Following fatal hit-and-run, coalition says rise in e-bike popularity must lead to safer infrastructure Leave a comment

Person with a dress riding a bike on the street.
An e-bike rider in downtown Portland, January 2022. (Photo: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

“The increased popularity means greater demand on already subpar active transportation infrastructure that fails to meet our climate or safety requirements and goals.”

– Electric Bikes For All coalition

A broad coalition of business owners and nonprofit organizations who are pushing for more electric bicycle use in Oregon are sounding an alarm about the lack of safe infrastructure after a fatal crash in northeast Portland earlier this month.

The Electric Bikes For All coalition has written a letter to Oregon Department of Transportation Region 1 Director Rian Windsheimer and Portland Bureau of Transportation Director Chris Warner that warns of more deaths as the popularity of e-bikes skyrockets far above the safety of streets they are used on.

The crash that spurred the letter happened on June 7th when a man was hit while riding an e-bike on NE 102nd at Glisan. As we reported at the time, the victim was dragged 600 feet as the driver of the truck sped away and fled the scene.

“Electric bikes continue to grow in popularity, expanding the types and distance of trips that people are able to make,” the letter states. “The increased popularity – not just for e-bikes but for all individual mobility from classic bikes to e-scooters – means greater demand on already subpar active transportation infrastructure that fails to meet our climate or safety requirements and goals.”

The group goes on to say that the top excuse Oregonians make for not buying an e-bike is that roads are unsafe. Urgency for better bike infrastructure grows when you consider that e-bikes are a feasible and attractive option for a much wider range of people than acoustic/analog bikes. As the price of e-bikes falls, so does their appeal and the need to expand the network of safe routes well beyond Portland’s central city.

Here’s more from the letter: 

“It is imperative that we create and maintain safe streets for these new riders… While there are many benefits to light transportation, without separated facilities they add vulnerability to users when competing with automobiles.”

The group makes two specific recommendations: Make protected bike lanes a default treatment and add automated traffic cameras across the city’s entire “high crash network”.

 Below is the list of signatories:

Kiel Johnson
Chair – BikeLoud PDX

André Lightsey-Walker
The Street Trust

Brenna Bailey
ABC (Andando en Bicicletas en Cully)

Barrett Brown

Sara Wright
Oregon Environmental Council

Neil Bausgard
The Environmental Center

Sarah Waits
The Outer Rim Bike Shop

Lenny Dee
Onward Oregon

Alan Acock
Mid-Valley Bicycle Club

Steve Abbott
Climate Revolutions by Bike

Molly Conroy-Schmidt
Go By Bike Valet

Helen Hitt
Cynergy E-Bikes

Claire Vlach
Oregon Walks Plans and Projects Committee

Melinda Hanson
Electric Avenue

Eli Spevak,
CEO – Orange Splot LLC

Megan Ramey and Active Transportation Rep-at large for ODOT Region 1 ACT

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