Witness helps man recoup damages after bike crushed by TriMet bus – UPDATED

Buffered Bike Lane with a bike symbol and arrow pointing forward

“TriMet was upstanding in this incident. Did not hassle me at all, thanked me for the supporting documentation, and apologized for the incident.”

I often receive emails with stories about positive interactions people have with others out on the bikeways. Here’s one I felt was particularly worth sharing. It comes from Portlander Gordon Kelly who posted it to the Shift email list this morning with the subject line “Grateful”:

A couple weeks ago I emerged from Yoga at People’s Yoga on 30th and Killingsworth to find a note on my bike, which was parked in the bike racks outside Cup and Saucer, right on 30th (probably the worst bike parking spot in Portland). A very kind woman named Steph had seen the 72 bus hit my bike — an Xtracycle Radish — and left me a note saying as much, with the time of day and her number. My bike was unrideable but I wasn’t sure of the extent of the damage (I brought it to Clever Cycles, where I bought it in late 2008, for assessment).

I contacted TriMet, who responded with excellent customer service. They took my incident report and the info about Steph’s witnessing the accident. Told me they had video cameras on the front of all the buses (I did not know that) and would review. I sent them photos and testimony from Clever Cycles that my bike frame was irreparably damaged.

To make a long story short, TriMet sent me a check for a thousand dollars (!) to replace my Radish, which should happen this week (the 2010 model is not yet in at Clever Cycles).

TriMet was upstanding in this incident. Did not hassle me at all, thanked me for the supporting documentation, and apologized for the incident.

I am so grateful to Steph. I left her a voice mail saying as much, but wanted to give her a shout out here too. It is rare that a total stranger you’ve never met leaves you a note that saves you, literally, a thousand dollars. I would have had no idea what happened to my bike and probably would have assumed car — not a bus — hit it. I would very likely have not obtained a replacement Radish for years. It took her just a minute to note the accident, time, and bus number and leave me a note. It was one of the nicest, most helpful things someone has done for me in years and I’m just so grateful for her thoughtfulness.

And now I have a brand new Radish coming my way in the next few days that will replace my rather well-used 2008 bike. I also probably will not park this new long-tail in the crappy bike parking outside Cup and Saucer! I’ve always been a little nervous parking there, with cars whooshing by just inches from me, and wondered when a bike would get hit. Didn’t realize it would be mine!

Thanks for letting us share your story Gordon. And Steph… If you’re out there… Thanks for stepping up!

UPDATE, 3/10: We have heard from Steph via a comment. Here’s what she has to add:

“For the record/to dispel any speculation…the bus took the right turn way too tight (from NE 30th to Killingsworth) because it was trying to get in the traffic stream, which is a total mess during commute time. I was riding on Killingsworth and saw the whole crash from about seven feet behind the bus…I was further away, but got closer when I saw the driver was going to hit the corral/bikes. After failing to gain the driver’s attention, I left the note. I also wrote TriMet a nice long email the next day detailing the crash, and they replied within an hour that it would be passed to the correct person. I work for a big and bureaucratic organization, so I know this can sometimes mean the issue gets lost….it was terrific to hear that Gordon got compensation for his bike, and I’m really happy I could help make it right.

While I am not a fan of how TriMet generally interacts with me, as a person who rides a bike but also sometimes takes the bus or Max, I am thrilled that they didn’t try to fight when the evidence clearly showed the driver was in the wrong.

Thanks for spreading the news about a crappy incident that ended okay because one human was nice to another human. :)”