TriMet bus operator allegedly drives into people on Williams Ave, then flees
Anybody that knows anything about Portland knows that the bicyclist community is highly organized and can reek havoc into the life of any Trimet bus driver. I've been the target of those people in the past and that only happened because of my postings on BikePortland which pissed off the members of that blog so much they concocted phony complaints about me. Trimet always takes that nonsense seriously so I was out on administrative leave for a few days. All over a comment(actually a series of provocative posts) on that blog.
Last night a TriMet bus operator turned her bus directly into a group of people who were using North Williams Avenue. Contact was made between the bus and a trailer attached to a man’s bicycle, but luckily there were no injuries. Two witnesses tell us the bus operator forced her way through a crosswalk that was full of bikers and walkers while honking repeatedly, then fled the scene only to stop several blocks later after people chased her down.
Ironically, the man whose trailer was hit was on the “Save The Humans” traffic safety protest ride happening as part of Pedalpalooza.
The incident happened around 7:15 pm last night at the intersection of N Williams and Fremont. A group of people were biking north on Williams when a #4 TriMet Bus (#3106) wanted to turn left. Based on photos taken at the scene there were several dozen riders already north of Fremont before the bus operator started the left turn.
Local business owner Abraham Sutfin snapped several photos from the sidewalk outside his store across the street. I’ve shared them below in chronological order:
Note that just prior to this intersection, the bike lane is painted solid green. Then just before Fremont it becomes striped and veers right to mark a mixing zone where vehicles who want to turn left are required cross over the bicycle lane. This location has been problematic ever since it was designed. Back in December we covered a collision here and a few months later PBOT addressed concerns by adding more green paint.
According to two witnesses who saw last night’s collision, the bus operator failed to yield to people who were in the bike lane. Cameron Schnur told us he and a few others had left the bike lane because it was full and was riding in the adjacent lane. “I look behind me, and all I see is a bus. I was riding with a trailer, which I’m not used to doing, and it still felt like this bus was pretty uncomfortably close.”
Here’s more from Schnur:
“I see the bus cut through the “merge” to the turn lane, without yielding to our cyclists who were continuing straight, next to it in the bike lane. I didn’t see what happened to those cyclists that the bus cut off; I was later told that they were forced to the curb. As far as I knew at that point, they could’ve been hit.”Then, according to Schnur, the bus starting “honking rapidly” and continued through the crosswalk where several people on bikes and foot were using. The bus operator continued through, forcing people to get out of the way.
“It [the bus] is not slowing down. I believe Aaron [Tarfman, the man who’s trailer was hit] was on the opposite side of the bus from me (cut off by it). I am in front of the bus (it’s turning behind me). At this point, I turn and begin banging on the side of the bus with my hand to get it to stop, but it does not. It continues through the crosswalk and accelerates to the next intersection, fleeing the scene. According to Aaron/another witness, the bus clipped Aaron’s trailer on that turn. I didn’t see that, but am not at all surprised by it. From the look of that fast, honking turn through the crosswalk, I feel it’s a miracle no one was hurt.Another witness confirmed Schnur’s account of the bus operator “forcing her way” through the crosswalk while it was full of people. And another source told us the ride was about 50 people strong at the time of the collision, but they were not corking (stopping cross traffic) against a light.
Aaron, another cyclist or two, and I, book it down Fremont to catch up to the bus to cut it off. We pass a cop car on the way; their windows are down. I yell something about ‘this bus just tried to kill us’ but I’m not sure I’m heard.
We catch up to the bus a few blocks down, and get it to stop. Another cyclist (not sure who) shouts that the bus should call this in. We see the bus driver get on the phone. Then, a few passengers come out of the bus to tell us to move. We exchange a few words, mostly “you guys are in the way, move” and “that bus driver just tried to kill us” and within a few minutes, we move on, and let the bus go.”
Shane Strudwick was on the bus when the collision occurred and shared her account of what happened on Twitter last night. From her vantage point on the right-side rear of the bus, she felt like the bike riders were “interfering with TriMet.” “I was on that bus,” she wrote, “he wasn’t hit. He slammed the side of the bus & impeded its route.” Strudwick added that in her mind, “the driver did everything she could to avoid him.”
TriMet spokeswoman Mary Fetsch says they are aware of the incident and are currently looking into it. We’ll update this post when we know more.
TriMet bus operator allegedly drives into people on Williams Ave, then flees - BikePortland.org