ODOT employee dies after being hit while riding on rural Salem road

Streetview near location of collision.

57-year old Dave Apperson, an employee at ODOT since 2006, was struck and killed by someone driving a car while he pedaled his recumbent on a rural road near Salem Friday morning.

According to the Polk County Sheriff’s office the collision took place around 10:30 am on Hopewell Rode near Spring Valley Lane about 10 miles north of downtown Salem. Apperson was struck from behind by 26-year old nearby resident John Taylor, who was driving a Dodge Ram pickup.

New Yamhill County reports that Apperson was riding a “‘sit down’ style recumbent bicycle.” Here’s more from their coverage (emphasis mine):

Deputies say David Epperson, 57, of Salem, was headed eastbound… Taylor said the sun was blindingly bright for a moment and then he heard and felt the impact. Bike rider Epperson was pronounced dead at the scene.

Deputies say “sit down” recumbent bikes are very low profile and therefore can be a lot harder to see on the side of the road, and with a blinding sun, conditions would have been very hazardous for the bicyclist. Deputies also said Hopewell Road has a lot of de-icing pea gravel on the shoulder so it would not have been rideable by a bicyclist. So, they said, Epperson would likely have been riding partially in the travel lane.

As you can tell by that characterization of the incident, Polk County Sheriff’s have not issued a citation in the case.

Apperson was employed by the Oregon Department of Transportation. According to an email sent to co-workers this morning, he had been a traffic signal technician for ODOT since May 2006. “He was an avid cyclist,” read the email, “and he spent many of his hours away from work riding the roads throughout Oregon.”

UPDATES: As pointed out by a commenter below, according to the Corvallis Gazette Times, this isn’t the first time Apperson was involved in a collision while biking:

From the Corvallis Gazette Times – “VAN VERSUS BIKE: 10:51 a.m., 1238 N.W. Independence Highway, Albany. Wilbur Wayne Neal, 81, of Lebanon, was driving south on Independence Highway when he came up behind David Lawrence Apperson, 56, of Salem, who was riding his recumbent bicycle. Apperson was riding on the fog line because there was no shoulder. As the van passed Apperson, the passenger-side mirror of the vehicle struck Apperson’s shoulder, throwing him and his bike into a ditch. Apperson was taken to Good Samaritan Regional Medical Center. Neal was cited for unsafe passing of a bicycle.”

Note: When I talked with Polk County Sheriff’s office today they referred to this most most recent collision as Apperson’s “fifth accident with a car.” “It makes you wonder,” the officer said, “Was he cheating into the lane more than he should be?”

Read more coverage on this Salem bike blog.

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