SE Gladstone at Cesar E Chavez, looking west
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  • SE Gladstone at Cesar E Chavez, looking west

An already bloody May got much worse today, when a cyclist was struck and killed by a tow-truck driver in SE Portland.

There's not a lot clear about the accident right now, other than that it occurred around noon at SE Cesar E Chavez and Gladstone. Reports even differ on the cyclist's sex, with most outlets (citing police) reporting the victim was male, and writing the opposite.

Whatever the case, it's the first fatal crash involving a cyclist since last March, and just the second since fall of 2012. That's a pretty sterling record for a town that has the highest percentage of cyclists of any big city in the country. But it's also alarming given another vicious crash May 10, in which a 22-year-old cyclist lost his leg in a collision with a pickup truck.

That incident spurred two demonstrations by bike activists: a "slow-down" of traffic on SE Powell, where the accident took place, and a die-in near the Portland headquarters of the Oregon Department of Transportation.

Both of those actions were focused ODOT's stewardship of busy Powell, which activists say prioritizes vehicle speed rather than safety. The scene of today's crash—controlled by a Portland Bureau of Transportation that now says no traffic deaths are acceptable—is considered safer.

According to PBOT, there were 30 injury accidents at the intersection between 2004 and 2013—19 involving motorist injuries, six involving pedestrians, and five involving cyclists.

Early reports suggest today's victim might have been hit under circumstances similar to the May 10 crash: a driver turning left, and failing to yield to an oncoming cyclist. According to cops, the cyclist was heading westbound on Gladstone while the tow-truck headed east. Bikeportland notes:

Another person on Twitter who claims they saw the collision happen says the tow-truck operator was driving east on Gladstone and made a left turn (north) onto Cesar Chavez. The bicycle rider, he says, was coming downhill on Gladstone traveling westbound prior to the collision.