January 4, 2010

JUDGE: Woman hit in unpainted bike lane is NOT protected by law

When Portlander Rob Daray witnessed a right-hook collision on his commute home last summer he thought it was obvious who was at fault. So did the police officer who cited the operator of the motor vehicle for “failure to yield to a bicycle.” Even the woman driving the car admitted she made an abrupt right turn without checking her blind spots.

But when the case came up in traffic court, the judge came to a different conclusion and now Mr. Daray and others familiar with this are worried that people who ride bicycles are vulnerable — not just on the street, but in the legal system as well.
“This was such a cut and dry accident that it is shocking it was ruled this way in a “cycling” city like Portland.”
— Rob Daray, lead witness in the case
On June 10th, Mr. Daray was riding his bicycle eastbound on SE Hawthorne Blvd just before 5:00 pm when he looked up and saw a gray Toyota Prius turn right onto SE 10th. The Prius, driven by Ellen Metz, collided with a woman on a bicycle who was traveling in the same direction. The woman on the bike was Carmen Piekarski a cartographer who works for the City of Portland’s Bureau of Planning and Sustainability. She was thrown from her bike and sustained serious road rash and is still in physical therapy for a shoulder injury.
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