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Woman dies after collision with 18-wheeler on SW Madison

Posted by on May 16th, 2012 at 9:35 pm

Emergency crews at work.
(Photo: JoniPhoto.com)

The Portland Police Bureau have just released information about a very serious collision that happened downtown less than one hour ago.

It occurred at the intersection of SW 3rd and Madison at around 8:30 pm tonight. Police say it appears that the woman — now identified as 28-year-old Kathryn Leah Rickson — was riding her bike eastbound on Madison and the truck was attempting to make a right-hand turn from Madison onto SW 3rd. There is a green colored bike box and a bike lane at this location (as seen in the photo at right). It might also be worth noting that this intersection is just one block from City Hall and Madison is on a slight decline at this location.

The police say the woman’s injuries “may be life threatening” have confirmed that the woman died last night.

Kathryn Rickson on May 3rd.
(Photo: Facebook profile)

Kristin Tufte was walking south on 3rd and came upon the collision right as it happened. She told me via phone a minutes ago that the truck was a large delivery truck and that it was, “half-way through its turn” when the collision occurred. The woman’s body, said Tufte, came to rest between the cab and the rear of the truck. She also added that, “The truck driver was totally distraught.”

I will keep you posted with developments as they come in. I’m sure all the local TV news stations will also have more details and live reports at 11:00 pm. Let’s hope for the best.

UPDATE: I just got this eyewitness account from a reader via email:

“I was riding my bike home from a meeting when I came upon the accident just after it had happened. I came down S.W. Madison and saw the truck stopped part way through a right turn. When I got closer I saw the wrecked bike and then saw that the rider was down. The rear tires of the semi’s cab were pinning one of her legs. Another cyclist stopped around the same time, and indicated he was a paramedic. We had the driver move the truck slowly back, and I got the young woman’s leg out from under the truck tire. But there is no doubt she was severely injured. The bike frame was crushed, seemingly indicating the truck had rolled over it, and she was still on the bike.

The accident occurred right next to the Justice Center, but it seemed like an eternity before emergency services arrived. I’m sure it was only a couple of minutes, but for a few moments it wasn’t clear if the victim was still alive.

As the news has reported, the truck driver was extremely distraught. For all the people at OLive [OregonLive] crowing about who “wins” when a truck hits a bicyclist, the obvious answer is ‘no one.'”

UPDATE, 5/17 at 9:20 am:
A source at the Portland Police Bureau told me via telephone this morning that the woman died late last night. Her name has not been released yet. The PPB is currently investigating the collision; but they did tell me that it was a green light situation and that both vehicle operators were in motion when the collision occurred (thus rendering the bike box — which is designed to help in a red light situation — relatively moot).

The truck was a 43-foot, 18-wheeler (see photos of it just moments after the collision, here). The PPB says the truck had its signal on and that the woman was struck by the front portion of the cab. This is significant, because, according to the PPB, most right hook collisions involve the trailer and rear of the of the truck rolling over the victim. The PPB suspects that the cab of the truck likely moved to the left just prior to making the right (to go south on 3rd). “We’re trying to ascertain why the driver of the truck didn’t see the cyclist and why the cyclist didn’t see the truck,” said my source. The PPB are interviewing witnesses.

As is standard procedure, a citation has not been issued in this collision. The PPB will hand over the investigation to the District Attorney and the DA will decide if criminal charges are appropriate. The PPB has yet to release an update with the woman’s name. Stay tuned.

UPDATE, 5/17 at 10:23 AM: The woman has been identified as 28-year-old Kathryn Leah Rickson. According to her Facebook profile, Rickson grew up in Rhode Island, when to art school in New York, attended both Oxford and Portland State University. She was employed by Madison House, a pregnancy resource and support center in Southeast Portland.


Here are a few photos I took at the scene this morning:

Approaching SW 3rd on Madison…

Scene of fatal collision at SW 3rd - Madison-1

Scene of fatal collision at SW 3rd - Madison-2

The corner (orange paint marks the tires rear tires of the truck):

Scene of fatal collision at SW 3rd - Madison-4

Scene of fatal collision at SW 3rd - Madison-3

This is still looking eastbound. The whitish area in the center of the crosswalk is where the woman’s body came to rest:

Scene of fatal collision at SW 3rd - Madison-6

For images from the scene just moments after it happened, see this blog post.

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Joel
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Joel

I saw the intersection taped off during my ride home at around 9:00pm. The truck was stopped about half-way through its turn onto SW 3rd. In other words, it was well through the bike box and across the bike lane. If anyone has further information on how the collision occurred, please post.

daisy
Guest
daisy

The Oregonian has some coverage here: http://www.oregonlive.com/portland/index.ssf/2012/05/police_female_bicyclist_injure.html

It’s truly disgusting how quickly the comments get posted assuming this cyclist was at fault.

jim
Guest
jim

It is fault by design. If you are driving a truck through an intersection and are watching the traffic coming from left and right then back left again, also watching the crosswalks, checking the mirrors for bikes, left right again… and you go not seeing that bike that wasn’t there just a moment ago. It would be so much safer if bikes were not allowed to pass cars at an intersection.

joel
Guest

actually, it would be so much safer if long vehicles such as semi trailers werent allowed to drive in downtown areas without special dispensation – the tight turns and close quarters arent designed with them in mind, and they arent designed to operate in such conditions.

Chris I
Guest
Chris I

Exactly. You don’t see these types of trucks in urban cores in Europe. They use delivery trucks like this:
http://people.hofstra.edu/geotrans/eng/ch6en/appl6en/img/monoprix.png

Vehicles with articulating trailers should not be allowed in the urban core, with the exception of fire trucks.

Scott
Guest
Scott

Also notice that the truck pictured has the bumpers on it that cost next to nothing to put on and keep pedestrians and cyclists from going under the rear tires of the trailers. I believe these are mandatory in some countries.

They might have saved the life of my friend Kristine Ann Okins, as well as the person in this story.

Chris Daniel
Guest

Hey, those are a great idea!

Scott
Guest
Scott

They have been around for decades.

Dabby
Guest
Dabby

I loved Kristine….. She was so great!

Adam
Guest
Adam

I think we should also not forget blind spot mirrors. Every single vehicle needs to be equipped with these. Why they don’t come as standard on trucks is baffling.

SamK
Guest
SamK

A few years ago in downtown Seattle, days away from, I believe Thanksgiving, a young mother was killed by a dump truck with trailer. Pedestrians waiting to cross a street are not familiar with dump trucks pulling trailers. She bolted across as soon as the truck passed, caught by surprise I’m sure by the trailer. I’m sure the truck driver saw this potential, didn’t do the neighborly thing by slowing to a crawl. The result is a dead mom trying to get last minute groceries before Thanksgiving.

naess
Guest
naess

almost as sad as how fast the comments around here like to assume it was the motorized vehicle’s fault.

Byron
Guest
Byron

Sorry, but I find it very hard to imagine a scenario that would lead to this accident where it is not the vehicle’s fault. By putting bikes in a bike lane it puts the responsibility for turning right safely on the driver, the bicyclist has the right of way. So unless you can think of a way that the bicyclist did something wrong, the driver is the one that caused this.

Mike
Guest
Mike

But it is possible, so maybe we should reserve judgement before condemning either party (not saying you are, but others sure seem to be).

Schrauf
Guest
Schrauf

Have you read all the comments? There are more people blaming the victim. Although that is human nature when you realize how easy it is to be in the same situation (passing vehicles about to turn) yourself when in a bike lane, even if you think you are perfect and everyone who does otherwise is stupid.

Todd Boulanger
Guest
Todd Boulanger

A more appropriate way to think about the discussions of vehicle design and operation are less about “blame” as to safety designs that aid in reducing the chance of the crash or reducing the severity of crashes once occurred.

Peri
Guest
Peri

And vice versa…sometimes mistakes happen. Portland doesn’t exactly have the best infrastructure for the the number of cyclists and unfortunately, these accidents are inevitable until a time when we adopt safer systems.

naomi
Guest
naomi

incredibly sad to hear 🙁

yet another reason to remember:

a) in downtown, always take the lane. doesn’t matter if there is a bike lane, always take the lane. some have told me this is illegal, i’ve done it for the last four years and have never had an officer stop me or even warn me.

b) bike boxes do absolutely nothing. yes, im sure there are studies that say otherwise, but there are also studies that show you have a lower chance of getting hit if you’re not wearing a helmet. tyler durden (fight club) summed it up perfectly: the illusion of safety. do not feel emboldened to blaze through a green simply because you are either in a bike lane or you see a bike box – if anything these things seem to almost invite accidents.

spare_wheel
Guest
spare_wheel

i don’t know how many times I have seen motorists ignnore the bike box and take a quick right.

PS: F the mandatory sidepath law.

Chris I
Guest
Chris I

Bike boxes actually help quite a bit. I use one every day at 57th and Sandy. It’s a great way for me to move up to the front of the pack of cars, and I am now visible for the leading car without having o block the crosswalk. It also prevents cars from turning right one the red light, blocking my safe position.

However, if I come up to this bike box and traffic is flowing on a green light, I find a slot between two cars and stay there. I do not trust any driver to see me once they are moving, bike box or not.

El Biciclero
Guest
El Biciclero

They only help if you come upon a red light and get to stop in the box. If you cruise through an intersection on a green, they do nothing for you.

allison
Guest
allison

I think Bike Boxes work well for stationary vehicle traffic and moving bikes but during a green phase, I don’t know that they do much at all. I’d like to see the studies get more specific about what kind of interactions they improve. I could see getting bikes past right turners who are behind in the queue of one or two through vehicles and preventing those problems but I think it does make you think you’re safe from a car in the through lane on the green phase when you’re not. A big ole truck can’t see that well.

Joseph
Guest
Joseph

I don’t believe bike boxes are intended to serve any purpose during the green or yellow phases of a traffic signal. They are located in front of the stop line, which is only relevant when the light is (or is changing to) red. It is a queuing area for people on cycles when the light is red, allowing them to enter and clear the intersection before general purpose traffic behind them. They have no function when traffic is moving.

Straybike
Guest
Straybike

Agreed the boxes are very good for stopped traffic and are a great improvement over nothing. . They serve as a reminder to car traffic that there is bike traffic on this road, but its fully up to the responsibility of the driver to check and double check when manuevering in these intersections. The wide swing of the right turn to clear the corner with the trailer is decieving. There is nothing a cyclist can do in this situation. My prayers to the family and friends of Kathryn.

was carless
Guest
was carless

SE Madison is a special kind of hell.

GlowBoy
Guest
GlowBoy

Wow, very sad to hear. Like Joel, I rode through there just after 9pm and wondered what was going on.

That is a particularly bad intersection for right hooks. Maybe it’s the distractions of being downtown and having to be more careful to watch for pedestrians or something, but drivers at that corner seem particularly prone to turning right without looking for bikes — despite it having some of the highest bike traffic of any intersection in the city. Drivers also seem to have especially low compliance for not stopping for the bike box there. It seems like more often than not, the driver who ends up first at that light acts as if the bike box doesn’t exist at all.

I’m pretty convinced that green-painted bike lanes help reduce conflict, but this intersection has made me to continue to wonder about the effectiveness of the bike boxes. I like using them, but driver compliance seems spotty at best.

GlowBoy
Guest
GlowBoy

Just to clarify, I do NOT agree with the above comment that these intersections seem to invite conflicts and collisions. SW 3rd/Madison has always been bad. It certainly doesn’t seem worse than it was before they laid down the bike box.

naomi
Guest
naomi

try out the bike box on e couch by the bridge if you’d like another example. technically you can use the excuse that the intersection was bad even before the bike box since that’s where bike boxes are placed, dangerous intersections. all they do is confuse drivers – it seems bizarre that it would confuse them seeing as bike boxes make perfect sense to us cyclists but to the average driver who doesn’t ride, they promote confusion. i wish they didn’t, but they do.

also, the car-lane sized bike lanes downtown are even worse than the typical bike lanes.

Sunny
Guest
Sunny

This appears to be a version of the right hook where the person on a bike assumed the semi was proceeding straight through as, by necessity of a large turning radius, the semi pulled forward into the intersection and began his turn further into the intersection into the far lane. From an enlarged photo on oregonlive there appears to be a long scratch,perhaps caused by the upright style handlebars of the bike, above the right headlight. KATU shows an up close shot of the helmet cracked on the rear. So the conclusion is she was hit by the front right of the semi and thrown about 10 feet into the crosswalk on 3rd, and after slamming the back of her helmeted head into the pavement, came to rest between the cab and rear wheels, possibly having been run over as indicated by large scuff marks on the tread and sidewall of the front right tire.

wsbob
Guest
wsbob

“This appears to be a version of the right hook where the person on a bike assumed the semi was proceeding straight through as, by necessity of a large turning radius, the semi pulled forward into the intersection and began his turn further into the intersection into the far lane. …” Sunny

That could be a likely scenario. I’ll say ‘may’ have assumed. For months, heavy construction has been going on at the building on the southeast corner of the intersection…the federal building, I think. That building may have been the truck’s destination, to off-load materials.

Trying to visualize, but I’m not sure about this: on some of the long trucks, turn signals mid-span along the truck and trailer’s length may not be very visible. I’m thinking some truck-trailers may not have mid-span turn signals. Right or wrong? So if the turn signals of the truck and trailer are activated just after a road user passes the back end of the truck-trailer proceeding to the front of the truck-trailer, they may not see the truck-trailers turn signals until it has started its’ turn radius.

Dan Christensen
Guest
Dan Christensen

I knew when I saw the where the truck was stopped what had happened. I drive a Trimet bus and I don’t mind following bikes, The danger is of a right side contact is life and death serious and is magnified by speed differential. Most cyclist understand this but there are times when it seem, like in cars, everyone gets carried away with speed. Reaction times don’t change with speed and though I don’t know what happened here my heart goes out to both drivers.

Remember just because you can speed by traffic, keep in mind the what if factor and your reaction time. Every person, regardless of right away needs to do a little more than the basics, just incase the other person screws up.

Lets all of us, hope for the best.

Drive smart, stay alive, that is the secret.

Stig
Guest
Opus the Poet
Guest

Except in this case they would have made no difference as the cyclist was hit by the front of the truck. I’m not an expert on this but I recall from my truck driving days there is a large blind spot to the right front of trucks like these and even the smaller delivery vans based on the same cabs with longer chassis.

Livellie
Guest
Livellie

My heart goes out to both the rider and the driver. How sad to hear of another right hand turn accident. I’m concerned that the current design of bike lanes create a false sense of safety…especially around the issue of vehicles turning right. These accidents strengthen my belief that I’m safer taking the lane when riding downtown. Every once in a while I get honked at or passed aggressively but so far no one’s decided to run me over…knock on wood!

Jim F.
Guest
Jim F.

Never ever ride next to a truck or bus while it is going through an intersection. That is just crazy.

Not saying that is what happened here at all — we don’t know yet. Also nothing you can do if a truck or bus chooses to pass you in an intersection, but at least then they are coming up from behind you (not the other way around) and are more apt to see you.

DK
Guest
DK

Get well soon!

basketlover
Guest
basketlover

In my city tractor trailer combos have restricted hours of operation in the downtown core.

q`Tzal
Guest
q`Tzal

Does that mean than cyclists would have restricted hours of operation as well to accommodate the increased load of large trucks coming in off hours?
We might call it a “bike cerfew”.

Your best bet is to completely limit large trucks and require combo truck cargo (which still has to to GET IN to the city) to be offloaded on to larger van type delivery vehicles like these Dodge sprinter type vans. You may notice that this the type of compromise that occurs in Europe, not by choice but because of historically small roads.

If repeated evidence shows that these large vehicles can not be safely driven in this sort of space then they need to be completely restricted.

I drive OTR now and and terrified of this exact sort of scenario.

allison
Guest
allison

Probably not necessary, you’d lower the rates of shared time and thus the rates of collisions and if there was a known time that trucks are around, a cyclist would have the chance to be extra special cautious. I think we’re extra special cautious at night, anyway.

Byron
Guest
Byron

I have had a number of close calls where a driver passes me and thinks that they can turn before I get there. As soon as I see someone pass I get ready to slam on my brakes. One solution to this problem is to stop right turns where there are bike lanes. Either that or get rid of bike lanes and just take the lane. It would be much safer, even if it makes drivers upset.

allison
Guest
allison

I haven’t driven much since I got rid of my car October before last. I had forgotten how hard it is to judge speed rates when they vary so much. Of course, I err on the side of caution and get honked at by the people behind me….

Pete
Guest
Pete

True dat. In California bicyclists are expected to merge with right-turning traffic, and I’ve found the best way to do it is to signal and actually merge as if I were in a (very skinny) car. Yes I’ve had people say “use the bike lane!” when I take the lane, but they’re often just ticked because I know they’re turning right and I’ve moved over to prevent them from right-hooking me and they actually had to slow down when they were in the process of speeding up to beat me. Most people though are thankful because you end up letting them take a right on red instead of corking the shared space. OR was looking into changing the law to this way but there was outcry that said it was less safe (which I no longer believe after riding in both places/manners). The bike lane markings are even different in CA to denote the merges (they are solid in OR).

(The applicable CA law doing this is VC 21202, exception #4, which I had just looked up to settle a disagreement with a friend I ride with who said it was illegal to get out of the bike lane – yes, he’s from OR).

It sounds like she was already inside of the truck during the turn, and I’ve been there too, sometimes it’s just timing. My heart goes out to her family here, we’ve lost one of our friends.

Joe
Guest
Joe

Makes me so upset how cars can just run fokes down these days. slow down! look in side mirrors. GET WELL SOON!

Jake
Guest
Jake

Assume every vehicle is going to turn right and you will almost never have this problem.

Richard
Guest
Richard

If you are riding in a bike lane and you are approaching an intersection, you just have to assume that someone is going to make a right turn in front of you. You should never roll through a busy intersection in the bike lane faster than you can stop. I agree with those who say to take the lane–at least until you are through the intersection. Its the only way to keep those right turning cars behind you.

steve scarich
Guest
steve scarich

I agree that this is a crucial strategy to avoiding right hooks…never arrive to the right of a vehicle that ‘might’ be turning at the moment they ‘might’ turn…I have a question about the grade at the subject intersection…is the cyclist going uphill, downhill or level?

Scott
Guest
Scott

Downhill.

Phil Kulak
Guest
Phil Kulak

If there was any situation where I found myself to the right of a stopped, articulated truck I’d pee myself a little bit and move my bike onto the sidewalk. I hate to say it, but if she got there first, she should have been in the bike box. If the truck was there first, DO NOT STOP TO THE RIGHT OF IT! I’m not judging, or laying blame, but we should all take a lesson from this. Be scared shitless if you ever find yourself stopped to the right of a truck. This seems to be how 80% of all accidents happen. What’s really sad is that it takes some experience as a cyclist to figure all these little things out. It’s tricky to ride a bike safely in congested areas and if you screw up, your get seriously injured or die. I don’t know what to do about it, but it’s a real shame.

Granpa
Guest
Granpa

I have to agree with Phil. the truck driver may have been wrong and may have performed an illegal maneuver, still the cyclist put herself in a vulnerable situation.

Lots of cyclists are not very experienced and it is easy to be ignorant of the perils of right hooks or other common driver errors.

I am the “bike guy” my office and in the bi-weekly office news letter I have a column. This sad event has inspired me to diagram the right hook and inform company cyclists of the danger.

Schrauf
Guest
Schrauf

The vehicles were not stopped prior to collision.

So the only thing the bike box does in this situaion is to alert the driver of a high bike traffic area, and I suppose remind the cyclist to watch for right hooks, although maybe all it does is provide a false sense of security.

Chris I
Guest
Chris I

Last week I came up on a large truck like this that was stopped at a red light, with no signal on. Right as I moved up to about his car door, he threw on the turn signal and started moving, but I was able to hop up onto the curb in time. This morning I had a truck indicating a turn in front of me, so I held back and signaled him to turn so I could follow.

Be very careful around these trucks, because they will kill you. It’s unfortunate that you have to be an experienced cyclist to not get killed by trucks in our city.

Travis
Guest
Travis

I will never understand a law not allowing cyclist to take the lane. Bike lanes offer a shield to mediate the difference in speed between cars and bikes. When the speed is nearly the same and on short city blocks they are death traps to cyclist with too much faith. Passing on the right is simply dangerous, mirrors or not.

Along with signs posting fines for burning through crosswalks, maybe the city / state should do a campaign to educate both motorist and cyclist to the dangers of right-hooks: PSAs and warning signs. Every Tri-Met bus downtown should have the back ad space used to educate –Tri-Met probably owes it to cyclist and pedestrians.

At the end of it all, one person is at fault, but neither the truck driver or the cyclist were aware of each other. Without blaming the cyclist, why was she not practicing defensive cycling? Answering that question tells the story of how we learn to navigate our commutes on bikes. Its a very different story than how drivers learn to drive. Not all of us have been riding the school of close-calls for ten-twenty years. Some of us are nicked (very) hard the first month out.

Dabby
Guest
Dabby

Actually, in this case, the truck would be considered a hazard and therefor allow for a legal abandonment of the bike lane.

Rob
Guest
Rob

Ride like you’re invisible and assume that they are gonna turn…

Dave
Guest

For all the people at OLive [OregonLive] crowing about who “wins” when a truck hits a bicyclist, the obvious answer is ‘no one.’

Exactly. This is what society at large really needs to get their heads around. Nobody wins when our citizens are dying on the roads. This should be instigation for EVERYONE to push road safety, because not only are everyone’s lives at risk (regardless of vehicle), but death on the roads doesn’t just effect the person who dies.

Law, infrastructure, education – we need to improve all of them quite a bit.

Richard Allan
Guest
Richard Allan

I was the one who reported to Jonathan last night about the aftermath of the accident, and trying to get the cyclist’s leg out from under one of the wheels of the truck. I’m heartsick but not surprised that the young woman died. I ache for her family, and for the occupants of the truck (driver and another person).

I know what they are going through. My oldest sister died in Berkeley in 1978, crushed by a truck in a “right hook” accident while riding her bike. She was 27. The hole in my family was permanent. I’ve thought many times about that driver — he wanted to attend the memorial service for my sister, though my family thought it better that he not come. No one “wins.”

K'Tesh
Guest
K'Tesh

My Thoughts and Prayers go out to the families of those involved.

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)
Guest

Just want everyone who’s following this story via the comments, that I’ve posted several updates and photos on this story. Scroll to the end of the post for the latest.

cara
Guest
cara

Silenced on the night of the Ride of Silence. Comfort and condolences to everyone hurting.

Esther
Guest
Esther

What a horrific tragedy. When I ride away from the Portland Building (my partner works there) I always assume every car in front of or next to me is going to turn right there, and act accordingly. Unfortunately that safety measure only works for those who know to use it. We need roads that are designed to actively prevent accidents like these.

Frank
Guest
Frank

I hope that the City of Portland is sued and finally stops the bloodbath that occurs becaise of their faulty “bike lane tothe right of a right turn lane” design. Literally, every other traffic professional realizes this is an awful design. Portland clings to it.

Spiffy
Guest

although that wouldn’t matter in this case because the truck wasn’t in a right-turn only lane… and in the cases where the bike lane is to the right of a right-turn only lane (like Broadway west across Williams) then bicycles can legally take the forward motor vehicle lane instead…

was carless
Guest
was carless

Another tragic victim during the daily Cat-6 race.

pabstslut
Guest
pabstslut

WTF? This is not an appropriate situation for snide comments. You are implying that her ill advised commuter ‘racing’ is what killed her? Regardless of the exact circumstances she is dead. Have a little respect.

spare_wheel
Guest
spare_wheel

what a heartless comment.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2010/may/21/women-cyclists-most-accidents

more cautious riders (and especially women) are at higher risk of being killed by a truck (lorry).

q`Tzal
Guest
q`Tzal

Yet another comment showing the need for NEGATIVE votes on comments

oskarbaanks
Guest
oskarbaanks

that was pretty crappy comment to throw out there .

RH
Guest
RH

There’s probably going to be more semi’s rolling through downtown once Target opens there.
Very tragic event that has no doubt touched many peoples lives.

John I.
Guest
John I.

A good reminder to sometimes assume that while riding that you are not seen. Just because we have right of way or are in our legal spots doesn’t mean human error wont happen. There have been a number of times when driving its just been hard to see bikes coming. Specially when the sun is low in the sky and your driving towards it, or someone is riding at a fast speed in the daylight with plain clothes on. That concerns me because I ride and feel hyper aware of possible bike traffic. Very sad to hear about this accident. 🙁

Kristi Finney-Dunn
Guest
Kristi Finney-Dunn

Hearing this just sickens me. More families torn apart. And not just by the crash itself, but by the comments of self-righteous people who just can’t keep their callous and insensitive opinions to themselves or at least confined to their probably like-minded friends. (I’m talking about comments throughout all the media). Kathryn was somebody’s daughter and possibly wife, mother; the driver is somebody’s son, maybe husband and father; and the devastation also impacts other family members/friends, witnesses, responders.

I don’t know who is to “blame” here for the crash. But I believe that each and every person not seeing this as a tragedy of two human beings, each person spouting off about the scofflaw bike riders or the careless drivers or especially the cars/trucks always win in a conflict with bikes (this doesn’t even take into account any human involvement) is to blame for making a bad situation worse. Don’t the victims in this have enough to deal with? I remember after Dustin’s death being told to not read the comments; of course I ignored that (wise) advice and as a consequence felt even more hurt and angry than I already was. But I was motivated, so I guess that’s something.

The Ride of Silence was last night. Now there is another name to add to the list of human beings killed while riding bikes. So very sad.

Please, every single person, just remember that people riding bikes, people driving cars, people walking, are somebody’s relative and somebody’s friend and we must all, individually and together, do the very best WE can on the road to prevent hurting or killing somebody else, no matter who’s “right.”

Schrauf
Guest
Schrauf

Thank you Kristi.

jram
Guest
jram

Thank you for saying this…

Aaron
Guest

This is horrible and terribly sad. A tragedy. My thoughts and prayers are with the family of the bicyclist.

I bike commute daily and I ASSUME that every single car and truck could HIT ME at anytime or point of my ride. I don’t rely on a bike lane, bike box, green light, or any other device that provides “safety” for me while bicycling. I’m glad that these devices exist, but they are not “bumpers” that guarantee my safety.

Until we start designing/building complete BIKE STREETS (dedicated to bicycling) we’ll continue to read about fellow bicyclist being injured/killed. Seriously, how many people must die before we figure this out?

todd
Guest
todd

rest in peace, kathryn. i didn’t know you, but still feel such loss.comment image

Kirk
Guest

DEAR CITY OF PORTLAND,

Paint looks pretty, it works most of the time, but there is NOTHING that will stop a multi-ton vehicle from crossing over a painted line. NOTHING. Please, start getting serious with safety on our roads. Physical separation is key……..lives are literally at stake. Other cities in the United States are realizing this, we should and can do better!

Joe
Guest
Joe

we have the right to the full lane when needed! cars/trucks need to slow down and use some logic. I’m human not some robot pushing a gas pedal.

Scott
Guest
Scott

I’m not in any way placing blame on either party because I don’t know what happened and am not going to speculate.
I ride through this intersection everyday. I have always wondered how to define who has the right of way at this type of intersection. As I understand it, the right turning vehicle is crossing another lane of traffic (the bike lane) and has to yield to a cyclist.
If a vehicle is at the intersection with a right turn signal on and I am traveling in the bike lane, how far behind the vehicle does my right of way extend? For example, if we are next each other, I clearly have the right of way. However, what if I am 50′ back? 100′? 200′? a block? Obviously my speed has an affect on this equation.
I have never seen this question addressed with a legal opinion.
Practically, if a vehicle is ahead of me and has a turn signal on (or is giving any suggestion that they might turn right), I am not going to pass them until I am sure that they are yielding to me.

Spiffy
Guest

it’s the responsibility of the person changing direction to ensure that their maneuver is safe… this means that they need to account for bikes in the right lane and ensure that that have time to turn in front of the bike and get out of their way, otherwise they need to wait until bike traffic clears and then turn behind them…

Psyfalcon
Guest
Psyfalcon

Yes, but those big trucks turns very slowly on tight streets. It is possible there was no cyclist on the entire block when the turn was started. That is a fairly steep slope and bikes can and do go very fast down it.

Aimee
Guest
Aimee

I recognize that truck from the blog post. It parks *IN* the crosswalk by Starbucks in the South Park blocks every night at 7PM. Totally dangerous.

Chris I
Guest
Chris I

Action needs to be taken. They need to learn to not create these hazardous situations, one way or another…

Andyc
Guest
Andyc

My god. Sheesh. Condolences to everybody involved. Such a tragedy. Can we start protesting, like weekly or something? Careful out there folks.

Spiffy
Guest

“We’re trying to ascertain … why the cyclist didn’t see the truck,” said my source.

why? what a stupid thing to say…

there was no obligation on the part of the person on the bike to see the truck… the bike was in its own lane and proceeding straight through with a green light…

all of the responsibility is on the truck driver to see where they’re turning and not on the bike rider to see where everybody else on the road is going… sure, it’s nice to see things coming at you so you can avoid death by motor vehicle, but language like that can be inflammatory…

the focus should be on why the truck didn’t see the bicycle and getting the driver permanently off the road… sorry, no mercy for killers…

John
Guest
John

As a former truck driver, and life long cyclist I have to say that it’s the drivers fault even if it isn’t. That’s the standard that drivers are held to by their safety departments. Drivers are supposed to have a 6th sense and avoid accidents. Typically it’s the 4 wheelers that don’t respect trucks and cause problems.
That being said, the right side of the truck, next to the cab and the front of the trailer is a hard spot to see into. Mirrors are adjusted to see the back of the trailer, and unless there are extra mirrors to help look down next to the cab there is no way to see an object there. My truck had the extra mirrors and is was still difficult to see cars in that spot.
So it’s the drivers fault for not seeing the cyclist enter his blind spot and not keeping track of her as she left (the blind spot).
We all need to do our part to remain visible and help drivers do their jobs.

Caleb
Guest
Caleb

Who actually has a “6th sense”? Perhaps humanity could wise up and stop expecting such things of anybody…including those who expect it of themselves. And maybe we could wise up and stop using laws that simplify conventions to the point where there’s commonly a lack of awareness (whether it occurs intentionally or not) in any individual involved in any group incident.

Joseph
Guest
Joseph

Actually, I hold myself to that standard. I spend a ton of energy while driving predicting what people are going to do – or may do – and then acting appropriately. It didn’t take me even ten years of paying attention while driving to get very, very good at this. Now I just consider this part of defensive driving, which is a standard to which we should hold all drivers of all vehicles – or they can just catch a bus if it’s too much trouble to pay attention.

Caleb
Guest
Caleb

Spiffy, the police also said they’re trying to ascertain why the trucker didn’t see the cyclist, so I think you might be making a hasty conclusion in considering their words inflammatory.

wsbob
Guest
wsbob

“…there was no obligation on the part of the person on the bike to see the truck…” Spiffy

So everyone on the road should just travel about with blinders on? Everyone using the road is obliged to be aware of their surroundings and take precautions accordingly.

Road users intending to turn right across a lane of traffic do have an obligation to be certain the lane they’re preparing to cross over is clear before commencing their turn; whether or not this is something that happened in this particular collision is a question that remains to be answered.

El Biciclero
Guest
El Biciclero

“So everyone on the road should just travel about with blinders on? Everyone using the road is obliged to be aware of their surroundings and take precautions accordingly.”

Here again, there is a difference between legal obligation and self-preservation “obligation”. If we were all going to forget about legal obligations, then we’d be stopping at every green light just to make sure that somebody in cross traffic–who had a legal obligation to stop–wasn’t going to run their red light. Cyclists would stop at green lights to make sure that traffic behind them had a big enough gap so they could cross before anybody overtook and turned right in front of them. Pedestrians would never cross the street. Traffic would turn into a lurching mess of hand-waving and uncertainty–collisions would likely increase because nobody (or everybody) assumed the right-of-way and proceeded when it was their “turn”.

We all assume at various points in our travels (by whatever mode) that others are going to follow the same established rules we are, else very little traffic would ever move for fear that somebody was going to suddenly run into/over them. At what point does the assumption that others are going to follow the rules change from rational to foolish? When somebody breaks the rules and somebody else gets hurt, who is to blame: the rule-breaker, or the one they hurt or killed by their rule-breaking?

There is a distinction that we must make between these two different types of responsibility. Failure to make that very important distinction is what has resulted in our society at large having a propensity to blame the victims of incidents like this, while at the same time sympathizing with and exonerating the perpetrators.

wsbob
Guest
wsbob

El Biciclero, if you’ve drawn conclusions or have made a point with regards to this particular collision and a general obligation all road users have to be aware of their surroundings and take precautions accordingly, in your comment, it’s difficult to make out what that might be.

In your parting remarks, you speak of perpetrators and victims. Information available at this point, suggests only the latter were involved in this particular collision.

Being aware of surroundings and taking precautions accordingly is like a basic rule of using the road, but while doing so has got to help, it can’t completely guarantee that collisions will not occur.

El Biciclero
Guest
El Biciclero

Point 1: Truck driver broke the law by not yielding (even if unknowingly); Ms. Rickson, while not breaking any laws, died as a result.

Point 2: People continue to say, “I would have been more aware.” “I always stay out of the way of trucks.” “She should have been paying more attention.” “She should have never passed to the right of a truck.” “Big trucks have blind spots.” “The driver probably couldn’t see her.”… and on and on. Comments like this make it sound like she got herself run over, and the truck driver couldn’t help it.

Point 3: We should not confuse the legal obligation of the truck driver to a) make sure his vehicle was suitable for use downtown, and b) follow the law by yielding to a rider in a bicycle lane, with the self-preservation instinct of a cyclist that would, when coupled with enough knowledge and experience, serve to avoid collisions that might otherwise happen as a result of the carelessness of someone else.

was carless
Guest
was carless

This is so tragic. Yet another victim…

Biking around big rigs is super scary. Everyone, be very careful – slow down, watch the vehicle’s front tires to see if and where he is turning, and don’t even both to make eye contact – you should be caring if the vehicle is moving across your lane, not if the driver is looking in your general direction (they can always miss you while staring right at you).

Remember, those paint stripes aren’t Jersey barriers. Make sure your brakes are in good working order (clean them, replace the pads) – they can save your life.

Another bit of advice from defensive driving class – try to keep an “out” in case of an emergency. Like if a vehicle is going to crash into you, can you jump the curb? Can you stop in time? Can you change lanes to avoid a collision?

oskarbaanks
Guest
oskarbaanks

Sorry Spiffy, but your logic is a bit askew on this one, IMO. I am surprised a bit, seeing how most of the time you seem to have a sweet outlook. It is my belief, that BOTH parties involved in this made HUGE mistakes. Although I was mad as hell that the 11 yr old in Vancouver has struck and killed, I would never call the bus driver a “killer”. Emotions run high around this type of event, but I find your call to judgement rash.

Sunny
Guest
Sunny

Airzound. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x56igBIJHX8 http://www.cyclociel.com/pieces_detachees/photos-accessoires/airzound_1.jpg
Awesome and cheap (around 20 bux). Refilled by bike pump. Lightweight. City riding feels much safer.

Perry
Guest
Perry

Be prepared for very negative response from drivers and from other people in the immediate area where you use it. Peoples first reaction to being shocked is often anger…

Sunny
Guest
Sunny

That’s never been my experience — in fact some have expressed appreciation or are apologetic. I don’t know how you can doubt an air horn when drivers are cocooned in the luxury of their sound deadening glass and steel cages with no way for bicycles to alert of their presence. There’s a reason some states require auditory devices on bicycles and why all states require a functioning car horn. This all assumes one isn’t blasting the horn out of anger and being an ass-hat but is using it as a tool for communication between road users, as intended.

Donna
Guest
Donna

I’ve avoided 2 right hooks with mine.

oskarbaanks
Guest
oskarbaanks

It is ILLEGAL to honk in the MAJOR METROPOLIS known as Paris, France ! And to the best of my knowledge, they have one of the LOWEST cycling fatality rates in the world. What is it with American cyclists with 900,000 lumen LED blinding lights, and other unregulated tawdry gew gaw’s that do nothing but annoy other’s and ad so little to actual safety ? Germany has very strict laws on the design element of cycling light’s and for good reason. Have fun with your air horn! If you have to use it, it is probably too late.

Sunny
Guest
Sunny

Paris is much denser so drivers compensate with more awareness. I’d wager the truck driver would have been more aware had it been rush hour with a horde of bikes riding down Madison. As it was, he was making restaurant deliveries after hours to avoid heavy downtown traffic.

Lights are aimed incorrectly if they’re blinding oncoming traffic. Car lights can also be aimed improperly.

A bicycle horn can be preemptively tapped twice to signal its presence when other vehicles have obstructed vision, such as happened here. Bike bells are an alternative but are too quiet in many instances.

Zaphod
Guest

There’s a time/place to discuss how this sort of tragedy can be avoided in the future. For me, at this moment, I’m simply feeling sad for her death.

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)
Guest

I absolutely agree Zaphod. We’ll have plenty of time to discuss policies, preventions/solutions/fault/details…. for now let’s just let it sink in.

Opus the Poet
Guest

True for me as well. I think the most fitting memorial would be to devise a way to prevent this from ever happening again.

Steve B
Guest

A horrific tragedy and a life taken too soon. My heart is with Kathryn’s family and friends right now.

Joe
Guest
Joe

Stick together help eachother when out there. I’m just so sad today its really hard to just let it go. I have lost many friends.

TonyH
Guest
TonyH

So, after reading SHIFT mail, we meet at the intersection tomorrow, friday afternoon, 5:30?

Roberta
Guest
Roberta

I’m 62 and a seasoned bike rider. In my youth I rode Hwy 101 through Malibu and Santa Monica and Manhattan Beach. The highway and city streets were wide. But I knew how risky it was. Mostly I rode my bike for fun along Venice Beach. I always crossed a street walking my bike. Yet I never wore a helmet. When I moved to Portland I hung up my bike. That was 1973. The streets are too narrow. The streets are unsafe.

My bike is still hanging in my garage.

To “Spiffy” – attacking the truck driver is unfair. Why can’t you put yourself in his shoes? He’s not a “killer”.

I think the current bike trend is dangerous, reckless, and influencing young people to put their lives at risk. This trend also divides Portland between “us” and “them.” I’m tired of it.

Dave
Guest

I would say rather that the current use of automobiles is un-safe and endangering the life of all the citizens of our city (both ones who are driving, and those riding bicycles or walking).

Dave
Guest

And it’s primarily the media creating the us vs. them battle, not the people riding the bicycles.

oskarbaanks
Guest
oskarbaanks

Sorry Dave, but that sword cuts both ways. There are some very vehement cyclist around, some of them being my close friends and perhaps your neighbor.

oskarbaanks
Guest
oskarbaanks

… and btw… Lets just show up Friday afternoon in support of this lovely life our community has lost.

Dave
Guest

I agree, there are people who ride bicycles causing problems, but in terms of culture as a whole, I think the media does much more to create the bikes vs. cars controversy than most people who are riding bicycles.

oskarbaanks
Guest
oskarbaanks

True, I wont argue that with ya, I’m just sayin’ when people hear this type of stuff, especially if it arrives off of a springboard such as this blog, assumptions will fester.

spare_wheel
Guest
spare_wheel

i worry more about my significant others highway commute than she worries about my bike commute.

just sayin’

wsbob
Guest
wsbob

Roberta…get your bike down off the hooks and start riding again. Please. You’ve got some good riding years to go. In addition, you’d be setting an inspiring example for generations following yours. Seasoned senior people on bikes are part of building a healthy biking environment.

As an element for constructive change, seniors have a voice and a strength in numbers and resources that smart politicians and bureaucrats likely would generally agree, is not wise to ignore.

Whether senior people in greater numbers, regularly traveling the streets on bikes would have had a bearing on this particular collision, I couldn’t say. No doubt though, their presence on the road in greater numbers on bikes would inevitably bring pressure to bear on leaders to push for infrastructure that would allow safer travel by bike on streets and roads.

CK
Guest
CK

I’d like to see a police sting at this (and other intersections) looking specifically for failure to signal when making a turn. I ride through this intersection almost every day and despite precautions I take I’ve nearly been hooked by drivers who fail to signal prior to turning (signaling while you turn because you see that you just about hooked a cyclist does not count as signaling).

I’ve begun videotaping my bike rides specifically because of intersections like this one and drivers inability to signal when turning. It’s not a courtesy, it’s legally required.

Joe
Guest
Joe

I will not give up on riding, it will feel like I’m giving up on the youth and future, human power!

Jamie
Guest
Jamie

Take a look at the immediately-after photos on Joni’s blog. In the top picture it looks like the driver of the truck is the obviously distraught man with the yellow vest squatting with his head in his hand with a woman consoling him. I think the other bigger guy in front of him is his passenger/co-worker because the two men are wearing similar clothes and, if you look in the cab of the truck, there’s a another yello vest draped over the passenger seat. If that’s the case, I wonder if the passenger didn’t notice her coming alongside. Tragic. 🙁

Richard Allan
Guest
Richard Allan

Yes, that’s the driver being consoled and his co-worker standing. The man kneeling next to Kathryn (in the background) called 911 and stayed on while emergency services were on their way. I’d just arrived down SW Madison on my bike (I didn’t see the accident occur) and another cyclist (a paramedic) arrived seconds later. He knew what to do, but I don’t think anything could have saved her. Just horrible.

Michael O'Leary
Guest
Michael O'Leary

From Pedal Power: A legal Guide for Oregon Bicyclists 6th Edition (2008) p. 59

http://www.stc-law.com/bicycle.html

ORS 811.050 Failure to yield to rider on bicycle lane; penalty:

(1) A person commits the offense of failure of a motor vehicle operator to yield to a rider on a bicycle lane if their person is operating a motor vehicle and the person does not yield the right of way to a person on a bicycle, electric assisted bicycle, electric assistive mobility device, moped, motor assisted scooter or motorized wheelchair upon a bicycle lane.

(2) This section does not require a person operating a moped to yield the right of way to a bicycle or motor assisted scooter if the moped is operated on a bicycle lane in the manner provided under ORS 811.440.

(3) The offense described in this section, failure of a motor vehicle operator to yield to a rider on a bicycle lane, is a Class B traffic violation.”

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)
Guest

Mike,

It’s great to have that law, but a law is only as powerful as the enforcement and — more importantly — its interpretation in court. As we saw with Tracey Sparling, a judge found that the man in the truck couldn’t have seen her, therefore there was no bicycle to yield to .. and therefore the truck operator was not found liable.

Rob
Guest
Rob

This is so sad. Great condolence to her family and friends.

It is time to make a formal agreement with the City of Portland in code to maintain permanent ghost bike memorials including downtown, where some individuals and businesses may be uncomfortable seeing them. They are a good reminder for us all.

esther c
Guest
esther c

I think the comment about not allowing these behemoths in our urban cores is really the only solution. Either smaller trucks for final destination delivery or special early morning exceptions for these trucks. Between the hours of 5 and 7 am or something.

Not only was this poor woman crushed to death but the drivers life as most likely been ruined. He was sent out on an impossible assignment by his employer, to drive a semi trailer safely in an urban environment.

Jackie
Guest
Jackie

My heart aches for Kathryn and those she loved and who loved her. Let’s do what we can to keep each other safe.