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Cycle track coming soon to site of fatal hit-and-run

Posted by on August 15th, 2011 at 10:51 am

View of SE Division where a fatal collision occurred last week. Note SE 87th in the upper left hand corner.

Last week’s tragic and senseless hit-and-run that led to the death of Dustin Finney is another reminder that there is little margin for error between bikes and cars on many Portland streets — especially large arterials like SE Division.

The sad irony is that the Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) is just about to begin construction of a physically separated cycle-track at the exact location where Friday’s collision occurred.

On Friday morning just before 1:00 am, Dustin Finney was riding eastbound on SE Division, just east of the intersection with SE 85th when he was hit from behind by 18-year old Ashawntae Rosemon.

According to Kevin Phomma, who was riding in front of Finney yet was not seriously injured, the crash happened midblock between SE 85th and SE 87th — a stretch of Division slated for a two-way cycle-track as part of a neighborhood greenway project.

As I reported back in June (and PBOT has reconfirmed for this story), construction on the SE-NE 86th & 87th Avenue neighborhood greenway is slated to begin this summer. The project is intended to create three miles of family-friendly, low-stress, north-south bikeways from I-84 to just south of SE Powell. The route takes SE 85th to Division, then jogs on Division to SE 87th. To get bike traffic safely across the five lanes of high-speed traffic on Division, PBOT will build a two-way cycle-track (similar to the one on NE Going) on the south side of the street between 85th and 87th — right where Friday’s collision occurred.

Here’s the PBOT concept drawing…

Note the cycle-track in the center of the lower third of the drawing (above the yellow “No Parking” label).

It’s unknown where exactly Dustin Finney was riding to that night. He lived on SE 122nd (the arterial which claimed Portland’s last bike-riding traffic fatality in August 2009) and Holgate. He could have been riding to the I-205 multi-use path. That path would have taken him south to Holgate. Once on Holgate, he’d be able to ride on buffered bike lanes, which PBOT installed to improve safety and create more separation between cars and bikes.

Would more separation on Division have made Friday’s collision less likely? What if Ashawntae Rosemon, who is suspected of DUII, hit a curb first and was able to correct his steering and avoid the collision?

We’ll never know the answers to those questions; but anything to make arterials safer for bicycling can’t happen soon enough.

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  • Todd Boulanger August 15, 2011 at 11:06 am

    Another critical question is…how will the bike ped work zone be handled for this corridor during construction? It is most critical on these 5 lane higher speed suburban arterials, since there is little back of curb/ parking lane space to use or convenient parallel routes to detour to. Just putting up a bike lane/ sidewalk closed sign should not be allowed by the City…for platinum or for safety.

    Best would likely be an interium 3 lane road diet during construction in order to maintain bike access – while constructing the bike track first then the other road improvements.

    BTA/ WPC or Portland BAC – have you requested a copy of the workzone plan to review access and phasing?

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    • q`Tzal August 15, 2011 at 11:37 am

      Require city/state officials that approve construction zone layouts to actually ride a heavy cruiser bike through the area with fast moving auto traffic when a bike lane/route/MUP/cycle track is blocked.

      Before AND after approval.
      During rush hour.

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  • q`Tzal August 15, 2011 at 11:40 am

    Propose new scoring system for high speed VMT roads weighted disproportionally for high speed autos:
    () subtract penalty points from total (gross VMT) for injuries and deaths to all users; call this Safe VMT.

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  • john August 15, 2011 at 11:42 am

    I first read about this story in the Saturday Oregonian. It sounded like the driver purposely took out the cyclist? In this sort of situation obviously a cycle track won’t work, neither will rear blinky lights, etc..

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    • Natalie August 15, 2011 at 1:45 pm

      I think a physically separated track could make a difference since it seems like this kind of violence stems from a misled belief that the road belongs to cars and cars only, and a cycle track would communicate that bikes very much belong where they are. In other words, I think a cycle track will address one symptom of a larger problem: automobile drivers’ sense of entitlement and their dangerous manner of communicating that.

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  • Rithy August 15, 2011 at 11:50 am

    In the CROW Design guidelines that the Dutch sometimes refer to, it has a great graph that simply outlines that with high traffic volumes and high speeds a cycle track must be installed.

    While it would never happen at this point, a full cycle track should be installed from 82nd and Division all the way to Gresham. Or at least 122nd St.

    Here is a link to the chart I recreated based on their guidelines.

    http://rithyonbikes.files.wordpress.com/2011/08/crow-standards.pdf

    and here is a link to a great site on questioning why NACTO differs from the Dutch Government’s thinking.

    http://hembrow.blogspot.com/2011/04/state-of-art-bikeway-design-or-is-it.html

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    • Rithy August 15, 2011 at 11:54 am

      The last link actually shouldn’t be there. It was a reference to something else. But regardless Mr. Hembrow’s site is great.

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    • Todd Boulanger August 15, 2011 at 5:33 pm

      Thanks Rithy – for the table update and your recommendations. The CROW manual (Sign Up for the Bike – Record 10) has been my most treasured design friend since I found it on a 1997 trip to Den Haag.

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  • Alan 1.0 August 15, 2011 at 12:00 pm

    …bikeways from just south of I-84 to just south of SE Powell. The route takes SE 85th to Division, then jogs on Division to SE 87th. To get bike traffic safely across the five lanes of high-speed traffic on Division, PBOT will build a two-way cycle-track on the south side of the street between 85th and 87th…

    That’s confusing! Moving from north to south, as in the first sentence, the route takes SE 87th south to Division, then jogs over along Division to continue south on SE 85th. (If it took 85th south to Division it would go right through the middle of Harrison Park.)

    The westbound (north side) of Division, and all the rest of eastbound Division outside those two blocks where the N-S route jogs across, will still have the same biking conditions as this recent tragedy.

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    • Alan 1.0 August 15, 2011 at 12:04 pm

      Oh, and southbound bike traffic, where it’s on that westbound two blocks of Division, will face on-coming bike traffic on the left and on-coming car traffic on the right… “exciting”

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      • Alan 1.0 August 15, 2011 at 12:30 pm

        Oh^2… Northbound bike traffic, when crossing Division at the 87th traffic light, will cross paths with southbound car traffic turning left onto Division. Maybe they’re planning north- and south- bound left turns to have separated green lights?

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  • poncho August 15, 2011 at 12:09 pm

    or you could build cycle tracks in a part of town where they will actually be used.

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    • NF August 15, 2011 at 12:34 pm

      Are bicyclists traveling through the 80′s blocks not deserving of safe facilities?

      I’ve watched a man ride his bike down the Cully cycle track, in the appropriate bicycle space, only to move onto the sidewalk at Prescott once the cycle track ended (even though Cully continues on with a decent bike lane.)

      I’m convinced that cycle tracks will get sidewalk riders off the sidewalks and into the streets, dramatically increasing their safety.

      From doing many bike counts in outer East Portland, I’d say 50% of bicycle traffic is riding the sidewalk instead of the available bike lanes (102nd, 122nd, Powell, Division, Foster)

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    • Spiffy August 15, 2011 at 1:07 pm

      I’ll use it… there are people and businesses I like to visit in that area…

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    • Natalie August 15, 2011 at 1:49 pm

      My understanding is that cycle tracks are being built in these farther out areas partially because they’re still being tested and these are streets where the city has an opportunity to actually add new infrastructure. Those opportunities may not exist, and it may not be wise to pursue them immediately, in higher density biking areas. I have a feeling that it will come with time, especially if these new cycle tracks prove to do their job well. Plus–what others above have said–everyone needs this kind of infrastructure, not just downtown and inner southeast.

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  • Jack August 15, 2011 at 12:14 pm

    How is that these things get labeled as ‘cycle tracks’? The concept shown above and implemented elsewhere in town is just ~150 feet of a special treatment to help cyclists cross a busy road.

    When I think cycle track, I think of a separated lane for efficiently moving cyclists along real distances, parallel to a vehicle roadway. SW Broadway has a cycletrack. As far as I know, it is the only one in town.

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    • NF August 15, 2011 at 12:36 pm

      Check out the recently finished section of Cully Boulevard – with a real, elevated cycle track.

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    • timbo August 15, 2011 at 5:13 pm

      Try Cully Blvd in NE Portland. It’s a true cycle track and about 3 months old.

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  • kiel johnson August 15, 2011 at 3:28 pm

    can we name it the “Dustin Finney cycle track”?

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    • rustyrobotoil August 17, 2011 at 11:46 pm

      I knew him. A lot of mutual friends are pretty heart broke right now, and I think that would be an awesome idea. He was pretty active in the community and I think it would be cool to remember him that way.

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  • Paul Johnson August 15, 2011 at 10:38 pm

    I saw this when I was mapping out the 80s cycleway for OSM and wondered immediately…wouldn’t it just be better to treat the block they’re putting the cycletrack on as a single, offset intersection instead of threading a single, westbound bicycle lane between eastbound motorists and eastbound cyclists?

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  • Hart Noecker August 15, 2011 at 11:43 pm

    Clearly a white line on the pavement protects nobody. Until our city gets serious about separated bikeways, it will never come close to the European goals of 30% mode share. Putting a bike lane down the middle of seven lanes of cars is a death sentence.

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