Collision between driver and bike rider on Williams

The scene.
(Photo by J. Maus/BikePortland)

There was a collision on N Williams this evening at around 5:30 pm.

It happened just south of Fremont right outside New Seasons market. Fire and police units responded but there were no serious injuries.

I happened to roll up on the scene about a half-hour after it happened. The driver and the bike rider were still at the scene. I spoke to both parties and they were both very shaken up by what happened.

According to the man who was driving the car, he was coming up Williams in the left lane. He works off of NE Broadway and lives in Vancouver. Just north of Cook, he noticed another driver who was “nosing out” of the New Seasons parking lot. (There is a major construction site between Cook and New Seasons that has fencing and other materials coming right up to the bike lane. In order to see around the construction zone, people in cars must nose out in order to see oncoming traffic.)

The man continued to tell me that he drove around the car that was poking out of traffic and when he came back into his lane “she was just right there in the lane.” There were a few skid marks in the lane next to the bike lane.


The woman on the bike confirmed this story. She told me she was merging over, out of the bike lane, in an attempt to go right (east) on Fremont. She’s a regular, everyday bike rider who works at OHSU and lives near NE 13th and Fremont. She wasn’t seriously hurt, but her bike was damaged.

I haven’t confirmed from the PPB what, if any, citations will be issued. Because there were no serious injuries and both parties are cooperating with each other, my hunch is that there will only be an information exchange and the insurance companies will figure it out. (UPDATE, 8:44 pm: That’s indeed the case. PPB confirms no citations issued.)

This collision highlights weeks of concerns about how people are reacting to the huge changes brought on by PBOT’s North Williams Traffic Safety Project. The City’s recommended way to turn right from the new, left-side bikeway, is to do a two-stage turn or a “Copenhagen Left.” (Note: There are several new green left turn boxes to facilitate these two-stage turns, but there is not one at Fremont.) In reality however, most people simply do what this woman attempted to do. I have personally seen this behavior a lot lately and it makes me cringe.

Abraham Sutphin, owner of a bike shop across the street from this collision, emailed us tonight. He wrote that, “Williams has been nuts since the lane switch… I think it would be prudent to report on the chaos. I’ve never seen or heard of a crash for the 4 and a half years of sitting on this corner.”

Switch to Desktop View with Comments