February 8, 2014 in City

Spokane settles with bicyclist’s estate for $120,000

By The Spokesman-Review
 

The city of Spokane will pay the estate of a bicyclist $120,000 to settle a lawsuit that claims the city failed to maintain a safe intersection.

Matthew Hardie, 32, had ridden down the steep, Lincoln Street hill leading into downtown on Oct. 4, 2010, when he collided with a van driven by Spokane County resident Todd Coron. Coron had stopped at the intersection of Lincoln and Fourth Avenue, just south of Interstate 90, and was proceeding through, witnesses said.

Hardie, who worked at the Apple Store downtown, died two months later as a result of injuries he suffered in the collision.

The Spokane City Council last week unanimously approved the settlement with Hardie’s estate, which was represented by Hardie’s father, Richard Waltrip.

“It was a situation that pointed out problems we have in the city in keeping cyclists safe,” said Councilman Jon Snyder. “I just want to remind people of Mr. Hardie and what happened to him.”

A nearly 100-page police report detailing the collision concludes that Coron did not violate any traffic laws and that the largest factor in the collision was obstructions at the intersection that blocked views. At the time of the crash, several large vehicles were parked at meters along Lincoln adjacent to Deaconess Hospital. Many of the parking spaces were removed last year to improve visibility.

Spokane police Cpl. David Adams, who investigated the collision, noted that multiple witnesses estimated Hardie was traveling faster than the 25 mph speed limit just before he crashed into the van. But Adams’ analysis concludes Coron likely still wouldn’t have been able to see Hardie before entering the intersection, even if Hardie was traveling the speed limit.

Coron, who was 38 at the time of the collision, was also named in the lawsuit. But Lloyd Herman, the attorney representing Hardie’s estate, said the estate decided not to pursue its claim against Coron.

Although he was not cited for the collision, Coron was cited for not having a valid operator’s license.

One witness told police that Coron immediately stopped after the collision and yelled, “Oh my God! Oh my God! I didn’t see him!” He later held Hardie’s hand while he and witnesses waited for emergency responders.

Hardie’s roommate told police that Hardie usually biked down Adams Street, a lightly traveled route down the South Hill, and avoided arterials as much as possible for safety reasons. But Hardie, an avid bicyclist who did not have a driver’s license, was running late for work that morning.

Although Hardie didn’t drive anymore, he still owed the city $8,920 for 248 unpaid parking tickets. City Attorney Nancy Isserlis said the tickets were not considered in the settlement and that the amount he owed will not be collected by the city.

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