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Some human help at a very dangerous intersection

Posted by on June 18th, 2010 at 10:53 am

A flagger working with PBOT paving crews stops car traffic at Broadway and Williams to make sure people on bikes get through safely.
(Photos © J. Maus)

“I’m flagging to make sure they don’t run bike riders over.”
— Flagger

As regular readers know, the intersection of Broadway and Williams is one of the most dangerous in the city. Add in streetcar construction on Broadway and a paving project on Williams and it becomes a serious safety concern.

A few weeks ago, we highlighted just how unsafe construction projects had made this intersection. Thankfully, streetcar construction has subsided for now, but City of Portland crews are currently working on the repave (and bike lane widening) project.

But apparently they’ve heard our concerns because now there’s a dedicated flagger on scene specifically to ensure a higher degree of safety for bike traffic.

I first heard about the flagger from reader K. Bott, who wrote:

“Riding in to work this a.m… there was a construction worker with a stop/slow sign … his ENTIRE job is to stand there and stop traffic from going right on green when there’s a cyclist heading straight through the intersection. He commented to the cyclist ahead of me – “We want you guys to be safe” — and then had a very clear communication with a driver who decided to turn right on green despite the stop sign in his face. (Worker shakes stop sign a bit for extra attention – “SIR! This means STOP, sir!”)”

I went this morning to get a photo and confirm what the flagger was doing. As Ms. Bott said, he’s out there, standing in front of cars if neccessary, to make sure they don’t turn right into passing bikes. When I asked him what he was doing, he said, “I’m flagging to make sure they don’t run bike riders over.”

Here are a few more shots of this fantastic flagger in action:

Flagger at Broadway Williams-9

Flagger at Broadway Williams-4

Flagger at Broadway Williams-3

Flagger at Broadway Williams-6

Thanks PBOT! Any idea how much it’d cost to just keep him there forever? (He could put out a tip jar.)

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12 Comments
  • Anton June 18, 2010 at 11:08 am

    Yesterday I had to turn right to go north onto MLK. There was a bicyclist trying to go straight. Traffic was heavy. My convertible top was down so I shouted over to him, “hey I’m going to turn right in front of you, ok?” He gave me the nod.

    Communication and politeness rocks!

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  • Matthew June 18, 2010 at 11:19 am

    This rules!

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  • Kronda June 18, 2010 at 11:47 am

    There’s something in my eye.

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  • Allan June 18, 2010 at 11:51 am

    @ 1 — sometimes i’ll waive cars in front of me if i’m stopped at a red. but its good to have some communication for that case. good for you

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  • pat h June 18, 2010 at 11:53 am

    That is great. Way to go everyone, especially that guy blocking cars!

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  • Charley June 18, 2010 at 1:13 pm

    Props to this guy, and hope he stays safe!

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  • Adam June 18, 2010 at 3:04 pm

    This is great for cyclists BUT hazardous for both the flagger and all road users in general, not to mention technically illegal. Per the Oregon Temporary Handbook “It is illegal to control traffic by flagging in conflict with normal intersection traffic control. Only uniformed police officer may control traffic by flagging in conflict with normal intersection traffic signal operation under Oregon law. See ORS 811.265. This means that traffic cannot be flagged to proceed when facing a red traffic signal light or stop sign, or flagged to stop when the traffic signal is green.” That traffic signal needs to be turned off or covered as the flagging provides conflicting information to drivers.

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  • Chris Shaffer June 18, 2010 at 3:09 pm

    Where do we write/call to thank the city for this?

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  • Adam June 18, 2010 at 3:11 pm

    Edit for #7 – I meant to say Oregon Temporary Traffic Control Handbook.

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  • Steve B. June 18, 2010 at 5:15 pm

    What’s this awesome flagger’s name? This person is my hero. Thank you PBOT!

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  • Todd Boulanger June 19, 2010 at 2:03 am

    Yay PBOT!

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  • Coldswim June 19, 2010 at 6:31 pm

    “Thanks PBOT! Any idea how much it’d cost to just keep him there forever?”

    Stuff of nightmares, “Ye shall dwell an eternity in purgatory known as the intersection of Broadway and Williams… of DOOM!”

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