Posted by Becky Jo (Columnist) on April 28th, 2020 at 10:30 am
The insurance post regarding cars, uninsured motorists, and cyclists was fine and all, but what about a kayak? Yes. A kayak.
The husbeast hits the loop around Smith & Bybee Lakes on weekends. He’s pulling even longer days now that we’re all in an economic slide, trying to keep his team employed. So he heads out on long rides on the weekends. He gets back, and tells me, “There’s this asshole talking on his phone while carrying a kayak to the parking lot, trips on the curb, lands in the bike lane, and two cyclists crash into him.”
Sounds like there should be a punchline, right?
It gets better. The next day he heads out along Willamette Blvd by University of Portland and a jogger in the bike lane yells at him for being in the bike lane. Willamette is the preferred route in North Portland for runners and cyclists, in addition to being used as a car commuter cheat to avoid Lombard or Columbia Blvd.
“Does this make me car-lite now, or was I actually car-lite before? I’m not sure how that shakes out in the bike-vernacular, but I prefer to be a transparent person, so there you go.”
It was timely I should have my follow-up insurance call with Chris Thomas, of the Thomas, Coon, Newton, & Frost law office. You may also recognize Chris just wrote a column about the legality of pedestrians in the street last week.
I told Chris the kayak story. While bike-to-bike or bike-to-pedestrian (with or without kayak) collisions rarely cause serious injury, it does happen. Chris suggests it’s helpful to know the details of your homeowner’s or renter’s insurance. Chris says that typically there is liability coverage that protects you if you are liable for causing injury as long as it excludes any motorized vehicles. In the case of the kayak, if the man with the kayak was deemed negligent and caused injuries, the bicycle riders would have a claim against his homeowner’s or rental insurance.
Regarding “motorized vehicle,” e-bikes haven’t really been challenged yet. I suggested it might be like a riding lawnmower. When I was a kid out in the sticks, the old timers would ride their lawnmowers in lieu of their tractors down to the next farm for a visit. Let’s hope when this does inevitably come to court, e-bikes don’t get saddled with motorcycle restrictions, and instead are more like a riding lawnmower.
Chris did make an excellent point: “Often people learn the hard way what it’s like to be in the system and how much they were or were not covered.”
Have you gotten into a bike-pedestrian collision? Bike-bike collision? Did you walk or limp away?
Zoe, my youngest, flipped her bike in early March, causing a couple hairline fractures through a permanent tooth. There’s no liability insurance to go after when you flip your own bike in the middle of the road. (insert shoulder shrug)
“If I continue to stack my errands, using the car only 2-3 times a month and the car survives 6 months, it should even out even with insurance.”
That said, I do now have vehicle liability insurance to go with my renters insurance. My neighbors are quite elderly, and one is entering the later stages of Parkinson’s and dementia. This has added to their economic stress along the obvious emotional stress. They were going to donate their extra car after not being able to sell it for $500, so we offered to buy it for $500. It’s 20+ years old with the engine light on, so who knows how long it will run, but I’m hoping it will last long enough to make a lateral move financially and environmentally. For our family of 5 (plus one in college), I was still ordering delivery from Costco at about $600 a month. That requires someone to have a car, and costs an additional 20% in higher prices plus delivery tip. Before quarantine, I was also renting a car 1-2x a month and stacking my errands for those 24 hours. If I continue to stack my errands, using the car only 2-3 times a month and the car survives 6 months, it should even out even with insurance. Anything over the 6 months is a financial bonus, theoretically, and environmentally equal. It is Honda coupe, so the MPG is still low.
Does this make me car-lite now, or was I actually car-lite before? I’m not sure how that shakes out in the bike-vernacular, but I prefer to be a transparent person, so there you go.
The husbeast immediately regretted buying the car. We have so much pride after busting our asses hard over the winter, we felt maybe we gave up some of our hard-earned grit. We didn’t buy it to give-in, but it still felt a little bit like it. Like maybe just as it was getting easier, we relented? But it’s not easier with the quarantine. I don’t feel as free to ride to the store. If anything, I feel more exposed and in danger from cars than even when I was wobbly in the beginning. Does that make sense? Do you feel that way now? Do you feel that buzz, that because everyone is a little bit on edge all the time, that the freedom of a bike also leaves you more vulnerable to random quarantine rage? Maybe I’m projecting, but I can’t shake it.
I am both relieved to have both been able to contribute to our neighbors in their time of need, and to make a decision that works for us. I’m hoping it lasts long enough for us to financially take on a cargo e-bike. As someone said to me at the only bike-happy hour I got to attend before quarantine, an e-bike is to replace a car, not a bike. I dig that. Until then, I’ll name the Honda my Riding Lawnmower.
As always, thank you so much for hanging out with me here.
— Becky Jo, @BeckyJoPDX
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Becky Jo lives in North Portland with her husbeast, four children, two cats, and has packed more fabric into their modest house than anyone will ever know. While she knows her way around a sewing machine, cycling is new, filling her with great wonder, confusion, and occasionally panic.