Urban Tribe - Ride with your kids in front.

Man severely injured after bike/pickup crash on Interstate Avenue

Posted by on May 31st, 2013 at 3:23 pm

Curtis Crothers

Daimler Trucks engineer Curtis
Crothers, who suffered extensive
injuries from a crash on
Interstate Avenue Wednesday.

An engineer biking home from his job on Swan Island was severely injured by colliding with a pickup truck after its driver allegedly made an illegal 135-degree turn onto Greeley Avenue Wednesday afternoon.

Curtis Crothers, 53, was in good condition at Legacy Emanuel hospital Friday after suffering eight broken ribs, a broken scapula, a punctured lung, internal bleeding, a dislocated shoulder and 24 hours in intensive care.

Crothers is a regular bike commuter to Daimler Trucks North America, which employs 3,000 workers in the North Portland industrial park. The bike commuting route to Swan Island has been subject to controversy; many of the area’s hundreds of bike commuters avoid the area where Crothers was hit by illegally using the Ash Grove Cement Road, a private path owned by Union Pacific Railroad.

Crothers, however, had stopped using the Cement Road after concluding it was itself unsafe due to train tracks that curve across it and after a run-in with railroad security.

“He was busted some months ago by Union Pacific police,” Swan Island TMA Director Sarah Angell, a transportation advocate and friend of Crothers, said Friday. “So he laid off of it.”

Crothers said he was injured at about 5 p.m. Wednesday after the driver of a pickup truck, headed southeast on Interstate Avenue, made an illegal right turn into the northbound lane of Greeley. Crothers, who was riding southeast in Interstate Avenue’s downhill bike lane, collided with the side of the pickup as it turned.

Curtis Crothers crash aftermath

The aftermath of a crash that injured Curtis Crothers.
(Photo by Ken Aaron of Neighborhood Notes.)

“I hit it doing maybe 35 mph,” Crothers said. “As far as I know, I didn’t a mirror, I didn’t hit glass and I didn’t hit a door handle.”

In 2007, Brett Jarolimek was killed at the same intersection after his bicycle collided with a right-turning truck. After that crash, the city installed a concrete barrier and prohibited right turns from Interstate onto Greeley in an attempt to block right turns such as the one that injured Crothers.

Portland police haven’t yet responded to a Wednesday night request for information about the latest crash.

Angell said she doesn’t think either road should be striped with bike lanes at all.

“When I make trip plans, I go to great lengths to not send people down Greeley or Interstate,” she said. “They should not have bike lanes on them. It makes me furious – it’s just not safe … Proximity to traffic is too close.”

Angell, who visited Crothers in the hospital Friday, said the injury of a seasoned commuter like Crothers shows the need for safer north-south access to Swan Island.

“He wasn’t going excessively fast, he was following the rules, etc.,” Angell wrote in an email after her conversation with Crothers.

Angell’s colleague Lenny Anderson, director of the Swan Island Business Association, went further.

“We need to remove the bike lane there down the hill on Interstate s-bound and put in sharrows, and get moving on the Ash Grove Cement Road,” Anderson wrote. “If Curtis had taken the lane (illegally), we would be doing just fine at work today. To all those auto-butts out there bitching about bikers breaking the rules, I say ‘F*** you! and your rules!'”

Speaking from the hospital, Crothers said he’s “not a transportation person” and was taking “the route I feel most comfortable with” – avoiding both Greeley and the current cement road by taking Going Street to Interstate Avenue, then heading south on Interstate toward the Rose Quarter and his Woodstock home.

“I think it’s a logistical nightmare to have a very safe route for everybody,” Crothers said.

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  • Rob Chapman May 31, 2013 at 3:38 pm

    Get well soon Curtis.

    I was just thinking to myself not two days ago that N. Interstate needs sharrows installed at least from Overlook Park to the Rose Quarter. I’m a homeowner on Interstate and it is my primary route into downtown, the central eastside, etc. I consider myself strong and confident but I’m sick and tired of dodging speeders, bike lane/ turn lane morons and double-trailer semi trucks.

    I don’t really give a rat’s ass if anyone disagrees with me, I live on this street.

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    • KJ May 31, 2013 at 3:49 pm

      It’s my commute too. I haven’t seen anyone pull that maneuver yet but now I know to look for it. Agree that with the hill, sharrows would make sense. It’s unfortunate that there are no better N/S options for this part of town. Interstate is unpleasant. I’ve never considered it overly unsafe, but unpleasant for sure. It feels like bike traffic has picked up this year, on this route too.

      Hope you get well soon as well Curtis.

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    • Skwirl May 31, 2013 at 5:41 pm

      I assume you’re talking about the downhill direction only? Ain’t too many people with the legs to keep up with traffic in the uphill direction and a lot of that traffic is super intimidating with all the industrial. The lack of cross traffic makes people speed through there and I doubt some sharrows markings would make a difference.

      May as well take the lane in any event when you can keep up with traffic if that’s your riding preference. What are the odds of getting a “Failure to use bicycle lane or path” violation on that stretch anyhow? It’s such a dumb law, hopefully PPD has better things to do.

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    • Bob Verrinder June 1, 2013 at 3:07 pm

      Hey Rob, I really don’t think Sharrows are much good. Most Motorists don’t really understand them, and even Bicyclists can be rather wary to use them. We already have the right to use the full lane if we feel that the bike lane is unsafe. They just tend to give Bicyclists a false sense of security, and infuriate many if not most Motorists, whether Bicyclists are using them or not.

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      • Pete June 2, 2013 at 12:18 am

        I agree. I’m a bigger fan of “Bicycles May Use Full Lane” signs, and personally believe all the old “Share the Road” nonsense (which comes across as ideological begging to me) should be replaced with them. I like this application on Brittan Road in San Carlos, CA, which even gives instructions to drivers clueless otherwise: https://maps.google.com/?ll=37.502202,-122.250472&spn=0.000436,0.000648&t=h&z=21&layer=c&cbll=37.502259,-122.250394&panoid=SbSjXoM2er78ElSPk8LFcA&cbp=12,83.86,,1,-0.53

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        • Rob Chapman June 3, 2013 at 4:35 pm

          Sharrows or “Bicycles May Use Full Lane” signs are fine by me as long as the stupid bike lanes disappear. That goes for the uphill lane on Interstate as well, that thing is a disaster.

          I know the St. John’s bridge has become exponentially more pleasant since the sharrows went in. I haven’t been buzzed or honked at since for what it’s worth.

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          • sbrock June 4, 2013 at 2:38 pm

            I too noticed the St John’s’ bridge as calmed a bit as far as buzz jobs and projectiles. Not sure if its also in part to PPD traffic division being at the end of bridge now?

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  • KJ May 31, 2013 at 3:44 pm

    That driver better get f-ing fined.

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  • RH May 31, 2013 at 3:44 pm

    I biked past that accident and by the significant damage I saw on the car, I had a feeling it was due to a vehicle doing an illegal right turn. I have seen vehilces do this a few times over the years when I take this route heading south on Interstate. Get well soon Curtis!
    P.S. The tree needs to be trimmed near the traffic light heading south. You can’t see the light until the last second (not that this had anything to do with this incident).

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  • Elektra May 31, 2013 at 3:54 pm

    I wish that they would bring back the ghost bikes and allow them to stay in high-accident places like this. Although I know how dangerous this area is, I still appreciate the reminder, and I think that other people do too. It’s so tempting to blow that light (although I know that ISN’T what happened in this case.)

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    • Miss Forpe Stubb June 1, 2013 at 8:38 am

      Yes, Brett’s ghost bike was a healthy reminder for me over and over when I first started riding this route

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    • matt picio June 3, 2013 at 11:02 pm

      I tend to agree about the ghost bikes, at least in certain areas. This would be one. Arguably, though, they distract drivers, which is not a good thing.

      A nitpick about Michael Andersen’s story, however – the city did *not* close off the right turn after Jarolimek’s death. Unfortunately it took *another* severe accident only 2 weeks later (Siobhan Doyle) before the city took action. It is distressing that even after making right turns at that intersection illegal (and obviously so), that there is yet another serious crash at that intersection.

      Best wishes to Mr. Crothers, and quick healing.

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  • sbrock May 31, 2013 at 3:56 pm

    Speedy recovery Curtis.

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  • Gibbs May 31, 2013 at 3:59 pm

    I ride through this intersection almost every day, and people do their damnedest to circumvent the safety measures the city put in place after Brett Jarolimek was killed here. I’ve seen that asinine maneuver several times, as well as people violating the “no turn on red” from Greeley to Interstate–I had to e-stop earlier this week thanks to some numbskull trying that. I mean, I see plenty of cyclists blowing this intersection, but I also see plenty of motorists acting like ninnies here, and two tons of ninny makes a bigger impact than 200 pounds of spandex-clad dopiness. I don’t know if Sharrows are the answer, but there’s obviously a problem with infrastructure on Interstate Avenue.

    Also, I second the tree-trimming suggestion. Portland Police, can we do something about this intersection? Make it an enforcement point like you do on Williams, or install a camera to watch for jackasses like this so it becomes a “behave yourself or you’ll get a ticket” intersection?

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    • tonyt
      tonyt June 1, 2013 at 1:05 pm

      “two tons of ninny makes a bigger impact than 200 pounds of spandex-clad dopiness”


      I think about how frequently I’ll hear about a driver hitting and killing a pedestrian, driving off and then claiming in their defense that they “didn’t know” that they hit someone, or they thought they “hit an animal.” The fact that this defense sounds even remotely plausible says all you need to know about the power a vehicle and the level of isolation that drivers can experience from their surroundings.

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    • q`Tzal June 1, 2013 at 8:08 pm

      This an optimal place for a camera or two. With that illegal 135° turn the camera(s) would have plenty of glare free frames and angles from which the police could positively identify a driver.

      And quite frankly, despite my well earned tin foil hat, I think there is no reason that facial recognition shouldn’t be applied to cyclists endangering themselves and others here.

      A person can be cited and arrested for actions that present a clear and present danger to the public; bicycle infractions should be no different.

      All that said: the Swan Island industrial area is laid out really $#itty. The lack of major road access encourages the illegal right turn here. I’m not sure anything could be done other that to completely rip up that intersection and redesign it.
      The most realistic thing would be, after completely closing the current Greeley Rd – Interstate ave intersection, to make a flyover off ramp for Interstate ave traffic trying to get on and off Greeley. Surface level alignments would be possible… on the rail yard parking lot… like that’ll ever happen. The terrain ensures that this intersection as it currently exists can NEVER be safe. PBOT and ODOT should put a traffic counter on the Interstate Ave access to Greeley to justify if there is really a need for this death trap to remain open.

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  • Case May 31, 2013 at 4:00 pm

    I like North Portland, but when it came to looking for a neighborhood to buy my first home, NoPo was out immediately. The commuting options are terrible, some of the worst in the city. Unfortunately, there doesn’t seem to be any municipal interest in making it better. It’s too bad too, the neighborhood is pretty cool. Hope you heal up quickly, Curtis. Don’t let this keep you off the bike.

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    • Scott Mizée May 31, 2013 at 6:27 pm

      I don’t mean to be cras…. but again, this is why many of us have been fighting for funding scraps and political will for years to build the North Portland Greenway. I am no longer on the board, but I know they need volunteers. If you have any time available, I urge you to contact info@npgreenway.org to see how you might be able to help. Every little bit counts.

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      • Joe Adamski June 1, 2013 at 8:52 pm

        Thank you Scott. And what you say about new volunteers engaging is so true. The current board is a long time board (8+ years for several of us), fresh voices and new energy is truly needed.
        When the Bike Master Plan went from Planning to Council, trails were 20 years down the road ‘aspiration’ projects. Loud clear voices from the community, including many many npGW friends insisted that trails need to be first priority. Planning heard this loud and clear and sent it to Council, with a recommendation to approve, contingent on a ‘signature trail project’ be included in the first tier.
        If you can involve, come to see us, If you can’t actively engage, and believe in the npGreenway vision, join our mailing list and be one of those voices waiting to be called up for support when needed. A letter, an email, a phone call to the right person at the right time is often the lever to make change happen. http://npgreenway.org/join.aspx
        As important as npGreenway is to us, supporting other Portland trail efforts is critical too. Sullivans Gulch, the Red Electric, the 40 Mile Loop all need friends and supporters too. Two trails become greater than the sum of their parts when joined. The Willamette Greenway Trail is the backbone to which many trails will connect.

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    • longgone June 1, 2013 at 8:02 am

      Funny, as a former inner SE, outer NE P-towner, I would never move back from N.Portland. Never.

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      • tonyt
        tonyt June 1, 2013 at 3:00 pm

        As a current SE resident and former NoPo, I miss NoPo terribly. Michigan and Mississippi hill were always my route.

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    • Justin Gast June 14, 2013 at 12:39 pm

      “The commuting options are terrible, some of the worst in the city.”

      As a year-round commuter who does own a house in the Portsmouth Neighborhood, I’d say this comment is a stretch.

      Outside of Broadway/Wiedler and Sandy, NE lacks A LOT of bike-friendly streets. Case in point, Lombard, Killingsworth, Alberta, Ainsworth, Fremont, etc. are all horrible. Outside of Belmont and Clinton as a sharrowed street, much of SE is difficult to traverse. And don’t get me started on SW or downtown.

      In North Portland, I can bike from my house down N Portsmouth (bike lane) to Willamette/Rosa Parks (bike lane) to a Interstate (bike lane) or Vancouver (bike lane). Hell, take Willamette from St. Johns to Vancouver and enjoy the view of the city by the UP area.

      If you don’t want to fly down Albina/Mississippi District, bike down Interstate to the Kaiser Permanente parking lot, then take the Failing St. Ped. Bridge over. Boom, you’re there.

      I travel south on N. Interstate every morning, coming home up N. Williams every evening, and I’d say Williams is worse than Interstate, due mainly to the volume of bikers and cars going north.

      Since Brett’s death, I’ve always made it a goal to stay well ahead or well behind cars approaching that Interstate/Greeley intersection. Also, The bike lanes on Greeley are dangerous at best. N. Greeley through Arbor Lodge and the Overlook neighborhoods has no lane and is very unsafe to bike. It gets even worse when you get down by the Union railyard due to the speed of vehicles/semis.

      Playing off what another commenter stated, if you’re in the bike lane on Interstate down around N Russell or N Tillamook, trucks are common and it can be a little nerve wracking at times when a semi cruises past you at 30+ mph, with what feels like only a couple feet between the two of you.

      From Greeley to Russell, I would love to see the sidewalk pushed back to create a buffer lane between the travel lane and the bike lane.

      Does North Portland having some biking issues? Yes. But, if N Willis was simply striped to include bike lanes, between Rosa Parks/Willamette and Willis, even with Lombard lacking dedicated bike lanes, you could get around NoPo easily and safely. And, with that, I’d say that would make North Portland the best biking quadrant in the inner city.

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      • Paul in the 'couve June 14, 2013 at 12:47 pm

        I concur… Particularly the lower part of Interstate by Russel and down. I hate riding that stretch and when I do I have take to pretty constantly swerving over the white line and scaring cars off the edge. I’ve reached the conclusion that for whatever 30% or so of drivers are more concerned and nervous about the left hand curb and the Max median than they are about hitting a cyclist. Getting buzzed is one thing, but getting buzzed by someone who looks like they aren’t doing it intentionally, but are leaving 4 ft of clearance for a stupid curb and hugging the white line for the bike lane gets me wound up.

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  • Oliver May 31, 2013 at 4:12 pm

    Damn, of all the luck. Please get well soon.

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  • Paul in the 'couve May 31, 2013 at 4:15 pm

    Get well Curtis, I hope you are back on the bike soon. I hope you are the last person to have an accident at this intersection! I am glad it wasn’t worse, and it is time for the PBOT to actually stand up and take real action to make cycling safer.

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  • Scott Mizée May 31, 2013 at 4:17 pm

    This is so sad. I know that the Swan Island Transportation Management Assocation, Mayor Hales office and PBOT are working hard to get UPRR to allow safe, legal passage through the Albina Railroad Yard via the “cement road,” but I really hope they get this taken care of quickly! This sad tragedy underscores the need to open this route to bicycles so “preventable crashes” like this one can be eliminated.

    My thoughts and prayers are with Mr. Crothers, his family, friends, and co-workers.

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    • Gibbs May 31, 2013 at 4:33 pm

      I agree that Swan Island workers need safer options for getting to work, but I suspect that Interstate Avenue won’t stop being a problem until better infrastructure is in place–I, along with many others I see every day, use this route to get to our jobs downtown. Interstate Ave is a lackluster facility in many ways, and this further underscores that fact.

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      • Scott Mizée May 31, 2013 at 6:23 pm

        I agree with you Gibbs. This is not a simple problem to solve. –but taking these steps to move forward can help prevent more senseless crashes in the future. And who knows? Maybe the North Portland Greenway will be such a superior biking facility that you will go out of your way and forgo Interstate Avenue’s sub-par facilities so you can have a safe route all the way into downtown along the river!? I know my friends in SW do something similar there.

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        • Gibbs May 31, 2013 at 7:07 pm

          I can only hope! Portland Parks was planning on having the southern alignment of the greenway along Interstate, which is obviously…not ideal. Now that they don’t own the project, I am tentatively hopeful.

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      • Chris Anderson May 31, 2013 at 8:43 pm

        maybe a 20 mph speed limit would help?

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        • Randall S. June 2, 2013 at 6:31 pm

          If any motorists at all obeyed speed limits, then yes, it would help.

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    • Opus the Poet May 31, 2013 at 6:52 pm

      This problem can be solved with two words: “eminent domain”. I see too many cases where the process is abused against private citizens, it’s long past time to use it to protect private citizens.

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      • Scott Mizée May 31, 2013 at 6:55 pm

        I’m not familiar enough with the law related to railroads. Can Eminent Domain be used in this situation?

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        • Joseph E May 31, 2013 at 8:08 pm

          No. The major railroads are exempted from local eminent domain powers due to federal interstate commerce laws, from what I’ve read. The idea is that you don’t want a transcontinental railroad held hostage by every city along the route. We have to be nice to Union Pacific if we want this, or the Sullivan’s Gulch path, to happen.

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          • Opus the Poet June 1, 2013 at 2:10 pm

            Then just dig up the access from the street to the private road, until everybody can share it. Seriously, lives are at stake here and allowing bicycle (only) access would alleviate a number of problems. Put a bollard up to mark the bike access and make motor vehicle access difficult (to keep out non-railroad traffic) and maybe a gate across the motor vehicle access, and have the city voluntarily widen the road so the internal motor vehicle traffic isn’t unduly impeded.

            Lives are at stake, I can’t emphasize that enough. We have suffered under “if it saves one life” justifications for restrictions on our freedoms (helmet laws, AFRAP laws, ad nauseum), time to use that for improving our situation.

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    • longgone June 1, 2013 at 8:09 am

      I also am glad the outcome was not worse, but IMO, “preventable” in this instance,might have been more probable, if the cyclist would have just simply taken the lane. Just like Brett J., and the horrible outcome it produced here, I have personal opinions on these two events that would more than likely have me run out of Portland if I were to share them.

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  • Spiffy May 31, 2013 at 4:58 pm

    “I hit it doing maybe 35 mph,” Crothers said.

    5 mph over the posted limit

    I’m curious to know if the truck was pacing him, overtaking him, or if he was overtaking the truck…

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    • Michael Andersen (News Editor)
      Michael Andersen (News Editor) May 31, 2013 at 6:49 pm

      According to Crothers, he had not yet overtaken the pickup when they collided.

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      • Spiffy June 1, 2013 at 8:01 am

        obviously, or he wouldn’t have hit it…

        but I think you’re saying that he was going faster than the truck, which then makes it likely that the truck was not speeding…

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        • longgone June 1, 2013 at 9:19 am

          Yes Spiffy,… OF COURSE !.. the truck was in a full lock powerslide at the base of a big hill, sliding right onto Greeley, in full Vin Diesel mode !!!!…. Tires screeching! Dual-lies blasting in a throaty vibrato!!!
          And at the same time, the Kamikaze cyclist cyclist was breaking the sound barrier at 35 mph!!!
          Wow, it must have been something to witness..
          Are you serious in your pursuit of the idea that speeding (35 in a posted 30, on a long steady downhill) in this incident by the cyclist is truly a factor?
          Are you implying that you never break the speed limit on your bike, and Mr.C. here did, and therefore he is to blame? …Just because of his 5mph infraction?
          I have ideas as to how the rider in this incident could have avoided collision here, but certainly the (generally, legally accepted) act of exceeding the posted limit by 5mph is not one of them.

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          • Spiffy June 1, 2013 at 2:11 pm

            I certainly didn’t imply that, but I knew that somebody would, so thank you…

            since you really want my opinion; I think it’s a simple case of another oblivious motorist not checking the lane they’re about to cross over…

            as much as I like bicycling I have to be fair and say what nobody here wants to: that both parties were breaking the law when this incident occurred… a bicycle exceeding the speed limit will be a factor in this case…

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            • Pete June 2, 2013 at 12:27 am

              That may be true, but I just want to point out it’s much harder to prove that a vehicle (car or bicycle) was exceeding a speed limit than to show that an illegal right turn was made. In my mind there’s absolutely no reason a citation shouldn’t be given to the driver of this truck.

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              • longgone June 2, 2013 at 7:45 am

                Pete… If I am not mistaken, the turn lane at this intersection (South bound on Interstate) is closed permanently,( and has been for like two/three/four years or more, and is marked so.) …so the motorist was indeed making a very illegal right hand turn onto Greeley.

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            • longgone June 2, 2013 at 7:40 am

              Dear Spiffy…
              You implied it very assuredly when you posted the link to a Google maps picture with the speed limit sign in it!

              You are the “Spiffy” in the comment posted just north of this one with the link, correct?….. Or are you the “Spiffy Impostor” ?

              Here, in case you lost track of it, or you cant find it, or you conveniently forgot about it…

              Spiffy May 31, 2013 at 4:58 pm
              “I hit it doing maybe 35 mph,” Crothers said.

              5 mph over the posted limit…

              I’m curious to know if the truck was pacing him, overtaking him, or if he was overtaking the truck…”

              Remember now?
              I am confused ?
              What I am not confused about is the constant nanny stater/moral authority/self righteousness that seems to leech through comments attributed by you towards others in the manner in which they ride their bicycles.

              I will end this ridiculous banter with you, by pointing out that your entire argument is based on your perceived interpretation and speculation of the past tense, emotional charged statement by the cyclist himself.

              There are no facts available to confirm otherwise.

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  • Lenny Anderson
    Lenny Anderson May 31, 2013 at 5:24 pm

    Scott, the Ash Grove Cement Road does NOT go thru the UPRR Albina yard; it goes between the yard and the AG Cement docks. It is private and on UPRR property, and it has railroad tracks at a steep angle that can take you down. It is a lovely ride if you don’t run into Officer Bender of the UPRR security, but now I think that may be better than getting wacked by some idiot in a pickup making an illegal turn off Interstate to Greeley. Its well past time for this option to be legal.
    Riding legally, unfortunately in this town, is NOT safe, indeed its deadly. I always follow three rules that may well trump the legal ones: 1. don’t get hit, 2. don’t be a jerk, and don’t lose momentum.
    Some one from the City Club committee was complaining about bikers darting out from the side, etc. Now I am thinking that we need more and more bikers darting out, more J-walkers, more chaos and congestion in general on our roads, so that most drivers… at least the ones who did not flunk kindergarden…will slow down. The Dutch have discovered that designed chaos is safer and provides more thru put at intersections for all modes.
    Get well Curtis! and be safe out there!

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    • Scott Mizée May 31, 2013 at 7:13 pm

      Thanks for the correction, Lenny! True, the Ash Grove Cement Road does not go *through* the Albina yards. True those angled tracks can take you down. (I have the scars to prove it.) Let’s get this done! Lenny, do you know if the City of Portland can use Eminent Domain to “speed things along?”

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    • Joseph E May 31, 2013 at 8:14 pm

      “3. don’t lose momentum”

      Um… that’s nice for you, but it’s not fair to others. Shouldn’t your stop for pedestrians to cross the street, or other people on bikes who have the right of way, even if they are not a danger to you? Momentum is not a right.

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    • Spiffy June 1, 2013 at 8:04 am

      Riding legally, unfortunately in this town, is NOT safe, indeed its deadly.

      and in the case of this story, riding illegally isn’t safe either…

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      • longgone June 1, 2013 at 8:57 am

        @ “Spiiffyy”….. Albiet, the rider here was (according to your interpretation, of his emotionally stated admittance ) descending Interstate at a hair raising, (and by your standards) ridiculously illegal rate of “maybe 35mph”, I would like to say, that I hope you are never a jury member in any court case I may have the unfortunate chance of being a defendant in.

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        • Spiffy June 1, 2013 at 2:14 pm

          if you’re hoping for a jury that’s biased then no, you don’t want me in the pool…

          and yes, I think that going 35 mph in a 30 mph zone in ridiculous…

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      • El Biciclero June 3, 2013 at 10:40 am

        I can’t help but think, however, that riding doubly illegally, by riding at 35mph outside the bike lane would have been the safest of all. I heard (I think it was in an Oregonian “Legislative Roundup” or some such place) that Oregon was contemplating making it legal to leave the bike lane at intersections where motor traffic may turn right, rather than only where motor traffic must turn right. That would have given some legal leeway here to leave the bike lane (even though there is the question of whether “may” is used in the “there is a probability” sense or the “is legally permitted” sense).

        Yes, speeding is illegal, and when cars do it we get all up in arms because a 4000-lb car going 5 over has 20 times the additional momentum of a 200-lb bike + rider going 5 over, but on my commute route, speeding on some of the descents often means keeping up with traffic (at an increased following distance, since I know my braking power isn’t as good as a car), and preventing my brakes from overheating. I am in the middle of the lane at all times when doing so, which not only increases my visibility to other drivers, especially oncoming and side traffic, but allows for many more options when various situation arise–one of which is passing right-turning drivers on their left.

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    • longgone June 1, 2013 at 8:14 am

      @ Lenny… Please stop spreading FUD about your personal perception as to whether bicycling is safe in Portland. By that logic, chewing food should come with a warning from the Federal Govt.
      Feel it is unsafe to ride in Portland? Then stop.

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  • MaxD May 31, 2013 at 5:42 pm

    This is my daily route, and I have tried repeatedly to get speeding enforced here, and to get PBOT to consider some options for improving safety, especially at the Larabee undercrossing. PBOT has had the appalling response of saying that they recognize that the bike lane is undersized, but there haven’t been any crash reports here so no further action is recommended. I have yet to see any traffic enforcement on Interstate. I do know, however, that if I drive on Interstate, I never exceed 30 mph, and without fail I get people tailgating and I have even had someone use a left turn lane to pass me!

    I think 2 simple things could done right away to make a massive improvement:
    1. Lots of traffic enforcement for speeding, red light running, illegal turns on red.
    2. Add a second white line to delineate the traffic lane at 10.5′, and create a painted buffer between the traffic lane and the bike lane. The traffic lane width varies wildly on Interstate, and with few cross streets, people drive all over the place and it is too easy to speed. At a minimum, cars could be kept tight to the tracks. I know it is just paint, but PBOT tried this on Interstate northbound from Oregon St to Wheeler and it actually made a big difference.

    How can we convince PBOT that this is pinch point for bike infrastructure for all of North Portland and a lot of NE looking to get downtown or points south. Bike transportation is growing quickly in these neighborhoods, and could be growing more if this corridor was safe. It is reprehensible to ignore a demonstrable and known safety problem because the inevitable accident has not happened yet.

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    • Scott Mizée May 31, 2013 at 6:25 pm

      Excellent suggestions MaxD. I hope we can get a (formal or informal) response from PBOT and Mayor Hales soon. This is unacceptable and dangerous. We don’t need more crashes or loss of life to warrant a change in the infrastructure along these routes. How do we get this done immediately?!??

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  • are May 31, 2013 at 6:23 pm

    — [Lenny] Anderson wrote. “If Curtis had taken the lane (illegally), we would be doing just fine,” etc.

    i assume the parenthetical “illegally” was in anderson’s text. the link to 814.420 is presumably michael’s.

    i just want to say, emphatically, that is it not, repeat, not illegal to take the lane where staying in the striped bike lane is unsafe. yes, it would be better not to have a striped bike lane here. yes, sharrows would be a tremendous improvement.

    there is almost no circumstance in which you should run 35 mph in a bike lane.

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    • longgone June 1, 2013 at 8:36 am

      Well, well, well, someone finally had the nads to point out a legal fact.

      Thank you “are” for being the first to question the sneaky link to the Or. statute, and everyone’s failure here to interpret it fully.
      Cycling deniers of Portland come unglued, rant and stew when a collision occurs,… AGAIN.
      Not one person here would ever dare question the riders awareness or in this incident, or even remotely entertain the fact, that perhaps he had options available to him as he descended Interstate that he did not opt to use.

      50 years of motorcycling and bicycling and yet NO ONE has EVER right hooked me.
      You know why?…. I will never let it happen. period.
      Crass? Boastful? … no.

      Stay awake on your bike people.

      Get well soon, so you may ride another day Mr.Crothers. …no disrespect, I swear.

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      • Help June 1, 2013 at 12:40 pm

        Spiffy pointed out the legal fact that the cylist was speeding. The fact you blew it off (and probably contributed to the accident) doesn’t change that.

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        • longgone June 2, 2013 at 7:55 am

          Please re-read this entire blog post again, for “fact finding” purposes, then get back with me on that.
          On second thought…..

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    • Michael Andersen (News Editor)
      Michael Andersen (News Editor) June 1, 2013 at 9:09 am

      The “illegally” was in Anderson’s email to me; the link was my own addition, an attempt to explain it. I agree with @are that there are shades of gray in the statute.

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      • longgone June 1, 2013 at 12:42 pm

        … I realize that you more than likely do/did,… and I certainly am not tryin’ to start any heated debates…
        I am sad along with everyone else when a cyclist is hurt, but we have to realize that not every incident is free of responsibility on the part of the cyclist.
        When it is in an area that has a history, and it also is on the path of a persons daily commute, one must remain a bit hyper-vigilante as to the inherent dangers…
        When you get lulled by repetition, mistakes can be found out quickly. I am super sad someone is hurt here, but was it really the driver and infrastructure, as people are so quick to call out? Something else perhaps ?
        peace out, M. 🙂

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        • longgone June 1, 2013 at 12:49 pm

          … and yes, btw.. I feel that the driver of the truck needs to be ticketed, and held accountable for damages to Mr. Crothers.
          Portland PD is too soft in many, many, many of these situations involving infractions that cause harm to vulnerable road users..

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        • longgone June 3, 2013 at 7:45 am

          btw, .. I ride this stretch every other day sometimes. As others have pointed out, much could be done to improve the approach down the hill in terms of sharrows/bikes in lane/stop indicators/ etc.etc…

          One idea I had as long ago as the days around Brett J.’s ride of silence, was when they closed the turn lane, they coulda’/shoulda’ have installed a timed “rail style” road barricade to keep southbound traffic from pulling this type of fubar illegal left.
          It seems that it would be any easy thing to install, and would be totally effective.
          The signage for the “No Left” is horribly anemic, and far too close to the intersection, IMO. It needs to be much bigger.

          I also feel that Brett J’s stencil portrait should be rendered in a giant piece of lazer cut steel, and installed permanently somewhere as close as Portland can do it under the fed bridge.
          That stencil was way cooler than any sad ghost bike… It had a face.

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    • El Biciclero June 3, 2013 at 11:58 am

      Well, I emphatically agree with you that staying in the bike lane in places like this is unsafe, but the legality of leaving it under the presumed conditions at the time of this collision is still fuzzy. Safety isn’t mentioned in the exceptions to 814.420 (I’m going from memory here) “hazards” are mentioned, with a list of examples. I’ve argued with a certain other frequent commenter (on other threads) about the legality of riding down the left lane of a one-way when there is a striped bike lane on the right. The reasons for doing so would be to avoid driver doors from parked cars and stopping buses–both related to safety, but not necessarily considered hazards unless they are immediately present (e.g., the bus is stopped or the parked car door is open at the time one leaves the bike lane). In the case in question, when does a right hook hazard become “present”? To you and me, any time we are AFTTRAP (bike lane or not) and there is a car within 100 feet in front or behind us (whether there are intersections around or not; drivers drift into the bike lane all the time). But to the average LEO or jury member, there’s no hazard immediately present until that driver starts to turn right across your path. But in true Catch-22 fashion, by the time the hazard is present, it’s too late to do anything about it because your exit to the left is blocked by the very hazard that riding farther left would avoid.

      In my comment above, I specifically mentioned the pending (if not passed yet) amendment to 814.420 that would allow a cyclist to leave the bike lane at intersections where drivers may turn right, not just (as the current exception states) where they must turn right. I can only assume that this amendment is on the table because doing what would have been safe in this situation is currently illegal–or at the very least could be interpreted as illegal.

      I think you and I agree on when a cyclist should leave the bike lane for safety (whether I always practice it or not), but I don’t think the police or courts do.

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      • are June 3, 2013 at 2:46 pm

        i concede that my reading of 814.420 is not obvious, and that it might be difficult to persuade a traffic court judge that the hazard i was avoiding was on my left. nonetheless, i assert my reading “emphatically.” i simply will not use a bike lane where to do so increases the hazard of being overtaken too close, not being seen by traffic entering from the right, etc., etc.

        incidentally, since the right turn in this case was illegal, the hazard i would be avoiding by asserting a space somewhat to the left of the stripe would be being overtaken in a space too narrow to safely share.

        maybe if i were making a choice to go much, much slower than surrounding traffic (not the case here), i might move into the bike lane and hope for the best. but if i am bombing down the hill at thirty-ish, i will take the lane.

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        • spare_wheel June 3, 2013 at 10:29 pm

          i don’t think any judge would rule that a desire for speed is a legitimate interpretation of the bike lane safety exception.

          the mandatory sidepath law is both dangerous and discriminatory.

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  • o/o May 31, 2013 at 6:27 pm

    That is hairy spot. By the way, speedy recovery Curtis.

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  • Sho May 31, 2013 at 6:35 pm

    Gotta love the right hook, whether it severely injures/kills someone from a vehicle not paying attention or performing an illegal maneuver Portland still doesn’t charge the subject appropriately. They seem to dish out harsher punishments if it is car on car action. Well at least vehicles stop for people in marked and unmarked crosswalks (I guess that only happens if you’re the mayor with a news crew).

    Get well, I used to ride that route daily to work downtown.

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    • lyle w. June 1, 2013 at 12:12 am

      The thing for me is, with all the hatred I see for bicyclists, it’s so pervasive with this strain of simply not believing bicyclists should be on the road. Right-of-way laws are superflous..

      So, when that’s the case, I always think of right-hooks (especially the ultra oblivious ones where someone will drive right by you and then do their thing) as willful acts of negligence– as if the person driving can process that there is someone on a bike, can process that they are about to put that person in extreme danger by completely going against the ROW rules, but on a more profound and animalistic level just does not care or have any concern beyond their own need to get somewhere. Your life is literally cheaper than them having to make any concession whatsoever on their time or convenience for you.

      And there’s nothing we can do about, and no way you can prove a person is consciously and willfully putting your life at risk because of their own biases. Doesn’t mean it’s not happening all the time, and doesn’t mean it didn’t happen with this accident, though.

      Still BS, and I wish we had more legal recourse to really go after people who are such reprehensible drivers (and sometimes human beings).

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      • Help June 1, 2013 at 12:47 pm

        Do you truly believe drivers are going out of their way to hit cyclists? Do you believe this driver did that on purpose?

        Almost all of these right hook accidents occur because the driver didnt’ see the cyclist. Period. Now maybe it’s negligent driving, maybe it’s a speeding cyclist. But to ascribe this evil and malicious behavior to drivers is just not true.

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        • lyle w. June 2, 2013 at 12:07 pm

          Yeah, unfortunately I do think there are people out there who intentionally and willfully put cyclists in positions of extreme danger, and sometimes it results in severe injury or death. I’ve been threatened and harassed and heard stories from friends, and I’ve been put in enough extremely reckless situations that I do believe there are people out there who place literally no value on a human life if that human life is affixed to a bicycle.

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          • Help June 3, 2013 at 10:57 am

            I said “hit” not “endanger.” How many cyclists are purposely hit?

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            • longgone June 3, 2013 at 4:05 pm

              … by the way, I also lost a dear motocross racing buddy in 1977 to a driver who hated motorcyclists.
              He drove straight head-on into one of my regions best athletes.
              He was drunk and deranged.
              This was an issue for the motorcycling public from the 50’s thru the 70’s., believe it or not.

              Here, I couldn’t verify if these videos are good, but there seems to be alot of it on the http://www
              Video: Motorcyclist clings to windscreen after 4×4 road rage attack in …
              http://www.telegraph.co.uk › News › World News › South America › BrazilMar 26, 2012 – Motorcyclist clings to windscreen after 4×4 road rage attack in Brazil … then immediately gets to his feet and starts moving towards the vehicle.
              More results for motorcyclist road rage
              Asian Road Rage – Truck VS Motorcycles – YouTube
              http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4JtCVeDwjEcNov 10, 2009 – Original footage is from http://www.youtube.com/user/mika8982

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            • longgone June 3, 2013 at 4:16 pm

              I posted a comment about this exact issue in England this week.
              I shared the info with BP.org, but …

              Cyclist hit on purpose…. Teenage female driver.. went on that day to brag about it on Twitter, ….. It does happen.
              It has happened to me.

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      • Pete June 2, 2013 at 1:00 am

        An ounce of prevention… the only “legal recourse” I know of is to signal and merge into the lane when I’m at traffic speeds and/or coming upon intersections and lane drops. Mr. Crothers says he’s ‘not a transportation person’ and in my opinion doing this both saves lives by preventing these hooks and should be taught as a matter of course to both bicyclists and drivers somehow. I can totally understand why he didn’t do that; there’s really no mandated teaching of riding in this manner (that many others are mentioning as well) but experience and exposure (and some good online articles I can’t seem to relocate).

        I feel you on the ‘hatred’ thing; I’ve said repeatedly that bicyclists seem to be the one remaining minority that it’s still not politically incorrect to threaten and insult in American media. Personally though I don’t experience it on the road much at all – it’s far more pervasive in online comments, but then again I never cease to be amazed at what I read in mainstream articles so I confine myself to ‘preaching to the choir’ types of forums like BP.

        I’ll add that I’ve found myself in more compromising situations when not fully taking the lane than when putting myself completely ‘in harms way.’ When I’ve had the opportunity to merge fully and not taken it (instinct says to and I don’t always listen to it) – that’s when drivers have come close, accelerated, even (rarely) honked while doing so. When I entirely remove their ability to share the lane with me (in a predictable manner), almost always I’m given space and consideration.

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        • Help June 2, 2013 at 9:55 am

          “I’ve said repeatedly that bicyclists seem to be the one remaining minority that it’s still not politically incorrect to threaten and insult in American media.”

          Wow, talk about willful ignorance. Read any comment section of a story involving an African-American and the racism is in full force.

          Talk to me when a cyclist gets randomly lynched for just being a cyclist. Then you can talk. Until then, try to keep your offensive ignorance to yourself.

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  • Scott Mizée May 31, 2013 at 7:15 pm

    Scott Mizée
    […]get UPRR to allow safe, legal passage through the Albina Railroad Yard via the “cement road,” […]

    I stand corrected. The Ash Grove Cement Road does not go through the UPRR Albina Yards. See Lenny Anderson’s comment below.

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  • AndyCof Linton May 31, 2013 at 9:47 pm

    Curtis, me and my old lady send you the best of wishes for a speedy recovery. We are intimate with this stretch of road, and echo the sentiments of other commenters here.

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  • Chris Sanderson May 31, 2013 at 11:44 pm

    I used to take that route when going into those neighborhoods. Now, I stick to wiggling through Lloyd, and accessing N. Williams up to Rosa Parks. Greely and Interstate are not only PUDs (pointless ups and downs), but SKETCHY for biking and hauling stuff.

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  • kittens June 1, 2013 at 12:49 am

    always breaks my heart: first responders gathered at the ground, vehicle halted mid movement, bike laying lifeless nearby.

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  • Yuri Nashun June 1, 2013 at 7:23 am

    Get well Curtis. I know his accident was down the road, but the Swan Island area in general sucks for cyclists…lots of speed and aggression from motorists. And despite the good things happening down there at places like DTNA, we are sorely lacking any traffic enforcement from the police. Drivers race with seemingly no regard for rules or speed limits.

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  • TOM June 1, 2013 at 8:15 am

    “I hit it doing maybe 35 mph,” Crothers said.

    “He wasn’t going excessively fast, he was following the rules, etc.,” Angell wrote in an email after her conversation with Crothers.

    35 MPH ? not excessively fast ? Peddling downhill I can only do in the 20’s

    Did I miss the info about whether the driver stopped or was cited ?

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    • El Biciclero June 3, 2013 at 12:06 pm

      “35 MPH ? not excessively fast ? Peddling downhill I can only do in the 20’s”

      Sounds like you don’t ride any steep hills, your speedo is off, or your brakes are dragging. If I don’t keep touching my brakes on some of the descents I have on the way to work, I’d blow over 35 easily. Coasting.

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  • Psyfalcon June 1, 2013 at 9:56 am

    35 might be fast, or faster than the speed limit, but from my few times riding that area, the cars are even faster. That tends to push people back in the bike lane because you don’t want to block someone trying to do 40. That is part of the same problem that has existed before right turns were blocked.

    Yet none of this lane positioning or speed actually matters if the driver does not make an illegal turn. A turn that was physically blocked because it was too dangerous for other people, but this driver’s convenience trumps all of that, right? This is the sort of person that should not have a drivers license.

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    • Help June 1, 2013 at 12:50 pm

      And if the cyclist were going 30, maybe he sees the truck’s illegal turn in time as well.

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      • Pete June 2, 2013 at 1:09 am

        And do what… stop in time? If centered in the lane behind the truck at least he’d be able to squeeze by on the left, especially if the driver happened to flick that little stick under the steering wheel in advance (allowing the cyclist to at least slow).

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        • are June 3, 2013 at 2:50 pm

          to do a 135, he would have had to hit the brakes. if his brake lights were functioning, this would have been an indicator to the following cyclist.

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    • Chainwhipped June 3, 2013 at 10:40 am

      This was rush hour. Interstate packs up and slows to a halt. No car can go 40mph at rush hour on this road.

      Crothers was riding at a very high speed while headed into a busy intersection and passing a line of slow-moving cars. A vehicle then made an un-signaled illegal turn and Crothers could not avoid the impact.

      Driver’s fault. What a D!*k, how could he . . . blah . . . blah . . . blah.

      Now, what could we, as vulnerable road users, do to protect ourselves in the same situation?

      Let’s assume you’re only going 30. You and your bicycle need at least 40 feet to go from 30mph to a complete stop. The lane is around 6 feet wide. It’s rush hour, so there’s a solid line of cars to your left and the curb to your right gives you limited options for an escape route. Not the best position to be in at that speed. Given this scenario, you will probably plow into anything that appears in your path.

      If you slow down to the speed of traffic next to you until you’re through the intersection, there is virtually no chance of a right-hook.

      The down-side: It takes an extra 2 seconds to get through the intersection.

      The up-side: You not only go on living, but you also live without the lengthy list of injuries that Curtis’s helmet didn’t save him from.

      Scream and yell all you want about what a horrible event this was and whose fault it is, but learn something and keep it from happening to you.

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  • Steve B June 1, 2013 at 11:26 am

    Ouch! Curtis, I hope you recover quickly and return to the saddle soon. Godspeed.

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  • Bob Verrinder June 1, 2013 at 1:44 pm

    Reading through these comments, I noticed that someone mentioned that Interstate needed Sharrows. I can’t imagine how this would have helped. It is already legal for bicycles to use the traffic lanes, when they deem the bicycle lane unsafe, and since he was riding at a speed that shouldn’t have held up traffic down the hill, he simply could have used the lane, which might not have helped in any case. Sharrows seem to be nothing other than something else to infuriate Motorists, and something that neither Bicyclists or Motorists fully understand. I personally avoid the use of Sharrows myself when riding, if at all possible. Get well soon Curtis!

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    • are June 1, 2013 at 5:29 pm

      the striped lane misleads both motorists and cyclists that i am “supposed to be over there.” a properly placed sharrow would indicate to motorists that a cyclists should be expected to claim the lane, and would indicate to cyclists that the center of the lane is probably the safe position. there really is no excuse for striping a bike lane on a steep downhill.

      not sure what you mean when you say you “avoid the use” of sharrows. certainly it is true that their function as lane positioning indicators has been completely undermined by their use as wayfinders on side streets. but on the 12th avenue overcrossing, for example, how would one “avoid” using the sharrows?

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      • Pete June 2, 2013 at 1:22 am

        Here in California the sharrow is placed 1/3 of the way into the travel lane, and the DMV recommends that’s where cyclists place themselves when riding on sharrowed roads. I’ve personally found “a little under a half” to be more effective at stopping drivers from trying to split the lane with me. Closer to or beyond halfway I’ve had drivers pass me quite dangerously on the right. I’m willing to bet that 99% of those passing DMV exams have no idea what sharrows mean. They didn’t show up in any of the CA DMV study materials I was given or any of the dozen or so practice tests I took online when I moved here a few years back.

        I’m all for them when augmented with BMUFL signs though.

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    • longgone June 3, 2013 at 8:12 am

      @ BV..
      As I am not a “self deprecating cyclist” who has concerns that other road users are infuriated by my being on the road, I take great issue with this line of thinking.
      I implore you to rethink your outlook, Bob.
      Hell,.. my sister is not a cyclist, lives in the Ozarks, and knows what a sharrow is and what it legally addresses and indicates….and not because I told her.
      I consider my self an “old school vehicular cyclist” because I grew up riding with NO cycling infrastructure whatsoever. Shit,… I worked with a Catholic charities org. in the 70’s to just get wheelchair access curbs installed for my friends who needed them!
      Back then bike lanes were a giant pipe dream.
      Infrastructure changes are coming..
      The American motoring road user will adjust, they will have no choice.
      The cycling public needs to grow up, quit worrying and screaming about its perceived victimization and image, and just press on.

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    • spare_wheel June 3, 2013 at 9:13 am

      “Sharrows seem to be nothing other than something else to infuriate Motorists”

      Bike stockholm syndrome. Why should cyclists spend even one second placating the irrational angry minority? The vast majority of motorists in PDX are very respectful of the right of cyclists to take the lane (illegally or legally). Moreover, sharrows serve as an excellent educational tool for the tiny minority who are reluctant to share.

      “and since he was riding at a speed that shouldn’t have held up traffic down the hill, he simply could have used the lane”

      In Oregon illegal to exit the bike lane simply because you are riding at the speed of traffic.

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  • Lenny Anderson
    Lenny Anderson June 1, 2013 at 4:38 pm

    A little irony here…Thursday, May 30, the day after the crash we celebrated/dedicated $5M worth of new bike, ped and transit access on Swan Island. Waud Bluff Trail from the north, yes with the stairs; the wider Going streetsidewalk between N. Concord and Greeley with a new crossing flasher at N. Basin; and The Captain’s Walk…new sidewalk along N. Channel where Capt. Richard Head was killed by a motor vehicle 15 years ago.
    Lots more to do, and Curtis is part of the large bike commuting group at Daimler who will help us get it done… especially the North Portland Willamette Greenway, including the Ash Grove Cement Road.
    Please join us at npGreenway and make a difference!
    re my comments on bike riding in Portland…been doing it for 60 years, including trips to California and Canada back in the 60’s. Its better than its ever been, but still a long way to go. On this we can all agree, and this too…every car can kill you!

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  • Shane surgeon June 1, 2013 at 5:48 pm

    Get Well curtis I knew you were in the area we’ll have to get together sometime. the dawgg

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  • Blake June 1, 2013 at 6:08 pm

    I don’t take Interstate down, using Greeley instead. I think the section from the Broadway bridge exit to Larrabee is the worst. The already small bike lane gets narrow under the bridges in a section where double long trucks are more frequent. Using that section for the NP Greenway is a terrible idea.

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  • John Liu
    John Liu June 1, 2013 at 6:37 pm

    I hope Curtis gets a lawyer and sues the day lights out of that driver. Do not negotiate with the driver’s insurance carrier. Do not speak to them or give any statements, written or oral or recorded. Do not sign anything. Retain your own lawyer.

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    • Mindful Cyclist June 2, 2013 at 8:41 pm

      “Do not speak to them or give any statements, written or oral or recorded.”

      Unfortunately, he already did give the insurance company a statement and it was quoted on this blog when he admitted that he hit the truck at “about 35 mph.” His best bet may to negotiate as much as possible with the insurance company.

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      • John Liu
        John Liu June 3, 2013 at 11:35 am

        Again. From a former lawyer myself. No negotiating w/ the driver’s insurance company. Unless you want to be screwed.

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  • Lenny Anderson
    Lenny Anderson June 2, 2013 at 8:43 am

    Yes, lower Interstate is very bad as well under the Broadway Bridge. When I am on the 85 bus, the regular operator never passes bikes there, but slows until the lane widens out. I appreciate that even if I am running late. I rarely bike this stretch.
    I think the Greenway Trail should take the old flyover and connect to the Broadway Bridge bike routes, and we can narrow Larribee to 2 lanes from 4 and create a much expanded “meadow” overlooking the city and River. Indeed that would be a great eastside landing for a bike/ped bridge across the Willamette to NW.
    Good advice Curtis…the driver of the vehicle that hit you was making an illegal right turn. He and his insurance should be on the hook for damages, pain and suffering, loss of income, medical care; indeed everything.

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  • Chainwhipped June 2, 2013 at 10:51 am

    I wish Crothers a speedy recovery. I have a hard time viewing him as a victim, though. He had all the power and control needed to avoid this incident.

    Interstate Ave. could be a lot better, no doubt, but there has to be some kind of bike-specific facility on this road. Right now, it’s a bike lane that gets frequent daily use without incident (Sharrows wouldn’t cut it – the speed limit is too high – an actual cycle-track would be a good idea).

    That being said, this particular incident looks more like a comedy of errors than truly bad infrastructure.

    Driver: making an illegal turn. Never Okay, definitely should be ticketed.

    Cyclist: breaking the speed limit AND passing a moving vehicle on the right (it’s one thing to pass like that when there is physically no place for the driver to turn in front of you, bit this was a potentially fatal mistake made by Crothers).

    I feel for anybody who gets hurt, but this was stupid on every front. I have all the pity for Crothers that I would have for someone who ran a stop sign to make a right turn into cross-traffic and got hit by a speeding car. The driver was certainly breaking laws, but he definitely shares a sizable amount of fault here.

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    • Yuri Nashun June 2, 2013 at 10:56 am


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      • Chainwhipped June 2, 2013 at 11:18 am

        I’ll break it down for you: It’s not hard to avoid a turning vehicle if you have your head up and you’re not over the speed limit.

        Crothers shares the blame on this one.

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        • Rob Chapman June 2, 2013 at 3:44 pm

          Judging by your comments it seems as if though you aren’t familiar with the area where the collision took place.

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        • Paul in the 'couve June 2, 2013 at 4:10 pm

          It makes a big difference when it is an illegal right turn – the vehicle is not supposed to be turning right.

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        • trickykill June 3, 2013 at 12:02 pm

          Your statement is ludicrous. I have been right hooked riding up hill at 5mph. I have been driven into head-on as I sat at a stand-still waiting to turn left. Don’t think you wont be knocked off your pulpit in an instant, regardless of your riding speed.

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          • Paul in the 'couve June 3, 2013 at 3:08 pm

            I’ve had those both, especially the second as very very close calls. Just lucky to have been paying attention a the right time or managed to get the drivers attention in a nick of time.

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    • are June 2, 2013 at 9:56 pm

      posted thirty, not too fast for sharrows

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    • jeremy June 2, 2013 at 10:35 pm

      A few things about this comment are troubling me. The first is the idea that a cyclist cannot/should not pass a vehicle while in a bike lane. The whole idea is that a bike lane is a travel lane, and much like when there are two travel lanes on other roads, the driver in the right lane is allowed to pass a car in the left lane. The second is that you seem to be placing some blame on the cyclist because he should have anticipated an ILLEGAL right turn. I am a very defensive rider, but I can’t account for all the illegal places some car MIGHT turn along my route. In the downtown core alone there are 10 one way streets I cross, any one of which someone COULD turn down the wrong way–illegally. It would not matter how careful I was riding if that happened. Also, I would be very skeptical of the cyclists estimation of 35 mph. Not only is that comment coming from someone who just experienced trauma (making his comment pretty unreliable) but to know an exact speed would require a speedometer (which I have no idea if he had on him). It is very difficult to be accurate about speed on any vehicle–that is why cars come with them front and center.

      Blaming the cyclist for getting hit by an illegal turn ignores that it is the driver’s responsibility to look into any travel lane before making a turn into or across that lane. This is not the cyclist’s fault.

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      • Brian June 3, 2013 at 9:24 am

        That is a very steep hill, I can coast down it at 30.

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        • lyle w. June 3, 2013 at 9:33 am

          Yeah, on a hill that steep you could arguably make the case that it’s safer to coast (sans pedaling) with minimal braking vs. pulling hard on the brakes the entire time down. I’m not advocating extreme speeding, but when you’re constantly braking as hard as you need to for a hill this steep, you lose a lot of control and ability to steer.

          The victim-blaming on this thread is ridiculous. This guy made an illegal and reckless turn on a turn that has expressly been banned because it is so unsafe and has killed people, and we still have half the people here blaming the cyclist.

          Why even come to this site?

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          • are June 4, 2013 at 10:58 am

            to learn not to hug the right on a steep descent

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      • Chainwhipped June 3, 2013 at 10:11 am

        You are correct that it is a road user’s responsibility to look before turning and that this turn was illegal and should not have happened. Nobody is saying otherwise and we’d all still like to know if the driver was ticketed. Driver was a careless p&!ck, and he’s at fault. He’s also not in the hospital.

        Since there was no radar gun pinned on Crothers at the time and it is not the least bit unusual for a bicycle to be equipped with a speedometer, we can take Crother’s admission of going 35mph as an admission that he was going really freaking fast. Anybody riding anywhere near that speed on Springwater Corridor could be considered reckless, and that path is wider than the bike lane on Interstate.

        I’m not saying “don’t use bike lanes to pass cars”. There are plenty of scenarios where it’s perfectly safe to do that. HOWEVER, while we are legally allowed to do so, drivers don’t always check mirrors before turning, and they don’t always signal (and I believe “don’t always” errs on the generous side).

        So, what I’m saying is don’t pass moving traffic on the right when they have a place to turn in front of you. With the sheer volume of “right hooks” in Portland every year, you’d think more people would realize their invisibility to drivers – if you’re not in front of them, they don’t see you, get used to it.

        We can talk about fault all we want, but collisions like this will continue to happen. The bottom line is this: do what you want, go where you want, but consider the safety of other people, and protect yourself in the process. You can avoid “eight broken ribs, a broken scapula, a punctured lung, internal bleeding, a dislocated shoulder, and 24 hours in intensive care.” All you have to do is slow the hell down at the intersection.

        Or you can cry “I was in the right” from your hospital bed, if you’re lucky enough to live.

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        • Slammy June 3, 2013 at 11:05 am

          I just read a bunch of your blog… It’s weird that somebody who seems to care about cycling uses up so much Internet real estate to complain about it.

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          • Chainwhipped June 3, 2013 at 11:39 am

            Get hit by a few of your fellow cyclists as they blatantly ignore some basic laws and everyone else’s safety simultaneously, and you’ll have some complaints, too.

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            • Paul in the 'couve June 3, 2013 at 12:01 pm

              You got hit my another cyclist? I bet you could have avoided that had you only kept your head up and paid better attention! 🙂

              Not trying to slam you just making a point. I know I don’t know the circumstances of how you collided with other cyclists. The same goes for what exactly happened to Curtis Crothers a few days ago.

              My disagreement with how you have been stating your case hinges on semantics (but is not trivial). Your more recent comments have been less offensive, perhaps you are moderating your postion a bit?

              To recap: You said in your earlier comment June 2, 2013 at 10:51 am ” I have a hard time viewing him as a victim, though. He had all the power and control needed to avoid this incident.” and “With the sheer volume of “right hooks” in Portland every year, you’d think more people would realize their invisibility to drivers – if you’re not in front of them, they don’t see you, get used to it.” and further “….but this was stupid on every front. I have all the pity for Crothers that I would have for someone who ran a stop sign to make a right turn into cross-traffic and got hit by a speeding car. The driver was certainly breaking laws, but he definitely shares a sizable amount of fault here.”

              I repeat, I acknowledge that your two comments today sound more moderate, but this language is what I (and I think others) are reacting to. Fault is a very loaded word. Saying that you can’t see Curtis as a victim in this case strongly implies that you hold him at least as responsible as the driver. That is pure crap. Total B***S**t. Yes, I agree with you on the principle that we need to (out of necessity of survival in a hostile environment) ride extremely sharply and anticipate hazards and I do that constantly and have done some myself in precisely that same intersection. Where we differ in in this… When I happen to be riding with my “spidey sense” on level 6 or 7 instead of 10, and someone else pulls a blatantly illegal move and violates my right of way, I am not “at fault” and I don’t lose status as “victim” when I was operating according to the road design and circumstances. What you are stated in your quotes above have legal ramifications, financial responsibility ramifications and pertain to the public perception of moral fault and sympathy. It is an argument about what words mean, but in this case it is more significant than “just semantics.”

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              • My Magic Hat June 3, 2013 at 1:37 pm

                Speaking of semantic, I don’t see anybody full-on blaming the cyclist here.

                I DO see a few people with the presence of mind to get past the things we can’t control, and take full advantage of the things we CAN control. Even when a driver is 100% at fault in a hit like this, there are ways to keep it from happening.

                Realistically, if this is such a trouble spot, why are we pretending that riding over the speed limit is perfectly safe? Does anybody really think that 35mph would be allowed on an awesome Interstate ave cycle track?

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            • Slammy June 3, 2013 at 12:03 pm

              See, that’s the thing, you write like you’re at the top of the bicycle food chain, and your assumption is that nobody has experienced what you have, so you are here to help, but all you’re doing is coming off like a pessemistic know-it-all who has the gall to call out this poor fellow becuase you weren’t there, but just HAVE to comment on it… why does your proper blog only have like six entries, but you go off for hundreds of words on John’s blog… find your own megaphone for hate… you remind me of Vance Longwell.

              So back to your comment, I’ve been hit by bikers ignoring road signs before, and all i really have to coplain about is your writing style, not other bikers. got any other qualifiers for what makes you so negative?

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              • Chainwhipped June 3, 2013 at 12:40 pm

                You have been hit careless riders? So you get it, then?

                Was it okay with you to get physically hurt? Could that rider have maybe avoided the situation by slowing down? Maybe stopping at the Stop Sign instead of blowing through at full speed without looking? How is it that someone suggesting that poor riding habits are maybe not the best thing for our safety bothers you? I really don’t follow.

                I’m not promoting myself as some kind of writer. Clearly I’m hardly that. I’m suggesting that we don’t all need to act as indignant and helpless as we tend to. We, as bike riders, have the control and the capacity ride more safely than we often do. That’s not personal. That’s an observation of cycling behavior.

                I’m not at the top of anything. Commuting isn’t a competition, but we treat it that way, don’t we? We shoal each other, run reds and stop signs with open disregard for each other. These are habits that get us into trouble, even if we’re in our legal right. I’m not the only person who thinks Crothers’ speed was excessive. The driver made an illegal turn, so it’s his fault, but Crothers could’ve ridden safer and maybe had a close call instead of an Ambulance ride.

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              • davemess June 4, 2013 at 12:37 pm

                Have you ever been hit by another car, while driving?
                Did you start a blog about it?

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          • Chainwhipped June 3, 2013 at 12:41 pm

            Why get personal?

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  • Rob Chapman June 2, 2013 at 4:29 pm

    I’d be happy to ride the route in question with anybody who is interested this coming week.
    It’s better that opinions are based on direct experience. I’d suggest morning/afternoon rush hour for the full effect.
    With all of the new multifamily developments going up along Interstate Ave. the situation is only going to deteriorate for cyclists unless the subpar infrastructure is addressed.
    I’m willing to point out what I think are the problem areas and you can tell me why I’m wrong face to face, like civilized people.
    Forgive my sloppy grammar, I’m a bit shelled from a long ride yesterday.

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  • Lenny Anderson
    Lenny Anderson June 2, 2013 at 8:44 pm

    I hope J. Maus gets to this on his tour, but as I recall in the Netherlands if you hit a bicyclists with a motor vehicle, its your fault. Period. Who, afterall has the lethal weapon here?

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    • are June 2, 2013 at 9:58 pm

      who is at fault if the cyclist hits the motor vehicle?

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      • Red Five June 3, 2013 at 7:22 am

        Never happens. Cyclists are never at fault. I was never hit by a cyclist who left a huge dent in my trunk and then just rode off like it was nothing.

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        • Chainwhipped June 3, 2013 at 8:51 am

          Exactly. No speeding cyclist ever hit another cyclist or pedestrian, causing multiple injuries and occasionally death.

          The illegal right turn was this biggest factor here, but if Crothers had ridden a little slower, he would be at work today. We need to take a LITTLE personal responsibility in the way we choose to ride.

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          • spare_wheel June 3, 2013 at 9:06 am

            “If Crothers had ridden a little slower” he might have ended up underneath a wheel. You have no a priori knowledge of the physics of this accident.

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            • longgone June 3, 2013 at 10:03 am

              Speed of the cyclist is not, I repeat not, the issue here.

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              • Chainwhipped June 3, 2013 at 11:16 am

                More than one issue. Rider’s excessive speed in a confined space is one of them. If he had “taken the lane”, he would have been forced to decelerate as rush hour on interstate is very slow.

                The collision was the driver’s fault. That’s a given.

                Since we have control over our own actions, let’s learn what we can do individually to keep it from happening to ourselves. The rider could have made decisions to improve his own safety on the road. All of those decisions involve slowing down.

                Harness the power of your bicycle’s awesome brakes.

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              • spare_wheel June 3, 2013 at 10:46 pm

                i harness the power of my muscles and my compact drive train to spend as little time in an intersection as i possibly can. with all due respect you come across as noob when it comes to riding in urban traffic. the mistake was the bike lane, not the speed.

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              • are June 3, 2013 at 2:56 pm

                yeah, i would say lane position. but if you in a poor lane position, speed can be an aggravating factor.

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    • Mindful Cyclist June 3, 2013 at 8:47 am

      No, that isn’t how it works. The burden of proof falls on the motorist if there is a collision with a cyclist and the motorist needs to show it was not preventable. How could a motorist be at fault if he is stopped waiting for a light to change and a cyclist hits the car from behind?

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  • TOM June 3, 2013 at 9:11 am

    rider is an engineer …he should know how to estimate speeds pretty well. 35MPH ? At that speed you are just hanging on , very little control , bars are shaking, braking ? takes quite a distance to stop. Sure, the vehicle driver made an illegal turn, but if bike was at a safe speed, he could have mitigated the poor situation and possibly avoided the crash. APPEARS to be shared blame.

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    • longgone June 3, 2013 at 10:12 am

      Please, please, please… stop comparing your ability to control your bicycle with the skill, knowledge, ability, and will of others to control theirs.
      It is ridiculous to do so….sorry.
      Legal issues aside,(because everyone here is speculating on hearsay of the cyclists emotionally charged recall of the incident.) it bares no true relevance here.

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      • Help June 3, 2013 at 11:07 am

        Yeah . . . it really does have relevance, despite what you say.

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        • longgone June 3, 2013 at 11:30 am

          Explain how then.

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          • Help June 3, 2013 at 2:09 pm


            If the cyclist were going slower (say the speed limit), his reaction time would have been longer to make a decision to avoid the illegally turning truck.

            Hey, maybe the same thing happens regardless. We’re talking a few tenths of seconds at best. But it’s still incredibly valuable reaction time.

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            • longgone June 3, 2013 at 3:32 pm

              NONE of us, having this ridiculous discussion were present to witness the event….
              The truth here still lies in the fact, that SO many people are speculating the cyclists speed derived from his statement…. after the fact.
              The cyclist himself doesn’t even know if he he was speeding!
              Why assume it was the real issue over anything else?
              For all we know it could have 29mph, 31mph or 43mph…
              I still contend that even if he was , it was the lesser issue in a sloppy soup of happenstance .

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              • Help June 4, 2013 at 3:08 pm

                You claimed the cyclist’s speed wasn’t relevant, asked me to explain how, and now conclude that it was less relevant than the driver’s actions (which is true). You won’t admit it, but thanks for coming around.

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              • longgone June 5, 2013 at 12:44 am

                Ah, look.. I did no such thing,… and obviously you haven’t read any/all of my comments.
                What if Mr.C., had never made ANY comment as to the speed he THOUGHT he was going????
                Would you assume he was speeding then ?
                All of the crazy speculation would have just been sad, woeful crying for a downed comrade, who got plowed by an unthinking buffoon, pulling a right hook in a car,with poor eyesight/blind spots , or whose neck doesn’t pivot for some reason.
                Do you see my point now?
                We have no information regarding the ACTUAL speed by the cyclist.
                We have no information to show us how far back form the vehicle he was,or when it turned to cross his path..

                I kindly bow out with you here, “Help”..you bore me.
                It appears the number of thumbs up ratio (me vs.you), backs up the general notion that I am on the right track here… sorry.

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    • longgone June 3, 2013 at 10:17 am

      BTW, I cannot think of many other vehicles that have better power to de-accelerate than a modern bicycle.

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    • J_R June 3, 2013 at 8:30 pm

      Tom: If you have “very little control,” “you’re just hanging on” and “your bike is shaking,” you are, in fact, going too fast. I’d say you need a new bike. On a decent road with little traffic and good visibility and my good, well maintaine bike, I sometimes exceed 35 mph. I’m definitely not “hanging on with the bike shaking.”

      I happen to agree with you that 35 may have been too fast on Interstate that day. I doubt that would have been a place where I would have exceeded the posted speed.

      Based on what I know from reading the article, I’d assign 5% of the blame to Curtis for exceeding the posted speed and 95% to the motorist for making an illegal turn and not looking for traffic when he did.

      I hope the motorist gets a citation for the illegal turn and maybe gets a further citation under the vulernable road user statute, but I doubt that will happen.

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      • spare_wheel June 3, 2013 at 10:55 pm

        “I doubt that would have been a place where I would have exceeded the posted speed.”

        And ironically, even risk averse safety nannies get right hooked.

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  • longgone June 3, 2013 at 4:03 pm

    … by the way, I also lost a dear motocross racing buddy in 1977 to a driver who hated motorcyclists.
    He drove straight head-on into one of my regions best athletes.
    He was drunk and deranged.
    This was an issue for the motorcycling public from the 50’s thru the 70’s., believe it or not.

    Here, I couldn’t verify if these videos are good, but there seems to be alot of it on the http://www...
    Video: Motorcyclist clings to windscreen after 4×4 road rage attack in …
    http://www.telegraph.co.uk › News › World News › South America › BrazilMar 26, 2012 – Motorcyclist clings to windscreen after 4×4 road rage attack in Brazil … then immediately gets to his feet and starts moving towards the vehicle.
    More results for motorcyclist road rage
    Asian Road Rage – Truck VS Motorcycles – YouTube
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4JtCVeDwjEcNov 10, 2009 – Original footage is from http://www.youtube.com/user/mika8982

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  • Adam June 3, 2013 at 4:26 pm

    I don’t mean to ask an obvious question here, but I am confused… was this a hit and run? Or was the driver apprehended?

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    • Michael Andersen (News Editor)
      Michael Andersen (News Editor) June 3, 2013 at 4:32 pm

      Good question, Adam. My understanding is that it wasn’t a hit and run – the driver stopped on site.

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      • longgone June 3, 2013 at 5:42 pm

        Do we know if traffic was at a stand still,… or slowly moving as some have brought up?
        Was there a thick line of traffic?
        That would explain a bunch…

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  • Rob Chapman June 3, 2013 at 7:19 pm

    In the meantime does anyone know how Mr. Crothers is doing?

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    • longgone June 3, 2013 at 10:48 pm

      Prec-xactly! whooo.. ya know?,.. in that picture of him at the head of the article, he looks like a happy fellow…
      Get well soon Mr. Crothers!

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  • Michael Hutchens June 3, 2013 at 7:37 pm

    Hm… Get well soon to Mr. Crothers. To the editor, this reader is an intensive care doctor and has a bone to pick — so to speak — with your having listed “24 hours in intensive care” as an injury equal to pneumothorax (“punctured lung”), multiple rib fractures, and a scapular fracture. That was an uneccessary cheap shot, unrelated to the person or the story, and undeserved.

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    • Michael Andersen (News Editor)
      Michael Andersen (News Editor) June 4, 2013 at 11:02 am

      Thanks, Michael. Implying that intensive care is itself a terrible place to be wasn’t my intention — I just meant to communicate the scale of Crothers’ injuries.

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  • Joe June 4, 2013 at 10:40 am

    get well! BTW autos travel so fast in that area. I almost come to a stop to make sure its clear. huge trucks too

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  • Michael Andersen (News Editor)
    Michael Andersen (News Editor) June 4, 2013 at 11:04 am

    Deleted a few comments that I felt went too far off the track into uncivil/personal matters. Please be polite, folks.

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  • RH June 4, 2013 at 11:21 am

    The overhanging tree blocks the traffic light and ‘no right turn’ signage (until the very last second). It needs to be pruned. Also, I wonder if old GPS devices still show that it’s OK to turn right onto Greely heading south on Interstate?? So many folks are on autopilot once they enter in an address into their GPS. Get well soon Curtis!

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  • Ryan Mason June 4, 2013 at 1:48 pm

    Get well Curtis!! Sad to read this story.

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  • Greeley Rider June 4, 2013 at 4:08 pm

    I ride south on Greeley daily. I prefer that to Interstate, but Greeley isn’t all roses. One needs to safely navigate Greely traffic at two ramps – the ramp from Going and the on-ramp for I-5. I’ve seen many close calls. The 4 lanes of traffic typically exceed the posted 45 mph and frequently include semis, tandems and triple tandems. At the intersection with Interstate, the bike route moves onto the sidewalk and then dumps bikers onto the Interstate bike lane where the street curves. I’m just waiting for a car-bike collision to occur there because cars typically take that curve in the bike lane and bikers ride off the sidewalk into the bike lane without looking. All in all, both Greeley and Interstate are horrible, and horrendous accidents will continue to occur until bicyclists are offered a safer alternative.

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    • longgone June 5, 2013 at 12:11 am

      You are able to continue southeasterly, down the sidewalk (after the right hand turn at the top of the rise) onto Interstate…..
      If you wish, there is another coping off of the walkway at the far southern end, although the first one is the best..
      I have merged in both places with traffic whizzing by for over 7 years with no problems.
      The worst aspect on Greeley going east, IMO, is the transition that requires you to cross two traffic lanes at the base of the small climb, in the apex of the turn, (pick a line through all the broken glass.)… all the while checking behind for people “on the gas” to make their charge up to I-5.
      I dream of a flashing yield sign, along with a legal merge lane for cyclists, ( much like on the Hawthorne ramp east)… but with all the truck traffic on Greeley, I doubt seriously if they would make this happen.
      A bicycle bridge that starts an 1/8th mile back, and goes up and over traffic, and back down to the bike lane would be a gift from the heavens!
      I ride it in my mind every time I pass through.

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  • Greeley Rider June 5, 2013 at 2:36 pm

    Now’s the time of year when the sprawling blackberry brambles force bikers out of the north-bound bike lane into the traffic lane on the Interstate uphill.

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  • Greeley Rider II June 6, 2013 at 10:40 am

    Get Well Curtis! I must have just missed your accident, but I take Greeley to where it intercepts with Interstate. On Swan Island I push the pedestrian walk button near McDonalds then beat cheeks up the right hand lane going up over the viaduct to the Greeley off ramp. This has worked well for me. But as (at least) one comment states above the worst part on this route is having to cross over one high speed lane near the Greeley/Interstate intersection. I just wait till no traffic is visible and don’t push my luck…

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  • Paul in the 'couve June 14, 2013 at 11:53 am

    I hope Mark’s recovery is going well and that he will be back to full activity soon.

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    • Paul in the 'couve June 14, 2013 at 11:55 am

      sorry brain freeze – Curtis. I hope Curtis is recovering….

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  • HDWRENCH June 27, 2013 at 1:15 pm

    To the injured guy, I wish you a speedy recovery.
    To the rest of you, Study the laws of physic, for God sake. 6k lb truck vs 180lbs. of aluminum and flesh?
    nuff said

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    • Paul in the 'couve June 27, 2013 at 3:02 pm

      That physics is the precisely one major reason that it is impractical and dangerous to build an entire transportation system around an 80% motor vehicle mode share. Among other things, motor vehicle are too dangerous to be operated by the average person for most trips in urban areas.

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  • The Odd Duck June 12, 2015 at 1:56 pm

    If you want people to be perfect in the world, turn them into borgs.

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