UPDATE, 4:25 pm: Police have identified the bicycle rider as Tamar Monhait, a resident of Portland. They have also just added this to their original statement: “The Portland Police Bureau’s Traffic Division wishes to remind all bicyclists to wear an approved bicycle helmet. Additionally, bicyclists should operate with a front-facing white light and a rear-facing red light while operating a bicycle in low-light or dark conditions.”
A 41-year-old woman died early this morning while riding her bike in the central eastside.
A Portland Police Bureau statement says the woman was riding northbound on SE Water Avenue at Taylor just after 1:00 am. At the same time, a person was driving a garbage truck southbound on Water Avenue. The garbage truck driver turned left to go eastbound on Taylor just prior to the collision with the bicycle rider. Here’s how the PPB explains it:
Officers and medical personnel arrived and located a cyclist lying on the ground with life-threatening injuries and a garbage truck. Emergency medical personnel provided medical aid and transported the bicyclist to an area hospital where the 41-year-old woman died.
During the investigation, officers learned at the time of the crash the garbage truck had turned east onto Southeast Taylor Street from southbound Southeast Water Avenue. While turning onto Southeast Taylor Street, a northbound bicyclist, on Southeast Water Avenue, collided with the side of the garbage truck and suffered traumatic injuries to her head and arm.
This section of the central eastside is changing rapidly. It has historically been an industrial zone; but the development of office buildings and associated cafes and shops has led to a shift in traffic. Taylor and Water are also major connections to the Eastbank Esplanade path and Hawthorne Bridge.
The PPB says they don’t suspect that the driver was impaired and they are still investigating the crash. If you saw anything, or if you own a residence or business nearby and have access to surveillance video, please contact PPB Officer Phil Maynard at (503) 823-2216.
This woman is the second person to die while bicycling in Portland this year. 53-year-old Alan Marsan died on February 6th after he was involved in a collision with a large truck on North Interstate Avenue.
— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and firstname.lastname@example.org
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When you’re on a bike you have to be aware all the time. Don’t simply assume or assert your right, or, as the saying goes, try to beat the Reaper.
Don’t assume the bicycle rider wasn’t aware. It’s pretty hard to miss a large garbage truck.
Advising and reminding is not presuming. Hard to miss a large truck? If a toxicology report was performed on the victim, and the result indicated intoxication, the level may have been one of which has been shown to leave people finding difficulty walking, biking, or seeing large objects coming down the road.
1:am in the morning with comparatively few vehicles in use on the road can seem to be a deceptively safe time to use the road, especially for vulnerable road users.
I’m sure friends and/or family of the victim will appreciate your victim blaming and mansplaining when they read bike portland coverage.
No blame has been assigned as yet. Just because the cyclist is the vulnerable user does not mean that they did not contribute to the collision. All the finger pointing in the world does nothing at this time.
Please no more sexist comments!
Thanks for the sexism. Maybe see a therapist about your self-loathing.
that’s an insensitive victim-blaming comment there, Jeff Reardon…
when you’re in a society that doesn’t value it’s citizens and allows 30,000 of it’s people to be killed every year then you always have to be aware of motor vehicle, no matter where you are or what you’re doing…
I’m sure he would have no problem with someone saying the same thing about motor vehicle operators that get killed by semi-trucks. I mean, come on, they should have been more careful.
Yes, absolutely, they should be very careful with trucks.
I think a collision with a left turning vehicle is the most difficult thing to avoid by careful riding. There is not much time to react if the motorist isn’t paying attention. At some point, you just have to trust them not to do something stupid. If the truck driver failed to signal, there is no warning at all. Oftentimes drivers don’t even slow before making a turn like this, it’s just all on them to do the right thing.
If someone driving a car going straight through this intersection when a garbage truck driver turned left into them we wouldn’t be talking about awareness of the car driver. Your victim blaming approach isnt appreciated by anyone besides maybe certain PSA producers.
“If someone driving a car going straight through this intersection when a garbage truck driver turned left into them we wouldn’t be talking about awareness of the car driver. …” bjorn
Not on a bikeweblog, do many people tend to be as interested in discussing collisions involving people driving that were killed by someone driving a bigger vehicle, than they are about discussing collisions involving people biking that were killed by someone driving virtually any motor vehicle.
Among the other reasons people here likely would not be discussing a collision such as you describe, is that some differences between bikes and motor vehicles including cars, provide a better defense against collisions for people driving motor vehicles than they do for people riding bikes.
In terms of visibility, such as, for most motor vehicles: comparatively much larger size, and far better illumination of the vehicle to other road users; more headlights, running lights, and tail lights that themselves are almost always much bigger is size and brightness than most lights used for biking.
You’re actually strengthening Bjorn’s point. His point was that if the victim had been in a car, people would be less likely to assume that a lack of awareness on her part contributed to the crash. I agree with Bjorn.
You’re saying (and I agree) that a car, with its size and headlights, would have been much easier for the truck driver to see. That would mean it’s less likely the crash was caused by the truck driver not seeing the car before he turned into its path, which would mean it’s more likely the driver contributed to causing the crash than is true of the cyclist.
So if the truck driver had turned in front of a car and the car crashed into it, it’s much more likely the driver was unaware than the cyclist was, since it would have been very unlikely that the truck driver would have turned in front of the very visible car. Yet most people would still be less likely to question the driver’s awareness than the cyclist’s awareness. That’s bad.
Your lack of sympathy is telling. Personally, the first though in my mind was sympathy for the victim and those who care about her. You are a callous and unpleasant person.
I don’t want your comment deleted, because there are people with your mindset making decisions about public safety. We need to be aware of this way of thinking, and counter it with logic and compassion. But counter it we must, because you happen to be entirely wrong, Mike. What can we do to convince you of that?
Logic and compassion are seldom on the same side of a comparison.
Amazing advice that is not at all patronizing. Even though the driver failed to yield and therefore likely turned abruptly into her pat I am sure had she been more aware she would be alive.
“I am sure had she been more aware she would be alive.”
since you were there can you give us more details on exactly what happened?
If you had been more aware you wouldn’t have made this comment.
Spiffy and Dan, as I read Jason’s comment, it is sarcasm in reply to Mike Q’s. Not the best timing for sarcasm, I’d agree, but maybe different intent than you’re reading?
Could be. His humor is drier than mine.
This stretch of Water Av is really dodgy. You’re either riding in an inadequate door-zone bike lane or taking the lane and risking it with aggressive drivers and trucks. Do we really need both parking lanes here? Seems to be it should be reasonably simple to widen the bike lanes or even add a buffer or protection.
angled back-in parking on one side perhaps?
It is always parking, uh. I blame people. Too many people…
Completely avoid it. Not to victim blame, but I’ve personally made the choice that it’s not worth it. Just like SE 11th and 12th between Burnside and Division. Not doing it, not gonna do it.
Bike lanes, regardless of width, don’t protect against a left hook. This sounds like a left hook.
I always give garbage trucks a wide berth, I think they are one of the most dangerous types of vehicles to ride around. The drivers’ job creates inherent distraction, I believe (constantly stopping, jumping out, dealing with the trash container, jumping back in, driving a short distance, repeat). The vehicles have poor visibility. In some cases the driver is seated on the passenger side (dual driving positions). And they often operate in the wee hours of the morning, so the drivers may assume no-one is around.
The garbage trucks I see in the early mornings are generally driven very poorly.
Agreed, and I always ride with caution around them since they basically do what they want -when they want. Up to and including, blocking the lane at an intersection; meaning, I have to go into apposing lane to go through or I have to wait behind a big stinky butt hole truck. Basically, garbage trucks are my least favorite vehicles.
that is true. Which is why I always am extra cautious around them.
I’ve had friends who drove for garbage haulers. Some of them offer bonuses for not getting into a crash, payable MONTHLY. That should tell you all you need to know about how these things tend to be driven. Worse yet, those are the good ones.
Yep. I cringe every time I think of garbage collection overlapping with children riding their bikes and walking to school.
The ones out in the daytime seem pretty good, but the ones working at a time of day when they’re accustomed to having the whole city to themselves, as it were… Well… they’re accustomed to having the whole city to themselves.
My grad school psch instructor lost his daughter to one of these monster trucks. Tragedy.
John – yes prudent behaviour when travelling in the same direction as a large commercial vehicle in ALL but this case…how much more space could the cyclist given this HGV operator if the truck driver just turned into the path of the cyclist without yielding to the cyclist? The cyclist could not move much more over to their right…unless they moved over a block…onto a roadway without a bike lane.
The PPB report (so far) does not state if the truck operator had used their turn signal to communicate their potential direction of travel…or if they were licensed (CDL), insured, etc.
Or, for that matter, whether the operator of the garbage truck had his headlights on?
Or, as I can challege based on several personal experiences, whether the driver was actually looking in the direction he was driving – thus the call by the PPB for any surveillence video et al.
Left hooks (crosses) are tricky to guard against, from the cyclist’s point of view.
There is really no infrastructure solution, short of creating an entirely separate road for cyclists that somehow doesn’t have intersections, or prohibiting turns at intersections, or installing complex multiphase signals. I don’t see the money or support for these options. Someday, technology (collision avoidance systems in cars) may help. Much, much better driver training and enforcement may help, but sounds like some on BP don’t want more enforcement.
So for right now, we (cyclists) need to be very careful in potential left hook situations.
When you approach an intersection and there is a car (or truck, or even another cyclist) approaching from the opposite direction, you have to be aware there is always a risk that the car may turn left in front of you. Place fingers on your brake levers, take up any slack in your brakes, and be ready to brake hard or swerve.
If you are riding at slow to moderate speed, you may choose to proceed at current speed and hope that you can avoid the car should it turn. Bikes can stop very quickly from moderate speeds, if the rider is primed and ready to brake. If you are riding at high speed or descending a hill, you may want to slow down to give yourself more reaction and maneuver time. From 30 mph, bikes take a substantial distance to stop.
If the circumstances are particularly risky, you may even slow enough to let the car get through the intersection before you enter the intersection. Circumstances that I consider particularly risky include: darkness, riding with no lights, an intersection where many cars turn left, late at night (at 1 am, I consider every driver to be probably drunk, sleepy, inattentive, or convinced that the roads are empty), or the vehicle is a garbage truck (I consider garbage trucks an automatic risk factor!).
If the car shows *any* signs of preparing to turn (slowing down, turn signal, driver looking left), or if there are *any* signs that you’re dealing with an unsafe driver (weaving, excess speed, driving at night with no lights), or if your “spidey sense” tingles in alarm, then hit the brakes NOW – don’t wait for confirmation.
Yes, it is irritating to slow down and lose your hard-earned speed, just to watch the car pass through the intersection without incident. But you’ve got to take these precautions.
I’m sure someone is going to protest, so I’ll say it now: talking about defensive cycling skills is not victim-blaming. It’s simply about how you can ride safely in a city. The precautions listed above should be followed whether you’re on a bike, riding a motorcycle, or driving a car. I have 40+ years of city riding with zero bike accidents involving cars or other bikes, or peds (although I don’t seem to be immune from solo falls). Riding defensively really does pay off, even though it’s a bummer that we have to ride that way.
Prohibiting turns and/or restricting openings to better control speed would do a lot to make big vehicles more predictable. Even curbs don’t protect you from a trailer (perhaps tire-tracks visible on corners or bump-outs should be considered a design failure.)
But it is an industrial district. Trucks have to turn to get to their destinations.
There is one infrastructure solution that we didn’t mention, which is to make roads one-way.
It’s also probably worth noting that some companies route their trucks such that they don’t make left turns.
I have heard that trucking companies route their trucks to avoid right turns, not left turns, because of the difficulty of clearing the curbs with the trailing axles of the trucks.
UPS tries to avoid left-hand turns. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 53.1 % of traffic-crossing accidents occur with left-hand turns, compared to only 5.7% involving right turns.
What percentage of bike riders do you think will be able to achieve this level of mastery? And how long will they have to ride before they attain this awareness? Is reading this comment enough to understand how to never be hit by a car?
A cyclist can only do so much to ride defensively. At some point, you just have to hope that no one in a car hits you. Infrastructure can help reduce the chances of this, as can better driver training.
This is true, and is much the same dilemma facing car drivers.
Everyone . . . It’s not rocket science.
First, my condolences to the rider and her family. It is possible, indicated by the PPB comment, that she was not using very effective lighting on the front of her bike, and the driver did not see her in their haste. Good lighting does not require mastery, but rather investment, and education on its use. If the driver didn’t signal and turned abruptly, mastery might give you a fighting chance, but then other factors come into play such as road conditions and braking capabilities of the bike and tires.
“and the driver did not see her in their haste”
but isn’t that for all intents and purposes impossible to ascertain much less prove after the fact? The driver is going to answer any questions that go there strategically, don’t you think?
Of course. The driver undoubtedly did not set out to kill someone, and human beings have an incredibly well-honed ability to rationalize our faults away – especially when there is a career or criminal or civil penalty involved. I’ve been in situations where I’ve been surprised by a pedestrian due to a blind spot or split-second look in the opposite direction, and also in situations where a pedestrian or cyclist who surprised me while driving, could have been better positioned or configured to help mitigate that.
I’m not blaming either party without evidence, but my point was that even the most masterful cyclist could have been caught without enough time to react by an unpredictable move by a driver, and additionally, it’s possible that her lighting wasn’t enough for the driver to see, even if she believed it was adequate. (I’m a big fan of lighting workshops where you get video’d riding at dusk and dark and review how visible you thought you’d be).
The skid marks alone are telling. If she’s an experienced cyclist on a road bike, she may have been able to modulate her rear brake only enough before adrenaline of an imminent crash kicked in. They are relatively short and well into the intersection, leading me to believe the driver cut the corner short, may have been carrying ample speed, and probably didn’t signal. To that end, it irks me that PPB chooses to remind bicyclists how to protect ourselves, while ignoring the admonishment of drivers to slow down, signal turns, and pay attention. In my opinion that PSA is completely uncalled for in this context.
“…To that end, it irks me that PPB chooses to remind bicyclists how to protect ourselves, while ignoring the admonishment of drivers to slow down, signal turns, and pay attention. In my opinion that PSA is completely uncalled for in this context.” pete
Pete, sorry, I can’t agree with you, at all on this point. I’m glad the police are reminding people biking, of the importance in equipping themselves with safety and visibility gear. If you feel justified in dismissing their reminder for everyone that rides a bike or is giving thought to doing so, because you yourself know well how to ride safe and well visible…that’s unfortunate.
Unfortunate, because it’s entirely reasonable I think, to assume and visibly see in the manner of their use of the road, that many people biking may not be sufficiently aware of the danger inherent in riding a bike in road situations where motor vehicles are, or may be in use. The police reminder is directed towards people in need of that info, rather than you personally, or anyone else riding, that knows how to take care of themselves on the road.
This ‘tit for tat’ idea you and some other people suggest from time to time, of only issuing such reminders, if…a safety message to people driving is simultaneously issued, does not sounds awkward and not particularly practical, but it’s interesting. Care to give it a try? Write something up and post it here. I know I’d be happy to think about it and critique it. Other people reading, likely would too.
Presumably the responding cops were in a position to observe what was left of the victim and her bike and chose their remarks accordingly. Or, in light of the fact that they are the ones charged with responding to and forever visualizing such on many occasions, chose this occasion to issue a reminder that they apparently cannot get out often enough.
I feel it as inappropriate to use a speed-related automobile crash as an opportunity to remind drivers not to run red lights, as I do this woman’s death to remind bicyclists to wear helmets (regardless of if she was wearing one or not). When I saw recent news of two responding police officers unfortunately killed when their SUV fishtailed and rolled over in the rain, it was not followed with “Remember, vehicles with high center of mass should be driven more cautiously through curves when pavement is slippery.”
I am not asking for “tit-for-tat”, I am advocating for basic respect.
“chose this occasion to issue a reminder”
That’s just it. These very cops clean up after far more DUI-related car wrecks and deaths than they do bicycle crashes, yet I’ll bet you a paycheck they never take the opportunity to remind drivers not to drink and drive in the actual police statement. There are very legal reasons for exercising that restraint that others have touched on here, regardless of what evidence they possess.
I agree with you a thousand percent. I cycle every day, no matter the weather, and I think my life is endangered every single day by automobiles at intersections. Literally every day when I cycle out of my driveway and down the road I have a moment of trepidation as my neighbors pull up to stop signs and almost don’t stop, see me at the last minute then realize that they’re supposed to look left -! – and this happens EVERY MORNING !!
As I mentioned elsewhere, if there’s a huge truck in the area I’m super aware of it and if there’s any potential conflict I’ll even pull my bike off the street and let em do their thing.
Argh 🙁 so sorry to the victim and her family and friends.
The best treatment I can think of at this intersection is to convert it to a four-way stop (or signalize). Cars and trucks coming off Taylor often gun it trying to make one of the small gaps in vehicles on Water Ave. And likewise, the same thing can happen with vehicles trying to turn onto Taylor trying to “beat” oncoming traffic. Not sure that’s what happened here, but it feels like a stop sign might have saved this woman’s life.
And while we’re on Water Ave, I believe Salmon (I think?) also has issues, more with poor visibility and with bike traffic often wanting to go straight across or left on Water Ave. I hope PBOT also looks at this intersection soon to prevent a similar tragedy there.
We gotta do better than we currently are. It’s too easy for these urgency- or lack-of-attentiveness-based crashes to happen in this city.
At one time I think the plan was to put a signalized light in at Water and Yamhill, and the make Yamhill a one-way eastbound street and to make Taylor a one-way westbound street.
If you truly wanted to improve safety, you would remove all of the on-street parking in the area so people could actually see to make their turns.
And once you realize how far behind parking that we prioritize safety, this entire argument becomes pointless.
Would that help with left cross type conflicts?
Yes. Portland allows parking right up to the corner which makes visibility difficult.
Irrelevant to left hooks. The driver has clear line of sight to the cyclist, as they are both entering the same intersection.
Turning off of Taylor, certainly. Turning off of Water, not so much. I suppose one could make the case that cyclists may be more visible without the parking backdrop.
I just know that if we resort to making every intersection a 4-way stop in an effort to improve safety, travel becomes near impossible for all of us.
We don’ need any more stop signs anywhere; what we need are traffic circles and signals that can sense when vehicles (including bicycles) are present and have a preffered direction that is usually signalled green but change to red to allow for crossing vehicles when traffic flow justifies.
“located a cyclist lying on the ground with life-threatening injuries and a garbage truck.”
they word it as if it’s the cyclist’s garbage truck…
“”…a northbound bicyclist, on Southeast Water Avenue, collided with the side of the garbage truck…” is also poorly worded… Like the cyclists was out of control riding at high speeds or something…
My thoughts are with her family.
Do we know that is not what happened? If she collided with the side of the garbage truck, that’s just a statement of fact.
I find the police statement — “The Portland Police Bureau’s Traffic Division wishes to remind all bicyclists to wear an approved bicycle helmet. Additionally, bicyclists should operate with a front-facing white light and a rear-facing red light while operating a bicycle in low-light or dark conditions” — curious. Perhaps that wording is pro forma, but many would interpret that to mean that the cyclist was unlit and unhelmeted.
“Perhaps that wording is pro forma, but many would interpret that to mean that the cyclist was unlit and unhelmeted.”
I wondered the same thing. Perhaps we’ll get some clarity on this point?
Plus rear lights are not required, and a rear light would have been irrelevant in this case anyway, since the victim was hit by a vehicle approaching from in front.
So the equivalent would be if the police issued a reminder for all drivers to be sure they have backup cameras, or some other sort equipment that is not required and is irrelevant to the case.
Actually, rear facing lights are required – (815.280.2.C) unless there’s a “red reflector… visible… up to 600 feet to the rear…”
As to it’s relevancy, hard to say without direct knowledge, but one could think that a white light (815.208.2.B) “visible from… at least 500 feet to the front…” might have been relevant.
Hopefully the next update will shed some light on the circumstances.
The rear reflector rule is the one I had in mind. And like the law says, if you have a simple, cheap reflector, you don’t need a rear light. I agree, the front light certainly could be relevant.
Even then, if the police are making advice to cyclists part of their report of this incident, especially things that weren’t relevant (like a rear light in a front crash) why didn’t they remind drivers to look carefully before turning left?
“…why didn’t they remind drivers to look carefully before turning left?”
“The Portland Police Bureau’s Traffic Division wishes to remind all
bicyclistsdrivers to wear an approved bicycle helmetseat belts. Additionally, bicyclistsdrivers should operate with a front-facing white lightcaution and a rear-facing red lightfull attention to the driving task while operating a bicyclemotor vehicle, especially in low-light or dark conditions.”
Even if she did hit the side of the truck, it’s not necessarily the case that she was out of control riding. Think about the same thing with cars. If the left-turning person driving a car was going too fast for conditions and/or “darted” out to the left at the last minute, most reasonable folks wouldn’t blame the person driving straight for hitting them.
Hopefully, the report will shed more light on what happened.
I’m not clear how anyone could ride out of control there unless they were drunk. That area is flat so the maximum she could have been going is about 25, probably less.
Sight lines are good in that area. Given “normal” nighttime circumstances, a competent driver should be able to identify and avoid a cyclist there, even an unlit one operating unsafely. However, a cyclist should also be able to able to figure out when something as big and maneuverable as a garbage truck is going to turn onto a road without properly indicating their intention.
Exactly. If someone turns left in front of you, a natural reaction would be to swerve to the right and hit the brakes. But as you’re turning right, they’re also turning right (their left) into the same space. And although you’re slowing down, they’re still moving forward as they’re turning, again right into the same space. They may even be accelerating if they see you, and think they can get through before you hit them.
I see this same left-turn behavior all the time when I’m crossing the street. The light turns green, I step into the crosswalk, and someone turning left heading towards me right into where I would have been. What saves me is I expect it, and stop. If I were going faster, and turned to the right, I’d be killed about once a week.
“…Perhaps that wording is pro forma, but many would interpret that to mean that the cyclist was unlit and unhelmeted.” banerjee
Many? Who for example, besides some bikeweblog readers particularly objecting to it seems, nearly any recommendation that vulnerable road users take some responsibility for their own safety in using the road, do you think would make such a reach of interpretation?
Whether or not the person riding a bike and that was involved in this collision, was wearing a helmet and was equipped with any visibility gear whatsoever….the notice and recommendation the police department added to its collision statement, is an all call appeal to people biking, that they avail themselves of simple, basic, affordable to almost anyone, gear to help themselves be more readily visible to other road users, thus enhancing their safety in using the road.
Think of it this way–if the report hadn’t included any advice for cyclists, but instead described the crash, and then said, “We wish to remind all drivers that drinking and driving is dangerous and illegal, especially when accompanied by texting. Additionally, all drivers should take care to make sure they have a clear path before turning” it would certainly make readers of the report think those things could have contributed to the crash.
Or another way–you’re killed when driving your car when your brakes fail. The police issue a report prior to knowing that that’s what caused your crash. But they end the report with, “Drivers, please do not drink and drive”. It certainly makes it look like that’s what caused your death, and you wouldn’t be alive to defend yourself. Would your survivors be happy that that advice (which is all good advice) was included in the report of your death? Would they say, “Well, people are going to assume he died because he was drinking due to that advice being included in the report, but it’s good advice so we don’t mind people thinking that”?
Of course, later a report MIGHT come out that some of the readers of the preliminary report MIGHT see, that would say that brake failure was a factor. But would it say, “Driving drunk was not a factor”? Probably not, just as when this report is updated, it isn’t likely to say that the cyclist had a legal rear reflector, or that she had a helmet. Or if she didn’t have a rear reflector, that it wasn’t relevant to the crash.
This is obscene that we tolerate this kind of deadly vehicle operation. I’m beside myself with anger. No words.
OK, words. There’s been a crisis of lack of concern—or, vocalized concern but absence of policy change commensurate with the talk—for a long time now. We should all be furious at every stage of the operation: road design; vehicle permitting; driver qualification; police treatment; prosecutorial effort; lawmaking. Nothing is being done in spite of there being known, proven approaches to every stage listed above. We are all complicit.
What’s happened since Tracy Sparling? What has changed? Green boxes? What else?
My company’s showroom and headquarters are at that intersection. I, and many of my coworkers ride that stretch on a daily basis. As a family of cyclists, we extend our heartfelt condolences to the family and friends of the victim. May she be riding in peace.
Provide video to police if you have any.
So you can turn against a double yellow? I know that means no passing. But, duh. There’s only one auto lane. Of course you can’t pass. But I assumed as a vehicle operator the double yellow had significance at 4 ways…(?)
I haven’t driven in over 30 years, I really don’t know.
So sad and feel devastated for the victims family. Maybe there should be a gathering there to give friends and neighbors an opportunity to share their grief and concerns.
Double yellow stripes between intersections doesn’t mean no turning at the intersection.
the double yellow only means no passing… you can cross over it…
in the case of this crash the truck was turning in the intersection where there are no continuous lines so they didn’t cross over any center roadway lines…
@Spiffy Thanks for the clarification. This is always what I was taught in drivers’ education class but lately I have been hearing people state the opposite (i.e. the position that you are replying to). It’s been a while since I’ve read over this part of the ORS but I was confident that turning across a double yellow is fine. It is the passing, as you mentioned, that is forbidden unless to avoid a hazard (while yielding the right of way to oncoming traffic of course).
So sad. I used to ride by there in my way to work. My thoughts are with the cyclist’s family and friends.
At some point we will have to commit to the idea that living in this city is more valuable than driving in this city.
I don’t mind who lives here; just so long as I can drive here.
Police responded to the crash incident at 1:50 a.m.; in the dead of night. There are so many factors that could be in play at that time of night that discerning causes may be very difficult: sleep deprivation, impairment, lighting, visibility of the road or debris, etc. Any of which could be applied to either the driver or the cyclist and could have precipitated actions that led to the crash. There isn’t enough information to form a true judgment. What is of note, is that the PPB incident report makes no mention of what clothes the cyclist wore or whether she had on a helmet or was using lights. Perhaps I am optimistic, but I consider the lack of implied victim blaming to be a small sign of progress.
But then the police updated their info to remind cyclists to wear helmets and use front lights and non-required rear lights.
At least it was a generic reminder to all cyclists rather than a direct indictment of this particular rider’s choices. PPB incident reports are full of similar boilerplate text, reminding people to not drive while intoxicated. Regarding lights, I’ll put my stake in the ground that lawmakers’ failure to require front and rear lights on bicycles simply underscores the current political belief that bicycles are toys rather than legitimate forms of daily transportation. My view is that all bicycles intended for use on the road should be equipped with lights and a failure to use them at the proper times should be treated in the same manner as motor-vehiclist’s failure to use lights. The bicycle manufacturing lobbies would be up in arms about the unbearable burden of having to comply. I realize others may have a different view, but I want bicycles to be treated as legitimate transportation not recreational vehicles.
Drunk driving is actually a crime though. Riding without a helmet is not. It is not PPB’s job to enforce things that are not actual laws.
I do agree on your statement about lights, however I believe this to be a fault of the bicycle manufactures who sell “city bikes” that do not have built-in lights. IMO this fear is perpetuated by the roadie groups who claim dynamo lights “add unnecessary drag” or whatever, as if people cycling heavy upright bikes for transportation give a cr@p about efficiency. Most bike shops do offer discounts on accessories with the purchase of a new bicycle, so it’s not as if they aren’t trying to sell lights.
I would object to requiring lights be sold with bikes despite being a strong advocate for them.
Mandated lights are all but guaranteed to be minimally compliant and cheaply made as possible. This will inevitably lead to people using lights that are not as functional or even worse giving them a false sense of security. Besides, the amount and type of lighting you need really depends on where/how you ride — and most people won’t ride in the dark at all.
My objection was specifically in regards to “city bikes” being sold without lights. City bikes are by definition used for city riding and cities often get dark – at least once per day, although sometimes twice if there’s an eclipse. 😉
a specific person died so that “reminder” was not generic or compassionate, imo.
But does anyone add boilerplate warnings against drunk driving (or any driving misbehavior) in reports about incidents that didn’t involve drunk driving? I’ve never seen one. If I were the driver in a crash, and hadn’t been drinking, I’d be angry if a report had that warning, because it implies drinking was involved.
So it may have been intended as a generic reminder, but attaching it to this incident does imply that not wearing a helmet, not having lights, etc. were factors in this death.
Absolutely. I agree your description of “slanderous” could be applicable here. Certainly not compassionate, no matter how well-meaning. I have expressed my concern to PPB and encourage others to do the same. Even if this bicyclist was riding without a helmet and wearing all black – or maybe even her lights were stolen – it’s beyond inappropriate.
But regardless of who was at fault in this particular instance it is bicyclists who are the most vulnerable, thus the reminder.
See, this jump to reflexively admonishing cyclists, because more vulnerable, is what some of us here are bristling at. There is nothing automatic about making the quasi-pragmatic leap, and plenty of reasons *not* to go there. See q’s post here: https://bikeportland.org/2017/08/21/bicycle-rider-dies-after-collision-with-garbage-truck-driver-in-central-eastside-239577#comment-6822739
That doesn’t make any sense. Why shouldn’t the police take the opposite stance? As in, “Drivers are the ones who pose the largest danger to others on the road, which is why we aim our advice at drivers.”
I think they should, but they probably don’t because they know it would be pointless. I suspect they see drivers as a “force of nature”.
yeah, but they work for us. this is not good enough; not by a long shot.
I think there could be some truth in what HK says, but an unfortunate result of focusing only on what people biking or walking should do is to prove to drivers that they’re not doing anything wrong themselves. Every time a driver sees a report of someone killed by a vehicle while walking or biking, they can dismiss driving behavior as a factor–“See, the cyclist wasn’t wearing a helmet. No wonder they were killed”.
Then add that up over and over–reporting what the victim did or didn’t do, and then the reminders to people walking or biking to change their behaviors to avoid getting hurt…it’s no wonder people start thinking it’s always the victim’s fault, when the victim was walking or biking.
This logic was applied to a recent PSA about pedestrian safety.
Regarding lights – the biking community lobbied against the requirement when the Oregon Legislature considered the idea.
Mandating lights that aren’t standardized, subject to battery depletion, and can easily be broken or stolen is very different than using them as a best practice.
“…What is of note, is that the PPB incident report makes no mention of what clothes the cyclist wore or whether she had on a helmet or was using lights. …” keller
A lot of reasons could account for why no mention of gear was made, among them, the police statement being an initial report rather than that of a full investigation.
But then they updated the report and threw in a bunch of advice to cyclists about helmets, lights, etc. even though they still hadn’t done a full investigation.
So Keller’s hope (as I understand it)–that the police may finally have realized that they shouldn’t throw into their report a bunch of things the cyclist may have done wrong, even if those things were irrelevant and not legally required, while at the same time not saying anything about the driver’s behavior–was dashed as soon as they tossed that into the report.
I commute via Water Avenue almost daily. Cars are going way too fast the speed limit is 20 miph I ride 20 around OMSI and cars are always flying by. I try to stay off The Pedestrian path along OMSI because I do like to ride fast and I never see this area patrolled for speeders
I was hit by a car in that same manner a number of years ago. I saw the car driving towards me, was fully aware of the possibilities as I approached the intersection. I watch for blinkers and for turning front wheels in general. What I didn’t expect was for the car to turn left at the last moment and cut the corner a bit, and that resulted in a virtual head on collision. As a bike commuter for 20 plus years, I’m pretty confident and comfortable riding in traffic. Don’t blame the bike rider as none of us will ever know what she saw or anticipated. What we can do is help to produce infrastructure that minimizes the chances for someone to get hurt when people make poor decisions while driving. I make mistakes riding my bike and driving a car. The mistakes I make driving a 2 ton rig could easily kill someone, no matter their mode of transportation. Those same mistakes made on my bike will most likely hurt me the most, not another person or property. We need to build and change our cities so that MOST people DON’T FEEL LIKE they have to drive everywhere. Right now, I’d say it’s the opposite.
“the garbage truck had turned east onto Southeast Taylor” Always passive voice with motor vehicles. Apparently the truck made its own decision to turn.
That’s past tense, not passive voice. “Had been turned” would be passive voice.
At least it’s not at the point of, “The female became deceased during an officer-involved shooting”. But that’s not to say that’s not the direction police reports are heading. “Vehicle-involved incidents” could be next.
Just like how hate crimes are now called “bias crimes”.
I work right by this intersection. There is always traffic on Water Ave, even late at night. A couple of days ago there was a fender bender a block north from this intersection and about a month ago somebody was hit riding their bike but was ok.
I just love the way that PPB phrases things to facilitate victim-blaming. “During the investigation, officers learned at the time of the crash the garbage truck had turned east onto Southeast Taylor Street from southbound Southeast Water Avenue.”
Note use of past tense “HAD TURNED.” If the turn had been completed there would have been no collision. The truck was clearly in the process of turning when the collision occurred. The truck was still in the intersection; it had not yet turned onto Taylor Street.
Actually, the moment the truck turned its wheels to the left it “had turned” onto SE Taylor – thus the (correct) past-tense language.
No, the moment the truck turned its wheels to the left was the moment it “initiated its turn” or “started turning” or “turned towards SE Taylor”. Saying it “had turned” ONTO SE Taylor isn’t accurate until the truck was through the intersection and actually ON SE Taylor heading east.
Do you believe I “had written” this sentence the moment I wrote the word “Or” at the beginning of the sentence? If you do, you’re wrong.
If the truck hadn’t turned onto SE Taylor already there would’ve been no collision.
If the truck HAD turned ONTO SE Taylor already, there would have been no collision, because the intersection the cyclist biked through would have already been clear.
Seriously, drivers need to wear helmets at all times. Head injures are like the number on trauma in car crashes.
They are like that you know . Self driving.
Yep, the “the truck turned east…” but oddly the “bicyclist collided” with it, not the bike.
Someone here pointed out years ago that this may in part be due to the fact that someone on a bike is unequivocally, unmistakably a person. We can see them. Not so with a truck or car, that completely shields from view the person within.
giving PPB the benefit of the doubt.. They might have determined that the truck was in the intersection prior to the impact. But regardless, it is completely unecessary to make these speculations before a full investigation is completed. I’ve been telling the PPB this for years but they still do it every time.
You are for too forgiving. PPB does not deserve the “benefit of the doubt” if they have making the same mistake for years.
right. i hear you. it’s a difficult situation. i don’t think the PPB is being malicious here. it’s a constant effort to make them aware of how to deal with this stuff because 1) it’s not top-of-mind for them 2) they are more biased toward a car-oriented perspective in general and 3) the communications and command staff at Traffic Division is constantly changing which means I have less incentive to invest in relationship-building because I feel like it just goes down the drain when that person(s) move on, get caught in a scandal, are fired, re-assigned, and so on.
Based on PPB’s past behaviours, I think it’s generally safe to assume malice before all else. They have a terrible track record when it comes to public safety.
Helmet didn’t, or wouldn’t have made a difference. I guarantee it.
Don’t see how you can guarantee it, since we have no idea of the nature of the fatal injury.
I kinda want a real confirmation that she wasn’t wearing a helmet (not required), or riding with lights. I sometimes feel like PPB releases statements like this implying fault, when it may have had nothing to do with it. Can we get that information?
Not to mention the fact that it is a pretty odd statement for PPB to make after someone is killed by a driver failing to yield the right of way that the victim should have done things not required by law. There is no requirement in oregon for a 41 year old woman to wear a helmet, nor is one required to have a rear facing light (a reflector complies with the law). I also fail to see how a rear facing light could possibly have made a difference here. In addition it is entirely possible that she had a light on the bike and it was not present when the police arrived because it was thrown off somewhere when she was hit, so I wonder how hard the cops looked for a light? Overall this just seems like one more case where the PPB is willing to make victim blaming statements in cases before investigations are complete.
Is it confirmed that the driver failed to yield the right of way? The way the release is written, it sounds like the truck was already partway through the turn, and the cyclist didn’t see it and rode into it. I know it seems unlikely that one could miss a garbage truck, but sometimes you’re tired and/or spaced out and just have your head down at the wrong moment. I’ve definitely been caught off guard while riding. It’s tragic no matter what, and I agree that the helmet/lights scolding was just rubbing salt in the wound (and I say that as someone who is staunchly pro-helmet) – I just don’t think we have enough information to judge who was at fault.
Left turns aren’t a first-come, first-served situation with respect to right of way. Starting a turn does not give one the right of way to turn; one must have a clear road from start to finish or one has violated the right of way of any oncoming traffic. This is very basic stuff. Perhaps I have misunderstood what you have written?
Yes. If you turn left, and someone runs into your right side as you’re turning, it’s pretty much proof you shouldn’t have turned, unless the other party had done something like running a red light into your path.
I wonder if the City has studied how much it would cost to mandate that, at end of service life, all garbage trucks be replaced with smaller trucks (and hopefully cleaner/electric ones depending on cost). The width of garbage trucks is one thing that pushes street width wider, and I have to imagine that smaller vehicles would be easier to drive safely.
Driver safety standards are also a thing, not sure where the garbage franchises are on these.
Based on conversations with multiple truck operation companies about garbage cans being left in the sidewalk blocking passage by many disabled folks (the answers being “We do what the customer wants, which we judge based on where they put their can to start with.”), City oversight of these franchised monopolies doesn’t seem to be very strong. It could stand to be more so.
Alternatively, the city could give an advantage to companies using smaller/quite/cleaner vehicles, or let them charge more.
US commercial motor vehicles are restricted in width to 2.6M = 102.36″(https://ops.fhwa.dot.gov/freight/publications/size_regs_final_rpt/). Even if Portland forced or encouraged smaller or narrower garbage trucks, all those other CMV operators still want access to its streets.
Use of smaller but more frequent trucks has been discussed here before, and I haven’t seen definitive answers in terms of safety. Smaller trucks tend to have less trained or experienced drivers.
Something that could fairly quickly be retrofitted to existing fleets, including garbage trucks, and which has proven safety benefits, are sideguards.
Thanks, that sounds like a more reasonable and tailored solution for this problem.
I’m not against smaller trucks (as appropriate) and I’m in favor of much less garbage by our society, but for an immediate and practical reduction in some dangers of large CMVs, sideguard installation could start this afternoon. I’m sure that actual legislation of it is not easy and has big jurisdictional issues and opposition from trucking businesses, and enforcement is alway a question mark, but Portland could start *now* with sideguards on its own fleet, and then include them in specifications for garbage trucks during the next bidding/negotiation for that service, and generally begin the process of moving all large CMV towards having sideguards.
The only way the cyclist could possibly be at fault here is if she was riding Ninja style, no lights, black clothing so the truck driver didn’t see her. My guess is if this was the case the Oregonian and PPD would be reporting that.
Someone going straight clearly has the right of way over someone turning no matter who got to the intersection first.
While I agree with you that riding with black clothing and no lights in the middle of the night is unwise, or at a minimum demands the person traveling in this manner ride with extreme defensiveness, it is worth noting that in some countries biking in this manner is not ipso facto a guilty verdict, does not absolve all others of responsibility for looking.
Are you telling me that you wouldn’t be able to see someone wearing all black in an intersection that is well-lit by street lights?
Is this hypothetical person using a headlight?
Streeviews doesn’t show any street lights at SE Water and Taylor.
What is that on the pole on the SW corner of the intersection? It looks like a flattish rectangular item on a long arm suspended in place by cables.
You’re right, that may be a street light.
Is it functional?
Go take a peek at 1 am – see what that area looks like.
I wondered that, too. Anyone able to check on that without going too far out of your way? The KPTV photo indicates a pool of light on that SW corner, but overall somewhat dim light for the intersection: http://kptv.images.worldnow.com/images/14713465_G.jpg
Yup – it’s entirely pissible, even likely.
Err, make that “… possible”. What’s with the inability to correct or delete one’s own remarks on this site?
But while a headlight is required of a cyclist, no light is required for pedestrians. So if you can’t see a cyclist in a well-lit intersection because they’re wearing black, wouldn’t it be true you wouldn’t see pedestrians either? Yet the law requires drivers to drive slowly enough through intersections that they can see those pedestrians.
Also, I don’t believe bikes are required to have side reflectors. So a person biking through an intersection across a driver’s path might have no lights or reflectors facing the driver. Yet again the law requires the driver to go slowly enough that they can see those cyclists.
ninja riders stand out to me because they’re the only really dark spot in the road… it’s like hitting a pothole and claiming you didn’t see if because it was a dark unlit hole…
unlit riders in black clothing are not invisible…
it’s a driver’s responsibility to ensure the road ahead is clear, not just that they can’t see anything in the way… saying you didn’t see something that was there is an admission of guilt that you weren’t paying attention…
Allow me to translate the PPB statement:
Please remember that no matter what the law says, we do not consider people on bikes as worthy of our protection. In fact, we don’t actually consider you to be humans. Our roads are for motor vehicles only. If someone in a motor vehicle should kill you, no matter what the law says we will take every effort to find some way to blame you no matter how crude it sounds.
PS: See you on the other side of the windshield.
I think a better translation of the PPB advice is: “if you’re riding a bike at 1:00 a.m., in a quasi-industrial area, it’s important that you, just like cars, have lights; and, since you don’t have the same crash protection as a car, please wear safety gear like a helmet.”
Just a reminder that per hour of engaging in the activity, being in a car is 12% more likely to cause traumatic brain injury. Also, helmets designed for use in motor vehicles actually work when one is in a crash with a motor vehicle, unlike helmets designed for use on a bike, which don’t do much of anything when struck by 5000 pounds of rolling scofflaw.
Tell me again why there is always a comment on cyclists’ choice in headgear by ineffective police departments.
Also, the comment on lighting has no basis until and unless it is determined that the victim did not have a front light. (A rear light is of no consequence in this incident for obvious reasons.) Put it together now…
“If you drive at night as if you are the only vehicle on the road, eventually you will kill somebody.”
And I’d like to remind the PPB that there is no bicycle helmet law in Portland for adults.
Most often when you go off a bike, it’s your shoulder, arms, hands that hit the ground first and then your head bounces, usually off something not very soft.
just to let you know.
Thanks for the unsolicited advice. I’ve actually fallen off a bike before, but clearly you must be an expert or you wouldn’t be lecturing me on the matter.
What? You’ve fallen off a bike and still defend the notion that a helmut is optional?
Forget the advice, a helmut for you wouldn’t be protecting much.
A helmet would not have prevented my sprained wrist nor my chin wound. But thanks for the free advice anyway, I guess.
Adam said, “… there is no bicycle helmet law in Portland for adults”. He is correct. It is a fact that helmets are optional. Millions of people ride bicycles all over the world in traffic every day while not wearing helmets. The City’s public bike rental program doesn’t include helmets.
And that has exactly what to do with the law, or the enforcement of law by police?
I fell off my bike as a kid and hit my head… it hurt… a lot… now I make sure to angle my head up as I fall… that’s probably how the Dutch do it… they don’t seem to be afraid to fall off a bike…
Which is no reason the PPB can’t express an (informed) opinion on the matter.
Speculating on what is likely to have happened is one thing (and even then I think even the police would say they prefer to avoid speculating). Giving advice about things people in the victim’s group (cyclists) should do, as part of their report, is NOT something the police should do, because it implies the victim was not doing those things, and might have survived or even avoided the crash if she had.
If a child burned to death in a fire, would it be appropriate for the fire department to tell people–as part of its official report–to be sure to not let their children play with matches? Possibly, if the fire had been caused by the child playing with matches. No way, if it was an electrical, arson or lightning fire. And no way, until the cause of the fire was determined.
Giving advice to cyclists as was done here is the equivalent of telling people not to let children play with matches in a fire where a child died, before the cause of the fire was even determined.
Or as a more immediate example, why didn’t the police report include an admonition against driving drunk? It’s at least as good advice as saying cyclists should have rear lights, and (unlike the light) there’s even a law about it.
“why didn’t the police report include an admonition against driving drunk? It’s at least as good advice as saying cyclists should have rear lights”
Not to mention that fully one-third of our annual fatalities on this nation’s roads are traced to alcohol (over-)consumption. So besides the law, statistics would also confirm what q is suggesting.
I understand the desire to pinpoint the “cause” of tragedies. But, it is rare that we have enough details to identify a “cause” let alone an act that would have prevented the tragedy. Most of us simply want these injuries and fatalities to stop.
However, if we publicly release and examine the details of vulnerable road user’s equipment and behavior, an equally thorough examination of the driver’s should be given.
For example, I have been surprised a few times when the left framing material of my windshield has obscured my view of a pedestrian in a cross walk. This appears to be worse with some new car designs that I assume are compensating for using lighter material and aerodynamic design. I imagine that regulations for car/ truck design probably don’t sufficiently take pedestrians and bike riders into consideration.
Of course, I have no idea what happened, but I am reminded we live in a culture that excuses fatalities caused by vehicles and believes that they are the “cost of doing business.”
I take issue with the wording of this section –
“…the garbage truck had turned east onto Southeast Taylor Street from southbound Southeast Water Avenue. While turning onto Southeast Taylor Street, a northbound bicyclist, on Southeast Water Avenue, collided with the side of the garbage truck…”
The bicyclist had the right of way heading northbound on SE Water, a through street at this location.
The garbage truck was turning east onto SE Taylor from northbound Water, meaning it had to cross two lanes of traffic – a car lane and a bike lane.
So why did the bicyclist “collide” with the garbage truck? Surely, if the bicyclist had the right of way, and the garbage truck had to yield to two lanes of oncoming traffic before making that turn, then it should read, “the garbage truck collided *with* the cyclist”.
This sort of language is victim blaming at its worst.
Jonathan, I would love to hear PPB’s response,aka justification, to this. Thanks.
The bicycle rider didn’t have the right of way if the truck operator was already in the intersection. What if the truck operator made the left turn with plenty of room and the bicycle rider slammed into the truck because the bicycle rider failed to stop in time and/or didn’t see the truck? From what we’ve been told so far, isn’t the above scenario plausible?
Don’t get me wrong. I totally agree with your concerns and this use of language has peeved me for years now. I just want you to remember that no one except the investigators know specific details about what might have happened.
And FWIW I did ask the PPB investigator about the language use and the collision in general. He said, “At this point it is far too early to conclude anything about causation. The case will remain confidential until it is reviewed by the DA’s office.”
Agan, I have an extremely hard time believing the argument that “the bicycle rider failed to see the truck”. How could anyone possibly miss a large, loud, and stinky garbage truck? I think it’s far more likely that the operator of a large vehicle with tons of blind spots failed to see the cyclist. And don’t hold out much hope for a fair investigation – the powers that be always find some way to absolve the driver.
You asked: “How could anyone possibly miss a large, loud, and stinky garbage truck?”
Your answer: If the cyclist was following a large vehicle, for example a UPS van, then it’s “possible” that the garbage truck saw the UPS van, allowed it to pass, then made the turn. The UPS van could have hidden the garbage truck from the view of the cyclist. I have no idea if another vehicle was involved in the process leading to this accident, but you asked how it could possibly happen – and now you know at least one way.
What part of the Vehicle Code assigns right of way to the first vehicle in the intersection? How can a truck driver provide “plenty of room” for a left turn while simultaneously relying upon the on-coming vehicle to stop?
Please reread the following:
811.350 Dangerous left turn; penalty. (1) A person commits the offense of making a dangerous left turn if the person:
(a) Is operating a vehicle;
(b) Intends to turn the vehicle to the left within an intersection or into an alley, private road, driveway or place from a highway; and
(c) Does not yield the right of way to a vehicle approaching from the opposite direction that is within the intersection or so close as to constitute an immediate hazard.
(2) The offense described in this section, dangerous left turn, is a Class B traffic violation. [1983 c.338 §626; 1985 c.16 §313]
Thanks for sharing the legal language J_R. I’m playing devil’s advocate here. I’m not arguing in defense of other vehicle operator. I know how the police think and how they see these collisions. All this stuff is very open to interpretation. reasonable people can disagree about what “constitutes an immediate hazard”. remember, our courts have ruled that a large truck operator can turn into someone and crush them to death — even when that person was legally occupying a bike lane — simply because the truck operator was “unable” to see them.
Is it: “oh, bike, must be the bike riders fault”?
I’m playing devil’s advocate here.
OK, but how would that argument work if the bike and the truck swapped places, with the bike performing a left cross in front of the truck? Do you think any official interpretation would be that the bike had right-of-way because it entered the intersection first? Would not the collision itself be cited by officials as proof of “so close as to constitute an immediate hazard?”
I agree with you, J_R, but do you also remember the frustrating rationalizations around the truck driver’s left turn behavior at Chavez and Holgate when she killed a person riding Westbound on Holgate?
Absolutely. I agree with you about that crash and share your frustrations. I think the PPB did a masterful job of pulling out all the stops to find a way of putting the blame on the bicyclist. The difference with this intersection is that it does not have a traffic signal. The failure of the garbage truck driver to yield is even more clear in this case.
It will be harder for PPB to blame the cyclist, but they have a lot of experience so I have faith in them to pull it off.
I’m not sure I agree entirely. Yes, if the truck was already in the intersection turning, of course the oncoming bike should have slowed down to avoid hitting it, and legally was required to since you always have a duty to avoid hitting someone even if they caused the situation.
But before all that, the driver had a legal duty not to turn until the way was clear. That doesn’t mean “clear as long as oncoming traffic slows down and yields to him”. It means he had to wait until he could turn and clear the intersection without forcing oncoming traffic to slow down or maneuver out of his way. In other words, isn’t the fact that the cyclist hit the truck proof that the driver didn’t have “plenty of room”?
In real world driving, people do depend on oncoming traffic slowing down so they can turn, especially in rush hour, and oncoming drivers generally understand that, since if turners and mergers waited for a completely clear situation, they’d be waiting for an hour. In heavy traffic, I expect people to turn into my path, or merge into it, with little clearance. But this was night, with no traffic (I’d guess) and the oncoming cyclist would have expected the driver to wait until the cyclist was through the intersection before turning.
Not to mention the “cars always win” right of way- where a driver will take the turn knowing that the bike rider will have to break or be injured.
“…He said, “At this point it is far too early to conclude anything about causation. The case will remain confidential until it is reviewed by the DA’s office.” ” maus
Well, that’s smart of the PPB investigator to have said that in response to your questions. I wish more people reading here had some of that restraint rather than jumping to conclusions they draw, basing them on their own interpretation from even the briefest of initial police collision reports. Let the police investigators do what they can do to figure out how this collision transpired, then read their final report.
This could be a tough collision to exactly figure out what oversight there may have been on either of the two road users involved, truck driver and bike rider. The time factor is major. Leading up to the intersection, critical decision periods of time drop to seconds at best, split seconds more likely, and major contributors to the collision having occurred.
People make mistakes. Either of the two road users may have made a mistake that contributed to this collision. Maybe one made a mistake and the other didn’t. Maybe neither made a mistake, but circumstances were just such that the collision occurred despite both their best efforts to avoid one from happening.
Yesterday, some ten minutes after full eclipse, I headed north down Fairmount on the north side. No traffic on the road, just me. As I’m about a 80′ away, on that one side road coming down the hill, someone driving is also approaching the intersection maybe 60′ away. Didn’t check to be sure, but I’m fairly certain the side street has a stop sign. I expected the person driving and coming down the hill would stop at the stop sign…but they didn’t…and just kept cruising through at 10-15 mph. It wasn’t a real close call for me, but at 10-15 distance, that was close enough to be a split second decision situation for me to brake, veer off the road, etc, even though I had the right of way, technically.
I think everyone understands that there’s incomplete information. I don’t see a lot of jumping to conclusions going on. Most of the comments make sense based on the information already available. Others are the “IF this is what happened, then…” type of comment, with the understanding that we don’t yet know all the facts of what happened.
In the meantime, there’s great value in this discussion. It wouldn’t make sense to delay it.
Jonathan, I’m utterly confused.
The police statement says the bicyclist was heading north bound on SE Water. The truck was heading south bound on SE Water. The truck made a left hand turn IN FRONT OF THE CYCLIST onto SE Taylor. There is no stop sign on SE Water at this intersection that either vehicle had to adhere to.
How did the cyclist not have right of way?
We don’t know what happened and the final report may or may not clarify what happened.
I’m not claiming anything did or did not happen, but it is possible that the driver did not make a mistake. For example, the driver could have initiated a turn when there was plenty of time to get through the intersection. But as he started down Taylor, he may have suddenly needed to stop for something that wasn’t there before — a driver suddenly pulling out of a parking spot, a human or animal who started crossing, etc. In this scenario, the cyclist would have had plenty of time to react and would have had to be exceptionally inattentive or have maintained speed with the expectation that the truck would move. I don’t suspect this is the case, but the whole point of investigations is to figure things out.
Since people are very concerned about messaging, one form I frequently see in BP comments think is particularly damaging to cyclists is repeatedly emphasizing the legality of stupid and dangerous practices without also mentioning these practices are stupid and dangerous. Otherwise, the effect is to appear to be justifying these practices which encourages preconceptions that cyclists are irresponsible and probably caused any crash involving a motor vehicle.
“the whole point of investigations is to figure things out.”
We can only hope. Even if every effort is made to get everything right, that’s no guarantee.
Rest assured, every effort won’t be made.
They said it’s too early to comment? They did comment though! The reminder to wear a helmet, and use lights is a comment, it has some pretty big implications being said. If I trusted the police spokesperson at all I would automatically assume that the cyclist was at fault. I’m sorry they don’t deserve the benefit of a doubt. They sure as hell didn’t give her one, now did they.
Wrong. The turning truck only has the right-of-way over a straight-proceeding vehicle heading the opposite direction if the turning truck can complete its turn without causing the vehicle to have to alter its path or speed.
The foregoing remark is just stupid. Regardless of who was at fault, if the garbage truck was in the intersection when the bicycle impacted its side then obviously the bicycle hit the truck.
You haven’t studied physics, have you.
I knew Tamar, she had been a daily cyclist in Portland the 15 years I knew her and she always had lights and helmet.
Then the police reminder, especially after the fact, is truly weird.
Yes. I think it’s almost slanderous. She can’t defend herself. People don’t regularly make that type of behavior recommendation statement in any typical situation unless it’s in direct response to the behavior of the person being discussed. So making those statements strongly implies the person being discussed didn’t do those responsible behaviors.
If the police included, “We’d like to remind truck drivers to not drink and drive” everyone would (understandably) assume the truck driver had been drinking.
If I ended this comment with, “One more thing–I’d like remind everyone to please keep your comments relevant and civil, and avoid profanity”. Yes, it’s good advice, but if I wrote it without it being directly applicable to you, people would (rightly) think I was way out of line, and/or completely clueless as to how to behave.
Or, given that they are the ones who have to scrape up the scraps of even not-at-fault bicyclists, they want to avoid missing the chance to give out the advice they see as being most likely to avoid such occurences in the future.
I do have a problem with the press release failing, at the same time, to remind drivers turning left to look and then look again for oncoming traffic.
That’s the thing, the advice is aimed at things people cycling or walking should do (with the implication that this dead cyclist wasn’t doing them, and might be alive if she had) and isn’t accompanied by things drivers should do to avoid killing other people.
It is an open question whether they see the advice for cyclists and pedestrians as being the most likely to avoid future occurrences. Since a lot more people are being killed by things drivers are doing, or not doing, than by things the victims are doing or not doing, that makes it seem that the tendency of police to give advice only to the victims means that the police have given up on trying to improve drivers’ behavior.
“makes it seem that the tendency of police to give advice only to the victims means that the police have given up on trying to improve drivers’ behavior.”
As El biciclero reminds us from time to time here. If this is not an example of what Alan Durning calls Car-head, I don’t know.
Thanks for that reference–got me reading something he wrote…
I see this sort of advice all the time in water sports–how to avoid drowning or other problems while swimming or paddling. Reports about drownings are always accompanied by advice–wear a life jacket, learn to swim, don’t go out alone, etc. Those make sense, since the dangers are water, waves, currents, and weather. You can’t control those, or give them advice, so of course the advice is aimed at the potential next victims.
You also see it in anti-crime advice–lock your car or bike so it won’t get stolen. In those cases, the dangers are human, but being criminals there’s no point in giving advice to them to not steal cars or bikes. So again the advice goes to the victim groups.
But with road safety, authorities seem to treat drivers as if they’re advice-proof, like weather or criminals. So the advice still goes to the potential victims. It’s crazy. If Coast Guard crews could tell waves or currents to lighten up when canoes are present, because waves and currents were sentient beings, you can bet they’d tell them to behave better. They’d pretty much abandon telling people to wear life jackets, because they could now go after the cause of the need for life jackets. With road safety, police DO have that ability–to give advice to who is causing the danger–but they squander it, and still focus on the behavior of the potential victims.
Brilliant! This is a conceptual breakthrough, q. Thank you!
For years I’ve tried, mostly in vain, to come up with a way to capture this conundrum, this asymmetry in comments here. I hope you don’t mind if in future I link to this post of yours when the subject inevitably returns.
Thanks, 9watts. Link away. I’m sure it will come up again soon enough.
It’s easy to think of similar examples. What would a veterinarian think of a doctor who treated humans by examining them and talking to the people the patient lives with, but not the patient? She’d say, “Are you crazy? Do you how much I’d give to be able to talk to my dog patients?”
There are all kinds of people who protect us from things–lifeguards, Coast Guard crews, ski patrols, park rangers–with no ability to influence much of what they’re protecting us from. It must drive them nuts to see police voluntarily treating drivers as non-influenceable, the way ski patrollers have to deal with avalanches or veterinarians with patients who can’t talk.
“But with road safety, authorities seem to treat drivers as if they’re advice-proof, like weather or criminals. So the advice still goes to the potential victims.”
Exactly. There are two key confusions that result in our current attitude to road safety. In the context of road use:
1. We seem to confuse drivers and motor traffic with wild animals and a force of nature: unreasonable and unstoppable.
2. We seem to confuse great motivation (to avoid dying) with great responsibility to avoid dying, regardless of other forces at work—i.e., the more you don’t want to die (or the greater the danger present), the greater your responsibility to avoid it—and we fail to properly consider responsibility to avoid creating danger or killing.
I just have to point out that these conversations, the best conversations, can lead here. We end up, jointly, nudging each other iteratively, to find words that help articulate insights none of us came here with, or if we had them we hadn’t quite found the way to put them into words before. So inspiring!
And despite scraping up statistically far more irresponsible driver carnage daily, not a single crash report have I seen followed by any opportunity to remind drivers to slow down and behave. It’seems almost like q completely nails it in his assessment below.
q…responses of many readers of this story about the collision, show the usual presumption of fault attributed to the person driving, based on the barest info supplied in the initial police statement. There seems to be an almost predictable rush to presume that the person driving had to be ‘at fault’ for collisions involving people driving and people riding, or vulnerable road users in general.
There seems to be a reluctance among many readers of this weblog, to restrain themselves from jumping to conclusions, and from trying to read more into simple, initial police statements about such collisions than is reasonable for the earliest stage of the investigation.
I think the causes of many collisions…maybe most of them…are multi-faceted, and more complicated than a simple ‘guilty/innocent’ conclusion that some people might prefer, favoring their particular choice of travel on the road. Such a simple perception causality, doesn’t to me, sound like an effective way to resolve the problems that will enable reducing the reasons for collisions happening.
There may be some jumping to conclusions going on, but the vast majority of comments don’t.
In my personal opinion, the likelihood based on the limited info is that the driver was at least primarily responsible, and the facts we know back that up. He turned left into the path of the cyclist, and they collided. If he’d waited until he had enough clearance to turn, she wouldn’t have collided with him unless she sped up dramatically after he started his turn–unlikely.
It could be he didn’t see her because she didn’t have a headlight on. But he should be driving slowly enough to see people in his path without headlights, since after all pedestrians also could have been crossing into his path, and they rarely wear lights. So he’d still bear responsibility.
Or as someone said, maybe she was behind another vehicle, and the truck driver didn’t see her. But that means he didn’t look carefully enough, and made a bad assumption that there was nobody behind that front vehicle. There’s no law that requires a cyclist or small car to stay so far behind the vehicle ahead of them that that vehicle doesn’t partially hide them.
It could be she was speeding so fast he got caught by surprise. Well, no, not really. Who believes it’s likely she was going even 25 or 30 mph, let alone faster?
The most likely is this is like so many other cases where a driver hits a person walking or biking–they didn’t see them because they weren’t driving carefully enough. That’s the reason for a huge number of these cases. The most likely reason a driver has a reasonable excuse is when someone darts out in front of them–a person running out from behind a car, a cyclist running a stop sign…but that doesn’t apply here. She was in her lane traveling the direction she should have been.
It’s possible some other info will come out that shows the victim was primarily the one at fault, but given the facts it’s likely it’s the driver who was. So it’s reasonable that the comments reflect that.
My condolences to the family of the cyclist. And to the truck driver if it wasn’t his fault.
Has anyone visited this intersection at 1 am to see what it looks like? Is there a big bright light that could have blinded the truck driver? Might hide out next week or whenever next garbage pickup is scheduled and see how the truck makes the turn.
Not enough info given here to conclude anything about who is at fault. I’d guess lack of visibility of the cyclist was a factor. May have been a vehicle ahead of the cyclist going north which hid the cyclist from view of truck driver even if the cyclist had lights – that vehicle passes – truck driver can’t see cyclist behind it, makes the turn, causing the cyclist to hit the truck or else running into the cyclist. Also, it’s possible that another vehicle in front of the cyclist hid the garbage truck from the cyclist.
This logic was applied in a recent PSA about pedestrian safety.