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Tamar Monhait: Photos from the intersection and remembrances from those who knew her

Posted by on August 22nd, 2017 at 5:07 pm

Tamar Monhait.
(Image by DANAVA)

As we wait to learn more about what happened in Monday morning’s fatal collision, I’ve tried to learn more about Tamar Monhait, the 41-year-old artist whose life was cut tragically short.

I went to Southeast Water and Taylor this morning to get a better sense of the intersection and have reached out to those who knew her.

The collision happened just a few feet from a bike corral, a Biketown station, and the street seats of Water Avenue Coffee Company. During the day this intersection is bustling with a mix of industrial truck traffic, walkers and bikers headed to and from the Eastbank Esplanade, patrons of the many popular cafes and bars in the area, and professionals headed to any one of the newly sprouted office buildings that are transforming the central eastside.

Little is known about precisely what happened, but from initial statements by the Portland Police Bureau, we know that Monhait was riding northbound on Water Avenue prior to the collision. She was probably in the freshly-painted bike lane as she approached the intersection with Taylor. It’s a standard, 5-foot wide, unprotected bike lane with no buffer and the striping ends before the intersection. There’s an auto parking lane to the right of the bike lane and a vehicle lane to the left. This is a major city bike route as evidenced by the bikeway signage telling riders to turn east on Taylor to reach northeast and southeast Portland.

SE Water and Taylor-2.jpg

Looking north from southeast corner of Water and Taylor.

SE Water and Taylor-3.jpg

Bike lane Monhait was riding in just south of intersection.

SE Water and Taylor-1.jpg

This would have been Monhait’s view entering the intersection. Note the green outline from the police investigators marking the bike tire skidmarks. I haven’t confirmed these marks are from this collision. I regret any confusion.

SE Water and Taylor-5.jpg

The truck operator’s view prior to entering the intersection.

The person driving the large dump truck was coming the other direction. Police say the driver turned left to go east on Taylor (from Water) prior to the collision. From a photograph on the KPTV website, the driver stopped the truck about 50 feet east of the bike lane Monhait was riding in. Monhait’s drop-bar road bicycle remained in the intersection.

Here’s my reconstruction based on KPTV’s image:

The only marks from investigation I could see were green lines that appeared to mark the skids of a bicycle tire that I assume was Monhait’s. The skid begins right at Taylor (just beyond where the bike lane striping ends) and continue to the middle of the intersection. (UPDATE: Please note this is only speculation on my part. These marks – the skid and the green paint – might not be related to this collision.)


Perhaps based on those skidmarks, the Police statement makes it sound as though it was Monhait who rammed into the garbage truck. “While [the truck was] turning onto Southeast Taylor Street,” reads their statement, “a northbound bicyclist… collided with the side of the garbage truck.” The PPB followed that up with a statement that included this random admonition: “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.”

I asked the investigator working the case why they made those statements. Officer Phillip Maynard said via email that, “We are still in the process of collecting information about the collision and examining evidence. At this point it is far too early to conclude anything about causation.” As usual the PPB says they must remain tight-lipped until the District Attorney’s office reviews the case (as they do with all fatalities). The investigator referred me to the PPB media person and I’ve been unable to reach him so far.

“She was a good soul, great artist and important member of our art community here in Portland.”

Meanwhile, friends of Monhait’s have set up a memorial for her at the corner. They’ve left a few pieces of chalk so others can share memories and regards.

Others have taken to Facebook to remember their friend.

Monhait was an artist and art curator originally from Chicago, Illinois. In 2009 her work was exhibited by Studio Nemo on Southeast Belmont. In a promotional post for the show they wrote this about her:

Tamar Monhait is a multi-disciplinary artist based in Portland, Oregon. She was born and raised in Chicago and has spent time between the two cities studying Electrical Engineering and Art. Her work explores process, ritual, music mathematics, technology, and time. She has participated in group shows at Disjecta, Hall Gallery, PNCA, Mark Woolley, Jace Gace, and the Newberg Gallery at the Glasgow School of Art. She also had solo exhibitions at Stumptown Downtown.

Local independent art curator Marjorie Myers worked with Monhait. I messaged with her today and she wrote, “I am deeply saddened by the loss of Tamar. She was a lovely person — courageous in life and as a curator. Tamar had a deep knowledge and strong curatorial sensibility. I was thrilled and relieved by her presence in the Portland arts community. So many will miss her. She was a loyal and true friend.”

Here are a few other remembrances I found via Facebook:

“She was a good soul, great artist and important member of our art community here in Portland.”

(From a band called DANAVA) “She took the very first proper photo of us that appeared in our first album(that damn goblet had dry ice in it but failed to surface in the film haha). She was among the first people we befriended here and to boot, a fellow Illinoisian. She was an incredibly talented and bright human being and tragically, she was taken from us the other night. Words fail but those of us who knew her are in shock and extremely sad to know we’ll never see her again. Thank you for all the absolutely wonderful conversations and creations over the last 15 years, Tamar. I’m gonna miss making you laugh that incredible laugh you had, my friend. That and a whole lot more…….RIP”

“She was a beautiful part of Portland’s culture, and will be missed.”

“Tamar was lovely, fun and vibrant individual and one of the first I met in Portland. I remember her shows at the Vestibule, her spinning and serving drinks at the Aalto Lounge, fondly.”

— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and

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

  • Pete August 22, 2017 at 5:48 pm

    Portland Police Bureau would like to remind drivers that using turn signals is not only required by law, it saves lives too.

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  • J_R August 22, 2017 at 5:57 pm

    Jonathan: Once again I take exception to your word choices. You wrote “This is a major city bike route as evidenced by the bikeway signage telling riders to turn east on Taylor to reach northeast and southeast Portland.”

    Wrong. The white on green sign is a GUIDE sign. It provides directional information alerting users about destinations. It is not a regulatory sign. A regulatory sign is the device used to “tell” someone to turn. As in “Right turn only.”

    When you are driving down I-5, you don’t think that the white on green (guide) sign that says “EXIT” is telling you to exit.

    The guide sign pointing east on Taylor Street is for information purposes only. Anyone who thinks otherwise is wrong. For further information see the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices.

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    • peejay August 22, 2017 at 6:17 pm

      And the city uses guide signs where it expects and encourages people to ride their bikes. People definitely use those signs, and the streets they indicate, at a higher rate than nearby streets. I certainly do, unless I already have a well established route in my plan.

      Also, how is your pedantic objection relevant to the point of Jonathan’s argument, which is that this collision happened in an area where plenty of people onbikes are seen, and should be expected to be present?

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      • J_R August 22, 2017 at 6:23 pm

        Because Jonathan’s statement about the sign “telling” cyclists to turn right suggests that Tamir should have turned instead of continuing north on the marked bike lane. As in, “well, if she had turned right on Taylor where she was supposed to turn, she wouldn’t have hit the truck.” It helps to perpetuate the “Bicyclist at fault again” mantra.

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        • Kyle Banerjee August 22, 2017 at 6:25 pm

          BP linguists should be aware that in common parlance, people refer to signs “saying” and “telling” things, including for directional signs. There is nothing confusing about this.

          Also be aware that most of the English speaking population uses word “accident” to describe crashes that they believe were not caused intentionally.

          Lastly, hair splitters should be aware that many understand the term “biker” to refer to motorcyclists, not cyclists.

          Better yet, interpret words in the spirit they were intended.

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          • Hello, Kitty
            Hello, Kitty August 23, 2017 at 1:03 am

            I’ll note that the word “accident” was frequently used to describe the recent mishaps involving US Navy ships.

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        • JeffS August 22, 2017 at 8:01 pm

          FWIW, I don’t read it like that.

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      • soren August 23, 2017 at 12:47 pm

        I had the same reaction to that statement. Language matters even if the intent differed from how it is perceived.

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    • wsbob August 22, 2017 at 7:39 pm

      J_R…I’m not at all reading that from maus’s writing. If you’re familiar with the area…I am somewhat…it’s a sleepy part of town, especially at 1am in the morning. Tamar Monhait, the person riding, was free to ride wherever the heck she wanted…proceed straight through, turn, taking the direction the signs suggested, or ‘told’ people biking to go if they so wanted. Wherever she wanted to ride, as long as she was conscious of her whereabouts and what traffic was doing.

      Reports that the bike many have registered tire skid marks on the pavement, is very interesting. That could mean a variety of different things, not necessarily associated with each other. This should be an easy part of town to ride in that time of the morning. When I last rode it years ago though, it was dark, not a high level of street light illumination. Even without much traffic, things can take road users by surprise down there.

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    • El Biciclero August 22, 2017 at 9:32 pm

      Except that freeway EXIT signs are telling you to exit…to get to certain destinations. That’s all Jonathan’s wording suggested to me. The fact that such signs exist here is the real point; it indicates that at least moderate levels of bike traffic are expected—enough that signs are warranted giving informational instructions specifically to bicyclists.

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    • Adam
      Adam August 22, 2017 at 9:34 pm

      You’re mincing words. This block is classified as a “City Bikeway”
      in the central city plan but the block just north of this, as well as Salmon Street to the east are Major City Bikeways. It’s close enough.

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    • Todd Boulanger August 23, 2017 at 2:46 pm

      A better term in traffic planning is “mandatory” or “obligatory” or “compulsory” as is you must/ shall use this facility /route/ bike lane unless local conditions do not permit it to be used safely… etc. vs. “advisory” / “suggested”…

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  • jessie August 22, 2017 at 7:08 pm

    I often walk my dog in the wee hours of the morning (when the garbage trucks are making their rounds). Those guys drive INCREDIBLY fast, and they fly around corners on two wheels with absolutely no regard for anyone in their path (if they even look). They act like they’re on a mission and NOBODY gets in their way. They scare me, even when I’m well up on the sidewalk. My condolences to her family & friends.

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    • shirtsoff August 22, 2017 at 7:36 pm

      Yeah, I used to see them racing up N Williams in the wee hours around 4-5am on my way to work. Even when the commercial section was rezoned at 20mph and I was going full clip up the bikeway they would go racing by. I bet you that these truck operators are expected to do a specific amount of pickups each hour or have so much time “allowed” for a route and its sections. I would love to see a newspiece on Waste Management and what their expectations (in terms of speed and efficiency) are for its truck operators. Afterwards, it would be nice to contact WM and its contractors about what its safety requirements, if any, are and how willing they are to modify them in dense, multiuse environments such as Portland.

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      • Dave August 24, 2017 at 10:40 am

        Yes!!! Productivity incentives are totally inappropriate for trucking and other transportation related jobs–you for sure will get reckless vehicle operation that way. Garbage and other trucking jobs need to be re-regulated and it wouldn’t hurt if they are also re-unionized as well.

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    • resopmok August 23, 2017 at 8:39 am

      Agree that in a hurry to meet their tight schedules and demanding routes, garbage truck drivers often seem to take liberties with the gas pedal and stop signs. Were it not for my overly cautious riding when I hear them in my own neighborhood, it’s likely I too would be a pancake now. There really ought to be better driver training and more realistic expectations for the labor that can get done in a given morning. These trucks are heavy machinery that operate in the public right of way with great potential danger to the public, and they should be taken seriously as such.

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    • billyjo August 23, 2017 at 1:30 pm

      I’ve seen all bikes ride erratically, without a light and get in people’s way. We hate it when people say things like that, let’s not go there.

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    • Steve Scarich August 23, 2017 at 7:49 pm

      When you say garbage trucks fly around corners on two wheels, you lose any credibility. It is virtually impossible to get a garbage truck up on two wheels, unless you are a professional stunt driver. Anyone else would be dead.

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  • JeffS August 22, 2017 at 8:07 pm

    I’m not sure why, but the police really seem to struggle with assigning fault in cross/hook situations.

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    • Jack C. August 22, 2017 at 10:30 pm

      Bicyclists can be as much at fault as anyone in this dice-roll universe, though they tend to garner more sympathy by generally being decent people.

      I wasn’t there when she was hit, but there are plenty of things that are simply bad luck, caused by one glance away at the wrong time, etc. People always need to account for that no matter how outraged they may feel. The desire to blame one party is not objective. If the evidence shows singular fault, so be it.

      I personally stay as far away from motorized vehicles as possible, including riding on the sidewalk (legally) more than most cyclists. And yes, watching every hidden driveway.


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      • Dan A August 23, 2017 at 10:29 am

        Based on the bike skid marks, it seems pretty apparent that the truck turned into her path with very little time for her to react (unless it was parked in the intersection and she could only see 10 feet in front of her). Even by skidding, she was unable to avoid colliding with it. The driver had no room or right to turn in front of her — it’s not even close.

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        • Jack C. August 23, 2017 at 5:07 pm

          But who’s to say if she just wasn’t paying attention at that moment? Without video evidence there’s a ton of speculation. Did she have a light, was he using turn signals, etc?

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          • Dan A August 23, 2017 at 8:18 pm

            The only question there that has any legal bearing is “Did she have a light?”

            Whether or not she was paying attention to a huge garbage truck turning at the last second in front of her or whether the driver signaled while cutting her off isn’t relevant to her rights.

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          • wsbob August 23, 2017 at 11:37 pm

            “But who’s to say if she just wasn’t paying attention at that moment? Without video evidence there’s a ton of speculation. Did she have a light, was he using turn signals, etc?” jack c

            Fair questions. I think I read in the O comments, that…no confirmation…so take this with that consideration…that Monhait was a bartender, riding home after work. Most people get tired from pulling a shift. Fatigue can deteriorate alertness, sensory response, and so on. If the skid marks visible in the picture can be checked out as from her bike in a skid…that she was able to respond to the turning truck by slamming the brakes and bringing the bike into a skid, suggests to me the absence of alcohol intoxication.

            Keep your guard up, everyone. Be aware of and work to counter your vulnerabilities as you ride.

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      • bendite August 23, 2017 at 1:25 pm

        So expectations that drivers look where they’re going are so low that if they decide not to, it’s due to ‘luck’?

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        • Hello, Kitty
          Hello, Kitty August 23, 2017 at 4:25 pm

          People can look but not perceive everything. It’s part of the wonders of the human cognition system. Amazing, but highly imperfect. The law cannot be built on an expectation of perfection.

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          • Adam
            Adam August 23, 2017 at 4:28 pm

            That’s why we should give drivers things to crash into that are not people.

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          • bendite August 23, 2017 at 6:57 pm

            Kitty, the brain will see things when you tell it to see those things. When a driver looks for cars, they see cars, when a driver looks for cars, cyclists, peds, and skateboarders, it sees all of those.

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            • Hello, Kitty
              Hello, Kitty August 23, 2017 at 7:54 pm

              It’s true that when a person is locked on and focused, they have much better awareness than when they’re tired or bored. And I agree that people *should* only drive when they’re in peak form, but the world doesn’t work like that.

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              • bendite August 24, 2017 at 7:33 am

                Which is why we set up laws and consequences, because we’re imperfect beings. And I wouldn’t necessarily call looking in the path and seeing what’s in the path, or soon will be, ‘locked’. I call it paying attention to what you’re doing. People tend to meet expectations that are put out there. Right now the expectations around driving are extremely low.

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              • 9watts August 24, 2017 at 7:39 am

                We hold pilots and captains and those charged with driving dangerous cargo to much higher standards than we hold run-of-the-mill drivers. There is no a priori reason we should be so cavalier. If driving turns out to be a bad fit for poorly concentrating, easily distracted, tired homo sapiens then we could devise methods for restricting or more strictly regulating access to automobiles. The fact that we are disinclined to (or give up before we try) speaks to our priorities.

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              • Hello, Kitty
                Hello, Kitty August 25, 2017 at 2:57 am

                Clearly we have historically valued mobility and freedom over safety. Those values may be changing today, but I generally disagree with prioritizing safety over all other values.

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              • rachel b August 26, 2017 at 12:59 am

                We’re reaping what we sowed through lack of enforcement and the consequent normalizing of flat out ridiculously lax, reckless dangerous driving behaviors, evidenced by a frighteningly large percentage of drivers in Portland, now. It’s astounding how many people are willing to drive while NOT EVEN LOOKING AT THE ROAD. And they’re not on that road alone! They just don’t care! I can hardly even write about it or talk about it anymore without hyperventilating. I don’t understand what I see anymore in Portland, I don’t understand why our police and City officials don’t tackle it, wrestle it to the ground, stop it. I don’t know where these reckless asshats are coming from, I don’t know why there are so many of them. It boggles the mind. I just want them taken off the damn roads. I want the bloody hell ticketed out of them, I want their cars impounded, I want them off the roads.

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          • El Biciclero August 26, 2017 at 6:27 pm

            “The law cannot be built on an expectation of perfection.”

            Yet that’s exactly what we expect of bicyclists—unless they have a death wish, of course. Those are the choices: perfection or death wish. Meanwhile, we completely expect drivers to screw around behind the wheel, literally unable to give the requisite amount of attention to the task—yet we consider driving to be such a necessity, a veritable right, that we don’t do anything to raise the bar of expectations for drivers.

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            • Hello, Kitty
              Hello, Kitty August 26, 2017 at 6:32 pm

              That’s pretty much it. I do believe things are changing, albeit slower than most of us would want. I also believe technology will shift the ground for the better, far more quickly than our culture can change.

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            • Adam
              Adam August 26, 2017 at 7:46 pm

              Yep yep yep. That attitude of perfection comes from other cyclists too. One doesn’t even have to leave the Bike Portland comments to see evidence of that.

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  • pruss August 22, 2017 at 8:58 pm

    does anyone on this board have experience driving something comparable to these trucks? Just kind of curious when u are making a turn, is your focus ahead, or is it behind on your load? the skid seems very last minute…even if her head was down she had to be aware of the truck…and even if truck was ripping thru the area, u’d have to hear the downshift that would make you aware it was about to turn — guessing weight balance of truck doesn’t allow it to just turn on a dime…which makes me wonder if driver just didn’t see her b/c of visibility or b/c driver was focused on load while driving streets that are are typically experienced to be empty at that time of night.

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    • Jack C. August 23, 2017 at 1:13 am

      I’ve driven a bobtail Class-C truck over 30 feet long and it certainly has far less braking and maneuvering ability than a car or pickup truck. It has the feel of a boat, detached from the road. You’re usually aware of turn radii and length, but someone doing it for awhile is going to find it second-nature and probably push their speed, etc.

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    • Chris I August 23, 2017 at 6:22 am

      There should be no concerns about the load. It is a garbage truck. Things generally don’t fall off, as they are secure in the back, usually with a closed door.

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      • Pruss2ny August 23, 2017 at 6:53 am

        Right…there were just a number of posts above where people opined that the truck was probably tearing thru the neighborhood….which seems unlikely for a truck that size about to take a 90degree turn. Seems impossible she would be unaware of the truck and trying to figure out if the driver might be distracted in the turn on load or people riding on the back

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        • resopmok August 23, 2017 at 8:41 am

          It’s not impossible, I witness it regularly in my own neighborhood with my own eyes. These trucks can and do go fast, and their operators sometimes drive them like they are race cars (probably because they are racing a demanded schedule).

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          • Middle of the Road Guy August 23, 2017 at 10:57 am

            So let’s paint with a broad brush. I see plenty of cyclists blow the stop sign in front of my house – that obviously does not mean all of them do it.

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          • billyjo August 23, 2017 at 1:32 pm

            And I can and do see bikes regularly doing unsafe things. How does either observation have any bearing?

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            • Dan A August 23, 2017 at 1:43 pm

              Garbage trucks weigh 33,000 empty. How is comparing unsafe garbage truck driving to unsafe bicycle operation useful?

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            • Resopmok August 23, 2017 at 2:47 pm

              Also, I didn’t claim it was unlikely for cyclists to be doing something dangerous.

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        • Chris I August 23, 2017 at 9:53 am

          The companies pressure their drivers to finish the routes as fast as they can, but to also do it “safely”. It’s a conflicting message that, frankly, is totally unfair to their poorly-paid drivers. When incidents like this happen, these companies will point to their “safety training” while ignoring the pressure they put on operators to finish routes quickly.

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          • Belynda August 23, 2017 at 11:47 am

            I’m a union member and strong workers advocate, and your analysis is very plausible. But I wonder because when I lived downtown, two Wast Management drivers would idle their trucks at the intersection and bs for some pretty long breaks, around 5 in the morning if I remember right.

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        • Dan A August 23, 2017 at 10:57 am

          My guess would be that the driver cut the corner without slowing down much, if at all. If the truck had been moving slower, she likely would have had time to avoid it.

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    • B. Carfree August 23, 2017 at 7:01 pm

      I haven’t hauled rubbish, but I’ve driven a lot of class A trucks. When lightly loaded, a garbage truck is going to have a great excess of power (and brakes, for what that’s worth). Those short trucks are also highly maneuverable. Yes, he could turn sharply at speed there with no warning.

      Go back and look at the skid marks. If those are from the victim, then the truck driver was taking that turn heading into the wrong side of the road. I’d hazard to guess that he glanced ahead, didn’t register the cyclist (largely because he was really only looking for cars, not gorillas or bikes) and immediately turned his attention to the road he was turning on, in no small part because he was coming onto it on the left side of the road.

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  • Eric Leifsdad August 22, 2017 at 9:11 pm

    If that’s the skidmark from her bike, starting just left of the bike lane stripe and veering right, that makes me think she might have been startled by the truck turning across her path at full speed without a signal. If you had seen a signal and it then became apparent that the driver didn’t see you, wouldn’t you swerve left?

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    • wsbob August 23, 2017 at 1:04 am

      Those skidmarks, if the investigators can determine with some degree of certainty that they were created by Monhait’s bike tires, are interesting. People riding bikes don’t have to ride in the bike lane, for a variety of reasons, especially in the low traffic conditions that I’d tend to think probably characterize this area at 1am; I’d be riding the middle of the main, myself.

      One scenario crossing my mind, is that the skidmarks where they are, and how they’re curving, suggest the possibility that Monhait already had commenced turning, and hit the brakes for a full skid if the truck had happened to abruptly cross in front of her. It’s strange though, the skid marks: do I see one longer one, and a shorter one in parallel to the forward portion of the longer one? Suggesting a two wheel skid? Staying atop the bike for a two wheel skid sounds tough to me. Not sure I’ve ever personally done a two wheel skid.

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      • Steve Scarich August 23, 2017 at 7:56 pm

        As a former private investigator, I have done accident reconstructions. If the cops protected the scene, and allowed no cars to drive over her skid marks, it would be fairly easy to determine if they were hers. Skid marks retain a certain amount of powdered rubber for awhile, until they are driven over or blown away. That, plus the trajectory of where the contact occurred, would make it fairly easy to determine if they were her skid marks.

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        • John Liu
          John Liu August 23, 2017 at 10:31 pm

          Also the bike tire may show signs of being skidded.

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        • wsbob August 23, 2017 at 11:22 pm

          I hope the police investigators do some excellent forensic work with the skid marks that seem to be quite clearly visible as I look at the pictures on this weblog. Could the investigators scrape up enough of a sample to see whether the rubber composition matches that of the bike’s tires? As Liu mentioned, there could well be indication also, of skid on the bike tire themselves.

          I wish more people reading here and offering their thoughts on this collision, were giving more thought to the possible range of causes of this collision, as well as those causes that their comments seem to indicate that to them, are obvious and beyond doubt.

          The Oregonian did a couple stories on this collision. Tonight, I read both of them, very brief on details and info though they were, and browsed all the comments on both. Some of the usual static, but also a lot of thoughtful comments questioning different possible things that could have caused this collision to occur.

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      • KristenT August 24, 2017 at 12:44 pm

        I have been an eyewitness to a bike crash where the rider locked up the brakes and swerved right.

        This was also a left-hook situation– I was in my car at the stop sign on a T instersection, waiting to turn left. Semi was approaching from the right, bike and car traffic from the left.

        As I had to pull fairly far into the bike lane to see around the shrubbery on the corner, I backed up out of the bike lane when I noticed the bike approaching. The driver of the semi thought I was backing up to clear the intersection for their turn into the street I was on, and started their turn as the rider entered the intersection as right-of-way traffic.

        The rider locked up the brakes and swerved right, into the street I was sitting on, and collided with the side of my car– which was better than being run over by the semi, who stopped barely in time.

        The skid marks in the picture, above, make sense to me in light of the experience I had. In fact, they look an awful lot like the skid marks left by the bicyclist in my incident.

        (The cyclist had an injured shoulder and knee, because he was fully sideways into my car. We both made the semi truck owner and trucking company pay for our damages.)

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    • Kyle Banerjee August 23, 2017 at 9:47 am

      I’d be tempted to let the investigators do their work — we simply don’t have access to the same information they do. The little we (think we) know is consistent with very different but plausible scenarios.

      For starters, they’ll need to establish those are her skid marks. There’s a bar right there, and it’s totally conceivable that someone just skidded in as the trajectory and length as viewed on a low res internet picture is consistent with that.

      It is rare for a tragedy to have a singular cause and they cannot be undone once they happen.

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      • John Liu
        John Liu August 23, 2017 at 12:54 pm

        I agree with this. We on BP know very very little about how this accident happened. We cannot do a “reconstruction” from the information available to us.

        After a death like this, many people want to immediately know exactly what happened. That just isn’t always going to be possible.

        I appreciate this post because it allowed me to learn more about the woman who died a little before 2 am. When I pay my respects at the ghost bike that will (?) mark her death, I will have a face and a name before me.

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      • Todd Boulanger August 23, 2017 at 2:56 pm

        I agree…that is why I wish PPB had not issued an overly premature admonishment about what the cyclist [vulnerable roadway user] had or had not done…but silence on the responsibilities of a commercial truck drivers with a CDL…like: equipment safety check, was this vehicle inspected before this shift as to fully functional turn signals/ brake lamps, well calibrated headlamp beams, clean windshield, clean/ uncluttered dash (was there a dispatch computer screen obstructing their vision if partially turned into the intersection)…how about a check if they were speaking on the 2 way radio (or cell phone), I can can go on and on…

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        • El Biciclero August 23, 2017 at 6:15 pm

          “…but silence on the responsibilities of a commercial truck drivers…”

          Not quite silence; they go out of their way to make sure we know the driver stayed at the scene, cooperated, and did not appear to be impaired.

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          • B. Carfree August 23, 2017 at 7:06 pm

            I would call the fact that the truck driver wasn’t impaired a mighty low bar, but earlier this year we had a person driving a company pick-up from out of town stop at some strip bars, get drunk beyond belief, and then proceed to collide with all sorts of things on Main St in Springfield, all while on his way to work at a logging site. I’d sure not want to work around that guy at a job that involves rigging, large saws and trucks.

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            • mh August 23, 2017 at 8:27 pm

              Not CHEMICALLY impaired. All we know is that the police didn’t immediately think the driver was drunk or high. And apparently if they don’t think that, they don’t do anything to check their assumptions (DUII test) or ask to see the drivers phone to check its usage.

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              • Alan 1.0 August 23, 2017 at 9:00 pm

                I’d go for mandatory drug tests for the operators of all vehicles involved in a collision which resulted in emergency medical transport. WA and OR do not even do alcohol testing for survivors of fatal collisions:

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              • El Biciclero August 24, 2017 at 9:14 am

                My only point was that regardless of the driver’s actual state, the police statements use up words to tell us all the right things the driver did, and add more words to imply (via a “friendly” reminder) the bicyclist did things wrong. All while it’s still “too early” to draw any conclusions about causality.

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              • Oy August 24, 2017 at 9:20 am

                Police always side with the oppressors, in this case the oppressor being pervasive car culture.

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              • Hello, Kitty
                Hello, Kitty August 25, 2017 at 2:47 am

                The police always side with the oppressors? That’s a ridiculous statement.

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              • El Biciclero August 26, 2017 at 6:31 pm

                “The police always side with the oppressors? That’s a ridiculous statement.”

                All we have to do to make it less ridiculous is to replace “always” with “usually”.

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              • Hello, Kitty
                Hello, Kitty August 26, 2017 at 6:33 pm

                That’s only true if you carefully choose your definition of “oppressor”. If you see criminality as an oppressive force (as I do), the statement really doesn’t hold water.

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              • El Biciclero August 26, 2017 at 6:47 pm

                My personal, anecdotal observation is that enforcers of any kind, when given a choice between two offenders, will generally pursue the one easiest to apprehend and/or punish, even if the other has done something much worse. Many times, being of an underclass of some sort makes one easier to punish due to lack of resources, or due to societal bias that would tacitly or otherwise support the punishment of such persons rather than members of the uberclass.

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              • Hello, Kitty
                Hello, Kitty August 26, 2017 at 7:29 pm

                Are you suggesting that given a choice between an easy and a difficult problem, many in law enforcement, like all of us, would focus on the easier one? Aside from that, it is hard to tell what you actually mean by “easy”/”hard” and “much worse”.

                I have significant issues with many specific aspects of the way policing is done, but it is hard to expect the police to be somehow immune from human nature.

                But even if what you said were objectively accurate, it doesn’t follow that the police support oppressors.

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              • 9watts August 26, 2017 at 9:14 pm

                “enforcers of any kind, when given a choice between two offenders, will generally pursue the one easiest to apprehend and/or punish, even if the other has done something much worse.”

                I found myself in a situation that bears this out.

                Guy in black SUV runs red left turn light at Chavez and Powell. I crossed the intersection ahead of him. Cop pulls him over and writes him a $260 ticket. When I returned from my business at 40th and Powell ten minutes later, the cop apprehends me and proceeds to write me a $260 ticket, ostensibly for passing unsafely on the right. He hadn’t seen me do anything but took the word of the guy in the SUV who was still there. The cop did not understand the law for which he wrote me a ticket, that determining the safety or unsafety of the passing was key, and that if he hadn’t seen me do anything, the charge was tenuous indeed.

                The whole thing was absurd.

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              • Hello, Kitty
                Hello, Kitty August 26, 2017 at 9:19 pm

                Your anecdote does not at all bear it out: both people were pursued. The injustice you suffered was of a totally different nature.

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              • 9watts August 26, 2017 at 9:21 pm

                come again?

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              • Hello, Kitty
                Hello, Kitty August 26, 2017 at 9:23 pm

                “enforcers of any kind, when given a choice between two offenders, will generally pursue the one easiest to apprehend and/or punish, even if the other has done something much worse.”

                In your case, no choice was made based on who was easier to apprehend or any other criteria. Two offenders were pursued. In your case, it sounds as if the charges were bogus.

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            • Dan A August 23, 2017 at 8:28 pm

              We used to have a regular at our bar who was a tow-truck driver. He’d park his rig behind the bar or down the street and sit at the bar all day with his pager, waiting for a call.

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    • Mike Ardans August 23, 2017 at 10:30 pm

      Not necessarily, riding at speed you can only swerve so tight without falling, and if you fail, you’re under the rear wheels of the vehicle. I’ve had this happen to me, the last minute inattentive left turn. I chose the front of the vehicle, hoping they might see me at the last minute, but also because if you’re going to get hit bouncing off the front is a little less likely to kill than being crushed under a wheel.

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  • Jeff August 22, 2017 at 9:34 pm

    My heart goes out to Tamar’s friends and family. I think it’s time to begin advocating for protected bicycle lanes that provide a barrier between cars and bicycles. I truly believe no car/truck driver wants to hit a cyclist, but this has to stop. I know I’m preaching to the choir here, but it stands to reason that cycling in Portland is on the rise as population rises and is here to stay.

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    • B. Carfree August 23, 2017 at 7:09 pm

      How is a “protected” bike lane going to improve the situation at intersections like the one in question? To my mind, it’s just going to make things worse by putting cyclists out in a zone where they are even less visible to turning vehicles.

      I still think we need to return to basics: enforce traffic laws with zero tolerance and watch road deaths go to very low levels while cycling booms. It’s the only thing I’ve ever seen work in an American context (and even the Northern Europeans go to great lengths to get compliance with traffic laws).

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  • Shonn Preston August 22, 2017 at 11:11 pm

    Driver misjudged her speed and tried to beat her through, plain and simple. It doesn’t matter if she had a helmet on. She wasn’t under 16. Lights help, but not always. I’ve worked in the AM with trash truck drivers and they don’t expect to encounter much at that hour, other than loose cats and such. A turning blind spot from the high cab viewpoint probably played a part as well. So many close calls on water Ave, I’ve started riding grand or MLK instead. Sad for her family and friends. This sucks.

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    • mran1984 August 22, 2017 at 11:30 pm

      Helmets and lights DO matter. You have no right to operate a bicycle in the dark without lights. I ride this zone five nights a week…with lights. Anyway, you experts keep speculating while I just feel sad for Tamar and those who knew her. There are no safe spaces…none.

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      • resopmok August 23, 2017 at 8:52 am

        It’s true that a front light is an important safety precaution, but it is also no guarantee. The only collision I’ve been in was with a car that crossed the street I was riding on despite my own bright, blinking light that they failed to see. Also, helmets are not required by law, and they are designed to protect a rider in case of a fall, not a collision with a vehicle (especially a large truck). Please, please, don’t be a victim blamer; with rare exception, bicycles are not the deadly vehicles of concern on our public right of way.

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        • Gabrielle August 23, 2017 at 9:26 am

          Agreed 100%. The closest few calls I’ve had were during evening commutes in the fall/winter, when I had both front and rear lights on, fully charged, and drivers with stop signs continued into the intersection where I had right-of-way while I had a full, clear view of their eyes and knew I was in their line of sight.

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          • Adam
            Adam August 23, 2017 at 9:29 am

            The only time I’ve been hit by a driver in Portland is when I stopped at a stop sign and the driver behind me did not and rear-ended me. They said they didn’t expect me to stop at the stop sign. Now I roll though all stop signs if traffic is clear, and especially if there is a car behind me.

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            • Kyle Banerjee August 23, 2017 at 10:25 am

              Despite being a “rules of the road” type of guy, I personally believe that under most circumstances, slow rolling is not only safer but is what drivers want you to do.

              If you watch an intersection with a stop sign, drivers rarely come to a full stop except when there is something directly in their path. In practice, this behavior works well for motorized and nonmotorized traffic alike.

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              • Adam
                Adam August 23, 2017 at 10:39 am

                Wow, we actually agree on something?! 😛

                Yeah, if the safer thing to do is to be more predictable while cycling, and drivers expect cyclists to run stop signs, then logically, we should run stop signs for safety. Riding in Chicago, literally no one stopped at stop signs and it always baffled me to see cyclists in Portland actually do a full foot-down stop at intersections.

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              • KTaylor August 23, 2017 at 10:50 am

                Yes to this! Motorists say they want to see your foot touch the ground every time you stop, but they only want that when it’s more convenient for them (for example, a motorist facing you at a 4-way stop who wants to know as quickly as possible if they can go wants to see your foot touch the ground – a motorist behind you does not, because they can get going more quickly if you just keep moving). It’s an infuriating double standard that most drivers don’t seem aware of, because they only think about wanting to see that foot go down in situations when they want to see it, and tend to forget about the car/body language they throw at you the rest of the time to keep moving. They way I see it, putting your foot down is like setting the emergency brake. How many drivers do you think would put up with having to set the emergency brake every time they stop in traffic?

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              • Adam
                Adam August 23, 2017 at 11:01 am

                I am a huge proponent of using stop signs for traffic calming. The main reason all of our greenways fail is because flipping the stop signs makes the route more appealing to drivers. There are tons of examples where riding a parallel street a few blocks off the greenway feels safer because there are less cars (Ankeny vs. Couch comes to mind). Coupled with an Idaho stop law (or just an assumption that cyclists roll though the stop signs) and there’d be no need to build greenways. Four way stops with parking banned at the corners feels safer because you know drivers will at least slow down and that they can see around the corner without having to pull halfway into the intersection. Also, a side street riddled with stop signs evert 220 feet is not very appealing to cut-though traffic.

                This is why I generally oppose the construction of new greenways, as PBOT’s methods (speed bumps, no stop signs for drivers, and lack of diversion) almost always make the street worse for cyclists. It’s really quite a cruel joke IMO.

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              • Kyle Banerjee August 23, 2017 at 11:56 am

                Stop signs definitely calm traffic.

                But I don’t know if they’re a great idea for bike routes. Aside that it’s a pain to be constantly accelerating and decelerating, too many cyclists blow through (an unsafe and provocative practice which is very different than slow rolling). Diverters are a better way to discourage cars.

                But you are right in that lack of stop signs encourages drivers. 20mph at steady state is way better than a marginally higher limit on a busier street that has lights or other traffic controls.

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              • emerson August 23, 2017 at 12:44 pm

                Yes, it is safer and more efficient for everyone. The law should be updated to reflect this practice.

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              • J_R August 23, 2017 at 5:30 pm

                In response to Adam who says “I am a huge proponent of using stop signs for traffic calming,” I quote from Section 2B.04 of the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices “YIELD and STOP signs should not be used for speed control.” I have some sympathy for your preference, but the official guidance is opposite.

                That said, it is obvious that the STOP signs in Ladd’s Addition are specifically there to reduce cut-through traffic and for speed control. I have often advocated that these STOP signs should be replaced with YIELD signs. That in connection with a 20 mph posted speed, some speed bumps AND some speed enforcement could accomplish some reduction in cut-through traffic and eliminate some real annoyances for bicyclists.

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            • Middle of the Road Guy August 23, 2017 at 10:58 am

              “Do as I say”…

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        • Kyle Banerjee August 23, 2017 at 9:48 am

          Even when they clearly see you, it sometimes doesn’t register on them that they have to do anything until it’s too late.

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  • Kristi Finney August 23, 2017 at 7:22 am

    I feel incredibly sad for the loss of Tamar’s life and the grief felt by those who love her. I am also angered by the comments of the PPB “reminding” those on bikes to wear helmets and have lights, and then when questioned about the statement saying it is “far too early to conclude … causation” while already seeming to imply they had. If not, they should also have included reminding drivers to be sure to use turn signals in advance and look twice before turning and to slow down. If the reminder was in the spirit of, “hey, bicyclist, you can’t trust any driver to be looking out for you, so protect yourself from them as much as possible,” then a statement to that effect should have been included.

    It is “reminders” like this that I feel further contribute to the already significant bias/hatred that many people driving have toward those riding bikes and even walking. I sincerely hope that no one who loves Tamar read the truly atrocious and shocking comments made by the public regarding this tragedy. It is behavior and thinking like this that causes me, as first and foremost a bereaved mother, to have such difficulty in being consistent and on the ball as a traffic safety advocate.

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  • philip porter August 23, 2017 at 7:34 am

    Many cyclist fatalities are caused by huge trucks. I’ve been cycling for my entire adult life and I’m still sketched out by them: I instinctively try to avoid them, oftentimes actually pulling off the road and getting off my bike at intersections, making eye contact with the driver and letting them pass.

    I would have been super wary in the situation described in this article, probably stop at the intersection and let the truck go by. I see one of those things and I go right into orange alert.

    Whether the cyclist or the driver or both were at fault, whether the truck didn’t signal or was going way too fast, whatever the circumstances I strongly suggest giving large vehicles – dump trucks and cement trucks – with huge amounts of space.

    It’s really a combination of the American car-centric mentality , being so used to driving literally everywhere you go you routinely run stop signs and intersections without signalling or making sure everything is clear – and the fact that these are huge huge deadly vehicles with lots of power and huge blind spots.

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    • SD August 23, 2017 at 9:53 am

      I appreciate your cautious riding, but if everyone rode in this unpredictable way it would probably cause more problems than it prevented. Or maybe you are suggesting that you only do this under certain circumstances.

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    • Chris I August 23, 2017 at 9:56 am

      And no side-underide protection. A simple, and cheap solution that would save lives. But the trucking industry will fight any attempt to require them by law, because they don’t care about saving lives.

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      • Adam
        Adam August 23, 2017 at 10:43 am

        Chicago recently mandated sideguards after four high-profile deaths. We should pass the same law here. It’s sad (but not at all surprising) that the BTA doesn’t seem at all interested in fighting for this legislation.

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      • billyjo August 23, 2017 at 1:36 pm

        just like how bikes fight the helmet or light?

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        • Dan A August 23, 2017 at 1:45 pm

          Me wearing a helmet would save the life of somebody crashing into me?

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        • Alan 1.0 August 23, 2017 at 1:47 pm

          How many bike riders do you see wearing a helmet, and with a light at night? (Most that I see.) Who’s fighting those?

          How many trucks do you see with sideguards? (None around here.)

          How many deaths and injuries are caused by motor vehicles? By bicycles?

          Who pays the price for lack of safe riding gear? Who pays it for lack of safe motor vehicle equipment or infrastructure? Vulnerable road users in both cases.

          I think that’s a false equivalence.

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          • 9watts August 23, 2017 at 2:01 pm

            “I think that’s a false equivalence.”

            Uh-huh. And it has plenty of company.
            Someone should start a false equivalence catalog….

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        • Chris I August 23, 2017 at 2:26 pm

          A helmet will do little when a 30,000lb garbage truck crushes your skull. I suppose you also blame car and SUV drivers for their own deaths when they get hit and killed by large trucks while operating their vehicles legally?

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          • billyjo August 23, 2017 at 4:10 pm

            everybody here has already made their decision. I’m surprised the torch wielding mob hasn’t dispensed their justice yet.
            We don’t even have the whole story. There is still an open investigation and yet this whole discussion is laden with the kinds of arguments that when hurled at bike riders gets everybody worked up.

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          • Hello, Kitty
            Hello, Kitty August 23, 2017 at 4:19 pm

            I would blame them if they were at fault.

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            • Chris I August 24, 2017 at 8:20 am

              Which is why I said “operating legally”. I am trying to point out his cognitive dissonance. He’s ready to blame this woman for not wearing a helmet, without knowing the details of the case.

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          • John Liu
            John Liu August 23, 2017 at 10:27 pm

            You don’t know that her head was run over. You can suffer a fatal head injury by striking your head on a surface, an impact that could have been survivable with a helmet.

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            • Chris I August 24, 2017 at 8:18 am

              I wasn’t referring to this case. My statement was advocating for side-underride protection on large trucks. It may not be relevant to this case. His comment about helmets has no bearing on the side-underride discussion, since the cause of fatal injuries in those cases are from crushing, of either the torso or head. Helmets will do nothing.

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  • bikeninja August 23, 2017 at 10:20 am

    This is the kind of thing that makes me glad the oil will run out one day, so that trash haulers will have to go back to carts and mules like Joel and Rufus on the old Gasoline Alley Comic Strip.

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    • Todd Boulanger August 23, 2017 at 3:00 pm

      …yeah…though those 40 mule teamster wagons took up a long of roadway and the solid “emissions” made a mess of the bike lanes…;-)

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  • Jon August 23, 2017 at 10:38 am

    I am always happy when we are given as many details about the crash as possible so that I can adapt my riding to the dangers. Car crashes almost always make note when a driver or passenger was not using a seat belt or was under the influence of intoxicants and what type of vehicle was involved. When I see a report of a car crash involving two similar sized vehicles and one is pre-air bag and the other is a newer model with air bags I want to know who survived. Letting me know if a cyclists is using safety features like lights and helmets, is in a bike lane, on a busy street, did not stop at a light, or anything else is very helpful.

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    • Dan A August 23, 2017 at 11:04 am

      I would like all commercial trucks to have cab-mounted loop recorders in them, mandated by law. When a tow truck driver runs somebody over in broad daylight and claims that the victim could not have been seen, we should be able to play back the video to disprove that nonsense. When a garbage truck driver makes a quick left turn without slowing or signaling in the path of oncoming traffic (pure speculation, obviously) we should be able to go to the video.

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      • 9watts August 23, 2017 at 2:04 pm

        “we should be able to play back the video to disprove that nonsense.”

        Yes, but I can already hear the tortured explanations for why the video evidence doesn’t prove the tow truck driver actually *saw* the person she just killed in broad daylight, and the jury’s acceptance of that explanation.

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        • Dan A August 23, 2017 at 3:05 pm

          In Mark Angeles’ case, the PPB could not determine whether or not he could have been seen. Video evidence would have at least proven that he wasn’t INVISIBLE.

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          • Dan A August 23, 2017 at 3:08 pm

            “Based on the video evidence, it is unclear whether or not Mrs. Friedow would have been able to clearly see Mr. Angeles approaching on his bicycle. Careless to a VRU falls under Oregon Statutes 811.135, which states: “A person commits the offense of careless driving if the person drives any vehicle upon a highway or other premises described in this section in a manner that endangers or would be likely to endanger any person or property.” Failing to yield a left turn is not in and of itself “driv[ing] in a manner that endangers or would be likely to endanger” a VRU if the judge rules the VRU could not objectively be seen.”

            Sgt. David Abrahamson, PPB

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  • SD August 23, 2017 at 11:50 am

    What does “visibilty” really mean in terms of riding a bicycle around cars? To many, whether they realize it or not, it means that the bike rider is responsible for overcoming the distractions, visual limitations or inattention of drivers. If a person is killed or injured by a car, this thinking leads to the conclusion that the cyclist wasn’t visible enough. It also presumes that driver inattention can be overcome with enough “visibility.” The same rationale applies to the “hyper-aware” cyclist. If a driver kills or injures a person on a bike, the rider wasn’t “hyper-aware” enough.

    Why are these ideas so appealing despite being demonstrably false or fantasy? One reason is that we believe that driver inattention is normal and unchangeable because we have been exposed to it all of our lives. On the other hand, for most, urban cycling is a novelty. This bias stands in the way of making our streets safer for all users.

    What would make a bigger difference; having all drivers operate at an expert level of proficiency with caution and respect for everyone on the street, or having the same for pedestrians and bikes? The reason that we try to change the behavior of the novel minority is because it is hard to stand in room full of people and say that driver behavior can be changed. I understand why people are daunted by this idea, and why the people demanding changes in infrastructure, enforcement and culture are the ones who are reminded every day of the violence of the status quo.

    I am all for proactive bike safety and a culture of bike safety: classes in grade school and for adults, distribution of general cycling etiquette or expectations, etc. However, the disproportionate indulgence in the idea of the power of visibility or awareness overcoming poor driving is a distraction from the real hard work that needs to be done.

    It is possible that the details of the collision that killed Tamar will point to a possible preventative action. But, for me the details don’t matter much. For one, they won’t change the tragic outcome. Second, I sometimes drive a car at night and I see people and bike riders all of the time who don’t have lights, and by “see” them, I mean I actually see them with my eyes and it is not hard to avoid hitting them. Also, my car has head lights. To me, this driver did not operate their vehicle at an acceptable standard. The possibility that a cyclist could have overcome the inattention of the driver with horns, lights or hyper-awareness is immaterial. And, yes, I think that a culture that adopts this standard of responsibility when driving is much safer than a culture of super-cyclists.

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    • X August 23, 2017 at 12:47 pm

      As some people have pointed out above, an important part of the cultural change is the economics of driving vehicles for a living. Drivers are pressed to complete tasks in a certain time, or compensated to provide a level of customer service that isn’t always reasonable. Garbage hauling in Portland is handled by contractors who are trying to make money on the price they bid for the service, not by public employees who have at least some job protection. That does make it cheaper of course.

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      • B. Carfree August 23, 2017 at 7:31 pm

        I’ve driven trucks for firms that pay by the load. The only one with a good safety record did the following:
        1. Withheld substantial portions of the pay (in the form of bonuses) that were only paid if the driver did not get any citations, crashes or get caught by the company safety officer violating policy (including mandatory pre-trip inspections).
        2. Had a company safety officer who would sneak out at all hours to watch the way drivers are behaving. He had the authority to pull drivers off the road immediately, dock their safety bonus money, give them an unpaid vacation or simply fire them on the spot. It helps that this guy really enjoyed punishing dangerous behavior (his family used the same roads, so it was personal).

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    • 9watts August 23, 2017 at 2:16 pm

      = comment of the week?

      Lots of good observations, SD.

      The inherent limitations of trying to see out of motor vehicles, which—as I’ve tried to argue here in the past—are not my responsibility as a person-on-a-bike to overcome. To claim that it is my responsibility amounts to projection, just like our president likes to do: projecting onto others impulses he cannot accept as his own.

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      • John Liu
        John Liu August 23, 2017 at 10:22 pm

        An interesting viewpoint which is of no practical value to someone who is trying to ride safely in a city.

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        • 9watts August 23, 2017 at 10:31 pm

          “of no practical value”

          We talk about not just vulnerable road users here on bikeportland but also frequently about the context which cause some users to end up classified that way. I’d like to find ways to move beyond the present asymmetry, responsibilize those in cars to do their part. Do you not think this also useful?

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    • El Biciclero August 23, 2017 at 5:23 pm

      Excellent comment.

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    • John Liu
      John Liu August 23, 2017 at 10:24 pm

      But think of the black clad, unlit cyclists who you didn’t see and don’t know that you didn’t see.

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      • SD August 24, 2017 at 6:11 am

        You mean the ones like pedestrians wearing normal clothes, the parked cars, the traffic circles, the cats, the raccoons, the unicorns, big foot or everything else that I don’t run into with my car at night?

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      • SD August 24, 2017 at 6:24 am

        I get it. For some cyclists, the death of a person riding a bike moves them to find ways to improve their own safety and to point out the fatality as a cautionary tale.

        But, for most people, the safety checklist of “lights, helmet, clothing, speed, time of day, style of bike” is a list of reasons to ignore the death of human being.

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  • bikeninja August 23, 2017 at 11:50 am

    Dangerous Garbage Trucks, like this, represent a choice that we, as a society, have trouble making. Garbage trucks could be smaller, lower, quiter, and slower with enhanced visibility cabs. We often have to make this choice between economic efficiency ( low cost, profit) or those things that improve the lives of the bulk of the citizens. Unfortunetly we usually choose what is more profitable , being led to believe that that is somehow always better. There are obviously many other important factors in this tragic accident, but it still represents the outcome we get when we choose to make it cheap and easy to throw away “convenient packaging”, but in doing so we make it more dangerous for people to move about under their own power during the the night. I hope we can start making the right choices and not just the “cheap” ones.

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    • 9watts August 23, 2017 at 2:19 pm

      Exactly. A zero waste society doesn’t need garbage trucks, not even small ones. We could commit to generating only so much trash as we could collect via bike or bike trailer.

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      • B. Carfree August 23, 2017 at 7:36 pm

        I’m getting the feeling that I’m not the only person who hauls all his rubbish and recycling by bike trailer. Is there another? We’re a household of three adults with a home on-line retail business.

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        • 9watts August 23, 2017 at 8:51 pm


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  • Al August 23, 2017 at 12:13 pm

    This was a great article. You are doing the community a great service. Thank you, Jonathan.

    It is certainly too early for analysis towards causes of the accident at this point but the information we have leads to two possibilities. Note that new information could make other possibilities likely as well.
    1) the driver didn’t see Tamar Monhait approaching and proceeded to make the turn as if the intersection was clear and there was no oncoming traffic
    2) the driver saw Tamar Monhait approaching but either misjudged her speed and distance or judged that the truck could make the turn according to what I call trucker’s privilege, the thinking that even though the truck does not have right of way, the truck’s size will force other traffic to accommodate the truck anyway. The best example of this is the Tesla fatality in Florida where Tesla’s so called “autopilot” feature was initially blamed.

    However, both possibilities will likely lead to exculpation of the driver.

    A common left cross accident is one where the cyclist is screened by a vehicle moving in the same direction as they are. The driver making a left is looking for a gap behind this vehicle and will not see the cyclist until they are committed to making the left hand turn already. A truck in that situation would not be able to stop once it committed to the turn. I have personally had several very close calls this way and was completely without options at that point. It is not always possible for a cyclist to avoid being screened by same direction traffic at every intersection. It would be interesting to know whether other traffic going in the same direction as Tamar Monhait was present prior to the accident. This driver(s) of those vehicles(s) would likely not be aware that an accident took place behind them and therefore would not have stopped for it.

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    • 9watts August 23, 2017 at 2:21 pm

      Excellent observation. Isn’t this also pretty much what happened with Alastair Corkett at Powell and 26th, and the left turning pickup that tore off his leg?

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      • Chris I August 23, 2017 at 2:29 pm

        That particular driver was a public menace, with a long history of dangerous driving citations. Let’s hope that this company didn’t have someone like that driving one of these rigs.

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        • 9watts August 23, 2017 at 2:32 pm

          What I hear Al saying is that this could be understood without reference to a ‘bad’ driver as you put it.

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  • X August 23, 2017 at 12:25 pm

    Adam said:. . .The main reason all of our greenways fail is because flipping the stop signs makes the route more appealing to drivers. There are tons of examples where riding a parallel street a few blocks off the greenway feels safer because there are less cars (Ankeny vs. Couch comes to mind). . .

    NE Going vs. Skidmore, same deal.

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  • CaptainKarma August 23, 2017 at 12:37 pm

    My son delivered donuts for an unnamed donut shop (it sits at the east side bottom of the Burnside bridge). They expected, demanded, that he drove like a maniac in the early morning hours to get those donuts to Zupan’s, out to Beaverton, back to the SE, etc. Didn’t matter if was icy, which it often is in the wee hours before traffic heats up the bridges. When asked if they’d cover his traffic tickets, they shuffled their feet and mumbled. He got stopped once and was let off by a cop who probbly shouldn’t have. All this on minimum wage of course. So some business models do seem to be hazardous to life. The whole motor-vehicle thing is out of control.

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    • Chris I August 23, 2017 at 2:31 pm

      And when one of their drivers does eventually maim or kill someone, they will try to place all of the blame on them. Fortunately, most victims are able to lawyer up and go after the company in these cases. It gets tricky with larger corporations who point to “safety training” and have their own legal teams to defend.

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  • Joe August 23, 2017 at 1:23 pm

    RIP loss for words how its just a struggle to bike or walk these days.. I’m on foot after very crazy bike crash and still almost get hit daily..

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    • Alan 1.0 August 23, 2017 at 1:27 pm

      Sorry to hear that, Joe, I hope you are healing well.

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    • Kyle Banerjee August 23, 2017 at 2:32 pm

      If you’re almost getting hit daily, you’re doing it wrong. Seriously.

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      • Adam
        Adam August 23, 2017 at 2:37 pm

        Nope. I used to ride every day in Beaverton and would have near misses nearly every day as well. West side roads are far too wide to be safe for cycling.

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        • Kyle Banerjee August 23, 2017 at 3:44 pm

          Close calls are dangerous because the situations can’t be managed sufficiently. This means repeated encounters will eventually end in a serious problem.

          When close calls are anything other than extremely rare, it’s a sign that the cyclist either needs to make an adjustment or that they shouldn’t ride there because it cannot be done safely.

          I can’t speak to specific conditions in areas I haven’t ridden, but what you can do on a bike varies dramatically from one road to the next — i.e. what might be totally safe in some areas is suicidal in others where different technique and/or equipment might be necessary. The practical effect is that not all roads are rideable, and many roads will be rideable for some cyclists but not others.

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          • Adam
            Adam August 23, 2017 at 3:49 pm

            I’ve been riding a bike for quite a while now and despite what you think, I don’t really need the mansplanation on proper cycling techniques.

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            • Kyle Banerjee August 23, 2017 at 4:07 pm

              I’m just saying not all places are for all people. Just as steep hills are not a good choice for some cyclists, neither are roads with other conditions such as heavy traffic and no shoulders.

              For example, you can’t get mirrors to work for you. I don’t think they’re necessary everywhere, but there are places that I absolutely won’t ride unless I know where every vehicle is down to the inch. It’s absolutely critical in higher speed venues because otherwise, it’s neither possible to herd vehicles nor know when you’re in trouble until it’s too late.

              If you go places that you’re not equipped to handle for whatever reason, you’re putting your faith in motorists and luck.

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              • Adam
                Adam August 23, 2017 at 4:13 pm

                To be honest, any time you ride a bike anywhere you’re “putting your faith in motorists and luck”. It’s just that some places make it harder for motorists to make serious mistakes.

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              • Hello, Kitty
                Hello, Kitty August 23, 2017 at 4:17 pm

                Using the road, in any capacity, requires some degree of faith and trust in others to not kill you. It’s the nature of the system, and it’s unlikely to fundamentally change until the basic nature of how we get around is different.

                We can (and must) lessen the risk, but we won’t make it go away.

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              • Adam
                Adam August 23, 2017 at 4:24 pm

                I agree with you, and my point is that there isn’t much someone riding a bike can do as an individual to make cars and trucks less dangerous. This is why the focus needs to be on infrastructure and driver training, rather than cycling techniques and education.

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              • Kyle Banerjee August 23, 2017 at 5:03 pm

                There is tons you can do, and that’s what makes otherwise unrideable roads reasonably safe.

                There are a wide variety of techniques you can use to know who sees you, who’s going to turn even though they’re far behind and don’t have a blinker on, and who intends to mess with you. You can also get drivers to give you more space, communicate with them, and do other useful things. You can prevent many problems from even occurring at all, and even when that’s not possible, you have way more time to develop a strategy which you can start executing before they even get to you.

                Trusting motorists is extremely dangerous and they will disappoint you often if you do. A certain percentage are distracted, mentally ill, chemically altered, incompetent, sadistic, etc. and others just make mistakes. If even 0.01% of the motorists you encounter represent a real threat to your safety, the math catches up with you fast if you ride much.

                Infrastructure helps, but it can get you only so far. For example, Water Street is a fairly decent road to ride — certainly better than alternatives in that area and especially at 1:50am.

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            • Hello, Kitty
              Hello, Kitty August 23, 2017 at 4:08 pm

              Thanks for the sexism!

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              • Adam
                Adam August 23, 2017 at 4:09 pm

                What are you, a bot?

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              • Hello, Kitty
                Hello, Kitty August 23, 2017 at 4:12 pm

                Thanks for the sexism!

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            • Middle of the Road Guy August 24, 2017 at 9:42 am

              I find that a particularly ironic statement.

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        • Dave August 23, 2017 at 8:03 pm

          Your comment in no way disproves Kyle’s.

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  • billyjo August 23, 2017 at 1:39 pm

    So much that isn’t known, yet so many seem to be projecting onto this situation with experiences they’ve had in the past.

    I’d like to know if all the street lights in that area were working, and at 2am, I’d like to see a toxicology report.

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    • 9watts August 23, 2017 at 2:24 pm

      “so many seem to be projecting onto this situation with experiences they’ve had in the past.”

      Is that so wrong?

      I think that this fine-grained experience commenters bring to this discussion is one of the things that make this conversation so useful, so interesting. Folks here *have* had tons of good and bad experiences, know the streets and patterns and interactions better than a casual observer might ever guess.

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    • resopmok August 24, 2017 at 8:48 am

      Stuck on the idea you think she was drunk? I used to ride my bike at 3a all the time because I was working as a baker. Or maybe you think only crazy people don’t keep a “normal” schedule?

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  • Joe August 23, 2017 at 1:48 pm

    Alan 1.0
    Sorry to hear that, Joe, I hope you are healing well.
    Recommended 0

    thanks I broke my shoulder and collarbone,8 ribs.. beaverton drivers pure madness!

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  • Todd Boulanger August 23, 2017 at 3:29 pm

    The garbage (solid waste) truck involved in this crash was operated by Republic Services. The truck number was 1260. Source: KATU crash scene photos.

    PDX Address: 10239 NE Marx St, Portland, OR 97220
    Phone: (503) 253-5656 (Google) or 503-636-3011 (web)

    Our Philosophy: (Republic Services’ wen page)
    At Republic Services, we’re guided by five essential core values – to be Respectful, Responsible, Reliable, Resourceful, and Relentless in all we do, every day. Our highly passionate, professional team is reminded of these principles every time they see the five R’s joined together to form the Republic Services Star. It’s what makes us who we are, reminding us to keep our customers at the heart of it all.

    Given that Republic Services owns thousands of waste trucks AND that they have a corporate creed to be innovative (Wikipedia “Corporate responsibility, sustainability and innovation: Republic Services puts a substantial percentage of its earnings 45 percent- into developing new technologies and initiating new programs across the US.) then they may be a great partner to implement waste trucks that are designed to be “bicycle friendly” while sharing the road in Portland (local demonstration) and then nationally?!

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    • Todd Boulanger August 28, 2017 at 12:42 pm

      Jonathan confirmed to me off-line that it was the white truck and not the blue Republic truck involved. Sorry Republic.

      KATU got it wrong [by posting photos of the Republic garbage truck to the article about Tamar’s death by garbage truck collision]. I would recommend that KATU remove that photo AND investigate why the reporter / photojournalist (credit: SBG) took it and included it without further explanation of why it was included in the content…and communicate such in a published apology.

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      • Dan A August 28, 2017 at 1:21 pm

        Wow, I thought the discussion on KGW’s FB page was bad. KATU’s is 100x worse.

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      • todd boulanger October 11, 2017 at 5:22 pm

        As of the recent $10m suit naming Republic …I guess it was their truck and operator that was involved.

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  • Todd Boulanger August 23, 2017 at 4:16 pm

    The design of the vehicle looks to be a late model Autocar ACX truck (severe duty class 8) …based on the KATU crash scene photos of a blue Republic Truck (but the photos shows it parked on Yamhill one block away…?). The KATU crash scene photos show a white Autocar ACX truck fleet #9, unknown company, stopped on Taylor with a bike on the ground…so it may not have been a Republic truck…

    I hope PPB crash scene investigators took full photos of the exterior condition of the truck and the interior of the cab so that the following issues can be evaluated:

    1) Which side of the vehicle was the operator sitting in (left or right) as they can be set up in multiple ways…this would effect point of view of the operator…or if there was a passenger on the side closest to the bicyclist…

    2) Cleanliness of the windscreen, functioning of the safety equipment and headlights / turn signals and conditions as of last inspection date (and if in need of repair), distractions (radio or dispatch computer use, cellphone use, etc.)…

    3) The vehicle design looks to have an offset “B” pillar and side mirrors that could obstruct the view of the approach of a bicyclist if the truck was primarily facing the side street when stopped…such as if the truck had done a u-turn, come from the cyclist’s left (from picking up trash across the street on SE Taylor as the Clark Lewis dumpsters are behind East Bank in the parking lot)) or had stopped mid-left-turn in the intersection before restarting through the intersection.

    4) There can often be a lot of gear (high viz jacket, hard hat etc.) on the top of the dash that might obstruct an operator’s vision depending on their height and the setting of the seat…etc. The KATU photos show stacked gear on the dash.

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    • Todd Boulanger August 23, 2017 at 4:29 pm

      Correction the photos showing the white garbage truck are from KPTV (Fox 12)…

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    • Dan A August 23, 2017 at 4:33 pm

      “The KATU photos show stacked gear on the dash.”

      Interesting that it wasn’t noted in the PPB statement.

      “Traffic Division wishes to remind all drivers to keep their dashes clear of clutter so that they may better see other road users.”

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    • Todd Boulanger August 23, 2017 at 6:19 pm

      I wondered if the KATU reporter took a photo of the wrong garbage truck? Correction: “A “pillar not “B”.

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  • LLj August 23, 2017 at 4:42 pm

    This is a horrible intersection, the site of Joel
    Burrows death, amongst others as well as other serious accidents. This area used to be desolate, but now isn’t. Absolutely nothing has been done to accommodate the changes in the traffic in this area. Clearly, this intersection needs to be fixed. Traffic lights, 4 way stop, make it one way only, better proteced bike lanes?? I don’t know it isn’t my job. Its the city’s job, which they are failing. With fatal consequences. Now is not the time to accuse Tamar or the truck driver. Now is the time to find an immediate solution to keep people safe.

    some garbage people have found fault with a woman riding her bike this late/early. She was a bartender. Someone wonderful died because of the ineffectiveness of the city. Accuse them.

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    • Kyle Banerjee August 24, 2017 at 9:23 am

      Improvement begins with identifying what makes this intersection worse than others. For example, what makes it worse than every other intersection headed south until you hit Clay, none of which have traffic controls?

      An overreaction will not help safety and could even undermine it by creating other problems and/or drawing resources away from where they are needed more. A stop sign is already within stone’s throw (literally) from the direction of the garbage truck. Besides, it’s neither practical nor desirable to stop traffic at every turning opportunity. Among other things, perpetual speed variation and attention directed to to constantly stopping/starting could be much less safe.

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      • Adam
        Adam August 24, 2017 at 9:32 am

        All of Water Avenue is terrible. The pavement is of poor quality, there are old rail tracks scattered about, the bike lane is in the door zone and too narrow, the sidewalk is far to skinny for adequate foot traffic, etc. Honestly, my solution would be to make the block between Taylow and Yamhill ped and bike only. If ODOT ends up selling the three empty lots just south of this intersection to a developer, we could be looking at a very busy and crowded area. Best to tame the cars now when it’s easy.

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      • 9watts August 24, 2017 at 9:36 am

        “perpetual speed variation and attention directed to to constantly stopping/starting could be much less safe.”

        I’ve never heard that argument. Are you sure about this? Can you say more? My sense is that the absence of interruptions, of reminders to be alert is much more likely to lead to reduced attentiveness and problems for those outside of the almighty auto.
        c.f. Hans Monderman

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        • Kyle Banerjee August 24, 2017 at 10:13 am


          When drivers are stopping and going, they have a tendency to focus on what’s directly in front of them and not look way down the road and to the sides where they can process threats long in advance. Also, when people feel impeded by whatever, there’s a tendency to get tunnel vision and focus on the next step.

          From a cycling perspective, there is real value in having vehicles move at a steady state except when they intend to do something differently. If they’re stopping and starting at each block, it’s much harder to read them. Plus, heavy footed acceleration/braking is guaranteed which leads to much less graceful interactions and more leapfrogging. I ride a number of busy streets every day, and my personal experience is this is much easier if the vehicles roll at a more consistent pace.

          I agree with your general premise that absence of interruptions leads to inattentiveness. But in this case we’re talking only a few blocks — it’s not at all like drivers are going for miles in the sticks.

          There is what I’ll call an “optimum” level of interruptions — enough for them to easily track, but not so many that they miss them. It is precisely for this reason that riding shoulderless agricultural roads with traffic doing 50+ is not scary. The curves keep the driver attentive and the lack of visual distractions keep the cyclist obvious.

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          • 9watts August 24, 2017 at 10:21 am

            Your elaborations skip over the role of speed in your two scenarios. traffic calming measures are about many things, but reducing speeds is surely high on the list of objectives.

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            • Kyle Banerjee August 24, 2017 at 10:57 am

              There is nothing calm about drivers focused on alternatively stomping on the gas and the brake to the exclusion of other things as they go through areas. Rather, a steady state reasonable speed is much better.

              For example, with regards to that particular area, speeds on the very nearby 2nd and 3rd streets which are riddled with stop signs are lower than on Water. But the riding is dicier. The only part of Water in that vicinity that you even need to watch for is traffic coming off the ramp that’s sometimes not looking despite having a stop sign. Don’t worry, they get another stop sign less than 50′ later.

              I don’t know how fast that garbage truck was going, but the driver had had only one block to accelerate. And while drivers sometimes speed on Water, it doesn’t come close to speeding issues elsewhere in town.

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              • Adam
                Adam August 24, 2017 at 11:00 am

                I actually prefer riding on 2nd or 3rd for the same reasons you don’t like it.

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              • Kyle Banerjee August 24, 2017 at 11:51 am

                Despite the streets being slow, I find the driving erratic there. In any case, I wouldn’t want to take either of those streets at 1:50am. Don’t even get me started about the Esplanade which is nuts to take in the wee hours. I’d rather ride Grand with the drunks.

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              • 9watts August 24, 2017 at 12:02 pm

                “Rather, a steady state reasonable speed is much better.”

                But who determines that in the absence of stop signs or traffic calming the resultant speed is ‘reasonable’? Have you experienced that on the residential streets we are talking about here?

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            • Kyle Banerjee August 24, 2017 at 12:52 pm

              I wasn’t aware we were talking residential. Neither Water nor any of the streets nearby are residential.

              In any case, speed limit signs aren’t a bad mechanism for communicating what is reasonable. A few roads are too high IMO, but by and large, they’re in the ballpark. I also think that most Portland drivers are pretty reasonable — of course there are exceptions.

              I think traffic calming devices can serve a useful function, but that’s not the same as deploying stop signs and lights everywhere. If you really want compliance to drop in the toilet, deploying these things where it doesn’t make sense is a great way to accomplish that.

              BTW, Portland cyclists seem to love to ride past cars on the right at intersections. If you really want to take the number of right and left hook accidents through the roof, all we need to do is stop the cars practically every block which will reduce turn signal compliance as well as cyclist ability to read cars. Most cyclists here ride on the right past vehicles neither they nor oncoming vehicles can see through.

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  • Esther #2 August 23, 2017 at 5:06 pm

    And if the driver is found responsible he will have to pay an $82 fine for improper left turn.

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    • El Biciclero August 24, 2017 at 12:32 pm

      Well, the presumptive fine is $260. What I find interesting is that there are offenses for “improperly executed left turn” and also “dangerous left turn”. Surprisingly, both are Class B traffic infractions with the same fine. Why have two?

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  • X August 24, 2017 at 9:06 am

    Kyle Banerjee: If you’re almost getting hit daily, you’re doing it wrong. Seriously.

    The original comment was from a person walking because of a cycling crash–it’s commonplace to have a motor vehicle operator do a no-look roll through a stop sign (not an unmarked crosswalk, a red octagonal sign) in front of me during a half-mile walk in NE Portland. Dismissive wave from driver, oops!

    Who is doing what wrong? Easily 20% of drivers, car or bike, will fail this. It’s not a pedestrian problem.

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    • Kyle Banerjee August 24, 2017 at 12:58 pm

      It is absolutely a pedestrian problem. You said it yourself — 20% of drivers and cyclists fail this (probably higher, especially among cyclists).

      The person making the turn is at fault, but the pedestrian still gets hit. As a ped or cyclist, you need to conduct yourself in a way appropriate to the conditions you’re actually in, not the ones you’d like to be in.

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  • Stephen Keller August 24, 2017 at 9:09 am

    Four way stops with parking banned at the corners…

    Making parking impossible by use of bioswales in those areas would be even better, provided the biological component isn’t allowed to grow out of hand and obscure sight lines. Some of the bioswales up in St. Johns are becoming problematic due to the height of their vegetation.

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    • Dan A August 24, 2017 at 9:29 am

      First, the city would have to want to remove parking, which they don’t. Parking > everything else.

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      • Adam
        Adam August 24, 2017 at 9:38 am

        Yep. Even though it is actually illegal to park up to the corner, when I asked Roger Geller if PBOT is going to start banning parking at corners, his response “we’re looking into it”. I’m not holding my breath. You’d think they’d be more motivated to fix this issue since it’s not just cyclists that this issue negatively affects, but people walking and driving as well. There would normally be a backlash against removing parking, however nearly every person I know who drives in Portland says they also have a hard time seeing around corners, so you’d think it would be very easy to get the driving masses on board with this.

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    • jeff August 24, 2017 at 1:02 pm

      report to the city. vegetation more than 24″ needs to be cut. there is a reporting mechanism. Find it. Do it. Stop complaining about it.

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      • Adam
        Adam August 24, 2017 at 1:05 pm

        I’ve tried that. PBOT just says it’s not their responsibility to maintain and that I need to contact the property owner.

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  • Greg Haun August 24, 2017 at 9:47 am

    FWIW, the tenants and management in the EBCC building at this intersection have felt for years it was an unnecessarily dangerous intersection for vulnerable users and requested the city add a crosswalk. Traffic engineering investigation TI #815858. Here is the crosswalk proposed by EBCC owners Beam Development: The problem is the I-5 offramp is at Yamhill, where there is no light across 99E, so drivers zoom one block over Taylor, turn left, and head up to 99E, at more or less interstate offramp speeds.

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    • Adam
      Adam August 24, 2017 at 10:16 am

      Sounds like that off-ramp should be closed. Why do drivers need to access this area from the highway, anyway? In fact, the whole east waterfront could use a bit of highway trimming – it’s insane how much prime riverfront space we give over to massive expressway interchanges.

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    • Greg Haun August 24, 2017 at 11:08 am

      The city responded this morning that indeed a crosswalk is warranted here, but it would require sidewalk ramps, which apparently makes it a Capital Improvement Project, and thus something that might happen on a timeline of decades or when the adjacent lots get improved. I think our approach to safety is fundamentally broken; I’d like to see more incremental improvements and quick and dirty solutions than “world-class” this or that amongst crumbling and dangerous infrastructure.

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  • jeff August 24, 2017 at 1:00 pm

    who wrote this tripe? you claim you don’t know what happened and then proceed to infer blame on infrastructure and that she was “probably” in a bike lane..?
    WTF? this kind of biased crap is what makes me dislike this site immensely some days.

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  • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) August 24, 2017 at 3:22 pm

    Want everyone to know that I’ve seen video of the crash. I’ll share more about it in a separate post. Right now I want to say that I should not have speculated about the green markings and skidmarks on the street. I assumed those were from this collision but after watching the video they might might be unrelated.

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    • Todd Boulanger August 24, 2017 at 3:52 pm

      This update will be interesting…as I looked on line (and in Streetview) and could not find any CCTV cameras noted…

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  • Todd Boulanger August 24, 2017 at 3:53 pm

    PS. Please update as to which trash truck was involved etc.

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    • Alan 1.0 August 24, 2017 at 4:02 pm

      Todd, it has to be the white #9 truck, parked at the scene inside the police tape with the bike still there:

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      • Todd Boulanger August 28, 2017 at 12:32 pm

        Yes – Jonathan confirmed to me off line that is was the “white” truck and not the “blue” truck.

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  • glenn August 24, 2017 at 4:55 pm

    wonder if any biz has some surveillance cameras that might have some of the intersection recorded…

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  • Ted Buehler August 24, 2017 at 5:41 pm

    BikeLoudPDX is hosting a vigil for Tamal. Friday at 5:30, at the site of the crash.

    We’ve reached out to her family, they are supportive, and may be in attendance.

    Please come in to support safer streets in Portland and to let her family know that people care about her needless death.

    Ted Buehler
    Co-Chair, BikeLoudPDX

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  • bendite August 25, 2017 at 7:30 am

    Hello, Kitty
    Clearly we have historically valued mobility and freedom over safety. Those values may be changing today, but I generally disagree with prioritizing safety over all other values.
    Recommended 1

    I value good driving over bad driving. We’ve raised the bar with the specific issue of drunk driving. There’s no reason we can’t raise it for driving.

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    • Hello, Kitty
      Hello, Kitty August 25, 2017 at 9:17 am

      Indeed; that’s a point I think everyone would agree with. Improving driving skills is a long-term solution. You can make some immediate gains with enforcement (though some here see enforcement as inherently racist), but what we really need is cultural change, and that takes time.

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      • bendite August 25, 2017 at 12:41 pm

        And why “I didn’t see him/her” should no longer be accepted.

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        • Hello, Kitty
          Hello, Kitty August 25, 2017 at 12:51 pm

          As long as jurors find that explanation credible, it will be accepted.

          I have experienced not seeing something that should have been obvious to me, so I know that it can happen. You may have experienced the same. If you have, you should understand the futility of requiring perfection. Far better, I think, to engineer systems that can tolerate human failure. This is why I support lower urban speed limits.

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          • bendite August 25, 2017 at 6:43 pm

            I’ve only not seen someone when I wasn’t looking or pulled into a space with blocked visibility too hastily. You’re making the point that bad drivers are sympathetic to bad drivers and you see this in enforcement and with juries. Someone who thinks ‘that could be me’ is a fellow bad driver. I’m not asking for perfection, just the same way society gives actual consequences for other illegal actions that end someone’s life.

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            • Hello, Kitty
              Hello, Kitty August 25, 2017 at 7:55 pm

              I’m saying that most people understand no one is perfect, and are generally sympathetic when someone does something horrible by accident and with no mal intent, and clearly feels remorse. This may not apply to someone grossly violating traffic laws, but it probably does apply to someone who makes a plausible claim that they did not see another road user, but was otherwise driving reasonably.

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              • 9watts August 25, 2017 at 8:14 pm

                Sure. This is not hard to follow, or to empathize with.

                But the question this raises is whether this is an appropriate, or acceptable, much less the best way to understand, make sense of, regulate driving an automobile among bipeds? Is this how we approach piloting airplanes or ships? Cross our fingers, and sympathize with the pilot when things inevitably go awry?

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              • Hello, Kitty
                Hello, Kitty August 25, 2017 at 8:25 pm

                Whether it is acceptable is a value judgement. I’m sure no one would argue it is ideal, but you have to make trade-offs between safety and mobility, and where we are reflects a general consensus about what that trade-off should be. We, as a society, can change it, as we have with mores over drunk driving. It takes time and effort, however; it’s not something one part of the system can change on its own.

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              • 9watts August 25, 2017 at 8:27 pm

                “you have to make trade-offs between safety and mobility”

                Says who?

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              • 9watts August 25, 2017 at 8:29 pm

                “where we are reflects a general consensus about what that trade-off should be”

                Not really. If the playground bullies scare the little kids into cowering in the bathrooms during recess, does that reflect a general consensus about what the tradeoffs in school should be between learning and violence?

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              • Hello, Kitty
                Hello, Kitty August 25, 2017 at 9:00 pm

                You compared driving to piloting a ship or plane. If we used those standards, very few would be permitted to drive. Mobility would be reduced. Not for you or me, perhaps, but for most others it would be. If you have an idea for increasing safety without reducing mobility (at a cost we are willing to pay) then I’d probably be in full support.

                More driver training? I’m on board. Vehicle safety inspections? I’m in. Stronger penalties for bad behavior? Check. Black boxes for trash trucks? Let’s do it. All we need to do is get enough other people to agree.

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              • Hello, Kitty
                Hello, Kitty August 25, 2017 at 9:02 pm

                Are you suggesting juries don’t want to convict on more cases (which would in turn lead to more prosecutions) because they are scared of bullies?

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              • 9watts August 25, 2017 at 9:08 pm

                “Mobility would be reduced.”

                I don’t see this as fixed, static. I see this as a dynamic problem like the gas tax. Most people are fixated on the one thing they are certain will be a cost which they can attribute to raising the gas tax: its ostensible regressivity, and in so doing they miss the hundred ways so many other countries which do have a more serious gas taxes than we do have used the funds so raised to generate useful alternatives and/or specifically countered the regressive nature of the tax, yielding dozens of benefits for a whole variety of constituents.

                Your analysis is similar. Instead of focusing on the imagined short term reduction in mobility, why not conceptualize how we could achieve better outcomes. It isn’t as if no one flew or took a ship…. Mobility via those means where the pilots attentiveness is treated as non-negotiable seems alive and well.

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              • 9watts August 25, 2017 at 9:10 pm

                “Are you suggesting juries”

                I was not saying anything about juries. My simile was meant to highlight the absurdity of treating our system of asymmetric traffic violence as the result of a social compact.

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              • Hello, Kitty
                Hello, Kitty August 25, 2017 at 9:18 pm

                If the truck had struck an auto and killed its driver, I think the outcome would be much the same. It’s not all about persecuting the weak.

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              • Hello, Kitty
                Hello, Kitty August 25, 2017 at 9:28 pm

                “Your analysis is similar…” I’m not advocating for the status quo, but I do believe understanding it (rather than the standard mischaracterizations typically posted here) is critical to effecting change, which I do indeed want, despite my lack of irrational idealism.

                Pilots undergo years of training. Imposing those requirements on the general public would be a non-starter. Restricting driving to professionals would be a non-starter. I know you know that, so it’s hard to take your suggestion seriously.

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              • 9watts August 25, 2017 at 9:34 pm

                “Imposing those requirements on the general public would be a non-starter.”

                introducing the automobile into society was originally viewed as/feared to be a non-starter too. The hue and cry about the carnage almost shut it down.

                Let’s walk before we run. Somehow the Swedes seem to have had a much easier time approaching this methodically, dispassionately, constructively.

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              • Hello, Kitty
                Hello, Kitty August 26, 2017 at 9:50 am

                Though our culture is very different than that of Sweden, cultural change is certainly possible, but it is slow. I believe the culture is changing (young people not wanting their driver’s license, for example). However, I believe technical change will occur first and alter the driving landscape long before we can transform ourselves into Sweden.

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