Posted by Lisa Caballero (Southwest Correspondent) on October 28th, 2021 at 12:34 pm
On October 15th, a 42-year old woman claims a driver ran into her while cycling home from a trip to the grocery store. The crash occurred in an intersection well-known to transportation activists and the Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT): Southwest Multnomah Blvd and Garden Home Rd.
Wilhelm (like many others in our community) is tired of waiting years for fixes to intersections that are well-known to pose imminent hazards for bicycle users. “It’s been nearly three years since Kurkowski was killed here, with no changes.”
Now it’s been five years since Kurkowski was killed. And fixes to the intersection that once seemed imminent still haven’t happened. That delay was almost deadly for Kwen Peterson, the woman who says she was hit there on October 15th. Here’s her story:
At about the 4th or 5th green dash I saw the side of a blue Prius that narrows in from behind me and sideswipes me. Most of the force went into my grocery laden panniers and thrust me to the right.
It was Friday, October 15th around noon, sunny day. My bike is hot pink, my classic ortlieb panniers are pink, my pants are red with small black polkadot, my yellow high visibility with silver reflective striping jacket is on, and my rear red light is flashing. Yes, I look like a clown circus on parade.
I was traveling on SW Multnomah going East and the road curves toward the North. As I approached the curve there were no cars in front of me and I had passed no cars since I had entered from 71st. Upon entering the curve I glanced to my side about 90 degrees but not back behind me since I was following the main road—it was clear. My approximate speed is only about 10 mph since I am packing 25 lbs of groceries. At about the 4th or 5th green dash I saw the side of a blue Prius that narrows in from behind me and sideswipes me. Most of the force went into my grocery laden panniers and thrust me to the right. My bike crashed right and and I fell off the bike onto my left side.
My helmet was cracked near the base of my skull on the left side and my bike’s right rubber grip got road chewed–otherwise no permanent damage done. My left elbow, hip, shoulder, and knee all got road rash and are bruised.
The driver directly behind the Prius stopped traffic with her vehicle and removed my bike from the road. Another male driver helped me from a lying position and up onto my feet and into the bushes on the corner of 69th Ave. The Prius owner by then had walked back down Spring Garden from where she had parked her car. I refused three times for an ambulance to be called.
So what happened? The driver of the Prius explained that her elderly mother had gotten knocked down the day before and was in the hospital with a possible broken hip and she was on her way to visit her. She claims that she had noticed me from a distance, but then as she came in close behind and along side, she forgot all about me. She stated she was too emotionally distracted.
My guess is that because the road is very wide and goes straight up the hill of Spring Garden, that driver’s eyeballs are looking far out to the crest of the hill. I was literally overlooked.
So no amount of signage, paint striping, day-glo clown costuming, flashing lights, or traffic slowing was enough to prevent this incident. More must be done. Portland Bureau of Transportation knows just what the issues are and how to solve it. I’d raise my hand to enthusiastically vote for securing the funding except that my arm is too bloody and bruised.
(We attempted to verify this story with a witness and the driver (both provided by Peterson), but were unable to connect with them.)
The intersection has a new design (above), and a project website, but the project appears to be stalled for lack of funding. According to the website, the “project has received $1 million from Washington County MSTIP and $1.2 million City of Portland Transportation System Development Charges. PBOT is actively exploring additional funding options.”
— Lisa Caballero, firstname.lastname@example.org
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Lisa Caballero has lived in SW Portland for 20 years. She is on the Transportation Committee of her neighborhood association, the Southwest Hills Residential League (SWHRL) and can be reached at email@example.com.