Follow-up reports about Mingo Pelkey

The follow-up stories regarding the death of Mingo Pelkey — who was hit by a car as she rode her bike on River Road — offer some more information about who she was, but little new as to what happened.

  • The R-G report remarks that she was a strongly religious person and worked at a doctor’s office in Springfield.
  • KVAL reports that Pelkey rode her bike often and had one prosthetic arm.

According to the stories, she lived about a block from where she was killed. The doctor’s office she worked at is near 16th and G streets in Springfield. Google Maps shows that that’s about a 10-mile commute each way.

I don’t presume to know what route she took, but you’d expect that she would ride much of that commute on the River Path — and then through the quiet old neighborhoods north of Main Street in Springfield. In fact, to do that commute, a person would have to be on a high-traffic arterial — River Road — for less than a mile of the entire trip. You would probably access the path off of either River Avenue or Owosso Drive.

And by this fall, when the bike path is completed under the Beltline (at the red circle in the map below), she probably could have avoided River Road almost entirely by taking Hunsaker Lane/Beaver Street out to the new extension of the path (which you will be able to access at the point of the blue arrow; the existing paths show up as light gray lines in the map below.)

As for the collision and what exactly happened, the police aren’t saying much yet. I’m sure we’ll learn more in time.

(By the way, at this point, I’m feeling a little bad about the headline on yesterday’s post, but I guess that’s the first thing that came to mind. Sorry if anyone found it inappropriate.)

* * *

For a list of all posts about the Mingo Pelkey case, go here.

16 thoughts on “Follow-up reports about Mingo Pelkey

  1. Yes, Mingo took the bike path from River Ave – WWTP along the Willamette – past VRC – to her place of employment in Springfield – just about a 20-mile roundtrip on days where weather was appropriate for a bike ride to work.
    I myself have rode the same path many times – including making a left hand turn (from River Road) into the SHELL Station on the SW corner of River Road & Irving Rd.
    It appears (from initial reports) that Mingo was stopped in the center median – when the VW passed traffic on the left (increasing speed in the process) coming up right behind Mingo – just prior to impact.
    Anxious to hear more detailed information.

  2. Seems like an appropriate headline to me.

    These details make it sound like this is exactly the kind of case that the Vulnerable Road Users law was meant for, but then I read the law, and it’s pitifully toothless:

    HB 3314—Careless Driving Penalties
    HB 3314 enhances the penalties associated with careless driving when the person convicted of this offense also contributed to the serious physical injury or death of a “vulnerable user of the public way.”
    Under the bill, a “vulnerable user” includes a pedestrian, a highway worker, a person riding an animal, the operator or user of a farm tractor, a skateboard, roller skates, in-line skates, a scooter, or a bicycle. HB 3314 requires a court to sentence a person convicted of this offense to complete a traffic safety course, perform 100 to 200 hours of community service, pay a fine of up to $12,500, and suspension of driving privileges for one year. Payment of the fine and suspension of driving privileges may be waived by the court upon completion of the traffic safety course and community service.

    This bill resulted in the creation of ORS 801.608 and modifications to ORS 811.135. ORS 801.608 defines a “vulnerable user” and ORS 811.135 describes additional penalties for careless driving when vulnerable users are affected.

  3. Please try and contact any business who’s vehicle commits a traffic. I just called Sun Belt rentals for a trailer that ran a red light nearly hitting a pedestrian who had the thought to wait and cross. As a former manager, I know they care and also that a business does not need the news headlines or the raise in insurance. Try to get the license number of vehicle number (on the side). If you can’t they often can identify the vehicle by the description and location.

  4. Thanks for keeping up on the story. With the hit and run death a couple weeks ago, the 2 pedestrians (kids- 14th & Chamber and 16th & Pearl) and the skateboarder on Lincoln we need to have some serious discussions about Eugene’s vulnerable road users and everyones rights and responsibilities.

  5. I was curious if anyone in Eugene heard or knows about a 63 yro woman who had a bad accident on the same day as the horrible fatal accident mentioned in this article? I’m from Colorado and stopped to help a woman who crashed badly but I have no idea what the street was, however, I’m certain she had several injuries to her face and head and I wanted to find out how she’s doing. The police didn’t show up to the scene and the EFD had her packaged up and gone from the scene in 5 minutes so there wouldn’t be much info about it unless you happen to hear about it secondhand I suspect. Thanks.

  6. Hunsaker Lane/Beaver Street is not the safest place to bike. It’s a twisty road with no bike lanes and cars go just as fast there as they do on River road.

  7. I never got the chance to know her, but I did sit next to her several times on the bus.

    Mingo was trying to merge into a lane designed for cars. From an early age, we are all taught to respect the rules of the road, and that cars can be deadly. The driver of the car that failed to allow her into traffic and struck her as she did is partially to blame, however, Mingo herself needs to share part of this responsibility as she made the decision to enter a ‘vehicle only’ lane. Just because you using the same hand signals that vehicles use, it does not make you a vehicle. To cross a street, you ride your bike to the crosswalk (where everyone knows where to be super cautious about pedestrians and bicyclists) and cross there. You cannot make up a new rule as you are riding, you follow the rules that are set for a reason.

    This driver obviously had some issues and is partially responsible for this tragedy, but in the same light — Mingo made a faulted decision by entering the vehicle lane. In no way am I saying that bikes do not have the right of way, I am saying that the bike lane is for riding bikes – not for driving. The vehicle lanes are for vehicles, not bikes.

    1. Santa Clara Resident writes: “Just because you using the same hand signals that vehicles use, it does not make you a vehicle.”

      Perhaps not, but Oregon law does make you a vehicle if you are riding a bicycle: ORS 814.400(2) says:
      “(a) A bicycle is a vehicle for purposes of the vehicle code; and
      (b) When the term ‘vehicle’ is used the term shall be deemed to be applicable to bicycles.”

      Moreover, the two laws requiring that bicycles use bike lanes and stay to the right if there is no bike lane (814.420 and 814.430) both contain explicit exceptions for the purpose of making a left turn. That is, it is perfectly legal for a bicycle to use the “vehicle only” lane — that is, the left turn lane — to make a left turn.

      At this point, I cannot say that Mingo Pelkey made no mistake. I don’t know. Cyclists certainly make mistakes all the time. But her simple presence in the turn lane is not a violation. It is not a mistake. Nor is it uncommon. She was not “making up new rules.”

      1. So bicyclists aren’t required to follow bicycle safety? No wonder there are so many accidents.

        You will always see this as a ‘the bike lost because of the driver of the car’ and never as a bicyclist should not have been there. You are fighting for the right of the bicyclist, and not the overall problem of bicyclists riding in places that they should not. If a bicycle is a vehicle for the purposes of vehicle code, where are the turn signals, horn, airbags, or even seat belts? There are none, because bicycles are not a vehicle.

        You can keep quoting bike laws while more of your readers get killed trying to prove that they are cars. I would like to teach people not to dare cars, but to avoid them by staying in the bike lanes — where everyone knows they are.

        1. I appreciate your comment. I actually have been thinking about making a new post on the blog about this issue — “a bicyclist should not have been there.” I’ll let you know when I do that and will invite you to comment. We will probably disagree on that, but that’s OK. I think it’s a discussion worth having.

          Legally, it’s pretty clear that the cyclist was allowed to be there. You may disagree and think the law is wrong. That’s fine. And I don’t think this question of whether we should push more for bikes to have safer access to streets among cars, vs. pushing for more infrastructure to allow separation of bicycles from autos is entirely settled — even among people who advocate for cycling. I’ll get into this more later.

          Just a couple of things I want to say now about your specific comment:
          1. Please do not put words in my mouth or assume you know my opinions about things just because you disagree with me on one particular point. For the record: I do NOT “always see this as the bike lost because of the driver of the car.” Frankly that remark really irks me. I’ve said many times on this blog that cyclists do stupid things sometimes. I have criticized cyclists for disregarding red lights and whatnot. Cyclists are wrong plenty of times. And in some cases, things are truly “accidents.” The information I have regarding this case, is that the driver of the car may well have been driving recklessly and may well have a recent history of driving recklessly. I would feel the same way if the victim had been driving a car. The issue here is whether he is a dangerous driver and if so what kind of consequences there will be.

          2. I disagree that there are “so many accidents.” They do happen, but there are many, many bicyclists safely using the streets in Eugene and many, many motorists who drive conscientiously and courteously. There are not “many” tragic wrecks like this one. But sadly there are some.

      2. I will begin by apologizing for making the assumption that you ‘will always side on the side of the cyclist’. In all honesty, I find that a lot of people in this city are so “green”, that anything having to do with industry or technology get immediately targeted. It is because of this that I find myself being defensive right out of the gate, rather than take a moment to put myself in the shoes of others.

        If we remove Mingo from this equation, what happens if we substitute a 12 year old child riding a bike up the middle of River Road trying to change lanes? Does it matter the age or experience of the rider?

        I agree that there are many people who practice safe driving, and that this individual was not.

        Does the law state (I don’t know cause I couldn’t find it) that a cyclist can ride anywhere on city streets? Does this also give cyclists the ability to ride on a freeway or highway? If we are stating that they are ‘vehicles’, can they go anywhere? And then, once we’ve answered that question, then we need to ask ourselves “Does the fact that they can, mean that they should?”

        1. Apology accepted. Thanks.

          My opinion on the questions you ask:

          Yes, certainly, I think age and experience does matter. Just as it takes teens a while to learn to drive — to develop the awareness to recognize when an unsafe situation is developing — it takes experience to learn the risks and dangers associated with riding a bike in traffic. We have to judge risks in life. And people will make different choices. I know people who refuse to drive a car on I-5 because it scares the hell out of them.

          No, bicycles cannot be ridden anywhere. They are defined as “vehicles” but there are all sorts of exceptions and requirements. Most of the applicable laws are in Oregon Revised Statutes sections 814 and 811. It’s a bit of a patchwork — as many laws are probably. I don’t necessarily agree with all of it.

          In generally, cyclists are supposed to stay to the right, but may merge into the regular car lanes for a variety of reasons. Likewise, if there is a bike lane, a cyclist is required to use the lane — but may leave the lane for a variety of reasons, including merging into a left turn lane to make a left turn — what Mingo was apparently doing.

          I’m not finding the statute right now, but I don’t believe it is legal to ride a bike on the freeway. Not 100 percent sure. I’ve seen people doing it though.

          Your last question is a good one and a difficult one. My answer is: (a) I don’t always know; and (b) it depends. Not very helpful answers probably.

  8. Pedestrians do not walk down the lanes of traffic. Motorcycles do not participate in Nascar races. You don’t find a dragster at a horse track.

    Know your place, Eugene. Don’t go where you should not.

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