Two-Cyclist Collision Case 2018
Plaintiff, a 67-year-old engineer, rode her upright hybrid bicycle almost daily for over a decade to her job in downtown Portland from her SE Portland home across the Hawthorne Bridge, down its sidewalk ramp, down the connecting walkway and onto Portland’s Waterfront Park Trail which runs along the west side of the Willamette River. As she rode along the connecting walkway from the bridge’s ramp to the Waterfront Park Trail towards the T-intersection, she planned to make a left turn onto the Trail to ride north to her office. Just as she began her turn, Defendant, a cyclist who was commuting to his office south of the city, overtook her on her left side in an effort to make a right turn onto the Waterfront Trail. The young male rider had recently moved to Portland and had only ridden in the area a handful of times. As he passed her without warning, his bicycle collided with her bike’s front wheel. She fell to the pavement, fracturing her elbow and hip, which required surgical repair.
TCNF attorneys Cynthia Newton and Chris Thomas filed suit against the overtaking cyclist, alleging that he knew or should have known that the injured cyclist would need to make a turn at the T-intersection; since there was at least a 50% chance she would turn left, he was negligent to pass her on the left when she was so close to the intersection. The cyclist’s homeowner’s insurer provided his defense and denied liability, citing the injured cyclist’s failure to use a hand signal before initiating her turn. Defendant admitted in his deposition that he had initiated his pass because he assumed Plaintiff was going to turn right, despite the fact that she had not indicated which way she was turning. In addition, Defendant’s GPS data obtained in discovery demonstrated that his speed was higher than appropriate for the multi-use path (with its sign reading “Fast Bikes Use Naito”) and significantly higher than Plaintiff’s as he approached and passed her. TCNF lawyers persuasively argued that Oregon statutory law did not require Plaintiff to signal because the rules of the road which would require her as a roadway user to signal while operating her bicycle on the road, did not apply to her as a cyclist riding on a multi-use path. After party depositions and discovery of the GPS data, the homeowner’s insurer reversed its liability decision. The case was settled favorably shortly before trial.