Reader: I was harassed by a truck driver and police won’t take it seriously

The message below came to us from a reader via Facebook. I’m sharing it here with permission from the victim.

(Photo by the victim’s spouse.)

Today, Feb 8, 2020, my spouse and I were returning from a ride along the esplanade. I’m a bit slow because I’m recovering from a full hysterectomy and appendectomy. My husband was waiting for me along the curb headed north on N. Williams just after Broadway.

As I was crossing N. Broadway (during green light in bike lane), a Dodge Ram 2500 began to approach me with driver revving the engine billowing black smoke and squealing the wheels. At one point his truck stopped next to me and the white male driver stepped on the gas pedal with his brakes on and started fish-tailing until the backend of his truck almost hit me. It was terrifying.

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Thoughts on car culture, truck side guards, and the “cyclist community”

Just over two months ago 53-year-old Alan Marsan was killed while bicycling on North Interstate Avenue. He was going north and a large commercial truck turned right across his path.

Based on observations from the scene it was a classic right hook. The truck was stopped a few dozen feet from the intersection and Marsan and his bike were lodged just in front of the rear wheels.

That collision was just the latest in a long line of right hooks that have left bicycle riders dead in Portland over the years. As I stood at the scene of Marsan’s death, the names of other people who’ve died in fatal right hook collisions with trucks flashed through my head: Tracey Sparling, Brett Jarolimek, Kathryn Rickson, Kirke Johnson, Lydia Johnson (no relation).

Bicycles, large trucks and right hooks is one of Portland’s most vexing traffic safety problems. It’s maddening that we haven’t made more progress on it in the past decade.

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City of Portland: There’s no funding for truck side guards, yet

side underrun guards on PDOT truck-2.jpg

A Portland Water Bureau truck in June 2008.
(Photos: J. Maus/BikePortland)

The dangerous combination of right-hooks and large trucks have been one of the most pressing bike safety issues in Portland for the past a decade. We have lost far too many people because of this deadly combination.

So why aren’t we doing more about this well-known hazard? Like so many of Portland’s bike-related projects, the solution is in the city’s plans, but not in the city’s budget.

We were once again shaken out of our complacency with this issue when a man died while bicycling on North Interstate Avenue yesterday. Official details are still sparse, but it has all the trappings of a classic right-hook.

That horrible tragedy is just the latest in a long line of them.

In 2007 Brett Jarolimek and Tracey Sparling were killed within two weeks of each other when a truck operator failed to see them, turned right, and ran over their bodies. It happened again in 2012 to Kathryn Rickson on a busy bike lane just one block from City Hall.

After all three of those tragedies one of the main responses from the community was the need for safer trucks.

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Four years later, large trucks still use SE Caruthers bike lanes as loading zones

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This photo, taken in July 2008, shows how large trucks use the bike lanes on SE Caruthers as loading zones. This practice forces people walking and biking between the Esplanade and the Springwater paths to use the middle of the roadway. Unfortunately, the problem persists. (This photo is looking north on SE Caruthers toward SW 4th.)
(Photo © J. Maus/BikePortland)

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