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Unsafe driving claims another victim: Why these recent collisions matter

Posted by on September 3rd, 2014 at 11:19 am

hys-30-lead

Shoulder of Hwy 30 after fatal
collision on Saturday.
(Photo: Oregon State Police)

A 74-year-old man was killed Saturday while riding his bicycle on the shoulder of Highway 30. It’s the sixth major rear-end collision in Oregon and SW Washington in less than a month — all of which have been caused by unsafe driving.

According the the Oregon State Police, this latest tragedy happened west of Rainier in Columbia County near Oregon’s northern border. Peter Linden was riding westbound near milepost 50 when the driver, 34-year-old Kristopher Woodruff, looked down at a text and allowed his truck to veer slightly into the shoulder where it hit Linden.

Woodruff did not stop and was arrested a few miles down the highway. He didn’t have a valid driver’s license and has been charged with Manslaughter in the First Degree, Felony Hit and Run, and a misdemeanor for an outstanding warrant.

KOIN-TV had a video report from the scene of the collision. They also shared that Linden was a retired city attorney from Saint Helens who was an avid bike rider and cancer survivor.

Of note to advocates, politicians, and concerned citizens is that there are important similarities between the collision that claimed Linden’s life and the other five collisions in this past month:

— In all six cases, unsafe driving behaviors caused the collisions:

  • August 13th: Serious injury collision east of Eugene. Driver cited for Unsafe Passing of a Person Operating a Bicycle (ORS 811.065)
  • August 13th: Fatal collision north of McMinnville. OSP says “driver fatigue being investigated as a contributing factor.”
  • August 14th: Serious injury collision in Vancouver, Washington. Driver was trying to grab a pacifier from the back seat and became distracted. He was cited for driving while suspended and Negligent Operation of a Motor Vehicle in the Second Degree.
  • August 16th: Serious injury collision in Grants Pass. Driver was cited for Careless Driving due to an unsafe pass.
  • August 24th: Fatal collision on I-84 in Columbia River Gorge. OSP says that, “driver fatigue has been identified as a contributing factor.”

— All the collisions happened on major highways with relatively narrow shoulders (except for the one in Vancouver that happened on an arterial with a bike lane) where driving speeds range from 45 to 65+ miles per hour

— In every case, the person on the bike likely chose their route because it was the only available — and feasible — option to get where they wanted to go.

The police have done their jobs (at least, after the fact). In every case, the police have either already given a citation, have started an investigation, or have referred the case to the district attorney’s office.

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This recent spate of collisions has weighed heavily on my mind because I ride the shoulders of Oregon highways and byways quite a bit. In reading comment sections of media coverage of the collisions, I notice a common response is for people to say, “Riding in these places is dangerous! Bikes shouldn’t be on the highway!” That’s a popular perspective and one that’s more mainstream than you might think.

But, as someone who has logged thousands of miles across Oregon in both a car and a bike, I see it a different way. This isn’t a bike safety problem, this is a car safety problem. In each circumstance — and in hundreds of other rear-end collisions in Oregon (and elsewhere) over the years — the car operator failed to stay in their lane. Bicycling on highway shoulders is completely safe, as long as people drive responsibly and safely.

The constant refrains of “bike safety” and resulting “bike safety projects” that happen after tragedies like these do not do justice to the problem (and a similar thing happens whenever there’s a spate of collisions involving people walking). What if we focused on improving “car safety” and worked on “car safety projects” instead? How would that change in framing impact people’s perspective on the issue and how would it change the way we approach the problem?

The last thing I’ll share today is that the leaders of Oregon and our various transportation bureaucracies have a responsibility to address these issues.

With a growing network of legally designated State Scenic Bikeways, we are encouraging people to get out and ride. This is a great thing because there’s no better way to experience Oregon’s beauty than on a bicycle and there’s an increasing realization that by doing so, local economies reap the benefits.

But it’s irresponsible for Oregon to encourage bicycle tourism — the vast majority of which takes place on the shoulders of highways — without doing more to make sure conditions are as safe as they can be.

I’ll be covering this issue much more in the months to come. I have some legislative ideas I’ve been thinking about for over a year now that relate directly to rural road and highway safety. I’m also heading out to Cycle Oregon next week where I’ll be spending many hours on highway shoulders trying to figure all this out. Stay tuned.

— For more on Oregon’s recent spate of rear-end collisions and the car safety issues they raise, see our coverage here and here.

NOTE: We love your comments and work hard to ensure they are productive, considerate, and welcoming of all perspectives. Disagreements are encouraged, but only if done with tact and respect. If you see a mean or inappropriate comment, please contact us and we'll take a look at it right away. Also, if you comment frequently, please consider holding your thoughts so that others can step forward. Thank you — Jonathan

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Alan Love
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Alan Love

As an extra tag onto the idea that people shouldn’t be allowed to bike on highways because it’s too dangerous for them (because of poor driving), the conversation generally neglects the idea that improving “car safety” as Jonathon describes would also impact the lives of drivers too. In addition to the 5,000+ people on foot and bikes killed by collisions with cars, another 28,000+ people inside cars are killed by collisions involving cars. If there needs to be a ban on certain modes of travel because “it’s too dangerous” let’s be sure were identifying the mode causing the deaths.

was carless
Guest
was carless

No, they should have taken the lane.

http://www.johnforester.com/

Psyfalcon
Guest
Psyfalcon

This is exactly where Forester and vehicular cycling has its problems.

If people are too asleep (or drugged, or drunk) to stay off the shoulder, are they awake enough to not rear end me in the lane?

Spiffy
Guest
Spiffy

they’re paying attention to the road ahead, not the road to the side…

so yes, they’ll see you a lot better if you’re in the middle of the lane… I know I see bikes better when they’re not blending in with the forest of signs on the shoulder…

Chris I
Guest
Chris I

Go ahead and take the lane on HWY 30. I’ll watch from the shoulder.

Psyfalcon
Guest
Psyfalcon

But if they hit me on a shoulder, then aren’t they looking ahead at where they’re going on the shoulder? If I change lanes, I look at the lane I’m changing into.

We’re not talking about a right hook here. We’re not talking about Clinton here. Much of VC is built around the idea that rear end collisions are rare and intersection collisions are most common. This is often true, but that is less true on a highway with limited entrances and side streets.

TonyT
Guest
TonyT

“Bicycling on highway shoulders is completely safe, as long as people drive responsibly and safely.”

I beg to differ. I’ve had two very close calls while riding along highways that very easily could have resulted in my death. Long-stories-short, the issues were sudden high winds (in Montana) and hard-to-see debris on the shoulder (Highway 30).

Highway riding certainly is made safer when drivers do their part, but when you’ve got multi-ton vehicles doing 4x or 5x your speed, just feet away, I don’t think it can fairly be described as completely safe.

was carless
Guest
was carless

Bingo. And this is why in the Netherlands, they build dedicated OFF-STREET multiuse paths that offer intercity connections.

Patrick Barber
Guest

As a 12-year-old, I was fortunate enough to spend four days in the Netherlands, riding around from town to town on well-signed, pleasant, quiet, and comfortable ‘bike highways.’ Not once was I or anyone else in my group concerned for our safety, day or night.

spare_wheel
Guest
spare_wheel

It’s not only infrastructure. Dutch drivers are held liable if they hit and kill a human being. In the USA, not so much.

Spiffy
Guest
Spiffy

yes, I could see how both of those situations could be deadly… if you were next to a cliff…

johnny moses
Guest
johnny moses

okay this is going to sound a bit cynical but is this saying to the officer “Oh, I am sorry, I guess I was tired and nodding off at the wheel” the new trend that allows careless/reckless car drivers to get off the hook even when a fatality is involved? Every time small slights like this happen such as “He suddenly darted out into my lane of travel” or “I guess I was really tired” (and the list goes on) it perpetuates a pattern of belittling bicyclists in terms of respect, consideration, and perhaps even legal rights. I have to confess that I am seriously disappointed seeing the direction this is going. How about, if you are so tired that you are nodding off, you should not be attempting to operate a motorized vehicle, let alone be on public transportation roadways. This latest trend of contributing car related cyclist fatalities to fatigue sickens me.

Sam
Guest
Sam

I don’t think anyone is arguing that being tired is a valid excuse. The only valid reason for slaughtering a cyclist with your car is checking work related email and only if you’re a cop (sarc).

Jason Markantes
Guest
Jason Markantes

I’ve always wondered why don’t they just double or triple the training/testing budget of the DMV? Nip most of this in the bud with more education and much more stringent driving tests. Heck, have a minimum failure quota every month where the bottom (or whatever would be double the current rates) have to be failed. Make it HARD, but create better drivers. Have mandatory retesting after your first accident or infraction. It seems there are lots of options that will take a good chunk of money, but probably a sliver compared to all the infrastructure changes built to manage such huge numbers of incompetent drivers.

Kyle
Guest
Kyle

YES! To operate a motor vehicle you should be an *expert*. Whether I’m driving a car, riding my bike, or walking around town, I’m shocked every day by the sheer incompetence and ignorance of drivers everywhere.

Just three days ago I was almost struck on my bicycle head-on in inner NE Portland by a driver that decided suddenly to pull completely into the oncoming traffic lane to pass a car over a double solid line. After slamming on the brakes and skidding I pulled up to his window, and he seemed to think that it was perfectly reasonable to pass the vehicle in front of him because it was “turning right” – stopped waiting for someone to cross the adjacent street.

How do these people pass the driving test when they haven’t read OR remembered half the driving manual, and why aren’t we retesting people vigorously every time they renew?

John Lascurettes
Guest

While I don’t disagree with the notion of periodic (in-car) driving tests, the problem is that if you take licenses away, many of those people will still drive (see the list of accidents in the story).

Paul in The 'Couve
Guest
Paul in The 'Couve

John, you are right because this needs to be a multi-front battle. We need more people to ride bikes, riding bikes needs to be safer and more convenient, bad drivers need to get off the road, … but to do that we need to make biking safer and more convenient…. circular

Panda
Guest
Panda

Part of getting out of that ‘circle’ is to make driving less convenient and more expensive! More frequent and higher fines for traffic violations, paid parking, and driver license revocation if warranted

Pete
Guest
Pete

This is a problem easily solved with technology (i.e. chipped driver licenses), though far more difficult politically.

Spiffy
Guest
Spiffy

a ticket for passing in a no-passing zone… and a ticket for obstructing traffic (the person turning right was stopped and I don’t think pedestrians count as oncoming traffic)…

Opus the Poet
Guest

The law requires turning traffic to yield to pedestrians, so yes they are “traffic”.

Pete
Guest
Pete

See my (many) comments on the KOIN article about Ellen’s death, particularly the fellow claiming 20 years as a “professional” driver who needed me to point to the specific pages in the driver manual correcting his flawed notion of the law.

Vance Longwell
Guest

The Driver Manual is not law, and is often littered with mistakes. ‘Tis what happens when we let a fascist church movement take over government.

Nicholas Skaggs
Guest
Nicholas Skaggs

Can you imagine the pushback the US auto industry would have? The endless stream of ad campaigns against more stringent testing, and lobbyists fighting tooth and nail to prevent such laws from passing?

People driving cars are a profitable thing, and I think that although your idea is great, and something I’d like to see, it would be unlikely in today’s corporate-welfare climate.

Vance Longwell
Guest

I can answer that rhetorical question for you Jason. If you observe studies made after attempts are made to implement more stringent licensing requirements in Oregon, you’ll notice the exact reason we all still suffer with poor drivers.

Turns out, when licensing requirements are made more stringent, protected class citizens, women and minorities, begin to fail these more difficult tests at unacceptable rates. Well, unacceptable to certain people; ones that control this state. This is especially true among blacks, and most especially true among black women of all ages.

Ergo, if you support safer roads, you are a misogynist, a racist, and a bigot.

Now, all bow your heads to the Church of PC!

Yellow Vest
Guest
Yellow Vest

seems like an issue where road construction crews and people who ride bikes can rally together. I bet construction crews have some stories to tell about cars veering out of their lane…

Oliver
Guest
Oliver

I can’t shake the feeling that a lot of the road construction contractors laugh when they think of the grief they cause cyclists by cutting corners in the shoulders of the road.

Patrick
Guest
Patrick

Construction workers build to plans. Speculating on their thoughts is of no value.

Yellow Vest
Guest
Yellow Vest

What I meant to say is, I bet a lot of construction workers have been hit or buzzed by distracted drivers. I’m not talking about what they’re building. I’m talking about the fact they spend all day on the side of the road.

Granpa
Guest
Granpa

I had a coworker killed while on a survey crew. He was on a sidewalk in an orange vest, and a cut through commuter veered up a driveway to skirt traffic. Yes, workers get buzzed and hit

Sam
Guest
Sam

The thing most likely to solve this problem is self-driving cars. Machines will be much safer around obstacles like cyclists than humans who can’t be bothered to slow below 65 if it means not killing someone. Of course, this will only be helpful between the time the self-driving cars become mainstream and the time they decide to rise up against us.

dan
Guest
dan

“But it’s irresponsible for Oregon to encourage bicycle tourism — the vast majority of which takes place on the shoulders of highways — without doing more to make sure conditions are as safe as they can be.”

This x 1,000. I’ve asked Travel Oregon for comments a few times after fatalities on the (heavily promoted) coast tour, and they’ve never responded in a way that suggests they have any responsibility to cycle tourists or interest in safety / appropriate law enforcement in these areas.

Zach Holz
Guest

I was going to post a big YES about this sentence too. Related to another news item last week, when I heard about the “demotion” of Portland to the #4 best cycling city, I also had a thought very similar to this — I rejoiced that the State and the City (and their tourism boards) will no longer be able to say, without any real evidence, that Oregon & Portland are the best places for cycling in America. They’ll have to PROVE it again. And an incredibly important place to start on that task to prove ourselves again is making these sketchy highways better.

My heart goes out to those families impacted by these recent events, too. It shouldn’t have ever happened. And I sure hope the “powers that be” (ahem, ODOT) will do something about it.

GlowBoy
Guest
GlowBoy

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: it absolutely appalls me that three decades took the Drivers Ed class that was mandatory in my state, Oregon still doesn’t require it.

We can’t talk about educating drivers better if we’re not even requiring them to be trained in the first place.

was carless
Guest
was carless

I’m appalled at how many people I know who failed their drivers test 5+ times before they passed. And that was more by luck than anything…

GlowBoy
Guest
GlowBoy

Oops, meant to say “… three decades after I took the Drivers Ed class …”

Bjorn
Guest
Bjorn

It is interesting that Oregon is moving towards requiring a 2 day education course for a motorcycle endorsement (all new riders beginning January 1st) but has no such requirement for a regular license.

wsbob
Guest
wsbob

Interesting, and it should be fairly easy to understand that the reason would be motorcycle riders in Oregon are obliged to take and pay for a motorcycle safety instruction courses as a condition of receiving their motorcycle endorsement, is that they as road users, are particularly vulnerable to collisions with motor vehicles. As are people that ride bikes on roadways in use by people driving motor vehicles.

Should advocates of improved safety for all road users, propose that Oregon implement requirements that driver’s licenses in the state be granted in part on condition that an intensive, applicant paid for test modeled to some extent on that used to prepare people for their motorcycle endorsement, be taken and passed?

Adam Rogers
Guest
Adam Rogers

“Shoulder”?

What “shoulder”?

I see about eight inches of space between the white line and the crash barrier.

That’s hardly a “shoulder” now is it? And that’s the whole problem.

Don’t tell me – ODOT considers that to be an acceptable “bike lane”.

Adam H.
Guest
Adam H.

I visited the coast for the first time this weekend and saw the state scenic bike route signs. I thought it was unbelievable and completely irresponsible that the state would put up these signs without putting in any bike infrastructure other than activated flashing light signs on bridges/tunnels. Many of the roads (US-101, Sunset Hwy) have very narrow shoulders and people driving very fast.

spencer
Guest
spencer

I have driven on the coast, I abstained from a supported tour years ago because of the lack of safety. I encouraged my MIL to NOT ride the coast because riding with that volume of traffic sucks. Unfortunately, she did it anyway and now will NO LONGER participate in bike touring (complete shame) all because the incredibly dangerous 101 and a week of terror. Its insane to promote touring on that road and many others as long as people continue to drive recklessly and most importantly NEGLECTFULLY.

Peejay
Guest
Peejay

Maybe, like the breathalyzers that are affixed to the ignitions of some convicted drunk drivers’ cars, what if there were an “alertness test” that had to be performed by EVERY driver before their car would start? If people see this as an undue burden on their driving, that’s just a side benefit.

I’d like to add that fatigued driving has always been with us. It’s deadly, and there’s no stigma attached to it, so it’s viewed as a good excuse. People can avoid or reduce repercussions of their drowsy driving behavior in ways they can’t if they blew over 0.08, but both are willful acts of disregard for others’ safety.

9watts
Guest
9watts

“both are willful acts of disregard for others’ safety.”

I think it boils down to the fact that we (humans) are really far too often in our busy lives incapable of safely operating these machines. It isn’t so much willful, as that the demands driving makes on our mental faculties exceed what we can muster in many situations. Often we are lucky, but sometimes not.

Drowsy + bike; hardly a problem
Drunk + bike; rarely an issue for anyone but the rider
Distracted + bike; see above

Plus we have the use of all our senses sitting on a bike, many of which the hermetic sealing of today’s cars deny those within.

Outer SE PDX Rider
Guest
Outer SE PDX Rider

I drove that stretch of HWY 30 to the beach on Saturday. There are two lanes. I was one of the few that bothered to change into the left lane when passing cyclists. There were A LOT of cyclists out on Saturday. No really. It was THE day. They owned it and most of us driving were at least respectful. It wasn’t quite Hood to Coast. But there were A LOT of cyclists. OK? Like every half mile you would pass a group of at least 2 or 3. A LOT.

Car traffic was relatively light and tamed. Both directions.

“Looking down at a text.” Hmm. The visibility was fantastic. You could see anyone on the shoulder long before passing. And did I mention there were A LOT of cyclists on the roadway? I am trying to figure out how a driver sees a cyclist ahead and still decides to prioritize looking at a text.

I drive. I drove it. I got through without killing anyone. I might have looked at a text or two and I lost the kid’s balloon at one point opening the windows. The point is… Yes. There are distractions, but I didn’t see anything on Saturday that would suggest the driver didn’t have a chance to avoid the cyclist… let alone decide not to ‘glance down’ while passing a completely COMMON AND OBVIOUS road user on the shoulder. It’s not like the line of cyclists stretched for ever. It was .3 seconds of patience needed. Rare.

Oliver
Guest
Oliver

I’ve said it several times before. It’s long overdue that police start using the “Failure to maintain a lane” statute for something other than just an excuse for checking to see if a driver is under the influence.

Start FINING people who can’t keep it between the lines.* It’s a sloppy habit, It’s dangerous, and it KILLS people.

*I frankly do not give a rat’s tail if your vehicle is too tall too wide or too softly suspended to drive the speed limit while maintaining a lane.

Kyle
Guest
Kyle

Actually, you touched on something here that’s been a growing problem: larger vehicles. Each year brings new models of cars, SUVs, and trucks, and they’re all bigger than the ones before. Couple this fact with incompetent drivers and it’s a bad combination.

Dan
Guest
Dan

No car manufacturer wants to advertise a smaller car. “Now with less legroom!”

Andyc of Linnton
Guest
Andyc of Linnton

I’m waiting for the models where you’re basically lying down watching a movie while operating your SUV that barely fits in the lane. Get on it, GM!
Needless to say, I have no confidence that any part of our governments/DOTS/etc have any will to change any of these bad habits that have become “rights” somehow.

Spiffy
Guest
Spiffy

my early 70’s Honda had more leg room than any SUV I’ve ever been in… it had nothing but legroom… it wasn’t cluttered by fancy designs, just nice open area under the dash for your legs… tiny outside, huge inside…

GlowBoy
Guest
GlowBoy

It’s not just larger vehicles, although that is part of the problem

Another big piece of the puzzle few people are aware of: in the last 4-8 years a lot of vehicles have switched over to electric power steering. Some of the EPS systems are pretty good, but a lot of them are REALLY numb — no on-center feel at all, which causes the vehicle to drift around in the lane quite a bit. I rented a 2010 Corolla a few years ago that I could hardly keep in its lane on the highway (early Priuses weren’t much better), but this summer I rented a 2014 Corolla for a roadtrip and it was far, far better. Still, millions of vehicles with first-draft EPS systems are on the road.

Then again, when you see a vehicle failing to stay in its lane, it’s still often that the driver is texting or otherwise engaging with their smartphone. I see an instance of it almost every single day. It’s as dangerous as DUII, yet law enforcement still doesn’t seem to take it as seriously.

Rick
Guest
Rick

The new Cadillac ATS is smaller than the previous CTS which it somewhat replaces. The new, larger CTS is actually lighter-weight than the previous CTS.

was carless
Guest
was carless

I don’t know, there are a ton of small car models these days:

Prius, Honda Fit, Leaf, Ford Fiesta (new), Ford Focus, and many many others. At least Hummer went out of business!

9watts
Guest
9watts

“small car models these days: Prius, Honda Fit, Leaf, Ford Fiesta (new), Ford Focus,”

Sort of… It really depends on what you’re comparing to. The cars that pass for small today: Mini, Fit, 500, Fiesta are in typically twice as heavy as their ancestors. They look small compared to today’s SUVs, but by most historical measures they’re not really. The small *aesthetic* is certainly welcome, but it shouldn’t be confused with the real thing.

And the Prius was never a small car.

Steve Scarich
Guest
Steve Scarich

I agree. The only thing that will get driver’s attention is the potential for punishment. That is the only reason that most drivers travel at something close to the speed limit on freeways. I had a car come within a foot of me on a two lane 55mph rural road, straight section, wide lanes, 6′ shoulder, no oncoming cars, I was in the middle of the bike lane and he came that close to me. I can only conclude that he was not paying attention to his driving. It is one of the first times in my 400,000 miles of bike riding that I was really freaked out. on a different note, a police officer in the Bay Area recently hit and killed a cyclist while he was checking his computer. He was not charged ‘because he was just doing his job’. The whole attitude towards distracted driving needs to change.

Spiffy
Guest
Spiffy

try telling the bus to maintain the lane up Hawthorne…

oh that’s right, the lanes aren’t wide enough… the buses HAVE to illegally straddle the line…

this is the state of our current infrastructure… you either have to break the law to make it work, or you get shamed for obeying the law and bringing the broken system into focus…

Chris I
Guest
Chris I

This isn’t just an issue for cyclists. I think about half a dozen motorists were killed over the holiday weekend in NW Oregon. It’s pure carnage out there. Something really needs to be done.

drew
Guest
drew

Driving drowsy and driving drunk can both end badly. The test for alcohol is quite straightforward, but there is no practical device you could put in a car for measuring sleepiness right now. If there was the technology to measure drivers brainwaves while driving, and when microsleeps are detected it could cause the vehicle to slow way down, that would save a lot of lives.

It is truly amazing how most people will tell you that bicycles are dangerous! When I am informed of this I compare a 28lb bike going 12 mph to a 2 ton vehicle going 45mph and ask, what indeed is really the more dangerous of the two?

Todd Hudson
Guest
Todd Hudson

I got my OR license by walking into the DMV and taking a 21-question test. Prior to that, I never once read the Oregon Driver Manual (I have since).

Acquiring a license should require testing criteria of rigorous tests, both written and behind the wheel…Germany’s model of licensing comes to mind.

Alan Love
Guest
Alan Love

But that would be un-‘Murican. Here we have a right to drive, because that’s the only “real” transportation for grown-ups.

KristenT
Guest
KristenT

Honestly, I don’t see why it’s such a problem to have to at least take the written test when renewing your license. Heck, make it open book, take it online, and bring the result in when you renew/mail them in when you renew.

Laws change over time, but the state doesn’t seem to have any way to make sure its licensed drivers know what the laws are after the initial licensing.

davemess
Guest
davemess

Did you have a license from another state though?
I got a license in both Colorado and Washington without having to take any kind of test, because I’m assuming they saw my original Ohio license and took its tests as proof. In Oregon we did have to take written test (which is better than most states).

Tom
Guest
Tom

Texting shown to be more dangerous than drunk driving, and on the rise. The outcome is the same, and both are done intentionally and unnecessarily, so the penalties should not be that different.

The focus should be on prevention. They can not cause an auto-collision if they can not drive.

Texting while driving 1st offense: Three month license suspension.
Texting while driving 2nd offense: Permanent lifetime license revocation.
Texting and hitting a VRU: Permanent lifetime license revocation.

Driving is a privilege, not a right.

And lets start using the automatic license plate scanners for detecting people driving on a suspended license, not just parking tickets etc.

TOM
Guest
TOM

>>Woodruff did not stop and was arrested a few miles down the highway. He didn’t have a valid driver’s license

suspending or revoking a drivers license would NOT have saved this rider.

9watts
Guest
9watts

“suspending or revoking a drivers license would NOT have saved this rider.”

Not so fast. My understanding is that our current system of suspending or revoking drivers licenses is mostly a suggestion. As others who understand how this could work better have suggested here in the past, we could probably design a system that actually interfered with/prevented driving without a license (because you’ve committed a crime rather than because you came here from Mexico).

If I can use my smartphone to show the Trimet bus driver that I’ve bought a ticket, we can surely come up with a clever/electronic way to prevent people from habitually driving after they’ve lost their license.

Pete
Guest
Pete

This is a comment I made on KOIN recently. With current technologies you could use a chipped driver license to start a car as well as broadcast your identity to nearby police and/or infrastructure. Forget needing correct visual determination of a vehicle registration plus confirmation of the owner driving the vehicle.

You don’t want a nanny state? Stop creating one with your irresponsible behavior.

chasing backon
Guest
chasing backon

Whatever you do, don’t scroll down the page and look at the comments on the KOIN site.

John Lascurettes
Guest

Given.

Spiffy
Guest
Spiffy

there’s only one comment, and it’s a question about the cop’s activities…

rachel b
Guest
rachel b

My husband, my sister and I took the lane coming down Marquam Hill from Fairmont this Sunday and my leg was skimmed by a driver who aggressively passed us once we hit Gibbs. Then he sped promptly into the hospital zone. Shook me up, but I wasn’t surprised. We took the lane because they’ve done so much sewer and water line work up there, the road’s a ragged patchwork of dangerous. I advocate taking the lane but never let my guard down for an instant–even with “safety in numbers.” I am one of those people who prepares to die pretty much every time I get on my bike (whee!). I still manage to have fun riding. 🙂 Thanks for staying on this issue, bikeportland, and my heartfelt condolences to the family and friends of Mr. Linden.

Bobcycle
Guest
Bobcycle

Make that 7 just got word of a man on a bicycle seriously injured in McMinnville. More n more I move towards “gravel” rides like the upcoming Oregon Stampede, remote, beautiful, few cars, friendly people.

Todd Boulanger
Guest
Todd Boulanger

Just a quick look at the crash scene photo provided…this portion of the highway looks to be missing any sort of rumble strip (on the left of the fog line) or similar. (It may be too narrow to support a rumble strip outside and 2 full lanes of traffic…so should it be road dieted?)

Todd Boulanger
Guest
Todd Boulanger

Actually there could be a great bike highway developed if the old river level railway ROW to Astoria was converted to a bikeway. I remember thinking this as I rode the train along in back in 2006(?).

Granpa
Guest
Granpa

I am disturbed that drivers buy these HUGE SUVs because they are safer. Safer for the driver only, but more dangerous for every on else. They are too big to keep in between the lanes. and when the collide with smaller, more fuel efficient, easier to manage cars (or cyclists) they cause incredible damage.

Paul in The 'Couve
Guest
Paul in The 'Couve

I drive one of those – with my tribe. One advantage is when I slow down for cyclists, I block traffic real well, and when I drive the speed limit or a bit below I slow down traffic real well.. and hardly anyone ever tries to tail gate me and if they do, I just slow a bit and let them stare at my massive chrome bumper and trailer hitch.

Chris Anderson
Guest

I pretty much do this on my cargo bike.

Rob Chapman
Guest
Rob Chapman

Thanks for looking out Paul and Chris.

Granpa
Guest
Granpa

Please remove your trailer hitch when not towing. It doesn’t matter where you park, my wife will walk into it.

Psyfalcon
Guest
Psyfalcon

Its not the size of the SUV, its the driver.

Professionals can keep an 18 wheeler in the lines (at least on the highways, some city corners are a different matter.)

Dan
Guest
Dan

I’m disturbed that for years the federal government has given huge tax breaks to businesses for buying >6000lb GVWR SUVs when a normal car would suffice (and which have a smaller tax break). That definitely added to the problem. I know a number of business owners driving around in these things all by themselves.

Pete
Guest
Pete

My friend recently traded his Subaru Forester for a $46K Chevy Silverado Texas Edition because he will recover $34K of that back on his business’s tax return (plus he wanted a pickup camper).

Chris I
Guest
Chris I

We are doomed. I’m moving to Europe…

MaxD
Guest
MaxD

In addition to bigger shoulders, I would love to see speed limits dropped to 40-45 on scenic bikeways and enforced! Or maybe dropped to “30 when bicylces present” like school zones. I agree that distraction is on the rise, cars/suvs are getting bigger, blind spots are getting worse because of airbags, and I think it is time for speeds to go down. It is somewhat challenging to patrol for distracted/drowsy drivers, but police are good at catching speeding motorists, and looking our for speedtraps will keep drivers on their toes.

Todd Boulanger
Guest
Todd Boulanger

Jonathan…to clarify and word smith your statement: “This isn’t a bike safety problem, this is a car safety problem.” I would recommend its less about the safety of the mechanical device and instead the operator, so:

” This isn’t a bicyclist safety problem, this is a car driver/ motor vehicle operator safety problem.”

Too long have we been placing the blame on the equipment and not where it should rest…the operator driving too fast for conditions, too dazed, or too distracted.

Suburban
Guest
Suburban

If there are bigger shoulders, cars will veer into them more so. I speculate that all the listed rear-end crashes involved the out of control vehicle to be traveling too closely behind another car or truck, limiting their vision of the road ahead of them and making it seem as if a cyclist came out of nowhere.(faster than their reaction time). Just watch 20 min of traffic on any major road near Portland, about 50% of cars leave their lane of travel- and you will never see any enforcement.

GlowBoy
Guest
GlowBoy

“If there are bigger shoulders, cars will veer into them more so.”

No. I’m from Minnesota, land of wide shoulders. Almost all state highways have 8-12′ shoulders, as do many county and minor roads. (They’re helpful for snow removal, see, but also nice for cyclists). People aren’t driving all over the shoulders there any more than they are here.

Dwaine Dibbly
Guest
Dwaine Dibbly

When Mrs Dibbly & I moved to Portland 4 years ago we were amazed at how easy the driving test was. (We moved from Florida.) Both of us passed the vision test without glasses even though we have both worn glasses since elementary school. (My distance vision *did* improve some when I hit bifocal age a few years before we moved & my eyes were never super-terrible to begin with, but I’d never drive without glasses.)

Alan 1.0
Guest
Alan 1.0

In the photo in this article and in streetviews, it looks like there’s enough room outside of the Armco for a separated, paved path along this section of road. (dream on!)

Pat Franz
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Pat Franz

When there are essentially zero consequences, this is the behavior you get. Think about effective consequences; what would they be like?

Rob
Guest
Rob

For every distracted driving caused death, we raise the gas tax by $1.00

Opus the Poet
Guest

I would be happy if this was $0.01/death nationwide. Just add it to the Federal tax, and distribute that part by distracted driving deaths per state for bike/ped enhancements (for all the drivers losing their licenses and cars). Make death by driving an automatic loss of vehicle, how often do we give people who kill with guns the gun back?

KimJ
Guest
KimJ

“But it’s irresponsible for Oregon to encourage bicycle tourism — the vast majority of which takes place on the shoulders of highways — without doing more to make sure conditions are as safe as they can be.”

I just returned from my first coastal bike tour in Oregon and have cancelled any plans for a Pacific Coast tour, as I think it’s far too dangerous to ride Oregon highways.

It is not safe to ride on poorly maintained 3 foot shoulders with large trucks, RVs, and other traffic hurtling by at over 50 mph. It really wouldn’t be safe even if the shoulders were well-maintained, since the heavy volume of two-way traffic still makes passing dangerous – to both cyclists and oncoming vehicles.

This is not a “car safety” issue. Other than the possibility of a head-on collision, motorists have little incentive to change. It almost seems like Oregon, and bicycle advocacy groups, are willing to accept a level of collateral damage to further their goals.

9watts
Guest
9watts

I disagree. Thousands bike this route, and countless other routes, every day and are not injured or killed. There is unnerving and there is unsafe.

The problem in my view isn’t with a particular road or narrow shoulder, though some could certainly use attention, but—as we’ve seen here once again—with people piloting vehicles who shouldn’t be, who aren’t giving it their full attention, and who, we must once again note, probably will face fairly slim sanctions for the deaths their carelessness precipitated.

This can and does happen pretty much anywhere. Fingering Hwy 101, or Sandy Boulevard, to me, puts the onus on ODOT rather than our legal and police system which have (also) failed to protect us. Both should do more, could do more, could prioritize better, but at the end of the day the quickest and cheapest way to start tackling this is with enforcement, greater attention to how we go about permitting folks to drive in this state, etc. =All already said well above.

Maybe we can be done also, once and for all, with the focus on getting people on bikes to wear reflective bits. For this to make any sense whatsoever you need an attentive driver. Which seems to have been the missing factor in a lot of these tragedies.

Dan
Guest
Dan

9watts
The problem in my view isn’t with a particular road or narrow shoulder, though some could certainly use attention, but—as we’ve seen here once again—with people piloting vehicles who shouldn’t be, who aren’t giving it their full attention, and who, we must once again note, probably will face fairly slim sanctions for the deaths their carelessness precipitated.

I rode the length of the Oregon coast a few years ago. The terrifying part for me on 101 was the 18-wheelers passing within a foot or two of me, which is a common occurrence in many spots on the route. They aren’t going to go 15 miles an hour and wait for an appropriate time to try & pass safely.

9watts
Guest
9watts

I’ll grant you that that stuff happens. I’ve experienced it too. I also appreciate my helmet mirror so I know when this sort of thing is coming. Listening for those trucks also allows me to plan (a little bit) ahead. I’m not saying that 101 is perfect. Far from it. But I am saying that we should keep in perspective that what most folks, who dump on hwy 101 as a biking experience, are objecting to is the unnerving stuff rather than the ‘I have a 1 in 3 chance of coming out alive or unscathed’ prospects. 99.9% of us are not creamed and therefore what we should be focusing our first round of efforts on is enforcement and serious, automatic, we-mean-business, penalties for those rare but avoidable crashes when someone is creamed by a distracted or careless or vindictive driver.

Dan
Guest
Dan

http://bikeportland.org/2011/08/04/breaking-fatality-on-highway-101-when-logging-truck-bike-collide-57314

Semi-truck suction is not just unnerving, it’s a real danger. And that’s in addition to small shoulders on curving roads, dark tunnels & skinny bridges, drivers who are looking at the ocean instead of the road, trucks pulling campers & boats, and RVs driven by people who have not been specifically licensed to drive them.

I’ve ridden a lot of highways & mountain roads, and I definitely felt like I was rolling the dice on the Oregon coast.

dan
Guest
dan

Hi other Dan! My own Pacific coast tour (from Astoria to Santa Monica) was in 2002, quite awhile ago. I was young and intrepid then, and I actually didn’t mind the semis because I felt like they saw me, knew how wide their vehicle was, and were giving me room (usually not 3 feet, but that’s not always possible). It was the @#$@# RV drivers that terrified me, because they appeared to have no idea of how wide they were or when it was safe or not safe to pass.

Now that I’m a married man, I would never do the Oregon coast (or the Big Sur, for that matter, which is a shame) again without either substantial changes to the infrastructure, or a dedicated chase van.

Spiffy
Guest
Spiffy

“Maybe we can be done also, once and for all, with the focus on getting people on bikes to wear reflective bits.”

deer won’t wear hi-vis clothes and it’s still your fault if you hit one… there’s no excuse for not seeing a pitch black object on a dark road other than negligence… saying that you didn’t see somebody that you just ran over is an admission of guilt due to your negligence… the road isn’t clear just because you don’t see anything, the road is clear when you can clearly see that nothing is there…

wsbob
Guest
wsbob

“…Maybe we can be done also, once and for all, with the focus on getting people on bikes to wear reflective bits. …” 9watts

For everyone’s sake, it’s important to keep a focus on people on bikes using reflectivity, lights and color, to help them be readily distinguishable and thereby distinguishable to people driving. I notice more and more people riding bikes, riding motorcycles, and walking, that are using these aids to enhancing their visibility to people driving.

The day of not using such aids being uncool for other than construction and road workers, fortunately seems to be withering away. Items made using Hi Vis and reflectivity in many of the major active wear manufacturer lines is becoming more common.

Spiffy at: http://bikeportland.org/2014/09/03/unsafe-driving-claims-another-victim-recent-collisions-matter-110642#comment-5475616

…I like that.

Chris I
Guest
Chris I

Tell that to the families of the 33,000+ people that die in and around motor vehicles and America each year. How is this not a vehicle safety problem?

9watts
Guest
9watts

“How is this not a vehicle safety problem?”

Using those words evokes Ralph Nader, airbags, steering that automatically pulls the car to the right when let go (hey–something to look into!), that sort of thing. I think what a lot of us are saying here in the comments is that the problem isn’t so much with the *vehicles* but with the bipeds sitting behind the steering wheel.

wsbob
Guest
wsbob

I read an article recently, reporting that in France, it’s extremely difficult to pass the test to get a driver’s license. It told the story of a guy going to London to get a driver’s license because he wasn’t able to pass the test to get a license in France.

Article didn’t go on to report what percent of people driving in that country, do so without a driver’s license. Or whether and how much, the stringent requirements for getting the license, have improved safety for people using the road without a motor vehicle, from the motor vehicles people are driving.

Autonomous motor vehicle technology, is the most likely to be the most effective means of improving motor vehicle safety relative to use of the road by people using the road without motor vehicles. That technology may be a ways from being developed fully enough for it to be standard equipment on motor vehicles in production.

Until then, everyone biking need realize that whenever using the road without a motor vehicle, near to or amongst motor vehicles, where there’s no protective barrier from motor vehicles, such use of the road is potentially very dangerous.

9watts
Guest
9watts

“Until then, everyone biking need realize that whenever using the road without a motor vehicle, near to or amongst motor vehicles, where there’s no protective barrier from motor vehicles, such use of the road is potentially very dangerous.”

Careful, there, wsbob. This is dangerously close to shrugging. It’s just dangerous out there/we can’t do anything as a society about enforcement/distraction/the dangers of automobility. You’re taking your life in your hands.

Vision Zero takes the opposite approach. This is a problem. We can do something about it. We must do something about it. Watch us.

wsbob
Guest
wsbob

No shrug. As I said, technology sufficient to handle the problem, will eventually be developed, maybe sooner than we think.

It may be a commendable effort, but Vision Zero is no force field capable of protecting someone riding a bike on the shoulder of a road next to the main lane where motor vehicles are whizzing by at high speeds.

Strict Liability is an interesting concept, but whether it could ever in the U.S., gain the acceptance and the results it’s said to have in some European countries that use it, is debatable. Worth discussing though.

9watts
Guest
9watts

“Vision Zero is no force field capable of protecting someone riding a bike…”

Good turn of phrase, there, wsbob. But I wonder. It seems to me that Vision Zero is about as close to a Force Field as anything we’ve so far come up with, short of Carfree Sundays 🙂

Rick
Guest
Rick

How does Cinthya Garcia-Cisneros get off so easy? So sad.

dan
Guest
dan

I agree that case is very sad, but it’s not really comparable to drivers who run down clearly visible cyclists operating in a legal bike lane.

Spiffy
Guest
Spiffy

“She avoided prison, in part, because the victim’s parents urged the trial judge to sentence her to probation.”

Joe
Guest
Joe

Depressing so sad.. RIP what has really stuck in my mind when I bike across I5 here in Wilsonville, narrow… dirty shoulders.. speeding car driving wreck less. Can we get some billboards that say slow the eff down pls or wake up and look for road users. The country roads are the silent killers these days too, get hit out there best have someone one your side. 🙁

Zaphod
Guest

The culture of driving as being a near absolute right and the downplaying of responsibility to the point of absurdity. It’s a blind spot. And while cars represent such an amazing freedom, there should also be a similar freedom to choose how to travel.

Cars are becoming more toy-like with integrated electronics and all sorts of creature comforts. All of these things are awesome and cool but they come at an expense of increased risk to everyone in proximity of the machine.

I’d love to see the laws reflect real consequence.

wsbob
Guest
wsbob

A ‘near, absolute obligation’, is what driving has become. If they want to eat, have a job so they and their family can eat, many people drive. Both good and bad, this has become part of the culture in the U.S., one that I would think most people in the U.S. are well aware of. Though no doubt grudgingly in many instances, I think most people also, accept and support both the benefits and the caution required that accordingly goes along with use of the road.

Electronic technology in motor vehicles is far from being limited to use for creating entertainment and comfort, and has already started to be used to protect people not in motor vehicles, from motor vehicles.

Definitely, roads in the U.S. are in need of being redesigned to offer better, safer conditions for use with bikes and by walking for increasing numbers of people that are likely to choose those means of travel.

For consequences in the event of collisions, would people in the U.S. that drive, support acceptance and wide application of Strict Liability as a means of assigning responsibility for collisions to persons driving and involved in collisions? If Strict Liability was implemented as such, would the use of the concept really bring down the rate of collisions that occur in the U.S.?

Spiffy
Guest
Spiffy

I heard somebody say that until they design cars so that your legs hang over the front bumpers then people will continue to crash them into things…

PDXmarty
Guest

Seems to me there must be a movement to ensure that driver cell phones are disabled while the car is in motion. Need to make it impossible to send or read texts while driving.

Opus the Poet
Guest

The law requires turning traffic to yield to pedestrians, so yes they are “traffic”.