near the Hawthorne Bridge in Portland.
(File photos © J. Maus)
I came across a story this morning that I feel has important lessons for multi-use path users here in Portland and beyond. A woman has died after being hit by someone riding a bike on the Katy Trail outside of Dallas, Texas.
Here’s how the collision occurred, according to a local TV report:
According to police reports, 28-year-old Lauren Huddleston abruptly turned left just as a woman on a bike tried to pass her.
Witnesses told police Huddleston had been wearing headphones and likely didn’t hear the bicyclist.
Huddleston sustained head injuries in the collision and died in a hospital a week later.
Portland has several popular multi-use paths full of people jogging and riding bikes and the issue of sharing the path has come up before. Thankfully, we have yet to experience a fatal collision, but as anyone who has used the Eastbank Esplanade or the Springwater Corridor Trail can attest, the potential is certainly there.
The story from Dallas is particularly interesting because it brings up behaviors from both parties that are worth noting. First, wearing headphones while jogging or biking is not a good idea, yet it happens all the time (coincidentally, I was thinking about it for this week’s “Ask BikePortland” column). And second, when passing another path user, it is the responsibility of the person passing to expect the unexpected and to be traveling at a speed slow enough to react if necessary.
created by PBOT in 2007.
This issue of sharing the path is one where the City of Portland has taken a proactive approach. They’ve been quiet about it lately, but back in 2007, the City’s Transportation Options Division held an event and even created a brochure to promote path courtesy.
One final thought on this issue that doesn’t always get the attention I feel it deserves. Yes, it’s important for path users to share, but the larger issue here is that there are simply not enough non-motorized corridors. Off-street paths like the Katy Trail, and the Springwater and Esplanade are great, but they are too few and far between as increasing amounts of people look to use them for both recreation and transportation. Besides a call for more courtesy, we simply need more trails to adequately serve the non-motorized population. And, as someone pointed out in the comments below, when we do build new non-motorized corridors, we need to push for wide facilities and separation like they have in Vancouver, BC (photos below from my trip there a few years ago).
Be courteous out there folks — even while on off-highway paths and trails. As this story from Dallas shows us, a bike can be just as deadly as a car.