A chance for solidarity between bicycle and motorcycle riders?

James Dubberly and his preferred modes of travel.

On June 11th Governor Kate Brown signed Senate Bill 810 into law, adding moped and motorcycle users to the definition of “vulnerable user of a public way.” The idea of a vulnerable road user was first carved into Oregon law by bicycling advocates in 2007. It’s an important distinction because it triggers more severe consequences for people who drive carelessly and cause injuries (or death) to the most vulnerable people on our roads.

With bodies exposed to traffic, people who use roads on two wheels — motorized or not — face similar threats and consequences.

This week I was contacted by organizers of an event that aims to raise awareness of road safety for motorcycle, bicycle and scooter riders. Inspiration for the event comes from the May 16th crash that left Portland resident James Dubberly with severe injuries. Dubberly was riding his motorcycle on Sandy Boulevard when someone in a car made a sudden and illegal u-turn from a parking spot right in front of him.


With multiple broken bones Dubberly likely won’t walk for six months. If his rehab goes according to plan, he might ride a bicycle again by next spring. Yes, he also rides a bicycle. A friend of his shared with me via email that Dubberly has commuting by bike for over 30 years and has done Seattle-to-Portland several times.

Friends who know Dubberly from his fitness studio (he founded Whole Body Fitness in southeast Portland 13 years ago, but had to sell it to pay medical expenses) and from motorcycle riding have come together to help raise funds and support his recovery. “Help James Heal” is an event planned for July 25th at Paydirt (2724 NE Pacific St). It will be a chance to support Dubberly and make connections between motorcycle and bicycle riders.

It’s also got me wondering: Should bicycling advocates work more closely with motorcycle advocates? In what specific ways could we find common cause and partner on road safety issues?

This is also an opportunity to remember that every life on the road is important — and that people not encased in steel boxes deserve extra attention. We must drive cars and design streets with these inherent vulnerabilities at the top of our minds.

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

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Opinion: We failed Tamar Monhait

Memorial for Tamar at Water and Taylor.
(Photos: Patrick Rafferty)

I can’t stop thinking that we’ve failed Tamar Monhait.

Monhait is the woman who was killed while bicycling northbound on SE Water Avenue back in August. On that fateful night, a professional driver named Paul Thompson was operating a commercial garbage truck in the opposite direction. As Monhait crossed Taylor Street, Thompson made a sudden left turn in front of her. She died from the impact and took her last breath in the middle of that intersection.

The intersection isn’t as well-lit as it should be and Monhait did not appear to have a legally required front light. Thompson claimed he never saw her. The police say Monhait’s impairment from alcohol was a factor in the collision; but there’s no evidence she could have done anything differently to avoid the truck — especially since Thompson, according to the police, admitted he was trying to outrun an approaching train and gave no warning before making his turn.

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Citation for ‘Careless Driving to a Vulnerable Road User’ given in July collision

Buffered Bike Lane with a bike symbol and arrow pointing forward

Amundson’s garbage truck is on the right..
(Photo courtesy Jason Lee.)

The Portland Police have issued a citation to 39-year-old Christopher Amundson for his role in a collision that happened on Friday, July 12th. As we reported the day it happened, Amundson was driving a garbage truck southbound on SE 17th when he made a left turn onto SW McLoughlin. Amundson’s truck collided with 22-year-old Charles Casperson, who was riding his bicycle in the crosswalk in the same direction.

Amundson has been cited for Careless Driving. Additionally, since Casperson sustained serious, trauma-level injuries, Amundson’s citation triggers Oregon’s Vulnerable Roadway User law (minor injuries don’t trigger the VRU law, as we saw in the case of a man who ran into the back of a child trailer in December 2012). The VRU comes with some combination of added fines (up to $12,500), community service, an appearance in court, completion of a traffic safety course, and a license suspension.

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Should Hwy 101 collision have triggered ‘vulnerable roadway users’ law?

Buffered Bike Lane with a bike symbol and arrow pointing forward

“This clearly should have been a VRU [vulnerable roadway user] case.”
— Ray Thomas, lawyer and bike law expert

A recent collision on Highway 101 has raised questions about the application of Oregon’s driving laws.

On July 8th, a 35-year old Providence Hospital surgeon from Hood River, Christeen Osborn, was riding her bike northbound on Highway 101 a few miles south of Cannon Beach when she was hit from behind by a mini-van being driven by 78-year Wanda Cortese from Kennewick, Washington. Based on an investigation and witnesses interviewed by the Oregon State Police, Cortese was found at fault for the collision and was given a citation for “Failure to drive within a lane,” a relatively minor traffic violation that comes with a $260 fine.

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Governor’s desk is next stop for Vulnerable Roadway User bill

Buffered Bike Lane with a bike symbol and arrow pointing forward
My day in Salem

Scott Bricker of the BTA at
the State Capitol in Salem.
(Photo © J. Maus)


BTA lobbyist Scott Bricker — who worked tirelessly in Salem to garner support for this bill — shares the news that the Vulnerable Roadway User bill (HB 3314) got through its final hurdle this morning by passing a House concurrence vote 40-9.

Now, when someone operates a vehicle in a careless manner and seriously injures or kills a vulnerable roadway user, they’ll be subject to:

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Vulnerable roadway user bill takes another step forward

Buffered Bike Lane with a bike symbol and arrow pointing forward

House Bill 3314 — which would create a new offense for anyone who inflicts serious injury or death upon a “vulnerable user” of a public way — passed the Senate Judiciary Committee today and is now one final vote away from becoming Oregon law.

The bill passed the House two weeks ago and after its recommendation from Committee today, it will move onto a full Senate vote. BTA lobbyist Scott Bricker and Portland bike lawyer Ray Thomas have worked hard to get the bill to this point.

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Vulnerable Roadway User bill passes committee

Buffered Bike Lane with a bike symbol and arrow pointing forward

Rep. MacPherson,
Chair of the House
Judiciary Committee.
Photo: State of OR

The House Judiciary Committee voted 5-4 (along party lines) in favor the Vulnerable Roadway Users bill (H.B. 3314) this morning. The bill was passed with some significant amendments.

The amendments change the base infraction from a Class A misdemeanor to a traffic violation payable by a $237 fine. In addition to this fine, if a vehicle operator is careless and hits a vulnerable roadway user they would then choose between a $12,500 fine and one-year license suspension, or pay $250 and complete a driver improvement course.

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Police, citizens testify on Vulnerable Roadway Users bill

Buffered Bike Lane with a bike symbol and arrow pointing forward

“What we are very interested in is moving the violator into a driver improvement program, which would include training, completion of community service, and a physical test for competency.”
–BTA Board Member Doug Parrow, testifying in Salem yesterday.

A bill backed by the BTA and the Willamette Pedestrian Coalition (WPC) that seeks to increase the penalty for any vehicle (including bicycles) that injures or kills a “vulnerable user” of the roadway got its first hearing in Salem yesterday.

I wasn’t at the hearing but I’ve spoken with Lawyer Ray Thomas and BTA lobbyist Scott Bricker, and I’ve also listened to the audio recording.

The bill was heard by the House Judiciary Committee and did not make it to a vote due to time constraints and some last minute wrangling with various amendments.

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Vulnerable Roadway Users bill gets hearing Monday

Buffered Bike Lane with a bike symbol and arrow pointing forward
fixie bill in Salem

The BTA’s “Vulnerable Roadway Users” bill (HB 3314 )will get a hearing in the House Judiciary Committee on Monday (4/23).

I spoke with Scott Bricker about the bill this morning before he left for another day working the halls of Salem.

According to Bricker, the bill targets vehicle operators that currently only have to pay a nominal fine if they hit and/or kill a vulnerable roadway user (which includes bicyclists, peds, and others) while driving carelessly,

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