Support BikePortland - Journalism that Matters

Man suffers serious injuries in collision with skateboarder on Springwater Corridor path

Posted by on February 15th, 2019 at 10:08 am

View from Oaks Bottom path where it meets with the Springwater. Photo is from 2015 right after wands and striping were installed. Nguyen was coming from the left on the other side of this tunnel.

We regret to inform you about another situation where someone suffered serious injuries at a location with a known history for posing hazards to bicycle riders.

On January 29th just before noon, Hien Nguyen was biking northbound on the Springwater Corridor path. As he rolled downhill toward the intersection where another path intersects with the Springwater (about 1.8 miles south of the path entrance at SE Ivon Street, below the Oaks Bottom Wildlife Refuge trailhead parking lot), Nguyen says a woman on a skateboard “appeared out of nowhere directly toward my path.” Nguyen didn’t hit the woman, but he ran over her skateboard, flew over the handlebars and landed head first on the pavement.

“Parks & Recreation will look into any further possible safety improvements.”
— Mark Ross, PP&R public information officer

Nguyen lost consciousness, suffered a concussion, received multiple abrasions on his face and bruises over much of his body. He was rushed to a local hospital for an MRI and released after a few hours. “The doctors said without the helmet, my injuries could be life threatening,” he shared with me via email.

The woman on the skateboard was coasting prior to the collision and Nguyen claims she didn’t stop at all at the stop sign.

Back in January 2015, following a similar incident at this same location, the Portland Parks & Recreation Bureau set out to improve safety where these two paths intersect. By the end of April they’d installed new pavement markings and plastic delineator wands, along with a stop sign facing Oaks Bottom path users.

Advertisement


Time for a roundabout?
(Graphic: Paikiala)

Before Parks installed those path safety updates, we shared an idea from a BikePortland commenter who thought a mini-roundabout would be a much more effective solution. Others pushed for convex mirrors to aid visibility.

It’s impossible to prevent all collisions from happening, but I wonder if more could be done in this location. Parks’ Public Information Officer Mark Ross said staff are aware of Nguyen’s incident. A Parks safety manager has been in touch with Nguyen and they’ve scheduled a site visit to make sure all the new safety signage is still in place. Ross also says the agency, “Will look into any further possible safety improvements.” “However it is notable,” added Ross, “That the skateboarder ignored a stop sign at high speed. People simply must act with others in mind when utilizing multi-use paths and trails. It’s common sense, for everyone’s safety.”

For Nguyen, the collision has profoundly shaken his confidence. “I’m an experienced and cautious rider with ten of thousands of accident-free miles over the years,” he says. “And here I was, riding on one of the safest trails when it happened.” Nguyen thinks a speed bump on the Oaks Bottom path and more warning signs might help.

Do you ride this section of the path? Do you think more should be done to improve safety?

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

Never miss a story. Sign-up for the daily BP Headlines email.

BikePortland needs your support.

NOTE: Thanks for sharing and reading our comments. To ensure this is a welcoming and productive space, all comments are manually approved by staff. BikePortland is an inclusive company with no tolerance for meanness, discrimination or harassment. Comments with expressions of racism, sexism, homophobia, or xenophobia will be deleted and authors will be banned.

155
Leave a Reply

avatar
34 Comment threads
121 Thread replies
0 Followers
 
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
58 Comment authors
TonyTtyeaK'TeshRubenHello, Kitty Recent comment authors
  Subscribe  
newest oldest most voted
Notify of
Lester Burnham
Guest
Lester Burnham

*I* am the best safety device. I always slow at that intersection and assume someone is going to come bombing out onto the path.

BrianC
Guest
BrianC

I am familiar with this intersection. I flagged this as mondo dangerous the first time I rode the this section of the Springwater. It is one of the places on the Springwater where I drop the bike to walking speed before pedaling through.*

I’m not sure a traffic circle would do much to help. You really need to increase the distance between the tunnel entrance and the intersection. Which means moving the trail over towards the river… A lot.

[*] Slowing means you also need to be aware of who is overtaking you, because getting run into from behind as you slow down isn’t fun either.

PDXCyclist
Guest
PDXCyclist

A few months ago BP posted about a bike-only roundabout somewhere on the eastside that looked pretty pointless IMO. I wish PBOT had just given the money for that silly roundabout that should have been a bifurcating / triangle shape to P&R since it looks like it would be actually useful here.

JJJ
Guest
JJJ

“Nguyen claims she didn’t stop at all at the stop sign.”

Stop signs do not apply to pedestrians. What does the law say regarding skateboards?

Mike Quigley
Guest
Mike Quigley

This is a no brainer. Lots of visibility both sides. Someone was not paying attention, and, most likely, going too fast.

GNnorth
Guest
GNnorth

I feel for the guy, and something needs to be done at this particular spot. The one reminder I have is there really isn’t a “safe” trail when we are riding on pavement. The inherent nature of this hard surface is obviously a factor in exacerbated injuries vs a softer riding surface. The helmet argument is old, does that really need to be inserted into the article?

Champs
Guest
Champs

A roundabout does nothing, but had my suggestion for speed bumps and/or a chicane on the Oaks trail been followed three years ago…

Rebecca
Guest
Rebecca

I’m so sorry this happened to you, Hien. The design at this intersection could and should definitely be improved but the skateboarder should be held accountable for blowing a stop sign and putting you in harm’s way. Best wishes to our fellow cyclist for a full recovery.

PS
Guest
PS

They should just install a zig-zag of bars you have to weave through at the bottom of the hill before you reach the springwater on the bluff trail. Force riders to come to nearly a stop before they reach the trail. Can’t imagine how much this sucked to wait for an ambulance or have to get up to SE Milwaukie to get to an ambulance.

Person using a Skateboard Device
Guest
Person using a Skateboard Device

Did a man operating a bicycle collide with a “skateboarder” or a skateboard?

Dan A
Subscriber
Dan A

In this case, isn’t it ‘out of the tunnel’?

soren
Guest
soren

i’m very sorry that the person cycling suffered an injury and wish then a complete recovery.

however, i find use of the phrase “appeared out of nowhere” to be unconvincing. imo, the person cycling is **the more dangerous trail user** and it should always be their responsibility to cede right of way to slower and more vulnerable traffic. i believe that in these type of crashes the person cycling should be assumed to be liable unless there is unbiased evidence to the contrary. also, the fact that we are only hearing the account of the person cycling is reminiscent of the way the media only provides the driver’s account following a crash. i personally am reserving judgment until we hear from the skater or another witness.

and, finally, the statement that the person cycling is “…an experienced and cautious rider with ten of thousands of accident-free miles” comes across as irrelevant. even an “experienced cyclist” can be incautious on a trail that is mistakenly treated as a major bikeway.

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

Did the skateboarder stay at the scene? Are they cooperating with investigators?

Phoenix
Guest
Phoenix

A solution: ? a couple of staggered jersey barriers in the underpass requiring those traveling west toward the Springwater trail to actually slow down… as they are the ones joining a more major path.
Or something like they do at MAX crossings where you just can’t run directly across the tracks, but sort of zig-zag around something to cross.

SilkySlim
Guest
SilkySlim

That collision sounds brutal, and 100% the fault of the skateboarder.

Incidents at this intersection are, fortunately, extremely rare. I go through this basically twice a day (on a bike and while running) during prime commuting hours, and have never seen anything go wrong. Thank goodness 99.99% of the population can recognize the lay of the land and act accordingly.

ric
Guest
ric

This is a particularly bad intersection, but redesigning it isn’t going to make any difference if behavior doesn’t change as well. I regularly see near misses at intersections with great visibility simply because one of the cyclists/joggers/skateboarders/whatevers can’t be bothered to look for other trail users. It’s like they think that because there aren’t any motor vehicles on off-road paths, they don’t need to watch where they’re going.

Rob
Guest
Rob

That’s a real bummer for the rider, I hope he’s doing better.
I been riding through this intersection just about every workday since the trail opened. It’s definitely a safety concern (as is almost every intersection), but the situation was much improved with the upgrade they did a while ago.
I definitely do not like the idea of a traffic circle here – it will likely make the intersection worse by putting north bound riders closer to the bridge abutment. As mentioned by a commenter above, a much better solution would be to move the trail over (west).

Adam
Guest
Adam

Add chaicane gates that could still be navigated at slow speed on a bicycle… http://tinyurl.com/y4eru2os

Carrie
Guest
Carrie

I’m a regular user of the ‘cut through trail’ (my own words). While I understand the perspective of the folks who want to put some sort of diversion on the cut through trail to slow people down, I’m afraid of how difficult it would be to navigate when merging OFF the Springwater onto the trail. I’m always really nervous headed southbound when I turn left onto the trial — I ALWAYS signal but I’m so afraid that someday someone is going to pass me on the left as I’m turning left there — putting barriers in my way once I make this turn will be additional stress. Also, when heading westbound there’s already a pretty good curve to the trail to slow you down anyway.

The sight lines there turning onto the Springwater are terrible. I slow to practically stopping because you canNOT see. I and I think the bollards have made it worse, but that’s one person’s opinion. Some mirrors there would be awesome.

Jolly Dodger
Guest
Jolly Dodger

I HOLLER LOUDLY. “COMING DOWN, COMING DOWN!!! DING, DING DING!!! COMING DOWN!!!”
I can’t believe I have to remind this crowd it is the law for cyclists to give audible warnings in exactly this situation. Why has no one mentioned this? Nobody wants to admit being wrong.

If I’m coming down the hill to the stop side, I stop.
Maybe if the skater had HEARD an approaching cyclist, they may have had time to at least try for a safer bail out? (devils advocate)

But really, having more signs telling people to YELL LIKE HELL OR RING A FRIGGIN BELL!!
Won’t stop or slow folks down the cool boot scoot thru there at full speed cuz it’s too much fun to ride it slow, or safe. I guess.

But a couple of round corner mirrors might help remind people of blind corners without audible warnings.

matchupancakes
Guest
matchupancakes

Middle of the Road Guy
They may have been on their cell phone as well for all we know.Recommended 1

They could have been praying the hail mary for that matter. No use in conjecture.

Ken S
Guest
Ken S

This intersection, and others like it, are dangerous by design. No amount of speed bumps or bollards are going to fix the part where the tee intersection happens at the bottom of a trough, the place where you would have the most kinetic energy.
High energy, zero sight lines, and a tight constrained space make it unlikely that the average rider would be able to avoid a collision. Unless you slow to a crawl, how would anyone be able to see a person approaching the intersection in time to slow?

If you were to rebuild the intersection from scratch, the way to do it would be have the tee at the top of a rise, have the paths widen 50-100% and have wide enough lines of sight to see and be seen with 2-3 seconds to react appropriately (idk, 30-50 feet, how about?)

That would be ideal; the topography makes slow the default without adding actual obstacles, there’s time to react, and there’s more than zero space to dodge, if necessary .

K'Tesh
Guest
K'Tesh

My suggestion… remove the tunnel, and then lower the strip of land on the waterfront side. Next, split the trail on the eastside into a “Y” shape, and install two tunnels, one oriented “upstream”, and one “downstream” at an angle that Springwater Corridor users can see into (perhaps even lit at night). This would have the advantage of eliminating the blindspot, and give users a chance to see the merging trail users.

K'Tesh
Guest
K'Tesh

I’d also like to wish Hien a complete recovery. Concussions are no fun. I know… I’ve had 3, and I’m sure that there’s some permanent damage up there.

K'Tesh
Guest
K'Tesh

Another idea… Long stretchs of “rumble strips” made from the plastic used to mark roads on the Oak’s Bottom trail might dissuade skateboarders from bombing through the tunnel. Nothing so high as to stop them, but make it a lot less fun, and a lot more noisy. It would also have the additional visual advantage to remind the Oak’s Bottom trail users of the hazard.

Ruben
Guest
Ruben

Since there will always be someone who rides, bikes, walks, drives unsafely, the answer to inherently dangerous areas is to redesign to minimize the risk. In this case, because visibility is poor you either need to increase visibility by moving the bike path farther west, or slow the speeds of the people coming from oaks bottom by severely narrowing the path. I ride up Tabor a lot and to get to the top circle you have to go through a narrow opening between the gate and a post. Everyone slows down, a lot. Narrowing the path with a gate is cheaper and easier than moving the Springwater trail.

Ruben
Guest
Ruben

I forgot to add “skate” to my list of activities 🙂

Batty bat
Guest
Batty bat

PLEASE NO MORE ROUNDABOUTS ANYWHERE. I don’t know why making bike infrastructure slower and tedious to use seems like a solution.

Dan A
Subscriber
Dan A

Conflicts are significantly reduced with this design:

https://goo.gl/maps/2smph1A33JR2

Holtz
Subscriber

I can understand why so many comments focus on individual fault, but that discussion won’t make the dangerous intersection any safer. It needs to be redesigned.

I’m not going to jump to conclusions about the details… other than to say the paint and candlesticks aren’t working. My guess is that a safer design would include extending the pavement west (away from the underpass) far enough to allow people using the bluff trail to clear the underpass, so they can see and be seen before entering the north-south main trail.

GlowBoy
Guest
GlowBoy

Rode through this the other day, coming into it from the Oaks Bottom side. There’s more space between the tunnel and the main path than I remembered. Plenty of room to install a chicane. Don’t put it right at the tunnel exit (where the stop sign is presently located) because visibility to the path from that spot is poor.

Put a chicane a few feet closer to the trail, with a stop sign on it clearly indicating ROW, and you’ve solved the problem.

mark smith
Guest
mark smith

Someone call up Trimet. I am sure they got some spare swing gates lying around.

J. Inscoe
Guest
J. Inscoe

What about a gate chicane at the end of the tunnel to slow down Wildlife Refuge Trailhead traffic that is approaching the Springwater traffic?

Something like this: http://www.greatstreetsmv.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/bike-chicane.jpg

I’m sure someone in the comments above has already mentioned this idea, but just in case…

tyea
Guest
tyea

Perhaps a more graphic collision warning sign would work better. I feel a little fear from those railroad track signs showing a cyclist going over the handlebars.