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The latest on two separate injury bicycle crashes in North Portland

Posted by on March 31st, 2016 at 4:08 pm


Brian Duncan was seriously injured while trying to cross Rosa Parks at Delaware last night. This is the view looking westbound just before the intersection.
(Photo: J. Maus/BikePortland)

Since Sunday night we’ve been following two crashes that involve people who were riding bicycles in north Portland. The first happened late Sunday night (3/27) at North Lombard and Jordan Avenue. The most recent one happened just last night on North Rosa Parks Way at Delaware. Here’s the latest information we have on both of them…

Several readers contacted us Sunday night after seeing a posting on Nextdoor about a hit-and-run just after 10:00 pm near Darcy’s Cafe on Lombard (map). People were posting about a man that was hit and seriously injured by someone driving a blue Honda who then “backed up and sped away from the scene.” However, according to Portland Police Bureau spokesman Sgt. Pete Simpson, that might not be what happened.

Simpson confirmed with us today that there was indeed a man who was biking and had been injured when officers arrived. He was ultimately transported to the hospital with “non-life-threatening injuries to his hands and a cheek.” How he got that way is unknown at this time. Simpson says officers who talked to people in the area could not confirm he was hit by anyone and that he appeared to have fallen on his own. “Officers noted that the bicycle rider smelled strongly of alcoholic beverage and had slurred speech,” Simpson wrote in an email to BikePortland. “Several people in the area said that they did not see him hit by anyone, only that he was down on the ground. His bicycle did not have any damage consistent with being hit by a driver. The bicycle rider, 48-year-old Timothy Malone, said he’d been drinking at a bar and didn’t remember anything else.”

“Based on the investigation,” Simpson wrote, “officers do not believe he was hit by a driver and that he likely crashed due to his intoxication.”

Lombard in this section is a state highway (30) that has five lanes: two auto parking lanes, two standard lanes and a center turn lane. Here’s the streetview looking toward Jordan:


View eastbound on Lombard at Jordan.


The other crash happened last night at around 7:20 pm in the intersection of Rosa Parks and Delaware (map). Police say 36-year-old Brian Duncan of North Portland was crossing N Delaware in the crosswalk and with a green light when he was struck. The person who drove their car into him is 84-year-old Louis Hellbusch, also of North Portland. Here’s the official statement from police:

“Officers learned that Hellbusch was driving a white 2005 Mercury Marquis westbound on North Rosa Parks Way approaching Delaware Avenue and a red light. Hellbusch continued driving and failed to stop for the red light, striking Duncan in the crosswalk.”

As is standard practice, the police did not issue any citations or make an arrest at the scene because the investigation is ongoing and the case is in the hands of the Multnomah County District Attorney’s Office. Once the DA has determined whether or not there is any criminal wrongdoing on the part of Hellbusch, they will return the case to the police so they can decide whether or not to cite. We are also in touch with Duncan’s brother-in-law who says he’s in stable condition “but his injuries are severe.”

Rosa Parks in this location has seven lanes: two parking lanes, two bike lanes, two standard lanes and a center turn lane. It’s a major east-west thoroughfare in the area for both cycling and driving. The intersection with Delaware is very well-marked because it’s in a school zone. There are signals, zebra-striped crosswalks, and caution signage prior to the intersection. I visited the site this morning to take a closer look. Below is the view Duncan would have had, looking southbound on Delaware at Rosa Parks:


Southbound on Delaware at Rosa Parks, the direction Duncan was traveling prior to the collision.

Pieces of Mr. Hellbusch’s grill are still littering the roadway in the northwest corner of the intersection:


Stay tuned for any further updates.

— Jonathan Maus, (503) 706-8804 –

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45 thoughts on “The latest on two separate injury bicycle crashes in North Portland”

  1. Avatar El Biciclero says:

    Westbound at 7:20 pm? Sounds like our favorite yellow dwarf has a good chance of being blamed…again.

    1. Avatar BB says:

      Your favorite yellow dwarf anyway. :\

      1. Avatar El Biciclero says:

        Well, I don’t really know any others.

    2. Avatar Jason 2 says:

      Good chance it was a contributing cause for sure.

  2. Avatar Christopher Jones says:

    I live at this intersection. It’s not uncommon for cars on N Rosa Parks to continue through the red light. As Jonathan said, this intersection regularly see kids and their families crossing on their way to Chief Joseph, a block north. In five years, I have never seen traffic enforcement on this street.

    I’m really sorry for Brian. Is there any update on how he’s doing?

    1. Hi Christopher,

      I live in the neighborhood too.

      I was amazed this morning at how many people were using bikes in this area. A steady trickle for sure. I really think PBOT needs to step up and improve the bike lane on rosa parks. It could be a great east-west connection between the Michigan and Williams bikeways to the bikeways on the Bluff and Willamette (don’t get me started about Willamette) and Concord.

      1. Avatar Christopher Jones says:

        There’s a definite gap in a calm east-west connection from the Williams bikeway over to N Willamette.

        For what it’s worth, an officer I spoke with last night on the scene commented on N Rosa Park’s width being a factor in how unsafe it is. He mentioned that tighter spaces tend to calm traffic, and that seems obviously true. Your comment about the seven lane width gets right to that point. Perhaps removing the center turn lane and adding street trees would help?

        1. Avatar B. Carfree says:

          Maybe the cop’s department could slow the traffic down right now by enforcing the speed limit, complete with a bit of basic speed law work, instead of passing the buck to PBOT.

          1. Avatar rachel b says:

            YES. It mystifies me why this obvious, practical solution is like some kind of an elusive unicorn in Portland.

          2. Avatar Eric Leifsdad says:

            Speeding tickets are unpopular because numbers are seen as a grey area by the justice system. They could perhaps allow the stop sign and the lane lines as sharper boundaries. Turn signals and that 100ft thing might also be considered subjective.

            1. Avatar J_R says:

              The only gray area relating to speed enforcement is whether the cops and the courts give a 5 or 10 or 20 mph “cushion” before they give a citation. Even if the cops stopped drivers for speeding and gave them a verbal warning, it would likely have some impact on excessive speeds.

              On the other hand, they give a 1 mph allowance to bicyclists for rolling through a stop sign at Ladd’s Addition. By the way, I stop at stop signs, especially in Ladd’s Addition where they should be replaced by yield signs.

        2. Avatar J.E. says:

          Protecting the bike lane might provide such a visual narrowing. I imagine the street would look a lot narrower if plastic wands separated the vehicle and bike lanes. As we’ve seen lately, even orange traffic cones work surprisingly well at making drivers re-evaluate their physical positioning on a road.

    2. Avatar Sarah says:

      Hi Christopher,
      Brian is still in the hospital, 15 days later. His wife is a beloved art teacher at my children’s school. She is blogging here. I am sure this little family would take all the support they can get from the biking community in Portland.

      1. Avatar are says:

        thanks for the link. that is some pretty hard reading. i hope everything works out okay for this family.

        in her blog, hanne mentions the ride of silence. i don’t know if anyone is still carrying the ball for this in portland, but stuff like this is a reminder why the ride matters.

        1. Avatar mh says:

          That comment is from someone who took the initiative to lead the Ride of Silence for years.

  3. Avatar Tom Hardy says:

    Strange about no citations being issued for nearly anything anymore.
    About 16 years back My son who was over 21 and a student was being a sober driver for 3 friends going home from a pub in Ashland. They left the pub and 2 blocks later the police pulled him over (not his car). The policeman issued him, the sober one, a $1500+ ticket for no insurance because he couldn’t arrest the other rider’s a ticket for drunk driving.
    It wound up costing my son over $3,000 to get back out of jail but, the situation became pretty desperate when he could not get a job because of the citation. The local public defender was no help either.
    BTW He is an extremely good driver. That is his one and only ticket.

    1. Avatar El Biciclero says:

      That is one vengeful cop. If anything, the owner of the vehicle should be cited for failing to have insurance, and really? No “discretion” in acknowledgment that they all were doing the right thing in letting the sober one drive the car? That story makes me angry.

      1. Avatar F says:

        It’s one side of a story obviously missing pieces.. You don’t go to jail for no insurance for one. And, it’s the responsibility of the person operating the vehicle to be sure that it is legal, with working lights, seatbelts, insurance, etc.. The owner of the vehicle, whether they be intoxicated or elsewhere, is not responsible.

        1. Avatar El Biciclero says:

          True enough. I guess stories where somebody’s life is this negatively impacted—for seemingly attempting to do the right thing—get me riled up. Especially in the face of other stories where someone who destroys a life gets a comparative wrist-slap.

          I know there are lots and lots of reasonable police officers out there, but I have encountered the high authoritarian, heavy-handed attitude of individual officers myself, so I can believe the punishment far outweighed the “crime”, regardless of what elements might be missing from this account.

  4. Avatar Paul Atkinson says:

    Really getting tired of #VisionZero being closer to #VisionZeroEnforcement.

    While infrastructure fixes are important, they’ll take time. Meanwhile we *could* start holding people accountable who fail to deal well with reasonable parts of the existing infrastructure.

  5. John Liu John Liu says:

    That’s bizarre. Not even a citation for running a red light?

    1. Avatar El Biciclero says:

      I’m sure that will happen, but somehow it sounds like if police issue a citation right away, then the driver would be mysteriously immune to prosecution for anything else, such as careless driving with injury to a VRU. Can anyone else explain why the police must wait to issue citations?

      1. TonyT TonyT says:

        I have read that it’s because the DA might want to pursue a more all-encompassing charge and the smaller citation, which would be covered within the larger charge, can become a problem.

        1. TonyT TonyT says:

          But I ain’t a lawyer.

        2. You’re right. If the cop issues a citation the defendant could plead guilty to the charge really quick and then double jeopardy would come into play if the DA wanted to charge a crime based on the same facts and incident.

          1. Avatar Robert Reid says:

            Actually no: double jeopardy applies only if both charges are criminal, and even then there are exceptions. Running a red light is a non-criminal infraction, so jeopardy does not attach even with a conviction for the infraction. The real answer is that the cops care more about traffic flow than enforcement. But the real problem is the gutless DA’s office doesn’t want to prosecute people for driving crimes unless there is clear intoxication involved, whether death results or not. The reason? They’re afraid of losing with a jury comprised of drivers who think “it could’ve been me” with the sun in my eyes.” The DA’s office has long ignored pedestrian and cyclist deaths and will continue to do so as long as we are considered lower-class citizens.

      2. Avatar J_R says:

        The “soda choke” driver who killed someone didn’t get even get a citation, did he?

  6. Avatar rachel b says:

    I second Tom, Paul & John. Enforce the laws, already! Simple as that! Human behavior turns to rot without accountability. As we here daily witness.

    1. Avatar rachel b says:

      (…and by “here” I didn’t mean bikeportland! I meant just Portland)

  7. Avatar B. Carfree says:

    Eighty-four years old and still driving. Ouch! I know a lot of people in their eighties. Not a one of them should be behind the wheel. They don’t know what they’re not seeing and have no idea how much their reactions, mental and physical, have slowed.

    I’m not even sixty yet and I can perceive reduced visual acuity, slower processing and slower reactions in all aspects of my life so I assume these things would carry over to driving.

    Now the real test for this gentleman: Will he continue to drive even though he ran a red light and hit a cyclist who was right in front of him? While it would have been much better if he would have realized the risk he poses to others before this incident, will he at least take this to heart and do the right thing? I doubt it, but stranger things have happened.

    1. Avatar Jason 2 says:

      Perhaps they should be limited to hours when the sun will be less likely to blind them (2 hours after sunrise to 2 hours before sunset) and probably not allowed to drive after dark. However the sun can blind anyone of any age, or make a traffic light impossible to see.

      But you can’t make generalizations about everyone – some are probably better drivers at 80 than many, perhaps most, 18-25 year-olds.

      To prevent being unfair to those who are good drivers, perhaps they should have to take a driving test every year after age 80. If they do OK, no restrictions.

      1. Avatar Dan A says:

        Sounds so familiar. I wonder what happened with this case (at the time, no charges were filed and the investigation was ongoing):

    2. Anne Hawley Anne Hawley says:

      While I agree (and have stopped driving myself, at least in part because I could see my reflexes and visual acuity slipping), the reason people this age are still driving is because they have very little choice.

      I know I don’t need to point that out – and I’m not defending the guy. Just, the obvious statement about Motordom leaving so few choices to so many people.

      1. Adam H. Adam H. says:

        This is why walkable communities are so important. We all (especially seniors and people with disabilities) need alternatives to driving. Aging in place is much easier when everything you need is within a 20 minute walk from home.

        1. Avatar Jason 2 says:

          A 20 minute walk for an 80 year old may not be very far.

    3. Avatar wsbob says:

      I wonder if many people will be reviewing this story after its mention, with a link, on a related bikeportland story posted today, Feb 3, 2017.

      84 years old does not necessarily mean a person of that age is an incompetent or bad driver. I know this is true, because I personally know someone of that age that is a very good driver…far better than many people of much younger age. This being the case, is why, I feel it’s very important not to jump to conclusions about the fitness of a person to drive, based simply on their age.

      There was a collision…what was the level of fitness to operate a vehicle, of all parties involved in the the collision, and that were operating some type of vehicle? In this collision, the person driving a motor vehicle, failed to stop for a red light; Why? There’s got to be more of a reason for the person having failed to stop for the red light, than simply that they were “….84 years old…”.

      It’s occurred to me in past, numerous times, that perhaps in the event of involvement as a vehicle operator in any serious collision, or major failure on the part of some vehicle operator to comply with road use regulations…maybe for such persons, a medical exam to asses fitness to operate a vehicle on the road ought to be mandatory.

  8. Avatar SilkySlim says:

    That final photo!!! Best shot in a while, which is saying alot about an incredible (photo)journalist.

    1. Anne Hawley Anne Hawley says:

      Thanks for mentioning this. I’ve become so used to the level of excellence in the photography and journalism on BikePortland that I don’t call it out often enough. That’s a stunning photo on its own, and doubly so because of the timing and investigative spirit it represents.

  9. Avatar Buzz says:

    So was Duncan on a bike or a ped? story isn’t clear on that.

  10. Avatar Peter says:

    I used to watch cars blow through this red all the time:,-122.6080691,3a,75y,56.23h,87.9t/data=!3m6!1e1!3m4!1spP7MTLb8qu5L88wjpBHHLg!2e0!7i13312!8i6656

    Probably better now that they added backing to the lights, but still…

  11. Avatar Emily says:

    This intersection and its evil twin (N Delaware and N Lombard) are part of my family’s daily commute. I have seen the red blown thru enough that I wait for cars to stop, or at least look like they are slowing down for the light, before I move into the intersection. When kids walk home we tell them to do the same. It’s can be pretty scary to cross these intersections at certain times of day.

  12. Avatar ac says:

    In SW yesterday, a cyclist was injured in a collision with a volvo on SW Barbur near SW 30th in front of the Les Schwab and taken away by ambulance around 2pm. I was picking up my vehicle at the LS and much of the entry was blocked by emergency vehicles.

    1. Avatar Dan A says:

      Volvo drivers frighten me. Just my own anecdotal experience.

  13. Avatar Angel says:

    Ironically, I use Rosa Parks as a safer alternative to Lombard.

  14. Avatar Nancy Hedrick says:

    I’m a 64 year old who drives (& occasionally bikes) thru this intersection going east on R Parks to the store. This light isn’t activated that often, so I experience a bit of surprise (& maybe a bit of delay in response) when the crosswalk light is activated. Safety could perhaps be improved with flashing lights like the crosswalk on Barbur Blvd (near Hamilton) activates when someone wants to cross the four lanes there. Considering that comments above indicate that poor driver habits aren’t that uncommon at that intersection, then an improvement of some sort seems warranted.

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