011 at 5:28 pm

      esther c
      I think there is a major difference between treating a stop sign or stop light like a yield sign and brazenly running either without looking for cross traffic.
      Yielding instead of stopping, while illegal, harms no one. In many instances it keeps the cyclist safer by keeping us out of the way of cars, for example less likely to be right hooked.
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      There is is a major difference between treating a stop sign or stop light like a yield sign and brazenly running either without looking for cross traffic, but the margin for taking liberties with rules for complying with traffic controls like stop signs and stop lights is a subjective one.

      As you can see from some of the comments above, some people believe that the rules governing compliance with traffic controls should be natural ones.

      In other words, the suggestion is that if people riding bikes decide to estimate they can disregard a traffic control and make it across the road without getting hit, it’s cool, apparently based on an assumption that, the person on the bike being the vulnerable road user, only they will be hurt if the estimation is wrong. This incident points up a big flaw in that rationale.

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      • spare_wheel December 6, 2011 at 12:34 pm

        i don’t think this anecdotal incident illustrates anything. to assess whether there is a serious risk to transit users from scofflaw cyclists we would actually need reliable statistics (as opposed to dramatic and emotional first hand accounts).

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        • wsbob December 6, 2011 at 12:52 pm

          “…i don’t think this anecdotal incident illustrates anything. …” spare_wheel

          Presuming the anecdotal statement you’re referring to is the first-person account that maus included in his story, it certain does seem to illustrate that something very serious can occur when somebody on a bike rides in front of a bus so closely the bus has to make an emergency stop, causing injury to bus passengers.

          Whether the person on the bike in this incident was a scofflaw cyclist, or whether some other reason accounted for their riding closely in front of the bus is hard to know, since the person on the bike apparently declined to wait around to see if everybody on the bus was alright.

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          • spare_wheel December 6, 2011 at 4:49 pm

            i have a very different definition of “something very serious”, wsbob.

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            • wsbob December 6, 2011 at 5:50 pm

              i have a very different definition of “something very serious”, wsbob.
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              Maybe you do have a different, meaningful definition, and maybe you don’t. Apart from superficial flip remarks, apparently you’re not going to share whatever is might be, with everyone reading here.

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              • spare_wheel December 7, 2011 at 7:27 am

                it was not a flip response. i simply do not believe that this incident merited the attention focused on it here, or at the oregonian. AFAIK, this was simply an abrubt stop that resulted in very minor injuries.

                i suspect that this type of traffic incident occurs fairly often in response to misjudgments by motorists, commercial vehicle drivers, companion animals, pedestrians, runners, and…drumroll…cyclists.

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              • wsbob December 7, 2011 at 10:22 am

                o.k. spare_wheel…I appreciate the civil response. I will note, that though the full extent of injuries to people on the bus doesn’t seem to have been reported in detail, those that have don’t seem to have been as you’ve described them: “…very minor injuries. …”.

                At least one person on the bus reportedly fell to the floor of the bus and couldn’t get up. Word is that an ambulance had to come and haul this person off to the hospital. Think it was reported in one of the Joseph Rose stories, that the injured person was conscious, and said out loud he thought he’d broken his arm.

                The stop the bus had to make appears to have been very abrupt, even violently abrupt. Reports are that other people were thrown from their seats, over each other, against hard edges and surfaces.

                Injuries to other passengers? Who knows? Some of the people riding on this bus during the collision could have sustained injuries from the force of the collision they wouldn’t even have become aware of until sometime after the collision. In one of his stories…the more recent of the two I’m aware of…Rose himself stated he was banged around and got a bruise somewhere on his leg that still hurt the day after the collision. Hopefully, more serious injuries didn’t happen, but it sounds as though this abrupt stop was violent enough that people could have sustained whiplash, broken noses and teeth, jaws, etc.

                Do other vehicles on the road besides bikes prompt abrupt stops? Yes they do. In this incident though, the situation involves a person completely exposed to impact from the collision…a person on a bike…. Because of that vulnerable exposure, the bus driver was faced with a need to avoid colliding with the person on a bike that was considerably stronger than exists in the event of collisions with motor vehicles (other than motorcycles and scooters.) in which the people operating and riding within them are comparatively more protected by the external body of the vehicle.

                As a side note, in future comments, when you say you have a different definition of something than somebody has suggested, if you could just say right there, the definition you have in mind, that would probably help everyone understand more quickly what’s on your mind.

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  • some guy December 5, 2011 at 7:00 am

    Paul Johnson
    The trains take longer to stop because each car weighs, minimum, 110 tons, empty.

    empty weight, type 1 car: 92,150 lbs (a little over 46 tons). With 211 pax: 124,855 lbs (a little over 62 tons). Times 2 yields ~93 tons empty and ~124 tons with a standing load.
    empty weight, type 4 car: 98,987 lbs (a little over 49 tons). With 280 pax: 142,197 lbs (a little over 71 tons). Times 2 yields ~ 99 tons empty and ~142 tons with a standing load.
    The type 2 and type 3 cars are somewhere in between.

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  • Chris December 5, 2011 at 8:58 am

    I stop at all stop signs (on my bike and in my car). If I’m not interested in the minor inconvenience of stopping, I’ll take a different route that doesn’t have a stop sign or take the sidewalk where I’m legally allowed to on my bike.

    If someone wishes to break the law, they should be willing to accept the consequences (ticket at the best, death at the worst).

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  • beelnite December 5, 2011 at 9:26 am

    WOW! These things you mention are not breaking the law.

    Tell that to my Ex-Wife.

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  • Scott December 5, 2011 at 10:01 am

    I would be amazed if any of the motorists that post on here followed 100% of the traffic laws to the letter. I actually don’t even think it is humanly possible to do so. So come on, you’re a driver, not a high horse operator. Get down off that pedestal.

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  • Nathan December 5, 2011 at 11:24 am

    The fact that Jonathan created this post pretty much invalidates your slant that anything other than positive bicycle propaganda is ignored. Here is a case where a cyclist was in the wrong (intentionally or otherwise), and a Trimet driver reacted in a way that saved that cyclist from serious bodily harm. This driver’s choice resulted in injury of Trimet passengers.

    I read this piece as more of a reminder of the need for more responsibility and a praise of Trimet’s driver training and drivers. It comes at a time when bicyclists are probably less likely to stop at a stop sign because it is supa-cold and at a time when road usage is higher than normal (holidays).

    I am very glad that I have bikeportland as outlet for providing stories that make me reflect on my riding habits as a person who does not own a car.

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    • Nathan December 5, 2011 at 11:25 am

      Gah! Reply failure… This was a response to steve scarich.

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  • Greg Haun December 5, 2011 at 12:39 pm

    I suspect the bizarre lane configuration of NW Broadway could be a factor here. Three SB lanes and one NB lane. The bus was in the “surprise” NB lane. Maybe the cyclist assumed Broadway was still a one-way street and only looked left. SE Morrison is the other street configured this way and it catches people off guard too. Thumbs down for fake one-way streets.

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  • Tim December 6, 2011 at 12:28 pm

    I have recently had a Tri-met Bus and a pickup truck run red lights in front of me. Since I was on a bike I was able to stop without injury. If I had been a bus, there would be dameged buses, injured people and a totaled pickup.

    I don’t even trust green lights, so I don’t understand running red ones. Lets be glad some of the riders on bikes aren’t driving busses and remember some drivers should be on bikes.

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  • Julie December 7, 2011 at 11:05 am

    I’m the woman who “banged up her knees”. They are still bruised up and the cold weather isn’t helping the mobility. It was a real fright on Friday night. We all literaly went flying!

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