Judge’s Decision in Bike-Car Collision is Reprehensible

Date: December 21, 2009

BikePortland.org recently brought to our attention a court decision we find reprehensible. We believe that everyone – drivers, bikers, and walkers – share responsibility on the roads. But when a judge rules in favor of an absent-minded and reckless driver with the advantage of 2,000 pounds of machine behind her, when everyone else seemed to see that she was clearly in the wrong and violating a law, we remember that some have to be more responsible than others.

In this case, the driver should have been paying attention. No questions asked. A driver should assume someone is around every corner. At every intersection.

Unfortunately, because of this lack of protection – both in an accident and after one – reminds us that cyclists have to continue to look out for drivers. Never assume they see you. Never assume they will stop for you. And never assume they know the rules of the road.

Sharing the responsibility or not, we believe the laws are and should be in place for those who are more vulnerable. The cyclist, in this case, did not have that. As the cyclist said, “If I’d been in an automobile, [the driver] would have been at fault.” True. And yet, so backward.

Maybe ORS 811.060 should be rewritten. But honestly, we think it’s clear what the law says. We should be able to trust a judge to uphold it.

What do you think?