Urban Tribe - Ride with your kids in front.

Video captures dramatic left-cross collision in Milwaukie

Posted by on October 10th, 2013 at 3:26 pm

It’s always jarring, and sometimes educational, to see a bike-related collision from a third party’s vantage point.

In a video captured last week by a Halloween-themed “graveyard” security camera and published last night on Bike Milwaukie’s Facebook page, it’s easy to see how fast a nasty crash can happen.

According to Jeff Davis of Davis Graveyard, whose camera captured the video, this took place at the corner of SE Johnson Creek Boulevard and 43rd Avenue, a fairly small intersection just south of the Milwaukie-Portland city line.

Davis wrote on his own Facebook page that the man riding the bike “landed on his helmet and was unconscious for a bit. Chipped a finger bone and dislocated 2. He is fine. There were many people at the scene to help him and police and EMTs arrived within minutes.”

As you can see from the video, auto traffic was backing up and the person on the bike was passing cars on their right, presumably riding in Johnson Creek Boulevard’s marked bike lane. (As with most Portland-area intersections, the bike lane’s stripe doesn’t extend through the intersection.) Though the bicycle operate has the right of way in this situation — it’s moving straight ahead — the operator of the left-turning car presumably didn’t see the person on the bike (or vice versa) because of the cars in between.

In this situation, of course, a car driver shouldn’t turn until he or she is certain the intersection is clear. But Google Street View for the intersection, seen from the driver’s perspective, gives a hint of the problem:

View Larger Map

We’re glad to know the man who was injured is recovering. It’s not clear whether anyone, public or private, might be taking legal action. But incidents like this are unhappy reminders of an old truth: graveyards are full of people who had the right of way.

Clarification 4:01 pm: Edited to make clear that Davis Graveyard isn’t an actual cemetery.

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  • Kirk October 10, 2013 at 3:47 pm

    Roads with bike lanes on them should continue striping them completely through the intersection with dashes. It’s a shame we don’t inform drivers which paths they are crossing. Intersections are where most of the conflicts occur – it only makes sense!

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  • Bill Walters October 10, 2013 at 3:54 pm

    Michael, edit thyself: Isn’t it more important that the driver of the car apparently failed to see *the person* and not just the bike?

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    • Michael Andersen (News Editor)
      Michael Andersen (News Editor) October 10, 2013 at 3:59 pm

      Fair enough. Done.

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    • JV October 10, 2013 at 4:48 pm

      Also, can we refer to the individual in the car as a “person operating the left-turning car” instead of “driver”. After all, we don’t know how that individual self-identifies, and we wouldn’t want to be seen as othering them.

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      • JP October 14, 2013 at 2:53 am

        Given that the contexts in which others feel “othered” generally concerns race, ethnicity, gender and sexual orientation, it is difficult to find humor in your comment (although as of my reply, 18 people seem to do so…).

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  • BURR October 10, 2013 at 3:59 pm

    Instead of blocking the intersection, which is illegal, the pick up truck driver left a gap for the other motorist to turn through. Perhaps both the cyclist and the motorist should have been paying more attention.

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    • Pat October 10, 2013 at 4:05 pm

      I agree, the bike had the right of way in this case.. BUT if you notice the vehicle next to you suddenly slowing down, it’s just good defensive behavior/common sense to figure out WHY and take appropriate action (in this case, slow down as well in case someone is about to turn left). I would do the same whether I am riding or driving.

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      • Pat October 10, 2013 at 4:08 pm

        I should add that yes, the left-turning motorist should have proceeded slowly enough to be able to stop in time for the bike. But again, a little defensive riding can go a long way towards protecting ourselves from other people’s carelessness.

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        • MaxD October 10, 2013 at 4:15 pm

          It looks to me like the cars are stop and go in the direction the guy on bike was heading, so slowing down would not be much of an indicator. I had a similar crash where I was overtaking a line of stop and go cars while in a bike a lane and got right-hooked by a truck not using their signal.

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          • BURR October 10, 2013 at 4:51 pm

            The presence of the intersection should have been a clue. Most places I can think of where you can pass stopped traffic on the right in the bike lane don’t have any intersections like that.

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            • El Biciclero October 11, 2013 at 9:59 am

              Almost all of the places I can think of where a bike lane is striped, it crosses other streets. Traffic can back up anywhere, allowing a cyclist to easily start overtaking slowed/stopped cars. The only defense here is to stand up and look over the stopped cars, watch for gaps in the line of cars at intersections or–even more dangerous, IMO–driveways, and slow down when passing stopped cars regardless. There have been a couple of times I have been grateful for all the “skidding out” I did on my Montgomery Ward Roadmaster “BMX” bike as a kid–it has served to enable me to quickly turn sideways and go with a turning car rather than cross its path.

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        • JV October 10, 2013 at 5:03 pm

          Yes, there is a well-worn poem/limerick that is known in motorcycling and boating circles:

          Here lies the body of George O’Day.
          He died maintaining his right of way.
          He was right, dead right as he rode along,
          But he is just as dead as if he were wrong.

          I am glad to hear that the person on the bike is making a recovery, and it is a good reminder for me to always maintain situational awareness when passing slowed traffic on the right. The laws of physics always prevail over the laws on books. And they really should stripe the bike lane through the intersection as suggested, or at least have broken white lines.

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          • spare_wheel October 10, 2013 at 9:08 pm

            your limerick is pure bike stockholm syndrome.

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            • Chris I October 11, 2013 at 8:54 am

              Hey, you’re free to Martyr yourself if you want. As we all know, ODOT won’t do anything until blood is spilled, so you would be helping us all out.

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              • spare_wheel October 16, 2013 at 2:00 pm

                and you are free to be a chicken little who discourages cycling by grossly exaggerating it’s risks.

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        • spare_wheel October 16, 2013 at 2:31 pm

          I ride defensively by ignoring car-centric traffic statutes, such as, the FRAP and the mandatory sidepath law. For example, in the scenario depicted in the video I almost always illegally split the lane so that I can see oncoming traffic and am visible to oncoming vehicles.

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    • Psyfalcon October 10, 2013 at 4:18 pm

      From the video, its hard not to see this one coming. Its always harder from street level though.

      Even if you pass on the right (and I do) you do need to be aware of everything around you, especially in a situation like this where you have a uncontrolled intersection near the slow cars. Same with store driveways.

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    • Slammy October 10, 2013 at 4:28 pm

      oh heeeck no… just keep driving, and save the nicities for when you get home. the “stop in the middle of traffic and give a finger wave to somebody with no right of way move” is seriously dangerous.

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      • gutterbunnybikes October 10, 2013 at 5:26 pm

        That kind of behavior annoys me to no end. Especially when someone stops, and by doing so ruins the gap that already existed behind them that I was planning to take.

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    • Spiffy October 10, 2013 at 5:03 pm

      nice victim-blaming…

      the person on the bike was paying attention to everything they needed to…

      the person in the car was NOT paying attention to everything they needed to…

      the person on the bike did nothing wrong and there’s nothing more that they should have done…

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      • John Lascurettes October 11, 2013 at 9:40 am

        I’m not so sure the person on the bike didn’t take necessary precautions. The gap that the driver of the truck left would look exactly the same if he were allowing for a pedestrian to cross (at the legal unmarked crosswalk there). Had the cyclist blown past him in that situation, the cyclist would have been breaking the law. So, since the cyclist did not check, or even slow down, to assess the situation (is there nothing, a car or a pedestrian?) then he is not entirely blameless. Is he at fault? No. Hell no. But he is not without responsibility in this action.

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    • James October 10, 2013 at 5:03 pm

      Ye ol ‘Good Samaritan death gap/trap’ – the worst but so common at rush hour. Feels great to pass the jam, but basically you are in a constant blind spot and have to be uber vigilant for those ‘polite’ gaps opening up. Sending good vibes to all involved – awful to witness even after the fact.

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      • El Biciclero October 11, 2013 at 10:20 am

        Those gaps, unfortunately are more than “polite”, they are a legal obligation. Blocking an intersection means that you entered it without having a clear space to exit it.

        From the ORS:

        ” 811.290 Obstructing cross traffic; penalty. (1) A person commits the offense of obstructing cross traffic if the person is operating a vehicle and the person enters an intersection or a marked crosswalk when there is not sufficient space on the other side of the intersection or crosswalk to accommodate the vehicle without obstructing the passage of other vehicles or pedestrians.

        (2) The offense described in this section applies whether or not a traffic control device indicates to proceed.”

        The only thing that is unclear from this text is whether this rule applies at driveways or just street intersections.

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        • Psyfalcon October 11, 2013 at 11:54 am

          It looked like the truck would have cleared the intersection to me. It is possible the rider thought the truck was going through and would have timed it to shield himself with the truck. (That works well until you don’t see a blinker on the truck… I’ve done that one before).

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    • dan October 11, 2013 at 9:09 am

      That’s a weird one – there are many opportunities for similar collisions eastbound on lower Hawthorne during rush hour — motorists may be at a standstill with cyclists passing on the right, and motorists crossing Hawthorne southbound are a hazard to cyclists. (I would never have thought of getting hit like this if I hadn’t seen an article about it right here.)

      At any rate, while the motorist is clearly at fault from a legal perspective, it likely would have been possible for the cyclist to see him/her coming and avoid the collision.

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    • nik October 15, 2013 at 10:04 am

      …and the biker just barrels past a stopped vehicle in the intersection. I hope the car isn’t too badly damaged.

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  • Andy Schmidt October 10, 2013 at 4:46 pm

    I bike through this intersection nearly daily…often turning onto or off of the cross street (43rd). Sight lines are limited, and it is on a hill so speed can be an issue. It’s not a great intersection for any mode. Hope the guy has a full recovery.
    And FWIW… the “graveyard” that the footage is from is worth checking out…. if you’re into that sort of thing. They fire up the effects Fri-Sun evenings through October. Plus it’s close to the Springwater Trail.

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  • Gregg October 10, 2013 at 4:47 pm

    Just asking a question here. I don’t know the answer. I’m not passing judgement or even playing devil’s advocate. I’m solely seeking information:

    Michael, do you know if the person in the grey/ silver truck (Or SUV) that stopped at the intersection is required to do so by Oregon Law because they are required to stop at any intersection until they can completely pass through it?

    And isn’t there a statute stating that if a vehicle is stopped at an intersection than you are required to stop as well? (The truck/ SUV could have been stopping for a pedestrian.)

    Wouldn’t the person on the bicycle be required to stop when the person in the truck/ SUV stopped?

    Just asking.

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    • Spiffy October 10, 2013 at 5:11 pm

      811.020 Passing stopped vehicle at crosswalk; penalty. (1) The driver of a vehicle commits the offense of passing a stopped vehicle at a crosswalk if the driver:
      (a) Approaches from the rear another vehicle that is stopped at a marked or an unmarked crosswalk at an intersection to permit a pedestrian to cross the roadway; and
      (b) Overtakes and passes the stopped vehicle.
      (2) The offense described in this section, passing a stopped vehicle at a crosswalk, is a Class B traffic violation. [1983 c.338 ยง546]

      so in order to be in violation of this you have to be a driver (not a cyclist) and there has to be a pedestrian present…

      811.550 Places where stopping, standing and parking prohibited
      (5) Within an intersection.

      can’t stop in the intersection…

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      • Tacoma October 10, 2013 at 10:13 pm

        Does being called a driver assume a “motor” vehicle? The statute says “driver of a vehicle….” It doesn’t state “motor” vehicle. A person riding a bicycle can also be described as a bicycle “driver”. So, I suppose a technical case could be made for either side.

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        • John Lascurettes October 11, 2013 at 9:44 am

          You are correct in that Tacoma. You are still obligated (as a vehicle operating on the road) to stop for a pedestrian in the crosswalk and may not overtake the vehicle that has stopped for the pedestrian.

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      • John Lascurettes October 11, 2013 at 9:42 am

        Did the cyclist even check for a pedestrian? Because it certainly didn’t look like it. Sure there was no pedestrian at that moment, but from his perspective it would have looked no different than the gap left for a car.

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        • davemess October 11, 2013 at 12:44 pm

          John, I get what you’re saying, but there aren’t that many pedestrians on this road. I bike it every few weeks, and frankly just think this is an unfortunate incident due to infrastructure. From the motorists point of view, they can’t see the bike lane (due to the curve of the road and the taller car in the opposite lane) until they are well into their turn. Also the cyclist can’t see a turning car (due to the height of the vehicle they are passing) until it’s almost too late.
          If this section of road isn’t backed up, it’s not that big of an issue as everyone has better visibility, but the stop and go traffic creates a lot of blind spots here.

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          • John Lascurettes October 11, 2013 at 4:42 pm

            So you’re saying that if there’s a low likelihood of a pedestrian there’s no need to expect one while operating a bike? Sounds like the analog of the driver not expecting the cyclist that got hit. It’s wrong to think that way.

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  • Indy October 10, 2013 at 5:17 pm

    “graveyards are full of people who had the right of way.”

    Seriously? Wow.

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    • resopmok October 11, 2013 at 7:46 pm

      It might not be entirely appropriate in this context, but it’s advice worth taking into consideration. Wise advice.

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  • Ken Wetherell October 10, 2013 at 6:12 pm

    This video is a chilling reminder of the “courtesy gap death trap” left hook I received while riding home last year. I had the right of way and I knew it, but if I had been more cognizant and accepting of the fact that many people who are driving in this situation don’t look for a person riding a bike or walking, I could have avoided it. I am now hyper-vigilant of this common situation and am thankful for the painful lesson. These days, if there is an opening a car can fit through, I slow down. My rule: beware what I can’t see!

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  • q`Tzal October 10, 2013 at 6:13 pm

    Is there a non-Flash version of this video or link to it somewhere else?
    It has been a long time since I’ve seen the “you can’t run Flash on your browser” warning on Bikeportland.org. There are so many other easy options that function for everyone.

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    • Michael Andersen (News Editor)
      Michael Andersen (News Editor) October 10, 2013 at 11:09 pm

      Unfortunately, I don’t think so. It’s a video uploaded to Facebook and embedded on our site in an iframe; I don’t think it’s anywhere else online.

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      • q`Tzal October 11, 2013 at 6:54 pm

        I assumed it was something like that, facebonk trying to force users in to their black hole.

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    • John Lascurettes October 11, 2013 at 9:45 am

      Check your browser settings. It shows up as HTML5 video for me.

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      • q`Tzal October 11, 2013 at 6:53 pm

        I can run HTML5 just fine; I verified that mere seconds ago.
        2 different Android devices with three different browsers come up the “you have to install Adobe Flash” banner in place of real content.

        I’m only having this problem with THIS website and some of the older unmaintained websites out there. Also this has only recently started happening at Bikeportland as if there is someone different formatting the pages.

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  • Zaphod October 10, 2013 at 6:22 pm

    Passing stopped traffic at speed is a sketchy endeavor. That’s not victim blaming, it’s risk assessment.

    I manage to avoid right hooks with some frequency by altering my timing/speed even though I have right of way and thus I “shouldn’t have to” …yet I do anyway.

    I hope for a fast and full recovery.

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    • Steve Scarich October 11, 2013 at 1:49 pm

      Yeah…when my Dad was teaching me to drive, the best piece of advice that he gave me was “you have to assume that every driver out there is trying to kill you and drive accordingly”. Even more true on a bike.

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    • was carless October 11, 2013 at 4:57 pm

      Been riding on public streets in Oregon for 28 years now (I’m 33), and have never been right-hooked. SLOW DOWN – will save your life more than once. ๐Ÿ™‚

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  • tookarighthook October 10, 2013 at 8:27 pm

    “the man riding the bike ‘landed on his helmet and was unconscious for a bit. Chipped a finger bone and dislocated 2. He is fine.”

    I was right-hooked four weeks ago. I rode home, and I am NOT fine. Being alive is not fine. Plus there is a mountain of insurance crap to go through and injury recovery that takes a part of life that one wouldn’t have to undergo had he or she never been hit in the first place. Accidents and mistakes happen, but saying one is “fine” undermines the realities of a situation like this.

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  • John Liu
    John Liu October 10, 2013 at 9:15 pm

    Driving “in the right”, and driving “defensively”, are different things. We all recognize that, as drivers. The same is true for cycling. You have to watch out for other people making mistakes, because they always will.

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  • BIKELEPTIC October 10, 2013 at 9:25 pm

    I’ve yelled at drivers until I’ve grown hoarse that I’d rather they drive safe than nice. While the drivers are required to stop for a gap in the intersection if the street is backed up, they are NOT required to let that driver of the silver car through – who accelerated faster than the conditions allowed for safety on the street, thus they hit someone.

    If I had been in that position, I could very easily have gotten hit as well. Seeing cars slow down in my lane just means TO ME that traffic is slow and I carry on in the bike lane. To anticipate the driver cutting left like that and pegging the cyclist is really sad and could have EASILY be prevented in soooooo many ways. All of which, from what I could tell, the poor cyclist was an innocent commuter – wrong place, wrong time.

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  • bendite October 11, 2013 at 7:36 am

    You could probably safely say that the driver presumably ‘didn’t look’ for the cyclist rather than saying ‘didn’t see’.

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    • davemess October 11, 2013 at 12:47 pm

      as I said above. They may have been trying to look, but the sightlines are horrible there. You’re not going to see the cyclist until you are well into the bike lane.

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      • bendite October 11, 2013 at 10:15 pm

        If the sightlines are bad, then the driver needs to inchy inchy as they head across the second lane of traffic. It’s negligent driving.

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  • Bob Snow October 11, 2013 at 7:55 am

    Notice how vulnerable the cyclist is compared to the car. There is no noticeable damage to the car or the driver. It’s amazing how much damage can be caused by the cars compared to the damage caused by a bike.

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    • El Biciclero October 11, 2013 at 10:05 am

      Yet so many want mandatory insurance for bikes because “that time a biker hippie scratched my door!”

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  • Penny-Farthing October 11, 2013 at 11:02 am

    This serves to illustrate the fundamental design flaw of that type of intersection. There is almost no way an automobile will be able to account for an oncoming cyclist that is obscured by a stacked line of cars (which are often taller than bikers). There’s nothing you can do (as a motorist) except slowly creep through the turn knowing you can’t adequately see cyclists in their lane. My legal right of way doesn’t help much if motorists can’t reasonably see me. The motorist will pay for the repairs/healing but the cyclist should have more common sense and reduce speed in that type of traffic. They might have been able to avoid the car at 2/3 to 1/2 their speed and just had a close call…not blaming the victim…I ride daily…you have to know your braking limits and anticipate these kind of conflicts if you want to stay safe. The unfortunate fact is that “right of ways” don’t pay for deductibles/missed work or provide any pain relief.

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    • bendite October 13, 2013 at 4:32 pm

      The greater expectation for common sense should be placed on the driver, since they’re using something that’s has the potential to do others harm that it only rivaled by a gun.

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  • Dan V October 11, 2013 at 12:14 pm

    I know that intersection well and with a line of traffic, neither the driver of the car or the cyclist is able to see each other. I have seen many cyclists fly down that hill and, given the curve just uphill, the cyclist has no chance to hit the brakes fast enough to stop at the rate he was going. I hope he has a fast and full recovery.

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  • Dan V October 11, 2013 at 12:16 pm

    BTW, maybe turns need to be banned there, but it is one of the major ways into that neighborhood (the others are at SE 42nd (three-way stop sign) and at the bottom of that hill where much the same thing can happen (left turns across a line of stopped traffic without good sight lines).

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  • was carless October 11, 2013 at 4:52 pm

    ****ing Freds. Seriously, how fast was that guy going? 30? No wonder he crashed, bet he never even saw the car!

    Slow down, people: goes for both people biking and driving. Your reflexes ain’t that good.

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  • dr2chase October 11, 2013 at 5:50 pm

    It’s not standard advice for drivers, but if the truck had stopped further back from the intersection, there would have been more chance for everyone to see everyone else (do I do this? I don’t think I do, maybe it’s time to start). Quite often when people leave a gap for oncoming left-turners, it is a minimal gap, and thus nobody can see nothing till it is too late.

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  • Robert Burchett October 12, 2013 at 11:09 am

    Incidents like this go with bike lanes, like white goes with rice. Sorry about that. For instance, check out the tiny bit of bike lane on NW Thurman at the intersection with NW 14th Av. It appears to be specifically designed to route an E-bound biker out of sight behind some shrubbery.

    I flatter myself that I am fairly aware of bike traffic, but that is one place where I have (twice) almost had a bike-on-bike collision, my fault. That bit of bike lane has no real purpose, it’s a place where anyone can (should?) take the lane. If you go there, do what the freight committee says and approach it on foot. Poke it with a stick before you touch it.

    Shooting the gap beside stopped traffic should always make you sweat. None of this is meant to judge the cyclist, could be me next week. I hope the person really is OK.

    Laws relating to bike lanes: pretty much tripe. I’m supposed to be always in the bike lane, even if in my judgment it’s the worst place on the road. And it’s OK to pass stopped traffic, even when that is such a bad idea. Huh.

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  • Terry Nobbe October 12, 2013 at 5:22 pm

    I’d almost bet that the cyclist victim wasn’t running a blinking or stationary headlight.
    Added to this is the fact that most drivers don’t look at what they’re seeing. They instead “scan” for objects that are of similar or larger size on the thoroughfare and ignore vehicles the size of a cyclist unless it’s at night and the cyclist is extremely well lit.
    I was struck broadside 20 1/2 years ago at 08:00am when I was passing thru an intersection and was t-boned. Bike and helmet trashed and my right knee shattered plus severe blood vessel trauma from my knee down. I was living and working in Albuquerque NM at the time.

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  • jim October 13, 2013 at 12:14 am

    “do not pass stopped cars at a crosswalk or intersection โ€“ they
    may be stopped to let a pedestrian cross or to let another car through”

    From the Oregon Bicycle manual.

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    • nik October 15, 2013 at 10:16 am

      That darn Oregon Bicycle Manual blaming the victim again!

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    • El Biciclero October 16, 2013 at 4:02 pm

      The Oregon bicycle manual is full of helpful advice that isn’t law.

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  • GlowBoy October 14, 2013 at 12:23 pm

    Way too much victim-blaming on this thread. Maybe the cyclist could have ridden more defensively; maybe not. I’m not convinced we can fully assess that from the video. But I am convinced that the turning driver violated the cyclist’s ROW. Case closed. Next story, please.

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    • jim October 14, 2013 at 7:31 pm

      You can’t judge the cyclist but you do judge the driver?
      Case closed?
      I don’t think so.

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  • Ray Hosler October 14, 2013 at 8:23 pm

    I think the cyclist shares some responsibility, riding fast on a congested road. The motorist couldn’t see oncoming traffic when turning, so there’s some responsibility there as well. Seeing this accident play out is educational, but unfortunate.

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    • bendite October 15, 2013 at 7:36 am

      The cyclist shares responsibility only when you lower the expectations of the driver. The driver was being reckless and made an illegal maneuver. If the driver didn’t do that, then the cyclist wouldn’t have been hit. We, as cyclists, have to compensate for inattentive and poor driving daily out of safety, not out of responsibility.

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      • nik October 15, 2013 at 9:51 am

        Lower your expectations of other drivers. That’s called being a good driver/rider/pedestrian.

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      • VTRC October 15, 2013 at 10:29 am

        I’m fascinated that you think there’s ever going to be a situation where you don’t need to ride defensively. Even on the SWC a headcheck is still needed before you pass someone, to be sure you’re not getting passed at the same time…

        Passing stopped or slow traffic on the right is a place that gets people into trouble. It is legal, but there are risks associated with it, and it needs to be done defensively. The video is a great lesson for why people need to ride carefully in that situation.

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        • bendite October 15, 2013 at 10:51 am

          The comment was about responsibility, not riding defensively. The cyclist could’ve been safer, but the collision is the responsibility of the driver.

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    • GlowBoy October 15, 2013 at 11:59 am

      The angle of the video makes the cyclist’s situation less clear. What the motorist did is clearly visible and illegal, Jim.

      Defensive driving/riding is always a good idea for self-preservation, but there is NO legal obligation to do so. It is quite clear from this video that a left-turning car failed to yield to a bicycle proceeding straight. Case STILL closed.

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  • nik October 15, 2013 at 9:49 am

    I ride a bike and I blame the cyclist. Yes, the car made a bogus left, but the bike was coming too fast into a situation that clearly warranted more care, less speed. Bad car driver. Unsafe biker.

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    • bendite October 15, 2013 at 10:54 am

      The car made an illegal left. If it was a four lane road, and a driver was turning left and the near lane was clogged, but the far lane open, and then the driver hit another car in the far lane, would you blame the driver in the far lane? Should that driver go 6 mph just in case someone turns left in front of them?

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      • nik October 15, 2013 at 11:20 am

        Never mind all that. I don’t care if John Belushi and Robert McNamara are riding on the handlebars with two baskets of organic peaches on their way home from the People’s Co-op and the far lane is clear all the way to Boring, fragile mammals don’t dash into intersections with stopped cars. Or, if they do, they end up on youtube. Or dead.

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        • bendite October 15, 2013 at 12:36 pm

          You’re talking about whether someone should do that, I’m talking about who’s responsible in the collision.

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      • VTRC October 15, 2013 at 11:52 am

        The basic speed rule does take into account traffic. The person passing in the far lane does have the responsibility to be driving at a safe speed which may be well under the posted speed limit.

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        • bendite October 15, 2013 at 12:46 pm

          That’s a reach. It still wouldn’t override the driver’s responsibility.

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          • VTRC October 15, 2013 at 12:57 pm

            You don’t think that illegal speeding would change who is responsible in a traffic accident?

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            • nik October 15, 2013 at 1:47 pm

              Bendite is just kidding us. Taking the “Bike is always right” angle just to pull our chains. Bravo, we get bendite’s point; there are dogmatists here in Portland who would consider speeding into an blocked intersection a fine idea, protected as they are by their bike-victim status and the notion that a car in the process of a moving violation is wrong.

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              • VTRC October 15, 2013 at 2:33 pm

                I do think it’s very important to recognize and emphasize the rights of people on bikes, there’s a concerted effort to blame bikes for everything on the road on OregonLive, etc. And frequently you’ll see people break out the “you can be squished” argument as a reason people on bikes shouldn’t stand up for their rights.

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              • bendite October 15, 2013 at 3:48 pm

                You’re kidding about me kidding, because I’m not kidding. What is the posted speed limit in the video? How would you determine he’s “violating the basic speed rule”? I didn’t say it was a “fine idea” for the guy to pass everyone on the right in the intersection. It’s risky, but again, he’s not responsible in the legal or moral sense. That responsibility is on the driver. When a driver turns left without yielding, and hits another car head on that was going straight, the speed of the car that got hit is irrelevant and no one would assign any blame to that driver. Would people on driveportland.org say the driver should share some of the responsibility in my latter example?

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              • nik October 15, 2013 at 5:00 pm

                Interesting. Make the bike a car and the left-hand turner looks more culpable. Perhaps legally they are. But in terms of preservation of self a cyclist always has more responsibility.

                I’ve watched cyclists go down in traffic and always thought to myself, “Why did they think they could act like a car? A fender bender is a trip to the hospital when you’re a bike. You need to be extra careful as a cyclist.”

                What’s interesting is that this argument about personal responsibility vs. the way things should be can be applied to many different subjects. It’s really a matter of how you look at risk. It’s the bedrock of the liberal and conservative division.

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              • John Lascurettes October 15, 2013 at 5:56 pm

                Let’s say we replace the cyclist with a driver with the right of way, but speeding as you suggest. Speeding does most certainly come into play in determining fault. Speed affects the sight lines of the turning car. So, let’s say the turning car were looking up the road far enough to see a vechicle traveling at 30mph (supposing for example that is the speed limit here), but someone is traveling at 50mph. You’d better believe that speed is a factor in contributing to the collision, even though the turning driver fails to yield.

                This is what happened here. Sure, the driver should have not turned given that s/he couldn’t see far enough up the road, that is illegal in fact โ€“ but the fact that the cyclist did not take the conditions into account is a contributing factor to this crash. I’ll state it again โ€“ had the truck been stopped for a pedestrian crossing (instead of letting cross traffic through) and the cyclist hit a pedestrian, the cyclist would have been 100% at fault in that collision.

                Is the cyclist “at fault” here? No. Or certainly he should be found less than 50% at fault in insurance terms. But he’s certainly partially to blame and I don’t know an insurance adjuster that wouldn’t see it that way.

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    • spare_wheel October 16, 2013 at 2:07 pm

      i am going to guess that you still own and drive a car, nik.


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      • nik October 16, 2013 at 5:21 pm

        Still own a car? Implying like I’m planning to get rid of my vehicle. You jest. I have two cars. Actually they’re trucks. I have two bikes as well. I’m looking to get a third car, though. Like the bikes the trucks each have their own purpose.

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      • nik October 16, 2013 at 5:42 pm

        What’s your point? That I blame the cyclist because I own a car?

        I was a bike messenger in Manhattan for four years. Ice, snow, heat, taxis, rain, muggers, potholes, open manholes, subway gratings, crushing death between two buses. Women hefting Tiffany’s shopping bags. Limos making left turns from the right lane off. You name it.
        When you’re on a bike, you’re vulnerable.
        If you go down, it’s probably your own fault.

        Once at the ER at Bellevue Hospital I had to collect a package from another messenger who’d gotten hit. The kid was awake but his legs were on backwards. His feet were sticking over the edge of the bed but his toes were pointing to the floor. I swear I never saw anything like it. It looked like a magic trick. But hey, I’m sure the car was wrong.

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      • nik October 16, 2013 at 7:06 pm

        And another thing.
        In Portland, as a pedestrian, I am much more frightened of self righteous bikers than I ever have been of real traffic whilst on a bike.

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        • dr2chase October 16, 2013 at 8:23 pm

          Your risk assessment is not exactly rational. Compare the number of pedestrians (or cyclists) killed by car crashes with those killed by bike crashes; cars are far more dangerous, even after adjusting for ride share (it appears, from back-of-the-envelope calculations, that a drunk cyclist is safer for other people than a sober driver).

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          • nik October 16, 2013 at 9:05 pm

            Death by bike doesn’t cause me worry. I’m just trying to avoid getting my shin broken by the pedal of a banzai eco-enthusiast commuter. They own the road and sidewalk and live beyond reproach.

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            • spare_wheel October 18, 2013 at 5:25 pm

              hold your line and don’t make sudden movements and your shin will stay intact.

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              • nik October 18, 2013 at 5:29 pm

                Because bikes can do no wrong. I know.

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  • bendite October 15, 2013 at 8:24 pm

    John Lascurettes

    Is the cyclist “at fault” here? No. Or certainly he should be found less than 50% at fault in insurance terms. But he’s certainly partially to blame and I don’t know an insurance adjuster that wouldn’t see it that way.
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    You bumped up the speed that doesn’t apply to this situation. I’d say he was going 28 mph max. Say he was in a 25mph zone, so 3 mph over. Now back to the car example. If a car left hooks another one doing 48 in a 45, there won’t be any partial blame in that one.

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    • VTRC October 16, 2013 at 11:00 am

      Here’s the chunk of the law you don’t seem to be aware of.

      “The offense described in this section, violating the basic speed rule, is a Class B traffic violation if the person drives a vehicle upon a highway at a speed that is not reasonable and prudent under the circumstances described in subsection (1) of this section even though the speed is lower than the appropriate speed specified in ORS 811.105 (Speeds that are evidence of basic rule violation)”

      No matter what the road is posted at, if someone is operating their vehicle at a speed that isn’t reasonable and prudent, they’re in violation of the basic speed rule. If a car manages to go 45 in a 45 zone in gridlock somehow(MLK at rush hour comes to mind), it will change the responsibility of that left hook you describe.

      And had the person on the bicycle been going slower it could have changed the conflict we see in the video. The driver would have had a much better chance to see them and yield.

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      • dr2chase October 16, 2013 at 12:48 pm

        You don’t get to declare that the cyclist’s speed was unreasonably fast just because it would have made it easier for the driver to see him. It’s almost always true that slower gives people more time to see and react (and as a general rule I think that people should drive more slowly and pause longer at stops/yields) but that doesn’t make that rule automatically apply to all parties whenever there is a crash.

        I also don’t think the cyclist was moving that fast; my eyeball says 20, though I wish I could step the video frame by frame and watch the milliseconds counter.

        However, I am somewhat swayed by the what-if-there-had-been-a-pedestrian and the desire for consistency. By that measure, the cyclist was traveling too fast for conditions (at least, given the Massachusetts laws; Oregon puts more burden on the pedestrian, I think). However, by that same consistent measure, the roads are filled with terrible, awful drivers. Most drivers don’t look hard enough, speed too much, and are just lucky that the pedestrians (and cyclists) are well-motivated to watch out for their sloppy behavior.

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      • bendite October 16, 2013 at 3:15 pm

        The law’s ambiguous and likely hasn’t been applied in a situation like this. Now if someone’s driving at the speed limit when the road was covered in ice, I could see it being used there. It also specifically references “highway”, which is interesting. With your argument, you could also apply the law to cars going past other cars that are backed up in a left turn lane. The layout is the same in that situation as is in the video.

        Does anyone here actually think the driver looked for the cyclist?

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        • John Lascurettes October 16, 2013 at 3:59 pm

          All public roads are “highways” be definition in most states, Oregon and California for sure.

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        • dr2chase October 16, 2013 at 4:11 pm

          Beyond the law being ambiguous, is the issue of whether it is ever used at all, except to *escape* a speeding ticket (I googled for a while, and found some discussion of that). Many years ago, I recall being tailgated, driving the speed limit, in the slow lane of I-280, in the dark, in the rain, and thinking “WTF is the matter with you?” at the guy behind me (didn’t help much, that thinking). And earlier this year, in my residential Boston-suburb neighborhood where people often speed, it snowed, the sidewalks were haphazardly cleared (i.e. people sometimes in the street), the light was not good, there was schmutz in the street — and people were driving as if it were a clear summer day, vroom!

          A classic example of driving too fast for conditions is the claim that “the pedestrian stepped into the crosswalk and I was unable to stop in time”. If you’re not driving too fast for conditions, that’s impossible — if you’re view is impaired/obstructed, that’s “conditions”, you should slow down, if the road is wet/icy, that’s “conditions”, you should slow down. And no state says anything at all about the pedestrian’s obligation to wear safety yellow, reflectors, or a helmet — he can be a ninja, and seeing him is the driver’s responsibility, and part of “conditions”. But instead, the inability to stop in time is somehow regarded as evidence that the pedestrian was inconsiderate or careless.

          (and the pedestrian thought experiment is why I think that the cyclist, using my not-actually-used-in-the-real-world interpretation and enforcement of the law, was going too fast for conditions. But as we currently apply that speed law to car drivers? NFW, totally legal.)

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          • VTRC October 17, 2013 at 5:45 pm

            Well doc,

            I want everyone held to those standards. But the question was “was the person on the bike obligated to ride more slowly?” and I feel the answer was yes.

            I know I would make the decision to ride more slowly in those traffic conditions , at any rate.

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            • dr2chase October 17, 2013 at 7:39 pm

              What do you mean by “obligated”? Obligated, in the airy-fairy world where pigs fly, drivers obey traffic laws, and laws are enforced when broken, or “obligated”, in the world that we live in, where drivers habitually break laws and rarely receive tickets.

              It is irrational and innumerate to hold cyclists to a higher legal standard than drivers, and it’s not even clear that an equal standard makes much sense — the law is generally about reducing anti-social behavior, and not much about nanny state(*), and that means that it is far more important to enforce laws on drivers and worry about their unsafe (for others, not themselves) behavior. Cars are inherently more antisocial than bikes — you can see this simply from the accident statistics — per-car vs per-bicycle, they do far more damage in crashes. (This is an objective measure of antisocial behavior — they’re more likely to kill, more likely to maim, more likely to injure in general.)

              In the real world, I do not think that cyclist was obligated to ride more slowly, though I am sure that with the benefit of hindsight he might wish that he had. I would very much enjoy living in a world where I could honestly say that he was obligated to travel more slowly in that situation, but unfortunately, I don’t live in that world, so that preference is purely hypothetical — right now, it is not my opinion. Change the world, you’ll see my opinion change.

              (*) In a properly run nanny state with a rational approach to risk, we would do a lot to discourage driving, because it is very bad for your health. The effect on mortality is large — far larger than the death rate from crashes. Any way you measure it, cars kill.

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              • nik October 17, 2013 at 8:20 pm

                What’s wrong with a little mortality? Attrition will go a long way toward making less traffic and fewer accidents.

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  • bendite October 15, 2013 at 8:34 pm


    What’s interesting is that this argument about personal responsibility vs. the way things should be can be applied to many different subjects. It’s really a matter of how you look at risk. It’s the bedrock of the liberal and conservative division.
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    My argument’s not about personal responsibility. It’s about applying blame and who’s responsible after a collision. The cyclist would’ve been hit going half the speed with flashing lights attached to his head. You’re downplaying the amount of responsibility drivers have and accepting a level of irresponsible, illegal, and risky driving. Is collusion and maintaining status quo a conservative attribute?

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  • John October 16, 2013 at 10:06 am

    the bike just flies by some cars that are barely moving and appears unable to either brake or perform an evasive more to the right

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