A recent collision on North Greeley where it crosses over an on-ramp for the Interstate 5 freeway has thrust concerns about that dangerous intersection back into the spotlight. It’s also a reminder that even when collisions don’t lead to serious injuries or even death they still take a significant toll on victims and the road designs that lead to them still deserve our attention.
“Now, just the thought of riding to work makes my heart pound. I feel nervous walking through crosswalks.”
This collision happened on January 27th. Luckily the man who was riding his bike was not seriously injured aside from “road rash and various contusions.” There wasn’t any media coverage and we only received scant information from the police about what happened. But since last week we’ve been contacted by the injured rider. He told us he wanted to stay anonymous because he’s still piecing everything together and dealing with unhelpful insurance claims adjusters (who seem more concerned with telling him to “pay more attention” than representing his interests).
The man, let’s call him Bob, said he’s having to pay out-of-pocket for his hospital stay. To make matters worse, the person who was driving is not admitting fault, so Bob will likely have to pay for a new bike as well — an expense he estimates at $1,000 to $2,000.
But replacing his equipment is the least of Bob’s worries. His “cycling confidence” has been shaken to the core. Here’s more from his email:
“But what I’m most broken up about is my cycling confidence. I have zero interest in riding anymore, let alone replacing my bike. My New Year’s resolution was to hit 5,000 miles. I registered for the Portland Century 10 months in advance. Mere weeks ago I was planning a long weekend tour of Astoria and the Oregon coast. Now, just the thought of riding to work makes my heart pound. I feel nervous walking through crosswalks. If I’m not actively doing something that occupies my immediate attention, my thoughts drift back to that morning: realizing in that moment that the car is not going to slow down, careening off the windshield, screaming “no, no, no” as I hit the pavement, my bike crumpled beside me — the bike that made me fall in love with cycling a year-and-a-half ago. I think about how surreal it all was, how I thought this could never happen to me.”
I hate to publish things like this because I worry that it will scare some of you and that you might ride less because of it. But maybe this type of thing is what’s needed for us to do, in Bob’s words, “a re-examination of Greeley’s safety.”
We’ve mentioned this location several times in the past. In the southbound direction people are driving 45-50 mph and then speeding up even faster as they merge onto the I-5 on ramp. Meanwhile, there’s a designated bike lane to the right that directs riders to merge left across the freeway on-ramp in order to continue southbound toward Interstate Avenue. This is a completely unacceptable design for a bikeway — especially a route where the latest City of Portland counts show about 1,400 average daily bicycle trips.
Back in September when Mayor Charlie Hales was still considering re-election, he rode his bike from Kenton to City Hall. I was on the ride and hoped we would ride past this intersection so he could begin to share some of the urgency I feel it deserves. Unfortunately we didn’t take this route because one of his staffers felt it would be too dangerous.
Portland wants more people to ride bikes. Every major adopted city transportation plan and policy we have makes that crystal clear. But until we help people gain cycling confidence instead of lose it, we’ll never reach our goals.
— Jonathan Maus, (503) 706-8804 – firstname.lastname@example.org
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