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Local antiwar activist Brian Willson recovering from collision

Willson’s Varna handcycle was damaged in a June 3 crash.
(Photos © J. Maus/BikePortland)

Brian Willson, a widely known veteran of the Vietnam War and the movement to end it, is on the mend after a June 3 crash at the corner of Southeast 51st Avenue and Clinton, not far from his home.

Willson, who we profiled in 2011 when he published an autobiography and set off on an 1100-mile hand-powered book tour, said he was northbound, waiting his turn at the stop sign of that intersection, when a woman driving an SUV heading west on Clinton “turned the corner sharply, but directly into me rather than into the correct southbound lane, going about 15 mph.”

It was a difficult experience for the lawyer and longtime peace activist, who lost his lower legs in 1987 while lying on railroad tracks in protest of U.S. arms shipments to Central America. His insurance and the woman’s are covering the physical damage to his body and handcycle, he wrote, and he’s waiting for the outcome of a pain-and-suffering settlement.

This case is worth highlighting because it’s a reminder that good streets have to anticipate cycles of many different shapes and sizes, and because crashes can occur even on neighborhood-scale streets marked with sharrows, as 51st Avenue is. The woman in the SUV, Willson writes, was less than 200 feet from her own home.

“This was a case where I was on a quiet side street, not in any fast lane or at a dangerous intersection,” Willson writes. “So, it goes to show us that drivers are often inattentive even as they approach their familiar home street where one would not suspect need for extra vigilance. King Car is hard to overcome.”

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