Notorious stop signs on SE Caruthers finally removed

Posted by on April 15th, 2009 at 11:54 am

Stop signs removed-101

View of new sign on SE
Caruthers at Water, looking west.
(Photos © J. Maus)

City of Portland crews have removed two stop signs on SE Caruthers Street at the intersection with SE Water. Initially installed in 2002, the stop signs have been a thorn in the side of many people who ride through the intersection and a source of frustration and complaints by others who say no one obeyed them.

Back in November, when the Bureau of Transportation announced they would remove the signs, City Traffic Engineer Rob Burchfield said the stop signs had been the source of numerous complaints. Some people complained about poor compliance with the signs from both people on bikes and in cars, and others complained that the signs seemed unnecessary.

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Burchfield also said that the intersection had no history of crashes and that, “The non-compliance of the stop signs has not translated into any crash activity.”

Stop signs removed-100

Ann Watterson won’t be getting
any more tickets.

In the westbound direction, PBOT has removed the stop sign and installed a new sign in its place that warns right-turning vehicles to yield to bicycles. Crews have also laid down “skip-striping” for the bike lane all the way through the intersection.

Caruthers and Waters is a “T” intersection and there is very little cross traffic on SE Water on the westbound side (the street no longer goes through, and so it’s essentially just a glorified driveway). On the eastbound side (at the flat part of the T), the stop sign was installed adjacent to driveways (driveways!) that led to private parking lots. This one was especially annoying for people on bikes who were just coming off the Eastbank Esplanade on their way to the Springwater Corridor Trail.

Given the placement and traffic situation at this intersection, it seemed clear that the stop signs were never warranted to begin with (more on that later). However, that didn’t stop them from becoming the source of frustration for the community, the cops, and the city for years.

Signage at SE Caruthers and Water-2.jpg

Ummm…not any more!

Back in July of 2007, construction crews working on a project adjacent to the northeast corner of the intersection, got so frustrated that they installed their own sign that unabashedly stated (in capital letters), “BICYCLISTS MUST FOLLOW STOP SIGNS AND TRAFFIC DIRECTIONS!”.

These stop signs were also the location of a lot of enforcement activity by the Police Bureau, which, not surprisingly became a hot button issue.

Yesterday morning I talked to a few people about their experience riding through this intersection. Ann Watterson was happy to see the sign gone — especially because she got a $242 ticket for running through it two years ago.

Lara Utman has been biking through the intersection everyday for the past three years. She said, “this is a great place to try a switch like this because there’s almost no traffic coming through here.” Utman said she used to “just kind of slow down” at the sign, until she saw someone get a ticket.

Some people that rolled through Tuesday morning would glance up, then have a brief moment of confusion before continuing through. Many others didn’t even look up at the new sign, which leads me to think they didn’t even notice the old one either.

Utman was happy to see the change, even if it was a bit confusing at first. “I felt a little bit surprised the first time coming through,” she said, “like, oh, what am I supposed to do?”

— Stay tuned for more stop sign coverage. There are other intersections in Portland where stop signs should be removed…

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14 Comments
  • Avatar
    Seager April 15, 2009 at 12:16 pm

    ““The non-compliance of the stop signs has not translated into any crash activity.”

    Seems like if replace the “the” with “most” we’d have a pretty good argument for the Idaho Stop Law.

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    sh April 15, 2009 at 12:50 pm

    What is “skip-striping?”

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    Jonathan Maus (Editor) April 15, 2009 at 12:52 pm

    dashed lines, see the photo.

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    DJ Hurricane April 15, 2009 at 1:04 pm

    Yes, remember the stings that were done at this and the adjacent intersection?

    Well, a year later (approx?) compliance has not changed. Every morning and every afternoon, I watch people on bikes and in cars slow down, look both ways, and proceed without stopping. Just like before the stings. They were *totally ineffective* at changing typical behavior at this intersection.

    And the sign that informs motorists that they must yield to bicyclists when turning right should be at every intersection with a bike lane.

    But the burning question is: What will the construction workers who block the bike lanes with their rigs have to complain about now that there is no stop sign?

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    matt picio April 15, 2009 at 1:06 pm

    “Given the placement and traffic situation at this intersection, it seemed clear that the stop signs were never warranted to begin with”

    I respectfully disagree. Before the Big Pipe construction started, this intersection saw a lot of traffic each day – traffic which only slowed to a trickle after the MLK viaduct work began and the ramps on and off MLK / McLoughlin from SE 4th / Ivon were closed or re-routed. The current bypass could not be built earlier because SAMtrak staged their train rides from a platform which stood where the current road lies – owner Dick Samuels (the “Sam” in “Samtrak”) stopped providing the rides from OMSI to Oaks Park a few years ago, shortly before the viaduct and Big Pipe projects began.

    It was a much different traffic situation in 2005-06. I will agree, though, that those signs haven’t been necessary in the last 2 years, especially with the reduced business to Wayne Kingsley’s boats (Portland Spirit and others) and the elimination of some of the area businesses (one due to fire, one due to relocation).

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    BURR April 15, 2009 at 1:09 pm

    There’s really not enough traffic here to warrant the bike lanes anymore either.

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    Mr DeJerk April 15, 2009 at 1:18 pm

    Where do I complain about unnecessary or dangerous signs?

    There are so many weird intersections in St Johns. For example, where Willamette Blvd becomes a small neighborhood street, there’s a sign that says “STOP – except when turning right” – !?!?!!

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    KruckyBoy April 15, 2009 at 1:22 pm

    This is the real solution. Let’s get rid of redundant unnecessary stop signs. This is a way better solution than the ISSL.

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    are April 15, 2009 at 1:53 pm

    comment 4, “the sign that informs motorists that they must yield to bicyclists when turning right should be at every intersection with a bike lane.”

    no, bike lanes should leave off some distance ahead of the intersection, with skip striping (what a nice phrase) to the corner, and cyclists should merge left, out of the pocket.

    actually, in most cases, just as there should be no stop signs, there should be no segregated striped bike lane, but instead sharrows . . .

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    peejay April 15, 2009 at 2:11 pm

    Of the four following outcomes for a theoretical stop-controlled intersection:

    A) High stop sign compliance, no crash history;
    B) Low stop sign compliance, no crash history;
    C) High stop sign compliance, history of crashes;
    D) Low stop sign compliance, history of crashes,

    rank them by most to least desirable. Anybody who puts C above B gets their right to be respectfully listened to by me revoked. Anybody who says B is not possible needs to show me the data. Anybody who seriously cares whether A comes before B or C comes before D should get over themselves.

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    matt picio April 15, 2009 at 2:39 pm

    peejay (#10) – A,B,D,C. It has nothing to do with “getting over myself”. I want cars to comply with the stop – period. I don’t want to feel threatened by cars blowing the intersection when I’m in it, even if there are no crashes. I run into this problem on Salmon all the time – 2-way stop, I’m on Salmon and have the right-of-way, car is on cross street with stop sign, in a hurry, and the motorist comes to a 5mph “stop” and tries to accelerate, seeing me at the last instant.

    High compliance, no crash history is in my mind more desirable than Low compliance, no crash history (but numerous close calls).

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    peejay April 15, 2009 at 4:15 pm

    Matt:

    I’ll refine that, based on your comments. Crash history to include close calls or any uncomfortable exchanges, but NOT to include any cases of someone merely observing a non-compliance when not in any way near the path of the vehicle.

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    matt picio April 16, 2009 at 7:46 am

    I can agree with that.

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    HERB WILLIAMS May 29, 2009 at 2:53 pm

    There back and they moved up the street at Caruthers and 4th ave. police officer Ronald Hoesly was pulling everyone over If didn’t stop all the way and come off your bike and on the street.
    This is where the road is closed and there is no traffic, I ride this everyday and there is no problems at this intersection, and on the last day of the work month all of the bike are being pulled over I think someone is trying to make their quota. NOT Cool

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