WBE reader “AW” wrote to me today about a conflict she had with a car driver on 19th Ave between Oak St. and Pearl St. This conflict was very similar to a conflict I had with a car driver in that very same block last July, although we were going different directions. This is an area where the road is so narrow that a bike must take the lane or ride in the “door zone,” and there is no room for a bike and car to exist side-by-side on the road. Both AW and I were riding in the middle of the lane when a car flew past us, only to stop at the red light less then a block away. In my case, the car passed so closely that I couldn’t even extend my arm out to my side (I know this because I made the unfortunate decision to punch the car in self-defense); in AW’s case, the car fully crossed the double yellow line. This is where our stories deviate.
While this is a small area, it is a main route between the Amazon Bike Path and the Fern Ridge Bike Path via 18th ave, as well as being the southern terminus of the Willamette bike lanes. This area can also be seen as a case-study of how car drivers who are unaware of the law can create conflict. Take the jump to read AW’s account, the police response, and a possible fix for the area.
Police Seeking Witnesses to Tuesday’s Bike Path Assault
Case No. 10-9171
Eugene Police investigators are seeking any witnesses to a bike path assault that happened on Tuesday, June 8, around 9 a.m. at the Fern Ridge bike path, east of Acorn Park. A 52-year-old bicyclist reported an encounter with two pedestrians in which one of them made deliberate contact with him as he was trying to pass, causing him to crash. He left to get medical attention for his facial injuries, but he said there was a possible witness to the incident. At least two other bicyclists also reported similar encounters in the same general area that morning.
Eugene Police Crime Prevention and Patrol staff have been working with Eugene Parks and Open Space to mitigate tall grass and obstacles. Unusually wet environmental conditions have made it unsafe to use large mowing equipment. A Lane County Sheriff’s Office work crew will be in the area clearing vegetation by hand on Monday, June 14. Bicyclists and pedestrians should be aware of potential congestion during that time.
If anyone witnessed the incident they are asked to help by calling 541.953.9323.
As previously reported by WBE, several people, including myself, had run-ins with these people on Tuesday. The police have the names of the assailants and have ticketed them for menacing (thanks to the work of other cyclists), but do not have direct witnesses of this assault, so it appears that they can go no further. Since the case is still open, the police are reluctant to release the names of the assailants.