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Collision involving FedEx truck kills man riding on Cornell Road in Cedar Mill

Posted by on November 20th, 2014 at 2:43 pm

washcofatal

Scene of the collision. View is looking northwest from the middle of NW Barnes.
(Photo: Washington County Sheriff’s Office)

A man riding a bike died Thursday in a collision with a FedEx truck near the corner of Northwest Barnes Road and Cornell Road (map).

Details from the Washington County Sheriff’s Office are scarce at the moment but according to KGW-TV, “both the truck and bicyclist were eastbound on Cornell Road when the truck driver made a southbound turn onto Barnes Road and hit the bicyclist.”

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The location is about 8.5 miles west of downtown, just north of Highway 26 and just beyond Portland city limits.

Cornell in this location has three lanes: one left-turn only lane, one through lane, and one bike lane. Below is an aerial view and graphic showing the path of the truck operator and the point of the collision:

cornellcollision

Based on the photos from the Sheriff’s office, the truck involved in this collision was relatively large and similar to the one in the photo below:

fedextruck

We’ll be working to get more information and will update this post as it comes in.

CORRECTION: This headline of this story initially stated that this collision was in northwest Portland. It wasn’t. It happened just west of the Portland city limits. We regret the error.

UPDATE: The man who died is Kirke Johnson. Please read our follow-up story for more about him..

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spare_wheelwsbobEl BicicleroZeppoBicyclists Belong In The Traffic Lane Recent comment authors
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Allan
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Allan

very sad news, I’ve biked through that intersection many times.

This is a Portland mailing address but not City of Portland proper

Kyle
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Kyle

Very sad indeed. I’m always shocked at how so many drivers – especially in trucks – fail to look before turning.

Adam H.
Guest
Adam H.

Ugh.

John Lascurettes
Guest

I note that the trailer has the side guards under it. They are not the panacea people sometimes think they are.

wsbob
Guest
wsbob

Seriously bad, treacherous intersection for people riding bikes to navigate it safely.

These roads and this intersection are classic examples of how forward thinking community members, leaders and planners in the area could have helped avert collisions like this one through design and construction of a cycle track distanced somewhat from the main road.

People with a first hand familiarity with this area, even going back some years, well know that properties along Barnes and Cornell near the intersection, have seen many changes in recent years, as population and business has grown. With this collision now emphasizing the point, it’s nothing short of tragic that infrastructure sufficient for people in considerable numbers to safely ride bikes through this intersection, was not conceived and built here.

Dan
Guest
Dan

Awful news. I used to commute that way, but changed my route to avoid Cornell for all but 1 block. It generally sucks for riding on.

PNP
Guest
PNP

I lived near there until about a year ago. That’s an ugly intersection anyway, mostly because the speeds are too high (not a surprise). In the 11 years I lived in the area, more businesses, houses, and apartments were built, so the whole area got a lot busier. The intersection was widened and redesigned a 3-4 years ago (unsure of when), but it’s still too busy with people driving too fast.

Condolences to all involved, especially the family of the cyclist, but the truck driver will have to live knowing that he killed someone. It’s tough all around.

El Biciclero
Guest
El Biciclero

Sheesh. I took that turn this morning. It’s weird but I always get a sense of extra right-hook danger here; more so than at most other intersections. No telling whether the cyclist was turning there or intending to go straight, but if turning, there is no bike lane to turn into on that little Barnes hypotenuse. Big trucks + little roads = trouble.

Is that blue path line accurate? Is this another case of a straight-through cyclist being misled by a large vehicle moving away from them, only to come swinging back into their path after “committing” to a turn?

RIP and condolences to family and friends; this is another needless death on our roads.

Trek 3900
Guest
Trek 3900
Todd Boulanger
Guest
Todd Boulanger

Michael – a point of clarification…your incident diagram (above) portrays the route of the truck as making a sweeping right turn from the left turn lane…is this true? I did not see any information in the KGW story on the exact path of the truck.

If that is what happened then the bicyclist never had a chance with what I would term a “boomerrang right hook” collision.

rick
Guest
rick

SW Barnes Road needs more bike lanes.

Joe
Guest
Joe

🙁

Joe
Guest
Joe

walker is a nightmare BTW.. lets get real! and make it safe for all modes of transport…. oregonlive BS!

Pat Franz
Guest
Pat Franz

I knew the cyclist. Kirke was very experienced, very visible, and very careful. He lived not far from there and was quite familiar with the intersection. Kirke always rode with daytime lights front and rear, and usually a bright yellow body sock on his long wheelbase recumbent. Very visible. He routinely rode over 10,000 miles a year on his bike, in all conditions. He knew about lane positioning, blind spots, and how to stay safe. That this still happened to him is a real shock.

The bike lane forces you into a bad position, but If the truck had given any indication it was doing anything other than going straight, Kirke would not have let himself be anywhere near the danger zone, I am sure of that. It is sobering and beyond sad that he was struck anyway.

q`Tzal
Guest
q`Tzal

Truck driver’s view of what likely happened here: [1]
(1) 1st off a Jug-handle turn is illegal specifically because of the unsafety of blinding yourself (the truck driver) to the right side as you are turning right. It is imperative that a driver is able to maintain continuous visual contact with the lane that is being crossed. We don’t know if a Jug-handle turn was done in this instance but it was likely part of the problem. [2]
(2) This is not a downhill direction so excessive bike speed should not have been an issue
(3) As I examined this intersection in aerial view I noticed 2 critical things:
..(a) it is a little tight if I can’t complete the turn by traveling through the left turn only lane from NW Barnes Rd. This is the legal method as described by ODOT.
..(b) just before the intersection on NW Cornell Rd (approximately 50′ prior; right around where the on street parking ends) Cornell itself jogs to the left like a Jug-handle turn. Not early enough for a truck to straighten out to restore visibility before the right turn and just subtle enough that you might not see it coming. [3]
(4) the right turn is closer to 60° than a 90° right angle; this often leads people who are overly familiar with the tun to take it faster than they would if it was a 90°. I’ve observed this in ALL vehicular users making this turn here and others like it.

So… If I “had to” make that turn…
() I’d stick as far to the left as possible while not exiting the lane
() have my turn signal on as far in advance as I thought I could get away with[4]
() in that last 10′-30′ I’m slowing down to about 5mph
() I’m gonna sacrifice some of distance from the curb to my right to ensure that my right side mirrors have full view if they didn’t at some point
() all you can do then is execute the maneuver when safe; this includes the bike lane, crosswalk and the Barnes left turn lane that I’ll likely have to drive through. If any of these are not clear or I can’t see them I’m gonna be safe and anger traffic behind me being slow but safe.

What I “think” happened is that a driver too familiar with the area approached the turn a little too fast, got distracted while not noticing the slight left jog, never noticed the person in the bike lane and made the turn. Because the intersection is so tight you need to pull as far forward as possible and then turn sharp right. As the cab turns there is only the briefest flash of the bike lane. Even then, if you have sharp vision and are traveling slow enough you can stop hard to avoid killing someone. Annoying people inconvenienced behind you is a small price for a clean conscious and driving record.
.
.
[1] (and I’m basing this on my frequent cycling and car driving through this intersection BUT not a truck AND assuming I was taking this right turn with a 53′ trailer)
[2] comparatively the left side mirror is like looking through a toilet paper roll tube and the right side mirror is like looking through a drinking straw. Any misalignment is easy and occurs quickly.
[3] (I thought I might be imagining it until I pulled it up in Google Earth, zoomed in on the driving path and tilted the perspective to get as close a view as possible)
[4] (turn signals on trucks aren’t just an indication of where I’d like to go, they also can act as a deterrent and alarm clock for drowsy drivers who are about to pull a Clark W. Griswold)

q`Tzal
Guest
q`Tzal

PS: expect more amateur drivers of big vehicles.
Stung Last Year, Retailers and Shippers Retool for the Holiday …

Tom
Guest
Tom

I also knew this cyclist, Kirk. He was a daily bike commuter, very experienced, very safe; he was our workplace leader for the BTA’s Bike Commute Challenge. I’m almost certain he rode a recumbent.
This is very disturbing. When will we have real protections for vulnerable road users??

Ryan francesconi
Guest
Ryan francesconi

America’s addiction to consumerism and assumption that dying on roads is normal.

Fkn hell. The insanity continues.

Marc Rose
Guest
Marc Rose

According to a PCC email:

I am very sad to report that Kirke Johnson, a long-time PCC employee and recently retired staff member of Technology Solution Services, was killed Thursday in a collision with a semi-truck that turned in front of Kirke as he was riding his bike through the intersection of NW Cornell and NW Barnes roads. Kirke was a gentle, peaceful, thoughtful, and intellectually curious man who be greatly missed. He was a careful cyclist who had been commuting by bike to work for the past 10 years, and had been planning a cross-country bicycle trip with his wife this winter. Our thoughts are with his family and many PCC friends as we struggle through this difficult time.

John Liu
Guest
John Liu

I’m really sad and sorry to read this. The cyclist could have been any of us.

greg
Guest
greg

So sad to hear such an unnecessary tragedy. We’ll miss seeing him frequently on his recumbent. I couldn’t believe it when I saw his yellow bike. Condolences to his family.

The Odd Duck
Guest
The Odd Duck

I was thinking back to my motorcycling day and if really anything different could have been done. Judging by the age of the driver he seems to have a lot of experiences, hoping he has a clean record, the one thing they should check for cataracts, they can seek up on you before you know it. Looking at that turn is a bad turn that something should have been done years before. Was this the first time this driver was on the route? I think this is one of those Irresistible accident just happen from time to time.

Trek 3900
Guest
Trek 3900

My condolences to the family.

The way the wheelchair ramps stick out into the lanes at that intersection makes that a very tight right turn – I’m surprised a tractor-trailer would even attempt it. If you look at the photo at the top of this story, how far would you say the rear truck tire is from the double yellow line? I’m guessing 4-5 feet. How wide is the truck and how wide is the lane from wheelchair ramp to double yellow? I’ll bet the trailers right-side wheels had to roll over the wheelchair ramp to make the turn. Looks like the intersection could have some design issues, but I’m not an expert.

Lots we don’t know yet: speeds of bike and truck, did the truck pass the bike or not, etc, etc.

I’d think recumbent bikes would be harder to see because they are so low – don’t know if that was a factor here or not.

From accounts above the cyclist was safe – maybe that’s why he rode to the mature age of 70. There are old pilots and there are bold pilots, but not there aren’t many old, bold pilots; maybe it works for cyclists too.

Laura
Guest
Laura

I also knew Kirke, he was an extremely cautious and visibility was always a top concern, I even think he rode with a brightly colored flag. Kirke was a thoughtful person, and will truly be missed. I feel so sad.

q`Tzal
Guest
q`Tzal

Just to reiterate outside my TL;DR above:
NW Cornell Rd turns to slightly to the left before this intersection with NW Barnes. Because of this any big articulated truck trailer combination vehicle is almost guaranteed to have zero ability to see anything on its right side.
The point where the truck driver loses their ability to see the bike lane is where it is needed most.

Perhaps this intersection was realigned when there was a major reconstruction in this area a few years back. I expect that the Cornell Rd path was not curved here but an angle. In combination with the curb extension for the crosswalk and bus stop and we have a right turn designed to fail for right turning combination vehicles.
By all rights it should be illegal for trucks to make this turn but it is the DOT’s fault for not being aware that this realignment would cause this hazard and not proactively signing prohibition against combination vehicle right turns at this intersection.

Bicyclist Belong in the Traffic Lane
Guest

My condolences to family and friends. Absolutely heart breaking.

But I’m also puzzled by all the commentary about Kirk’s knowledge, experience and level of care. What is a cyclist like that doing riding in that bike lane?

The simple explanation for these types of crashes, and how to avoid them, was published in 2008.

http://commuteorlando.com/wordpress/2008/11/30/what-cyclists-need-to-know-about-trucks/

B. Daniel
Guest
B. Daniel

I drove by the scene of the accident right after it happened. The truck was much smaller than the one shown in the picture of this article. The poor man was lying face down and a woman was gently patting his arm. I feel awful for this man and for the driver of the truck. A tragic accident.

Deborah
Guest
Deborah

I’ve known Kirke for over 30 years. He was my good neighbor and a wonderful person and accomplished, devoted cyclist. I am at a loss for words. Over the years Kirke was very involved in community action involving improving bicycle safety on NW Cornell Rd. He went to numerous meetings involving the county and other groups concerned with Cornell Rd. infrastructure. This is simply tragic. He worked all his life to live his dream of cycling in his retirement. This accident sounds very similar to the one that claimed a young woman downtown several years ago. Big trucks and cyclists are a bad mix. I am heartbroken.

Paul
Guest
Paul

The “sample” photo shows a tractor with a “fender” mirror. Having driven tractor-trailers 40 accident-free years, I can attest that those make a huge difference, and should be mandatory.

esther2
Guest
esther2

I’d like to know what was in that truck that was so large that it needed to be transported in a tractor trailer on surface streets.

Why isn’t our freight moved from these killers to smaller trucks to be taken from the warehouse for delivery. It is not necessary to risk the lives of our citizens to deliver boxes.

If the driver passed the bike “blind spot” is irrelevant. And why are vehicles allowed on our roads that have deadly blind spots?

Bicyclists Belong In The Traffic Lane
Guest

Dan
Beaverton drivers are intolerant of OTHER CARS being in the lane in front of them, much less bikes trying to take the lane.
Recommended 1

Define “intolerant”. Any cases of bicyclists being run over from behind intentionally? Any at all?

Are you saying behaving like the “Savvy Cyclist” in this animation is not possible in Beaverton? This comes out of Florida, by the way, where motorists are not particularly known for their tolerance of cyclists.

http://iamtraffic.org/resources/interactive-graphics/what-cyclists-need-to-know-about-trucks/

Daniel
Guest
Daniel

Bike lanes should always be protected by bollards in busy intersections. Just a 20 foot strip of bollards right up to the intersection. Is that crazy? This is an unacceptable death. How many times will it happen until we push for better safety infrastructure? This reminds me of Kathryn: http://bikeportland.org/2012/05/16/collision-at-sw-3rd-and-madison-leaves-woman-with-life-threatening-injuries-71838

Prattle On, Boyo
Guest

I wonder if this would have happened had the cyclist not been in the bike lane? Bike lanes at intersections are death traps.

Zeppo
Guest
Zeppo

Does anyone know what’s going on inside the cab of a truck like that? Is the driver bombarded with directions from company HQ to go here or go there? I see lots of drives of commercial trucks with cell phones in their hands, but do companies like FedEx and UPS contribute to driver inattentiveness to the road? Thanks.

Bicyclists Belong In The Traffic Lane
Guest

Daniel
Bike lanes should always be protected by bollards in busy intersections. Just a 20 foot strip of bollards right up to the intersection. Is that crazy? This is an unacceptable death. How many times will it happen until we push for better safety infrastructure? This reminds me of Kathryn: http://bikeportland.org/2012/05/16/collision-at-sw-3rd-and-madison-leaves-woman-with-life-threatening-injuries-71838
Recommended 1

Bollards or any other kind of pseudo “protection” would make such crashes even more likely. The crash occurs in the intersection, not before it.

It’s absolutely tragic how so many bicyclists don’t seem to understand the simple geometric and human factors that ultimately cause these crashes, much less how to avoid them.

Please, please, please read this carefully and study all of the animations.

http://iamtraffic.org/resources/interactive-graphics/what-cyclists-need-to-know-about-trucks/

Judy
Guest
Judy
The Odd Duck
Guest
The Odd Duck

In Marin County CA, where I use to live, I seen a dare to be stupid car driver behind a car that was getting ready to stop for a yellow light. The DTBS car got in the left hand turning lane and proceeded to pass the car that was stopping thought the light.

clbpdx
Guest
clbpdx

Wow – very sad… I’ve commuted this Cornell->Barnes route for 6 years, and start going on my highest alert East of Murray: during heavy backlog you also have to deal with cross-traffic invited to jump into you through the gaps, and cars blocking bike lane entering Cornell. I call this Barnes/Cornell/Saltzman area the “Devil’s Triangle”. The scariest part to me is at the bottom of the triangle where Barnes intersects Saltzman, where cars turning into Westlake Village condos abruptly after the light create a very nasty Left-cross setup.

I am a diligent student of bike safety, consistently take the lane to avoid Right-cross, but this loss of Kirke sure has me reflecting/re-thinking about my procedures around trucks.

Paul
Guest
Paul

KOIN TV has an excellent photo of the scene that shows the actual size of the tractor-trailer combination, and its position at the scene. The fact that the truck stopped barely past the crosswalk would seem to indicate the driver was taking the corner very slowly, and the point of impact was probably pretty far forward. I also note that the tractor is a SWB city tractor, with a rear window in the cab.
http://koin.com/2014/11/20/recumbent-bicyclist-hit-by-delivery-truck-dies/

Psyfalcon
Guest
Psyfalcon

Wasn’t there just a study that said we’re underestimating the number of rear end collisions?

All of the stay in the traffic lane stuff can work if the number of rear end collisions is actually low. Or even caused by people not paying attention to the bike lane. People are however rear ending bikes with their cars, and even running over a wide variety of things in the road.

Because of that, I don’t think we can categorically say that taking the lane is better, when the data its based off of may be flawed.

Andrew Holtz
Guest

Evasive action to avoid right hooks is the norm… but it shouldn’t need to be. http://youtu.be/Y0pjbhs9uxo

Alan 1.0
Guest
Alan 1.0

Bicyclists Belong In The Traffic Lane
…then he gets mad at the driver. This should be an ingrained habit that you do reflexively…

🙂 Sorry, couldn’t help myself, that’s totally out of context and not at all what you meant, but it’s funny when read that way. 🙂

Anyway, whether or not any minds are changed or lives saved by this discussion, I appreciate the civil and positive tone, BBITTL.

A minor detail, what mirror(s) do you like for drop bars? Or are you a helmet- or glasses-mirror user?

GlowBoy
Guest
GlowBoy

Due to my use of rigid contact lenses (which occasionally slip off center if you blink while looking well off to the side, such as with a helmet/glasses mounted mirror) I’m pretty well limited to handlebar mirrors.

And I’ve pretty much always ridden with a mirror, going back more than 30 years. I’ve tried a LOT of them — rejected some, lost some and smashed some — but the one I keep coming back to is the 3rd Eye. It is super adjustable, has an expanding-rubber mount that is much less fiddly than most (probably also reducing vibration), and is completely tool-free in both installation and adjustment. It’s round so it doesn’t stick out too far, but just big enough and convex enough to give a wide-enough field of vision without making things too small. It also quick-folds in to avoid damage without screwing up the adjustments. Nothing else I’ve found comes even close to working as well on my drop bars.