Richard Bidmead was riding his bicycle home late after work on Sept. 9 when he was nearly struck by a car driving without its headlights illuminated in the temporary bike lane on Southwest Naito Parkway.
Bidmead, a Portlander who uses a bike as his sole form of transit, recorded the encounter via a camera affixed to his cycle's handlebars. The video suggests the plastic bollards dividing the "Better Naito" two-way bikeway from car traffic are misunderstood or ignored by motorists.
"I hope that when Better Naito becomes permanent," he wrote in the Twitter post where he shared the video, "cars are not able to drive on it so easily. Almost didn't see the black car with no lights coming at me head-on."
Nine days later, the same thing happened.
"More cars driving on Better Naito like it's NBD," Bidmead tweeted.
In an email, Bidmead tells WW that both incidents occurred near the Burnside Bridge. He estimates that the driver in the first video was traveling around 10-15 miles per hour—under the speed limit, but enough to potentially injure an unsuspecting cyclist.
"The first encounter (driver with no lights) scared me because I didn't see them approaching at first," Bidmead says. "When I did see them, I was surprised they didn't slow down, yield, turn on their lights, or switch into the car lane. I have two front lights, so they could see me but chose to keep driving toward me head-on."
The second encounter, on Sept. 18, was a little less hairy. Bidmead says that car was stopped at a red light with its lights on, and he spotted it more easily.
Bidmead, who spends a lot of time on Better Naito as the owner of a mobile pet care business, Downtown Doggies, says he's used to encountering drivers in protected bike lanes. When living in Los Angeles, he was struck by a car twice while biking, but could not prove fault. So he installed the camera.
"It is important to me to highlight areas of improvement where city planners can deter [dangerous] behavior," Bidmead says.
Better Naito began as a two-week long pilot program in June 2015. In November 2016, funding for the transit program was approved, securing Better Naito for five summers. Between May and September, Portland Bureau of Transportation blocks off a northbound lane of Natio with plastic bollards and designates it a two-way bike lane.
On September 23, PBOT will remove and store the plastic posts until next summer.