Urban Tribe - Ride with your kids in front.

No more right turns at Greeley: “I don’t want another tragedy”

Posted by on November 6th, 2007 at 4:30 pm


Signs like this have been
placed on the hill approaching
the intersection.
(Photos © Jonathan Maus)

The closure consists of these two barricades.

Calling the intersection, “inherently dangerous” City Commissioner of Transportation Sam Adams had PDOT crews close the right-turn section of N. Greeley Avenue that has claimed two victims in as many weeks.


Adams with a PDOT employee.

Adams — flanked by PDOT traffic safety guru Greg Raisman and just yards from the ghost bike memorial for Brett Jarolimek — pointed out that Interstate and Greeley was one of the intersections on his “Top 14” that are slated for emergency bike safety improvement measures following the death of two cyclists last month.

At a press conference at the scene about an hour ago, Adams said,

“…with the days getting shorter, the weather about to turn worse, this intersection is inherently unsafe the way it is engineered right now, and so we’re going to close it temporarily to give us some time to figure out what we need to do to make it safer…

While we finalize that [bike boxes and other improvements] and try to get it done in a matter of weeks from now, this is going to be closed, because it’s just too dangerous to keep it open and I don’t want another tragedy.”

See more photos of the closure.

NOTE: We love your comments and work hard to ensure they are productive, considerate, and welcoming of all perspectives. Disagreements are encouraged, but only if done with tact and respect. If you see a mean or inappropriate comment, please contact us and we'll take a look at it right away. Thank you — Jonathan

  • natallica November 6, 2007 at 4:32 pm


    thank you sam!!!

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  • pete zlatnik November 6, 2007 at 4:48 pm

    Thank You!

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  • jami November 6, 2007 at 4:52 pm


    i hope when he\’s mayor, cops\’ll give tickets to people in cars, too.

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  • Dan (teknotus) November 6, 2007 at 4:55 pm

    I\’m glad Sam Adams is an impatient person when it comes to safety.

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  • erin g. November 6, 2007 at 4:55 pm

    Bravo Sam and PDOT! Thank you for hearing us, for giving us your word, and for taking actions that our lives and safety depend upon. Your support of the cycling community is deeply appreciated and, quite frankly, remarkable (glad to see that the NY Times thought so, too!).

    Thank you for the excellent coverage and updates today, Jonathan.

    I don\’t know about you all, but Sam has my vote for Mayor next year…and Jonathan has my vote for community member of the year!

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  • Dave November 6, 2007 at 4:59 pm

    While I think this is great, I\’m concerned that there don\’t seem to be signs showing a detour. Without a clear detour, cars might still try to turn right, but instead of taking the original route, they will try to take a sharp right turn where the NB left turn lanes enters Greeley. This will be quite a bit more dangerous for everyone, because it will be even more unexpected by everyone around. We\’ve all seen people drive the wrong way down a one way street or turn on a no-turn sign because they were confused, lost, unfamiliar with the area, or trying to follow directions. What is PDOT doing to prevent this sort of thing from happening?

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  • Greg Raisman November 6, 2007 at 5:10 pm

    Lots going on right now. We share your observation, Dave. There will be one more no right turn sign put in any time now to clarify that the right turn you describe is prohibited. In addition, our engineers are looking at other guide signs to inform people about accessing Swan Island via Going when coming southbound on Interstate.

    Greg Raisman
    Community and School Traffic Safety Partnership
    Portland Office of Transportation

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  • Jonathan Maus (Editor) November 6, 2007 at 5:13 pm

    \”What is PDOT doing to prevent this sort of thing from happening?\”

    You make a good point Dave. I was at the press conference and after a person in a car stopped to express their displeasure with not being able to turn right I thought they might try and make that turn you describe.

    As for PDOT, Sam Adams made it clear in the press conference and in the official press release where cars should go if they want to turn right… that being said, I agree with you that perhaps some detour signage would be good.

    The good news is that Adams\’ staffers and lots of folks at PDOT are likely reading these comments so your idea will be heard.


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  • a.O November 6, 2007 at 5:16 pm

    Same gets it. Sam for Mayor.

    I Bike and I Vote.

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  • DT November 6, 2007 at 5:31 pm

    Commissioner Adams,

    I want to extend my heartfelt thanks to you for taking swift action after another cyclist was hit today at the intersection of N Greeley and N Interstate Ave. As a resident of North Portland, I bike through this intersection every time I bike to work, as does my husband, and the thought of getting caught by a right-turning motorist on such a steep hill has unsettled us both. There truly is no reason that people can\’t turn right earlier at Going Street if they need to access Swan Island. Thank you for taking action, and I appreciate your efforts to improve bike safety in Portland, as it is an important component of forward-thinking transportation options in this city.

    Write Sam and thank him yourself:

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  • David Dean November 6, 2007 at 5:58 pm

    Well done indeed! It is very encouraging to see responsive public officials.

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  • BillD November 6, 2007 at 6:01 pm

    I posted this on another thread on November 1st. I think it bears repeating. Folks at PDOT should look at ways to make it easier for traffic going south on interstate to find their way to their destination without making the right turn. The turn via Larrabee and Russel is one way, there may be others.

    From Nov. 1:
    A few thoughts on N. Interstate and Greeley:

    There are no intersections or business accesses on N. Greeley between Interstate and Going. Therefore, any destination reached by turning right at Interstate and Greeley can be reached from Interstate and Going.

    Right turns from southbound Interstate onto Greeley should be prohibited.

    Install copious signage on Interstate that says \”No Right Turn Allowed at Greeley and Interstate, Use Going St.\”.

    Provide a bail out route for traffic that needs to turn right but has not seen the signs. This could be at Interstate and Larrabee (right on Larrabee, around the pump station to Russell, left on Interstate, north to Greeley and make a left).

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  • ML November 6, 2007 at 6:01 pm

    Ditto every thing DT said. As a North Portland bike commuter, I appreciate the city\’s efforts to take swift action following the events of today.

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  • janel November 6, 2007 at 6:07 pm

    My letter to Sam

    Thank you Sam for the quick response prohibiting right turns at Interstate and Greeley. Taking action for the safety of cyclists and pedestrians at the expense of motorist convenience is a revolutionary act in the US. I hope to see more efforts to make the least polluting modes of transport the safest, most comfortable and most enjoyable ways to get around.

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  • Stripes November 6, 2007 at 6:32 pm

    Will sandbags be used to stay the barriers?

    I anticipate a vehicle will fly around the corner & knock them over to get through before the evening is done. Or a driver will be impatient, and physically move them out of their way.

    But thankyou for hearing the bicycling community and taking action on this, Sam! It\’s very appreicated!

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  • true November 6, 2007 at 6:39 pm

    No intersection is as \”inherently unsafe\” as a driver who is comfortable in the knowledge that there will be no citation or investigation for failing to yield to a cyclist in the bike lane, though there be a resulting death or serious injury. No intersection is as \”inherently unsafe\” as CDL holding heavy vehicle operators with a mile long record who are allowed to continue driving after killing someone due to negligence. No intersection is as \”inherently unsafe\” as our car-centric culture of transportation that promotes unsafe driving as the epitome of refinement, from DVD screens to cell phone use to flimsy requirements for licensure.

    I know you\’re working, Mr. Adams, and I am glad you\’re taking this seriously and acting quickly, but there is much to do before I am satisfied. Thank you for paying attention.

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  • Darby November 6, 2007 at 6:54 pm

    I commute to work down Interstate whenever weather permits. This morning I avoided it because the fog was still pretty heavy at 7am.

    I\’m glad for the temporary closing of the right turn. I\’ll be curious if this is seen as an inconvenience to anyone. There\’s a good chance that this really IS an unnecessary right turn.

    But I\’m a little wary that this \”solution\” will only antagonize the relationship between bikers and drivers. I don\’t think that closing dangerous intersections is a realistic long term solution. And I hope this particular closing doesn\’t divert attention/energy from the real issues.

    I think the real issues–police failure to enforce existing law, police publicly tainting a crime investigation by claiming \”no fault\” to the press, lack of education for both bikers and drivers–are not being addressed.

    But, again, I am glad for the immediate, temporary closing. It\’s dramatic enough to get people\’s attention.

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  • J. Grant November 6, 2007 at 6:55 pm

    Thank you Sam Adams!

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  • Kevin M November 6, 2007 at 7:13 pm

    Just watched KGW News at 6pm. They covered this story (although I saw it here first). They ran a survey asking how Potlanders can make to roads safer (may still be running), but the preliminary results seem a bit one-sided. According to the results I saw only 3% of respondents thought that drivers should be more aware of their surrounding while 47% said bicyclist should be more aware. Draw your conclusions…

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  • randy November 6, 2007 at 7:20 pm

    I\’ve been thinking about this pretty hard for the last week or so now. I have very little faith in motorists learning to look for through bike traffic to their right when turning right across a bike lane.

    I don\’t really see how the bike boxes are going to solve the problem of improperly positioned bike lanes located to the right of right-turning motorists, they are just a band aid solution to a very serious problem, and not a very good one at that.

    However, rather than eliminate all bike specific infrastructure, as has been suggested by some vehicular cyclists, I think the solution is to build better bike infrastructure informed by the cardinal principles of vehicular cycling, which are speed positioning and destination positioning.

    How do we do this?

    Most bike lanes are already located according to the principle of speed positioning, to the right of motor vehicle traffic. There are some locations, such as the segment of the N. Interstate bike lane where Brett was killed, and SW Jefferson west of 14th, which are faster downhill sections. In these areas bike lanes should be eliminated in favor of shared lane markings or some other treatment.

    At intersections with high percentages of right turns across the bike lane, where room is available to do so, such as NW Everett and 16th, a right turn only lane should be provided. This would be possible if the (brand new) curb extension at the SW corner of NW Everett and 16th was eliminated and a few curbside parking spaces were removed. I think the safety of cyclists at high hazard locations like this is more important than saving a few steps for pedestrians crossing the street, or the sanctity of curbside parking.

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  • toddistic November 6, 2007 at 7:39 pm

    Thanks Sam, I appreciate your efforts!

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  • David Feldman November 6, 2007 at 8:02 pm

    Considering the safety of human powered travellers over the convenience of motorists–does Sam Adams have a twin who could work for the city of Vancouver?

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  • Andy November 6, 2007 at 8:19 pm

    Because of the way Interstate is laid out (high commercial density, numerous driveways, steep downhill curve) is there any benefit to moving the bike lane to the center? (or better yet, turning it into a MUP alongside the MAX line?)

    Cyclists would have the opportunity to get out of the center at the numerous crosswalks out of the MAX stops. Yes, we\’d probably have to walk out of the crosswalks, but it seems a small price to pay to get out of line of fire with all those driveways.

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  • Dabby November 6, 2007 at 8:32 pm

    So, after thinking about this today for a while, I have come up with a possible scenario.

    Witnesses say the woman had pulled an erratic turn into the hospital lot at the top of the hill, cutting off cyclists, then proceeded down the hill to pull a quick, thoughtless, right hand turn at Greeley.

    Appears to me to be obvious that due to the design of the Max line, and limited and difficult access to the Hospital, she must have missed her turn, then tried to turn it around at the top of the hill.

    I imagine she realized she could not do this (as witnesses also said she immediately pulled back out from the lot) continued down the hill, and being very frustrated and possibly late for an appointment (?), made an erratic right hand turn at Greeley, not using her mirrors, or her common sense, taking out another cyclist in the process.

    While this in no way, in my mind, absolves her of any fault (as everything so far seems to point to her being at fault, please correct me if I am wrong), it does point to one of the growing problems in this city.

    Interstate avenue has been entirely changed for the worse since the Max went in. Bicycle and car access is now a night mare. The added frustration of sometimes waiting through two and three light cycles while trains plow on through (or don\’t) has been experienced by myself on a bike, on foot, and in a car. Along with having to go horrendously out of the way to get anywhere.

    Add to this the cyclist who got too close to the train at Greeley and Interstate,(where the train goes very, very fast, much too, coming up, and down the hill) and ended up stuck under it, miraculously alive.

    And the recent reality that security at Max stations, or on trains, throughout the city is not at all what it appears. (Tri Met it appears was covering this up, due to recent news reports)

    This intersection that has been the recent site of three bicycle accidents (at least three that were reported, probably more than that), was \”Horribly\” redesigned as part of the Interstate Max project.

    Along with holding drivers, cyclists, the Police and City Hall responsible for their actions, this same attention should immediately be applied to Tri Met, who all over our city, many, many times a day, violate the rights and right of way of cyclists, pedestrians, and drivers alike.

    It is no secret that I have a extreme dislike for Tri Met.

    It is time to stand up, and force our supposed \”Public Transportation\” to step up, and stand along side the other accused.

    Rant over.

    I suppose not everyone will agree with me on this note, but once again, I have been around the block a few times.

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  • Clark November 6, 2007 at 8:42 pm

    Bravo, Sam, that was a smart decision.

    Kreuger has got to go.

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  • BURR November 6, 2007 at 8:57 pm

    Before I vote Sam for Mayor I want to know what he\’s going to do about reforming the Police Bureau if elected.

    I\’m pretty sure Jonathan didn\’t ask this to Sam in his interview, and I think we all have a right to know the answer to this question sooner rather than later.

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  • Mr. Viddy November 6, 2007 at 9:06 pm

    This was certainly a good opportunity for Mayor Adams to grab some positive media attention.

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  • John R November 6, 2007 at 9:45 pm

    Check the Oregonlive website. A number of motorists think this reaction is unfair to motorists because \”bicyclists caused the last two accidents.\” That can all be traced to Kruger and the PBB comments. I\’m with BURR. I want to know what\’s going to be done to reform the PBB. We\’re trying an engineering only solution to what needs to be addressed by a combination of engineering, enforcement, and education.

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  • Jeremy November 6, 2007 at 9:52 pm

    I just found out about this latest incident. While I may not be like some and say that Sam will get my vote, I am glad that safety is important. I do hope the reason why this intersection is a problem is figured out and that it gets properly addressed. In the meantime, it does make sense to ban right turns to me. I just hope it is enforced and drivers don\’t try to make a turn where they should not be since that would probably be an even less safe turn.

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  • Disco D November 7, 2007 at 12:35 am

    John R:

    I don\’t know about using the oregonlive forums as a basis for how the general public feels about anything. Those boards consist of the same 10 wackos who seem to be pretty much anti everything. I get the feeling sometimes that that board is trolled so much that the trolls can\’t tell who is who (as luck would have it I know for a fact that at least one of the posters who come up with some of the more asinine comments is actually a bored Intel employee).

    That said, reading those forums too often does kind of give you a sick feeling in your stomach because it makes you realize that there are some people out there who really may feel that way (and I am not even talking about bike stuff, just in general regarding that site).

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  • Crash N. Burns November 7, 2007 at 2:02 am

    Sam Adams for mayor, yes.

    How about Jonathan Maus for city council?

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  • Darren November 7, 2007 at 7:30 am

    In Response to 31, Crash N. Burns

    I can\’t support Jonathan Maus for city council. He is doing what the press gave up years ago, i.e. effective journalism.

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  • Steve November 7, 2007 at 8:07 am


    Those KGW poll results were 47% all the above, 43% bikes more careful. What they showed was that the majority of respondents feel we all share some blame…I\’d have to agree.

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  • Joe November 7, 2007 at 8:22 am

    I felt the poll was not a correct gauge of the real issue..

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  • Spanky November 7, 2007 at 9:14 am

    I\’m not a single issue voter, so Sam may or may not get my vote. Things like this, to me, smack of pandering. I am not however, saying that the interesection at issue was fine and dandy. That whole area, and a lot of Interstate is a nightmare for all users.

    I am a bit cautious of hasty \”solutions\” and grandstanding. Did Sam really need to be on site or did he just take advantage, like any politician of an opportunity for a sweet, sweet photo op?

    Every user needs to be able to get through that intersection. And every user is entitled to \”convenience\” at a certain level. So hopfully, access will not be compromised and the city will do what is needed to direct drivers to the alternative streets to get to the points to the right of that intersection.

    Right turns demand vigilance from drivers. Unfortunately, we are all human, and those of us that driver are all guilty of making ASSumptions about where bicycles are and also of forgetting to check mirrors.

    I think awareness of bikes as road users on an equal footing with cars will continue to grow over time, and these problems will hopefully diminish. I hope. When I bike, I try to bike like a car drives.

    Using my rearview mirror, I have seen bicycles access the road from a sidewalk within a few hundred feet of an intersection where I was intendeing to make a right while driving a car. I\’ve then stopped as the bike went straight as it was more than entitled to do. These events though, are dangerous because a car driver approaching an intersection, not having passed any bikes may ASSume no bikes are behind him or her, and make that right without checking. Not checking, froma car-centric world view.

    In short, every intersection is inherently dangerous, and all intersections demand all due care from all users. No amount of signs or barricades can change this danger. The only thing that will work is due care and attention. And avoiding the \”rush\” we all get in as we go about our daily lives.

    No website is going to offer a representative view of what the public thinks of this. Just as this website offers opinions predominantly from daily bicyclists, other sites will offer only opinions from rabid anti-bikers who think bikes belong on the front lawn when the kids aren\’t using them.

    The guy that works as a construction laborer and lives somewhere East of 82nd and drives his pickup downtown to a construction site likely doesn\’t read any of this stuff and doesn\’t post plaudits to Sam Adams or Lars Larson or anyone else. He just wants to get to work, and support his family. And I doubt that anyone drives \”confident\” that they will not get ticketed if they seriously hurt or kill a bicyclist. No one, in my opinion, goes through life thinking \”I can drive like I want and if I hurt someone I won\’t feel bad and there won\’t be consequences.\” That\’s a silly assertion, implicit in at least one of the comments above.

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  • Lenny Anderson November 7, 2007 at 9:32 am

    The right turn from s-bound Interstate to n-bound Greeley should have been removed when Interstate MAX was built. There is no need for it. Greeley, Interstate and I-5 all feed into Going Street for access to Swan Island. Someone who missed the turn at Interstate & Going can do legal U-turns at several lights along Interstate or use the \”jug-handle\” at Russell.
    This turn is really the exception on Interstate where slower speeds and fewer traffic lanes have made it a safer street for all modes. The two busiest intersections, Interstate/Lombard and Interstate/Going, have had fewer crashes since Interstate was rebuilt for MAX, despite lots of bikers, pedestrians, transit riders and in the case of Going Street, trucks. Slower speeds and fewer lanes are key changes to make streets safe for all.

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  • Moo November 7, 2007 at 9:35 am

    Where do people who turn there usually go anyway? Doesn\’t seem like a shorter route to Swan Island or Adidas, since they actually back-track when going south on Interstate to get to Greeley.

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  • Paul Tay November 7, 2007 at 9:37 am

    Yep. Ban LEFT turns too. Hey, how \’bout U-turns? Naaaaaaaaaaah.

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  • Anonymous November 7, 2007 at 9:56 am

    Spanky –
    Though I spoke in anger, never the best idea, I don\’t believe my assertions were \”silly,\” nor do I believe that the drivers \”don\’t feel bad.\” I hope and expect that they do, as I would in their shoes.

    With three highly publicized instances within a few short weeks of drivers failing to yield to cyclists in the bike lane – with horrific results to the cyclists and no consequences to the drivers, not even a fine or investigation – the PPB have failed in their duty and they have squandered a chance to educate the driving public on standing code. I don\’t think that this means every driver will be intentionally aiming for cyclists at every right turn, but when a law is not enforced, and that law was intended to increase safety, then the law has no meaning, and safety becomes harder to come by. I believe that makes the situation \”inherently unsafe.\”

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  • brian November 7, 2007 at 10:06 am

    Article Title – No more right turns: “I don’t want another tragedy”. But we are really talking about right turns at a particular intersection. I think the problem is bigger than this one intersection. You can\’t close off all right turns.

    Yes this is a very dangerous intersection. And very sad things have happened at that intersection. It needs to be fixed.

    But, please keep in mind that that 1000s of portland cyclist DONT go through that intersection every day. Yet every intersection where a car turns right crossing a bike lane presents the oppurtunity for a failure to yield/hooking for everyone of those cyclist.

    I would like to hear a call for some broad enforcement. So I\’m calling for it. Let\’s see some very visible enforcement of motorists who fail to respect right of way rules. Lets see some cops on bikes setting up the sting. Let\’s see some meaningful support from the enforcement community.

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  • true November 7, 2007 at 10:06 am

    oops – that was me in 39, not mr. anonymous.

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  • Kurt Runzler November 7, 2007 at 10:49 am

    If the right turn as engineered was \”inherently dangerous\” why was done in the first place? Did the safety \”guru\” approve it? One thing you can say about ol\’ Sam Adams, he ain\’t camera shy.

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  • Spanky November 7, 2007 at 11:30 am

    True/Anonymous at #39:
    Thanks for your kind response. I certainly didn\’t mean to post anything rude here.

    I think law enforcement needs to be given time. I also think the entire PPB should not be condemned. I\’ve had good interactions with LEOs both Portland and State. On the other hand, I\’ve dealt with PPB and Clackamas County folks who were the worst of the worst.

    I also think one should keep in mind the sometimes glacial pace of the justice system, and the fact that an investigation can be fouled up by moving too quickly.

    The facts of these events being publicized at all is a reminder to all users, and particularly drivers. But it will not mean an end to accidents. The positive effect of this publicity (avoidance of accidents due to greater caution and better driving) is impossible to measure.

    I agree enforcement is needed (there\’s never enough), but it is impossible for law enforcement to enforce a \”check before you turn right\” violation unless there is a witnessed (by law enforcement or the bicyclist/pedestrian) near miss or an actual accident.

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  • Metal Cowboy November 7, 2007 at 11:44 am

    Metal Cowboy
    November 7th, 2007 00:56

    I\’m reposting this rant of mine from last night – in light of the follow up that no citations will be issued for Doyles \”bumps and scraps, I have decided to organize a series of protests and education rides, press conferences, cyclist\’s civil rights movement – a concerte sustained movement if you will. Anyone – and this includes BTA, OBRA, PUMP, Shift – who wants to coordinate with me – I\’m at 503 239 6985, 408 595 6025, http://www.metalcowboy.com
    OBRA has talk of a press conference for tonight but not sure it is going to happen. I want to plan a larger activism ride, demonstration – (thousands of riders) and press conference for next week.

    ….This case would be a good one to start a \”citizen\’s initiation of violation proceedings\”.

    Let\’s do it!

    No citations, no penalties, media all over the place calling her injuries \”not serious\”… meanwhile, she\’s in the hosptial tonight. KINK FM followed police and paramedics and TV and The Oregonian\’s lead, saying Doyle was not badly hurt????? WTF?

    It all adds up to the larger Portland Public thinking this is how it works around here – we bump and grind a few cyclists in the name of progress. Look, she\’s fine, cyclist have to stay on the sidelines because if not they\’ll be dead right. i\’m livid, have been for weeks, been doing what I can to letter write call etc. wave my helmet in the air but enough\’s enough – I have three small children, a lot of work and living on my plate, all the blah blah excuses, but I\’m gonna have to dust off my activist cap and wade in… it\’s what tracy, Brett, doyle and the rest of us \”accidents\” waiting to happen deserve…

    I\’m done – count me in for whatever protests, sit ins, class actions, letter writing, phone call bombardments to city hall, citation lawsuits. I\’ll give money to a law fund to get this rolling. I\’ll lead a ten thousand cyclist pedal around city hall – I\’m tired of hearing people say to me, \”Yep, you and your cycling friends are following the law in these accidents, but they\’ll just keep being dead right if they don\’t let the cars do their thing… we\’ll, if drivers who kill and injure cyclists have NO consequences – i.e still driving trucks and cars after running someone over, then we get the future we\’re will to put up with!

    The Oregonian\’s coverage has been milk toast, lackluster regarding her injuries and kit glove regarding Kruger\’s bias, logic, pr flubs, etc. and I say this with seven years experience as a former newsman at a daily AP paper. We need to force their hand with a massive editorial letter writing campaign. I\’ll send me second letter to the ed. on this issue in the morning. Who is with me?

    With everything that has happened, the media is so behind the curve…still running lame channel 8 segments about Cars Vs Bikes – sell the sizzle to make the viewership – focused heavily on bikes running stop signs in Ladds while cars are playing pinball with cyclists in North Portland? Again, WTF?

    I\’d throw up my hands dodge and weave the front fenders and take the lane when need be like I learned growing up in Florida, business as usual, except that I really think we have a good community that wants to find some answers – which includes cyclists, drivers, some enlightened politicans etc. – we just need to push harder, we have to make more noise, we have to stand up for our rights and not be worried that it might make us targets… we already are – put some demands out there in force – as a unified, large vocal group to get Kruger off the traffic beat, file suits that sting and make statements, demand a ton more funding for education, enforcement, bike infrastructure…. We need to take this moment to act, thoughtfully but decisively – something along the lines of a civil rights movement for cyclists. I pay taxes and don\’t feel like I need to kowtow or apologize for using my streets to get around on two wheels. I follow every traffic law I can on my bike unless it endangers my future. I will not sit idle while potential riders beg off because they think our streets are too dangerous to take up something that cuts obesity, greenhouse gases, saves money, healthcare costs….

    I commend Sam A for his quick actions today in closing the turn – let\’s lobby for a permanent fill in of that turn intersection and then keep the movement going on sppots around the city…

    I think the time for a timid response on cycling is done – the cycling community needs to show some real outrage, in mass, beyond blogs ( awesome and very effective tools that they are) a calm, measured, intelligently and eloguently put outrage, but more proactive rather than what feels, at times, reactive – call a press conference of our own with a tousand vcyclists on the waterfont and put the entire community on notice that cyclists are not going to just be mowed over so people can get wherever they need to be 30 seconds faster.

    I\’m in the middle of writing a cover story for Bicycling magazine about my family adventure across Canada by bike, so I\’ve taken the opportunity of having editor\’s ears to pitch a feature on Portland\’s growing pains as a sustainable bike friendly beacon -I welcome ideas as I get that story into the pipeline – If the world (NYT\’s etc) is going to keep holding us up as an example of how it can be for cyclists – we have to hold ourselves responsible for making it so – by holding police, planners, fellow cyclists, politicans, engineers, drivers, etc. accountable – it boils down to letting the politicans know with our votes, careless violating drivers through stiff penalities, planners by getting a much bigger portion of tax dollar spent on cycling and most important – by pedaling the streets in numbers every day.

    My rant is done by my efforts are not.

    Joe Metal Cowboy Kurmaskie

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  • DO November 7, 2007 at 11:47 am

    \”it is impossible for law enforcement to enforce a \”check before you turn right\” violation unless there is a witnessed (by law enforcement or the bicyclist/pedestrian) near miss or an actual accident.\”

    The same can be said for stop sign enforcement. \’Stings\’ are set up to allow the officers to personally witness the violation. There need to be \’stings\’ for failure to yield violations.

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  • toddistic November 7, 2007 at 12:26 pm

    I completely agree with Metal Cowboy @43. This is why I am a bit confused at the decline of Critical Mass. I know that Critical Mass in the past has negative attention but what major changes in society weren\’t first precieved as negative? Without large activism there is no catalyst for change and status quo reigns supreme. We can rant about how our rights aren\’t respected and drivers are not ticketed but until the general public and the newsmedia get our take on the issue there is no voice. Sure Jonathon gets his 10 second blurb on TV (no disrespect intended) but that is hacked at the cutting room floor.

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  • erin g. November 7, 2007 at 12:48 pm

    Re: Metal Cowboy & Toddistic

    Please see the below \”Call to Action\” that I nearly posted yesterday, but withheld due to the city\’s swift response. I concur that there are still issues that need to be addressed, as evident in t.v. poles indicating that the majority of their audiences believe that cyclists were to blame in these three recent incidents (this is frightening and insulting to those killed or injured). I, too, feel that action is a great way to demand attention and affect change. Please read the below, and share your feedback, thoughts, and ideas:


    (Written Tuesday, 11/06, Following Word of Latest Interstate Incident)


    Does anyone else feel that it is time to TAKE ACTION in the form of a
    very BIG, BOLD, ORGANIZED DEMONSTRATION? Something unprecedented in
    numbers and impact? I cannot bear to read another report of
    inexcusable injury or death. I feel that something large and unified
    must be done. What do you all think?

    Ideas for Consideration

    Vision: Massive numbers of cyclists, community leaders, and
    friends/families/supporters assemble on the downtown streets as a
    unified group with shared goals:

    1) Raise awareness about critical shared-road safety protocol;

    2) Demand that cyclists\’ lives be valued and protected by drivers, the
    system, infrastructure, and by the authorities and their leadership
    (note: thank you to the many beat cops who do protect us; I\’ve
    experienced this first-hand and am grateful).

    We would also demand that protective measures and just protocol be
    swiftly determined and immediately implemented.

    While some media outlets still propagate counterproductive \”cars vs.
    bikes\” language and attitudes, we can take it upon ourselves to lead
    the way in educating and engaging those who must begin to listen,
    understand, and behave in a way that protects all who use the roads.

    Tactics: How could a large gathering make a strong statement to the
    public and press in an innovative and thought-provoking way? Let\’s
    brainstorm, perhaps looking at past movements in history that affected
    change as sources of inspiration. It would be great to do something
    beyond standard signage and a fill-the-streets ride.

    There are many talented artists in the bike community. Perhaps some
    might be willing to lend their creativity in coming up with a unique
    way to make the strongest possible statement via unified
    demonstration? Are there things that marchers/riders could wear,
    collectively carry, or pass out to onlookers, underscoring
    demonstration goals?

    Messaging: Signs would need to promote forward-moving messages about
    shared road safety while debunking common myths (i.e. some drivers
    think that bike commuters don\’t pay taxes toward infrastructure. Lord
    knows that the sums extracted from my paycheck don\’t go toward tubes
    and chain lube…). Messages would also need to promote mutual respect
    as opposed to doing anything that might potentially perpetuate further
    conflict and negativity between drivers, cyclists, and pedestrians.

    Bottom line: In order to reach the audiences that need to
    listen/understand, we must engage and educate them, carefully avoiding
    the possibility of inflaming or irritating them. Otherwise we are
    merely preaching to the choir as opposed to opening new eyes,
    prompting thought, and affecting the change that our safety depends

    Outreach: How might grassroots networking ensure that a diverse group
    attends the demonstration, representing the many sectors of the
    cycling/bike commuting community, plus drivers and pedestrians who
    share our concerns and demand solutions?

    Timing: By planning a couple of weeks out rather than pulling
    something together on short notice, organizers would have time to
    avoid overlap with existing events, achieve maximal attendance, and
    promote/publicize well in advance.

    Code of conduct: It is critical that such an effort be conducted in a
    100% dignified, respectable, and law-abiding manner. But one or two
    participants could tarnish the cause by doing something aggressive or
    illegal, as the t.v. media could turn cameras in their direction. All
    participants- no matter how diverse our views- would need to vow to
    approach this from a peaceful, unified front.

    Well, these are but ideas and possibilities from the limited
    perspective of one rider. What do you all think? Anyone interested in
    collectively organizing something of this sort? This online community
    is powerful and impressive, and in light of the recent tragedies and
    consequent actions/inactions, perhaps it is time to see just how
    powerful we could be live-and-in-person, out there on the street all
    at once, united by one vital cause.

    In the meantime, the letter-writing campaigns are a great idea. Great
    job, everyone.

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  • hickeymad November 7, 2007 at 12:58 pm

    I happened to be riding by the critical mass that occurred son after Bret was killed. Having never seen or participated in the event, I stopped to chat with a few of the folks.

    In my mind, I found it really unfortunate that my impression of the group was a negative one. I am a working professional (an engineer), an avid commuter (since I was 14 I might add), a cycle-tourist (pacific coast among others) and a sometimes cyclocross-racer. My impressions of the folks at the critical mass ride were overwhelmingly of distaste; they reminded me of the pan-handling hippies I used to try and avoid during my college days in Humboldt. My conversation with several of them lead me to believe that the group was composed mainly of the \”heart-felt radical\” type. You know the type – those insensitive to reason and unwilling to compromise on any issue.

    Like I said – unfortunate. If I had encountered well-meaning and reasonable people with actual real jobs I would have participated. I guess I am tired of progressive politics always getting the rap in popular culture as being full of \’dirty-hippie\’ types.

    NO offense to any actual dirty hippies reading this, of course. I just can not relate to you is all…

    Metal-cowboy and toddisitic; I would sincerely love to see more activism among a more diverse cross-section of the cycling community. However, as long as the crowd consists mainly of hippies and anarchists, I could not in good-conscious participate as the impression we would give to the public at large is that we cyclists are a radical minority easily ignored. In fact, we are a (growing!) constituency, which includes persons from ALL walks of life. As I am sure you well know…

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  • tonyt November 7, 2007 at 1:08 pm

    toddistic #45,

    I\’d agree that demands for changes in society are often initially perceived as negative, but I would disagree that CM is the way to achieve those changes.

    I don\’t want to get into all the whys about CM, but suffice it to say that there are many of us, as immersed in the cycling world as you who respectfully disagree that CM is the way to achieve the changes we need.

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  • erin g. November 7, 2007 at 1:13 pm

    Hi Hickeymad,

    Pls. see my previous post. I think you\’ll find that the outlined ideas match your vision of a more all-encompassing/up-to-date sort of demonstration. I, too, received some negative impressions of Critical Mass when I first moved to Portland five years ago, and opted not to participate, despite being a devout bike commuter and avid cyclist. A couple of people were banging on cars stopped in traffic on a bridge that day, shouting things at drivers. Well, one of those drivers was a (then) pregnant friend, who is also a bike commuter. I was mortified by such actions and their ramifications; such behavior prompts drivers to apply stereotypes toward all bike commuters and cyclists. My above post is designed to prompt thought about a new, more inclusive kind of demonstration. Pls. read the parts about a proposed \’code of conduct\’ and method of reaching diverse set of supporters/participants. Thank you, and thanks for sharing your honest thoughts.

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  • toddistic November 7, 2007 at 1:28 pm

    Just to be clear I am not stating that Critical Mass is the catalyst for change, in fact, I think Critical Mass has a very negative image. I would much rather see some sort of demostration where conflicts would be avoided. If that means off the streets in a park so be it. This isn\’t about cars vs bikes, its about enforcement of the law and raising awareness for drivers about potential conflicts.

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  • hickeymad November 7, 2007 at 1:31 pm

    erin g.:

    I whole-heartedly agree. A code of conduct would be critical. As would a respectable face on any media interactions. BTA does a great job at this! Is there anything they are doing already (in-terms of stepped-up activism) that folks like ourselves could get involved in?

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  • Dabby November 7, 2007 at 1:45 pm

    \”Vision: Massive numbers of cyclists, community leaders, and
    friends/families/supporters assemble on the downtown streets as a
    unified group with shared goals:\”

    I must say, that starting with a bad idea like this will cause more problems than fix them.

    The idea of massing downtown is not good at all.

    Of course people will show up, without even realizing the actual damage they are doing to cycling in our \”fine?\” city.

    You think that the press is having a hay day with this now, just wait until they have stock footage of us massing and clogging downtown.

    A perfect example of this is of course the lame fiasco that Critical Mass has become.

    While maybe a decent idea when first thought up, in practical application it is a horrific nightmare.

    I can point out many, many examples of why this is true.

    I beg you not to make the mistake so many have made, by putting an idea like this into practical application.

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  • Jim November 7, 2007 at 1:58 pm

    Pity you didn\’t spend more time with the group that evening. Your judgement is off-base- I too was there- and I am also a \”working professional\” (a physician and scientist)and having ridden seriously for more than 38 years. The CM group that evening was respectful and somber. And also totally lawful.

    I found the ride inspiring, and suggest that civil, lawful, and courteous protest is essential at this time.

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  • Aaron November 7, 2007 at 2:15 pm

    I have never seen any politician make a drastic change to a roadway because it is inherently dangerous to bikes/peds. It has happened for cars (the whole highway fiasco near the coast). Kudos to Sam for doing that. We need people to look at the infrastructure and examine what is best for everyone. The most successful examples have shown that limiting motor vehicles is better for everyone. I look forward to seeing what comes out of this.

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  • Resident November 7, 2007 at 4:16 pm

    Hey Sam,
    This is completely off topic, but since we\’re making safety improvements, lets get the road sweepers to do REGULAR sweeps of the bike lanes on major thouroghfares. I ve been having to ride further toward the car traffic lanes lately due to the amount of debris that gets pushed to the side of the road (otherwise known as the bike lane). This along with less daylight puts me in more vulnerable positions. Also lets enfore daily sweeps by construction companies when their projects leave debris in the road!


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  • 180mm DaN November 7, 2007 at 4:55 pm

    YES to Greeley closure! A victory for the enjoyment of gravity!

    I ride this hill 5-days a week, all year.

    Regarding signage visibility:

    I think it is fitting. The turn only becomes visible less than 50 feet away. Turn is blind to vehicles and bikes before that– hence the danger.

    Of course, biker\’s still need to use their brain riding this hill (and every where else).

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  • BURR November 7, 2007 at 7:03 pm

    @ DO #45:

    Your claim is BS, it\’s just a lame excuse used by lazy cops. They police do accident investigations and issue tickets all the time for crashes they haven\’t personally witnessed, based on statements from participants and witnesses and evidence at the scene.

    Let me ask you a rhetorical question – can cops only file murder, arson or burglary charges in cases where a police officer personally witnessed the crime?

    Answer – of course not.

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  • BURR November 7, 2007 at 7:15 pm

    @ Toddistic # 46:

    Critical Mass has disappeared from Portland\’s streets because the exact same traffic squad cops who today conduct the Ladd\’s Addition stings and refuse to issue citations to the motorists involved in Tracy\’s, Brett\’s and Doyle\’s crashes, at Vera Katz\’ behest conducted a systematic terrorist campaign against Critical Mass from August 2002 through December 2004.

    I personally saw these same traffic squad motorcycle cops pepper spraying and tazering CM participants, knocking cyclists off their bicycles by ramming them with their motorcycles, dragging women by their hair and committing other atrocities and acts of police brutality against CM participants, and I am not alone.

    The \”kinder, gentler\” police enforcement at CM under Mayor Potter was conducted by officers on bicycles instead of motorcycles, but the officers themselves were often just as rude, and CM became a celebration of red lights instead of a celebration of cycling. And if any cyclist dared ride out of the bike lane or tested the patience of the police escort in any way, the motorized goon squad was just a radio call away.

    To put it mildly, the PPB made a concerted effort to take all the fun out of CM, and that is why cyclists today stay away from the ride in droves.

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  • BURR November 7, 2007 at 7:19 pm

    @ toddistic #51

    the image of CM is only a negative one because the police and the media made it so. It would in most cases have been a non-event, or at best one of those \’keep Portland weird\’ events if the police hadn\’t shown up to conduct their little police riots month after month after month.

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  • Dabby November 7, 2007 at 11:47 pm


    Your ludicrous comments are part of why Critical Mass is a stupid idea.

    I could explain more, but I doubt you would even get it.

    The best thing for Portland is for Critical Ass to never rear it\’s ugly head again.

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  • Wendy November 7, 2007 at 11:58 pm

    While I think this is great, I\’m concerned that there don\’t seem to be signs showing a detour. Without a clear detour, cars might still try to turn right, but instead of taking the original route, they will try to take a sharp right turn where the NB left turn lanes enters Greeley. This will be quite a bit more dangerous for everyone, because it will be even more unexpected by everyone around. We\’ve all seen people drive the wrong way down a one way street or turn on a no-turn sign because they were confused, lost, unfamiliar with the area, or trying to follow directions. What is PDOT doing to prevent this sort of thing from happening?

    I think it\’s interesting that no one has mentioned yet that KGW shot footage of this exact motorist response today at the intersection. I saw it on the 5 pm news, and suppose it will air again at 11.

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  • BURR November 7, 2007 at 11:59 pm

    we get it Dabby, you don\’t like Critical Mass. A lot of people don\’t like bike messengers much either.

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  • wsbob November 8, 2007 at 10:56 pm

    I actually think Critical Mass is a pretty good idea. It\’s evolution back quite a few years ago now, out of a need to demonstrate the extent of and support for means of transportation beyond the limitations of motor vehicles was a very important step in the direction of a less car dependent world that, hopefully, we will continue to move towards.

    It\’s really something to see the great numbers of people on bikes that CM can bring together at one time and place. This kind of visibility and presence was effective here in Portland up until the point that it more or less disintegrated into wholesale disregard for anybody on the road not on a bike. To me, it seemed to possibly be a case of, \’we got all these people together, what do we now?\’. Unfortunately, the answer arrived upon to that question wasn\’t very pretty; streets completely choked up for long periods of time, unnecessarily angering others needing to pass along them.

    I expect it\’s possible that CM can constructively play a role in helping to bring to light, pressing needs associated with the bike/motor vehicle interface that need urgent attention. A great number of bike riders together can offer irrefutable proof that their mode of transportation has come of age, and must be effectively and safely factored into the overall transportation infrastructure for the greatest benefit of all citizens of Portland.

    The Tracy Sparling memorial ride was conducted quite well, and was generally respected by other road users on a greater level than many CM rallies of past. Even this could be probably be improved though. To offer one example, where a street being ridden has two lanes in the same direction, only occupy one with bikes. Allow motor vehicles to pass on the other. (Actually, now that I think about it….I walked part of the route rather than bike….I\’m thinking of the section near Powell\’s…the ride may have occupied only one lane of Burnside there, but I can\’t remember for sure.)

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