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KVAL: Eugene trucking company involved in fatal crash will give $1 million for bike safety ed

Posted by on July 31st, 2008 at 10:19 am

Jane Higdon
(Photo: The Jane Higdon Foundation)

The trucking company involved in the death of Jane Higdon in Eugene in May of 2006 has agreed to donate $1 million over 20 years to a memorial fund founded in her name.

According to KVAL-TV in Eugene, Ireland Trucking Co. will give the money to the Jane Higdon Memorial Fund and it will be used to promote bicycle safety.

Also reported by KVAL is this interesting fact:

“Over the past year, Ireland Trucking has sponsored research into the best ways of using the money to prevent similar accidents. The study’s tentative conclusion is that more staffing is needed to make sure that money dedicated to bike paths and bike lanes is maximized.”

This donation — which was an out-of-court settlement, “to resolve issues…without assigning legal fault” — is just the latest way that Higdon’s tragic death has impacted Oregon’s biking landscape. In addition to this $1 million donation, her death is part of what sparked Senator Floyd Prozanski (a close friend of Higdon’s) to support a safe passing law (which passed last session) and the creation of Oregon’s new Share the Road license plate.

In addition to the work of Senator Prozanski, Higdon’s husband Tom Jefferson has also been crucial in the effort to bring positive change in the wake of her death. In a speech during the 2007 Oregon Bicycle Summit, Jefferson said:

“We can’t leave this conference and go back to our silos…we must stick together and build coalitions. We all have the vision, so now let’s go out and do it.”

In Portland, the family of Brett Jarolimek filed a lawsuit against the driver of the garbage truck that hit and killed him in October of last year. In the Jarolimek tragedy, like the Higdon case, no legal charges were brought against the driver.

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  • djasonpenney July 31, 2008 at 10:26 am

    I appreciate Ireland Trucking\’s role as a bicycle advocacy organization, but wasn\’t Jane Higdon\’s death partially due to a vehicle attempting to pass her at a blind curve?

    I would think that Ireland Trucking would be advocating education (for both cyclists and motorists) as much as or more than facilities.

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  • Ian July 31, 2008 at 10:34 am

    Its nice to see a positive story for a change… now if we could just end these frivolous lawsuits.

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  • Paul Souders July 31, 2008 at 10:41 am


    \”now if we could just end these frivolous lawsuits.\”

    When the law fails, we fall back on lawsuits.

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  • Icarus Falling July 31, 2008 at 11:34 am

    \”Frivolous\” lawsuits, when won, provide valuable lessons to those who obviously needed to learn them.

    And, as already pointed out, allow for a bit of justice, something we cannot rely on Law Enforcement to hand out.

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  • BURR July 31, 2008 at 11:43 am

    this is a much better approach than Latasha William\’s

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  • Schrauf July 31, 2008 at 12:01 pm

    It is not clear from Jonathan\’s story, but it appears this is an out-of-court settlement to avoid a lawsuit and/or insurance issues, not just unbiased generosity.

    Having said that, it is much better the money go to this type of fund, rather than attorneys and years of court battles.

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  • Paul Vincent July 31, 2008 at 12:02 pm

    \”[F]rivolous lawsuits\” are the foundation of our judicial system. It\’s funny, but if you go back and look at our founding father\’s use of the judicial system you will find that their use of the courts was voluminous for such a small group of people, and greatly disproportional to the rate of most citizens today. When you consider the fact that they disenfranchised the majority of the populous from access to the court system, they begin to look wildly litigious. You only have the rights that you can protect.

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  • Ian July 31, 2008 at 12:07 pm

    Good point Schrauf when a case like this goes to court the only \”winners\” are the attorneys.

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  • poser July 31, 2008 at 12:30 pm


    the winners are the community in which that corporation resides. the lawsuit changes the attitude and future actions of the company as well as companies like it that don\’t want to end up in the same position. That makes us all safer.

    if the only \”winners\” were those who got monetary pay-outs, we would indeed be a very self serving and shallow society. I\’m glad our founding fathers were wiser than that when they gave us the right to keep corporations in check with a healthy judicial system.

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  • Eileen August 1, 2008 at 10:20 am

    Not all lawsuits are frivolous but it\’s much preferable to see a company that takes it upon itself to do the right thing. Ireland is setting a wonderful example and I\’m going to choose to believe that they are doing it for more than just the PR.

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  • Opus the Poet August 1, 2008 at 8:13 pm

    Umm, didn\’t anybody notice that the settlement is to be paid out over 20 years? That means pay $50,000 a year for a couple of years, declare bankruptcy, \”sell\” the assets to a shell company, and open up under a new name free from the \”burden\” of paying their debt to society. I have seen it happen with construction companies and grocery stores to get out of union contracts and retirement plans (with or without unions).

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  • Myra August 4, 2008 at 8:46 am

    So what happens when a biker is at fault and hits a bus or truck and dies? Can we sue bikers and make them pay money to every one else? Maybe we could use that money to paint over the green boxs and mount painball guns on cars to shoot bikers who don\’t have lights on their bike at night.

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  • Chuck August 4, 2008 at 9:06 am

    and then you\’ll be arrested for assault.

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  • El Biciclero August 4, 2008 at 9:36 am

    Myra – Unlike a trucking company that owns several trucks and hires several drivers, and is responsible for all of them, people who ride bikes are not responsible for each other (in any legal way).

    I agree there are many reasons one could become annoyed at the behavior of some cyclists, but your apparent level of anger seems way beyond what would be considered reasonable by most people. I get annoyed when I am riding and I see other cyclists cruise through stops or pull other dumb stunts that I\’m sure they don\’t even realize are dumb. I find rolling my eyes and shaking my head and thinking to myself \”What a dumb stunt!\” helps to dissipate my annoyance. Then I keep riding.

    You must realize that the world is stuffed to the gills with stupid and ignorant people, among which you and I are both counted at times. As much as you would like everyone to do things your way (or even the legal way!), the only person you can control (pop-psych clichè alert!!) is you.

    If you concentrate on knowing and understanding your own responsibilities and doing everything you can to stay safe and avoid causing problems for others, the world will be safer, and you will be happier! It\’s almost like having a super-power! Call it hyper-awareness or whatever you want. You can go around and spot the stupid things people do–often even before they do them! Then you can avoid danger and think to yourself, \”If that guy only knew how close he came to getting run over! If not for my hyper-awareness super-power, he\’d be dead!\”

    You already seem to have keen powers of observation and counting; it\’s only a short leap from there to true hyper-awareness. THEN you will be truly powerful. You will be able to mount a one-woman campaign to eradicate danger and \”accidents\” by spotting them seconds before mere mortals are able and taking appropriate evasive action. Please don\’t waste your true potential!

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