Splendid Cycles Big Sale

Major injury right-hook crash at 9th and Lovejoy

Posted by on March 2nd, 2009 at 10:12 am

This is the northeast corner of
NW 9th and Lovejoy.
(Photos by Marion Rice)

This morning around 8:45 a woman riding her bike in the bike lane down NW Lovejoy was right-hooked as she attempted to cross NW 9th.

According to Marion Rice, who was on the scene just minutes after the collision took place, the woman was pinned under the car and dragged across the intersection. The car and the bike came to rest near the northwest corner of the intersection (in front of Subway).

Police and ambulance responded to the scene and the woman was taken to the hospital with serious injuries. An officer on the scene told Rice that the woman was conscious (but unable to speak) and has likely suffered a broken leg and pelvis, a broken jaw, and has suffered serious facial lacerations.

Story continues below

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Police on the scene also think it’s clear that the woman on the bike had the right-of-way and that this was a classic right-hook situation. Rice also reports that the man driving the car (who has remained on the scene) was given a field sobriety test and has just been arrested (we assume for DUII, but we can’t confirm that yet). The car is being towed.

This intersection is no stranger to
right hooks. I took this photo in 2006.
(Photo © J. Maus)

To say this is a notorious intersection would be a major understatement. This is a very busy route for bike commuters and it has been known as a dangerous intersection for years. One reader who emailed me about this morning’s crash wrote:

“I ride through this intersection every morning and it is the most dangerous part of my commute. You all should write a story on dangers of this intersection.”

Back in the summer of 2006, I joined several citizen activists for a pedestrian and bicycle safety education action at this exact location (see photos here).

In November 2007, in the wake of the Brett Jarolimek and Tracey Sparling fatalities, Lovejoy and 9th and was slated to be one of 14 intersections to receive a bike box and painted bike lane, but those improvements never happened.

While she was at the scene this morning, Marion Rice happened upon a sign posted at the intersection…

Right-hooks are common at this intersection.

According to a source at the Bureau of Transportation, one of the main reasons a bike box and painted bike lane was not installed at this intersection is because the streetcar will soon run up Lovejoy and onto the Broadway Bridge. The street will a major makeover when that project happens, so PBOT doesn’t want to install a bike box only to have it torn up later.

(Update: 11:30am) I spoke to city traffic engineer Rob Burchfield about this intersection. He confirmed that plans for a bike box were put on hold due to the Portland Streetcar Loop project that is expected to begin construction in September. Burchfield said that anything put in now would be torn up when the streetcar project starts and he adds that, “How we would treat bikes [at this intersection] is a major part of our part of that [Streetcar Loop project] discussion.”

Thanks to everyone who emailed and called about this crash. We’ll follow this story and publish updates as necessary.

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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Meghan H
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Meghan H

I hope whoever the bicyclist is in this situation that she recuperates soon. I had a close call this morning because of an inattentive driver, and it’s amazing how quickly a life-changing incident can happen.

Caroline
Guest
Caroline

I never thought of this intersection as being that dangerous because I ALWAYS get a red light when coming down that hill. I thought the intersection was lame because of that, but I guess that’s what’s been saving me!

Serious well-wishes to the lady on the bike and her family. Also, condolences to the driver, as I’m sure he’s shaken up as well.

Jonathan L
Guest
Jonathan L

I hope that the bike lane is situated differently after the tracks are installed.

It should have been a long time ago.

Steve
Guest
Steve

I ride thru that intersection daily at about 4:30 a.m. so little if any worry about cars then, I have, however, been rear-ended by a cyclist that didn’t think that the redlight applied to us. I am concerned that PDOT decided against a bike box here because of a future project…when excatically is this extension going to occur?…didn’t the bridge just get resurfaced? Me thinks me smell a rat…

Marion
Guest
Marion

Thanks Jonathan for posting this.. as far as I could tell the driver may have serious issues and in my humble opinion should not have been behind the wheel. I am sure more will come out about him.

Zaphod
Guest

I wish her a speedy and complete recovery. I really hope that the DUI assumption is false. Or if it’s true, that DUI at 8:45am is a rare event.

As I read of this accident, it truly makes me want to start a coalition to DEMAND cyclists have extremely safe, perhaps car free, routes. I practice vehicular cycling all the time and it works but it would surely be nice if there were a network of bicycle-only or local traffic only routes.

dersins
Guest
dersins

Looks like a WA state license plate on the car in the photo. Hmmm….

Burk
Guest
Burk

I rode past the aftermath of the accident this morning, pretty horrifying to see a bike wedged under a car like that. Hoping that the injured rider makes a quick & complete recovery.

That intersection is a disaster, between the monster Semi’s cutting across the entire road to make the turn into the Post Office and oblivious drivers right hooking cyclists I think they need to do some kind of short term fix until the streetcar project starts.

Bjorn
Guest
Bjorn

I read an article earlier this year that had some pretty scary statistics about morning DUII. People aren’t necessarily drinking at 8:00 am. It is more that your body metabolizes alcohol slowly when you are asleep and if you are really drunk when the bar closes you may not be sober when you wake up.

Bjorn

carlos
Guest
carlos

This intersection is difficult for multiple reasons. Many cars for whatever reason do not yield when making a right turn. Cars make this right turn and I have to yield to them on average once or twice a week. Secondly, pedestrians are crossing this intersection regularly as well. So, not only am I looking for cars making right turns, I’m also trying to guess if the person at the corner is going to dart in front of me as I’m making my turn. Lastly, this intersection is at the bottom of a fairly steep decline. Couple this with the fact that there is still a lot of gravel from when we had all that snow, and you get a very dangerous terrain. Something needs to be done, whether the city puts up signs or a bike box or both. Something has to be done.

Marion
Guest
Marion

Yes, Bjorn and the smells emanating from the driver were awful.. I smelled a combination of pee, alcohol and stale cigarettes. I am sorry to say, there seemed to be some pretty serious hygiene issues as well. It was all very sad that this person was behind the wheel and a woman was seriously injured. Based on my observation.. it was a time bomb waiting to go off and it did.

Spencer Boomhower
Guest
Spencer Boomhower

That’s horrible. My heart goes out to that woman, and I hope she recovers quickly.

A collision is one thing, but that aspect of someone being dragged along takes it to the next level. Like in that story of the kid in Vancouver dragged under the SUV. A momentary lapse of attention can happen, but to be so oblivious that you don’t notice you’ve got a live person pinned to your bumper, and you’re scraping them along the pavement is criminal. It should have serious repercussions.

Bob_M
Guest
Bob_M

What a horror! My thoughts are for a speedy recovery for the victum and justice for the driver. (in that order)

Lance P.
Guest
Lance P.

I’m so upset right now. I live 1 block from their and ride this intersection everyday. That intersection is bad from both directions. There isn’t even a bike lane their going east!

I think anyone drinking that hits a cyclist should have a minimum prison sentence. Why is it that if you take a hammer and hit someone you can get attempted murder but you take an large metal vehicle hit someone it is just a slap on the wrist.

Just appalling.

Marion
Guest
Marion

My thoughts are with that bicyclist.. I am so worried about her. But I am also angry, that’s why I said my observations about the driver. I don’t mean to make this worse.. but I am so shaken by this, I bike my daughter to school.. I want people to have good sound judgement behind the wheel or on a bike to keep us ALL safe on the roads. This is NOT us and them, we are ALL in this TOGETHER. This driver was just a mess.. and I seriously don’t think it was because he was in shock about what happened, although he has to feel some horror about the whole thing.

Meghan H
Guest
Meghan H

You’d be surprised about how many early AM drunk drivers there are…I seem to remember a SE 21st & Clinton stop-sign-sting a few years ago that netted at least one (and maybe two) drunk car drivers, all before 9 am.

Peejay
Guest
Peejay

Washington plates? Goes to show that our city can have the most educated road users possible, and we’re still not safe. Kinda makes you want to reconsider the 12 lane option, doesn’t it, Sam?

dat
Guest
dat

It needs a bike box…

Tall Mike
Guest
Tall Mike

I use this intersection alot and this is a situation where you must leave the bike lane. You must take the lane here in order to avoid this type of right hook accident. Cars fly (and so do bikes) down this hill after the bridge inviting trouble. On Burnside Bridge, heading west, similar situation – but the bike lane ends and you end up in the main traffic lane – which in my opinion is safer than some narrow bike lane that invites right hook accidents.

Bike lanes have there place, but I would reguarly leave them in order to avoid this right hook scenario. Bike lanes leave you in the pathway of open doors and right hooks – take the main traffic lane when there is even a potentail for these types of accidents.

patrick
Guest

how awful. I hope the cyclist recovers well and quickly.

I tend to take the lane when descending toward this intersection…. I guess I’ll continue to do so.

Adam
Guest
Adam

I absolutely agree with Mike. Bike lanes have their place but you also have the right to take the lane to avoid danger. In condensed areas like this I see it as a scenario where using the bike lane can be a false sense of security. Take the lane. My thoughts go out to the cyclist, I hope you have a speedy recovery!

frank
Guest
frank

dat,

A bike box would not make any difference in this situation.

I’m disappointed that Portland has designed their bike lanes this way.

IT goes against AASHTO standards because they are deadly and have already caused great harm to too many people.

I’m disappointed that the City of Portland keeps going around the problem by installing bike boxes which make no difference when the light is green.

Finally I’m disappointed in the powers that be for thinking that bicyclists are too stupid to learn how to signal, scan and take the lane at an intersection.

Here is a news flash. The bicyclists should never, ever by to the right side of a right turning car….ever. Yet, every bicycle lane in Portland does just that.

More people will be injured and killed because of this failed policy.

Anonymous
Guest
Anonymous

A driver’s perspective:

My observations do not really apply to this exact accident, because it appears that the driver was impaired, but nonetheless I have always found this to be a dangerous intersection.

I drive this way every morning on my way to work, and it’s scary. For me, the problem is all about timing and visibility. I drive a small, compact car. Because this intersection is at the bottom of a hill, and because that hill curves, and because there are generally large trucks behind me, I can’t really see more then about 10-15′ behind me before visibility is cut off.

I pay very close attention to when I pass cyclists so I know when to expect them. However, I can’t help but shake the feeling that if the timing was just wrong, my visibility is limited enough that if I’m moving slowly turning the corner, I could have a collision with a fast moving cyclist that i was unable to see.

Anyway, I don’t know if my description explains the problem I see well enough, but maybe you can see what I’m saying. A bike box wouldn’t help at all – its when the light is green that there is generally a problem, not when it’s red.

Anonymous
Guest
Anonymous

And also, I agree completely with frank in 22 when he says

“Here is a news flash. The bicyclists should never, ever by to the right side of a right turning car….ever. Yet, every bicycle lane in Portland does just that.”

Visibility simply isn’t good enough. Especially when it is dark, raining, and I have some huge suv or truck with REALLY bright lights drowning out any of the cycling lights.

Combine that with when I’m somehow supposed to be looking in front of me and behind me at the same time – it doesn’t make any sense.

I am careful – I look for everyone, car, cyclist or pedestrian. I follow all of the rules. I have excellent vision and fantastic reaction time. But I feel like I am also put in a position alot of the time where visibility is so bad that someone could really end up getting hurt.

borgbike
Guest

Deep sympathies to this bicyclist.

Again ditto what others stated, when ever reasonable, I try to “take the lane” here. If I’m stuck in the bike lane it’s good to be extremely paranoid of the drivers not signaling etc., though in this case I get the sense that the driver was so out of it that there might not have been much to prevent this.

I am thankful that I have a very loud front brake right now. It’s way louder than any bike bell. I use it here a lot coming down from the bridge on Lovejoy. Short purcusive bursts of “SCREETCH! SCREETCH! SCREETCH!” gets everyone’s attention. 😉

One other comment while we are on the topic of Lovejoy: It’s really strange to me that so much money was spent on traffic/street redevelopment here but yet the lights are still unsyncronized. Some mornings I go from one red light to the next. Perhaps the city is waiting for the new street car line to go in to make this upgrade? As it stands now, this section of Lovejoy is a pollution-creating, time-and-gas wasting length of city street.

On the whole though, I am very happy to have the Lovejoy and 13th Ave bike lanes. These two corridors make my commute up to the PSU area a lot safer and less hectic than going up Broadway.

j.v
Guest
j.v

I saw the aftermath of this accident this morning at around 9:05 and had that sick feeling in my stomach. I always take the lane and turn left at that intersection, but I have seen numerous close calls. It is especially dangerous as it is downhill, and it is possible for a cyclist to be traveling in the bike lane much faster than car traffic. Especially if car traffic is slow, a driver might not expect a bike coming fast on the right. I have experienced this as a driver as well at that intersection, but am vigilant in checking my mirrors. I don’t think a bike box is enough – that intersection should have “no right turn” marked on it. And I fear even more once the streetcar goes up there…

On a related note – I think there are a lot of drivers out there who have no business operating a motor vehicle. I have a personal issue too. My brother was right hooked (as a pedestrian crossing a crosswalk) last Monday in the Seattle area by a woman who traveled for at least another 25 feet with him on the hood of her car before she stopped. She appeared to be under the influence of medication, had two kids in the back seat, and was so large she barely fit in the front seat. Luckily my brother is ok other than a broken leg, but clearly she was in no state to be driving. I think there should be more stringent licensing that includes reaction time tests and physical heath requirements as well as the basic traffic laws.

This is a tragedy, and I fear that the driver might be uninsured if there are so many other personal/substance issues going on.

Stay safe out there folks.

a.O
Guest
a.O

This tragedy illustrates a key reform needed in Oregon law. ORS 814.420(3)(c) allows bicycle riders to leave a bike lane “for the purpose of … [a]voiding debris or other hazardous conditions.”

Does this allow you to take the lane before an intersection for the purpose of avoiding a right-hook? Perhaps, but it is not clear.

Clarifying this rule is far more important for bicyclists’ safety than being able to legally treat a stop sign as a yield sign. As such, it deserves a higher priority from BTA and others.

The fix should be simple. The law needs to provide a separate exception allowing that a “bicyclist may leave a bicycle lane at a reasonably safe distance before any intersection where the bicyclist will travel straight through the intersection and motor vehicle traffic in the lane adjacent to the bicycle lane to the left may legally turn right.”

Independent of this, frank (#22) is exactly right: Traffic engineers at PBOD, ODOT, and elsewhere ought to know better than to design bike lanes this way.

There is no reason that a bike lane has to continue through an intersection to the right of lanes from which motor vehicles can turn right.

The bike lanes should end before such intersections and include markings indicating that bicyclists should merge with other traffic.

Seriously, these people know that this design contributes to one of the most common and deadliest types of collisions involving bicyclists. Why the hell don’t they stop this deadly engineering? Is it going to take a lawsuit to get their attention?

Steven J
Guest
Steven J

Take the damn lane folks…take… the… lane

dat
Guest
dat

Frank, Post 22

Interesting points.

Stig
Guest
Stig

Drivers simply are not in the habit of checking right before making a right-turn in the right lane. Simple enough problem, but are bike boxes the answer?

If bike boxes are so expensive to deploy that the city can only implement a handful for the entire city, they’re not a viable solution. How many intersections do you ride through? How many times have you nearly been right-hooked?

Intersections often have extra signage with additional rules – ‘do not turn right’ or ‘left turn yield to oncoming traffic’ etc. Why don’t we have a standard sign for intersections with bike lanes warning drivers to yield to cyclists when making right turns? Produce a few hundred of them and place them all over the city where you have bike lanes up to the intersection. This will increase driver awareness of the need to check right and yield.

One other improvement I would like to see would be to add small ridges/bumps along the bike lane stipes so that drivers who stray into the bike lane will hear and feel it. Britain does this with their highways/motorways and I’m sure helps to keep dozy and cell phone using drivers in their lane.

Bike boxes cannot be the only solution so long as we lack an unlimited budget. If this particular intersection doesn’t merit a bike box, it needs some other mitigating factor before someone else gets seriously hurt or killed.

How many other intersections are like this? Hundreds? We need a better solution.

Jim Labbe
Guest

Yikes. This is along my commute. I had a narrow brush with a motorist this morning while taking the space I needed in the lane to cross the MAX tracks under I-405.

Anonymous
Guest
Anonymous

AO –

As a motorist, I completely agree wtith you when you say the bike lanes should end and traffic should merge.

What really gets me is this: There is no circumstance where a car would ever have to turn right in front of a lane of cars. So why, WHY would someone think it is a good idea to have a situation where a car would turn right in front of cyclists, who are more vulnerable AND harder to see? It makes ZERO sense.

Marco Pantani
Guest
Marco Pantani

Frank, Post 22 is right in my opinion. I have been a cyclist in Portland for over 30 years(before bike lanes) and I naturally aviod being in the bike lane in these types of(very common) situations that PDOT has created. The fact that we were named a Platinum Cycling city is a disgrace…what a fricken joke! It gives new cyclist false sense of security. There are many intersextions like this in Portland(like on Broadway heading West near Wiliams, over I-5- try riding through there during rush hour).

carlos
Guest
carlos

“Steven J
Take the damn lane folks…take… the… lane”
This issue is more than your making it out to be. Many cyclists don’t have the confidence to get in the middle of a lane and hold up traffic. We all see it everyday, a person probably new to commuting who’s a little bit nervous in what they are doing. If we are truly sincere about making this city more bike friendly and want people to get out of their cars and onto bikes, we’re going to see a lot more of this. You can’t expect everyone to know the right thing to do in this situation. Especially when PDOT has given them a lane that they assume is safe. many of us know this is not a safe lane to ride in but that doesn’t mean the novice rider is going to know.

colin
Guest
colin

Speedy recovery to the lady. I bike commute every morning through downtown and have to deal with a lot of dangerous elements. I ride defensively. I always assume a car is going to turn even if their blinkers are not on. I fear the right hook every day and so I always try to put my bike in front or behind a car when approaching a turn.

beth h
Guest

Steven J —

Novice riders, along with the very young and the elderly, CANNOT take the lane and should not be forced to, especially in high-density auto traffic. If the streets belong to all bicyclists then we need to work on making them safer for all bicyclists, and not just the ones who can “keep up” with cars.

Burk
Guest
Burk

Carlos and Frank are right on the money.

Whyat
Guest
Whyat

This sucks. Getting right hooked is one of my biggest fears while riding. All I can say from a personal standpoint is that I make an effort to make eye contact with any driver that may be crossing my path. If I am traveling straight through a right turn lane I make sure any driver on the left of me has seen me or I don’t travel through the intersection. At least I try to do this. It’s easier said than done, but it has saved me several times from being right hooked. It saved me this morning riding by the post office on SE 7th. Hope the biker recovers and rides again.

GG
Guest
GG

I almost never go straight thru this intersection – on purpose. Going west, I make a right at 9th and jog over to Northrup. Going east, I ride Johnson all the way down to 9th and access the hill by making a right off of 9th. Even tho I live directly on Lovejoy I never ride on it. I frequently go out of my way to avoid poorly designed dangerous intersections like this one. I’m amazed at all the bike traffic on Lovejoy in general, especially going downhill squeezed next to the streetcar tracks. It’s madness.

007
Guest
007

Bike Boxes don’t make any difference. Almost everyday, including this morning, I am cut off at one (SW Broadway).

When will people learn to yield to the bike lane? It’s as simple as that.

You’ll have cars drive along next to you and pass each other back and forth for several blocks downtown and they’ll still turn in front of you.

Tall Mike
Guest
Tall Mike

Carlos – 34

The intention of my post (#19) and others is to stress and inform that we as cyclists need to be aware of dangers and tell the cyclist who are not so confident how to improve their cycling abilities. You CANNOT relie on cars, traffic lanes, signs or signals to protect you. We need to get the word out. Taking the lane is a safe and legal thing to do. Too many cyclists stay in bike lanes. Bike lanes do not provide a safe path for cyclist at all times. I hope a few less confident cyclists read these post and learn how to avoid right hooks. Bike boxes don’t work when the light is green. Taking the lane almost always works. Have you ever heard of a car rear ending a bike when the bike took the lane? It doesn’t happen that much. Wait in line like a car – sneaking up on the right side of car near an intersecction is asking for trouble. It is legal to pass a car on the right, but it can be dangerous.

I don’t put blame on any one thing for this type of unfortunate accident. I think we all hope the cyclist recovers quickly and returns to the way of the bike.

Ride safe and don’t put yourself in a dangerous situation just because you have the “right of way” or might save a few seconds or calories on your ride.

Krampus
Guest
Krampus

Jeez, one moron drunk driver hits a cyclist and suddenly everyone is decrying the city of Portland how disgraceful our Platinum status is. Relax.. accidents (or drunken morons) happen, and while I’m hopeful the cyclist makes a full recovery and the driver is penalized to the fullest extent of the law, I’m not about to curse this city because it hasn’t catered to every demand I have of it. Come on folks.

Stu
Guest
Stu

I saw the end of the accident, when the car went up the curb with the cyclist underneath. It didn’t look like a right-hook accident; judging from where the car went up curb in the intersection, it looked more like he fell asleep at wheel and just drifted to the right.

BURR
Guest
BURR

“Traffic engineers at PBOD, ODOT, and elsewhere ought to know better than to design bike lanes this way.

There is no reason that a bike lane has to continue through an intersection to the right of lanes from which motor vehicles can turn right.”

Hear, hear!

Can someone please smack Rob Burchfield, Mark Lear, Grag Raisman and others at PDOT who continue to allow and worse yet recommend this bike lane design upside the head repeatedly until they finally get it?!?!?!?

Mike
Guest
Mike

I wish the cyclist a speedy recovery and hope she has no permanent damage. That is an awful intersection.

I got right-hooked in October cycling in the bike lane going West on NE Broadway a couple hundred yards before the bridge. The driver said he saw me, but didn’t realize how fast I was going since we were both going down a steep hill.

BURR
Guest
BURR

JOnathan- Feel free to remove duplicate posts above, I’m not sure what was going on, but I was having trouble posting and was not getting the usual ‘duplicate post’ messages.

carlos
Guest
carlos

Tall Mike
Informed cyclists and motorists are key.But we can’t underestimate the usefulness of caution signs and well planned bike lanes. Like you say we can’t put blame on any one thing (except maybe drunk motorists), but we also can’t expect any one thing to fix this problem.

My thoughts and best wishes go out to this cyclist. I hope you have a speedy recovery.

KWW
Guest
KWW

So how much did PDOT save, and how much will this woman’s medical bills be?

frank
Guest
frank

Mia Burke, who is nearly worshipped in Portland, will tell you that bicyclists cannot learn how to signal, scan and take the lane.

I’ve had this conversation with her and she became instantly angry. She also could not tell me how a bike box works when the light is green.

Jaime
Guest
Jaime

I live right on the corner of this intersection and was woken up this morning to car horns and a woman screaming loudly. I ran onto my balcony to see what happened, and it appeared as if the victim was seriously injured. She didn’t seem to be moving at all. A firetruck and police came immediately onto the scene. I hope the woman recovers and is OK.