2008 was a good year for cyclists in Portland, Oregon. There were no cyclist/car crashes resulting in any fatalities. Unfortunately, our luck seems to have run out. We’ve now had two in as many momths.
The first bike fatality in Portland since 2007 was 49-yr-old Cary Bernick of Southeast Portland, on April 27, around 5:30 p.m. According to the police statements on BikePortland.org, Mr. Bernick was riding against traffic, on a one-way street, and did not have a helmet. I wonder if he had been wearing a helmet if he might have survived. In the video posted in a previous post here, there were no helmets on any of the cyclists in Amsterdam (I believe that’s where it was filmed), and there were A LOT of cyclists. Hundreds. Generally cars are held to be at fault if they hit a cyclist over there. Here, the prejudice is still against the bicycle. There’s a follow-up here, with a little more information.
The last I saw on this did not make any mention of what the driver was doing at the time of the crash, so we don’t know if he/she was distracted by anything, or really any of the circumstances. I’m sure many people are wondering.
The second was on May 14. A 36-yr-0ld single father was on his way to pick up his 4th grader after school when he was struck and killed. According to this article the preliminary police report seems to be indicating it was the cyclist’s fault:
The Police have also already determined that the person operating the motor vehicle had the right of way and that impairment was not a factor. Voepel told Blue that it appeared the man operating the bicycle “made an error”. Police spokesperson Mary Wheat told The Oregonian that, “it appeared that the driver of the vehicle had the right of way.”
The Oregonian report gives us this:
The cyclist, Sandy E. Bass Jr., was leaving his apartment complex parking lot at 5702 N.E. Prescott St. to pick up his son from nearby Rigler Elementary School late Thursday afternoon when the accident took place. He was struck while crossing Prescott at 57th Avenue by a car traveling west on Prescott.
The boy, Damion Bass, is now staying with his grandparents. My condolences to Mr. Bass’s and Mr. Bernick’s families.