The City of Portland has come to a settlement agreement with a bicycle rider who claimed that bumpy pavement caused them to crash and suffer serious injuries. According to KOIN, the person was riding near the intersection of NW 15th Avenue and Hoyt in June 2021. The city will pay out $25,000 as part of the lawsuit, instead of having the case go to court.
Here’s more via KOIN:
Court documents obtained by KOIN 6 News state that plaintiff Natalie King was turning left at the intersection onto 15th Avenue when she struck the uneven pavement surrounding a set of abandoned trolley tracks and fell to the ground. The fall allegedly broke multiple bones in King’s left wrist, which required surgery, and caused scrapes and bruises on her arms and legs.
“Unknown to [the] plaintiff, there were abandoned [trolley] tracks that ran parallel to 15th Avenue,” the lawsuit filed on Feb. 15, 2022 reads. “The abandoned [trolley] tracks had both newer and older asphalt that had been paved around the tracks, where some of the tracks end abruptly. The combined effect of the newer and darker asphalt, the older and lighter older asphalt, and the abandoned [trolley] tracks created a dangerous street condition, of which no warning was given.”
For their part, the city didn’t deny the existence of the hazard. Instead, they placed blame on the company that owns the old tracks and on the rider’s own negligence. In documents obtained by KOIN, the City of Portland said the bicycle rider, who was on an e-bike, failed to take necessary cautions that would have prevented her fall.
Notably, we raised concerns about these same exposed tracks on two occasions back in 2016 during our Northwest Portland Week. I was shocked at how dangerous exposed tracks on NW 12th were and I also pointed out risks of the tracks on NW 15th.
I know that the Portland Bureau of Transportation is aware of these hazards, but I’m not aware of any project or strategy to remove them. It’s quite expensive to remove all the hazardous rails, so — similar to the existence of streetcar and max tracks which have claimed thousands of victims over the years — the plan is likely to just encourage folks to use caution. That typically comes in the form of the (oddly) popular yellow caution signs that show a bicycle rider falling — one of which is installed on the corner where this crash occurred.
I’ve asked PBOT for a comment about this and will update this story when/if I hear back.