Police investigating life-threatening injury crash involving bicycle rider in NW Industrial District – UPDATED

View looking east on NW Nicolai between 27th and 29th.

A man has suffered what Portland Police are referring to as, “serious life-threatening injuries” after he was involved in a collision with a truck in an industrial area of Northwest Portland.

According to a PPB statement, the collision happened this morning just after 8:00 on NW Nicolai between 27th and 29th. Here’s more from the PPB:

“Based on preliminary information, investigators believe the bicyclist exited a parking lot, traveled into the eastbound travel lane of Northwest Nicolas Street and crashed into a passing truck.”

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The PPB’s Major Crash Team is conducting an investigation and, for reasons unknown at this time, criminalists with the Forensic Evidence Division are also helping with the investigation.

This section of NW Nicolai is on the southern border of the industrial district and is major freight corridor as the only east-west connection between Highway 30 and NW Front/Naito. West of this location Nicolai turns into St. Helens Road. As you can see in the image, there is no shoulder and no bike lane here. The driveway mentioned in the police statement would have emptied out directly into the vehicle lane. 30 mph is the posted speed limit.

Back in 2009 we reported on an opportunity to stripe bike lanes and possibly convert old, paved-over rail lines on Nicolai into protected bikeways. That plan never went anywhere and this key access road continues to lack basic access for bicycle users.

Anyone with information about this crash should contact the Portland Police Bureau Traffic Division at 503-823-2103.

UPDATE, 5/17: The police now say the bicycle rider, a 50-year-old, has died of injuries sustained in this crash. His name has not been released pending notification of kin. He is the first person to die while bicycling on a Portland street in 2018 and the 16th transportation fatality overall.

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

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Middle of the Road Guy
Middle of the Road Guy
4 years ago

Wishing the best for the cyclist but how could one not see a truck coming?

Toadslick
4 years ago

There’s a reason that the phrase “vulnerable road users” includes the word “vulnerable.” Everybody makes mistakes. Everybody. But it’s almost only for people that walk or bike that a single careless error, or a moment of inattention, results in a life-altering injury or death.

A city truly committed to Vision Zero would have city-wide speed limits that reflect the understanding that people will inevitably make mistakes, and that those mistakes should not be a death sentence.

Hello, Kitty
Hello, Kitty
4 years ago
Reply to  Toadslick

This is also true for cars on freeways, and, probably more so, on two-lane divided highways. In the urban context, VRUs are most at danger.

Middle of the Road Guy
Middle of the Road Guy
4 years ago
Reply to  Toadslick

If I am vulnerable, I try to pay more attention to my surroundings as to reduce my own personal risk. Yes, people “make mistakes”, but I think it is damn near impossible to engineer out poor choices.

Hello, Kitty
Hello, Kitty
4 years ago

Well, by taking a step as simple as lowering the speed limit/travel speed, you provide people more opportunity to react to bad decisions, and reduce their severity when they lead to bad results.

So I think engineering can help considerably.

Patrick
Patrick
4 years ago
Reply to  Hello, Kitty

At what point do we not allow natural selection to do its thing…?

Hello, Kitty
Hello, Kitty
4 years ago
Reply to  Patrick

Hopefully never.

Dan A
Dan A
4 years ago
Reply to  Patrick

How is being hit by a huge steel cage ‘natural’?

JeffS
JeffS
4 years ago
Reply to  Toadslick

Sure. If the roads were not first and foremost a transportation system, we could have 3mph speed limits.

Dan A
Dan A
4 years ago
Reply to  JeffS

That was helpful, thanks!

Hello, Kitty
Hello, Kitty
4 years ago
Reply to  JeffS

Luckily we can increase safety dramatically without dropping our speeds to 3 mph. 20 or 25 works well in most urban contexts.

Spiffy
4 years ago
Reply to  JeffS

why can’t we have a 3 mph transportation system? many people already do… are you afraid it’d take twice as long to get places? 10x as long? that we’d be 100x as safe? I don’t see these as being negatives…

Hello, Kitty
Hello, Kitty
4 years ago
Reply to  Spiffy

Three is far too fast. Safety first!

Hello, Kitty
Hello, Kitty
4 years ago

Given the number of driveways, and the general level of comings and goings, does anyone know why the speed limit here is 30MPH?

B. Carfree
B. Carfree
4 years ago

Which is more likely: a person on a bike overlooks a large truck and rides right into it or a person driving a truck overlooks a person on a bike?

I know if the only person one asks is the driver of the truck he’s going to insist that the bike came from out of nowhere and slammed into his rig, but I have my doubts.

Middle of the Road Guy
Middle of the Road Guy
4 years ago
Reply to  B. Carfree

The person turning into traffic should yield to oncoming traffic, which has the right of way.

Cpt. Obvus
Cpt. Obvus
4 years ago

Of course — but that means you’ve already concluded that the driver’s version is both complete and accurate, and that the rider wouldn’t have anything of consequence to add or dispute. Pre + judge = prejudice. Remind us how it is that you are “middle of the road,” please.

Middle of the Road Guy
Middle of the Road Guy
4 years ago
Reply to  Cpt. Obvus

Nah, that’s a truism regardless and was a general statement. However, you assuming I have a bias shows that you have a bias because I did not immediately take the side of the cyclist.

Cpt. Obvus
Cpt. Obvus
4 years ago

So you’re saying you sought only to neutrally add a “truism” and “general statement” with no view toward building bias against the rider, who so far is the one reported to have been turning onto the road but cannot speak for himself? What value, then, does adding such a statement create?

Spiffy
4 years ago

you missed the point… you’re still assuming the rider turned out of the driveway into oncoming traffic… nothing in the reports to indicate that happened other than hearsay…

Hello, Kitty
Hello, Kitty
4 years ago
Reply to  Spiffy

How do you know that was based solely on “hearsay”?

cae
cae
4 years ago

I ride through there regularly. On weekends it’s a ghost town (very sparse auto traffic) so it’s a great place to ride, but on busy weekdays – trucks and vans are hauling ass through there…I avoid it.

X
X
4 years ago

That bit of road always creeped me out way worse than any freeway shoulder. I’ve ridden the sidewalk there before. Hoping the best for that bike rider…

Shoupian
Shoupian
4 years ago

Even the sidewalks are sub-standard. The light poles definitely make the sidewalks non-ADA accessible. I hope the injured cyclist and their family sue the City of Portland. It seems like that’s the only way to get public agencies to take the safety of vulnerable road users seriously.

CaptainKarma
4 years ago
Reply to  Shoupian

Try Gresham sometime.

Dan A
Dan A
4 years ago
Reply to  Shoupian

This freaky looking sidewalk is only 4 years old, and is supposedly 5 feet wide:

https://goo.gl/maps/ei9sM2E7gYG2

As is the bike lane. Supposedly.

Spiffy
4 years ago
Reply to  Shoupian

most of the sidewalks I see are 100 years old, long predating our ADA laws… yes, they need to update these, but they’ve spent the last 100 years making them more narrow so it’s going to take a long time to get them widened again, and the roadway narrowed…

Mike Sanders
Mike Sanders
4 years ago

Not only does ODOT control the speed limit on that road (it’s US-30, of course), they control the infrastructure there. Reclaiming a nearby rail line for a ped/bike path in that area would make sense., but it’s not likely to happen for awhile. Trump’s attitude about roads like this is that truck routes are Homeland Security corridors thru which freight traffic must be kept moving. Therefore, ped/bike traffic must be discouraged thru areas like this.

Joe Adamski
Joe Adamski
4 years ago
Reply to  Mike Sanders

except, despite widespread belief, this is NOT part of US 30. US 30 comes off the Fremont Bridge (I405/US30) and follows Yeon to Kittridge where it continues as St Helens Hwy.
Nicolai does connect with Yeon at NW23rd, but this crash was at 27th and Nicolai, not even close to Yeon.

bikeninja
bikeninja
4 years ago

This always makes me very sad. Part of the problem is that developers and the city seem to like the idea of bit by bit converting industrial areas in to hip locations for brew pubs, craft galleries and restaurants when the infrastructure was designed to accommodate trains, forklifts and large square footage warehouses with few employees per square foot. Industrial zones have always been noisy, smelly and somewhat dangerous places that in the old days ( especially before waze) were mostly untraveled by the ordinary public. The danger is in trying to have it both ways. If you want to make it legal to put non-industrial stuff in an industrial area then the infrastructure needs to be upgraded to make it safe for all types of travel by the public. There is also no reason that travel speeds for trucks and cars in an industrial district can not be very low at any time.

X
X
4 years ago
Reply to  bikeninja

That street has had heavy commuter traffic for years. At other times it’s about three vehicles per light cycle, with a fair number of trucks. The speed limit is often observed in the breach.

Tom
Tom
4 years ago

Did the truck have sideguards?

Jason H
Jason H
4 years ago
Reply to  Tom

Sadly, almost certainly not. Most truck traffic over there is smaller box trucks, not tractor-trailers that have them slightly more often. They do exist though, as this article about UW in Seattle adding them to all trucks in their fleet https://goo.gl/BGogBY

I thought too that even if I give PPB a pass for that biased statement and the cyclist actually did mistake it was clear and hit the side between the front and rear axle as the truck passed the driveway, a side guard would make a huge difference in keeping them out from under the rear wheels. There’s not a lot of clear information on what actually happened but I agree that for vulnerable transportation users, it’s far too easy to pay a severe price for a moments inattention.

Meghan H
Meghan H
4 years ago

The driveway shown on the right belongs to Kaiser Permanente (an IT office, mainly). I considered riding my bike to a meeting there once until I looked at Google Street View. Chose to drive instead, and was glad I had. Car traffic there is fast, and not expecting anyone on bike or on foot. That Kaiser driveway is steeper than it looks in that photo, so I could imagine a sad scenario where brakes fail or the person on a bike didn’t grab them quite right and couldn’t stop.

But, as we say, mostly speculation. Hope the person is okay after medical treatment…

Lester Burnham
Lester Burnham
4 years ago
Reply to  Meghan H

That’s why good bike maintenance is critical. And don’t cheap out on tires and brakes.

J_R
J_R
4 years ago

Based on past practices, such as the May 2015 collision in which Mark Angeles was killed, the PPB and DA will “pull out all the stops” to “prove” that the bicyclist was at fault.

encephalopath
encephalopath
4 years ago
Reply to  J_R

Exactly this.

All the careful analysis and hair splitting in the investigation went toward finding fault with the actions of the bike rider and had nothing at all to say about the responsibilities of the truck driver.

Funny how that works.

Hello, Kitty
Hello, Kitty
4 years ago
Reply to  J_R

To be fair, it’s a pretty short statement that was quoted. There is a lot of omitted information about both the cyclist and the truck driver. All we really know is that there was a crash involving a cyclist and a truck driver (is that clearer?), which occurred slightly after the cyclist entered the roadway.

Hello, Kitty
Hello, Kitty
4 years ago
Reply to  Hello, Kitty

Other than replacing “crashed into” with “collided with”, it sounds ok to me if it follows what the investigation so far has showed. If it turns out that it was something completely different, then I might agree with you.

B. Carfree
B. Carfree
4 years ago
Reply to  Hello, Kitty

A lot depends on the source of the PPB’s “belief” that the collision occurred just after the cyclist entered the roadway. Was that from an independent witness or from someone in the truck that ran him over? If the latter, it should state it so that reasonable people are aware of the bias built in. (It may be truthful, but the driver of the truck is not an unbiased observer.) If it’s from an independent source, that should also be noted. As it stands, the statement is poisoned by this omission and is wide open to being interpreted as just more of PPB’s historical windshield entitlement complex bias.

I don’t know about the rest of you, but my elementary school teachers taught me to always consider the source of my information and whether or not that source may have an agenda. My niece currently teaches elementary school and she makes a point of teaching this to her students as well. Should we send PPB back to elementary school, or can they raise their game on their own?

Hello, Kitty
Hello, Kitty
4 years ago
Reply to  Hello, Kitty

If the crash occurred immediately adjacent to the driveway from which the cyclist exited, that would suggest the police account is accurate. If it happened 100 yards away, perhaps not. While I don’t believe the police will investigate this situation with the thoroughness of, say, a murder scene (traffic crashes are probably fairly routine work for them, and no, this was not murder), I also don’t think they are totally stupid.

I also suspect it is rare for people to remove and hide equipment from a bike in this situation, so I would be surprised if the police are scouring the surrounding area for parts that may be have been secreted away and discarded.

Again, it was a two line statement, and it is hard to know what was or was not considered when making the statement.

If you are really concerned, get a copy of the report when it’s issued, and go check out the scene for yourself. See if the facts in the report line up with the explanation of what happened. Then report back.

Pointing out specific flaws and inconsistencies in the report, and reporting those to the police and DA (and media) will have a much greater potential impact than assuming the worst and theorizing about what might be a problem based solely on a brief preliminary statement, and grumbling about it here.

Spiffy
4 years ago
Reply to  Hello, Kitty

“All we really know is that there was a crash involving a cyclist and a truck driver (is that clearer?), which occurred slightly after the cyclist entered the roadway.”

what? we don’t know that at all… what we know is that a truck and bicycle collided and the operator of the bicycle is dead…

Hello, Kitty
Hello, Kitty
4 years ago
Reply to  Spiffy

How do we even know that?

Dan A
Dan A
4 years ago
Reply to  J_R

“Portland bicyclist dies after crashing into garbage truck”

Paul Atkinson
Paul Atkinson
4 years ago

PPB statements like these reinforce my decision to ride with video recording (front and rear). I know not everyone has the ready cash for a setup like that, but if you do then it’s justifiable as an insurance policy against prejudgment in cases like this. I bought mine after witnessing a crash several years ago then getting calls from the driver’s (or his insurance company’s) attorneys trying to trap me into rewriting my memory. I got a GoPro at the time, and now ride with a Fly12/Fly6 combo. I still think of that rider from time to time; I didn’t get her name, but I never want to see another leg look like that, ever, and I sincerely hope that modern medicine was enough to repair it.

When only the driver can speak, only the driver’s story is told. Video evidence goes a long way.

So sorry to hear of yet another person getting hurt on the roads. I hope his injuries heal quickly and thoroughly.

Kyle Banerjee
4 years ago
Reply to  Paul Atkinson

I think cameras help keep everyone honest. Despite owning a Session 5 which would be good for this purpose on loop mode, I don’t run it unless I’m doing something fun like riding in the snow https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DAHC48ZFAsI because I don’t feel like dealing with it, incidents are rare, and a single camera often wouldn’t have caught the action anyway.

Note that if people have location services enabled on their phones, that info also tells a story including behavioral patterns and other things a camera wouldn’t be able to pick up.

Dan A
Dan A
4 years ago
Reply to  Paul Atkinson

“if it’s missing, it’s 100% suspect”

I wouldn’t count on this mattering at all. We frequently read about bikes inspected post-crash that are found to have no lights on them. Hypothetically, if the driver were to remove the lights and chuck them into the woods, it’s not like the police are going to suspect anything fishy happened.

Kyle Banerjee
4 years ago
Reply to  Dan A

Agreed.

The sort of impact that can destroy a large steel object has very unpredictable effects on cyclists and their bikes. Your saddlebag, ID in your sock, etc can wind up separated from you in places where emergency personnel won’t see it. Likewise, it takes nothing to knock off lights.

I don’t doubt that some drivers tamper with crash scenes but suspect it is uncommon as it requires presence of mind, malintent, an opportunity to do so with no witnesses, and sufficient skill to do so without an investigation later figuring it out.

This thread has got me thinking of riding with a camera again. But I also sometimes think about driving with one. I believe it would be a good thing if everyone ran telemetry.

Aside from making it easier to tell what happened, it encourages people to do what they should in first place. I used to use my gopro for post mortem analysis of ski and kayaking accidents. One pattern I noticed is that what seems to be the cause of the crash in the moment rarely is. Rather, it’s usually a mistake a few seconds earlier that led to a situation that’s difficult or impossible to escape. I have personally witnessed a surprising number of bike crashes and have noticed that same pattern holds.

Spiffy
4 years ago
Reply to  Kyle Banerjee

I ride with a camera, I drive with a camera, I bus with a camera, and sometimes I walk with a camera… there is no shortage of bad drivers no matter what your mode of transport…

Dan A
Dan A
4 years ago
Reply to  Dan A

Do the police take family statements into consideration when determining fault in a crash? If your wife says “John always rides with a front light” and the police find no front light on your bike after a crash, do you think they will believe that something nefarious happened to your light (even if it did)?

https://bikeportland.org/2017/08/21/bicycle-rider-dies-after-collision-with-garbage-truck-driver-in-central-eastside-239577#comment-6822450

Dan A
Dan A
4 years ago
Reply to  Dan A

Okay, you, specifically, will be covered.

The rest of us could have our lights removed post-crash and the police are not going to investigate their mysterious absence from our bikes. I don’t believe for one second that my wife would be able to tell the DA that I always ride with lights and that it would matter to the ‘investigation’.

Joe Fortino
Joe Fortino
4 years ago

narrow street 🙁 wishing the best for the rider.

Rich A
Rich A
4 years ago

I was one of the people who showed up 30 sec after this incident. A bike lane wouldn’t have helped. He had exited a steep parking lot in to traffic. It looked as if he was riding a fixie and didn’t have breaks. I pray he pulls through.

Spiffy
4 years ago
Reply to  Rich A

hooray, a witness!

you say you showed up 30 seconds after, but you know what happened 30 seconds before you got there…

please explain to us what you saw in your own words…

Hello, Kitty
Hello, Kitty
4 years ago

“Based on preliminary information, investigators believe the bicyclist exited a parking lot, traveled into the eastbound travel lane of Northwest Nicolas Street and crashed into a passing truck.”

The factual statements include a cyclist entered the roadway from a parking lot; they entered the eastbound travel lane; they collided with a truck that was “passing” (which I take to mean traveling on the road, not executing a passing maneuver). I believe all of these facts would have been readily evident in the preliminary investigation.

Would you prefer a truck-focused statement? “Investigators believe the truck driver was traveling in the eastbound lane of Nicolas Street when he was struck by a bicycle entering the lane from a parking lot”?

Hello, Kitty
Hello, Kitty
4 years ago
Reply to  Hello, Kitty

Nesting fail.

Hello, Kitty
Hello, Kitty
4 years ago

I totally agree about the assignment of agency, as I noted above. The rest is a statement of fact, as the police understand it. Perhaps their understanding is wrong, but that is a different issue than stating what they know from their preliminary investigation.

I think many of us wish police investigations were conducted with a more scientific mindset: forming and testing hypotheses against the available data, reconsidering when new data becomes available, etc. But even scientists grow attached to their theories and are caught off guard when some assumption they were certain about proves wrong.

Given where the crash occurred, it may be simple to confirm if the cyclist was indeed coming from an adjacent driveway as reported.

SD
SD
4 years ago
Reply to  Hello, Kitty

Police reports are not the place for officers to publish their hypotheses. Likewise, good scientists don’t publish their hypotheses in the results section of their papers, or if they do feel compelled to provide speculation or interpretation, they include language that makes it clear that their proposition is a hypothesis.

This report makes it sound as if the bike rider crashed into the truck causing the collision, which leads us to presume that they know something that they are not stating that proves this is the case. Anyone who has followed events like this, knows that the initial report is often misleading.

Hello, Kitty
Hello, Kitty
4 years ago
Reply to  SD

I certainly hope the police know more about what happened than fit into a two line statement.

Tom
Tom
4 years ago
Reply to  Hello, Kitty

Factual based on what? Because the truck driver said it? Or from an unbiased witness or camera footage?

Spiffy
4 years ago
Reply to  Hello, Kitty

how are these “factual statements”? police have not stated anything that sounds like a fact… facts can be proved… the police have proven nothing yet…

Hello, Kitty
Hello, Kitty
4 years ago
Reply to  Spiffy

Factual as opposed to opinion. The police presented the facts as they understand them. It does not mean that new evidence cannot change that understanding.

9watts
9watts
4 years ago
Reply to  Hello, Kitty

“the bicyclist exited a parking lot, traveled into the eastbound travel lane of Northwest Nicolas Street and crashed into a passing truck.”

Cyclist crashed into truck vs truck crashed into cyclist? There is much more than factual observation wrapped up in their choice of phrase.

Hello, Kitty
Hello, Kitty
4 years ago
Reply to  9watts

Yes, yes. I’ve acknowledged (twice, and agree with) criticisms of the assignment of agency in this statement, though I believe it follows what the police think happened.

Do you similarly criticize other statements such as “it appears he shot his wife” that the police routinely make early in their investigations?

9watts
9watts
4 years ago
Reply to  Hello, Kitty

Is that a reasonable parallel?
Comparisons are or could be useful, but I think we need to look closely at the similarities and differences.

Hello, Kitty
Hello, Kitty
4 years ago
Reply to  9watts

It is if you believe the police should not make preliminary statements that might indicate fault or blame. I won’t quibble about the example; choose another if you like.

Hello, Kitty
Hello, Kitty
4 years ago
Reply to  9watts

You completely missed the point.

Dan A
Dan A
4 years ago
Reply to  Hello, Kitty

I think you mean, “Woman hit by bullet. Police say the gun operator is cooperating with the investigation, and there is no alcohol or drug usage suspected. Investigators say the lighting conditions were dim and the woman was wearing dark clothing at the time of the accident. Police noted the woman was not wearing a bullet proof vest.”

Hello, Kitty
Hello, Kitty
4 years ago
Reply to  Dan A

Actually, you completely missed the point. I completely missed the target comment.

Tom
Tom
4 years ago

Right hooks are often initially reported as the bicyclist mysteriously hitting the side of the motor vehicle for no apparent reason. The giveaway here is that the truck driver said he was passing. Passing is what happens just prior to a right hook.

Hello, Kitty
Hello, Kitty
4 years ago
Reply to  Tom

Passing also occurs when someone drives past. I didn’t read this statement as the police being at a loss as to what could possibly account for this incongruous list of facts.

Joe Fortino
Joe Fortino
4 years ago

most ppl that ride fixed understand how things go, so we can blame the rider unless we hear the full story. * lotta aggressive driving habits these days and it needs to stop *

Fred
Fred
4 years ago

Whenever I see a statement like the one released by PPB, I think to myself, “Yes, but what was the cyclist’s perspective?” And if the cyclist can’t speak for himself or herself, I tend to discount the statement. But unfortunately, it’s par for the course: “A bicycle crashed into a motor vehicle, and the cyclist is dead or horribly injured.” Who speaks for the cyclist? Often it’s no one.

Joe Fortino
Joe Fortino
4 years ago

true Fred I woke up on the side of street after being run off the road at night by a car.

Lori
Lori
4 years ago

Any news on how the cyclist is doing?

Lori
Lori
4 years ago

Damn.