A recent article in The Oregonian offered details of an Oregon bicycle accident on North Interstate Avenue that appears to be a hit-and-run. The newspaper, citing the Portland police, reports that a 59-year-old North Portland man “was rushed to a local hospital after he was struck by a vehicle in the northbound lanes, just north of Greeley Avenue.”
The newspaper goes on to note that: “a witness described seeing a white Ford pick-up, possibly late 1970s model, driving erratically before the crash. The car did not stop after the crash… (the victim) remains in critical condition at a Portland hospital, police said.”
Incidents like this are a reminder for all of us who care about cycling that Portland’s reputation as one of the most bike-friendly cities in America is no guarantee against the irresponsibility and negligence of others. The reports that the vehicle that struck the cyclist was driving “erratically” add an additional element to this story, hinting at the possibility that this Portland bike and car accident may also be a Portland drunk driving accident. None of us can control what others do, so it is especially important that we be careful when behind the wheel and alert when on our bikes.
The fact that, as The Oregonian notes, this particular intersection has been the scene of previous Portland bike and car accidents is also a reminder of the extent and nature of this problem. Police, local elected officials, Tri-Met and the cycling community all need to work together to improve the safety of our streets and roads for everyone.
BikePortland (see link below) offers excellent safety tips that everyone in the cycling community should be aware of. Beyond that, however, it is important for all of us to ensure that reckless and negligent drivers are held to account and that drivers are reminded regularly that bikes are vehicles with as much right to be on the road as cars and trucks. As a Portland bike advocacy attorney my view has always been that even in a city as ‘green’ as ours the cycling community needs to stand up for its rights. It may never be possible to eliminate entirely accidents like last week’s, but through persistent activism and an insistence that drivers share the road we can make the city safer, as well as greener, for everyone.