Bicycle rider hit and seriously injured on NE Cornell Rd at Orenco Station

Looking west across Orenco Station Parkway on NE Cornell. This is direction driver was headed.

Around 7:00 am on December 12th, a young Hillsboro man was involved in a traffic collision while riding his bike. The crash happened at or near the corner of NE Cornell Road and Orenco Station Parkway. According to a crowdfunding page set up by a friend, a twenty-something named Connor is the victim and he’s still in the hospital recovering from serious injuries.

Photos taken by KATU-TV at the scene show a white sedan (pulled over on NE 61st Ave, one block west of the intersection) with a significant damage to its upper driver-side windshield. The damaged bicycle Connor was riding was shown in a photo without its rear wheel and with a helmet and backpack strewn about the street about 100 feet west of the Cornell/Orenco intersection.

This is the second serious traffic crash at this same intersection in less than a month.

Around 8:00 pm on November 27th, a person died after being hit by a car user while walking across or near Orenco and NE Cornell. A cursory web search shows another person was hit by a driver and killed while walking on Cornell just a few blocks away in 2015.

Despite being a (relatively) dense commercial and residential area, this section of Cornell is known as a place where people drive dangerously. “People drive way to fast down Cornell in that stretch. I work right there and constantly hear what sounds like drag races up and down daily,” wrote one person in a social media comment. “People often forget to yield to the pedestrians in the crosswalk here,” wrote another.

The speed limit is 45 mph, the cross-section has 5-6 lanes for drivers and narrow, unprotected bike lanes. In the westbound direction there’s a straight, one-quarter mile stretch between NE Century and Orenco Station Parkway with no traffic signals.

The Gofundme page made for Connor says he’s lived in the Beaverton/Hillsboro area since 2007. According to his mom (via Gofundme) Connor was riding to work about two miles away when he was hit. “We have a long recovery ahead of us but Connor is strong!” she wrote. “He will be back on his bike before we know it!”

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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Ray
Ray
4 months ago

The posted speed limit is 45 mph?!?! That’s absolutely absurd! With the satellite view of the area and all of the development that’s happened in recent years, 30 seems like the highest the posted limit should be.
Yes, I know it won’t prevent speeders w/o enforcement, which I why it should be paired with a significant road diet and, of course, actually protected and separated bike lanes.
Hoping Connor recovers fully and quickly.

J1mb0
J1mb0
4 months ago
Reply to  Ray

Every single arterial west of Beaverton to Hillsboro are 45 MPH with 5-7 lanes of traffic. If you go 45, you’ll quickly get harassed by drivers wanting to go 60 mph. When I drive out here during rush hour, it is a really strange experience. You go 50+ MPH for 30 seconds, and then spend 5 minutes waiting through 2+ light cycles to get past the intersection. I cannot believe we spent so much money on such stupidity.

George
George
4 months ago

A bicycle rider also died recently on a rural road out west there. Was hit by a semi trying to pass. Not a good winter season for cyclists in the burbs.

Pkjb
Pkjb
4 months ago

The cops said the driver of the car was ‘cooperating.’ doubtless this means they will be charged with no crime even if they were engaged in reckless or distracted driving when they hit the cyclist. And so it goes.

Watts
Watts
4 months ago
Reply to  Pkjb

What if there’s no evidence they were driving recklessly or distracted?

Ray
Ray
4 months ago
Reply to  Watts

Then they’re just negligent.

PS
PS
4 months ago
Reply to  Ray

Based on what evidence?

Ray
Ray
4 months ago
Reply to  PS

Without knowing movement of the bike rider it’s hard to say, I guess. My initial comment was meant to mean that they neglected to see or yield to the biker, though we really don’t yet know if that is the case. Your point is taken.

witness
witness
3 months ago
Reply to  Ray

The bicyclist was in the crosswalk when it was not his turn. The vehicle that struck him was driving through a green light

Pkjb
Pkjb
4 months ago
Reply to  Watts

Sure, it’s possible that Connor just left the bike lane and swerved in front of a speeding car. Also possible that the driver had to drive into Connor to avoid a trolley full of people who would have surely died if the driver hadn’t taken evasive action.

But 9/10 times that I read about bicyclists being hit by people in cars, the car driver has no good excuse, or an implausible excuse at best, and the cops default to trusting the word of the driver and the district attorney brings no charges

Watts
Watts
4 months ago
Reply to  Pkjb

I’m quite prepared to believe the driver is at fault, and it would not take much to convince me they were being careless or inattentive (though to conclude that — or anything — without a scintilla of evidence seems premature).

That is very different than there being enough proof to charge the driver with a crime.

Pkjb
Pkjb
4 months ago
Reply to  Watts

Section 163.160 – Assault in the fourth degree
(1) A person commits the crime of assault in the fourth degree if the person:
(a) Intentionally, knowingly or recklessly causes physical injury to another;
(b) With criminal negligence causes physical injury to another by means of a deadly weapon; or
(c) With criminal negligence causes serious physical injury to another who is a vulnerable user of a public way, as defined in ORS 801.608, by means of a motor vehicle.

That’s a Class A misdemeanor, and under some circumstances, could be a felony. I’d argue it should always be a felony, but I don’t write the laws.

I’d say any time a driver “fails to yield the right of way” and causes bodily injury to another person, it should be a felony.

Watts
Watts
4 months ago
Reply to  Pkjb

Section 163.160 – Assault in the fourth degree

Which section of this law do you think the driver is guilty of, and what evidence could be used to substantiate that?

Pkjb
Pkjb
4 months ago
Reply to  Watts

Unless it can be proven that the cyclist left the bike lane or disobeyed a traffic control device, subsection 1.c is most likely applicable, though I’d argue that 1.a would also be applicable if not for the existence of 1.c. And even if the cyclist did mess up in some way, is there any evidence to indicate the driver applied their brakes before the collision? Has the driver’s phone been investigated to see if it was in use at the time of collision?

The information that has been released so far does not give enough detail to say exactly what happened. In most similar cases, these details are never made public. I am often left questioning if the investigators are even asking these questions.

Watts
Watts
4 months ago
Reply to  Pkjb

Criminal negligence is a well defined term (see below). If there is evidence that the driver was criminally negligent, I’d fully support charging them.

As far as what evidence exists, that should be the starting point of an inquiry, not the thing you look at after you’ve decided what a person is guilty of.

My objection here is that you’ve already concluded that what occurred was a criminal act, but have no real information about what actually happened.

It seems better to wait for the evidence and then draw your conclusions from that. And I certainly expect the cops to do that.

“Criminal negligence” or “criminally negligent,” … means that a person fails to be aware of a substantial and unjustifiable risk that the result will occur or that the circumstance exists. The risk must be of such nature and degree that the failure to be aware of it constitutes a gross deviation from the standard of care that a reasonable person would observe in the situation.

https://codes.findlaw.com/or/title-16-crimes-and-punishments/or-rev-st-sect-161-085/#:~:text=(10)%20%E2%80%9CCriminal%20negligence%E2%80%9D,or%20that%20the%20circumstance%20exists.

Pkjb
Pkjb
4 months ago
Reply to  Watts

I think your faith in the cops to thoroughly investigate is unfounded.

Watts
Watts
4 months ago
Reply to  Pkjb

I don’t have a whole lot of faith in that department, but what’s the alternative? You can’t arrest or prosecute people without evidence.

Pkjb
Pkjb
4 months ago
Reply to  Watts

Did I say the driver should be arrested or prosecuted without evidence?

What I meant to say, and I’m sorry if my meaning was in any way unclear or inarticulate, was that if the driver hit Connor when Connor was in the bike lane and obeying traffic laws, it’s likely that the worst punishment that the driver will face is a citation for “failure to yield.”

The justice system is so biased, so auto centric, and so willing to condone dangerous behavior if it takes place behind the wheel of a car, that it treats criminally negligent behavior as being indistinguishable from simple and honest mistakes.

Freakonomics did a podcast about how easy it is to get away with murder if you do it with a car, and they were neither the first nor the last media outlet to make that observation.

Watts
Watts
4 months ago
Reply to  Pkjb

“Did I say the driver should be arrested or prosecuted without evidence?”

Not exactly, but you did say what you thought the driver was guilty of without any basis (even referencing an intentional act). It’s a small step to want those you know to be guilty to be punished.

Look, I get it. Someone has been seriously hurt (someone who could easily be you or me), so someone should pay.

“it treats criminally negligent behavior as being indistinguishable from simple and honest mistakes.”

I’m glad we don’t live in a world where “simple and honest mistakes” are treated as a serious crime. Where there is criminal intent we should have criminal punishment. For the rest we have civil consequences (and I am absolutely sure there will be some form of compensation here). I am among those who want both stricter enforcement of traffic laws and reengineering of dangerous streets. We should be issuing tickets to everyone who’s driving dangerously, driving impaired, or driving distracted.

Despite claims I favor the status quo by people who fundamentally misunderstand my point of view, I am very much looking forward to the day when we get people out of the business of driving dangerous vehicles one way or the other.

Pkjb
Pkjb
4 months ago
Reply to  Watts

When did I say I thought the driver was guilty of anything? I defy you to find a direct quote from anything that I’ve written that says that.

I said that if the cyclist was traveling in the marked bike lane and obeying traffic laws (or any lane in which it is legal for cyclists to ride, for that matter), and if the person in the car hit them while engaging in an activity like texting or driving in an unsafe manner, they should be charged with a crime.

Criminal negligence does don’t require intent, just dangerous behavior and wanton disregard for human life.

So are you, like, totally cool with the young woman in Illinois who killed a cyclist while downloading ringtones on her cellphone back in 2006 getting six months probation? https://www.bikeforums.net/road-cycling/249364-19-year-old-driver-hits-kills-cyclist-while-downloading-ringtones.html

What about the guy that injured several cyclists in Texas who didn’t get charged with a crime because he was trying to roll coal, not intentionally hurt the cyclists? You’re totally cool with that outcome? https://www.reddit.com/r/cycling/comments/13u9bxn/what_happened_to_the_texas_teen_who_crashed_into/

Watts
Watts
3 months ago
Reply to  Pkjb

No, I am not “totally cool” with those situations (I personally think rolling coal should be punishable by death).

Criminal negligence is based on the concept that some things are so inherently dangerous that doing them rises to a criminal act. Drunk driving is in that category. Shooting a gun into the air is also in, as is driving 100 mph through a school zone. (These are all intentional acts, and are illegal even if no one is hurt.) Lots of illegal and dangerous driving (and non-driving) behavior does not rise to this level, including rolling a stop sign, driving at 10 over the limit, looking at your phone while driving, etc.

Bringing this back to our starting point, it sounds as if we agree the driver should not be criminally charged unless there is evidence of criminal-level culpability, and since no evidence has been released, calling for charges at this point is premature.

Regardless of criminal culpability, the driver will certainly be held civilly liable for the harm they committed. Civil liability is highly imperfect, but justice usually is.

PS The driver in the Texas case was charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, according to the news article.

X
X
3 months ago
Reply to  Watts

“…the driver will certainly be held civilly liable for the harm they committed…”. –Watts

How is that certain? It’s normal for people to not know their legal rights, blame themselves, be unfamiliar with the court system, or have no money to hire an attorney. Injured people may have lost their capacity to make decisions and commonly have no memory of a crash. Will this situation be improved by an uncritical police report that mainly says that the MV operator was cooperative and the bike rider was, or was not, wearing a helmet?

The huge gap in laws governing the responsibility of drivers is not defensible.

Watts
Watts
3 months ago
Reply to  X

How is that certain?

I can’t imagine the injured cyclist would not sue for damages. Even if they are unfamiliar with the court system, there are enterprising lawyers (ambulance chasers) who will find them, and these cases generally work on a contingency basis so the injured party doesn’t need money for lawyers up front.

But you are right, it is not certain. It is possible there is evidence the cyclist caused the crash, for example, or other circumstances exist that would make a lawsuit especially challenging.

The huge gap in laws governing the responsibility of drivers is not defensible.

I don’t necessarily disagree, but I’m curious where you feel the gap lies. All court cases (criminal, civil) should be based on evidence, and in cases like this there is often very little. Bad outcomes are not in themselves evidence of a crime.

Where do you see the biggest gaps, and how would you fix them?

Fred
Fred
4 months ago
Reply to  Watts

C’mon, Watts – if you have biked anywhere in your life, you can count dozens of times, usually in one ride, where you as the cyclist had the right of way but you couldn’t take it b/c you’d be hit by a car if you did. Turning left, turning right, merging, even going straight ahead – almost anything you do on your bike comes with grave danger of being hit, even when you’re in the right. So we all learn to ride defensively AF, and we know that the only truly safe time to maneuver is when no cars are around.

Watts
Watts
4 months ago
Reply to  Fred

I’m not going to argue with you about your experience, though mine is much less stark than the way you present it.

If I felt the way you did, I’d never ride anywhere, and I have ridden ALOT in this city.

Fred
Fred
4 months ago
Reply to  Watts

There are now three certainties in life:

Death, taxes, and Watts defending the status quo.

Matt
Matt
4 months ago

All the best in their recovery.

it seems bizarre that a “(relatively) dense commercial and residential area” would have a speed limit of 45 mph.

Ray
Ray
4 months ago
Reply to  Matt

I get nervous when I’m driving down N Lombard and see the 35 mph signs. Way too fast for a residential neighborhood. I don’t care if it’s a US highway.

Amit Zinman
4 months ago
Reply to  Matt

There should be some statewide legislation to determine speed limits.

Fred
Fred
4 months ago
Reply to  Amit Zinman

Not funny, in this context.

Watts
Watts
4 months ago
Reply to  Amit Zinman

There should be some statewide legislation to determine speed limits.

There is, and that’s why they’re so high.

David Hampsten
4 months ago

I remember when Orenco Station was built, it had state-of-the-art bicycling and walking facilities in a neo-traditional urban design, a veritable utopia of “complete streets” in a model Transit Oriented Development (TOD) near MAX. The area hasn’t gotten worse, if anything it’s well maintained, but our standards of what makes for a safe walking and bicycling environment has changed significantly, as the top streetview photo shows – now it looks a lot like 122nd or any other basic multi-lane stroad, no longer very safe looking.

Pkjb
Pkjb
4 months ago
Reply to  David Hampsten

Excellent point. The fact that orenco is one of the “best” examples of tod in the Portland metro speaks volumes about why the region has continued to grow more auto centric despite massive investments in transit and less massive, but still significant investments in bike infrastructure.

Fred
Fred
4 months ago
Reply to  Pkjb

That’s b/c local politicians’ commitment to non-auto modes has never been anything other than performative – sprinkle a little ped-and-cycling icing on that development cake and then let ’em drive, baby, drive.

Robert Wallis
Robert Wallis
4 months ago
Reply to  David Hampsten

Thank you David for this great observation. I think a common mistake in TOD development is to ignore the fact that transit users travel beyond the high density development on their way to and from transit. Another TOD – City of Vancouver, WA’s Waterfront Development was built (unfortunately with zero attention to bicyclists) -with over $70 million in tax dollar subsidies while ignoring critical weak links in Vancouver’s nearby downtown and traditional neighborhoods.

Fred
Fred
4 months ago
Reply to  Robert Wallis

Thanks for mentioning the Vancouver waterfront development. I rode my bike there and was shocked to find almost NO infra for bikes. That place is all about driving, parking (paying to park), and walking. Seems like the design idea was that no one would EVER bike there.

Todd/Boulanger
Todd/Boulanger
4 months ago
Reply to  David Hampsten

When it was all new – 1999s – and on the tours of national planners and engineers that region around it was still farm land…but now well developed and feeding tens of thousands of auto trips into it.

David Hampsten
4 months ago
Reply to  Todd/Boulanger

I once visited a TOD-like development in the Houston area (I have a sister who lives nearby) that was neo-traditional in design, very walkable and likely pleasant to bike in, but it was surrounded on all sides and only accessible by freeways. I kid you not. I was appalled.

EP
EP
4 months ago
Reply to  David Hampsten

Right now they’re building a huge 312 unit development in Beaverton that acts like it’s somewhat-TOD, but looks like maybe it really isn’t. The MAX is a half mile away, across 5-lane Canyon road and down 3-lane Hall road and past lots of car dealers. Definitely no good, direct,”nice to walk” connection to transit. What caught my eye about this development was the huge parking garage that’s the size of an apartment building. Clearly they’re building for the current auto-centric apartment dweller demand.

“Modera” “boasts a walkable, bikeable location in the heart of downtown Beaverton.” “provides a Walk Score of 98 and Bike Score of 81, with several restaurants, brewpubs, nightlife opportunities and transit options easily accessible. That includes a stop on the MAX Light Rail that sits a half-mile from the community, and key artery Highway 217 is within a few blocks. Beaverton also is positioned nearby some of the most notable employers in the metropolitan area, including Nike World Headquarters, Columbia Sportswear, Tektronix, Intel and Kaiser Health.” “The community will also offer controlled-access garage parking with EV charging stations.”

So yeah, you can live here, and drive here, and park here, and add lots of traffic to the neighborhood, and oh yeah there’s that MAX thing too, I guess.

X
X
4 months ago
Reply to  EP

People who already have a strong inclination to use transit will find their way to the MAX. The great majority will park the car that they already have in the garage that is priced into their rent and go drive on subsidized roads. Cars seem cheap to drive on any given day, but we’re sure paying for them.

What does a walk score of 98 mean when almost every person gets in a car to go to work? At least they’re calling the development “Modera” and not ‘Freewheel’ or ‘Breakaway’.