Hundreds of Portlanders came together tonight to ride (and walk) in memory of Tracey Sparling and the tragic collision that took her life less than 36 hours ago.
We gathered at the west end of the Burnside Bridge. Before making our way up Burnside to SW 14th, ride organizer Carl Larson mounted a pedicab and said, “I just felt this was something that had to be done.”
Scott Bricker of the BTA also addressed the crowd. Holding his 1 year-old daughter, he pointed out that statistically, motor vehicle-related crashes pose the largest risk to “taking her away” from he and his wife.
With the chiming of bike bells, we set out as a group up Burnside. The procession — which filled more than a city block — remained quiet, except for our bells and the occasional car honk.
I noticed little, if any anger coming from motorists
(we slowed their evening commute by a few minutes). The amount of riders was much more than we expected and ended up taking the entire lane on Burnside; backing up car traffic behind us and holding-up (a.k.a. “corking”) cross-traffic at several intersections so the group could stay together.
I’m disappointed that the Oregonian decided to write the headline, “Mourners, drivers clash during vigil to mourn cyclist run over by cement truck”. Did anyone else on the ride notice this “clash”?
We decided to ride up SW 14th, which meant we rolled up on the intersection with Burnside just like Tracey did on Thursday afternoon.
The crowd gathered in silence around the Ghost Bike. People began placing candles, notes, pictures of Tracey, and flowers around the bike.
We expected to offer folks the opportunity to talk, but somehow, at this point, words didn’t seem to be needed. We all just stood in silence; our thoughts accompanied by the cacophony of rush-hour traffic, sobs, and sniffles.
Tonight we mourned not just Tracey, but the circumstances that led to her death. I won’t accept that this was “just an accident”, and I don’t think I’m alone. There is much more to this tragedy that needs to (and will) be addressed.
Thanks to Carl and Tiago for making this happen so quickly and to everyone who showed up on such short notice.
Here’s my slideshow:
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No such clash. The Oregonian is wrong. There were maybe 2 or three drivers who got irritated, and one there in the Pearl when we turned off Burnside that insisted on trying to drive through the pack.
But it was very quiet and peaceful and there was a sad melody of bicycle bells ringing through the ride.
Thank you Carl and Tiago for organizing this, tahnk you Jonathan for spreading the word, and thank you to everybody who showed up, even if only in spirit. It was sad and beautiful and awful and awesome, all at once.
Some photos of the procession: http://www.flickr.com/photos/tufts_of_tafetta/sets/72157602395702609/
What an experience.. the chiming of everyones bike bells was hypnotic.
There was a bit of a confrontation around powells. Someone was upset, may have gotten out of his car. A couple boys a bit ahead of me stopped talked to him and I thing It was over. That\’s the biggest confrontation I saw tonight.
I saw the same thing Robin did, but I think I was a bit closer to the confrontation. It was just a case of too much testosterone in one motorist and one cyclist who passed too close to each other. Once the girlfriend of the motorist realized what was going on (a ride of mourning), she got her man calmed down and moving on. Others on the ride got the cyclist to ride away and let it go.
It turned out not to be a big deal, but I think we can all be grateful to that girlfriend in the car.
I\’ll regret for a long time that I wasn\’t able to make it. I\’m going to visit the site tomorrow or Sunday. Thanks for all your great work, Jonathan.
I made the first comment on the Oregonian article and I almost told them they got it right except for the headline, but I held back, after I thought about it a bit more. The ride was mostly free of negative interactions with cars but it got worse after a while when we were in front of the Crystal, especially as the Friday night traffic increased. I was there \’til most of the crowd left and then noticed we had backed up the car traffic up 14th quite a bit, and then the cars got more aggressive. Then the cops showed up and they didn\’t seem very understanding (and I noticed that ironically, the buses parked in front pushed into the bike lane, thus narrowing it, and they didn\’t seem too concerned about that.) I think that one of the reasons that intersection is unsafe is it\’s the last light for the freeway-bound traffic, and it\’s slightly downhill… they hit the gas and roar off fast.
Also, imagine what it would have been like if Burnside and the bridge weren\’t so much under construction and thus lacking cars.
But it felt great to hold the road as long as we did.
I saw the guy that tried to drive through the pack. The driver had some choice words to say, and i believe tried to get out of his car. I believe i saw a cyclist shut the driver door as the motorist tried to open it. Other bicyclists told the the cyclist who was trying to explain what was taking place to move on, that the ride wasn\’t about \”this.\”
Another incident was with a lady who was accepting what was taking place, just unhappy about waiting for the group to pass by, as she tried to leave Powell\’s.
KATU Channel 2 had what i thought to be a very moving segment on the ride, very touching.
The thing in front of Powell\’s was not that big a deal from what I could see, I just saw the driver of the car saying \”I understand and I respect that, just don\’t touch my car.\” Nothing seemed heated or newsworthy there.
I\’ve never been to an event like this, but it was borderline magical. It was so beautiful to see all the bike lights sparkling, the bells ringing, the warm (and dry) autumn night, the leaves changing to orange and red. It was absolutely beautiful.
My deepest condolences to the family, friends and co-workers of Tracey.
You\’re right that the headline does not accurately reflect the overall ride, but I saw plenty of clashes. Coming up 13th there was a woman yelling at us when we took up both lanes of a two way street. Some people let her know it was a memorial ride, but she yelled back anyway. And on 14th there were many honks and more than one \”get the f#*k off the road!\”
Keep in mind that the headlines are written completely separate from the article. There probably should be a disclaimer on the front page of each paper explaining that the headlines are just meant to grab your eye and may not reflect the facts of the story. The writer has no input on the headline.
I was very moved by this ride. It was difficult approaching 14th from Washington knowing I was about to come upon the scene for the first time.
My condolences to the family, friends and acquaintances.
I was right near the altercation at Powells, the driver was irritated because a cyclist was on the yellow line / in the oncoming traffic, the driver honked, there were some words, and the cyclist tried to swing at him (the guy\’s window was down), then the driver tried to get out of the car. I got in between them and held the door closed and explained that it \”wasn\’t going to happen\” as did others.
Most funniest altercation / moment was when an irritated obese guy yelling at people in the Pearl that they had to stop for him to cross the street.
It\’s me again. I work @ the crystal ballroom for anyone who didn\’t see my earlier post. At least one of my co-workers rode with the procession tonight, and it\’s impacted every employee there. Alot of the mourners stayed into the later evening, and there were constant visitors well into the night. It was beautiful and heart-wrenching at the same time. I\’m going to make some additions to the memorial myself as are a few other employees. Looking at her picture I think I may have met her once or twice, and I\’m sure she came to a concert or two. I barely knew her at all, and my heart feels heavy. But at least I know I\’m not alone. Some people were just learning that something happened at that spot, and tonight and were asking me for a pen so they could leave their messages. It\’s beautiful when people can put aside their differences and come together. Unfortunately it usually takes a tragedy like this for it to happen. This example of mortality should be a lesson to both driver and cyclist alike. I wish to remain neutral on the \”accident/killing\” debate stemming from this event, but I\’d like to say this in general: Stop calling her SOME girl, SOME cyclist, etc. SHE had a name…TRACEY SPARLING, I don\’t care WHO you are….show some RESPECT for the dead. What a waste of young human life. She touched SO many people in life AND in death. It sickens me how people use tragedies like this to promote segregation. i.e. Bicyclists VS. Drivers. Just for one second, don\’t make it about you or \”right vs. wrong\”. Someone much too young lost their life on October 11th 2007 at around 1:40pm and that is a VERY real thing. Both \”sides\” should stop dismissing it as \”just another example\” That\’s all I care to say on this matter. I\’m apologize if my comments offend anyone but because of my employment, it\’s hard for me to vent my feelings while I\’m at work. I\’m glad there\’s a place where we can all be heard, positive OR negative.
Devastating. The death of a 19 year old whether on a bike or in desert far-away is simply incomprehensible.
yelling at people in the Pearl that they had to stop for him to cross the street.
I saw this guy. He said something like:
\”Jesus, you don\’t own the road\”
Then somebody said back:
\”We do tonight\”
I\’m not sure what it is, but this is the second (that I know of) outstanding young woman from the WSHS class of 2006 to die in an accident. A very devastating ordeal for the families….
As the father of the other girl, I know.
Thanks to all that joined the ride and vigil. It is a great way to show support.
I was in the middle of the thing (the tall guy on the black Trek, having a hard time with the slow speed) and I noticed no \”clash.\” We must remember that The Big O\’s goal is to sell papers, so they will add editorial flair whenever they can. There were a few frustrated motorists, but overall the tone — even from the upset Honda driver — seemed to imply sympathy.
What I didn\’t like was the Guy Who Used Caps in his reply to the Oregonlive blog, who deplored \”activist groups\” that quoted something that was not within the post itself: \”Bicyclists expect and are trained by activists groups that when you\’ve got the bike lane, you can do what you want to do.\”
This person goes on to say: \”The Activist Groups Should Be held responsible For Making martyrs out of People. Nobody should attempt to Pass on the Blind side Common Sense Dictates that\”
Well, we know that the person did not pass anyone. We also know that this poster to the Oregonlive blog is a flaming idiot. I encourage others to review this person\’s post and comment on it freely (his handle is \”gbudavid.\”).
Very beautiful, very moving ride. Scott Bricker\’s moving comments at the start of the ride regarding his own daughter really hit home for me.
I was very close to the white Neon that had the issue with the riders. I also had my helmet cam running. I have the license number of the vehicle if anyone wants to file anything. The driver is lucky that he was refrained from stepping out of the vehicle. He was grossly outnumbered.
that was beautiful and heavy
when I got to the spot I looked up at the street signs and had so many thoughts on improving signage and visibility
when I looked up at the lane direction signs, I thought
why isn’t there a line showing the bike lane there?
there is just the arrow saying you can drive straight or take a right, but another lane (maybe blue)
could easily be painted on the signage to show that a bike lane
is to your right.
It is difficult to even know there is a bike lane there
with the tour buses parked there
And why can’t a blue stripe be painted through the intersections,
to alert drivers that they are turning through a bike lane?
the bells ringing, the slowness of the ride, the blinking lights
it was really beautiful
I am sad and tired now
someone was whistling on their bike right as I neared my house
later in the evening
whistling oh so happily
life goes on
Hundreds?? Near Powells I was near the middle of the procession last night, a block and a half back from the front, and there was at least a block and a half behind me. Three lanes wide, at a walking pace. I estimated the crowd at well over a thousand, and 1800 would not shock me.
No one is talking about better safety equipment for trucks. The EU has required equipment to prevent trucks overriding pedestrians and bikes on the front, rear and side. This is not a bike lane issue, 10% of pedestrian casualties are from this sort of crash. The news media is on the wrong angle.
That ride was incredibly moving and important. There are a million thoughts that go through your head when you see that ghost bike and memorial. I didn\’t know Tracey, but I know that I feel her loss profoundly and was glad to be able to share that with everyone last night.
Thanks Carl and Tiago for organizing the ride.
I am very upset at the response to this \”accident\”. This truck driver should have looked for a cyclist in the bike lane BEFORE he made a turn across it. The bike lane is a normal traffic lane, only for bikes. If this was a car lane, he would have checked the lane to make sure no one was there before he made his turn. The cyclist was doing everything she was supposed to do, she should not have died.
About 2 years ago a Rinker truck driver ran me off the road. We had a little discussion when I caught up to him a couple miles down the road. He felt he had a right to cut me off on a right hand turn and somehow felt that since I could get killed if I did not yield, that it was my duty to yeild to him- no matter what he did! He also claimed he did not see me but I could see his face as he cut me off so I know he was lying. Sounds like Rinker truck drivers need some education as to the rules of the road !
I can\’t believe the press and cops are writing this off as an accident. If the truck driver can\’t see all borders of his truck then, he needs better mirrors. If he is going to drive in an area where there are bikes then, he needs to operate in a manner that will not KILL cyclists.
I suggest that all riders wear black armbands for a week after a tradegy like this. Sadly, this won\’t be the last time a rider is cut down by a car.
Am I the only with a sense of offense at this memorial? It smacks of \”Pretty White Girl\” syndrome… Where was the procession for Jerry Hinatsu? What about all the others who have died in automobile collisions, be they in crosswalks, drunk-driving, or as cyclists.
This makes me feel as if the outrage (or whatever) is somehow tainted by hypocrisy. What is different or special about this occurrence compared to the other cyclists that die every day on the road?
I really dislike to hate on this woman (I\’m not) but the reality is that I have very little faith in the Portland Bicycle Community to deal with these incidents reasonably rather than attempt to claim a moral highground which shouldn\’t exist.
Yesterday, probably on his way to the memorial, a cyclist ran a stop sign, going right in front of my car, and flipped me off. Thankfully I was driving slowly and carefully, and I didn\’t cream into him. But I was so offended by him, and his implication that he had the right to ignore stop signs. When I read these articles describing the outrage cyclists are feeling, I think of this kid, giving me the finger in front of my children. What a jerk. It\’s about sharing the road, not owning the road.
It was a good ride. I hope everybody who participated took something valuable away.
I was there when the woman in the car got hemmed in on 13th or 14th. It was unfortunate. She had a point: she had been behind the procession all the way up Burnside and all she was trying to do was \”take the lane\” and be on her way. Sure, it was just a few minutes out of her life, but she was basically being intimidated by the the riders that were stopped and surrounding her car. When drivers say cyclists have an entitlement chip on their shoulders, they point to incidents such as this.
My favorite moment was on the way home, miles from the incident, travelling up the Williams corridor, riders I passed and that passed me all had very thoughtful things to say such as \”Have a safe ride.\”
(Although the portly Pearl pedestrian with the loud anti-bike sentiments was pretty funny, too.)
I didn\’t know the woman who was killed, but I hope our small show of support is of some comfort to her family and friends.
I want to thank the Oregonian by putting the issue of bike lane laws on the front page. On Friday I stopped, on my bike, by the spot on 14th Street where Tracey Sparling was killed to pay my respects. Moments later I was nearly struck by an SUV illegally driving in the bike lane, to get a jump on turning right on NW Everett. This is common at this intersection. If Portland wants to a city that is truly safe for bicyclists, Portland Police need to regularly ticket drivers who break this law (along with cyclists who run red lights). I’ve been hit twice while legally biking. I fear that next time I get hit, all that will be left will be a ghost bike.
Some spelling corrections:
In reading today\’s Oregonian coverage of the crash…I have these thoughts:
– nice graphic of the CA v. OR laws…but we seem to be leaping ahead and perscribing the false solution here…what about showing some of the design options that could have made this intersection more safe (such as moving the right turn lane into the parking lane, bike boxes, lead bicyclist interval, etc.) that are commonly used in other bike friendly cities
– What is Lt. Kruger\’s role in this situation, as part of the police department\’s traffic division, as he seems to be coming on a bit strong against the bike community in this time of sorrow [unprofessional?]…perhaps an equally strong bias against working with the bike advocacy and safety community and thus to equally serve and protect bicyclists? Read this quote from today\’s Oregonian…
\”Lt. Mark Kruger of the Portland Police Bureau\’s traffic division…
\”Motorists have been conditioned for 100 years that no one is going to pass them on the right,\” Kruger said…
\”Bicyclists expect and are trained by activists groups that when you\’ve got the bike lane, you can do what you want to do,\” he said. \”We have a lot of these collisions that don\’t end in fatalities, but they are stubborn to the point that they won\’t give up ground for the sake of safety.\”
Perhaps Lt. Kruger has forgotten a bit of traffic history…in that car drivers have been sharing the roads with bicyclists for 100 years…that bikes did not just come out on the market last year like a Segway…basically bicycles have been a part of oregon\’s streets for 130 years…long before cars hit the streets.
Bicyclists have been legislated (and police enforced/ trained) to operate on the far right of the vehicle stream…vs. taking the lane for decades…
He can thank the cyclist community for starting the Good Roads Movement that led to many of the core streets in Portland being built and ultimately for his job (who needs a traffic division without traffic?) and paycheck.
And where is Lt. Kruger\’s thoughts about the other party to this crash…the truck driver and the trucking industry…I seem to have read in the paper this week that about 10% of the commercial drivers screened at weight stations here are high on one or more illegal drugs…hmmm where is his outrage there?
As a member of the procession last night I was moved beyond words. I did have the luck of meeting Tracey a few times and seeing the affect she had on people first hand. Conlan-I love you friend, I can\’t imagine the emotions you are feeling . My heart is broken for you and Traceys family. The amazing turnout last night proves what some where lucky enough to know, Tracey Sparling made an impact with her life and continues to bring people together and bring out the best. Thank You for coming down last night everyone, it was an honor to join you.
Oh and thank you KATU for some good coverage of the situation…especially in supporting a reporter who is willing to jump on a bike (with a truck) and show how poor truck design is for operations in tight urban streets (limited sight vision, traffic signal lamp locations etc.)
Since many of these large trucks are operating on city contracted construction jobs…how about if the City were to inspect and require trucks operating in the City Center to be the safest design on the market for operating among pedestrian and bicyclists? (do I hear platium points?) This would be a part of the bid package for projects.
And it might be a good time to rethink how City Center work zones are handled per bicycle access…check out the crow.nl manual for bikeway facilities…perhaps the number of motor vehicle lanes in and leading to downtown work zones should be reduced in order to provide 14 foot lanes for wider commercial trucks?
It will affect street capacity but enhance traffic safety. The choice is \’ours\’.
bicycles are NOT for the ROAD…the road is for MOTORIZED VEHICLES. almost every cyclist i have seen in oregon does NOT obey the laws…they ride in and out of the provided bike lane…disrupting traffic and generally being a road HAZARD. then when they get hit…they claim it was the motorist\’s fault. RIDICULUS!!! I am always sorry when someone loses their life….especially when it is from their own arrogance and stupidity.I find it incredible that she did not see the very large truck and YEILD TO IT. Tragic…but her own fault none the less.
And thank you KGW 8 for good coverage of this issue too:
and the KATU links:
I wish to thank many of the patient and understanding motorists who we came into contact with last night during the event.
I was helping with traffic control just south of the memorial and got to talk with many as they waited for their turn to turn onto 14th.
They seemed to understand what was going on without knowing of the memorial ride…and many of them had seen the news about the crash.
It was a very different mode than a critical mass ride.
Thank you to the people who organized this ride. Hearing the bells surround me like fairies was beautiful. I didn\’t know Tracey, but knowing \”That could have been me\” because I work nearby and ride almost every day…
I\’m glad the news is focussing on safety issues. I think both bicyclists and drivers always need to each assume it\’s their responsibility to keep everyone safe, because it is. Drivers need to look out for us, and we need to assume they can\’t see us, even when we have the right of way. Better alive than right.
I would also like to thank all the understanding motorists that we held up.
I didn\’t want to have to cork traffic and take up so much of the lane. But like I mentioned in the article, the crowd was huge and we adjusted on the fly.
I know the Police were watching us, and I\’m grateful they let us continue. We also blocked lots of traffic at the corner of 14th and Burnside and I\’m sure the Police watched from afar. They gave us a long time to stand in traffic before telling us it was time to move out of the street.
Just want to put some perspective here, because I think it\’s missing. It was an accident. She wasn\’t killed fighting for her values or something. Her death does not symbolize anything. She\’s not a martyr. Heck, who knows if she even cared about debate over bike laws. Unlikely.
USING THIS GIRL\’S DEATH TO MAKE A STATEMENT ON YOUR BEHALF IS NOT RIGHT AND IS EXPLOITIVE.
I am an avid bike commuter and advocate, but am worried that this \”I\’m going to wear my bike politics on my sleeve\” attitude is just going to annoy the public and create more obstacles to creating a safe, friendly bike community.
From what I understand anyway, changes to the laws or a bike lane would not have prevented the accident.
My apologies if I\’ve completely misunderstood what\’s going here.
My first questions when reading of Starlings death were, \”Was she wearing a helmet?\” and \”Was she paying attention to what was going on around her?\”
While I am deeply saddened to learn of the death of a such a young and potent person, I am also saddened by what I see on the streets every day. As I walk and bike and drive my way around Portland, I see flagrant violations of safety laws and common sense precautions.
First, the man who darts his bike into the middle of Sandy in front of my car, merges with my lane, and then immediately exits to the north, apparently crossing the busy street so that he didn\’t have to stop and wait at a light. By the way, no helmet.
Second, the parent cyclists who don\’t wear helmets while they make sure their children do. What is up with that? Do they not realize that in an accident, someone else will be caring for their surviving children?
Third, the moms who speed while on their way to drop kids off at school.
Fourth, the runner who doesn\’t stop at the intersection, but continues her run uninterrupted, as though I might know which direction she plans to take in a 4-way intersection. Even though she\’s technically a pedestrian, she is still required to at least pause at the curb and then proceed through the intersection.
We all share the road. We need to quit acting as if we are the only human or object on the planet. If we acted as though we were sharing, we\’d give space and room for others and we\’d all have room.
Finally, it sounds as though Starlings death was a terrible, terrible tragedy. Let\’s don\’t read into it more than is there and conjecture what isn\’t there.
If you really want to create change, find a place of commonality with the one you oppose. Only when you can see him/her as a person and not an object, only then will you come to a resolution.
What it all boils down to is physics: when it comes to bicycle versus motor vehicle, the bicylce is bound to lose. In Bellingham, WA I saw a cyclist run a red light in the face of an oncoming car goin at least 30mph and give the finger to the driver. Had he rode out any later, he would\’ve been struck and very likely killed. So just a word of advice: OBEY the traffic signals and rules of the road and try not to get into confrontations with drivers if you wanna stay alive and stay safe. Accidents do happen, but testing your fate w/ motorist isnt really worth dying for now is it?
When you are operating 4000 pounds of metal, at typical speeds, the last thing you need to worry about is a bicycle. Now, yes, there are cyclists that aren\’t always riding in the interest of safety, but by law, bicycles have the full lane, and you, by law must provide the full lane. If you are running late, that is just poor planning on your part.
Bicyclists are trying to live intentionally for the community good, give them the room.
I\’m writing this as a cyclist, and as a truck driver. When I\’m operating a motor vehicle, I ASSUME that there is a pedestrian/cyclist at every intersection. Too often, we get zoned out, and forget that this is an unpredictable enviroment, with many unstable elements. All of these accidents are completely preventable.
The ride was beautiful. I could feel the solitude, and the love, for someone that we hadn\’t even met. I could feel the sorrow for the family.
And, yes, I too saw the fat guy in the pearl. Yes, perhaps that would be preventable also.