No sympathy for cyclist struck on Swan Island
See this post from Jonathan Maus on bikeportland.org
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“On January 2nd, I was riding home from work at 5:15p.m. and was was struck by a Jeep Wrangler pulling out from a stop sign. The driver was pulling out from N Wygant St. onto N Basin Ave. As I approached the intersection, the Jeep appeared to be coming to a stop at the stop sign. Therefore I concluded that I had time to cross in front of the Jeep as she came to a stop.
The rider that was struck has posted a response on BikePortland.org. Although I encourage you to head over there and read all (well most of the comments–some are nearly worthless in my opinion) I have copied their post here for your convenience.
January 23rd, 2007 22:52
Thanks to everyone in the Portland biking community for all of your thoughts concerning this incident. I am the cyclist who was injured in this accident and I would like to respond to a few of the comments and try to clear a few things up. You should all know that I will be hiring a lawyer and I will be fighting to vindicate myself. Hopefully some good will come from the outcome for the cycling community.
First of all, anyone who still thinks that there is ANY safer way to ride on Swan Island, when riding from Leverman Ave, which is where I work, is crazy. There is no shoulder or sidewalk on the other side of the road. This is a twisty road along which many, many big trucks and anxious commuters drive very fast, especially at 5:15 p.m.
I will admit to being a relatively new bike commuter, but I am always cautious and try my best not to put myself in harms way. After the fact I do agree with a lot of the comments that folks have posted about making eye contact, flashing lights in driver’s eyes, and blasting horns. I am sure I will employ some of these tactics when I am well enough to get back on my bike. None of this helps me right now, of course. For the record, I was approaching the crosswalk cautiously and did not increase my speed until I realized I was about to be squashed.
I would also like to say that the fact that I ride on the sidewalk on Swan Island is not because I am a timid rider seeking the “safety” of a sidewalk. Nor is it because I am too lazy to travel a few more blocks out of my way in order to travel with the flow of traffic. The simple fact is, as Lenny has said, it is the safest way to travel on Swan Island, PERIOD. Go check it out at 5p.m. tomorrow night if you don’t believe me. Why does everyone who has experience biking on Swan Island agree with me? Coincidence? I think not.
That being said, the thing that really gets me is how the driver is not being held accountable for her actions. How can the police officer, who, in fact, did fill out a complete police report with a diagram and an extremely biased description, place all the blame on me? I appreciate and agree with the comments from PoPo, but it leaves me wondering why the officer that attended the scene did not take a statement at all from me. How can someone write a report that is supposed to acurately recreate the events that occurred, when only one party is inteviewed? I was definitely in shock and pain, but if the officer had spoken to me in rational manner, I’m sure I would have responded as calmly and accurately as possible.
In Brad’s post, he stated, “In most accidents, human error generally occurs with both parties to create the circumstances required for the collision to happen.” I agree with this statement and I am just looking for the driver to assume some accountability. Of course I feel that she is more at fault, and therefore think that she should be ultimately liable for what happened. But thanks to the extremely incompetent, insensitive, and unprofessional police officer who responded to the accident, I was the one who was presumed guilty and now I must fight to prove my innocence. I guess it will be up to the courts to decide this one.
So much more to say! How do I respond to all of these comments at once? I just want to say thanks to Jonathan for thinking this was worth writing about. Hopefully it has made more riders aware of some of the dangers that lurk out there. I urge you to be careful on sidewalks and to observe the laws that are in place, especially the crosswalk law that Ray Thomas has written about on several occasions and is trying to get changed. Also thanks to Lenny Andersen. I will be getting in touch with you soon.
Finally, I promise to be an advocate for the npGreenway Trail because I don’t plan to stop commuting by bike because of this, but it sure would be nice to have a safer route.
It was this sort of situation – vague, uncoordinated bike paths, unaware drivers, being on the losing side of the laws of physics – that landed me on crutches for the whole first quarter of my senior year in high school, and which has also left me with a reminder in the form of arthritic pain every time it gets cold outside.
I would NOT hesitate to get an attorney. I ended up engaging an attorney (at the age of 17) and going after the guy’s insurance company. Unfortunately, the burden of proof seems to always be on the cyclist, as if we don’t have an equal right to travel on public ways since we are doing it without the burning fossil fuels.
An accident, by its very nature as an unexpected event, is going to leave all the participants and witnesses with a different perspective and a different perception of how the events unfolded. It’s like the classic Japanese tale Rashomon. (If everyone were able to see all that was happening then there wouldn’t have been an accident.)
Good luck on your recovery and don’t let yourself get railroaded by an incomplete police report or a recalcitrant insurance company. Almost every insurance company is recalcitrant. That’s how they stay in business.