Urban Tribe - Ride with your kids in front.

Video of right-hook collision shows risks at NE Couch and Grand

Posted by on March 6th, 2014 at 9:11 am

As Portland wraps up its first major study of its unusual “yield to bikes” LED sign on Northeast Couch Street at Grand Avenue, a TriMet bus video of a recent collision at the intersection shows that the longstanding right-hook problem at the corner isn’t solved yet.

Lane Werner, a nursing student at Linfield College’s Northwest Portland campus who said he’s chosen not to own a car, has been kept off his bike for three months after the work van in the video above turned in front of him at the light as he was overtaking it. The slow-motion collision was captured by a bus that was immediately behind.

The event happened at 9:30 a.m. on Dec. 4. Werner, who had the right of way in this situation because he was going straight and the van was turning, was knocked off his bicycle, which was crushed, and remains in physical therapy for both upper and lower back injuries related to his impact on the pavement.

Werner said the driver of the van has been cooperative, though he’s still waiting for results from an insurance investigation. He said the police officer, Mike Cox, didn’t file a police report, but seemed to give the incident more attention after watching the bus’s video.

“Before they saw the video, it didn’t seem like they were taking it very seriously,” Werner said. “They thought I just ran into the side of his car while he was turning. And once the police officer came back with the video, he was like, ‘Woah!'”

Werner said the van’s driver had been parked in the bike box rather than behind the white line where motor vehicles are intended to park. Here’s Werner’s account of the crash from his perspective, recounted in an interview last week:

It was a perfectly clear, sunny, dry day. I was just pulling up. I noticed that the guy was moving a little bit. At that point, I’m like, OK, carelessness. I’m banging on the side of his car, trying to look in.

Lane Werner, who was hit while riding to school Dec. 4.
(Photo by M.Andersen/BikePortland)

But as the van kept turning, its driver apparently unaware of Werner, Werner fell onto the curb beside the road. His foot was trapped beneath his bicycle, he said, though it wasn’t itself crushed when the van rolled over the bike.

In addition to the LED sign, which the city added after a series of right hooks on the downhill-sloping one-way street, the corner has a green bike box.

Things do seem to have gotten better at the corner since 2010, when someone stenciled “right hook lane” onto the pavement. (The indie traffic marking is no longer visible.) But it’s an example of an intersection where a bike lane can actually make a corner more dangerous, because it makes it so easy for bikes to overtake cars on their right.

The flashing LED sign at this corner, which has the same brightness as the traffic lights themselves, is in the upper right.
(Photo by J.Maus/BikePortland)

A 2012 city study of green bike boxes around Portland found that in several cases they’ve tended to increase crash rates, perhaps because they give people on bikes too strong a sense of security in their right of way. The box on Couch at Grand wasn’t included in that study.

It’s not clear from the video whether the bike-detector-activated LED sign at this corner, added in late 2011, was operating when Werner was hit.

“The flashing light definitely makes things salient,” Werner said. “Whether people are conscious of it, I don’t know.”

In an email last week, city traffic-signal engineer Peter Koonce wrote that the city is about to wrap up a statistical study of whether the LED sign seems to reduce risk at the intersection.

“There is some data at the location and we are nearly complete with a conflict study (before and after) assessing whether the sign reduces conflicts,” Koonce said.

It’s not clear yet what the city’s options might be at the corner. Werner said he wants to spread awareness of the right-hook issue.

“I would just like to feel like I was able to ride to school like I used to,” he said.

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  • Tony March 6, 2014 at 9:16 am

    How is this not a failure to yield citation? Is it because the lines aren’t painted all the way across the roadway? Why should a cop need to see a video to trust that an incident is serious?

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    • q`Tzal March 6, 2014 at 9:30 am

      Because people driving automobiles are serious trustworthy adults and people riding bikes are delusional hipster children who deserve what’s coming to them?

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  • q`Tzal March 6, 2014 at 9:35 am

    This police department needs to make a training video, that would be distributed statewide (or further), that records the officer’s official statement, reactions and conclusions both before and after seeing the video.
    NOT to punish the officer but to show all the others how easy it is to allow our biases, impatience and indifference to cloud our judgment.

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  • Oliver March 6, 2014 at 9:46 am

    The white van man strikes again. He doesn’t even stop when obviously colliding with someone.

    “The police officer didn’t file a police report” Someone correct me if I’m wrong, but that’s pretty common, yes? If so I think it unacceptably skews the “at-fault” statistics when it comes to motor-vehicle and bicycle collisions.

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    • Alan 1.0 March 6, 2014 at 10:26 am

      There’s no mention of hit-and-run and the article says, “the driver of the van has been cooperative.” What makes you say he didn’t stop?

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      • Oliver March 6, 2014 at 11:06 am

        I didn’t mean to imply that it was H&R, (The article says that the driver is cooperating with police, ) only that after he collides with bike, he continues to go forward, completely running over the bike in the process, though rider says he was hitting the van. I was just attempting to point out the level to which he wasn’t paying attention.

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        • Alan 1.0 March 6, 2014 at 12:01 pm

          Got it, thanks, I see what you mean. To me, the driver’s inattention before and during the turn is the heart of the problem, and I can understand how the response time of hearing the collision, identifying what’s happening, reacting to it and actually stopping takes a couple seconds (and remember that video is slo-mo so the real time was faster).

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  • Opus the Poet March 6, 2014 at 9:47 am

    I saw no turn signals flashing in the video, just a brake light (both lights flash) so there was no way for the rider to know what the driver was going to do. The Hell with World Peace, visualize using your turn signals!

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    • Opus the Poet March 6, 2014 at 9:50 am

      Also, the cyclist used Intersection Protocols that reduced the amount of injury he got, he was brushed aside by the van instead of getting a full impact from the weapon vehicle.

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      • dan March 6, 2014 at 9:59 am

        My personal Intersection Protocol is: if there’s a motor vehicle traveling at turning speed, I try not to pass it in an intersection, regardless of whether they’re signaling or not.

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        • Phil Kulak March 6, 2014 at 10:10 am

          I also start at the front wheels. You can see them move before you notice the whole car move. Give you a couple extra seconds.

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        • John Lascurettes March 6, 2014 at 10:14 am

          A friend of mine recently dubbed 14mph the “speed of uncertainty.”

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        • wsbob March 6, 2014 at 11:37 am

          The video shows what is for a vulnerable road user/someone riding a bike: a classic intersection crossing mistake.

          Approaching the intersection at about 20′ away, and about to cross it, the person riding should not have been abreast of the moving motor vehicle. Instead, the bike should have been about a car length back of the van. Then, when the van began to turn, the bike would not have been there for the van to collide with. This is just basic, self defensive ride in traffic survival procedure. Everyone riding a bike in traffic should know it…how many do? Hard to say.

          Write up a citation for the driver of the van, failure to yield or something else…whatever good that’s gonna do. Lane Werner is still stuck with a messed up back, because he positioned himself and his bike poorly, relative to the motor vehicle as both were approaching and close to the intersection.

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          • David McCabe March 6, 2014 at 11:56 am

            What are you supposed to do if there’s a whole line of cars, closely packed, in the adjacent lane?

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            • wsbob March 6, 2014 at 12:25 pm

              Good question.

              Because a motor vehicle or bike is ahead of them, Motor vehicles back a car length or more from the intersection, aren’t likely to pose as much of a right hook danger as a motor vehicle at the head of the line or at the intersection may.

              Being abreast of a motor vehicle that’s two or more car lengths back from the intersection, is relatively safe.

              Though, for someone riding a bike in the bike lane or far right side of the road, as traffic gets closer to the intersection, I think it’s a very good idea to move from the abreast position to: either slightly ahead (offering the person driving something on the order of a 45 degree angle of direct vision through the windshield, to the person riding).

              Alternately, the person on the bike should probably fall back slightly past the rear of the vehicle. Just so that if the person driving happens to start turning right, the person on the bike will be clear of the motor vehicle.

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              • David McCabe March 6, 2014 at 12:53 pm

                Thanks for the reply. In situations like this I generally try to wedge myself in between two cars in the adjacent lane, but this is dependent on the motorists being aware and cooperative — it usually works, but I don’t have a good strategy when it doesn’t.

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              • bendite March 6, 2014 at 12:59 pm

                I pass the line of cars slowly. Slow enough to be able to stop in time if a driver makes a go.

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              • wsbob March 6, 2014 at 1:36 pm

                “…I generally try to wedge myself in between two cars in the adjacent lane, …”

                David…not sure I’m following your reasoning, but if you’re still thinking of a situation involving a bike lane and adjacent main travel lane with traffic approaching an intersection:

                Some people don’t agree with me, but I believe it is legal for people traveling by bike, to transition from the bike lane into the main lane for the purpose of crossing an intersection, because that situation poses a hazardous condition; see (3) (c). Here’s a link to the text of the law (thank the fine folks at Oregonlaw.org for it.)


                Wedging in between cars? I don’t know about that. I’d just as soon allow a car lengths space or more to remain between motor vehicles…and me and motor vehicles ahead and behind.

                Far enough in advance of intersections though, if taking the main lane is likely to be safer than staying in the bike lane through the intersection, I certainly would make a good signal, wait for a break in traffic in the main lane and get on over into the main lane.

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            • dwainedibbly March 6, 2014 at 5:19 pm

              Put yourself by the right-front wheel of the 2nd car in line. You’ll be far enough forward that the driver has a chance to see you but you’re not so far forward that the car ahead can right hook you.

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            • Adron @ Transit Sleuth April 7, 2015 at 2:03 pm

              This whole offshoot thread is a bunch of victim blaming, which I don’t think anyone means to do but…

              If there is a line of cars, merge into traffic is one option. But again, the drivers are the responsible party here as they’re wielding the weapons and have the legal responsibility to not merge on top of cyclists. 🙁

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          • Spiffy March 6, 2014 at 2:08 pm

            that’s some pretty serious victim-blaming there, wsbob…

            Everyone riding a bike in traffic should know it…how many do?

            I know it, and I refuse to do it…

            I refuse to live my life in paranoid fear…

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            • Tony March 6, 2014 at 2:46 pm

              I think you’re being a bit tough on bob here.

              I don’t think, in a perfect or fair world, a cyclist should HAVE to do this. But anyone who doesn’t want to get run over and accepts that reality is not the same as our perfect ideal SHOULD do this.

              By all means get close enough and yell at them. The problem is that when you fail to actually get run over by the van, the driver won’t be cited for failing to yield. Then again, when you DO get run over, the driver won’t get cited for failure to yield either.

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            • wsbob March 6, 2014 at 5:27 pm

              “…Everyone riding a bike in traffic should know it…how many do? …” wsbob, from my comment here:


              “…I know it, and I refuse to do it…

              I refuse to live my life in paranoid fear… ” Spiffy

              It seems you’re saying that for yourself, moving away from an abreast position directly to the right of a motor vehicle as you and it approach an intersection, would be succumbing to paranoid fear of the person driving possibly right hooking you, so you refuse to take that action.

              There is good to be said for being bold and courageous in riding a bike amongst motor vehicle. Not the same for taking boldness and courage to the point of being foolhardy. I hope people won’t read what you’ve written, and feel they are or will be, cowards for using good, defensive strategy for avoiding right hooks at intersections.

              More people savvy about riding in traffic probably could go a long, long way, with far less time and money spent to avoid right hooks and other kinds of road user misfortune, than can various infrastructure design, or more laws and penalties.

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            • wsbob March 6, 2014 at 11:29 pm

              that’s some pretty serious victim-blaming there, wsbob…

              Everyone riding a bike in traffic should know it…how many do?

              I know it, and I refuse to do it…
              I refuse to live my life in paranoid fear…
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              “that’s some pretty serious victim-blaming there, wsbob…” Spiffy

              How is it you think I’m blaming the victim…I suppose you mean Lane Werner…and for what?

              If you want to believe Werner isn’t at least partially to blame for having been injured in this collision, that’s your business.

              When you’re riding your bike, if you know that staying away from alongside motor vehicles when approaching and crossing intersections, can help avoid collisions like the Dec 4th collision, and injury or death to yourself, but you still refuse to stay away, you probably can’t be easily stopped from making that choice.

              You’ll probably just keep on making that same stubborn, ‘stand your ground’ choice. So, on your bicycle, if by a big motor vehicle, you ever get hit pulling that stunt, if you’re still alive, don’t come crying to bikeportland about it.

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        • spare_wheel March 6, 2014 at 12:33 pm

          in urban areas my personal intersection protocol is to get in the way of the motorvehicles at intersections (via lane splitting or lane taking). it keeps me safe and smug.

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        • JV March 6, 2014 at 12:58 pm

          I also look for the wheels turning, or try to see if the driver is looking left. Often, a classically inattentive/reckless driver will look left for traffic, then turn the wheel right. To compound things, once they initiate the turn, the right-hand mirror doesn’t cover the field of view where I would be…after a few close calls I basically just assume that drivers are going to turn right in front of me.

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    • Spiffy March 6, 2014 at 11:17 am

      it’s hard to see but I think there’s a turn signal… either that or intermittent glare off the taillight lens…

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  • pixelgate March 6, 2014 at 10:07 am

    Just another reason I gave up riding. The idea of bikes sharing the road with cars will never work. We need dedicated bike boulevards and paths like the corridor/esplanade, not bike boxes and confusing intersections.

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    • Martin Vandepas March 6, 2014 at 11:01 am

      boooooooooo! Just because you saw a video of an accident doesn’t mean it will “never work”. You could say the same about cars sharing the road with other cars. There are tons of accidents involving just cars….roads will never work!

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      • Spiffy March 6, 2014 at 11:18 am

        I’ve been hit by other cars while driving, sometimes very hard, yet I continue to drive sometimes…

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    • Spiffy March 6, 2014 at 11:02 am

      unfortunately the bike boulevards and paths don’t usually go to the businesses that people want to go to…

      (sorry for the accidental up-vote)

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      • Oliver March 6, 2014 at 11:11 am

        And there just isn’t enough room in built up cities to allow for entirely separate infrastructure on a broad enough scale.

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        • paikikala March 6, 2014 at 1:52 pm

          There is if you prioritize safety of all road users ahead of convenience of any one mode…and remove parking.

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          • gutterbunny March 6, 2014 at 8:27 pm

            No there really isn’t. especially if you consider future road usage. After reading the post with the meeting of the businesses on 28th which featured the the 26 Powell Blvd.s needed to accommodate potential growth in the area. I actually think in the long run the whole segregation of automobile and bike traffic is going to be a huge failure in the fairly near future. And this video is the perfect example of why the current infrasture doesn’t and will never work.

            Most of Portland busy streets with parking will eventually be needed for transportation if the 26 Powells is true. And in a perfect world, removing street side parking specifically for bicycle traffic would be great but it’s not a perfect world. And it will help in the short term, but then eventually it’d just be placeholder for future auto lanes.

            Seems to me that it would be best to assimilate bicycle and auto traffic as much as possible.

            Of course there would need to be changes, but very little of it would actually need to be done through designers and engineers. Most of it would have to be done through changes in speed limits and banning right turns on red (as well as left turns onto one way streets on red), greater road user education (better/tougher testing at DMV and ad campaigns), and frequent more costly traffic law enforcement/prosecution.

            As I see it top speeds in the metro area shouldn’t exceed 35 anywhere, and even then it would only be on roads that are state highways (Powell, Columbia, Sandy (sorry – but some could be lowered to arterial speeds)) arterials should be 25, and residentials 15. Inside lanes on four lane roads would be equal access to all forms of transportation.

            This keeps bikes in the direct vision of auto users, and really at peek hours those main streets don’t travel any faster anyway. And off peek hours those streets would be much safer. There is a direct correlation between speed and number and severity of auto collisions.

            Besides, until the last 10 to 15 years or so, many of us riders have been playing in traffic with next to nothing for infrastructure (at best a nice wide shoulder). And that is how it’s been for nearly 100 years since the automobile really took off in the 1920’s.

            The more I read and study about these issues, the more I begin to realize that largely infrastructure is trying to fix problems that aren’t really infrastructure problems. And because of that throwing more infrastructure at the problem is just wasting precious money and time which could be used to actually attempt to solve the real problems.

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    • davemess March 6, 2014 at 12:07 pm

      And yet thousands (tens of thousands?) of Portlanders get around on bikes every day without incident.

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    • spare_wheel March 6, 2014 at 12:20 pm

      ~30 years of successfully “sharing” the road with cars here.

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  • JL March 6, 2014 at 10:26 am

    How about they release all of the “Data” from all of the funky bike lane studies that are going on in this town?

    Will the green lanes on Oak and Start be repainted again without any thought to how sucky they actually are?

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    • spare_wheel March 6, 2014 at 12:24 pm

      could you please elaborate on what exactly is wrong with those facilities (other than the fact that the green paint is disappearing)?

      imo, they put cyclists where they should be:

      1. away from the curb/gutter.
      2. in the way of motorists.

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      • David McCabe March 6, 2014 at 12:49 pm

        I don’t know about the original poster, but here are a few problems I can think of: First, the pavement is laughably bad, with many metal plates in the part of the lane you’d want to ride in. Par for the course in Portland, but not “platinum level” by any stretch. Second, they’re so wide that motorists often drive in it, since there’s no pavement treatment to keep them out. I’ve also had a number of near-misses where motorists have whipped into the bike lane in order to park in the adjacent parking lane. With that being said, I think they’re some of the only examples of acceptable, better-than-nothing bike lanes in the city.

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        • paikikala March 6, 2014 at 1:53 pm

          Oak is planned for repaving this year.

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  • Bike Commuter March 6, 2014 at 10:31 am

    I thought it was required that police file a report in an injury accident. I know that they don’t as this is work, but is it not required?

    I wonder if the driver will be cited for failure to signal and fail to yield. If not, then why do we have bike lanes and laws?

    Finally, wouldn’t it be useful if all police officers had to ride a bicycle to work once a week or four times a month so that they understood what it was like out there? The assumption is that the bicyclist did something wrong. Lane is lucky that a bus with video was behind him. I always ride with a video camera running just because of these issues. I have not been hit but I have video of drivers like the white van/truck that did the same thing. I was lucky in my timing, I would like to imagine that it was my skill but truth is that is lucky timing. In the video above I am not sure I would have done anything different.

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    • Spiffy March 6, 2014 at 10:53 am

      “He said the police officer, Mike Cox, didn’t file a police report, but seemed to give the incident more attention after watching the bus’s video.”

      I just came to ask the same question… why isn’t it an automatic police report when there’s an injury collision? it’s required that you file an accident report with the DMV so it should be required that police file a report under the same circumstances…

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    • davemess March 6, 2014 at 12:11 pm

      Exactly. And I wouldn’t stop at Police. Why can’t EVERYONE who drives a car occasionally swing a leg over a bike just to see what it’s like out there. It definitely will help improve your perspective.

      I’ve thought for a while that any driver involved in a car/bike collision should be required to bike for at least some period of time afterwards as a “punishment”, but really just to get them out of their box and understand why cyclists do most of the things they do.

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      • Mindful Cyclist March 6, 2014 at 1:04 pm

        it is amazing how much better of a driver I am now that I do most of my trips via bicycle.

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      • Mike March 6, 2014 at 1:14 pm

        That goes both ways. As a cyclist who also drives a car it can be darn scary driving around town. I have had close calls both driving and cycling and see some crappy behavior in both groups. I really don’t understand the passing of cars on the right as all it does is set up circumstances for a collision. It really doesn’t matter who is right or wrong during impact does it?

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        • davemess March 6, 2014 at 2:12 pm

          Except that a vast majority (what was that stat on here about 90% of cyclists having drivers licenses etc.) of cyclists have experience driving.The same can definitely not be said for even the majority of drivers having experience riding bikes in this city.

          Passing on the right is not as big an issue if you’re riding defensively and paying attention to what’s going on around you. I always go pretty quickly passing lined up cars on the right until I get around the intersection, then about 50-30 feet away I assess where I am in regards to the car next to me. If I am comfortably in front of them I pedal on. If I am abreast of them (and they have not just passed me, and likely don’t know I’m there) I usually slow until they are in front of me (then I have space to emergency stop, if they cut me off without a blinker). Just assume that all cars will turn in front of you without a blinker, and slow down momentarily to a speed where you can do something if that happens.

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          • mike March 6, 2014 at 10:10 pm

            I agree 1000%. I just don’t get why a lot of people here seem amazed that right hooks occur.

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            • davemess March 7, 2014 at 9:43 am

              Inattentiveness maybe? I should not that that the majority of my commute is on unmarked streets (at least until the 50s project finally is finished), so i just kind of expect people to not see me. Maybe being in marked lanes allows people to let their guard down.

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              • Mindful Cyclist March 8, 2014 at 12:15 pm

                And, I really do think bike lanes give people a false sense of security. I know it happened to me when I first moved here and started to ride in them. I thought, “hey–a bike lane! That will make biking so much more safe!” It did not take long to figure out that I was wrong.

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              • wsbob March 8, 2014 at 5:22 pm

                “And, I really do think bike lanes give people a false sense of security. I know it happened to me when I first moved here and started to ride in them. I thought, “hey–a bike lane! That will make biking so much more safe!” It did not take long to figure out that I was wrong.” Mindful Cyclist

                How much safer bike lanes are than main lanes of the road, depends much on how people riding bikes, use the bike lane.

                When people use good sense, knowledge and procedure when riding in the bike lanes and the main lanes as needed, bike lanes can serve people riding very well. Used safely and effectively by people riding, bike lanes can serve as an area of the road that allows escape from some of the hazards posed by motor vehicle use in the main lanes.

                People not having sufficient knowledge and skill to be riding a bike in traffic, and/or not knowing how to use bike lanes to their advantage, could personally be associating a sense of security with them, that’s false.

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      • Alan 1.0 March 6, 2014 at 8:50 pm

        Why can’t EVERYONE who drives a car occasionally swing a leg over a bike just to see what it’s like out there.

        Heck yeah! If Brian Willson can do it, anyone can do it!

        (bad joke, forgive me, but davemess’ words are spoken in truth)

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    • paikikala March 6, 2014 at 1:55 pm

      Police usually don’t file a report unless there is a medical/coroner transport or the damage exceeds state minimums.

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  • pdx2wheeler March 6, 2014 at 10:32 am

    Is there some reason the driver of the van can’t receive a citizen’s citation? Fill out the paperwork, go to court, and show this video… Just bypass the police all together if they’re not ready, willing, and able to protect and serve cyclists in Oregon…

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    • JL March 6, 2014 at 10:36 am

      I’ve often thought this myself…

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    • Spiffy March 6, 2014 at 10:54 am

      the video doesn’t identify the driver… in order to file a citizen citation you have to have seen the driver and be able to identify them…

      it’s a major flaw in the reporting system and I think it’s the main reason it’s not used more by cyclists since we don’t usually see the driver as they’re speeding off…

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      • JL March 6, 2014 at 11:21 am

        If something was changed enough so that we could issue citations, perhaps a little tweak is in order.
        I never got the whole thing about catching the person in video or in a photo doing the “crime” in order for there to be a citizen issued citation, especially after they have ‘cooperated’ with the investigation.

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      • Cota March 6, 2014 at 11:33 am

        That might be true in a case of hit of run. This incident doesn’t seem to be hit and run though. Certainly the cop identified all parties involved, and there was probably an exchange of information form filled out which would have everything you’d need to file a citizen issued citation.


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  • sean March 6, 2014 at 10:32 am

    These type of intersections are unnecessary and easily fixed. I have been hit here as well and have never felt safe despite a bike box and sign.




    Every intersection like this: Broadway/Hoyt, Madison/3rd, Everett/16th are largely a function of design. At Everett, the city will take out the bike box and put in a bike signal. I hope these are exclusive signals like at Rosa Parks and I-5. Let’s hope the bike box as single solution dies a quick death.

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  • Jon March 6, 2014 at 11:14 am

    Hopefully many riders will view this video. This is a graphic example showing riders how dangerous intersections are for cyclists. Drivers don’t always use turn signals and they often make last minute turns. I never pass cars coming up to intersections because of this danger. I leave at least enough room so that I can stop regardless of what the driver does. It is a lot slower but it is a lot safer.

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  • Spiffy March 6, 2014 at 11:15 am

    I’m always way more critical of the way people are getting paid to drive… I’ll often report bad drivers to their companies…

    it’s one thing for a normal citizen to drive poorly, but when you’re getting paid to drive then you better be doing a damn good job and obeying all the rules… you job depends on it…

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  • Spiffy March 6, 2014 at 11:20 am

    HD cameras are cheap… digital storage is cheap…

    why aren’t we using them on our public vehicles?

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  • Joe March 6, 2014 at 11:22 am

    whoa WTH late for work van?, nah really PDX police need to start understanding we have road issues all the time dude was lucky didnt get under the tires agh… crazy right hooks, anyway downtown we have the police on bikes, feel they really don’t do much anyway do they ever pull a car over? LOL

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  • Kevin March 6, 2014 at 11:25 am

    I wish that bike riders would try to pack the bike box. When there is a line of cyclists approaching this box it annoys me that people slow down, do track stands keeping the line of cyclists back behind the turning CAR. I think that more needs to be done in teaching cyclists how to use the bike box to enhance safety for other riders and themselves.

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    • RH March 6, 2014 at 11:46 am

      The reason I don’t do it that way is because it seeems a bid odd for people to ride single file down a bike lane, then all bunch up throughout the green box box at a red light, and then scatter back to a single file bike lane when the light turns green.

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      • davemess March 6, 2014 at 12:13 pm

        But that’s what bike boxes are for. Increased visibility and traffic calming.

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  • Bill Walters March 6, 2014 at 11:32 am

    “Werner said the van’s driver had been parked in the bike box rather than behind the white line where motor vehicles are intended to park.”

    What on earth is going on with this part? How does a condition of being parked tie in to the record of the video? Don’t you maybe mean “stopped” instead of “parked”? ‘Cause it’s not exactly OK to “park” behind the white line, either.

    (And switching to tongue-in-cheek mode now: Is it really the case that “the van’s driver had been parked” somewhere discrete from the van?)

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  • MaxD March 6, 2014 at 11:36 am

    I ride through this intersection daily! People simply do not see the “Stop Here” sign or the Neon sign that lights up too late. Something the City could do to improve this is to eliminate the right on red within City limits. I frequently see people roll past stop bars and across crosswalks only looking in the direction of on-coming traffic and trying to avoid a complete stop. This is dangerous to peds/or bikes using the sidewalk in the opposite direction of traffic, and it is dangerous for cyclist heading straight. If right on red was illegal everywhere/always, people may be more inclined to stop at a red light and look around, maybe read a sign instead of trying to game the traffic.

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  • Michael Andersen (News Editor)
    Michael Andersen (News Editor) March 6, 2014 at 11:37 am

    Just the best description I could come up with of the vehicle type. Not intended as a comment on the use.

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    • Charles S March 6, 2014 at 12:40 pm

      I think cargo van is the technical term. 24 million hits vs. 2 million for work van (and work van turns up GM’s Cargo Van page as its top hit).

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  • Jonathan Gordon March 6, 2014 at 11:40 am

    I think that bright LED sign may be part of the problem. Let me explain:

    Several months ago I was in the passenger seat of a car driven by my friend visiting from Seattle. I was curious what he would think of our fancy new bike-friendly intersection. We had the following conversation moments after we passed through the intersection.

    Me: What’d you think of that sign? Pretty cool, eh?

    Him: What sign?

    Me: The bright blinking one! The one we just passed. Didn’t you see it?!

    Him: Oh, I tuned that out. I hate those bright LED advertisements. I just assumed it was one of them.

    So I think it’s possible it’s less visible to some portion of road users than a traditional painted road sign would be.

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    • John Lascurettes March 6, 2014 at 12:52 pm

      It doesn’t help that the business on the corner there actually does have an LED-displayed advertising sign in the window.

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  • Joe March 6, 2014 at 11:47 am

    bike box what (some) autos think is a lane ;-P look in mirrors or slow down to yield slower traffic

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  • drew March 6, 2014 at 12:05 pm

    I don’t trust or use the bike boxes. Many drivers have no idea what they are about. The safe way of traveling straight thru the intersection is to take the lane. Or just assume the driver next to you will turn right into you and proceed (or stop) accordingly. They give driver licenses to pretty much anybody and there is no meaningful continuing education. It works best if all drivers are considered amateurs who are not paying attention.

    I wish a speedy recovery to Lane and hope justice is served. He was fortunate to have the video. I would love to get an effective helmet mounted camera, but the current offerings lack. Maybe I need to design something myself.

    Meanwhile, it’s easier if you assume that:

    Nobody can see you
    some may want to harm you
    the law will not help you

    With that in mind, it’s amazing to see the skill and consideration which is evident by the great majority of motorists on our streets!

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    • davemess March 6, 2014 at 2:14 pm

      I think there is some confusion in your post over the use of bike boxes. They’re for que-ing up when waiting for a light, not for active travel through the lane (unless you were just talking about the bike lane portion).

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  • Justin March 6, 2014 at 12:29 pm

    How are we cyclists supposed to be taken seriously when the cops don’t take us seriously?

    Like Werner, I was hit by a car that blew a four-way stop, but the cop didn’t cite the driver because Portland law allows him/her to choose whether or not to cite. In many cases, it feels as though cops just assume we are at fault, or, they just don’t take the situation seriously because a pedestrian/cyclist wasn’t maimed in the process.

    Maybe this needs to be taken to Mike Reese or Charlie Hales, asking for an administrative rule be put in place that requires officers to file a police report in cases like this.

    Not having a police report almost cost me my settlement as well. The insurance agency did everything they could using the “no report, did not happen” approach.

    This needs to change.

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  • spare_wheel March 6, 2014 at 12:38 pm

    the driver was at fault but i think pbot is also at fault. green through bike lanes and bike boxes at unsignaled intersections are a public safety menace.

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    • paikikala March 6, 2014 at 1:58 pm

      PBOT doesn’t put bike boxes at unsignalized intersections. Green lanes are used to identify high conflict areas.

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      • spare_wheel March 6, 2014 at 3:07 pm

        i was referring to bike signals. bike boxes at intersections with bike-specific signals create space for cyclists to mass in front of vehicles. at some intersections where bikes and cars occupy the same space i suspect that bike boxes are worse than no infrastructure at all.

        green paint is fine but when it extends into an intersection it encourages the perception of protected right of way. this is the last thing that needs to be encouraged in an unprotected intersection where bikes share space with cars.

        i’ve witnessed too many horrific crashes at bike boxes. enough is enough!

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        • davemess March 7, 2014 at 9:46 am

          But do these actually involve the bike box, or just the painted bike lane? I think you’re mixing the two together, when in fact they are very different things, with different purposes, uses, and safety issues. They just happen to share the same paint scheme.

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          • spare_wheel March 7, 2014 at 3:21 pm

            i think both contribute to over-confidence at intersections.

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            • davemess March 7, 2014 at 5:36 pm

              How do bike boxes do that?

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  • Bald One March 6, 2014 at 12:43 pm

    COP building a new right hook situation at SE Clinton and SE 12th Ave as part of the light rail station improvements coming to that area. All cars turn right, most bikes go straight. Green paint treatment.

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  • Chris I March 6, 2014 at 12:54 pm

    This driver needs to be cited. The most disturbing part of the video is the fact that he inches out as the cyclist is overtaking, almost giving the impression that he knows the cyclist is there, but is just waiting for him to pass by before turning. Most of the bike box / right hook violators I see peel out from the intersection immediately. What this guy does is confusing and dangerous, because he gives the impression that he is yielding, and then accelerates hard into the turn, and apparently doesn’t slow down even as he plows through the cyclist. This guy should have his license suspended.

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  • bendite March 6, 2014 at 1:07 pm

    My survival advice is don’t pass drivers on the right if they have the option of turning right. The only exception is when the driver is going slow, with their turn signal on, giving space, and turning their head to look. Even then, I go slow enough to be able to stop in time if needed.

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  • Mindful Cyclist March 6, 2014 at 1:07 pm

    This video just reinforces why when I am commuting down Ankeny, I go all the way to Grand and turn off instead of 6th. Sure, Grand is busy, but no right hook danger either. And, yes, I ride legally on the left hand side to avoid the tracks.

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  • brian E March 6, 2014 at 1:13 pm

    Why is the video edited to 7 seconds and omitting the sequence prior to the collision. Did the editor remove the lead-in because the bike pulled up into the van’s blind spot? Right or wrong, that would be a careless move by anyone who did it.

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    • paikikala March 6, 2014 at 2:01 pm

      Another video question. Since when do Tri-Met cameras shake and move to follow action outside the bus? Looks more like a video from inside and a camera held in someone’s hand.

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      • davemess March 6, 2014 at 2:17 pm

        This is a video of a TV/monitor. So the person shooting the video moved the camera (following the cyclist) across the TV/monitor (you can see the edge right at the end).

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      • Spiffy March 6, 2014 at 2:25 pm

        I was thinking it was a video of somebody watching the video… at the end I think the edge is more of a TV/monitor than a bus pillar…

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  • Aaronf March 6, 2014 at 1:55 pm

    “At that point, I’m like, OK, carelessness. I’m banging on the side of his car, trying to look in.”

    I respond to carelessness by braking & staying out of the way if possible. Never been right hooked, but if I rode like this I probably would have been many times. I’m sure it feels great to slap a car sometimes, but if you are that close… you’re too close. This video shows what happens when car slapping goes wrong.

    I hope Lane’s back feels better soon!

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  • James Sherbondy March 6, 2014 at 1:57 pm

    Did anyone see him “banging on the side of the van” as was stated in the article? I know I didn’t.

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    • davemess March 6, 2014 at 2:18 pm

      Yeah, I didn’t see that either.

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    • Spiffy March 6, 2014 at 2:26 pm

      it looks like he gets 1 or 2 slaps on the door before he goes down…

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      • James Sherbondy March 6, 2014 at 2:42 pm

        Maybe. But in the article, it sounds like he’s banging on the side of the van BEFORE the turn when the video clearly shows him pedaling with both hands on his bars. Not trying to dispute his story, just perplexed. Was there a prior incident that wasn’t shown on this video?

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  • Suburban March 6, 2014 at 2:12 pm

    I don’t know much about traffic engineering, but ALL these designs seem like feeble , reactive add-ons. Is it impractical to co-ordinate licensing, law and infrastructure so that all modes can roll? The last 20 years at PDOT seems like a slap-stick trial and error test that doesn’t really ever look at the big picture, or just protects status quo. Aren’t there people who go to college for exactly this kind of thing? A street that needs signs and strips explaining how to use it is not well designed.

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    • Vinny March 6, 2014 at 3:28 pm

      I know a lot about traffic engineering, its what I do. What looks like feeble and reactive add-ons to you is often the best design compromise that can be constructed. Quite simply: significant geometric changes are incredibly expensive to design and construct.

      Creative designs that go beyond the status quo face major resistance. New designs often deviate from long established standards and violate user (driver/bike/pedestrian) expectations. It might require removing parking, or additional right-of-way space which means eminent domain and tearing down someone’s home or business. All of these things take a lot of time (money) to resolve.

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      • paikikala March 10, 2014 at 9:45 am

        ‘best design compromise’ where mobility has priority over safety would be more accurate.

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    • El Biciclero March 10, 2014 at 12:05 pm

      “Is it impractical to co-ordinate licensing, law and infrastructure…?”

      It would be great if it were both a legal and well-understood safety option for bicycle riders to merge into through traffic at intersections like this one. Right now, it is not legal, and only partially understood/believed to be a safe option to leave the bike lane in this kind of intersection. The legality won’t change until the Oregon Legislature can do something about it, and confusion about what is “safe” is introduced, or at least exacerbated (IMO) by the abundance of green paint (and flashing neon signs(!)) being installed that seem to imply to cyclists that staying in their place in the bike lane will be “safe”, when it is not. Yes, it is possible to adjust speeds to stay longitudinally “between” motor vehicles when approaching intersections like this, but in my experience, using only that approach leads to confusion when motorists who know they are supposed to yield to cyclists are involved. It can end up being a “Go! No you go!” situation when everyone knows the rules but doesn’t believe that everyone else knows the rules. Also, yes, a GNYG situation is maybe “safer” than plowing ahead into a potential right hook, but it is also a needless delay and a pointless exercise in ambiguity when there are so many times it would not be necessary if cyclists were legally allowed to (and knew they could safely) take the lane.

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  • JL March 6, 2014 at 2:15 pm


    Put yourself in the lane on google maps and see what happens at the bike box as you roll down the hill. The car is pulling left then decides they need to turn right, across the bike lane. Horrible planning that needs to be addressed immediately throughout the city.

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  • Jolly Dodger March 6, 2014 at 2:53 pm

    Hopefully Lane will recover fully and make his way back to the cycling fold. It’s terrible this had to happen for an honest discussion about the on-going dangers of this particular intersection to continue. I have intentionally avoided using the Burnside east to west corridor ever since the ‘new’ re-design. The speed matching of cyclists and drivers made possible by the Couch downhill and Grand being a ‘last chance’ turnoff for drivers who may have not intended to go downtown is a recipe for disaster.

    Two points – ONE…
    It’s always a surprise the first few times; but after it occurs with a crash or nearly being pinned under a vehicle; it’s a lesson never to be forgotten. Even if the rules of the road are on your side, it is of little use when trying to argue your case from a hole in the ground. The best advice i ever got from any city cyclist was from my first day as a bicycle messenger – “don’t watch the mirrors to see their eyes….that doesn’t work…don’t watch for a blinker….it won’t be there when you need it…most probably if they do turn it on, it will be in the apex of the turn – (“drivers are lazy by nature”) – when it’s already too late….ALWAYS WATCH THE FRONT NEAR TURNING WHEEL – AND ALWAYS…ALWAYS…AL-F’N-WAYS….AND I CAN’T STRESS THIS ENOUGH…ALWAYS GIVE YOURSELF ENOUGH TIME TO BAIL ON YOUR LINE IN CASE THEY DO TURN – better safe than sorry”.

    He went on to tell me that of his ten years as a courier how nearly %90 of the retired messengers he knew had been ‘taken out’ this way. This one simple piece of advice has kept me alive as a daily rider more than all the other ‘rules of the road’ combined. Blindly running stop signs/red lights is less dangerous than riding in a vehicles ‘blind spot’ near or through an intersection and not realizing how deadly it can be. And to be honest, in many cases where i needed to ‘bail on my line’…i was more in danger of being rear-ended by a following cyclist impatient that i had slowed to avoid being turned on…no, really….i’ve had near fist fights on the street with other cyclists who didn’t understand me not wanting to get squished instead of ‘keeping a pace’ thru an intersection. I can only assume they hadn’t yet had this ire raising experience themselves. Hopefully my emotional insistence of ‘how to ride to stay alive’ tirade was enough to make it so they wouldn’t have to.

    And TWO….

    As with most incidents where the police are involved in a cyclist vs. auto scenario, the cyclist is most often viewed (at least in my personal experience as well as the hearsay of other cyclists) as a second class citizen. The fact that the scales lean heavily towards the driver is of no real surprise. Insurance companies pay highly trained specialized lawyers who know how to work the system, and do it well on a daily basis. At best, even with multiple witnesses and the driver him/herself accepting and admitting responsibility, a cyclist involved in this type of near death scenario will have to wait on the wheels of justice (i.e.-insurance company intentional slowdown) while a ‘settlement’ offer is made. Mine from a collar bone breaking door-ing injury took nearly two years. And after an accident do yourself a favor if there are injuries requiring pay out, get a lawyer and do what they tell you…don’t talk with the driver’s insurance company, don’t make any statements to anyone but your lawyer … etc. The fact this case had video and things are still where they are is a salient indicative example of just how slow these cases move.

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    • davemess March 7, 2014 at 9:55 am

      pretty much exactly what you said. Slow down in the intersection, give yourself time/space, and watch what the car is doing.

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      • lyle w. March 8, 2014 at 10:08 am

        I just flat-out assume every single car approaching a busy intersection is going to right-hook me… especially when it’s statistically most likely they’ll be turning (as is the case going from Couch to Grand/MLk vs downtown). Turn-signals mean nothing (and nobody knows how to use them), checking for blind spots and turning at a reduced speed and cautiously never happens… the person driving has no concern or awareness for bikes or where they are in relation to them, etc etc.

        Not to victim blame, but the odds of you running across someone who just flat cannot be bothered to operate a car in a safe manner when you go out are too high. I wish I could fly through bike boxes with the assumption I was safe and making no attempt to scan around or slow down, but it’s reckless to do that in today’s society.

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        • El Biciclero March 10, 2014 at 12:13 pm

          “I wish I could fly through bike boxes…”

          Bike boxes are not intended to be “flown through”, they are designed to be stopped in. A green-painted bike lane next to a bike box is not a bike box. In reality, the safest approach to intersections like this would likely be to “fly through” the actual bike box, because it would mean that you have taken the lane and merged with through traffic, enabling you to pass last-minute, non-signaling, right-turning drivers and their vehicles on the left where they can’t hurt you. Unfortunately, that is not legal, and the abundance of green paint and flashing neon gives a quite false sense that staying legal will keep you safe.

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  • pennyfarthing March 6, 2014 at 6:38 pm

    The van driver appears to have activated his turn signal at the last moment…just before he initiates the right turn…this is a failure. The cyclist demonstrates a lack of common sense…they attempt to pass another vehicle (on the right) in an intersection while also failing to acknowledge they are likely in the driver’s blind spot. You must always assume the diver isn’t signaling AND is going to make the turn…ALWAYS! I commute daily by bike and don’t expect traffic laws to keep me safe…ride smarter people. This rider is lucky to be alive, and…whether or not he had a legal right to be where he was at the time of the collision, that right will be little consolation for months of rehab much less for what could have been grieving friends and family. Ride smarter!

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  • kittens March 7, 2014 at 4:41 am

    I always TAKE THE LANE HERE. sometimes two.

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  • esther c March 7, 2014 at 10:06 am

    If there was actually a penalty for hitting a cyclist, people would learn to be on the lookout for us.

    I always look and look and look before making a right turn to be sure there isn’t a cyclist coming up behind me. Why? Because I want to be sure I don’t injure someone.

    Everyone else is just as capable of being that careful if they knew they would have to pay a price if they hit someone. Same with any careless driving, drunk driving etc. If they knew they would actually have their car taken away and their right to drive removed most (not all of course) would be a lot more careful.

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    • Opus the Poet March 7, 2014 at 11:02 am

      Exactly what I have been saying for years. Injure a cyclist or pedestrian and lose your vehicle for a year, kill a cyclist or pedestrian and watch your car get shredded for recycling. I have mellowed a bit, originally it was injury was watch the vehicle get shredded, kill and watch the vehicle get shredded from the driver’s seat chained to the steering wheel. Motor vehicles are the only weapon in the US where you can kill someone and keep the weapon.

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  • Zaphod March 7, 2014 at 2:04 pm

    I give this intersection a lot of thought.

    I take the lane EVERY TIME.

    Before reading this story, just this morning I played out an imaginary conversation where I argued with a motorist who thought I should stay right. My response was that if I were to ride in the right lane with normal speed, I put an ambulance ride as a NEAR CERTAINTY within six months.

    The right hook situation needs to be addressed on a infrastructure and education level across the city.

    While we may vent that motorists fail to pay attention but the right hook is the only action that requires a very thorough checking behind for a smaller vehicle. And it’s the only case where this is required to the right.

    A new model is required.

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  • Buzz Aldrin March 7, 2014 at 3:31 pm

    Hard to tell because of the poor video quality whether or not the van driver had his turn signal on or not, but if he did, I personally would have left the bike lane and merged left behind the van rather than attempting to pass on the right…

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  • lyle w. March 7, 2014 at 7:23 pm

    When people say the words “White work van” to me, I reach for my brake lever.

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  • Jim March 8, 2014 at 12:11 am

    This cyclist seamed to be oblivious of his surroundings. It is obvious that the van was going to go but the cyclist continued to go forward anyways. He should have been paying attention. The van driver is obviously wrong for making this turn with the bike there.

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  • Jim March 8, 2014 at 12:13 am

    How many cyclists have to get creamed before the city figures out these bike boxes aren’t as great as they thought they would be?

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    • El Biciclero March 10, 2014 at 1:29 pm

      Right hooks are not the fault of the bike box. These crashes would happen just as much without as with a “bike box”, and would be just as much the legal fault of the driver. A bike box does nothing–and is not intended to do anything–if a traffic signal is already green when all parties arrive. A bike box is of minimal value during the red phase of a traffic signal because it allows cyclists to queue up side-by-side in front of stopped motor traffic, and it may prevent a tiny number of right hooks that could happen at the time the light turns green and through cyclists proceed at the same time as right-turning motor traffic. A bike box might also slightly reduce the amount of time a stopped driver has to wait to turn right because it could theoretically allow bike traffic to clear the intersection sooner than if cyclists were all queued up single-file to the right.

      Bike boxes do not induce more right-hooks; Oregon law (bike box or not) induces more right hooks than might otherwise happen if cyclists knew to–and were legally allowed to–merge into the lane at intersections where motor vehicles may turn right instead of only where motor vehicle traffic must turn right.

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      • spare_wheel March 10, 2014 at 1:56 pm

        while it’s true that advanced stop lines do not necessarily promote classic right hooks, pbot’s bike box design has a green-lane of paint along the right that encourages cyclists to take their right of way in a dangerous situation.

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        • El Biciclero March 10, 2014 at 2:30 pm

          Exactly. I would agree that painted bike lanes such as at Broadway/6th, Beaverton-Hillsdale Hwy/Bertha Blvd, Hall Blvd/Greenway Blvd (Beaverton), Barbur Blvd/Capitol Hwy, AND next to many similarly-painted bike boxes can create an increased false sense of security and encourage cyclists to stay in a dangerous position. My only point is that this is caused by painted bike lanes, as in my many examples of such painted bike lanes that are nowhere near a bike box, rather than the bike boxes themselves. There is just so much confusion about what a bike box is and how it is supposed to be used, I like to make the distinction.

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        • wsbob March 10, 2014 at 5:07 pm

          “…pbot’s bike box design has a green-lane of paint along the right that encourages cyclists to take their right of way in a dangerous situation.” spare_wheel

          When, as they’re obliged to, people driving in the main lane, stay behind the bike box with its setback, this helps the bike lane be safer for people traveling by bike than do main lanes without a bike box setback.

          I don’t believe people traveling in the bike lane, are, if they choose not to, obliged to move over from the bike lane into the green box positioned at the head of the main travel lanes. They can stay in the bike lane, to the right of the main lane…in this case, ahead of motor vehicles in the main lane.

          About the green paint covering parts of entire bike lanes, and the box itself, I don’t think this is such a great idea. When it’s fresh and bright, the color is kind of…pretty…and maybe helps to alert people driving to some greater awareness of the box, to have them stay back behind it. Is it more effective than a simple white line, indicating to people driving where they’re should stop back from the intersection?

          I don’t know for certain, but I’m inclined to think the white line probably is better in doing this than is a larger square or rectangular area of green or some other color. Road users know about solid white lines’ association with crosswalks and bike lanes. Use of white line for the setback stays consistent with those other uses.

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    • wsbob March 10, 2014 at 2:17 pm

      “How many cyclists have to get creamed before the city figures out these bike boxes aren’t as great as they thought they would be?” Jim

      I don’t know how great it was that Portland thought the bike box would be. The setback from the intersection, so called ‘bike boxes’ apply to motor vehicles, can work to the safety of people traveling by bike, if they know how to use the setback. Through the windshield of the motor vehicle, it allows a person on a bike, whether they’re to the right of the motor vehicle, or directly in front of it, to be in direct view of the person driving.

      Out in Beaverton, eastbound on Millikan Way at Cedar Hills Blvd, there’s a setback for motor vehicles in the main to the left of the bike lane. Not a ‘bike box’ with the green paint. It works well to afford to the person driving, a view of a bike in the bike lane, as long as the motor vehicle hasn’t advanced over the setback line…which from my personal experience riding, doesn’t happen too frequently.

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    • wsbob March 10, 2014 at 2:27 pm

      “How many cyclists have to get creamed before the city figures out these bike boxes aren’t as great as they thought they would be?” Jim

      I don’t know how great it was that Portland thought the bike box would be. The setback from the intersection, so called ‘bike boxes’ apply to motor vehicles, can work to the safety of people traveling by bike, if they know how to use the setback. Through the windshield of the motor vehicle, it allows a person on a bike, whether they’re to the right of the motor vehicle, or directly in front of it, to be in direct view of the person driving.

      Out in Beaverton, eastbound on Millikan Way at Cedar Hills Blvd, there’s a setback for motor vehicles in the main to the left of the bike lane. Not a ‘bike box’ with the green paint. It works well to afford to the person driving, a view of a bike in the bike lane, as long as the motor vehicle hasn’t advanced over the setback line. From my personal experience riding, this doesn’t happen too frequently.

      In situations where there’s a bunch of say, eight or more people on bikes that could potentially be lined up, extending back along the right side of the first car behind the bike box, that’s a situation calls for more finesse from the people riding. It’s to their advantage to take care to position themselves away from a point along the motor vehicle’s side that wouldn’t allow to the person driving, a view of them out the vehicle’s front window.

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  • Tom March 8, 2014 at 4:41 pm

    Trouble intersections should have wide angle cameras installed at opposite corners, with camera surveillance signs posted. Why have tens of thousand buy cameras for their bikes when you only need two each for the problem intersections. The benefits are … (1) drivers tend to behave better when they know a camera is watching them, (2) police may be more likely to take a collision seriously if they know its all on camera, (3) it defends the cyclist against false and biased claims, (4) it provides data for traffic engineers to evaluate their intersection “improvements”. Intersection designs and mods should be proactively evaluated using intersection video data showing near misses, which allows better statistics than injury and fatality rates. If the mod is making things worse, it should be adjusted or taken out BEFORE someone actually gets hurt. If you automate the video analysis it might look something like this…..http://vimeo.com/24572222.

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