The Worst Day of the Year Ride is February 11th

One year after her death, friends plan memorial event for Kathryn Rickson

Posted by on May 13th, 2013 at 2:25 pm

Community gathering for Kathryn Rickson-26

Ryan Gaughan at Rickson’s ghost
bike on May 18th, 2012.
(Photos © J. Maus/BikePortland)

This coming Thursday will mark one year since the tragic death of 28 year-old Kathryn Rickson. On the night of May 16th, Rickson was riding downhill on SW Madison Ave just one block from City Hall when a man driving a large delivery truck turned right onto SW 3rd and the two vehicles collided.

Now Rickson’s friends and family have planned a memorial event to remember her. I asked Ryan to share a few thoughts about Kathryn, the collision, and this past year…

Community gathering for Kathryn Rickson-11

“12 months ago my friend, lover, and partner, Kathryn Rickson, was killed by a delivery truck while riding her bike in downtown Portland. The fact that this accident happened at all is unbearable, but particularly devastating given that she was killed while riding in a bike lane, through a “green box” intersection, at a high traffic bicycle street (SW 3rd & Madison).*

Since that time, the range of emotions for me and Kathryn’s family have shifted between trying to accept her loss, while coping with anger at the fact that such an accident was even possible. Kathryn was an exceedingly conscientious and safe bike rider, and was commuting home from a class at PSU at the time she was killed. I did not have the opportunity to say goodbye to her; she was quite simply plucked from life in a moment.

Kathryn was also a co-parent to my daughter, Madeline. My daughter and I are doing our best to continue with life in Kathryn’s absence. If anything, we have both learned that loving each other, and other people, to the best of our ability is absolutely crucial in this healing process. Words, of course, can not begin to express how deeply appreciative we are of our friends, family, and the Portland bicycling community who have supported us in innumerable ways.

We invite everyone in Portland who is concerned with bicycle safety to attend Kathryn’s memorial this upcoming Thursday, May 16, at 6:00pm, at the intersection where the accident occurred at SW 3rd and Madison, in downtown Portland. We hope that this will be an opportunity for us to all share a moment of silence and reflection on Kathryn’s life, to mourn for her death and the untimely death of all bicyclists killed by automobiles, and to honor the relationship we have with our loved ones.”

[*Note: The DA found no criminal negligence on the part of the truck operator and the Bureau of Transportation released a report about bike box effectiveness which cited high bicycle speeds as one behavior that contributes to right-hook collisions.]

The Kathryn Rickson Memorial will be at 6:00 pm this Thursday (5/16) at the north end of Terry Schrunk Plaza (at 3rd and Madison). Also remember that this Wednesday is the Portland Ride of Silence, which will remember those who have lost their lives while cycling.

NOTE: We love your comments and work hard to ensure they are productive, considerate, and welcoming of all perspectives. Disagreements are encouraged, but only if done with tact and respect. If you see a mean or inappropriate comment, please contact us and we'll take a look at it right away. Thank you — Jonathan

  • are May 13, 2013 at 3:16 pm

    re your closing, bracketed comments. the threshold for criminal negligence is rather high, and should perhaps be lowered, especially in the case of people who drive for a living, and especially where they are driving absurdly large trucks in a confined urban environment. yes, PBoT said 18mph might be a bit fast for conditions, but PBoT also striped a bike lane in a block where it clearly does more harm than good, and PBoT also put a green box at the intersection and pretended it served some positive function in the green signal phase.

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  • Anonymaus May 13, 2013 at 4:08 pm

    So sad.

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  • Khal Spencer May 13, 2013 at 7:42 pm

    Some of these bike lanes set cyclists up to fail. There is no excuse for bike lanes designed to encourage right hooks.

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  • Charles Ross May 14, 2013 at 8:52 am

    I’ve made this comment before at brown bag events but it is worth repeating: Downhill bike lanes in city central are dangerous. Bike riders do not need their own lanes in an urban environment when going down hill. They need to be in the lane of traffic, with lights and obeying the traffic laws applicable.
    Another poorly designed configuration is the short extension down N.W. Everett from about N.W. 18th across the 405 bridge into the Pearl. A right-hook accident is going to happen here with serious injury/or a fatality. It’s just a matter of time.
    The Madison bike lane needs to be eliminated and bike traffic flows be fed into one of the two available lanes.

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    • Tony May 14, 2013 at 10:18 am

      Better would be additional routes from downtown to the river which are completely separated from automobile traffic.

      While I agree that in light traffic it is safer and easy to ride w/ traffic, during the evening commute, it is essential to let bike traffic pass the backed up automobile traffic.

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    • GlowBoy May 14, 2013 at 8:52 pm

      So bikes will be forced to wait in the same backups that cars do? Because Madison is often very congested when I roll through in evening rush hour.

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      • oldguyluvs2ride May 15, 2013 at 7:52 am

        I ride down Salmon every day instead of Main( I stopped riding on Main after this accident). There is no bike lane and yes, I do end up waiting in traffic at rush hour. Other cyclists make different choices – passing backed up traffic on the right, splitting lanes, or riding on the sidewalk (which is a violation in this part of downtown). I agree that we need separated bike routes to and from downtown.

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  • longgone May 14, 2013 at 10:09 am

    I only have thoughts of comfort for the family and friends of Kathryn.

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  • JonathanR May 14, 2013 at 12:44 pm

    I stood at a crosswalk today, at 6th & Main, as a 50 foot semi tried to maneuver through an intersection (which included being in the intersection for a good 20 seconds after the light turned red). There’s no getting around the fact that our downtown streets are too narrow and the blocks are too short to work well with big rigs.

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  • Sunny May 14, 2013 at 12:48 pm

    Semis should be encouraged to turn s-l-o-w-l-y downtown.

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  • kww May 14, 2013 at 1:58 pm

    Simply put, no right turns should be allowed at that intersection, let them make three lefts.

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    • Reza May 15, 2013 at 5:45 pm

      Because the drivers do such a great job of obeying the “no right turns” along the entire transit mall? I have never seen an officer enforce any of the dozens of violations I have witnessed of motorists driving in the transit lane illegally and/or turning right illegally. Never. Not once.

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  • lyle w. May 14, 2013 at 10:38 pm


    So sorry this happened. I think about her every time I ride by/stop at this intersection, which is often.
    It shouldn’t have to be this way.

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