Tuesday, May 17, 2011

New Seasons Market and Cycling

Dear Friends and Neighbors,

I want to let you know about an accident that we were involved in on September 23, 2009.

One of our staff members, who was driving a New Seasons Market van, accidentally hit a bicyclist in Northeast Portland. As a result of this accident, the cyclist was seriously injured. We’re very sorry that our actions caused someone harm and I personally extend my apologies and best wishes for a full recovery to the cyclist and her family.

As often happens in accidents like this, our insurance company played the lead role in compensating the injured cyclist. Our insurance company will pay for her current and her future medical expenses and for what the insurance companies call “non-economic damages.” We’re pleased that the insurance company will be making this payment. It’s the right thing to do since it was our fault.

Even though this was an accident caused by the actions of a business, the system works a lot like your own car insurance works. When a driver gets in an accident the insurance company is notified and the parties begin the process of determining how to settle the case. We never disputed our fault in harming the cyclist. The lawyer for our insurance company disagreed with the lawyer for the injured cyclist about how much should be paid for the “non economic damages.” As a result, the case went to court and left the final decision to a jury of impartial citizens so they could consider all the facts and make a decision. The trial occurred last week and the jury came back with an award that was a compromise between what the two lawyers were asking for. We accept and support their decision. As I said, we are very sorry this accident happened and that the cyclist was injured.

We’re fortunate to live in a place that encourages people to ride bikes. We are a company that actively supports staff and customers in using alternative methods of transportation, including cycling. Every one of our stores offers bike parking for our customers and separate bike parking for staff (and it seems as we are always adding more to both). Our new Hawthorne store has more bike parking than car parking and the often-empty rooftop parking lot shows how devoted our customers are to riding and walking to the store! Every year New Seasons Market participates in the Bike Commute Challenge and most years several of our stores place in the top ten. Our staff delivers Meals on Wheels by bike on company time and we have offered bike repair classes to staff and customers. We have loaner bike helmets, locks, patch kits and pumps for our customers and I can’t tell you how many times I’ve received a customer comment card thanking one of our staff for helping them to fix a flat! We were one of the original business sponsors of the Bicycle Transportation Alliance and we often partner with the Community Cycling Center.

This accident touches us in a very personal way because, as a company that encourages commuter cycling, we unfortunately have had our share of staff members who have been injured by an automobile while cycling. Some were even involved in hit and run accidents and didn’t have the opportunity to have the other party’s insurance company cover their medical expenses. In those cases our staff came together to help our injured co-worker with their uncovered medical expenses by donating vacation time and by making financial contributions. We have created light-duty or part-time positions for staff cyclists who were injured in auto accidents and couldn’t physically work their “regular” job in the store as they did before the accident.

Even with the obvious commitment that New Seasons Market has to our cycling community, this tragic accident clearly shows that we need to do better. It’s a struggle for me to find a silver lining in this situation, but I can assure you that, for us, it has elevated the critical importance of safely sharing the road to an even higher level.

Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions or comments.


Lisa Sedlar

President and CEO

New Seasons Market

5 comments:

Nancy said...

In spite of this being an accident, it's refreshing to see such full acceptance of responsibilty and willingness to learn what's possible from it. That's rare in today's culture.

The obvious concern you have shown for the cyclist and her family are appreciated. I send prayers and healing blessings to everyone involved in this tragic accident.

Nancy Grant

Troi said...

As a loyal New Seasons market shopper who has observed as the culture of blame has overtaken society, I appreciate this candid blog post that accepts full responsibility for the accident. Prayers for all involved.

Anonymous said...

Lisa,

Were you aware that your lawyers blamed the cyclist for the accident, even though they knew it was not her fault? As recent as the day before trial your lawyers filed paperwork saying it was the cyclists fault. At trial they told the jury it was the cyclist faut, even though every witness said it was not. Have you ever talked to your lawyers about this?

Did you know that your lawyers and your insurance company have not paid the jury verdict? The cyclist has to file a judgement with the court, as your insurance company has refused to pay. The accident was almost two years ago and your insurance company has not paid a penny. They have not even paid for her bike. What part of this is taking responsibility for the accident.

PDXbiker.

Anonymous said...

New Treasons!

Lisa Sedlar is doing her part to destroy a great Portland institution. Hey management! Wake up and run this crazy person out on a rail!

Under Lisa there has been numerous lawsuits against New Season's. Way to steer that ship, Lisa!

New Season's is leading the way in selling out...putting profits before people!

Shop your local small grocer! Food Fight, Limbo, People's, Food Front, Alberta Co-op to name a few.

Anonymous said...

What happened to this blog?