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Opinion: Welcome to blame the victim season

Posted by on November 20th, 2015 at 11:26 am

“The bicyclist was wearing dark clothing and had no rear lighting on the bicycle.”
— Oregon State Police statement

For the past week I’ve been standing by, reading headline after headline about “distracted pedestrians.” And then I get this in my inbox (emphases mine):

The Oregon State Police is continuing it’s investigation into Thursday evening’s fatal crash involving a bicyclist.

At approximately 9:05PM a Lane County Deputy in a patrol vehicle was traveling northbound on SR99W near MP118 (just south of Beltline Highway in Eugene) when he struck a female bicyclist in the northbound slow lane. The female was pronounced deceased on scene.

The highway was blocked for approximately 1 hour. The highway was then partially open, reduced to one lane in each direction. The scene was cleared at 1:00AM.

Preliminary information indicates the bicyclist was traveling northbound in the travel lane at the time of the incident. The bicyclist was wearing dark clothing and had no rear lighting on the bicycle. It was full darkness with very little ambient lighting when the crash occurred.

Efforts are still ongoing to make next of kin of the deceased. The Oregon State Police is the lead investigating agency and is being assisted by Eugene Police Department and the Oregon Department of Transportation. This in an ongoing investigation and more information will be released when it becomes available.

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The following behaviors — mentioned in the statement above — are perfectly legal in the state of Oregon:

  • Riding without “rear lighting.” The law only requires a rear reflector.
  • Wearing “dark clothing.” Oregon residents are free to wear whatever they want while operating a vehicle on public right-of-way.
  • Traveling in the travel lane. Bicycle operators are allowed to leave a shoulder to avoid hazards.

Yet despite what appears to be completely legal behavior – and before her next of kin have even been notified — the Oregon State Police has already acted as judge and jury and essentially declared her at fault for her own death. Imagine how this woman’s family and friends would feel if they read the comments under the media’s coverage of this crash — especially since most local media outlets run these police statements verbatim.

This should not be an acceptable communications strategy from the Oregon State Police.

It is unecessary and unfair to mention the behavior of the victim prior to a traffic crash and not also mention the behavior of the survivor. Was the deputy speeding? Surely “very little ambient lighting” is good reason to slow down and use extreme caution right? Was the deputy distracted for any reason?

I ask those questions not to blame anyone, but to make a larger point.

I’m all for educating the public about safety. That is very important. But it’s also important to be fair and sensitive to everyone involved in these tragedies. This issue is particularly upsetting to me because when someone dies or is incapacitated to the point of memory loss, we never hear their side of the story.

As I’ve advocated for many years now, one solution to this problem would be for police agencies to only release the very basic facts of a crash. Because emotions run high after serious injury and fatal crashes, police statements should refrain from making unsubstantiated and irrelevant claims about the behavior of crash victims until a thorough investigation is completed.

— Jonathan Maus, (503) 706-8804 – jonathan@bikeportland.org

NOTE: We love your comments and work hard to ensure they are productive, considerate, and welcoming of all perspectives. Disagreements are encouraged, but only if done with tact and respect. If you see a mean or inappropriate comment, please contact us and we'll take a look at it right away. Also, if you comment frequently, please consider holding your thoughts so that others can step forward. Thank you — Jonathan

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Justin
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Justin

Thanks for this article, Jonathan

Paul Atkinson
Guest
Paul Atkinson

Just remember, Deputy, utter the phrase “I didn’t see her” and you’re completely exonerated if you were breaking no other traffic laws.

I mean, this is exactly what the basic speed rule if for (even if you were at or under the speed limit, you were clearly driving too fast to avoid other legal road users much less any surprise road hazards), but blaming you for that seems unlikely.

Probably you just walk free and remind everyone that it was her fault; after all, if she didn’t want you to kill her she wouldn’t have been there dressed like that eh?

colton
Guest
colton

Your comment is just as biased as the car-centric news source.

Paul Atkinson
Guest
Paul Atkinson

How so? I’m open to criticism, but your comment lacks anything constructive to work with.

colton
Guest
colton

I’d like the family a chance to grieve, perhaps, before we all go around pointing fingers. Respecting that, I think it’s premature for you (or the car-centric media) to go around making wild speculations.

Paul Cone
Guest
Paul Cone

That’s the same excuse gun rights activists use after school shootings. We can’t pass gun control right now because people are still grieving and that’s insensitive.

http://www.thepoliticalinsider.com/obama-doesnt-let-crisis-go-to-waste-uses-s-c-shooting-to-promote-his-agenda/

colton
Guest
colton

Well it’s your right to continue speculating. I generally like this blog, but just remember that Jonathon has been known to jump the gun a bit on the emotional issues and many of the commenters here are very often way off base in their initial assessments.

Ted Timmons (Contributor)
Editor

The press release is already pointing fingers.

I find it interesting when “too soon” is used as an excuse.

davemess
Guest
davemess

does “rear lighting” include a reflector though? I don’t know where reflectors fall when talking about lighting.

canuck
Guest
canuck

By law in Oregon you are only required to have a rear reflector.

Minimum requirements are a white front facing light visible a minimum 500 ft and a rear reflector visible a minimum of 600 ft

davemess
Guest
davemess

I understand that (I don’t actually agree with it), but that wasn’t my question. I’m curious if the OSP counts a reflector as “rear lighting”? And did she have the required reflector?

9watts
Subscriber

If (as seems likely) he smashed into her from behind it might be difficult to determine after the fact what sort of light or reflector she may have had on her bike. In this case for all we know the driver and the presiding officer may have been the same: perp + law enforcement + judge +jury, a real honest to goodness one man show.

Spiffy
Subscriber

driver was Lane County Deputy, investigator is OSP…

wsbob
Guest
wsbob

Very curious that a rear reflector wasn’t mentioned in the OSP statement excerpt at the top of the story. Whoever wrote the statement could have easily written a bit more to answer whether it was known if a reflector was on the bike or not.

To my thinking, reflectors aren’t lights, but they do provide the function of visibility gear…differently than tail lights, but they can be very effective in certain situations.

joel
Guest
joel

rear reflectors are great- however when dirty they lose reflectivity a little, especially if no fenders. lights have a greater distance than reflectors i think. urging for caution in the dark is always a good thing i think

wsbob
Guest
wsbob

Very true observation about reflectors, I think. I advise use of tail lights in addition to reflectors and other reflective material, because tail lights have enabling visibility strengths that exclusive use of reflectors doesn’t.

It’s a challenge, moving to a point at which vulnerable road users generally would be aware of the degree and type of visibility gear they should use or have ready to use should their travels take them to conditions not good for them being seen readily by other road users.

Spiffy
Subscriber

actually, it seems that it does…

ORS 815.280
(2)(c) At the times described in the following, a bicycle or its rider must be equipped with lighting equipment that meets the described requirements:
(C) The lighting equipment must have a red reflector or lighting device or material of such size or characteristic and so mounted as to be visible from all distances up to 600 feet to the rear when directly in front of lawful lower beams of headlights on a motor vehicle

so if they had no “rear lighting” they could be talking about the reflector…

UncleMuscles
Guest
UncleMuscles

How about we stop calling everything victim blaming. It’s ok to learn from people’s mistakes even if they weren’t completely at fault.

We don’t have to start screaming “VICTIM BLAMING!!!!!! AHHHH!!!! I CAN’T HEAR YOU!!!” when people offer constructive suggestions for other’s safety in the future.

If the cyclist was riding in the lane of travel in the dark with no rear light as described then that is probably something us night time commuters could learn from.

Calling things “victim blaming” is just a way to kill oftentimes useful discourse.

Alan 1.0
Guest
Alan 1.0

“Calling things “victim blaming” is just a way to kill oftentimes useful discourse.”

OK. So, what’s your suggestion for creating a useful discourse about this issue?

Or even, what is the issue? Is it the bicyclist? The motorist? The press coverage, including the press release from one party to the tragedy without rebuttal from the victim’s side?

UncleMuscles
Guest
UncleMuscles

Ummm…did you read my post? My suggestion is to stop calling this “victim blaming” and discuss it like rational adults. Not just this situation but almost all situations where the term “victim blaming” is tossed around. There are a multitude of issues so let’s discuss them without turning partisan and resorting to lazy rhetoric like “victim blaming”.

Alan 1.0
Guest
Alan 1.0

I did read your post. I don’t particularly disagree with it, there is truth to it, even though I think there is also truth to Jonathan’s position. What I’d like to hear from you (or anyone) is how you think those discussions will happen if no one takes a polemic position?

are
Guest

my suggestion is the community as a whole, not just bicyclists or pedestrians or bike/ped advocates, but everyone, embrace the idea this is everyone’s problem and then begin to work toward solutions that work for everyone. when you lead with the polemic, you shut down the conversation.

JF
Guest
JF

Riding your bike at night, in the dark, wearing dark clothing, without lights, in the traffic lane may be perfectly legal. But it is also insane. I don’t think it is victim blaming to say please, no one should ever do this. Because, well, you may get run over.

SD
Guest
SD

The police statement is not a safety advisory bulletin, it is construing fault to a victim of a traffic collision by describing legal behavior as the reason for the fatality and removing fault from the police officer who killed the cyclist.
The details are selected to attribute blame to the victim prior to a complete investigation. It is not appropriate.

Ted Timmons (Contributor)
Editor

The details are selected to attribute blame to the victim prior to a complete investigation.

Well said.

paikiala
Guest
paikiala

SD,
It’s a fine line between statement of fact and attributing fault. It seems to me you have construed the listed facts to imply fault. Can you restate the provided facts in a way that does not imply fault, in your mind?
We also need to consider that the written facts provided to us have come through the filter of the opinion writer – an acknowledged biased observer.

SD
Guest
SD

The selected details imply that the officer killed someone within the “standard of care.” The narrative is not subtle.
I can easily imagine how unmentioned details could change the narrative or allow for a more complicated incident than described.
Observing the discussion on this thread regarding the value of riding with front and rear lights, the effect of this narrative is evident.

Middle of the Road guy
Guest
Middle of the Road guy

You may not have to wear a life vest on a boat…but it sure is a good idea. Not doing so, while legal, is still very bad judgment.

9watts
Guest
9watts

not a great analogy. A life vest is something that offers very nearly 100% protection from the kinds troubles you could plausibly encounter when falling out of a boat. Its usefulness is not dependent on others paying attention who may also be out in the water.

soren
Subscriber

It’s only insane because people who drive prioritize convenience over people’s lives.

SD
Guest
SD

It appears that the officer’s headlights mysteriously do not provide enough light to see an object in the road or potentially a reflector.

Maybe headlights don’t work if you are not looking.

Also on the list of described behaviors should be the officer’s level of attention to the road. For example, the officer was or wasn’t talking on his phone.

alankessler
Subscriber
alankessler

Definitely (not “potentially”) a reflector. Had there been no reflector, the article would have said as much.

paikiala
Guest
paikiala

AK,
How do you know there was no reflector?
If you were not at the scene, nor read the report, you are speculating based on hear-say.

Opus the Poet
Guest

paikiala we know there was a reflector because it would have been mentioned if there wasn’t one. The light that is not required by law not being there was mentioned, had the reflector that is required by law not been there it would have been mentioned first before the missing rear light.

rain waters
Guest
rain waters

Or asleep at the wheel like that deputy in Cupertino who plowed into a training ride. . . .

Pete
Guest
Pete

Matt Peterson and Kristy Gough. I ride by their ghost bike often, and throw them a peace sign every time. That was in 2008, shortly before I moved here. She was an Olympic hopeful, and there was a third guy that was hit with injuries that survived.

wsbob
Guest
wsbob

“…The following behaviors — mentioned in the statement above — are perfectly legal in the state of Oregon:

Riding without “rear lighting.” The law only requires a rear reflector.

Wearing “dark clothing.” Oregon residents are free to wear whatever they want while operating a vehicle on public right-of-way.

Traveling in the travel lane. Bicycle operators are allowed to leave a shoulder to avoid hazards. …” bikeportland

Legal, yes….but advisable? Depending on conditions, often not.

“…the Oregon State Police has already acted as judge and jury and essentially declared her at fault for her own death. …” bikeportland

Maus…the police statement excerpt in your story, notes factors possibly contributing to a collision that occurred.

If there are factors, associated with people driving or biking, that having contributed to particular collisions having occurred, the public ought to hear of them promptly, as per the public’s role and responsibility to respond in part by reflecting on their own actions in using the road, and possibly making efforts to use the road more safely.

abomb
Guest
abomb

Wow, the first time I have ever agreed with wsbob.

Ted Timmons (Contributor)
Editor

wsbob
Maus…the police statement excerpt in your story, notes factors possibly contributing to a collision that occurred.If there are factors, associated with people driving or biking, that having contributed to particular collisions having occurred, the public ought to hear of them promptly

Interestingly, no details are given about contributing factors from the officer- just from the cyclist.

wsbob
Guest
wsbob

The top of the police statement posted to this story reads:

“The Oregon State Police is continuing it’s investigation into Thursday evening’s fatal crash involving a bicyclist…”

The deputy having been involved in the collision as the person driving, means any actions on his part that may have contributed to the collision having occurred, will most likely be considered as the investigation continues, though information about this may not have determined at the time of the statement’s release.

Give it a chance. If after a reasonable passage of time, there’s no info provided about the deputy’s role in the collision confirming one way or another as to whether he may have contributed to the collision occurring, then jump on it.

Ted Timmons (Contributor)
Editor

wsbob
Give it a chance. If after a reasonable passage of time,[…]

I totally disagree. The story that went out, and that people will remember, is one-sided. It’s unacceptable to present the biased story upfront and then (possibly) “correct” the story later.

9watts
Subscriber

What’s worse, every once in a while a correction is (quietly) issued some time later, and, guess what? No one in the media notices; time moves on. Given our news cycles you can’t really play that card with a straight face.

Patrick
Guest
Patrick

You might add a [sic] after “it’s” in the first part of the quote. I AM THE GRAMMAR POLICE. Who grammar polices the police? I DO!

are
Guest

we are all about languaging here. the word “victim” does mean someone who is on the receiving end of an injurious action. interestingly for your etymologists out there, it derives from the latin for “sacrificial animal.” no question this person was a “victim” in that sense.

beyond that we know nothing beyond what is in the police statement, which i would say is several yards short of a formal report. something i would like to see in the formal report is whether the impact in fact occurred in the travel lane or on the shoulder, speed of the motorist before impact, etc. apparently they did take measurements, and apparently there is no evidence the motorist was tracking in the shoulder.

but to be perfectly clear, jon, 814.430 does not require a bicyclist to use the shoulder even if there are no hazards.

the headline talks about “blaming the victim.” at this point we do not know — again, beyond what is in the police statement — whether or to what extent the victim had some responsibility here.

a tail light is not legally required, no, but it is a good thing to have on a dark street with relatively high motor speeds. you are not required to ride on the shoulder, no, but under these circumstances it might be a good idea.

your complaint in the closing sentences, jon, that these statements should not include “unsubstantiated and irrelevant claims,” is certainly valid in the abstract, but here the statements about lighting and road position are apparently substantiated and apparently relevant to what happened.

there is such a thing as “victim blaming,” but there is also such a thing as a teachable moment.

yes, we should reconfigure both the infrastructure and the cultural norms so that this kind of thing does not happen even if a bicyclist or pedestrian is completely inattentive to her own safety, because we do not want to become slaves to our technologies. but starting from where we are now, before these reconfigurations have occurred, we do have to take some responsibility to look out for ourselves.

9watts
Subscriber

“here the statements about lighting and road position are apparently substantiated and apparently relevant to what happened.”

I’m going to break my habit and disagree with you and try to channel El Biciclero. Why is it that we’re always holding bikey people to standards that exceed what the law requires while excusing driver behavior that fails to meet the law (11mph over the posted speed limit; basic speed rule is never enforced especially right where it would matter most: Bohannon/Kunsman for instance).

The clothing and lighting have exactly nothing relevant to do with the crash except insofar as the police officer who killed her with his car was either driving too fast for conditions or not paying adequate attention or perhaps some of both. To me it is no more complicated than that. The one with the bigger, faster vehicle is supposed to take the lion’s share of responsibility given the greater propensity for injury or death that comes from not paying extra special attention to what is in front of you.

are
Guest

in fairness, please note the last paragraph of my comment. i am not holding anyone to any standard, i am suggesting common sense self preservation in a bad situation.

i continue to pay taxes to a government that kills civilians to protect corporate profits. i continue to buy most of my food from groceries that ship in fruit out of season from the southern hemisphere. these is some stuff you still “gotta” do until the revolution comes.

Middle of the Road guy
Guest
Middle of the Road guy

I would say the most vulnerable person should take the most precautions.

9watts
Guest
9watts

Can you elaborate? Explain your reasoning?

If those in cars paid attention and drove only so fast that they could react in time to avoid most any plausible collision (the law, at least in theory) wouldn’t we be a lot closer to where we want to be? What would be your reasoning for saddling those who are vulnerable with extra-legal responsibilities? Why should they go above and beyond when right here right now we fail miserably to hold those in cars to the rules that (in theory) obtain right now?

Spiffy
Subscriber

you’re saying that people driving big-rigs need not pay attention to anything other than big-rigs on the road…

soren
Subscriber

Its more than just insensitivity. Someone who bikes is often assumed to be reckless or “looking for trouble” by law enforcement.

mike
Guest
mike

Don’t forget the numerous times you have jumped to conclusions without all the facts only to come back and change your tune. And just because stating that the victim was wearing dark clothing etc doesn’t equal victim blaming.

Tom Hardy
Guest
Tom Hardy

I am not victim blaming when I say the rider in fact may have not been wearing other than High viz or reflective clothing at night. Few if any of the cycling attire manufacturers make any foul weather clothing in anything but black or dark colors. Reflectors, if the rider had one are at best a very poor excuse to be seen, especially on a dark rainy night.
Next! if the patrolman was following the OREGON STATE LAW regarding the basic speed rule, a fence post of weathered wood color (or slate) could be planted in the middle of the traffic lane and he would have been able to stop in time.
By his own admission he is guilty of speeding in his own words.

Paul
Guest
Paul

The idea behind requiring a rear reflector on bicycles is that it “reflects” light from the vehicle behind. A piece of wood or tire tread, or any other road hazard, doesn’t have that property.

Spiffy
Subscriber

and yet insurance counts you as at-fault if you hit a black stationary object because you were in fact going too fast for conditions or not paying attention…

Dan A
Subscriber
Dan A

Basic Speed Rule.

Adam
Guest
Adam

Perhaps this is a clear example that it is time to start legally requiring ALL road vehicles to have tail lights. Amish buggies have them; it seems fair for it to be a requirement for bikes as well.

Dan A
Subscriber
Dan A

We already have law that should have prevented this. See my comment directly above yours.

Alan 1.0
Guest
Alan 1.0

Milepost 99 is just north of the Stow Pit Road intersection with Hwy 99W, about a mile north of Monroe, OR. https://goo.gl/maps/45MHnmjwG5w

Alan 1.0
Guest
Alan 1.0

Sorry, wrong MP. This is just south of MP118 & Hwy 99W, looking north toward Beltline road: https://goo.gl/maps/BaTNsSLLxsH2

Tom Hardy
Guest
Tom Hardy

Nice shoulder! On a 4 lane express way. Background lights would have made nearly any reflector useless. Most legal tail lights would not have been seen unless they were blinkers.
Again basic speed violation unless he had on his bubble gum machine lights going to coffee.

lahar
Guest
lahar

Fault can and should be found in the driver as well as the bike rider. I am aghast at the number of distracted drivers I see on the road thinking that this terribly unsafe behavior is legal. But I only see public service announcements telling vulnerable road users to be visible.

The PSA is correct, you should light yourself up. Own it is ok so long as we also demand similar PSAs telling drivers to get off their damn smart phones and slow down. Sorry but there is plenty everyone should be doing to be safe.

Stephen Keller
Guest
Stephen Keller

It is possible that by the phrase “no rear lighting on the bicycle” the officer meant that the legally required reflectors were absent or obscured. This is because Oregon law absurdly refers to reflectors as “lighting equipment.”

ORS 815.280.c states:

(c) At the times described in the following, a bicycle or its rider must be equipped with lighting equipment that meets the described requirements:
(A) The lighting equipment must be used during limited visibility conditions.
(B) The lighting equipment must show a white light visible from a distance of at least 500 feet to the front of the bicycle.
(C) The lighting equipment must have a red reflector or lighting device or material of such size or characteristic and so mounted as to be visible from all distances up to 600 feet to the rear when directly in front of lawful lower beams of headlights on a motor vehicle.

Stph

davemess
Guest
davemess

That was my question above.
Thanks for stating it a bit more clearly.

Paul
Guest
Paul

“…visible from all distances up to 600 feet to the rear when directly in front of lawful lower beams of headlights on a motor vehicle.”
I question whether a reflector would be visible at 600 feet on low beams, especially if it’s rainy or foggy.

pink$$
Guest
pink$$

If the only or most relevant details of this fatal collision were the rider’s visibility, would the rider have died given any other circumstances? As in, had the officer been driving slower, with more attention on the road, or with their eyes even open (whatever the situation was), would THIS cyclist in THIS situation necessarily have died?

To me, that’s the only relevant question to ask if something qualifies as victim-blaming.

Sure, light yourselves up… but good luck if you’re ever in front of a cop talking on their phone at night.

pat lowell
Guest
pat lowell

I don’t understand how the “distracted pedestrian” stories constitute victim blaming. If anything they’re in the same category as distracted drivers who hit cyclists.

J_R
Guest
J_R

A Lane County Deputy was involved. That’s why the OSP was investigating. Not that that will necessarily result in an unbiased investigation.

Buzz
Guest
Buzz

OSP should not be investigating a fatal crash potentially caused by one of it’s own.

colton
Guest
colton

It was a Lane County Deputy involved with the crash (not OSP).

Buzz
Guest
Buzz

All Cops are more or less in the same big club.

Buzz
Guest
Buzz

Did they capture the officer’s phone and computer activity at the time of the crash? That would go a long way towards helping to establish fault.

paikiala
Guest
paikiala

This likely comes later in the investigation, not part of the field report first filed. It is a problem at PBOT as well. They only get the first report and often are not included in the follow-up information like phone record checks or BAC results.

Aixe Djelal
Subscriber

My deepest sympathies to the deceased cyclist’s family for their tragic loss.

Regarding what happened and how it was reported, I completely support Jonathan’s perspective that it is inappropriate for the Oregon State Police to effectively pass judgment on the cyclist with these comments. The cyclist is not on trial – she is dead. The motorist may be on trial at some point, and they will have their day in court at which point the judge (not the police) can pass judgment.

Regarding the cyclist’s decisions about where to ride, what to wear and how to illuminate, these were her decisions and they were legal decisions. Someone else might not make the same decisions. Legal rights and self preservation do not always go hand in hand, and everyone on the road (motorists, cyclists, pedestrians) makes decisions that may have some bearing on an outcome (I’m not talking about judging fault, just observing outcome). Should I have to wrap myself in neon clothing and wear more lights than legally required in order to feel safe and be seen on the road? No, that is ridiculous. But do I do it? Hell yes, because even though I shouldn’t have to, I feel like it makes me more visible and hopefully less likely to be hit by a motorist. I’ve been bike commuting for over 20 years with way more lights than required by law, and more neon clothing than I wore as a kid in the 1980s. If I lived in a city with more cyclists where motorists are more used to cyclists and cycling infrastructure is more consistent, I would probably take a different approach.

This report takes me right back to the article mentioned in the November 9th Monday Roundup about fear vs. biking. The way cycling is reported is always with a strong dose of parental headshaking, the implication that you are taking your life in your hands. This is alarmist and statistically flawed. This attitude does not further cycling safety because it discourages people from riding, and ultimately, cyclists will only been seen and treated as though we belong on the streets if there are enough of us. Maybe we’re in a phase in Portland somewhere between wearing a lot of neon and having the critical mass to be seen and accepted. I hope we keep going toward the mass side of the equation. I never want to diminish the importance and humanity of cyclists injured and killed while riding, but please, let’s encourage others to cycle and provide good advice about safety practices in a non-alarmist way.

gutterbunnybikes
Guest

Perfect, consider this my check mark x10.

Ted Buehler
Guest

Folks, if you are personally concerned or outraged by any part of this, I’d suggest sending a personal note to two entities.

1) State Police Superintendent Richard Evans, Jr.
http://www.oregon.gov/osp/pages/superintendent_evans_bio.aspx
via snailmail or email at the official contact site.
http://www.oregon.gov/osp/pages/contact_us.aspx
Let him know you expect a higher standard of defensive driving, better accountability and a lack of judgement in their press releases.

2) Oregon Bicycle Transportation Alliance (BTA) Executive Director Rob Sadowski
The BTA is a statewide bicycle organization, incorporated to represent bicycle issues across all of Oregon.
https://btaoregon.org/about/
rob@btaoregon.org
Let him know you’d like them do their best to make sure this doesn’t happen again (maybe reconvene their legislative committee and try to work on this problem from the top down.)

You can also tweet, email, FB post your concern on social media to bring attention to this problem.

Posting on BikePortland is fine for discussing the nuances and all, but if you have a desire for this to change we have a collective obligation to bring it to light in the NGOs and agencies who can change it, and the larger media to cast daylight on this problem.

Ted Buehler

Ted Buehler
Guest

For instance, a higher standard of crash investigation for cases like this and the crash that took Mark Angeles’s life could be added to the BTA’s legislative priorities for 2016
https://btaoregon.org/2015/02/legislative-update-3/

soren
Subscriber

At one time I had a closet full of hi-vis clothing. I decided that this type of clothing sends the wrong message, so I gave it all away and now wear dark colors exclusively when I cycle. At one time I cycled with 4 lights, including a helmet light. I decided that this also sends the wrong message, so now I use 0-2 lights. I feel these choices have not made me any more likely to be hit by a motorist.

I believe that people of all abilities and economic status should be able to cycle in Portland so I prefer to focus on providing good advice about safety practices to people who drive (in a non-alarmist way).

Ted Timmons (Contributor)
Editor

I was thinking about high-viz clothing and the “lance armstrong wannabes”/”spandex racers”/”lycra” attitude recently. I suspect the people who use those labels would apply them to high-viz yet would castigate riders for wearing dark clothing.

Aixe Djelal
Subscriber

Great point about providing good advice about safety practices to motorists, Soren. Case in point: the other day I found myself telling a co-worker that cycling with headphones or earbuds can be dangerous because you are cutting out one of your senses that can keep you safe. Then last night I saw a driver blasting music, happily singing away and totally not paying attention to driving. He pulled into a bike box and turned right on red, completely engrossed in his music, completely oblivious to the road. That same advice about not letting music be a distraction applies to motorists who, ultimately can do a lot more damage than a cyclist.

Ricky
Guest
Ricky

The bit about headphones here is subjective. If you are blaring something intense sure they can block hearing and such, but as someone who uses them with light music or podcasts; I find that they simply drown out some of the more harsh road sounds cyclist are exposed to and help to keep my nerves calm. Its easier to make correct and safe decisions when one is relaxed rather than unnerved by horns and stuff. Keep in mind (horns as an easy example), some people honk at others over very impatient things like when the driver in front of them doesn’t mash the gas quick enough when a light turns green, when you are beside them if you have concert ear plugs in or light music these sounds are still audible but don’t make you feel like something exploded in your brain sending fussy chemicals down your spine and out to your extremities and for some, causing a middle finger to be exposed and thus fueling the Bike vs Cars battle. Its a little hard to bike irritable with weak knees and horns are not hardly the only harsh sounds we are exposed to. I’m not saying people should bike with headphones (many should not) and I don’t use them outside of town or when there needs to be communication such as construction zones and whatnot, but I am a headphone/ear plug user and they often help me to remain safe by being more calm and focused and thus more able to effectively and patiently evaluate situations around town and respond accordingly.

paikiala
Guest
paikiala

Soren,
Intentionally choosing to be less visible at night seems unwise to me. Safe Systems/Vision Zero is about better road users as much as better roads and laws.

LC
Guest
LC

The point is that automobile users who are paying enough attention to see you in hi vis are also paying enough attention to see you even if you’re not covered in neon, while the automobile users who aren’t paying enough attention to see you in normal clothing are also not paying enough attention to see you in hi vis.

paikiala
Guest
paikiala

LC,
so you’ve never driven up to or past a pedestrian on the side of the road in dark clothing you didn’t see until you were almost next to them? Without some contrast, even moving persons in dark clothing are easy to miss.

LC
Guest
LC

Only if I was going too fast for conditions. If it’s too dark outside to see when moving at speed the only thing that makes any sense is to reduce speed until you can see, not tell people that they shouldn’t have been in your way in the first place if you injure them while you can’t see.

Middle of the Road guy
Guest
Middle of the Road guy

what if you are going the legal speed limit? Is that too fast for conditions?

Dan A
Subscriber
Dan A

It can be. ORS 811.100

9watts
Guest
9watts

That is exactly where the Too Fast For Conditions rule comes in. When going the posted speed limit is not appropriate for whatever set of reasons.

SD
Guest
SD

On the side of the road meaning not on the road, such as the side walk, yes; on the road, in front of my headlights, no, never.

jd
Guest
jd

The economic point is also frequently missed. Once upon a time, not only could I not afford to replace a light when I forgot and left it on my bike and someone grabbed it, I couldn’t always afford batteries when I forgot and left my light blinking all night.

Biking on a highway in the clothes she owned without a light may have felt like her only choice to get where she needed to be. I can easily imagine making the choices she did, when my economic options were limited.

I agree with Jonathan that it’s wrong to so quickly blame her instead of a culture that prioritizes driving fast over human life.

soren
Guest

paikiala, LC’s response was spot on. the only thing i would add is that the decreased risk for wearing bike-specific hi viz clothing and using more than a couple lights is very dubious.

9watts
Subscriber

“Intentionally choosing to be less visible at night seems unwise to me.”

Less visible than what? I didn’t see that soren was suggesting or even conducting himself in ways that are less visible than what the law requires. There you go again.

Ian
Guest
Ian

I didn’t see that paikiala was suggesting that soren was conducting himself in ways that are less visible than what the law requires, either – rather, I read their statement as “Intentionally choosing to be less visible at night than would be easily practicable with little effort and tangible benefit seems unwise to me.”

To rephrase it, I’d offer that intentionally choosing to be no more visible at night than is legally required seems unwise to me. Or, more to the point, intentionally choosing not to wear high-visibility gear in low-visibility conditions seems unwise to me. Sure, I’d be legally in the right to dress in all black and trust an unlit reflector and a front light to keep me safe in all conditions, but to intentionally go that route instead of wearing a reflective jacket and using a rear light seems, well, unwise. (Note: I recognize that soren isn’t saying he rides without lights; I’m just arguing in favor of the idea that it might be wise to go above and beyond the bare minimum legal requirements for the sake of one’s safety.)

Also, what’s with the “there you go again” jab? That just comes across as unnecessarily petty and argumentative. Yon can make your point without making it personal.

9watts
Subscriber

Fair enough. And I don’t think in general what the law happens to be is the best measure, but in this particular case I have a really hard time when public officials use language that suggests, no insists, that people biking should go above and beyond the letter of the law, or else… they’ve no one to blame but themselves, while winking at their own speeding and distractedness. What is up with that?

There you go again was directed at what I interpreted to be paikiala’s reflexive endorsement of the first half of the above. I like your interpretation better and apologize for my too-quick indictment.

ethan
Guest
ethan

I don’t wear any high viz gear, but I wear brighter colors as much as possible. Partly because I like brighter colors and partly because I think that it may help me be seen slightly.

However, high viz and lights are not a very effective way to be seen. I was nearly hit by someone a year or so ago while I had a half dozen lights on my bike (two rear lights, two front lights and lights on the side of my bike pointing down.

On top of that, I was biking through a well-lit intersection and was staring directly at the driver.

Since we were both looking directly at each other I assumed that he saw me, but he started his left turn while I was halfway through the intersection.

Oh, and I had double the amount of reflectors than legally required (two for each wheel, twoo on the front, two on thw back), plus an additional reflector on the body of my bike to reflect my lights.

He eventually saw me and was quite surprised to see me.

A few blocks later, an old woman came up very quickly behind me, passed ridiculously closely and yelled out her window to “wear more lights”

I caught up to her and told her that I was well exceesing the legal requirements and that if she couldn’t see me, she should stay off the road.

We were at a stoplight so I got really close to her while saying this and she appeared very nervous like I was going to hit her or something.

I think it’s funny when people in cars feel threatened by me. I’m not the one who’s going around nearly running people over. People should be afraid to hit us instead of being afraid of confrontation.

I think that would help a lot.

gutterbunnybikes
Guest

I behave in much the same way. I prefer thinking of it as creating the riding environment you want, rather than the one you have.

You’ll never have it if you don’t ride it.

Andy K
Guest
Andy K

Soren, I think this is an important point: your commute route takes you on streets where most drivers are expecting cyclists.

I love Portland because we have MANY choices of low-car streets, low-speed streets, and many other streets where drivers are expecting us. Now, if we could just get some protected bike lanes. 😉

Tom Hardy
Guest
Tom Hardy

Yes! We need to renew the critical mass rides. Lets see. They used to be on the last Friday of the month. Starting about sunset? Naito parkway? NW, SW, SE, NE, and North Portland. I don’t recall any riders were injured. Of course we rode with lights and helmets. I rode home via Barbur to Washington Square afterwards.

m
Guest
m

When people advocate for mandatory rear lights (actual lights), it is because of incidents like this. Hopefully, the next time this topic comes up in the legislature a reasonable bill that requires a rear bike light will be passed. Condolences to her family. It’s not about victim blaming. It’s about basic common sense.

Gary B
Guest
Gary B

A reasonable discussion of all the facts that includes the rider’s lack of a taillight may not be victim blaming. The author’s sole point is that including ONLY the rider’s factors that MAY have contributed to this crash in a press release issued immediately after the crash is victim blaming. There is a really good reason judges ask juries how much they know about a case, and there’s a really good reason public relations folks want to get their facts out first. This is not about being PC, it’s makes a difference in the way people perceive the event, and how they’ll respond.

Ted Timmons (Contributor)
Editor

Well said, Gary. It’s the textbook definition of bias.

Alan 1.0
Subscriber

Common sense like not out-driving headlights, and paying constant attention to avoid people in the path of the vehicle?

How about common sense about police not issuing a press release which implicates the vulnerable and deceased road user?

are
Guest

requiring a functioning rear light would impose a cost factor on people who might not be able to afford it. walking and biking should remain unregulated forms of transportation accessible to everyone. regardless whether the cyclist in this case may have made some misjudgments, ultimately the problem is we have given over the commons to these large, fast machines that ordinary people cannot fully control.

davemess
Guest
davemess

biking should remain unregulated?
Seriously?

(by the way walking and biking are not currently unregulated)

are
Guest

yes, seriously. if you want to engage, present the counterargument.

SD
Guest
SD

Rear lights may have made a difference, but they may not have made a difference. Not enough details to know.
Likewise, legislating red lights may not have made a difference either, other than increasing the amount of satisfaction that people derive from pointing out the mistakes that people make when they die.

ethan
Guest
ethan

Last night, someone assaulted me for riding my bike.

I wasn’t violating any laws at all. I wasn’t wearing a helmet because I didn’t have it with me (but that’s not a legal requirement as I’m over 16), I didn’t have any rear lights (which are not required by law), I was smoking (which is not illegal either) and I was riding on the road (the person who assaulted me told me to get off the road and onto the sidewalk).

The police officer that came to the scene was pretty nice, but while he was leaving, he basically told me to stay off the main roads. Which was a pretty dumb statement from him, as I live just off the intersection of two main roads and there’s not really a better, more bike-friendly way to get home.

There are too many people who think that people riding have to follow a different set of rules than what actually exist. And sometimes those people get violent and attack other people.

Also, this was in an area where I’ve been begging the city for any bike infrastructure, and they haven’t budged (even though it’s in the 2030 plan).

ex law enforcemnt
Guest
ex law enforcemnt

Hello,

As an ex law enforcement officer I can tell you almost definitely that the officer was at fault, but the true facts will be covered up and blame will be placed on the cyclist.

It is a well known fact that police officers speed everywhere they go in official police vehicles and their own personal vehicles.

The officer was probably looking at the MDT computer screen in the car while driving. This happens all of the time as well.

I can tell you with first hand knowledge that police officers lie on a regular basis to get what they want, whether it be in a report, testifying in court, changing the facts of this accident etc.

I hope the facts come out exactly as they are, but in my experience there will be a covering up of the truth to protect the officer. I feel for the victim and her family and know they have a steep and rough road ahead of them to prove the real facts in this case.

Pete
Guest
Pete

My neighbor is a police officer and bicyclist. I used to cycle with him, but it didn’t work out because I actually stop at stop signs and red lights, so we were constantly getting separated on the road. He’s been hit by cars twice while bicycling. Our other neighbor used to carpool to the shooting range with him, but said he’s the fastest and most reckless driver he’s ever been in a car with, so he just meets him at the range now. Your perspective doesn’t surprise me in the least from the behavior I’ve witnessed on the streets.

Dan A
Subscriber
Dan A

You can pretty much guarantee the officer was speeding. When was the last time you saw a LEO driving the speed limit on a highway? I don’t know if I’ve EVER seen it.

TheRealisticOne
Guest
TheRealisticOne

Another unfortunate accident. I know it’s not a popular viewpoint here, but, as a cyclist, you do NOT WEAR BLACK AT NIGHT WITHOUT LIGHTS! When can we have an honest conversation about taking responsibility as a cyclist for ones actions? I see this occur all the time, I’ve been stopped at an intersection (on my bike) and some guy riding a bike blows through the intersection…right past the guy on the bike who was stopped at the intersection. That angers me to no end. I take responsibility for my actions, particularly on the bike. At night, I use lights…a few of them in fact. In this state, you are required to be seen 5-600 feet from the front and from the back while riding at night. Reflectors are not lights! I’m not aware of all the details of the accident, there’s issues for the officer to explain for sure but I’m sick and tired of people in this town who don’t say…don’t wear black without lights at night on a bike! TAKE RESPONSIBILITY FOR YOUR OWN ACTIONS PEOPLE!! I’ve asked the question before…what is the difference between a “cyclist” and a “person riding a bike”? It’s an oppinion based question…but no one seems to want to answer that question.

Having ranted enough, I still feel that this is a so very unfortunate. I feel for the victim and their family. At some point, the officer will have some explaining to do.

Ted Timmons (Contributor)
Editor

Interesting. It’s legal to RIDE AT NIGHT WITHOUT LIGHTS but it is illegal to NOT BE PAYING ATTENTION AND KILL SOMEONE WITH YOUR CAR.

Sorry, wouldn’t use caps, but it seems to match the phrasing.

If the occifer hit a deer, would you be ranting that deer need taillights in their butts? Or that black bears should wear a reflective sash? Or pedestrians need to be equipped with helmets and lights?

TheRealisticOne
Guest
TheRealisticOne

Sorry that you don’t understand the comment Ted. Check your state law before comment. Riding at night without lights is irresponsible…period. Like it or not, that’s reality

Ted Timmons (Contributor)
Editor

TheRealisticOne
Check your state law before comment.

And which state law would that be? I assume you mean 815.280.2.c.C.

TheRealisticOne
Guest
TheRealisticOne

Interesting. It’s legal to RIDE AT NIGHT WITHOUT LIGHTS but it is illegal to NOT BE PAYING ATTENTION AND KILL SOMEONE WITH YOUR CAR.

And which state law would that be? I assume you mean 815.280.2.c.C.

Ted, you seem to have found it, do you see your flaw?…”it’s legal to ride at night without lights”….? Now, I was wrong, it’s not law required to have a tail light, just a reflector. My wrong.

Ted, thanks for showing my errors….Please read Pedal Power: A legal guide for Oregon Bicyclists by Ray Thomas…page 24.

Now, wanna waste more of my time?

Ted Timmons (Contributor)
Editor

You’re right- the FRONT light is required.

Bill Walters
Guest
Bill Walters

Actually, precedent across the state suggests it IS legal to NOT BE PAYING ATTENTION AND KILL SOMEONE WITH YOUR CAR. You just have to utter the “I didn’t see them” passcode.

ethan
Guest
ethan

“TAKE RESPONSIBILITY FOR YOUR OWN ACTIONS PEOPLE!!”

I agree with this part. The police officer should not have hit this person and they should take full responsibility for their actions without blaming the person they killed.

gutterbunnybikes
Guest

To answer your last question:

A person riding a bicycle is just that, there is no bias as to the intent of the rider of said bicycle, it could be a pro athlete, a commuter, a kid on a bicycle, a rec rider, a fitness rider, a urban upright rider, a bmx rider, and the dude looking for bottles in your recycling bin on garbage day – literally anyone that is riding a bicycle.

The difference is that a “cyclist” has different definitions to different people. I see both as interchangeable phrases, however for some cyclist is more athletic/fitness/Fred/ MAMIL/ competition orientated rider and not in reference to others that enjoy riding bicycles for non sports reasons.

It might seem trivial, but “cyclist” is a very vague term in how people define the term and in a sense and it may cause some sort of bias, “people on bikes” covers everyone.

In someways it’s also kind of in-fighting with those in the bicycling community, because for many (myself included) work hard to tear down the concept of what a cyclist is – in fact I started participating on this site a few years ago as many of the “cyclists” were busy trying to distance themselves from a fatal accident in which a man was killed crossing I-205 with his bicycle to get to the camp in the median that he lived in. Many didn’t want to consider him a “cyclist” causality because the circumstances of the incident and his life situation – which I found quite reprehensible.

Ted Buehler
Guest

gutterbunny wrote:
“kind of in-fighting with those in the bicycling community…”

I always like to use the phrase “the bicycling constituency.” Because people who ride bikes are made up of many communities, but they are one constituency…

Ted Buehler

gutterbunnybikes
Guest

I make no such distinctions, dude collecting bottles on his bike gets the same nod and wave from me as the guy riding fiber at a break neck pace (not that anyone ever nods or waves back- but oh well – says more about you than me).

It’s all one family, but like all families its composed of different personalities, and of course – even if you don’t like to admit it – you got your favorites and some you just don’t get along with.

Ted Timmons (Contributor)
Editor

9watts
we’re always holding bikey people to standards that exceed what the law requires while excusing driver behavior that fails to meet the law

Thanks. Well said.

9watts
Subscriber

Thanks, but credit for that goes to El Biciclero. He’s said it better and many times here. I look forward to any comments he may choose to post here in this thread.

David Lewis
Guest

As a culture, we are all victims of policies made by our parents and our grandparents that prioritized the automobile over all other means of transport. THEY left us with cities with no buildings but plenty of parking, neighborhoods with no sidewalks or bakeries and they turned the bicycle into a toy and pedestrians and bus riders into a lower class. THEY paved over the streetcar tracks. These are our ancestors, and these are people we’ll sit down with next week at Thanksgiving and break bread.

While we’re sitting together at the table, let’s reconcile. We’ll talk about not wanting a petrol-burning car in order to not support puritanical religious dictatorships in the Middle East, to put a timely context to it. We’ll talk about living near our jobs to not be stuck in traffic. We’ll talk about how we love our country, and how our country actually does love us too, and how we can both get better together.

Until our country experiences a sea change in its culture, reports such as the one described in this article will not change. I have hope, considering the civil rights transformations we are going through today that I would not have predicted ten years ago.

ethan
Guest
ethan

My mother is part of the generation that inherited car culture. However, she’s making an effort to drive less. Her work isn’t very transit accessible but she has gotten permission to do work from home.

She doesn’t bike at all, but I’d love for her to try an ebike. It would be a dun groceey getter for her I think. She can take back roads to a bunch of places.

Alan 1.0
Subscriber

Good answer to my question, David. Thank you.

J_R
Guest
J_R

I used to live in Eugene and rode that section of OR 99 on a number of occasions. It has a really wide shoulder – about 8 to 10 feet wide – and good sight lines.

I hope there is a thorough investigation by someone who’s not too biased against bicyclists and toward law enforcement personnel. I wonder if there’s a dash camera on the patrol car.

9watts
Subscriber

“I wonder if there’s a dash camera on the patrol car.”

Just like on the tow truck at Chavez and Gladstone… camera shows person-on-bike, but person behind the wheel says I didn’t see him/her, DA says O.K., I have no more questions.

TheRealisticOne
Guest
TheRealisticOne

My apologizes, my intentions don’t always come across well in type form. I talked about two issues in the same comment. First, and foremost…it’s a tragedy that this girl was killed, regardless of what she was wearing. I feel for her family and friends.

Second, I added my feelings about responsible cycling. I fear I diluted what was the real issue, someone died. I don’t want that to come across as blaming the victim.

Be safe out there

drew
Guest
drew

The bias is always to minimize the responsibility of the motorist. Report incriminating details about victim, while ignoring the inattentiveness of the driver. Call the incident an “accident”. A hundred years of social conditioning have created an an atmosphere of excusing us when we drive for an staggering amount of slaughter to our fellow citizens and damage to our society.

The social construct about this is like a concrete wall. It will come down eventually, chipped away at by astute observations like that by Mr Maus. Self driving vehicles may eventually prevail, and everybody will think of these times as the wild west, dominated by speeding appliances on public right of ways, filling hospitals, nursing homes and cemeteries with victims of car violence.

Meanwhile, I ride with bright dynamo lights always on, trouser reflective bands and vest, and a helmet. If nothing else, it could make my lawyers job easier if I get smacked by a distracted driver. I wish all bikes sold for riding on streets came with dynamo lights built in. It makes no sense to me to do to otherwise.

HJ
Guest
HJ

Coming from the perspective of having had to endure the agony of a death notification from the police here is my 2 cents.

I fully agree with Jonathan. Especially when the family notification hasn’t happened yet the police AND COMMENTERS really need to watch what they say. In my case I heard about my dad’s crash on the radio while out driving 2 hrs before we got the notification from the police. Thankfully the DJ had the sense to simply mention there was a bad crash involving a cyclist that had closed a road and where it was. I knew from the location it might be my father and believe me that was more than enough information to find out that way.
In this case we don’t know either. We know NOTHING about what the deputy was or wasn’t doing while driving. He may have been driving perfectly, he may have had his head in a cell phone. We just don’t know. The cyclist may have had a light when she started out that fell off before or in the crash. She may have been riding in the middle of the lane (not illegal) or (going from a previous comment about 10ft wide shoulders) may have been over by the edge of the pavement where a car really had no rational reason to go. We just don’t know. Don’t assign blame when there are next to no details available.
A few other things to keep in mind:

1. The police don’t tell the families much. We didn’t have any info about my dad’s death beyond what was in the news until we got the police report.

2. It takes forever to get the police report. In our case, it was at least 4 months. It feels like forever. It’s frustrating. You’re left wondering what happened, imagining every possible scenario. We mostly knew what my dad would have been doing but had no idea with the trucker. You’re unable to do anything but shrug your shoulders and/or cry when people ask what happened. You usually end up just sending them a link to a news article because it’s all you know.

3. The families end up reading the comments. Don’t for a minute think we don’t. Yes, we know better but no, you really can’t help yourself. You’re starved for information and find yourself scouring them just in the prayer that someone who might have one detail more than you might let it slip in a comment.

4. Short of the fact that your loved one is DEAD the worst part is people who try to place the blame on them without knowing all the facts. Even in my dad’s case (about as blatant a case of driver being at fault as you can get) there were the commenters saying what he should have done differently. They didn’t know the driver had admitted to the police that he saw my dad riding as he passed him seconds earlier. Because the police don’t publish anything like that. All they say is that someone was killed and the basic details, usually mentioning what the cyclist was doing but not anything about the driver’s actions short of the likes of did they stop. Please remember that the victim blaming comments stick with the family members. Unless you can really back it up beyond a shadow of a doubt just keep it to yourself. See point #3.

5. When the families make a statement, usually still in shock, people read way too much into it. Yes, we’re generally trying to get a message out, usually in about as plain of wording as exists. Yes, we will probably screw up and use the wrong words to describe the crash. A family member may very well use the word accident instead of collision or crash. Does that mean anything? Probably not. They’re probably just trying not to break down in a mess of tears in front of a camera. Don’t read into it and don’t harp on it in the comments. See point #3.

SD
Guest
SD

Thank you very much for sharing your perspective. It is essential to this conversation and many others that have taken place on bikeportland and beyond.

Kristi Finney Dunn
Guest
Kristi Finney Dunn

I’m so sorry for your family’s loss. As another person whose loved one (son) was also killed with absolutely no question that the driver was at fault, I can agree wholeheartedly with everything you said. I read, watched, listened to anything I could think of to figure out what happened. The Oregonian wrote that the officer in charge said “The deceased cyclist was not wearing a helmet” and the barely injured cyclist was. Dustin was hit straight on from the rear and ended up 175 feet from impact, the other rider was “clipped and just knocked down” (his words). The ME told me a helmet would have made NO difference. But Dustin was blamed by multiple sources.

I do believe it is prudent, respectful, and compassionate for officials to leave their opinions out of their statements until the facts are known. It’s more than that. I can’t help but think the statement in this case is decidedly prejudicial. I also question that the rider had no rear reflector. At our crash scene, I picked up bike parts, and I know definitely that large and/or identifying pieces of debris have been left behind at other scenes, like Henry Schmidt’s and Mike Cooley’s.

I don’t know what happened in this situation, but I hope they really do a thorough investigation of all possible factors.

I wish I knew before, when I was making major decisions, what I know now.

My heartfelt condolences to the family, and to the officer also.

Distracted driving?
Guest
Distracted driving?

Was the officer on his cell, radio or computer? Eugene has had distracted driving crashes by police in the past. I wonder if the OSP or EPD will honestly investigate a fellow officer for distracted driving. The time data was likely collected by the devices in the car, but will they bother to look?

Kevin
Subscriber
Kevin

I agree with Jonathan’s basic point. The initial report included select details that may or may not have contributed to the collision, such as the shade of her clothing and lack of a tail light. This certainly implies some level of fault on her part.

If they’re going to include this information, they should also have similar language regarding the driver and his vehicle. For example, “The patrol vehicle was equipped with an on-board computer with a 12″ backlit screen. The car also had a standard VHF radio. The officer had a personal cell phone in his possession at the time of the collision.”

Psyfalcon
Guest
Psyfalcon

If you hit a piece of wood in the dark, you were going to fast, or not paying attention. Same thing if you hit a pile of dirt that fell out of a dump truck, washed down the hillside (landslide- we have quite a few of those).

Other unlit things you might wish to avoid. Deer, Elk, Bears, and Sasquatch. Why are humans any different? Don’t hit things.

Yes, I can wear bright things, and it might help me, personally, but the onus is still on the car driver to not hit or run over things.

Dead Salmon
Guest
Dead Salmon

Legally the onus will never be on the driver if the object is something that a reasonable person knows he could not see. A cyclist without lights and wearing dark clothes, falls into that category.

Paul
Guest
Paul

Although it may not be PC for the OSP’s press release to “suggest” that the bicyclist’s actions may have contributed to her own demise, since the original report is the only one most will see in the media, I think it’s a useful “public service announcement” that riding a bike at night without a taillight can be hazardous to your health.
The State Legislature needs to get to work writing a statute “requiring” rear lighting on bikes.

Ted Timmons (Contributor)
Editor

Wouldn’t it be helpful if the press release also included a PSA about distracted driving?

9watts
Guest
9watts

“I think it’s a useful ‘public service announcement’ that riding a bike at night without a taillight can be hazardous to your health.”

Interesting. And how does this work exactly? Are there any other things required for this hazard to manifest itself?

In traffic generally, we’ve learned here, when someone rams into someone else from behind the rammer is considered responsible. It is thought that—as a rule—they could and should have been paying better attention. Why do we (apparently) make this South Dakota sized exception when the ramee is someone on a bike?

Dead Salmon
Guest
Dead Salmon

There are commercials on the radio regularly reminding drivers to look out for peds and bikes; they also remind cyclists to use lights and wear reflective clothing to help drivers to see them. They are played on some of the AM talk radio stations here in Portland; but those are mostly conservative stations so my guess is that most people reading this post don’t hear them. AM frequencies: 860, 970, 1190, 1360 – maybe FM 101.1 also.

I don’t listen to NPR, but they may have the same commercials.

Pete
Guest
Pete

“The State Legislature needs to get to work writing a statute “requiring” rear lighting on bikes.”

Haven’t we heard this before?

https://olis.leg.state.or.us/liz/2015R1/Measures/Overview/hb3255

http://bikeportland.org/2015/05/14/legislative-update-dead-red-passes-rear-light-bill-might-not-143231

I’m willing to bet more storefronts get hit by cars than bicyclists without taillights. Certainly more pedestrians do!

http://www.storefrontsafety.org

e2pii
Guest
e2pii

Careless police officers driving cars can also kill other people in cars. This very sad case reminds me a lot of another very sad case, in which one of my students was killed in a car a year and a half ago.

http://www.gazettetimes.com/news/local/off-duty-benton-deputy-cleared-in-feb-fatal-crash/article_75aa3d68-d6e2-11e3-980f-0019bb2963f4.html

We need a shift of people being more careful when they’re driving. If people driving a car don’t see/don’t pay attention to the relative position of an SUV in front of them, what hope does a bicycle have– blinky light or not?

9watts
Guest
9watts

That is pretty eyeopening. Thanks for the link (quotes below are from the newsreport):

“Cooper told investigators that Schlundt’s vehicle was a half mile or more ahead of him when he looked down to adjust the volume of his radio, according to the investigation […] When Cooper looked up, he said, he saw the rear of Schlundt’s vehicle, and he slammed on the brakes.”

“The investigation showed that only one of the six bulbs installed as the rear lighting of Schlundt’s vehicle was definitively lit at the time of the crash, which occurred at 7:05 p.m., about 90 minutes after the sun had set.”

He saw the car; he didn’t see the car… !? Why for the umpteenth time is this not prima facie ‘driving too fast for conditions’?

and then this:

“There was no evidence to support that Cooper was under the influence of drugs or alcohol, that he was sleep-deprived or that he had been using his cellphone around the time of the crash, Wynhausen said in his letter to Haroldson.”

So if he’s not drowsy (how would you know after the fact!?), no drugs or booze (did he undergo any testing?), no cellphone use, everything’s fine? Why are those the only three criteria, especially when only two can as far as I know be tested for?

Driving 6mph over the limit doesn’t count, see.

realworld
Guest
realworld

So lets just do the math here; half a mile = roughly 2600 feet. A car traveling at 60 mph covers 80 feet per second.

Assuming it takes about 3 (5 max) seconds to “look down to adjust your radio” which any sane person wouldn’t take longer than 3 to 5 seconds before looking up again… right?!

So this guy was either traveling at 5 times faster (safely assume 5 secs = 520 mph) than the speed limit to close the gap of a half mile or he was actually much closer and totally distracted that he lied in such an exaggerated way (and they took his word for it) that he new “the authorities” wouldn’t question his “details”.

Wow! people really can get away with murder behind the wheel of a car!

Dead Salmon
Guest
Dead Salmon

Blinky light helps. If it’s bright it can attract the attention of distracted drivers – and would have done so in this case. Very few drivers want to hit a ped or cyclist – I suspect that for most folks life becomes a living hell after that happens. They have unwanted legal issues, financial issues, guilt issues for the victim and their families, etc, and who wants to try to explain what happened to everyone you know and be accused by all the cyclists that you are a bad person. Be visible. Make this type of accident more rare.

9watts
Subscriber

“If it’s bright it can attract the attention of distracted drivers – and would have done so in this case.”

How can you possibly know this?

And why naturalize distracted driving to the extent that it is now our responsibility to make up for it with extra precautions?! And if we don’t, well, then I guess we had it coming?

still riding after all that
Guest
still riding after all that

After reading this far, I typed “cyclist killed lane county deputy” into Google and found some links to news articles. Here is one:

http://www.kezi.com/news/Lane_County_Sheriffs_Deputy_Hits__Kills_Bicyclist_.html

I find the comments about the driver (deputy) leaving the scene to be of concern. I do not know if the deputy was responding to an emergency call at the time.

When I ride at night, I wear bright colors and use lights front and rear, to a greater extent than the law requires. I wasn’t there, I didn’t see it happen, and I don’t know who was at fault, but this whole incident makes me sad.

Eric Leifsdad
Guest
Eric Leifsdad

Amazing. No mention of speeds. Definitely driving beyond visibility and reaction. A stationary rock or crossing bear would almost certainly be less apparent and have a higher closing speed (vs e.g. biking 10 mph away from traffic.)

Dead Salmon
Guest
Dead Salmon

FACT: If the bear had a flashing light on his tail he’d probably be safe.

Dead Salmon
Guest
Dead Salmon

Assuming the bear was traveling with traffic like the cyclist was.

Dan A
Subscriber
Dan A

What makes it a ‘fact’ that he would ‘probably be safe’? Did you see the other story linked, where another deputy plowed into a Chevy Blazer in the middle of the road? He had seen the Blazer from a half mile away, then fiddled with his radio for an unknown amount of time, then looked up and saw the Blazer briefly before crashing into it.

http://www.gazettetimes.com/news/local/off-duty-benton-deputy-cleared-in-feb-fatal-crash/article_75aa3d68-d6e2-11e3-980f-0019bb2963f4.html

We have NO IDEA what this deputy was up to in his car when he ran the cyclist over.

Dan A
Subscriber
Dan A

This story wraps up with a recap of 815.280:

http://kval.com/news/local/state-police-bicyclist-hit-killed-by-lane-county-sheriffs-deputy

“Oregon Revised Statute 815.280 says bicyclists must have a light or reflector. “The lighting equipment must have a red reflector or lighting device or material of such size or characteristic and so mounted as to be visible from all distances up to 600 feet to the rear when directly in front of lawful lower beams of headlights on a motor vehicle.””

Why not also (or instead) a recap of 811.100?

“A person commits the offense of violating the basic speed rule if the person drives a vehicle upon a highway at a speed greater than is reasonable and prudent, having due regard to all of the following:
(a) The traffic.
(b) The surface and width of the highway.
(c) The hazard at intersections.
(d) Weather.
(e) Visibility.
(f) Any other conditions then existing.”

9watts
Subscriber

Bingo!

JF
Guest
JF

So the cyclist was riding in the middle of the road, close to the center divider, according to the most recent reports. Driving in the middle of the road at night with no rear lights. And it is the car’s fault.

Paul Cone
Guest
Paul Cone

Link to those “most recent reports” please.

Pat Lowell
Guest
Dan A
Subscriber
Dan A

Good, we have a report on everything the police believe the cyclist was doing wrong. That’s HALF a report.

El Biciclero
Guest
El Biciclero

I don’t know what everybody’s nuanced concept of “victim-blaming” is, but I like the characterization given by a few commenters above, essentially: yes, there may have been things the victim could have done differently to compensate for the known deficiencies of most drivers, but why do these reports seem to focus solely on those extra-legal things the victim could have done, omitting any mention of what the driver might have done differently?

For instance, when I’m driving on a dark road with low traffic and two lanes in the same direction, I’ll favor the inside lane, just in case there might be someone riding a bike in or near, or walking near, the outside lane. I tend to drive slower when I can’t see well due to darkness, rain, fog, sun glare, etc. I like to keep my windshield clean to reduce sun glare and other issues. I try to include the edges of visibility (either due to headlight fall-off or roadside obstructions/curves) in my scanning in an attempt to make sure nothing might enter my path ahead. My radio is kind of busted, so I don’t fiddle with that much, and I don’t generally carry my phone in the car, and wouldn’t answer it if I were and it happened to ring in my pocket.

What the officer was doing, why he was driving in the outside lane, how fast he was going, whether his headlights were properly adjusted, none of those things get any air time when reporting on this kind of crash. Further, let’s imagine this now lost-to-us young lady had been using a rear light, and was hit all the same; the report would still mention that she appeared to be in the right travel lane rather than the shoulder, but would likely still not mention driver behaviors or position. Suppose she had been using a rear light and traveling on the shoulder. Reports would probably focus on how close to the travel lane she was, perhaps surmising she must have “drifted” into the travel lane, and would likely still not mention any driver behavior that was contributory. In the latter case, there might be some quote about how State highways like Highway 99 are “so dangerous” to ride on—especially at night—implying that the victim chose to put herself in danger.

Here’s why this is, in my opinion: The majority of people are drivers, and the majority of drivers have a) been surprised by something they suddenly noticed, even though it was right there all along, b) “drifted” from their lane/onto the shoulder, c) driven on ahead at speed into fog, sun glare, around “blind” corners, or into other low-visibility conditions assuming the road would be clear. These behaviors cannot be allowed to become grounds for serious punishment in the event of an adverse outcome, because almost every driver would be subject to such punishment whenever there was a crash. So what we have done is assume all drivers will do a, b, and c above, to the point that it is normal and acceptable (well, I guess it is normal, if “everybody” does it), and if ever there is a crash resulting from one of a, b, or c, we have found a way to remove blame from the driver and place it on the victim. “Everybody” knows it’s “insane” (BTW, out of respect to the victim’s family, we might not want to cast aspersions on her mental capacity by describing what she was doing as “insane”) to ride at night with only a rear reflector. “Everybody” knows that bicyclists shouldn’t expect drivers to see them when they are “riding 5 mph around a blind corner”. It’s “common sense(TM)” to stay off busy streets, or off the road altogether at night (at least after 1am) and to always wear your helmet and dress in hi-viz or with reflective vests and wear 6 lights (front and back) and be prepared to stop at every instant and to yield to everyone so they don’t kill you especially if they have a turn signal on and to ALWAYS stop at every stop sign and never exceed 15 mph or ride “in the middle of traffic” or ride outside the bike lane or ride in the bike lane or pass cars on the right cuz if you do, you’re asking for it. Also, regarding riding a bike in certain conditions, most drivers tend to think “I would never do that”, therefore, anyone who does “do that” has questionable judgment.

The way we have made all of this driver absolution palatable, without overtly declaring open season on all pedestrians and bicyclists, is to pick out a few driver behaviors that have not been experienced by the majority, so that even the majority of drivers can see fit to blame a minority of drivers for something that they themselves “would never do”. That list of behaviors appears to be as follows:
1. Driving drunk or under the influence of something.
2. Hit & run.
3. Driving at least double the speed limit.

Dan A
Subscriber
Dan A

Comment of the month.

9watts
Guest
9watts

I’ll say.

Andy K
Guest
Andy K

El Biciclero’s comment further illustrates why cyclists make the best drivers.

Kristi Finney Dunn
Guest
Kristi Finney Dunn

It has been my experience that it is not uncommon for other drivers to actually feel sympathy for those who hit and run and/or drive impaired. They can understand “the panic” of hit and run and think “I’ve done it myself” about impaired driving. I have done 100s of DUII victim impact panels and the vast majority of attendees comment they’d never thought of the dangers before, they didn’t know it could hurt so many people. It’s also hurtful to hear people joke “You were so drunk, I didn’t think you’d make it home” or something similar. When we speak up, we’re told we’re no fun, they were just joking, get over it, etc. I’m not saying this is everybody, but way too many.

El Biciclero
Guest
El Biciclero

Indeed. It is the sympathy aspect of one driver for another that keeps us in this state of “needing” to declare that vulnerable victims of motorized traffic crashes had no business being where/doing what they were doing. “Don’t they know that’s dangerous?” “That guy is crazy!” Etc.

Now, there wouldn’t necessarily be anything wrong with sympathy, IF (huge “if”), it came along with an acknowledgment of responsibility. As much as I try to be the most conscientious driver I can possibly be, I have to be willing to admit that if I cause a crash (e.g., run over a VRU) due to some risky behavior on my part—drinking soda, yelling at kids, fiddling with a radio, trying to dart into a narrow traffic gap without full visibility, whatever it may be—it is my fault. I don’t think we can criminalize (or “infractionalize”) every last driver behavior that might introduce more risk onto the roads, but we have to acknowledge and hold drivers responsible for (in a meaningful way) crashes that result from risky behavior, regardless of how “harmless” most people think that risky behavior was.

Rather than hear about how foolish pedestrians and bicyclists are to travel at night without bright lights and reflectors, I’d like to see a comments section that picks apart driver behavior in the same way…

[begin dream sequence]

“I don’t care how interesting it was, any driver who tries to rubberneck while they are moving is insane.” —Pikov Andropov

“All drivers should have to pass a background check and mental evaluation before getting a license or a car. Until that happens, they won’t get any respect from me!”—Hugh Jass

“The driver drifted over the fog line? Anybody who can’t stay in their lane shouldn’t be driving a car.” —Veronica Lizzioncourse

“Yeah, well, it might be perfectly legal to drink coffee while you’re driving, but common sense says you’re asking for trouble if you do.” —Vera Bruptly

“If the driver wasn’t wearing proper eyewear, they’re just begging to crash into something. Probably had a dirty windshield, too!” —Denton Fender

[end dream sequence]

mark
Guest
mark

So, am I getting this right? The cyclist was riding in the slow lane of a highway, at night and was hit by a car moving at or above the speed limit of 55?

If that’s true, that part should be the story. All the other stuff isn’t relevant. I dunno..seems like riding on a highway at night on a bike is one of the riskier things to be doing.

Dan A
Subscriber
Dan A

And driving a car at night is dangerous to others. I’m not sure people are aware of that.

mark
Guest
mark

I am sorry..but it doesn’t really work like that. We live in a land of laws and hopefully some common sense. No jury would convict..UNLESS the driver was drunk or high. At some point, cyclists need to call out uber dangerous behavior.

Cars are mandated by Federal law to have two bright headlights and two bright tail lights. So..sure..if a cyclist wants to bike down a dark highway, they should have the same. Right?

I am drawing the line on this one. All for cycling everywhere and on all roads..but you have to be smart about it.

Pete
Guest
Pete

…and yet the law still doesn’t prevent some people from driving around without their lights on, not replacing burnt out bulbs, and not using turn signals. Years ago cars were also required to pass periodic equipment inspections, but the industry made sure those barriers to entry got removed.

Look, equipment mandates for safety are one thing, but none of us were actually there, and all we have is the statement from the person who hit the bicyclist. None of us can speculate what actually happened, much less use it as a rallying cry for blanket ‘safety’ legislation (see above).

The OP is on the verbiage of the press release, which, again, does not disclose any details about the police officer’s movement or behavior yet lists all of the things that the bicyclist has done ‘wrong’, some of which are actually legal (even if viewed as foolish). Totally agree that “you have to be smart about it,” but all we have as evidence that ‘smart’ wasn’t in play is a biased statement.

Ted Timmons (Contributor)
Editor

cars have three rear-view mirrors, so bikes should too.

don’t forget about rollover protection.

Alan 1.0
Guest
Alan 1.0
El Biciclero
Guest
El Biciclero

“don’t forget about rollover protection.”

Coulda used some of that last time I crashed…

Guy
Guest
Guy

After reading some of the comments I have a question? Does anyone know what that area is like? I live in Eugene, that road is a four lane highway (55mph) with at least 10 Ft of shoulder, the lighting is not that good and there are small shops along there. I’m not going to judge what happened, I was not there. I ride at night a lot during that winter months with good lights (both front and rear) and reflective or neon colors, but I avoid that area even during daylight. We will never know exactly how it happened but on this I will probably side with the Sheriff.