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The barricades are up: No more right hooks on N Wheeler Ave

Posted by on August 22nd, 2012 at 1:57 pm

No more right hooks on Wheeler Ave-7
This person no longer has to feel threatened for their life and limbs while pedaling past Wheeler; and people who drive near this intersection no longer have to worry about being involved in a collision.
(Photos © J. Maus/BikePortland)

It finally happened. Today at around noon, Bureau of Transportation crews put the final touches on barricades and signage to prevent road users from turning right on N. Wheeler Avenue from Broadway (exiting Wheeler onto Broadway is still allowed). Mayor Adams shared the news and a photo via his Facebook page, where many folks are telling him what they think about it.

Think about this for a second: There will be no more right hooks at Wheeler.

No more right hooks on Wheeler Ave-13

It has been nearly five years to the day that I first wrote about the dangerous conditions at this intersection. In fact, things were so bad back then that my story was about how the Portland Water Bureau — concerned that their employees might hurt someone, or be hurt themselves trying to access their headquarters on N. Interstate — first began to consider a bureau-wide prohibition from turning right on Wheeler (they went through with it a few months later).

Now Mayor Adams, buoyed by his staff at PBOT and listening to a loud chorus of concern from nearby business owners and citizens, has limited access to Wheeler for the entire city.

I spoke with a lead employee from a very nearby business today while I was out taking photos (she wished to keep her name/business out of the story pending notification of her marketing department). She said they fully support the closure. She also said that employees and visitors to their business had dreaded the stressful intersection for many years, and that, while they must now go around the block to access their parking lot, the delay is “worth it.” “This is long overdue,” she said.

That woman’s perspective was similar to other business owners in the lower Albina district that I’ve talked to. No one felt comfortable making these right turns because the stakes were so high. Even though some local media coverage made this out to be a “bicyclists vs motorists” or “bicyclists vs businesses” story, that’s not what it was. This was about doing the right thing to improve safety.

We should continue to have the discussion about how people don’t obey laws as much as they should; but we should not continue to let blatantly dangerous streets continue to hurt our fellow citizens.

Below are a few more photos and thoughts …

Here’s how it looks from the windshield of a car (sort of) as you drive down Broadway…

No more right hooks on Wheeler Ave-3

No more right hooks on Wheeler Ave-12

And a bit closer up…

No more right hooks on Wheeler Ave-9

In addition to the medians in the road, PBOT has added “No Right Turn” and “Do Not Enter” signs, as well as Detour signs helping folks in cars and trucks access businesses on other streets…

No more right hooks on Wheeler Ave-4

No more right hooks on Wheeler Ave-16
Looking northeast from northwest corner of Wheeler/Broadway.

As you can see in this close-up, there isn’t any room for a quick right turn by people on bikes either; although it’d be relatively easy to roll up the curb ramp and onto the sidewalk to head north…

No more right hooks on Wheeler Ave-8

And here’s the full view looking toward the northeast while standing on northwest corner of Wheeler/Broadway…

No more right hooks on Wheeler Ave-15

For more context, in this photo I’m standing north of the intersection looking south at the Leftbank Building…

No more right hooks on Wheeler Ave-6

Overall, it’s very obvious and clear that you are not allowed to turn right. Even so, I won’t be surprised if the barricades get run into and/or if people try to turn right (north) into the opposite lane. If that happens, I just hope no one is coming the other way!

As a parting thought, remember that this fix helps just one of many safety and connectivity problems in this area. In the coming years, major changes are afoot with the I-5 widening plans and associated surface street projects. Stay tuned…

— For full background on how this closure came about, browse our Broadway Flint Wheeler archives (15 posts dating back to August 2007).

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Comments
  • K'Tesh August 22, 2012 at 2:05 pm

    Thanks MayorSam, PBOT!

    Recommended Thumb up 13

    • K'Tesh August 22, 2012 at 2:08 pm

      Should have added… Thanks Jonathan for your hard work on this issue!

      Recommended Thumb up 15

  • Erik E August 22, 2012 at 2:06 pm

    This is a good thing.

    Recommended Thumb up 4

  • peejay August 22, 2012 at 2:15 pm

    I can’t bear to watch local news anymore so I don’t know how they covered the story. Can anyone post a scorecard? Did they sensationalize the lead-in? Did they give equal weight to the well-informed and the idiots? Did the reporter editorialize?

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    • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) August 22, 2012 at 2:26 pm

      I watched the coverage. It was OK in parts, but on the whole it was pretty detrimental to promoting civic harmony.

      Instead of focusing on how PBOT was making a move to improve road safety… The stories all focused on how this was another example of Sam Adams doing some for special bikers at the expense of “motorists” and over the objections of business owners. None of that is true of course… But it’s a somewhat easy way to frame the story, and unfortunately, while I know and like many of my friends at the local TV stations, it just exacerbates the lack of context needed out there to calm people down and soothe nerves.

      If all you watched was local TV news, you’d think biz owner Bob Huckaby was irate and opposed to this. I met Bob the last few days. He’s a nice guy. He has concerns and he made them known the best way he could — which is something I respect a lot. And you know what? Sam heard his concerns and PBOT is going to do a lot to mitigate the impacts of this closure. So in the end, there was no acrimony. In fact, like I reported in my recap of that meeting, the feeling I got was that folks were collaborative, understanding and positive about partnering up to make sure everyone’s concerns were respected and acted on.

      I’ve been yelled at and hung up on by two people now about this story. And I’ve gotten 4-5 emails full of exclamation points, mean words, and ALL CAPS. People are pissed but it’s because they are reacting to the simple, us vs them narrative they saw on TV. It’s unfortunate, but I don’t have the time and energy to fix it. I figure I’ll pour my energy into getting the story right and being fair and hope that eventually the ship starts to turn back on course.

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      • John Lascurettes August 22, 2012 at 2:38 pm

        Thank you, Jonathan. I just wish more media tried to frame the story in the right way:

        The stop sign compliance at Flint (both from bikes and cars) had nothing to do with the dangerous right hooks. That is a separate story.

        The right hooks are a safety issue – not a special interest issue.

        The businesses still have access through other routes. And they were listened to.

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        • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) August 22, 2012 at 2:45 pm

          I actually think the people running the Flint stop sign IS a part of the story. The right-hooks happen just a few yards from a stop sign that is commonly blown by many many people on bikes. That behavior is a factor in why this is a safety issue. However, that being said, I don’t think it’s reason to not act to prevent the right-hooks from happening.

          I don’t mind that the Flint stuff was on TV; but my point is that in absence of other context it got too much attention and therefore threw off the framing. Like the intersection itself, my views on this stuff are complicated ;-).

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          • John Lascurettes August 22, 2012 at 5:09 pm

            The stop sign non-compliance doesn’t cause the right hooks. As you say, “it’s part of the story” because it exacerbates the problem that is already there – but it is being conflated as the cause of the problem by other media outlets. Or at minimum, reader reaction elsewhere is that it’s the cause of the problem when it is not the cause; and other media outlets are doing nothing to set that picture right.

            Recommended Thumb up 1

      • Kim D August 22, 2012 at 3:47 pm

        THANK YOU FOR YOUR PERSISTENCE JONATHAN!!!! :)

        just thought you’d like a little positive caps lock to even things out.

        Recommended Thumb up 10

  • dwainedibbly August 22, 2012 at 2:16 pm

    Nice to see that we (on bikes) can still make the right, with a little planning. I’m sure that’ll upset some people.

    Recommended Thumb up 3

  • NE Cyclist August 22, 2012 at 2:31 pm

    This wasn’t up yet when I went through this morning, but it seems there may still be problems with cars starting to make a right turn and coming to a sudden halt in the bike lane, in front of the barricades. When the permanent barricade is installed, it makes sense for it to be to the left of the bike lane, and thus more visible to cars before they begin to execute a right turn.

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    • JRB August 22, 2012 at 2:38 pm

      I take the lane as soon as I exit Flint and hold it until the bike lane merges left at the botton of the hill. I’ve always been able to avoid conflict with right turning traffic this way and will continue to do so to avoid conflict with anyone confused by road closure and a merge at the bottom of the hill.

      Recommended Thumb up 3

      • jered August 22, 2012 at 2:49 pm

        Glad this happened!

        Coming down Broadway I go one step further and take the lane at Vancouver or sooner depending on my signal timing. This keeps me out of any right hook trouble and gives ample room to move if someone starts out at Flint or Wheeler. \

        Recommended Thumb up 2

      • Jesse Merrithew August 22, 2012 at 3:53 pm

        I’ve always done the same and have never felt unsafe or had any close-calls in this area–despite riding it every single day. You can’t get right hooked if you are directly in front of, or behind a vehicle. Seems like the real problem is the bike lane. The only reason to be in far right lane is to turn right at some point. You shouldn’t have a lane (the bike lane) to the right of it where the vast majority of people are going straight through.

        Two solutions that don’t impact local businesses: 1) move the bike lane the left of the far right lane (just like it is right before the bridge) after Vancouver; 2) eliminate the bike lane after Vancouver and paint sharrows in the lane to encourage everyone to be in the center of the lane.

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      • Andyc August 22, 2012 at 9:07 pm

        This is what I’ve always done as well, being ignorant until a while ago that I “had” to be in the bike lane unless it was unsafe, which instinct has always told me it was.
        There are still other right hook possibilities down Broadway, so I take the lane as soon as possible at Flint or there about.
        I’m glad to see some improvement, and hopefully in another 5 years(or more) Broadway won’t be such an abomination.
        Thanks PBOT, Mayor Adams and Mr. Maus.

        Recommended Thumb up 1

        • Alan 1.0 August 22, 2012 at 9:41 pm

          Andyc
          [Take the lane] is what I’ve always done as well, being ignorant until a while ago that I “had” to be in the bike lane unless it was unsafe, which instinct has always told me it was.

          The irony between PBOT’s right-turn closure at Wheeler and the Potter decision on ORS 814.420 is absurd. How can the law reasonably say that bike lane on Broadway was safe as implemented by PBOT when PBOT itself acts otherwise?!

          Recommended Thumb up 0

    • Spiffy August 22, 2012 at 3:26 pm

      if it’s to the left of the bike lane then you create a different dangerous hazard for cars and bikes…

      Recommended Thumb up 1

  • BURR August 22, 2012 at 2:45 pm

    It looks like they are still letting people turn right from Wheeler onto Broadway. I think that’s a mistake; they should have closed it completely.

    Recommended Thumb up 2

  • Babygorilla August 22, 2012 at 2:55 pm

    Hopefully, those windshield photos were taken while in the passenger seat.

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  • Rob August 22, 2012 at 3:11 pm

    I’m a little confused by a couple of your quotes from locals:

    “She also said that employees and visitors to their business had dreaded the stressful intersection for many years, and that, while they must now go around the block to access their parking lot, the delay is “worth it.” “This is long overdue,” she said.

    That woman’s perspective was similar to other business owners in the lower Albina district that I’ve talked to. No one felt comfortable making these right turns because the stakes were so high.”

    I assume the alternate route was always available – why didn’t locals alter their commute to avoid the intersection if it made them stressed or uncomfortable?

    Recommended Thumb up 3

    • Spiffy August 22, 2012 at 3:41 pm

      habits are hard to change… when I got my recent job I commuted the first month via Hwy 26… it took a few near-death experiences for me to change to Hwy 10 and Hwy 8…

      Recommended Thumb up 2

  • Anita Dilles August 22, 2012 at 3:59 pm

    I lived at the Paramount Apartments awhile back (the brick building that is *right there* between Wheeler and Flint) and saw SO MANY near misses. I’m so, so, so very glad that the decision has been made to prevent right turns (and right hooks) onto Wheeler! Thanks PBOT!

    Recommended Thumb up 4

  • Joe August 22, 2012 at 4:11 pm

    AWESOME!

    Recommended Thumb up 1

  • Adam August 22, 2012 at 4:16 pm

    Great job!

    Are these temporary barriers going to be replaced with a concrete diverter (like the temporary ones on Interstate were replaced at the location where a cyclist was killed in a right-hook collision)??

    I can see a lot of drivers mowing down those flimsy plastic sticks. I mean, look at the Broadway / Lovejoy St onramp where they were placed recently to separate the bikelane. They were already all knocked down.

    How about some concrete barriers?

    Recommended Thumb up 1

  • takeaspin22 August 22, 2012 at 4:18 pm

    My workplace is on the corner of a busy arterial and a neighborhood street. Right turns from the arterial are not permitted and there is a curb across half the street. Unfortunately I have seen a few drivers make illegal right turns there, into the opposite lane. I think we can expect that kind of behavior occasionally at Wheeler, so cyclists should still pay attention!

    This is definitely an improvement, though.

    Recommended Thumb up 1

  • Fred Lifton August 22, 2012 at 4:31 pm

    Re: media coverage, I think Jonathan is being kind. Admittedly, I only watched Fox-KPTV (they have the best weather, really!) and their coverage was beyond abysmal. They made it sound entirely like the accidents were wholly caused by cyclists blowing the stop sign and that as a result, Sam et al were closing the road and making car drivers pay for the actions of scoff-law cyclists. The story had, quite literally, almost no factual content and certainly no investigation (much less the much ballyhooed “balance”). Predictably, the comments on their site are full of open, blatant threats to hit and kill cyclists. (“More ghost bikes please!”, “cyclists are worth 100 points” etc.) It’s sickening. Substitute the N. word for cyclists and these people would be getting investigated for hate crimes.

    I really do feel like the actions of these local media actively threaten and endanger me on the road. They are incitements to violence and I don’t know what the hell to do about it. I don’t have the time to start a crusade and I feel like writing to them or making comments on their site only proves to them that their approach is working and people are reacting to their (mostly fictional) stories.

    Recommended Thumb up 10

    • John Lascurettes August 22, 2012 at 5:14 pm

      Exactly. Jonathan, this is what I was getting at in my comments above.

      Recommended Thumb up 1

    • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) August 22, 2012 at 5:26 pm

      I probably am being too kind Fred. Maybe I’m getting older and have done so much criticism and airing of public concerns at the local media that I’m both tired of it and realizing that perhaps I’ve been approaching the issue the wrong way.

      My previous comment might not have made it clear, but I am deeply concerned about the negative impact to people on bikes that happens every time one of these irresponsible “us vs. them” stories airs.

      The producer of the Fox TV piece actually intro’d it via Twitter by writing, “It’s Bicyclists vs. drivers!… story at 10!” It was sad (he apologized).

      I’m not really sure how to stop that type of story from happening… But I do know that having good relationships with the people who make those stories and who decide how to frame them is a good start. And I’m happy to say that I know many of them and I think they will respect my opinion when I point out how dangerous and wrong it is. I have convinced many people about this in the past, but the TV media world is full of turnover and new people w/o these sensitivities are always coming in.

      We’ll see. I’ll keep working at it.

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      • John Lascurettes August 22, 2012 at 5:49 pm

        Thank you so much for fighting the good fight in that regard.

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      • Fred Lifton August 23, 2012 at 9:47 am

        I totally understand how one might get fatigued. The lies and misrepresentations are seemingly endless. And I also totally agree that having civil relationships with the journos (using the term loosely) helps them to see we are humans.

        Thanks so very much for all of your hard work. I know it can’t be easy. You are much appreciated.

        Recommended Thumb up 1

    • A.K. August 23, 2012 at 10:02 am

      Yes, I saw the KPTV spot and thought the same thing… it was so unbalanced and unfair.

      Closing this turn is such a non-issue. Plenty of other ways to get into that small neighborhood business area mere blocks away.

      I also had someone in a Subaru rev their engine at me while waiting at a stop light in the lane to make a turn yesterday near Ladds Addition, and then they yelled at me to get out of the middle of the road when I turned around to look at them. I don’t have trouble with drivers often (can count on one hand the “scary” encounters I’ve had in three years), and I can’t help but feel that these awful news reports have contributed to drivers pushing their “right” to the road more forcefully.

      Recommended Thumb up 1

  • Hart Noecker August 22, 2012 at 5:32 pm

    It’s not cars vs. bikes. It’s cars vs. people.

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    • Psyfalcon August 22, 2012 at 7:34 pm

      People vs People actually.

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      • A.K. August 23, 2012 at 10:16 am

        People empowered by their cars, where they are suddenly “brave enough” to threaten other people’s lives like vigilantes when they think they’re being wronged.

        As an aside, I saw soooooo many drivers using their phones yesterday, it made me sick. The problem seems to be getting worse, and it especially worries me during the evening hours when the sun is lower and its harder to see through windshields. Hang up and drive, jerks – no moral ground which to call cyclists lawbreakers in the slightest.

        Phew, OK… rant over. ;)

        Recommended Thumb up 2

  • spencer August 22, 2012 at 7:19 pm

    So very excited to make my morning commute tomorrow. I can’t wait to experience the changes in person!

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  • Doug August 23, 2012 at 12:47 am

    While your goal at BikePortland is to tell the story, and support yourself while doing so, the goal of most local media is simply to make money. Any story or entertainment they do is there to get you to watch the ads. I don’t see any way to change the time-honored tradition of media inciting conflict because it attracts viewers. Didn’t William Randolph Hearst get the US into a war in his day (Spanish-American war?)? As TV declines as a source of news, will folks get any better reporting on the internet? Yes if they read Bikeportland, but just as likely they’ll read the Oregonian website or a Fox website!

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Paul August 23, 2012 at 6:45 am

    So what folks are saying is that a ‘legitimate right hook’ cannot be caused by the bike running a stop sign because physics has a way of preventing it?

    Recommended Thumb up 3

  • Stacy Watts August 23, 2012 at 9:40 am

    I’m so excited this is closed! Even after years, I still have the sick feeling of sitting on that curb after I was right hooked, elbow to pavement, helmet totaled. Luckily nothing broken, but I hurt all over for a while. Every time I heard of another right hook there I wished there was something to do, glad the community put this together.

    There is no us and them. only us. I did talk to the poor woman who hit me. She was more upset than I was. I was happy to be alive! everything else is fixable if we can keep talking to each other. (Presupposing lack of severe trauma – that isn’t fixable.)

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  • judy jones August 23, 2012 at 2:59 pm

    maybe bike paths that go OVER busy intersections? love this blog on Hovenring, http://pricetags.wordpress.com/2012/08/23/the-hovenring-a-new-level-of-bike-infrastructure/

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  • Scott August 23, 2012 at 9:39 pm

    These right hooks would be far less likely if the cyclists refrained from driving straight through an intersection from the *right* side of a right-turn lane.

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  • Joe Suburban August 23, 2012 at 11:04 pm

    I see a way around this: hop on the sidewalk using the ramp, turn right, then hop off the sidewalk later!

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Spiffy August 29, 2012 at 1:36 pm

    just found this bit of perspective from the past…

    http://vintageportland.wordpress.com/2012/07/16/n-broadway-wheeler-1940/

    the intersection used to be a lot more open…

    current view: http://goo.gl/maps/rsjX7

    Recommended Thumb up 0

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