This story is part of our Collision Chronicles, an ongoing series to shine a light on the constant stream of scary street interactions we hear about but that you won’t read about in the news.
This account was posted by the victim Jocelyn Gaudi to her Facebook page yesterday. Gaudi, a very experienced rider and well-known local advocate who sits on several city transportation advisory committees, has given us permission to publish it here.
This morning, I experienced the closest call I’ve ever had while riding in Portland. To say that it was a traumatic experience is to short sell the negative impact that it had and will continue to have on me.
I stood in the road, my legs shaking so severely that I couldn’t move, weeping. It took a long time before I could start riding again and even then I cried all the way down Interstate, until I made into the waterfront pathway – away from vehicle traffic.
Riding down the Interstate Ave hill, I caught up with traffic stopped by the light at Russell Street (map). The women driving this car (silver Cadillac CTS) began to merge into the bike lane, into my direct path, before the dashed lines marking the legal transition to the right turn lane began. My front wheel was alongside her front passenger door when I noticed her tires drifting across the solid white lane.
When the dashed lane began, she made an aggressive right hand move into the right turn lane, causing me to have to swerve quickly to the right as well. She was within a few feet of my bare leg, and I was attempting to avoid collision with only my right hand on the bars as I was using my left hand to repeated smack the side of her car, without any response from the driver. She very nearly had me pinned between her vehicle and the concrete barriers on the side of the road.
She made a right onto Russell, where I caught up with her and signaled for her to roll down her window. I’m thankful that she did, to allow me the chance to explain, while I trembled terribly, she came within inches of causing me severe harm. She then inflicted even further damage when she explained with absolute resolve, devoid of empathy or concern, that she “didn’t see me” before offering me an unemotional apology, wished me a “blessed day” and then drove away. I stood in the road, my legs shaking so severely that I couldn’t move, weeping. It took a long time before I could start riding again and even then I cried all the way down Interstate, until I made into the waterfront pathway – away from vehicle traffic.
It’s only been four days since I posted my thoughts on how riding in Portland has changed, seemingly for the worst for cyclists and pedestrians. On my first commute back since writing those words – this incident.
While I was still weeping, I called Danny (my fiancé) to apologize. We’re taking our engagement photos tonight and, in less than two months, we’ll be married. I apologized because I have an irrational sense of guilt – that by continuing to choose to ride my bike, I relegate him into an inevitable future of pain caused by my death or severe injury on the roads. It’s not fair.
Dear Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT), please, please, please work faster to implement improved facilities to prevent these close calls. Please – I beg you. Had I been the 12-year-old girl that PBOT aspires to design its cycling infrastructure for, there very well could be another memorial ride in the works.
Read more Collision Chronicles here.
— Jonathan Maus, (503) 706-8804 – firstname.lastname@example.org