25-year-old rider dies after being hit by a driver in Fairview

NE Halsey looking eastbound as it approaches Fairview.

Early this past Saturday morning at 2:02 am, 25-year-old Timothy James Zehner was hit and killed by a car user while riding his bike in Fairview, about three miles east of the Portland border.

Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office says it happened near the intersection of NE Halsey and Fairview Avenue. Here’s more from their official statement:

A witness reported that the driver had initially stopped, then quickly left the scene. A responding deputy spotted a vehicle that matched the description of the involved car and initiated a traffic stop. The driver was pulled over and was arrested. The driver is identified as 56-year old Robert Lee Wilson.  He was later lodged at the Multnomah County Detention Center. 

Wilson’s car. (Photo: Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office)

Paramedics arrived and pronounced the bicyclist dead on scene. Due to the severity and criminal nature of the crash, the East County Vehicular Crimes Team (VCT) was called to perform the investigation. 

Preliminary investigation shows that two bicyclists were riding eastbound on NE Halsey Street, approaching NE Fairview Parkway, when Wilson’s vehicle crossed into the bike lane and stuck one of the bicyclists.

In a follow-up email the Sheriff’s office yesterday, they confirmed with me that Wilson remains in custody and has been charged with aggravated assault, DUII, hit and run, and reckless driving.

NE Halsey is a major east-west arterial in this area. The bike lane in this location is unprotected and relatively narrow. It also merges across the adjacent traffic lanes before the intersection so that bike riders can be on the left of drivers prior to them making a right turn. It’s unclear what might have led up to this collision.

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David Hampsten
7 days ago

Question: What is the posted speed limit on this section of stroad? Are painted bike lanes appropriate for this posted speed limit?

idlebytes
idlebytes
6 days ago
Reply to  David Hampsten

35 but in some sections it’s 40. If people aren’t drunk and following the speed limit maybe it’s passable but it’s not great. I used to ride it all the time back in the day for my swingshift loading trucks, so I’d ride home around midnight each night. Nighttime riding is better in the sense that there’s less cars but I remember just riding in the gutter or hitting the sidewalk if I could when a car would approach me. Too many drunks this was before smartphones so at least I didn’t have to deal with that too.

https://www.google.com/maps/place/NE+Halsey+St+%26+NE+Fairview+Ave,+Fairview,+OR+97024/@45.5350054,-122.4341271,3a,75y,249.39h,72.93t/data=!3m6!1e1!3m4!1s10EURpsNdyVzggv6Wkuh_g!2e0!7i16384!8i8192!4m5!3m4!1s0x5495a2963871e9bb:0xff10f3e0a5b0ffb4!8m2!3d45.5350667!4d-122.433627

Chris I
Chris I
6 days ago
Reply to  David Hampsten

Posted speed limit doesn’t matter in east Portland. I routinely get passed by people doing 2x the posted limit on Halsey. It’s very possible that this driver was going 50+ mph.

Nick
Nick
7 days ago

Thank you for not using passive voice!

Jay Cee
Jay Cee
7 days ago

Big surprise no license plate

Todd/Boulanger
6 days ago
Reply to  Jay Cee

The may be a temporary paper license in the rear window on left.

Jay Cee
Jay Cee
6 days ago
Reply to  Todd/Boulanger

Cool I’m sure it’s totally current

Boyd
Boyd
6 days ago
Reply to  Jay Cee

While use of forged paper trip permits in lieu of actual registration is probably rampant, it’s not safe to assume that all paper license plates are forgeries. The Oregon DMV has a huge backlog in fulfilling deliveries of license plates. Anecdotally, I’ve heard that in recent months, it can take upwards of six months for people to obtain a plate after purchasing from a dealer. Some people have claimed they’ve been advised by the DMV to keep obtaining new trip permits until their metal plates arrive in the mail. In other cases, people have reported receiving their plates quickly after applying for registration, so there is some variance, maybe dependant on whether registration occurs at dealership?

Chris I
Chris I
6 days ago
Reply to  Boyd

Boyd,

Can you cite something showing a backlog at the DMV for plates?

I ask because we had our front plate stolen last week. I hopped on the DMV website the next day and ordered new plates in about 5 minutes. The new plates were on my doorstep in 3 business days.

I think the excuses for no plates/expired registration are mostly gone now. I have a feeling that most of these people don’t have plates because they don’t care enough to get them.

Middle of the Road Guy
Middle of the Road Guy
4 days ago
Reply to  Chris I

The state is going to milk COVID as an excuse for terrible bureaucracy for years to come.

Steve C
Steve C
3 days ago
Reply to  Chris I

There is a difference between simply getting a replacement plate vs having title and registration processed as part of a sale. And waits are purportedly even longer for out of state purchases/title transfers, which is more common now with increased popularity of online dealership sales.

In general I agree, the permit/license non-enforcement loophole is very frustrating. But you do have legitimate car buyers being mixed in with criminals flouting plate/registration regulations. There should be a better system to identify new car purchasers, maybe temp dealer plates or clearly legible paper permits designed to be affixed to the plate area not hidden behind sometimes heavily tinted back windows.

Also increase penalties for fake or expired temp permits, maybe impound the cars.

dwk
dwk
7 days ago

I think walking or biking after 10 pm in a city with basically zero traffic enforcement is really dangerous. Drunk driving is rampant which explains why no one hardly ever stays at the scene.
Very sad for the person and his family and friends.

ivan
ivan
7 days ago
Reply to  dwk

Note this happened in Fairview, not Portland, thus policed by MCSO and not PPB.

Saying “biking after 10 pm” is “really dangerous” seems very close to victim-blaming.

I join in your lament for the loss of life and the impact it will have on his family and friends.

dwk
dwk
7 days ago
Reply to  ivan

Victim blaming? It was just a warning, I think riding at night (or even driving is not as safe as it should be).
You get triggered pretty easy..

David Hampsten
7 days ago
Reply to  dwk

I can see the victim-blaming aspect. It’s just down the stroad from McMeniman’s Edgefield so there’s absolutely no surprise in our permissive drinking culture that drunk drivers would be using this stroad at 2 am – not that the driver necessarily just came from that establishment. The point of Vision Zero is to design roadway infrastructure so that an impaired driver cannot go over a certain speed and cause a needless death of another user, by adding bike lane barriers, turn-lane pedestrian islands, and so on, so that a speeding drunk driver will hit something concrete before they hit another person. The victim had every right to be there at 2 am, the driver did not, and the negligent roadway builders alas had a role to play in the murder of the cyclist.

Technical point: It’s Fairview Parkway, not Fairview Avenue.

Watts
Watts
7 days ago
Reply to  ivan

You can point out that something is dangerous without “victim blaming”.

Karstan
Karstan
6 days ago
Reply to  Watts

Of course you can. However, can you comment on an article about someone’s death saying that what they were doing was dangerous without it being victim blaming? I’d assert that it’s tactless either way.

joan
7 days ago

Condolences to Timothy’s family and friends, and especially to the person riding with Timothy. What a senseless tragedy.

Ryan
Ryan
7 days ago

There is a roundabout proposed for the intersection of Halsey and Fairview Parkway, with design underway – https://storymaps.arcgis.com/stories/d3631edf97b94437aac4049fc03ca097.

It would be far too much speculation to say whether this tragedy could have been avoided if the roundabout was in place. Nothing is really safe when you’re dealing with an impaired driver. It does underscore that paint is not enough to protect vulnerable roadway users. Condolences to the victim’s family and friends.

Todd/Boulanger
6 days ago

Hey Jonathan,I noticed that your article described the motor vehicle driver / operator as “a car user”: any reason for this? It makes it seem as if the driver was not fully responsible (vehicle was in autonomous function)…or is a new traffic safety lexicon similar to “gun user” that I am not aware of?

Early this past Saturday morning …Zehner was hit and killed by a car user while riding his bike…”

Caleb
Caleb
6 days ago
Reply to  Todd/Boulanger

How do you figure that “user” implies autonomous function? Humans make choices to use anything.

Todd/Boulanger
6 days ago

Jonathan, thanks for working through this lexicon task…perhaps its best to stick to motor vehicle / car driver…

…but more often than not “user” has a more passive role as a ‘consumer’ of something vs. operator (active doer) with a device…like typically a sentence…I see myself as a “transit user” (passenger as rider/ consumer) versus “transit operator” (driver / captain / engineer)…and plus users of something may not have any training or certification/ license like a motor vehicle driver (DMV) or operator (CDL) does…

Even big business struggles with the word ‘user’…and its passive nature:
“Yesterday, Square’s CEO Jack Dorsey published a blog post asking his staff and the entire tech industry to stop calling people “users.” He defined the word “user,” which means “a person who uses something,” and called it “a rather passive and abstract word.” – Forbes

Damien
Damien
5 days ago
Reply to  Todd/Boulanger

I like Jonathon’s goal of “equalizing” transportation in language, but I could get behind this tweak as well: “car operator”, “truck operator”, “bicycle operator”. Sounds wonky as hell, but also accurate, and still meets the original goal of not putting different connotations (intentional or not) to different transportation forms. And passengers can become “—- users”.

Though: “horse operator” or “horse user”? Questions, questions…

Todd/Boulanger
6 days ago

And my sympathies to the family and friends of Zehner.

bjorn
bjorn
6 days ago

More evidence that there is only one reason why people flee after hitting someone with their vehicle, they are drunk and they know the penalty is likely to be less if they sober up before being caught or turning themselves in. The penalty for hit and run needs to be higher than the penalty for injuring someone while driving drunk or we are just incentivizing leaving vulnerable road users to die in the street.

Steve
Steve
6 days ago
Reply to  bjorn

Perhaps it would help, but impaired people don’t make rational decisions.

Bryan Morris
Bryan Morris
6 days ago

This was first reported here in the forum sections 5 days ago:

Bicyclist killed, Portland lawlessness spreads to East County – General – BikePortland Forums

Why did it take so long to make it to the front page?