Esplanade closure begins February 1st

Opinion: I am deeply concerned about dangerous commercial trucks on Portland’s streets

Posted by on September 5th, 2017 at 11:23 am

Brett, Mark, Tamar, Kathryn, Tracey and Alan.

What do Tracey Sparling, Brett Jarolimek, Alan Marsan, Kathryn Rickson, Mark Angeles and Tamar Monhait have in common? All were killed in collisions with commercial trucks on Portland’s streets.

As a mother, daily bicycle commuter and lawyer for two of these families, this deeply concerns me.

These trucks — semi-trucks, dump trucks, tow trucks and garbage trucks — have a greater propensity than other smaller vehicles to cause serious injury and death, particularly when they make a right or left turn across a cyclist’s path. In these situations, the inquiry often focuses on the driver’s conduct. However, it is important to remember that these vehicles are commercial vehicles, owned by profit-driven companies and operated by company employees. These companies have considerable control over the hiring and training of their truck drivers and the equipment on their trucks. In some cases, drivers who apply for positions with these companies are inexperienced, poorly trained or not trained at all in how to drive large heavy vehicles. Depending on the truck’s weight, a commercial driver’s license may not be required. In the same vein, trucks may not be outfitted with the number and types of mirrors sufficient to allow drivers to see cyclists.


The truck used in the collision that killed Tamar Monhait.

The law requires that every person (and company) use reasonable care to avoid harming others (Oregon Uniform Jury Instruction 20.02). Therefore, companies whose businesses involve running commercial trucks on Portland’s streets should use reasonable care in hiring, training and supervising their drivers and in outfitting their trucks. Such reasonable care includes either hiring experienced drivers or sufficiently training them by writing and enforcing driving rules to ensure that company drivers operate their vehicles safely. Specifically, companies need to teach drivers of large heavy trucks about ORS 811.050, which requires drivers to yield the right of way to a cyclist riding in a bicycle lane. ORS 811.050 requires motorists to yield to cyclists riding in bicycle lanes when the motorist is making either a left or a right turn. Separately, commercial vehicle drivers need to be trained that ORS 811.350, which requires drivers to yield to approaching vehicles, including bicycles, that are so close as to constitute an immediate hazard. A bicycle is defined in Oregon’s Vehicle Code as a vehicle and a cyclist riding on a public way has the same rights and duties as the driver of every other vehicle (ORS 814.400).

To fulfill their duty of reasonable care, companies need to train their employee drivers to watch for cyclists, particularly in areas designated for bicyclists, and to give them the tools to do so. One important tool to help drivers see cyclists when making turns are mirrors — spot mirrors, west coast mirrors and fender mirrors. Companies need to invest in these mirrors and train their drivers how to use them as a tool to look for bicyclists when making left and right turns especially on streets with high bicycle traffic, such as greenways and streets with bicycle lanes.

Only when the owners and operators of large and potentially lethal trucks take reasonable care to ensure their drivers are knowledgeable about the law and required to follow it, can Portland cyclists and their families be assured that commercial drivers know the laws and are watching out for vulnerable road users where those users have the legal right of way.

— Cynthia F. Newton

Cynthia Newton is a partner in the Portland law firm of Thomas, Coon, Newton & Frost.

Disclaimer: Thomas, Coon, Newton & Frost is a BikePortland advertiser, but that partnership did not influence our decision to publish this article.

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  • Dan A September 5, 2017 at 11:37 am

    “With an average of 23.8 peds or cyclists killed per hundred million miles driven, garbage trucks had by far the highest fatality rate in the study, exceeding the all-vehicle average of 1.7 killed per hundred million miles by a factor of 14. Within the garbage truck category, the per-mile rate of killing pedestrians and cyclists was two-thirds higher for private haulers than for NYC Department of Sanitation trucks.”

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    • Mike Reams September 6, 2017 at 8:12 am

      One thing I noticed as an early morning walker is that newspaper delivery people are also pretty reckless and I always gave them wide berth. I wonder if there are some common reasons?

      The both operate in the early morning hours when there is little road traffic but, peds, runners, dog-walkers and, bike commuters are out and about. Perhaps they expect there won’t be anyone walking/driving/cycling by because it’s early and they don’t see many cars on the road.

      Both involve multi-tasking while operating a vehicle. They’re both following a route, zipping from destination to destination to do a task semi-related to driving.

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      • KTaylor September 6, 2017 at 6:08 pm

        With newspaper delivery people, I believe it’s because they are not paid by the hour – so the quicker they can finish their route, the sooner they can go home. I think something of the sort may also be true for garbage truck drivers – if they finish their shift early, they just sit around. At least that’s the topic of an article I found online about garbage truck drivers in some Canadian city. Wasn’t able to find much else about how garbage collectors are paid.

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    • Mr. Know It All September 6, 2017 at 6:54 pm

      I’d guess that garbage trucks would have a higher rate per 100,000,000 miles than other types of trucks because:
      a) they aren’t putting on a lot of miles because they only drive 20 feet, then stop, drive 20 feet then stop, drive 40 feet then stop; so if they kill someone then that looks bad on a per mile basis
      b) their routes are mostly in residential areas where many people live, thus there are many cyclists and peds in their vicinity
      c) they probably are making turns and going through intersections constantly on their routes and turns involve hazards, as do intersections

      Don’t know if you need a CDL to drive one. If not, that might be a factor.

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  • Ellie Harmon September 5, 2017 at 11:40 am

    Thank you for this article. I think it’s really important to talk about the role of commercial businesses in these accidents.

    I want to add that in our conversations about commercial responsibility, we should also talk about how companies often put their drivers into situations where they are overworked, operating on not enough sleep, and/or are pressured into rushing through routes that are too long to safely complete in the allotted time.

    In addition to providing drivers with appropriate training and equipment (e.g. mirrors), companies need to also think seriously about the routing and performance standards set for employees — and how many hours per week someone has to work at the current rate of pay in order to make ends meet. Currently, it seems that many drivers, as employees, are at risk of not meeting performance standards based on unreasonable expectations of “efficiency.” This pressure to be ‘efficient’ — i.e. to drive faster — puts drivers in a stressed and rushed frame of mind where they may be more likely to make a driving error, or try to push a yellow/red light, or turn through a perceived gap in traffic that is not really big enough. It also incentivizes unsafe behavior such as double parking or parking in bike lanes by delivery drivers who need to be able to get in and out quickly to meet performance expectations, instead of having the time to locate a safe parking space and then more slowly get things where they are going. We should also hold corporations responsible for the ways that the working conditions that they create are also contributing unsafe conditions on the road, even if all drivers were sufficiently trained, experienced, and operating with proper equipment.

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    • Buzz September 5, 2017 at 12:04 pm

      And of course, all of this should also apply to TriMet drivers, whose performance is often tied tightly to meeting their schedules on heavily trafficked streets and results in regular incidents involving speeding and other unsafe bus operation.

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    • Todd Boulanger September 5, 2017 at 12:57 pm

      Ellie, please consider not using the term “accidents”, as it undermines the point you are attempting to communicate. There are more effective terms. (Thx.)

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      • Ellie Harmon September 5, 2017 at 6:01 pm

        My bad. I didn’t edit this very carefully. But you are right; although familiar to us all, it is obviously not the best word choice.

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        • Mr. Know It All September 6, 2017 at 6:58 pm

          Not really. The word accident is accurate; and it is in fact the best choice. It describes an unintentional collision in this case. If the collision is intentional, then the word accident would not be the best choice.

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      • bike/ped guy September 7, 2017 at 10:04 am

        They are crashes. That is the professional term for engineers, planners, police, etc. And indeed, the language we use matters. Soft-pedaling crashes as “accidents” implies they are less significant or simply mistakes.

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  • JeffS September 5, 2017 at 11:48 am

    “What do Tracey Sparling, Brett Jarolimek, Alan Marsan, Kathryn Rickson, Mark Angeles and Tamar Monhait have in common?”

    They were all riding in a bike lane.

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    • Mr. Know It All September 6, 2017 at 7:02 pm

      It would be good to give a brief bullet list of all facts in each case for both the driver and the cyclist. Time of day, day or night, wet or dry, lights or not, highly visible clothing, helmet or not, nature of the fatal injury, intoxicants or not, age/experience, in a bike lane or in the lane or coming off sidewalk, etc, etc.

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      • Mr. Know It All September 6, 2017 at 7:06 pm

        And, perhaps most importantly, who the police said was at fault in each accident. Also of interest would be if any citations or prison time were given.

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  • rick September 5, 2017 at 12:03 pm

    I was riding my bike on SW and NW Skyline Blvd yesterday and stopped at the Food and Auto parts store at the corner of Skyline at Cornelius Pass Road yesterday. The manager (owner?) Steve is disappointed that a modern highway hasn’t been built to connect Highway 30 to Highway 26. That would be a lot of ODOT money that could be used on many other safe projects to reduce crashes. I rode a bike right by the awful head-on car crash that took place by the Wildwood Golf Course just 8 hours after I was riding a bike. Same pinpoint place of earth.

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    • nuovorecord September 5, 2017 at 3:54 pm

      Steve wants ODOT to wipe out his business???

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  • JRB September 5, 2017 at 12:30 pm

    I question the inclusion of Mark Angeles and Tamar Monhait. From what I understand of the circumstances of their deaths, that commercial vehicles were involved was not a factor, the drivers failing to yield right of way when making a left turn was. Using their deaths to bolster the argument that commercial vehicles pose particular and increased threats to vulnerable road users allows victim blamers to focus on that instead of the real issue. Unfortunately there is already far too much evidence regarding commercial vehicles. There is no need to bootstrap a couple more avoidable deaths to make the case.

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    • J_R September 5, 2017 at 12:43 pm

      I don’t see how one can claim that the commercial vehicle was not a factor in the deaths of Mark Angeles and Tamar Monhait. At the very least we can conclude that the commercial vehicles that struck and killed them were: much larger; less maneuverable; and were being driven by people for whom a schedule was important.

      One might expect a small vehicle might have stopped more quickly, thus avoiding the collision with the cyclist. In a collision with a small vehicle, a cyclist might bounce over the hood of the left-turning vehicle rather than being crushed by a high one.

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      • JRB September 5, 2017 at 12:59 pm

        You assume facts not in evidence. Yes, commercial vehicles are larger and less maneuverable, but I haven’t heard those were factors in the collisions. It is undisputed that factors limited to commercial vehicles were critical factors in the collisions that killed Brett Jarolimek, Tracy Sparling, Kathryn Rickson and Alan Marsan. Isn’t that enough to prove that commercial vehicles and drivers should be more highly regulated? Why create an opportunity for victim blamers to divert and tangentialize?

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        • J_R September 5, 2017 at 6:43 pm

          According to the DA’s memorandum on the Angeles’ collision the damage to the truck was “between the front wheel well and the ‘F450′ emblem along the passenger side front quarter panel.” It continues. “The top of this concave area measured approximately 50 inches above ground level. The bottom of the concave area measured approximately 44 inches from the ground.”

          It doesn’t exactly say so in the memorandum, but one can surmise that this is where Mr. Angeles’ head and body struck the tow truck. For comparison, my car’s hood goes from 30 inches high at the front to 37 inches above the ground at the windshield. It rather appears that if a bicyclist hit the front of my auto just behind the front wheel, his center of mass would be above the hood. That might produce the same outcome, but there’s a far higher chance of survival skimming across the hood than hitting the upright fender of a large commercial vehicle.

          Maybe you should have read the DA’s memorandum before concluding that the commercial vehicle wasn’t a factor in Mr. Angeles’ death.

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          • JRB September 6, 2017 at 11:22 am

            I was careful to qualify my answers. I didn’t conclude anything. Snark if you wish, but what you “surmise” based on what you read in the DA’s memo is not conclusive either. It’s not necessary to speculate when there is ample hard evidence from other cases that commercial vehicles pose a greater risk to vulnerable road users.

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            • Dan A September 6, 2017 at 11:39 am

              The first point made in the story is this:

              “What do Tracey Sparling, Brett Jarolimek, Alan Marsan, Kathryn Rickson, Mark Angeles and Tamar Monhait have in common? All were killed in collisions with commercial trucks on Portland’s streets.”

              I don’t understand why it’s important to have Mark and Tamar’s death removed from this list. Were they not killed in collisions with commercial trucks on Portland’s streets? The author is demonstrating a pattern….I’d certainly like to know how much more common it is to be killed by a 30-ton commercial truck than by a passenger car, regardless of any determination of fault or other factors. I don’t think it serves any purpose to exclude Mark & Tamar’s deaths because you feel the commercial vehicle being driven may not have been a factor in the collision involving that vehicle.

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              • JRB September 6, 2017 at 12:13 pm

                I think the possibilities for this conversation are about exhausted, but I’ll add this last bit. The article is making a case for more regulation of commercial vehicles, which I and I imagine everyone else on BP agrees with. If we want action, the less enlightened need to be persuaded. If you were trying to persuade cyclists to wear helmets, would you point to the deaths of helmetless cyclists whose injuries would not have been prevented by a helmet?

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              • Dan A September 6, 2017 at 12:56 pm

                Yes. I think it’s silly to say:

                4 cyclists were killed in collisions with large commercial trucks*

                *Actually, it was 6 cyclists, but in 2 of those deaths, it’s possible that the vehicle wasn’t relevant.

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        • malegaze September 5, 2017 at 11:17 pm

          As sad as it is, and I will be skewered for saying it, Brett should have never been hit, and his judgment put him at risk. I mean no I’ll against him. He is and was well loved. I was present in his memorial ride. I’ve ridden Interstate a million times before they created the diverters after his collision. I’m sorry, but in my opinion, he made a fatal mistake in riding inside the area of that truck where he should never have been. Please understand I mean not to taint his character or defend the action of the driver which also may have led to the tragic outcome. I think of him every single time I ride up or down Interstate.

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    • John Liu
      John Liu September 5, 2017 at 12:47 pm

      Passenger cars are smooth-sided with low ground clearance, commercial vehicles are “lumpy” with high ground clearance. A cyclist struck by the side of a large truck is more likely to be severely injured or killed by projecting metal structure or by falling under the rear wheels.

      I realize this is accident-specific. Mark was riding at higher speed, so the specific vehicle involved might conceivably have been less of a factor. Tamar was only riding 15 mph (Jonathon’s estimate from video) so had she been struck by the side of a minivan instead of a garbage truck, she might well have had a better chance of survival.

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      • JRB September 5, 2017 at 1:54 pm

        More assumptions. To win these arguments in fora that might lead to actual change, we need demonstrable facts. We have them without bootstrapping.

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        • Come on September 7, 2017 at 9:58 am

          The facts are that people keep getting killed by commercial vehicles while riding a bike. Those aren’t alternative facts.

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          • Mr. Know It All September 7, 2017 at 12:42 pm

            If the cyclist would have lived if they’d worn a helmet, we need to know that.

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            • Dan A September 7, 2017 at 1:13 pm

              By your moniker, I assume you already know.

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    • Dan A September 5, 2017 at 1:01 pm

      That’s not how statistics work.

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    • El Biciclero September 7, 2017 at 9:49 am

      “These companies have considerable control over the hiring and training of their truck drivers and the equipment on their trucks. In some cases, drivers who apply for positions with these companies are inexperienced, poorly trained or not trained at all in how to drive large heavy vehicles.”

      The piece was about more than just the limitations of commercial vehicles per se; it was also about the control companies have over hiring and training the people who drive those vehicles. Maybe vehicle geometry played less of a role in the two cases you mention, but driver selection and training was definitely a factor.

      Also, I’m confused as to how these two cases give any more encouragement to victim-blamers than others…?

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    • Mr. Know It All September 7, 2017 at 12:48 pm

      I don’t remember reading that the truck driver in Tamar’s case failed to yield right of way. Many on this website may have claimed that, but I don’t remember reading that was the conclusion of the police report. A driver can’t be accused of failure to yield right of way if, due to your failure to use lighting while riding at night, the driver can’t see you. That was the implication in the comments from the police published in JMs article.

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  • B. Carfree September 5, 2017 at 12:30 pm

    I fully agree that we need to find a way to force the companies that employ people driving heavy vehicles to be much more responsible for the safe operation of their rigs. Perhaps we need some sort of point system whereby a company gets points for citations or collisions involving their vehicles and some number of points over a decade would lead to reduced operations and ultimately a loss of business licenses.

    Long ago, I worked for a company that hired lots of college students to drive large trucks during the summer. The company trained the drivers and helped them get their class A CDLs, but it didn’t stop there. It had a safety officer who would sneak out to where we were driving and spy on us. Any deviations from law or company policies would get us some attention-getting punishment, usually a week off unpaid for a first offense and termination for a second. Any at-fault collision meant immediate termination. In spite of agricultural driving exemptions that allowed 16-hour shifts and four weeks without a rest day, this company had almost no collisions or unsafe driving.

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    • JRB September 5, 2017 at 12:40 pm

      This is just good business sense. I’m sure Fed Ex and UPS follow similar practices. No at fault collisions means never having to pay damages or higher insurance. Unfortunately, too many businesses operate on a shoestring and the owners would rather roll the dice then make the investment you are suggesting.

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      • Dan A September 5, 2017 at 1:52 pm

        “I’m sure Fed Ex and UPS follow similar practices.”

        What makes you sure of that?

        I did a few weeks of seasonal truck-unloading work for UPS in Redmond. We were given a pretty thorough safety training after our hire, after which virtually everything we learned was ignored by our supervisors, who coached speed above all other considerations. I’m sure they have safety policies for their drivers, but I saw nothing in my short tenure that would lead me to believe that they enforce them.

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        • JRB September 5, 2017 at 2:12 pm

          You’re right, “sure” was a poor and inaccurate word choice.

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  • Bikeninja September 5, 2017 at 12:54 pm

    Odot, or some other relevant agency should come up with and publish a set of standards for commercial trucks operating in urban areas. This would cover training,mirrors,side guards etc. In any accident with a vulnerable road user and any deficiencies from these standards would automatically open the operating company to massive unlimited civil liability of a size that would bankrupt a Fortune 500 company.Compliance and increased safety would quickly follow. The CEO must know even a broken mirror could send him to a permanent residence in the poor farm.

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    • Buzz September 5, 2017 at 2:34 pm

      Beeter yet, put the requirements right in the vehicle code.

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  • Alan 1.0 September 5, 2017 at 1:06 pm

    Good article, thank you, and thanks Ellie Harmon for the comment. It brings several other thoughts to mind:

    Kirke Johnson

    side guards

    Vision Zero including streets/infra and enforcement

    technology (video, “heads-up” enhanced mirrors, AI copilot)

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  • RH September 5, 2017 at 1:17 pm

    I was biking north on Interstate Ave (in the bike lane) and a Maletis semi truck that was stopped at Graham turned right in from of me at the last second. Had to slam on my brakes as I watched the trailer wheels pass one foot in front of me.

    Another time, there was a semi track driving SOUTH in the northbound lane of Interstate Ave trying to turn into Widmer at the blind corner to collect the spent grains from the silo….Got within 6 ” of hitting me in the bike lane?!

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  • soren September 5, 2017 at 1:21 pm

    In 2007 the city drafted a report on how to mitigate hook-type collisions in response to the deaths of Tracey Sparling and Brett Jarolimek:

    ● Mandating Truck side guards
    ● Installing Bike-activated signals
    ● Implementing Bike signal advances
    ● Eliminating right turns and/or adding a bike signal phase at major bikeway intersections
    ● Applying bike boxes (advanced stop lines)
    ● Widening bike lanes near intersections

    Unfortunately, ~10 years later few of these changes have been implemented.

    More from BikeLoudPDX’s recent letter to the mayor and commissioner saltzman:

    We would recommend adding to [the above] list the following additional safety tools: window fresnel lenses, convex cross-over mirrors, video/LIDAR proximity detectors, and increased use of “Yield to Bikes” signs (MUTCD – R10-15).

    In particular, the report commissioned by Mayor Adams highlighted the use of truck side guards as an effective way to reduce the risk of death and/or serious injury and the Portland Vision Zero Plan also lists installation of truck side guards in its action plan. The Seattle DOT recently mandated truck side guards, citing a study showing a ~61% reduction in risk of fatality for people cycling. Portland should follow Seattle’s Vision Zero example in mandating side guards…

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    • Alan 1.0 September 5, 2017 at 2:35 pm

      Yes. And that also brings up that the between the companies that Cynthia discusses and the city government, there are the freight and truck lobbying groups. What is their position on side guards? Are they even in their talking points? Couldn’t some of their “wants” (wider, faster roads, “hole in the air” clearance, etc) be bargained in exchange for side guards? (as opposed to simply caved in to, as seems so often the case)

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    • shirtsoff September 5, 2017 at 5:10 pm

      It should be a city ordinance that if the City of Portland contracts a company to fulfill basic, civic services (e.g. garbage & waste collection) that it those contracts require the contracted companies to have their fleet of trucks equipeed with side guards at all times while operating within the city limits. If Waste Management finds the cost too high, I am confident that another company will be more than willing to step in and fill the vacancy. Mark my words, the City of Portland is too large of customer base to “walk away from” over safety regulation costs.

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  • Joshua Cohen September 5, 2017 at 1:50 pm

    In general I support mirrors as an effective safety tool to help drivers see what is beside and behind their vehicle. But it’s important to remember mirrors must be installed in a driver’s field of view, and by doing so, they cause blind spots.

    I’ve worked on several bus vs pedestrian collisions where the driver’s side mirror & a-pillar assembly obscure over twenty linear feet of sidewalk/crosswalk. Bus drivers are trained to lean back and forth in an effort to clear these blind spots, but it’s easy to miss something even when following training, and of course people make mistakes.

    I’d like to see manufacturers take more leadership in delivering vehicles that provide the best driver visibility possible, as well as side guards designed to keep people out of the wheel well should a collision occur.

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    • Alan 1.0 September 5, 2017 at 2:41 pm

      Good diagram. I also like the British Safety Council’s mirror blind spot video from a few years ago:

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  • Tom Hardy September 5, 2017 at 1:58 pm

    In the 80’s and early 90’s my older sister was a long haul driver (independent driver owned) with a 50 foot reefer, She had the side guards put on before she drove the truck after she bought it. At that time the reduced insurance rates covered the cost the first year. She put on over 800,000 miles on before selling out. She only needed to buy 1 set of side guards.

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  • Mike Gilliland
    Mike Gilliland September 5, 2017 at 2:18 pm

    Being familiar with Cynthia’s work, I appreciate her article. I often ride among urban trucks and give them a wide berth, and any right-of-way necessary.

    The gross tonnage right-of-way rule is mandatory for any vulnerable user.

    Just a thought, but most new cars have blind spot cameras, maybe retrofit trucks?

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  • Joe September 5, 2017 at 4:06 pm

    sorry sound off topic but its related, today riding on 158th in beaverton this morning
    a semi truck pulled out on me just as I was passing he didn’t even yield so I let up but was waiting for him to make eye contact 🙁 agh only says bicycles on road way be safe out there.

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  • Todd Boulanger September 5, 2017 at 4:11 pm

    Regarding more big trucks on our roads and traffic safety – Do not forget to contact your “Congressman” concerning the bill facilitating the testing of robot trucks/ cars on our roadways very soon. The House will be voting on it tomorrow. The Senate then follows.

    “Currently, federal rules ban fully-autonomous cars with no human controls on US roads. This new proposal would require manufacturers to submit safety assessment reports to regulators; however, it would not require them to gain pre-market approval of autonomous technologies.”

    We need to make sure that the US adopts legislation similarly to Germany’s “Ethical Guidelines” for Autonomous vehicles (‘Human Life Takes Priority’, etc.), and that 100% of the “fault” for any crash collision is applied to the autonomous vehicle for the 5 year interim.

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    • Todd Boulanger September 5, 2017 at 4:22 pm

      Jalopnik reports:
      “The full House of Representatives will vote next week on bills [SELF DRIVE Act] that would allow automakers to eventually deploy up to 100,000 vehicles annually that are exempt from existing auto safety standards. Currently, lawmakers can only seek an exemption for 2,500 vehicles. That would mean automakers could test far more vehicles that don’t follow traditional safety standards, without having regulators raising concerns about seats facing backwards or cars without a steering wheel.”

      Jalopnil reported in June:
      “Democratic Rep. Jan Schakowsky from Illinois took aim at these initiatives, saying instead of giving carmakers exemptions to these federal standards, the government should just modify the standards for the 21st century. She called for NHTSA to determine the additional safety standards necessary to updating existing federal standards that meet driverless carmakers’ needs.”

      “Democratic New Jersey Rep. Frank Pallone, who confirmed members of his party were not involved with crafting the bills, pointed out how not only was a representative from NHTSA not present on the panel to comment on the legislation, but that President Donald Trump has yet to recommend a head for the agency. He further stressed a need for NHTSA to have an adequate amount of resources to lead the autonomous charge, yet NHTSA’s budget proposal is more focused on deregulatory action that contradicts Congressional mandate.”

      “Alan Morrison, associate dean at the George Washington University Law School, joined Schakowsky in criticizing the draft…said the proposed legislation goes beyond testing since it lets the public or car-sharing companies like Lyft and Uber take control of the vehicle, and that should not be permitted. He also said the draft does not clarify when NHTSA can and can’t grant a manufacturer an exemption to test wacky, steering wheel-free cars. Instead, he said Congress or NHTSA should supply a standard for features designed for driverless cars. ‘We don’t need any exemptions for the testing phase…’ ”

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      • Racer X September 5, 2017 at 6:38 pm

        Who is NHTSA?

        The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration: Our mission is to save lives, prevent injuries, and reduce economic costs due to road traffic, crashes, through education, research, safety standards, and enforcement.

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    • Todd Boulanger September 5, 2017 at 4:40 pm

      the SELF DRIVE Act in the House of Representatives is #3388

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  • John Liu
    John Liu September 5, 2017 at 4:57 pm

    Sideview camera systems only cost $500.

    The city could mandate that all trucking services contracted by, licensed by, or operating within, the city must provide safety training to drivers, install cameras, install sideguards, etc.

    There will be some limits on a city’s ability to mandate equipment on long haul semis, but the city could improve safety a great deal simply by making it for local fleets.

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  • Fred September 5, 2017 at 7:01 pm

    Go stand on Water Street for a couple of hours and just watch how the commercial truck drivers operate their trucks. You’ll see huge concrete trucks (from Ross Island Sand and Gravel) bearing down on the cars in front of them, laying on their horns, gesturing wildly. You’ll see all other manner of truck drivers doing the same thing. I saw one truck driver laying on his horn as he drove past a bike hauling a signboard, and he flipped off the cyclist as he drove by. PPB needs to enforce the laws against aggressive and dangerous driving by commercial drivers!

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  • Pat Franz September 5, 2017 at 9:49 pm

    Yes, and ever tried calling the companies to let them know about their dangerous drivers? They don’t want to hear about it. I’ve never talked to anyone that cared one whit. Vehicle IDs, license plate numbers, times, places, they just don’t care.

    I’d like to see a statewide clearinghouse where you can send incident reports, and they will track down the owners and their insurance companies and require a response. Seems a simple public benefit that would go a long ways towards empowering otherwise powerless vulnerable road users.

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    • J_R September 6, 2017 at 6:03 am

      I complained to the Portland Water Bureau about one of their drivers who executed a right-turn-on-red-after-slowing-down while I was riding through the intersection. I received a call from a supervisor who took it very seriously and had already reviewed the vehicle tracking data from the dump truck. I think my complaint did some good.

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      • Spiffy September 6, 2017 at 10:43 am

        I work near the Portland Building downtown and the people driving Water Bureau cars are always breaking the law…

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  • Dan A September 6, 2017 at 7:00 am

    I took a photo yesterday morning of a garbage truck parked on the wrong side of Couch with its engine running, with the intention of mailing it in to the company as part of a complaint. But then I did some research online and found that garbage trucks typically have exemptions to certain driving laws, and can usually drive on the wrong side of the road or the wrong way down a one-way street. I couldn’t find the specific Oregon exemptions anywhere, but I sure would like to know what they are.

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    • Mr. Know It All September 6, 2017 at 7:09 pm

      Because they have to be able to maneuver to pick up the garbage or else a big health hazard will be created…….

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  • Spiffy September 6, 2017 at 10:40 am

    luckily a lot of trucks have the company name branding on it and you can report them… sometimes you even get a caring response… I think anybody driving a truck for business without putting their name on it is telling me they’re irresponsible…

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  • Spiffy September 6, 2017 at 10:41 am

    let’s not forget about buses… every day drivers of the lines I take break the law, usually multiple times each way… you know they go through a lot of training, but they still make breaking the law an hourly part of their job…

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    • John Liu
      John Liu September 7, 2017 at 8:02 am

      That is quite different from what I observe riding.

      In my experience, Trimet buses are the safest of the larger vehicles to be around. The drivers are trained, they are looking for cyclists, they use signals, they know the danger points on their routes. There are some bad drivers, but most seem very good.

      Bus movements are very predictable. If you ride a route often, you know where the bus will pullover, where it will change lanes, etc. There little reason why a cyclist should be surprised by a bus maneuver.

      Exactly what sort of violations are you seeing as a bus passenger?

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  • Mr. Know It All September 6, 2017 at 7:08 pm

    If we made the fee for garbage collection 10x higher, they could probably use big pickup-trucks to collect gargage.

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  • philip porter September 7, 2017 at 8:44 am

    As long as there are these huge trucks on the streets they will injure and kill cyclists.

    As Portland grows, so will the number of these trucks. So the danger will increase.

    There is nothing we can do about it. All we can hope to do is try to avoid getting killed by these things.

    It’s very important to teach and practice extreme caution around these vehicles. I’m known to actually hop up on the sidewalk and get off my bike when there’s even a hint of a conflict with an extra large vehicle. You have to give them a TON of space. Don’t try to race them, don’t try to dodge around them, and even if you clearly have right of way just let em do their thing.

    That’s my two bits.

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    • bike/ped guy September 7, 2017 at 10:07 am

      Philip, I wouldn’t take such a defeatist approach, but you do hit on something substantial. Bicyclists need to be more aware of surroundings and vulnerabilities. I work as a bike/ped transportation professional and I’ve seen several recent instances of bicyclists and scooter drivers going up the inside of commercial trucks making right turns, nearly going under the wheels. It would have been tragic, but it also would have been completely their fault having intentionally tried to beat the truck through the turn after the driver started making the turn. Stupid.

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  • wsbob September 7, 2017 at 1:03 pm

    Cynthia…thanks for your thoughts on the common hazard to street use by vulnerable road users, represented by trucks and motor vehicles. Businesses employing professional truck drivers could perhaps step up the training for driving near vulnerable road users.

    Developing new training programs or heightening safeguards represented by existing programs might go some distance to enhancing the safety of the street for people that walk and bike.

    You’re concerned about commercial trucks on the street, and the training given the people driving them to be aware of and drive for the safety vulnerable road users.

    I am as well, but I have to be at least somewhat concerned about the very obvious lack of training of people using the road as vulnerable road users, for walking and biking in a traffic environment that includes motor vehicles.

    All the training in the world, given to people drivers for the purpose of having them safely avoid collisions with vulnerable road users, cannot be relied upon to make up for the mistakes of vulnerable road users such as:

    …not having required visibility gear such as front lights and or rear reflectors/lights for bikes

    …riding up alongside motor vehicles that are in a position to turn right whether or not the people driving, have signaled for turns

    …not exercising due care in riding straight through intersections where someone in a motor vehicle on the opposite side of the intersection is waiting, possibly to turn left.

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