Urban Tribe - Ride with your kids in front.

Mayor Adams issues statement on fatal bicycle collision – Updated

Posted by on May 17th, 2012 at 6:21 pm

Street Smart campaign launch event-7-6

(Photo © J. Maus/BikePortland)

Portland Mayor Sam Adams just issued a statement about last night’s fatal collision on SW 3rd and Madison.

Adams’ office has posted the statement on his blog, under the headline: Statement from Mayor Sam Adams on Bicycle Accident at SW 3rd and Madison. Here it is:

Last night, a terrible tragedy occurred downtown: a bicyclist was struck by a motor vehicle and killed. My condolences go out to this young woman’s family and friends; I am deeply sorry for the anguish they are going through. This incident hit me particularly hard given my commitment as mayor to making our city’s streets safer for all users. While we’ve made great strides, losing even one life is too many. This incident is still under investigation and the Portland Police Bureau will work with the District Attorney’s Office to determine appropriate action.

The use of the “bicycle accident” in the headline is very unfortunate — especially coming from a Mayor that has such a deep knowledge of and sensitivity around bicycle issues. It’s common knowledge in transportation circles to avoid using that word and instead use the word “crash” or, the one I prefer, “collision”. “Accident” tends to make these tragedies seem completely unavoidable, when we all know there are things we can do to prevent them.

I appreciate Mayor Adams acknowledging this tragedy, but I hope he, or someone in his office, will edit that headline as soon as possible.

UPDATE, 7:57 pm : The headline has been edited to “bicycle crash.”

UPDATE, 9:22 pm: I have confirmed that Mayor Adams will attend the community gathering at SW 3rd and Madison planned for Kathryn Rickson on Friday at 5:30.

NOTE: We love your comments and work hard to ensure they are productive, considerate, and welcoming of all perspectives. Disagreements are encouraged, but only if done with tact and respect. If you see a mean or inappropriate comment, please contact us and we'll take a look at it right away. Thank you — Jonathan

  • Hart Noecker May 17, 2012 at 6:40 pm

    We need a car-free down town Portland, if that isn’t our ultimate goal, I don’t know what the heck we’re doing out there.

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    • Cary Williams May 17, 2012 at 7:02 pm

      I commute on a bike..cars belong in this city just as much as bikes do. We have no monopoly to the roads. I treat every car and truck with respect. I will not win if they hit me. I have no details as to what happen and sad at the passing of this young lady…Be careful out there.

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    • naomi May 17, 2012 at 7:07 pm

      personally i think it’s unfair to tell drivers they can’t go downtown.

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      • NF May 17, 2012 at 7:39 pm

        How do they do it in Europe? Plenty of carfree districts, and I assume that some people drive to them.

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        • Andrew N May 17, 2012 at 9:57 pm

          Most European cities have residential densities that Portland can only dream of. You don’t have to drive to a car-free district if you live in one.

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        • Tom M May 17, 2012 at 11:42 pm

          Many of those areas are simply too narrow for cars. They are usually just alleyways or other small areas.

          It was also the intention of the Queen (?) of the Netherlands that when looking to what infrastructure to build in the 50’s soon after WWII she looked at the road networks, the infrastructure involved, and the unforgiving nature of automobile networks and decided to build only as many as truly necessary. In other words she looked at the total costs monetarily and to human population. This coming from a country that has a 100 year plan in place to deal with rising sea levels due to ongoing climate change.

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          • Dan May 18, 2012 at 10:20 am

            Sorry, they had the same auto-centric tendencies that we as Americans did, they just looked around when they were clearing the inner-cities for “urban renewal” and realized that if they gutted their cities for better traffic access, they wouldn’t have any place to drive their car TO. In addition, they were abhorrent at the mounting death-toll from cars and trucks, especially in children (leading cause of child mortality in America is traffic accidents right now), and DEMANDED that the planning and policies change. That’s all it will take here, is the people demanding change, being the change, and being willing to support the changes necessary to bring about that change. While I don’t necessarily believe that motorized traffic should be banned from downtown, I do believe that we need to limit the number and times that semis have to pass through those streets. I feel that drivers anguish over the collision, and I’m certain that many other drivers are terrified at having to make those corners EVERY DAY.

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      • Paul May 18, 2012 at 9:28 am

        Of course it’s unfair, they’ll just need to leave their cars outside of downtown. You can’t bring your car inside a shopping mall 🙂

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        • wsbob May 18, 2012 at 10:28 am

          But you can bring your car to a shopping mall, and park it there for free. Can you do this in Downtown Portland?

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    • q`Tzal May 17, 2012 at 10:20 pm

      I love the idea of a carfree city so much I bought my own copy of CarFree Cities.
      And the problem even the author of that book would tell you is the current freight transport infrastructure is entirely automotive based. To remove large trucks from the roads you have to come up some reliable transport system that will consistently move in and out the 10’s of 1,000’s of TONS of freight that come in to an area the size of the (former) fareless square every single day.
      Some of you are ambitious but I think imagining that cargo bicycles are capable of handling 100% of that freight load shows that you’ve drunk too much of the KoolAid.
      Don’t get me wrong; I think these large trucks don’t belong downtown either I just don’t see how some of the basic economic functions of a city will be able to take place without either large trucks or a large infrastructure investment in to a sort of “freight mass transit”. I’m personally enamored with email for things.

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      • 9watts May 18, 2012 at 8:19 am

        “Some of you are ambitious but I think imagining that cargo bicycles are capable of handling 100% of that freight load shows that you’ve drunk too much of the KoolAid.”

        I hear you, and it is of course ridiculous to think we could achieve this transformation overnight, but I don’t see any reason not to START moving in this direction today. We’re going to have to figure it out/change how much freight we think we need to move anyway, and soon.
        Today’s expectations for freight volume may or may not survive the end of cheap oil, so if we’d like to continue with the freight, moving it without 18-wheelers would be a good place to start.

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        • Alan 1.0 May 18, 2012 at 10:46 am

          I wonder about the risk analysis of many smaller vans making many trips compared to a single big rig, whether the sum of smaller risks outweighs the larger single one. I expect big rig drivers are more skilled and safety-conscious than van drivers.

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      • oskarbaanks May 18, 2012 at 9:09 am

        I am not sure of it entirely, but with the deregulation and the undermining of the trucking industry, only UPS and Fed-X are left with inner-city terminals. As a child I recall every major trucking company having city fleets that ran out of busy terminals, mostly with trailers no longer than like 28ft. There is more than likely a few reasons for this situation.

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    • Ryan Good May 18, 2012 at 12:41 pm


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  • dave G May 17, 2012 at 6:45 pm

    For those of us who have lost a family member to a motorist while cycling, we all know too well the pain that goes with these tragedies. And this individual died on the day that nationally honors those who have lost their life while riding a bicycle. http://www.rideofsilence.org

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  • K'Tesh May 17, 2012 at 6:54 pm

    Went by that space this morning after finding that Kathryn had passed away. Very Sad.

    I Pray for the day that we get safe roads for all.

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  • Andyc May 17, 2012 at 7:20 pm

    Yes, I want safe roads. Please come on, please! You want me to bike, city of Portland? Prove it. I’m too distraught to finish this comment without delving in to cliches and rants which would better server the boregonianlive crazies. Again, condolences to all involved.

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    • naomi May 17, 2012 at 8:00 pm

      the roads for cyclists here are incredibly safe. not perfect, but still incredibly safe. think of how few cyclist deaths in portland there are each year compared to auto accidents, lost hikers, etc, etc. what happened yesterday is incredibly sad but it is also incredibly rare and i dont think sensationalizing it or suggesting that one is too distraught to ride is logical. you still have a far greater chance of dying in an automobile, on a fishing boat off the OR/WA coast, etc, etc. i still feel very safe and i’m still aware that 99.99% of the drivers in portland are absolutely amazing and many times the cycling community in portland demonizes them as much as certain drivers like to demonize the entire cycling community.

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  • browse May 17, 2012 at 7:33 pm

    I’m still pondering the usage of the word “accident”. For me, it’s highlighting the difference between a willful action versus an unintentional outcome. If I ride my bike into a utility pole, it may have been avoidable if I had been paying better attention, but I’d still call it an accident.

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  • Amanda May 17, 2012 at 8:24 pm

    Well it WAS A accident because the driver was and still is very very upset and being i am his neice i do know FIRST HAND this young lady life was take and its horrible and my family is very saddened! people piss me off saying how are they saying accident umm well because he did not do this on purpose and its very sad for us on the other side this as well!!

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    • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) May 17, 2012 at 8:45 pm

      Hi Amanda and browse,

      I hear what you are saying about this term and the intentions of the guy driving the truck. I agree with you that he did not intentionally hurt Ms. Rickson. That being said, there are other issues, beyond his own, personal actions, that are important here. Specifically, I’m thinking of the design of the bikeway — if we had a different type of bikeway in this location would this have happened? Also, there are issues of the truck’s equipment — should we mandate better mirrors or perhaps side underrun guards? Or, should we consider not allowing 43-foot truck trailers in the urban core?

      The definition of the term “accident” is, “anything that happens by chance without an apparent cause.”

      What I am getting at is, I realize that the driver of the truck did not intend to hurt anyone. However, the result of what happened was preventable and therefore did not happen by some random chance.

      I hope this helps you understand why referring to traffic collisions as “accidents” is not accurate or appreciated by traffic safety advocates. Thanks.

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      • naess May 20, 2012 at 4:27 pm

        jonathan: i like how you like to get uptight over the use of the word “accident”, yet still like to throw around the term “sting” when it suits you.

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    • Schrauf May 17, 2012 at 9:20 pm

      To add to what Jonathan said, “accident” implies there was no negligence. There very likely was negligence in this case. That will be decided later if there are enough facts uncovered. Or, it might never be known.

      Negligence does not equal intent, but negligence should not go unpunished. People often say “accident” when negligence is present because they do not want to admit what really happened.

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  • RH May 17, 2012 at 8:50 pm

    I really hope this event spurs action….it could have been any cyclist…Bike lane, green box, still light outside, etc… It shows we NEED more separated bike infrastructure. I will be at the memorial tomorrow to pay respect….knowing it could have been me. RIP

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  • Joe Adamski May 17, 2012 at 9:04 pm

    being dispatched with a 40+ foot trailer and a twin screw tractor, designed for long haul over highways into a dense urban setting is akin to giving a kid a powersaw and not expecting a bad result. With the massive size of the rig coupled with a very active streetscape, this is predictable result. What load was so important as to send such a large truck down there? Or was he trying to ‘cut through’ to the freeway?

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  • styrex May 17, 2012 at 9:26 pm

    I think it would just be best if everyone was quiet for the next day. Slinging about prejuduces and speculation is kind of pointless. I feel pain for both families. Enough.

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    • oskarbaanks May 17, 2012 at 11:49 pm

      A-‘effin -men.

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  • Andrew N May 17, 2012 at 10:29 pm

    Regarding allocation of space on our streets and sidewalks, it is worth taking a look at Enrique Penalosa’s talk here in Portland earlier this week:


    What kind of city *do* we want to live in, anyways?

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  • Nola Wilken May 18, 2012 at 6:19 am

    What a terrible tragedy. But, if you look at several of these recent fatalities you’ll see that the cyclist was doing nothing wrong and was either stopped in a bike lane or box and/or proceeding through. Bike lanes and bike boxes may be part of the problem. They are not safe places to be. I would rather be a rude, aggressive and obnoxious cyclist than a dead one. Take the road whenever you are in a dangerous intersection. Ride wherever you need to ride to stay alive. More bike infrastructure and dedicated lanes will never be enough to protect cyclists from distracted drivers. Truck and bus drivers have major difficulties navigating in downtown areas so extreme caution is needed.

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    • peejay May 18, 2012 at 7:56 am

      I, and many other people here, think you are wrong that more infrastructure will never be enough. That’s been proven in many parts of the world, but with better infrastructure than we presently have — true separated facilities with different surface materials and/or grade levels. We will never get more people to ride their bikes if “extreme caution” is the requirement, and “rude, agressive and obnixious” is the only attitude to take.

      Cycling in this city should not be an extreme sport. It should be a routine behavior that you can do without any more care than you would take if you were walking. If the only way to safely bike in Portland is to take the preparations that skydivers take, we’ll be stuck with a tiny mode share forever.

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      • Nola Wilken May 18, 2012 at 9:32 am

        LIve in a fantasy world all you want, but the reality is that bike lanes and bike boxes benefit drivers far more than cyclists, and they create an illusion of safety that is absolutely false. New riders especially may be lulled into thinking that riding in a bike lane will protect you. Bike lanes were invented so that cars can speed past us as quickly as possible, and take no responsibility for their driving. Many studies have shown that drivers routinely drive closer to bikes in bike lanes, than to bikes on roads and streets where there are no bike lanes.

        We have a fast cycling commute in Portland, with many hazards to navigate. It is extremely intimidating to new riders, and by no means do I feel that riders must become extreme sports enthusiasts to take on bike commuting. But they must be aware of the hazards, many of which, I believe, are created by the so-called bike infrastructure we have here consisting of ridiculous bike lanes that go nowhere and end abruptly. What would help are solutions that don’t require multi millions of dollars building “infrastructure”. Where will that money come from and how many decades will you wait while riders get killed?

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        • peejay May 18, 2012 at 1:25 pm

          “…ridiculous bike lanes that go nowhere and end abruptly…” is a strawman argument. Nobody wants bad infrastructure. But what you are proposing is that we go back to the wide open world of vehicular cycling, which, as the overwhelming evidence demonstrates, puts us into sub 1% mode share. You may choose to ride that way –and I often do, by choice, as a fit and fairly fearless rider– but the vast majority of people will not consider cycling if that is how they must ride. Vehicular cycling is a smashing success for those people who are willing to do it, but an absolute failure for the remaining 99% of the population.

          Bad bike infrastructure and incomplete infrastructure is dangerous, but probably not nearly as much so as you suggest. For one thing, even bad bike lanes get more people on their bikes, and more bikes equal safer riding conditions. And incomplete networks are eventually completed (watch Jonathan’s animation from an earlier story), and inadequate facilities are eventually fixed as a result of pressure.

          Bikes are not cars. Not even close. Bike users should have as much access to the roads as car users, but just mixing them all together and hoping it works is criminally naive in the face of the overwhelming evidence that it isn’t working.

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        • matt picio May 19, 2012 at 1:29 pm

          Bike boxes are not the problem. Bike boxes work fine, and they *do* benefit cyclists. Bike boxes are only used when traffic is stopped at the light – and they put cyclists in front of all other traffic, where they are easily seen. There’s nothing inherently dangerous about them.

          Bike lanes, on the other hand, *are* dangerous in many respects. They place cyclists where they can’t be easily seen, they create a space where we are required to ride by state law, provide an illusion of safety, and in many intersections in Portland, they place cyclists to the right of right-turning traffic. That said, the illusion of safety gets more people on the road, which causes *actual* safety.

          This was a horrible event, and even one death is a terrible, tragic thing. But let’s put it into context – bicycling is still safer than driving in Portland, and the number of deaths on Portland roads in a given year is still lower than motor vehicle deaths. A lot of that is due to lower speeds – fatal injuries in cars tend to happen at freeway speeds, not so much the lower-speed crashes in town that take the lives of cyclists. Cycling already is pretty safe, but we’d like it even safer. The easiest way to make it safer is to have more cyclists out on the road, and bike lanes are part of that. So are sharrows, and cycle tracks, and all the rest of the tools in the toolbox.

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          • spare_wheel May 20, 2012 at 9:33 am

            “Bike boxes are only used when traffic is stopped at the light – and they put cyclists in front of all other traffic,”

            A cyclist can approach a bike box immediately before the light turns green. In this situation the bike box creates a false sense of security for the cyclist. I often avoid this risk by filtering into the box from the left (legality be damned).

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        • spare_wheel May 20, 2012 at 9:23 am

          Sharrows and shared lane signs save lives. 500 yard cycletracks, not so much.

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    • JAT in Seattle May 18, 2012 at 8:43 am

      I, and many other people here, agree with you that infrastructure can’t solve every potential conflict. Indeed is it possible to build infrastructure that allows every road user, be they large (but economically necessary) trucks or small (but environmentally responsible) bicycles to operate without regard to the presence and operating characteristics of any other user? I posit that it is not.

      Bike lanes and bike boxes encourage cyclists to pass more slowly moving traffic on the right, and that’s clearly not always safe. I don’t think taking the lane through an intersection where other vehicles may be turning is the paranoid equivalent of clipping on a chest mounted emergency chute, I think it’s the mentally engaged equivalent of looking both ways before stepping into a crosswalk.

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  • Barney May 18, 2012 at 8:37 am

    Taking the lane would almost certainly have prevented this collision from happening. It would have put the cyclist either in front of or behind the truck and not in the blind spot. As a motorcyclist I am hyper-aware of staying out of the blind spots of other motorists. I use those habits when riding my bicycle as well. I’m not blaming either party here, the cyclist was just using the provided infrastructure, as was the truck driver. We should all try to stay more aware of the hazards that exists on the roads of this city.

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    • Chris Tuttle May 18, 2012 at 9:21 am

      These right-hook “events” are always tricky. For me, instead of thinking about blame/fault, I always find myself thinking about the basic concept of bike lanes. For many drivers, it’s strange and counterintuitive to have a small bicycle lane to the right of the right-most car lane. For the first fifteen years of my driving career, I lived in places where I could safely turn right without ever having to consider the possibility of a vehicle to my right. I have no data to back this up, but I’m guessing that the large majority of US motorists live and drive in places without bike lanes. And then whey they come to visit us here in Portland….

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    • oskarbaanks May 18, 2012 at 9:49 am

      Barney is correct in his statement on taking the lane. I am a former competitive cyclist and motorcycle racer, as well. I am also the child of a retired Teamster truck driver with a nearly impeccable driving record. My father has never been at odds about sharing the road, he has so much compassion for victims of horrible collisions such as this. He has seen so many horrors that you cannot imagine. We have both agreed for over thirty years, that infrastructure, proper policing of streets, in hand with a greater emphasis on education in regards to safety by all users of the road is needed to curtail the ridiculous amounts of fatalities that happen. This is a horrible occurrence. I am sick to my stomach over this. What a beautiful person for our community to lose. I send my heartfelt love out to everyone involved.

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  • Mark May 18, 2012 at 8:56 am

    The thing that disappoints me the most is that we are required by law (ORS 814.420) to use bike lanes, even if we know they can be unsafe.

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    • A.K. May 18, 2012 at 9:10 am

      Has anyone been ticketed for for violating ORS 814.420?

      I frequently ride outside of designated bike facilities to improve my safety when I feel its necessary, and have not once had any any problem with police.

      That being said, condolences to both the family of the young women and to the truck drivers. What an awful day.

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    • Scott May 18, 2012 at 9:18 am

      That is a ticket I have received multiple times, and I beat it in court every single time.

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      • BURR May 18, 2012 at 1:25 pm

        you should not have to go to court to defend your decision to ride outside the bike lane because it is unsafe.

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    • captain haddock May 18, 2012 at 9:18 am

      I keep seeing people say the above, and I don’t understand why this impression exists. Yes the language does say that you need to use the lane/path, but it does not say you can only use the lane/path. for example see section #

      (3) A person is not in violation of the offense under this section if the person is able to safely move out of the bicycle lane or path for the purpose of:

      (e) Continuing straight at an intersection where the bicycle lane or path is to the right of a lane from which a motor vehicle must turn right.

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      • wsbob May 18, 2012 at 10:39 am

        Excellent point. Know the law and use it to your advantage. Upon reading 814.420 and its provisions carefully, it becomes clear that a big part of the reason the law exists is to officially legitimize reasons people traveling by bike would need to occupy the main travel lane.

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        • Alan 1.0 May 18, 2012 at 11:12 am

          I prefer to be granted widespread freedoms with narrowly enumerated exceptions, rather than vice-versa. I hope I’m not alone in that.

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        • are May 18, 2012 at 5:58 pm

          that is the reason the exceptions exist, bob, but you would not need the exceptions if the mandatory sidepath was not the general rule

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      • Alan 1.0 May 18, 2012 at 10:49 am

        SW Third and Madison doesn’t have a “vehicle must turn right” lane, so the criteria in exception 3(e) don’t seem to apply.

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        • wsbob May 19, 2012 at 1:03 am

          “SW Third and Madison doesn’t have a “vehicle must turn right” lane, so the criteria in exception 3(e) don’t seem to apply.” Alan 1.0

          I would say it certainly does apply, and does provide for people traveling on bikes to leave the bike lane and take a main travel lane of the street.

          814.420 3(e) says: “…Continuing straight at an intersection where the bicycle lane or path is to the right of a lane from which a motor vehicle must turn right. …”.

          Madison has two same direction main travel lanes. Motor vehicles intending to turn right at third must turn right from the right main travel lane, across the path of the bike lane which motor vehicles are prohibited by law from traveling in. The right main travel lane is, as the law says, “…a lane from which a motor vehicle must turn right.”.

          3(e) does not specify the provision applies only to “vehicle must turn right lane(s) “, in which road users are obliged to turn right rather than having the option of also continuing straight through the intersection.

          Read the law carefully and think about the various circumstances it provides for. I suppose the language of the law has the potential to throw people into confusion. Keep it simple: if conditions are making the bike lane hazardous to ride in: Don’t ride in the bike lane.

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          • matt picio May 19, 2012 at 1:44 pm

            3(e) most certainly does stipulate that. In any case, it really doesn’t matter how you or I interpret that provision, it matters how the Multnomah County Traffic Court judges interpret it, and how the Portland Police Bureau enforces (or doesn’t enforce) it.

            I think the important point is that safety trumps the law – you can be completely right and completely dead. Worry about your own safety first, even if it means violating ORS 814.420.

            Which doesn’t mean we shouldn’t work to repeal 814.420.

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    • wsbob May 18, 2012 at 10:47 am

      “The thing that disappoints me the most is that we are required by law (ORS 814.420) to use bike lanes, even if we know they can be unsafe.” Mark

      Not true. Read the full text of the law and you’ll see it includes provisions for a vast number of reasons people traveling by bike would have to legitimately leave the bike lane for the main travel lane.

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      • Alan 1.0 May 18, 2012 at 10:57 am

        So, what’s the big attraction to ORS 814.420? Is there really a problem that it addresses? Does it really make our society a better place? Or might things actually work just as well or better without it on the books?

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        • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) May 18, 2012 at 11:00 am

          From what I recall, it was put in place when bike lanes where first being installed. It was a compromise with auto-centric legislators… “OK, we’ll give you these bike lane things; but only if you stay in them and get out of our way.”

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        • wsbob May 18, 2012 at 5:44 pm

          maus, in a sarcastic manner, probably sums up some of the reason 814.420 exists. I think generally describing, as ‘car-centric’, people that either worked to write and pass the law, or for whom the law was written, is shallow, not very serious thinking and doesn’t consider practical reasons, which I’ve mentioned in previous comments, that the law likely exists.

          A rough figure of about ninety percent seems to correspond with various stats and studies that come along from time to time, estimating the number of people traveling the road either by driving or riding in a motor vehicle. Many of them likely have very little, or no idea about what reasons someone riding a bike would not be riding in the bike lane, or to the far right side of the road, when to reasons apparent to someone inside a car, both such places to ride on the road exist.

          So then, the law, is likely written in part for people traveling in motor vehicles, as much as it is for people traveling on bikes.

          I’ve posted comments before asking anybody that has a memory of how the law came about, to post some info on that, but this seems to be one of those things people don’t have much recollection of.

          As for this particular collision that occurred at SW 3rd and Madison, there has been nothing reported that would indicate that obligations of people that bike, written into 814.420, had anything to do at all with this collision.

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          • are May 18, 2012 at 6:01 pm

            the basic mandatory sidepath statute, without the exceptions, has been on the books for about forty years, which may explain why no one remembers much about the supposed reasons for it. in its original form, it was copied from similar traffic statutes from other states.

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      • El Biciclero May 18, 2012 at 2:49 pm

        But it is true. As Scott attests, tickets are issued for this “offense”, even though they are later dismissed in court, which as also noted above, should not be necessary. If a citation is dismissed by a judge, I have to assume the judge agrees that there was a legitimate reason for the citation recipient to operate outside a bike lane, yet the citation was still issued. That tells me that the exceptions, as generous as one might think they are, are open to a wide range of interpretation that results in cyclists getting tickets for legal things. All that does is clog up traffic court with bogus cases. The only stipulation we need to make regarding bike lanes is that drivers of motor vehicles may not drive in them. Get rid of 814.420 and watch much of the opposition to crappy infrastructure evaporate with the knowledge that we won’t be imprisoned by it.

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        • wsbob May 18, 2012 at 7:20 pm

          In his comment to this particular thread, Scott is the first person claiming to have received citations for violations detailed in 814.420, despite questions about this Oregon law having been raised in other bikeportland stories over the last couple weeks. The impression left is that very, very few people receive citations for violations of this law.

          Also, he didn’t include in his comment, any details about the circumstances under which those citations were issued, or why the judge found justification to dismiss them. Having some of that information would help everyone understand why the citations were issued, and why they were dismissed.

          People that ride bikes on the road are not imprisoned by 814.420. Repeatedly and incorrectly stating this law does imprison people doesn’t make the falsehood true except for people that are too scared or lazy to read, think about, and learn for themselves what the law says. This link leads to one of numerous websites that has the scoop on 814.420:


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          • matt picio May 19, 2012 at 1:53 pm

            Some people *are* imprisoned by 814.420, because despite the impression of many, there are a lot of law-abiding cyclists – and many of them will obey that law because they obey the laws regarding cyclists in general. Some aren’t aware of the exceptions. There’s very little training out there for cyclists, and few take advantage of what does exist.

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          • El Biciclero May 19, 2012 at 3:18 pm

            The story linked to does not provide any insight into ORS 814.420 or a cyclist’s responsibility to use or not use a bike lane. When speaking of being “imprisoned” I intentionally used the term “bike infrastructure” rather than “bike lane”, because bike lanes are actually the least confining type of “amenity” (heh) we commonly see.

            However, I see a rising tide of support for “separated” infrastructure that makes use of grade separation or other physical barriers that would truly confine a cyclist to a narrow gauntlet, often filled with obstacles–especially if it is designated as a MUP, as 98% of “bike paths” in the region are–outside the normal field of vision of drivers. To me, this kind of infrastructure is an impediment to cycling for transportation, and doesn’t really offer any real safety benefit. Yet if substandard, off-street MUPs are built in lieu of bike lanes, more and more we will see cyclists expected (and legally bound) to use such off-street facilities regardless of how usable they actually are. Because I would be legally bound to use any crummy cycle-gauntlet transportation geniuses can throw down, I will continue to be against them. Design them in such a way as to actually be useful AND safe (extremely hard/expensive to do, and therefore never done), and you won’t have to force me to use them.

            Also, if the exceptions to 814.420 essentially make it optional, as you seem to continually suggest, why have it? Reminds me of a short conversation I had with an old girlfriend:

            her: “I hate mushrooms.”
            me: “Why? They don’t really taste like anything.”
            her: “Then why have them?”

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            • wsbob May 19, 2012 at 8:06 pm

              “…Also, if the exceptions to 814.420 essentially make it optional, as you seem to continually suggest, why have it? …” El Biciclero

              In earlier comments, in fact…in one just above a bit, I’ve offered possible reasons why the law exists, and reasons for the law to exist. 814.420 covers a wide range of legitimate reasons that people traveling by bike would need to travel outside of bike lanes or paths where provided.

              The cited reasons become well known to people having acquired experience traveling by bike on the road, but people lacking such experience might very well not have any idea about circumstances in which it’s legal to use the part of the road safest and most suitable for travel by bike. Among others, the law spells this out fairly clearly for them.

              Though, as Matt Picio notes above, many people that travel by bike wouldn’t probably have read 814.420 to know what the exceptions are. I think that’s an education and an information problem. By some means, people intending to travel by bike in traffic need to be brought to a better familiarity with laws relating to travel by bike.

              People traveling by bike, having some obligation to use bike lanes and paths when possible is somewhat of a concession in exchange for use of roads that often have posted speed limits far above the speed people on bikes can travel. I suppose this is one of the touchier issues associated with different modes of traffic commonly using the same roads.

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  • Peter W May 18, 2012 at 9:06 am

    Are trucks that large allowed to (or even able to) drive in dense urban areas in Europe?

    Anyone know what kind of freight that particular truck was carrying? (Just curious.)

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    • A.K. May 18, 2012 at 9:16 am

      Often the streets are much to small for large trucks in Europe (and Japan, and elsewhere). Smaller “sprinter” vans are typically used for “last mile” deliveries.

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    • jeff May 18, 2012 at 9:19 am

      what is “Europe” to you? Its not the homogeneous place it appears you think it is. I saw trucks all over Amsterdam and Barcelona last year, as well as every major city in Switzerland.

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      • Chris I May 18, 2012 at 9:32 am

        “In Amsterdam, large trucks over 7.5 tons are not allowed to pass specific arterial roads unless they conform to three conditions: vehicle length of less than 9 meters, load factor greater than 80% and engine conformity to Euro II standard (MOC, 2000)”

        source: http://www.easts.info/on-line/journal_06/2947.pdf

        Sounds like a great policy to me.

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    • Paul May 18, 2012 at 9:32 am

      Depends on the area. The large cities I’ve lived in Europe could not accommodate large trucks in the center and are not allowed. They pull into distribution centers on the edge of town and smaller trucks and vans deliver from there. Amsterdam is testing out cargo trams in the city center, similar to the trams that deliver parts to the VW factory in Dresden.

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      • Peter May 18, 2012 at 10:25 pm

        Utrecht also has a system of managing deliveries outside the urban core. Large loads are subdivided in centers outside of the core. Then the loads are packaged according to the part of town and delivered by van. I believe they also are exploring or have implemented a tram delivery service. They also do some deliveries and city center waste removal by canal boat.

        I also think, although I’m not positive that heavy trucks are not allowed during regular business hours. Although it isn’t in Europe, I know that was the case in Dhaka B’desh when I was there.

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  • Joe May 18, 2012 at 9:08 am

    loss for words at this point. so sad for all!

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  • Dan May 18, 2012 at 9:29 am

    Instead of car-free downtown, what about a network of streets in downtown that would be car-free (like, every 5 blocks or so)? That would improve things.

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  • Larry Mastin May 18, 2012 at 9:37 am

    This tragic accident highlights a critical problem with 18-wheelers and right-hand turns. My closest call in the past 10 years was in a similar situation: riding in a bike lane on Padden Expwy (Vancouver) eastbound through a green light at 136th Ave. I thought it was safe because no cars were in the right-turn lane. But an 18-wheeler swinging wide in the left lane turned right into my path. I stopped just barely in front of the right-turning truck, but would have been driven under the chest-high flatbed and crushed anyway as the rear wheels cutting the corner would have rolled over me. Fortunately the driver was looking in his right-side view mirror while turning and stopped before this happened. In this case, “taking the lane”, as Barney suggested, may not have solved the problem since the truck was in the left lane, though it may have made me more visible.
    The two problems: (1) large trucks swing wide to make turns, catching cyclists unaware if they are only checking for right-turning cars; and (2) the rear wheels of large trucks can cut corners and push cyclists under their flatbeds.
    Can a solution to this problem be engineered? It’s a challenge. A possible solution may be to require downward-pointing IR sensors ahead of the right rear wheels of flatbed trucks that sense objects being trapped when making right-hand turns. Others may have better ideas.

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    • Opus the Poet May 19, 2012 at 4:14 pm

      Actually there is a simple method to prevent pedestrians, cyclists and small cars (happens frequently in Europe) from getting crushed by the rear wheels of trailers and large box vans. It’s mandatory in most EU coountries and consists of a tube frame covered in light sheet metal. This has the double effect of streamlining those big wheels and pays for itself in about 5 years through fuel savings. From there on out you get the added safety at no cost because of the fuel savings.

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  • Lindsay May 18, 2012 at 9:41 am

    I’m still pondering the usage of the word “accident”. For me, it’s highlighting the difference between a willful action versus an unintentional outcome. If I ride my bike into a utility pole, it may have been avoidable if I had been paying better attention, but I’d still call it an accident.
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    That is how I read it too- for me an accident implies lack of intent. I think 100% of accidents are avoidable, but we are after all human not robotic. Knowing we are human means we shouldn’t villianize parties involved in accidents, but rather try to eliminate them by the clever use of infrastructure and re-routing, signs, car-free areas and even bike free zones! As a car-free mum on a bike I have mentally declared some areas bike-free for me, I can re-route rather than risk it.

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  • Roger Averbeck May 18, 2012 at 9:53 am

    On Thursday May 17 between 4 – 4:30 pm, an informal count of vehicles turning right from Madison on to SW 3rd was 11, as compared to dozens if not 100’s continuing straight / east toward the Hawthorne Bridge. Eliminate right turns at this intersection?

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  • GlowBoy May 18, 2012 at 10:19 am

    If they’re trying to turn right on 3rd, it’s because they need to go south. After 3rd Avenue, 1st Avenue is the only other opportunity to do that. Banning right turns onto 3rd will just push the problem further down to 1st/Madison, which thanks to the bus stop is an even bigger mess than 3rd/Madison.

    What I’d like to see is some enforcement at that corner, ticketing drivers who stop in the bike box, turn right on red or fail to yield to bikes in the lane (and for every right-hook collision there are 100 close calls). Normally I wouldn’t think it likely that they’d actually do that, but this week’s death may get them to focus on this problem spot.

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  • R3d May 18, 2012 at 10:36 am

    Too scary to bike downtown. Never gonna do it, not even once. SE 34th street is terrifying enough.

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  • David Feldman May 18, 2012 at 10:59 am

    Will someone please explain the logic–or absence therof–in wearing earth=toned helmets and quiet-colored street clothes while cycling in the city? Drivers are stupid, drivers are blind–if you value your life, wear neon!

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    • 9watts May 18, 2012 at 11:04 am

      Although the Bike Gallery agrees with you, not everyone thinks it is the responsibility of the person on a bike or walking to be lit up like a reflector, especially during the daytime. The risk as you can probably appreciate is that this soon turns into a ‘she wasn’t wearing neon colors, I couldn’t see her.’

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    • Schrauf May 18, 2012 at 12:06 pm

      And getting from point A to point B should not require special gear, generally, not if we want bike transportation to be mainstream.

      Further, the safer we all are, when more bikes are on the road, because drivers are more aware to watch for them. Some people have not tried biking simply because they do not want to buy special gear, or they don’t want to look like a clown wearing neon, and they see many people doing both these things, and think it is practically required, unfortunately.

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      • spare_wheel May 20, 2012 at 9:46 am

        if only more people rode *slowly* in high heels, woolen knickers, and tweed beanies cycling mode share would surely rocket up into the steam punk stratosphere!!!!!11!!!

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    • A.K. May 18, 2012 at 12:11 pm

      Have there been any studies done on bright colors really helping, or is it perception? I have kits that are mostly black with orange/white accents, as well as several jerseys that are brighter colors such as red, light blue, and white. I have not noticed a difference between being spotted by drivers while wearing a dark kit vs. bright kit.

      Also, my helmet is white which may help, and my arms/legs are VERY white. 🙂

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    • Machu Picchu May 18, 2012 at 12:53 pm

      It’s the same logic as an F150 painted charcoal grey: You’re supposed to make sure you don’t hit it when you’re driving. There are lots of moving hazards out there in camo, and not just the humans that don’t light up for the convenience of the operators of hurling machinery.

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    • Scott May 18, 2012 at 12:57 pm

      The lady killed on Interstate by a cement truck a few years back was wearing all blaze neon green. Wear what you want. Don’t become complacent. Don’t feel a false sense of security.

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      • matt picio May 19, 2012 at 2:02 pm

        You might be mixing up two different incidents. The woman struck on Interstate (Siobhan Doyle) survived, the man struck on Interstate (Brett Jarolimek) two weeks prior was the one killed by a collision (right hook) by a truck.

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    • dan May 18, 2012 at 1:46 pm

      Yep, it’s an odds game, and I think bright clothes and wearing a helmet improve your odds of not getting hit, or sustaining brain injury if you are hit. I would certainly prefer a downtown where infrastructure is such that it’s not possible for cars to hit bikes, but given that pedestrians _on the sidewalk_ were hit by a cab this year (or maybe last year?), I think that attaining that point of perfection is almost impossible.

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      • KYouell May 20, 2012 at 1:28 pm

        I was thinking of that incident (with the taxi and the pedestrians) as we rode down to the vigil Friday night. It all an illusion of safety. We wear our helmets every time, but does that just signal to drivers that I’m protected and it’s ok to drive unsafely around me? I wonder. If I had my kids in a car and buckled into car seats without helmets would they be safer if another driver plowed into us? We’d be going faster down highways sometimes (which we never are in our bike) so would the overall odds of injury be higher? I think so. We are always at the mercy of the others on the road to be careful and safe around us so that we can stay safe. While I use our lights day and night, wear a helmet, stop at stop signs & lights, signal, etc. I’m still trusting the operators of other vehicles to respect those lights & signals.

        All I really can do is the same thing I would do driving a car: be aware & don’t use excessive speed. My driving instructor way-back-when told us it’s better to get somewhere late than not get there at all. I still operate my bike using that philosophy.

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    • Nathan May 18, 2012 at 1:59 pm

      Wearing a neon helmet hasn’t stopped me from being clipped by a mirror, nearly right-hooked dozens of times, or forced up a curb. Sorry. Fashion logic need not apply where people are only looking for car-sized obstacles.

      I had a coworker nearly rear-end me in the parking lot, then laughingly joke about how he didn’t see me despite the helmet. Needless to say, I didn’t laugh along.

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      • dan May 18, 2012 at 2:49 pm

        Heh, then why bother with a neon helmet? Or, think of how much worse it would have been without a neon helmet! Like I said, it’s an odds game, and I’m open to whatever might improve the odds for me. Maybe you just need more neon 😉

        Being clipped by a mirror is bad luck/poor driving by the motorist for sure, along with getting forced up on a curb, but almost getting right-hooked only happens when you allow yourself to be in a vulnerable position. I’m not absolving the motorist of responsibility for watching the bike lane, but it is possible to ride a bike in such a fashion that you’re never (or rarely) in a position to get right hooked.

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        • Nathan May 18, 2012 at 3:46 pm

          Neon helmet is already paid for, so -shrugs-. It still satisfies my “don’t scuff head on pavement” concern.

          As for riding, I agree with you. I always get on the brakes when a car rides “too slowly” next me near an intersection and pull behind them (bike lane agnostic). I also take the lane instead of cruising past a line of cars on the right. There are lots of tricks, but still some stuff happens. Ever-vigilance is sadly necessary.

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          • dan May 18, 2012 at 4:29 pm

            “I always get on the brakes when a car rides “too slowly” next me near an intersection and pull behind them (bike lane agnostic).”

            Yes! I get very uncomfortable when a car is driving “too slowly” ahead of or next to me near an intersection or parking lot. I call it my Spidey sense — you can almost always tell when someone’s about to be an idiot, regardless of whether they have their turn signal on (they rarely do).

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            • matt picio May 19, 2012 at 2:05 pm

              Seriously. I always become hyper-aware whenever anyone behaves unpredictably. And when a driver in a car does not follow the law, I will frequently stop and refuse to move until they figure out what they intend to do and clear the intersection/roadway. Even if they yell at me.

              Once I can’t predict what you are going to do, you are unsafe. I need my life more than I need your approval or understanding.

              “Are you worried about your own skin?”
              “Yes. It covers my body.”
              – Sean Bean and Dustin Hoffman, “Ronin”

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  • Machu Picchu May 18, 2012 at 12:38 pm

    My own research into the definition of “accident”, shows as many examples of lack of intention as it does lack of cause, in an: Either/Or sense. I’m all for precise communication, but we have to work within the limitations and ambiguity of the language.

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  • BicycleDave May 18, 2012 at 11:31 pm

    After starting a new job in the Pearl I made my way home a few times down Madison through this very intersection until about the 4th time when I narrowly avoided a right-hook collision of my own with an SUV. Since then I take Stark to 3rd and 3rd to Madison to get to the Hawthorne bridge. I doubt I’ll ever cross 3rd via Madison again.
    My condolences.

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    • oskarbaanks May 19, 2012 at 8:57 am

      Leaving the silent gathering for Kathryn last night, while in the bike lane my friend and I proceeded on the green light, only to have a BMW owner ( who HAD to of seen the hundreds of people all holding the signs and standing in memoriam along the sidewalk) cut us off in the MIDDLE of 3rd and Madison, no blinker, no nuthin’… I had to laugh to myself at the irony of this (perceived) disrespectful move.

      stay safe out there everyone.

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