Posted by Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) on May 21st, 2010 at 9:52 am
Portland Streetcar crews are in the middle of major construction all along Broadway right now. Work zones are always of special concern for people on bikes, but this stretch of Broadway -- between NE Grand and and the Broadway Bridge -- is not a nice place for bike traffic even without construction.
Add in one of the most glaring safety gaps in Portland's entire bike network (the intersection of Broadway and Williams, which the City listed as dangerous over 2 1/2 years ago yet has done nothing to make safer) -- and you're bound to have some problems.
Portlander Aaron Reyna is the latest victim of that intersection. He got in touch with us after being hit at that intersection yesterday morning. Here are snips from his email where he describes how the confusing construction zone resulted in him taking a trip to urgent care (emphasis mine):
"As I came to the intersection, I had a green light. I had also noticed that there was no clear indication of a bike lane ending or whether or not we were supposed to stay between the cones and traffic. I chose to stay in between the cones as further up the road, the bike lane seemed to be coned off as well. Since there was ongoing construction to my right, I watched it to make sure I was clear of it. Big mistake, I should have been looking to make sure a car wasn't going to right hook me. She hit me with her front quarter panel...I went over the handle bars, landed on my shoulder and hit my head on ground. There was also a giant construction sign on the curb... the legs of it cut into my shoulder."
While Aaron was waiting for a ride to take him to urgent care (his bent bike was unrideable), he decided to film the intersection and says that he "caught three potential accidents in less than two and a half minutes."
He sent me the video, which has been uploaded to YouTube. The near-miss collisions are at the 1:09, 1:34, and 2:25 marks:
Aaron says that he wanted more people to hear his story and see the video in hopes that something can be done before more collisions occur, "If someone got hurt, or even killed, I'd feel terrible about it."
I realize construction is necessary and temporary, but it's not acceptable -- especially in the city with the highest bike mode split in the nation! -- that work zones put people on bikes at even greater risk.
I've also heard reports that the eastbound bikeway coming off the Broadway Bridge is not safe for bike traffic and could use better signage. And speaking of that bridge, Gerik Kransky, advocacy manager at the BTA, chimed in below to say that, "Unfortunately it seems as though conditions are going to get worse before they get better."
Kransky reminds us that the bridge will be closed completely to motor vehicles from July 6th to September 3rd and people biking and walking will be routed onto one of the bridge pathways. That means not only will all non-motorized traffic share one eight-foot wide pathway but bikers and walkers will have to cross Broadway to get on whichever one of the two paths are accessible (stay tuned).
Or, as Kransky puts it, "How cyclists are going to be expected to navigate this partial closure is not yet clear to me. But it warrants our attention."
What has been your experience with work zones in this area? Please offer feedback.
For the latest construction updates, visit PortlandStreetcar.org.