On Friday afternoon the Portland Police Bureau issued a statement about the crash in May that killed 23-year old Reed graduate Mark Angeles. The woman who was driving the truck at the time of the collision, 40-year old Jolene Friedow, has been given a traffic citation and will not face criminal charges for her actions.
Many people have reacted to this decision with disbelief and anger. How can someone be found guilty of a “dangerous left turn” (ORS 811.350) yet not be held criminally responsible for the consequences of that turn? Why was Friedow not cited for careless driving to a vulnerable roadway user?
“Nothing about her driving was legally sufficient to support a careless mental state.”
— Laura Rowan, Multnomah County Deputy District Attorney
Since Friday I’ve reviewed the nine-page memo on this case (PDF) written by Deputy District Attorney Laura Rowan. I’ve also interviewed Rowan to try and get these questions answered.
First I’ll reset the case and then share additional details about what happened…
This collision occurred at 12:02 pm on the northeast corner of SE Gladstone and Calle Cesar Chavez. Gladstone has green painted bike lanes and bike boxes at this intersection and there is no left turn signal.
Friedow was headed eastbound toward Cesar Chavez in a Ford F450 truck that was towing a Volvo sedan. Angeles was biking westbound on a fixed-gear bike that had a front cantilever brake. To clarify, the bike’s rear sprocket was threaded onto the hub and did not have a freewheel mechanism. This means when his bike was in motion, Angeles was not able to stop pedaling. He could stop the bike one of two ways: pull on the front hand brake and/or by pushing back on the pedals to resist their forward momentum.
According to the police investigation and witnesses who were at the scene, Friedow turned left from Gladstone onto Cesar Chavez and the collision with Angeles happened in the middle of the intersection. Friedow was not on the phone and was not under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
Two cameras captured footage of the collision: one on-board the tow-truck and one from a nearby gas station. PPB officers reviewed the footage from both cameras.
Camera footage allowed police to conclusively determine what phase the signals were in when Friedow and Angeles entered the intersection. According to the report, as Friedow entered the intersection, the signal changed from green to yellow. “Her vehicle was within the intersection at the time of the light change from green to yellow.” Angeles however, entered the intersection with a yellow light.
As per ORS 811.260(4), when a yellow signal is showing you are required to stop before entering the intersection. If you cannot safely stop, you can proceed “cautiously through the intersection.”
Two different officers who reviewed camera footage in their investigation found that it does not appear that Angeles went “cautiously” through the intersection.
“Per the Oregon Vehicle Code, Mr. Angeles’s right of way had terminated prior to him entering the intersection and MS. Friedlow’s right of way terminated as she entered the intersection.”
— From the memo written by DDA Laura Rowan
Using the camera footage and crash scene reconstruction analysis, investigators found that Angeles was 64 feet east of the intersection when the light turned yellow and he was traveling 28 mph at the time of the collision. At that speed, the light would have still been yellow when he entered the intersection. A GPS device on-board the truck revealed that Friedow was going 10 mph at the time of the collision. The posted speed limit at the intersection is 25 mph.
According to the police report, the gas station camera showed Angeles “in the bike lane at a rapid rate of speed” and as he approached the intersection, “he began to pedal faster.”
Then there’s this passage in the memo: “Officer Close reports that as the light changed to yellow, the cyclist appeared from a shadow cast by a tree (see lead photo).” Officer Close also commented that Angeles did not appear to slow down at all prior to the collision. In fact, he appeared to do the opposite: “Officer Close opined that Mr. Angeles may have seen the light change, lowered his head to pedal faster, and may not have noticed the tow truck turning.”
Another officer who reviewed the footage had a similar assessment:
“It appears that Mr. Angeles does not attempt to slow or accelerate as he approached the intersection… After watching both videos, Officer Enz reports that he did not observe any change in Mr. Angeles’s speed, direction of travel, or body posture indicating that Mr. Angeles perceived any change in the traffic signal, other vehicles, or any impending hazards as he approached the intersection.”
Since Angeles had a yellow signal, he did not have the right-of-way. This was a key finding of the investigation. Here’s how the memo sums it up:
“Per the Oregon Vehicle Code, Mr. Angeles’s right of way had terminated prior to him entering the intersection and MS. Friedlow’s right of way terminated as she entered the intersection.”
Since both vehicle operators’ right-of-way had terminated at the time of the collision, the investigation could not prove who had it.
Right-of-way aside, the evidence in this case shows that neither vehicle operator appears to have been aware of the other prior to the collision. That’s an important finding for how it relates to any consequences Friedow might face.
Friedow repeatedly told first responders at the scene, “I didn’t see him.” She was also clearly distraught at what happened:
The DA did not pursue criminal charges against Friedow because they did not feel they could prove she acted “recklessly” or “with criminal negligence.” Both of those mental states require a person to be aware of a risk and then choose to disregard that risk in a way that constitutes a “gross deviation from the standard of care a reasonable person would observe in the situation.”
Many people have wondered why Friedow was not cited for Careless Driving to a Vulnerable Road User (ORS 811.135). DDA Rowan said they consulted with the PPB about this and ultimately decided that, “Nothing about her driving was legally sufficient to support a careless mental state.”*
Put another way, the DA looks at Friedow’s conduct on a “reasonable person standard.” “Would it have been reasonable,” Rowan explained, “for a person in her situation to have done something differently.” In order to cite for Careless Driving they would have had to prove that Friedow was driving in a way that would be, “likely to endanger any person or property.”
Since the DA and the PPB believe Friedow only became aware of Angeles’s existence after the collision, they can’t prove she acted unreasonably. “Besides the horrible and tragic result,” Rowan said, “there was nothing about her driving that would be likely to endanger persons or property… She just never saw him.”
*UPDATE, 11/10 at 3:15pm: I followed up with the Portland Police Bureau to learn more about why they decided Friedow should not be charged with Careless Driving to a Vulnerable Road User. Here’s what I just heard back from Sgt. David Abrahamson at the PPB Traffic Division:
Careless Driving to a Vulnerable Road User (VRU) is a general, all-inclusive violation with which a wide range of violations may apply. However, judges have ruled differently on its interpretation, usually requiring a conglomeration of conditions; the manner in which the operator was driving; what the operator should have seen, was able to see or should have done come into consideration. Based on the video evidence, it is unclear whether or not Mrs. Friedow would have been able to clearly see Mr. Angeles approaching on his bicycle. Careless to a VRU falls under Oregon Statutes 811.135, which states: “A person commits the offense of careless driving if the person drives any vehicle upon a highway or other premises described in this section in a manner that endangers or would be likely to endanger any person or property.”
Failing to yield a left turn is not in and of itself “driv[ing] in a manner that endangers or would be likely to endanger” a VRU if the judge rules the VRU could not objectively be seen.
Dangerous Left Turn is specific to the violation which Mrs. Friedow committed and is more certain to be upheld by a judge than the Careless to VRU. Sub section (c) of 811.350 simply states the operator is in violation when he/she “Does not yield the right of way to a vehicle approaching from the opposite direction that is within the intersection or so close as to constitute an immediate hazard.”
The facts in this case do not support a charge of Careless Driving but they fully support a charge of Dangerous Left Turn, which is why that charge was issued to Mrs. Friedow.
— Jonathan Maus, (503) 706-8804 – firstname.lastname@example.org
Ahhhh. That’s really helpful- not only the timing of the yellow lights, but the ROW change during a yellow.
Also clears up the “fixie” discussion.
I think the fixie plays a factor here, honestly. A few years back I was driving home from a race and waiting in a left-turn lane (in south San Jose) when my light turned green, but I noticed a young girl with a panicked look on her face barreling down the small hill leading into the intersection. Instinctively I waited, despite the honking behind me, because I could see she was trying to stop but simply couldn’t. She ended up riding around the pedestrian island and running the light that way, but I can’t help but think that a non-cycling driver might have accelerated into her as she ran the red.
I’ve ridden fixies at Alpenrose and Hellyer so I have a feel for them, but don’t own one or ride one in traffic. I frequently ride at 25-30 MPH on a race bike with wide rims/tires and a disc brake on the front, and even with all that, panic-braking is an art that takes a little practice and experience. My opinion may not be popular here, but riding a fixed-gear bike in traffic at this speed definitely takes some control away, though as reported it seems like he didn’t even try to stop. My guess is that if he did see her (which I think is more likely than one of the officers stated), she may not have been signalling her turn. Still, this is tragic for both parties; as much as I ride and as carefully as I drive, my worst nightmare is to hit a fellow cyclist or pedestrian. That nearly happened once while driving last summer, so I can see some reality in this report.
Mark had a hand-brake on his bike…
True, Mark had a front brake (just looked back at the cover photo from the previous article), but if you don’t actually swivel your head so that you can see where you are going…
Unfortunately, it appears that drop bars killed Mark. Truly sad. Hopefully this means that fixies are “over.”
For safety, keeping your head on a swivel and fingers on your brake levers is the best thing that you can do for safety while cycling. Sometimes you only have a split-second to take action (ie, door opens, car turning in front of you). You need to be AWARE and READY to take ACTION.
If you’re looking down at your front tire…
Maybe it will inspire drivers the world over to start using turn signals. A 2006 survey said that 71% of drivers aged 18 to 24 don’t use them.
That’s a good point I haven’t seen addressed yet. Was Friedow using her turn signal?
“Why Jolene Friedow only got a traffic ticket in the collision that killed Mark Angeles”
Because cyclists lives don’t matter. #cyclistslivesmatter
Please no. Just stop. I can’t even begin to describe why #cyclistslivesmatter is inappropriate… find a better way to state your case.
Oh my gosh, please.
Never type that hashtag again. Ever. Please. It is so far off the mark that it is thoroughly insulting.
I drive the streets of Portland everyday. From downtown to the quiet neighborhoods we all enjoy. At least once a week I have a near miss with a cyclist. As each event happens I wonder if I had done something wrong. And the answer is always no. I am obeying the speed limit as well as road and traffic condition. I am properly using my lane and signaling if I am changing lanes or turning. My brake lights are warning other drivers I am slowing or stopping. I am entering intersections when the lights tell me I am allowed to or the basic right-of-way rules apply. So what gives? Why so many close calls? Could it be 5he cyclist who on his nimble bike zipping between cars with out any form of signal? Could it be the cyclist going the wrong way in downtown PDX? Could it be the cyclist who just believes that because he/she is a cyclist owns the road because Portland wants them to feel that way. As a motorist I must obey traffic law, basic rules of the road and prove to a government entity I am fit to drive. I have been flipped off, cursed at and threatened by cyclists more than I care to remember. And each time I am following the law and basic rule. So before you crazed cyclists go off the handle and backlash my comments here. Look in your mirror and tell yourself you have never seen a cyclist do anything I descibed. Tell yourself that you have respect for the other vehicles on the roadways that are less maneuverable and cannot stop on a dime. And tell yourself oh I am not required to have nor use a mirror when riding my bicycle so I can be more aware of what is happening around me as to help prevent accidents so actually cannot look in the mirror. Get over yourselves bicyclists. You share roads that are designed for motorized vehicles. And where Portland has created bike lanes and paths use them for the majority of you trip. Not just when convenient. Stop zipping in and out of lanes. Use hand signals. Look at drivers to see if they see you. Quit assuming you are protected. When that 2k to 10k motor vehicle hits you because you are arrogant and think you own the road. More than your life will be lost but the community as a whole suffers. And the person who struck you down their life is ruined as well. Cyclists as a community needs to take their role in these tragedies more serious. Call one another out when you see another cyclist using poor judgment. Seek licensing for cyclists who want to “Share the Road”. And Police need to Crack down on cyclists who do not follow the basic rules of the road. My heart reaches out to everyone effected by this tragedy. The driver, the cyclist and the family and friends of each.
That’s funny… all of MY near misses aren’t fatal because of my excellent reflexes and good attention on my bike. Most of the time, I notice cars exit the interaction barely aware they nearly killed me.
BikeLoudPDX is organizing a protest at the Multnomah County Courthouse next Thursday focused on the lack of legal action when it comes to the killing and maiming of VRUs. We would like to connect with people at Reed. Any chance you could help me with this?
Email: sorenimpey — at — gmail
I don’t drive as much as you do, but I’ve never been yelled at or flipped off by a cyclist or pedestrian.
To add to the anecdotes:
I tend to drive at ~20 mph in central Portland and I cannot begin to count the number of times that other drivers have honked, cursed, or flipped me off for driving at 20 mph in a 25-35 mph speed zone. I also have never come close to hitting a vulnerable road user as a driver.
Interesting… I do the same, and I don’t think I’ve ever been honked at or flipped off, even on “bigger” streets like Clinton and 21st (or heck, even on Powell). I think in general I have had really good luck dealing with drivers whether I’m on my bike or in my car.
11 years driving in Portland, maybe 3 times a close call with a cyclist and thats stretching it to be conciliatory.
“because you are arrogant and think you own the road”
Disappointed you chose to end the article on a ‘just didn’t see him’ note.
Drivers need to know that bicyclists will be on the road, they need to pay attention to the existence of bike lanes on the road. This driver would have seen a car, but it didn’t occur to her to check the bike lane for oncoming traffic. Angeles might have been hard to see, but he wasn’t wearing an invisibility cloak.
I guess buy the argument that Friedow isn’t legally culpable due to the various technicalities of right of way mentioned.
But this kind of collision is preventable if we demand the expectation that cars look out for bike lanes in post-mortems like these.
My use of that quote in the last line does not reflect any sort of support or bias…. I did that because I felt it hauntingly sums up the answer to the question I pose in the headline.
bottom line here, as in other cases I’ve covered over the years, is that the fact that Friedow claims – and the evidence backs up her claim – that she didn’t see Angeles, makes it very hard for the DA to prove any criminality.
I don’t like that situation either, but that’s the truth about where we’re at right now. If we want this to change we have to change our culture… The laws these DAs are sworn to defend and the PPB are sworm to uphold, were designed from a motor vehicle perspective – in both the physical and mental sense. To really revamp this system we need a major change in culture… a culture where we don’t accept this type of outcome is a culture that would: spend more on safer road infrastructure, rewrite laws to create lower thresholds for guilt in injury/fatal collisions, not accept any fatalities for injuries whatsoever, and so on.
Good news is that culture change starts with education. And some progress is happening: Like I reported after Wonk Night, the DA is already chipping away at this with an effort for a new law, Portland is one of only a few cities that has adopted Vision Zero, advocates at BTA are expanding bike safety to new geographic areas and new community partners, activists are raising awareness with bold actions and by getting out in the street on their bikes. It’s happening. Slowly, but surely.
Fair enough. I’m just frustrated.
I never see what I don’t look for either. Sadly, over the years not bothering to look has come to mean the same thing as not being able to see what’s there.
The implication from the police report was that neither party was looking, neither had ROW and the only intent that could be proved was on the part of a bicycle rider to blow through a yellow like everyone else does.
It is telling that they are not completely blaming the bicycle riders death on him entirely but acknowledging that there is blame and uncertainty to go around in spades.
Be careful out there y`all.
The take away for me on this is “pay attention to yellow lights.” I know I’ve been guilty of fudging, as have we all probably. We all, cyclists and drivers alike, have a responsibility to calm traffic.
Woah, woah, woah. Cars do need to be aware of bicycles, but this incident points directly to the automobile side of the argument too: bicyclists need to follow the rules of the road. By your own article and statements by the DA, the truck was in the intersection when the light turned yellow and the bicyclist was *64 FEET BEFORE* the intersection when it turned yellow. That means that he blatantly tried to “beat the light”. Unfortunately this time he lost.
As a frequent commuter by bicycle, motorcycle, car, or foot/Trimet, I see this behavior EVERY day. I did not know Angeles, nor do I know Friedlow, but his action here was clearly “f**k you I’m a bicyclist! Bow before me!”
Whether I am on foot, on bike, or on motorcycle, I always remember 2 things my dad taught me long ago:
1) It doesn’t matter who had right of way when you’re dead.
2) You are sharing space with 2000lb+ bullets. You need to be aware of them at all times and where they are because the most you will do is scratch the paint.
I agree with most of what you’ve said, except the part where you assume the cyclist had a smug attitude of superiority.
In my mind, he didn’t have that… he had the mindset of, “I can make it through this light if I hammer down” and that’s it. Not “I’m better than you because I ride a bike so get out of my way”, just a desire to make it through the intersection since he was going just over the speed limit anyway– like most people driving do, too.
The laws…the PPB are sworm to uphold…
The Portland Police are currently under a Department of Justice consent decree for systemic violation of civil rights. One of the officers involved in this scene was reprimanded by a grand jury for shooting and killing a physically-restrained unarmed person in the head (at point blank range).
Does the PPB deserve our trust?
I’ve read this article, the recent article in the Oregonian, and the nine page DA report. Nowhere does it mention whether or not the tow truck driver had her TURN SIGNAL ON indicating that she intended to make a left turn. If she didn’t have her signal on, the cyclist would have thought the truck intended to travel straight through the intersection. But if the tow truck driver did have her signal on, then the cyclist failed to keep a proper lookout before entering the intersection.
Can someone please clarify this? Turn signal or no turn signal? It’s kind of an important detail and I’m surprised it’s not brought up in any of the articles and especially in the DA report.
Considering how often ‘failure to signal’ is a cause for collisions, it absolutely should be part of the investigation and mentioned in the report.
“I’ve read this article, the recent article in the Oregonian, and the nine page DA report. Nowhere does it mention whether or not the tow truck driver had her TURN SIGNAL ON indicating that she intended to make a left turn. If she didn’t have her signal on, …” vina
Investigators are, I expect, relying on whatever indication they can gather, to determine details of the collision, including whether or not the person driving had their turn signal on as part of preparation for the left hand turn eventually made.
Maybe, with this collision investigation, they were not able to determine definitely, one way or another, whether the truck’s left turn signal was on and flashing as it should have been. It doesn’t pay to assume one way or another.
Presume for possibly helpful visualization of various scenarios of traffic situation that may have been present around the time of the collision…but let that not obscure the basic fact that in and of themselves, intersections are arguably higher risk traffic situations than most others, for all road users, but particularly for vulnerable road users.
A motor vehicle’s left turn signal on, as the vehicle is positioned on the road in what appears to likely be preparation for a left turn..is not by itself a fully reliable indication of what the person driving is going to do, or more importantly: when. Approaching intersections and preparing to pass through them on a green light, often there will be a motor vehicle with its left turn signal on, across the intersection in a left turn prep position. Yet, also often, indications associated with the motor vehicle and actions apparent, of the person driving it, lend doubt as to whether the motor vehicle actually will stay put until I’ve safely passed through the intersection. Meaning: for me on a bike, all intersections where motor vehicles are in use, are traffic situations I feel I’ve got to handle with extreme caution…relatively much greater caution than for just riding down a straight stretch of road past driveways, for example.
By the way…glad to note that you made the effort to read all those sources of info on this collision.
Does the report mention turn signals at all? As in, “unknown whether or not driver used turn signal”?
The report doesn’t mention turn signals at all (even by saying it’s unknown whether or not driver used signal) which is, in my opinion, an inexcusable omission for a formal legal report on a fatal accident, particularly one that seems to indicate that the deceased was the party at fault in the crash.
Ludicrous, and not surprising at all.
“The report doesn’t mention turn signals at all (even by saying it’s unknown whether or not driver used signal) …” vina
Have you tried writing a letter to the investigating officers, with your questions about why no mention of turn signals of the vehicle involved in the collision, was noted in the final investigation report? It may be worth your while to at least give them a chance to answer what seems to be a fair question.
As interesting as it may be to know whether or not a signal was in use, turn signal use is irrelevant in this case unless police wanted to add another citation to the list. The duty to yield when making a left turn is what is at issue. If I’m driving my car, and I see an oncoming car with a left turn signal blinking, its driver waiting to cross my path, I don’t stop to let them turn, I expect them to yield according to the law. If I’m riding my bike, “proper lookout” or not, I expect vehicle operators to follow the laws—especially in a situation where a collision is possible otherwise.
The only person involved here who failed to keep a proper lookout was the driver of the tow truck; I wouldn’t expect a bicyclist to do anything differently based on whether a turn signal was used or not.
I agree with all of that. I just think it’s notable that the police seemingly didn’t even investigate this point.
Clearly we are not using statistics to aid in traffic police work.
The news and police report will indicate whether or not a cyclist was wearing a helmet (which is not required by law and is never to blame for a crash) but not turn signal use, which we already know is a factor in a very large percentage of crashes (a study says failure to signal is responsible for 2 MILLION crashes per year in the US).
If we can gain one thing from all of these failures, it’s to learn what we are doing wrong and correct it. And we are completely ignoring something that should be part of every crash report.
But in this instance the light was yellow when the cyclist entered the intersection. If the driver had her turn signal on in the middle of the intersection (and she entered when the light was green, BTW) and the cyclist entered the intersection while the light was yellow AND the driver had indicated via turn signal that she intended to turn left, the cyclist (sadly, the deceased) bares some blame for the collision. If, on the other hand, the motorist didn’t have her turn signal on, the cyclist would have thought the motorist intended to proceed straight through the intersection, so he proceeded forward at 28 mph in a dash to make it through the light before it turned red.
Turn signals are incredibly important at busy intersections where there aren’t designated turn lanes or traffic signals. How many times as a driver have you been attempting to turn left at a busy intersection in Portland and had to turn quickly when the light was yellow, allowing the traffic coming from the opposite direction to heed the yellow light and STOP before entering the intersection? How many times have you NOT been able to turn at all because motorists fail to heed the yellow light, despite the fact that they (ostensively) can see your car and see that you have your turn signal on. It happens all the time in city driving.
According to the DA report, the cyclist had his head down when he entered the intersection, and infers that he may not have seen the motorist at all, let alone her turn signal.
The motorist was cited for failure to yield, however if she also didn’t have her signal on, she should have been cited for that because it may have contributed to the collision.
“…but it didn’t occur to her to check the bike lane for oncoming traffic. Angeles might have been hard to see, but he wasn’t wearing an invisibility cloak. …” Sam
In fact, Jolene Friedow, the person driving the truck may have been checking the bike lane for oncoming traffic…had a number of good reasons as noted in this story, to be checking the road for oncoming traffic…and yet may not have seen Mark Angeles heading towards her at 28 mph on his fixed gear bike, out of the shadows cast onto the bike lane by a tree.
People generally want to avoid any collisions….collisions with horrific consequences, especially. When it comes to assigning guilt for collisions having occurred, even when the other person involved in the collision is a vulnerable road user, I have to wonder seriously how low a threshold for guilt assigned to the person driving, people that drive, or that travel the road by other modes of travel, will be prepared to support.
It’s not only people that drive, and their personal actions in that respect that are responsible for safe use of the road by people finding themselves to be vulnerable road users. People that are themselves vulnerable road users have also, a responsibility to personally make use of the road in ways that help ensure their safety. Where they don’t do so, no law or penalty can be relied upon very strongly to help have the road be safer for them to use.
“People generally want to avoid any collisions”
Wanting and doing all you can to reduce the chances of this ever happening are at least potentially two different things, as our friend El Biciclero has I think been pointing out in the other related discussion.
Also, people generally want to avoid collisions, but it’s less horrific for Jolene than it was for Mark. This is true both generally and specifically.
“doing all you can”, in its strictest sense, would mean never leaving the house. Barring that extreme, “doing all you can” encompasses some level of risk taking. Where to draw that line is somewhat of a judgement call, no?
You got that right.
Phrases such as “may have been checking” represent conjecture, not fact — so please, in the name of sincerity, stop preceding them with “in fact.”
In other sincerity/disingenuity news: Light waves still travel considerably faster than 28 mph and care not a whit whether a rear wheel is fixed or free. Gladstone is east/west and the time of the collision was near high noon in the summer — so any shadows cast by trees would be at or near their smallest and would be much closer to perpendicular across Gladstone than along its length — which means the rider would have been in any given tree shadow for something like a split second.
There may be a valid rationale for distributing fault among both parties, but this is so not it.
>People that are themselves vulnerable road users have also, a responsibility to personally make use of the road in ways that help ensure their safety.
There’s something to this, but remember the built environment often means that responsibility places an unreasonable demand on the VRU. Crossing the street in a marked and signalized crosswalk might be the responsible way to cross some of the city’s traffic sewers, but is using them a reasonable demand if those crossings are a half mile apart?
If the police accounts Jonathan described in the article are correct, there are no “technicalities” involved. This incident was clearly a direct result of blatant unsafe riding, and possibly unsafe equipment, on the part of the cyclist.
All cyclists can make this type of accident (“I didn’t see them”) a LITTLE bit less likely by only riding while wearing high-viz clothing, and using flashing lights front and rear DAY and night. However, typically when someone on this website suggests such common-sense safety measures they are immediately attacked. Those attacks show a total lack of safe-riding awareness on the part of the attackers.
High-viz clothing is rare on Portland cyclists – it is clear they do not understand or do not care about their safety or are unwilling to make a small change that would make their ride safer. It’s sad.
Of course. Why did we all not think of it!?
Agree! I always run my car headlights, and the same on a bike. If “running” lights are beneficial on a car, they should be indispensable on a bike. I’d also agree that the bike being a “fixie” may well have been a contributing factor.
I gather from the article that Angeles also didn’t appear to see the tow truck.
Any chance of the videos being made public?
you want to watch someone die?
I want to know what happened. A description is less useful to me than a video. I want to know what the driver was doing. I want to know what the cyclist was doing. I want to know what to add to my list of things to look out for when cycling, and when driving. I think watching videos of crashes helps me to be safer on the road. I’ve had my share of close calls and learned much from them. A video isn’t as strong a message, but it lets me learn something without almost dying. I don’t want to kill anyone. And I don’t want anyone to kill me.
Are you surprised?
This seems to be consistent with the law in Oregon: Unless a motorist has criminal liability (DUI, reckless driving, etc.) that leads to a collision, they won’t be charged for manslaughter/CNH or other crimes for fatalities resulting thereof. Committing traffic infractions (ordinary speeding, illegal left turns, failure to obey a traffic control device) that themselves are not crimes, is not sufficient to produce criminal liability if a death results.
If you think this needs to change, then advocate to get the law changed.
Unfortunately, there seems to be a belief in some quarters (and I’m not referring to anyone specifically) that rather than activists doing the (hard) work of changing motor vehicle law–something that would require either lobbying the Legislature or winning an initiative petition, that instead prosecutors should come up with novel theories of law in order to prosecute motorists in these sorts of accidents. The problem with novel theories is that judges generally are not amused by them, and throw such charges out. Quite a few prosecutors aren’t willing to stick their necks out like this; and the civil libertarian in me thinks that prosecutors coming up with novel ways to try and throw folks in jail (or at least force them to endure the expense of a criminal defense and the stress of a trial) is a bad thing, not a good one; even if it’s a class of miscreant that should probably be tossed in the pokey.
As a better solution: Rather than using prison and the criminal justice system as the means of keeping bad drivers off the road; how about subjecting all motorists to essentially the disciplinary regimen of CDL holders–i.e. if you screw up and kill someone, even if you didn’t commit a “traffic crime”, you lose your license for a good long time? (And part of your restitution shall include purchase of a full-price annual TriMet pass as an alternative). Driving a car is a privilege, not a right; yet the law frequently acts as though it is a right that can only be forfeited under specific circumstances.
I’d rather save space in jail for violent or non-rehabilitable offenders, not for bad drivers.
“if you screw up and kill someone, even if you didn’t commit a “traffic crime”, you lose your license for a good long time?”
…And if you’re caught driving within that time, you lose your car for good; confiscation and sale at auction, along with all the drug dealer cars.
Perhaps things have changed since I got my CDL, but at that time I noted that I wouldn’t lose my driving privilege until I killed for a third time. Sadly, many of my peers drove as though they had read the manual as well and considered those corpses to be merely a cost of doing business.
Brett Jarolimek was killed by a driver with a CDL license and, if I recall correctly, many violations as well, none of which precluded him from continuing to drive with his CDL.
TL;DR: “She uttered the incantation ‘I didn’t see him,’ and the spell’s power released her from responsibility.”
It’s a shame you felt compelled to comment yet didn’t read the story. It (the story) seems fair and balanced and was very insightful.
I read the story and think Paul, unfortunately, has a point.
And your comment would, therefore, have more weight (in my mind). By considering what was presented you have at least made an informed comment that was related to the story.
“TL;DR”, followed by a short summary, usually indicates that the writer read the article and is providing a pithy summary (aka “the TL;DR version”) for those that scrolled straight to the comments.
Because this is the Internet, typically the real purpose of such a comment is a sarcastic retort to the whole idea of a long piece, suggesting that it can be reduced to a single sentence with little informative content.
This is exactly right.
at least you admit it. actually there is a great deal more content here than in your sarcastic summary.
Well excuuuuuuuuse me.
Bottom line for Friedow: “did not see” = careless
Also, it is unreasonable to claim that Angeles did not see the truck. Often, myself included, road users will speed up going through a yellow as a courtesy to the left turning vehicle to allow the the left turning vehicle time to turn before the signal change.
oh, for Christ sake, just stop. cyclists are not absolved of responsibility when it comes to sharing our roads.
So if I understand this right, the person riding the bike was exceeding the speed limit (going 28 in a 25 MPH zone) and accelerating while proceeding through intersection? That’s just reckless.
I can’t see how the tow truck driver’s actions should be criminalized here.
Agreed. Not sure why the cyclist has zero responsibility for their own safety here.
ARE YOU F’ING KIDDING ME? Somebody died here, the person responsible for their death is getting a traffic citation, and you’re wondering how we should hold the dead person accountable?
Actually, the person responsible for their death is dead. Read the details of the story and explain to me how this is in any way the driver’s fault.
Not at all. The tow truck crossed Angeles’s path of travel. Please don’t victim blame.
Pink, this is a terrible situation, but, the cyclist must take some responsibility here, I know you may not like to hear this. Do you honestly think that ALL people who ride bikes are responsible cyclists? I too, am very emotional about this loss but the facts “may” show the bike rider was in the wrong.
I don’t think you can really say the rider was “wrong”. I think a fairer way to state it is that all parties made errors that, in themselves, were small, but in this particular case, they came together to create a huge tragedy.
These errors (not seeing someone, entering the intersection on a yellow, incorrectly anticipating the actions of others) are very common (I’ll bet many of you experienced at least one of these already today), and they are rarely enough to cause anything more than brief annoyance. But sometimes, the outcome is far more severe.
The only solution I see is better driver/cyclist/pedestrian training, but even that will not eliminate these sorts of crashes.
How do you propose the cyclist take responsibility in this scenario? It sounds absurd, unless you think the masses attributing it to him post-mortem is appropriate. I think one’s life is more than enough sacrifice for all you claiming “reckless biking behavior.” Some of you talk like you’d love to see the DA send his parents a traffic citation.
On another note, it’s pretty disgusting what low caliber of evidence and testimony from anti-cyclist officers many of you have. And don’t get me on the collective understanding of victim-blaming here. It took many of you “yellow light” and “fixie” to decide Mark was responsible for this collision.
You may not want to hear this, but there are a lot of reasons why Mark died and the person driving the truck that killed him is walking (driving?) away with a traffic citation. Probably the best reason is that everyone investigating and prosecuting this case upheld the low standards of due care for motor vehicle operators. I’m not saying they had a choice, but supposed allies/biking advocates should see through this and refrain from endorsing this drivers-biased investigation.
You also have the choice to refrain from speculating that Mark was acting with reckless and irresponsible bravado. I’m asking you to make that choice because I knew Mark and I know that he didn’t make it all the way to a week past graduation making irresponsible and impulsive choices.
does not seem as though they are responsible, pink. you do get how this works right?
I don’t think anyone is saying that. To make a thought experiment, let’s use an extreme example:
Two gangsters get into a gunfight, and one kills the other. Do we charge the “winner” of the gunfight with murder? Why would we, if the victim was also shooting guns and arguably disregarded their own safety by participating in a gun fight?
I think we actually do charge the winner with something more serious than a traffic ticket.
The problem with this example is it assumes they are at the same risk. To modify that example, perhaps a gunfight where one party is wearing bulletproof clothing. That starts to give the inequality that is present in vulnerable road user situations.
Yeah. Don’t bring a knife…
So is it reasonable that a car 1) accelerating through a yellow or 2) going 3 mph over the speed limit would not be considered reckless, but on a bike, it is?
No one said that.
You said exactly that.
No, not at all. Saying that a person on a bicycle did something reckless isn’t giving the other driver or any other road user a pass. The tow truck driver definitely made a big and tragic mistake. She’ll have to live with the effect of her error for the rest of her life, but I just don’t see it rise to the level of a felony when the other participant in the collision was acting as improperly as it appears he was.
Who said felony?
Aren’t these “criminal negligence” charges we’re talking about at a felony level?
Depends which “we” is writing. “Reckless” is a specific driving violation, so not even a misdemeanor. “Careless” is also a specific violation. Both words also have common meanings outside their respective ORS statutes.
Many people could be much clearer in what they consider right or fair or just or desirable regarding traffic crimes (any crimes, for that matter) by using more specific terms. Crimes can be violations (called infractions in many states), misdemeanors or felonies. Violations do not carry penalty of incarceration (jail or prison) yet can still have considerable penalty (see 811.135 for example).
Glossary for terms violation, offense, misdemeanor, and felony here: http://www.oregonlaws.org/glossary/
Violations are offenses for which a fine is the maximum penalty but for which there is no jail sanction. Some offenses classified as violations carry not only a maximum penalty but a mandatory minimum penalty.
Misdemeanors are lesser criminal offenses for which the maximum penalty is a fine and/or incarceration. Misdemeanors fall into four classes and each classification carries a different maximum potential penalty:
Misdemeanors carry the following maximum penalties:
`A’ Misdemeanor: $6,250 and/or 1 year in jail
`B’ Misdemeanor: $3,500 and/or 6 months in jail
`C’ Misdemeanor: $1,250 and/or 30 days in jail
`Unclassified’: Penalties as specified in the particular statute
Oops, reckless driving is a misdemeanor (still not a felony): http://www.oregonlaws.org/ors/811.140
It looks like hitting a cyclist with a car may rise to the level of felony if the driver was driving recklessly “under circumstances manifesting extreme indifference to the value of human life” (i.e., an incident constituting second-degree assault): http://bikeportland.org/2007/08/20/da-details-charges-against-driver-4886
Thanks Alan, that’s really helpful. This makes me realize that I don’t yet understand what the DA or others are proposing to address this gap we’re all talking about.
When I think about something being “criminal”, I think felony. For instance, “decriminalizing marijuana” has often meant making felony crimes into misdemeanors. So when I see terms like “criminal negligence”, I assume some felony-level offense.
So I guess what I was trying to say was that in this case I don’t think this tragedy should result in jail or prison time for the tow truck driver.
I’d be curious to hear what others would ideally want in terms of a conviction for the driver, with the understanding being that we still don’t have complete information about what actually happened.
“That’s just reckless.”
It’s also something I’ve seen countless drivers do countless times. Still “reckless”? Do you think that if Mr. Angeles had been driving a car and survived, he would be charged with “reckless” driving? Or would the outcome be pretty much the same as it was in this case?
Yes, that’s reckless too.
Yes, but would he be charged with being reckless?
If he killed or seriously hurt somebody, I would hope so!
The point is, it seems as if the threshold for ‘reckless cycling’ is lower than it is for ‘reckless driving’, in the eyes of the law.
3mph over the limit on a bike? Reckless cycling!
3mph over the limit in a car? You’re going too slow, get out of the way!
One of the officers stated that he did not appear to accelerate.
I did not find the officer’s statements to be convincing. The officers contradicted each other and made subjective statements that were apparently not based on the video. If Angeles did slow down while entering the intersection he would have potentially had right of way. I’d like these videos to be published.
If you believe that going 3 mph above the speed limit is reckless, then you have an extreme and unconventional view of the term reckless. Consider the amount of reckless driving happening right now according tho this definition.
If you believe that entering an intersection on a yellow is reckless under any circumstance, then your ideas about recklessness are unusual.
However, I do believe that turning left across an oncoming lane of traffic without seeing what is coming toward you is reckless or at the very least careless. I also think that turning left when you see someone coming, but betting that they will stop to avoid a collision is reckless.
There is a responsibility to look before you turn left. If there is nothing obstructing your view, then you should be able to see what is there. If you did not see anything when there was something there, then it is not safe for you to drive.
Thank you, SD.
To your penultimate point: “If there is nothing obstructing your view, then you should be able to see what is there. If you did not see anything when there was something there, then it is not safe for you to drive.”
I tried to make this very point in response to Jonathan back when we were discussing the DA’s findings after the Corkett disaster on Powell at 26th. I keep coming back to the fact that cyclists are not invisible if you are paying attention. This was not a dark and rainy night, this was a (cloudless?) summer afternoon with excellent visibility.
I’m not going after the bike, but since u posed:
– yes, going over the speed limit in an intersection is reckless in my mind
– yes, trying to rip thru an intersection on a yellow is reckless
It is conceivable to follow traffic laws
People make mistakes all the time…that’s why trying to shave a couple seconds here and there is reckless
Is missing oncoming traffic reckless? I don’t know…but it happens and it Fcking blows
OK, I’ll own it. I’m an extremist. I’m ready to take that as a badge of honor.
Maybe I’m particularly influenced by the fact that I recently took a defensive driving class (so that I could drive those TriMet Lift-style buses). But then there is this cumulative impact of my bike commute where I deal with all the cars that use Ankeny and Couch to try to cut past the road diet on Burnside and I’m just part of their obstacle course. Then when I arrive at work my window faces NE Glisan right by I-205, where all day I get to watch and hear a substantial portion of cars going way too fast. The speed limit there is way too high to begin with, and many treat it as a drag strip with no enforcement to tell them otherwise.
For me it’s kinda like living in a madhouse. Speeding and accelerating through yellow lights, along with all the other stuff that’s normative like following too close, weaving through traffic, passing buses, etc., is representative of a society with seriously misplaced priorities. In the inner city, I consider 20 MPH to be my absolute maximum speed on a bike in the best of conditions. I’ve long been one to believe in speed limits, but lately when driving I’ve been trying out 25 as my maximum city speed in a car. I like it.
So yes, I think 28 MPH on bike through a busy intersection is reckless, never mind the yellow light. I can’t see any way a road user with no body armor can be safe at that speed in that setting. Going that fast, your attention will almost certainly be on the getting across the intersection, not on being in it and being capable of responding to what may happen as you’re progressing through it.
My extreme position is that most of us really need to slow down, take stock of what’s actually important in life (or just take stock that life is important!), and be humble, defensive road users. I think driving or riding like an old lady should be considered the highest praise one can make. Car drivers especially since they can so easily kill others, but bike riders as well.
Lately I’ve been thinking about a quote I heard years ago from a NASCAR racer who said that when he’s not racing he drives very conservatively, the implication being that he got his yayas out on the race track. It’s made me think that maybe we should have more race tracks and velodromes available for the every day road user so folks can have their time and place for feeling exhilarating speed. Then, when they get back on the road, they can focus on keeping themselves, and me, safe.
Thanks for responding P Russ and Keviniano. Personally, I fully agree and try to drive and cycle in the way that you describe. I think that it would be great if everyone did the same.
There is the term reckless as it apllies to personal standards and there is the reckless that meets the standard of “reckless driving” that is illegal.
Much of the conversation is about the legal standards of careless, reckless and negligent.
I do not think that anyone could argue sincerely that the cyclist met the standard of “reckless driving” that is illegal. Otherwise, all speeding tickets would be “reckless driving” tickets.
Thanks SD. I see what you’re saying and agree.
Other than your opinion you provided no evidence that people who ride fast are more likely to be injured or killed than people who ride more slowly. In fact, I would not be surprised if the opposite is true since people who ride at higher speeds tend to have more cycling experience (and experience correlates inversely with injury rates). I believe that concern with how others ride is often a form of projection — I feel unsafe at 25 mph therefore it must be unsafe for everyone.
You’re certainly right, neither you or I are providing evidence to support our arguments. Your point?
I think it’s entirely appropriate to offer viewpoints in this forum without having a stockpile of research behind us.
As someone who rides fast but has never caused a collision (after ~150K miles of urban riding) I’m challenge your stereotype. Moreover, since I’m not the one doing the stereotyping I’m not sure what you expect me to defend.
>~150K miles of urban riding
A lot of drivers think they’re safe because they’ve never crashed. Or they’ve never hurt anybody in a crash, just clipped a mirror or something. Sometimes it helps to keep in mind how rare crashes are.
~530k VMT per police reported crash, mostly property damage only.
~1872k VMT per police reported injury or fatality crash (not number of people injured, number of crashes)
~99810k VMT per police reported fatality crash. (not number of people killed, number of crashes)
2013 crash numbers here
2013 VMT here
I’m not asking that you defend anything, soren. I’m just sharing my viewpoint and having a conversation. In any case, I’m going to interpret what you’re saying as a request that I expand on how I have arrived at my current opinion. Here are some of the factors:
1) The physics of speed, combined with hard-coded limits on how quickly humans can respond to stimulus. Some others have already posted some information about reaction time and braking distance. You get the idea.
2) An ever-increasing realization on my part of how prone all we humans are to misperceive our environment and misjudge our own abilities. See this list to get an idea of what I’m talking about: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_cognitive_biases. Slowing down, not following too close, etc. are simple ways to take this capacity in ourselves and others into account by giving everyone a cushion of time to make critical corrections. That’s what I mean by being humble, defensive road users.
3) My own vision for how I would like the urban environment to be for me and my family. I think it’s commendable that you haven’t caused any accidents, but as a pedestrian I have no way of knowing that’s the kind of road user you are. I can’t tell a fast-travelling person who’s completely responsible because she has lightning-fast reflexes from a sociopath who’s only interest is to not arrive late to work. Higher speeds make for less friendly public spaces. Car drivers are especially capable of creating pedestrian-hostile spaces for all the obvious reasons, but so are people on bikes. I’ve had more than one instance where I’ve needed to cross Ankeny at rush hour and all the bike riders in a hurry seemed to have no awareness of me or their responsibility to yield to me. They didn’t cause any accidents, but that doesn’t mean they were responsible road users.
Hope that helps clarify where I’m coming from.
it is insulting of you to assume that i cycle at high speeds near pedestrians. i am a very strong believer in the transportation hierarchy and a frequent pedestrian. i believe pedestrians have absolute right of way everywhere.
soren, no offense intended. In my earlier comment, I was specifically referring to the inner urban space and said so. The inner urban space is a pedestrian space. So when you said you were a fast biker, I assumed you were referring to the same context.
It sounds, then like we largely agree.
lop, with due respect your statistics are comical. as a driver, i have has many fender benders and crashes with moderate injuries (e.g. whiplash). none of these were reported in the nhtsa and/or FARS data bases.
i have never collided with any person or vehicle on a bike (except while riding for sport) and i typically ride at higher speeds than i drive.
In the 90s I was a college kid cycling all over Portland. I used to bike like that kid – fast as possible, stoked on my ability to weave through traffic – but then I grew up an slowed down.
Now I’m twice his age, with about his lifetime’s worth cycling experience, and I learned to chill out and JUST SLOW DOWN, and hence I’m here today.
Some of these lessons you learn the hard way, or you get killed and don’t learn them at all…
Back when I drove I also raced SCCA Solo events in everything from stock Chevettes to fire-breathing specials with no restrictions other than mandatory safety equipment. I found that my driving was much better, calmer, and safer, for the next two weeks after a race in spite of the fact that the courses we raced on would not even allow doing 60 MPH in any vehicle. And the faster class of vehicle I drove the longer this effect lasted, by a couple of days. So for speed-crazed drivers I say your suggestion has merit.
Give up, the cause (cycling advocacy) is more important than the truth (don’t bomb down hills through a yellow and assume the car will see you). Cycling advocates will see the truth when hell freezes over.
Well, except I’m a cycling advocate. 🙂
This probably has more to do with Portland’s overcrowded jails and overworked, understaffed prosecutorial system than much else. Low on the priority totem pole. You get what you (don’t) pay for.
Great article, Jonathan!
I really think these forensics are immensely valuable.
I still hope one day to get a reprise of whatever happened in the case of Chris-teen Osborn
What this case really underlines for me is that the state and city should be culpable for not installing left-turn signals where designated bikeways intersect with busy roads. If more than 25 percent of auto traffic is turning left, the street should be required to have a signal.
Gladstone also needs a diverter to make it a less attractive cut-through between 26th and 39th at rush hour. Maybe at 30th.
The addition of a dedicated turn lane in a retrofit of older arterials with bike lanes often require the removal of on-street parking lane(s)…something that many jurisdictions are historically hesitant to do except for adding more arterial vehicle capacity (more travel lanes).
Is it not possible that in a whole variety of situations, perhaps including this one, ‘did not see’ is code for ‘did not look’ or ‘did not anticipate anyone other than an automobile approaching at this angle/from this direction right then’?
I know the “did not see” justification is way overused, but it is in fact possible to “not see” someone. The human visual system is not infallible (see: optical illusions), and we don’t always have control over its imperfections.
We do, on the other hand, have complete control over the decision to accelerate through a yellow light.
Well if we’re going to split hairs…
Light waves do unquestionably reflect off the rider, then pass through the windshield and into the driver’s eyes. If the driver’s eyes, nerves and brain then fail to process those light waves — that is, if the driver truly “does not see” — then how is such a functionally blind driver fit to drive?
Also, this assumption of acceleration would seem to directly conflict with the testimony of Officer Enz, who “did not observe any change in Mr. Angeles’s speed.”
Your retina captures millions of photons every second that go unrecognized by your conscious brain. Does this mean you’re “functionally blind”? No, it means you’re a human who can’t possibly process all sensory inputs at once.
Should Friedow have seen Angeles coming and yielded appropriately? Of course. But I for one believe that she truly didn’t see him until the collision, and I don’t think that momentary blind spot rises to the level of “functional blindness” or criminal negligence.
So by your logic, no one should ever proceed through a yellow light just in case the oncoming traffic might not see them? (I’m not advocating running a yellow or red light, but the law does allow you to proceed if you don’t have time to stop.) I’m not sure how to approach traveling around town on any vehicle, car or bike or on foot, if I have to constantly account for the possibility that another road user might not be able to see me.
You should always account for the possibility other road users don’t see you. As a pedestrian, don’t step in front of a car until you are certain it is stopping (even if you have a walk signal). Be careful about right and left hooks when you are cycling. Don’t pass on the right, and slow down when you are driving.
When entering an intersection, proceed with caution in case a vehicle turns in front of you. Anticipating that someone doesn’t see you might save your life.
Jonathan – thank you for including the “crash memo”, as I found it very interesting in what it spent extra detail on AND what it was silent on.
The memo, as far as I can tell, did not mention or investigate whether or not the professional vehicle operator had used her turn signal in making this turn. Was it in use and if it was was it on long enough to warn approaching vehicles of her intent to turn. I reread the memo to see if any of the witnesses mentioned it, or if the analysis of the CCTV footage or truck cam audio included it. In could not see any discussion of it. One would expect it to come up if it was in use (or not in use).
Additionally, did the PPB inspection of the tow truck check the condition/ functionality of the truck’s safety equipment, transmission (slippage causing a low speed lurch), windshield condition (clean, dirty, cracked, dash covered in papers or blocked by any computer console, etc.) and importantly if the truck’s turn signals were fully functioning (tested with AND without the tow wiring harness hooked up). The later is key as adding a tow vehicle’s additional lights may negatively effect the operation of the truck’s turn lights. As this is a professional truck, were there any documentation of any pre trip safety check (of lights and mirrors etc.) by the operator or fleet manager or a recent mechanical inspection?
And as for operational practices…I assume the tow truck operator has a current CDL for this type of vehicle.
And does her tow company have an operations policy or training policy allowing left turns at similar intersections when towing a vehicle or does it recommend doing “UPS Left Turns” etc.?
No CDL required for a tow truck unless its over 26k lbs. One used for towing cars is not.
Thanks for the info.
I then have over assumed how much training tow truck drivers [in Oregon] might have at minimum or be required to have. [Perhaps this is an opportunity for the CoP or State to work on?]
You should trust a tow truck driver about as much as you trust a cab driver.
What I cannot figure is the police and the driver said Angeles was in a shadow from the tree “at 12:02?”Maybe at 3:00 or at 10AM but there is no tree shadow on the bike lane at 12:02 PM. The shadow was figment of the tow truck driver’s imagination.
turn signal excellent question, todd. could have affected mr. angeles’ decision to go through.
jon, any chance we can get the d.a. to comment on that? the texaco camera should have caught this info.
that said, it is not a good idea to maintain twenty plus mph through a stale green, or to depend on motorists to signal turns.
My one bicycle crash involving a motor vehicle in Portland was with a driver who turned left in front of me without signalling. Luckily I was not injured but from the cyclists perspective in this situation, I know that I would have made other choices if the driver had used their turn signal.
Thanks for bringing up the turn signal Todd. I’ve asked the DA and will report back.
Sounds like the cyclist was trying to beat the red light, didn’t notice the tow truck (unlikely) or saw it but didn’t think about the possibility that it would turn (more likely).
Sounds like the driver didn’t notice the bike as she made her turn.
In other words, sounds like errors were made by both parties. I don’t think the driver’s actions amount to criminal conduct, at least not under current law.
One lesson to learn from this very sad case. In Portland, drivers are used to looking for cyclists, but most cyclists travel rather slowly (10-15 mph) and so that what the typical driver is used to. A bike that is at a distance, that puts it well out of the way if traveling at 15 mph, can often be overlooked. The driver’s eyes may “see” the cyclist (meaning, light rays from his body enter the eye and reach the retina), but the brain doesn’t “process” the object (meaning, the combination of conscious and reflex processes, that enables us to drive a car, overlooks the cyclist) because it is too far away to be relevant.
But if the cyclist is actually moving at 30 mph, this can lead to tragedy.
In general, if you are riding that fast in a city, you really need to look out for yourself, because many people are processing information as I’ve described above. Not just drivers. Pedestrians will often step out in front of you. Other cyclists will often ride into your path.
Unfortunately, you are less able to look out for yourself, because you are going fast and working hard, heart pounding, getting that tunnel vision that often comes with speed.
Slow down. Not everywhere – it’s fun to ride fast, after all – but at least at higher risk points like intersections.
I have noticed that most of my close calls are probably the result of my riding a lot faster than driver’s expect. I raced for years and still go 20+mph on flat ground and much faster downhill. I constantly see drivers act surprised when they start to pull out, and I am right on top of them. Several of my friends have had serious accidents when they were going downhill at 40+mph and a car pulled out in front of them. What I do now is assume that drivers are not ‘programmed’ that a cyclist is doing as fast as me, and I act accordingly. I slow down on descents, I hand-signal a lot, even just to let people know that I am there. A cyclist going 28mph through a city intersection is just not in mind of most city drivers. btw, I am not blaming Mr. Angeles, just stating my observation.
With the tow truck pulling a Volvo wagon, the intersection would have been blocked for a fairly long time, maybe 4 seconds. If Mark would have been slower he would have hit the Volvo and the tow truck would have continued until stopped by someone else. The net result would have been the same.
Or, going slower, he would have had more time to react, perhaps being able to turn or slow further. An impact would be less severe. Of course it is speculation, but in almost every respect, slower is safer.
This is a hard lesson. We have to be hyper-vigilant at intersections, particularly when there is no dedicated left-turn phase. I think it is reckless for anyone to travel into a busy intersection like this above the speed limit, whether in a car or on a bike. This is a sad story, but it could have been prevented if one of them had made different decisions. Pushing a yellow at 28mph at this intersection is a really bad idea.
until bicycles are legally required to have speedometers how can we expect that bicycles will obey speed limits?
Is this missing a sarcasm tag?
Inaccuracies in a vehicle’s speedometer don’t exempt it from speed limits (despite what some might get away with in traffic court.) Learn your gearing/cadence and do the math, or use a gps.
I think it’s pretty easy to tell whether or not you’re cycling at a safe and manageable speed. Just as with the guy who mangled that lady at Tillucum Crossing, this kid was clearly putting the hammer down. The actual speed limit isn’t all that relevant, it’s more a matter of “safe under the circumstances”.
I’m not victim blaming here, I think it was contributory negligence, but knowing the exact speed limit is less important IMHO than just being sensible. Especially on a bike, where anything over 20 mph is without a doubt “cranking it” and therefore having less control. Especially on a fixie.
I notice what appear to be a few inconsistencies between the citation received, the wording of the law, and the statements of the DDA. I am not a lawyer, but…
Regarding right-of-way, if neither person had the right-of-way, then how could a citation that is defined by failing to yield the right-of-way be issued? Shouldn’t the citation instead have been for failure to obey a traffic control device? The nature of the citation seems to imply the bicyclist did have the right-of-way, but the prosecutor’s comments state that neither person had right-of-way.
—Paragraph (1) of ORS 811.135 (my emphasis)
—DDA Laura Rowan (my emphasis)
The wording of the law makes no requirement of a “careless mental state“, it merely requires that the manner of driving be likely to endanger. There is no requirement for awareness of risk, or disregarding risk that a reasonable person would recognize, it merely requires the manner of driving to be observably “likely to endanger”. So again, how can a citation for a “dangerous” (implying that some degree of endangerment is involved) left turn be issued if the manner of driving did not endanger anyone? If we admit that a “dangerous” left turn does indeed “endanger” some person or property (which in this case it clearly did), how can the driver in this incident not be classified as “careless”?
As an admitted non-lawyer, it still seems to this layperson that implying that some “mental state” is necessary to show carelessness is a misinterpretation of the law as written. I have to wonder whether such apparent misinterpretations are a) made innocently out of subconscious empathy for the driver, b) made by applying some legal principle that conflicts with the written law, but is nevertheless common practice, c) done to intentionally avoid more severe penalties for drivers because someone just feels it isn’t fair or necessary, or d) some combination of all of the above. We should change the wording in the definition of “careless driving” if we are going to start evaluating mental state and making it a condition of being considered careless. Then we’ll have to invent a new category, maybe something along the lines of “spaced out” driving, or “absentminded” driving, that carries no responsibility on the part of the driver.
“Sorry, officer, I must have spaced out there for a second.”
“Oh, OK. No problem.”
“I can be so absentminded sometimes!”
“Oh, I know—I said it’s no problem. Have a nice day!”
You are correct, the statute requires simply “likely to endanger.” That in itself is a pretty high bar. But It is safe to assume there is loads of case law that sorted through what exactly is meant by “likely” and they arrived at a careless state of mind as the requirement (careless state of mind is a common criminal standard and the offense is called careless driving; likely to endanger is abnormal in my experience).
And you can’t equate “dangerous left turn” as careless. She may or may not have been careless–I have no idea. But she *in theory* can have careful intent, but still perform a dangerous action.
(Note, I am a lawyer but most definitely not a criminal one.)
Ah. I don’t have access to or time to peruse case law, which may be the source of some of the applied principles. I was attempting to apply semantic logic given the wording of the laws as written. I would think we wouldn’t need to be quite so careful about deeming “carelessness”, since “careless driving” is not a crime, but a traffic violation.
Thanks for the insight.
It is good to read this and to remind myself that I need to strive to be visible while riding and to not try to run yellows. I get too comfortable riding and I should not be. Just as drivers get too comfortable driving and not looking well enough.
Well said, lahar. It’s so easy to (want to) power through a yellow, even as a cyclist.
>Friedow repeatedly told first responders at the scene,
Officer Balzer? I’m sure the motorcycle officer infamous for ticketing cyclists during pedalpalooza rides, on the Springwater, and at Ladd’s addition has no bias against people cycling! Someone who has exercised a one-man vendetta against cyclists is just the person to set the scene!
“Officer Close opined that Mr. Angeles may have seen the light change, lowered his head to pedal faster, and may not have noticed the tow truck turning.”
Does Officer Close post on the Oregonian?
Another officer who reviewed the footage had a similar assessment:
Except that one officer claimed that Angeles was accelerating while the other claimed that he did not accelerate.
This crash analysis comes across as a joke. Both officers appear to hand-wave in an attempt to exonerate the driver. Based on the contradictions and speculation I doubt the videos are conclusive.
I wonder if we could get access to the videos as a FOIA request.
It seems like the memo is designed to push blame onto Angeles (he ran the yellow light!). This article and the comments I’ve read don’t seem to be challenging that point of view.
The memo states that Angeles traveled the 64.20 feet in 1.56 seconds. What is a typical driver/cyclist reaction time? I did a little Googling and was coming up with as much as 2 seconds. Even if the reaction time is shorter than 1.56 seconds, how much time does it take to safely stop a bicycle from the 25 mph speed limit? Could Mark have done that in the balance of the second-and-a-half that he had?
It seems from the memo that Angeles would have cleared the intersection before the yellow ended had he not collided with the truck.
I’m not convinced that Mark had any safe choice but to proceed through the intersection. It’s possible that he did not do so “cautiously,” but that’s quite an ambiguous standard. What should he have done to be more cautious in the intersection, and how would that have prevented the crash?
It would have been more cautious to slow down. It may or may not have prevented the collision, but it likely would have reduced its severity.
Also, I have a quibble with the wording of reports like this in one particular aspect: “high rate of speed”. Can we please refrain from using this phrase with respect to bicyclist speed estimates? Let’s just make an estimation: “the cyclist appeared to be traveling about 30 mph” conveys all anyone could possibly want to know. The “high rate of speed” (or “rapid rate of speed” used here) phrase has a very similar effect to “the bicyclist, who was not wearing a helmet…” At least the helmet factoid is binary enough to be accurate, whereas “high rate of speed” creates a biased, bat-out-of-hades image of a bicyclist based on pure subjectivity.
FWIW, the analysis also says “Neither [jolene or mark] were traveling at excessive speed”.
Yeah, later. Same as saying, “The cyclist, who was not wearing a helmet, died when he collided with the turning car. The driver of the car was cited for failure to yield to a bicyclist in a bike lane.” The haters quit reading after the first sentence.
The traffic laws in this country have been systematically written to protect the interests of car drivers above all else. Any investigation will go though every possible reason why it was not the driver’s fault until a suitable excuse is found. However, when someone riding a bike commits a crime, that person is assumed guilty and a witch hunt ensues. Calls to license bike riders and remove bike lanes make the news. All people who ride bikes are called “scofflaws” regardless of their actual actions or behaviours. Death threats to cyclicts are ignored by the police.
Is it any wonder why most people in this country choose to drive?
I was surprised that the memo reported the rider riding as fast as 28 mph…this is very fast for most urban riders on “flat” roads.
Does this speed fit what most cyclists experience on this route? (I do not have direct experience riding on this road).
according to portlandmaps.com the 85th percentile speed is 30-33 mph for that stretch of 25 mph road… I know that when I’m driving 25 mph on Gladstone the cars pile up behind me rather quickly…
When I used to commute on that stretch, I could do low 20s easy enough. But as sporty/racy riders know, the curve of effort needed to go ever faster isn’t exactly linear. Going a legitimate 28 on the same stretch would take extraordinary output — unless there was a hell of a tailwind.
And with a single set of gears…
Not really. A lot of fixie riders will use a 75 inch or bigger gear, grind it going uphill, spin it going downhill. Without doing a calculation, sounds like 130 rpms or thereabout, not a big deal for a training fixie rider, for a few seconds.
Agreed, rpm would not necessarily be a limiting factor. But it would still take some watts.
I take this route every day, and he was coming down a big long hill (in a bike lane, on a street that isn’t busy) that gradually tapers off, and in the middle of the taper-off is an intersection through a busy road (so the light that you catch is a long one). I’ve seen cyclists pedaling like hell to make that light. Not sure about fixies, but 28 seems about right
If that part of Gladstone seems like a “big long hill” to you, you must be from Kansas. There’s a dogleg at 42nd, so the length of the uninterrupted descent is about three blocks. The grade is considerably less steep than the Tilikum bridge. I’d estimate 3 or 4 percent.
28mph is pretty quick on a flat for most riders who don’t race or train with any regularity, but I believe this portion of road is slightly downhill.
What was a tow truck doing on Gladstone anyway? And at a signal that has a timed pedestrian crossing, was it really all that safe for her to enter the intersection after that “don’t begin crossing” cue? Was initiating a turn on a yellow light, towing a vehicle, her only, safest option?
It sounds like a decision that, in many stages, wasn’t necessarily reckless, but was not well-calculated. I think I recall somewhere in the Oregon driving manual about only executing left turns when you can be sure the intersection is absolutely clear. Sometimes that means waiting until the red, especially if you are a vehicle that is MUCH taller than a bike on a road with and crossing the bike lane.
the pickup was at gladstone and 26th. the choice to take gladstone as far as cesar chavez rather than simply going north on 26th is maybe questionable. might depend on what the destination was.
In my opinion, Powell is still a wiser choice for 26th to Chavez for the tow truck. Towards which they were clearly headed in taking a left on 39th anyway. Talk about easy decisions that would have prevented this tragedy.
According to the article, she initiated the turn on a green light. Also, I thought Joe Rose explained some time ago that the pedestrian warning countdown is supposed to give drivers a chance to turn without hitting anyone.
Actually, the countdown doesn’t mean pedestrians won’t be in the crosswalk, just that they shouldn’t begin crossing. If there was any chance that Jolene couldn’t see something Mark’s height approaching her, it would have been prudent to wait for the red.
If the tow truck began her turn during the green phase, she was clearly beginning a left turn that would cut off the cyclist during his green phase. No way the tow truck knew the light would be going yellow before the bike entered the intersection.
In this case, I feel there was a thorough investigation. If the facts hold up and are consistent, the rider owns the fact that he was accelerating through an intersection on a yellow light. This is a civil matter and it could be said, the PPB did their due diligence. Far more than other agencies in many cases.
A sad, sad event. I see no malice or agenda here.
Except the rider can’t own the fact he was accelerating through the yellow because he’s DEAD.
And as others have noted, the facts DON’T really hold up and AREN’T consistent, yet we already have a thread of people MOSTLY endorsing the narrative of “but, but a fixie and, well, how reckless, and he pedaled faster through the light.”
Well, there’s a lot of video. The PDF gives a lot of information, I’d suggest reading that. Using the frame-by-frame analysis plus a couple hundred survey points, they noted he went 158 feet in 3.8 seconds. Wolfram Alpha says that’s 28.3mph.
28mph is easy to hit with a 52×16 gear combo. That’s “only” 110rpm. Sure, 110rpm is really fast for cruising, but it’s safe to assume he had it cranked up to be going 28mph, right? I mean, we’re looking for the maximum sane speed, not a good cruising speed. I need someone to give a more sane set of gears though, I don’t know what the common ratios are.
“I need someone to give a more sane set of gears though, I don’t know what the common ratios are.”
I suspect all kinds of things may have changed in the last twenty five years, but when I set up my bike as a single speed I used very close to a 2:1 ratio. At the time this seemed pretty standard fare.
Thanks. With a 2:1 there is certainly no way to go 28mph on a relatively flat road; that would take a 180rpm cadence.
It should be quite easy (in principle) to ascertain from the late Mark Angeles’s buddies or family what the gears on his bike were.
“Hi, parents of Mark? He’s dead but…”
Yeah, I don’t see any way I’d ask such a thing.
Not that way, of course.
But he had a bunch of Reed buddies with whom he biked who I’m sure could easily offer up this kind of detail if we knew how to get hold of them. Or they could run the interference as a friend of the family’s in a way we would be less well positioned to do. Of course the police might have thought to ask themselves this very question and find out what the gears were to check their speed claim….
Wouldn’t that be the responsibility of the respondents to the scene? And anyone who investigated it afterward? Shouldn’t that bike be somewhere in evidence right now?
Mark was in my cohort at Reed (a year younger) in both chem and the bike co-op. I can think of only maybe one person who would know the gear ratio on his bike. And that would even be a stretch. But I think maybe the cops and the DA in this case could have done their homework more thoroughly.
“I can think of only maybe one person who would know the gear ratio on his bike.”
OK, I should perhaps have phrased my query better: Some of the claims about his speed I think presume a decidedly un-common gear ratio for a fixed gear bike (if I have that right). Thus my question to anyone who biked with Mark would be whether his bike for whatever reason evidenced this oddball gear ratio? If you biked with someone who had a fixed gear like what folks here have calculated I think it would be hard *not* to notice. Like, he would have not been able to ascend Woodstock Blvd up to Chavez on a bike with that gear ratio, that sort of thing.
But how else will the internet be able to ascertain blame?!
(can’t reply any deeper in this nested convo) Even without knowing his ratio, we should get some responses that indicate a common *range* of gear ratios. We can rule out the lowest of gears, but what are common ratios at the high end?
Assuming Mark was riding the bike shown in this photo: http://www.oregonherald.com/oregon/images/9087a.jpg, then the ratio looks to be about 48:16. That a swag based on rough pixel counts in the image, so there is probably a fairly wide range of error here.
2:1 is singlespeed mountain bike gearing. It is around 52 gear inches. Nobody runs a gear that low on a street fixed gear. Most of them come with 48 x 16 which is good for a novice at the track but a bit too tall for the street. Most of the riders I know run 48 x 17 or 48 x18.
What Skid said. 2:1 is common for mountain bikes in not-too-mountainous areas. Even beach cruisers are geared a bit higher than 2:1. Almost no one runs 2:1 on the street, even on a freewheeling singlespeed, let alone on a fixie (generally geared higher than freewheeling singlespeeds).
Yep; that was me.
Thanks for explaining the difference.
For many years (from ~1986-2001) I rode a 2:1 ratio fixed as my town bike, so I wouldn’t say that no one does that. In fact, several of my friends from that time continue to do so.’
In fairness, we also used these bikes for bike polo (the original version of the game, played on grass like in the 1908 Olympics, not that panty-waist version that’s played today). Our tight maneuvers made it advantageous to use a low gear. Also, several of us were living in a city with a >60% bike modal share where speed on the road in town wasn’t as important as in low-cycling cities like pdx.
Just to be clear, I said “almost no one.” Nothing wrong with being an outlier.
700×23 tires, 48T chainring, 16T sprocket, 120 rpm is 28 mph.
48×16 is a common gearing for fixies.
120 rpm is not a high cadence, for a short period.
He was riding down a slight downhill.
He was probably a strong rider.
28 mph is very believable.
It’s a grainy gas station security video, not a high-speed motion capture video. I wonder how many pixels Angeles covered when they assessed his position to 3 inches.
Excellent point here in regards to the claimed precision.
They go to great lengths to determine the exact speed of the bicycle, yet completely ignore obvious things like the actual presence of shadows and turn signal usage.
I think this is where the rubber meets the road, where, by looking closely at the micro-priorities of investigations like this, we can catch whiffs of Car-Head.
If you want to see a disturbing video of a very similar type of crash: http://www.channel3000.com/watch-truck-strikes-bicyclist-in-university-ave-intersection/35751956
Person on bike runs yellow, person in car turns left and hits the person on the bike. Both parties were cited; fortunately nobody is dead.
“This means when his bike was in motion, Angeles was not able to stop pedaling. He could stop the bike one of two ways: pull on the front hand brake and/or by pushing back on the pedals to resist their forward momentum.”
In other words the only way he could have stopped was by braking. Like any other vehicle on the road, except this is worded to somehow blame the victim.
A fixed gear bike cannot stop as fast as a bike with a free wheel. Even if you start resisting with your legs and slamming on the front brake, you still have a lot of kinetic energy in the wheel and drivetrain. I think it is moot, though. Was there any evidence of him attempting to stop?
Ye gods, man, wise up. “Fixed gear” means a directly connected rear cog, no coasting — and that’s ALL it means. A fixed-gear bike can have a lever-operated brake on the front wheel … and even on the rear wheel. So … how was Angeles’s bike equipped? How do you know?
I’m taking part of that back with apologies: The original post specifies a brake on the front wheel only. But still, it assumes too much to make a blanket declaration that a non-fixed bike stops faster; the factors involved are many. (BTW, I don’t ride fixed.)
Not true. Most of your stopping power is in your front brake. Resisting the forward motion of the pedals plus a rear brake can mean skidding unexpectedly if you apply the same pressure to both brakes.
It would be nice if the speed analysis could also include the pedal RPM and gearing, just as a sanity check on the calculated 28mph. For a fixie that is not a track bike, in a town with hills, that seems like a very high speed. That is, the gearing that would make it easy to hit that speed would make it very hard to climb hills.
So I often I see even less tethered claims of “cyclists going eleventy-bazillion miles per hour” when in fact I know (from measurement and observation) that almost all of them are almost always going less than 20mph.
If Balzer was the responding officer he most likely wanted to give the driver an award for gallant citizenry. That copper hates bikes and fixies are at the top of his pyramid of cycle hate.
1) negligence is not seeing something that’s there and then hitting it… if you didn’t see something that was there then you were negligent in your safety check… people should agree that negligent driving is careless driving…
2) if the driver was in the intersection after the light turned yellow then they were most likely stopped illegally in the intersection during much of the yellow or at 10 mph they would have likely cleared the intersection before the cyclist went 70 feet…
3) if the cyclist was going 25 mph (+/- 3 mph) then it would take 75-85 feet to stop and therefore the safest thing to do would be to hurry up and get across the intersection so you’re not stuck in the middle when it changes…
4) you don’t illegally stop forward cycling momentum because you live in fear that a turning driver doesn’t see you and is about to turn into you… you assume that the driver will obey the law and give the right of way to the forward-moving non-turning vehicle…
it does NOT take 85 feet to stop a bicycle — it takes about 10 feet to stop a bicycle
Don’t you think that would depend, crucially, on the speed, the road surface, and the brakes?
If I said “it does NOT take 275 feet to stop a car— it takes about 100 feet to stop a car,” wouldn’t you think that rather presumptuous?
Your analysis is laughable. It only takes 6 inches to stop a car—if I’m going 3mph.
How many feet would it take you to stop commenting on BP articles?
It takes about 10 feet to stop a jogger.
No matter how fast I run, it always takes me two feet to stop.
(Unless I fall down.)
1.5 seconds is “generous”? If I’m approaching a stale green light as a cyclist, there’s no way it takes me 1.5 seconds to process the fact that the light just turned yellow. With respect to reaction time generally, I think there’s a big difference between a driver (or cyclist) reacting to an unexpected event and responding to an event that they’re anticipating.
Exactly. Typically in these types of calculations for cars, 3/4 second is allotted for reaction time. However, when approaching an intersection at high speed on a bike, I’d think you would be anticipating a potential problem, and the reaction time would be even less. BUT in this case, did the cyclist even try to stop?
If you don’t think you can “stop in safety” before proceeding through a yellow, why would you try? If you believe it is safer to proceed, why would you (not knowing, of course, that your path was about to be terminated) take the risk of attempting a full emergency stop to avoid a yellow signal? Even with only .75 seconds of reaction time, a full emergency stop would have put Mark right at the edge of the intersection; did he believe he had the skill to stop that quickly?
Perhaps a more relevant question has been asked elsewhere on this thread: at what point did Mark realize the truck was definitely going to block his path? By that time, did he still have 64 feet? Was the truck driver signaling a left turn? Was the turn signal working? If we assume the “dent” mentioned in the memo was about 5 feet back from the front bumper, and that the truck was indeed going 10mph, then it would have taken .34 seconds for the truck to travel the five feet it would take to change Mark’s path from “clear” to “blocked-by-five-feet-of-truck”. Even from a stopped, waiting position, it would only take about a second for the truck to cover 14 feet. So of the 1.5 seconds Mark supposedly took to cover the 64 feet between him and the truck, he possibly used a half second covering the first 20 feet, and then had only 44 feet to realize the truck was making a move and to attempt to stop prior to hitting it. In 3/4 of a second of reaction time, he would have traveled another 30 feet, leaving only 10 feet to actually stop from 28.
“…you assume that the driver will obey the law and give the right of way to the forward-moving non-turning vehicle…” spiffy
I assume no such thing, whether I’m driving or riding, about people driving and waiting to turn left across my straight through direction of travel. I hope…actually, even pray a bit, that they’ll grant right of way, but there’s really little way of keeping them from turning if for whatever reason, they decide to do so.
Best reasonable strategy for reducing chance of collisions in that situation, I can think of to use, is to slow down and cover the brakes in approaching the intersection, keep peripheral vision pealed for any movement of the vehicle whatsoever, be prepared to swing wide if any movement commences.
Intersections with motor vehicles prepared to turn left, are extremely dangerous for people biking…but just try get that across to people intent on selling the idea that where motor vehicles are in use, biking is not dangerous.
At twenty-three years of age, Mark Angeles was not very old. Despite his passion for biking, and apparently some experience biking in traffic, I have to wonder, as he cruised towards the intersection where the collision occurred, how well he had been prepared with opportunities for him to have thought through and understand the potential danger that lurks in that particular type traffic situation: the motor vehicle turning left across through traffic.
At age 23 I would not have given it much thought. You do gain some wisdom with experience. How does that old saying go? Good Judgment Comes with Experience, But Experience Comes from Bad Judgment. Very true.
OR, the other saying: There are old pilots, and there are bold pilots, but there are very few old, bold pilots.
The refusal of many on this site to take responsibility for their safety, and their apparent lack of any awareness that they could, or should, has made me realize how lucky we are that they hate cars so much – it’s a blessing that they don’t drive!
“The refusal of many on this site to take responsibility for their safety, and their apparent lack of any awareness that they could, or should…”
I’ll bet you’d be surprised if you met some of the people who comment here about where the lion’s share of responsibility for safe operation lies. There are many who would protest against mandatory helmet laws, yet won’t go for a ride without choosing to wear theirs. I’ll bet some of those who express concern that “safety” campaigns—such as the Tri-met “Be Seen, Be Safe” campaign, are placing too much of an expectation on pedestrians and bicyclists to go above and beyond the law to stay alive, while simultaneously tacitly allowing motorists to get away with the bare minimum (or less)—would be easy to pick out in a crowd because they’d be wearing garish, reflective, flashing gear.
I would also bet that those who object to creating expectations for VRUs to go above and beyond the law, and who are also drivers, will put their driving behaviors where their mouths are and be on an extra lookout for VRUs—regardless of what they may or may not be wearing—because they know the real onus of safety, morally speaking, is on the person who decides that rushing around on shared streets in a 6000-lb. vehicle is the best way to get where they’re going.
It seems there is some projection or mis-attribution of motives and attitudes going on.
The onus of safety is on everyone.
When I ride through Ladd’s on a dark, rainy night, I am thankful when a pedestrian is wearing something that glows. Sure, it’s my responsibility not to hit them, but it’s a lot easier to fulfill my responsibility when I can actually see them.
When I wear my yellow jacket, I am not blaming the victim. I am not kowtowing to the man. I am becoming subservient to the dominant paradigm. I’m just exercising common sense.
Why is that so divisive?
It’s only divisive because people don’t understand what other people are talking about. I wear my reflecto-gear and make sure my 800-lumen headlight and rear pulsing light are charged and ready any time I head out—I even use my lights during the daytime. That has not prevented drivers not seeing me and hitting me as a result.
Speaking only for myself, my only objection is to creating the expectation among drivers and the public at large that cyclists must go above and beyond the law (how far is far enough? Who knows!) by wearing some degree of bright or reflective clothing, having a certain type or brightness of light (which is specified in the law: white, visible for 500 feet—but we already have some question about what “visible” means), or otherwise “be seen” if they don’t want to get run over. “Be seen” in itself is an asinine, nonsense command that typifies the attitude that I am against, which is that if someone didn’t see me, it’s my own fault for not being “visible” enough. The victim blaming comes into the picture after the fact, when rather than say, “that driver should have had their eyes open”, we say, “that bicyclist should have been wearing brighter colors and using a daytime light”, and deem that he “could not ‘objectively’ be seen”. Meanwhile, we don’t provide any helpful hints to drivers to watch for small things, look before you turn, take note of anything that temporarily blocks other lights by passing in front of them, pay extra attention to shadowed areas, or otherwise do anything but try to notice people dressed as traffic cones.
I do lots of things to “help” drivers see me, because I know where they are typically not looking, so I try to move to where they are looking so they can see me coming. At night, I use lights and reflectivity and, again, road position to aid the poor drivers who are operating above their competence level. When I drive, I also do lots of things to help myself “see” pedestrians and bicyclists, and I do what I can to aid them in getting where they are going in one piece. I let cyclists merge into my lane if they need to, I look for bicyclists in bike lanes before I cross them, I don’t use the bike lane as a bypass to get to the front of the queue to make a right on red; in the event I ever make a right on red, I look to the right before I drive to the right, all kinds of things.That’s all I ask of any driver: look for me and treat me like any other slow-moving (or sometimes, not-so-slow-moving) traffic and not aggressively try to cut me off or edge me out. Why do we only focus safety campaigns on what bicyclists or pedestrians must do to avoid the unstoppable force of renegade drivers, rather than on what drivers must do to avoid running over people?
And yet… if we all followed your example, we’d be creating just that expectation, no?
No. We create the expectation when official or public channels: Civic leadership, Tri-Met, Police, District Attorneys, etc. go around a) telling people that the only way to be safe is for vulnerable users to take extreme measures, while telling drivers, “keep your eyes open, I guess”, and b) after a crash, emphasize the lack of extreme measures taken by vulnerable victims of motor vehicle operators, and search exhaustively for—even bend the intent of laws to find—excuses for the actions of drivers in crashes with VRUs, using phrases like “could not ‘objectively’ be seen”.
No. If you followed that example you would decide personally to use as much gear as you feel is appropriate for your situation — but you would not proselytize for others to choose gear beyond what public law requires, and you would expect the same restraint from publicly funded institutions such as TriMet.
Instead, you might sooner proselytize for people to _raise their standards up_ to what the law requires for driving (that is, when they weigh two tons and need to take responsibility for it), which includes, for example, headlights “sufficient to reveal persons and vehicles upon a street or highway at a distance of at least 200 feet ahead” ( http://www.oregonlaws.org/ors/816.050 ) — and so could institutions such as TriMet.
Hint: Car headlight lenses oxidize with age and need special scrubbing. Pay attention during the day and you’ll see tons of cars with foggy old, unscrubbed lenses that likely don’t meet the standard of the law. That’s why the headlights often seem so much brighter when driving a new or rental car.
Are we as a community setting the expectation that if you don’t use a U-lock, you should expect your bike to be stolen? Does the message get worse if the police and other officials repeat that message?
I agree we don’t want to create the situation where someone is deemed partly responsible for a crash solely because they were not wearing reflective clothing (which is what I think your main point is). Equally, we don’t want to create the situation where someone who locked their bike with a cable lock (or even left it unlocked) is deemed partially responsible for the inevitable theft.
Is there a difference between these two situations?
“Is there a difference between these two situations?”
Stealing a bike is “objectively” illegal. Killing a cyclist with your car…not so much.
…meaning, if someone steals your bike, they are guilty, regardless of how you locked it. If someone runs over you, nyeeaahhh…how bright was your reflective vest and light? Were there shadows? Were you traveling at a “high rate of speed”? Any of those might mean the driver is no longer responsible.
The lack of ambiguity in the situation would seem to make victim blaming even less appropriate in the case of bike theft.
Exactly. Imagine catching a thief in possession of your bike and having the cops ask whether you used a cable or U-lock. Did you leave it in a well-lit area? How long were you away from your bike? Did you actually thread the lock through your frame and wheels? Then imagine the thief being able to contradict any of your statements and be believed over you, and then imagine the cop “concluding” that you must have left it overnight in a dark area with a cable lock around the top tube only (even though your story is that you did use a U-lock, under a street light, and were gone for 15 minutes—as if any of that should make a difference anyway), and letting the thief go as long as he gives your stripped frame back to you.
It’s the decisions we make as cyclists and drivers before we even climb onto the saddle or slide behind the wheel that impact the overall safety of our trips the most.
When I was that age I would have done what the young man did with the same results. I’m middle aged now and it was only maybe ten years ago that I stopped trying to beat a yellow light. I would put my head down and pedal harder.
Now I’m older, have taken two motorcycle riders safety classes and numerous drivers safety classes, and it seems so clear:
1. Assume I can’t be seen, even on a summer afternoon.
2. Slow down when approaching intersections with cars around.
But if I went back in time and told my young self that, I wouldn’t have listened.
A fundamental part of a defensive driver/rider philosophy is to accept the world for what it is. It takes some of the fun out of riding downhill on a nice day. But it can prevent alot of grief.
Unfortunately, there isn’t much that will save you if a truck turns into you without signaling. We have no idea whether Friedow signaled, but we do know that ~25% of drivers don’t signal when turning.
Kind of makes you wonder why there is no mention of turn signal use in the entire report. Studies have indicated that failing to signal is twice as common in crashes as distracted driving. Did they even ask her if she signaled? Or look for it in the video?
How did the truck “turn into” Angeles?
The truck was in the intersection when Angeles ran into the side of the truck.
I never said that the truck turned into Angeles. Re-read.
“there isn’t much that will save you if a truck turns into you without signaling.” You as much said so, since this is in reference to the specific incident, they implication is that you did so state.
I responded to some general tips in the comment above mine:
“1. Assume I can’t be seen, even on a summer afternoon.
2. Slow down when approaching intersections with cars around.”
with a general caveat that if a truck turns into you, those tips aren’t going to help you.
I can see that you inferred I was talking about Angeles, but I was not. I would describe this scenario as a truck turning into the path of the cyclist, not turning into the cyclist, though in this case the result is the same.
Those tips will not always prevent a crash, and may not have done so in this case, but in general, they absolutely will reduce the risk of a bad outcome when a truck turns into your path, whether on a bike or in a car.
Thats the entire point of “defensive riding.” Be prepared to stop for anything, anytime, anywhere. High noon on a highway in the desert? What would happen if a cow suddenly wandered onto the road.
This is literally what they teach motorcycle riders: every car on the road is trying to kill you. Have a way out, be alert and be prepared to stop/bail at anytime.
And it still won’t always save you. Pretty sure Kerry Kunsman and Kirke Johnson were well-prepared.
Nothing will always save you, but there’s lots you can do to improve the odds.
I agree with that.
Would you agree that even if you do everything correctly, people will still appear afterwards to assign you blame?
Of course! Look around… everyone likes to second guess!
I’ve spent some time thinking about this after reading the PDF, and it seems to be more of a very common motorcycle crash than the typical bike crash.
I’ve also got my motorcycle endorsement and done my MSF classes, and the oncoming left turn… well you place yourself prominently in the lane, you make eye contact, and hope they don’t turn into you. There are places and times, particularly around some light timings, when you just don’t have many escape routes.
Huh. I just read the entire memo, and find the final paragraph interesting:
—memo by DDA Laura Rowan [emphasis mine]
The section that I bolded in this quoted paragraph almost seems to imply something insidious and disturbing: even if not seeing a bicyclist is deemed a “failure to be aware of a substantial and unjustifiable risk”, it would be unlikely that this would be seen as a gross deviation from the standard of care that a reasonable person would observe. This almost seems to imply that looking for and seeing bicyclists is outside the realm of what we can expect from “reasonable” persons.
Does this mean that we truly just don’t expect “reasonable people” to be aware of bicyclists? Is the “standard of care” really so low that looking for bicyclists isn’t considered necessary?
Jonathan, I wonder if we could we get a comment from the DDA (I thought we were talking about DAs – what is a DDA?) on El Biciclero’s question?
DDA = Deputy District Attorney, I believe.
Thanks. My googling didn’t yield that, though it did yield some other interesting phrases.
There are 70 DDA in Multnomah County, appointed, not elected. http://mcda.us/
Much of the commentary here and elsewhere supports the idea you have brought up. Not seeing cyclists is normal and expected behavior and requires extraordinary efforts from the motor vehicle operator or from the cyclist to avoid collisions.
Yes, you must be unreasonably cautious to avoid running people over.
I have noticed this as well. Speeds always seem ridiculously high. 28. Really. That’s a frothing, spitting, unable to speak pace on a geared bike…
And what kind of FIXED GEAR does 28mph!?!?!
No way. The standard get around cog tops out at 24mph and I look like a ridiculous dervish. It’s not safe at that speed unless I can vibrate my feet.
I am CERTAIN. He was NOT, I repeat NOT going 28 mph on FIXED gear unless he was using a ridiculous metric, which in Portland, no one would do for very long. Even little guys like me would struggle on the most benign of hills.
I strongly disagree. 28mph can be easily attained with even a slight downhill assistance. It’s not a crazy speed. I’ve had sprints out at PIR (dead flat) that were over 40MPH and I’m female. Men can go faster still. And before you try to claim such I can assure you that while I’m not a total slouch I’m far from the fastest rider around.
But geared so he can also go back up the hill?
it may not be geared for hill climbing at all.
Possible but I’d consider that highly unlikely. As a former Reedie, having a bike that won’t get you up the hill to the Safeway on Woodstock is not worth a whole heck of a lot.
A strong rider can climb a decent hill in 48 x 16, which is a common fixie gearing.
I’m not familiar with riding up to the Safeway there.
But I do laps up Mt Tabor in 52 x 19, which is similar gearing to 48 x 16. And Mark was young and, I suspect, strong.
Then my speedometer is off by about 4mph. And remember we are talking about what is likely a Standard fixed gear bicycle unless he was into small cog riding and whatnot.
OR the measurement for cyclists on their geared racing machines is historically inflated which I think it is a lot even on a race course. People like to feel good.
Direct experience – over 10 years on fixed: Unless I move my feet at ridiculous rate I am not getting above 24mph very long. FIXED. The pedals have to keep moving.
Get on a fixed and go down Belmont and try it. It sucks big time. Almost hurts.
Also…when a fixed rider gets up out of the seat to “bear down” – they are not necessarily accelerating… rather, attempting to slow down. You see?
You can sprint like that on a geared bicycle. No one is saying it’s impossible to go that fast, just that it may be very likely he wasn’t due to the configuration of his gears. Or better yet, we are saying one could easily check by checking the bike set up…
And it didn’t happen. The report doesn’t describe the officers verifying the lad’s speed by checking his bike.
Huh. If I do some quick calcs, 158 feet in 3.8 seconds is about 360 rpm for a 700c wheel with a circumference of 83-ish inches. If we assume a gear ratio of 44:16, that’s a cadence of 131. I’m figuring 360 x 16 / 44 = cadence. Does that sound a) correct, and b) reasonable? Fixie riders can estimate a range of reasonable gear ratios.
On the track fixed gear bikes are going around 40 mph. They are geared a but higher.
25-30 is easily do-able on a fixed gear especially downhill.
I’ve gone almost 50 mph going downhill before. That was coasting…
Ok, I’m sold.
Less parking means driving is less convenient,
Less convenient driving means less traffic,
Less traffic means safer roads.
See ODOT & PBOT, Vision Zero is easy: no parking on arterial roads. They are far too valuable of a public resource to waste on the storage of private property.
I own a car, but biking is (happily) more convenient for most of my travel around Portland, so my car spends the vast majority of the time parked on the street. People aren’t making decisions to buy or sell their cars based on how much parking happens to be available in their neighborhoods; if we do away with parking on arterial roads, that’s just going to push the parking congestion elsewhere, not remove cars from the road.