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Sheriff’s office blames deceased victim in early morning collision near Stayton

Posted by on October 13th, 2016 at 10:15 am

The scene on Shaff Road SE near Stayton this morning.(Photo: Marion County Sheriff's Office)

The scene on Shaff Road SE near Stayton this morning.
(Photo: Marion County Sheriff’s Office)

A person was killed this morning while bicycling on a rural road just east of Stayton, a small town about sixty miles south of Portland.

We don’t always cover fatal bicycle collisions so far away from the Portland metro area; but the statement about this one just released by the Marion County Sheriff’s Office deserves a closer look. The language used in the statement shows how far Oregon law enforcement agencies have to go to create a culture around traffic deaths that is in line with Vision Zero principles.

According to the Marion County Sheriff’s office, the collision occurred when someone driving a motor vehicle hit a bicycle rider from behind. Read their official statement (released just two and-a-half hours after the collision) and think about how the language paints the relative culpability of each party:

Around 6:30 a.m., this morning, deputies with the Marion County Sheriff’s Office were called to a vehicle versus bicyclist crash on Shaff Road SE near Rainwater Road SE near Stayton. When deputies arrived they found a single vehicle had struck a bicyclist killing the cyclist instantly.

Early indications show that the cyclist was traveling east on Shaff Road when an eastbound minivan struck the bicycle. The area the crash took place has very little shoulder and no lighting. At the time of the crash it was dark, rainy and the cyclist was wearing dark clothing and no light on the bicycle.

The driver of the vehicle remained on the scene and is cooperating with investigators. Identities of the involved will be released once the appropriate notifications have been made. Shaff Road was closed for 2 hours while investigators processed the scene, Shaff Road has now reopened for regular traffic.

When this information is absorbed by the public via the local media — most of whom simply reprint these statements verbatim without telling the audience they’re doing so — what do you think the takeaways are?

The Sheriff’s Office statement goes out of its way to make excuses for the auto user and creates the perception that the bicycle user was acting irresponsibly. A culture where driving is the dominant paradigm interprets a statement like this as something like, “Well, that bicyclist had it coming. They really ought to stay off those dangerous roads.”

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Let’s be clear: There is no Oregon law against riding in the dark, riding in the rain, riding to the left of the fog line (especially when there’s no shoulder to ride in), or wearing dark clothing. Oregon law also says you don’t need a rear light (only a rear reflector). Despite the fact that the bicycle rider appears to have been operating legally on the roadway, this statement unfairly creates an aura of guilt around one party while creating sympathy for the other.

This orientation of supportive language around the person operating the motor vehicle, combined with the tone of blame used to describe the actions of a potentially innocent bicycle user who can no longer speak for themselves, is all too common.

Meanwhile, the person who was operating their vehicle in such a way that it collided with another road user and caused their death, is portrayed as being a good citizen who, “remained at on the scene and is cooperating” — actions that are not only required by Oregon law but are potentially felony criminal offenses if not obeyed. Furthermore, in this case the person driving the car had much more legal responsibility to begin with because they decided to overtake a vulnerable road user, not to mention the greater moral responsibility that comes with operating a vehicle that’s so easily capable of killing another person.

Given all that, why does the Sheriff’s statement not mention whether or not the auto user was distracted? Or whether or not their windshield wipers were turned on and working effectively? And why no mention of Oregon’s safe passing law that requires people to give bicycle riders plenty of space when overtaking them? Why no language about whether or not the auto user was going a safe speed given that it was dark, rainy, and there was no shoulder for a bicycle rider to use? Was the driver using the car’s headlights?

If Oregon is serious about vision zero, law enforcement agencies need to get a lot more perspective and sensitivity around these issues. Language is powerful and it shapes our culture — the same culture that informs the behaviors of road users and the people who design and patrol them. Police agencies must stop assigning blame in media statements. Stick to the facts known and leave other speculative assumptions out of it — especially when those assumptions are the result of inherent bias in favor of one type of road user and against another.

This is the 379th person to die while using Oregon roads so far this year, a total that’s nearly nine percent higher than the 348 people who had died by this date in 2015.

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

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282 Comments
  • Avatar
    Lester Burnham October 13, 2016 at 10:28 am

    Nobody likes to hear these stories, but you sound like you want the cyclist to have no responsibility whatsoever.

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      Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) October 13, 2016 at 10:31 am

      That’s not what I’m doing at all Lester and I’m sorry if that’s how you hear my words. Both parties have responsibilities. Obviously. That’s not what this is about. This is about the common practice of law enforcement agencies sympathizing with one type of road user and not being careful enough with how their statements assign blame to other road users.

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        David October 13, 2016 at 10:53 am

        Another thing worth mentioning perhaps in your paragraph that begins, “Given all that…” is that since there was a crash, the person in the car obviously broke the law requiring a safe distance when passing a cyclist.

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          Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) October 13, 2016 at 11:24 am

          yes. Thanks David. I thought I added that. Will do so now.

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            Garrett Bronson October 19, 2016 at 1:47 pm

            Who are you to think you can talk about business that isn’t yours how would you feel if you had to roll over a dead person just to see if there alive having someones head smashed into you windshield because the tweak doesn’t have the brains to put some lights on his bike. The person in the minivan was not the only person to almost hit this person

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          Garrett Bronson October 19, 2016 at 1:48 pm

          Not when you cant see the person… that is my aunt that was driving ***portion of comment deleted for inappropriate words- JM ***

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        wsbob October 13, 2016 at 11:26 am

        Given the short time beyond the time of the collision that the official statement was released, it sounds as though this is an initial sheriffs’ dept statement, not reporting the results of the investigation referred to in the statement…an investigation that may take many more hours than two and half to conduct and finalize before release of a statement about that investigation.

        In the situation of vulnerable road users’ use of the road, incidents like this one emphasize how it can be that with laws relating to bikes used for travel, legal, is not necessarily responsible use of the road. People biking aren’t required to display a working tail light; that’s legal, but in the interest of personal safety of the vulnerable road user…is it responsible not to display a working tail light when ambient lighting is very low, or weather conditions dramatically impair visibility of road users?

        By the way…even the initial sheriff’s dept statement should have mentioned whether the bike was displaying the legally required rear reflector for low light riding.

        I love riding on roads like the one in Stayton shown in the Sheriff’s Office photo at the top of this story, and have done so, a lot. Also, in years past, without good visibility gear, I have ridden such roads in low visibility conditions…that was when lighting equipment technology was generally feeble. In low light conditions, I don’t ride without a tail light anymore, because doing so is not being responsible.

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          Chris I October 13, 2016 at 12:07 pm

          I don’t know. From the statements, it sounds like they’ve already completed their investigation. The cyclist is clearly at fault, and the cooperative driver will not be cited.

          I would hope that my tax dollars fund police that will educate and enforce the law of the land, not their personal opinion of what is “responsible”. I imagine many others feel this way as well. I wouldn’t blame the police for advocating for changes to laws, based on incidents they observe in the field. But until the law changes, they need to stick to what is on the books.

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          B. Carfree October 13, 2016 at 12:39 pm

          Regarding your statement that cyclists should be expected to use a rear light rather than the legal minimum of a rear reflector to enhance their personal safety: I have found that carrying garden tools like hoes, rakes and shovels causes motorists to give me a lot more clearance and thus makes my ride safer. Is that the next step in expectations that we exceed the law in order to be viewed as responsible road users while motorists are under no expectation to obey any laws whatsoever? At this rate, we’ll soon have holsters and gun racks on our bikes.

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            Ted Timmons (Contributor) October 13, 2016 at 12:49 pm

            We should all have a bike trailer full of concrete. It’s clear the extra mass should reduce injuries.

            It’d be suicidal to ride without the bike trailer full of concrete, in fact.

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              Dan A October 13, 2016 at 1:06 pm

              Being killed by another person is proof that you are suicidal.

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                Chris I October 13, 2016 at 2:16 pm

                Are you saying that the 30,000+ people that die on our roads each year are suicidal? What about murder victims?

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                Dan A October 13, 2016 at 2:37 pm

                /s

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            BB October 13, 2016 at 1:11 pm

            It is completely legal to carry a firearm while in operation of a bicycle.

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              bradwagon October 13, 2016 at 1:53 pm

              But it is legal to not carry one. Just like it is legal to ride with a light, it is also legal to ride without one.

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            wsbob October 13, 2016 at 1:46 pm

            “Regarding your statement that cyclists should be expected to use a rear light rather than the legal minimum of a rear reflector to enhance their personal safety: …” b carfree

            If you’re responding to a statement of mine, and I think you are, I made no statement suggesting people that bike should be expected to use a rear tail light, rather than a reflector.

            I think what I said, is that though it may be legal, in some some lighting situations, I don’t think it’s responsible for a vulnerable road user riding a bike to be doing so without the benefit of displaying a fairly bright rear tail light.

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          JeffS October 13, 2016 at 4:05 pm

          When’s the last time anyone ever suggesting painting black cars yellow so other people don’t run into them?

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            Dan A October 13, 2016 at 8:19 pm

            People drive into buildings 60x a day in the US. This resulted in 500 deaths in 2013, compared to 900 cyclists killed total that year. Should buildings be painted yellow too?

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        wileysiren October 14, 2016 at 10:14 am

        Or, how about the press release is JUST STATING FACTS. I really do not understand how people are twisting basic facts into an assessment of fault. It was dark, raining, narrow road, a cyclist was hit, the cyclist wasn’t wearing light colored clothing, no apparent rear reflector or lights to make them visible…

        So, could someone please tell me how on earth an assignment of blame has been transmitted in the sheriff’s office press release?

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          Dan A October 14, 2016 at 10:33 am

          The facts NOT presented are evidence of bias.

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            wsbob October 14, 2016 at 8:42 pm

            To what facts are you referring to in the initial sheriff’s dept collision report issued just two and a half hours after the collision, and apparently before the dept investigation was complete?

            In the past, bikeportland, based on language used in their reports, has attempted to make similar allegations of bias on the part of police and sheriff’s departments. And, I believe that bikeportland has in past expressed a view that it thinks that, if there isn’t any actual bias in the dept’s, to avoid any possibility of seeming to be biased, the departments should perhaps not issue a collision report to the public…until the collision investigation is finalized and a report for the public is prepared for release.

            In other words: no news about the collision from the police or sheriff’s dept for who knows how long. Under such an expectation, it could be hours, could be days, weeks, before any news from the depts was ready for release.

            I think the public can benefit from promptly provided information about such things as particularly serious traffic collisions, including readily known details about things accompanying the scene of the collision, that could have contributed to it having occurred. Also, I think people as citizens and road users, ought to take care not to unreasonably read more into simple, initial police collision reports, than is being reported.

            Not one person commenting to this story that I’m aware of, has given even a single example that would indicate that on the part of any person working with the Marion County Sheriff’s Dept, there is professional bias against people biking on the county’s roads. I do not feel the sheriff’s dept initial report on this collision truly indicates serious bias on the part of that departments personnel. Slight case of poor word choice, but that’s all.

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          Pete October 16, 2016 at 12:57 pm

          There’s a difference between “just stating facts” and selectively stating facts. As a reader, I want to know how fast the car was going, and whether its lights were on or not. I’m even curious what kind of car it is and how old the driver is. I don’t see those facts presented. I personally don’t care what color clothing the bicyclist was wearing, but the report still doesn’t tell me if the bicycle had a rear reflector or not.

          I can’t twist basic facts if they are not all presented… and you’re completely missing the point if you didn’t catch that reporting there were no lights on the bike is related to some implied responsibility that the bicyclist had to go above and beyond their legal duties to be seen on the roadway. The driver also had the responsibility to reduce speed and exercise extra caution in low visibility and reduced braking situations, but there is no way of knowing whether they were doing that or not. We just know that a bicyclist may have been in full compliance with the law but has possibly alleviated the driver’s legal responsibility for passing them safely by dressing in black.

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            wsbob October 16, 2016 at 8:25 pm

            “…if you didn’t catch that reporting there were no lights on the bike is related to some implied responsibility that the bicyclist had to go above and beyond their legal duties to be seen on the roadway. …” pete

            This in an interesting point; whether in the apparent poor visibility conditions in which this collision occurred, the person riding had a responsibility beyond what is the legal requirement, to equip themselves and their bike to be visible to other road users. For review of the bike equipment requirements:

            http://www.oregonlaws.org/ors/815.280

            A number of people commenting to this discussion, besides the question of possible bias on the part of sheriff’s dept personnel against people biking…reflected also on questions of due care road users are obliged to meet. Briefly searching oregonlaws.org, I find no law for ‘due care’ obligating people riding bikes, to go beyond the legal requirement for equipping their bikes with visibility gear.

            It does certainly seem though…and it seems other people commenting here have felt similarly, that people riding bikes, vulnerable road users…do have some responsibility…to themselves, family and friends if not to other road user…to go beyond the legal bike equipment requirements in hopes this will enable to them to be better visible to other road users, thus sparing them from potential injury or death.

            So if for example, someone goes out on their bike, legally equipped according to the law, in low visibility conditions such as apparently were present when this collision occurred…knowing that the conditions are so bad there is a strong chance a rear approaching motor vehicles headlight beams wont pierce through the dark, rain, and fog to pick out the reflector on the back of the bike…can it be reasonably said that the person riding, was being responsible in their use of the road?

            It’s this dilemma, I think, that people, including those from the Marion County Sheriff’s Dept, and other’s responding to this collision site, unfortunately had occasion to ponder, once again out in the beautiful countryside.

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              Pete October 19, 2016 at 10:25 am

              Agreed. There’s a difference between responsible and legal, and I believe that police reports should primarily focus on what’s legal. As we’ve also previously discussed, there’s also what’s legal in Oregon, versus California. In other words, that same manufacturer-supplied rear reflector, required by identical state equipment laws, is required to be visible to 600′ in Oregon, but only to 500′ in California. Rhetorically, would that imply less of a requirement for ‘due care’ in California? Sadly, to your point, it seems to take carnage to figure that out.

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        JB October 14, 2016 at 11:34 am

        You bring up very good points that I had not considered in the context of V-0 that should be pointed out. I feel it comes down to our culture has, for a long time, considered cars the norm and other modes of transportation, not, making it difficult for many to empathize with cyclists, let alone the death of cyclist due to a collision with a motor vehicle (I think motorcyclists fall under this bias as well). It is much too easy to not blame the motor vehicle operator (I’m not even mentioning blaming a party). Until those without the ability to understand bicycling come around to it as a valid mode of transportation, making the step to considering cyclists on the same level – culturally, socially, and legally – with automobile drivers will be difficult to accomplish. Keep of the great work, Jonathon, I’ll be making sure to subscribe because of this single post alone!!

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      Jake Riley October 13, 2016 at 12:40 pm

      No one is forcing you to read. Also “it sounds like” you didn’t even read it, and then gave a shallow $0.02 with zero subtance.

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    JJJJ October 13, 2016 at 10:32 am

    I always find it interesting that when blame is “assigned”, the folks who created this situation “The area the crash took place has very little shoulder and no lighting” do not share any of it.

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      Tim October 13, 2016 at 11:57 am

      So in your world, all roads need shoulders and street lighting, so drivers are not inconvenienced by the possibility of slow moving vehicles in their lane.

      Street lighting and shoulders on all rural roads is not realistic or desirable.

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        Chris I October 13, 2016 at 12:08 pm

        And if we are going to conclude that not all roads need to have these features, yet cyclists are permitted to ride said roads, why is this information relevant when the investigation is still under way?

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      JeffS October 13, 2016 at 4:06 pm

      What would shoulder width have to do with anything?

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    Tom Hardy October 13, 2016 at 10:33 am

    Same old lame excuse.
    Almost like the Sheriff or Gangbanger claiming that someone was in the way and run into the bullet when he fired. Both victims of armed lethal weapon users. Both claiming their rights under the second amendment.

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    Spiffy October 13, 2016 at 10:34 am

    they blew it on the first sentence with “vehicle versus bicyclist”…

    why “versus”? why not “on”? were they in a boxing match?

    why “vehicle” and not “driver”? why “vehicle” and not “motor vehicle”? are all “vehicles” on the road assumed to be cars?

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      wsbob October 13, 2016 at 10:59 am

      The phrase “…vehicle versus bicyclist…” used by the Marion County Sheriff’s office, definitely is a poor choice of words, I think.

      Example of a preference of my own for such incidents: ‘collision involving a motor vehicle and a bike’.

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      bradwagon October 13, 2016 at 12:39 pm

      While I agree with you in theory the more I think about it it truly was a vehicle on bicyclist incident. The driver felt hardly any effects of the collision. While I do want to emphasis that the driver was the cause of the accident part of me also wants to highlight that drivers have protection / weapons that cyclists don’t have. That driver and car didn’t just hit another vehicle like a car on car accident, they hit a human being. What will it take for culture to realize that a bike is not just any other road using vehicle, it is an unprotected person.

      Partially why I don’t like the saying “treat bikes like cars”… how about “treat bikes like bikes… and know the law well enough to understand when that treatment will be similar to how you would treat a car and when bikes require more cautious treatment than cars”.

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    Ted Timmons (Contributor) October 13, 2016 at 10:35 am

    379 deaths. Ugh.

    I’m sure KATU will revise the story, so here’s an insta-archive of the text.
    http://archive.is/iT0jx

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    Bart October 13, 2016 at 10:43 am

    Sounds very much like the headline of an Oregonian article from last week regarding a pedestrian: “Man hit, killed by driver in Gresham was walking outside crosswalk, wearing dark clothes: police”.

    There were other contributing factors in that death as well, but the framing and the language released are strikingly similar:

    “Police said the pedestrian’s dark clothes and the way he was crossing the road “appear to be major contributing factors” to the crash. Other major contributors are the time of day — the crash happened around 8 p.m. — and rainy weather.”

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    rick October 13, 2016 at 10:46 am

    Very sad.

    Lower speed limits and enforcement is needed.

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    Eric Leifsdad October 13, 2016 at 10:53 am

    That looks to be a straight and flat road. Although east might be slightly uphill, I would expect somebody to be riding at ~15mph with little effort. So, at 55mph (probably too fast for conditions) that would be like seeing a stationary object (or crossing animal) in the road at 40mph. How fast was the minivan going? Did they brake or swerve at all? High beams? Rain repellant on the windshield? Eating a donut?

    Maybe there should be more black boulders in the middle of such roads. Things are not often found in the middle of the road, but it’s still the driver’s fault for not expecting them. Looking away for a second while already driving too fast for conditions is like driving with your eyes closed.

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      Middle of the Road guy October 13, 2016 at 2:31 pm

      If I put a black boulder in the middle of the road, I believe I would face charges for trying to harm someone.

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        Eric Leifsdad October 13, 2016 at 4:50 pm

        Unless perhaps you were crossing here at the unmarked crosswalk of Rainwater Road and the boulder was your “including but not limited to” (cane, crutch, or bicycle) thing which you have every right to roll out into the road to signify your intent to cross provided that a vehicle obeying the basic speed law would reasonably have enough time to stop. Clearly, a speed which is safe for the conditions would allow a driver to see and stop for a black boulder in the road. http://www.oregonlaws.org/ors/811.028

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    Dan A October 13, 2016 at 10:54 am

    http://www.oregonlive.com/beaverton/index.ssf/2016/09/driver_in_fatal_beaverton_pede.html

    Police will not charge a driver who fatally struck a woman while she was jogging in Beaverton over the weekend, officials announced Tuesday.

    Kwang Park, 61, was hit by a car as she crossed an intersection near West Baseline Road and Southwest 166th Avenue around 7 p.m. Saturday, according to Beaverton police. She was not in a crosswalk. She died at the scene of the crash.

    The driver, 31-year-old Krishnamurthy Ramakrishnan, remained at the site as police investigated. The driver and pedestrian are from Beaverton, police said.

    Officials did not release any more information about the crash.

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    Dan A October 13, 2016 at 10:56 am

    http://www.oregonlive.com/washingtoncounty/index.ssf/2011/02/beaverton_police_release_name.html

    It’s unknown why Lewis was stopped in the traffic lane. There were no traffic impediments at the time of the crash, and there is a bike lane to the right and along the curb of the traffic lane Lewis was in. Lewis had a working red light on the rear of his bicycle, but was not wearing a helmet.

    The driver of the Prius told police he did not see Lewis until it was too late, and that he had tried to swerve to avoid the bicycle. Lewis and his bicycle were struck by the vehicle’s right side.

    The driver showed no sings of intoxication, and voluntarily went to the hospital for a blood draw for drugs and alcohol testing.

    It was dark and windy and raining heavily at the time of the crash. Beaverton police spokeswoman Pam Yazzolino said the driver was not expected to be cited, but the investigation was continuing.

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      Eric Leifsdad October 14, 2016 at 5:08 pm

      That report doesn’t match the stripes on the road (and a comment on the article seems to indicate this was the case at the time as well.) “Lewis was stopped in the westbound curb lane” and “there is a bike lane to the right and along the curb of the traffic lane Lewis was in” doesn’t make sense, as you can see this driver demonstrate in google’s street view of that crash location https://goo.gl/maps/GrrRvC9JVhn (with bonus pedestrian antics if you look to the right) Starting just after Hocken at a bus stop, there’s some kind of lane, eventually with a bike symbol. (Looking farther right in that street view, you’ll see a truck parked in it.) So, was it the “curb lane” or was it the lane to the left of the bike lane?

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    PNP October 13, 2016 at 10:57 am

    The KATU article says that the cyclist “collided with the minivan.” Only later in the article does it become clear that the minivan driver hit the cyclist from behind.

    Language is everything.

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    Kyle Banerjee October 13, 2016 at 11:08 am

    I lived in this area for many years and cycled on the roads year ’round in every kind of weather, including storms that made the national news. While it is everyone’s responsibility to respond to anything on the road since there are many things to hit aside from cyclists (some which represent a very direct threat to the driver), we cannot ignore reality.

    To ride like that out there is outright suicidal. Anyone who does that WILL get hit and that reality must not be ignored. BTW, even if the cops don’t ticket the driver, the estate of the victim can still go after him. But that’s no consolation for the cyclist.

    Absent information to the contrary, I would not assume the driver was doing anything out of the ordinary. I seriously doubt the driver was not operating wipers or lights. On most of the roads out there, there are no street lights whatsoever. There is no ambient lighting aside from the moon and the stars in a lot of areas — which means it is very dark when clouds block all that out and moisture in the air and on objects absorbs what little light there is. Traffic is often light enough that you don’t even see any other cars. Anyone who drives blind will simply go off the road.

    A more clinical description from the cops may be in order. No one deserves to be hurt or killed for acting irresponsibly, but that the cyclist was operating irresponsibly shouldn’t be in question. The takeaway for motorists from this tragedy is that they should always drive in a way that allows them to stop because cyclists, kids, debris, holes, disabled vehicles, animals, etc could suddenly be there. The takeaway for cyclists should be that they need to be visible and pay attention to the cars.

    I put on tens of thousands of miles in the dark on roads like that and not once did anyone suggest I didn’t belong there. If you ride appropriately for conditions, this won’t be in question. On an aside note, I personally believe riding in the dark is considerably safer than riding in the light when you’re out in the sticks. You are visible from very far away, tracking cars is easy, and they tend to give you more space than they do in the light.

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      Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) October 13, 2016 at 11:23 am

      I strongly disagree Kyle. Unless its proven that the bicycle rider was operating under the influence or in some illegally careless or reckless manner, let’s not lose sight of the real danger here.

      The behavior of the bicycle rider is not what made this situation dangerous. This situation led to someone being killed because one road user made a decision to overtake another road user in a way that resulted in their vehicle colliding with the person they attempted to overtake. Unless the bicycle rider suddenly swerved way out into the roadway, he/she did not create the dangerous situation.

      Again, these roads are not inherently dangerous (although I also argue for infrastructure improvements)… Nor is the presence of bicycle riders (regardless of time of day or color of clothing) inherently dangerous. We need to focus on what created the danger: Namely, a person operating a large and deadly vehicle in a way that did not do everything possible to ensure that the vehicle didn’t hit something on the road.

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        m October 13, 2016 at 11:40 am

        “This situation led to someone being killed because one road user made a decision to overtake another road user…”

        If the driver didn’t see the cyclist, then the driver wasn’t deciding to overtake them. I continue to be flabbergasted by people who argue against requiring rear lights on bikes. Cars require rear lights by law. So should bikes. Plain and simple.

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          Ted Timmons (Contributor) October 13, 2016 at 11:42 am

          should stray boulders that fall onto the road, and fallen trees, and deer, and runners, all have rear lights?

          What if, even if a rear light or light clothing helps, there was another way, since there still may be dark clothing or no lights on an object in the roadway?

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          Kyle Banerjee October 13, 2016 at 12:04 pm

          Actually, they hit stuff all the time. It does tons of damage and leads to many injuries and fatalities. I’ve seen it with my own eyes.

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          Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) October 13, 2016 at 12:05 pm

          It’s the responsibility of the driver to see the other road user. That’s my entire point. The person on the bicycle was not invisible… They were made invisible because of a lack of care and attention by the other road user.

          Another issue is when police say there was no light on a bicycle…. unless they’ve combed the entire area for a tiny light there’s a chance the light could have flown off at impact.

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          • Adam H.
            Adam H. October 13, 2016 at 12:15 pm

            Another thing worth pointing out is that since this was a rear-end collision, how did the driver not see the cyclist? Car headlights point straight forward. If the driver couldn’t see something right in front of them with their headlights, then one of two things must be true: either the driver was driving without headlights (doubtful, since this road is completely unlit) or they did see the cyclist and were driving too fast to be able to stop in time.

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              Kyle Banerjee October 13, 2016 at 12:35 pm

              Visibility can be bad in darkness when there is a lot of water in the air. The rear blinkies that are fine for urban riding are inadequate for rural highways where speeds are much higher. You really need something much brighter.

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                Dan A October 13, 2016 at 1:09 pm

                We need a law to govern speeds when the conditions change. Oh, wait:

                http://www.oregonlaws.org/ors/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.

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            Middle of the Road guy October 13, 2016 at 1:13 pm

            I think you’ve completely missed the point here, JM.

            One can be legally correct and common-sense challenged at the same time.

            It may be legal to do something but still very unwise, especially given the conditions. Those legal things might be just fine in the day but on a rainy night are downright dumb.

            I could choose to lie down in the street in a Ninja oufit and I really should not be surprised if someone runs me over as a result of my poor choice.

            You also mention “the greater moral responsibility that comes with operating a vehicle that’s so easily capable of killing another person”. Part of that moral responsibility is to make your car visible in night time and poor weather conditions. One can easily argue that the cyclist has a moral responsibility to do the same even though it might not be a legal requirement. Pretty unfair to put all that responsibility onto others and an even poorer decision from a common-sense standpoint. You can’t abdicate your safety to others.

            JM, I’m curious if you use lights and reflectors at night…if so, why? I mean, it’s not legally required. Do you think that being more visible improves your safety?

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              Gary B October 13, 2016 at 2:12 pm

              I’d argue you’ve missed the point.

              Even IF (big if) we could all agree the bicyclist didn’t exercise full personal responsibility, that does not change the point that the police report completely ignores anything the driver could have done to increase their personal responsibility. How fast were they driving? How far ahead could they see? Should they have had headlights brighter than what’s required by law?

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                Middle of the Road guy October 13, 2016 at 3:40 pm

                That’s not a big if. They clearly did not. But you raise good questions – we don’t know what the driver was doing. But just because one person (driver) might not have done everything possible does not mean the other party (cyclist) made no errors in judgment either.

                I use lights at night “just in case”. I see plenty of cyclists who do not use them (when I am driving) and shake my head when I do so that. Sure, you could say it might be my fault for not seeing them, but they sure would be easier to see if they made better decisions. Nobody deserves to get hit, but sometimes their actions are a contributing factor.

                Don’t confuse blame with fault. Blame suggests something was deserved. Fault simply states that someone’s actions contributed.

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              Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) October 14, 2016 at 8:41 am

              Middle of the Road guy,

              I agree with you that all road users have a moral responsibility to operate their vehicles in a responsible manner.

              I am a huge advocate – even evangelist – for using lights at night. I would never think of riding without them. In fact, if for some reason my lights don’t work at night I will ride on the sidewalk because I feel it’s so irresponsible to ride in the street at night without them.

              My post is about police bias that manifests through the statements they make about crashes… And how that bias impacts media and therefore the culture at large. It’s something I’ve been writing and thinking about for many years and it remains a concern.

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          Chris I October 13, 2016 at 12:12 pm

          I can only speak for myself, but I personally would advocate for legal lighting requirements during low light period for cyclists (similar to laws they have in Germany), but I also believe that the police should stick to the laws when assigning blame in crashes, rather than injecting their personal opinion before an investigation has been performed.

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          SD October 13, 2016 at 12:28 pm

          Reflectors on bikes and headlights on cars work as well. But, only if the driver was paying attention.

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            Kyle Banerjee October 13, 2016 at 12:37 pm

            And the reflector is not covered with grime, a piece of clothing, etc and is properly aimed.

            Reflective gear is important for safety, but you need lights as well. The CPSC mandated stuff is not nearly enough for some types of riding.

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              SD October 13, 2016 at 2:42 pm

              The risk reduction of lights over reflectors is frequently exaggerated.

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                Kyle Banerjee October 13, 2016 at 3:54 pm

                Are you suggesting that riding without lights on dark rural highways isn’t extremely dangerous? Or that CPSC mandated reflectors will provide anywhere near the visibility of a proper visibility setup (keeping in mind that such a setup uses both active lighting and passive reflection)?

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                SD October 13, 2016 at 6:40 pm

                No, but I will if you promise to write a 5 paragraph description of all the ways that I failed to be a responsible cyclist if I am hit by a car.

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                Kyle Banerjee October 14, 2016 at 12:04 pm

                No one deserves to be hurt, but people who ride irresponsibly give us all a bad name as well as putting themselves at risk. They undermine sympathy and support for cyclists’ needs. They hold progress back.

                In my other major sports (backcountry skiing and sea kayaking), the communities promote safety and using common sense. The funny thing is that most cycling subcultures are also like that. I cannot imagine serious road cyclists or distance geeks doing the back flips common here to absolve all cyclist behavior and crucify drivers for weaknesses practically all humans have.

                Anyone who lets kids or animals play in traffic is criminally negligent in my book even if the drivers are legally responsible for what they hit. Oregon legislative politics is hardly a beacon of wisdom. Heck, until 2012, even the Constitution was riddled with misspellings and grammatical errors — including some whum dingers like “govenor,” “Constition”, “seperate,” “cheif,” “independant,” “authorizeing,” “Suprume,” and “injuctions.” Few of the people who vote on laws have the expertise to discuss the legislation which they rarely actually read intelligently.

                So yes, I will not defend irresponsible people even if I sympathize with them if misfortune occurs. Drivers should be able to respond to things on the road in any conditions. Cyclists should be prepared for the conditions that are actually out there and not the ones they think should be out there.

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                SD October 14, 2016 at 1:44 pm

                “I cannot imagine serious road cyclists or distance geeks doing the back flips common here to absolve all cyclist behavior and crucify drivers for weaknesses practically all humans have.”

                I haven’t read any comments, mine included, that are absolving this cyclist’s behavior. None of us know what this cyclist’s behavior was.

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        wsbob October 13, 2016 at 11:56 am

        “…because one road user made a decision to overtake another road user…” maus

        I don’t to be unreasonably confrontational, but there is nothing in the current sheriff’s statement reporting that the person driving, overtook or even attempted, or was able to attempt to overtake the person riding. Unless you have another source of info, common logic does not clearly explain why this collision occurred. At present, explanations on the part of the public for the collision are all supposition and speculation until an investigation is complete.

        There could be numerous reasons for this collision having occurred, with lack of responsibility, or not, on either or both of the two parties involved in the collision.

        As I said earlier, elsewhere, country roads are wonderful to ride on, but also, as Banerjee notes, because many such roads don’t have a road shoulder sufficient to ride on at all, they definitely are a riding situation with great potential for danger to vulnerable road users. Since at this point, we’re all speculating…on the info available at this time, it’s entirely possible this collision would not have happened had the bike been equipped with a fairly bright tail light…maybe as low as 15 dollars in cost.

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      • Adam H.
        Adam H. October 13, 2016 at 11:57 am

        these roads are not inherently dangerous

        I’d argue the opposite. A dark, straight road with high motor traffic speeds is what makes the road inherently dangerous. This roadway was clearly designed for high speed. To completely discount the roadway design and place 100% of the blame on the driver’s inactions would be shortsighted.

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          Kyle Banerjee October 13, 2016 at 12:29 pm

          These roads are reasonably safe — if you are visible.

          While shoulders would be nice on some of these roads (cars typically move 60mph+), there’s no way there’s going to be enough money to make that happen everywhere for a long time even if that definitely needs to be part of the long term plan.

          I used to live in this area, and what you’d consider a bikeable lane is not that common. Even major roads like 99E and 99W have significant stretches with no shoulder at all. When shoulders occur on many roads, they are narrow. Roads that lack striping entirely are common depending on where you live.

          Keeping safe on rural roads is not a matter of speed differential — you get killed whether the driver is going 40mph or 100mph (plus there’s often no cell service and hospitals are far away). It’s a matter people seeing and avoiding you.

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            Dan A October 13, 2016 at 1:11 pm

            These roads are reasonably safe — if drivers operate their vehicles at a safe speed that accounts for the conditions, and watch out for objects on the roadway.

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        Kyle Banerjee October 13, 2016 at 12:04 pm

        Riding on these roads has to be done mindfully (I would argue on any road). For over 10 years, I had a 40+ mile RT commute — all of it on rural highways — and went 47 months without driving even once.

        There are VERY few cyclists out there in the dark. In the winter, I could go months without seeing even one. To give you an idea of how uncommon it is, I don’t know many times total strangers approached me on the street, in stores, and in restaurants with the line “Hey, are you that guy who rides…” (they recognized my jacket).

        Distances people cover are much further than what people do in urban areas and the process is much less interactive — which makes the motorists less attentive. When people talk of enforcement and speed, I’m not sure they appreciate how much ground there is to cover. When I wasn’t on a major highway like 99 or 22, I could go miles without encountering a vehicle moving in any direction (riding at night in such conditions is simply awesome). Cops do occasionally set traps which mail a lot of people, but people still speed.

        As you point out, the roads aren’t inherently dangerous. But we absolutely have to deal with human nature. That means we need to ride for the way bad drivers actually drive and not the way good drivers should. Of course, we need to keep hammering on getting the motorists in line. But we’re the ones that die, and if we’re not willing to take sensible measures to protect ourselves, I’m not sure why we’d expect the drivers to do anything for us.

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        SE Rider October 13, 2016 at 12:54 pm

        Jonathan, given the low light, long nights, and rain we see every winter in Oregon, do you support legally requiring rear lights on bikes at night?

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    bikeninja October 13, 2016 at 11:41 am

    We will be making progress on road safety and saving the earth from destruction when the police statements are worded something like this.

    ” A noble citizen who was doing their part to travel sustainably without burning fossil fuels was struck down by a careless climate criminal in a speeding death machine. This tragic act of manslaughter was caused by numerous illegal behaviours on the part of the driver and the readers will be comforted to know this wanton criminal will be locked away for a long time and will never again be able to pollute the skies, and threaten road users for their own selfish purposes.

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      Middle of the Road guy October 13, 2016 at 1:59 pm

      Saving the Earth from destruction?

      The Earth will be here a long time. Humans are only harming their own long-term survivability chances.

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    bill October 13, 2016 at 11:50 am

    Johanathan, why do you are assume the driver of the car saw the bicycle rider at all? What if the driver had no time to make a decision?

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      Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) October 13, 2016 at 12:03 pm

      I am not assuming that. If I did it was a mistake. I’m trying to not assume anything while also being honest about what happened. not easy, I realize that. And as I wrote in my comment above… If the bicycle rider made a sudden crazy erratic move than the situation is a lot different. But we’ll NEVER know will we because the rider is dead and no one saw what happened — except the driver who is incapable of an unbiased opinion on the matter.

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        Dan A October 13, 2016 at 1:13 pm

        “except the driver who is incapable of an unbiased opinion on the matter”

        As are the police.

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        • Adam H.
          Adam H. October 13, 2016 at 3:06 pm

          As are the police

          This cannot be stated enough.

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            Dan A October 13, 2016 at 8:01 pm

            It makes sense. Patrol officers spend ~20 hours a week behind a windshield.

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    Kristen LaChapelle October 13, 2016 at 12:11 pm

    Hello. I am a runner, and I know you mean well by your article by saying that most collisions are mostly said to have been the fault of the bicyclist rather than the driver, but you are missing a lot of information and filling in a lot of literal facts with assumptions.
    I live on Shaff and take the 55 mph road every single morning between 5:30 and 6:30 to the Stayton pool. This particular cyclist leaves about the same time every morning and wears black clothing. Stayton is quite often a bed for a blanket of fog around that time of the morning. I drove past the accident this morning and saw a mangled bike and a figure clothed in black lying on the pavement. That is heartwrenching to see. There is no other way to describe it. Whether it was the “fault” of the cyclist or the motorist, anyone working out during that time of day needs to take necessary measures to be seen.
    This article seems to be written to make the motorist feel even worse.

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      bradwagon October 13, 2016 at 12:42 pm

      I’m fine with making drivers feel as bad as it takes to get them to stop killing people. Feeling bad > dead.

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      Dan A October 13, 2016 at 1:14 pm

      anyone driving during that time of day needs to take necessary measures to see

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        Middle of the Road guy October 13, 2016 at 3:41 pm

        or “reasonable” measures.

        Do we need 1 million candlepower headlamps – that might be necessary, but not a reasonable requirement.

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          Dan A October 13, 2016 at 5:02 pm

          People in my neighborhood jog on the roads in the dark in dark clothing and without lights. I see them because I drive at an appropriate speed and I look for objects that might be in the road. Brighter headlamps might help too, but I don’t find them necessary.

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            SE Rider October 14, 2016 at 11:56 am

            Do you live in a city neighborhood with street lights?

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              Dan A October 14, 2016 at 12:39 pm

              My neighborhood has very few street lights. Maybe one at the end of each ‘block’.

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                Dan A October 21, 2016 at 2:04 pm

                For what it’s worth, I have an easier time seeing people outside of the range of those overhead street lights. The lights create some unwanted glare and I have to slow way down as I pass under them.

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            Middle of the Road guy October 14, 2016 at 4:58 pm

            You only see the ones you see. You can’t really account for the ones you didn’t see, can you?

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              Dan A October 14, 2016 at 7:19 pm

              This is what you call being objective I suppose.

              If there were people in my path that I didn’t see, then I must have run them over and not noticed.

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      q October 13, 2016 at 3:20 pm

      If there was fog, that’s another reason to drive more slowly.

      I’d guess the driver WOULD feel worse if he read this article. I’m certain he would have felt worse if the police hadn’t written their report the way they did. It’s as if they wrote it to protect the driver from having to face the reality that the death could have been avoided if the driver had been more cautious.

      But what about the victim’s family? Could the police possibly have written a report that would make them feel WORSE? The police threw in just about every possible reason to blame the victim, but none to blame the driver. Look at all the examples people have written here of how the report might have been written that would have been just as factual, but would have placed the blame on the driver.

      The important thing to me isn’t who feels bad–the driver or the victim’s survivors. It’s what results from this. By writing the report as they did, the police did nothing to encourage drivers to be more careful, or to feel like if they kill someone themselves in the future, that it’s a tragic accident that drivers are helpless to prevent.

      If the police insist on listing all the reasons the cyclist may have contributed to his death, they should also list all the reasons the driver did, too.

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      wsbob October 13, 2016 at 11:09 pm

      kristen…I’ve been thinking about this statement you wrote: “…This particular cyclist leaves about the same time every morning and wears black clothing. That’s very interesting.

      Many people are creatures of habit. Self conscious too. Wear the same thing everyday. Don’t want to wear anything they think somebody might consider makes them look dorky…hi-vis safety vests for example. Black and other dark clothing is the perennial hip color of choice. All these things I think, can have some people susceptible to a very unfortunate aversion to wearing hi-vis gear, or equipping their bikes with it.

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    SD October 13, 2016 at 12:21 pm

    Thanks for writing an article focusing on bias in police reports. I have gotten used to adding many grains of salt to every police report I read, but the real solution would be to remove bias and make them more objective.

    A recent example of a likely misleading or inaccurate report can be found here: http://bikeportland.org/2016/08/05/fatal-bicycle-collision-at-se-112th-and-mt-scott-188979#comment-6696437

    It would be interesting to know how the police view these reports, i.e. do they believe there is a standard for accuracy and are the reports ever retrospectively examined to see what percentage hold up after an investigation.

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    Todd Boulanger October 13, 2016 at 12:37 pm

    PSU students…another research opportunity…It would be an interesting research project for rural attitudes [vs suburban vs urban] per VZ…if a sample of residents were interviewed to comment on several scenarios (just swap out the victim’s mode but keep all other aspects the same):
    – bicyclist;
    – farmer on a tractor (no rear lamp…only rear triangle);
    – motorcyclist/ moped rider;
    – pedestrian (walking towards traffic); and
    – motor vehicle operator.

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    Buzz October 13, 2016 at 12:49 pm

    What I’d like to know is how are they so certain the cyclist didn’t have a rear light (or even the legally required reflector). If you are hit from behind in a high-speed crash, these things will be among the first things to fly off the bike from the impact. How much searching in the roadside weeds do you think the Marion County Sheriff’s Department did to try and find them?

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      Todd Boulanger October 13, 2016 at 4:19 pm

      Yes…this has often crossed my mind too…

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    Pat Lowell October 13, 2016 at 12:52 pm

    Just because you’re not legally required to make yourself visible at night doesn’t mean you shouldn’t. There also aren’t laws against drinking Drano, or spending the night outside in your underwear in the winter, or waving a golf club around during a lightning storm, but that doesn’t mean those are safe, healthy things to do.

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    • Hello, Kitty
      Hello, Kitty October 13, 2016 at 1:51 pm

      Please don’t pick on me just because I play lightning golf in my underwear in the winter while nursing a Draino cocktail.

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        Middle of the Road guy October 14, 2016 at 5:01 pm

        I had you figured for a Pan-Galactic Gargle Blaster type.

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      Dan A October 13, 2016 at 2:56 pm

      Missing the point. The driver has a responsibility to do safe, healthy things as well, which they clearly did not do.

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    B. Carfree October 13, 2016 at 12:53 pm

    We just had a similar sheriff’s statement near Eugene. A couple days ago a woman drove off the road outside of town, killing her daughter. Her family insists the fault lies not in her speeding but in the fact that there isn’t a guard rail where she left the roadway, as if we can afford to put guard rails on every curve. Of course, the sheriff said that speed, alcohol and cell phone use (no reception there) were not factors, as if cars just leave the road for no reason whatsoever.

    In a world where motorists were expected to obey the law, including the basic speed law, this woman would be charged with manslaughter and child endangerment. Upon release, she would not be allowed to drive with minors and would have to have a gps monitor that causes her to return to prison if she speeds again. We’re not in that world so the deaths will keep piling up.

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    Kyle Banerjee October 13, 2016 at 1:09 pm

    The concept of fault/blame is really not useful in situations like this except for purposes of determining who pays what damages and/or incurs which penalties.

    You only get one body and one life. The only real question is how to move forward. Raising awareness in motorists helps. Safety systems in cars that detect cyclists can help. Advocating for more infrastructure helps. But changes in the cycling environment occur very slowly and are helpful on a population basis.

    For individual cyclists, the best thing to do is ride in a way that doesn’t depend on any particular environmental factors. Being visible is super important on rural highways at night. To that I’d add it’s a good idea to know what’s going on behind you. Why so few cyclists want to know what’s coming up and how when they’re the slowest thing on the road is beyond me.

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      John Lascurettes October 13, 2016 at 1:19 pm

      Fault is important here, because until we hold drivers responsible for driving too fast for conditions, it won’t get better and people will continue to die. Zero vision or Vision Zero?

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      Kyle Banerjee October 13, 2016 at 2:13 pm

      This is the equivalent of the “get tough on crime” initiatives. In the war on drugs, tough laws didn’t really do that much — all it really did was put a bunch of petty drug offenders in prison.

      As Ted keeps pointing out with his fallen tree example, it’s pretty clear where the blame lays, and the consequences for hitting one of those can be pretty bad — much worse than some jail time. Yet that doesn’t solve the problem.

      They can’t (and shouldn’t attempt to) legislate common sense. You have a right to walk in any section of town with thousands of dollars in your hands at any time of night. Who here wants to exercise that right? I would say riding at night dressed in black and improperly lit is the cycling equivalent, except for it’s worse because the odds of getting seriously injured or killed are much higher.

      BTW, while all the cyclists here are feeling so victimized and self righteous in this tragedy, I wear lights when walking around Portland at night — and that has much more to do with me worrying about being hit by cyclists than cars. Cars are hardly the only ones on the roads not paying adequate attention.

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        Dan A October 13, 2016 at 2:57 pm

        We already have a (non-enforced) law to cover this. Does it not concern you that this law is not being applied here, or even mentioned in the story?

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      B. Carfree October 13, 2016 at 3:24 pm

      Actions speak louder than words, so I clearly agree with much of what you wrote since I light myself up like a UFO at night (and much of my riding is done at night) and wear abundant reflective material. However, it still bothers me that part of my overkill of lights is solely to take away any excuses and to do so in such a blatant way that otherwise careless motorists think twice about creating a close encounter.

      I also worry that as evermore cyclists evermore lumens, we’re opening the door to open season on anyone whose lights aren’t of supernova caliber. Next to me, someone with a simple dynohub set-up isn’t lit up at all, yet that should be more than sufficient for other road users to deal with.

      We’ve already seen this sort of thing with helmets. Once upon a time, none of us wore them. Then we started wearing them on recreational rides outside of town. Nowadays, any cyclists who is struck by a motorist and wasn’t wearing a magic hat is considered to have been at fault for their own demise, even though the helmets were not designed to withstand the forces of a collision with a motor vehicle.

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    John Lascurettes October 13, 2016 at 1:17 pm

    Everything you said in your article, Jonathan, is spot on. It makes me so mad that language.

    I always like to repaint it like this. If that was a fallen tree (dar, unlit and stationary) and the person hit it, was the tree at fault? No. The driver is at fault for driving too fast for conditions.

    It’s absurd that the driver hit the cyclist with such force to kill them instantly — not that the cyclist was even inured and died later — and the report is written as if the driver has no culpability in this.

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      Ted Timmons (Contributor) October 13, 2016 at 1:24 pm

      “fallen tree” is the gong I keep banging. It’s interesting how things change- most trees fail to have a blinky light, and it’s pretty clear where the blame lies if you are driving too fast for conditions.

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    Middle of the Road guy October 13, 2016 at 1:17 pm

    Part of the problem is when a specific group of people has been conditioned to think they are being persecuted and everything is against them, they will start to see everything in that manner even if it is untrue.

    And I don’t mean just Trump supporters.

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      Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) October 13, 2016 at 1:53 pm

      That is a good thing to be aware of Middle of the Road guy. I am fully aware of that phenomenon and always try to counter it. It’s not always easy to see clearly in that mindset.

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        Middle of the Road guy October 13, 2016 at 3:42 pm

        Being objective is something I pride myself on. Ask your neighbor NA about me…he knows who I am 🙂

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      El Biciclero October 13, 2016 at 6:16 pm

      True enough, but by the same token, if a specific group of people have been conditioned to being catered to and everything is optimized for their benefit, they will start to believe they are always blameless, even if it isn’t true.

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        Middle of the Road guy October 14, 2016 at 5:05 pm

        It does indeed go both ways and that is why things should be viewed objectively.

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      dan October 14, 2016 at 11:26 am

      Truly, I can never understand why motorists think they can play the victim card.

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    Chris I October 13, 2016 at 1:21 pm

    If we turned the tables a bit, I wonder how most drivers would react to these statements:

    Around 6:30 a.m., this morning, deputies with the Marion County Sheriff’s Office were called to a motor vehicle operator versus cyclist crash on Shaff Road SE near Rainwater Road SE near Stayton. When deputies arrived they found that a vehicle operator had struck a cyclist, resulting in fatal injuries.

    Early indications show that the cyclist was traveling east on Shaff Road when an eastbound minivan struck the bicycle. The area the crash took place has very little shoulder and no lighting. At the time of the crash it was dark and rainy. The officers noted that the vehicle in question was an older model, with poorly maintained headlights and a windshield that had not been cleaned recently. Additionally, the van was not equipped with a collision avoidance or automated stopping safety system. It is not know whether or not the operator was devoting their full attention to the roadway in front of them, given the adverse weather conditions. Police suspect that the vehicle operator was driving too fast for conditions.

    The cyclist was equipped with a rear reflector, as is required by Oregon law. Identities of those involved will be released once the appropriate notifications have been made. Shaff Road was closed for 2 hours while investigators processed the scene, Shaff Road has now reopened for regular traffic.

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      John Lascurettes October 13, 2016 at 1:53 pm

      THIS

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      SD October 13, 2016 at 2:54 pm

      Perfect. I would also like to see “Because there were no witnesses other than the driver, there is no reliable first-hand account of the event. An investigation regarding tampering with the deceased or the bicycle at the scene has not been completed.”

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      Paul Atkinson October 13, 2016 at 3:14 pm

      I want to like this comment a thousand times.

      Instead I’ll just suggest to Jonathan Maus that this be considered for comment of the week. It makes no assumptions, assigns no blame, and sticks strictly to the facts, yet somehow tells a completely different story than did the police version.

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    Adam October 13, 2016 at 1:22 pm

    The lack of a (presumably) rear light is a fair point – it’s not exactly smart to bike in the dark with bo lights. Although it has always baffled me that Oregon Law doesn’t require a rear light, only rear reflector. Anyone know why? So technically, the bike rider may not have been breaking the law.

    The section of the statement that irked the living s**t out of me is the section saying the bicyclist essentially had the audacity to be on a road with no shoulder. How is THAT the bicyclust’s fault? Typically in rural areas, your onky choice is on roads with no shoulders. Unless you expect us to teleport. This makes me livid.

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      bradwagon October 13, 2016 at 1:56 pm

      Agreed, why can’t it read “The cyclist was using the lane made available for bikes on the road”. The fact that this is also the vehicle lane is no fault of the rider.

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      wsbob October 13, 2016 at 2:00 pm

      “The lack of a (presumably) rear light is a fair point – it’s not exactly smart to bike in the dark with bo lights. Although it has always baffled me that Oregon Law doesn’t require a rear light, only rear reflector. Anyone know why? …” adam

      Don’t know exactly, but do know some of the arguments contributing to Oregon not having decided to require bikes to be equipped with a rear tail light. Two of the stronger of arguments I remember offered: expense of tail lights to riders of bikes, and potential for unfair citing of various minority groups and poor people.

      Last full Oregon legislative session, reported in a couple bikeportland stories and subject to much criticism in comments, there was a bill in the house, presented by a younger rep, to require bikes be equipped with tail lights. I don’t think there was a lot of public input, for or against the bill, but it seems those against the equipment requirement, won out. Check this sites’ archives for a read-up on that most recent effort.

      This incident in Stayton, is an opportunity to reflect on whether, had the tail light for bikes bill become law, that might have had the guy riding, decide to go ahead and put a light on his bike, with the result possibly being, that little additional visibility aid may have been just enough to keep this collision from having happened.

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        Ted Timmons (Contributor) October 13, 2016 at 2:11 pm

        Presumably you are talking about the “cyclists must wear reflective clothing and have a rear tail light” proposal, which got a lot of flak, but certainly not for exactly how you characterized it.

        Since at this point, we’re all speculating…on the info available at this time, it’s entirely possible this collision would not have happened had the driver followed the basic speed law…adding perhaps 15 seconds to their drive.

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          wsbob October 13, 2016 at 4:00 pm

          I’m happy to consider a correction you’re willing offer to the summary of past discussions on the bill for visibility gear presented to Oregon legislature last session…but go ahead and say what’s on your mind…don’t expect me or anyone else reading here, to sort through an old story to try divine the point you’re trying to make.

          Since instead of using your own, you seem to like borrowing the words and phrases I choose to use in comments I write…yes, it is entirely possible the collision would not have happened had the person driving been following the basic speed law…and it’s also, entirely possible that they were driving at a speed consistent with the basic speed law, and that at whatever mph speed this was, the person riding the bike may effectively have been invisible to a reasonably capable person driving responsibly according to the basic speed law.

          Why, based on the facts available to date, offered in the initial sheriff’s dept statement, might the person biking have been effectively invisible to the person driving? Because the person biking had no light on the bike, and was wearing dark clothes. That’s the facts known to date about the person biking. People can speculate that the person driving was doing this or that that may have contributed to the collision…but there’s no facts from the sheriff’s dept at present, to support such speculation.

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            Dan A October 14, 2016 at 9:39 am

            There’s nothing in this story, or in any of these terrible stories that I can recall reading, to indicate that the police are even aware of the basic speed law.

            Generally speaking (unless someone jumps right in front of you) if you hit somebody in front of you, you are probably going too fast for the conditions. If you can’t see people or other obstacles because the weather is crappy, you are going too fast for the conditions. If you go around a corner and drive off the road, you are definitely going too fast for the conditions.

            Can anyone recall a time when a driver was cited for failing to obey the basic speed law?

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        Adam October 13, 2016 at 2:28 pm

        Bizarre. So, should poor people and or minorities bd allowed to purchase cars and trucks with no lights?

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        Todd Boulanger October 13, 2016 at 4:18 pm

        wsbob asks: ” Although it has always baffled me that Oregon Law doesn’t require a rear light, only rear reflector. Anyone know why? …” it a product of history the last time that most state vehicle codes were updated it (due to a tsunami of cyclist injures during the 70s bike boom) was based on the best technology – rear battery or generator lights were low powered and prone to failure – vs. a large dimeter round red reflector…much larger than those typical now.

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          wsbob October 13, 2016 at 10:49 pm

          todd…it was adam asking that question…not me, and I thank him for asking that pertinent question.

          I think it may be partly right though, that feeble lighting technology of years ago, could have played a role in lawmakers not seeking to have tail lights be required equipment for bikes. Reasonably bright lighting for bikes today is so simple and lightweight, compared to what it was a couple decades and more ago. No big, heavy batteries, or dim tungsten bulbs. At under 50 bucks, or even 30, the relatively higher level of visibility, compared to no light, that bike lights of today can provide, is kind of amazing.

          I realize that for many people, forking out 30 dollars for a bike tail light can be a huge burden…which is one of the reservations I have about any possible change to law that would require tail lights as standard equipment for bikes. Some things might be done though, to ease that burden for people having difficulty coming up with the money for lights, if tail lights do eventually become required equipment for bikes.

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        Alex Reedin October 13, 2016 at 5:17 pm

        I think it would be great to require lights on all bikes AT POINT OF SALE (exceptions for narrowly defined racing-only bikes, like in the Netherlands I believe). To require individual customers to add the lights themselves is just not a feasible way to get to near 100% compliance.

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          Adam October 14, 2016 at 11:52 am

          Agreed. Bikes shoukd come with lights permenantly attached at point of sale. You know, like cars.

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            Middle of the Road guy October 14, 2016 at 5:07 pm

            No thanks. I have some bikes I only ride in the daytime.

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    q October 13, 2016 at 1:25 pm

    After “The area the crash took place has very little shoulder and no lighting. At the time of the crash it was dark (and) rainy” the statement could have continued:

    “But despite all that, there is no indication that the driver slowed down far enough below the posted speed limit to achieve a safe speed that would allow him time to react to avoid hitting the cyclist, or any number of other things–pedestrian, animal, object–that a driver should reasonably expect to encounter in a roadway.”

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      Middle of the Road guy October 13, 2016 at 3:44 pm

      It might have been a reasonable speed for the reasonable expectation that there would not be anyone dressed in dark clothing in a roadway at night.

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        Chris I October 13, 2016 at 5:09 pm

        Unfortunately, the definition of “reasonable” is very subjective. People hit deer all of the time and fault the deer. I’m sure the deer would feel differently about the situation. If a motorist hits a downed tree in a wind/rain storm while driving at a “reasonable” speed, who is at fault?

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          Dan A October 14, 2016 at 6:41 am

          If you hit a deer that’s on the side of the roadway and running directly away from you in a straight line at 15mph, then you are going too fast for conditions.

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          Middle of the Road guy October 14, 2016 at 5:08 pm

          That’s why the term is used…because no situation is an absolute.

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        DP October 13, 2016 at 5:37 pm

        The minimal legal requirements for lighting determine what other people are expected to see. Where is the wiggle room?

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        q October 13, 2016 at 9:34 pm

        It’s possible. But the point of the article remains valid. The sheriff’s report mentions the victim’s not wearing more visible clothing as a factor in the crash, although wearing dark clothing isn’t illegal. But it doesn’t take the same approach with the driver–it doesn’t mention things the driver failed to do that were not legally required, but that could have prevented hitting the victim.

        I think it’s also questionable to say that it’s a reasonable expectation that there will be nothing dark in the road ahead of you (cyclist, pedestrian, object) especially on a road with no shoulder.

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          Dan A October 14, 2016 at 6:46 am

          Agreed, I would say it’s irrational to expect that you’re never going to encounter a person on the road.

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        Mike Healey October 17, 2016 at 6:45 am

        I don’t have “reasonable expectations” when driving, except that I should be prepared for other road users to be there. I also know that my car headlights are sufficiently bright to show up pedestrians or cyclists dressed in dark clothing. That is why, like MOR guy’s earlier post, I see “cyclists without lights”
        I always find it astonishing that, in any discussion on this subject, pretty much every driver complains about them and when you ask how they know about “cyclists without lights”, they say, “I see them all the time”.
        I’m not arguing against having lights, since I commuted lit up like a Christmas tree with flashing and steady lights. Still had to take evasive action on very rare occasions to avoid the usual witless SMIDSY driver.
        I agree with JM’s criticism of the police’s unsupported assumptions about the rider being the one at fault.

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        Spiffy October 17, 2016 at 8:05 am

        drivers should assume that at any time there could be something dark in the roadway… that’s why you never drive faster than you can see and react…

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    highrider October 13, 2016 at 2:15 pm

    Picture the victim driving a car there at 15 mph with no lights on (presumably). The driver still might have plowed right into the victim’s car, potentially causing death.

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      John Lascurettes October 13, 2016 at 2:37 pm

      Picture a log in the road. Would the log have been at fault?

      Don’t drive too fast for conditions. Full stop.

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        Middle of the Road guy October 14, 2016 at 5:09 pm

        In that situation the driver did nothing illegal, did they? They are not going to get cited for hitting a log.

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          q October 14, 2016 at 6:28 pm

          That response proves the point. Driving safely and not being illegal aren’t the same thing. It’s hard to argue that you were driving safely if you hit a stationary object in front of you. And actually, you COULD be cited for driving too fast for the conditions if you hit a log.

          And the whole point of the article was that the sheriff’s report mentions things the cyclist did or didn’t do, that weren’t illegal but may have contributed to the crash, but didn’t do the same in regard to the driver.

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    bikeninja October 13, 2016 at 2:29 pm

    An interesting thought exercise. What if a manufacturer came out with a small rear rack mounted rocket launcher with a sophisticated radar/computer that could determine with high accuracy if a cyclist was about to be hit by a motorist. The rocket would be fired in milliseconds, blasting the threatening auto in to a fine powder which would no longer threaten the cyclist. The question is: would incidents of errant motorists being neutralized by defensively armed cyclists be handled as causualy by the authorities as is now the case with cyclists being run down by motorists?

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      Ted Timmons (Contributor) October 13, 2016 at 2:33 pm

      Can you imagine if they allowed such a thing on the roads? I mean, a vehicle that has the ability to harm others so easily? What if the rocket-equipped-cyclist wasn’t paying attention and hit someone by accident?

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        bikeninja October 13, 2016 at 3:11 pm

        But obviously, if they did accidently blast an innocent motorist it would be the deceased drivers fault for not equiping their car with the proper protective gear, or for driving on a road that was too narrow so it was likely to bring them in the proximity of rocket equiped cyclists!

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        meh October 13, 2016 at 3:40 pm

        “a vehicle that has the ability to harm others so easily”

        That’s the problem it’s not the vehicle, the vehicle can’t do a thing on its own, it is an inanimate object. To do harm requires a human being.

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          Chris I October 13, 2016 at 3:45 pm

          That’s weird, because I keep seeing reports (like the one above) about vehicles hitting and killing people. Where are the people?!

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      Middle of the Road guy October 13, 2016 at 3:45 pm

      sounds like a viable kickstarter idea. Have at it!

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    Better Alive than Right October 13, 2016 at 2:35 pm

    Having read most the comments, there are three main threads:
    1. the driver was driving irresponsibly: driving in a way that resulted in the bicyclist being hit is the drivers fault.
    2. the bicyclist was riding irresponsibly: how can you ride in the dark, in the rain, on a remote rural road, and not at least have a rear light?
    3. the initial police report was completely biased against the bicyclist

    In my opinion the first two are not mutually exclusive.

    I can somewhat agree with JM that the driver is at fault. Drive for the conditions – it could’ve been anything in that road, including Middle of the Road guy in a ninja outfit, and just because you’re in a car and its on the road doesn’t give you the right to kill it. Agreed.

    But I also wholeheartedly agree that as a biker, I want to stay alive and I want all my fellow cyclists to stay alive. I’d be happy to have a beer at Velo Cult and discuss how messed up it is that bicyclists are unjustly blamed for accidents. But when I leave the bar on a rainy night, I’m going to put on my helmet, my bright yellow rain jacket with reflective striping, my 800W headlight, and my PDW Danger Zone taillight because I don’t want to be the next victim. Am I caving to the system? Maybe. Am I adjusting to reality – yep.

    If the deadly car vs human bicyclist is a chicken and egg scenario, I’ll change my defensive behavior after the cars change their deadly behavior. I’d rather be alive than overly principled.

    As far as the biased police report – I completely agree but only after reading JM’s critique. That is definitely something we need to improve. But you’re not doing yourself any favors on that front by saying that the bicyclist shares no culpability. And the police also have a responsibility to improve the safety of the public – they don’t want any more dead cyclists either. But they could couch it better: gear up guys, because there are crazies on the road who might kill you.

    Until they stop all the crazies, I’m gearing up.

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      Paul Atkinson October 13, 2016 at 3:24 pm

      When we take our bicycles on the road we each may choose how much risk to assume. The minimum amount of lighting isn’t enough for many of us; we’ll generally have rear lights (even when not required, and often more than one) and front lights that exceed the legal requirement. Many of us additionally wear bright clothing, or accessories that have reflective material, or otherwise ride so that we’re easily seen.

      Those are all choices we’re free to make.

      However, once someone has met the legal minimum none of us has any right to blame that person in the event that they’re hit by a driver who is otherwise at fault. Drivers are responsible to see and avoid anyone they can reasonably see, and “reasonably” is defined as obeying the law.

      They are responsible to see and avoid cyclists who have nothing in the rear but a reflector.

      They are responsible to see and avoid pedestrians who are wearing dark clothing and no reflective gear on foggy nights.

      They are responsible to see and avoid people when the sun is in front of them and when it’s behind them. Also in overcast, rainy, snowy, icy, foggy, or any other weather condition. All of this is embedded in the basic speed rule: don’t drive faster than conditions allow.

      Sure. Gear up. I will too. Also, that guy — the guy who was legally up to scratch but didn’t have quite as much don’t-kill-me-yellow clothing on, or quite as many blinky taillights, or whose front light wasn’t an 800-lumen retina roaster, or who in some other way didn’t exceed the requirements as much as I do — that guy is not at fault for having a higher tolerance for risk, or for having a slimmer wallet, if the damage came from someone endangering him by breaking the law.

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        meh October 14, 2016 at 6:46 am

        Hypocrisy at it’s finest. Quote the statutes chapter and verse when it suits you, but woes is me if I get nabbed in an enforcement action for rolling a stop sign. Because it’s always “it’s just common sense that an Idaho stop is better for cyclists”. Well it’s common sense to put a light on your rear end when riding at night in the rain.

        So if you assume the risk of not being as visible then that implies you know that what you are doing is not the best possible thing you can do in the situation but you consider the risks acceptable. So you are willing to assume fault (not blame) if something occurs.

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          Paul Atkinson October 14, 2016 at 9:11 am

          You’re accusing me of quite a lot. I don’t think we’ve ever met, nor do I recall making posts lauding the behaviors you’re ascribing to me.

          Do try to be more polite in the future. Also more accurate.

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            meh October 14, 2016 at 9:31 am

            “However, once someone has met the legal minimum”

            “that guy is not at fault for having a higher tolerance for risk”

            You brought up legal minimum and risk tolerance.

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              Paul Atkinson October 14, 2016 at 10:11 am

              Yes, I did, and I feel I’m quite consistent in that stance. Your post appears to try to contrast that with a complete disregard for other laws and safety standards, and accuses me of hypocrisy for supporting both my own statements and the ones you made up and assigned to me.

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          Dan A October 14, 2016 at 9:20 am

          meh

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      canuck October 13, 2016 at 3:42 pm

      Well said, because the only laws that apply are the laws of physics, two tons of car win against 20 pounds of bike every time. I’d rather be alive than right.

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        Chris I October 13, 2016 at 5:12 pm

        This isn’t a discussion about physics and “staying alive”, it’s a discussion about how the police and media report incidents. If you get hit by a car this will affect you, even with your safety gear. You are dead, and the motorist lies. The responding officer doesn’t question them (unless they are drunk) and issues a statement to the media stating the you were difficult to see, or “darted in front of the car”. This is what your family and friends get to read. It happens all of the time.

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        Joe F October 13, 2016 at 9:52 pm

        What would be right? Dead is dead.

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          Ted Timmons (Contributor) October 14, 2016 at 9:42 am

          I’d rather not be in a world where the attitude is it’s everyone’s responsibility/fault to stay out of the way of dangerous drivers.

          I’d rather be in a world where drivers acknowledged, through behavior, that there is significant responsibility that comes with operating a large object, especially in situations with decreased visual awareness.

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            Joe F October 14, 2016 at 7:12 pm

            What about the responsibility of the little bicyclist operating on a roadway for trucks, cars and farm vehicles that are under mechanical power?

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              Dan A October 14, 2016 at 7:21 pm

              When did we decide who roadways are ‘for’?

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              Spiffy October 17, 2016 at 8:24 am

              you mean those roadways that were built for people? the ones that have been taken over by corporations for the sole use of explosion-powered weapons in the last 100 years? those roads?

              ok, so what responsibilities are you talking about?

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      Eric Leifsdad October 13, 2016 at 4:34 pm

      This “remote rural road” was less than a mile from town.

      What if there was a tail light which was smashed/lost in the crash? Seems likely that somebody writing the car-centric report could easily miss that evidence. The dead person cannot defend themselves, so we should all really make more of an effort to ask for evidence and question assumptions.

      What about this “forgive and forget” attitude toward drivers who “didn’t see”. This driver probably had about a 10mph better chance of missing an illegally un-reflectored bike than a legally dressed-in-black pedestrian. Seems like that’s worth remembering.

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        Joe F October 13, 2016 at 9:55 pm

        Eric, yes this collision happened about a mile from town but that says nothing to the fact it is pitch black, and that a simplke flashing light may have saved Charlie’s life. Everything was looked for at the scene which is why they reported ‘no lights on the bike’. Police can be correct once in a while.

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    Joe F October 13, 2016 at 4:43 pm

    Jonathon Maus, you are obviously a bit narrow on your bike enthusiasm, meaning you seem to believe bicyclists are always in the right and vehicle drivers are always in the wrong, and you come off as very prejudiced against drivers, as well.

    The area that the bicyclist was hit is dark –always– but is worse when raining. You don’t know the area we live in and are incapable of an honest, knowledgeable, informed opinion on this tragic accident. This is rural Oregon, not downtown Portland.

    Bicyclists should always have reflectors front, back and sides (at a ridiculous minimum), and even better, have lights on their bikes and reflective clothing when riding in the dark. The amount of rain coming down at that time was unsafe for someone, anyone, on a bicycle. These awful incidents happen from time to time and it must be understood that not one or the other is always at fault. Every person on the road must do their due diligence for their own safety first and foremost.

    You also are spending far too much time analyzing every word being said or written like there is a hidden meaning to every word said. This is no conspiracy. It is an accident. Give it a rest.

    I really think you need to re-examine your stance and your opinions, and don’t take the side that everyone is against cyclists or the like. I used to enjoy bicycling when I was younger and even into middle age. But when you get on your bike, you must do your part, too, and not just hope someone will see you in any condition. Now, lay off and let us deal with our tragedy, as now we need to deal with it.

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      Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) October 14, 2016 at 8:36 am

      Hi Joe F,

      thanks for the comment. I realize this is your first comment and you are new to this site. That being said, you don’t know me at all so please don’t assume you know my intentions or motivations. I have spent hundreds of hours riding on rural roads just like these and have spent over a decade thinking deeply about police statements, bicycle laws, and issues related to rural road riding.

      I’m sorry that my tone and approach to this story is making it harder for you to deal with this tragedy. That’s not my intent. And yes, I believe analyzing words and language used by law enforcement is extremely important. I approach this not just as a road user but as an advocate and someone who is trying to lead a larger discussion in the community.

      As for the light/no light issue. It’s actually not important if the rider had one or not. The issue here is how/whether the police mention it. Do they mention other potentially illegal things the driver did? They don’t. That’s my point. It’s a biased approach that aims to soothe and sympathize with one user and place blame on another. That’s what I believe.

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        mike October 14, 2016 at 10:08 am

        The issue here is a cyclist has died but you seem more worried about the police report which was probably written in the wee hours of the morning. Having a bright tail light might of made a difference here but even the mention of it seems to get everyone’s knickers in a twist. It isn’t victim blaming to want others to take steps to improve their safety just as it isn’t victim blaming to want pedestrians to look both ways before crossing.

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          Dan A October 14, 2016 at 10:35 am

          It is victim blaming to completely ignore the responsibilities of the motor vehicle operator.

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          El Biciclero October 14, 2016 at 10:41 am

          “Having a bright tail light might of made a difference here but even the mention of it seems to get everyone’s knickers in a twist.”

          The point is that having better wiper blades, better headlights, or driving slower might have made a difference here…but those things aren’t even mentioned. It isn’t the mention of the bicyclist not having a light that upsets folks, it’s the complete lack of mention of anything the driver might have done differently to avoid this collision. Reports like this only perpetuate the notion that responsibility for safety on the road is 100% on the shoulders of the most vulnerable, while those barrelling down the road in multi-ton missiles share none of it.

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        wsbob October 14, 2016 at 11:10 am

        “…As for the light/no light issue. It’s actually not important if the rider had one or not. The issue here is how/whether the police mention it. Do they mention other potentially illegal things the driver did? They don’t. That’s my point. It’s a biased approach that aims to soothe and sympathize with one user and place blame on another. That’s what I believe. …” maus

        Again…maus, your own story reports that the sheriff’s dept statement you posted in your story, was released just two and a half hours after the collision. In other words: a preliminary statement, and apparently not one that includes findings from the ongoing dept investigation of the collision mentioned in the statement.

        The Marion County Sheriff’s Dept will likely have more information to report to the public about this collision. When that report is available, after the police have had adequate time to interview the person driving, any witnesses present, conduct relevant tests…will be the time to start considering whether the sheriff’s dept is remiss in noting illegal or potentially illegal things the person driving did or did not do that may have contributed to the occurrence of this collision.

        It’s being a bit hasty to suggest that the Marion County Sheriff’s Dept, through the language used in its preliminary report of this collision, has deliberately set out, as you put it: “…to soothe and sympathize with one user and place blame on another.”. What you’re expressing, sounds like conspiracy theory thinking, and without anything to support your suspicions, it’s just irrational to jump to the conclusion you appear to have with regards to this sheriff’s dept.

        The person riding a bike and involved in this collision, their death being the result, may have been a resident of this county. Review Kristen LaChapelle’s comment: http://bikeportland.org/2016/10/13/sheriffs-office-blames-deceased-rider-in-early-morning-fatality-near-stayton-193395#comment-6709947 It does the county no good when of its residents loses their life simply trying to use the road for basic travel.

        When one of the reasons possibly contributing to the collision having occurred, was that the person riding did not have their bike equipped with at least the legally required lighting…that makes the fact that the bike did not have lights…especially important.

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        Joe F October 14, 2016 at 7:24 pm

        Sadly, you are coming off as so biased you can’t see the forest through the trees. You are not privileged to the investigation, the facts or the truth that is being ignored by many on here that it makes me question the sensibilities being employed and/or ignored here. The driver was not at fault, & the bicyclist was in the wrong for not protecting themselves is what the evidence shows. You need to accept it to live. Ignorance is not superseded by hours of riding if you don’t learn from that experience. Think for a second – do you want your family to choose your casket because you don’t take a simple precaution? It’s as foolish as it is deadly. I hate to say that but it’s true. No one wants to see you or anyone else in this awful position.

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          El Biciclero October 15, 2016 at 11:17 am

          Well, let’s look at some other crash reports and see what is mentioned about those involved or their vehicles:

          “Medford Man Killed In Crash On Highway 230 – Douglas County – 10/14/16

          On October 13, 2016 shortly after 3:00pm, OSP Troopers and emergency personnel responded to a single vehicle crash on Highway 230 at milepost 18 (north of Union Creek).

          Preliminary investigation revealed a 1997 Toyota Tacoma pickup was traveling northbound on Hwy 230 at milepost 18, and for an unknown reasons the vehicle left the roadway rolling several times before coming to rest. The driver of the Toyota, George PAPPAS, age 59, of Medford was pronounced deceased at the scene.

          OSP was assisted by Oregon Department of Transportation, Douglas County Medical Examiner’s Office and Chemult Fire and Rescue. This is an ongoing investigation with more information will be released when available.”

          Wait—was the pickup traveling at “a high rate of speed”? Did the driver “swerve off the roadway”? Was he wearing a seatbelt? Did the truck have airbags? Did the truck have functional front and rear brakes? Was the driver wearing earbuds? We just don’t know. All that is mentioned is the vehicle, seemingly of its own volition, “left the roadway”. The poor driver just went along for the ride; he couldn’t help it, couldn’t have done anything about it.

          “Myrtle Point Woman Killed In Crash On Highway 42 – Coos County – 10/14/16

          On October 12, 2016 at about 4:45PM, OSP Troopers and emergency personnel responded to the report of a head-on collision on Highway 42 near milepost 29 (east of Myrtle Point).

          Preliminary investigation revealed a 2001 Dodge Durango was traveling eastbound when it made a pass in a no passing lane. The Dodge collided head-on with a westbound 2010 Toyota Corolla.

          Both occupants of the Toyota were extricated from their vehicle and taken to Coquille Valley Hospital. The driver of the Toyota, Horace A ARNOLD, age 76, of Myrtle Point, received non life threatening injuries. The passenger in the Toyota, Marjorie R SLUDER, age 76, of Myrtle Point, later died at the hospital from her injuries.

          The driver of the Dodge, Christopher R WALKER, age 31, of Myrtle Point, was not injured.

          This is an ongoing criminal investigation. More information will be released as it becomes available.”

          So, how do we know whether the Toyota had its lights on? Didn’t the driver of the Toyota see the Durango coming? Was it rainy? Was the Toyota painted a gray color that blended in with cloudy skies? Was anyone speeding? What was wrong with the “victims'” vehicle that this terrible thing happened? Were they wearing seatbelts? What should they have been doing differently? How will we ever learn from this terrible tragedy how to avoid being killed by illegally-passing Dodge Durangos?

          “On Thursday October 13, 2016, at 9:04 p.m., East Precinct and Traffic Division officers responded to the report of a serious crash on Southeast Division Street at 139th Avenue.

          Officers and medical personnel arrived and located two vehicles involved in the crash. One of the vehicles’ occupants left the scene on foot and the driver in the other crash was suffering from traumatic injuries.

          Medical personnel attempted life-saving treatment but the driver died after being transported by ambulance to a Portland hospital.

          The three occupants of the other vehicle that fled the scene were described as African American males.

          The Traffic Division’s Major Crash Team is responding to conduct an investigation. Southeast Division Street will be closed in both directions for several hours due to the crash investigation.

          Anyone with information on the identity of the three people who fled the scene is asked to call the Police Non-Emergency Line at 503-823-3333. ”

          Here, we see no speculation about what even happened, just that there was “a serious crash”. Didn’t somebody run a light, or swerve erratically, or not have their lights on, or something? Why no speculation about who was at fault here? It is noted that some of those involved fled the scene, but no suggestions about who did what wrong to cause or contribute to this “serious crash”.

          We can also see that in every case above, there is “an ongoing…investigation”, whereas in the case covered by this story, the investigation appears to be over, the road is reopened, and we all know what happened—another crazy cyclist dared to venture out without proper gear/protection, was riding on a road they “probably shouldn’t have been on”, and the poor driver is the real victim, here.

          Jonathan and other commenters here may be biased—but we’re not the only ones.

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      Dan A October 14, 2016 at 9:26 am

      Hmm, no mention in your post whether you think someone ought to be driving in those conditions at the speed that they were driving.

      Suppose you’re out there driving, and you have a breakdown that requires you to walk the rest of the way. Do you think other drivers on the road ought to be watchful for you on the side of the road, or should they just drive at the posted limit regardless of the conditions, and hit whatever happens to get in their way?

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      Eric Leifsdad October 14, 2016 at 1:47 pm

      The dark and rain isn’t remotely as dangerous as somebody driving too fast through it. If I’m solely obligated to take responsibility for my own safety, the best thing is probably to erect a barrier or otherwise render the road impassible to cars after crossing each intersection.

      I take it your response to “minivan crashes into gaping sinkhole” is “The amount of rain coming down at that time was unsafe for someone, anyone, in a minivan. These awful incidents happen from time to time and it must be understood that not one or the other is always at fault. Every person on the road must do their due diligence for their own safety first and foremost.”

      Or were you trying to say that “due diligence” means driving a car?

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      Spiffy October 17, 2016 at 8:40 am

      no Joe F, you really need to examine your privilege… the only reason that so many people have to take any precautions at all on our streets is due to the mass carnage delivered by poorly driven motor vehicles…

      bicycles should not need any lights at all… there’s nothing unsafe about riding a black bicycle in dark clothes at night in the rain…

      the only thing unsafe about our roads are the motor vehicles… quit trying to defend something that kills 30,000 of us every year… they are the problem… it’s that simple… you just don’t want to look… you just don’t want it to be you… too bad…

      the drivers are the ones with the weapons… the drivers are the ones making things unsafe… the drivers are the ones solely responsible for the safety of those around them on the road…

      you don’t create a dangerous situation and then blame everybody else for it…

      roads are not for cars…

      roads are for the people…

      roads are not supposed to be slaughterhouses…

      roads are not for killing…

      ***Portions of this comment were edited to make it less insulting and mean. Please be nice everyone. Thanks. — Jonathan. ***

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    Mark smith October 13, 2016 at 4:56 pm

    If I hit a car with my car…and the other car had no lights, was black…and it was raining…would the release read the same way?

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      Chris I October 13, 2016 at 5:13 pm

      I don’t know, are cars legally required to have tail lights?

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        Joe F October 13, 2016 at 9:48 pm

        Yes. Headlights, too, when driving after dark.

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          Chris I October 14, 2016 at 2:43 pm

          Exactly. The comparison is invalid.

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      Kyle Banerjee October 14, 2016 at 9:50 am

      If the car was stopped, the owner could be held criminally negligent. Even if moving, they would be held responsible.

      This is not a cyclist vs motorist thing.

      The messaging from the police can be improved. I think constantly bringing up helmets when someone has been pulped by a vehicle going 60mph because wearing a beer cooler on your head isn’t going to help much.

      But this is the wrong thing to get our knickers in a twist about. Even if it’s legal, is disingenuous to suggest that riding in the dark dressed in black and unlit isn’t setting up an accident.

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        Dan A October 14, 2016 at 10:36 am

        Again no mention of basic speed law.

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      Spiffy October 19, 2016 at 11:39 am

      that happened to my father in law… he slid partway off the road in his black truck due to snow… he was standing next to it and a driver came around the corner and hit his truck… that driver was cited for driving too fast for conditions because he hit an inanimate object in the road that he should have been able to avoid…

      in a world where everybody takes the needed level of care we don’t need tail lights because nobody drives where they can’t see…

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    Kristi Finney Dunn October 13, 2016 at 6:09 pm

    The following excerpt was printed in O-Live the morning my son was killed. Seems to pretty explicitly imply that Dustin died because he wasn’t wearing a helmet and the other rider survived because he was. Dustin was hit full on from the rear in the bike lane and the other rider was “clipped and just knocked down” (his words). Also, Dustin’s “severe head trauma” was from being hit so hard his head broke off his neck, not his head smashed. A helmet would have made no difference.

    “Portland police Traffic Division Lt. Eric Schober said Finney was not wearing a helmet and suffered severe head trauma. Phomma, who was wearing a helmet, was taken to the hospital for an evaluation. He said Friday afternoon he felt better but has been having general headaches and soreness in his side.”

    Every time I see this type of statement I’m angry all over again.

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      kittens October 13, 2016 at 10:26 pm

      God that is awful and tragic. I think it just further highlights the lunacy of low level law enforcement officials putting out media statements. They are just not equipped or informed on how to talk about fresh accidents.

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      Versus October 13, 2016 at 11:56 pm

      I am sorry for your loss

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    kittens October 13, 2016 at 10:22 pm

    It is possible that both the bike rider and driver were at fault here. Insurance companies assign this all the time. The cyclist for being negligent and driver for failing to stop in time. I would say 10/90% spit with the majority of the blame landing on diver.

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    Versus October 13, 2016 at 11:55 pm

    Is it just me or is the usage of the word “versus” very atypical for this type of statement or am I wrong on that? Also, while a rear light is not required by Oregon Law, isn’t a front light required in low light conditions, even though it may not be the most relevant in this situation.

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      wsbob October 14, 2016 at 10:38 am

      “…Also, while a rear light is not required by Oregon Law, isn’t a front light required in low light conditions, even though it may not be the most relevant in this situation.” versus

      Important point to be raising, and a good question to be asking. Light on front is relevant to this situation, because time of day the person was riding, was early in morning, low light, if not dark at 6:30.

      On oregonlaws.org, check out required equipment for bikes:

      http://www.oregonlaws.org/ors/815.280

      Notice the law uses “limited visibility conditions”, rather than ‘low light’ as some of us may tend to do from time. The same basic principle is implied by both phrases, I think.

      I also think it’s very important for anyone riding, to tune up their awareness of what lighting conditions may have their visibility to other road users be very poor to not at all, through no fault of other road users. For example…during the day or near to it, fog, dark rainy daytime, or sometimes, even on sunny days, deep shadows from tall trees or towering rock faces can create low visibility conditions in which use of lighting on bikes can be very advantageous.

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      pdxpaul October 14, 2016 at 1:41 pm

      Versus is standard nomenclature.

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        q October 14, 2016 at 11:01 pm

        At least they’re not calling them “driver-involved accidents” yet.

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    Scott Moad October 14, 2016 at 10:23 am

    Bottom line is if you hear a car coming, move as far away as possible if you want to live.

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      Kyle Banerjee October 14, 2016 at 12:59 pm

      Better yet, just keep track of it and adjust accordingly if it’s not going to clear you.

      On two lane highways, riding too far right is dangerous. Much better to ride pretty far left so you can be seen and so you can tell if the driver sees you. If the driver doesn’t indicate via movement and/or adjustment of speed that s/he sees you and won’t clear, you can move over as far as you need — including off the road if necessary.

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      Chris I October 14, 2016 at 2:45 pm

      Or better yet, just sell your bike for scrap metal and buy a big SUV. Or just stay at home. Can’t be too safe out there.

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    SD October 15, 2016 at 12:16 pm

    Specific to this event. To evaluate the driving best practice, “was the driver maximizing their visibility by using their high beams?” This question is as relevant to the fatality as is the question of a rear bicycle light.

    More broadly, “Why aren’t there more rigorous requirements for headlights?”
    See IIHS article below for variability among vehicles.
    http://www.iihs.org/iihs/sr/statusreport/article/51/3/1

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    Bankerman October 15, 2016 at 12:36 pm

    I really don’t see any particular bias in the sheriffs department statement, but after reading the comments I can see where BP is coming from.

    However, a reader needs to consider another side to the sheriff’s statement. I have two friends who are law enforcement officers, and while perhaps not representative of every such person, I do note that in conversations with them over the years that they are disheartened about any traffic fatality. These are people who on a regular basis see the death and the pain caused by auto crashes, whether it involves other vehicles, bikes, or pedestrians. They are particularly distressed when the death comes about when, in their opinion, it is due in part to the lack of responsible actions on the part of an involved person. It may be driving under the influence, speeding, careless driving, or even the wearing of dark clothes at night. In the statement referenced here, what I “read between the lines” is a sheriff thinking here is another fatality that perhaps could have been prevented if the bicycle rider had taken some common-sense precautions.

    When I was a teenager back in the 1960s, I delivered the Oregonian on my bike. Even back then, at the age of 12 or 13, I felt the need to mount front and rear lights as I made those early-morning rounds. I spent a lot of time and money trying to find the brightest and most effective lighting available; and it was pretty tough back then to find reliable bike products. But I always remembered what my mother told me: yes you may be right, dead right.

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      Pete October 16, 2016 at 1:45 pm

      The point many make here is the difference between legal and responsible. The duty of the responding officer is to determine legal compliance and record *all* facts surrounding an incident – relevant to the law, as well as to potential for cause. These facts will then be interpreted by lawyers and judges who determine levels of negligence (as a corollary of responsibility) – that’s not the officer’s call.

      The color of a bicyclist’s clothing has absolutely no place in a police report. My most reflective clothing is black, while my yellow and orange jerseys can’t be seen in the dark. 3M makes a high-reflective material that is black. The “white” jacket you see pictured here is actually black: https://ca-store.sugoi.com/collections/zap-collection

      The officer noted a lack of rear lighting while neglecting to note the presence (or lack) of a legally-required reflector on the bike. The officer neglected to note whether the driver had their lights on, which is required within a half hour of sunrise. That these latter (and important) facts are omitted while irrelevant “facts” noted indicates potential bias, as it influences the interpretation of liability by the court.

      The rider had a responsibility for the bicycle to be seen from 600′ behind, and the current state of Oregon law determines that a bicycle reflector should satisfy this condition. See this article by a bicycle lawyer here: http://www.stc-law.com/bikelighting.html

      This (potential bias) also occurs regularly when it’s noted that an adult bicyclist was not wearing a helmet. Yes, many of us agree that helmets are a great idea (they’ve saved my head twice), but they are not legally required, and they are irrelevant to the cause of a crash. I would expect an officer to note if a driver was not wearing a seatbelt in a crash, though, because that’s a citable offense – though again, irrelevant to cause.

      Hope this helps.

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        wsbob October 16, 2016 at 7:43 pm

        “…The color of a bicyclist’s clothing has absolutely no place in a police report. …” pete

        In the initial report posted two and half hours after this collision, there is no mention of the color of clothing the person riding the bike was wearing, The report instead says the person biking “…was wearing dark clothing…”, which speaks to tone, i.e. light compared to dark, and accordingly, the relative visibility of lighter toned clothes compared to darker toned clothes. It certainly does seem to me that it would very much be a duty of an officer reporting on collisions having occurred under the visibility conditions this one did, to note in their collision report about the relative visibility of the clothing worn by the person riding the bike.

        While reflective impregnated dark fabric clothing does exist, it’s by no means common. I’ve got a selection of visibility gear…gloves, jerseys…but none of the kind of thing you’re referring to…though I’ve seen it on store racks. It’s not common, and its expensive…whereas though they’ve got a lot to be desired for stylishness, a standard construction issue safety vest in green or orange with a lot of 2″ wide retroreflective tape on it, costs maybe ten to fifteen dollars.

        Out on what in the picture top of this story appears to be a very beautiful, but very dark on a rainy morning area of fields in the countryside…wearing such a vest likely would have immensely aided visibility of the person riding, to other road users.

        Presuming, because the Marion County Sheriff’s Dept in their initial collision report of just two and half hours, is somehow guilty of bias because it does not cover every aspect of the collision in a manner, certain people interested in biking would like to hear…does no good towards progress in improvements to road use safety for people biking. The, so to speak, elephant in the room, is the person riding the bike, involved in and killed in this collision, went out on the road on their bike without gear that may have enabled them to be visibile to other road users in what apparently was very poor visibility conditions.

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          Pete October 19, 2016 at 10:06 pm

          I don’t disagree, but here’s the thing: in night riding tests that we’ve done, the black impregnated clothing is visible MUCH further away than the cheaper, lighter reflective clothing. And in the bright sunlight that I tend to ride in, black stands out much better against the older, whitewashed pavement that’s also common here in Cali. The white, orange, and yellow jerseys that I have are barely more visible than the dark clothing in dim light, and just as black in the dark. I also have a Gore jacket that’s hi-viz and fluorescent yellow with black accents that’s quite visible, but it retails for $200 and is often far too warm to ride in. So the bottom line is it’s not the color of the clothing that makes the biggest difference in visibility, it’s the quality and area of the reflective material, and the good stuff is just not practical to expect a majority of cyclists to always ride in.

          I have to wonder if the officer would have noted if the bicyclist was wearing a bright orange jersey, or even an expensive reflective one like my Gore.

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            wsbob October 20, 2016 at 12:20 am

            “…in night riding tests that we’ve done, the black impregnated clothing is visible MUCH further away than the cheaper, lighter reflective clothing. And in the bright sunlight that I tend to ride in, black stands out much better against the older, whitewashed pavement that’s also common here in Cali. The white, orange, and yellow jerseys that I have are barely more visible than the dark clothing in dim light, and just as black in the dark. …” pete

            Those observations all sound fair and good to me. Contrast of the gear to the surroundings is an important consideration that savvy vulnerable road users are wise to be aware of, I think, and put together a selection of things that will be most effective to the conditions they expect to be riding in. I don’t mean to imply putting together some extensive and expensive, complicated wardrobe, but instead, just a few things that will be particularly effective for a range of conditions.

            Myself…on sunny days, I prefer white jerseys to the colors more commonly associated with ‘hi-vs’, such as the orange and green. Some people have told me that white is one of the more visible tones or shades, so true or not, I want to believe that. Hope it’s true. I save the hi-vis colors for overcast days, particularly the dark, gloomy days; more effective on such days, and less fade than from the sun.

            Thinking about this today…what might be a reliable rule of thumb for what level of visibility anyone biking in low visibility conditions should try to have their bike gear provide: Use the white lines painted on the road for comparison. The paint used for the lines, is designed to pick up light from headlights. I guess some of the paint actually does have reflective material in it.

            Keeping in mind that this story says the collision report was filed just two and a half hours after the collision, and did not reflect the full results of the collision investigation mentioned as being ongoing at the time the statement was released.

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      q October 16, 2016 at 9:45 pm

      You could be right about the sheriff’s own state of mind and motivations, wanting to work some well-intended advice into the report. But he didn’t include any advice for drivers, and Pete’s response is perfect.

      Additionally, most humans naturally want to avoid making someone feel worse than they already do in these situations. Offering comfort–“There’s nothing you could have done to prevent this”–is what people naturally do. But while well-intentioned, that response creates problems, in that it quashes important conversation that need to happen about things that (in this case) the driver might have done differently.

      It would be great if every fatal crash was investigated similarly to the way (I believe) the FAA investigates plane crashes–with an impartial investigation and report by professionals who can suspend any need to be sympathetic or compassionate. The “there’s nothing you could have done” view needs to be eliminated, and it’s perhaps it’s unreasonable that we ask local law enforcement officers to suspend normal human responses that get in the way of objective reporting of crashes.

      That brings things right back to Pete’s statement that it could be best for police reports to stick strictly to facts that are legally relevant. But then follow up with objective analysis afterwards, so people can learn from each crash.

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      Spiffy October 17, 2016 at 8:47 am

      “In the statement referenced here, what I “read between the lines” is a sheriff thinking here is another fatality that perhaps could have been prevented if the bicycle rider had taken some common-sense precautions.”

      and that’s exactly the problem!

      the driver was the one with the responsibility to avoid road hazards and yet the cop will reinforce to themselves that the cyclist should have done more…

      instead the cop should be rue the fact that drivers often drive faster than they can see and relate that fact in their stories to their friends…

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        wsbob October 17, 2016 at 10:47 am

        “…the driver was the one with the responsibility to avoid road hazards and yet the cop will reinforce to themselves that the cyclist should have done more…” spiffy

        People that bike, also have responsibilities to avoid road hazards…such as having a motor be driven into them…in part because the person riding the bike hasn’t taken measures relative to weather and lighting conditions, to enhance their visibility to other road users.

        Should the entire responsibility for seeing vulnerable road users, be placed upon the people driving? Should people that bike on the road not be obliged to do anything to aid visibility of themselves to other road users?

        Is it reasonable for a vulnerable road user, to unthinkingly use gear that actually can defeat the ability of other road users seeing them?

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    q October 15, 2016 at 2:59 pm

    The sheriff’s statement is bad from a cyclist’s perspective. But ironically, while pro-driver on the surface–because it excuses the driver by listing all the failures of the cyclist, and all the problems with conditions such as darkness, no shoulder, etc–deeper down the statement is equally bad from a driver’s perspective.

    No driver wants to be involved in a collision, especially one that kills somebody, even if it’s not their fault, and they don’t get hurt themselves. But by placing all the blame for the collision on the cyclist and on conditions, it tells drivers that they are powerless to avoid such collisions. After all, others’ actions and conditions are beyond drivers’ control.

    If instead, the report had listed things the driver might have done differently–slowed down, been watchful for other users, avoided distractions in the car, etc.–it would have shown drivers they can reduce the chances of having to live with the fact that they killed somebody with their vehicle.

    That’s much better than giving drivers the impression that being the driver in a fatal crash is just fate or luck of the draw.

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    Bankerman October 17, 2016 at 12:34 am

    Due to the lack of information in the sheriff’s statement, we don’t really know the extent of the conversation they had with the driver. Perhaps the officer on the scene interviewed the driver and found that he was not, in fact, exceeding the speed limit, may have been closely watching the road, and there were no distractions in the car. At the legal limit of 55mph, the vehicle would be traveling about 81 feet per second and if the driver came around a curve and spotted the bicyclist, he would have had a split second to avoid the collision. And perhaps he did swerve or otherwise attempt to avoid the crash, but the sheriff’s statement left that information out because they felt the driver was driving in a completely legal manner and had no liability in the crash. Because, whether you wish to admit it or not, there are “accidents” with bicyclists where the driver is not at fault.

    After reading the BP website for the last couple of years, I understand that the typical poster never, ever, finds a bike rider at fault. Not when a bicyclists suddenly and unexpectedly decides to turn from a right-side bike lane against traffic and is hit by a car in the far left lane, or even when a bike rider hits and injuries a pedestrian (as has been documented at least two times that I am aware of), the bicyclist is never at fault.

    Continue on your merry way, stubborn in your belief that a bicyclist can do no wrong, and continue to wonder why the general public is incensed by your air of superiority and lack of responsibility.

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      Spiffy October 17, 2016 at 8:54 am

      if they were going 55 mph then they need a ticket for speeding…

      at that speed on a clear night they should have been able to stop in time…

      it was dark so they should have been going slower…

      and it was raining so they should have been going even slower…

      and they couldn’t see things in the road in time to stop so they should have been going even slower still…

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        Eric Leifsdad October 17, 2016 at 11:52 am

        They should have been going at least 15mph slower than the speed at which they would be able to safely avoid hitting something moving away from them at 15mph.

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      Ted Timmons (Contributor) October 17, 2016 at 9:47 am

      There’s a huge difference between “a bicyclist can do no wrong” and pointing out bias in the reporting.

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      q October 17, 2016 at 10:59 am

      All you say about the sheriff knowing the driver was driving appropriately, so that he didn’t mention anything in his report about the driver’s actions, could be true. There’s still the fact that he did hit him. Even in bad weather in the dark, with a dark object or person in front, it’s hard NOT to see them unless you’ve got other headlights in your eyes, which wasn’t mentioned to be the case. So I’m not convinced the driver wasn’t going too fast for the conditions.

      More importantly, I don’t see any evidence here to support your idea that the typical poster never finds cyclists at fault. There may be a few. But being critical of the report, or criticizing the driver, or saying dark clothing isn’t illegal, is not at all the same as saying the cyclist was not at fault or partially at fault, legally or otherwise.

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        Bankerman October 18, 2016 at 10:27 pm

        I would have to completely disagree with you when you state “Even in bad weather in the dark, with a dark object or person in front, it’s hard NOT to see them”. A week ago I was driving back to my office in downtown Portland at dusk and slowed to make a right-hand turn. As I did so, I caught the movement of a pedestrian in dark clothing against a backdrop of dark buildings and trees just about to step into the crossing. This action caught me completely off-guard as I did not see the person at all until he/she stepped out into the street. As I was traveling maybe 5mph, I was able to quickly stop, but to say it is NOT hard to see someone under those circumstances is just not valid in my opinion.

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          Dan A October 19, 2016 at 8:47 am

          Operating heavy machinery is a difficult job if done correctly.

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      SD October 17, 2016 at 11:22 am

      The point of this article is that no one other than the driver knows who was at fault. Maybe, the driver doesn’t even have a full appreciation of what happened. But, despite this, the report highlights the fault of the person on the bicycle. After reading many of these reports and seeing the manner in which they are reported in media, it is evident that this is common practice.

      As far as interviewing the driver, what do you expect a sheriff to be able to do when there are no witnesses?

      Do you expect anything more than-

      Sheriff: “You may have just killed someone with your car. Were you driving carefully?”
      Driver: “Yes, I was driving very carefully. I wasn’t speeding. The cyclist appeared out of no where. I didn’t see them.”
      Sheriff: “OK.”

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      El Biciclero October 17, 2016 at 11:37 am

      “After reading the BP website for the last couple of years, I understand that the typical poster never, ever, finds a bike rider at fault. Not when a bicyclists suddenly and unexpectedly decides to turn from a right-side bike lane against traffic and is hit by a car in the far left lane, or even when a bike rider hits and injuries a pedestrian (as has been documented at least two times that I am aware of), the bicyclist is never at fault.”

      Speaking for myself only (I don’t know whether I am a “typical” commenter here), the issue is not that a cyclist involved in a collision could “never” have done anything wrong. The issue, in my mind, is this:

      The only time a driver is considered by most of society (but particularly, by Law Enforcement) to have done anything “wrong” is when it can be proved (via video, post-crash forensics, medical evidence, etc.) that the driver was either drunk/impaired, or committed an egregious violation of the actual law, such as gross speeding (> 20 over the limit) or running a red light at speed, etc. Whereas, to read most police/news reports, a bicyclist is considered to be “in the wrong” for the teeny-tiniest of faux infractions such as wearing the wrong color clothes, not wearing a helmet, not having a rear light, or riding “too fast”, even though they were going less than the speed limit—none of which are illegal. This problem is illustrated somewhat in your quote:

      “…but the sheriff’s statement left that information out because they felt the driver was driving in a completely legal manner and had no liability in the crash.”

      In case you’re scratching your head wondering how this quote illustrates the point, here is how: The police also didn’t mention a single thing that would indicate the bicyclist was riding illegally, yet they felt it necessary to comment on things that weren’t illegal (wearing dark clothes, not having a rear light) about the bicyclist’s riding. The problem is that most people assume a driver was doing “everything right” (were they really?), and if that assumption is made, and the driver still runs over someone, then we must search for ways that the bicyclist or pedestrian victim must have been doing something “wrong”, even if they were operating completely legally.

      As soon as we stop expecting pedestrians and bicyclists to go above and beyond the law to avoid being blamed for crashes, and start expecting drivers to comply with the bare minimum legal requirements for safe driving (which we don’t do—we don’t expect drivers to check blind spots, slow down [EVER!!!], signal turns, not drive blindly into sun glare, clean their windshields, etc.), then articles like this one won’t be necessary. Until then, we are not necessarily seeking to absolve bicyclists of all responsibility for crashes, but merely to point out the tendency of the public at large to focus so intently and singly on what the bicyclist must have done “wrong”, while ignoring things the driver also could have done to avoid tragedy. We can’t treat drivers like wild animals who just can’t help overdriving headlights and speeding around, taking chances with other people’s lives. Safety for pedestrians and bicyclists cannot be approached like teaching hikers how to thwart a bear attack or surfers to avoid sharks. Drivers need to take some responsibility for going above and beyond the law sometimes as well, and be held responsible for not doing so to the same extent bicyclists usually are.

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        Bankerman October 18, 2016 at 7:53 am

        I find it interesting that you so off-handedly ignore our legal system by stating that drivers are not typically found guilty unless there is proof. Considering that the act of killing a bicyclist with an auto is a felony, yes, I would expect there to be verifiable proof.

        For you to say that when we start expecting drivers to follow the bare minimum of responsibility (checking blind spots, etc.), I disagreed with your conclusion. I believe that we DO expect drivers to be responsible. And I think the vast majority of drivers do follow the law. Of the thousands of interactions between bikes and autos every day, the fact that there relatively few collisions seems to me an indication of general responsibility.

        And lastly, I find it interesting that you continue to focus on factors (such as the lack of lights) that contributed to the crash but are not required by law. Again I will repeat what my mother said “yes, you can be right, dead right!”

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          Ted Timmons (Contributor) October 18, 2016 at 9:17 am

          The reality is that drivers in KSI cases are given the best treatment possible- it’s incredibly rare that they are charged unless there’s a DUI or other factor. Valid excuses are “I didn’t see him” (even though you violated the right of way), “medical incident”, etc.

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            wsbob October 18, 2016 at 10:43 am

            Am I one of the few, or the only person reading here, struggling to figure out what a “… KSI…” case is?

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              Ted Timmons (Contributor) October 18, 2016 at 10:56 am

              Sorry, “killed or seriously injured”.

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                wsbob October 18, 2016 at 8:39 pm

                ted…thanks for explaining the abbreviation. I’d not heard that one before.

                By the way…after this long discussion, and nearly a week having passed since the collision, is there any further word from the Marion County Sheriff’s Office, about the collision, or findings from the collision investigation that was apparently not yet completed at the time the initial statement was released to the public?

                While it is important to hold people accountable to their responsibilities and actions as road users, it’s also important not to jump to conclusions, until what facts can be discerned are in, showing if so, or not, that responsibilities on the part of road users involved in a collision, were not met.

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          wsbob October 18, 2016 at 11:02 am

          Anyone using the road for travel has certain related responsibilities accompanying that activity. Whether a person drives, rides a bike, walks or skateboards, their defensible right to use of the road is I think, most often conditional upon their taking various measures to help themselves be visible to other road users.

          It’s very hard to defend someone’s right to use the road, if they’ve not taken even the most basic measures to help themselves be visible to other road users…that being, in the case of someone riding a bike…front light, rear reflector and/or rear light, and perhaps, other simple gear that has retro-reflective material.

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            Dan A October 18, 2016 at 12:11 pm

            Fixed that for you:

            Anyone using the road for travel has certain related responsibilities accompanying that activity. Whether a person drives, rides a bike, walks or skateboards, their defensible right to use of the road is I think, most often conditional upon their taking various measures to see other road users.

            It’s very hard to defend someone’s right to use the road, if they’ve not taken even the most basic measures to help themselves see other road users.

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              wsbob October 18, 2016 at 8:25 pm

              Dan A…You didn’t ‘fix’ anything, in your hijacking of my words, presumably to make some point of your own. If not attempting to simply be a smart alec, the point your were trying to make was that people that drive should take various measures to help them see vulnerable road users…even those vulnerable road users that for some reason, have not taken even the most basic measures to help other road users to see them, especially in low visibility conditions…then you should say exactly that, and give an example or two to make your point clear.

              In the absence of an update in the form of a more recent report on the collision from the sheriffs’ dept, what can likely be fairly reliably said about the person driving that was involved in this collision…is that barring some mechanical function with their vehicle, they most likely had taken measures to see other road users in the bad condition present on the day of the collision: headlights…windshield wipers.

              Most motor vehicles have headlights and tail lights as standard equipment. Most people reflexively turn them on, when visibility conditions become poor. Did the person driving, involved in this collision, have their lights turned on at the time of the collision? Fair question. Likely inconceivable that they woudn’t have them on. This time of the year, 6:30 am, in heavy rain, even with the white lines on the road, probably couldn’t even see the road unless the headlights were on.

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                Dan A October 20, 2016 at 7:26 am

                tl; dr — again no mention of speed

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                q October 20, 2016 at 12:18 pm

                wsbob–you wrote, “Did the person driving, involved in this collision, have their lights turned on at the time of the collision? Fair question. Likely inconceivable that they woudn’t have them on. This time of the year, 6:30 am, in heavy rain, even with the white lines on the road, probably couldn’t even see the road unless the headlights were on.

                I hope you see the irony of that argument. Sure, the driver must have had his lights on. But the report states that the cyclist didn’t have a headlight, and nobody’s thinking that HE couldn’t see the road in those same conditions. Probably partially because he didn’t have a wet windshield in front of him, but mainly because he wasn’t driving his bike nearly as fast as the car’s driver was driving his car.

                So if the cyclist could see clearly with NO headlight, it’s almost inconceivable that the driver wouldn’t have been able to see the cyclist if he’d been driving his car slower.

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              wsbob October 19, 2016 at 10:07 am

              Dan A…please don’t try the ‘fixed that for you’ trick, because it’s cheating, by using someone’s thoughts and writing besides your own, and more importantly, it’s not effective. If you have something you want to say, do all of us reading here, the honor of putting your own thoughts down in your own words.

              It seems the point your were trying to make was that people that drive should take various measures to help them see vulnerable road users…even those vulnerable road users that for some reason, have not taken even the most basic measures to help other road users to see them, especially in low visibility conditions.

              Even in the absence of an update in the form of a more recent report on the collision from the sheriffs’ dept, what can likely be fairly reliably said about the person driving that was involved in this collision…is that barring some mechanical function with their vehicle, they most likely had taken measures to see other road users in the bad condition present on the day of the collision, in the form of: headlights…windshield wipers.

              Most motor vehicles have headlights and tail lights as standard equipment. Most people reflexively turn them on, when visibility conditions become poor. Did the person driving, involved in this collision, have their lights turned on at the time of the collision? Fair question. Likely inconceivable that they woudn’t have them on. This time of the year, 6:30 am, in heavy rain, even with the white lines on the road, probably cou

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                Dan A October 20, 2016 at 7:27 am

                tl; dr — again no mention of speed

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                q October 20, 2016 at 12:42 pm

                wsbob–you wrote to someone else, “It seems the point your were trying to make was that people that drive should take various measures to help them see vulnerable road users…even those vulnerable road users that for some reason, have not taken even the most basic measures to help other road users to see them, especially in low visibility conditions”.

                First of all, the “most basic measures” would be only what’s legally required, and the only legally required thing a bike needs to be seen from the rear is a reflector, and the report doesn’t say it didn’t have one.

                More importantly, the fact that some vulnerable users act against their own best interests by not doing MORE than is legally required to protect themselves (or for that matter not even doing the legal minimum) may be a REASON they get hit, but it’s not an automatic EXCUSE for hitting them.

                That fact that not everybody does all they can to protect themselves is EXACTLY why we have traffic laws such as the basic speed law, and EXACTLY why people need to do MORE than the legal minimum to protect other road users.

                Laws such as the basic speed law aren’t just to protect the able-bodied, conscientious pedestrian or cyclist from getting run over, they’re also to protect the child darting out into the street, the drunk stumbling off the curb, the careless, and anyone else who for whatever reason cannot or does not do everything possible to protect themselves.

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                wsbob October 20, 2016 at 8:21 pm

                “…First of all, the “most basic measures” would be only what’s legally required, and the only legally required thing a bike needs to be seen from the rear is a reflector, …” q

                q…Maybe how I put it wasn’t sufficiently clear, but what I wrote, was of the importance of the most basic measures, not simply for the purpose of having the legally required equipment, but for the purpose of being visible to other road users in low visibility conditions:

                “…the most basic measures to help other road users to see them, especially in low visibility conditions”. …” wsbob

                People can and do make departures from what is the legally required minimum equipment for biking, so that the likelihood they may be seen by other road users is increased, especially in low visibility conditions. Especially when setting out in, or anticipating the likelihood of low visibility conditions, the reason many people use tail lights instead of or in addition to the legally required rear reflector, is because they have concerns that the reflector can not do an adequate job for the conditions.

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                q October 21, 2016 at 11:31 am

                wsbob–of course I and everyone here understands that cyclists often go beyond the minimum legal measures to improve their safety. But that’s just it–they’re going beyond the minimum. That means they’re going beyond “the most basic measures”. Reflectors are a “most basic measure”. Tail lights are more than that.

                That could be quibbling in another context, but not in respect to this article, which reports how the sheriff’s report holds the cyclist to a higher standard than the driver.

                You’re doing the same thing as the report. For you, the “most basic measure” for cyclists’ visibility from the rear is a tail light, even though a reflector is the legal requirement. But for the driver, here’s what you say:

                “What can likely be fairly reliably said about the person driving that was involved in this collision…is that barring some mechanical function with their vehicle, they most likely had taken measures to see other road users in the bad condition present on the day of the collision, in the form of: headlights…windshield wipers.

                So your opinion is that the “most basic measures” for cyclists to be visible go beyond the legal minimum, while all drivers have to do to see the cyclists is to meet only part of the legal minimum requirement. As others have said, you don’t even ask that they slow down to a basic safe speed, which is also a legal requirement.

                So you’re defending the sheriff’s report by doing exactly what the article criticizes the report for doing.

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          El Biciclero October 18, 2016 at 6:59 pm

          “I find it interesting that you so off-handedly ignore our legal system by stating that drivers are not typically found guilty unless there is proof.”

          I don’t believe I said anything about being “found guilty” in court. This article is about reports that are issued to the public. I was talking about such reports, which facts tend to be included/excluded by Law Enforcement, and what the General Public tend to think about who was “wrong”, not who courts eventually may find legally “guilty”. Facts about the driver in such cases tend to be more carefully guarded, while speculation about the bicyclist is fair game.

          “Considering that the act of killing a bicyclist with an auto is a felony, yes, I would expect there to be verifiable proof.”

          That’s just wrong. Killing a bicyclist with one’s car isn’t even a traffic infraction a lot of times. Why? Because it just can’t be proven that the bicyclist went far enough above and beyond the law to protect themselves, and they aren’t around to testify in their own defense.

          “For you to say that when we start expecting drivers to follow the bare minimum of responsibility (checking blind spots, etc.), I disagreed with your conclusion. I believe that we DO expect drivers to be responsible.”

          Well, then we would need statements like “yes, you can be right, dead right”. If we truly expected motorists to be responsible, then we could all just follow the law and be OK.

          And I think the vast majority of drivers do follow the law.

          I would bet my entire bank account that over 50% of the time, over 50% of drivers are breaking some law. Speeding, making turns without signaling for the required 100 feet prior, not coming to a complete stop at STOP signs, squeaking through that left turn after the signal has gone red, making right turns on red without coming to a complete stop first, using bike lanes to pass other drivers in order to make those right turns on red, failing to stop before entering the crosswalk, blocking intersections, failing to stop prior to entering the sidewalk when exiting a driveway, failure to yield to pedestrians, illegal U-turns. I, myself broke the law for most of my drive home today: speeding on the freeway.

          Of the thousands of interactions between bikes and autos every day, the fact that there relatively few collisions seems to me an indication of general responsibility.

          Lack of crashes does not imply legal compliance. Would you say the same thing about bicyclists? If they don’t get run over, they must have been following the law? Or are we constantly breaking the law and just getting lucky? Might that same principle apply to drivers?

          “And lastly, I find it interesting that you continue to focus on factors (such as the lack of lights) that contributed to the crash but are not required by law.”

          Well, isn’t that what the deputy who wrote up this report was focused on? Slowing down in low visibility conditions IS required by law, but it just wasn’t a big enough deal to mention?

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            El Biciclero October 18, 2016 at 7:10 pm

            “…wouldn’t need statements like…”

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      Dan A October 17, 2016 at 11:57 am

      This comment sums up the problem pretty well.

      At the legal limit of 55mph, the vehicle would be traveling about 81 feet per second and if the driver came around a curve and spotted the bicyclist, he would have had a split second to avoid the collision.

      There is NO ‘legal limit’ that allows people to drive on a road in a way that makes it impossible for them to avoid running over another road user who is using the road in a predictable manner. There IS a basic speed law, as mentioned in other comments, which should guide the speed that people drive at. Had this driver obeyed the basic speed law, he would have been more able to avoid hitting the cyclist.

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        q October 17, 2016 at 12:19 pm

        Exactly. The irony is that most drivers know (although many don’t drive like they do) that if you rear-end a car, it’s going to be ruled your fault barring something extraordinary. The idea is that your hitting the car ahead of you is proof you were following too closely or going too fast. So if this driver had hit say, a tractor going 15 mph, nobody would dispute the driver’s fault. If he’d said he didn’t expect a slow-moving vehicle in front of him, that excuse would be dismissed.

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        Bankerman October 18, 2016 at 7:31 am

        I would suspect most drivers apply the basic rule on the road conditions they expect on a particular road at a particular time. As one commenter posted above, in this rural area, one very rarely comes upon bike riders and especially at that time of day. On my next trip to Seattle on I-5, am I expected to drive slow enough to avoid an unlighted bike at night on the freeway? As to farm tractors, they are required by law to show lights to the rear on a public road, and if it was rear-ended without the required equipment, I doubt the car driver would be considered 100% at fault.

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          Ted Timmons (Contributor) October 18, 2016 at 9:15 am

          I would suspect they don’t apply the basic speed rule.

          On your next trip to Seattle on I-5, you should be expected to drive slow enough to avoid whatever might be in your path.

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          Dan A October 18, 2016 at 10:32 am

          How did you make the leap from a rural road (used by pedestrians/cyclists/tractors) to I-5?

          Also, rarely encountering something is not an excuse to drive like you’ll never encounter it. If that’s how you drive, I fear for the other road users near you.

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            Bankerman October 18, 2016 at 10:38 pm

            I agree that both drivers and cyclists should move about with the understanding they may encounter something totally unexpected. And therefore be prepared by utilizing judgment and equipment appropriate for any possible encounter, whether required by law or not.

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              Dan A October 19, 2016 at 8:45 am

              Full disclosure, I typically ride with 2 front & 2 rear lights, have reflective material on my bike & clothes, and am very selective about my routes and the times I ride. And I encourage others to do the same. But I draw the line at absolving drivers of the requirement to see ALL road users, regardless of what they are wearing. We are never going to be able to light up every obstacle in the road, and drivers still have a legal responsibility to drive at a safe speed and avoid hitting things in the road, regardless of their clothing/gear. That’s still a legal requirement that is regularly ignored by law enforcement.

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                wsbob October 19, 2016 at 9:58 am

                “..absolving drivers of the requirement to see ALL road users, regardless of what they are wearing. …” dad a

                Where, in law books and in the annals of common sense, is there any requirement that people driving must see all other road users even if those road users aren’t, depending upon attendant visibility conditions, reasonably visible to the human eye?

                It seems what you’re attempting to imply, is that you draw the line at relieving people that drive…of a requirement to see vulnerable road users that have not taken increasingly common measures such as the use of clothing in day-glow orange or green with retro-reflective tape attached to it, or incorporated into the fabric; or more simply, at least wearing lighter tone or shade colors such as white…rather than dark blues, blacks, browns etc. …to help have themselves be more visible to people driving.

                Such a requirement can not be a realistic expectation of people that drive. It does nobody any good to relieve people that bike and walk, from their obligation to make efforts to use the road safely, by taking measures to have themselves be more visible to other road users…and this includes people that bike, as well as those that drive motor vehicles.

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    OrganicBrian October 18, 2016 at 1:29 pm

    I don’t see in this article whether the cyclist was using a rear reflector. If they were not, they are at fault. If they were, the motorists was at fault. So, the police report may be fair or not depending on this which I didn’t see mentioned so far. To suggest that the cyclist cannot be faulted without knowing this reinforces the opinion held by many that cyclists are irrational and entitled.

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      Eric Leifsdad October 18, 2016 at 1:41 pm

      “The cyclist cannot be faulted without knowing whether he had a rear reflector.” Is that what you mean? Yeah, *that* should have been in the report.

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      Dan A October 18, 2016 at 4:59 pm

      Is it your opinion that cyclists are irrational and entitled?

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        Bankerman October 18, 2016 at 10:29 pm

        Yes, there are some drivers and there are some cyclists that are irrational and entitled.

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          Dan A October 19, 2016 at 8:46 am

          He didn’t say “some”.

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        OrganicBrian November 3, 2016 at 10:42 am

        Dan, maybe work on your reading comprehension? My comment was clear enough. I was talking about the common conception many non-cyclists have about cyclists, and yes their opinions can affect all of us since it can impact whether funding is approved for transportation improvements or laws changed to protect cyclists.

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          Dan A November 3, 2016 at 10:56 am

          I didn’t state anything, I asked you a question. Reading comprehension indeed.

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      q October 18, 2016 at 10:57 pm

      It’s not that simple. If the cyclist had no rear reflector, but the driver was going 85 mph, or texting, or even simply didn’t have his own headlights on, it wouldn’t have mattered if the cyclist had a reflector or not. None of those would have been apparent to the sheriff.

      More relevant to this article, why did the report note that the cyclist didn’t have a rear light, which is legally irrelevant, but didn’t note whether he had a rear reflector, which is? Writing “the cyclist had a legally compliant rear reflector” would have cast a whole different spin.

      Saying there was no light–i.e. holding the cyclist to a higher standard than legally required–is no different than saying, “The car lacked anti-lock brakes, electronic stability control, traction control, and automatic high beams, any of which could have prevented the crash”.

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        wsbob October 19, 2016 at 12:51 am

        “…More relevant to this article, why did the report note that the cyclist didn’t have a rear light, which is legally irrelevant, but didn’t note whether he had a rear reflector, which is? …” q

        Probably, the fact that this collision resulted in the death of the person riding a bike that didn’t have a light…is why lack of a light was mentioned. Meant as a message of safety, an appeal to people riding to equip their bikes to help others road users see them, is what I’d expect the intent was.

        For a routine safety inspection, mention of whether the bike had all its legally required equipment, would have been in order. It’s not like the officer responding to the collision was there to inspect the bike to determine whether the person that was riding it, now deceased…should get a citation for not having a light on the bike.

        Reflectors can be good in certain conditions, but in very rainy weather, I’m not so sure they’d be equal to or better than the visibility provided by good lights designed for use on bikes.

        This was an initial collision report not reflecting results of the related investigation that apparently wasn’t completed at the time of its writing.

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          Eric Leifsdad October 19, 2016 at 10:37 am

          Why didn’t the report mention the lack of an automatic rear rocket defense system? Surely that could have made a difference.

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            wsbob October 19, 2016 at 6:08 pm

            “Why didn’t the report mention the lack of an automatic rear rocket defense system? …” leifsdad

            You tell us why you think the collision report about a collision involving a motor vehicle and someone riding a bicycle at a dark, heavily raining day at 6:30 in the morning, didn’t mention automatic rear rocket defense system.

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              Eric Leifsdad October 21, 2016 at 2:46 pm

              “a message of safety, an appeal to people riding to equip their bikes to help others road users see them”

              Wouldn’t a rear rocket defense system help other road users see bikes? For safety.

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          q October 20, 2016 at 10:46 am

          Again, the report mentions that the cyclist didn’t have equipment that exceeds what’s legally required, but didn’t take the same approach for the driver. So yes, a rear light may have made the difference, but so could any of a number of things the car could have had, or the driver could have done, that weren’t legally required.

          And that’s the whole point of the article.

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            wsbob November 3, 2016 at 11:56 am

            “Again, the report mentions that the cyclist didn’t have equipment that exceeds what’s legally required, but didn’t take the same approach for the driver. …” q

            q…as to equipment for visibility: big difference between bikes and motor vehicles, is that the latter, mandated by law, come from the factory, equipped with lights front and rear, lots of them, and very bright.

            Because lights on motor vehicles are standard, government mandated equipment, unless the motor vehicle has a non-working light, odds are a police report, especially an initial police report like this one was, is not going to mention that the motor vehicle had lights.

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              El Biciclero November 3, 2016 at 4:37 pm

              The scope of “legally required equipment” is not limited to lighting/visibility equipment. If the report wanted to call out missing supra-legal (intended to mean “more than is legally required”) equipment, then they should have called out things like collision-avoidance systems, adaptive lighting, anti-lock brakes, hydrophobic windshield treatments (e.g. “rain-x”), specific tire tread formulas—there are all kinds of things the motorized vehicle could have had, or its driver could have done that were above and beyond the legal requirement, that might have caused a different outcome. Yes, visibility for bicyclists is important, but visibility, per se, is completely beside the point of this article about reporting of incidents. The issue is mentioning vs. not mentioning specific details about each vehicle and/or operator, with the intentional or unintentional effect of blaming the bicyclist victim and exonerating the driver. A fair report would make statements more along the lines of “Both vehicle operators were complying with legal road use requirements at the time of the collision”. Alternatively, such reports would only mention things that were known to be illegal about either operator or vehicle, e.g., “The bicyclist had no rear light or reflector, and the driver was in violation of the basic speed rule at the time of the collision. The van also had tires that were below the legal minimum tread depth. A combination of these factors likely contributed to the collision.”

              There would be no mention of rain, or shoulder width, unless the implication is that driver speed should have been slower; nor of clothing color or lack of a rear light alone (unless also mentioning lack of a rear reflector). Can you see the difference between these example statements and those in the report under discussion?

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                SD November 3, 2016 at 10:07 pm

                I am curious to what extent a police are allowed to interrogate cell phones for activity at the time of the crash. If you hit someone with your car, it seems that would be probable cause for a search. This is something that is partially prohibited, and that is obvious for a crash where a driver claims to not see something in their path.

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                Pete November 5, 2016 at 5:42 pm

                From what I understand it’s a difficult process. When my neighbor Stan Wicka was killed by Melanie Souza while she was texting – which the driver behind her who followed her because she’d left the scene testified – another of my neighbors was involved in the investigation and kept me somewhat informed. Police can look at the phone’s log – provided it isn’t locked – and subpoena records from providers, but texts often don’t have timestamps, and extremely difficult to prove that a text was even looked at when it came in. For a phone conversation, it’s difficult to prove a driver wasn’t using a legal headset, and in many states there’s still an “in the line of duty” clause rendering the illegality of talking on the phone while driving a gray area.

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                wsbob November 3, 2016 at 11:03 pm

                At least before looking somewhat into the lives of the persons involved and why they were doing what they were on the fateful day, using this collision, in which someone lost their life… to make a case of bias against road users biking, and in favor of road users driving, on the part of the Marion County Sheriff’s Dept, based on the dept’s very brief, initial police statement about this collision, is not an honorable show of respect for either the person that died in this collision…whose name, by the way, was Charles Michael Phillips, his family and friends…or the staff of the sheriff’s dept.

                This is partly why I bothered to try and find, from the Journal reporter, more information about the people involved in the collision. Are sheriff’s dept personnel biased against people biking on the roads out in Marion county? If they are, I’d certainly like to know it…and if they are, I want to know on stronger grounds than various people’s assumption of bias, based on a brief initial police collision report. i.e. interviews with staff or credible citizens having experience with sheriff’s dept staff.

                Regardless of how the person driving did or didn’t contribute to this collision having occurred, if it’s fact that the person biking did not have lights, and possibly not a reflector, that most likely did contribute to the collision having occurred.

                It’s not a great economic hardship, even for fairly poor persons, to budget for a bike light, or a some reflectors for their bike. This is another reason I tried to get some info from the Journal reporter. I wonder what was the situation of the person riding, that they would not have had this gear.

                Not sure I posted it before, so here’s the link to the SJ story:

                http://www.statesmanjournal.com/story/news/crime/2016/10/13/cyclist-killed-deputies-investigate-crash-near-stayton/91994826/

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                SD November 4, 2016 at 12:17 pm

                Discussing systemic bias, which is what this is about, is not derision of an individual officer.

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                El Biciclero November 4, 2016 at 12:33 pm

                Let’s look at a different example that is fictitious, merely to illustrate the point about selective reporting of facts.

                Let’s call this the “incident”:

                A couple is standing at the top of a cliff overlooking the ocean. They get into a fight, and one of them shoves the other over the cliff into the ocean to their death.

                Now let’s call this the “report”:

                “A person fell to their death at Scenic Cliffs early this morning. The deceased had been standing with his/her friend prior to the fall. It was just after sunset, so there was minimal light, and there was no fence near the edge of the cliff. The victim was not wearing a life jacket.”

                Can you see how a report like this—which is 100% factual (it just doesn’t contain 100% of the facts)—leaves out important details about what actually happened? Does a report like this make it sound like the “victim” should have been doing things differently, such as not standing on un-fenced cliffs in minimal light, or perhaps wearing a life jacket? Does this kind of report make it sound like the survivor must have stood innocently and helplessly by as their beloved accidentally and tragically lost their footing and fell to their doom?

                Now, before you inform me, I know the incident in question is nothing like my hypothetical. However, the report is similar in its selective inclusion of details. The example is meant merely to illustrate how a completely factual report can still show bias via which facts are included or excluded. Further, I am not accusing the Marion County Sheriff’s department of some kind of intentional, malicious campaign of systemic bias against vulnerable road users. I don’t think Jonathan is, either. This story, and many of the extensive comments, are aimed at analyzing how incidents like this are reported, unintentionally as it may be, and how the reports produced can—and usually tend to—point the finger of blame at victims.

                And please don’t tell me about honorable shows of respect for those involved after engaging in the same discussion, and expressing your own opinion about how it wouldn’t have been an economic hardship for Mr. Phillips to have purchased a light, or wondering what he was doing out there in the first place. I am only criticizing the wording and construction of the report, not any of the parties involved; I’m sure those affected by this incident that are still with us have enough to worry about. But wouldn’t it be great if discussions like this one led to more balanced reporting of similar incidents, so that families of victims—or surviving victims themselves—didn’t have to read all about how it was automatically their own fault they got run over?

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                q November 4, 2016 at 9:16 pm

                wsbob–since you’re blaming the victim for POSSIBLY not having a rear reflector (although here’s nothing in the report to lead anyone to believe he did not) why not think of something that the driver might POSSIBLY not have had, or not have done, and blame THAT for contributing to the cyclist’s death?

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      wsbob November 3, 2016 at 11:48 am

      Determining fault for the collision may not be as simple as learning whether the person riding, had a reflector on his bike. In fact, most likely isn’t that simple.

      Whether a person goes out on the road, prepared to do what they can to safely travel the road in the conditions they may encounter there, seems to me to be a far more relevant question, than simply wondering about required vehicle equipment.

      By the way…since this discussion has been forward today…I’ll mention that about a week after the story was posted here, I wrote a note to the reporter covering the story of the collision for the Statesman Journal, asking her whether any additional information about the collision and the persons involved had been available to her from the sheriff’s dept. She wrote back, said at the time, her contact with the dept was out, so had no additional info. I may send another email to her soon.

      I suggested to her, a few questions I thought many people might like to know…such as ‘Who was this person riding, and why were they out on the road in the dark and rain, without a light on their bike….or perhaps a reflector as well?’. And…’Who was the person driving, and was their vehicle in good condition for low visibility conditions?’.

      Everybody heading out on the road should, as a first priority, be having on their minds, the question of whether they can be at least reasonably visible to other road users in the visibility conditions they may encounter.

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        Dan A November 3, 2016 at 2:39 pm

        Who was this driver, and why were they driving so fast in such poor conditions?

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      Pete November 5, 2016 at 5:33 pm

      What if the bike didn’t have a rear reflector but the driver’s lights were off? Would that mean they share “fault”, because a reflector is useless without light reflecting off of it… 1/r^2 and all that?

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    Jane Pullman October 18, 2016 at 3:03 pm

    Jonathan, I agree with you that it the article was lacking in context or explanation. All kinds of information about the driver’s driving behavior was not provided. On the other hand, the fact that the article noted no rear light on the bike, I thought was very important. Regardless of the law, would you ride on a dark (the sun is not up until 7:00), rainy morning with dark clothes and no rear light? I wouldn’t. The Sheriff noting that there was no shoulder and no light on the road, I thought, was more a statement of how bad the roads are for cyclists out there, DOT’s fault. Any thinking person will have questions about this incident that the Sheriff’s statement did not address. I think you have over-reacted, just a bit here.

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      wsbob October 19, 2016 at 10:21 am

      “…DOT’s fault. …” pullman

      Jane…by DOT, do you mean ‘department of transportation’? If so, how do you feel the DOT whose jurisdiction this road was, may have been responsible for this collision?

      This road outside Stayton, going by what I see in the picture, top of this story, is a simple, very basic two lane country road. I’m not really sure what a DOT could realistically be expected to do to improve the safety of this road for use by people biking.

      On the face of it, it may seem like a simple thing to expand the road shoulders to 5-6 feet for dual duty as a bike lane, but I expect that would be a major expense…millions of dollars…and who is going to be expected to come up with the money? Taxpayers…people living in county and state.

      Lacking that happening in any near future…the sensible thing for anyone riding a bike, or walking out on roads like this one, is to at least make the effort of equipping themselves with lights and retro-reflective material.

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      El Biciclero October 19, 2016 at 1:43 pm

      Here’s another way to think about this story:

      Among readers of the report being analyzed here, some will be mainly or exclusively drivers, some will be mainly or exclusively bicyclists, and some will be both. Among those three broad categories, who is most likely going to “think twice” about their actions on the road after reading this report?

      Does this report tell drivers, “Hey, there could be cyclists out there with no rear lights, so you’d better watch out for them and maybe slow down—especially if it’s dark and/or rainy”, or does it tell bicyclists, “If you don’t have a rear light, you can expect to get run over when it’s dark and/or rainy, because drivers aren’t going to watch out or slow down for you.”?

      I think there are a lot of people with “implicit bias” (to use a currently popular phrase) in favor of motorists, because that’s all they think about as being normal. Such implicit bias tells us things like, “Of course drivers don’t expect to encounter bicyclists in the rainy darkness” (why not?). It also tells us that between these two road users, the driver “belonged” there, and was using the road properly (was he? How do we know?), and the bicyclist was out of place and was “doing it wrong” (What might make us think that?).

      Now, we don’t know whether the bicyclist had a rear reflector, but if he had, then we would be dealing with a situation in which two otherwise legally operating road users found themselves in deadly conflict. If both people were operating legally, then why is it only the bicyclist who should have done more? Why are the “lessons” we learn from this incident all for bicyclists?

      I don’t think it’s an “overreaction” to ask ourselves these questions.

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        wsbob October 19, 2016 at 6:29 pm

        “…Now, we don’t know whether the bicyclist had a rear reflector, but if he had, then we would be dealing with a situation in which two otherwise legally operating road users found themselves in deadly conflict. If both people were operating legally, then why is it only the bicyclist who should have done more? Why are the “lessons” we learn from this incident all for bicyclists? …” bic

        What source do you have in mind, that would have put the two road users involved in this collision, in “deadly conflict”, assuming the person riding the bike, had a rear reflector on the bike? There’s no indication in the in the initial sheriff’s dept collision report, that these two road users were involved in any conflict with each other. No suggestion of road rage, if that’s what you’re thinking.

        Indication, is that the person riding the bike, had no lights…no headlight, no tail light, no helmet light, nothing. Possibly no rear reflector either. This lack, for whatever reason, of visibility equipment, most certainly heightened the potential for a collision. I think most people would recognize failure to have such equipment, given the reportedly low visibility conditions, to be a lesson in road use, whatever their mode of travel on the road may happen to be.

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          El Biciclero October 20, 2016 at 12:38 pm

          “deadly conflict”

          I’m not talking Mortal Kombat, here, merely that the paths of the vehicles were in conflict, i.e., “intersecting”, which is the case for all collisions, and that the outcome was indeed deadly.

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            wsbob October 21, 2016 at 10:10 am

            One very likely reason the paths of the two vehicles…the motor vehicle and the bike…intersected, is that as the initial police statement (and so
            far, the only sheriff’s dept statement on this collision that’s been reported on this weblog to date) reported, the bike did not have lights, and the rider was wearing clothes that apparently were not of a type that headlights of a motor vehicle would be able to set apart from the background, allowing the person driving to see at a reasonable distance away, perhaps 100′, the person riding the bike.

            That the person riding the bike had no light front or back, and possibly not a reflector either, and had no other gear that would help themselves be visible to other road users, should have been the subject of a story on this weblog about this collision.

            How did this person come to be out on the road on their bike without a light or other gear that would help them to be visible to other road users on a dark, rainy morning before the sun had come up? Did this person’s family and friends know that he was out riding so ill equipped for the conditions on the road? It’s remiss of advocates of biking and biking enthusiasts in general, not to be genuinely concerned about people biking that haven’t prepared ahead for low visibility conditions they’re likely to encounter when they’re out on the road.

            It’s vague and irresponsible to say of the Marion County Sheriff’s office, as this story’s headline does, that, “Sheriff’s office blames deceased victim in early morning collision near Stayton”

            This weblog, bikeportland is saying, sheriff’s office blames the deceased victim, for what? The collision having occurred? For not having lights and wearing dark clothes? If not the person themselves, riding the bike, who else was supposed to have been there when he set out in the morning to ride his bike…to remind him to put on his lights and reflector, and whatever else he should have had to help him be seen by other road users on a dark rainy morning?

            Marion County Sheriff’s haven’t blamed the person riding the bike for anything. They didn’t need to, nobody needs to cast blame. Having had it reported that the person riding, lacked even the most basic measures that would have aided other road user’s ability to see this person on the road…we all, though, those of us that care about the safety of people riding their bikes out on the road, should be asking everyone we know that rides a bike, whether they’ve got themselves and their bikes equipped for any low visibility conditions they may encounter on their ride.

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              Robert Burchett October 21, 2016 at 11:29 am

              What will make people on bikes safer is, more people on bikes. I have been Not Seen in all sorts of conditions, including daylight on dry pavement whilst riding a conspicuous bike with a yellow jacket and running a headlight. MV drivers overlook persons on bicycles because They. Are. Not. Looking. For. Them. People driving on a rural two-lane road tend to feel it’s all their road. I have done this thing, OK? And look there’s a 6 point buck in your lap.

              I personally like to give my fellow operators a little help when I can, especially when conditions are bad. But: there is no “safe”. Not until everybody on the road allows the possibility that next 70 yards of pavement may include deer, cattle, or yes a human wearing black on an unlit bike. Great power, great responsibility.

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                Pete November 5, 2016 at 5:43 pm

                Succinctly put! (Mine was a doe, though).

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              El Biciclero October 21, 2016 at 12:53 pm

              You are performing your own analysis of the incident—as most people who are concerned about safety would tend to do—but this story is not about what happened (i.e., the incident, per se), it is about the report of the incident. That report, in mentioning specific details about the conditions, the state of the roadway, and the bicyclist and his vehicle—while leaving out any mention of a single detail (other than “eastbound”) about the driver or his vehicle, implies that there was nothing the driver could have done to avoid this collision. By specifically mentioning things about dark clothing and no lights, the report is suggesting that there IS something the bicyclist could/should have done. Putting those two things together:
              * Driver could not have done any more
              * Cyclist could have worn reflective clothes and used a light
              Equates to “blame” in most people’s minds. Not “guilt”, mind you, because nothing mentioned in the report about the bicyclist was illegal, but “blame” nonetheless.

              I think most all of us here would agree that increasing one’s visibility to the practical maximum is not a bad idea. This incident may well have turned out differently if the bicyclist had done so. HOWEVER, this incident also may well have turned out differently if the driver had been paying better attention on a dark and rainy road. It might have turned out differently if he had been using his high beams and better wipers. It likely would have turned out differently if he had been driving more slowly, had a collision avoidance system, had clean headlight lenses, was driving further left, had been driving something smaller than a minivan, etc. The problem is that this report, and most actual people, assume the driver was doing everything right merely because he was driving a car, the “normal” thing to do on a road. Conversely, even if this bicyclist had used a rear light, most people would assume he must have done something wrong merely because he was riding a bike, which is considered to be inherently “wrong” by lots of people.

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                Dan A October 21, 2016 at 2:02 pm

                If this argument doesn’t work, there’s no hope.

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              q October 21, 2016 at 5:26 pm

              wsbob–how can you expect anyone to agree with you when you don’t even agree with yourself? You keep going back and forth even just on the simple reflector issue. One minute you say it’s a possibility he didn’t have one, the next (in this comment and another one) you say he didn’t have a reflector, even though reflectors weren’t mentioned one way or another in the report.

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          q October 20, 2016 at 3:46 pm

          Actually, you’re going into let’s-criticize-the-cyclist territory that even the sheriff’s report stopped short of entering.

          The report states, “The cyclist was wearing dark clothing and no light on the bicycle”. It didn’t say “No helmet light” and it certainly didn’t say “nothing” in regard to other safety features. Of course it’s possible he had no rear reflector, but it’s every bit as likely from the report that he did. There’s also nothing in the report that says he didn’t have reflective shoes, reflectors on his pedals, and reflective clothing. You often can’t tell highly reflective material without shining a light at it. Maybe he didn’t, but don’t say “nothing” as if that’s supported in the report.

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            wsbob October 20, 2016 at 8:01 pm

            “…Of course it’s possible he had no rear reflector, but it’s every bit as likely from the report that he did. …” q

            “…every bit as likely from the report that he did. …” Go ahead and hold on to that faint hope. How I wish this guy at least had a reflector on his bike. I want to hear more from the Marion County Sheriff’s Dept about this collision, including whether the bike had a reflector.

            Noting the lack of legal required equipment, is not necessarily criticism, and at any rate, I’m not adding insult to injury by mentioning that the initial police statement’s having noted that the person riding the bike did not have a reflector on the bike, and was wearing dark clothes.

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              q October 21, 2016 at 11:38 am

              Saying that from the report, it’s just as likely that the cyclist DID have a rear reflector is a FACT, because the report doesn’t mention reflectors.

              Let’s not blame the cyclist for not having a reflector when even the sheriff’s report did not do that.

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      Dan A October 19, 2016 at 2:29 pm

      I have yet to see a police statement that addressed the basic speed law. If someone else has, I’d sure like to see it.

      In my mind, this is one of the most important laws we have. Drive no faster than the conditions (including the possible presence of other road users) allow, so that you don’t run into stuff and kill people. It’s pretty basic stuff, and will go much further to reduce deaths on the road than bright jackets will. Drivers ignore the basic speed law all the time, and it is consistently ignored in police statements and the corresponding news stories. This is definitely problematic.

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    SD October 19, 2016 at 4:13 pm

    Police reports reflect the greater context in which we have normalized bad driving habits but closely analyze the behavior of people on bikes.

    In part, this is due to the fundamental perception that only cars and trucks should be allowed to use roads.

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