Cyclists Must Be Careful in Tom McCall Park and the East Esplanade-Pedestrians can Get Hit

The eighty degree days have released a flood of bike commuters onto Portland's streets.   As a bike commuter myself, I have started to regularly bike commute with my toddler in a bike trailer.  My little guy and I do our best to stay on low traffic bike friendly streets.  However, once we are in downtown things can change depending on where we go.  

The bike path along Tom McCall park is our primary thoroughfare.  This long scenic pathway is a great place to duck away from vehicles.  However, it has its own unique dangers.   First, it is crowded by walkers, joggers, runners and kids.   These folks are enjoying a walk along the river and are often unaware of bikers passing by.   This problem gets compounded when cyclist are crossing the narrow sidewalk on the Hawthorne Bridge or the Steel Bridge and on certain areas of the East Bank Esplanade.    

Tips For Riding on Tom McCall Park and The East Esplanade
1) Slow Down
2) Give an audible warning when passing pedestrians from behind
3) Give pedestrians lots of room when passing
4) Look both ways when merging onto the path
5) Remember there is a bike lane on Naito Parkway if the pathway is too congested

To avoid a collision or near miss with a pedestrian cyclist should provide an audible signal when approaching people from behind.  I have personally witnessed a cyclist run into a pedestrian.  That incident could have been avoided if the cyclist simply would have provided an audible signal to warn the person.  This is not only a good idea, but it is also the law.  In this area of Portland  ORS 814.410 applies.  That law states:

(1) A person commits the offense of unsafe operation of a bicycle on a sidewalk if the person does any of the following: (b) Operates a bicycle upon a sidewalk and does not give an audible warning before overtaking and passing a pedestrian and does not yield the right of way to all pedestrians on the sidewalk.

However, many joggers have headphones in, so an audible warning may not be beneficial.  That is why you need to slow down.  Us Cyclist need to remember that we need to slow down when the area gets congested with pedestrians.  I often see folks on road-bikes darting in and out of pedestrians at a high rate of speed.  At those speeds it is impossible to avoid a collision if a small child runs in front of the cyclist.   This type of behavior could also be considered a violation of ORS 814.410(c) which prohibits riding carelessly. 


Cyclist should also give pedestrians a lot of room while passing them.  Many pedestrians are tourist that are unfamiliar with the cyclist and the speed they travel at.  I have seen pedestrians and children dart in front of cyclist.   Giving yourself a cushion to react in case someone darts in front of you is a must.  

Lastly, Cyclist should look both ways before merging onto the main path that parallels the river.  I have seen cyclist  turn onto the path without accounting for cyclist approaching from behind them.  Pulling out in front of another cyclist can cause a collision. 

If you have been hit by a cyclist you should get the cyclist information and witness information.  The easiest thing to do is to take a photo of their ID on your smart-phone.  Insurance may provide coverage for the incident, but you must get the name of the cyclist that hit you in order to do so.  Cyclist v. Pedestrian collisions can cause severe injuries.  Broken bones and severe strains and sprains can be common.  If you have been injured by a cyclist call Ross Law LLC at 503.224.1658.  Jeremiah Ross is happy to discuss your case with you and provide you a free personal injury case evaluation. 

Please remember the law is constantly changing and to consult with an attorney if you have any legal issue or question.