The Classic - Cycle Oregon

Crash victim was a design student at PNCA

Posted by on October 12th, 2007 at 9:34 am

[Updated 12:29pm]

memorial for Tracy PNCA-3.jpg

A memorial for Tracey
has been created in the
lobby of PNCA.
(Photo © Jonathan Maus)

According to the Multnomah County Medical Examiner’s Office, the victim in yesterday’s fatal collision in downtown Portland was Tracey Sparling.

Sparling was attending design school at Pacific Northwest College of Art (PNCA). She was 19 years old and was living in an apartment just a few blocks from where the collision occurred. (Her parents live in Salem, Oregon).

A few minutes ago, I spoke to the Dean of Students at PNCA, Michael Hall. He said Sparling was five weeks into her first term (after transferring from Syracuse University) and was majoring in Communications Design.

Hall said Sparling was likely out on her lunch break, in between classes, when the collision occurred. He plans to send out a campus-wide email in the next few minutes with the news. Hall will also include details about today’s memorial ride in that email.

(On a side note, Hall is in charge of bike facilities and advocacy at PNCA and he has expressed interest in learning more about the issues.)

According to a recent comment, Sparling planned to go to Tokyo in two weeks with a group of fellow design students.


Another commenter named “bevan” shares with us that Sparling worked at Saint Cupcake in the Pearl District.

The Oregonian has posted a photo and more information about Sparling.

NOTE: We love your comments and work hard to ensure they are productive, considerate, and welcoming of all perspectives. Disagreements are encouraged, but only if done with tact and respect. If you see a mean or inappropriate comment, please contact us and we'll take a look at it right away. Also, if you comment frequently, please consider holding your thoughts so that others can step forward. Thank you — Jonathan

  • Cassidy October 12, 2007 at 10:10 am

    This is so sad. I\’m an evening student at PNCA, and used to live in NW Portland until last year. I biked and bike 14th Ave all the time. I think 14th Avenue\’s immediate proximity to the freeway is its downfall.

    Motorists entering and exiting the freeway at 14th & Burnside are simply not paying attention to the goings on of a normal, bustling, crowded city – pedestrians, dog-walkers, mothers with strollers, bicyclists…. Instead, they are already in \”freeway mode\”, cell-phones in one hand, latte in the other, accelerating at alarming speeds onto or off of the freeway ramps.

    The bikelane a few mere blocks away at SW 14th & Everett from where this awful collision happened is the scariest area of the entire city for biking in for me. Most of the cars have come off of I-405, and are wanting to turn right at Everett. They are speeding and merging FAST off the freeway offramp, and have no regard for the bicyclists in the bikelane there. They block the entire bikelane, leaving bicyclists very vulnerable. A bikebox there would be worth its weight in gold. As the Pearl District, and NW 21st & 23rd Street areas develop, we NEED to share the road, and ensure bicyclists have adequate and safe ways to get to where they are going – whether to work, school, the cinema, or home. It\’s like that picture I once saw. Children are told to share their toys. Adults need to be told to share the roadways.

    My utter heartfelt condolences to all who knew Tracey well. This is so unbelievably sad. I too hope change and goodness will come out of this terrible incident.

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  • The Guilty Carnivore October 12, 2007 at 10:13 am

    Thx for putting a human face on this tragedy. So very, very sad. My heart goes out to her family and friends.

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  • Helen Wheels October 12, 2007 at 10:24 am

    I hate it when I see a fellow cyclist die. Here\’s a good member of the community, selflessly cycling rather than selfishly driving, snuffed out by a vehicle of commerce. So much for our platinum city.

    A few years ago, NW was a great place to ride through, but not since all the Pearl development. Rush hour is really dangerous, especially if you want to go down the formerly wonderful Lovejoy connection to the Broadway Bridge.

    People who drive back and forth to work, clogging up Lovejoy and the Broadway Bridge, Burnside, and everywhere else really should pay for their selfish, wasteful ways, some way or another. Tax the bast***s

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  • J-On-Bike October 12, 2007 at 10:38 am

    I wish every thread wouldn\’t devolve into an indictment of motorized vehicles and their drivers. The reality is, we (cyclists, drivers, gov\’t transit planners) have to figure out a way to safely co-exist.

    News of this fatal collision has moved me to the core – possibly because of proximity (2-blocks from my work), my own recent near misses in similar situations, and the capricious nature of random circumstance that appears to have a significant role in this tragedy.

    I\’d like to think, as a driver and a cyclist, that anyone would be saddened to lose a daughter, sister, friend, colleague under such tragic circumstances.

    My utmost sympathy and heartfelt prayers go out to the victims family and friends during these dark days.

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  • pushkin October 12, 2007 at 10:50 am

    This tragedy is sad beyond words. I can hardly believe it.

    Helen Wheels makes an excellent point about the Pearl and NW in general. A real example of the good and bad of recent economic development in Portland.

    Until a few years ago downtown was a pretty safe and easy place to ride through. The combination of congestion, increased pollution and more train tracks is ridiculous. Now I avoid downtown as much as possible. Unless you work there, what\’s the point of being downtown? I don\’t even bother to shop there, it\’s just a drag; I spend my money on the mellow east side.

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  • devan October 12, 2007 at 11:00 am

    I work at Saint Cupcake, and heard news yesterday that a young woman was killed on her bicycle. Me and all my coworkers were shaken to the core. Today I recieved a call and found out that it was my coworker, Tracey. I am at a complete loss for words. She was the sweetest, most charismatic and charming person. The kind of person who is never in a bad mood. I\’m so sad right now that this happened to someone so wonderful, let alone having it happen to anybody. I\’m so sorry Tracey, my heart goes out to your friends and family. We all love and miss you very much at Saint Cupcake.

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  • rixtir October 12, 2007 at 11:14 am

    As I get older, I\’m having to face the fact of my own mortality. Still, when it\’s time for me to go, I will at least have had the chance to live my life. But when I see a young life ended before it really began, it always makes me so sad.

    R.I.P. Tracey. You will be missed, even by those who never knew you.

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  • Tankagnolo Bob October 12, 2007 at 11:38 am

    Be carefull out there. Always avoid being in a drivers blind spot whan going streight. Try to make eye contact, and if the vehicle is even slightly ahead of you, don\’t move out until the vehicle has clearly choosen its direction. We shouldnt have to drive defensivly, but then again, we have no airbags, so we must.

    Any near wrecks I have had with cars in my fifty years of cycling has been just that, the right turn from the car.

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  • amanda October 12, 2007 at 1:26 pm

    Good advice, Tankagnolo Bob. This is very sad, my heart goes out to all those who knew this girl.

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  • Mark-r October 12, 2007 at 1:33 pm

    J-On-Bike…those are the most intelligent words I\’ve seen to date regarding yesterday’s tragedy.

    I would like to add that the problem is not just with drivers, it includes pedestrians and other cyclists too.

    The people of this area really need to pull their heads out of their arse\’s and start paying attention to what is going on around them. As a daily commuter who plays by the rules I\’ve lost count of the near misses I\’ve seen. Most of my personal near misses have been with other cyclists blowing through stop signs/intersections and jaywalkers.

    As a father of a daughter with similar qualities my thoughts and prayers go out to Tracey\’s parents, family and friends. I can only hope and pray this tragedy will get \”everyone\” to wake up and start paying attention to what is going on around them. Until then, it\’s just a matter of time until we gather and morn the next \”Tracey\”.

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  • DK October 12, 2007 at 1:55 pm

    As much as I only wanted to send my heartfelt sympathies and thoughts to all that knew Tracey, this still points out the fact that convex mirrors should be required on the front hoods of all rigs and vehicles that are known to have blind spots out there. Positioned to be easily seen by the drivers, in both directions while sitting up high. Not necessarily the solution, but just a start. R.I.P. Tracey.

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  • Spencer October 12, 2007 at 2:29 pm

    To those who think the Pearl used to be safe.

    I lived at 13th and Marshal for a number of years in the late 90\’s. Back then you had to ride a mtn bike through the area the because many of the streets were cobbel and gravel, filled with rail road tracks, semi trucks, potholes, dumpsters etc. Anything less than a 2.3\’ tire was silly.

    Maybe you are thinking about living west of 405 and that ocational trip through the old industrial area. Personally, I find it much safer to ride through the Peal now.

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  • Todd Boulanger October 12, 2007 at 4:02 pm

    How about the PCNA community (students and faculty) work on a bike related art memorial for Tracey (and other cyclists)?

    I would suggest they consider…an artistic roof for the new bike parking that PNCA just installed. Bike parking that Tracey no doubt liked and used.

    Plus I would also suggest that PNCA work with the McMeniman brothers (and their art staff) to make a memorial at their bar there…perhaps a ghost bike suspended from the corner of the building and flying towards the PNCA campus.

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  • Matt Picio October 12, 2007 at 4:43 pm

    May her family find comfort and healing, and wherever Tracey Sparling is now, I hope the pedalling is easy and traffic nonexistant.

    Whatever power you belive in, please invoke them to heal all those involved, and all those who feel the pain of this tragedy.

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  • bflo October 12, 2007 at 4:46 pm

    @Todd: I work at PNCA and I will bring your suggestions up to the community at large. I like both of them.

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  • A neighbor October 12, 2007 at 4:55 pm

    I drive up 14th past Burnside everyday to my workplace and I often have close encounters with other vehicles. Whether driving or walking (don’t yet own a bicycle), it’s amazing how we manage to avoid collisions, as close as we often get. I’ve had moments with trucks, cyclists, motorcyclists, pedestrians, dogs, you name it. And yet I carry on like normal and never think about the dangers until news like this hit the neighborhood, even when it hits so close to home:

    One day, an SUV driver had sun in his eyes and drove through a red light, where he then met me. His bumper bumped me off my motorcycle, broke my bones and left me bleeding on the pavement. A year later on Halloween night, my sister was driving back from school and was nearly a block away from home when she hit a 7-year-old girl. The poor girl was eyeing the candies in her bag when she stepped off the curb and walked right into oncoming traffic.

    Road disaster can come from anywhere from anything from anybody, though it doesn’t stop me from going to work. It’s just part of life on the road. Isn’t it so for all of us? Stop the blame game. Let this be a reminder to all of us on the importance of paying attention to your surroundings.

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  • s.anita October 12, 2007 at 5:54 pm

    i graduated from PNCA almost two years ago, and am now a teacher\’s assistant there. PNCA is small compared to most colleges, so there really is such a sense of community and even family among the student body and faculty. this loss is tremendous. and like so many, i am at a loss for words. just a hollow feeling in my chest. my heart is with all of tracey\’s family and friends. the ride home from school today was pretty difficult and weepy. you will be missed tracey. this is such a loss.

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  • joe October 12, 2007 at 7:21 pm

    I couldnt make this tonight, but know
    that my heart and thoughts are out to her
    family and friends.. tonights ride is for you.. everyone comes as one.

    Peace on the street.

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  • Mo October 12, 2007 at 7:21 pm

    I go through that intersection every day around 2:00 pm. Yesterday I had to take a detour, although I didn\’t know why. So now I keep thinking \”it could have been me\”. To all of Tracey\’s friends, family, and co-workers, I\’m so sorry.

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  • suz October 14, 2007 at 3:45 pm

    My heart goes out to anyone who knew Tracey. I was biking from school to work when I encountered the accident scene. I can\’t get the fear to subside now- I use that intersection about 5 times a day. That night I was biking, thinking about the accident and almost got hit by a cab. I didn\’t know Tracey, but I very well could have, and I am urging all my friends to get helmets and be aware, and am getting one myself. I\’m so sorry this happened to such a young woman.

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  • Jack October 15, 2007 at 7:34 pm

    She was knocked over by the right front fender or bumper of the truck and hit her head on the asphalt and died. There is a lesson here. Wear a helment anytime you ride a bike. I did from the first mile that I rode and for about 25,000 more. I needed it once. I was never touched by a vehicle.

    Wear a helmet, save a life.

    Don\’t let her die in vain.

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  • […] Something happened that has affected two of my beloved communities here in Portland. One being my college, PNCA and the other being the cycling community. Without getting into the horrible details a classmate of mine was killed on the way to school last Thursday. She was obeying all the traffic laws and was right hooked my a cement truck. If you want to know more read this. […]

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