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.
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.
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.