BikePortland

NW Portland crash victim’s son speaks out: “More people need to speak up. We need change”


1993 Feldt family photo. Daniel Feldt is in the checkered flannel.
(Photo: Daniel E. Feldt)

Daniel E. Feldt, the son of the man who died hours after a collision with a truck driver while biking on Tuesday, says he feels dangerous road conditions might have contributed to his father’s death. And he plans to do something about it.

50-year-old Daniel Feldt was biking toward NW Niclolai Street on Tuesday morning (5/15) and was struck by someone driving an Isuzu work truck.

The official statement from the Portland Police Bureau says, “Based on preliminary information, investigators believe the bicyclist exited a parking lot, traveled into the eastbound travel lane of Northwest [sic] Nicolas Street and crashed into a passing truck.” That makes it seem like Feldt was at fault (and the line was unfortunately picked up as fact by the local media who parroted it as their own reporting); but a closer look at the crash scene shows that this collision might be more complicated than first assumed.

(Photos: Jonathan Maus)

As you can see in images I took on Thursday (above), visibility of the driveway from eastbound Nicolai is very compromised by a cement wall, vegetation, poles on the sidewalk, and other obstructions. From the driveway (Feldt’s point-of-view), those same obstructions make it very difficult to see oncoming traffic (even a large truck). And judging from where the point of impact appears to be (based on spray paint used by police to mark evidence), it’s not clear if Feldt ever entered the roadway — or if the truck driver was going a safe speed prior to the collision. It’s possible the truck operator could have been so close to the sidewalk that a large mirror is what first struck the victim. Without more evidence, it’s hard to say exactly what happened.

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Feldt’s son (with the same name) reached out to us via email on Friday to share his frustrations and sadness after he visited the scene Friday. Feldt is upset about the premature finger-pointing that lays blame on his deceased father and he’s concerned the roadway conditions might have contributed to the collision.

“To see the outline of a human in blood on the ground, the orange paint showing where the evidence flew after the collision, and to see people continue on like nothing happened, all while doing 40+ mph almost regularly through the scene was heartbreaking.”
— Daniel E. Feldt

“It is unfortunate that there are people out there on the internet who get a kick out of posting biased or rude assumptions,” he wrote. “To see the outline of a human in blood on the ground, the orange paint showing where the evidence flew after the collision, and to see people continue on like nothing happened, all while doing 40+ mph almost regularly through the scene was heartbreaking. Not because I am a bike rider and worry about my safety or because I feel the speeds are too high, but because Daniel Feldt was my father.”

Feldt tells us he is in talks with Portland Police investigators and plans to retain legal representation. Feldt hopes to view surveillance camera footage that might have captured the collision in order to better understand the circumstances.

But at this point, it’s all still very raw and emotional for Daniel E Feldt. His father wasn’t wearing a helmet and Feldt says he might be alive today if one was worn (he died during brain surgery hours after the collision). “If you ask me, I’d make it mandatory to have a helmet regardless of being over the age of 16,” he shared.

As for the roadway conditions, Feldt’s son wonders why there isn’t more room for bicycling on NW Nicolai. “The center turn lane is rarely used and the community would greatly benefit from bicycle lanes on either side of the street versus
the center lane. An even better idea would be to have the bike lanes on the north side only [where there are currently paved over railroad tracks].” Feldt is also looking into building and planning codes around vegetation maintenance requirements. “With the bushes gone, it is possible the driver would have seen him coming and swerved, or he [the bicycle rider] could have seen the truck. It is hard to see the trucks.”

Expected to meet with detectives about the collision today, Feldt shared, “More people need to speak up. We need change.”

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

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