Collision with FedEx truck driver on SE 17th Ave path injures bike rider

Northbound view of SE 17th Avenue path. Note the yellow caution sign that used to be a stop sign.

A bike rider says he was headed northbound on the 17th Avenue multi-use path Wednesday when he was involved in a collision with a FedEx truck driver.

According to an Instagram post from the cycling team he rides with, the rider suffered several serious injuries including a broken collarbone, shoulder blade and a punctured lung. The rider’s bike was also destroyed.

Precise details about how and why the collision occurred are still unknown. It happened just south of where 17th intersects with Highway 224 (map below). The rider was hit in a driveway that serves the parking lot of an office park.

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This path is relatively new. It was constructed in 2016 and opened to the public in early 2017. The path is a key piece of the regional bike network because it connects Sellwood and Milwaukie. SE 17th is a busy, high-speed road and the path allows bicycle riders to be separated from drivers.

When it opened we talked to one veteran Milwaukie bike advocate who gave it a grade if B-. Despite the $3.3 million budget, the path lacks physical separation from SE 17th. Instead of a concrete wall or other protective material, all that separates vulnerable path users from car and truck drivers is a patch of grass.

The other big issue we pointed out with this path was the presence of many stop signs at driveways. As they too often do, the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) installed stop signs for path users and gave priority to car drivers. After being threatened with protest and public embarrassment from the (bike-riding) Mayor of Milwaukie Mark Gamba, ODOT relented and changed the stop signs to the yellow caution signs that exist today.

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Closer look at the driveway.

The driveway where this rider was injured Wednesday was one of the driveways that used to have a stop sign, but now has a yellow advisory sign that says, “Caution Vehicle Crossing Ahead.”

I am very relieved that the bike rider was not more seriously injured. These type of “hook” collisions (I’m not sure if the truck driver was going north or south and if this was a right-hook or a left-hook) — especially with larger vehicles like delivery trucks — have a very tragic history in Portland and have led to several deaths over the years.

I’m still unsure with precisely what led to this collision. I’ll post a follow-up if I learn more.

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Steve Scarich
Steve Scarich
2 months ago

It would be safer if there was a stop sign. When, there is a stop sign for the cyclist, he/she would treat it as a yield and proceed cautiously. As it is, cyclists probably just cruise right through and Voila, get hit. or you could have the stop sign for the car/truck traffic, but that is problematic, because they have to creep out into the bike path, just to be able to see if traffic is approaching. As it is now, it is an ‘accident waiting to happen’.

Watts
Watts
2 months ago
Reply to  Steve Scarich

It would be safer if there was a stop sign. When, there is a stop sign for the cyclist, he/she would treat it as a yield and proceed cautiously.

I completely disagree. If you have stop signs where they are not needed, riders won’t “proceed cautiously”, they’ll just learn to ignore them. All they would do is increase the legal liability of bike riders in a situation like this one.

I don’t know what the solution here would be, or if there even is one, but I’m pretty sure it’s not replacing the stop signs.

Matti
Matti
2 months ago
Reply to  Steve Scarich

I agree. Vehicles in the parking lot should be required to stop before crossing the trail. Any reasonable driver would stop to make sure things are clear before entering the street anyway. In addition to a stop sign, a caution to look both ways for trail users would help.

qqq
qqq
2 months ago
Reply to  Steve Scarich

Yes, that makes more sense than stop or yield signs on the path. A stop sign SHOULDN’T be necessary for vehicles exiting the driveway, because legally they’re required to stop before entering the path (I hope, since the path is like a sidewalk). I do see businesses like grocery stores putting stop signs at their parking lot exits. They remind people of what the law is, and also (with a painted stop line) reinforce that you should stop BEFORE pulling across the path.

Entering the driveway from the street, as the FedEx driver apparently did, you can’t really have a stop sign, but the law already requires (again I hope) the driver to yield to anyone approaching the driveway on the path.

So your stop signs aimed at drivers reinforce the law, where stop signs aimed at path users just confuse everything.

JeffP
JeffP
2 months ago
Reply to  qqq

Vehicles must stop before entering crosswalk and sidewalks – how is this different? As a MUP, there is no requirement for bicyclists to proceed at a walking pace as there is with sidewalks. So does the law not address/treat MUPs and driveways at all? Seems odd knowing the other intersections are addressed.

qqq
qqq
2 months ago
Reply to  JeffP

I assume the law is the same for vehicles crossing MUPs as it is for sidewalks (they must stop before crossing the sidewalk heading out to the street, and must yield to anyone on the path when crossing the path when heading off the street. But I’m not certain, hence the “I hope”. I also agree the requirement for drivers to yield to bikes when crossing MUPs shouldn’t put any restrictions on bikers’ speed, and drivers should be looking for people biking fast before driving across a path.

Steve C
Steve C
2 months ago
Reply to  Steve Scarich

Should roads have stop signs at every intersecting driveway? No, and neither should protected bike lanes and bike paths. They would be rendered useless jokes if at every driveway there was a stop.

I’m not going to use a path that requires me to stop every 50ft for a driveway.

Steve Scarich
Steve Scarich
2 months ago
Reply to  Steve C

You might want to keep up on your rights. The law was changed three years ago. You do not have to stop.

Steve C
Steve C
2 months ago
Reply to  Steve Scarich

You fundamentally misunderstand the Idaho stop law. You can treat a stop as a yield. But if you get hit by a car that enters an intersection legally, you failed to yield and it’s your fault.

Steve Scarich
Steve Scarich
2 months ago
Reply to  Steve C

I understand the law perfectly. What you don’t understand is your use of the word ‘requires’. You are incorrect. I am advocating for a stop sign, because it is the best way to prevent the kind of injury received in this incident. When I come up to a stop sign, as I did at least 20 times on my 40-mile ride today, I take full responsibility for entering the intersection carefully and legally. I also never ‘assume’ anything, like the fact that no car has been there the previous 50 times guarantees no car today.

Steve C
Steve C
2 months ago
Reply to  Steve Scarich

Oh come on, it’s a dumb idea. Bike paths should not have stop signs at every driveway that they cross just like roads should not have stops every driveway.

Let me rephrase my statement. I don’t want to have deal with a stop sign, and thus assess whether a car is going to legally supersede my right of way, and potentially legally kill me with impunity every 50ft.

Stops at intersections with larger roads? Sure fine. But every driveway is dumb.

qqq
qqq
2 months ago
Reply to  Steve Scarich

I disagree that a stop sign for the path users is “the best way to prevent the kind of injury received in this incident”.

The stop sign conflicts with the basic law that drivers must yield to people on the path when crossing it to go in or out of a driveway.

That creates confusion. If people obey the sign, it conditions drivers to believe that they have the right of way at other driveways, and that bikers approaching the next driveway the driver wants to turn into will stop for them there, too.

Also confusing–what does the stop sign tell drivers and people walking or running? Should a walker or runner stop for the driver about to cross the path? Should the driver assume they’ll stop? Or should the driver yield to people walking or running, but not for people on bikes? Does the stop sign apply to people on scooters or skateboards? I don’t know myself. In comparison, the basic law–path users always have the right of way over any vehicle crossing it–is crystal clear.

In most cases, a stop sign on the path also unfairly favors the minor user (a driver going in or out of a driveway) over the major users (people biking on what is typically a regional walking/biking route. Most MUPs have much more traffic on them than driveways crossing them do. If this were a rarely-used sidewalk outside a Costco that may have 2,000 vehicles daily going in and out of its driveway across a sidewalk that may have only 10 people per day using it, the law still says all those 2,000 drivers must yield to the rare pedestrian. So it makes no sense that people on well-traveled MUPs should have to yield to any driveway users.

dirk
dirk
2 months ago

FedEx drivers are the worst – I think they’re (all?) contract drivers and have crazy deadlines.

JeffP
JeffP
2 months ago
Reply to  dirk

Close but Amazon drivers are the worst in my opinion – I’ve seen them troll/slow roll for blocks looking for delivery destinations [holding up ALL traffic], park in bike lanes for deliveries, park in designated turn lanes for deliveries, park in the middle of streets/drive lanes for deliveries, block driveways while parking in streets for deliveries – all while driveways or side streets were available for them to park.
They always seem like untrained people who are simply told to make the deliveries as fast as possible….remember how that worked out for Domino’s pizza long ago

Boyd
Boyd
2 months ago
Reply to  dirk

Not all. There’s a difference between FedEx ground and FedEx express (ground has green and blue logo, express is orange and blue). FedEx ground is composed of formerly independent regional delivery services that work as contractors. The drivers most often are employees of a small company that bids in contacts to provide delivery service in a specified geographical area. FedEx express is a nationwide corporate entity, the employees of which are directly employed by FedEx.

X
X
26 days ago
Reply to  dirk

All these points are good but let’s be clear, the drivers a little complicit but the root problem is the condition of their jobs. The only leverage they have against their employers’ practices is to quit.

Another Engineer
Another Engineer
2 months ago

I wish a quick and full recovery to the rider. The only time I have been hit on my bike was a very similar situation, I was lucky to be hit by a sedan and didn’t need surgery.

I was pretty involved with the construction of the path, the 17th Avenue Trail project was delivered by ODOT who installed the stop signs but these sections of roadway are owned by the City of Milwaukie. When the project was completed and transferred to the City the stop signs were replaced with the signs pictured. This was before the stop as yield law was passed. Even with the new law I believe the current arrangement is better than a stop sign because it protects cyclists in this exact situation. MUP users shouldn’t have to legally yield to turning traffic here, the law should protect the MUP users and the current signage does that. Further mitigation could be the installation of a cross bike here or OR10-15 (TURNING VEHICLES stop FOR peds) signage. This driveway is the only one that accesses multiple residences so the treatment here could differ from the rest of the driveways that serve single family residences on the route. A safe systems approach for future work would be to ensure raised crossings are constructed.

In my opinion, this appears to be a clear case of failure to yield by the driver.

Trike Guy
Trike Guy
2 months ago

I think the B- is generous, I’d give it a C- for bike infrastructure.

My long commute route goes down 17th to Milwaukie – I go southbound before 5am and northbound around 3:30pm.

I don’t take the path – I don’t believe it’s safe because of the way these paths cross driveways. Anytime an offroad path (this is not a side path AFAICT) crosses driveways, and more particularly, roads there’s greater chance of collision because the rider is so far off the roadway.

In the morning I just go straight down 17th in the vehicle lane at about 25mph and in the evening I go up 17th in the bike lane on the right until the intersection (Mailwell maybe – the one north of 224) and hop in the left turn lane to get on the path to get on the 1way road through the subdivision there (Garthwick? Long time since I lived in Milwaukie).

At almost any cost I stay off the southern section of this path.

BTW – the post says he was overtaken, so the Fed-Ex driver was NB as well making a left turn into the driveway. Always the worst spot because his attention is almost entirely on the SB lane as he approaches *then* ahead of his vehicle, at which time he’s gunning it to get across in front of oncoming traffic.

Again, one of the reason I *hate* this sort of infrastructure.

Trike Guy
Trike Guy
2 months ago

Good point – I guess it just validated my feeling that the left hook is the hardest thing to avoid while riding a 2 way path against the direction of the adjacent lane.

Fred
Fred
2 months ago
Reply to  Trike Guy

I agree with you, Trike Guy. The same kind of off-road path is coming to SW Capitol Hwy, where cyclists will be hit by cars there also – esp bikes coming downhill at speed. The big advocates of these off-road paths seem to be parents of young children who want to walk on them with strollers. One type of path does not serve all users equally well. I’d argue they don’t serve cyclists much at all – we are far better off riding next to truck and car traffic and sometimes even *WITH* car and truck traffic in fast downhill lanes. I will continue to ride this way on the fast downhill section of Capitol but I’ll soon have to contend with drivers yelling at me to get into the “bike lane” or off-road path.

ROH
ROH
2 months ago

They could also close that driveway since that housing complex has an exit to SE Lava, which has a signaled intersection with SE 17th

Another Engineer
Another Engineer
2 months ago
Reply to  ROH

SE Lava is stop controlled. And 17th has a marked crossing with refuge across SE 17th.

maxD
maxD
2 months ago

I rode around the nopo peninsula yesterday evening. As I rode north on the MUP parallel to Lombard, an Amazon Sprinter van passed me on Lombard, then turned into the driveway that I as just crossing! The driver was not looking or paying any attention to the path. Stop signs for the path or the driveway would not have helped because the driver was checked out- looking at his phone or list or something. FedEx, Amazon, Uber, Lyft, etc have very quickly become a large and growing percentage of the drivers on our streets, and these drivers are increasingly outsourced, over-worked and poorly trained. Large corporations outsource this dangerous work to save money and avoid liability. One avenue to safer streets might be increased accountability for corporations for the actions of their drivers. I guess that would be at the Federal level, not sure if we can tackle this locally

ivan
ivan
2 months ago

Ironically, a UPS driver nearly flattened me this morning pulling unexpectedly (no turn signal) out of a parking spot, across the bike lane without looking. NE Couch near the Burnside Bridge. I managed to avoid the truck but crashed into the bumper of the car waiting at a light in front of him. Just bruises, but scary.

Burk Webb
Burk Webb
2 months ago

Oh no John! Hope you heal up quick! What a bummer, I always feel really safe on the SE 17th path, it’s so much nicer than riding on 17th itself. The sightlines there are really good (plus it gets a fair bit of constant bike and pedestrian traffic) so I always feel very visible on it. That driver really blew it.

Christopher of Portland
Christopher of Portland
2 months ago

Having to check both north and south lanes along with seeing if anyone is popping out of a driveway and hoping for the best has always made me nervous on this path. And it needs to be done multiple times in a short distance. Even if someone is using a turn signal, it can be hard to spot when they’re going something like 40mph.

Todd Boulanger
Todd Boulanger
2 months ago

This is sad that our planners and facility engineering industry has let the trail users down here, by not stop controlling the driveway traffic exiting. (When I saw the photo of the little yellow warning sign about vehicle traffic ahead I thought it was referring to the intersection up ahead and not the driveway.)

Todd Boulanger
Todd Boulanger
2 months ago
Reply to  Todd Boulanger

Continued: This facility is what is really screwed up with multimodal facility design in the US: here we have a transportation facility of regional importance with operational design giving priority to a side access driveway. (This ODOT cycleway is the alternative highway for OR 99 and should have a similar priority to it, and at a minimum it definitely even as a “Minor Arterial” per SE17 Avenue – Clackamas County’s Roadway Functional Classification plan – is higher on the transportation facility hierarchy than a residential community’s second driveway.) The driveway exiting traffic (just like its entry traffic) should stop and yield to the through cycle vehicle traffic. A similar poor design practice – an oddity actually when one looks at international best practices – all too often occurs when US railroad lines are converted to bikeway trails (rails-to-trails)…the once dominant through movement of the regional facility (rail line) then becomes stop controlled or yield (flipping the stop control)to now favor local circulation by cars. A good (poor example) of this is how the Banks Vernonia State Trail crossings were handled across driveways and secondary roads.

Allan Rudwick
Allan Rudwick
2 months ago

Some green paint seems like it would help — obviously paint isn’t a solution to all problems but it might help increase driver awareness