“It was a tragic situation that we want to avoid this year. Greater awareness may help us do that.”
— Louis Torres, ODOT Region 2
After a traffic collision claimed the life of a 65-year-old Camas man during the Reach the Beach ride last year, the Oregon Department of Transportation, the Oregon State Police (OSP), race organizers and other officials are being proactive about safety this time around.
The ride is on May 18th and it attracts nearly 3,000 riders who pedal to the coast from four different starting locations (including Portland).
In a statement released today, ODOT urged people driving on the route to consider other options because there will be, “several thousand bicyclists who will be sharing space with motorists on rural highways in Washington, Yamhill and Tillamook counties.” In particular officials are concerned about OR 22 and OR 130 (Little Nestucca Road) because they are “narrow and can be a challenge when motorists and bicyclists are sharing the road.”
Last year, Steven Dayley was riding in the shoulder of Hwy 18 east of Grande Ronde when he was hit by a man driving a pickup. The man in the pickup failed to stop in time for the car in front of him and veered to his right before striking Dayley.
Louis Torres, a spokesman for ODOT’s Region 2 shared via email with us today that last year’s fatality, “Was a tragic situation that we want to avoid this year,” and that, “Greater awareness may help us do that.” Beyond that tragedy, Torres said they’ve got a new traffic safety coordinator in Region 2 who’s taking a “very proactive approach” to these type of events. ODOT and OSP plan to use a media push to encourage safety and they play to specifically focus on reducing the number of motor vehicles on OR 22 and OR 130.
Also in today’s statement from ODOT and the OSP were a list of safety tips for people biking and driving. Among their bike safety tips is a suggestion to ride, “in a single file.” This is noteworthy because riding single file on a social, group ride is no fun — and it’s also not legally required. Riding two abreast is legal in Oregon under many circumstances. As we explained in a Bike Law 101 post back in 2011, ORS 814.430 clearly states that riding two abreast is legal as long as you remain within one lane of traffic, motor vehicles are able to pass safely, and you ride single file if one or more vehicles begin to stack up behind.
The driving safety tips include: “When you are entering a popular bike or pedestrian area, expect that you may encounter them and slow down ahead of time; Ditch the distractions such as cell phones so you can focus on driving; Only pass bicyclists if it is safe to do so; slow down and give bicyclists ample room”; and perhaps the most important thing for everyone to remember on big rides like this, “Be patient.”