Man injured after being clipped by rear-view mirror on Highway 26

Posted by on June 19th, 2014 at 12:21 pm

Oregon State Police photograph showing location of collision.

Yesterday just after 3:00 pm a man was struck while bicycling on the shoulder of Highway 26 about seven miles east of Sandy (at the bottom of Cherryville Hill, map).

According to an Oregon State Police statement, the collision involved Irma Swearengen, an 80-year-old woman who was driving a 1998 Pymouth Voyager mini-van and Kennedy Salveter, a 20-year-old man who was riding a triathlon bike. Both of them live in Sandy.

Salveter and Swearengen were headed eastbound on Highway 26 and Swearengen’s right-side mirror hit Salveter’s left hip as she attempted to pass him. The OSP says Salveter was riding, “in the vicinity of the shoulder” prior to the collision. He was “knocked down and injured” and ultimately transported to the hospital with “non-life threatening injuries”.

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As you can see in the photograph above, this section of Highway 26 has rumble strips installed in the shoulder. It’s not known whether or not those played a role in the collision. We’ve reached out to Salveter via his Facebook page to ask if he remembers anything prior to the collision but we haven’t heard back.

At this time OSP says they are not taking any enforcement action. Oregon’s safe passing law, ORS 811.065, states that,

“The driver of a motor vehicle may only pass a person operating a bicycle by driving to the left of the bicycle at a safe distance and returning to the lane of travel once the motor vehicle is safely clear of the overtaken bicycle… a ‘safe distance’ means a distance that is sufficient to prevent contact with the person operating the bicycle if the person were to fall into the driver’s lane of traffic.

Reached today, OSP Public Information Officer Lt. Gregg Hastings said the investigation is ongoing.

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davemess
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davemess

There are two lanes in this direction, why did this have to happen (even if the cyclist was in the right lane, and not on the right side of the rumble strips)?

With only this report to go on, it sounds like the driver was in violation of the safe passing law.

sw resident
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sw resident

From careful observation I think cyclists get clipped often from the following driving behavior. Notice how many drivers position their car in the lane. They put themselves and not their car in the middle of the lane. All the readers who also drive keep this in mind!
This causes their car to be a good 3 or more feet over to the right than it should be, therefore taking away the safe passing distance. They may think they are passing safely but are already handicapping themselves due to positioning. Add in treating that center line like a cliff and Bam! they hit a cyclist or pedestrian. They are not intentionally crowding cyclists or pedestrians, they just have no clue how to drive.
This poor lane positioning gets even worse through turns. On my moto or in my car I have seen countless cars who look they were about to bust an axle through a turn because of this.
So many other things at play in this crash here too. Not the least of which that the driver is an octogenarian who has likely not seen a driver’s manual for at least 60 yrs.

davemess
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davemess

Great point about not driving in the true center of the lane. I would add that many cars/trucks are a lot larger today. So not being in the true center allows for even less room around the lane’s edges.

This instance wasn’t even an issue with a center line though, there was a whole other passing lane available!
I postulate that speed in this section (and possibly the driver’s age and reaction time) were contributing factors to her inability to get over into this passing lane.

Paul in The 'Couve
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Paul in The 'Couve

This is 1 part of the main reason I am very biased towards riding further LEFT nearly in the middle of the lane myself. The other part is that many drivers, in addition to often being too far right, seem to be “in the zone” and it takes an obvious hazard to get over the threshold of what they are ignoring. Bikes to the right get ignored because they don’t rise above the “pay attention threshold” then when the driver overtakes you the either never notice how close they are, or they don’t have time to think before reacting or check the other lane.

I got so tired of getting buzzed along 2 lane of travel stretches like Sandy Blvd. or MacArthur in Vancouver (before buffered bike lane) that I pretty much always take the right lane, and watch my mirror prepared to move out of the way. However, on HWY 26 with the speeds, I would be hesitant to take this approach. I’m fine with it at 35mph speed limits and 45 mph speeds, but when I have potential for 75mph speed…. might not be wise.

This is also why I hate the lower part of Interstate between the Rose Quarter and Mississippi along the Max track. Nearly every freaking d—b A– driver leaves 6 feet of space to avoid the curb for the MAX track on the left and only 2 feet or less to safely pass cyclists…. I get sick of it.

Pete
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Pete

I haven’t had a bias for positioning since I started using a drop-bar-end mirror for situational awareness (the helmet- and eyeglass-mounted ones never worked for me… I couldn’t train myself to stop turning my head to look at them!). In the area where I drive, I’ve found many drivers have a tendency to speed up when they think you are close or a danger to them, and they end up driving erratically and close. (This is where the positioning you recommend comes in handy!). I wouldn’t even be surprised if that’s what happened in this case – had the lady even seen him (we don’t know that). I think the rumble strip and speed here creates a no-win situation for bikers; I like to think I’d have been riding in the center of the first lane and ignoring the honks.

Twice I’ve been passed on the right when positioned like this. The last time this was attempted I had a gut feeling it was coming so I started slalom-turning in the lane… sure enough, loud screech as the driver slams on brakes after accelerating to pass both me and the other cars on the right, followed by the turn signal coming on (rare event) and a sheepish merge into the passing lane with the other traffic. These are the times I wish the police were around – like the one time I actually did get clipped by a cell-phone-talking weaver driving solo in a HOV lane…

CaptainKarma
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CaptainKarma

Wish we all had go-pro cameras like the **deleted by moderator** seem to, so we could skip the “he said, she said” phase of investigation. I will hold conjecture on this limited data.

Pete
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Pete

Cameras are getting cheaper and cheaper to where they’re feasible to ride with, and I very much agree with you (and have one on order). In theory it should be hard to refute a violation of a safe passing law if there’s an actual impact though, being scientifically impossible to be 3 or more feet away when you’re 0 feet away. Unless of course laws aren’t actually meant to be enforced.

Best wishes for a speedy recovery Kennedy!

Paul Atkinson
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Paul Atkinson

Agreed. I commute with a GoPro on my helmet and I have a Fly6 rear camera on order (shipping today, they said).

I’ve said before that the GoPro is a double layer of safety. Not only would it eliminate the ambiguity as you point out, but the sight of it seems to have…let’s call it a calming influence on traffic.

Pete
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Pete

Hey, the Fly6 is a great idea! There was one on kickstarter a while ago that would commit memory to flash after it detected a collision, which saves running batteries down writing copious amounts of flash to record entire non-eventful rides.

pdx2wheeler
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pdx2wheeler

The Kickstarter was for a device called the RidEye. The developer is due to ship the final product in about a month, or so. There is a 2.5 and 10 hour capacity model that records 1080p hi-def video on a loop. It will detect a crash and save the video for later analysis. I hope to receive mine soon and have my permanent witness on board. If it works well I’ll also mount one on the rear for maximum coverage.

Q
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Q

As someone who has been moderated for far less on this site, I take exception to your use of socially derogatory term like “rooskie”. It’s like calling someone a kike or a gyppo. And pathetic that it’s allowed to stand on a site where I can’t talk about legal self defense tactics.

Mossby Pomegranate
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Mossby Pomegranate

Maus has his group of “protected” posters that seem to get away with anything.

El Biciclero
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El Biciclero

I thought that term for “Russian” was an English spelling of the actual Russian word for “Russian”. Sort of like if Spanish-speakers called Americans “American” instead of “Norte-Americano”. I suppose its all in the intent, though. Well, wait, I guess it’s not; it’s all in how it is received, not how the speaker intended it.

reader
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reader
Alan 1.0
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Alan 1.0

No mention of Oregon Vulnerable User Law, ORS 811.135 (VRU)?

9watts
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9watts

Perhaps she was texting?
But regardless, this part “At this time OSP says they are not taking any enforcement action” is totally unacceptable, sends a very chilling message, could perhaps be considered to threaten much of the work that is being done on infrastructure to make bicycling more pleasant, safe, inviting. Why do we keep hearing this?!

Oh, right. Carhead.

Joe
Guest
Joe

On the subject of driving middle of lane most drift right and stay hugging the while line.. why..?.. hmm hard to say why… one thing I noticed is that if someone is pulling a trailor they also drift waaay right 🙁 noticed yesterday after one passed me on boonesferry rd

Joe
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Joe

carhead LOL! awesome

sbrock
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sbrock

Since the Oregon “safe passing” law is not enforced, maybe some public awareness and a few citations would make giving ample room to cyclists a bigger priority. When I have nicely asked PPB traffic officers, none are even aware of the ORS. or “safe passing law” at all. Combined with less than 3 citations issued a year in Oregon over the last 8 years, it seems to be a less than serious issue of traffic safety with those who can raise awareness and enforce the laws already in place.

Pete
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Pete

California recently passed its latest attempt at a safe passing law, a 3′ passing law that takes effect this September. Like so many other laws, it raised a bit of a stink when it was in deliberation, got shot down once because it had confusing stipulations which led the police associations to say it would create carnage on the roadways as drivers slammed on the brakes to slow for slow bicyclists. Most public forums that I saw had the unanimous comment that it would be unenforceable anyway, to which I replied that it could actually be enforced with video cameras and that bicyclists will increasingly be using systems like the one pdx2wheeler mentions above (as the costs come down).

I agree public awareness is key, but look at the three iterations Oregon’s pedestrian crossing laws have gone through in the past decade. I couldn’t keep track of them, and I was trying! I personally believe these laws should be harmonized across the country, as I ride and drive in several states which all have different variations on infrastructure, passing bicyclists, etc. (for example I can cross a double-yellow to drive past a cyclist in Oregon but not in California).

El Biciclero
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El Biciclero

Why is not “hitting a cyclist” considered to be so-called “prima facie” evidence of unsafe passing?

Oh, that’s right, because there are so many cases where the “safe” passing law doesn’t apply:

1. If the driver is going less than 35(!) MPH
2. If the bicyclist is riding in a bike lane

But in the absence of either of those conditions, and assuming the cyclist did not suddenly swerve 6 feet to the left (easily determined to the negative if the point of impact was < 6 feet from the edge of the road), how can there be no "enforcement action"?

I can only assume the point of impact was less than 6 feet from the edge of the road, because had it happened much further into the lane, the cyclist would have had an "improper use of lanes" citation tossed into the back of the ambulance with him, no "investigation" needed.