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Woman sues for over $670,000 after collision caused serious injuries

Posted by on July 24th, 2015 at 12:50 pm


via The Oregonian

Cindy Lewellen, a 45-year old Portland resident who’s well-known in the local riding scene, filed a lawsuit this week against two people that she believes are liable for a collision that caused her serious injuries back in November.

It happened on NW St. Helens Road near that notorious intersection of Kittridge and Yeon (where the new Forest Park entrance is slated to go).

According to the lawsuit Lewellen was riding south in the bike lane. As she approached a driveway that led to United Rentals, a person driving in the adjacent lane had stopped for someone who wanted to turn left into the driveway. Here’s what happened next (according to the lawsuit, emphasis mine):

As defendant Juan Carlos Garcia was in the middle turn lane, defendant Jeffrey Lovelady [the person traveling in the same direction as Lewellen] indicated with his hands that defendant Juan Carols Garcia could make his turn in front of the motor vehicle defendant Jeffrey Lovelady was driving. Defendant Juan Carlos Garcia made the left turn directly in front of plaintiffs path of travel in the bicycle lane, causing a collision.

Lewellen is suing Garcia for making the turn and she’s suing Lovelady for encouraging him to do so.

This is a situation were a dreaded courtesy ended in with serious consequences. Lewellen was going 26 mph and was very badly injured in the collision. The lawsuit says she sustained a, “pelvic fracture, scapular fracture, rib fractures, sacral fracture, coccyx fracture, lung contusions, cardiac and pulmonary arrest, abrasions, contusions, and soft tissue injuries.”

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This case caught my attention for a several reasons.

First, the way The Oregonian treated it was very telling and unfortunate. Check out their headline:


I’m not sure if it was intentional or not, but by referring to the person in the car as “well-intentioned” The Oregonian (or OregonLive, their website managers) pretty much guarantees an avalanche of mean comments (there are over 1,200 at this point) toward the person who filed the lawsuit. Especially when it’s a “cyclist.”

This is also the exact scenario that we published an article about last September. That article, written by lawyer Ray Thomas (who also happens to be Lewellen’s lawyer and a BikePortland advertiser) shared how being nice could make you liable in a collision.

Here’s what Thomas wrote:

“…when a driver waves another driver through stopped traffic — there can be disastrous consequences.

…the waver is assuming responsibility for conditions being safe to make the left turn.

Before one attempts to wave someone through they should always do a shoulder check for walkers, bikers and other overtaking traffic to make sure that they’re not about to create a wreck for others road users.

Every time we wave someone through or across a lane when the law grants no right-of-way to the recipient of the ‘favor’ the possibility of a collision greatly increases.”

There’s also some legal precedent for finding the waver liable in a traffic collision (as reported by The Oregonian).

The other thing that stands out about this case for me is the speed Lewellen was traveling prior to the collision. 26 mph is much faster than usual for a person to travel on a bicycle in those conditions. People who don’t ride a bicycle themselves, or who aren’t familiar with bicycle traffic in general, would have a difficult time judging the trajectory of Lewellen’s path.

It’s a very interesting case and I’ll be curious how it turns out.

Read the lawsuit here (PDF)

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  • 9watts July 24, 2015 at 12:53 pm

    Well, I think we should also assume that Erik Lukens’ headline was ‘well-intentioned.’ 🙂

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  • Jay July 24, 2015 at 1:02 pm

    When I was learning to drive, my dad always told me to never wave someone through. He spent a few years driving a ski resort bus and that was something that the resort drilled into it’s driver’s heads… If you wave someone through, you’ve given away your right-of-way. Be courteous, be never do something that allows blame to be shifted.

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  • ethan July 24, 2015 at 1:05 pm

    26MPH isn’t so fast. Even on my fatbike, I can get over 30MPH on a long enough stretch of flat road.

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    • John Lascurettes July 24, 2015 at 1:23 pm

      Good for you. Point being made by the article is most people on bikes do not routinely travel that fast and so the average person does not expect a person on a bike to be traveling that fast.

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      • ethan July 24, 2015 at 1:45 pm

        They were still travelling well below the speed limit and were well within their rights to do so. Bringing up their speed is irrelevant.

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        • John Lascurettes July 24, 2015 at 2:51 pm

          There was not even an implication that the person on the bike was speeding but that simply people in cars often misjudge the speed of people on bikes (if they even look at all). And in this case, the speed was relevant to the extent of the injuries and the inability of the person on the bike to be able to stop – not that the person on the bike was wrong. I don’t know why you’re taking it that way.

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          • ethan July 24, 2015 at 4:06 pm

            I’m taking it that way because I stupidly read the comments on Olive. Most of them are blaming the person on the bike for going “too fast.”

            People need to pay more attention to people on bikes. If you are unable to determine speed, just wait. It’s a lot better than hitting someone riding their bike.

            I understand that it might be difficult to tell the speed, and that bikes can speed up / slow down rapidly, depending on conditions, but we have a right to go the same speed as anyone else and shouldn’t have to be blamed for it.

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            • Pete July 24, 2015 at 9:45 pm

              Yeah, I don’t know that it’s ignorance or lack of attention – sometimes I think it’s simply selfishness and lack of concern. I can only imagine the vitriol on O-live… I may have to jump on and weigh in. This was the latest ‘debate’ I’ve been engaged in (you can see the number of folks who believe bikes are slowing cars down in traffic by the ‘likes’): http://mv-voice.com/news/2015/07/13/bicyclist-suffers-critical-injuries-in-collision

              You can guess which username I’m using there (OK, it’s “Wow” – the ignorance and vitriol never ceases to amaze me).

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    • Spiffy July 24, 2015 at 3:33 pm

      I can only go that fast down hills… my 7 speed tops out around 22 mph using my legs…

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      • ethan July 24, 2015 at 4:03 pm

        I’m a very quick rider when I want to be. I used to average over 15MPH on my way to / from work (50% uphill; 50% downhill). That average speed includes stop lights / signs / stopping for pedestrians, etc.

        Now, I’ve started to slow down a bit. On days when I want to get to work quickly, I can still go about that fast (despite having a much heavier bike now), or I can take the slower route and leave early. That has been much more appealing lately, as the “fast” route is also being used by drivers who are impatient with traffic and will drive right down my neighborhood streets. So I’ve been taking a longer, slower route.

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        • gutterbunnybikes July 24, 2015 at 4:20 pm

          If you’re really hitting 30+ and are able to maintain it on the flats on a heavy, fat tire bike, you should be getting sponsors and be in training, not commuting to work.

          Merckx’s legendary one hour time trial record lasted 20 years – at almost exactly 30 mph, the current record is roughly 35 MPH.

          26 MPH on flats is within the average speed for the Tour de France racers.

          Make no mistake 26 is very fast on bicycle.

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          • ethan July 24, 2015 at 4:27 pm

            I can get up to those speeds, but not maintain them very long. I have some pretty strong legs, but my endurance is not that great. I could probably not do what those people do.

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          • ethan July 24, 2015 at 4:36 pm

            Replying again for more info. I used to be way heavier than I am currently. My whole life I’ve been kinda a fatty. So, my legs have always been strong out of necessity. Within the last 5 years, I dropped about 100 pounds, kept it off and then stayed at a constant weight while slowly adding muscle.

            Recently (within the past year or so), I’ve been biking a lot more, and using heavier and heavier bikes (while trying to go faster and farther). I gained over 30 pounds, but mostly muscle. Both of my legs feel like they are entirely muscle now, and it shows.

            I’m also naturally pre-dispositioned to being able to have much larger muscles (and body size) than most people.

            That’s why I can get up to those speeds, but I can’t sustain them because I don’t have the endurance yet. Eventually I will be able to hit those kinds of speeds consistently I imagine, but I doubt I will ever race bikes. It’s just not my thing.

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          • Eric Leifsdad July 24, 2015 at 7:48 pm

            26mph is about the fastest I go, but that’s because I start using my brakes and don’t feel safe at 30. It’s pretty fast, but drivers should expect that a person on a bike could be going that fast.

            Wind resistance starts to play a major role at 20+, so you generally need a bit of downhill but lycra and a tuck will get you closer to 30 on a 1% downhill. If people think 25mph is fast on a bike, perhaps they could back off to at least a 2s gap when I’m taking the lane on Terwilliger.

            Meanwhile, I’ve had drivers wait at a stop sign while I’m pedaling uphill at 3mph from 25ft away and I’ve had them pull in front when I’m motoring uphill at 15mph. Many drivers don’t seem to think you can get down a hill without a lot of power (judging by revving engines going down steep hills), maybe the same ones who can’t judge a bike’s speed? Perhaps the license exam should include some math problems — passing distance / head-on collision avoidance, something about traction acting perpendicular to the road surface and what that might mean in terms of downhill stopping distances?

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          • Pete July 24, 2015 at 9:38 pm

            I was cut off by an elderly lady in a Buick once while I was traveling at 37 MPH in a 40 MPH zone. I was about to take the lane as I was coming up on an intersection and I watched her in my mirror, but she wasn’t signalling. I have to think that she put in a pretty big acceleration to get in front of me, because she had to exceed the speed limit by a fair amount.

            But yeah, I wasn’t on a fat bike… 😉

            Nor do I have sponsors :(.

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          • Otis July 28, 2015 at 10:10 am

            That’s absurd. Strong cyclists–and make no mistake Cindy is a very fit and fast rider–can an do reach and maintain that speed regularly. It’s not that difficult for a fit rider and so long as the speed limit allows, all this extrapolating based on one’s own ability is just silly.

            And for the record, TdF riders probably average 26mph–a very different metric.

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  • Kyle July 24, 2015 at 1:16 pm

    This is why I often don’t proceed when someone stops for me at an intersection when I’m not in a crosswalk. Sometimes they get very angry at me (“I’m doing something nice for you and you’re an ungrateful mean bike person!”) but far too many times I’ve seen situations where oncoming traffic doesn’t stop; drivers behind the good-intentioned driver pass them on the right; or it just confuses everyone else at the intersection. It’s not safe and it’s totally illegal.

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  • RM July 24, 2015 at 1:40 pm

    Did the lawsuit say she was going 26 mph? If so I missed it. Is there a speed limit in bike lanes and if so is it slower than the posted speed limit of the adjacent street? I’m pretty sure St Helens is posted at more than 26 mph.

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    • Stephen Keller July 24, 2015 at 2:10 pm

      St. Helens at that point is posted at 45 mph. A 40 mph sign is placed just south of the United Rental.

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      • Ted Buehler July 25, 2015 at 8:04 pm

        Headline should read
        “driver of car failed to yield to oncoming traffic traveling at half of posted speed limit”

        Ted Buehler

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  • brian July 24, 2015 at 2:01 pm

    I was just walking to lunch on SW Washington Street where cars routinely block the crosswalk trying to squeeze through a light and some guy in the crosswalk tried to wave a car through as people were already in the crosswalk in front of the car. Dangerous!

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  • DK July 24, 2015 at 2:03 pm

    I live, drive and ride on NE Broadway. As a rider it scares me when drivers leave “the box” open during rush hour at cross streets to allow other drivers to cross three car lanes and the bike lane. The crossing drivers are rarely aware of the bike lane. As a driver on Broadway/Weidler, I always pull into the box. It’s rude but I feel that it’s safer. There are plenty of signaled intersections for traffic to cross.

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    • John Liu
      John Liu July 24, 2015 at 2:34 pm

      What do you mean by “the box”? You mean the intersection?

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      • John Liu
        John Liu July 24, 2015 at 8:41 pm

        Blocking the intersection is illegal. Don’t do it.

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    • lop July 24, 2015 at 2:57 pm

      Blocking an intersection like that is illegal and can (and should) get you a ticket. If you’re in a car and approaching an intersection where traffic in the adjacent lane is stopped you should slow down and exercise due care. You don’t know if someone who can’t see your car is turning, or if a pedestrian is crossing in a crosswalk etc…When you’re on a bike the situation is similar, the only difference being drivers might be less likely to look for you and you are most likely harder to see in the first place.

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      • DK July 24, 2015 at 4:38 pm

        In case i wasn’t clear, I was talking about intersections without a traffic light. As far as I know, Portland does not have a law against this. Intersections with a light are totally different story…


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        • lop July 24, 2015 at 6:24 pm


          Obstructing cross traffic

          • penalty

          (1) A person commits the offense of obstructing cross traffic if the person is operating a vehicle and the person enters an intersection or a marked crosswalk when there is not sufficient space on the other side of the intersection or crosswalk to accommodate the vehicle without obstructing the passage of other vehicles or pedestrians.

          (2) The offense described in this section applies whether or not a traffic control device indicates to proceed.

          (3) The offense described in this section, obstructing cross traffic, is a Class D traffic violation. [1983 c.338 §614; 1995 c.383 §56]

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        • KristenT July 27, 2015 at 5:28 pm

          Portland might not have a law, but the state of Oregon does– and that’s the law that you should be following.

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    • Spiffy July 24, 2015 at 3:35 pm

      stop illegally blocking intersections…

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      • q`Tzal July 24, 2015 at 4:15 pm

        Does that apply to “corking”?

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        • Paul Wilkins July 24, 2015 at 5:20 pm


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          • q`Tzal July 24, 2015 at 7:45 pm

            Explain to me in legal, rational, non-white-privilege-y terms why it would be any more safe or legal for people on bicycles to randomly block traffic than it would be for someone in an automobile to do the exact same thing.

            Are we somehow more superior than car drivers?
            More equal than car drivers?

            Or is it just an overdose of sanctimonious holier-than-thou bike pride?

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            • Janet July 27, 2015 at 9:12 am

              Legal? No. It’s civil disobedience.

              Corking is safe because you’re stopping in front of already stopped traffic. The only real danger is that you might incite the motorists to commit intentional acts of violence. It would be just about as safe for motorists to stop traffic in the same way–and just as illegal.

              Superior? Sure it’s better for the environment, public health, urban design, etc. Is that sanctimonious?

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              • q`Tzal July 27, 2015 at 2:50 pm

                So why aren’t we cyclists willing to give our goldfish-y counterparts driving cars the benefit of the doubt and assume their dickish behavior is also some altruistic civil disobedience?

                I guarantee you that the anti-bike animus that is reflected upon the bicycling community is the mirror image of anti-car animus that is aimed back.

                Their misunderstanding and frustration with why bike riders do odd unpredictable things in front of cars is as valid and understandable as our misunderstanding and frustration with car drivers.

                Calm deep breaths and reflect.
                Then if logic still justifies a violent reaction go Hulk out.

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  • Glenn July 24, 2015 at 2:06 pm

    I am sure there are a few things in that situation everyone wishes they would have done different there. Two things that come to my mind…one of which is the bicyclist should have slowed down due the stopped car. Two, the turning truck should have made the turn more slowly.
    There are a lot of WHAT IF’s when a car is stopped in the lane next to you when on a bike…
    It’s still sad to see someone get hurt.

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    • Paul Wilkins July 24, 2015 at 5:22 pm

      I don’t see that she did anything that she should reconsider next time. Although, she probably will.

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    • SD July 24, 2015 at 9:26 pm

      Often cars stop and wait for a cyclist to pass on the right so that they (the car) can turn right because the cyclist has the right of way.
      This happens to me everyday. If I stopped or slowed every time a car stopped to allow me the right of way, it would cause more harm than good.

      We should accept that sometimes motorists make bad decisions that hurt people and that these events were not reasonably “preventable” by the people who were hurt.

      It would be a better use of the imagination to think of ways to make our roads safer than to superimpose fantasies of crash prevention on people who have suffered greatly and done nothing wrong.

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      • John Liu
        John Liu July 25, 2015 at 10:48 am

        I slow and proceed cautiously in that situation. You don’t know for sure the driver is waiting for you. He or she may be consulting a map, deciding whether to turn or not, waiting for a pedestrian, etc. Your confidence may be misplaced one time out of twenty. If you plan to ride in the city for a long time, those are terrible odds. There is a reason why some cyclists can ride their entire life without bike-car contact, and others don’t.

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        • Dan July 26, 2015 at 1:08 pm

          When a car slows like they are going to turn, I take the lane behind them.

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  • Tony H July 24, 2015 at 2:22 pm

    Major pet peeve. Major. “Nice” drivers stop (on busier roads) to allow me to cross. I know they mean well, but they are creating an unsafe, unpredictable situation.

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    • Scott H July 24, 2015 at 2:44 pm

      This peeves me so much. Stop trying to be nice. If you had just gone when you had the right of way we would both be gone already.

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    • davemess July 24, 2015 at 3:09 pm

      This seems to be much more prevalent in Portland than any other place I”ve lived and biked.

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      • Nick July 24, 2015 at 3:49 pm

        I’ve always called them “niceholes.”

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    • gutterbunnybikes July 25, 2015 at 9:02 am

      My favorites are the ones that do so at the end of a line of traffic where I can easily enter and cross the intersection when they pass, but because they slowed to a stop – they allowed traffic in the other lane to fill the gap I was going to take after they passed, then they mad that I didn’t jump out into opposing traffic and they continue on but now the traffic behind them has caught up to them and that gap is now gone too.

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      • q`Tzal July 25, 2015 at 6:55 pm

        American drivers are goldfish.

        As a Class A licensed truck driver we have it hammered in that we need to be looking at least 15 seconds ahead of us and planning for each road user (no matter what mode) to do the most dangerous things in front of the heavy thing we are driving which is very difficult to panic stop… If not impossible.

        As a bike rider of the vehicular persuasion for 20 years I’ve been more than willing to sacrifice a few tenths of a second if I see a rapidly overtaking vehicle in my helmet mirror and judge that if I don’t slow down we will both arrive at a driveway where right-hooks are common.

        Most American drivers seem to drive with the intellectual capacity of goldfish: almost no memory, no concept of the future, just reacting instinctively to stimuli.
        Then the next stimuli, then the next, then the next ad infinitum with no thought as to balancing the equation to solve for peace and harmony.

        What did our culture do to make everyone believe that thinking hurts and planning actions out is bad?

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  • canuck July 24, 2015 at 2:31 pm

    Is it really a bike lane on US-30? The painted line at the edge of the road is only 4″ wide, which indicates a shoulder not a bike lane. Any bike lanes I’ve seen use an 8″ wide painted line.

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    • Tom Hardy July 24, 2015 at 11:45 pm

      The 4″ line may be a “fog” line or a bike lane line. Highway 30 has always used the fog line as a bike lane. There is only 2 instances where the lane is not at least 3 foot wide, and most of it is more than 5 foot from the base of the Vaughn street hill to past St. Helens ( the town). I have been riding this stretch since before the term bike lanes came into existence. The easiest way to get to Sauvis island. of course once there it is primarily lane only.

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      • Eric Leifsdad July 25, 2015 at 12:38 am

        Without an 8in line and some bike symbols, I’m not sure she has a case.

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  • John Liu
    John Liu July 24, 2015 at 2:44 pm

    The cyclist was legally in the right. But she was not riding defensively.

    Whether in a car or on a bike, if you are coming up on a car that is unaccountably (for no evident reason) stopped in a lane where it would normally be moving, you need to think “why is he stopped?”

    Often, that car is stopped for a pedestrian crossing the street. Or the driver may be thinking about turning, or parking, or may be confused and about to do something weird. Or, as in this case, the driver may be stopped for another car about to turn across the lane.

    The defensive thing to do is to slow down as you approach and pass the stopped car. Just blowing by at full speed is a good way to get into an accident, most likely involving a pedestrian. In fact, I believe a woman was killed crossing a four lane street in Portland this year, in this manner. The driver in one lane stopped for her, the driver in the next lane continued through at full speed and killed the pedestrian. Perhaps the second driver did not see the pedestrian, but he or she should have slowed when approaching the unaccountably stopped car.

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    • Paul in the 'Couve July 24, 2015 at 3:29 pm

      I agree in general with your comment, but regarding this case I would need more information before conclusively declaring that Lewellen was not riding defensively. Although the best practice is as you stated, and in many ways this could be a similar situation to a car in the adjacent lane stopping for a crosswalk, I can still imagine several scenarios where Lewellen might have been very reasonable to judge differently.

      Just one example, If there were others cars slowed or stopped at a light ahead of Garcia – and maybe the light had just turned green? – Lewellen might have had good reason for believing she could continue at that speed in her lane.

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    • SD July 24, 2015 at 9:31 pm

      Or the driver is stopped to allow the cyclist to pass because the cyclist has the right of way and the car wants to turn right. In this case the well-intentioned cyclist may feel obliged to speed up.

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    • wsbob July 25, 2015 at 12:01 am

      “…The defensive thing to do is to slow down as you approach and pass the stopped car. …” John Liu

      True, defensive riding should be the first priority of everyone riding; and Cindy Lewellen’s actions in this traffic situation could have been exactly that, as supported by the scenario suggested by SD:


      Garcia, is the person driving that decided to make the left turn across the bike path on which it turned out there was someone on a bike whom he put his vehicle on a collision path with. It’s he that was driving his vehicle, rather than Jeffrey Lovelady, the guy in the other vehicle that decided to act as impromptu traffic director.

      These days, it seems efforts made towards constructive criticism of The Oregonian’s management of comments to the comment sections of its stories posted online, are a lost cause. Easy to quick scan comments made to those stories for the occasional kernel of well thought out reasoning, because there’s very little of that kind of thinking in those comments. If the paper’s staffers don’t start working harder to encourage more thoughtful responses to its stories, and moderate out the prevailing superficial, smart alec bantering, it will completely lose the opportunity it has to support constructive community dialogue. As is, I rarely browse the comments to the stories (tech issues, thanks Oregonian.), but when I do, it’s disappointing to find such an absolute dearth of serious, constructive thought in those comments.

      Posted Fri 11:34pm

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  • peter haas July 24, 2015 at 2:49 pm

    This is one of those classic “gotchas” that is unfortunate for all parties involved. Personally, I believe the driver that waved the other vehicle through was well intentioned….like the designers of most of the bike lanes in Portland probably have good intentions. But non the less, they create a false sense of security by allowing passing on the right and a big “gotcha” when you get right hooked. I’ll be interested to see how the court places the responsibility in this case.

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    • 9watts July 24, 2015 at 3:03 pm

      “I’ll be interested to see how the court places the responsibility in this case.”
      I’m not holding my breath.

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  • Anne July 24, 2015 at 3:14 pm

    Lovelady presumably saw Lewellen riding her bike, passed right by her. Do people not register bikes on the side of the road?

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    • John Liu
      John Liu July 24, 2015 at 8:40 pm

      No, they often don’t. To some drivers, some of the time, bikes are invisible. Many cyclists seem to not realize this.

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      • Pete July 24, 2015 at 9:45 pm

        Invisible… or inconsequential?

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      • Tom Hardy July 24, 2015 at 11:48 pm

        With the majority of the motorists, the cyclist cease to exist once they are out of sight in the windshield. Yes I have been right hooked on occations by overtaking drivers. Yes I outlived them both!

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      • Dan July 26, 2015 at 1:14 pm

        Was talking to a friend of mine this weekend who drives a pickup truck, and doesn’t ride a bike on the road because he finds it terrifying, even in our neighborhood. He sincerely believes that he has the right of way to turn right in his truck when he reaches an intersection first, and was upset with ‘a-hole cyclists’ on Hawthorne who thought they could proceed straight ahead on his right in the bike lane, even though he got there first.

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        • Eric Leifsdad July 27, 2015 at 11:05 pm

          ORS 811.050. I don’t think this is on the driver’s license exam. California transplants say they are used to merging into the bike lane but in practice it probably means cutting-off the rider. I wonder if this isn’t mostly legal here under ORS 811.440 (a) “Making a turn”, except for blocking the right-of-way. https://www.sfbike.org/news/bike-lanes-and-right-turns/

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          • wsbob July 28, 2015 at 12:08 am

            Are you thinking of (2)(a) and (b) of ORS 811.440?


            …because perhaps the wording of that statute about operating a motor vehicle in the bike lane doesn’t specifically imply that ‘traveling in’ the bike lane is prohibited, but it seems for the most part to say that use is prohibited, especially backed up with http://www.oregonlaws.org/ors/811.435

            Oregon law lets people operate motor vehicles on bike lanes, etc, when making a turn, but not for some considerable distance back from the turn in preparation for the turn, as in California.

            811.050, ‘Failure to yield to rider on bicycle lane’, is tricky and dangerous for people riding in the bike lane, because while they do have the right of way of through travel over people operating motor vehicles and traveling in the main wishing to turn right, it requires a lot of discretion on the part of the person riding, to know whether they can do so safely with the given situation ahead of them. Can you trust the person operating the motor vehicle, to grant you the yield you’re entitled to?

            Many people riding feel they can’t, which is where the ‘take the lane’ strategy can be essential.


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            • Eric Leifsdad July 29, 2015 at 10:27 am

              In light traffic, I’ll nearly always trade lanes with the turning vehicle if given a turn signal ahead of time. That quickly gets tricky with other bike traffic if there’s any chance of them reaching the intersection before the turner and the bikers trying to continue in the bike lane.

              In congested traffic, I think we’re better off than California because bikes get priority and don’t have to weave through every intersection. This does mean a turning driver may sometimes need to wait for a dozen bikers to pass. But in practice, impatient or ignorant/distracted drivers make it a dangerous situation. I don’t think shared or swapped right turn lanes improve safety as much as they speed up cars. This is where the setback bikeway with raised crossing seems to work for the Dutch, but that is only at turnoffs from major roads. The first step to solving our right hook problem is to close at least 80% of intersections to one or more directions of car travel.

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              • wsbob July 29, 2015 at 5:18 pm

                “In light traffic, I’ll nearly always trade lanes with the turning vehicle if given a turn signal ahead of time. That quickly gets tricky with other bike traffic if there’s any chance of them reaching the intersection before the turner and the bikers trying to continue in the bike lane.

                In congested traffic, I think we’re better off than California because bikes get priority and don’t have to weave through every intersection. This does mean a turning driver may sometimes need to wait for a dozen bikers to pass. …” Eric Leifsdad

                Or, the person riding in the bike lane, having a motor vehicle indicating for a turn, (say a couple car lengths ahead) in the adjoining main travel lane as both approach an intersection…can hold back, keeping their distance from the motor vehicle so as to allow it to reach the intersection and make the turn. I think you generally have the right idea though.

                Some people riding in the bike lane, (aware that according to provision of Oregon law giving them in the bike lane, right of way over motor vehicles in the main lanes), don’t want to make this allowance for people driving. Experience, and thinking carefully through various scenarios that can occur in approaching intersections, may be the best means for road users to understand best how to handle intersection approaches where there are bike lanes.

                I definitely think Oregon’s law prohibiting the operation of motor vehicles in bike lanes, is beneficial to people riding. It makes the bike lane more of a refuge for people biking than it could if motor vehicles were allowed to be operated in it.

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              • Pete July 30, 2015 at 1:01 pm

                “Experience, and thinking carefully through various scenarios that can occur in approaching intersections, may be the best means for road users to understand best how to handle intersection approaches where there are bike lanes.”

                Couldn’t agree with you more. As someone who’s ridden extensively in bike lanes and traffic in both states, I’ve got my own opinions on it. In Cali, you can expect cars to move over in front of you about where the solid lines turn to dashes. You can also (legally) signal and take the lane at this point, regardless of traffic volume. In practice, it tends to be a dance, as some drivers will race bicyclists to the intersections, and others will slow up prematurely and move into the lane behind bikers. Other factors (on the ‘take the lane’ decision) include your own speed, and other cyclists and the space(s) between you. (Personally, I’ve come to prefer this way).

                In Oregon, you tend to have a mixed bag, and especially in the cities you can expect drivers to use the bike lanes as turn lanes even though they’re not supposed to. I think Eric makes a very astute observation that by preventing drivers from legally using the bike lane as a turn lane you at least minimize it, especially in traffic that’s backed up.

                What’s missing in Oregon, though, in my opinion, is a clause allowing bicyclists to legally use a traffic lane “when approaching a place where a right turn is authorized”, regardless of whether a bike lane exists at that place or not.

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              • Eric Leifsdad July 30, 2015 at 10:37 pm

                What’s missing in Oregon, though, in my opinion, is a clause allowing bicyclists to legally use a traffic lane “when approaching a place where a right turn is authorized”, regardless of whether a bike lane exists at that place or not.

                From my reading, 814.420 (3)(d) “Preparing to execute a right turn”, (e) “continuing straight … to the right of a lane from which motor vehicle must turn right”, and (b) “Preparing to execute a left turn” essentially give you the option to take the lane in nearly any intersection. If nothing else, (3)(c) “hazardous conditions” and (2) “reasonable rates of speed” would be an entertaining court case.

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              • Pete July 31, 2015 at 10:09 am

                Erik, from my reading, “…from which a motor vehicle must turn right” indicates the singular scenario of a marked Right-Turn Only Lane at an intersection, whereas if it were reworded “…from which a motor vehicle may turn right”, I believe it would include one of the more dangerous scenarios I encounter often, which are strip/shopping malls tending to be located just past intersections.

                I’m sure we’re in complete agreement, I just prefer the way California worded its exception. Unfortunately, I don’t know that the general public, or even many LEOs may be in agreement about the interpretation. (i.e. read comments here from bottom up: http://mv-voice.com/news/2015/07/13/bicyclist-suffers-critical-injuries-in-collision)

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              • wsbob July 31, 2015 at 10:09 am

                Pete at:


                Where there’s multiple lanes in each direction, and lots of intersections, road use can get very tricky for everyone. Jostling for upcoming right turns can be a kind of “…dance…”, even with Oregon’s bike lane law prohibiting operation of motor vehicles in the bike lane. People riding should have some preparation for what that involves, before putting themselves in complicated road use situations.

                So far, there’s really little way of keeping people driving motor vehicles, from doing the crazy things some of them do. So for people riding, doing so defensively is about the best option. Eric Leifsdad


                …seems to have a good grasp of the latitude ORS 814.420 acknowledges exists for people riding bikes and using the full road which includes the main lanes as well as the bike lane.


                People biking have full use of the road, as needed. People driving, are not supposed to be driving in the bike lane. Unfortunately, it seems many people are hard pressed to recognize the range of common road situations where these fundamental provisions of this law apply. Whether that’s because they just don’t understand this law, or don’t know about it? Some help is needed, that much seems certain.

                This week’s Willamette Week made a small mention of Cindy Lewellen in the paper’s ‘bike edition’. She’s apparently quite the go-getter in terms of riding ability and skill. Lucky to have healed fast. I hope the lawsuit she’s proceeding with, may somehow help people to have a little clearer idea of what their responsibilities as road users are with regards to people riding in the bike lane.

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        • dan July 29, 2015 at 2:45 pm

          Yeah…well…if there’s a painted bike lane, it’s a lane of traffic, so whatcha gonna do. If there’s no painted bike lane, I would have no quarrel with someone who signaled well in advance, merged to the right when it was clear, and made their turn. I’m happy to go around them on the left in that case.

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  • Andrew July 24, 2015 at 3:26 pm

    I wonder what the outcome would have been had the driver not waved the truck through. Clearly the driver of the truck didnt see lewellen. Had traffic not stopped to allow him to turn, lewellen may still have been hit since the normal behavior when turning left in a car is to go as soon as its clear.

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    • Spiffy July 24, 2015 at 3:39 pm

      once the car was out of the way the bike may have been visible…

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  • Dave July 25, 2015 at 10:33 am

    Another location where cyclists need to profile drivers–equipment rental outlets! I’d call them a Category 1 Inattentive Redneck Zone!

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  • Al Dimond July 25, 2015 at 10:17 pm

    FWIW, as I understand this (not perfectly well), she’s probably suing because the drivers’ insurance companies are trying to screw her in settlement negotiations, and this is her only recourse. It’s not legal to say the word “insurance” in court in a case like this, but it’s legal to say it in blog comments, and a lot of the outrage around cases like this would be reversed if people generally understood it. It may be the case that cyclists are less likely to be represented by insurance company lawyers and thus more likely to get poor settlement offers. At any rate, whatever the headlines may indicate, the driver that hit her is almost certainly at fault, and if his insurance companies’ lawyers are trying to screw her, this is morally bankrupt.

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  • q`Tzal July 26, 2015 at 4:13 am

    St Helens Rd problems from Kittredge Bridge to NW 29th Ave/Nicolai/Wardway traffic light

    (the turn to the left as a driver comes off the bridge at high speed then corners wide in the bike lane because they are going too fast)

    Greenway Recycling
    Bad exit visibility for vehicles, confused patrons park sloppily in median or bike lane or just… where ever. Lots of construction debris; lost a tire to a carpet tack strip here. Unrelated: they kick up so much dust that everything is muted as if you photoshopped reality and turned down color saturation 50%.

    Dropped Pin
    There used to be a local delivery company here that used box trucks like any person might rent legally. I only observed the behavior around 5:00-7:00am and I’d be traveling north on the opposite side of the road but the INSANE reckless ways that they’d come rocketing in and out of their lot without looking nor any regards for where their vehicles went was enough to make me feel safer riding my bike on Yeon. They were driving box trucks like motocross dirt bikes.

    2894-2898 NW Nicolai St
    5 point intersections are always fun and are generally more dangerous simply by existing. Also triggering the light with a bicycle coming from Wardway was near impossible. If was the least bit dark people would always seem to drive at the light at full speed with little attention payed to the guy on the bike in the middle of the road trying futily to trigger the signal.

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  • Paul July 26, 2015 at 7:07 pm

    I’d be interested to hear the legal opinion regarding someone leaving a “gap”, but not specifically “waving” through the cross-traffic driver. There are intersections posted “Do not block intersection”, which would allow left-turning traffic.

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  • Alan 1.0 July 28, 2015 at 11:01 am

    Making eye contact is often suggested as a way to avoid road conflict or negotiate an ambiguous situation. It seems to me that there’s a whole spectrum of body language cues that go along with eye contact…head nod, tilt or shake, mouthing words, shoulder or elbow shrugs, waggling fingers on the top of the steering wheel…which are less than a sweeping wave but are still pretty common communications which usually ease traffic tensions. I wonder, how far could a plaintiff go – and would they win – in claiming that any of those actions also caused liability?

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    • jeff July 29, 2015 at 12:38 pm

      the eye contact thing has saved me twice in the past 2 days riding to/from work…drivers were not even looking at cross traffic (me) and pulled right out in front of me. both had their windows down. both women got an ear full of obscenity and the crap scared out of them..on purpose.

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  • jeff July 28, 2015 at 3:19 pm

    no good deed goes unpunished, I guess. Did this woman not pay attention? Was she not covering her brakes as she should have been in a cross traffic situation? seems there was a little responsibility to go around. we can be right and dead at the same time.

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