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In $21 million lawsuit, hit-and-run victim calls out dangerous stretch of N Interstate

Posted by on June 12th, 2015 at 12:24 pm

Mike Cooley, shown here ready to head out on his
daily bike commute before his 2013 collision.
(Photos courtesy Lisa Cooley)

A man whose legs were paralyzed in an unsolved 2013 hit-and-run on Interstate Avenue has sued the city, state and regional transit agency for $21 million.

Mike Cooley’s wife Lori, who is also a plaintiff in the lawsuit, told us in a May interview that she’s motivated in part by the lack of changes to Interstate Avenue’s bike lanes despite years of serious collisions on the street.

“Something has to be done to make that road safer or just shut it down for bikes,” Lori Cooley said. “There’s just too many injuries there.”

Lori Cooley said their attorney, Randy Pickett, hired a private investigator to study what she said are seemingly endemic problems on Interstate near the site of Mike Cooley’s collision at Interstate and Greeley.

“I don’t understand how nobody could be doing anything to make that safer when there’s been so many injuries.”
— Lori Cooley, wife of man paralyzed by collision

“He and our attorney sat there at that spot where Mike got hit and they were just appalled at the number of close calls,” Cooley said. “They just could not believe it when they saw it with their own eyes how dangerous that is. … I don’t understand how nobody could be doing anything to make that safer when there’s been so many injuries.”

According to the Cooleys’ lawsuit, whose filing was first reported Thursday by The Oregonian, the one-mile stretch of Interstate between NE Going and NE Russell has seen nine other serious bike-related collisions from 2003 to 2014, including one fatality: Brett Jarolimek, who died at the Interstate/Greeley intersection in 2007.

After Jarolimek’s death, the city redesigned the intersection to prohibit right turns off Interstate onto Greeley. However, that didn’t stop the driver of a pickup truck from making an illegal 135-degree right turn into the path of Curtis Crothers in 2013. Crothers survived eight broken ribs, a punctured lung and other injuries.

The City of Portland’s Vision Zero collision map shows 19 bike-related injuries on that stretch from 2004 to 2013, including Jerolimek’s death.

Advertise with BikePortland.

Unlike Jarolimek and Crothers, Cooley was biking north, uphill, on Interstate at Greeley. He wasn’t hit by a turning vehicle, but by one that police said had been “driving erratically before the crash.” The bike lane there, which is uphill on a slight curve, is only about four feet wide and its paint is often worn down because tires cross it so frequently.

Approximate location of collision.

(Graphic: BikePortland reader Joshua Cohen)

The most recent major redesign of Interstate Avenue was in 2003, when TriMet constructed the Yellow Line on what had previously been a state-run urban highway. As part of this work, the project added a nearly continuous, but sometimes unusually narrow, bike lane. In this narrow stretch of the road, which gets regular truck traffic and where Interstate is situated partway up a slope in many locations, the bike lanes are particularly harrowing to ride in.

Lori and Mike Cooley, also before the collision.

The Cooleys’ lawsuit has this to say:

In designing the roadway on North Interstate Avenue, just north of Greeley Avenue, in a dangerous condition for bicyclists and motor vehicle operators, at a time when defendants knew, or in the exercise of reasonable care should have known, that the roadway was too narrow to safely accommodate both motor vehicles and bicyclists.

When Lori Cooley and I spoke last month, it was clear that her feelings about the collision are dominated by despair over her husband’s injury and its aftermath. Cooley (whose email address, both before the collision and after, starts with “cheerfulheart”) also has a serious medical condition; Mike Cooley was her caregiver before his collision. These days, she cares for both of them.

“He still has a ventilator at night and he has a lot of breathing machines and breathing therapy that we need to do,” Lori said. “He’s still a parapalegic, still in a wheelchair, and probably always will be. … We’ve gone through lots of caregivers where they just quit. They just quit coming.”

“Mike’s life, my life, are just completely ruined, really,” she said. “It’s been really, really hard.”

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  • hat June 12, 2015 at 12:41 pm

    The intersection at Interstate and Greeley is an inherently flawed design. I have always felt unsafe and often go out of my way to avoid it. Since the http://www.npgreenway.org/ has been pushed to Greeley, I think a great fix is in order:

    Remove the left hand signal that crosses the MAX on N Interstate to Greeley. Northbound traffic on Interstate heading to Greeley can take a left at Russell and follow the new bike path along the train tracks. Build a new signaled intersection at Greeley where bikes and N-bound traffic rejoins Greeley.

    This solves a lot of problems: the MAX must slow while going downhill and sometimes stop with traffic crossing Greeley, people on bikes will not need to cross Interstate at a very vulnerable speed-susceptible intersection, and people in cars are separated from people on bikes for a majority of this area.

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    • Chris
      Chris June 12, 2015 at 2:21 pm

      What Would Platinum Do?

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      • Lester Burnham June 15, 2015 at 7:57 am

        We’ll just have to find a city that is legitimately Platinum and ask them.

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  • spencer June 12, 2015 at 12:46 pm

    +1, the city should not be operating roadways with such disregard to human life. Every new project should provide separation from cars.

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    • 9watts June 12, 2015 at 1:58 pm

      “Every new project should provide separation from cars.”

      My version: every new project should be built anticipating the end of our heavy reliance on cars; don’t spend another dime on infrastructure that is (only) useful to horseless carriages.

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      • paikiala June 12, 2015 at 4:23 pm

        What about useful to horse-drawn carriages?

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  • Blake G June 12, 2015 at 12:47 pm

    This is not just a case of poor design (though the design contributes to most of the dangerous driving) but also of people making the choice to speed as they approach the uphill section and to do it in a way that endangers people on bikes as the image in the post shows. Besides the Larrabee overpass in the SB direction, this is the place where I am most afraid of being struck by a speeding, negligent driver and there is no enforcement. None.

    This should be a place for a speed camera and when it has served its (temporary) purpose, it should be moved to other locations on Interstate and Greeley where excessive speeding is truly endemic. Sadly, as Mr. Cooley’s case illustrates, the consequences of this poor design that encourages speeding and dangerous driving for any crashes that do occur are catastrophic so the excuse often used in other parts of Interstate that there is limited recorded crash history should not be taken seriously because rare, catastrophic crashes are harder to measure but just as or more important.

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    • paikiala June 12, 2015 at 2:48 pm

      How does the design encourage speeding?

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      • Spiffy June 12, 2015 at 3:15 pm

        it’s a fairly straight road with no crossings… which is how freeways are designed…

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        • paikiala June 12, 2015 at 4:26 pm

          Show me a freeway with a 10-11 foot lane next to a bike lane.

          Still doesn’t answer how the road ‘encourages’ speeding. Permits, maybe. What ever happened to personal responsibility?
          And the story notes the perpetrator was likely impaired.

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          • Blake G June 12, 2015 at 9:08 pm

            Please join me for an observation period with a radar gun. But also you can see evidence that speeding/taking wide turns not just impaired drivers based on wear of white line in the post. I ride this everyday. Most drivers take curve too fast and drive on or very close to white line.

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  • RH June 12, 2015 at 12:50 pm

    I ride this stretch of road everyday and always tense up a bit when I hear the roar of a semi or Fed-Ex truck behind me. While its happening, I just hope everyone obeys the rules of the road and I don’t get hit in my little narrow bike lane.
    I don’t see how they can widen the bike lane in this northbound stretch. Maybe they’ll end up taking it out?

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    • Adam H. June 12, 2015 at 12:55 pm

      Ban cars from N Interstate.

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      • 9watts June 12, 2015 at 1:59 pm

        I agree. And that would be cheaper than settling this lawsuit.

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        • paikiala June 12, 2015 at 4:29 pm

          $15/hour x added delay per driver (hours per day) x drivers per day x 365 days per year = driver delay cost per year.
          pollution concentrated on alternate routes cost (HIA)?
          added crashes on alternative routes cost?

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          • Dan June 12, 2015 at 7:42 pm

            Delay per driver can be mitigated by driver starting earlier. Just like I do when I bike.

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      • Lisa Marie June 12, 2015 at 2:36 pm

        We could make it a bike/ped, public transit parkway. It could be a really, really wonderful and low-stress way to connect N Portland and downtown, a connection we need (N Portland Greenway Trail is still a ways away, but that would be wonderful, too). Come to think of it, with the lanes on Skidmore, it’s also a great connection to the N Michigan Bikeway. The hill is off putting, but combining biking an transit could help anyone averse to hills. Hmmm…

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      • GDH June 12, 2015 at 7:29 pm

        Ban bikes from Interstate

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        • Rob Chapman June 14, 2015 at 1:55 am

          You can’t. I live here.

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    • lop June 12, 2015 at 1:55 pm

      What’s with the little jersey barrier thing next to the retaining wall? Why not build up the bike lane to that height to add an extra foot or so for cyclists, and give them so some protection from motorists?

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      • Spiffy June 12, 2015 at 3:21 pm

        move the Jersey barrier out to the bike lane stripe…

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      • paikiala June 12, 2015 at 4:30 pm

        safer for drivers that impact the wall.

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        • Eric June 12, 2015 at 11:49 pm

          Because they’re speeding?

          I was going to say get some jersey barriers and put them in the spare 2ft of travel lane just left of the bike lane, but they’re already on-site and only need to be shifted left?

          That would be safer for everybody, not just for speeding drivers.

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          • paikiala June 15, 2015 at 3:41 pm

            I believe those features are built into the wall.

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        • Chris I June 13, 2015 at 10:48 am

          We shouldn’t care about the safety of people that crash into things, only the safety of those they might hit while driving recklessly.

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    • spencer June 12, 2015 at 1:57 pm

      make a raised curb that cars cant drift onto, speeds will go down 10 mph because no one wants to sideswipe it.

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  • Adam H. June 12, 2015 at 12:54 pm

    Good. The city needs to be held accountable for negligently designing unsafe infrastructure. I hope Mr. Cooley wins and teaches the city to consider proven-to-be-safe designs instead of reinventing the wheel and causing more problems (i.e. N Williams).

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  • redhippie June 12, 2015 at 12:59 pm

    Blake G
    This is not just a case of poor design (though the design contributes to most of the dangerous driving) but also of people making the choice to speed as they approach the uphill section and to do it in a way that endangers people on bikes as the image in the post shows. Besides the Larrabee overpass in the SB direction, this is the place where I am most afraid of being struck by a speeding, negligent driver and there is no enforcement. None.This should be a place for a speed camera and when it has served its (temporary) purpose, it should be moved to other locations on Interstate and Greeley where excessive speeding is truly endemic. Sadly, as Mr. Cooley’s case illustrates, the consequences of this poor design that encourages speeding and dangerous driving for any crashes that do occur are catastrophic so the excuse often used in other parts of Interstate that there is limited recorded crash history should not be taken seriously because rare, catastrophic crashes are harder to measure but just as or more important.Recommended 0

    Why go for the complex, technological, revenue generating approach when a simple rumble strip, speed bump or other passive speed controls will work a lot better?

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    • Blake G June 12, 2015 at 1:06 pm

      If it works, I have no objection. Simple solutions are better.

      For the record, I don’t think any speeding enforcement should be viewed as a revenue generating opportunity, but be an add-on to the new speed detection program on high crash corridors which is being phased in by ODOT (I think). Using this technology and signs that warn about the use of photo cameras should have a deterrent effect on drivers speeding. That would be much more important than any nominal revenue (net of costs) collected.

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      • paikiala June 12, 2015 at 2:50 pm

        HB 2621 has not been approved yet. It only recently cleared Ways and Means.

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        • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) June 12, 2015 at 3:39 pm

          Actually paikiala… I don’t think it’s actually cleared Ways and Means yet. Still in a subcommittee of Ways and Means and there’s no work session (vote) scheduled.

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      • paikiala June 12, 2015 at 2:56 pm

        N Interstate is a Major Emergency Response Route, and ineligible for traffic calming.

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    • soren June 12, 2015 at 1:23 pm

      Do you have any evidence that they will work better?

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    • Spiffy June 12, 2015 at 3:14 pm

      speed bumps don’t slow down people in raised 4×4 vehicles… and we apparently have a lot of bad drivers in trucks out there…

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  • oliver June 12, 2015 at 1:38 pm

    I walk my dog twice a day 7 days a week.

    The speed limit is 25 for the entire length of Denver Avenue between N Blandena and Interstate, and I’m not exaggerating that I see cars doing 40-50 mph between Lombard and central Kenton 6 or 7 times a week. In fact, I have gone for weeks where I have seen it every single morning. And never have I once seen someone receiving a citation.

    While there are some cities (North Plains, Coburg) that obviously use traffic stops for revenue generation, Portland is certainly not one of them.

    I think perpetuating that myth does a disservice in terms public opinion relevant to traffic law enforcement.

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    • jeff June 13, 2015 at 4:19 pm

      call your local police division…repeatedly until you get action. make yourself annoying…

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  • Eric June 12, 2015 at 1:41 pm

    Damnit! Get the F’ing UPRR yard to open up the cement road to bikes, it goes from N. River street to Swan Island. Would keep all of Swan Island bikers (like Crothers) off of the Russian Roulett called Interstate Ave.
    Any Swan Island biker hurt/killed/etc on Interstate should make sure UPRR knows that they have blood on their hands!

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    • paikiala June 12, 2015 at 2:55 pm

      UPRR’s property rights are superior to Portland rights. Railroads were granted these rights as incentive to build rails during the expansion of the US westward.

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  • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) June 12, 2015 at 1:56 pm

    I ride this all the time. Cooley’s hit-and-run freaked me out a bit and I think about it every time I pass that spot.

    Seems to me a quick and easy and cheap thing PBOT can do right now would be to establish and enforce a No Passing Zone in the uphill direction from Greeley to Fremont (light where Kaiser Hospital starts).

    Would it be annoying to us while we’re driving? Yes. Perhaps. But it would also set the tone that Interstate is a place where you must use caution when bicycle riders are present.

    If I want to drive faster I’ll use MLK or I-5.

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    • Spiffy June 12, 2015 at 3:25 pm

      establish and enforce a No Passing Zone in the uphill direction from Greeley to Fremont

      that would effectively lower the speed limit to 5-8 mph as I took the lane up the hill…

      I can already hear the revving of dozens of engines threatening me with death if I don’t get our of their way…

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      • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) June 12, 2015 at 3:38 pm

        I know. Let ’em rev their engines… And put a few cameras up so when they get home they’ll have a big fat ticket in their mailbox and possibly a court summons for criminal menacing. A guy can dream can’t he? ;-).

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  • ethan June 12, 2015 at 2:23 pm

    I was run off the road near this location. The bike I was riding was practically as wide as the entire bike lane. Someone driving a work truck came up behind me, honked his horn repeatedly and passed me very unsafely.

    That was the only time I’ve ever ridden Northbound in that area. And I have only ridden Southbound in that area once. Too many close calls with semis and other large trucks.

    We shouldn’t have “infrastructure” that is that scary / dangerous to ride on. And I’m saying that as someone who generally doesn’t fear much of anything at all. If I’m scared of it, I imagine someone much smaller or careful than me would be absolutely terrified of it.

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    • Spiffy June 12, 2015 at 3:27 pm

      I’ll take the lane on Powell, Sandy, or MLK in rush hour before I ever think of taking the bike lane up Interstate at any hour…

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      • ethan June 12, 2015 at 3:54 pm

        Ditto. Although I am luckily never in a position to need to bike on / near Powell during rush hour.

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        • ethan June 12, 2015 at 3:57 pm

          I have taken MLK during rush hour a few times though. Going downhill (especially between Going and Tillamook) is insanely fast and can be safer than riding on 7th.

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  • pdx2wheeler June 12, 2015 at 2:43 pm

    There is a raised sidewalk on the opposite side of Interstate Ave. Late at night I cross to the other side and use that sidewalk to avoid going up that bike lane. I do that specifically because of what happened to Mr. Cooley. During the day I would always take that route but the light to cross Interstate takes way too long to cycle for bikes, so I just accept the risk and keep going up the lane.

    Also, the vehicle fumes going up that hill are really nasty. People in cars accelerate up the hill, there is a cement wall that traps the pollutants and particulate matter, and naturally you’re riding up a steep hill so you’re breathing hard and deeply… God forbid you happen to be going up the hill when some smokey clunker rolls by and envelopes you in a cloud of burning motor oil and carbon monoxide. Not a good combination for pulmonary health.

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    • RH June 12, 2015 at 2:49 pm

      It’s also not fun when you’re biking up the hill and someone is walking or biking down on the same side! That cement wall traps you and you have to ‘take the lane’ while semi’s and cars race up Interstate.

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      • Spiffy June 12, 2015 at 3:36 pm

        if another road user is improperly using the roadway then just stop and make them veer into oncoming traffic… then proceed once they’ve gone around you…

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  • The Odd Duck June 12, 2015 at 2:50 pm

    From an old motorcycle rider: the most important thing to learn before you state to ride. You take your chances and you pay the price.

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  • Patrick Barber June 12, 2015 at 2:53 pm

    I just moved to Overlook and the Interstate/Greeley route goes pretty much directly to my house. I go well out of my way (almost two miles) to use Williams instead. I’m what the city calls a “fearless” cyclist. I don’t avoid Interstate/Greeley because it’s “scary.” I avoid it because the infrastructure is an insult to anyone using anything other than a car to get around, and because it is incredibly unpleasant to ride on. That connection is like a time warp directly to downtown from North Portland, and it is an amazing example of a missed opportunity (right up there with the total lack of infrastructure on Sandy!) to create a super-useful route for multiple modes of transportation.

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  • Spiffy June 12, 2015 at 3:52 pm

    whose filing was first reported Thursday by The Oregonian

    if you value your faith in humanity even a little then do not read the comments for that O’live article…

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    • lyle w. June 12, 2015 at 5:32 pm

      I actually came here to say the exact same thing.

      Some of the other news sites have turned off their commenting features, and O-live has, in turn, become an absolute swamp of hatred and insane thinking. More than it was in the past, as bad as it managed to be back then.

      I don’t know what I was expecting to experience by going there this morning to read through the comments (sometimes you just naturally continue to scroll down without any thought), but that comment section is a new all time low of subhuman behavior.

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      • Nicholas Skaggs June 12, 2015 at 6:15 pm

        Don’t think of a pink elephant.

        Really though, I checked the comments just because you said not to… Except you’re right and I really wish I hadn’t checked them at all.

        You were right. Ugh. It checked all the boxes of classic anti-bike vitriol.

        I found an image once that really ties in well with those comments:

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    • Dan June 14, 2015 at 9:29 am

      Even better, don’t go there at all until they start moderating or closing their comments section.

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  • Todd Boulanger June 12, 2015 at 5:40 pm

    I hope this brings to light the need to revisit the bikeway design of North Interstate, the missing bike lanes especially along sections that were planned to have bike lanes but were removed as a late comprise with businesses fighting the project.

    Additionally, now that the corridor has attracted light rail trips and transit supportive businesses the City should revise removing on street parking for bike lanes along zones were off street parking exists: bowling alley, Disjeca, etc. And also put bike lanes along the gas station near the old fire house.

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  • Ben Guernsey June 12, 2015 at 7:51 pm

    This section is overdue. A truck nearly hit my wife at the top of Interstate and since then has stopped commuting to work via bike. I’ve had numerous uncomfortably close and fast drives. It’s simply too narrow. The retaining wall should be moved back and a physical divide for uphill, and the Greeley intersection should be further re-designed to discourage any notion of taking an (illegal) right.

    Don’t even want to get started with the lack of bike lane near New Seasons…

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  • Pat Franz June 12, 2015 at 9:00 pm

    Why not make a northbound bike path to the right of and above Interstate from just south of Greeley up to the top of the hill? Up above and to the east of the retaining wall. You could get a better grade out of it, and be away from all the traffic. Probably less than $21M too.

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  • Traffic Engineer June 12, 2015 at 10:13 pm

    I’ve never been on that route but it looks nasty. That curb on left side of uphill car lane is nasty. Can you imagine being on that when a train is going up hill, next to a big truck, next to a cyclist? Naaaaaasty!

    Looks like PDX2wheeler has found a good solution: Use the sidewalk on the other side.

    I’d suggest they:
    > make the cycle time to cross the street very short (should be done by noon on 6/13/2015 – if not already done)
    > post speed limit of 5 mph on sidewalk for all users (sorry downhill cycles)
    > close northbound bike lane next to retaining wall by noon on 6/13/2015
    > close downhill section of bike lane next to sidewalk and put a concrete barrier in the bike lane to protect sidewalk users

    Quick, cheap and it should be safer.

    Good luck to Mike. Pray for medical breakthroughs to help him and many others in the same situation.

    I think he should be awarded enough $$ to live comfortably – not sure what that amount would be, but 3 or 4 million ought to help out – that way he can amass enough hard assets to ride out the likely inflationary/deflationary cycles in the future (including a potential total collapse of the dollar).

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  • bendite June 12, 2015 at 10:47 pm

    When do we blame infrastructure and when do we blame drivers?

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    • Confucius June 13, 2015 at 3:11 pm

      Typically there is some blame on multiple parties. In this case, it sounds like most of the blame goes to the driver since it was reported that they were driving “erratically”. BUT, a small part of the blame must go to the cyclist because it is obvious that this is not a safe location for cycling and a safer option did exist if you go to the inconvenience of crossing over to the sidewalk. Some of the blame also belongs to the street designers since it is obvious that this is not an acceptable design. So, the street owners will have to pay, since the driver got away. The accident could have been prevented by a different design – by forcing cyclists to cross the street – but that opens up the possibility of getting hit crossing the street. Each option in life has plusses and minuses. Unforeseen consequences are normally present. Zero risk is not possible without unlimited time and money.

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    • lyle w. June 13, 2015 at 3:57 pm

      Thinking of the last four cycling fatalities Portland (and throwing in this crash, and the crash where the dude lost his leg on Powell a few weeks ago), both can be blamed pretty much equally (IMO).

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    • jeff June 13, 2015 at 4:21 pm

      exactly. I’ve driven this stretch countless times and have passed dozens of cyclists…..I’ve never hit a single one.

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    • meh June 15, 2015 at 7:09 am

      Would the extra 2 feet have changed the outcome? The size of the bike lane does not appear to have been the issue. An illegal right turn was made.

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  • Christopher Jones June 13, 2015 at 9:12 am

    I emailed the mayor two years ago about Mike Cooley being hit, and safety on N Interstate. Someone from the mayor’s office connected me with Novick’s office/PBOT, since it was a transportation safety-related question. Pretty good! They’re responsive.

    The PBOT staffer I emailed with said the crash was being investigated by one of their traffic engineers. He asked me if I had suggestions around improving safety, and said he’d forward those suggestions to the traffic engineer assigned to investigate the crash. I suggested raised bumps on the fog line, adding speed bumps, or some form of hard barrier, since there is no escape for someone in the bike lane in this section. The PBOT staffer said he’s a bike rider too, and rides this section daily.

    After seeing this post yesterday, I wrote back asking why we haven’t seen change in the past two years. I again asked who to speak to, or what public meeting I should show up at.

    I’m very sorry for Mike, and I hope something positive can come out of this mess.

    If you’re looking to help, email the mayor (mayorcharliehales@portlandoregon.gov), and ask who you can speak to or what meeting you need to attend to get eyes on safety problems like this. The staffers I’ve spoken to are responsive and respectful, and that’s great. I’d love to see real leadership around issues like these.

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  • Doug Rosser June 13, 2015 at 10:50 am

    I hope they win their lawsuit. I’ve lived in North Portland for almost twenty years but I refuse to commute on Greeley and Interstate. I now live in St Johns and take Rosa Parks all the way to the Vancouver/Williams north-south connection to get to and from work downtown.

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  • Patrick Taylor June 14, 2015 at 9:26 am

    I feel awful for the people effected by this accident and hope the best for them, but blaming and suing the city/all of us is not the answer. The fault lies with the driver not the city and tax payers. The city has been working for years to make the streets safer for bikes and pedestrians. Try riding up Interstate prior to the yellow line redesign. Would the city be less liable if they had not tried making it better? The fact that a piece if bike infrastructure is not optimal is not reason to sue. Should everyone who ever gets injured on city streets sue? Taking 21 million dollars from the city will not help make the city safer, it will leave less money for improvement projects that will save other people. It sucks, but biking is dangerous and we all take risks by being so vulnerable in traffic . Some times bad things happen. We should fight for safer streets and pressure the city. But this is not the way.

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  • Ted June 15, 2015 at 10:29 am

    This discussion reminds me of several articles I have read about playground safety. In the late 70’s and early 80’s there were several death’s on playgrounds that resulted in the transformation of playgrounds around the country in an attempt to reduce all risk of injury to children. Since that time, the data shows that there has not been much change in frequency of injuries on playgrounds. Some of the data suggests that the injuries that do occur are more serious because the new designs made kids “feel” safe and so they were not as cautious as they might have been otherwise. On a larger scale, society’s attempts to protect children and keep them safe at all times has inhibited our children’s ability to assess risk for themselves. One article I read in The Atlantic Monthly cited a researcher as saying that, in retrospect, it may have been wiser to treat the earlier deaths as simply freak accidents rather than some sort of systemic problem that needed to be “fixed.”

    Safety is not a binary issue. It is a function of risk. As is clearly on display in the comments made on this blog regarding safety, there is a wide range of responses as to what could or should be done in regards to improving bike infrastructure. I do not support large-scale investments in order to make people feel safer. Doing so reminds me of airport security. Huge cost and huge inconvenience has resulted from implementing measures that are more about making travelers feel safe than actually reducing risk, not to mention the opportunity costs associated NOT spending money in areas where actual safety benefits are needed.


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  • Anthony June 15, 2015 at 11:41 am

    I feel that gas taxes should be used to pay for settlements in cases like these. The road user, having done nothing wrong, is condemned to a life in a wheelchair because of one careless driver. There is no way to undo the damage to him. But, at the very least, society owes paying for the family’s full care for life, and with no “responsible” party in the case of a hit-and-run, it’s another motor vehicle externality that should be paid by the driving public at large – me you, and eveyone else who drives.

    Instead, we say “tough luck” and forget. Very sad.

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  • Bald One June 15, 2015 at 7:12 pm

    I ride N. Interstate all the time, and totally agree with these issues. But, I also want to point out the similar designs the city has installed on the new infrastructure for SE 17th along the new Orange line – still to be running, but the bike lanes and traffic control are all set. Although better than Interstate, they still could have done a much better job with the bike lanes, instead compromising bike safety for on-street parking, bio-swale storm water basins, art projects, and poorly placed curbs, signs, and utility poles all along this area. All of these other useful infrastructures could have been designed in a way that gave more room to the bike lanes and with a little more thought and detail in the implementation / construction of the designs. A great bikeway is only as good as the sum of its deficient parts and pieces.

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  • Lori Cooley June 21, 2015 at 8:12 pm

    Hello Bike Portland Readers,
    Mike and I just got done reading the most recent article that Michael Anderson wrote. It was a fabulous, supportive and factual article and we are very grateful for the story. We then went on to read the comments that a lot of you wrote. We would both like to thank all of you that wrote such positive and supportive comments. We were almost afraid to read them because we have had some pretty obnoxious and ignorant comments directed our way since Mike’s accident. It was a breath of fresh air to read all of your comments and to see that you support our stance on insisting that someone step up and make Interstate/Greeley safer. It was very encouraging to see that most of you were so compassionate and understanding. We are doing ok and we thank God daily that Mike survived his accident. Mike said to tell all of you to “bike safely and ALWAYS WEAR YOUR HELMET”. That has become his focus, making sure that people wear their helmets. The doctors said that if Mike hadn’t been wearing his helmet he probably WOULD NOT HAVE SURVIVED THE ACCIDENT!
    Happy Biking!
    Lori and Mike Cooley

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