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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
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Rob Chapman

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.

KJ
Guest
KJ

That driver better get f-ing fined.

RH
Guest
RH

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).

Elektra
Guest

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.)

sbrock
Guest
sbrock

Speedy recovery Curtis.

Gibbs
Guest
Gibbs

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?

Case
Guest
Case

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.

Oliver
Guest
Oliver

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

Paul in the 'couve
Guest
Paul in the 'couve

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.

Scott Mizée
Guest

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.

Spiffy
Guest

“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…

Lenny Anderson
Guest
Lenny Anderson

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!

MaxD
Guest
MaxD

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.

are
Guest

— [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.

o/o
Guest

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

Sho
Guest
Sho

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.

Scott Mizée
Guest

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.

AndyCof Linton
Guest
AndyCof Linton

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.

Chris Sanderson
Guest

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.

kittens
Guest
kittens

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

Yuri Nashun
Guest
Yuri Nashun

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.

TOM
Guest
TOM

“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 ?

Psyfalcon
Guest
Psyfalcon

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.

Steve B
Guest
Steve B

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

Bob Verrinder
Guest
Bob Verrinder

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!

Lenny Anderson
Guest
Lenny Anderson

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!

Shane surgeon
Guest
Shane surgeon

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

Blake
Guest
Blake

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.

John Liu
Guest
John Liu

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.

Lenny Anderson
Guest
Lenny Anderson

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.

Chainwhipped
Guest

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.

Rob Chapman
Guest
Rob Chapman

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.

Lenny Anderson
Guest
Lenny Anderson

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?

TOM
Guest
TOM

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.

longgone
Guest
longgone

… 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

Adam
Guest
Adam

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?

Rob Chapman
Guest
Rob Chapman

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

Michael Hutchens
Guest
Michael Hutchens

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.

Joe
Guest
Joe

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

RH
Guest
RH

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!

Ryan Mason
Guest
Ryan Mason

Get well Curtis!! Sad to read this story.

Greeley Rider
Guest
Greeley Rider

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.

Greeley Rider
Guest
Greeley Rider

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.

Greeley Rider II
Guest
Greeley Rider II

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…

Paul in the 'couve
Guest
Paul in the 'couve

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

HDWRENCH
Guest
HDWRENCH

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

The Odd Duck
Guest
The Odd Duck

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