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Thursday, August 12, 2010


Portland photographer David Bliss was on the scene of this evening's unfortunate meeting of a Tri-Met bus and a bicyclist on the transit mall in the heart of downtown:

UPDATE. 11:27 p.m.: It appears it might have been another bad-news left turn, in this case off Sixth and onto Morrison:

Comments (29)

Where do you start? Suicide stops the max, bicycle stops the bus.

Poor bike dude is lucky to be alive!

From the photographic evidence, the bicyclist was clearly on the inside of the bus lane. He was sandwiched between the bus and the curb.

Is it legal to bicycle inside a bus lane especially near Pioneer Square? If so, then how many more of these accidents need to happen for it to change?

Furthermore, where does the liability lay in a case like this?

To me, the photos don't really show what happened. Was the cyclist going north on Sixth? If so, I believe that the left lane of Sixth going north is now open to cars and bicycles -- isn't it? I don't think it's an exclusive bus lane any more.

I am sure the insurance adjusters and lawyers will have plenty of opportunity to assess fault. I don't think it can or should be done from these photos.

As the photographer that was there about 20 seconds after it all happened, it is hard to tell exactly what happened. My best guess is the bike was traveling next to the bus going North on 6th, the bus attempted to turn left onto Morrison (of which I'm not sure the buses are allowed to) it is a tight turn and also has a Max line on it. The actual impact was not near the curb, but in the center of Morrison. Ultimately, the investigation will provide whether buses do turn left there or not, or if bikes are allowed on 6th.

Note to self:
If a motor vehicle is bigger and heavier than I am, maybe it's not always a good idea to demand my right of way.

A clash of entitlements.

I frequently observe bikes try to double occupy lanes with cars (out here in the Western burbs) where there are no bike lanes. And often the bike will see the car has a right directional signal on and pull up to the right of the car at an intersection with a red light thereby impeding the car from turning and illegally being in a lane that the car was already in.

There is one intersection where I make right turns where I no longer leave room for a car to be in my lane on the right. I also observe lots of bikes ignoring traffic control devices. Blowing through stop signs. Ignoring red lights. Moving out of a lane after the dotted stripes end and the solid stripe starts.

So it surprises me that more bikes don't get into accidents.

Someone is going to miss out on Sunday Parkways.

I don't think any bus lines actually make a turn at SW 6th and Morrison. I suspect the block north of there was closed off due to the accident, and the turn was a temporary reroute.

Well, it was a reroute, but due to another cause:

PORTLAND, Ore. -- A bicyclist was struck by a TriMet bus just after 7 p.m. Thursday evening in downtown Portland.

The collision happened at SW 6th and Morrison Ave.

Witnesses say the bus turned into the bicyclist at the intersection. The bike wound up wedged underneath the bus, but the rider was expected to be OK.

"Bus hit him about mid-track, pushed him over on the road. Bus driver was stopping but kinda skid to a halt on his leg," said Ryan Davis, a witness to the crash.

The bicyclist was not immediately identified.

The bus was providing special alternate service in the area due to a closure and delay in service near the Vista Bridge.

I saw a kid about that age (or a bit younger) riding down 6th Street/Salmon in the center lane on Wednesday, with no hands on the handlebars, no helmet, and earbuds in (rockin' to the music). He blew thru the only red light I observed, granted there was no cross traffic.

While anecdotal, you can document this irresponsible behavior many times a day on nearly any downtown street. Similarly, you can document lots of Tri-Met buses running red lights, aggressively accelerating towards jay-walkers, or just being bullies.

What the bike advocates seem to ignore is MASS always wins the fight.

Critical ass meets critical mass.

Learning to con a ship, I was introduced to the Rules of the Nautical Road and especially commanded to not run afoul of the one law that has no exceptions: The Law of Gross Tonnage.

I frequently observe posters writing long lists of traffic offenses they have observed as if this offers some kind of profound insight. It doesn't

I hope his tats are okay.

Nice looking fixed gear bike under that bus. Glad the guy appears to be ok.

Re: "Nice looking fixed gear bike under that bus. Glad the guy appears to be ok."

DrewG, perhaps you'll find the bike, which has now acquired local celebrity, at a future yard sale:

'Fixie' rider, unknown if he's wearing a helmet, likely wearing Dickies jeans cut off to capri-length, doing something that most cyclists wouldn't even try (a tango with a 20 ton bus).

I hear that water is wet, too. Natural Selection is still in full force.

I stand corrected. Looks like it WAS a nice looking fixed gear bike, until it got under that bus. Don't know who's at fault, just glad he wasn't under there with his bike. Despite unknown fault for collision, I suspect he's a very good rider to have escaped that encounter with what appear to be minor injuries.

Simply not allowing all vehicles in Portland to make a left hand turn would solve everything. What's wrong with then adding four or more blocks of travel to that one turn you want to make as a left? Safety first. To go ten direct blocks in this city then might require going fifty.

This will soon become an edict out of the mayor's office, I'll bet on it. Sam's tweeters need something to do. I can't wait for the endless outreaches, blue ribbon committees and Sam's transparency, even though Sam has already made his decision.

I look forward to the same empathetic insights about mass, entitlements, etc. the next time a semi-truck crushes a car filled with a family. From photographer David's comments, it appears that the cyclist was riding exactly as he was supposed to be on that part of the bus mall:

"On most blocks on the new Mall, cyclists and motorists share the left-hand traffic lane, while buses and MAX trains travel in the right-hand transit lanes."

By all apearances it was an unprecedented, unexpected lane change by a bus on a temporary route, and the driver didn't see the cyclist when the driver looked into his or her mirror before making the change.

Today the police are saying there was "no major fault one way or another" by the driver or the cyclist.

The word "major" aside, the police conclusion suggests that the driver and the cyclist were both doing the right thing. The fact that there was a collision suggests otherwise. That's an interesting statement by the police.

PdxMark, are you suggesting that PBOT planners have erred once again, resulting in carnage and, perhaps, an expensive settlement?

Thanks for putting some of the other yo-yo commenters in their place, PdxMark. As a sometimes bicyclist, my wife is always worried that some driver is going to decide to text or change his radio dial while driving, veering into the bike lane and making her a widow.

Gordon, glad to hear you obey all traffic laws, wear your helmet, have lights at night, and don't do dangerous and stupid things while pedaling. You are a minority.

I saw a bicyclist this morning, riding west on Lombard. He nearly got crushed by a Trimet bus passing him and not leaving him enough room. He seemed to have a brain in his head, by leaping/lunging sidewise, and tumbling on to the the sidewalk at the last possible instant. No bike lane, no helmet.

I thought about stopping to see if he was OK, but the thought of the cost to society he might incur by not wearing a helmet pissed me off so much I kept driving.

gaye harris,

For what it's worth, the evidence still seems to be quite divided on whether a helmet actually protects or increases damage in a fall. Helmets are supposed to compress on impact, but most don't seem to (rather, you hear of them cracking -- not the intended design), and they increase rotational energy which is actually considered one of the main causes of brain damage (the brain rotating in the skull).

Even if the do help in a fall, they're not designed to protect at all from an impact with another moving object, like a car.

That said, when I ride (I drive about 95% of my miles, and walk or ride the rest), I wear a helmet. I don't know if it makes me safer, but it makes me feel a little bit safer regardless.

Just throwing that in, so maybe you'll feel a bit less angry next time. Save that anger for the people who actually drive or ride like jerks! :)


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