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A business owner shares concerns about N. Wheeler Avenue closure plans

Posted by on August 20th, 2012 at 5:31 pm

Despite a growing sense of urgency from the Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT), and calls from stakeholders, the public, this site and the Bicycle Transportation Alliance to close it immediately, North Wheeler Avenue is still open. Delaying action is a growing opposition from nearby businesses, who worry about impacts of the closure and who feel PBOT is choosing the wrong fix to the problem.

Last week, following yet another injury collision due to a right hook, it seemed like PBOT should act on their own findings that the intersection was inherently dangerous and should be closed “immediately”. PBOT was all but ready to drop down some temporary traffic barricades last week; but then it emerged that some business owners that use Wheeler to access their buildings were not happy with how the move would impact them.

After public pressure mounted on Friday, Mayor Sam Adams (who oversees PBOT as Transportation Commissioner) said via Twitter that he’d do a site visit today and then discuss the issue with his staff. According to one of his staff members, Adams did the visit over the weekend and he discussed the issue with his staff today. Meanwhile, I’ve learned there’s a meeting with nearby business owners tomorrow (Tuesday, 8/21).

Looking south, with Flint on the left and Wheeler on the right.

I spent a while observing traffic at the intersection this morning, and I met one of the business owners in opposition of the closure; Bob Huckaby, owner of First, Inc, an office furniture installation company based at 524 N. Tillamook.

“Instead of making people obey the laws, they’re penalizing everyone else, and that’s not right. The bikes are getting hit because they don’t stop… If they stopped at the stop sign you wouldn’t have a problem. Guaranteed.”
— Bob Huckaby, owner of First Inc.

Huckaby says he represents a growing number of business owners in the Lower Albina district who are “getting heated” about PBOT’s closure proposal. During our conversation this morning, Huckaby said repeatedly that he feels the real problem isn’t the right-hooks. Rather, Huckaby feels that the problem would be solved without needing to close Wheeler if people on bikes would stop running the stop sign at Flint Avenue.

The Wheeler/Broadway intersection is one side of a narrow peninsula formed by Flint/Broadway/Wheeler. Flint is the main bike route for downtown-bound morning bike commuters with hundreds (thousands?) of bike riders rolling through it every day. The vast majority of them fly right through the stop sign at Flint and Broadway, which is a 90-degree right turn toward the Broadway Bridge. The problem arises because just a few feet west of Flint is Wheeler; and many cars that go to turn right (north) on Wheeler don’t see people on bikes until it’s too late. In some cases, the people on bikes aren’t seen in time because they fly through Flint without stopping.

It’s not news that a lot of people fail to stop at the Flint/Broadway intersection. I’ve covered that issue numerous times over the years and we’ve been through police enforcement actions and PBOT adding signage and markings. But the behavior persists. Watching this morning, I would say it’s just over 50% of people on bikes that don’t even come close to stopping. Only about 20% or so fully stop. That’s terrible.

Huckaby is upset that PBOT is intent on closing Wheeler because he feels the bad actors in the situation are bike riders. “Instead of making people obey the laws, they’re penalizing everyone else, and that’s not right,” he said. “The bikes are getting hit because they don’t stop… If they stopped at the stop sign you wouldn’t have a problem. Guaranteed.” Instead of closing Wheeler, Huckaby wants stronger enforcement of existing stop sign laws. “Make everyone follow the laws. If we all obey the laws, we’re not going to have this problem.”

Huckaby says that so far, PBOT is still insistent on the closure. To raise awareness of their issues, he said they’re going to the media with their case and he assured me that KATU is planning a story exposing all the illegal riding. Huckaby said he feels closing Wheeler would be yet another “anti-business” move by the City of Portland. The way he sees it, he pays nearly $30,000 in taxes each year to run his business, and now he’s seeing a street closed because of a safety issue brought on by too many people riding through the Flint stop sign. To him, it doesn’t seem fair.

(Huckaby also pointed out how many drivers don’t come to a complete stop either (on Flint or on the I-5 slip ramp just east of it). He’s also concerned about trees and bushes on the median in front of Paramount Apartments.)

In addition to more enforcement, Huckaby thinks PBOT should just close Flint and route bike traffic to either N Vancouver (which has a traffic signal).

Huckaby feels like the closure of Wheeler would create another safety problem. “We’ll have one exit out on Thompson, so all the sudden, it’s a big safety problem… One exit is all you’d have for the 2,000 or so people that work down there… If you have a fire or something, an emergency, how do you get people out of there?”

Huckaby said he’s hosting a meeting with Mayor Adams, PBOT staff, and other business owners tomorrow morning. In the end, he acknowledges the traffic safety problem needs to be addressed; but so far, he’s not willing to sit idly by and let PBOT close the street.

“We all agree there’s a problem. We don’t want a death. But the problem is, get the ones that are breaking the law. Put some police out there.”

Stay tuned.

UPDATE: I just heard through the grapevine that PBOT plans to close the street on Wednesday. I’ll provide more details when I can.

Below is some raw footage I shot this morning:

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Comments
  • Nick August 20, 2012 at 5:41 pm

    I’ve only ever come through this intersection from Broadway and I am ALWAYS on red-alert. I’d like to see evidence that it’s the “non-stoppers” that are being hit. I always felt I could be next– there’s just too much going on here. I say “felt” because I avoid this nonsense and go over different bridges now (my experience being right-hooked at NE Broadway and Victoria hasn’t helped either). It’s the opposite of empowering to have to choose your route by safety, but it is what it is…

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    • John Lascurettes August 20, 2012 at 6:43 pm

      He doesn’t want “his” (implied by the taxes he pays quote) closed, but he’s just fine closing Flint? Poppycock. And we saw what happened on Vancouver on this site just a few days ago (somebody going down because of deteriorated road surface).

      I might get behind the Vancouver option if and only when they close the slip exit off of I-5 And prevent right on red coming off the freeway.

      Tell the dude to try it out first. C’mon!

      Enforcement has been tried many times – it’s not doing anything to prevent accidents.

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      • Nathan August 21, 2012 at 10:35 am

        Also, the reason why people go down Flint instead of staying on Vancouver to turn right onto Broadway is that it is possible to turn right without waiting for a 3-segment light cycle to give you access to the intersection. Right turning traffic has to cross lanes coming from the highway at Vancouver. This is a non-solution.

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    • Spiffy August 21, 2012 at 7:50 am

      I’d also like to see evidence of the non-stoppers being the main issue… clearly they’re AN issue… but are they THE issue that’s causing all the crashes? unlikely…

      either way people shouldn’t be running through that stop sign at full speed… but we need a better camera angle to see the people coming down Broadway at the same time for a comparison…

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      • Kim D August 21, 2012 at 10:35 am

        Have to agree with Spiffy – running stop signs is an issue – but what about all the folks coming down Broadway that don’t have a stop sign? I don’t think it’s the non-stoppers only. I think it’s the drivers not paying attention before making a turn.

        Just my two cents from someone that’s been hit by an inattentive driver.

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  • andy August 20, 2012 at 5:42 pm

    Question: what percentage of the cyclists who have been right-hooked at this intersection have been coming down Broadway, and what percentage have come down Flint (and blown the stop sign)? Let’s have the data.

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  • Blake August 20, 2012 at 5:42 pm

    I don’t take the Broadway bridge but I do ride down Vancouver and it would be impossible to route the bridge-bound traffic that way. The I-5 offramp stops at the same light so you would have to have many bikes crossing that on very short green lights for Vancouver which would end up piting right turning bikes against a short light and bikers continuing straight moving quickly to catch a short green light. The alignment of the I-5 offramp makes it impossible to give a way for people to turn right any other way.

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  • Barry August 20, 2012 at 5:42 pm

    Looks like Ladd’s circle.

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  • Nick August 20, 2012 at 5:50 pm

    Enforcement can only do so much. They can’t police every person that comes through that intersection, every day. The problem is obviously deeper — that stretch of road is not designed to handle the types and volume of traffic now being thrown at it. It needs to be fixed. Regardless of who is “punished”, they should figure something out that will prevent harm ASAP. Arguing about who gets punished is like when children bicker about who should get punished. It’s missing the point. There is a death waiting to happen here, and we shouldn’t wait around for it.

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    • Spiffy August 21, 2012 at 7:54 am

      well put…

      they need to take SOME kind of action (closing the street?) soon while they figure out a long-term solution…

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  • davemess August 20, 2012 at 5:53 pm

    I don’t really see how stopping makes that intersection safer for cyclists (Granted people should stop at stop signs). The bike lane is open, and cars still have to cross the bike lane to make a right turn. It’s just a VERY poorly designed area (even if EVERY single cyclists stops at that sign). There is still only about 30-40 between the two streets for cars to see bikes that may have turned onto Broadway.

    I too would like to see the data of hit while coming down Broadway or turning from Flint.

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    • Mindful Cyclist August 21, 2012 at 12:08 am

      Let’s forget about cars and right hooks for just a minute. NE Broadway to the Broadway Br was my route to get downtown for many years. I think about once every other week I had to do a panic stop due to another cyclist not stopping properly/failing to yield (I could care less if a foot contacted the ground) coming down Flint.

      Please, just pay attention on this intersection and slow down enough to yield to other cyclists and cars.

      While I agreed that it may be a good idea to close Wheeler, just remember your fellow cyclist are coming down Broadway at speed due to the hill and yield.

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    • are August 21, 2012 at 9:16 am

      how stopping at the corner at flint makes it safer for me personally is this. i don’t go out until it is clear (which can sometimes take awhile, but this is the choice i have made by not taking broadway from farther east), and then i take the lane. so the possibility of my being right hooked at wheeler is zero.

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      • Nathan August 21, 2012 at 10:20 am

        This! I also take the lane. Best to not have yet another car to deal with.

        Unfortunately taking the lane means other bikes typically roll this on my right while I start to go, but the ol’ stink eye goes a long way to get the message across.

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      • davemess August 21, 2012 at 12:10 pm

        But taking the lane on a street where there is a bike lane is a failure of design/infrastructure.

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        • are August 21, 2012 at 6:43 pm

          there are multiple failures here, including the striping of a bike lane where there should not be one. since i often approach this stretch from broadway itself rather than flint, i would say another design/infrastructure problem is the sharp turn to the left after vancouver with nothing to discourage people from taking the curve at speed. i will not use the bike lane inside the two right turn lanes onto the highway, so from about 1st or so i am in the third lane, and then after williams, taking the right lane, not allowing myself to get pinched in the bike lane.

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  • twowheelsandalady August 20, 2012 at 5:53 pm

    Tired of hearing that cyclists running stop signs are the REAL cause of these accidents.

    The numbers show this is a misconception: improper turns by cars still outweigh stop-sign running as a cause of accidents (data from Pittsburgh):

    http://twowheelsandalady.com/2012/08/16/the-stop-sign-running-cyclist-debunked-data-shows-real-causes-of-crashes/

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    • are August 21, 2012 at 9:29 am

      how about this intersection right here?

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  • davemess August 20, 2012 at 5:53 pm

    Sorry, meant to say “30-40 feet between streets”

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  • LoneHeckler August 20, 2012 at 5:57 pm

    I don’t disagree with Mr. Huckaby’s assessment that people on bikes frequently blow this stop sign — I’m an ex-scofflaw myself at this particular intersection — but I take issue with a couple of his points. His idea to close Flint smacks of NIMBY-ism: Close another street (affecting other businesses) but not his.

    Also: The last time I checked, most people don’t evacuate a building by driving away from it down a street. In the event of a fire or other “emergency”, I think people with be able to evacuate just fine.

    Lastly, please don’t “guarantee” my safety with more bicycle-as-lawbreaker rhetoric. It doesn’t help the argument and just leads to further conflict and ridiculous “news” stories on TV.

    Here’s an idea: Close the street now *temporarily* while we work on creative solutions (signaling? design changes? help me out here) in order to avoid any tragedies.

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    • q`Tzal August 21, 2012 at 1:26 am

      Close the street on designated days of the week for at least 3 months; should be plenty of time to gather data about the affects of this closure.

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    • 007 August 21, 2012 at 11:21 am

      Ditto – ex-scofflaw at this intersection. Close Flint St? Assinine idea. It is the best street on which to ride to the Broadway bridge from N & NE. I do not like riding Vancouver to work. BTW, I saw a television crew parked on Flint this a.m.

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  • 9watts August 20, 2012 at 6:02 pm

    Did the folks driving cars and pickups and SUVs who in recent weeks and months right hooked people riding bikes all stop? I presume they have the same stop sign that Huckaby is saying people on bikes ignore. If everyone were going slower, obviously the potential damage from a collision would be reduced. But I too will say that I’m suspicious of this statement:
    “The bikes are getting hit because they don’t stop… If they stopped at the stop sign you wouldn’t have a problem. Guaranteed.”

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  • Allan August 20, 2012 at 6:03 pm

    Jonathan- you were at the same presentation as me where Greg Raisman talked about how ‘not stopping can contribute to an accident, but stopping can also contribute to an accident’. The problem is the curve on Broadway and the fact that PBOT doesn’t have the balls to close the right lane on Broadway downstream from this location. If everyone in the right lane had to turn on to Flint or Wheeler, Then bikes would know what to expect from the cars. As it is presently designed, bikes don’t know what to expect and since almost everyone is going straight, it leads to accidents.

    PBOT- Force everyone to turn at Wheeler or merge beforehand! This will eliminate the right hook problem

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  • Chris Smith August 20, 2012 at 6:06 pm

    The most dangerous behavior for a cyclist in this stretch is overtaking cars on the right, which is frequently possible, but completely legal. Even if every cyclist came to a full stop at Flint, we would still have a very elevated right-hook risk. This risk is much more a factor of geometry than behavior.

    But this is a difficult concept to explain to someone who does not ride this stretch themselves. I hope Sam and PBOT staff can get this across in tomorrow’s meeting.

    I also hope PBOT will work hard to identify opportunities to increase access to Lower Albina at other points to help offset the impact of a closure on businesses. There IS a real impact, although I agree that safety is the key issue here and Wheeler should be closed.

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    • 007 August 21, 2012 at 11:25 am

      I tell those who complain about cyclists to ride to work everyday for a month, then get back to me .

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  • Barry August 20, 2012 at 6:18 pm

    Is EVERY comment going to rationalize why its OK to not stop at the stop sign?

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    • Ian August 20, 2012 at 6:22 pm

      I challenge you to find a single comment thus far that has done so.

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    • 9watts August 20, 2012 at 6:23 pm

      I think there are three issues (at least):
      > are people on bikes ignoring stop signs at high numbers?
      Yes, apparently.

      > is it O.K. to ignore this stop sign?
      No, not when other traffic in the vicinity is heavy.

      > is this behavior causally related to their being right-hooked?
      I don’t know; Huckaby says ‘Guaranteed.’

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    • John Lascurettes August 20, 2012 at 6:47 pm

      Barry, WHAT are you talking about?

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      • q`Tzal August 21, 2012 at 1:27 am

        Smack.

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  • Chris Smith August 20, 2012 at 6:24 pm

    I stop at the stop sign (might be a rolling stop, but I’m slowed to the point where I can assess oncoming traffic, and in this case look for right blinkers). Blowing through the stop sign at speed at this location is an irrational act of self-destruction. But 100% compliance and defensive riding would not make this intersection safe.

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    • John Lascurettes August 20, 2012 at 6:50 pm

      Chris, I do the same thing. I come to a standing stop where I can decide to pedal or plant a foot (in fact, I do it long enough to look over my right shoulder at Wheeler to see if there’s a stop sign sting going on). I’ve still been almost right hooked as I make my legal right turn onto Broadway by an overtaking car that turns on to Wheeler without having signaled from up the street (as in, I look left and there’s no indicator from the vehicle before I enter Broadway).

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      • 9watts August 20, 2012 at 7:02 pm

        John,
        help me understand the car driver’s point of view. Did the person overtaking you have a stop sign (the same one Huckaby thinks is ignored mostly by people on bikes)? Did he/she stop at that sign?

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        • Psyfalcon August 20, 2012 at 7:31 pm

          Once he legally makes the right turn after stopping, he is in the Broadway bike lane and cars are required to yield to him. Of course, the “block” is 20 feet long and rather non standard looking.

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        • John Lascurettes August 20, 2012 at 7:51 pm

          9watts, Psyfalcon has it right. The car (well, cars – this happens repeatedly) was coming down Broadway from my left, no turn indicator on. But since there is a separate lane for bikes, I may legally and pragmatically turn right from the bike lane at the stop sign into the bike lane on Broadway. And as is pointed out by Psyfalcon, autos are required to yield to that separate (bike) lane.

          Like Chris Smith, despite me having every right to act as I do I am on guard as to the people that might overtake me and turn right. This is why I have yet to be right hooked.

          I was noticing in Jonathans video that cars also rarely come to a full stop at that intersection. And cars turning right onto Wheeler seem to mostly be doing it with no turn indicator. Also note people driving cars pinching the bike lane as opposed to turning across it when it is safe. So for Huckaby to gripe about bicycle compliance (and then blame it for the problem) is pointless.

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          • Chris I August 20, 2012 at 8:40 pm

            Your example is perfect. This is exactly the problem with this intersection. Cyclists blowing this at speed make the problem worse, but even if you come to a complete stop, you can still get right-hooked. This is unsafe by design, and needs to be changed.

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    • Adam August 21, 2012 at 1:22 pm

      Agreed. The problem is, the speed of car traffic on a main arterial like Broadway is so fast… you can just be beginning to pull out from a stopped position at the stop sign at Flint, and fifteen cars are barreling down on you at 45 mph, all wanting to fling themselves right at high speed onto Wheeler.

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  • oliver August 20, 2012 at 6:50 pm

    It sounds like yet another version of the “why should we do anything about safety when so many cyclists run stop-signs” argument. (Actually, it is the same argument)

    While I am sympathetic to the concerns that this may lower his drop-in traffic, I would also like to see the data that it is the stop sign runners that are being right hooked here. Studies consistently show that driver error is the cause of the majority of motor vehicle/bicycle collisions.

    How many automobiles used their turn indicators properly prior to being involved in collisions at this location? I see an absurd amount of failure to use turn signals, maybe that’s the problem.

    A few weeks ago* I saw some someone on a bike not only run the stop sign there, but was even going so fast that she was unable to keep from veering into the motor vehicle lane as she over-shot the corner. That was unacceptably stupid, but it didn’t absolve me of my responsibility to respect the posted speed or maintain my lane for the remainder of my journey or at any time.

    *when driving.

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  • Spiffy August 20, 2012 at 7:22 pm

    good to hear Huckaby’s valid concerns… too bad we can’t see what he’s talking about…

    oh a video!

    oh, waste of a video op… can’t tell which cyclists are causing more conflicts because of the bad angle… should have shot it on the other side of Wheeler looking up Broadway… extra bonus is you wouldn’t have had to hide in the bushes…

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    • Andy August 20, 2012 at 9:22 pm

      The video is shot from many practical angles and CLEARLY shows the issue from each.

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      • Spiffy August 21, 2012 at 7:51 am

        but it doesn’t show the issue… all it shows is people running the stop sign… it doesn’t show which road the majority of problematic right-hooks are coming from… too much focus on the stop sign, none on Broadway…

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  • Chris Smith August 20, 2012 at 7:27 pm

    “help me understand the car driver’s point of view”

    You slow approaching Wheeler and look back. Your field of vision may be clear, and then a cyclist either coming down Broadway (which has an angle near the freeway ramp), or from Flint, suddenly comes alongside the right of your car as you turn. You couldn’t see them because the appeared quickly from either the left or right edges of your field of vision.

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  • GlowBoy August 20, 2012 at 7:40 pm

    I don’t doubt Huckaby’s right that when a cyclist blows the stop sign at Flint, it can catch motorists off guard when they’re turning right on Wheeler, potentially not giving them enough time to react. Running that sign is a really boneheaded move to make, and puts you at extremely high risk for getting right hooked.

    But while this may account for some share of the right hooks at Wheeler, I I highly doubt that it is responsible for the majority of incidents. I think most of them really are instances of the cyclist JRA, and motorists are cutting off because Broadway curves immediately before Flint, impairing the usual view to the rear, and cyclists are going faster than “usual” due to the downhill grade.

    As Chris Smith said, it’s fundamentally a geometry problem, not a bike-scofflaw problem.

    I do agree with Huckaby that we do need to see more enforcement. Let’s start with failure to yield to the bike lane when turning across it.

    Side note, and tip for Mr. Huckaby: if you’re trying to win Portlanders over to your point of view on something, dragging out the old “anti-business” canard isn’t going to help your case. Makes you look like a crank with an axe to grind, rather than someone who genuinely cares about making the city safer and more functional.

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  • matt August 20, 2012 at 7:43 pm

    Well, you caught me rolling through the stop sign, but so did the motorcyclist in front of me! It may not look like it from the video, but I had slowed down enough to assess that there was no oncoming traffic and I could safely continue without losing too much momentum. Trust me, I am VERY careful at this intersection and have witnessed many near misses. If there are cars coming down Broadway I assume that any/all of them are making a R on to Wheeler and wait for them to pass.

    9watts, I’m guessing that the car that overtook Johnwas traveling southbound on Broadway and therefor had no stop-sign, but they turn R on Wheeler across the bike lane without signaling.

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  • Mike August 20, 2012 at 8:34 pm

    Would it kill some of you to actually drive a car? Then you would see things from a different point of view. I know it is a stretch!

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    • 9watts August 20, 2012 at 8:51 pm

      that is a good one.

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    • A.K. August 20, 2012 at 10:02 pm

      Pretty sure 95% of the folks here drive. Myself included.

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      • Joe August 21, 2012 at 11:45 am

        I’m part of the 5% I guess

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        • A.K. August 21, 2012 at 12:09 pm

          Not any problem with that at all! I just find the irony of asking “people who bike”, roughly 95% of whom own cars, to see something from a driver’s perspective a bit rich.

          Rather, I think the 50% (or more probably, can’t recall the stat now) of people who drive yet never bike (or their last experience on a bike was as a child 20 or more years ago, which is radically different) need to spend more time on two wheels to see how it works from the other side of the windshield.

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    • q`Tzal August 21, 2012 at 1:34 am

      Straw man argument.

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    • Chris I August 21, 2012 at 7:01 am

      The vast majority of cyclists also drive. A small minority of motorists have ridden a bike in traffic. If the goal is mutual understanding, I would expect to see more motorists on bike before we ask the small minority (1 or 2% of the population?) to try a car instead of a bike.

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    • Spiffy August 21, 2012 at 8:14 am

      MikeWould it kill some of you to actually drive a car?

      yes, probably… which is one reason many choose not to…

      I drive a scooter-styled motorcycle sometimes… does that count?

      kill us to drive a car… oh the irony… too funny… hehe…

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    • 007 August 21, 2012 at 11:31 am

      Ha ha ha!

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    • GlowBoy August 21, 2012 at 12:17 pm

      Most average drivers don’t know what it’s like to navigate the streets on a bike. Most Bikeportland members know what it’s like to navigate the streets BOTH in a car AND on a bike. There are a few here who don’t drive, but they are probably in the minority.

      In other words, bikeportland’s readership has a more balanced perspective than the population as a whole. Unlike most people, we can see it from both sides.

      Personally, I’ve driven through this area a lot more times than I’ve biked it. I did ride through it on Saturday to re-familiarize myself with the cycling perspective; I think I already had the driver’s perspective down pretty well.

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  • Lenny Anderson August 20, 2012 at 8:41 pm

    The traffic violation here that puts others’ life and limb at risk is crossing a bike lane without yielding the right of way to traffic in that lane. Its the Right Hook! If there is to be an enforcement solution, it should focus on those violations. But enforcement at an ill-designed corner is a fool’s errand. Chris is right, close Wheeler at Broadway and improve other access to the area businesses. Or the businesses may want to form an LID, to pay for a traffic signal at Wheeler/Flint & Broadway…I saw a woman waiting a long time to cross Broadway at that corner this AM. Nobody was yielding to her. That would slow things to a stop.

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  • rb August 20, 2012 at 9:00 pm

    Where is the green paint? The ODOT treatment on Barbur turning onto highway 10 has improved auto awareness.

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  • Tony August 20, 2012 at 10:20 pm

    I thought that the general policy for traffic control was to remove signals which are always ignored and to up the speed limit when everyone speeds.

    If the cars knock down the bollards, best just remove them.

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  • jim August 21, 2012 at 12:15 am

    Are you going to eliminate all of the right hand turns going down Broadway? Bikes do get some speed going downhill and can’t stop very well if there is a car in their way.

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  • Ted Buehler August 21, 2012 at 1:54 am

    Jonathan — did you and he look at a Ma during this discussion? It sounds like he doesn’t know his way around very well.

    The Lower Albina industrial area can be accessed from
    • Wheeler
    • Ross
    • Benton
    • Dixon
    • Tillamook, and
    • Thompson

    This should provide adequate ingress/egress for all emergency situations.

    Ted Buehler

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    • Ted Buehler August 21, 2012 at 1:55 am

      *map*

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    • Spiffy August 21, 2012 at 8:22 am

      you’d think people with the luxury of an automobile wouldn’t mind driving around a block or two to stay safe…

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  • 9watts August 21, 2012 at 7:06 am

    Mike
    Would it kill some of you to actually drive a car?
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    Given how many people are killed by people driving cars your unintentional humor is appreciated.

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  • Michael August 21, 2012 at 7:18 am

    The problem is the drivers’ behavior, not the cyclists.

    I lived in the netherlands for 4 + years and rode a bike there every day (I had no car), and the main difference between drivers in NL and drivers here is that there drivers have learned they need to slow down and look far to their right (essentially looking through the rear passenger seat window) as they make right turns to ensure no bicyclists are in the bike lanes. Here drivers don’t think about cyclists (admittedly a generalization) when they make right turns, and are thus surprised and angry when they hit one of us.

    How to turn right properly needs to be taught in drivers’ ed here in the states. That’s the long term solution.

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    • DIMcyclist August 21, 2012 at 8:48 am

      Agreed- Driver’s Ed does need improvement, especially with regard to ‘use of lane’, it seems to be something of a weakness among Portland drivers. That’s admittedly a subjective observation, but one I see borne out all too often. Daily, even.

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      • GlowBoy August 21, 2012 at 12:29 pm

        Before we bother improving drivers ed, how about requiring it in the first place?

        Those of us who grew up in other states are often shocked and dismayed to learn that Oregon does not, to this day, require it of new drivers.

        Hell, where I grew up it was taught in the freaking public schools … now maybe that’s a little too “car-head” but at least it ensured that the 99% of kids who would choose to get tested for a drivers license got some sort of formal training first. Something way too many Oregonians have not had.

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        • DIMcyclist August 21, 2012 at 11:31 pm

          You’re s**ting me? Driver’s Ed isn’t required here? If that’s indeed the case, it would explain a lot.

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          • GlowBoy August 23, 2012 at 11:05 am

            No joke. I just checked the 2012-13 Oregon Drivers Manual to confirm. A provisional license (the type issued to 16 and 17 year olds) requires either (1) drivers ed and 50 hours of supervised driving practice, OR (2) 100 hours of supervised driving practice, NO drivers ed requirement at all.

            And that “supervised driving” requirement merely requires that one “must have been supervised by someone at least 21 years of age who had a valid license for at least three years.” In other words, it doesn’t even have to be a parent or guardian. A 21 year old can’t rent a car because they’re not deemed responsible enough by the rental agencies, yet Oregon DMV allows them to provide complete driver “training” to a 16-17 year old. And the 100 hour requirement merely requires filling out a paper form that is easy to fake.

            And yes, it does explain a lot. It’s a damn good thing Oregonians tend to be slower and more courteous drivers than in most other states, because as a group we’re dangerously under-trained.

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    • wsbob August 21, 2012 at 7:05 pm

      Use of signals..by all vehicle road users, be they on bikes or operating motor vehicles…is particularly important
      through complex intersections such as the Broadway-Wheeler-Flint area has. Through this intersection, the percent of road users that are using signals to indicate intention would be something to look at. Video could help in learning about what that percentage is.

      As lacking as official state prepared Driver’s Education(the Oregon Driver’s Manual that study to prepare for the written exam.) and Driver Testing may seem to be…and it probably could use some improvement…road users traveling by bike receive ’0′ official testing for bike specific knowledge of road use and their competence in traveling the road…lane changes, stopping, hand signals, while on a bike.

      This lack of bike specific road use training leads to the likelihood of situations involving people traveling by bike, that have no road use training and experience by way of having studied the driver’s manual, submitting to the written and on the road examination and time on the road behind the wheel of a motor vehicle…entering heavy traffic situations completely unprepared to deal with them.

      Even when the motor vehicle road user does adequately signal intention and looks far over their right shoulder as you remind us is an advisable thing to do, the type of bike road users described above may disregard the car’s turn signal, and in the bike lane, attempt to sweep past the car as the car approaches and is close to the intersection and ready to turn.

      Yes, by rights, the person behind the wheel in the main lane should yield to persons on bikes overtaking them in the bike lane…but the risk that everything might not work out exactly right with the person behind the wheel seeing the person on the bike in such a situation, is often too great to chance sweeping past or being abreast of a moving motor vehicle at the entrance to intersections.

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    • Brett August 22, 2012 at 1:26 pm

      This does raise the important issue that Oregon handles right turns with bike lanes different than most states.
      Most states treat the bike lane as an additional lane. The driver must safely merge into that lane and become a traveler in that lane before turning.
      Think if these were four car travel lanes instead of three car travel lanes and a bike travel lane. We would think if insane if the law required vehicles turning right to complete their turn from the number 3 lane while yielding through through traffic in the number 4 lane! In that situation, clearly vehicles turning right should be required to enter the number 4 lane and complete their turn from that lane.
      Yet, Oregon law dictates the former situation, and makes the latter illegal. That is why people who move to Portland from other States (and there are a lot of those people) do not understand the Oregon law. (Then again, when I first moved to Oregon after living in Iowa, I could not believe that I was -required- to have the attendant pump my gas for me either.)

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  • ME 2 August 21, 2012 at 7:48 am

    I used to ride this route to work. I can’t say that I religously stopped nor did I blow through the sign. I rolled it looking at both cyclists on traffic in the right lane. Self preservation always trumps right of way for me. I have no problem stopping or slowing to avoid a right hook, but this nly works for motorists who signal that they’re turning. The 5 or 6 times a month where I was nearly right hooked at that spot was always due to motorists not signalling. If the business owner wants everyone to obey the law then it extends to his customers and workers. I’m willing to bet there is a significant number of motorists who don’t even turn their signal on at this intersection.

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    • Gary Charles August 21, 2012 at 8:31 am

      Cars not signaling makes me so mad. I don’t ever ride in this area but I’ve had a number of close calls in other parts of Portland where the car didn’t use a turn signal and cut me off when they made their turn. That’s one way right hooks happen. I don’t know when not using a turn signal became so normal either but it’s only getting worse each year. Not only in areas where bikes are but it’s happening more and more on highways as well. I wish I could understand why it’s so commonplace for cars now to just turn without signaling, then maybe there would be something that could be done about it.

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      • El Biciclero August 21, 2012 at 12:41 pm

        Failure to signal is one of the many scofflaw driver behaviors that is considered so harmless as to not really be a violation. Like speeding 9 mph over the limit, or failing to stop when exiting a driveway. Or driving/parking in a bike lane. Or flooring it to blow an “orange” light. Or turning right on a red without really stopping. Or not yielding to pedestrians. Or talking on a cell phone while driving. You know–harmless little stuff that never hurts anybody. Yet most of the driving public (not all) needs desperately to believe that cyclists are the REAL scofflaws and killers on the road who only get run over due to their own negligence. And only when they aren’t wearing helmets. Otherwise, driving a car becomes a huge responsibility. Nobody wants that.

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  • Elliot August 21, 2012 at 8:39 am

    The problem with access to this area isn’t closing Wheeler. It’s I-5, which closed access to/from the east for Page, Thompson, Tillamook, and Hancock.

    If Huckaby wants another point of access (or two, or three, or four…) he could ask PBOT and ODOT to remove I-5.

    Ok, serious now: Huckaby should ask PBOT to look into opening Hancock between Flint and Wheeler. If that vacant land isn’t already public ROW, perhaps Public Storage (or whoever the property owner is) could donate it as an act of goodwill toward neighboring businesses. First Inc. and other businesses could then raise the funds necessary to (re)construct a few dozen linear feet of street.

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    • Psyfalcon August 21, 2012 at 3:00 pm

      That little connection actually looks pretty steep to me. Might be the reason it never went through in the first place.

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      • Elliot August 23, 2012 at 6:41 am

        Good catch Psyfalcon & Allan, thanks. I didn’t notice the slope from Google Maps. Looking closer now, a connection is probably possible, but might be expensive – with the slope I can see why the street didn’t go through in the first place.

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    • Allan August 22, 2012 at 9:41 am
  • Chris A. August 21, 2012 at 9:11 am

    Hmm… Looking at the video, I would suggest that maybe PDOT just remove the bike lane and have bicyclists take the lane on Broadway.

    This would force bicyclists to properly come to a stop and it would eliminate the right hooks since the motorists would have to be in mixed traffic with the bicyclists.

    Looking at the video, either bicyclists are going slow enough to use the sidewalk instead, or fast enough to keep up with traffic on Broadway.

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    • peejay August 21, 2012 at 10:09 am

      Would you let your eight-year-old daughter to take the lane there? If not, that’s not a solution. Not saying a parent would feel safe with their eight-year-old in the existing bike lane, but eliminating a badly separated bike facility is entirely the wrong way to go. The solution is to properly separate the bike facility.

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      • spare_wheel August 21, 2012 at 1:21 pm

        sharrows and speed bumps would be a lot cheaper than separated infrastructure.

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        • Alex Reed August 22, 2012 at 10:17 pm

          Would you ride with your 8-year-old child on a Broadway with sharrows and speed bumps?

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          • Alex Reed August 22, 2012 at 10:17 pm

            I mean on his/her own bike.

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    • GlowBoy August 21, 2012 at 12:32 pm

      Demonizing the bike lane isn’t going to solve the problem. We had right hooks long before we had bike lanes. In my observation, the majority of right hooks are NOT situations where the cyclist was passing on the right; they are situations where the motorist was going faster than the cyclist, and then turned turned right JUST after passing the cyclist.

      I almost got right-hooked myself this morning, on a stretch of Beaverton-Hillsdale highway with NO BIKE LANE. Car passed me, then turned right in front of me. No bike lane required for that to happen.

      Take out the bike lane on Broadway, and you’ll still have cars passing slower cyclists and then turning right in front of them.

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  • Charley August 21, 2012 at 9:16 am

    Huckaby’s right that lots of people roll through that stop sign. He’s wrong that this fact is the single greatest cause of right hooks at that intersection. In fact, wouldn’t the riders descending B’Way be going faster than riders coming from Flint? And wouldn’t that be the greatest danger? In which case the real solution is to stop the cars making right hooks. So how would stopping riders at Flint keep drivers from right hooking people who’ve come down B’Way?

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    • Mike August 21, 2012 at 10:30 am

      Your right. Let’s stop all those right hooks. Any street that is to the northwest of Broadway needs to be closed. That way we eliminate those right hooks.

      I hope you all got the sarcasm in that. Do you really think this will solve the problem? All you’re doing is moving it down a block or two. When you close one valve you increase the flow on the pipelines that remain open. Now more traffic will be forced to turn down the remaining streets into that area. And if you’re saying that the traffic on Flint isn’t the traffic that is getting hit, let’s pose this question. How much distance is traveled by a motorist on Broadway before you get to Wheeler than that between Flint and Wheeler? A lot more roadway for a motorist to either come upon or be alongside a bicyclist. A motorist that is aware for a longer time that a bicyclist is on the roadway decreases the likelihood of an accident. When a cyclist suddenly rides out on Flint, that motorist probably had no idea they were there.

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    • 007 August 21, 2012 at 1:15 pm

      Have you ever ridden this intersection? Try it.

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  • DIMcyclist August 21, 2012 at 9:22 am

    Having been run over before (an experience I highly recommend to motorists, as part of a continuing effort to understand the cyclist’s situation in traffic), I tend to play it pretty safe at stop signs and in six years have never had a problem at Flint. That said, I’d love to see any data relating that intersection to nearby Wheeler. Wheeler (between Broadway & Weidler) seems to be an unnecessary street; the businesses there might do well to just assimilate it into their parking area.

    FWIW, I still ride the Tillamook-Flint route into downtown on a regular basis. For anyone who knows it, it’s the quickest, safest way to access the Broadway Bridge from NE; it very conveniently skips right around all the traffic at the freeway interchange and has a good lookout where it joins Broadway. I should hate to see the Flint overpass scrapped when they rebuild the on-ramps.

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  • Pete F August 21, 2012 at 9:40 am

    There was a motorcycle cop sitting right on Flint and Broadway this morning right before 9. Everyone behaved really well.

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  • John Lascurettes August 21, 2012 at 10:07 am

    As one could have predicted, Huckaby got his wish on enforcement this morning. I came to a complete stop, didn’t even check over my right shoulder for cops as is my routine because there was bike traffic coming from the the left. I made my turn after the bikes went by. I caught the light at Ross and as it turned green I stood on the pedals to go. Another cyclist passed me, and then a motorcycle cop passed me and pulled that cyclist over. I bet that cyclist feels safer that he didn’t get right hooked with a ticket in his hand. ;)

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    • Ted Buehler August 21, 2012 at 11:50 am

      John — were they also ticketing drivers who ran the stop sign on the I-5 exit ramp?

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      • John Lascurettes August 21, 2012 at 12:53 pm

        Doubt it. But don’t take my word for it. I only saw the one cyclist get pulled over and that was because the cop overtook me to pull him over.

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  • are August 21, 2012 at 10:38 am

    apparently i missed something. from the headline, i thought we were going to hear some of the concerns this business owner had about how closing the intersection would hurt him and/or the other businesses. instead all we hear are his curbstone analysis of who is to blame for something or other. i imagine these businesses are coming to PBoT with reasons, if not data, as to why they need this street open. but we are not hearing those reasons.

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  • Wizzard of Odd August 21, 2012 at 11:06 am

    I just looked at that intersection on Google Earth. If you go to ‘street view’ at a point on Flint a block or so north of the intersection, and then look south and scroll down the street to Broadway you will find something very interesting. You can watch as a cyclist blows through the stop without appearing to slow down at all (followed right after by an ambulance). If the google camera can pick this up, then my guess is that it is way too common.

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    • John Lascurettes August 22, 2012 at 12:41 am

      Interesting that you can determine that the cyclist “blew” the stop sign form a series of disconnected stills. Amazing talent you have there.

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  • Fred Lifton August 21, 2012 at 11:11 am

    That motorcycle cop has been there a few days now, ticketing cyclists. I saw him writing a cyclist a ticket the other day while a block down a semi-truck was completely covering the entire bike lane, forcing bikes into the traffic in the center lane of Broadway. Nice.

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  • Sunny August 21, 2012 at 11:40 am

    Amateurs! The solution is a gigantic mirror.

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  • Joe August 21, 2012 at 11:43 am

    I love FOX12 news this morning setting up cam and news lady on the corner saying oh thier goes a rider without a helmet, oh look the riders don’t stop. just crazy!

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  • stansforth August 21, 2012 at 11:48 am

    Oooh Jonathan! I’m glad you were not filming this morning when I went right on Broadway off Flint. I did a perfectly safe rolling stop (in my estimation) and Broadway was free of cars. There was a news van and camera there by the daycare center so I quickly fixed my brow and straightened my collar while sucking in my gut, in case I am on TV. On top of all that I did the usual stuff at that intersection: I glance for cops on wheeler as I have done since their sting a few years ago, and I look for oncoming Broadway traffic. If there are cars coming I will wait til it’s safe to go, whether it’s a foot plant or slow roll.

    I was hit at Broadway/Wheeler in 2006 or 2007 (Friday April 13th) by a school board exec from pennsylvania, but I was coming down Broadway from 7th, rather than turning off Flint. That is the most dangerous situation if you ask me because you can go as fast as cars coming down that Broadway hill.

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  • Arem August 21, 2012 at 12:08 pm

    Felt like throwing this in here since I’ve biked in Portland for a few years now…I see a good many people around town have a VERY loose definition of what constitutes an “Idaho stop.” Being from Idaho myself and growing up with that law in place…I know what one looks like when I see it and it’s pretty rare around here.
    I have to recall my motorcycle training and to just “ride your own ride.” Don’t follow somebody else’s judgment when deciding to stop/slow/go. Look both ways, heads on swivel folks.

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  • Owen Walz August 21, 2012 at 12:55 pm

    To clarify: Cyclists turning right at Flint are turning into a bike-only lane, NOT a shared lane. Therefor the purpose of the stop sign (for bicycles) is ostensibly to prevent bikes colliding with other bikes zipping down Broadway, not to prevent bike / auto collisions. If everyone was staying in their lane and being observant, there shouldn’t be an increase in bike-auto collisions due to rolling stops by bicyclists, am I right?

    The argument I’m hearing is that cyclists should be stopping and waiting for AUTO traffic, even though auto traffic shouldn’t be in the bike lane anyway. The argument is that cyclists should stop and wait for cars to clear to avoid being right-hooked?

    I’m in favor of cyclists following traffic laws, but this logic seems off.

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    • Alex Reed August 21, 2012 at 1:06 pm

      I think the idea is that if cyclists were to stop dependably at Flint & Broadway, drivers intending to turn right on Wheeler would have more of a “window” in which to see said cyclists. It seems like a valid point to me, although I think drivers who turn into and hit cyclists who broke a law three seconds ago at a different intersection are still bear more than half of the blame for the collision.

      Not that blame is really what matters in this case. Our society provides preventative care for conditions caused by people’s own risky behavior (e.g. needle exchange for drug addicts, free condoms for promiscuous people, Medicare doesn’t kick you out if you become obese, etc. etc.) Similarly, we should mitigate risks at intersections, even if the people exposed to the risks have a role in creating the risk. (I’m not implying this is a perfect analogy.)

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  • 180mm_dan August 21, 2012 at 1:14 pm

    Wheeler becomes closed. But still the next right hook is Ross St. Will accidents just shift to there? People still need to use the brain that their bike helmet protects… 4-wheel drivers will still attempt to turn at Wheeler for a long while out of habit, then go to Wheeler… This stretch will remain dangerous probably as long as, well, as long as bikes ride down Broadway….

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  • Adam August 21, 2012 at 1:14 pm

    If Bob Huckaby did his homework properly, he would already know that there are NO TURNS allowed off N Vancouver where it intersects with Broadway.

    If he feels so inclined, he can go to Google Maps, click on the intersection, and view it in Google Streetview, to see the “NO TURNS” signage positioned over every lane.

    So… Bob Huckaby is proposing… what exactly? That bikes break the law, and turn right illegally from N Vancouver onto Broadway? But, only two minutes ago, he seemed so passionately against bikes breaking the law!!

    (Sigh.)

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  • 180mm_dan August 21, 2012 at 1:16 pm

    er, mistyped, “go to Wheeler” I mean “Ross” St

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  • Patrick August 21, 2012 at 1:21 pm

    Jest reconfigure the intersection like this mock-up I created. The cares would have to stop before entering the bike lane just like intersections found in the Netherlands. Problem solved.

    Mock-Up: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bikelustcomics/7833422752/

    Intersection in the Netherlands: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wEXD0guLQY0&feature=relmfu

    Notice how people driving cars have a space to stop and yield to a cyclist?

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    • are August 22, 2012 at 12:38 pm

      asking a motorist to stop immediately upon entering wheeler northbound could create some problems out on broadway

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      • are August 22, 2012 at 12:39 pm

        similarly asking a motorist to stop immediately upon entering flint

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  • El Biciclero August 21, 2012 at 1:30 pm

    “When a cyclist suddenly rides out on Flint, that motorist probably had no idea they were there.”

    –This can happen whether a cyclist stops first or not. Starting up from a stop looks just like “suddenly riding out”.

    “A motorist that is aware for a longer time that a bicyclist is on the roadway decreases the likelihood of an accident.”

    –Bingo. Further down Broadway, farther away from the 45-degree angle that happens pretty much exactly at Flint, drivers will have much better rear-view visibility to see cyclists in the bike lane, regardless of where they turned from or whether they stopped or not.

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    • El Biciclero August 21, 2012 at 1:32 pm

      Oops. That was supposed to be a reply to Mike’s comment above…

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  • 007 August 21, 2012 at 1:32 pm

    “The argument I’m hearing is that cyclists should be stopping and waiting for AUTO traffic….The argument is that cyclists should stop and wait for cars to clear to avoid being right-hooked?”

    That is not my understanding at all. We need to stop for cyclists coming down the hill AND because of the short space between the stop sign and Wheeler. A driver could look in their side mirror, not see a bike, resume looking ahead to make their legal turn from the auto lane (meanwhile a cyclist has run the stop) and is going past Wheeler as the vehicle turns.
    I’m not saying this is the only reason there are so many right hooks there because we all know that drivers often do not bother looking in their mirror, and even when they do, do not yield to the bike lane, but this intersection is unique and cyclists should stop.

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    • John Lascurettes August 21, 2012 at 1:57 pm

      Half the accidents (according to PBOT in the BP followup story) involve bikes coming from Broadway, not Flint. Stop sign compliance is not the issue causing the accidents.

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      • 007 August 22, 2012 at 10:17 am

        Where does the other half of the accidents come from, then?

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        • El Biciclero August 22, 2012 at 2:00 pm

          Another way to look at this is to say that one has (had) an equal chance of being right-hooked at Wheeler whether one runs the stop sign turning from Flint or comes cruising down from farther up Broadway. If the odds of being right-hooked are the same either way, neither behavior by cyclists seems to make a difference. What that tells me is that either drivers are exceptionally inattentive here, or that the street geometry at the busy Wheeler/Broadway/Flint/I-5 confluence is bad for sight lines.

          Moving the right turn activity farther down a straighter stretch of Broadway will make for better sight lines and remove one of the variables from the overly-complex equation that is Broadway between Vancouver and Wheeler.

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          • 007 August 22, 2012 at 3:58 pm

            “Another way to look at this is to say that one has (had) an equal chance of being right-hooked at Wheeler whether one runs the stop sign turning from Flint or comes cruising down from farther up Broadway. If the odds of being right-hooked are the same either way, neither behavior by cyclists seems to make a difference.”

            The above doesn’t really make sense to me because logic would then dictate that if one does stop at Flint, then the chance of being right-hooked is not “equal”, thus cyclist behavior actually does make a difference.
            I agree with moving the right run farther downhill for sure.

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            • El Biciclero August 23, 2012 at 9:36 am

              The division presented was between “blowing” the stop at Flint and merely coming down from further up Broadway. The same number of right hooks happened in either case, suggesting that behaving either way made no difference in whether you might get hit or not.

              Really, we would have to know how many of each “type” of rider (Flint stoppers, Flint non-stoppers, and Broadway cruisers) got hit over the years. If we could say that a larger proportion of any type got hit at Wheeler, then we’d have something. As it is, we don’t know for sure.

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              • are August 23, 2012 at 10:01 am

                third and fourth categories would be those coming down broadway asserting the full travel lane and those making a full stop at flint, waiting for an opening, and asserting the full travel lane.

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                • El Biciclero August 23, 2012 at 5:06 pm

                  Heh. Indeed. In/out of bike lane could apply to all categories–even non-stoppers cruising straight into the travel lane from Flint. But then we’d probably have more than just right-hook collisions to consider as well…

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  • Jolly Dodger August 21, 2012 at 2:34 pm

    If American autos had right side driver’s positions…. cyclists & drivers could have eye contact at the triple turn and reduce (but not eliminate) a large number of these “accidents” – which we all know by know are simply mistakes of various degrees and consequences. When a stop sign is run and no one is hurt, a cyclist feels victorious to have maintained momentum….when it all goes wrong, well…we can only mourn. Cars kill…drivers are human, and we all make mistakes. Bikes are inherently more vulnerable and should be viewed as such. All these ‘rules’ are for naught when a poorly designed & heavily used arterial such as this is a primary route for all forms of usage. It’s a clusterfu*k for sure, and a temporary closure seems a fix of sorts…for now.

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  • commuter August 22, 2012 at 11:01 am

    Be careful out there folks… all of these changes might be nice until you encounter a driver who is texting…

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