Driver accused of killing cyclist on St. Johns Bridge has histor - KPTV - FOX 12

Driver accused of killing cyclist on St. Johns Bridge has history of traffic crimes

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Joel Schrantz in court on Monday. (KPTV) Joel Schrantz in court on Monday. (KPTV)

The driver charged with killing a cyclist on the St. Johns Bridge over the weekend went to court Monday, while cycling advocates are calling for traffic changes to make the bridge safer.

Joel Schrantz, 42, faced a judge, charged with criminally negligent homicide in the death of 55-year-old Mitchell York.

On Saturday morning, police say Schrantz lost control turning onto the St. Johns Bridge. His Toyota 4Runner fishtailed and hit York, knocking him off his bike and into traffic.

York died on scene. Officers say Schrantz was not impaired, but his rear tires were bald, his truck had other maintenance issues and his license was suspended.

Jonathan Maus with says Schrantz is to blame for this crash, but the conditions on the St. Johns bridge didn’t help. He says there is no bike lane, the sidewalk isn’t wide enough for cyclists and walkers and drivers are too aggressive.

Maus said he and other cyclists have been pushing ODOT to make changes for years.

“There’s a known, established safety concern regarding bicycle access that ODOT essentially shrugs their shoulders and does nothing for,” said Maus. “And then somebody has died.”

ODOT officials say they have made improvements including adding separate sidewalks for cyclists and signs to make drivers more aware of bikes on the bridge. But they say the St. Johns Bridge is a major freight route and building a bike lane would cause "bottlenecking."

Schrantz has a long history of traffic crimes including hit-and-run, unauthorized use of a vehicle and driving while suspended. He is not allowed to drive while he’s out on bail, but Maus wonders who could be next.

“This is the fifth person to die on a bike this year and we haven’t had this many fatalities on a bike for almost a decade now.”

Social media posts indicate local cyclists will gather for a protest ride on the St. Johns Bridge Thursday night in honor of Mitchell York.

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