Collision Chronicles: Road assault on MLK near Everett (8/30/16)

fee-quoteThis story was sent to us as a Subscriber Post by BikePortland reader Glenn Fee.

I Can’t Believe I’m Writing This

I’m not entirely sure where to begin, but I feel like I need to write it.

It’s been an understandably difficult few months for pedestrians and cyclists in Portland. As a committed cyclist and someone who simply enjoys being engaged in community issues, I’ve paid close attention to the collisions and near collisions that seem to be an all-too-common occurrence on our streets. Having two young children in North Portland, I was particularly upset yesterday when I heard about the young man who was hit on his way to Roosevelt High School. I used one of Bike Portland’s Tweets to ask Ted Wheeler about his commitment to Vision Zero, and I was pleased with the unqualified support for the policy.

On my way in to work this morning, it seemed that bike traffic coming down Vancouver was as heavy as it’s been all summer. I was thinking quite a bit about yesterday’s collision, and about how great it was to be among so many cyclists (strength in numbers, etc.). Then I had the scariest single experience in my five years of bicycle commuting in Portland.

My route to work takes me across Lloyd Blvd, then down the left lane of MLK for a few blocks. I realize that riding on MLK may not be the best decision, but I’m always careful and conscientious on my bike. On this particular stretch, I stay to the far side of the lane and only travel for a few blocks. I usually stay well ahead of traffic, as I turn on to MLK once the light on Lloyd is green. This morning, as I was just about to pass Everett, a white Mercedes swung across the front of my bike from the next lane over, turning onto Everett (toward the 84 entrance). I hit my brakes as hard as I could, fishtailing the back of the bike, and just brushing his rear bumper. I was able to dismount without falling over, and ran up Everett toward his car (I have no idea what I would have done).

As I just about reached his car, the light turned green. He saw me (as he did when he turned), paused, then sped off onto 84. At that point, I almost fell over because I was so badly shaken. It quickly struck me. The guy cut me off intentionally. Had he misjudged how fast I was going, or turned a bit more slowly, he would have hit me directly. As it stands, I almost slammed into his car. A group of very kind, concerned folks waiting at the day labor center came over to check on me. Unfortunately, the only thing they saw was me chasing down the car, but they could see how shook up I was. The upshot? I was able to get a clear description of the car, and I remembered the license plate number.

I called 911 almost immediately, and reported it as a hit and run. A very professional police officer arrived within 5 minutes, and took my statement. She didn’t ask whether there were witnesses – and I’m pretty sure there were not – but she did say they would track down the driver. I honestly don’t know where to go from here. I’m anxious about getting back onto my bike this afternoon, and I’m certain I’ll no longer travel on MLK and Grand (even in heavy traffic, where I’m not slowing anyone down). I realize that drivers make mistakes, but this was a clear, wanton assault with a car, without any interaction between the two of us prior.

I supposed I’m primarily using this as a way to get the experience off my chest. I’m open to Jonathan using this, or not, and I’m fully open to advice from others about how to pursue charges, whether I put myself in a questionable position, etc. Regardless, this will serve to make me redouble my efforts to ensure that all pedestrians and cyclists have safe, accessible routes throughout our city.

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7 years ago

without a witness or a hospital visit it’s unlikely that anything will happen to the driver other than getting a visit from an officer while they deny everything…

Kyle Banerjee
Kyle Banerjee
7 years ago

Even getting a visit from an officer is a good thing. It puts them on notice that they’re not anonymous. Also, repeat offenders will get in trouble.

Since you know who this guy is, keep an eye out for him. When someone does something to me, I like to wave to them (5 fingers) on future encounters a couple seconds before they pass you from behind. Stripping anonymity and letting people know others are paying attention and watching them helps enforce better behavior.

While this kind of thing can be very unsettling, just remember that there is a certain percentage of schizophrenics, dope addicts, felons convicted of violent crimes, etc. tooling around. Anyone who rides much probably encounters people belong to all these groups every day without realizing it. If you think about it, it’s amazing that incidents like this aren’t more common.

7 years ago

If the police won’t take action and you believe he is a threat to others, you can still legally obtain the identity behind the plate by using an on-line detective agency for a fee. Detective agencies can have access to this information with just cause. Then for another small fee you can run an on-line background check and social network visual verification of the driver you saw. With that information, you can contact his employer and let them know what happened. If driving is part of his job function, then his employer will be very interested that he is assaulting people while driving, as it is a huge liability for them if he ever does this on the job. You can also see if he is on parole, and contact his parole officer.

People commit these assaults because they think they are anonymous and the police won’t take action. Remove the anonymity, and these types of driving assaults will become less common.