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Cyclist Killed

A car struck and killed a cyclist Monday, June 2 at 13th and Willamette.

The Eugene Police Department reported that a car driven by Latasha Ann Williams, 31, of Eugene struck and killed cyclist David Matthew Minor, 27, of Eugene at 3:47 in the afternoon.

An EPD press release states: "A very preliminary review of the investigative information indicates that speed does not appear to have been a factor. It appears that both parties likely had green lights, and that the bicyclist made a left-hand turn into the vehicle’s path."

Cyclists worried about the death may want to check out this web site on defensive riding:

The site covers many common hazards, but doesn't have much on safe left turns at busy intersections. Such turns are perhaps one of the most difficult urban cycling challenges for cyclists.

According to this site, one approach is to behave like a car and wait in the middle of the intersection for a gap in traffic. With tons of lethal hunks of metal hurtling all around, that could require some bravery and muscles for quick acceleration. Another approach is to go to the curb at the right-hand corner, turn your bike and then wait for the green to go the other direction. That may be safer and less frightening but requires twice the wait at the light.

A traffic engineering fix could involve a traffic island in the center of the intersection for bikes. Cyclists could take refuge there while waiting for a safe gap to turn left. The island would have to be designed so drivers could maneuver around it.

The city might also consider reexaming its heavy use of one way streets downtown. Such streets can cause dangerous confusion and are designed mostly to maximize car speeds. That's an odd goal in urban settings where the city is trying to reduce speeding for safety and get people to enjoy downtown. Many cities are converting one-way streets to two-way to increase safety and make downtowns more than just a place to speed through.

Many cities have also installed "bike boxes" to reduce "right hook" accidents where cars and trucks turn across bike lanes. Eugene has had one on High Street near City Hall for years. The boxes could allow a cyclist at a light to more safely shift to the left for a left turn. When painted brightly, these boxes could also help left turns by alerting motorists to watch for cyclists. But Eugene's box isn't painted.

Here's a bike box video showing Portland's brightly painted approach:

In contrast to Portland's highly visible bike safety improvements, below is a tiny street marking the city of Eugene recently put on a bike way through town. It's hard to see how a motorist would know what it is.

Meanwhile, the site of David Minor's death in Eugene has collected a highly visible, growing pile of flowers.