Kerry Kunsman, a 67-year old bicycle safety instructor and board member of the San Diego County Bicycle Coalition is in critical condition after being hit from behind by a pickup driver while riding near Tillamook yesterday.
According to the Oregon State Police, Kunsman, a resident of San Diego California, was riding westbound on Highway 131 between Tillamook and Netarts Bay (map) when he was struck from behind by 74-year old Oceanside (Oregon) resident Frank Bohannon, who was driving a Ford F350 pickup.
The collision occurred at milepost five in the apex of a right-have and curve. As you can see in the photos below, Netarts Hwy has two lanes in this location and no paved shoulder. The posted speed limit on this highway is 55 mph, but there’s an advisory speed of 35 mph posted for this specific corner. The investigation into the collision is ongoing and no enforcement decision has been made. Kunsman is suffering from a brain injury and is being treated at Legacy Emanuel Hospital in Portland.
This is the latest in an alarming spate of rear-end collisions involving bicycle riders on rural Oregon highways in the past month.
In their official statement about the collision, OSP shared this warning:
OSP & ODOT urge all drivers to be watchful for vulnerable highway users such as bicyclists and pedestrians on all roads. Useful safety tips and information is available on ODOT’s Bicycle Safety website.
Kerry Kunsman is a well-known advocate for bicycling in San Diego. He’s Chair of the Education Committee on the San Diego County Bicycle Coalition Board of Directors and he’s a League of American Bicyclists League Cycling Instructor (LCI). According to a bio on the SDCBC website, Kunsman was Instructor of the Year in 2006.
SDCBC has posted the following message about the collision on their Facebook page:
Please put your prayers towards Portland Oregon, Kerry Kunsman was hit by a truck yesterday on his trip from Border to Border. He is in critical condition with a severe brain injury. His wife and daughter just got up there. Kerry is a long time Bike Coalition pillar and LCI instructor- educating San Diego County bicyclists and motorists. Again… please keep him in your prayers.
This section of highway is a well-known part of the Oregon Coast Bike Route and it’s on the map of the Oregon Coast published by the Adventure Cycling Association. I rode this stretch of highway last September while participating in the Amgen People’s Coast Classic and it was part of the route again this year.
UPDATE, 9/22 at 6:48 am: According to a Legacy Emanuel Hospital spokesperson, Mr. Kunsman died from injuries sustained in this collision around midnight Sunday.
Very sad, I hope he fully recovers. That said, I’ve driven 131 many times and would never dream of riding on it. Too many curves, no shoulder, the risk is massive.
131 is the main route between Tillamook and Cape Lookout. This is ridden by people every day all year long. It actually is the best cycling route to the coast from Tillamook. It actually is the designated route for AC.
Yes, it’s a curvy and narrow spot… Which is why people should drive very cautiously. I also think a speed limit of 55 is too high.
Given its prominence as a bike route, this is one of many sections of hwy across Oregon I believe should be given a special “bicycle safety corridor” designation which would come w lower speed limits, doubled traffic fines, special signage, local education and so on.
My heart goes out to his family.
I take this road to Oceanside frequently, and I can’t say that I’ve ever come close to 55… that has always felt too fast for those curves and I’ve frequently wondered how anyone could actually get up to that speed! But it’s unfortunate that many drivers do treat the speed ‘limit’ like a target. I agree that, especially if it is the designated bike route, it should be eligible for automatic lower speeds, especially if there’s no shoulder. This would be a great thing to ask for at a state level.
My in-laws live off this road. Seeing bicycles on this route is very common. Drivers who live in the area should expect to see bikes.
However, the facility is sorely lacking for improvements, signage, etc. I fit into the category of “fearless rider” but I saw a lot of risk on this route despite it’s popularity online (i.e. mapmyride) and therefore have not ridden it yet. There are many places where sightlines are limited by hills or corners and there are also a lot of folks with large vehicles and boat trailers. Add to that people driving fast and making poor passing decisions.
My mother in-law just sent me this via email:
“I was west bound on that curve a short time before the accident. The sun was blinding that time of day. When you come around the curve at that time of day you are momentarily blinded on sunny days. And there’s absolutely no shoulder.”
So what I want to know is why the legal system isn’t going to throw the basic speed rule*/too fast for conditions book at Frank Bohannon? We already know they won’t. They never do.
In this particular instance I’d venture (wsbob notwithstanding) that we seem to have a pretty good idea, thanks in part to some perspicacious bikeportland readers, of what the circumstances were: blind corner+setting sun+driving too fast to brake in time once he realized he was not alone on the road = too fast for conditions.
*Or, for that matter, how about the vulnerable road user law?
Because of several sections on the Oregon Coast Bikeway, the State has no business in promoting this as a bike route. It borders on criminal! We are encouraging out-of-staters and our own families to risk their lives on a route that regularly kills cyclists every year. I can imagine Kerry was thinking just before being hit, “of crap, get me out of here!” I know I would.
Best is a relative term here. It’s a winding highway with high speed traffic and no shoulder. I fully admit most cyclists are braver than me and, perhaps, see this as a safe route. Personally I’d never ride on it. Either way, I hope the gentleman fully recovers.. what a terrible thing to happen
I agree on the part of “best” not meaning necessarily good. It’s like the Hawthorn Bridge, sure it’s the best crossing of the Willamette, but it’s really not very good.
Best only really means better than all other alternatives. And if all the other options suck, then the bar isn’t set very high for “best”.
Thank you OSP and ODOT for urging. Don’t actually enforce or build to keep vulnerable road users safe, just keep on urging.
That was what irked me too. Urge? We don’t need any urging, we need a change in attitude about where the problem lies, how all of this fits together, who needs to change their behavior. Thanks for nothing, ODOT.
As with so many of these situations, redesigning the road (expensive, long term, not very likely given ODOT’s finances) should be compared to changing and earnestly enforcing lower speed limits, and penalizing behaviors that lead to these sorts of outcomes (in principle immediate and not expensive). Anything but this pleading with boys-will-be-boys automobilists to watch out.
“behaviors that lead to these sorts of outcomes”
Unfortunately, the prevailing attitude seems to be that “behaviors that lead to these sorts of outcomes” == “riding a bike on the road”. The only laws that are enforced without bias are the famed “laws of physics”.
Before you blame OSP and ODOT, you, and all Oregon taxpayers, need to look into the mirror and reflect ‘Are we funding these agencies sufficiently to do what we want them to do?” Of course, the answer is no; OSP staffing has decreased dramatically, as population has increased. Oregonians are famous for not wanting to pay for services (heck, try calling a cop in southern Oregon).
“Are we funding these agencies sufficiently to do what we want them to do?”
A fair question, but my answer is different than yours. They have (or had) plenty of money; they’re just not spending it on the things that some of us here (or at least I) think they should.
ODOT was always first in line stumping for the CRC, all the while they had to know we could never come up with the money. Now they admit we’re broke, and all we did was blow—what was it—$200M on the damn thing? Screwing up paving jobs and having to grudgingly redo them. Building new freeway interchanges instead of agreeing to a measly bike lane on Barbur. Someone’s paying for this, and it isn’t coming out of Matt Garrett’s pension plan.
As for the police, I’m not sure I’d let them off the hook so easily either.
We aren’t paying DAs enough to prosecute drivers when they mow somebody down?
I don’t think this is about money. If you believe in a principle—we used to call it justice—you make it happen. Of course if the system is not set up to prioritize these situations then even a principled DA could have a tough time.
I completely agree. I think we need a nationwide mandate to enforce speed limits as actual limits, and remove the 8-10mph gift from the top. Stop allowing for road, weather & lighting conditions as excuses. Most roads are safe enough to ________ on, if the users take responsibility for the safety of others.
Hear hear. We should probably make turn signals mandatory again while we’re at it – especially for police officers on patrol.
My condolences to Kerry’s family and friends, this is indeed tragic.
Many of the circumstances I have read about don’t cite speed as a factor. In one case, the driver fell asleep. Another case, it was texting. In this case, do we know speed was an issue?
In too many cases, it seems like the police don’t cite the driver. You get hit from behind in your car and the fault is usually pretty clear. You get hit while riding a bike and they need to investigate.
Taken literally, yes, speed was a factor since the truck was moving.
I feel like this is a typical Portland politician complaint. Just blame the lack of funding and try to increase taxes. Never can most imagine actually making hard choices and altering what we currently spend our money on.
That said, not every agency we depend on is well funded. I think this is true when it comes to cycling facilities. I’m not saying to raise taxes or not. I don’t know enough about the finances of the various agencies to say that. I’m simply saying that not every politician simply wants to raise taxes for the sake of raising taxes.
I’m not saying that either. I’m saying that most politicians don’t want to make the hard budgeting choices. Instead they tell people they can’t make it work and just demand more money.
The more neighborhood meetings and city events I attend, the more shocked I become about the depth of bureaucracy in City Hall (and I can only imagine the state level isn’t any different). I am definitely not a tea partier, but there is only so much taxable money in this state, and eventually we will need to make the decisions and not just keep trying to raise more funds.
Sorry, way off topic.
The thing I find somewhat telling is that there are multiple “hard choices” we might make here, and the one that gets made is “change nothing, leave the road unsafe for bicycles”. Not “reduce speed limits because we can’t afford to make the road safe enough for you to drive as fast as you’d like”.
Bingo. But always and only when it comes to bicycles.
The picture top of this story shows maybe an 8′ wide shoulder on one side of the road. Could ask what would be involved in having it made to support pavement, then have the road aligned so there was at least a modest shoulder on each side of the road that people biking could use to ride.
The shoulder on the left (south) side is gravel. The pavement is is about 24″ wide (based on measurements from the satellite view); with 2 x 12 foot lanes, no shoulder. It would be theoretically possible to re-stripe the road to have narrower, 10″ lanes, with a 2 foot shoulder on each side, but this would still be a little too narrow to be useful. 3 foot is really the minimum width of shoulder for a bike to stay out of the lane: my touring bike with full panniers is over 2 feet wide. So we would need at least an extra 2 feet of pavement to get a useful shoulder here.
“…It would be theoretically possible to re-stripe the road to have narrower, 10″ lanes, with a 2 foot shoulder on each side, but this would still be a little too narrow to be useful. …” Joseph E
Better than nothing, perhaps. People elsewhere here have mentioned bringing the posted or basic speed limit of 55 mph down some. Down to what speed they think would be reasonable and would overcome some or all of this road configurations’ inherent hazard to people riding, from motor vehicle traffic, they don’t say.
I don’t know particularly, but I’d imagine this road, primarily is used with motor vehicles, and is an important transportation link to communities in the area, for work, business, far more so than for recreational purposes using bikes. If so, it seems unlikely that the state is going to be inclined to reduce the posted speed of this road very much.
My thoughts are with Kerry and his family. I so hope he can fully recover, and quickly. I drove back from the beach this week (on 18) and I was tired, so I pulled into a gas station for a quick nap. There have been so many crashes lately due to fatigue. I’m sick and tired of it. You KNOW when you feel this tired. Of course, I’m sick of drunk/impaired drivers, distracted drivers, unlicensed drivers, speeding drivers, red-light and stop sign running drivers, tail-gaters, too. (And people bicycling or walking unlawfully make me furious).
AAA did a study and not surprisingly but sadly, drivers do not want others to engage in the behaviors just mentioned while admitting they do them themselves. Do as I say, not as I do. Nobody wants to take responsibility for driving more safely because THEY’VE got it under control, unlike others.
It terrifies me that I have yet another son riding his bike everywhere (24 miles round trip just for work). If something happens to him, too, just kill me now. RIP Dustin Finney.
He sounds like an experienced cyclist, I’m a little surprised? That being said GET A MIRROR. Before entering a blind curve check back to see if anyone is coming, maybe take the curve wide so that they see you as soon as possible. Hugging the side of the road on a curve is somewhat dangerous. I’m not blaming the cyclist, but all cyclist should take every available measure to insure their safety, a mirror is part of that formula.
Attention friends and relatives of older drivers, please make sure they should be driving. Maybe Oregon needs to test every year after 70? There are problems everywhere with this and some solutions that could help prevent this from happening again.
Experienced doesn’t mean invincible. 55 mph (most likely 60-65) doesn’t give anyone (driver or cyclist) much reaction time.
With speed limits of 55 mph on winding roads mirrors are of very little use. Especially on rural highways with little to no bail out room to the side of the road.
And honestly they need to make the drivers license test much more difficult for people over the age of 16.
And of course I hope Kerry comes out of this alright. Best of wishes to him and his family.
Yes you are blaming the cyclist. Get a mirror? Let’s blame the victim a bit more and ask vulnerable users to armor up when the actual issue is unsafe streets/roads and driver behavior.
Do we know that he didn’t have a mirror? He’s a bicycle safety instructor. Let’s make sure first, eh?
Eh, I think it’s irrelevant. I certainly wouldn’t want to read in every news story whether a cyclist was wearing a mirror or not. He was RUN DOWN from behind. What’s he supposed to do, dive into the shoulder every time he sees a vehicle that might pass too closely?
and in this case, a shoulder that doesn’t exist?
I’m not blaming the cyclist, the alternative to doing nothing and being safe? stay home. The mirror is just one “great” tool to insure you arrive safely. I’ve toured through 20 countries, the roads in some aren’t wide enough for two cross to pass, they must ride on the gravel shoulder to pass each other. You think you have it bad in America? You don’t. It’s not perfect anywhere I’ve been for cycling (maybe Holland) I’m offering your experienced free advice, you don’t have to take it. But I suggest you don’t leave your house on your bike, if your not going to use ALL available safety measures, that’s just the way it is out there, it’s not right, but again, that’s the way it is, for now.
Telling an accident victim to “get a mirror” certainly implies the accident might not have happened if the cyclist did something differently. That equals blame. And the fact that you’ve cycled all over the world, wonderful as that is, is irrelevant.
I didn’t say the accident victim to get a mirror I only suggested, if your going to tour on a highway with speeding, older, texting, under the influence drivers that a mirror is a great safety device. Stop reading something else into it, truly.
Kerry, my husband, did have a mirror, visible clothing. A safety reflective triangle, and years of commuting on very busy roads. The speed limit is too high on that road and there should be caution signs re bicyclists on that road since it’s listed as a bicycle tourist route.
Love and Hugs 🙁
You are 100% wrong here. I have ridden this section a few times, and a mirror would do nothing, unless you plan on hurtling yourself into the gravel ditch if you see any vehicle approach from behind. This is a long stretch of winding road with no shoulder, and no pullouts, so you can’t just wait for traffic to clear. There are only two options here:
1. Stay home
2. Work to change the culture of driving in this country. Should a 74 year-old really be operating a F350 (curb weight in excess of 6000lbs) without any additional licensing, testing, or even basic re-testing requirements? These are the questions that need to be asked.
Do you have or have you actually tried a mirror? just curious. I hurled myself off the road in Spain last year, was better than being flattened by a semi-truck (there was one in each direction)
I have a mirror.
I ride with a mirror, and in fact I just got back last night from a 175-mile tour in eastern Oregon in which I used it, and there were some stretches of road where I watched every single vehicle coming from behind, even where I had a shoulder to ride on. I would NEVER consider doing a long ride on public roads without a mirror.
But while a mirror will definitely help you avoid certain dangers, there are a lot of times when it won’t do much for you. IIRC the curve in question is long enough that you could enter the curve with no one behind you, and still end up getting clobbered from behind by an F-350.
I recently rode out to Stub Stewart state park with a friend, and I definitely want a mirror now, despite having cycled for over 20 years in Oregon.
This is one of the reasons I try to avoid biking on rural roads. No matter how much you know and how good and safe and careful, you’re at the mercy of the weakest leak. A combination of not bike friendly road design, old (tired/distracted/etc.) drivers, and high speed traffic (anything over 25 mph is fast) is not a great combination.
If its too expense to upgrade the road, maybe bicyclist should do this: http://www.chron.com/news/houston-texas/article/Cyclist-uses-long-pole-video-camera-to-remind-5425186.php or the county should add flashing warning signs “bicyclist on curves ahead” that bicyclists can activate when they go by.
I hope Kerry recovers quickly and my thoughts are with him and his family.
This is sad. Best to him on a full recovery. Personally I don’t think bikes and these highways are a good mix. Too much speed differential, and more now than ever distracted drivers with phones and nav systems. Hats off to those brave enough to ride in those places. No thanks.
The reality is that these roads are dangerous for everyone; not just cyclists. The majority of road users killed in Oregon are killed on rural roads just like this one, even though the urban areas have the most VMT. Just compare the death rates of different states in the US and you can see that rural driving is incredibly dangerous:
Wyoming (almost entirely rural driving) has a death rate over 9x that of D.C. (almost entirely urban driving), and the other states reflect the same trend.
You touched on the primary solution to this problem: reducing the “vehicle speed differential”. This is a problem for vulnerable road users as much as it is for people trying to turn left, cross the road from a intersecting road, pulling trailers, driving tractors, etc. Lowering the speed limit to 40mph would make a huge difference in the fatality rates. Other solutions include traffic circles at major intersections, rumble strips, high vis paint, etc…
I think there are some roads that cyclists should just not ride on, under their current configurations. I used to live in Boulder Creek, and wanted to ride my bike to Santa Cruz (about 20 miles on beautiful highway 9). I rode it once and felt very vulnerable, 50 mph, curvy, bad sight lines, no shoulder. A week later, I drove the same section, and realized what it was like for a car driver. Even though I am super-aware of possible cyclists on the road, I realized that only the most vigilant of drivers would be trustworthy with bikes on the road. I stopped riding that section. I do the same (drive local roads that I am unsure about before riding them), and have chosen to avoid certain roads, because they are just ‘an accident waiting to happen’. Hear me, I am not excusing any driver for hitting a cyclist, or blaming someone who chooses to ride on certain roads, just recognizing that I want every cyclist to come home safely.
Very well put, excellent post
Sadly, there are many situations when it’s local knowledge – or fortunate experience – that guides which roads to stay off of. I once encountered a couple test-riding a tandem bike on Page Mill Road in Palo Alto, and they were asking me how to get to Arastradero. I told them they were heading in the right direction, but the bike shop failed to mention the two lanes of busy traffic they’d need to cross at the bottom of the hill to avoid getting onto I-280N with rush hour traffic. I can only guess Kerry hadn’t ridden this road before (but might have read it was a ‘bike route’).
Had a similar experience biking on islands north of Burlington in Lake Champlain. “What, WTF, this is supposed to be a bike route?” Even in our own town, someone got the bright idea that a winding narrow road up a steep hill with sharp granite curbing was a good plan for a “bike route”.
Sadly, with the closure of the Cape Meares Rd, that is the only way to get between TIllamook and Netarts. That stretch was part of the Oregon Randonneurs 300k last spring, and it was pretty stressful. I was so very happy to get to the other end of the road in one piece.
Wait! Cape Meares Road is closed? Why? That’s an important part of the Pacific Coast Bicycle Route.
But you can portage easily enough with a bike, right? Not that I would or ever have ignored a “road closed” sign when cycling.
The League of American Bicyclists’ recent report (May 2014) found that hit-from-behind was the the largest category of crashes:
That “study” was a farce. It was based on nothing more than collation of media reports. Moreover, it included “hit-from-behind” collisions at intersections. VCers exaggerate the risks of being hit by a car while riding in bike infrastructure and cycletrackistas exaggerate the risks of being hit by car in the lane. Flip sides of the same divisive car-centric coin.
Personally, when I’m driving those roads with my car, I slow down if I can’t see what’s up ahead around a curve. There’s no sense racing 55mph around a corner if there is a fallen tree, cow, or a vulnerable road user on the road. The first rule of driving is drive per the conditions of the road. Can’t see ahead? Slow down and proceed cautiously. I hope Kunsman is able to make it through this needless injury.
Personally, when driving on these roads, you are the guy who gets passed by 5 or 6 4×4 trucks going 80+ mph around a blind curve because they are so incredibly impatient whenever they have to go slower than 65 mph around those same blind curves.
Source: I grew up in rural Oregon, seen it firsthand many times.
Rode this road yesterday on a trip to Cape Lookout. Had a car come around the corner so fast that the driver skreetched his brakes slowing for us. That incident and the many other stressful car passing a on the road made for a wildly unpleasant experience. “Dangerous” is an inadequate description of this road.
A bicycle safety instructor should know better than to bike on the side of a 55 mph road. On a 2-lane road going 55, it’s way too easy to veer a little outside the white line. I don’t even bike on 45 roads, even if there’s a paved-shoulder-I-mean-bike-lane.
Except Oregon signs this as a route for tourists.
Biking the Oregon Coast is very popular, but there are a lot of roads like this. Should it be up to the rider to check the speed limits of the entire route, or should we trust the state to not encourage dangerous things?
Are you seriously asking if we should trust the state to not encourage dangerous things? As in, “common sense tells me this is dangerous, but the state said it’s ok, so it must be safe”?
Common sense tells you that 55mph is too fast to go around a corner where you cannot see out to your stopping distance (~300 ft when travelling at 55mph), and yet many people do so because of the signage.
No. It depends on the road. Over in Bend, Hwy 20 east of town is marked 55, but average speed is closer to 70 BUT there is a clean 10′ paved shoulder on either side. Very safe. It is a lot more dangerous to ride on Franklin in the middle of town, 20 mph but drivers speeding like fools.
“… there is a clean 10′ paved shoulder on either side. Very safe.”
plenty of our friends who’ve been hit while biking were on just such roads.
The problem aren’t the curves
The problem isn’t the lack of a shoulder
The problem isn’t the speed limit
The problem isn’t what people cycling are wearing
The problem isn’t whether he or she was wearing a helmet or had a mirror
THE PROBLEM IS PEOPLE DRIVING TOO FAST FOR CONDITIONS, OR BEING INATTENTIVE.
All of the above *might* help, but are no guarantee of anything. What would help is taking the responsibility of driving seriously enough to make it stop.
tough and regular testing to get and keep your license.
In one breath you say the problem isn’t the speed limit, then in the very next you say people are driving too fast. People are going to go the speed limit. This notion that ‘if there are curves, drive slow’ won’t fly at the coast because pretty much the entire coast = curves around mountains and hills. The problem isn’t the speed limit, it’s the lack of shoulder. Designating the entire coast a 25-35 mph zone because it’s scenic for cyclists isn’t going to happen, nor should it.
“In one breath you say the problem isn’t the speed limit, then in the very next you say people are driving too fast. People are going to go the speed limit.”
That’s right. A big white sign with black numbers on it means almost nothing. Everyone knows this. You can go X mph over it and nothing happens. No, without a zero tolerance approach to the basic speed rule we’re going to make no headway.
And I have no idea where you get the idea that ‘people are going to go the speed limit.’ Every time I drive pretty much anywhere—and go the speed limit—everyone passes me. Around here the posted speed is treated as a minimum, and our law enforcement know and (appear to) endorse this.*
*unless you’re black or brown, I suppose.
“…Every time I drive pretty much anywhere—and go the speed limit—everyone passes me. …” 9watts
The two or three mile stretch of road between Canyon Rd from Hwy 26 to West Slope is one example is one example of where people driving quite consistently stay within 5 mph of the speed limit. Reason: a police photo van very often posted along the road somewhere.
That particular means of regulating motor vehicle speed obviously wouldn’t be practical on a widespread basis, but electronic monitoring could.
By “people are going to go the speed limit”, I think pixelgate meant, “people aren’t going to slow down to anything under the speed limit” just to be safe. I think most people agree that the average driver will go as fast as they think they can get away with.
Most drivers aren’t aware of the basic speed rule in Oregon. But I agree with you, the posted speed limit is a problem.
People aren’t going to go the speed limit. To most drivers, the speed limit sign means the minimum they get to go. It’s a target to get past, not a maximum to not go over.
Most drivers are going to drive a speed they are comfortable driving, regardless of what the sign says. For instance, as a driver, my comfort zone is about 40mph– and if I don’t pay attention to it, my speed creeps up to that zone, regardless of what I’m legally supposed to be going.
For laughs, get a radar gun and stand in a school zone between 10am and 3pm. Except for a few drivers paying attention, most people will drive whatever speed they are comfortable driving, even if they are supposed to be going 20.
“…To most drivers, the speed limit sign means the minimum they get to go. …” KristenT
“…I think most people agree that the average driver will go as fast as they think they can get away with. …” El Bic
With some exceptions, such as the freeway, and certain high volume use roads, both the ideas you express are little more than spurious notions. Though I encourage you try somehow conduct a survey to confirm whether what you say is true, rather than simple bar room hot air.
What I observe of other people driving, as I myself am driving, at very close to the speed limit as allowable under given conditions, is that most people are driving generally close to the speed limit. Some a little slower, some a little faster to facilitate smooth flow.
Definitely, some high volume use roads such as those that pass schools in certain locations are subject to greater levels of abuse in terms of excessive speed traveled than are others. Those locations should be pinpointed with measures to counter excessive speeds traveled there. Where there is a tendency in such locations for a majority of people driving to be traveling over the speed limit, isn’t a reliable indication that they’re incompetent drivers, if that’s what you’re thinking is.
I agree with almost everything that you said. I am only trying to limit my risk by driving on roads with good sight lines and decent shoulders. I use a very strong rear blinky light. In the end, I know that this just reduces my risk to being hit by the driver who is totally distracted or just doesn’t care. That’s the best that I can do; the only guarantee of safety is staying home on the couch. I was hit by a car four month’s ago in a way that is almost impossible to describe; only to say that he was charged with reckless driving.
“I know that this just reduces my risk to being hit by the driver who is totally distracted or just doesn’t care.”
Fair enough, and why I keep harping on the need to focus on them.
“That’s the best that I can do; the only guarantee of safety is staying home on the couch.”
That is an individualized, static approach. A collective, dynamic approach (e.g., Vision Zero) would approach this differently, would say this is unacceptable, we need to identify and take the necessary steps to make this stop.
It seems almost reckless for the Oregon Tourism Commission to promote bicycle tourism in Oregon so highly, and then put visitors to our state on roadways with such poor infrastructure for vulnerable road users. This exact stretch of road is even featured in their Tillamook Bay – Three Capes Loop route (http://rideoregonride.com/road-routes/tillamook-bay-three-capes-loop/) and yet the most they and ODOT seem to do is add a couple “bicycles on roadway” signs and call it good. Shameful.
I was up in Spokane recently for Spokefest and to visit family and was amazed to see that even almost untravelled rural highways seem to have wide, debris cleared shoulders. And this in the region of the state that complains that all the funding dollars stay on the west side. I was even more disheartened to see better infrastructure in north Idaho than even on many Portland area roads and highways.
As an aside from just the infrastructure, I also couldn’t believe that on a loop that took me through the hinterland of inland NW pickup culture I got less harassment and more passing room by far than I usually do in Washington Co. only 15 miles from liberal Portland.
ODOT cares more about $4 billion mega-bridges for sprawling Vancouver commuters. We COULD fund seismic upgrade projects, projects that add shoulders to busier rural roads, and many other safety improvements; but that is not the priority.
I love riding around Spokane. There are some problem areas and lack of routes between the Valley and the rest of the city, but the rural riding outside of Spokane and all the way down to Pulman, Moscow, and Lewiston / Clarkston is IMO unsurpassed. The only downside being long distances between sizable towns.
I agree with Jason H. Oregon has no business promoting the Oregon Coast Bike Route as anything but very dangerous in several parts. People come from all over the country to ride this route because it is Oregon and it is on the coast and the State promotes it as a bike route. Somehow we need to get the information out that there are some very dangerous parts of the Oregon Coast Bike Route that are not recommended for biking. That should not be too much to ask.
The amount of blame being heaved on this cyclist is very depressing. Most roads are not inherently dangerous – unless you cycle off a cliff or something. The danger is the way people drive. The road in and of itself is not dangerous.
The amount of blame being heaved on the driver is also very depressing.
Why? It’s 100% his fault.
It’s his fault for driving the speed limit?
It’s an upper limit, not a lower limit. The driver might not have the vision or reaction time sufficient for the speed limit, the truck might be too large to safely travel the speed limit on that road.
And not to put too fine a point on it, but what evidence do we have that he was actually traveling the speed limit?
Somehow, millions of people in America manage to avoid crashing into slow-moving vehicles, animals, vulnerable road users, and a plethora of other obstacles on 55mph windy roads. It’s called safe driving. Ensuring that the driver is competent, unimpaired, and not distracted is not too much to ask. Your standards are too low, and your sentiment is exactly why 30,000+ people die on roads in America every year.
“…Ensuring that the driver is competent, unimpaired, and not distracted is not too much to ask. …” Chris I
Chris, how much do think what you suggest will involve, how long do you think related measures would take to implement, and how much do you expect it may all require in terms of money, to make it happen?
Of course, many people no doubt feel, as they should, that no expense should be spared to save lives, but if the reality is that there is no money to be had, that tends to be a problem realizing plans for better safety conditions.
I don’t think we can ensure anything, and driver distraction and impairment are enforcement issues once they occur. However, there are several ways we could improve the ratio of competent to incompetent drivers on the road:
A. Add more competent drivers
1. Require driver’s education before anyone can even think of testing for a driver’s license. This would be at the driver’s expense, no need for the state to be involved except to require proof of passing an accredited course before scheduling any State driver testing.
2. Increase the difficulty level of the State driver’s test. If creating and administering a real test made the testing process more expensive, then pass that expense on to the folks who make it necessary: drivers.
3. I can’t point to studies, but I would bet that [much] better-trained drivers would be less likely to drive impaired or distracted.
B. Remove more incompetent drivers
1. If any driver makes it through the above, and still proves to be incompetent, remove them from the road.
a. Suspend licenses and impound/confiscate the cars of anyone found driving suspended.
b. To get your license reinstated should required re-applying and paying for and passing the State test in its entirety again.
2. Lower the bar for determining negligence/homicide/assault while using a motor vehicle and impose penalties that rise to a level that might serve as a deterrent.
Now, whether any of these suggestions pass the wsbob “Never Gonna Happen” test, I don’t know, but I’ll bet A.1. could be accomplished in one legislative session with some legal text and pushing of voting buttons. A.2. could be accomplished in one legislative session plus a year or two for studying, consulting, polling, crafting, revising, consulting, studying, reporting, consulting, reviewing, studying, trialing, crafting, implementing, consulting, preparing reports, trialing, training, collecting data, consulting, studying, preparing, training, and rolling out a new State “written” and on-the-road driving test. Up front cost, $36M to be recouped over the next 15 years with a $2 increase in driver’s license testing fees. Not ideal, but probably the most realistic. 😉
B.1.b. could again be accomplished in one legislative session with writing and vote-button-pushing. The rest of B. would require cultural shifts or leadership with some major cojones to push any of it through to law.
“…and still proves to be incompetent, …” El Biciclero
Vague. Successfully passing the tests you suggest, and still incompetent, how so?
Write up or have written up what you think would be a driver’s test sufficient to meet the driver performance objectives you have in mind. The state would have to be involved in the content, since it would be responsible for issuing licenses based on it.
For ideas about how to create a qualified driver program, check out other countries driving exams that are said to be much tougher than those in the U.S., such as in France.
“Vague. Successfully passing the tests you suggest, and still incompetent, how so?”
That’s easy, wsbob.
Remember Bob Huckaby? Made a bunch of noise about how people cycling needed to take a course, get certified and licensed, like those drivers. Then, it turns out he was a serial speeder. His license—the very thing he was braying about being so necessary for those others—didn’t prevent or discourage him from repeatedly not only breaking that particular law but also getting caught.
watts at: http://bikeportland.org/2014/09/20/san-diego-bike-coalition-board-member-critical-condition-rear-end-collision-111212#comment-5535595
More hot air without substance from you. Exceeding the speed limit and having received citations for doing so does not constitute incompetence, unless that would be a definition of incompetence you would propose under some kind criteria by which to decline or withdraw license to drive.
Despite your list, you, and nobody else here either have offered anything close to a workable plan to improve the performance of drivers sufficient to have them avoid all instances of collisions on difficult road situations such as the one where the collision being discussed, occurred.
watts at: http://bikeportland.org/2014/09/20/san-diego-bike-coalition-board-member-critical-condition-rear-end-collision-111212#comment-5535595
More hot air without substance from you. Exceeding the speed limit and having received citations for doing so does not constitute incompetence, unless that would be a definition of incompetence you would propose under some kind criteria by which to decline or withdraw license to drive.
Despite your El Bic’s list, you, neither he or nobody else here either has offered anything close to a workable plan to improve the performance of drivers sufficient to have them avoid all instances of collisions on difficult road situations such as the one where the collision being discussed, occurred.
That’s a pathetic little rhetorical stunt there, wsbob, to sneak in that “all collisions” to make it seem that progress is clearly impossible, as if other countries did not have safer roads, since we’ll never get to zero we might as well not even try, therefore we drive in the Best of All Possible Worlds.
We could copy what other countries do, for driver licensing, for road design, for speed limits, and for default determination of legal liability. They do it and it works better there, so it is clearly feasible and has the desired effect.
For a much narrower scope, we could simply lower speed limits and institute draconian photo enforcement of those limits. I realized earlier today that where I live many people are upset that we cannot get dangerous intersections and crossing improved until someone is killed or nearly killed at a bad intersection — but that sounds like it is better than what is likely to happen here, where a cyclist does everything right, gets killed, and nothing changes.
NOTE: dr2chase, 9watts, and wsbob. I do not like words like “pathetic” “hot air” and so on, when referring to other people’s opinions and perspectives. Please continue your debates, but I strongly suggest that you stay civil and productive. Remember, blacklisting your usernames and/or deleting future comments is just a few clicks away. Thanks – Jonathan
wsbob, I love it. You are definitely a concrete thinker. I was intentionally attempting to shorten my comment by not doing the job of lawmakers to compose legal text. If one were to imagine what I could have possibly meant, it might be something along the lines of what we currently consider to be grounds for license suspension or revocation.
Why don’t you offer some suggestions for how to define “incompetent”, or maybe suggest a different description for “drivers who shouldn’t be driving”. You love to ask for “workable plans” from everyone else, and then proceed to shoot them down because they aren’t fully fleshed out in legalese and don’t have any straw poll numbers to estimate probability of passage through our legislature, and haven’t been run through the mill of media bias and public opinion—yet I don’t see many such “workable plans” from you. If my ideas are so untenable, by all means clean them up for me and make them “workable”! Otherwise, you appear to be suggesting that the status quo will somehow result in better safety for vulnerable road users, which we have seen is not true.
I’m not a testing expert, wsbob; it is not something that I am “competent” to do, so I leave the specifics of it to those who are experts in that field. I can suggest something as simple as upping the passing score on the current test from, what is it, 75? to 100%. How about that? Of course “the state would have to be involved in the content”—the State would have to create the content! That’s their job, not mine. By asking me to write up a new driver’s test, you seem to believe it might be helpful; if so, why don’t YOU write one up and show it around. Nobody commenting here is going to be able to single-handedly write up and pass the changes to laws or tests that we will need to improve the general quality of drivers on our roads; we have lawers, legislators, and other government agencies whose full-time job that is.
Instead of constantly asking for, then trashing, others’ ideas for improving road safety, why don’t you offer more of your own? Fight hot air with hot air!
And also, wsbob, if “improv[ing] the performance of drivers sufficient to have them avoid all instances of collisions on difficult road situations” is the standard you wish to hold everyone’s ideas to, you are dooming every single effort at improving road and driver operational safety to abject failure. We can make things better without making them 100% perfect. This, “it won’t fix everything, so we might as well throw up our hands and not even try” attitude won’t get us anywhere. Wouldn’t it be great if only 6,000 people died from cars some year instead of 30,000?
@Jonathan – if we could edit our posts, I would cheerfully replace “pathetic” with “cute”. But I thought wsbob was way out of line with “hot air” and with his moving-the-goalposts trick of “all crashes”. I’m tired of the status quo and I’ve lost an awful lot of respect for its defenders, and I don’t mind letting it show.
dr2chase at: http://bikeportland.org/2014/09/20/san-diego-bike-coalition-board-member-critical-condition-rear-end-collision-111212#comment-5539479
“…That’s a pathetic little rhetorical stunt there, wsbob, to sneak in that “all collisions” to make it seem that progress is clearly impossible, as if other countries did not have safer roads, since we’ll never get to zero we might as well not even try, therefore we drive in the Best of All Possible Worlds. …” dr2chase
The “all collisions” is for watts and El Bic, whose expectations seem to be that measures that will completely eliminate all collisions, must be taken. Nice idea, but not likely a realistic objective.
“…We could copy what other countries do, for driver licensing, for road design, for speed limits, and for default determination of legal liability. They do it and it works better there, so it is clearly feasible and has the desired effect.
For a much narrower scope, we could simply lower speed limits and institute draconian photo enforcement of those limits. …” dr2chase
You suggest copying “…what other countries do, for driver licensing, for road design, for speed limits, and for default determination of legal liability. …”, but offer absolutely no specific examples of what country you’re thinking of, what it is they do with respect to the items you mention, that you think can realistically be made to work in this country to have road use become safer for all users.
In Oregon, to keep it close to home, there’s little that’s simple about the process involved in reducing speed limits. Though based on just one example, the area in Washington County between Nike and Intel, it seems there may be plenty of road situations where reduced speed limits could be worthwhile.
El Bic at: http://bikeportland.org/2014/09/20/san-diego-bike-coalition-board-member-critical-condition-rear-end-collision-111212#comment-5539559
El Bic, it’s your idea, not mine, to rout out and restrict from driving for determination of incompetence, people that successfully pass current driver’s tests in the U.S. it seems you’re thinking. Please share with us, what realistic ideas you have for accomplishing that.
“…2. Increase the difficulty level of the State driver’s test. …” El Biciclero
Let’s get more information about what possible level of difficulty a revised driver’s test for Oregon would be effective and realistic towards having people that drive, do so more safely.
As I’ve mentioned a few times in recent comments to other bikeportland stories, I’ve read recently the driver’s tests for licenses in France are very difficult to pass. I don’t read or write French, but maybe someone that does could provide a translation for comparison.
The on the road driving test could be evaluated and possibly changed as well. Once a number of ideas for changes are arrived at and proposals for them reported on, just imagine what the responses from the public to them may be.
“The ‘all collisions’ is for watts and El Bic, whose expectations seem to be that measures that will completely eliminate all collisions, must be taken.”
I believe I prefaced my list of suggestions—my first comment on this sub-thread—with “I don’t think we can ensure anything”. I also suggested that maybe we could “improve” the ratio of competent/incompetent drivers on the road. I don’t think I even mentioned “collisions”. How can you possibly claim that I hold any notion that we must—or even can—eliminate all collisions? It makes it appear as though you are projecting your own all-or-nothing, black-and-white, will work/won’t work mentality onto me.
Wow. “Rout out”? You make it sound kind of fascist, but does it sound like anything new? Do we not currently “restrict from driving” those that have demonstrated some level of “incompetence” by racking up enough traffic violations to get their licenses revoked or suspended (point of logic: if someone has a license to be revoked or suspended, they must have passed the driving test)? Remember that driving a motor vehicle is a privilege—passing the driving test isn’t like passing the citizenship test, it does not give you any rights.
The major problem with our current system of restriction from driving is that it really isn’t much of a restriction—witness the large number of collisions and hit-and-run incidents perpetrated by those with suspended or revoked licenses. I have suggested in the past, and reiterated above that it might help if we start removing cars rather than just licenses. That’s all I’m talking about with respect to anything that might enhance our ability to restrict from driving.
I only posted this final response because I don’t like having words put in my mouth or my seemingly clear position twisted into something else. Out of respect for Paul Green, other family members, and the deceased, I am not going to argue any further. Have any last word you wish.
“nobody else here either have offered anything close to a workable plan to improve the performance of drivers sufficient to have them avoid all instances of collisions ”
lots of words, wsbob. But why make it so complicated? Why set the bar so implausibly high? Let’s walk before we run.
The plan that strikes me as workable is easily enough articulated.
(1) in situations like this those in authority identify clearly what the problem is: basic speed rule is violated
(2) in press releases and w/r/t the actions that follow in the case of Frank Bohannon, make it abundantly clear that there are stiff penalties for this behavior (automatic revocation of license when negligence leads to the death of another person, etc.) that they apply in this case, and that the county/state/DA have zero tolerance for this kind of negligence
(3) revisit signage, rules about shoulders, ODOT priorities, Travel Oregon conflicts of interest when it comes to copy that makes it into their brochures, etc.
We could go on…
(4) instead of silly sing-song pamphlets directed at cyclists, ODOT could roll out a campaign directed at (drivers in) rural communities (brochures, billboards, etc.), in which they explain that people riding bikes have as much right to the road, the lane, getting home alive, as anyone in an F-350; that the basic speed rule applies (it just wasn’t enforced for a generation, but that is changing!)
(5) Mostly there needs to be some soul searching and humility on the part of those in authority (police, judges, ODOT, etc.) that to date we’ve failed to take this issue seriously, to mete out penalties to those who kill with their automobiles that are commensurate with the senseless carnage these people’s deaths amount to.
Why you sit there and deride everything we say because it isn’t a full-blown program baffles me.
There’s nothing in your one to five list that translates to any workable law or procedure. It’s all just ‘there oughta be a law’ stuff that nobody can really make much use of except to blow off steam. If you’re fine with that, great.
“It’s all just ‘there oughta be a law’ stuff that nobody can really make much use of except to blow off steam.”
Well, it was written in three minutes in response to your complaint that we were short on proposals. Given a couple of hours this could easily be fleshed out. El Biciclero and dr2chase are also offering, in some cases more fleshed out, specific, suggestions which you also dismiss out of hand but without having bothered to engage or acknowledge that what they are saying is to the point and an entirely reasonable start.
The don’t-come-to-me-with-anything-short-of-a-fully-drafted-law-with-chance-of-passing threshold doesn’t seem like a very promising basis for continuing this conversation.
wsbob, you’re being entirely too picky. I know, I know, you randomly picked some countries, and their policies did not look good at all and their roads were pretty dangerous. This is a cycling blog, we often talk about separate infrastructure, and mention Certain Other Countries as exemplars for bicycle safety. For example, the Netherlands, for example, Germany. They have better infrastructure, they also have tougher driver licensing, they apparently also have more strict enforcement of drunk driving laws — those are just examples. As another example, I read in the last year about the Dutch investigation of a crash where a cyclist died, contrasted with the approach of the NYPD. The Dutch actually investigated and tried to figure out the various causes of the crash, in an attempt to figure out how a similar crash might be avoided in the future.
And I assume that if they did it there with their own humans, we can do it here with our humans. This detail-by-detail “is it workable” question is a dodge. We’re not special. They did it, therefore it is workable. Do what they do, either wholesale (unlikely) or adopting the easiest bits first. Do I know all the details? No. But their safety stats say it works.
And if we have a process that impedes safety, perhaps we fix that process, hmmm?
Reading your approach to bicycle safety, I am reminded of this advice in a government document from the previous century, now declassified, and excerpted here:
“It’s his fault for driving the speed limit?”
Yes, it is 100% his fault. The posted numeric limit is not the only limit. There’s also the Basic Speed law, and this was a clear violation.
Having grown up in a state where Driver Education was actually required of young drivers, the rule we were taught is that you are driving too fast around a curve if you wouldn’t be able to stop for someone lying in the middle of the road.
If it is not safe to pass, it is not legal to pass (like in the middle of a right and curve). If you cannot see far enough around a corner to stop in case of hazard, you are going too fast (Oregon Basic Rule Law). If drivers don’t understand these basic laws they should not be driving. I suspect many 74 year old drivers should not be driving anywhere close to the posted speed of a road due to poor eyesight, reflexes, medical issues, and cognitive ability. The Oregon Basic Rule law says: “you must drive at a speed that is reasonable and cautious for existing conditions.”
“…I suspect many 74 year old drivers should not be driving anywhere close to the posted speed of a road due to poor eyesight, reflexes, medical issues, and cognitive ability. …” Jon
Just knock the ageism off. There are plenty of people of younger age that pass the drivers’ test and are driving, that also have the maladies you list, and more. By itself, a person’s age is a very crude way of assuming their fitness to drive
One idea for motor vehicle use safety I read of of occasionally, is the black box. Word is that motor vehicles of more recent manufacture have them, but the data recorded is limited. Could be easily designed to monitor and record vehicle speed and position relative to the road, at all times for a select period before and after a collision of any degree.
Sadly we all get older and our reflexes, eyesight, mental acuity, etc. degrade. The accident rate is high for young drivers and old drivers. Both sets of drivers need more testing. Driving is not a right, it should only be allowed for people with the judgement and skills to safely navigate the roads. There is another article in Oregonlive.com where a 80 year old guy drove into an apartment today. He could not remember if he hit the brake or gas.
WS, I don’t always agree with what you say, but you nailed it there. My flight instructor was over 70, and I felt VERY comfortable with his 50 years of accumulated experience, wisdom and reflex training. His reflexes may have been clinically a little slower, but they were well honed responses to emergency situations that would’ve left me poopy-pantsed. Come to think of it, he drove the Chevy version of an F-350. I’d rather NOT share the road with a teen/twenties coal-roller.
Your flight instructor is also required to take a yearly physical to work as a professional pilot.
For a driver of any age, you check some boxes and take an eye test (that is valid or at least the duration of the license).
No, it’s his fault for not driving a safe speed for the CONDITIONS (weather & terrain) which is the friggin BASIC SPEED RULE no matter what the damn black and white sign says. http://www.oregonlaws.org/ors/811.100
What weather conditions? Sunny and dry? Again, you’re suggesting that drivers slow to 25-35mph anytime there is a curve, which is all the Oregon coast is. It’s not going to happen, nor should it. The fault doesn’t rest on the driver but on the state for not providing a shoulder for cyclists to ride on given that this is a designated bike route. The fact you are disingenuously trumping up the tired car vs bike mentality instead of truly focusing on the problem is disheartening.
“Again, you’re suggesting that drivers slow to 25-35mph anytime there is a curve, which is all the Oregon coast is. It’s not going to happen, nor should it.”
That is an interesting statement, pixelgate. I think my friend Alan Durning would consider this a contender for the carhead file. Obviously our society is not currently organized around this sort of prioritization of what we’ve come to call vulnerable road users, but I don’t see why as you say “this shouldn’t be that way.”
Lots of things seem far fetched, ridiculous, inconceivable, and then they come to pass. I also don’t see why you seem to think this is an either-or situation. Either people are required to drive slower—or the shoulder is widened. You realize perhaps that one of the results of widening the road/straightening it/adding more shoulder is that people, typically, DRIVE FASTER, and with, as I said above, no guarantee that things will be any safer for the person bicycling there. Does this tell you anything about whose priorities tend to win?
There is an advisory speed of 35mph for that very corner: http://goo.gl/maps/k71x0 .
Thanks for that Alan 1.0.
I updated the story with that info.
Only one of the above photos of the road is labeled “Oregon State Police photo of the scene”. Are both photos OSP photos taken at somewhat the same time, or is the unlabeled photo from a different source?
It appears to taken quite a bit further back from the curve than the labeled photo was. On the road in the background appears to be a dark shape that may be a motor vehicle. Among other things, since it’s not visible in the pictures, I’m wondering what distance the spoken of 35mph sign was positioned, from the roads’ curve.
So do you disagree that drivers cannot react fast enough on curves like that unless they’re traveling at the advised rate of speed, or do you disagree that drivers should drive safely?
It’s very interesting, that often there are many on this board touting the importance of infrastructure in Portland (we need better separated bikeways, etc.), but in this instance more people seem to be siding with “well people should drive better”.
There is a lot of things drivers to watch out besides cyclists. Deer, fallen rocks, fallen trees, stopped vechicles, cows, go on….
That road is a death trap. I noted this on this blog many times.
Just to follow up on this. Kerry was my uncle and it is with the deepest regret and sadness that I have to say that he did not make it. He passed away Monday morning at 12:30 AM.
Paul, my deepest condolences for your family’s loss. I biked the coast twelve years ago, and have come to realize more and more how lucky I was to complete the tour without any major incidents. In the past, I’ve asked Travel Oregon about their view on their responsibility for promoting this bike route as a tourist destination, knowing the infrastructure is not up to par. (Never received a response that did more than pay lip service to the idea they have a role in cyclist safety / driver education on this route.) I’ll be asking them to consider their role again, and hope to see more leadership from them in the future.
I am so sorry for your loss, Paul.
it was an accident.. I’m sure the person who hit him is devestated. as we all are.. Kerry, did not make it. passed around midnight this morning.. Be Safe..
There are very few ‘accidents’. The word itself is discouraged in traffic engineer circles. ‘Accident’ implies the event was unavoidable. Most posters have indicated numerous actions that could have, separately and together, prevented the crash/collision from occurring. I do not believe the event was unavoidable.
-Sun glare implies slowing down and anticipating it before turning into it
-Rural roads themselves are historically more dangerous, and users should exercise more caution when driving on them
-State and local agencies are responsible for road design
-Extra warnings, activated by cyclists, could have provided information to road users to expect cyclists on the road – as is done for some tunnels
– Those speed rider warnings are there for sound engineering reasons
I believe, in this instance, multiple parties could be assigned joint fault for the outcome.
Driving laws are great but physics is the only true law on the roads. Be careful out there.
I’m very sorry to hear this news. Paul Green, my deepest sympathies to you and the rest of Kerry’s family.
The Oregonian just reported that Mr Kunsman has succumbed to his injuries.
So, so incredibly sad.
My thoughts go out to Kerry’s family. <3 RIP <3
My uncle was very experienced and would always error on the side of caution, He did have a mirror and would always take over the lane to make himself obvious if he felt it necessary. It truly sounds like the driver was going to fast and was blinded by the sun, which even if my uncle did try to make himself obvious, a quick turn around a corner into a setting sun is all it can take to not see in front of you and at speed, not be able to react quick enough.
Vision Zero. Zero Tolerance: Drop speed limits on all roads in the entire country to max 25 mph, including interstate highways. Max speed on two lane rural roads 20. Confiscate personal autos from first time violators, lifetime revocation of licensing. The only thing that seems remotely acceptable in light of the ongoing carnage.
A more reasonable approach would be to emulate transportation policy in countries that have greatly reduced traffic deaths. Sweden, for example, with a rate of death roughly 1/4 of the U.S., has a maximum speed of about 43mph on rural undivided roads, in addition to many other safety measures:
Apples to oranges. We aren’t in sweden nor are we swedish.
We are all human beings. This is a political problem, not a biological or geographical one.
We may not be in Sweden (though SOME of us are Swedish!), but Sweden does have a couple of things in common with the US, more so than other European countries: 1. High dependency on cars. 2. Low population density. 3. Long distances – the country is about 1300 miles from end to end. If Sweden can pull this off, so can we.
And some of them like to go fast. For such small populations, Sweden (and Finland) have quite a few really good race car drivers.
Thank you to those that have given their condolences. I am coming to this page in hopes that this discussion gives my uncle some immortality. It certainly has caused a stir in your community.
I don’t know what the solution is. I hate to fear the road as a cyclist myself. I do know that being as one that lived in Big Bear California and having to drive regularly up and down a mountainous road that you never know what is around the corner and even if the sign says “25 MPH”, if I am not comfortable taking the curve at that speed, I slow down. Boulders, animals, sun, cyclist and ice could be around that corner and I need to prepare to take action. Here in California a new law went into affect last week that all drivers need to give cyclist 3 feet of room, even if that means slowing or even stopping. I am not confident that this is an answer and help, but at the very minimum put the attention on cyclist for a bit.
Oregon has a huge cycling community from my experience of being up there a handful of times and what it really takes is just expect to share the road with cyclist. You would not jump of a cliff just cause the sign says it is only 2 feet down, but you cannot see the bottom.
Thanks again for all the positive thoughts!
So very sorry to hear Kerry lost his life due to this tragic collision, Paul. I hope his legacy to improving cycling infrastructure goes far beyond just this article and comment thread. I really hope this incident forces our state government to greatly strive to improve our states road infrastructure for all users both those who live here, and those just using our roads for fantastic adventures like Kerry’s border to border trip. While I wish it didn’t come at the expense of his life, Hopefully future adventurers can experience a safer trip through our state from his legacy. That would at least be some consolation for the great cost.
I also hope his friends and colleagues continue to improve the infrastructure and rights of cyclists in his native San Diego in his name for an even more lasting legacy. I grew up in SoCal myself and visit every year or two. If I ever find myself riding in San Diego Co. I’ll think of Kerry.
What a tragedy. Rest in Peace, Terry.
What a tragedy, indeed. My thoughts go out to Mr. Kunsman’s family and friends.
This is so sad. Collisions from behind seem to keep happening lately.
When will it stop?
No–but in terms of driving and traffic law we should try hard as hell to be!
i THINK IT WOULD BE much more respectful,positive,appreciated AND best for everyone READING THESE POSTS TO SIMPLY NOT POINT FINGERS AT ANYONE……….Does it actually do any good? My daughter and i had the distinct pleasure of meeting this kind,dry humored,self sufficient and nice man 2 weeks ago as he toured through Port Townsend and we invited him to stay with us which he did….He was a great visitor to have at our home and regaled stories of life,his family(specifically his wife and daughter),shared interesting stories of bike touring in many places…..This particular tour he was on was in fact a second attempt on same route he made 11 years previous but had to abandon due to his bicycle frame breaking……..I truly think to honour Kerry’s legacy and his wife and daughter that its best if we remember the joy Kerry brought us through his vision of teaching people to ride and how much fun cycling is !…….And by the way,Kerry did have a mirror…….Bob
Thank you Bob! He truly left an impression on everyone he met as a happy, genuine man that loved people and always found the good. In my 46 years of knowing him, he never wished ill will on a soul. I do know that he would spin every negative comment in this post into a positive. He was my uncle, my father, my mentor. The world would be a much better place if we had more people like my uncle.
Here is a story in the local news here in San Diego.
Here’s a picture of Kerry’s bike near the entrance to the Arch Cape tunnel. He was doing a lot to enhance rear visibility:
This is one of those incidents that makes me particularly sad. My condolences to his family and friends.
RIP Kerry Kunsman.
Mr Kunsman’s death was tragic and premature; my condolences to his family and friends.
I read every single post on this thread and am a bit perplexed by the tendency of many of the participants in the discussion to be so focused on only one cause for and thus one solution to the problem of automobile versus bike crashes – be that more stringent driver education or certification, or tighter enforcement of driving laws, or improvement of bike infrastructure and roads, or avoidance of the high risk ride altogether.
This is a complex and multifactorial problem that has taken decades to devolve to its current unacceptable state, and singling out just one solution is not likely to result in much of anything positive, at least not in the short term.
Also, given that we all seem to accept that a significant proportion of auto-v.s.-cycle crashes resulting in death or injury are of the rear-end variety, I am surprised at the lack of discussion of rider-initiated strategies to increase biker conspicuity. I am constantly amazed by how many cyclists I see on busy roads that are riding without a rear flasher, day or night; I would speculate that it reaches at least fifty percent here in Hawaii and it wasn’t much better during my two recent trips to Portland (my future new home). While the death of Mr Kunsman would probably not have been avoided by his use of a flasher – and the photo of his bike shows that he already had at least two of them on his bike (although not sure if they were on at the time of the crash). I think that perhaps we under-rate the role that bright high-viz clothing and one or more bright, powerful and appropriately-aimed rear LED flashers could have on alerting a potentially distracted driver of a biker’s presence on the roadway. It won’t prevent all rear-enders, but it will likely reduce their numbers. And this isn’t “blaming the victim,” as some have suggested in prior comments; it’s simply risk reduction.
Thanks for allowing me to comment.
Caesar, You look at his set-up and then dismiss it? Complicated? Not so much. Less victim blaming and more advocacy for vulnerable road users.
Thanks for joining in. I appreciate your perspective. I suggest that you hang around a while. This is a conversation that has been taking place on the posts of this blog for over 5 years. Many of the people commenting on this post have written, cumulatively, a small book’s worth of comments on the topic of road safety and the problem of “hit from behind’ car / cyclists accidents has been a particular topic over the past month. So many of the broader issues have been addressed for some time.
All that said I think there are 2 reason in particular why the points you mention have not been a very significant factor in this particular piece of the conversation. First, the victim, Kerry Kunsman was noted in the headline as a cycling educator, and the accident happened in the daylight so both of those facts set stage. This isn’t a case of a ninja college kid in a black hoody on a fixie with no lights at 2 AM. The fact that Kunsman was a cycling educator indicates to most of us that he would know and observe basic visibility conventions. Further, a link above shows a blog picture of his bike set up which goes well beyond the minimum standard for daytime visibility.
Further, the location of this accident as well as the nature of the incident further narrow the focus. The accident occurred on a CURVE. The problem with seeing the cyclist can most easily be attributed to the sight line of the motorist, not the visibility of the cyclist.
Beyond that, on rural roads the main issue is motorist speed and attentiveness. We aren’t going to have infrastructure out there. There are lots of hazards for motorists on those roads: dogs, dear, skunks, cows, potholes, tractors, kids, etc. It is a basic fact. Motorists are taking great risks when they drive over 45mph on curving two lane roads. The sight line isn’t there to allow reaction and braking for any number of potential hazards. The road isn’t wide enough to provide room to maneuver around obstacles.
SLOW THE _ _ _ K DOWN!
Hard to take you seriously when in the first breath you say that there are multiple possible causes and fixes for bad drivers on our roads, and then in the next say that Mr Kunsman’s death was because he was not using a light (which he almost certainly was). Please think through what you are saying before you comment on things, even on the internet.
My condolences to you. I met Kerry a couple of times at his and Peggy’s house in San Diego. Peggy had acoustic music jams at their house and I would show up from time-to-time to play late into the evening. I got to talking with Kerry a few times at the jams. We had a common background in quality assurance and engineering and enjoyed sharing our experiences. He was a really nice guy.
I am sorry folks, you all are entitled to your opinions about bikes and roads and trucks and 74 year-olds but you get so wrapped up in your opinions you lose sight of the fact that a good person was killed. That is just it. Kerry is no longer with us and it is very sad.
Always a bit disconcerting and humbling to read of another bicyclist being hit on a stretch of road you were recently on.
I just biked the northern coast a couple weeks ago. Didn’t even see that damned Arch Cape tunnel signal — perhaps I was too busy checking on my own lights and seeing if the coast was clear. (And looking at Kerry’s photo I can see why I missed it.)
The Netarts Highway was a white knuckle ride in places, although once beyond that traffic virtually disappeared. Had the pleasure of playing hopscotch with a lovely Canadian woman along the road to Cape Lookout. Alas, I lost her on the long descent into Sand Lake …
John, not sure how you conclude that I dismissed his set up when I actually acknowledged that he was using flashers and that in his case flashers probably would have made no difference anyway.
Dismissing my comments as “victim blaming” is missing the greater point. Sorry you didn’t get it.
Your post was either victim-blaming or off-topic. You pick. In this case, a cyclist that was doing everything correctly, visibility-wise, was killed. The rest of us are placing the blame exactly where it lies and are suggesting solutions to the problem. Your rant about low-visibility riders has no place here, because it was not a factor in this collision.
Chris, I’m sorry you were somehow offended. But this thread has been chock-full of suggestions, hypotheses, data, recommendations and observations on and about bike safety and injury avoidance. So my bringing up biker visibility as another viable strategy for reducing injury or death from behind is hardly off topic. And accusing me of victim-blaming isn’t supported by the facts (i.e. the words I wrote or their context). I’m wondering if you actually oppose efforts by cyclists to increase their conspicuity as a means (note: one of many) to avoiding getting hit by distracted drivers? Seriously…
All operators of any moving vehicle should not drive at a speed such they can’t stop if they encounter and unexpected obstacle. Clearly this is the fault of the truck driver since he hit the cyclist. Period. If he was paying attention he would have had time to hit the brakes. The speed limit was 55 mph or 85 fps – the cyclist was probably going 10 mph – 45 mph closing speed or 66fps
A F350 truck can stop in 150 feet from 60 mph. a 35 mph curve should have a sight distance of at least 300 feet. So even at 60 mph and assuming the bike was stopped – the truck could have easily stopped – if the driver was paying attention. Now if the sun was in his eyes – the sight distance is much less and you should go slower.
The cyclist is not at fault at all. He was riding a clearly marked bicycle.
Motorists unfortunately drive into other objects on the road frequently. Cars hit rear end other cars in low visibility and cause massive chain reactions. No one blames the stopped cars.
Motorists kill construction workers – also clearly marked and they don’t fault the worker.
Motorists run into trees
Motorists have even rammed police cruisers parked on the side of the road with lights flashing.
The difference in the above is that the motorist often times is seriously injured as well.
The attitude needs to change that cyclists somehow contribute to their own demise by daring to ride on the street and that motorists are too incompetent to avoid slow moving objects.
Now cyclists should practice risk mitigation. I avoid riding westerly near sunset – people should slow down but they don’t. I try and ride busier roads in the mid morning – after rushhour.
But the biggest single risk to all other motorists is texting and yaking on the cell phone. In many cases straight roads are more risky here since people fell comfortable taking their eyes off the road.
An F150 can stop in 150 feet from the moment the brakes start to be applied at full stop. Estimates suggest that it takes ~130 feet just to START pushing the brake pedal.
Simply awful. Condolences to Kerry Kunsman’s family.
Have there been a lot more cyclist deaths on rural Oregon roads this year, compared to previous years? What is causing it – what has changed from prior years? Or is this the cruel side of random chance?
Looking at how well equipped his bike was (lights, reflectors, etc), I don’t see what else Mr. Kunsman could have done. On the facts as we know them, he was blameless. What a tragic death.
The Oregon Coast Bike Route Map indicates which roads have shoulders that are greater than 3 feet wide (shown in green) and less than 3 feet (shown in red). For me, there is a big difference in a 2.5 foot shoulder and a 0’ shoulder.
Route 131, where this most recent accident happen, is shown on this map but is not color coded. If this is now the route for getting from Tillamook to Cape Lookout then it seems that should be updated so that cyclists are aware of it lack of a safe shoulder.
I would also like to see all Oregon State Bike Route maps to show where dangerous connections exist. The Portland Metro map show those areas where safe bike routes end and a stretch of road becomes less safe. I would think there is a team of cyclists that could be pulled together to look at each route and map the most dangerous sections. If the state was forced to put down on a map which portions of their much ballyhooed bike routes are actually less-than-safe it might be more engaged in figuring out some fixes. It might also get the towns that benefit from that bike traffic to get more involved in lobbying the state to fix those danger spots so that more bikes come their way. In the meantime it would allow cyclists to make informed decisions about the level of risk they are willing to take on before they head out on the road.
I agree, Ted. Some of the state maps show a few of the dangerous spots, but in my experience only the REALLY bad ones. I’m sure they’re trying to trade off sharing important information with not scaring people off, but my view is that if there are special dangers on a route people ought to know about them.
FWIW I logged a total of about 50 miles on segments of the Old West Scenic Bikeway on Saturday, Sunday and yesterday. The official map only shows one caution zone for the entire 174 mile route. I would consider downtown John Day a caution zone too – no bike lane for a number of blocks, with an easy and safe alternate route available on nearby streets, but the map doesn’t indicate this.
I also have to take issue with the 3′ shoulder rule for the Coast Bike Route map. I would consider 4′ an absolute minimum for a road with significant traffic, with 5-6′ preferable.
Sorry if this is too much of a digression, but for those interested in doing the Old West route, the portions of US 26 that I rode this weekend all have shoulders of 5-6′ or wider, and I felt comfortable riding there despite fairly steady traffic. I also rode much of the Upper Middle Fork road on Sunday, and although the shoulder is only 2-4′ it is one of the lowest-traffic paved roads I have ever seen, possibly beating even Bakeoven Road, making it exceedingly safe as rural roads go. I also rode two different segments of US395 not on the route, and they had 4′ shoulders and pretty light traffic, so the section of 395 that is on the route should be similar. I haven’t ridden the OR-19 and OR-402 portions of the route, but I drove both of them this weekend and although they lack shoulders traffic is very light. There are be some tight, curvy sections of 402 that might be a little scary if you’re riding clockwise, which makes them uphill.
But if you really want a safe rural route, try what I did: ride around the Strawberry Mountains on County Road 62 and National Forest Roads 13, 16 and 15. The entire route is paved, spectacularly beautiful and utterly lacking in traffic.
Can we please just put this to rest and just respect the fact that my family has lost a loved one? There is nothing political to it. It was an accident. I am certain that there are a lot of other articles in Bike Portland that you can reveal your political head. There have been a lot of valid points and some I may not agree with. This is an article about a great man that was involved in a horrible incident. I am happy to create a Facebook page to let everyone voice their opinion. If my uncle saw all this animosity, he would do what he could to calm it down. I am not trying to stifle anyone, but there is a time and a place for everything. Instead, can you all just put your positive energy to a widowed woman who just lost her rock, her best friend, her soul mate? Please Give your condolences to a daughter that no longer has someone to call “dad”. Give your prayers to a family that has an empty chair at Thanksgiving.
What I am sure my uncle would like to hear about on this post is:
*What adventures have you had on a bike?
*What kind of bike do you ride?
*Do you like beer or wine (either answer is right. He just needed to know what he was going to enjoy with you)?
*What type of Jazz do you like?
Please play nice together. Happiness is what my uncle loved and shared. Let’s share it here.
“This is an article about a great man that was involved in a horrible incident. […] There is nothing political to it. It was an accident.”
If you stop there, we learn nothing, except that our roads are occasionally places of great danger. I’m not sure whose comments specifically you find out of line, but some of us are interested in making the world a better, safer place, where our collective approach to something like bicycling dramatically reduces the chances that something like this will keep happening. The Swedes with their Vision Zero are on their way to making it happen. But they didn’t get there by talking about Jazz, beer, and bike adventures on bike blogs; they got there by engaging in the kinds of forensics some of us are interested in, and directing that energy, those insights toward political change.
I think there’s room for some of us to honor the memory of your uncle by refusing to accept this sort of thing as fate.
Paul, deepest sympathy. I can’t fully imagine your loss. However I have ridden on those roads and believe that the greatest tribute would be some form of action for safety. It was actually not an “accident,” it was the result of dangerous conditions. The greater good would be that we work to make those better. There is a stark contradiction between a state (OR) that declares a “scenic bike route” for $ and the reality of very unsafe conditions. Humbly, I might submit that the greatest tribute to your family would be rectifying this situation before any more “accidents” take place.
Simple change to infrastructure:
Change advisory speed limits to hard speed limits on corners. Its a much easier case to make in court than trying to tell the judge about reaction times and stopping distances.
Many advisory limits are set for commercial trucks rolling over, but if it also applies due to sight lines, just lower the legal limit.
Another local article