Bike rider injured in collision with Yellow Line MAX train

A man was seriously injured in a collision with a MAX train on Friday. It happened around 2:00 pm at the intersection of North Interstate Avenue and N Willamette Boulevard.

When I rolled up on the scene, a man was being tended to by first responders on the sidewalk of N Interstate in front of Ivy School while several TriMet workers were trying to dislodge a bicycle from underneath the front of a northbound Yellow Line MAX train. The train was stopped several yards into the T-intersection with N Willamette, right before the southern crosswalk that leads to the Killingsworth MAX station.

The man was conscious but seemed dazed and he was holding his right sight arm and shoulder very gingerly. I could see many scrapes and abrasions on his right side.

I’ve since heard from two people who say they witnessed what happened.

(Graphic: BikePortland)

One person said the bike rider was in the northbound Interstate Ave left turn lane prior to the collision (this is a very common movement here because Willamette is a popular neighborhood greenway and many people access it by turning left off of Interstate). A southbound train was coming toward the northbound rider and when it went past him, the rider apparently began to turn. “He did not see the train coming the other way,” the witness said. “The train was hitting the horn and slowing down.” By the time the bike rider realized what was about to happen, he tried to stop but it was too late.

The other witness said he was walking his dog and heard the MAX come to a screeching halt.  After seeing the aftermath, the dog walker approached the bicycle rider and “He told me he was hit from behind and didn’t know what really happened.” It’s unclear if the bike rider recalls being hit by a separate car driver from behind or if he was speaking about the MAX train hitting him.  Given the fog of trauma around crashes like this, it’s hard to know exactly what happened.

What is clear is that the bicycle rider is very lucky he was not more seriously hurt! And thank goodness this is a slow-speed area for the MAX, given the urban context of this section of the line and that it was approaching a station.

Also a good reminder to take extra care when you are around double tracks. You have to clear both tracks in both directions before you are safe to cross.

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)

Founder of BikePortland (in 2005). Father of three. North Portlander. Basketball lover. Car owner and driver. If you have questions or feedback about this site or my work, feel free to contact me at @jonathan_maus on Twitter, via email at maus.jonathan@gmail.com, or phone/text at 503-706-8804. Also, if you read and appreciate this site, please become a supporter.

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Trike Guy
Trike Guy
1 year ago

Hm – NM, I misunderstood which train got him – nuke it for me?

PS
PS
1 year ago

For anyone who read the article and has ridden by trains, but maybe not exactly this stretch of road, yes, the intersection in question has both a turn arrow indicator and a “train approaching” sign. So, either our E-biker here is about to get rich and Trimet is down a driver, or he ran the red turn arrow and “train approaching” sign, doesn’t seem like there are a lot of other options.

Chris I
Chris I
1 year ago
Reply to  PS

Extremely unlikely that the train ran the light. They pre-empt these signals. E-biker assumed the numerous flashing lights were only for the southbound train and figured he could jump the red before N/S traffic on interstate got the green seems like the most likely scenario here.

Atreus
Atreus
1 year ago
Reply to  Chris I

Yeah, I agree. The train always pre-empts the signal and makes sure the left arrow is red, so the bicyclist must have been turning against the light. Bad idea! Be careful out there, folks.

PS
PS
1 year ago
Reply to  Chris I

Agree 100%, just found it odd that there were basically two possible scenarios (unless the witnesses were lying) and one was far more plausible than the other, but the article concludes, “it’s just so hard to know what happened”.

Fred
Fred
1 year ago
Reply to  PS

JM can’t speculate, in his articles, in the same way we are free to speculate here, in the comments.

Adam
Adam
1 year ago

This line should be a subway, but TriMet does not know how to build transit the right way and Portlanders can’t have nice things.

Randi J
Randi J
1 year ago
Reply to  Adam

Not sure if a subway is viable in a city with the density of Portland. I do agree that Portlanders can’t have nice things….at least not in the new Portland. It’s frustrating to say the least.

Adam
Adam
1 year ago
Reply to  Randi J

Portland’s urban area population density is greater than DC’s (Metro), Chicago’s (L), and Seattle’s (light rail with subway segments). Density is not the limiting factor to have grade-separated mass transit in Portland. Funding, politics, and competence are.

blumdrew
1 year ago
Reply to  Adam

Portland is absolutely not denser than DC, Chicago or Seattle. The Portland MSA is closer to Phoenix than it is to Seattle. Here is some data (from 2010 unfortunately) on that – but also it’s difficult to compare density at the MSA level, and not very useful. MSAs have a ton of non residential land in them, not to mention water.

At the census tract level, Portland is just not dense at all. I’d say 20 or so out of the 100 or so census tracts in Portland have a residential density over 10k/sq mile (data from here). Seattle proper is almost entirely over 10k/sq mile. Likewise for Chicago and DC.

Density is a limiting factor on how viable transit is in general, and Portland is just not that dense. Could Portland support a financially viable subway alignment from NW to Downtown/S Watefront via the Pearl? I’d lean yes – but our city leaders went for a streetcar instead. Could Portland support a subway down Interstate? Less likely, especially if you consider what Interstate was like at the time of the Yellow Line construction.

There are plenty of bad light rail projects (like the Orange line) that have been built in Portland. But the Yellow line was both popular, well used (relative to the bus it replaced), and relatively affordable.

Ross
Ross
1 year ago
Reply to  Adam

It’s not a matter of knowing how, it’s a matter of having the funds. Obviously.

Myth Dispulsion
Myth Dispulsion
1 year ago
Reply to  Ross

And other justifications like enough density and corridor travel demand for it, or for a trench with or without cover (and the bike path and mid-rise housing many now want in such instances), or an aerial passage instead.

PATRICK
PATRICK
1 year ago
Reply to  Adam

A subway would be orders of magnitude more expensive. Utilities underground would all need to be rerouted: water, gas, sewer, electricity, fiber optic. Not to mention the physical work of trenching and burying a tunnel (or boring–even more expensive). Roads would be closed along the route for years. Neighborhood organizations would petition over vibrations and noise of the dig.

Yamama
Yamama
1 year ago
Reply to  Adam

Or cyclist shouldn’t just jump lanes expecting everyone to yield to the superiority complex.

Matt
Matt
1 year ago

I know this is just one data point, but I swear if the data could be properly gathered, we would find that ebikers are more prone to dangerous maneuvers than regular bikers. I see them taking senseless risks all the time.

dw
dw
1 year ago
Reply to  Matt

I think a big part of the reason why ebike riders seem to be more risky than usual is because a lot of them are new riders. Education campaigns and workshops to help new riders learn how to ride safely and predictably would go a long way to changing that behavior.

Fred
Fred
1 year ago
Reply to  Matt

I ride an e-bike as well as regular bikes and I wouldn’t say I take any more risks on the e-bike. But the difference in speed really is something to account for, and adds challenges not just for the cyclist but also for the many drivers who need to interact with e-bikes. I think the highway code and driving instruction will need to be updated to account for the big difference between regular bikes and e-bikes.

steve scarich
steve scarich
1 year ago
Reply to  Fred

Yes….I see many e-bikes in Bend going 10, 15 mph faster than me and I have 60 years riding experience, 20 at a nationally competitive level. I doubt they are quite the bike handler that I am, and I am still really nervous on urban roads.

pierre delecto
pierre delecto
1 year ago
Reply to  steve scarich

I have many decades of daily riding in an urban environment (including much larger cities than Portland) and I rarely see anyone on an e-bike ride faster than me. In fact, most of those who are riding faster tend to be riding a fancy road bike and wearing clothing/helmets associated with sport-riding (not criticizing this at all). And when I do see someone riding faster than me on an e-bike, it’s typically someone on an e-bike that looks more like a moped/motorcycle with a throttle.

steve scarich
steve scarich
1 year ago
Reply to  pierre delecto

I’m no e-bike expert, but they zoom by me all the time when I am going 20 mph on flat ground. I chatted with one guy who worked at a bike shop, and he said that he tweaked his battery to the point that he could go 40 mph+ on flat ground. The only issue he had was that cops would bother him a bit (although he never got a ticket). I think essentially what they told him that no matter how fast he could go, he was not legally allowed to ride in the car lane all the time, and that it was a really bad idea for him to go 45 mph in a bike lane…then, they let him go on his merry way.

Myth Dispulsion
Myth Dispulsion
1 year ago
Reply to  Fred

That can mean a revision of different E-bike classes or categories, and what’s allowed and what’s not on bike facilities and multi-use facilities.

Mary
Mary
1 year ago

This ebike model is sick. I had the same one (but it got stolen). Glad the cyclist is OK.

Todd/Boulanger
1 year ago
Reply to  Mary

The eBike looks pretty robust too…the bike looks pretty straight after coming into contact with the train’s undercarriage. (Though I know not if the bike battery / electronics survived as well too.)

David Hampsten
David Hampsten
1 year ago
Reply to  Mary

A Specialized with hydraulic disc brakes. The battery and controller look OK in the photos, not sure about the motor or cranks.

Trike Guy
Trike Guy
1 year ago

You know, that sub-thread about “E-Bike riders take more risks” is part of a huge issue we all (drivers, cyclists alike) have – ascribing to a specific subset of people behaviors that are simply human.

impatient people make dangerous decisions every day in every manner of vehicle.

That road cyclist who rides dangerously on a MUP is very likely the car driver who drives dangerously in a residential area.

I’ve seen plenty of people on tradtitional bikes ride dangerously – especially with a gravity assist. I’ve seen plenty of people on E-Bikes mosey along at speeds I can easily achieve.

And for every really bad driver that we glom onto as an example of how all drivers are a threat to our safety, there are the dozens who pass safely, who don’t get impatient when I have to take the lane and otherwise make life fairly easy on the road.

Let’s not let confirmation bias cause us to take a single instance and try to use it to demonize a segment of the population that is simply trying to get from point A to point B without 2 tons of metal around them.

Dave Fronk
Dave Fronk
1 year ago

Specialized Vado, top speed 28mph.

Do the math.