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Portland pays $525,000 settlement in Mike Cooley dangerous bike lane case

Posted by on March 2nd, 2017 at 4:26 pm

Instead of facing a jury in a case they feared could go against them, the City of Portland agreed today to pay $525,000 to the family of a man seriously injured in a 2013 crash.

Mike Cooley, who was 59 at the time, was on his way home from work at the downtown post office when he was hit from behind by someone driving a large white truck. Cooley was riding northbound on North Interstate Avenue just north of Greeley. It’s a stretch of road with a terrible crash history and one that’s known for being narrow and very stressful. The City of Portland’s Vision Zero collision map shows 19 bike-related injuries on that stretch from 2004 to 2013.

In addition to narrow lanes, people frequently fail to maintain control of their motor vehicles and swerve into the bike lane, causing the striping to fade. There’s also a high speed differential between bicycle and automobile users due to the hill in the northbound direction.

Cooley’s wife Lori told us in 2015 that the family’s attorney and a private investigator they hired went to the location and were shocked at how dangerous it was. “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 told us at the time. “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.”

The person who hit Cooley has still never been found.

Cooley’s family filed a $21 million lawsuit against the City of Portland, TriMet and the Oregon Department of Transportation, citing negligence on a stretch of road that was known to be dangerous

Lori and Mike Cooley before the crash.
(Photo courtesy Lori Cooley)

Here’s more on the settlement decision at City Council today from The Oregonian:

“…Cooley underwent at least nine procedures and spent more than $1.7 million on medical and rehabilitation expenses as of June 2015, according to a lawsuit the Cooleys filed against the city of Portland, TriMet and the Oregon Department of Transportation that month…

Cooley was wearing a reflective vest and using multiple lights when the truck hit him at about 11:30 p.m. June 15, 2013. The bike lane was too narrow and the area lacked proper warning signs, visible bike lane paint and sufficient lighting, the suit said. A concrete wall, electrical boxes and an inability to control bike speed on the hill also made the city-maintained road hazardous, it said.

City attorneys advised council members that settling with the Cooleys rather than continuing to fight the lawsuit in court would be the city’s cheapest option. The case had been scheduled to go before a jury in January.”

In a filing with City Auditor’s office, the City of Portland’s Liability Claims Manager Randy Stenquist wrote that, “The claims in the lawsuit have been investigated by Risk Management Services and the City Attorney’s Office. The investigation indicates there is risk the City may be found liable. Therefore, in order to avoid the risk of an adverse jury award, we feel it is prudent to compromise the lawsuit at this time.”

Just two days ago we reported that the City of Portland and State of Oregon just settled a separate lawsuit under similar circumstances. The family of a man who was killed biking in a section of Northeast Lombard with a well-known bike lane gap sued them for $3.6 million. They settled that case for $23,000 and ODOT is currently building a path at the location that will vastly increase safety for future users.

We aren’t aware of any actions by PBOT to improve safety on the section of North Interstate where Mike Cooley was hit.

— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and jonathan@bikeportland.org

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66 Comments
  • MaxD March 2, 2017 at 4:45 pm

    Was he hit Interstate or Greeley? I am confused.

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  • MaxD March 2, 2017 at 4:55 pm

    Sorry, I get it now- Interstate! This is part of my daily commute and it is terrible. A lot of traffic peels off on to Greeley and people driving take advantage by driving very fast up the hill. Centripetal force and a natural tendency to drive away from the MAX (my own theory) lead drivers to drive very very close to the bike lane. There are two Storm inlets that never seem to be working, but do collect a lot debris that I do not want to ride over. I believe the driving lane has extra width here. I have request speed enforcemnt here multiple times with no success. I have also requested that PBOT strip the vehicle lanes at a consistent 10.5′ off the fog line that is adjacent to the MAX curb. In many places, that would give a nice buffer to the bike lane. In the places where this is done, there seems to be better compliance than with the single line. I am bummed to read this story in light of my past close calls and even more pissed off at PBOT for years of ignoring requests for modest safety improvements here. My daughter and I like to ride bikes downtown, but the substandard lanes on Interstate are a real obstacle for us. We always ride the sidewalk on the west side to get up the hill, but that is getting treacherous with Hazelnut Grove campers now using that with their carts and now pickups! Vision Zero, HELP!

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    • wsbob March 2, 2017 at 7:11 pm

      From the suit:

      “…Cooley was wearing a reflective vest and using multiple lights when the truck hit him at about 11:30 p.m. June 15, 2013. The bike lane was too narrow and the area lacked proper warning signs, visible bike lane paint and sufficient lighting, the suit said. A concrete wall, electrical boxes and an inability to control bike speed on the hill also made the city-maintained road hazardous, it said. …”

      How wide is the main lane? It looks narrower than 12′. The bike lane looks like about 3.5′ wide. I’m wondering what people are thinking the city could do to make travel by bike safer in such tight quarters. Better street lighting may help. What’s the posted speed limit? Maybe bring that down if it’s above 30 mph. Jersey barriers separating bike lane from main lane, have a fairly substantial footprint…don’t know the width, but maybe 24″ or more.

      I’m not understanding what’s meant by “…an inability to control bike speed on the hill …”. Maybe someone could explain.

      If there are things the city can do with this section of road that really will make riding it safer…it’s worth giving it some incentive to make those changes. In this situation, I’m wondering just how much safer a situation for riding can realistically be produced from what there is to work with.

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      • Chris I March 2, 2017 at 8:21 pm

        Eliminate northbound car traffic.

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  • chris March 2, 2017 at 5:04 pm

    In 2013, I emailed PBOT after Cooley was hit, and got a response saying that traffic engineers would look into how to prevent this in the future. No improvements came.

    In 2015, I asked the same PBOT contact what improvements we can expect in the same area, specifically related to Cooley being hit. The response was “let me find the traffic engineer’s investigation for you”, which was never sent. The PBOT staffer forwarded me to Hales’ office, who never responded.

    Now it’s 2017, and this specific section of Interstate has had no improvements. I wonder what must happen in order to fix an obvious problem.

    And of course, I hope the best recovery possible for Mike Cooley.

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    • Scott Kocher March 2, 2017 at 5:14 pm

      Chris, in my experience e-mails like the ones you sent can be effective, even if it takes years. Keep at it, and thank you.

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    • Mark smith March 2, 2017 at 9:20 pm

      500000 bones later….

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  • Kittens March 2, 2017 at 5:32 pm

    Shocking and sad how the legal system works in this county.

    Seems like fatalities get all the press, but idea of being hit and maimed for life is more scary to me. I can’t believe no one has come forward with information on this case with such a strong ID from the victim. I feel for him.

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    • Gary B March 3, 2017 at 7:41 am

      While I don’t disagree, not sure I follow what your criticism has to do with the legal system. In fact, a maiming is likely to receive greater damages in a lawsuit (depending of course on specific facts of the case), so as to your relative fears it seems the legal system is in accord.

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      • BB March 3, 2017 at 10:56 am

        On the contrary, while user Kittens is more afraid of being maimed for life than being killed (since clearly you don’t have a lifetime of severe disability to deal with once deceased), it could be argued that Kittens’ loved ones would prefer Kittens to survive an incident regardless of loss of quality of life – and there are more of them. In this case, more people would suffer a greater injury should Kittens die than Kittens would if suffering a permanent injury, which is the opposite of what the legal system reflects.

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  • dan March 2, 2017 at 5:35 pm

    A shame his assailant has not been identified. Such a total lack of humanity and empathy is hard to believe.

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  • Blake March 2, 2017 at 6:00 pm

    I ride this daily and agree with the comments about people speeing and entering the bike lane. It is awful for the city to continue to do nothing to improve this section of Interstate Ave despite the crash history. There is also the intersection of a road that comes in from the East right before the hill. I have almost been hit there multiple times by people rolling the stop sign to turn right. For the past month or two also there is a huge pile of gravel across the whole bike lane. I just haven’t had time to call it in yet.

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  • Pete March 2, 2017 at 6:18 pm

    Condition of settlement should be that Mayor gets to stand in the bike lane at that location for rush hour. Nearby city here we had a high school bike commuter write a letter to their new mayor asking that he ride to school with him one morning. Mayor brought Police Chief and Public Works Director with him (none are regular bicyclists – I asked). Shortly after, he was invited to speak at PTA meeting, and before too long there was significant investment in improving bike lanes on the road and the removal of a slip lane (an act of God in these parts).

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    • buildwithjoe March 2, 2017 at 7:57 pm

      Hey Pete. I like your idea. They made bus drivers take the heat of riding next to a bus.

      Imagine Amana Fritz going on another anti bike rant after trying this on interstate. I bet we would see her riding the sidewalk. Even Hales had to get off his bike in the dangerous West end of the bike lane of Hawthorne Bridge.

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4SgtlwTGAz8

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      • Pete March 3, 2017 at 5:48 pm

        That’s fantastic! I’ll gladly donate my trainer – when do we start?

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  • Dave March 2, 2017 at 7:20 pm

    Nothing will improve until every motor vehicle operator in the US feels nothing but an overwhelming fear of law enforcement every time they get behind the wheel. It’s not that non-white drivers are excessively opressed–it’s that all the other drivers are nowhere near abused and opressed enough.

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    • Adam H.
      Adam H. March 2, 2017 at 8:44 pm

      Wow, I am glad you are not in charge of law enforcement.

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  • buildwithjoe March 2, 2017 at 7:43 pm

    Interstate is a death march. If PBOT removed about 50 parking spaces it would be safer. Most of that parking is not even used much of the day, and there is lots of parking on side streets. What the heck PBOT, are you reading this? Can’t you study cost benefits?

    I used to bike Interstate both ways on my 15 mile commute from North PDX to far SE. Three years. I also used Greely which is covered in mud and gravel right now and all winter. Now for this month I use my car. 🙁

    Greely is actually safer than Interstate from my many close calls on Interstate. The bike lane vanishes on Interstate for long stretches. When I pointed this out the Bike Portland anonymous trolls came after me and tried to gaslight me and others. The main problem with interstate in commute hours is all the cars that idle in the bike lane while stuck trying to make right turns. Interstate is a death street for bikes. New evidence happens every day. RIP Alan Izi Marsan Killed by deadly bike lane design Feb 2017

    My own 9th grade student was killed. Here’s that story and how you can call in.

    https://bikeportland.org/2017/03/02/3-young-women-killed-by-deadly-design-crosswalks-219679

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    • wsbob March 3, 2017 at 12:46 pm

      “Interstate is a death march. If PBOT removed about 50 parking spaces it would be safer. …” buildwithjoe

      Pictures of Interstate where the collision is thought to have occurred, don’t show any parking spaces. Parking spaces couldn’t have been the reason this collision occurred. It doesn’t do much good to say a road should be safer for biking, without having much of an idea about why the road isn’t safe for biking, and what the city can realistically do to make it safer.

      Narrow road, narrow bike lane, collision occurs at 11:30 at night. “…proper warning signs, visible bike lane paint and sufficient lighting, …” might have helped some people driving, be more aware of people biking on this road, but at that time of night, people are off work, some of them drinking and doping. Doesn’t appear that the city has much in the way of options to make this road safer for biking, especially at times of the day when the problem of particularly bad drivers is likely at its worst.

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  • Mark smith March 2, 2017 at 9:23 pm

    Well, they now have 500000 reason to fix it.

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  • B. Carfree March 2, 2017 at 9:33 pm

    I guess PBoT is waiting for a victim to go to trial and win ten million before they actually take steps to correct this, and other, death traps. But hey, they’re getting into bed with ODOT to widen I-5, so all is wonderful in PBoT-land as the money flows in.

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  • K'Tesh March 2, 2017 at 10:27 pm

    Another thing about that stretch of road is the damnned blackberries and black locust trees that grow out of that embankment, or over it… I’m very familiar with it… >:(

    https://flic.kr/p/5nWa8g

    After helping out trimming trees with Portland Arborist Karl Dawson during a “Prune By Bike”, Ifilled the back of that truck with the stuff I cut down there, by myself… black locust, weeds, and blackberries back in 2008.

    https://flic.kr/p/5nWd7e

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  • J_R March 3, 2017 at 7:56 am

    Obviously it’s time for another stop sign enforcement action in Ladd’s Addition. It’s time to make those pesky bicyclists behave.

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    • wsbob March 3, 2017 at 1:01 pm

      Seems to me, your remark is off topic, and not funny. People biking, inconsiderate of the livability of neighborhoods belonging to people otherwise graciously welcoming people from outside the neighborhood to use the streets within. And some people somehow find that funny. Wonderful.

      Realistically, if you’re thinking resources are being assigned to stop sign enforcement that if instead assigned to Greely Ave, would somehow achieve greater road safety for people biking: Are the collisions occurring on Greely, simply due to not enough police patrol resources being devoted to encouraging safer driving and biking on that street?

      Maybe some people reading here, think so. I doubt it. There may be little the city can do to make this road safer for biking, except maybe ad chris I up apiece said…”Eliminate northbound car traffic.” …and that’s probably not even remotely a realistic option. Or is it?

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      • wsbob March 3, 2017 at 1:08 pm

        Excuse me: should be Interstate.

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  • Tom March 3, 2017 at 9:21 am

    Why not an emergency speed limit reduction to 25mph and speed safety camera installations. Cameras would also have caught the hit and run driver.

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    • Travis March 3, 2017 at 9:33 am

      City wide.

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    • paikiala March 3, 2017 at 9:42 am

      Fixed speed cameras are only allowed, by law, on the top 10% of high crash corridors, and you would have to predict where the next random hit and run would occur to have a camera correctly positioned, unless you just want more cameras everywhere watching us move around.

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      • Tom March 3, 2017 at 12:36 pm

        No you just need them at the major intersections to drastically improve chances of catching them. And the 10% rule only applies to tickets…not cameras. There is still great value in the ‘watchfull eyes’ affect. Even empty camera housings would help.

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  • RH March 3, 2017 at 9:35 am

    Can’t we have some rigid plastic wands put up every 30 feet or so? It’s not ideal, but it’s a start. And yes, I agree that City Council should ride up this hill to get a sense of what it is like.

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  • OregonJelly March 3, 2017 at 10:19 am

    It’s clearly time for the city to just tear up the roads and exit the transportation business.

    This trend of people suing the city instead of the responsible person is nonsensical.

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    • JRB March 3, 2017 at 1:41 pm

      How do you sue a hit and run driver that’s never been identified? Rarely is a single party 100% at fault. The law recognizes that even if even if a party at greater fault escapes liability, its better for a party only partially responsible to compensate a blameless injured person than that person bear all the expense themselves.

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      • OregonJelly March 3, 2017 at 3:20 pm

        I couldn’t care less if you can’t identify them. It doesn’t change the liability.

        I predicted this kind of weak response. I hear the same thing when the driver is uninsured. “but we have to get paid by someone”.

        No, you do not.

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        • JRB March 3, 2017 at 3:46 pm

          You should probably leave legal analysis to lawyers. Your response demonstrates no understanding of how tort liability works, only your opinion on how you think it should work.

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        • JRB March 3, 2017 at 3:48 pm

          Yes, you are entitled to compensation from anyone who bears some responsibility for your injury regardless if they are the person most at fault. Don’t like it, run for the state legislature.

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  • Hello, Kitty
    Hello, Kitty March 3, 2017 at 10:43 am

    A small point, but do drivers really “swerve” into the bike lane (which suggests loss of control) or do they “drift” (suggesting inattention)? The article says drivers frequently lose control, but is this really what happens?

    It might seem a distinction without a difference, but I think the two different situations might suggest different solutions.

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    • BB March 3, 2017 at 10:58 am

      If you’re not paying attention and you don’t know where your vehicle is drifting, it is out of control during the time of inattention.

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      • Hello, Kitty
        Hello, Kitty March 3, 2017 at 2:55 pm

        I don’t think drivers are unaware they are driving on the line. I think they just don’t see a problem with it.

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    • MaxD March 3, 2017 at 2:42 pm

      In my experience (year-round commuter on Interstate since 2008), drivers drift over, probably due to acceleration or distraction

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  • Todd Boulanger March 3, 2017 at 12:54 pm

    Now that the CoP has settled and acknowledged that the bikeway facilities along Interstate are often “deficient”…the CoP/ PBoT needs to investigate and remediate design compromises made late at the design process to placate business and property owners when the Yellow Line was being built. Plus make tweaks due to the evolution in state of practice for bikeway design in the last 15 years. As a frequent cyclist along this route for the last 2 decades…I would suggest:

    There are many missing bike lane sections that need to be filled in now:
    – Interstate Bowling Lanes [now closed]
    – Disjecta
    – Nite Hawk
    – 76 Filling Station
    – etc…

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    • JRB March 3, 2017 at 1:36 pm

      Where does the city admit that the bikeway is “deficient.” Perhaps I missed it, but if you are basing your conclusion on the settling of the claim, that does not constitute an admission by the city that the facilities are substandard.

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    • MaxD March 3, 2017 at 2:45 pm

      There are also many parts of the roadway between Fremont and Tillamook with quite a bit of excess width. I really think it would make a huge difference in driver behavior if PBOT striped auto lanes at 10.5 (they already have a 1′ stripe off the MAX curb). This would yield a painted buffer to the bike that wwould be modest in many locations and enormous in others. They could reinforce the buffer with plastic wands in the most dangerous areas.

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    • OregonJelly March 3, 2017 at 3:21 pm

      They should simply remove the bike lane.

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  • Tye Aldana March 3, 2017 at 1:49 pm

    I’ve ridden up that hill probably 100 times in the daytime. My number one complaint would be excessive motor vehicle speed. It is narrow, often has road debris in the bike lane, and I would feel uncomfortable riding there at night because of my constant exposure to irresponsible drivers. I would of frustratingly detoured up North Williams for traveling North at night time.

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    • MaxD March 3, 2017 at 5:10 pm

      I live in North Portland. I can commute home up Interstate and “run the gauntlet” that is being squeezed between speeding cars and a giant wall, or ride up Williams and cut over on Skidmore which lacks bike infrastructure between Williams and Michigan but has signalized intersections, or ride Rodney and Failing or some other Greenway combo that jogs around some indirect route and leaves me to cross arterials at rush hour at my own risk.

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  • X March 3, 2017 at 3:21 pm

    This is the point of the comment above about traffic police doing another Ladd Circle traffic enforcement action directed at bicycle riders: They seem pretty jazzed about that, but try to get to get some speed enforcement on a long straight stretch of road with an adjacent bike lane. It appears that speeding and wandering into the bike lane there is a victimless crime. Until it isn’t, of course.

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    • Ted Buehler March 3, 2017 at 5:17 pm

      X — all it takes is a concerted effort by constituents. That’s how the good residents of Ladds Addition get it up on the priority list.

      PBOT has done plenty of targeted enforcement actions recently, such as the SE Hawthorn and 35th a few months ago.

      I’ve called in blackberries and other stuff on Interstate regularly over the years, so have other people, and I’m sure it would be worse had nobody called them in.

      Ted Buehler

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      • Hello, Kitty
        Hello, Kitty March 3, 2017 at 5:21 pm

        Are Ladd’s residents driving the Ladd Circle stings? I hadn’t heard that before.

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        • Ted Buehler March 3, 2017 at 10:24 pm

          Just an assumption. I suppose it could be some other reason.

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          • Hello, Kitty
            Hello, Kitty March 3, 2017 at 11:43 pm

            Ah ok. Probably better not to spread the idea if you don’t really know if it’s true.

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    • wsbob March 3, 2017 at 5:35 pm

      “This is the point of the comment above about traffic police doing another Ladd Circle traffic enforcement action directed at bicycle riders: They seem pretty jazzed about that, …” x

      Not the impression I’ve received from reading bikeportland stories about the enforcement details in Ladd’s. Police don’t really want to do them, but when your boss says ‘go’, what do you do? Say ‘no’

      I ask you what I’ve already asked someone else, here (no answer so far.):

      “…Realistically, if you’re thinking resources are being assigned to stop sign enforcement that if instead assigned to Interstate Ave, would somehow achieve greater road safety for people biking: Are the collisions occurring on Interstate, simply due to not enough police patrol resources being devoted to encouraging safer driving and biking on that street? …” wsbob

      Do you know the traffic conditions at 11:30pm on Interstate where this collision occurred, and can you realistically envision some kind of enforcement detail that would likely have prevented from occurring, the kind of bad driving it seems Mike Cooley became a victimi of?

      https://bikeportland.org/2017/03/02/portland-pays-525000-settlement-in-mike-cooley-dangerous-bike-lane-case-219751#comment-6782175

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      • wsbob March 3, 2017 at 5:38 pm

        Meant to be a question: “…Say ‘no’ ? …”

        Of course not, if you want to keep your job. You do what your boss asks you to do.

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  • Ted Buehler March 3, 2017 at 5:23 pm

    This story is a not-so-subtle reminder — be sure to email in your concerns about road safety anywhere in PBOT’s system.

    SAFE@portlandoregon.gov

    Had people complained in writing about that Interstate stripe before May 2013, two things might have been different:
    * in 2013, Mike might not have been hit.
    * in 2017, Mike might have gotten a better settlement (because of the written request of a citizen to keep that particular stretch of road in good condition).
    * (& 3, as a result of a better settlement, PBOT might begin to react more quickly on SAFE@portlandoregon.gov safety requests)

    The more requests we send in, the more results we get. It’s not necessarily linear, not necessarily going to happen every place we as vulnerable road users ask, but it’s the one tried and true means of getting results.

    Thanks to all BikePortland readers, lone wolves, and groups of advocates who have gotten things fixed in Portland, and made my ride and the rides of my friends more comfortable and safe.

    & Thanks to Eileen and all the PBOT staffers for responding kindly and patiently, and getting things done.

    Ted Buehler

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    • wsbob March 4, 2017 at 11:24 am

      “Had people complained in writing about that Interstate stripe …” buehler

      Citizen activism can be a good thing…but after reading about this collision and seeing the picture of Interstate where the collision occurred, are you concluding that the worn paint distinguishing main lane from bike lane, likely contributed significantly to this collision having occurred?

      “…Cooley was wearing a reflective vest and using multiple lights when the truck hit him at about 11:30 p.m. June 15, 2013. The bike lane was too narrow and the area lacked proper warning signs, visible bike lane paint and sufficient lighting, the suit said. …” oregonian

      I ask because from my having read the stories and looked at the pictures in this bikeportland story, it appears to me that contributors to the collision were considerably more numerous and complex than worn paint.

      It’s a great idea to make this road safer for biking, but honestly, at least for the section of the road where the collision occurred, I find myself at some loss for ideas that really could offer a defense for people biking, against the kind of person it likely was that ran into Mike Cooley, and then split, not staying at the scene of the collision to check on his condition, or holding himself accountable.

      Some possible ideas as have been mentioned: better lighting, signs, consistently maintained paint may help deter collisions….but that still leaves very close proximity between people driving and biking on this narrow road. Bringing the posted speed limit way down…like to 15mph….on the narrower sections of the road, might help, but I’m guessing the likelihood of that happening are next to 0.

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      • Hello, Kitty
        Hello, Kitty March 4, 2017 at 12:59 pm

        How about a sidewalk-level bike lane with a non-mountable curb between vehicle traffic and bike traffic? That wouldn’t prevent every imaginable scenario, but would prevent many, and is neither technologically complex nor overly expensive to build (though moreso to retrofit).

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        • wsbob March 4, 2017 at 7:47 pm

          Doesn’t the bike lane shown in the photo, look kind of narrow for a curb height bike lane/sidewalk? About three and half feet? Wouldn’t want to inadvertently ride off of it onto the main lane. How wide might it be made if the main lane could be slimmed down a foot or so?

          Not a great idea to inadvertently drive onto the light rail tracks either, and the curb separating them from the main lane, looks like it’s rather of a lower height than curbs usually are..maybe three inches. Too easy for someone driving to hit it and roll right over it and on to the tracks.

          I’m thinking the defense needed, is against that likely very small percentage of people driving, for whom moderate barriers won’t be effective.

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        • Panda March 4, 2017 at 8:29 pm

          Why make it a mountable curb? There is no reason for a motor vehicle to ever be in the bike lane here. There are no driveways up the hill. If anything, they could raise the lane a foot!

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        • Ted G March 6, 2017 at 1:05 pm

          Prevent many…what? Collisions with bikes? If there are not “many”
          accidents happening, how do you know if this solution will prevent them?

          I ride this route occasionally and have not had rh issues described here. I do see cyclists unable to maintain sufficient speed to ride a straight line up the hill so weave. This would seem to increase the potential for collisions.

          If the most current death on Interstate happened to a cyclist riding in a bike lane, what is the motivation for adding more bike lanes?

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  • Mark smith March 4, 2017 at 1:16 pm

    A slightly raised asphalt section works fine.

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  • Steve Scarich March 6, 2017 at 10:14 am

    This is a relatively small settlement, all things considered (the extent of his injuries). It seems likely that the plaintiff will actually see little of the settlement. Take $200K+ off the top for the attorney and his expenses. Then, his health insurance company has legal right to recoup their payments for his medical expenses (I’m no lawyer, btw).

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  • Kyle Banerjee March 6, 2017 at 12:10 pm

    I ride this section of Interstate virtually every day and have been there at any time and weather conditions that I’m awake for. If this is what passes for dangerous or substandard, I see no hope of getting people riding.

    I disagree with the multiple contentions here that this section is bad. You can’t get hooked from the right or left at all on the hill and the sections before are much less problematic that most cross streets and driveways everywhere. Sight lines ahead and behind are outstanding, and vehicle encroachment of the lane is no worse here than most places (I’ve always thought it’s better) — and is certainly not anywhere near as bad as a few blocks before and after where people routinely drive fully in the bike lane to get onto Albina and Skidmore. There are a few small piles of gravel at the moment, but that’s barely noticeable compared to hazards all over the city.

    Based on the description, it sounds like Cooley was doing everything he reasonably could. But there’s nothing that can protect you from a sufficiently bad driver short of not using the roads — even drivers enclosed in safety cages get killed and maimed because of the negligence of others.

    I really hope they don’t raise the bike lane. Cyclists on very different rigs with very different abilities ride this hill. A raised lane would make a clean pass impossible and the logical outcome would be tightly compressed groups of cyclists that would then have to work things out at the top of the hill where the traffic is much messier.

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    • Hello, Kitty
      Hello, Kitty March 6, 2017 at 12:14 pm

      What if it was just raised for the short section where there is evidence of higher levels of vehicle incursion? A shorter section would also be much more cost-effective as a retrofit.

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      • Kyle Banerjee March 6, 2017 at 12:49 pm

        I would be concerned that the short raised section might be more of a hazard to cyclists and cars alike than the one it existed to mitigate.

        I would describe what happens here as “drift” — you’ll see much more pronounced vehicle encroachment virtually anywhere a road with a bike lane turns sharply to the right.

        In any case, I still think this area is less problematic than pretty much anything that lies ahead and much of what lays behind back to Moda. Who here thinks this section isn’t better than the rest of the bike lane once you pass the MAX station at the top of the hill all the way into Kenton?

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        • wsbob March 6, 2017 at 1:50 pm

          ” I would be concerned that the short raised section might be more of a hazard to cyclists and cars alike than the one it existed to mitigate.

          I would describe what happens here as “drift” — …” banerjee

          That’s essentially what I wrote here:

          https://bikeportland.org/2017/03/02/portland-pays-525000-settlement-in-mike-cooley-dangerous-bike-lane-case-219751#comment-6782815

          Study the photo. Not good for anyone if someone riding, unexpectedly rides off the sidewalk height bike lane. I think the occurrence of this collision was due, not to an average competent person driving, but more likely to one of that small percentage of road users that are poor drivers…bad at keeping track of what’s ahead of them on the road…bad at keeping their vehicle traveling within the travel lane…bad at stopping sufficiently in advance of other vehicles and vulnerable road users. Creating an effective defense in this situation, against such people driving is very difficult.

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      • MaxD March 6, 2017 at 6:01 pm

        I think a short section of plastic wands might be cheaper and more effective

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  • Zaphod March 6, 2017 at 6:04 pm

    I roll this route daily.

    It would cost massive piles of $ to substantially widen this to create up to standard bike and road widths, never mind a separated piece of infrastructure. There’s MAX 3rail on one side and a structural retaining wall on the other.

    But… lowering the speed limit to 25 and adding speed mitigation such as speed humps would be inexpensive and mitigate risk.

    And also restriping to gain precious inches plus some of those round tactile bumps so drivers know they’re out-of-lane would also be an inexpensive incremental improvement as well.

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