A man was hit by someone riding a bike while walking on the sidewalk near NE 31st and Sandy Blvd over the weekend. The incident was covered on the KGW evening news last night.
KGW’s story focuses on 68-year old John Blunk, the retiree who was struck by the bike and who spent the night in the Intensive Care Unit with a head injury as a result. Blunk is upset because the police didn’t respond to the incident, he has a hospital bill to pay, and he has no idea who the bike rider is (he’s asking the person to come forward).
Watch the KGW coverage in the video below:
According to KGW, police didn’t respond because there was no clear crime committed (it’s legal to bike on sidewalks in that area).
This story raises some important issues.
- If you are riding a bike and you collide with someone on a sidewalk, you have the moral and legal obligation to exchange information. It’s just the right thing to do, especially when someone gets injured.
- While riding on the sidewalk, Oregon law (ORS 814.410) clearly states that you must; give an audible warning before passing a person walking, yield to all people on foot, ride with caution, and ride at walking speed in crosswalks and curb ramps.
- This is one of those legal situations where bicycle operators are treated more like walkers than like motor vehicle operators. On sidewalks, people riding bikes have the “same rights and duties as a pedestrian on a sidewalk or in a crosswalk.”
- The KGW video includes an interview with a nearby shop owner who talks about sidewalk bikers as a real problem, zooming too close to customers. While rude riding is certainly not cool, the larger issue is that NE Sandy Blvd is inaccessible and dangerous to many riders. It’s a high-speed arterial street with six lanes of car traffic (four traffic lanes and two parking lanes) and no dedicated space or signage for bicycling. The result is that many people rely on the sidewalks to reach destinations and to stay safe. (We reported on Sandy Blvd bike conditions back in May.)
By the way, in Portland, it’s only illegal to ride a bicycle on a sidewalk within the following boundaries downtown: S.W. Jefferson St., Front Avenue, N.W. Hoyt Street and 13th Avenue (note that there is an exception if you are riding on the sidewalk “to avoid a traffic hazard in the immediate area”).
For more information about bicycling on sidewalks, read these helpful articles from Swanson Thomas & Coon: