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9% of Portland road fatalities in 2013 happened at a single intersection

Posted by on December 28th, 2013 at 12:55 pm

The southbound approach to Southwest Barbur and Miles.
(Image: Google Street View.)

I promise we’re going to be able to focus on cheerier subjects soon, but some facts are too shocking to pass over.

After a late-night crash that police say involved drunk and reckless driving, the corner of Southwest Barbur and Miles has now seen three road deaths in a single year. That’s 9 percent of the 35 traffic fatalities that have happened in the entire city of Portland in 2013.

The intersection is on the main bike route that connects most of Southwest Portland with rest of the city.

Here’s the awful lineup, told in Police Bureau press releases:

On Tuesday May 14, 2013, at approximately 10:30 p.m., Central Precinct officers responded to Southwest Barbur Boulevard and Miles Street on the report of a car down the embankment after it struck a telephone pole.

The driver and victim was Lance Marcus, 45, a Salem businessman. He had been driving his Audi A-6 northbound “well above the speed limit.” He died at the scene.

This afternoon, Monday November 25, 2013, at 2:37 p.m., Central Precinct officers responded to the report of a serious traffic crash involving two vehicles at Southwest Barbur Boulevard and Miles Street.

The driver and victim was Debra Ann Maymi, 55, a Northwest Portland businesswoman. She had been driving a Ford Freestyle mini-van southbound when her van crossed the center median and into northbound traffic, colliding with a city dump truck. She died at the scene.

This morning, Friday December 27, 2013, at 3:06 a.m., Central Precinct officers responded to Southwest Barbur Boulevard and Miles Street on the report that a vehicle crashed into a tree.

The driver was Audy Molina-Colindres, 29. He had been driving southbound when he “lost control, crossed over a median, through the northbound lanes of S.W. Barbur Blvd. and collided with a large tree.” His passenger, Dmitiriy G. Maksimov, 28, died at the scene. Police accused Molina-Colindres of manslaughter, reckless driving and driving under the influence of intoxicants.


When we last mentioned this intersection, in October, Jonathan noted in an editorial that Nisha Rana, 25, had died in 2011 while driving southbound a few blocks to the north. Within one mile to the north on Barbur are the sites of a 2013 near-fatality hit-and-run, a 2010 fatality involving a speeding southbound car and a 2009 double fatality involving a speeding southbound motorcycle.

Bicycles must currently merge with auto traffic
as they cross two bridges near this corner.
(Image by Friends of Barbur)

Awful as it is, none of this might be worth noting on BikePortland if this very one-mile stretch of Barbur didn’t include two points at which people on bicycles and in cars are forced to merge into the same 45-mph travel lane as it crosses two narrow bridges.

A Metro traffic engineer who examined this area says that replacing a northbound travel lane on this stretch with two buffered bike lanes would slow northbound traffic without reducing road capacity by forcing northbound cars to travel at the speed of the slowest-moving vehicle. The Oregon Department of Transportation, however, has rejected that plan on the grounds that it would slow average northbound rush-hour travel times by several minutes over the next 20 years.

Could removing an auto lane make this corner safer for people in cars? Jim Gardner, who has lived near Barbur for 40 years (and who supports a fix for what he calls the “inherently dangerous” bridges that lack bike lanes) doubts it. Before 2011, he noted, there was no clear history of fatal crashes at Miles.

Riding Portland's urban highways-30
An organized bicycle ride on Barbur in June.
(Photo by J.Maus/BikePortland)

“Though in the middle of the city, it feels like a rural freeway: wooded on both sides, two wide lanes, gentle curves, no intersections, no visible habitation, no driveways,” Gardner said of the stretch, in an email Friday. “It invites speed and demands little attention. Then comes a reduced speed limit, a right hand curve, and the intersection, all within a fairly short distance. But does all that mean it is inherently dangerous? I think not. If it were so, there would be a much longer history of accidents there, even fatal ones.”

Gardner said he thinks speed limit enforcement would be one way to make the road safer.

“It’s a big world with many sharp edges,” Gardner added. “We have a duty not to increase those risks unnecessarily, but we also can’t idiot-proof everywhere and everything.”

Moreover, all of these fatalities but one involved speeding southbound vehicles, who would still have two lanes under the main restriping plan. And it’s not clear whether simply adding paint-buffered bike lanes would tend to change the behavior of people driving recklessly in either direction.

It is certain, however, that the deadliest intersection in the city of Portland is also the southbound end of a proposed 1.5 mile restriping that engineers say would slow traffic and separate bikes from cars without reducing road capacity.

In an October email, before Barbur’s latest two fatalities, Bicycle Transportation Alliance Advocate Carl Larson weighed in on a conversation with Gardner and others, saying that although “better street design can’t keep people from making bad decisions,” it can “reduce the impact of those decisions.”

“We have too many streets that, with their wide lanes, poorly timed lights, and radiused curves function all-too-beautifully for driving on at double the speed limit, drunk,” Larson argued. “That’s a design problem — one that can be fixed.”

Correction: An earlier version of this post referred to an incorrect street name at one point, and referred to the top image as being from the wrong direction.

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Comments
  • Hart Noecker December 28, 2013 at 1:17 pm

    “The Oregon Department of Transportation, however, has rejected that plan…”

    It’s time to reject the Oregon Department of Transportation.

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  • Chris December 28, 2013 at 1:28 pm

    I’ve ridden thousands of miles around the Portland area, and the only time I’ve been hit on my bike was on Barbur and Hamilton, where a car right-hooked me while turning in to the Swan Mart. Fortunately the car suffered more damage than my bike or I did, but it could have been a disaster and it is not comforting to hear this statistic.

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  • wsbob December 28, 2013 at 2:13 pm

    To northbound Barbur traffic, Miles is a side street on the right, just at the beginning of the road’s big curve, a short distance from the big Burlingame/Terwilliger intersection. After being basically level for some distance, Barbur begins to descend past Burlingame.

    Southbound Barbur traffic, gradually ascends as it travels away from Portland, and is in a broad, sweeping right hand curve as it approaches the point on the road where Miles intersects Barbur; that I know of, and it’s not indicated otherwise on the google map, Miles doesn’t intersect with Barbur on the west side of Barbur.

    In this most recent collision on Barbur, the person driving, Audy Molina-Colindres, is reported to have been traveling southbound, that is…away from town, slightly uphill, through the big curve as it approaches the point where Miles intersects Barbur on the other side of the street. Doesn’t appear that the Miles St intersection had anything to do with the Molina-Colindres collision.

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    • Dave O'Dell December 29, 2013 at 6:43 pm

      There are multiple streets intersecting with Barber at Miles. Google maps doesn’t reflect what is going on. It’s a funky 5-way intersection.

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  • Peter W December 28, 2013 at 2:33 pm

    In that top photo it looks like there is just a concrete median. Would trees on the median or jersey barriers help? (Perhaps by deflecting speeding cars or making the road look narrower and encouraging slower driving?)

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    • wsbob December 29, 2013 at 11:17 am

      Jersey barriers, the 36″ or so high modular concrete barriers used to separate opposing directions of traffic on some highways, were the solution decades ago, for Hwy 26 between Downtown and Sylvan. Also for the Banfield Freeway, whose right of way and lane widths were narrower than that of 26. Before the barrier and other modest widening improvements, the Banfield used to be quite the white knuckle driving experience.

      Imagine today, driving either of those roads without the concrete barrier to prevent the occasional person crossing over into the opposing direction of travel into a head on collision. Of course, such barriers so used, can’t particularly reduce high speed abuse of roads or other responsible people attempting to use them safely and responsibly.

      Roads at times when they have little traffic, and whose curves are of a gentle radius, like those of Barbur, can have a very seductive appeal to people that like to drive fast. Faster they go, the better, and more exciting the experience is, until they hit something, or someone.

      As mentioned before in comments to various bikeportland stories, speed enforcement camera vehicles seem to be effective in managing speeds on some roads. Check with the PD for data they’ve collected about the vehicles’ effectiveness. As I’ve mentioned before, Canyon Rd between West Slope and its intersection with Hwy26, though less distance than Barbur, is similar in character. It’s very much a ‘go-fast’ road. An enforcement camera vehicle is usually there, at some point along the road. I think they’ve helped, but maybe that’s just my own impression from driving the road several times a week over a number of years.

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      • kww December 30, 2013 at 1:22 pm

        I think you are right Bob, I would go a bit farther, and have automatic speed traps (since all the recent deaths seem to indicate excessive speed), but I would love to see Jersey barriers at least on the curving portions of the road & to protect bike lanes.

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  • Granpa December 28, 2013 at 3:31 pm

    “the corner of Southwest Terwilliger and Miles has now seen three road deaths in a single year. ”

    Correction (I suspect), Barbur Blvd & Miles. Anyway, it needs to become less of a dangerous route.

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  • 9watts December 28, 2013 at 6:48 pm

    Were any of the drivers wearing helmets?

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    • Alan Love December 29, 2013 at 2:35 pm

      If it’s so dangerous, I think drivers should just dismount from their vehicles and walk them through those corners. (see how silly you sound, O-live commenters?)

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      • Dan Morrison January 6, 2014 at 1:24 pm

        O-live comments are the playground of callous, racist Helen Lovejoys from Clackistan.

        The Oregonian is the most embarrassing newspaper from a city behind The New York Post. I have middling writing abilities and could think and write circles around their editors. Anyone who reads The O is making themselves dumber. Anyone who comments on stuff on O-live is brain dead.

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  • Chris I December 28, 2013 at 9:00 pm

    Why can’t we have speed cameras? It seems like that would solve the problem.

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    • Arrogant Cyclist December 28, 2013 at 9:35 pm

      Speed guns/cameras not staffed by a police officer are illegal in OR.

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      • q`Tzal December 29, 2013 at 12:18 am

        Illegal to have video cameras in public at all or just currently illegal for any police department to issue citations based on something a live officer wasn’t there to witness?

        Been thinking the way around this would be to set up video speed cameras that do nothing but rat you out to your auto insurance company based on facial recognition vs license plate. Not as good as a citation but the least we can do is make chronic offenders hemorrhage money.

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      • Chris I December 29, 2013 at 7:49 am

        It would be interesting to hear an argument as to why we make it illegal to enforce existing laws with technology.

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        • Matt December 29, 2013 at 8:11 am

          It’s about your constitutional right to face your accuser. States like Oregon and Minnesota have determined that red light cameras and speed cameras are”accusers”.

          At least that is my understanding.

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          • q`Tzal December 30, 2013 at 12:29 am

            Simple solution: all red light and speed camera footage must be reviewed and certified as actually being in violation AND that the automated system has assigned the infraction to the correct person.
            Then the accused receives the citation in the mail and a summons to traffic court; there the accused faces the accuser. The role of the technology was simply to assist in the visual search process and compensate for normal human tendency to get distracted or bored.

            If the automated system’s judgment results in a court conviction the 3rd party provider gets their normal per citation fee.
            If the automated system’s judgment results in a court loss the 3rd party provider gets 25%-50% their normal per citation fee.
            If the automated system’s judgment is rejected by the police officer the 3rd party provider gets penalized 25% their normal per citation fee.

            I want to farm this job out to cops on desk duty, handicapped or retired police looking for work they can do from home and even the meddlesome neighborhood busybody once they’ve gotten the proper training.

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          • Dave Thomson December 30, 2013 at 10:27 am

            That statement is not correct as in Oregon red light cameras are used to issue citations with no officer present. I agree the law should be changed to allow unattended speed cameras. There is a weird cultural thing about speeding in the US that being more of a sport than a crime, and as such the rules should not be biased too much in favor of LE.

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            • wsbob December 30, 2013 at 11:19 am

              “That statement is not correct as in Oregon red light cameras are used to issue citations with no officer present. …” Dave Thomson

              Good point. Probably need to get a more definite answer about the situation though. Out in the Beav, at night, the Beaverton-Hillsdale Hwy and Griffith Dr intersection red light camera flashes are sometimes like a little fireworks show. Up on Canyon Rd east of West Slope, the speed radar vehicles are usually there, with a speed reader board mounted to them and displaying speeds traveled, but no person in the driver’s seat. They’re mini-vans, so maybe an officer is in the back.

              At any rate, the claim that speed enforcement details using speed camera enforcement vehicles can’t legally be conducted without an officer present, doesn’t add up. Be the first here at bikeportland, to offer some proof, one way or the other.

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              • paikikala December 31, 2013 at 8:19 am

                It’s the way the law is written. I recall officers, of all people, demanding a personed vehicle for speed enforcement.

                https://www.oregonlegislature.gov/bills_laws/lawsstatutes/2011ors810.html
                810.434 is red light photo enforcement
                810.438 is speed photo enforcement, 810.439 ‘citations based on…’ 1.a.A The photo radar equipment is operated by a uniformed police officer

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                • wsbob January 3, 2014 at 12:21 am

                  paikikala…thanks for the web search. Someone that could expand on the 810.439 ’1.a.A The photo radar equipment is operated by a uniformed police officer’ condition of the law, could be helpful.

                  Years ago already, a Beaverton police officer said to me that Beaverton was looking into whether the city could have the uniformed officer operating the photo radar equipment, not be a sworn officer. Reason being, a lot less money to run the program, making the feasibility of operating it, much better.

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  • Barbara Stedman December 29, 2013 at 2:42 pm

    I avoid biking on Barbur, but drive on it regularly. I’m trying hard to drive at the speed limit (not easy on a wide road like that), but it seems like everybody else is speeding past me. The speed limit in the “woods part” of Barbur between Miles and shortly before Hamilton is 45, but most people drive 55. Going southbound the speed limit goes down just before Miles to 35, but people keep driving 55.
    I would also like to see speed camera enforcement, a standard treatment in Europe. The problem is that everybody, including grandma, thinks they can go 10 miles above the speed limit because they won’t get tickets, even if it’s not safe and no matter what the road/weather condition is. Not sure if a public awareness campaign would help. Visually narrowing streets with better road design would surely help.

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    • spare_wheel December 29, 2013 at 3:23 pm

      We need a city wide maximum speed limit for all non-limited access roads. 30 sounds about right.

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      • Ted Buehler December 30, 2013 at 12:17 am

        spare_wheel wrote:
        “We need a city wide maximum speed limit for all non-limited access roads. 30 sounds about right.”

        That’s what British Columbia has — the speed limit in any municipality is 50 kmh (30 mph) unless otherwise posted.

        “Q. What is the speed limit in the city of Vancouver?”
        “A. The speed limit in any municipality in B.C. is 50 km/h unless otherwise posted.”
        http://vancouver.ca/police/organization/operations/traffic/faqs-traffic.html

        Folks routinely drive 80 kmh on main arterials, though, like Oak and Granville. 6 lanes, 10′ lanes. No median or shoulder. So just because the limit is 50 kmh doesn’t mean its actually enforced.

        In Vancouver, “expressways” like Barbur would be signed at 60 kmh.

        But, the law is on the books, and it seems to me that its going to be easier to facilitate social change if its just enforcing laws on the books than actually creating new laws.

        FWIW,
        Ted Buehler

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      • paikikala December 30, 2013 at 12:43 pm

        The maximum speed limit in Portland, unless otherwise posted, is already 25 mph.

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        • Ted Buehler December 30, 2013 at 3:13 pm

          Though most Portland collectors and arterials are posted above 25 mph. In Vancouver, BC, there are only about 5 streets in the entire city posted above 25 mph, which is the sort of blanket limit spare_wheel seemed to be proposing.

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          • paikikala December 31, 2013 at 8:21 am

            Except, of course, Portland does not decide Portland speed limits. The State of Oregon decides the speed limits on all roads in the State of Oregon.

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            • spare_wheel January 2, 2014 at 12:48 pm

              ODOT consults with the city but the final decision is made by an independent board. i am 100% convinced that if this city took an aggressive approach to speed limits we would see real progress. and this is not a bike thing at all. it’s a safety and livability issue.

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              • paikikala January 3, 2014 at 9:59 am

                I agree. The city’s speed limits don’t appear to have any uniform rational for surface streets. A good PBOT project would be a rational system to post speed limits based on land use, traffic levels, road condition and street classification. For non-statutory speed limits, start at a reasonable highest speed, I’d go for 35 mph, and reduce from there for less than ideal, multi-use, transportation corridors. The ideal might exist on 122nd south of Halsey, but only for a few blocks.
                One small step toward vision zero.

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        • spare_wheel December 30, 2013 at 3:15 pm

          terrific…but we still have far too many city-run arterials signed at 35 or higher.

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    • wsbob December 29, 2013 at 5:54 pm

      “…The problem is that everybody, including grandma, thinks they can go 10 miles above the speed limit because they won’t get tickets, …” Barbara Stedman

      How many mph over the speed limit do you think the police ought to use as latitude before issuing a citation? 10mph over seems too high to me. Up to 5mph over should give enough range to allow people to keep their vehicle traveling at the speed limit most of the time.

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      • 9watts December 29, 2013 at 6:05 pm

        “How many mph over the speed limit do you think the police ought to use as latitude before issuing a citation?”
        First we have to come to terms with the fact that nearly everyone treats the speed limit as a minimum. I don’t know if there are countries where a speed limit is understood to be just that, but so as not to drift into farcical territory I think we need to inquire how this state of affairs came to be.

        “to allow people to keep their vehicle traveling at the speed limit most of the time.”
        Why should people do this? I realize they (mostly) do, but why is everyone in such a hurry? Why do people get agitated when I travel < the speed limit?

        Many (most?) cars have cruise control. It is not that hard to use it.

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        • Barbara Stedman December 29, 2013 at 6:08 pm

          I think a percentage would be better. I think in Germany it’s 10%. After all the difference between 25 and 35 on a neighborhood street is huge, however, going 65 on a 55 highway is less of a problem.

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          • wsbob December 29, 2013 at 7:02 pm

            The idea of a 10 percent latitude over speed limit before issuing citation is interesting, but think of it…that would be tough for people driving the lower posted speed limits such as 25mph.

            Good point that 10mph over 25mph posted for a neighborhood street, is “…huge…”, or what I’d describe as rather dramatically adverse in terms of impact on safety and neighborhood livability. My feeling as well.

            On some highways or freeways such as 1-5 or 26, I suppose many of us, whether we like it or not, have grown accustomed to and are able to contend with 10mph over posted, and faster. With a road, or highway such as Barbur, whose utility is less of a freeway than the aforementioned, that mindset becomes an adverse rationalization that works against the potential versatility of this road.

            For a number of reasons, 10mph and more, over Barbur’s posted speeds of 45mph and 35mph, is kind of a problem…has been a problem for a long time.

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            • paikikala December 31, 2013 at 8:22 am

              10% works for me. If you can’t slow to 27 or 28 in a 25 mph zone, you need help.

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        • wsbob December 29, 2013 at 6:43 pm

          “…First we have to come to terms with the fact that nearly everyone treats the speed limit as a minimum. …” 9watts

          Unless you tell us, there’s no knowing where you got such an idea.

          Lots of motor vehicles don’t have cruise control. I’ve never owned one that has it.

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          • 9watts December 29, 2013 at 6:48 pm

            “Unless you tell us, there’s no knowing where you got such an idea.”

            Don’t be ridiculous. Drive 60/65 on I-5 and tell me that a single car or truck is *not* passing you. Or 45 on Barbur…

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            • wsbob December 30, 2013 at 10:56 am

              “…First we have to come to terms with the fact that nearly everyone treats the speed limit as a minimum. …” 9watts

              Ridiculous is what you’re being. Everyone does not regard the speed limit as the minimum. Rather than just assume, ask people what they think ‘speed limit’ means. Driving speeds characteristic of I-5 aren’t an indication of how people interpret and apply in practice what ‘speed limit’ implies.

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              • El Biciclero December 30, 2013 at 11:51 am

                People may not consciously think of speed limits as a minimum, but my observations agree with 9-watts’; very few people drive under the speed limit. If people believe they must (or just want to and usually do) drive at least the speed limit, that is the mathematical definition of “minimum”.

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                • wsbob December 30, 2013 at 4:37 pm

                  My observations of speeds being driven in the part of town I live in, the westside and Beaverton, disagree with those of 9watts, from wherever he’s basing them on besides the example of the freeway, he offers.

                  Vehicles on streets and thoroughfares out here seem to generally travel either at or within 5mph of the speed limit, some under than the speed limit, some over the speed limit. Except of course, during peak traffic hours, when general mph speeds can be way under the speed limit.

                  Some people do travel more than 5 mph over the speed limit, but they seem to be the minority by far. Not sure the Westside has a road that’s comparable in length and character to Barbur, that would serve as comparison purposes. TV Highway is flat and straight. Scholls Ferry Rd from Raleigh Hills south, is interrupted by numerous signaled intersections.

                  At any rate, attempting to trump up some idea that Barbur’s problems are due to people regarding speed limits as a minimum speed to keep motor vehicles moving at, is nutty.

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                • davemess January 1, 2014 at 8:20 am

                  So Bob, you’re saying you see an equal number of people 5 mph under the speed limit as over? I’m sorry, but I think you’re driving with speed blinders on. If a majority of drivers are at or above the speed limit, than it is being viewed as a speed minimum.

                  I don’t even understand why we’re having this conversation. You honestly think that a substantial portion of drivers drive under the speed limit, and that the majority are not over the limit?

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                • wsbob January 1, 2014 at 11:56 am

                  http://bikeportland.org/2013/12/28/9-of-portland-road-fatalities-in-2013-happened-at-a-single-intersection-99128#comment-4484918 davemess

                  The posted speed limit is the target speed at which people are advised to limit their vehicle speed to. In normal driving, the actual speed traveled will likely waver somewhat, above and below the target speed.

                  Your observations may be different, but as I’ve said earlier, my observations for my area, is that most vehicles’ speeds seem to be held in the general area of the speed limit for a given road or street.

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                • El Biciclero January 2, 2014 at 11:44 am

                  Heh. OK, bob, you got me–if you’re talking about NB Murray Blvd. I don’t count the stretch NB between Jenkins and 26, where people seem to inexplicably travel at well under the posted 45. That’s some kind of weird anomaly. Try TV Highway or Canyon road. Scholls Ferry Rd. or Allen Blvd. Maybe 185th, or Hall, or Denney, or 170th south of Farmington, or Farmington itself once you get beyond Murray…

                  The only thing that really keeps people’s speed in check is physical (heavy traffic, cross traffic) or legal (stop sign or traffic signal) obstruction. Minus any such obstruction, people tend to travel at least the speed limit, and the well-understood (wink-wink) “rule” is that five or ten over the limit is perfectly acceptable–and in fact, expected–by most drivers, if not police.

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                • wsbob January 2, 2014 at 5:35 pm

                  El Biciclero
                  Heh. OK, bob, you got me–if you’re talking about NB Murray Blvd. I don’t count the stretch NB between Jenkins and 26, where people seem to inexplicably travel at well under the posted 45. That’s some kind of weird anomaly. Try TV Highway or Canyon road. Scholls Ferry Rd. or Allen Blvd. Maybe 185th, or Hall, or Denney, or 170th south of Farmington, or Farmington itself once you get beyond Murray…
                  The only thing that really keeps people’s speed in check is physical (heavy traffic, cross traffic) or legal (stop sign or traffic signal) obstruction. Minus any such obstruction, people tend to travel at least the speed limit, and the well-understood (wink-wink) “rule” is that five or ten over the limit is perfectly acceptable–and in fact, expected–by most drivers, if not police.
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                  There’s nothing inexplicable about speeds traveled on Murray between Jenkins and 26, though reasons for it are complex and many. A few reasons: Murray is a major route for people commuting from home to work. Nike with it’s many employees, is just a half mile from Murray. Murray has many signaled intersections. For most people, these things tend to negate any real advantage to driving much over the speed limit, even when the opportunity is there. Barbur in comparison, has long stretches of road with few intersections, and no big employment centers right next to it that use the road for commuting.

                  I’ve driven all the other roads you mention, but in recent years, not regularly. There are people that drive over the speed limit on those roads, but suggestions that people driving expect each other to drive over the speed limit, carry no meaningful weight. Many people driving, including myself when I’m driving, have the vehicle moving generally at speed limit, up to 5mph over. When I’m traveling the speed limit, it’s no big deal for me if someone comes up behind my vehicle. If they want to go faster, they can go around. Some do, most don’t.

                  If they can’t go around, they can wait. When people driving the speed limit don’t allow themselves to be coerced into driving faster just because someone behind sucks their bumper, most people doing the sucking get the idea fairly quick, that it’s not working, and fall back to a reasonable following distance.

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                • 9watts January 2, 2014 at 6:08 pm

                  wsbob:
                  “Many people driving, including myself when I’m driving, have the vehicle moving generally at speed limit, up to 5mph over.”

                  I rest my case.

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                • davemess January 2, 2014 at 6:20 pm

                  I’ll right Bob, I’ll dissect it out even further, since apparently you need that.
                  You said: “At any rate, I don’t recall it being claimed related to Barbur Blvd or the other roads this article mentions as well, that average vehicle speeds on those roads tend to be more than 5mph over the speed limit, ”

                  And I replied with one link (of many) where people were in fact claiming that the average speed on Barbur is in fact more than 5 mph over the speed limit). So yes, people have been claiming this for a while (on this specific site on multiple instances). How you have missed this, I do not know.

                  http://bikeportland.org/2013/01/17/as-pressure-mounts-odot-punts-on-barbur-blvd-road-diet-82002

                  excerpt: “55mph average in a 35-45 mph zone.”

                  You said: “and that this excessive speed is responsible for collisions
                  occurring on these streets.”

                  I responded with this:
                  “You might also want to read: http://www.portlandoregon.gov/transportation/article/386469

                  excerpt: “Residents and neighborhood groups have routinely expressed concern over the posted speeds and travel speeds on Barbur. About 10 percent of the crashes on Barbur were coded with speeding as a contributing factor, though this number is assumed to be low given that Oregon relies mostly on crash data that has been self-reported.””

                  So yes, people have been claiming that excessive speeds on Barbur are responsible for collisions (and the police data from crashes (which is admittedly under reported), shows that excessive speed was a factor in at least 10% of crashes on Barbur.

                  So either you really haven’t been reading/hearing what other people have been writing or you are just trying to be difficult.

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                • wsbob January 3, 2014 at 12:01 am

                  http://bikeportland.org/2013/12/28/9-of-portland-road-fatalities-in-2013-happened-at-a-single-intersection-99128#comment-4485129 davemess

                  Barbur’s problems with people driving their vehicles at excessive speeds, most likely arises from reasons other than a reason some bikeportland readers seem to be attempting to contrive, that seems to imagine that a majority of people driving the road, think of the speed limit as ‘a minimum speed they must drive their vehicles at’.

                  Here again, is the link to the PBOT document you cited yesterday:

                  http://www.portlandoregon.gov/transportation/article/386469

                  There’s a number of ideas offered in the document that could be effective in slowing down vehicle speeds on the road. A road diet isn’t the only way, and it probably shouldn’t be sought after until some other ideas are implemented first…slower posted speed limits…speed camera enforcement vehicles…more signaled intersections with crosswalks…etc, etc.

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              • davemess December 30, 2013 at 5:10 pm

                Bob, where are you driving that there is a plethora of drivers going under the speed limit? I don’t drive that much, but pretty much everywhere I have EVER driven (including about 30 other states) it has been true that people use the speed limit as their minimum. I know we get a few slowpokes on the highways here in OR, but they are definitely an exception to the rule.

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              • Paul in the 'Couve December 30, 2013 at 6:03 pm

                wsbob, your experience sounds anachronistic relative to my experience. There are very few streets, in my experience, where more than a very small percentage of drivers regularly drive under the speed limit (regularly: without any obstruction or impediment). This is so obvious to most of us that your perception needs a lot more justification than just your purported observation.

                If what you claim, wsbob, was even remotely true, we should encounter people driving 5mph or more under the speed limit in somewhat similar proportions to encountering people driving 5mph over the limit. However, if anyone drive 5mph under the speed limit (on a clear road) you will get howls of protest that they are blocking traffic and they will usually have someone riding their bumper.

                In fact, wsbob, it has often been proposed here by commenters here on BP that bicyclist slowing traffic create a hazard. And why would that be? Because people see the speed limit not as a minimum but as a “right” to drive at least that fast, or very close to it.

                What I will grant it that there are a certain significant percentage of careful drivers who try to drive very close to the speed limit (Guess 30% for a start) Among these drivers probably 2/3 are going a couple of mph above the speed limit and 1/3 going at or 1 or 2 mph below the speed limit. Differences in speedometers and monitoring, but more than 1/2 going over because they know how they will get tail gated if they actually drive below the speed limit. Virtually the only drivers operating 4 to 10 mph below the speed limit are very elderly drivers. For the remaining 70% of drivers, the speed limit is indeed a minimum in practice. They drive at least 5mph over at all times, unless slowed by a vehicle in front of them. Many of them feel entitled to drive 5mph over and are frustrated and occasionally obnoxious if anyone slows them down.

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                • wsbob December 31, 2013 at 5:05 pm

                  “…There are very few streets, in my experience, where more than a very small percentage of drivers regularly drive under the speed limit (regularly: without any obstruction or impediment). …” Paul in the ‘Couve

                  I haven’t described vehicle speeds relative to speed limits as being a situation where people are regularly driving under the speed limit…regularly in the sense of a speed less than the speed limit being the average speed they maintain.

                  What I’m saying, is that what I’m observing on streets and roads out in my area, is that speeds people’s vehicles are traveling, seem to generally be at or within 5mph of the posted speed limit. Much of the time when driving, for a host of reason, people are having need to readjust the speed their vehicle is traveling.

                  There’s plenty of people as well, that are hot-doggin’ with their vehicles, etc, etc, but most people seem just to be driving to keep traffic flowing at a reasonable, safe pace, which posted speed limits…sometimes, but not always…are a good indication of.

                  At any rate, I don’t recall it being claimed related to Barbur Blvd or the other roads this article mentions as well, that average vehicle speeds on those roads tend to be more than 5mph over the speed limit, and that this excessive speed is responsible for collisions occurring on these streets.

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                • davemess January 1, 2014 at 8:30 am

                  “At any rate, I don’t recall it being claimed related to Barbur Blvd or the other roads this article mentions as well, that average vehicle speeds on those roads tend to be more than 5mph over the speed limit, and that this excessive speed is responsible for collisions occurring on these streets.”

                  http://bikeportland.org/2013/01/17/as-pressure-mounts-odot-punts-on-barbur-blvd-road-diet-82002

                  55mph average in a 35-45 mph zone.
                  You might also want to read: http://www.portlandoregon.gov/transportation/article/386469

                  excerpt: “Residents and neighborhood groups have routinely expressed concern over the posted speeds and travel speeds on Barbur. About 10 percent of the crashes on Barbur were coded with speeding as a contributing factor, though this number is assumed to be low given that Oregon relies mostly on crash data that has been self-reported.”

                  It’s simple. If a majority of drivers are routinely over the speed limit, than it is in fact being used as a speed minimum.

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                • 9watts January 1, 2014 at 9:04 am

                  davemess,

                  what a great document. Thanks for linking to it.

                  What is most surprising to me is that the nut at ODOT who famously tweeted that Barbur’s design had nothing to do with the crash frequency obviously hadn’t read this PBOT document. I think this speaks volumes about why the latter and not the former should be managing this road.

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                • wsbob January 1, 2014 at 11:47 am

                  “…It’s simple. If a majority of drivers are routinely over the speed limit, than it is in fact being used as a speed minimum.”davemess

                  The document does not say a majority of people driving Barbur are doing so over the speed limit. Re-read the excerpt from the document that you cited.

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                • davemess January 1, 2014 at 7:28 pm

                  True, I was disappointed to see that there apparently has been no study of average speeds on Barbur. Which is is why I quoted the average speed from the above linked bikeportland article.

                  diversion aside: the two links I provided directly contradict the statements you made (that I quoted).

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                • wsbob January 2, 2014 at 5:02 pm

                  http://bikeportland.org/2013/12/28/9-of-portland-road-fatalities-in-2013-happened-at-a-single-intersection-99128#comment-4484989 davemess

                  “…diversion aside: the two links I provided directly contradict the statements you made (that I quoted).” davemess

                  Contradict? How? You make a claim but you don’t explain. I can guess what you believe the links contradict about something I’ve written, but you should be able and willing to explain you’re thinking for everyone reading here.

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                • davemess January 2, 2014 at 6:21 pm

                  See above, I posted my response in the wrong spot.

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          • are December 30, 2013 at 5:02 pm

            where you get such an idea. “enough range to allow people to keep their vehicle traveling at the speed limit most of the time.”

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        • Ted Buehler December 29, 2013 at 11:49 pm

          wsbob asked:
          “How many mph over the speed limit do you think the police ought to use as latitude before issuing a citation?”

          Ted replies:
          0.00

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        • paikikala December 31, 2013 at 8:26 am

          I will need proof, not conjecture. Name any non interstate road in the City and we can see if there is a speed study. The multi-lane roads usually only have volume counts, so a busy 2-lane road is more likely to have a speed count. I’m pretty sure a majority of vehicles counted will be going the speed limit or less. Multi-lane roads, where you can pass slower vehicles, will have higher average speeds, but your assertion that not just a majority are speeding, but ‘most’ is unfounded. Most people only notice the fast drivers, not the legal ones.

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          • Paul in the 'Couve December 31, 2013 at 2:09 pm

            Certainly. There are a lot of factors. Where exactly is speed being measured, how many traffic control devices in the vicinity, traffic levels etc. etc.

            Stipulating that probably 1/3 or so of people try to drive pretty close to the speed limit, during higher traffic periods those drivers help calm traffic. A large % of the total traffic volume is during the highest traffic periods.

            I think the statements that “Most drivers drive over the speed limit” and “most traffic is traveling at or bellow the speed limit” are actually compatible if understood in a broader context. At during heavy traffic periods and along busy streets that are heavily signalized traffic is often constrained to traveling at or below the speed limit On the other hand, most people consistently, and consciously drive at least the speed limit and generally about 5mph over the speed limit when the road is open.

            So specifically, where roads are built with excess capacity and long stretches between signals (Barbur Blvd !!!) the great majority of drivers treat the speed limit as a minimum, unless traffic volumes are high enough that conscientious drivers / congestion constrain speeds.

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            • 9watts December 31, 2013 at 2:11 pm

              Nice post. You’ve said it well.
              Thanks.

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              • paikikala January 2, 2014 at 11:46 am

                But still no specific evidence, not even a named street to investigate. Let’s try…
                powell near 157th. 2012 speed count, 35 mph, 51% going speed limit or less. A majority not speeding. clearly not ‘most speeding’.
                n williams south of paige, 2008 speed count, 30 mph, 85th percentile is 33 mph – majority not speeding, even with two lanes.
                ne prescott east of 35th, 2011 speed count, 30 mph, 85th percentile is 32 mph – majority not speeding.
                perception is not reality. everyone sees the fastest drivers (danger) and not the slow ones. It’s the way our brains are wired.

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                • davemess January 2, 2014 at 12:08 pm

                  Except you can’t just take median speeds over the course of the day. Those numbers are going to be drastically skewed by the high number of cars going by during “rush” hours, when speeds are slower due to congestion. They’re not fair statistics. And what some us are saying is “given there is minimal traffic, and people are able to completely choose their own speed, most speed limits are viewed as a minimum.”.

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                • paikikala January 2, 2014 at 1:58 pm

                  Daveness,
                  Portland, like most jurisdictions, does not use median speeds. We use 85th percentiles, the speed 85% of drivers are going (15% are going faster). I don’t think the 2-4 hours of slower traffic during rush hour matters much. Give me a street to check.

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                • davemess January 2, 2014 at 2:09 pm

                  Barbur.

                  And 85th percentile will still be affected by rush hours. They will skew the statistics as more cars are going by at a slower speed. I think you need to find stats for non-rush hours, which might be more difficult to find.

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                • Paul in the 'Couve January 2, 2014 at 2:12 pm

                  Okay, we need to get some folks to go check out radar detectors from the city and gather our own data sample. Specifically looking at times and places where at least 50% of drivers have an open lane in front of them and no traffic control within 200 yards.

                  I’m less sure about what you will find in inner SE PDX and downtown, but I am very confident in the results I would find on Evergreen Blvd, Mill Plain, MacArthur, McGilvery, NE Blandford, NE 28th St, (and a ton of other streets) in Vancouver. Although the road diet on MacArthur has been very effective in reducing speeds overall.

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                • paikikala January 2, 2014 at 2:47 pm

                  four lane road. see my 12/31 response. multi-lane roads are very difficult to get accurate speed counts on. The reports on such roads are more often single lane or non-peak radar counts, so only a sample.

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                • paikikala January 2, 2014 at 3:08 pm

                  d-ness,
                  not so hard to look at any one hour of the day. the background information for the data reported on the portland web site breaks down speed counts by 3-mph bins and for each hour of the day.
                  I checked the prescott count. The percentiles are almost exactly the same. The 85th might have dropped 1 mph.
                  Everybody thinks their town has the worst drivers.

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            • wsbob December 31, 2013 at 5:37 pm

              “…On the other hand, most people consistently, and consciously drive at least the speed limit and generally about 5mph over the speed limit when the road is open. …” Paul in the ‘Couve

              Driving 5mph over the speed limit doesn’t particularly pose a serious problem, as long as the speed is not more than 5mph over the speed limit.

              People driving their vehicles 5mph over the speed limit, but not greater than 5mph…are not…regarding this 5mph additional speed as a minimum speed limit, but as a maximum speed limit, with the ideal, legal speed for their vehicle being that which is posted or otherwise set for any given road.

              All of this though, is arbitrary regarding the subject of this bikeportland article by Michael Andersen’s, which, while not offering any particular ideas as to what it may be or why he may think so, suggests there is something about the Barbur/Miles intersection that has contributed to the occurrence of four collisions occurring in the general area of the intersection over the last 3-4 years.

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              • 9watts December 31, 2013 at 10:23 pm

                “minimum speed limit” – wsbob, I’m not following – can you explain?

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              • davemess January 1, 2014 at 8:37 am

                “All of this though, is arbitrary regarding the subject of this bikeportland article by Michael Andersen’s, which, while not offering any particular ideas as to what it may be or why he may think so, suggests there is something about the Barbur/Miles intersection that has contributed to the occurrence of four collisions occurring in the general area of the intersection over the last 3-4 years.”

                Bob, are you joking? I mean seriously? Not offering any ideas? Pretty much any article about Barbur on this site for the last 3 years has mentioned speeding of cars being the major root source of problems on the road. I mean the article ends with this:
                “We have too many streets that, with their wide lanes, poorly timed lights, and radiused curves function all-too-beautifully for driving on at double the speed limit, drunk,” Larson argued. “That’s a design problem — one that can be fixed.”

                And it’s three fatal crashes in the last YEAR, not 3-4 years.

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                • wsbob January 1, 2014 at 10:56 am

                  In this bikeportland story, Andersen is implying something, mainly about the Barbur/Miles intersection, unstated other than that police calls have responded to a number of collisions in the general area of the intersection.

                  As for the idea of motor vehicle speeds traveled on the road being a problem resulting in collisions, that problem seems to be limited mostly to people driving very excessive rates of speed over the speed limit, late hours of the evening, or very early in the morning.

                  Only one collision mentioned in this story, occurred during daytime hours. None of the collisions involved people riding bikes or walking. Reports are that quite a number of people ride Barbur, but no reports about what the numbers are during late hours of the evening, or very early in the morning.

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                • 9watts January 1, 2014 at 11:01 am

                  “As for the idea of motor vehicle speeds traveled on the road being a problem resulting in collisions…”

                  How many words can you use to skirt the issue?

                  wsbob – speed and the chance and severity of collisions are linked, the world over.
                  Did you read the PBOT document davemess linked to? I’m thinking not, because it resolves all your internal struggles.

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                • davemess January 1, 2014 at 7:33 pm

                  So what do you disagree with Bob, let’s get it nice and clear.
                  1. People tend to speed on Barbur
                  2. Barbur has a much higher than average rate of auto collisions
                  3. Barbur is a substandard place to ride a bike.

                  I know you like to nitpick and use semantics to try to argue away many of the ideas and articles on this site, but is your stance really that Barbur is fine the way it is and nothing should be done? If not, you fail to ever present any top of positive solutions.

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                • paikikala January 2, 2014 at 2:50 pm

                  9,
                  severity yes. If by chance, you mean frequency, or probability of occurance, show me the data/study. I’ve looked and can’t find any.

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                • wsbob January 2, 2014 at 6:06 pm

                  “…is your stance really that Barbur is fine the way it is and nothing should be done? If not, you fail to ever present any top of positive solutions.” http://bikeportland.org/2013/12/28/9-of-portland-road-fatalities-in-2013-happened-at-a-single-intersection-99128#comment-4484990davemess

                  Maybe you can put whatever the following garbled statement of yours is supposed to say, into a more coherent form: “…If not, you fail to ever present any top of positive solutions.”

                  Dave, instead of periodically letting yourself sound like a whining, empty headed smart-mouth, if you actually would read and think some about what I’ve written before objecting, you likely would have noticed that I’ve offered a number of suggestions about how Barbur could be helped to be more hospitable to travel by bike.

                  I’m not going to recap all of them here, but one, which I’ve mentioned in past, is to possibly reduce the posted speed limit by 5-10mph. Another, mentioned in this comment section, is by various means, such as speed camera vehicles, to emphasize importance of not exceeding the speed limit.

                  Being sloppy about reporting the news, or in interpreting what other people write, or in drawing conclusions about what’s been said about various situations, can’t help arrive at the root of problems, or come to effective means of resolving them. Barbur has some problems…sure. That doesn’t necessarily mean a ‘road diet’ is the only effective means of resolving those problems. That city document/study you posted a link to yesterday, has some basic infrastructural improvement suggestions, short of a road diet road reconfiguration treatment, that may be more effective, and perhaps easier to do with less money.

                  Instead of kvetching about their disappointment in the state transportation dept not doing what they’d like them to do, maybe bikeportlands staff, and some of their readers, could get much more accomplished if they were to put more effort into making a persuasive case for moving the timeline up for implementation of suggestions in that document.

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                • davemess January 2, 2014 at 6:29 pm

                  Alright Bob, I’m done. You win. Enjoy your west side, with your less-than-speed limit driving, no mountain biking, walking your bike on the road, i don’t recall it being claimed related to Barbur Blvd or the other roads this article mentions as well, that average vehicle speeds on those roads tend to be more than 5mph over the speed limit ways.

                  Yep, you want to call me a “whining, empty headed smart-mouth” I’ll be glad to oblige.

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    • Ted Buehler December 30, 2013 at 12:01 am

      Barbara wrote:
      ” The speed limit in the “woods part” of Barbur between Miles and shortly before Hamilton is 45, but most people drive 55. ”

      You can email PBOT or ODOT and ask them to put up a “Smart Cart” (mobile “Speed Reader Board”) http://www.portlandoregon.gov/transportation/article/189548

      Cars always slow to the speed limit when there’s a speed reader board. Then, they know what the speed limit is, and they’re more likely to comply with it in the future.

      askODOT@odot.state.or.us
      safe@portlandoregon.gov

      If you get a bit of a clamor going, you’ll get the speed reader boards out there sooner and more often. To get a clamor, you can either a) encourage all your friends to email in similar requests, or b) get a radar gun and start collecting data, and send it in.

      Would you like to borrow a radar gun? I have one, as does the BTA. ted101 at gmail

      Ted Buehler

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      • wsbob December 30, 2013 at 11:02 am

        Speed reader boards and speed enforcement camera vehicles…and given the length of the road between Terwilliger and Downtown…more than one…are some of the things people should be asking ODOT for answers about, before setting sights on having the road reconfigured by a road diet.

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  • Slave to the Traffic Light December 29, 2013 at 3:16 pm

    All the streetlights are out around there. I mean it is pitch black. This could have an effect on things. At least if they were turned on people could get a visual indication of their speed.

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  • lyle w. December 29, 2013 at 4:21 pm

    Spent five minutes picking up and throwing branches and a very large stump that some crew had decided to place directly in the northbound bike lane right at this bend today.

    You just gotta ask yourself what planet people are on.

    Drunk driving, speeding, texting and driving, just generally being completely out of it, etc… It’s actually incredible more people aren’t killed and maimed out on the roads every day, to be honest.

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    • Chris I December 29, 2013 at 8:48 pm

      Over 30,000 people every year are killed, and several times that are maimed. We’re just lucky that cars are built to be incredibly safe now. Well, as cyclists, I would say we aren’t lucky. The fact that they have a safe car doesn’t really help us…

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      • Barbara Stedman December 29, 2013 at 9:08 pm

        And that’s much more than other countries have. Germany, for example had 3300 traffic death this year. With 80 million people they have roughly a quarter of the US population but only a tenth of the traffic death. And that’s although they drive like crazy on the Autobahn with no speed limit. But speed limits are much lower and more uniform in cities. I always think that the constantly changing speed limits in US cities means that people just tune them out and drive whatever the wide roads allow. It probably also helps that Germany has better drivers ed and more enforcement including speed cameras.

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        • El Biciclero December 30, 2013 at 3:40 pm

          “It probably also helps that Germany has better drivers ed and more enforcement including speed cameras.”

          When your driver’s license is something you must actually earn and the mandatory (and thorough) education and testing involved are something for which you must spend a significant amount of cash, it is actually worth something.

          When you can open up a cereal box on your 16th birthday and pull one out, not so much.

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    • medium-fat tyres December 30, 2013 at 8:59 am

      When people ask my route to work (Barbur) I just say that I put my head down and follow the trail of broken glass.

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  • Ted Buehler December 29, 2013 at 11:46 pm

    Reposting this from a couple weeks ago —

    Just remember, folks, things often get fixed based purely on the number of complaints that the authorities receive.

    So, whenever someone gets killed, maimed, clobbered, etc. on Barbur, shoot off a couple letters to your favorite officials. Like:
    * State sen and rep
    * Da Guv
    * Those dudes and dudettes at ODOT that keep saying its not a problem because not enough people have been killed yet, and we really need to open up all of those lanes for the declining traffic.
    * Your favorite friends at the Oregon Freight Haulers Association, or whatever its called.
    * Your city councilors
    * Leah Treat and Rob Burchfield, head honchos at PBOT.
    * The Oregonian, Willamette Week, Tribune.
    * email SAFE@portlandoregon.gov and askodot@odot.state.or.us
    * Rob Sadowski and Gerik Kransky at the BTA.
    * Sheila the Bike/Ped main bike/ped person at ODOT in Salem.
    * State highway patrol, ask them to enforce the speed limit and red light running.
    * Maybe some civic leaders — Presidents of OHSU, Lewis and Clark, PSU, and Mr. Sam Adams, exec dir of the Portland City Club.

    Send them nice letters, angry letters, short letters, long letters, hard copies, electronic copies, telephone messages. Mix it up a bit.

    You don’t need to send a million letters every time, but keep the heat on.

    Also, remember that by advocating for a safer Barbur, you’re also advocating for safer streets everywhere. Whenever public comment comes in asking for safer streets and improved bike lanes gets registered. And those that complain get placated. Even if the Barbur road diet doesn’t come on line for a couple years yet, your letters asking for improved bicycle facilities will result in the authorities giving more favor to bicycle issues in other areas of their jurisdiction.

    FWIW,
    Ted Buehler

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  • OnTheRoad December 30, 2013 at 3:09 pm

    The caption on your main picture is wrong. We are looking southbound, not northbound.

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  • friv game December 30, 2013 at 11:49 pm

    thanks for sharing We are looking southbound

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  • 9watts January 1, 2014 at 7:53 pm

    wsbob,

    here’s some bedtime reading for you:
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1448300/

    “Recent data demonstrate a 17% increase in deaths after a 4% increase in speeds on US interstate highways. High-speed driving on highways induces speed adaptation (a situation in which vehicle speed is influenced by the speed and duration of recent travel in the vehicle) on connecting interurban roads, and even urban roads.”

    “The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, despite 41,967 road deaths in 1997, has not cited higher speed limits as contributing to the high number of deaths. The British government, by contrast, is committed to strategies to reduce speeds.”

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    • paikikala January 2, 2014 at 11:52 am

      apples v. oranges. No doubt speed increases the severity of any resulting crash, no doubt. However, I can find no study that links speed with frequency of crashes, and I’ve tried. Frequency is what road design best addresses. Severity as a result of speeding is more difficult to control through road design. The safest road (straight, smooth, no conflicts) is the one you can also go fastest on.

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  • Barbara Stedman January 2, 2014 at 7:51 pm

    O.k. guys, can you please continue your quibbles in your private sandbox? It’s not contributing to the discussion of Barbur Blvd.

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