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Right-hook crash at Broadway/Williams

Posted by on September 26th, 2008 at 4:05 pm

Image of the scene.
(Photo: Carl Larson)

At around 5:00pm yesterday evening, there was a right-hook crash involving a bike and a truck at the intersection of Broadway and Williams in Northeast Portland (Map).

According to the Police Bureau’s assistant PIO Greg Pashley, a woman riding a bicycle was struck by a “short panel truck” and was transported to Emanuel Hospital. Pashley said the woman ended up underneath the truck after she was hit, but luckily, there was no serious trauma involved.

NE Broadway and Williams-4.jpg

NE Broadway looking west across Williams.
(Photo � J. Maus)

Pashley says the bicycle operator was positioned to the side and just to the right of the rear of the truck — which would have put her directly in the blind spot. The truck reportedly made a “legal right turn” (says Pashley) and the bicycle operator would never have seen the blinker (if it was on).

Also according to Pashley, the driver of the truck was not cited for any violations at the scene and it was decided to only exchange information (for insurance purposes) between both parties. Pashley says the officer accompanied the woman to the hospital so I assume he was able to hear her side of the story (I have not been able to get her name yet and ask her myself). *See update below.

Another view of the scene.
(Photo: Carl Larson)

This intersection has been the subject of much thought by PDOT traffic engineers. It was identified as one of 14 dangerous intersections to receive a bike box and/or colored lane treatment, but due to the complex lane configuration and traffic flow issues, no safety improvements have been made. For more information on that, see my story, PDOT ponders fix for dangerous intersection (3/25/08).

When I first heard about this from a witness on the scene just minutes after it happened (thanks Carl L.), I expected the worst. Despite the communities best efforts to increase awareness and education about bike/truck safety, this right-hook scenario is all too common. Let this serve as a reminder to use the utmost caution when riding your bike around trucks, especially in crazy intersections like Broadway/Williams.


*UPDATE, 8:36pm: I want to make it clear that in talking with the PIO, it’s still unconfirmed what exactly took place. When I pressed the PIO on the “legal right turn” question (looking at the photo, how could it be deemed “legal”) he made it seem like we just don’t know exactly what happened yet (as if to make it seem like somehow the woman on the bike could have done something herself that would have absolved the truck driver from legal responsibility).

When I tried to follow-up with another PIO (Pashley was not in the office) in order to get the victim’s name, she couldn’t find the original call and has now left for the weekend.

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. Also, if you comment frequently, please consider holding your thoughts so that others can step forward. Thank you — Jonathan

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K'Tesh
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K'Tesh

Sorry to hear about this crash…

I hope that they can iron out the problems with the configuration before someone gets killed. 🙁

God Bless You Fellow Rider…
May your recovery be swift and complete

cyclist
Guest
cyclist

Please please please remember that if you can’t see the driver’s eyes, they can’t see you. When I’m riding I do everything I can to put myself in front of the lead car at the intersection.

Jessica Roberts
Guest
Jessica Roberts

I hate that intersection! I don’t want to lose a loved one to this deadly intersection. Please, please, PDOT, do something soon! Double-right turn lanes are not a human-friendly configuration, and perhaps livable cities shouldn’t permit them….

brian
Guest
brian

the truck sees everything upon approach. Therefore, no blindspot.

let us bring back accountability, and stricter rules for those operating larger vehicles.

Carl
Guest
Carl

It is my understanding that, a “legal right turn” ceases to be “legal” once it fails to yield to a cyclist in a marked (blue!) bike lane (ORS 811.050). I’m surprised you phrased it that way, Jonathan.

Disappointing that, according to your story, the COP drove her to the hospital and not the AMBULANCE that was there because that would’ve triggered a crash investigation likely to prove the point above.

ANYway…
-It’s definitely gotta be nerveracking to drive a truck in this town.
-I do my best to avoid being in blind spots (even though I have some legal right to be there)
-That intersection is MESSED UP.

I was so relieved to see that the body under the truck was moving. I hate to think that this intersection might be addressed faster if it wasn’t.

Zaphod
Guest
Zaphod

Glad she will be OK. Be careful out there.

BURR
Guest
BURR

the facts are that the ONLY reason there is a double right turn lane at this location is to facilitate motor vehicle traffic, and the overlay of the interstate highway on the local street grid once again has potentially deadly consequences for non-motorists.

Andy
Guest
Andy

If the current traffic laws allow situations where no one did anything wrong and yet bicycle riders are being hit, then clearly the traffic laws need to be changed, not just in dangerous intersections but everywhere.

jami
Guest

I agree with Carl. If a truck ran over a cyclist in a bike lane, it was NOT a legal turn, and there should be a ticket. Automobiles have to yield to bikes in bike lanes. Now, the fact that they don’t look for us passing on the right is an important area of consideration, and education needs to be improved there. But this truck broke the law, no doubt about it, and it’s sickening, frankly, to see the police dithering about that for even one second.

Glad the cyclist’s okay, and that the driver was worried enough to accompany her to the hospital. I don’t think drivers are all inherently evil. But this one absolutely broke the law.

matchu
Guest
matchu

I’ve had cars push into me while operating my bicycle at that intersection. Only a shout seemed to have stopped them or quick braking on my part when they suddenly accelerated and turned in front of my lane. Why can’t PDOT just put the through lanes to the left of right turn lanes? Isn’t that the obvious solution? I may not be considering some factor here.

fuchsia
Guest
fuchsia

The “obvious solution” is not to ride in that bike lane or in any bike lane that puts you in a dangerous position…like so many of the bike lanes all over this town. If you’re going to ride on that part of Broadway, GET OUT OF THE BIKE LANE and ride right down the middle of the through/right turn lane. You have a right under Oregon law to leave the bike lane to avoid hazardous situations.

G.A.R.
Guest
G.A.R.

Don’t use that bike lane.

Lisa G
Guest
Lisa G

Defensive cycling. Always give a truck plenty of room and observe what the driver is doing. Trucks and busses always get a wide berth from me. The only safe assumption is the one that assumes they WILL NOT see you and they will do something illegal and/or without looking.

After the Tracy Sparling tragedy I actually had a dump truck wait for me before making a right turn but, seeing his signal, I hung back and waved him on from where he could see me in his right side mirror.

How soon they forget.

Russell
Guest
Russell

Until PDOT fixes this area, I will never ride that bike lane. I hope that the cyclist is alright and if she needs any help over the next few weeks perhaps the community can reach out to her.

SYK
Guest
SYK

“Pashley says the bicycle operator was positioned to the side and just to the right of the rear of the truck which would have put her directly in the blind spot.”

I find this statement very puzzling.
I attended the Water Bureau traffic safety event on the 16th. I participated in the bike visibility experiment they set up and sat in the truck . There were 10 bicycles placed around the truck. Of the 10, there were 3 empty bicycles that were not visible from the driver’s seat. The bike immediately behind the truck and to my surprise, the bike immediately in front and a bike in bike lane territory, next to the right front tire, in front of the right side view mirror.
Initially I was shocked to miss the bicycles in frontbut realized the empty bikes were much lower profile than someone sitting on the bike seat or standing over the top tube. (I could see the person, not the bike when a person was on the bike.)
The entire left side of the truck and the right side from the mirrors on back were visible with the flat side mirror and domed mirror so you have to be pretty far off to the right to be in domed mirrors blind spot.
If both parties were stationary before the turn, a driver consciously looking over the right headlight and catching the right mirror while turning would be able to see a cyclist moving along the right in the bike lane. If both parties were in motion prior to the turn, the cyclist would be placing themselves in harms way if they unfortunately attempted to pass to the right of a moving vehicle signaling for a right turn, BUT, the cyclist would still be visible in the right side mirror until they passed it.

BURR
Guest
BURR

looking at the photo, the bike is under the front right wheel of the truck, so how could the cyclist have been positioned to the right rear of the truck as the PPD is claiming?

BURR
Guest
BURR

riding in the bike lane there is suicide, you should take the lane to the left of the bike lane for your own safety.

99th Monkey
Guest
99th Monkey

From the picture showing the truck, it does not appear that the trucking company has installed the blind-spot mirror on the right front fender, as has been required for most trucks since January 1st this year. If this is the case, why was the trucking company not cited for the equipment violation? I observed only one company install them before the Jan 1 deadline, Coastal Paving, and pulled up beside the driver of the truck at a stoplight to talk to him. He told me that the owners of the company thought the new requirement was so important for the safety of bicyclists that they installed them as soon as they were notified of the new equipment requirement last year. With very few exceptions, the only other trucks I have seen since then with the blind-spot mirror are UPS and US Mail. I estimate that only 2-3% of trucks are in compliance. Has BTA or any other organizations confronted local and state law enforcement to demand equipment violation enforcement of something that is so clearly needing attention?

Steven J
Guest
Steven J

Pro Logistics drivers are terrible for rushing around not paying attention.
I am nervous around both Pro logistics
& Trad trucking rigs.
driving like they’re always late,
NW St Helens Rd & Yeon area where they Camp is especially dangerous in the early morning.

My hopes for a speedy recovery to the young lady.

Aaron
Guest
Aaron

Many are quick to complain that drivers don’t know what it is like to be a cyclist and wish they would “ride a mile” in our shoes. I appreciate the recent the Water Bureau’s recent event but having worked construction and driven these types of trucks

I can tell you that it is not easy. You have to rely on your mirrors, which is not particularly comforting at times.

You think riding down Hawthorne is scary on a bike? So is driving one of these trucks. The street is narrow there are lots of cars and these trucks are wider than they appear from the cab which puts you on guard. I know, I know your safely enclosed in a steel box but it is still tough.

I’m not placing blame anywhere here. If the driver is at fault he should be punished. If the company did not install the proper equipment…well,I sure hope they have real good insurance because that sounds like an easy lawsuit.

Finally, before you dismiss me out of hand, I commute from Tigard (yeah we ride bikes in the burbs or “over the hill” as I’ve seen it referenced here from time to time) to Lewis & Clark everyday.

Tom H
Guest
Tom H

I had to yell at one trucker in that very intersection this summer. I think the easiest fix is to semaphore that as an on ramp, stopping bicyles when the motors are going and stopping motors when bikes are rolling. That would enable us to stay entirely to the right until we get to go out all alone either down Broadway or right on Williams.

Yes, truckers have it scary, but not for their own safety. You cannot compare a financial and emotional threat to a mortal threat.

May our biking victim be back in the saddle and healed soon…

Joe
Guest
Joe

I’ve ridden and driven through this intersection many times. There’s a simple fix.. remove the second right turn lane.. No one will die if there’s only one right-turn lane.

Coyote
Guest
Coyote

I am surprised the blue painted bike lane did not stop this crash. Oh right, it is only paint and most of it has washed into the river.

If PDOT wants to keep the 2nd turn lane and make it safe, they are going to have to get a little creative. Paint ain’t gonna doit.

Stripes
Guest
Stripes

When you described the vehicle as a “short panel truck”, it makes it sound so tiny.

That truck is enormous! And it looks like the kind of truck that was probably driven by somebody in a hurry, not paying much attention to their surroundings (other examples of these kinds of truck drivers… FedEx, UPS)

It would be nice to see more done to protect cyclists at intersections like this. When I say “intersections like this”, I mean, near freeway onramps.

Drivers are already in “freeway mode”, on autopilot, cup of coffee in one hand, wand of mascara in the other, gripping the steering wheel with their knees, and not paying a whole lot of attention to their surroundings.

We’ve seen a temporary fix at N Flint. Now let’s see one here too.

Stripes
Guest
Stripes

PS – I second Joe (# 22)

Has there ever been an evaluation of how necessary that left-hand right turn lane actually is?

Surely, eliminate it, and you eliminate the problem.

Eric
Guest
Eric

As someone who uses broadway to williams to get home, i often turn a block early. Now that the ford dealer is gone, those side streets are quiet, and easy, and you don’t have to deal with the drivers who seem to have the phone interlock enabled (if the phone is not in use, the car won’t roll).

Also just signal and take the lane when you use that bike lane: The traffic is already slow, and at least the freeway commuters can see you easier.

AJ
Guest
AJ

Not sure how this plays out with two right turning lanes as it causes some issues… Solution might be to eliminate turns from the left lane of the two right turn lanes.

http://www.sfbike.org/?bikelane_right_turns

bobcycle
Guest
bobcycle

#11 and #22 YES
Never ride the bike lane here…
TAKE THE THROUGH LANE!
Lobby for the EZ fix. Two right hand turns are not necessary! EZ fix should have been implemented years ago. Are we a Platinum BIKE town or platinum CAR town?

David M
Guest
David M

I happened upon this just as the paramedics arrived. I was riding home down Williams coming from the Rose Quarter area. I didn’t want to hang around because the whole scene was rather chaotic, but I really don’t see how the cyclist could have been in the wrong. I know it’s tough driving a truck in this down and drivers have my sympathy but the simple fact is he crossed into the bike lane without being absolutely sure. I agree with many others here, however, visibility is survival for a cyclist. At a insane intersection like this cyclists need to put themselves in front of traffic so they see you. Legal or not, inconvenient or not to motorists, I’d rather have a ticket and an angry motorist than be run over by a truck. Unfortunately, nothing will solve every situation. I am relieved that the girl is okay. After seeing the size of the truck and the girl laying underneath, I feared the worst.

Dennis
Guest
Dennis

a few simple rules would prevent this.

1) Bicyclists, assume that Anyone, at anytime wants to kill you, and you have no idea who it is.

2) Drivers, Assume that that every bike is highly explosive, and that any one of them wants you dead.

keep those mentalities when traveling, and you’ll never have an accident.

SD
Guest
SD

“Blind spots” are somewhat acceptable in car to car interaction because the driver can look to the right and see what may be in their “blind spot.” On the interstate the truck “blind spot” is rectified by multiple turn signals to alert cars and modified mirrors. Most importantly, blind spots are an issue primarily in changing lanes not turning.

However, it is not justifiable for a vehicle to have a “blind spot” for bicycles, pedestrians or other vehicles when turning and creating high risk situation for other road users. This is especially inexcusable in that these “blind spots” can be eliminated by wide angle mirrors. If a vehicle is flawed by “blind spots” it should be illegal to drive that vehicle.

The reasoning that a driver cannot yield because they cannot see another road user is ridiculous but appears to be accepted by some. Cyclists should be cautious, but laws and vehicle requirements should decrease the risks of injury for everyone on the road.

It is inevitable that the -right turn- I can’t see you if you don’t see me- oops, I feel bad that you are dead or disabled- blind spots will be eliminated now that bicycles are consistently on the road. More importantly is how quickly it happens and drivers are fully accountable for yielding.

Paul Tay
Guest

Ride “right” is WRONG. Gotta git in front of the truck, people.

JP
Guest
JP

I’m so glad you’re okay!

ChipSeal
Guest
ChipSeal

Why isn’t the city of Portland not being sued for creating a hazard? If safe negotiation of that intersection requires the cyclist to leave the bike lane and control the through lane, how has the addition of the bike lane produced a safer intersection?

The city ought to defend it’s actions in court!

Tont Columbo
Guest
Tont Columbo

When will bikers learn.

BURR
Guest
BURR

juries are inevitably pro-motorist, a sad fact of life in the US of A

🙁

Justa
Guest
Justa

yeah. that intersection SUCKS.

zilfondel
Guest
zilfondel

“Why isn’t the city of Portland not being sued for creating a hazard?”

Bite the hand that feeds you? Although, in this case, it may be a good strategy. Except nobody has agreed on how to fix this intersection.

I think that this road does need a road diet, however. And a nicely expanded separated cycle-track on the right (7-8′ width), next to the curb, with bicycle phasing in the traffic lights.

The western section of Broadway + Weidler is just scary as hell, and I’m pretty experienced at vehicular riding.

jimbo
Guest
jimbo

stupidest piece of engineering I have ever seen. definately needs to be changed. a very foolish lane to ride in, but is the people who go by the law are going to ride there. hate to think of children riding through there. something should be imediately (remember after the tragedy on Interstate they closed the right turn until a decision could be made) City hall should be down there now with a temp solution until they can decide what to do permanently. yes the bike has the right of way but those rights don’t do you any good if your dead. how bad does an accident have to be before it is considered bad enough to warrent a change?

John Russell
Guest

“How many deaths will it take till he knows
That too many people have died?”

Hopefully the answer is zero. I think that PDOT needs to analyze how exactly traffic is moving through this intersection. If they were to just go down to one turn lane, I have a feeling that motorists would somehow find a way to creep their way into our bike lane.

Do this and then change things around accordingly, but not first without looking at ways to improve the intersection immediately. I know that the compliance with the “No turn on red” sign could use a little work.

Loren
Guest
Loren

Pashley’s statements reek of laziness. This is the third time this year I’ve witnessed such laziness and unprofessionalism by the PPB. And the best part is, you can’t call them on it. All you can do is write your mayor/senator, and hope enough people do the same. I’m so sick of it.

Steven J
Guest
Steven J

Think this is one case where “less is more”.

1)Adjust speed limit through area to 20mph.

2)Move bike lane farther to center of road.
(both turn lanes must turn right)

Bike lane = solid white line through intersection on “turning” side.
Broken white line on through traffic side. Giving the impression that Bikes and cars are encouraged to mingle.
Blue (if you must) extends to outside edge of white.
Another option is to use pylons to separate the RH turn lanes from the through lanes..you just know some dolt on a cell phone is going to try and turn right from all the way on the other side of the road.

Really folks…most of the time I would argue cars and bikes should not ride in same lanes.
Intersections under 20mph is the exception.
You can’t get right hooked if you don’t put yourself in the position.

I feel PDOT is making a serious effort.
But don’t get sucked into a false sense of security simply because of blue paint.

Like someone mentioned earlier, anyone can run you over.

jimbo
Guest
jimbo

Don’t jump all over Portland Police. They are not the problem, it is an engineering problem that needs fixed. No blame to rider or driver. Is an accident by design, if you want to be mad- be mad at the city for allowing this to wait for someone to get killed so they might eventually fix it

Jesse Cornett
Guest

We really need to do something with that intersection. I ride through it every day and it scares the hell out of me.

Kernal Loose Nut
Guest
Kernal Loose Nut

The problem here is the concept of bike lanes, period.

Paint is good for awareness . . . but does NOTHING for safety, i don’t care what color you use.

Only fully separated travelways will give real safety.

In the meantime, boycott Vancouver/Williams & Broadway/Weidler. N Flint via NE Thompson is waaaaaaay better

Speedy recovery to rider.

Snacky
Guest

Wow — so many great points in this thread. I see so many sides to this, and reasonable people can find many different issues. It occured to me:

* A good reason to move the bike lane out of there is because that 2nd right turn is ONLY for cars going to the freeway. No bike will ever take that right. So that situation is just set up to fail.

* Personally, when driving a car or bike, I *always* make sure not to drive in someone’s blind spot. If you learn motorcycle riding, this is a big part of it.

* Someone mentioned that it’s unconscionable for one vehicle (the truck) to have blind spots which prevent it from seeing other traffic participants. There should be a technological+regulatory solution here.

Kt
Guest
Kt

My first thought when I saw that picture, at the top, is “get rid of the left-hand right-turn lane”. I don’t ride down there, but it looks like a stupid design, a collision just waiting to happen.

The bike lane needs to be to the left of the turn lanes, or not there all. Make the bikes to take the lane. Make the cars to slow down by a slower speed limit.

Hopefully she got a ride in an ambulance and the police either followed behind or rode with; hopefully she’ll be okay!!!

Lenny Anderson
Guest
Lenny Anderson

Broadway/Weidler needs to be put on a “Diet;” its two lanes each way on the bridge and two lanes each way east of 24th. Why not two lanes in between? or three at most between MLK and the bridge.
Freed up pavement can be used for angled parking east of 7th Avenue, for Streetcar ONLY from the bridge to 7th Avenue and, last but not least, for a real “Cycle track” between 7th and the Bridge. Right turns on to I-5 should be from a single lane, not two.
PDOT created an LA type street here…its time to put it on a “diet.”

Carice
Guest
Carice

I look at that photo and am amazed that the biker walked away! My thoughts go out to her- and wish her luck getting through what must be incredible emotional trauma!

Zaphod
Guest
Zaphod

My usual stance regarding what infrastructure is appropriate or realistic tends to err on the side of “give me anything and I’ll be happy.”

Here’s a situation where cyclists are very much justified in demanding a solution that isn’t just a marginal improvement in safety but a truly safe route down Broadway. The mode share is impressive. The number of bikes queued up on the West side of the bridge in the morning per light cycle is around two dozen when I roll across.

I’d like to see studies done to measure the impact of the following:
1) Removing one lane from the I-5 entrance
2) Removing both lanes that service the I-5 entrance.

Armed with this knowledge, I can envision several permutations of lane structures that would work really well.

I take this route with my kid on board. And the only reason that I feel safe doing it is because I enter the gauntlet with a hyper level of focus and awareness. I make lane changes and moves early and deliberate. In the end, I take the 2nd turn lane so cars cannot cross my path. This requires a pretty confident and aggressive riding style. Here’s the thing, I *shouldn’t* have to do this. Cyclists shouldn’t have to play a game of high stakes frogger just to get to work, or their kids to school.

What’s more important? A livable city or yet more freeway access? That seems to be the crux of the design choices.