Another cyclist killed, now what?

Posted by Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) on August 2nd, 2005 at 10:33 am

Last night a cyclist was struck and killed near Delta Park in North Portland . The vehicle did not stop and is currently at large. The cyclist's identity has not been released.

As you may know, this is not the first cyclist killed by a car this summer. There is an unfortunate yet undeniable trend in fatalities in the last few months.

The safety of bicyclists on Portland's streets has become a hot topic in transportation circles and now the media is starting to take note as well. Yesterday morning (before this most recent fatality) I fielded calls from both KGW and KOIN TV about the issue. I also spoke with a writer from The Daily Vanguard (the PSU newspaper) last week and this story was the result.

I am glad to see the increased attention for this issue, but I'm afraid it won't be enough. We (the bike community) must do our part to help make our streets a safer place.

But what can we do?

  • Talk to your friends and neighbors. Tell them to take extra care while driving and riding. Ask them to relax, to be aware of bikes, and to not be in a hurry out on the roads.
  • Get involved with organizations who are working hard to improve biking conditions and raise awareness of bikes on the road.
  • Educate yourself about the rules of the road by reading "Pedal Power" (available through the BTA).
  • Ride defensively and ride with confidence.
  • Create websites, blogs, stickers, t-shirts, anything to spread awareness of this issue.
  • Engage your representatives in government and let them know safe streets are important to you.
  • Most importantly, maintain a constructive dialogue with our four-wheeled friends. I don't like cars much either, but I also know that an extreme response will not help the situation.

This list is just a start. If you have more ideas, please leave them in the comments for all to see.

I encourage everyone to stay tuned to the bike community for opportunities to mobilize and volunteer. Our combined strength and collective voice is our best chance at bringing about change.

See you out there.

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  • MJ August 2, 2005 at 2:19 pm

    Now it's time!

    This summer has seen way too many cyclists deaths! I'm done sending emails and talking about deaths. I'm ready to start doing something!

    I was unclear about what exactly to do until this morning when someone sent out a link to:

    I really like this idea, I'm not certain if we should do the exact same thing or put a Portland twist on it, but I think it is heading in the right direction.

    If you are interested in helping with this project send me an email mjfreshyfresh[at]gmail[dot]com.

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  • David Auker August 3, 2005 at 3:31 pm

    When you ask, "But what can we do?"

    Be visible. I believe in the power of being seen. Bright clothing! We are at least as vulnerable as flaggers at road construction, and do they hold up a gray flag, dressed in gray? No, they wear "safety clothing," bright and visible. When we want right-of-way, how much can it really be expected if we're on some dark shady street, dressed darkly, and really hard to see? Yet, I'm amazed at how many drab-clothed bicycle riders I "see."

    * Ride defensively and ride with confidence.

    ...confidence that you can be seen...REALLY SEEN!

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  • Jonathan Maus August 3, 2005 at 3:53 pm

    That's a great suggestion. It's unfortunate that fashion is so important to so many cyclists. The fact is that to many folk, drab clothing is way cooler than looking like a lycra-clad, flourescent, Bike Nashbar catalog...but safety should take priority!

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  • Evan Manvel August 4, 2005 at 8:46 am

    Good news -- they caught the driver. He lives in Longview, Washington.

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  • Elliot Bailey August 6, 2005 at 12:45 pm

    Bright clothing is a wonderful idea. Too bad it didnt' help Roger Wyatt much when he got rundown at Powell and Milwaukie...at 10:30 in the morning. Not exactly a dark and shady street.

    This is not to say that your suggestion isn't valid, but don't oversimplify the problem by being so quick to point the finger at cyclists. There is only so much that we CAN do before the people that are actually doing the killing have to take steps to rectify the problems they present as well.

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  • Luciano Bailey August 9, 2005 at 2:41 pm

    Along with clothing awareness is key anticipate the wrong moves of drivers assume they will turn in front of you and cannot see you. Also my six year Portland bike survey says Washington drivers are the worst they must not have cyclists in Washington

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