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It’s that time of year again… Beware of sun glare

Buffered Bike Lane with a bike symbol and arrow pointing forward

This photo, taken at 7:28 this
morning, shows the impact of sun glare.
(Photo © J. Maus)

Last year about this time I shared a friendly warning about the perils of sun glare. It just so happens that the sun rises and sets about the same time as the peak AM and PM commutes when lots of people are on the roads. When the sun is at just the right angle, it’s very difficult to see and glare causes many collisions each year — like the one that seriously injured 76-year-old Clark Henry a few weeks ago.

Yesterday I was reminded about this hazard from reader Craig H. Craig shared the story of his friend who was hit on Tuesday morning at 7:30 am while bicycling eastbound (into the sun) on N. Lombard:

She was stopped at a red light (I don’t know the cross street). There was no bike lane, and she was stopped with one foot on the curb. When the light turned green, she left the curb and had only gone a couple feet, when an eastbound car who that seems to have been still traveling at speed hit her from behind…The front-end or fender of the car slammed into the left cheek of her butt, and she was rocketed ahead, like a baseball hit by a bat, but she regained control before stopping.

She couldn’t walk, and was taken by ambulance to Emanuel hospital E.R., who released her after a couple of hours… Today she’s barely walking and in a lot of pain.

Glare was also likely a contributing factor to the much ballyhooed collision involving former NFL quarterback Joey Harrington while he was riding on SE Foster Road back in August.

As far as advice goes, if you’re riding in the opposite direction of the sun, assume that cars turning left cannot see you at all. Stop and wait until they’ve passed before moving through the intersection. If you’re riding into the sun, there’s not as much you can do. Craig H. recommends rolling onto the sidewalk if possible or perhaps even choosing a lower-traffic, tree-shaded route.

Another thing to consider is that the way some people interpret Oregon law, if a vehicle operator claims they couldn’t see another vehicle operator (such as when the hittee allegedly doesn’t have legally required lights or the hitter is “blinded” by the sun) and then proceeds to run into someone, they cannot be held legally liable for the collision.

Ride safely and feel free to share your tips about this common road hazard.