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Friday, July 1, 2011

Hit by bike on Portland sidewalk? Don't expect a cop.

Here's a story of a cyclist who reportedly caused $30,000 worth of physical injury to a pedestrian on a Sandy Boulevard sidewalk and was allowed to pedal off scot-free without so much as leaving his name.

If one were making the case for requiring Portland's checkered cycling "community" to get and display licenses, it is Exhibit A.

Comments (55)

I walk about eleven miles per week on mostly sidewalks and one of my worse nightmares is getting a spinal injury from being hit behind by a bike. I’ve had some very close calls not only downtown but up on Mt. Tabor on a walking er, I mean mountain bike trail.

On the bright side: they are writing more cellphone tickets.

Portland cyclists are entitled to seriously injure 2 pedestrians per year without consequence. It's because their lifestyle is "saving the planet" and therefore they are better than us.

I'm surprised the cyclist bothered to stop in the first place. If there's one thing I remember so well from my time in SW, it's the disturbing impersonation of Cossacks screaming at peasants emitted by so many of Portland's bicycle elite at the slovenly pedestrians that dared get in their way. (I was a cyclist back then, too, and I suspected I was about the only one in the city who thought stop signs, traffic lights, and "ONE WAY" signs were anything other than vague recommendations.)

Were Mr Blunk to address the Gang of Five regarding the dangers created by their collective failure to consider the consequences of cavalierly entitling cyclists, rollerboarders, etc, would their response be other than the arrogance displayed recently toward Ms Vaughan?

There's no question that the law governing which areas are illegal for cyclists to ride on the sidewalk needs to be updated. Few people are aware that it's only illegal to ride on the sidewalk downtown--absurd, of course, because much of downtown is vacant, whereas someplace like Hawthorne on a Saturday in the summer is standing room only.

Cyclists do assume it is their god-given right to ride wherever they like, regardless of how irresponsible it is. It really annoys me whensomeone will ride down Hawthorne and take up a full lane when they could just as easily ride down Salmon, three blocks north, and have the street to themselves. If we spend so much money on making cycling-friendly streets, why not devote some energy to actively discouraging cyclists from riding other areas?

I have a time slot in the morning that allows me to get out and walk. One of my favorites is Skidmore-crossing Interstate to the ped bridge over Going. Then down Going to the Greely/north stairs - up Greely past Addidas to Willamette. Then I walk the ridge to Portland Blvd. - Portland east to Greely and back home @ Mississippi. 4 1/4 miles r/t with enough elevation to get a little cardio. A great walk!

I had to give this up because of the bike riders on Going. Two brush backs and a dozen or so close passes @ 30 mph convinced me it wasn't worth the risk and anxiety these A**H***S were giving me.
I couldn't hear them coming and walking virtually backwards harshed my natural buzz.

I called PPB&PDOT to find out if there was a speed limit on sidewalks - to no avail. Not that it would matter - except for the lawsuit - oh yeah, bicyclists aren't responsible for their actions.

Weird definitely isn't working. Eff'n Portland politics.

Ahh, but the 15 pedestrins actually killed in Portland last year by motorists are an acceptable cost of transportation efficiency. And a century of licensing cars and motorists has stopped hit and run crashes by drivers, too. I'm not finding a readily availble source for pedestrian traffic injuries, but a factor of 10 above the deaths wouldn't be an unreasonable guess.

So I don't understand this rage over bicycling, as a threat to other people.

Oh, yeah, the "everybody else is doing it" defense my six-year-old uses. Well, case closed - bicyclists can break laws and hurt and kill people because cars do too.

No Johhny. It's not the everyone else is doing it defense. It's pointing out the hypocrisy of steaming rage over one injury collision in the face of deafening silence over a steady stream of pedestrian deaths and injuries and hit and run crashes involving cars.

Those car crashes don't justify bike crashes, but if public safety is the issue, then let's address the actual dangers. On the other hand, if it's simply an opportunity to rehash a tired old saw about cyclists blah blah blah, then this thread is entirely consistent.

I called PPB&PDOT to find out if there was a speed limit on sidewalks - to no avail

There is a speed limit on sidewalks.

ORS 814.410 Unsafe operation of bicycle on sidewalk

(1) A person commits the offense of unsafe operation of a bicycle on a sidewalk if the person does any of the following:
(a) Operates the bicycle so as to suddenly leave a curb or other place of safety and move into the path of a vehicle that is so close as to constitute an immediate hazard.
(b) Operates a bicycle upon a sidewalk and does not give an audible warning before overtaking and passing a pedestrian and does not yield the right of way to all pedestrians on the sidewalk.
(c) Operates a bicycle on a sidewalk in a careless manner that endangers or would be likely to endanger any person or property.
(d) Operates the bicycle at a speed greater than an ordinary walk when approaching or entering a crosswalk, approaching or crossing a driveway or crossing a curb cut or pedestrian ramp and a motor vehicle is approaching the crosswalk, driveway, curb cut or pedestrian ramp. This paragraph does not require reduced speeds for bicycles at places on sidewalks or other pedestrian ways other than places where the path for pedestrians or bicycle traffic approaches or crosses that for motor vehicle traffic.
(e) Operates an electric assisted bicycle on a sidewalk.
(2) Except as otherwise specifically provided by law, a bicyclist on a sidewalk or in a crosswalk has the same rights and duties as a pedestrian on a sidewalk or in a crosswalk.
(3) The offense described in this section, unsafe operation of a bicycle on a sidewalk, is a Class D traffic violation.

Erik - I doubt this bicyclists gave audible warning (they rarely do, I once yelled at a biker on a trail who nearly hit me from behind because I did not know he was there and he was just huffy like I should have known he was there) (paragraph b from your quote). And paragraph c is dead on - "Operates a bicycle on a sidewalk in a careless manner that endangers or would be likely to endanger any person or property."

Since biker hit the pedestrian causing severe bodily harm; it's pretty de facto careless and endangerment.

Since the PDX popo apparently believe in selective enforcement when it comes to bikers, the other option is to start bringing civil actions (torts anyone) against bikers who cause harm.

The point is not the deafening silence over pedestrian deaths attributed to motor vehicles, but the lack of any interest in enforcement of traffic laws as they might apply to bicyclists.
The police did not even bother to come to scene of the accident!
There are actual dangers to pedestrians and motorists caused by careless and reckless people riding bicycles. Those people who do not obey the traffic laws need to be held accountable for their actions just as careless or reckless motorists should be held accountable.
I do not understand why some people who ride bicycles seem to believe that the traffic rules do not apply to them.

So I don't understand this rage over bicycling, as a threat to other people.

PdxMark, my guess is that the 15 pedestrians killed were probably not on the sidewalk. When someone is struck down on the sidewalk by a cyclist, the very likely weren't aware they were in danger of being hit by a fast-moving vehicle. Think, sideWALK.

I don't think this is general rage toward cyclists as much as the fact that this incident underscores the larger problem: in Portland cyclists are coddled.

"This paragraph does not require reduced speeds for bicycles at places on sidewalks or other pedestrian ways other than places where the path for pedestrians or bicycle traffic approaches or crosses that for motor vehicle traffic."

Am I reading this wrong - or, in fact, is it saying there is NO speed limits except @ crossings etc.?

Eric H - thanks for the reference.

Mount Tabor hasn't any mountain bike trails. It's a heavily used public park. Mountain biking destroys city parks.

I helped to close off the Mt Tabor trails and to discourage the mountain bikers by education for several years.

The trails erode and destroy. Bikers, like off-leash dog folks, love Portland weird and they love a sustainable world, until it interferes with their convenience.

That is an absolute truth. Ask Feynmen.

Let's get this straight: Portland is really starting to out-suck it's long-lost charm.

The Po-Po needs to start enforcing the laws. But I doubt ticketing bike riders will get them promoted.

It is beyond absurd that bikes , which are MOVING VEHICLES
should be legal on sidewalks , which by definition are a SAFE ZONE from moving vehicles.
As I have been nearly creamed repeatedly in the Pearl by Bikes on the Sidewalk , I just dread the day I wake up in a body cast in some hospital from being run over by some biker.
Sidewalks are for small kids and old peps on a walker , maybe strolling with an ice cream , not dodging some hipster on a road bike. Are you listening City Council?
How many old people like this have to lose their Last Mobility and fear going outside before you ban bikes from the sidewalk?

Common courtesy in the bicycle world should be that you let people ahead of you that you are there and passing them. For example : "on your left" or as they do in Amsterdam " Ding ding ding ding" Simple and it works.
Problem is a lot of the spandex gang think they dont have to.

"Problem is a lot of the spandex gang think they dont have to. "


That's the problem with spandex. It restricts the blood flow to the head (which ever head they happen to be using at the time, see Weiner).

So I don't understand this rage over bicycling, as a threat to other people.

Of course you won't.

You could have ended that sentence after 'understand'.

What is a person supposed to do if they see a bicyclist violate a traffic law? Call the police and tell them a red bicycle was riding dangerously?

Come on now.

PdxMark also seems to ignore the fact that motor vehicle operators are required by law to carry liability insurance; whereas bicycle riders can do as they damn please - and have no real liability in an accident unless you can figure out a way to sue them.

They need licenses. All of them. Yes, even the kids once they reach about 7 years of age.

I propose formation of a new group (someone in PDX can take the helm & the credit):

Pedestrians Return Safe Sidewalks; Bicycle Accountability Pack (PRESS BACK)

Akin to Critical Mass, groups of members that roam areas prone to endangerment by law-breaking & endangering cyclists, FORCING them off the sidewalks by our own critical mass.

Any motivated leaders want to run with this?

I'll bring my walker and help block the sidewalk! Or maybe I will just carry my titanium Leki walking stick and thrust it at the bike wheels as these jerks pass by me.

Umm...if there is a bike path (and Portland spends tons of money each year on them), bicyclists are to use them, not side walks, and not road lanes. Unfortunately, there's no enforcement.

However, it should be noted that this is just another example of Portland's pre-eminence. In San Diego, a cyclist hit a 9-year-old in a parking lot, breaking her leg. Piker.


Portland shows how it's really done.

Strange that the state or Oregon has stricter scrutiny for operation of a powerboat than a bicycle. Somehow, I'd be guessing there are more accidents with bikes involved than powerboats. In Oregon, you are not even allowed to operate a powerboat until you are 12 yol and have taken the safety class and passed a test. NY still lets 10 yols take the class and pass the test.

Ah well, go by canoe, then you don't need a license.

Its a good idea to take a hiking stick with you when you venture to Mt. Tabor and other park trails. Be careful though, because you wouldnt want it to accidentally get caught in a passing cyclists front spokes, like when they pass way to close and it startles you, causes you to lose your balance and stumble on the trail. Your hiking stick could very easily go through the front spokes that way. It would be really terrible if that happened, but you know, accidents happen all the time in this weird city.

Every rider licensed; every vehicle registered. Plates visible in the back at all times.

Yes...Oregon law allows bicyclists to use walkways, but there are explicit rules to follow. The same with bicycles on typical vehicular streets (single file, as far to the right of the lane as possible, clear signals).

The thing is, as far as I know, unlike pedestrians, bicycles get exclusive lanes. Around Duniway Park are bicycle lanes marked out as "BIKE ONLY". I assume that means no motor vehicles and no pedestrians. Maybe it just means no four-plus wheeled vehicles, but it sure looks to me as though a runner could be fined for running in that lane....or a pedestrian stepping into it. That's the ticket!


Oh...Thanks, everybody.

I thought I was some kind of lone crank on this.

Oh...any traffic cops on here?

Please note that bicyclists on bicycles on the city streets are operating vehicles on public roadways. Cellphone and texting are just as illegal for them as it is for motor vehicle drivers.

The city is promoting biking and walking.
Walking on a sidewalk should feel safe, doesn't feel safe when bicycles whiz by.

Any rage is because of the favoritism and leniency towards bikes in pdx.

Here's an interesting article I just came across from my hometown paper. Far cry from how they treat cyclists here in PDX


MAX: Yes, you're right. If there is a bike lane, the bike is to use the bike lane:

ORS 814.420 Failure to use bicycle lane or path:

(1) Except as provided in subsections (2) and (3) of this section, a person commits the offense of failure to use a bicycle lane or path if the person operates a bicycle on any portion of a roadway that is not a bicycle lane or bicycle path when a bicycle lane or bicycle path is adjacent to or near the roadway.
(2) A person is not required to comply with this section unless the state or local authority with jurisdiction over the roadway finds, after public hearing, that the bicycle lane or bicycle path is suitable for safe bicycle use at reasonable rates of speed.
(3) A person is not in violation of the offense under this section if the person is able to safely move out of the bicycle lane or path for the purpose of:
(a) Overtaking and passing another bicycle, a vehicle or a pedestrian that is in the bicycle lane or path and passage cannot safely be made in the lane or path.
(b) Preparing to execute a left turn at an intersection or into a private road or driveway.
(c) Avoiding debris or other hazardous conditions.
(d) Preparing to execute a right turn where a right turn is authorized.
(e) Continuing straight at an intersection where the bicycle lane or path is to the right of a lane from which a motor vehicle must turn right.
(4) The offense described in this section, failure to use a bicycle lane or path, is a Class D traffic violation.

However, it appears that the word "sidewalk" doesn't appear in the law, which probably needs to be updated. The problem is that many cities have their own ordinances which specify if bicycle riding is legal/illegal on sidewalks (for example, in parts of downtown Portland - but not in other "town center" areas of Portland.)

Regardless, the bicyclist should then be governed by 814.410. And, yes, very few bicyclists call out as required by law. When I'm on my bike, I do (either by a bell on my handlebars, or verbally yell "Bike on your left!") Either one is fully compliant with the law.

What are these "sidewalks" you keep referring to?

We have gravel ditches in my SW Portland neighborhood.

Moving away a bit from the bicycle-on-the-sidewalk controversy, why is the blow that nearly killed Mr Blunk not considered assault and battery with a deadly weapon? If someone points a car at a police officer, that person can be, and often is, charged with attempted murder.

Perhaps Portland drivers and pedestrians should utilize the proverb made famous by President T. Roosevelt: "Speak softly, and carry a big stick," since no other means of getting the message through the crash-helmeted thick skulls of cyclist snobs seems effective. Perhaps a stick-in-the-spokes might curtail the wilfull lawbreaking and endangerment. Or not.

My point exactly!
However we all must remember, "the car is the enemy", "hate the car", "eliminate all the cars", "cars are evil".

why is the blow that nearly killed Mr Blunk not considered assault and battery with a deadly weapon?

The thing is, we know that Mr Blunk was struck by a bicycle and injured; we don't actually know any more than that about the accident. We don't know, for example, whose fault the accident was. Without police on the scene to take statements and investigate, there are only assumptions.

For those commenters here advocating the "stick in the spokes" remedy: action of that sort produces crashes that are sometimes fatal. I know you think cycling is a capital offense, but, in fact, it isn't.

I grew up in Chico, CA. The most memorable memories of my childhood were playing video games in doors all day (because the temps regularly reach 100+) and hitting up lower Bidwell Park for bicycling after dinner anywhere from 6 pm to 9pm.

I was not taught to yell out "On your Left!" or "On your Right!" when passing pedestrians in lower Bidwell Park. I just did it because my parents raised me right to be courteous and respectful for those who you share a roadway with.

As for the victim, God bless 'em he got a major outlet to carry his story and has the fortunate use of Medicare to rehab.

As for the perpetrator who did not have the balls nor the decency of humanity to leave his name, may there not be enough microbrews in Portland, OR for you to drown out your guilt. I pray that the damage you inflicted on this pedestrian is felt by you personally. Be it alcoholism or a drug addiction which costs you $30,000, you are better off dead than alive.

Perp, society does not need entitled cowards like you. If I was a member of Seal Team 6, one of my top personal priorities would be a stealth vasectomy to make sure your inane genes are not replicated on this planet. Do us a favor and binge until you are out panhandling for your next beer.

It's a beautiful evening. I was going to go out for a walk but there might be bicyclists out there so I am going to stay inside.

Is there a bike lane on Sandy Blvd, at NE 31st Street? If there is, then the bicyclist had no business on the sidewalk. If there isn't then the bicyclist probably decided not to be killed or maimed even more seriously than Mr. Blunk was maimed by riding in the street with all the psychotic drivers who hate bicyclists and are commenting on this post.

According to Mr. Duin, 1,247 bicyclists in two morning rush hours on the Hawthorne Bridge recently. Bicylists are here. Get used to it.

Another point about Mr. Duin's 1,247 counted bicyclists on the Hawthorne Bridge during morning rush hour. Last time I checked, most people traveling around during morning rush hour are rushing to get to WORK. I thought most bicyclists were unemployed slackers preying upon and leeching off all of the rest of Portland's hard-working oppressed citizenry.

Gordon, I fail to see why I should "get used to" the possibility that I will be seriously injured by a bike rider going fast enough on a sideWALK to knock me over causing a concussion, and other injuries that result in $30,000 in medical bills and rehab.
Ride your bike on the side streets where the traffic is less, and stay away from me as I WALK in the area designated for pedestrians.

Like Duin, I have taken bike counts on Hawthorne. Little over a week ago during our few 3 days of warm, sunny weather in the evening rush hour I counted 720 bikers between 5:30 to 6:30. But similar counts in the winter when it wasn't raining nor especially cold the counts were less than 160. Similar counts have been taken at other so-called high-use bike corridors. The results are always less than CoP's inflated numbers.

Whatever the bike counts, it doesn't give bikers the right to ignore vehicle laws and to run over pedestrians.

Longtime biker.

Whatever the bike counts, it doesn't give bikers the right to ignore vehicle laws and to run over pedestrians.

If you happened to be watching the Tour de France yesterday (I know, it's French, and bikes are involved, so you probably didn't), you might have seen how a spectator on the roadside, facing away from the traffic, staggered into the competitors' path causing a large pile-up. No cyclists were blamed.

We don't know all the facts of this incident. We know that Mr Blunk was injured. We know that the bicycle rider was legally riding on the sidewalk. We know that he broke the law by failing to leave his contact information. Beyond that, it's all guesses and prejudice.

Allan L., what does "I know, it's French, and bikes are involved, so you probably didn't" have to do with your comment?

I did watch a little yesterday and today, but so what??? Why are you assuming?

We know that Mr Blunk was injured. We know that the bicycle rider was legally riding on the sidewalk. We know that he broke the law by failing to leave his contact information.

We know that Mr Blunk was injured by a bicyclist. We know that, while it is legal to ride a bicycle on the sidewalk in the place where the incident occurred, not all bicyclists, nor motorists, ride (or drive) legally. We know the bicyclist illegally left the scene.

I wonder why the majority (psychotic or not) of us can connect the dots to arrive at the conclusion that the bicyclist was not riding legally when he struck the pedestrian and, mindful of that, he took off like the guilty coward he is. The inference is pretty obvious.

I realize that a different standard is applied when dealing with the sainted few, but, c'mon man.

Oh, wait - you're the guy who's trying to equate a fan at an organized bike race in a street with a pedestrian on a designated pedestrian sidewalk. I know, I know; it's English and it involves common sense...

I guess something else is obvious.

Up to your old tricks, I see, cc. Make something up, and then rail against it. Knock yourself out!

The only solution here is for pedestrians to heretofore be aware of cyclists the same way they are of motor vehicles. Look both ways even on sidewalks. Walk defensively; that cyclist three blocks away might be on your back within minutes. If you are hit, and the cyclist does not stop, try and find witnesses who will corroborate your story. I'm not lawsuit happy, but be prepared to go the distance if hurt by a cyclist. Finally, certain body language is known to project weakness to the criminal element. Similarly with cyclists in you midst, make eye contact, turn towards them so as to suggest you won't be blindsided. Create the impression you will not be a victim.

Drawing your side-arm does much to dispel the notion that you are a victim-in-waiting.

The battle cry of Portland cyclists: "Two wheels good, four wheels bad!"

I have been hit twice on the corner of Lovejoy and 9th by bicyclists coming down off of the Broadway bridge. There are at least two incidents a week at that corner. Bad couplet move.

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