Posted by Jonathan Maus ( Publisher/Editor ) on September 15th, 2010 at 9:25 am
The morning after PBOT called it their #1 priority location to receive a bike box, a woman on a bike was hit at NE Couch and Grand. Based on interviews with the victim’s friend and the driver of the truck, the crash was a classic right hook. According to her friend who was at the scene, Jill Michaelree sustained a broken foot and/or shin and will undergo surgery.
Michaelree was traveling westbound in the bike lane on NE Couch approaching Grand. A large United Rentals equipment delivery truck (being driven by a professional commercial operator) was traveling in the same direction in the adjacent traffic lane. At Grand, the truck turned right to go north and struck Ms. Michaelree.
The operator of the truck remained at the scene and was very remorseful about what happened. “We both had the green. I didn’t even see her,” he told me.
Here are a few more photos from the scene:
A man on a bike who appeared to be a messenger stopped at the scene on his way to work. He was upset to see the crash and frustrated about the street design, saying he has told the BTA for months that the intersection was very dangerous. “This is the worst idea to put a bike lane before a major turn. I’m surprised I haven’t seen happen this five more times.”
PBOT opened the new East Burnside Couch couplet in August of 2009. Part of the project was a new routing of the bikeway onto Couch and the addition of a new bike lanes (read our in-depth report about how bikes fit into this project).
In April of this year, we started to hear a lot of concerns from people biking in this area. On May 5th, we reported that former BTA staffer Michael O’Leary was voicing major concerns about the biking conditions. O’Leary wanted PBOT to take a hard look at the s-curve bike lane leading onto the Burnside Bridge as well as addressing right hook issues on NE Couch. A few days later, after someone was hit on the s-curve, PBOT Director Sue Keil issued a statement that acknowledged the safety concerns and said her department would re-stripe the bike lane.
After PBOT made bike safety changes to the Couch bike lanes leading onto the Burnside Bridge, the BTA said they still had concerns. In a blog post on May 17th, BTA advocacy manager Gerik Kransky wrote (emphasis mine), “We are also concerned about the high volume of cars and buses entering and leaving the right travel lane on NE Couch, increasing the likelihood of a right hook crash.”
Last night, PBOT traffic safety specialist Greg Raisman announced 11 new bike box locations throughout the city. He said NE Couch and Grand was on top of their list. “We’ve seen a lot of right turn conflict at this location and we want to see a quick fix.” Raisman said the bike box is paid for, a work order has been written and he expects it to be installed by the end of October.