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Beaverton commuters weigh in on deadly intersection

Posted by on February 12th, 2008 at 1:35 pm

Yesterday’s tragic bus/bike collision in Beaverton that claimed the life of 15 year-old Austin Miller occurred at an intersection that is known to be tricky and dangerous.

The precise mechanics of what happened are still unclear, but we do know that Miller was struck by the #52 TriMet bus as he entered SW Farmington Road from SW Murray Blvd.

Meanwhile, people in Beaverton who ride through that intersection are all too familiar with its risks. Here’s a sampling of the comments from readers who ride that stretch of road:

From “Brent”;

“I make a right at this corner from the multi-user path on to the west bound bike lane. I am very vigilant on watching for buses at this location as they tend to enter the bike lane just as they start to clear the intersection. Most of the time it is safe to make this turn but still dangerous coming off of that multi-user path.”

From “wsbob”;

“Absolutely, a very dangerous intersection…so many cars pass through there, fast…during rush hour, it’s a very scary place for cyclists.”

From “Andy”;

“That intersection is on my commute too. It’s very problematic. The bus stop is recessed from the curb, and the victim probably didn’t realize the bus was pulling in. And if the cyclist was indeed coming from the multi-use path, the bus driver probably never saw him.”

From “Guy M”;

“I ride this route on my daily commute, both to and from work. And while I do not go west on Farmington, my commute takes me further south, I do find this intersection to be a test of nerves.

…This sort of reentry into traffic and a bike lane from a multi-user path is a formula for disaster.”

From “Peter O”;

“So sad, I also used to ride through there daily but changed my route because I didn’t like the traffic there. I had many close calls with the buses around there. They like to enter the bike lane early (sometimes 100 yards) before they make the stop and they don’t always look.”

See more comments here.

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Comments
  • James February 12, 2008 at 5:24 pm

    That path is easily the most unsafe part of Murray, but the end of it isn\’t the only concern: My cousin, while on a visit from California, almost got himself in a great deal of trouble because he didn\’t know that the bike lane ended until I buzzed past him and turned onto the path.

    There\’s also the driveway halfway down. That\’s a total blind corner coming out of there. I\’ve almost been hit by Nuns pulling out of there on two separate occasions.

    The path is also in very sad condition. Think of the worst paved parts of the Springwater Corridor, and that\’s about the condition this path is in: cracked asphalt and more standing water than you can shake a stick at.

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  • murray road commuter February 12, 2008 at 8:05 pm

    I ride this route regularly. I have seen this situation develop many times and have nearly been in it myself. It is a dangerous intersection. There should be a bicycle lane all the way from Canyon to Farmington (there is a lane from Canyon to the Catholic entrance but that\’s where you have to cut up onto the \”multi-use\” path). The Farmington bus crosses Murray Road and then cuts over the bike lane into the stop. The bus stop should be further down the street. The bus driver ran over the young bicyclist who did nothing wrong. He followed the multi-use path and made the right turn into the bike lane. The bus ran over him. There are many nuances to this section of street, but in the end the bus driver is at fault.

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  • Opus the Poet February 12, 2008 at 10:14 pm

    Does anybody know more about the relative positions of the bus and cyclist before the wreck? Why did both right wheels go over Austin Miller\’s head? At the moment it looks like the bus driver may have been at fault.

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  • Javen February 12, 2008 at 11:44 pm

    They should have a stop sign at the end of the multi-user path, and a yield sign for buses, at the very least.

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  • Peter February 13, 2008 at 3:29 am

    that\’s totally awesome – it seems everyone who rides through Beaverton knew that corner was a death trap. everyone, that is, except Austin Miller.

    we need to be more systematic, now, about identifying and correcting the spots that are most dangerous for everyone. we\’ve got the \’Close Calls\’ section – let\’s start a google \’my map\’, share it, and divvy up the work of identifying the worst spots. maybe we can use color-coded balloons – red, yellow, green – for the worst to least dangerous.

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  • Dan February 13, 2008 at 7:16 am

    I don\’t know the details. And I suspect the bus driver made a mistake that I could easily make myself.
    But can anyone say they didn\’t see this type of fatality comming? In the past two years I\’ve twice been forced to the sidewalk by a bus pulling to the curb before they have finished passing me on my bike. In a bike lane. In plain view.
    I have no reason to believe the drivers weren\’t being careless. Have been through the Trimet complaint process, I have no reson to believe they took these encounters seriously. Perhaps they will now.

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  • Andy February 13, 2008 at 7:31 am

    Peter, that\’s a great idea. I\’d be happy to contribute my worst. How do we go about organizing such a thing?

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  • Moo February 13, 2008 at 7:53 am

    I\’m with Peter\’s idea. But I still must add that: I think until any of those fat slobs of excuses for bus \”drivers\” ever leaves their sweaty seats and jumps on a bike for a city commute, they will never understand our frustrations with traffic- and THEM especially! Put down the big gulps and look where you\’re going.

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  • Susan Otcenas February 13, 2008 at 7:54 am

    I ride through this intersection northbound on my way to work. On my way home, I choose to go a different route, because in the Southbound direction, Murray Rd at that location is two very narrow lanes with no bike lane. Instead, for just that one block of Murray, there is a crappy \”multi-use path\” that I refuse to ride. (If I must ride that way, I take the road, as is my right.) There is no good alternate route in that immediate vicinity.

    The path dumps the user out on to the corner of Murray and Farmington, right into the path of buses pulling over into the bus stop.

    There\’s plenty of room to sufficiently widen the road at that location to include a bike lane for that one block. It makes no sense that there\’s a lane for miles on Murray southbound both before and after that block.

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  • shhambo February 13, 2008 at 8:53 am

    My sincerest condolences to the family.
    What a horrible tragedy to lose one so young. I can\’t even imagine the pain your going through right now.

    Moo, we don\’t know what happened.
    It has been stated multiple times that this is a dangerous, poorly designed intersection. It is possible the driver was looking and the bike just came off the path at a bad time. Lets let the pros do the crash investigation.

    I know at least one, and I\’m sure there are more, Tri-met drivers that ride a bike. Keep in mind these are also individual people your talking about. There are defiantly some big a-hole drivers out there. But I have met some nice ones too. From inside and yes outside the bus.

    In the mean time, I like the idea of making a map denoting dangerous intersection and getting to work on fixing them.

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  • scoot February 13, 2008 at 9:00 am

    Thank you all for posting your info on this intersection. The bike routes around here can be really terrifying when you\’re trying to navigate your way around some area for the first time.

    Especially if you\’re trying to sort out what\’s happening with the MUP and the bike lane and the traffic in an unfamiliar area, while pedaling, and more experienced cyclists sneer and yell at you when they buzz by. I see people make reckless moves just to try to keep up all the time.

    Please try to keep in mind that others are not necessarily trying to harsh your poetry-in-motion commute so much as trying to stay alive. Thanks.

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  • 2ndaveflyer February 13, 2008 at 9:29 am

    Peter\’s Google map of dangerous intersections could then be presented to highway transportation officials.
    1=there is a chance you\’ll be killed here
    2=its easy to get hit here or un into something
    3=you can damage your bike or property here

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  • Jonathan Maus (Editor) February 13, 2008 at 9:34 am

    RE: a crash map of dangerous intersections.

    Folks, this is a good time to let you know that I\’ve been working with a Doctoral GIS and transportation student at PSU on a user-generated, Google-based Close Calls Map. I hope to have something to show everyone soon. I think mapping actual close calls is better than simply having folks list \”dangerous intersections\”. Please stay tuned for a preview of this new map… thanks.

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  • tim February 13, 2008 at 10:57 am

    Jonathan,
    I\’m stoked to hear about the close calls map, that\’s just what we need.
    Keep fighting the good fight!

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  • Bikes a lot February 16, 2008 at 9:57 pm

    The Beaverton area and beyond are truely deficient regarding bike lane continuity. In addition to this tragic location, which I have luckily only ridden once, these other spots merit mention:

    > Right north of there on the other side of Murray, the great bike lane that crosses Beaverton westbound just north of the TV Highway gets pinched off without even a sidewalk available to bypass the clot of cars that are usually waiting for the light at Murray. About all you can do is walk the bike through the mud and trees or make a wide bypass before you get there. I have seen bikes weaving through the waiting cars, as many cars do not leave any space along the right side.

    > Further west, on the east side where Evergreen crosses Cornelius Pass Road, the bike lane is detoured up onto the sidewalk in both directions. Westbound puts you into conflict with right turning traffic as you reenter at the intersection. Eastbound forces you through a deep water puddle that has been there much of the winter as you enter the sidewalk, and the reentry a block down the way is even worse. Both bikes and traffic usually are up to speed by then, and cars turning right there present a significant right hook potential.

    > Heading north from the Rec. Center (on 178th I believe), the bike lane vanishes at Cornell Road, forcing bikes into right turning traffic right where you are working to climb the steep spot and have a strong incentive to hit the climb with speed. The turn is marked \”no right on red\”, but stopping there and trying to get started again on the uphill with traffic behind you does not feel very safe. When you get through, the bike lane crosses a traffic lane very shortly to cross Hwy 26, and that crossing can be very difficult when lines of cars are backed up by the ramp metering.

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