Posted by Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) on October 22nd, 2010 at 10:32 am
No street in Portland has gotten more attention on this site over the years than Broadway; and it doesn’t look to be ending any time soon. Before I get into some current bike safety issues that exist on the street, let me take you back in time…
There was the infamous hotel zone saga, the city’s first experiment with a parking protected bike lane (a.k.a. cycle track) down near PSU, the stop sign controversies and resulting attention from PBOT at Flint, the safety concerns at Wheeler, and of course, the numerous stories we’ve done about the dangers of right hooks at Williams.
Most recently, we’ve given our attention to the new bike signal at Williams. That’s a welcome improvement, but it’s far from being fixed. The five-foot wide, curbside bike lane isn’t a comfortable place to ride and motor vehicles operators are making right turns on red in alarming numbers (despite a big, red, flashing LED sign telling them not to). Hopefully, compliance goes up at Williams in the coming weeks.
Today I want to bring your attention to two issues: The new right-hook potential at Larrabee and the existing right-hook potential at Wheeler. (Note: Crash data shows that right-hook crashes rarely lead to serious injuries or fatalities compared to other types of colisions.)
With the completion of streetcar track installation on Broadway, PBOT has changed the bike lane configuration as you head westbound onto the Broadway Bridge. The bike lane used to merge over one lane a block in advance of Larrabee, so that bike traffic continuing west would be to the left of right-turning motor vehicle traffic going north on Larrabee. Now, PBOT has put the bike lane curbside. This means the bike lane is to the right of vehicles turning right onto Larrabee.
This issue is made worse because there is a high volume of truck traffic that goes right at this intersection. This right-turn is one of the main access points for grain trucks and other big rigs headed to the industrial area under the Fremont bridge and Albina railyards. It’s also worth noting that the Portland Water Bureau prohibits their truck drivers from using Wheeler (out of safety concerns, see below), which means they use Larrabee instead.
Thankfully, PBOT is aware of the issues at Larrabee and City Traffic Engineer Rob Burchfield told me the other day they are currently meeting with the Portland Trail Blazers and Rose Quarter people to see if they’ll sign off on potential solutions. I’ll keep you posted on what those are and if/when they are coming.
Another unresolved issue on Broadway is the strange Wheeler/Flint horseshoe intersection. This is right across the street from my office and I can attest from hours of observations over the years that this intersection is a mess. Bikes come south down Flint (many of them not stopping at the stop sign) and just a few yards after they merge onto Broadway they come to Wheeler. A fair number of cars and trucks turn right onto Wheeler from Broadway. My photos do a better job explaining how tricky this intersection is (the three below were taken in just one 15 minute period)…
Jeff Guard, an OSHA-certified Training and Development Analyst for the Portland Water Bureau felt right turns onto Wheeler were so risky he implemented a policy prohibiting his drivers from doing it. One potential solution would be to install a curb extension that would prohibit right turns (northbound traffic) onto Wheeler. Motor vehicles could simply go one short block west to Ross in order to access the area.
The City is aware that the Broadway/Weidler couplet needs some help. They’re embarking on a large-scale planning effort to take a closer look at the area. Check out the N/NE Quadrant planning effort that’s just getting started at the Bureau of Planning.
Do you ride or drive on these sections of Broadway? Do you agree they need attention and improvement? What are your experiences? How can we help PBOT make this a less stressful place? I’m sure they’d appreciate your feedback, and so would I.