Two local lawsuits put focus on riding conditions, responsibility – UPDATED

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) by on January 5th, 2015 at 12:56 pm


Two lawsuits filed in the past two weeks put a focus on the question of who’s responsible for safe riding.

According to The Oregonian, a woman was badly injured last May during a mountain bike race in Hood River when she attempted to ride over a log that had fallen on the trail. She now seeks $273,000 from race organizer Hurricane Racing (Portland based bike shop Fat Tire Farm, the event’s main sponsor, is also named in the lawsuit).

Here’s more from The Oregonian:
[Read more…]

Comment of the Week: Lawsuits, the quiet pressure behind city decisions

Michael Andersen (Contributor) by on December 19th, 2014 at 3:43 pm

clinton speed

Traffic on SE Clinton.
(Photo: M.Andersen/BikePortland)

As we wrote beneath the last Comment of the Week post, BikePortland has decided to be the only blog we’re aware of that pays for great comments. The person whose thoughts we select for this feature gets a crisp $5 bill in the mail, as a way for us to appreciate the site’s amazing discussion community. So watch your email — we might be in touch.

Street safety matters to cities. So does street comfort. But only one of those issues will land you in court.

That’s the insight shared this week by BikePortland reader paikiala, responding to the discussion on Wednesday’s post about a guerrilla traffic diverter installed on Clinton by anonymous activists.

[Read more…]

Lawsuit filed against city for streetcar tracks deemed ‘unsafe for bicyclists’

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) by on May 14th, 2014 at 12:00 pm

NW Lovejoy streetcar-1

Track warning sign just a few yards from
where the crash happened.
(*Note that the sign wasn’t there in May 2012.)
(Photos by J. Maus/BikePortland)

The Oregonian reported last week that a Portland woman named Leslie Kay has filed a lawsuit against the City of Portland after she crashed her bicycle on streetcar tracks. She suffered a bad injury to her foot and is suing the City for $49,999. The incident happened back in May 2012 on NW Lovejoy just west of 13th (map).

According to The Oregonian, the lawsuit, “faults the city for the bicycle path’s design; for building streetcar rail lines that are “placed in a way that make them unsafe for bicyclist(s),” and for “creating a bicycle path design that did not look out for the safety of the bicyclist nor the pedestrians…”
[Read more…]

Lawsuit filed in case of bike that flew off auto rack on I-5

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) by on March 12th, 2014 at 10:04 am

The Oregonian is reporting this morning that a woman has filed a $49,000 lawsuit to recover damages caused when she had to make a panic stop while driving on I-5 in order to avoid a bicycle that had fallen off someone’s rack.

Here’s more from The O:

“A bicycle that tumbled off a rack and onto Interstate 5 at freeway speeds caused Dawn Martin to suddenly slam on her brakes in March 2012.

[Read more…]

Jury decision expected today in Kathryn Rickson wrongful death lawsuit

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) by on February 26th, 2014 at 8:29 am

Community gathering for Kathryn Rickson-1-2

Community advocates Roger Averbeck, Gerik Kransky,
and Cameron Whitten at the rally for
Kathryn Rickson on May 18th, 2012.
(Photo by J. Maus/BikePortland)

This afternoon at the Multnomah County Courthouse, a jury will hear closing arguments in the wrongful death civil trial of Kathryn Rickson. Rickson, a 28-year-old graduate student and aspiring playwright at Portland State University, died following a collision with a semi-truck at the intersection of SW 3rd and Madison on May 16th, 2012.

A representative of Rickson’s estate alleges that the trucking company, Delaware-based Golden State Foods Corp., was negligent because one of their drivers, Dawayne Eacret, failed to see Ms. Rickson and yield to her presence prior to the collision. Rickson’s family is seeking $1,789,281.93 in damages. Attorney’s for Golden State Foods deny the allegations and maintain that the fault of the collision belongs solely to Rickson.

[Read more…]

Director of Sierra Club explains rationale behind MTB park lawsuit

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) by on May 21st, 2013 at 11:38 am

Sierra Club Oregon Chapter
Director Brian Pasko.

Our story last week about a lawsuit against the Timberline Mountain Bike Park has sparked a lot of conversation. Several people commented and contacted me to express concerns that I failed to offer adequate context to the story. The Sierra Club and other environmental groups that have signed on as plaintiffs to the lawsuit, strongly maintain that their stance is not about bikes at all. Rather, they say their concerns are about the broader environmental impacts, the private developer that will construct the park, and a feeling that the U.S. Forest Service has not fulfilled its obligations within the public process around the project.

In our story last week, I included an email from Kenji Sugahara, the executive director of the Oregon Bicycle Racing Association, to Brian Pasko, the director of the Sierra Club’s Oregon chapter. In that email, Sugahara questioned the Sierra Club’s actions and requested their immediate withdrawal from the lawsuit. Today I want to share Pasko’s response to Sugahara because I it adds some important context to this debate (emphases mine):[Read more…]

Sierra Club signs onto lawsuit to stop Timberline MTB Park

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) by on May 17th, 2013 at 12:36 pm

“We really do not have a problem with mountain biking at all. In fact, we would affirmatively support mountain bike access on Mt. Hood and we’d love to build allegiances with those folks, but we just don’t believe this is the proper place for this development.”
— Rhett Lawrence, Conservation Director, Sierra Club (Oregon Chapter)

Plans to build a mountain bike park on Mt. Hood have taken another turn. Yesterday, four non-profit organizations filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) to stop the project. The plaintiffs on the suit are Bark, Friends of Mt. Hood, the Northwest Environmental Defense Center, and the Oregon Chapter of the Sierra Club.

In the 56-page lawsuit (PDF), that coalition says the area of Mt. Hood where RLK & Company wants to build the Timberline MTB Park is, “ecologically significant” and consists of ,”fragile alpine ecosystems” that feed directly into Still Creek and the west fork of the Salmon River. The plaintiffs also claim that the Forest Service did not adhere to adequate public processes as defined by federal environmental review laws.

The project would build 17 miles of new, lift-assisted mountain bike trails on a 500-600 acre parcel of land (*I originally posted the incorrect acreage). In November of 2012, the Forest Service approved RLK’s permit to build the park. In doing so, a USFS rep said he believes that mountain biking at Timberline, “represents yet another new opportunity for play in every season of the year.” An appeal of that decision made by an even larger coalition of environmental groups was denied back in March (it’s interesting to note that some groups on the original appeal have chosen not to join this new lawsuit).
[Read more…]

Two new lawsuits for controversial CRC mega-project

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) by on July 3rd, 2012 at 12:55 pm

The already controversial $3.6 billion Columbia River Crossing mega-project was slapped with two new lawsuits yesterday; one from environmental advocacy groups and the other from a 200-employee business.

A trio of regional non-profits — the Coalition for a Livable Future, Northeast Coalition of Neighborhoods, and Northwest Environmental Defense Center — filed a federal lawsuit under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). According to a statement from the groups, CRC planners have, “Not followed the environmental laws designed to ensure that development is safe for people and the environment,” and that, “the most expensive public works project in the region’s history has failed to consider even a basic analysis of key environmental issues.”
[Read more…]

Press Release: Federal NEPA lawsuit filed against CRC mega-project

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) by on July 2nd, 2012 at 1:33 pm

Press release below:


Portland, OR – Today, three groups – Coalition for a Livable Future, Northeast Coalition of Neighborhoods, and Northwest Environmental Defense Center – are filing litigation challenging the Columbia River Crossing Mega-Project.

The organizations are joining together to sue the federal agencies responsible for the CRC mega-project because they have not followed the environmental laws designed to ensure that development is safe for people and the environment. Their legal claims are based on concerns that the most expensive public works project in the region’s history has failed to consider even a basic analysis of key environmental issues.

“This project would harm our neighborhoods. It would significantly increase air pollution, funnel traffic into North and Northeast Portland, and lead to poorly planned sprawl. Our community needs smart transportation options so we don’t have to drive so much and travel so far.” – Steve Cole, Northeast Coalition of Neighborhoods

The claims are under the National Environmental Policy Act, which requires the government to study the health and environmental impacts of major projects, and the Endangered Species Act, which requires the government to ensure that massive projects in the river don’t destroy endangered salmon. The groups are represented by the Pacific Environmental Advocacy Center at Lewis and Clark Law School. The defendants are the Federal Highway Administration and Federal Transit Administration.

“This litigation is fundamentally about protecting our environment and our region. The CRC project is hugely expensive and deeply ill-considered. They have already spent $140 million in taxpayer dollars, and still haven’t created a sustainable, affordable project. We deserve better leadership that will go back and do it right,” said Tom Buchele, Managing Attorney for the Pacific Environmental Advocacy Center at Lewis and Clark Law School.

Issues in the case include the CRC’s failure to include a reasonable range of alternatives, instead creating a false choice between two extremes. The litigation also discusses the highway department’s failure to properly analyze air pollution, disclose the health impacts, and disclose the impact of additional traffic lanes on air and water resources, ecosystems and greenhouse gas emissions. They also repeatedly designed a public process that failed to include real public input.

“We want to see a less costly and more well-crafted solution to improve traffic reliability, create jobs, and protect community health.” said Mara Gross, Policy Director for Coalition for a Livable Future.

The Columbia River has historically had the largest salmon run in the continental United States. The Endangered Species Act claims result from CRC’s failure to adequately protect endangered salmon and other species in the river. The project ignores less damaging alternatives and fails to assess how the allowable salmon kill will impact total salmon in the river.

“The Columbia River is one of the most important rivers in the world, and supports one of the greatest salmon runs on Earth. The primary goals of this project can be achieved in a way that protects this important resource rather than jeopardizing it,” said Mark Riskedahl, Executive Director of the Northwest Environmental Defense Center.

Seattle judge says City not liable in streetcar track lawsuit

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) by on April 12th, 2012 at 10:30 am

Conditions on Lovejoy-5

New tracks on Lovejoy.
(Photo © J. Maus/BikePortland)

There’s been a big development in a legal battle up in Seattle that has similarities to an issue we have here in Portland. As we shared back in June 2010, several Seattle residents who crashed while bicycling across streetcar tracks filed a lawsuit claiming that the City of Seattle, “knowingly allowed unsafe conditions.”

According to the Seattle Times, that lawsuit has been tossed out by a judge who says the City is not liable. Before you jump to the conclusion that the plaintiffs are just whiners who need to figure out how to ride their bikes (a common reaction whenever this topic comes up), what’s important to note is that the case didn’t center around whether or not the tracks posed a danger to people on bikes. All the City had to do in their defense was prove that they followed existing engineering standards.

Here’s a snip from the Times (emphasis mine):[Read more…]