A lawsuit filed by the family of a Portland cyclist who was seriously injured last December, in the words of The Oregonian, “by a car driving 60 mph in one of Portland’s most dangerous cyclist-vehicle crossings” has filed a lawsuit targeting both the City of Portland and the State of Oregon.
The lawsuit raises questions about the responsibility not only of the driver who struck the 43-year-old Portland bike rider but also about the city and state’s failure to address what has long been recognized as an exceptionally dangerous stretch of road for bike riders. The newspaper reports that the accident took place at a point on North Greeley Avenue where “the southbound bike lane crosses an on-ramp for Interstate-5 – a section where the speed limit is 45 mph but drivers often travel 55 to 60 mph.” According to the court filing (see link in the Oregonian article below) the biker “suffered a traumatic brain injury” as well as numerous broken bones and a collapsed lung, among other injuries.
This accident took place despite the rider checking the ramp carefully. According to the paper, he saw a truck approaching but correctly judged that he had a safe amount of space to make the required cross-over. What he could not see was a car passing the truck at high speed, and failing to heed the bike lane markings.
A photo accompanying the Oregonian article below illustrates how easily this could happen. Markings on the road simply direct cyclists to cross, with no signage designed to slow cars entering the ramp.
The lawsuit alleges that “at the time of plaintiff’s injury, defendant state of Oregon was aware that the intersection was unsafe.” It further alleges that the city and state failed to deal with the intersection “because of delays associated with providing an analysis to comply with least-cost paperwork requirements.”
In addition to raising concerns about both the city and state and the care they have (or have not) taken to protect riders, the lawsuit also highlights the dangerous actions of the driver. It notes that he was both speeding and driving too fast for conditions as well as failing to keep “adequate control of his vehicle.”
From a civil (as opposed to criminal) perspective this accident could be seen as another case of reckless and negligent driving, like so many others that I see as a Portland car crash attorney every month. What makes this different, and worth our attention as it makes its way through court are the allegations against both Portland and Oregon. Portland has done a lot to try to make our streets more bike friendly over the years (see the BikePortland link at the bottom of this blog), but that does not give municipal planners a pass when they let such an obviously dangerous spot go unfixed for years. Portland cyclists deserve facilities that are as safe as possible.
The Oregonian: Portland cyclist struck at 60 mph sues city, state claiming bad road design
BikePortland: At neighborhood meeting, PBOT explains why they’re making it harder to drive