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Man riding motorcycle dies after collision with delivery truck at Williams and Monroe (updated)

Posted by on August 11th, 2015 at 2:45 pm

A man died early Tuesday, Portland police said, two days after a collision between a motorcycle he was riding and a Red Cross blood delivery truck turning left off of North Williams Avenue at Monroe Street.

It happened at about 2:30 a.m. Sunday on the corner just outside Urban Nest Realty, one block south of the Waypost and immediately west of Legacy Emanuel Medical Center. According to a police statement on Tuesday, the man in the motorcycle had been trying to overtake the truck on the left, presumably by entering the bike lane, when the truck made a legal left turn.

This is to my knowledge the first traffic fatality on Williams since its late 2014 redesign that created a wide left-side bike lane and various crosswalk improvements, and restricted auto traffic on many blocks to a single lane.

Here’s the PPB’s initial description of the collision:

Officers learned that the delivery truck driver was heading northbound on North Williams Avenue and took a left turn onto North Monroe Street when it collided with a motorcycle. The motorcycle riders, an unknown age male and 29-year-old female, were thrown from motorcycle. The male suffered life-threatening injuries and the female was also seriously injured. The delivery truck driver, who was in the process of delivery blood to the Red Cross, suffered non-life-threatening injuries.

An investigation into the crash is underway. The Major Crash Team was unable to respond and the Portland Police Bureau is being assisted by the East County Major Crash Team.

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Police later identified the man as Robert Gabriel, 32. His passenger was Tasheena Kuehl, 29. She “remains in the hospital and is expected to survive,” police wrote Tuesday.

As the main conduit between North and inner Northeast Portland and most of the rest of the city, the Williams-Vancouver couplet is Portland’s single most-ridden bike route.

Update 5 p.m.: Here’s more from the PPB. I’ve updated the text above to reflect this.

The driver of the delivery truck involved in this crash has been identified as 29-year-old John Millar.

Investigators have learned that Millar was driving northbound on Williams and began to make a legal left turn onto Monroe Street when Gabriel, riding a motorcycle, attempted to pass him on the left and crashed into the truck.

Investigators believe that excessive speed and alcohol were factors in Gabriel’s driving and crash.

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Jonathan
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Jonathan

Terrible. I won’t speculate, other than to say that as a cyclist and a motorcyclist, I’m really hoping this motorcycle wasn’t in the bike lane.

ethan
Guest
ethan

When Williams was being redesigned, I was pretty excited about it… until I saw the design. I knew it wasn’t going to be too long before someone was killed on this street.

paikiala
Guest
paikiala

Even a stopped analog clock is right twice a day. Confirmation of a negative bias is not evidence, so much as coincidence.

resopmok
Guest
resopmok

All my evidence may be anecdotal, but when I almost get left hooked on the same road three times within ten minutes, then I feel like there’s something wrong with the design.

soren
Guest
soren

I would like to see use numbers on Williams before and after the reconfiguration. My guess is that Williams has seen a drop in use.

Adam H.
Guest
Adam H.

That’s what happens when we build-in conflict into our streets.

Pete
Guest
Pete

I don’t think design killed this motorcyclist.

Alex
Guest
Alex

It doesn’t really matter who was at fault here, the fact is that N Williams saw one fatality in more than a decade, and since the re-design, nearly every single person I know who’s crazy enough to still use N Williams has had a near-miss or a collision.

This re-design is going to continue taking lives and everyone responsible for it’s design should be ashamed.

ethan
Guest
ethan

“nearly every single person I know who’s crazy enough to still use N Williams has had a near-miss or a collision.”

Yep. I have an interesting dilemma. I used to Williams because I was coming from downtown. After the switchover (and moving offices to the Lloyd District), I switched to 7th (both changes happened around the same time). Since 7th has gotten so much worse since then, I’ve switched back to Williams…

But that’s not safe, so I’ve been trying a random assortment of back-streets. The route that I COULD take to work, the most direct route (NE 15th) has no bike facilities, so I COULD take the next most direct (MLK), but there are no bike facilities, so the next most direct (NE 7th) is dangerous due to drivers avoiding MLK, so the next most direct (Vancouver / Williams) is also dangerous due to mixing zones, etc.

There aren’t really any routes left that I feel safe on, anymore between my work and my house.

Jonathan
Guest
Jonathan

Rodney? Not perfect, but feels pretty safe to me.

WD
Guest

I ride Rodney regularly (maybe 2 – 4 times / week) and it feels like aggressive driving is getting worse there. Just like all the other greenways, the City isn’t doing anything to curb cut-through motor traffic that’s trying to avoid Williams. The one diverter helps in the immediate vicinity, but south of there aggressive driving is a problem, especially in uphill sections where people on bikes aren’t moving fast.

lop
Guest
lop

For a while after the diverter went in I would see a sign on it, presumably from a motorist, asking others annoyed by the diverter to contact him about getting the city to get rid of it. What confused me was that it would be hard to read if you were biking by. Never mind driving. You’d really only see it if you were on foot, got out of your car, or stopped on your bike.

Amy
Guest

I use Mallory between Fremont and Going, sometimes Garfield. It’s more intuitive and I can make a right into Fremont instead of a left.

LC
Guest
LC

Alex
This re-design is going to continue taking lives and everyone responsible for it’s design should be ashamed.

Actually everyone responsible should be fired, the people in charge should be fired and held legally responsible, before it is re-redesigned correctly.

Pete
Guest
Pete

Why doesn’t it matter who was at fault? If I use a ladder to climb over a barbwire fence on a bridge and jump to my death below, is it really the fault of the fence designer, or the person who decided a fence should be put up to help prevent people from jumping?

Did the city have a public input process on the Williams redesign? If so, how many of you commenting here attended? In my city, we had three proposals for a particular bike project about 5 years ago. I went to both open houses and very few bicyclists were there, despite it being well advertised by the city and local blogs. A similar left lane design was chosen by popular demand (and for several logical reasons), and now everyone complains about how confusing it is for drivers and bicyclists.

If the bike lane is on the left, the conflict is with left-turning drivers. If the bike lane is on the right, the conflict is with doors and right-turning drivers (and pedestrians).

Again, poor design did not kill this motorcyclist, poor decision-making did.

was carless
Guest
was carless

Really? As someone who doesn’t live in the neighborhood, I’ve had just the opposite experience. I used to be regularly run off the street by buses and squeezed into parked cars by other cyclists, but the new lane is great. I take it, no problems at all!

Todd Hudson
Guest
Todd Hudson

“Investigators believe that excessive speed and alcohol were factors in Gabriel’s driving and crash.”

ethan
Guest
ethan

“attempted to pass him on the left and crashed into the truck.”

If someone on a bike were there, they would have probably been hit by the drunk person on the motorcycle as well.

Why do we have un-protected bike lanes on the most used bike route in the city?

meh
Guest
meh

The collision was at an intersection, how do you propose protected bike lanes in that situation?

I guess Williams could be a no left turn street and all the streets on the west side would dead end a Williams.

WAR
Guest
WAR

Protected bike lanes might have removed the temptation to take the physical space. The intersection wouldn’t have been enough room if it was the only thing open. Think about it.

George H.
Guest
George H.

No amount of bike infrastructure will stop reckless day drunks from making really bad decisions.

WAR
Guest
WAR

No amount of bike infrastructure will stop reckless people from making really bad decisions.

q`Tzal
Guest
q`Tzal

Corollary to “man invents better mouse trap, nature makes a smarter mouse”
Is:
“society produces safer environments, humanity produces a ‘better’ id10t”

Always leave room for the dedicated rule breakers. We’ve killed off too many lions and tigers and bears for nature to “prune the family tree”; guess it’s up to us.

John Lascurettes
Guest

immediately west of Legacy Emanuel Medical Center

According to the pin in the map and it being on N Williams, it’s just east of the Medical Center.

Champs
Guest
Champs

At least I’m not the only one who gets turned around with east and west in Portland.

I don’t struggle with orienting in general, but my brain uses the river for reference, and that has a tendency to move relative to where I am 😉

John Lascurettes
Guest

I have not figured this out either. Something about Portland throws off my natural internal magnetic north – and that’s something I’ve been great with elsewhere. I almost always think West is North and have to pause and think about it. Which is really screwed up because Portland is on such a grid that all directions should be super easy.

Carl
Guest
Carl

Drunk people operating motor vehicles at high speed can make ANY road unsafe. To spin this as an indictment of Williams’ design is laughable. Where’s the outrage over how the Broadway Bridge design failed to keep a drunk guy from driving his car across it on the sidewalk?

wsbob
Guest
wsbob

Good point that using this collision to imply that the road’s design is at fault, is a mistake.

This collision having occurred around closing time for bars, it will be no surprise if tests confirm that alcohol was a contributing factor. Add to that the illegal and risky road use, reportedly on the part of the motorcycle rider.

People too drunk or otherwise impaired, to safely operate their vehicle or use a given road in general, do not necessarily mean the road’s design is responsible for collisions occurring.

Williams Ave’s reconfiguration, wound up with some quirky aspects, settled upon as the least unfavorable of options…with lots of community participation in the process of deciding upon the design. People have to be alert and responsible to be able to use the road’s unique design safely, but when they are, it seems as though the design does work.

Dead Salmon
Guest
Dead Salmon

Carl,
Agreed, this is a non-story. The story should be removed or comments disabled. Even MA, the News Editor, appears to agree.

WD
Guest

Carl, I disagree. Street design can keep everyone’s speed down, even intoxicated drivers. Physical barriers – something most world-class cities build around their bikeways – also have the benefit of visually condensing the roadway and encouraging people to travel more slowly.

wsbob
Guest
wsbob

Street design uniquely designed for the purpose of keeping speed down, can help keep road user’s speed down, but that that type of design may not be commonly possible.

Bottom line, is that safe road use depends greatly on responsible use of road, irrespective of the road’s design. Drunks or people otherwise irresponsibly using the road, pose a safety hazard that no commonly useable road design option may be able to adequately address. Which may have factored into countries such as Sweden’s effort to control that type of irresponsible road use through some features of the so called ‘vision zero’ initiative.

Adam H.
Guest
Adam H.

collision between a motorcycle he was riding and a Red Cross blood delivery truck turning left off of North Williams Avenue at Monroe Street

Michael, please stop using this kind of language. The truck did not turn by itself – a person was driving that truck. I’d expect better from BikePortland.

Pete
Guest
Pete

I really want to see how you would write this. The truck was indeed turning left, regardless of the mechanisms enacted by the operator of the truck which forced it leftwards. Indisputably, the motorcycle and the truck collided. Are you saying this is grammatically incorrect, or it just isn’t PC enough for modern BikePortlandia?

Adam H.
Guest
Adam H.

A man died early Tuesday, Portland police said, two days after a person operating a delivery truck turned left off of North Williams Avenue at Monroe Street and struck the man riding the motorcycle.

Not that hard.

Pete
Guest
Pete

Your sentence doesn’t convey whether the man who died was operating the motorcycle or the delivery truck… or either. It leaves the reader to imply that the motorcyclist was the loser in the collision, and technically speaking I it was likely the motorcycle that actually struck the delivery truck (which turned left into its path).

MA’s sentence tells the reader exactly what happened, is grammatically correct, doesn’t introduce bias, and doesn’t require the reader to imply anything. I’m still scratching my head as to why someone would take offence to it.

Dead Salmon
Guest
Dead Salmon

Pete,
You are correct – the story is not PC enough for BPers. PC BPers want it written that it was an irresponsible, mean, horrible vehicle driver that mowed down the innocent cyclist, or, in this case, motorcyclist.

The other PC term used incorrectly by BPers in the comments above is “violence”. Their use of the term is laughable. Just like they refer to a gang shooting as gun “violence”. There is no such thing. They use the term to get some kind of emotional reaction – this is a common technique used by lib tards now-days. I think I read about gun “violence” in today’s O newspaper (the daily fish wrapper as Lars calls it). Laughable lib tards.

🙂

Alan 1.0
Guest
Alan 1.0

I didn’t realize there was a brand of bike named “Dead Salmon.”

Paul
Guest
Paul

A technicality. Who cares? We all know what the meaning is. Jeez

aaronf
Guest
aaronf

I agree with you, Paul. However, BikePortland has criticized other outlets for similar language, more than once. Here’s an example: http://bikeportland.org/2013/10/07/language-matters-despising-avid-cyclist-and-a-news-story-anatomy-95128

pdx2wheeler
Guest
pdx2wheeler

I care! When you say things like a car turned and hit a bicycle it removes the human element from the discussion. Introducing the human element by saying a person driving a car hit another person on a bike doesn’t gloss over the fact that humans were affected by a collision, not just inanimate objects. It’s a subtle point but critically important in my opinion. It helps shape our perception of the event.

http://www.citylab.com/commute/2015/02/dont-say-cyclists-say-people-on-bikes/385387/

Pete
Guest
Pete

“It helps shape our perception of the event.”

So much so that another commenter rewrote a perfectly clear description of events in a manner that left the reader open to imply that the motorcyclist was the victim of an irresponsible driver.

pdx2wheeler
Guest
pdx2wheeler

Pete, you prove my point! When there is ambiguity in the language then the reader is fills in the details on their own, correctly or incorrectly.

Pete
Guest
Pete

You missed my point. The ambiguity I referred to is in the ‘corrected’ sentence above, not MA’s original writing. A truck turning [to the] left is a perfectly acceptable description of its heading.

pdx2wheeler
Guest
pdx2wheeler

No, I clearly understood you were referencing the ‘corrected’ sentence… Oh well, I guess we’ll call collisions between bikes and vehicles “accidents” too, because it’s just a technicality and the language we use to describe these events are just words.

Pete
Guest
Pete

Sometimes they actually do happen by accident.

Craig Harlow
Guest
Craig Harlow

“Officers learned that the delivery truck driver was heading northbound on North Williams Avenue and took a left turn onto North Monroe Street when it collided with a motorcycle. The motorcycle riders, an unknown age male and 29-year-old female, were thrown from motorcycle. “

Michael, you know I like, admire, and respect you guys, but could you push harder to get specific details behind such statements?

Craig Harlow
Guest
Craig Harlow

I frequently feel the same frustration about information coming from the police bureau, that there is no attribution for statements about what happened, when clearly the police themselves weren’t there to witness it.

What is the name of the person who said it? On what basis have they said it? Either someone witnessed events, or physical evidence at the scene suggests what may have happened, or photo/video evidence shows what happened, or there is simply a lack of evidence from which to draw a conclusion beyond best-guessing.

Steve B
Guest
Steve B

My heart goes out to the friends and family of the deceased.

RushHourAlleycat
Guest

The irony of it being a life saving blood delivery truck.. It’s in the same vein as getting hit by an ambulance.

The cause seems pretty straightforward though, and the fault lies with the motorcyclist. If it had been a bicycle, the driver might have been at fault. Does anyone else agree?

are
Guest

if it had been a bicycle, (a) it might not have been going too fast to take evasive action, (b) the motor vehicle operator would have had a responsibility to yield, (c) etc. counterfactual. i have not yet heard whether the motorist signaled the turn.

Middle of the Road guy
Guest
Middle of the Road guy

It seems much more probable the inebriated motorcyclist was going to fast for conditions, in addition to being in the wrong lane.
and that he was trying to pass on the left and made a very poor judgment.

You are going through some serious mental gymnastics to assign blame to the driver.

Drunk and reckless = fault of the motorcyclist.

PorterStout
Guest
PorterStout

Portland seems to be losing its chill attitude. More traffic deaths from aggressive driving can be expected, I imagine.

Dead Salmon
Guest
Dead Salmon

Describe Portland’s chill attitude. I am not familiar with it.

soren
Guest
soren

living in a growing city full of progressives can be stressful for some. i find it pretty chill, however.

PorterStout
Guest
PorterStout

Perhaps you haven’t lived anywhere else. I moved back here from the east coast about nine years ago, and driving (and biking) here was such a relief in comparison. People were just much calmer on the roads, and more courteous. You know, chill. Lately it’s begun to feel more like what I left.

esther2
Guest
esther2

This is a simple and old story of an intoxicated person driving unsafely. It is not a story of bad street design.

If anyone has a suggestion for a street design that would make operating motorcycles while intoxicated safe I would be interested in hearing about it.

Sadly, the only way to decrease right or left hooks is to never assume anyone is going to yield the right of way to you. In a 5 mile ride yesterday I had nearly got creamed turning right off of Rosa Parks onto Vancouver. As I approached the intersection at a red light a woman in a little black car decided to go right on red and went right through the bike lane. I had anticipated her murderous driving and was able to slow down and not get killed.

I find its a very very rare ride where I don’t have one close right hook call.