Harvest Century September 22nd

PBOT adds caution striping at dangerous SW Terwilliger intersection

Posted by on September 27th, 2011 at 12:11 pm

Following an injury collision involving a Multnomah County Judge last month, the Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) has re-striped the intersection of SW Terwilliger and SW Condor.

Here’s how the intersection looked prior to the new treatment:

(Photo: PPB)

And here’s how it looks now (photo sent in by reader):

After Multnomah County Judge Kathleen Dailey was involved in a collision while bicycling through this intersection, many BikePortland readers wrote in to share their concerns. Turns out this was is an intersection that a lot of people feel is unsafe. Soon after Judge Dailey’s collision, PBOT Director Tom Miller said his team would analyze the intersection and make some changes.

From the looks of the photo above, PBOT’s response was to add zebra stripes to the crosswalk, and bolster visibility of the bike lane with the now-familiar green color.

Miller has also said changes can be expected at the intersection of NE Couch and Grand, another notoriously dangerous place to ride a bicycle that has claimed several recent victims.

Have you ridden by this intersection since the re-stripe? I’d love to know if it feels safer to you and/or how you feel about the changes.

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

33 Comments
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    Brad September 27, 2011 at 12:19 pm

    Does that green paint has an abrasive mixed in it for traction? If not, the “fix” is going to claim a good number of victims.

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      Paul Johnson September 28, 2011 at 8:28 am

      I think it’s safe to say at this point in time the answer is “yes” based on previous installations.

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    BURR September 27, 2011 at 12:19 pm

    you shouldn’t be riding downhill at 25 MPH in the bike lane anyway, you should move left and take the lane at that speed.

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      Blair September 27, 2011 at 12:51 pm

      I’ve ridden this stretch of Terwilliger many times, and I’m fairly confident that the re-striped intersection is on the uphill side of the road. In fact, if you look to the left of the bottom picture, you can see a cyclist coming down the hill.

      As far as speed determining whether you should be in the lane or not…While I think the safety concerns of riding in the bike lane or not are up to the individual rider, I would not want to be in the motor vehicle lane on this road at any speed. The hilliness and windiness of the road make all sight lines very short, and I would definitely worry about a speeder coming around a blind corner and rear-ending even a speedy cyclist.

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        wally September 27, 2011 at 1:00 pm

        No, it’s on the downhill side. I rode it yesterday. The rider is going uphill-but there is a bit of an optical illusion going on there. I remember thinking that it *looked* slippery but it was shiny because it was wet yesterday, so maybe it wasn’t actually slippery. And slippery is dangerous at speeds much below 25 mph.

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      Paul Johnson September 28, 2011 at 8:30 am

      …the bike lane is a lane, just one that has been reserved for bicycle traffic.

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    gregg woodlawn September 27, 2011 at 12:24 pm

    I haven’t ridden on this stretch yet, but THANKS PBOT! It looks safer now. PLEASE make Couch and Grand safer before anyone else gets hurt.

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    Carrie September 27, 2011 at 12:32 pm

    It makes me nervous, especially in this wet weather. Don’t get me wrong – I’m happy for PBOT’s interest in making this safer but it gives me the heebie-jeebies when I ride on it. I feel like it’s slippery.

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      Paul Johnson September 28, 2011 at 8:35 am

      I think the whole idea of the colored bike lane intersections is to get cyclists and motorists both to recognize it as a dangerous location. In other words, this pavement marking is working as designed.

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    Natalie September 27, 2011 at 12:35 pm

    I biked that route once and never again. Glad to see PBOT making improvements. That said–as always–it’s annoying that someone like a judge has to be involved in a crash before anyone takes action. If only cops rode bikes around Portland streets (and not just on the sidewalks downtown), I bet improvements like these would come a lot faster.

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    jeff September 27, 2011 at 12:39 pm

    either the city or OHSU is great about keeping Terwilliger free to leaf debris in the fall with street cleaning (more so than much of rest of the city)…I give that paint about 6 months.

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    andy September 27, 2011 at 1:01 pm

    I am not familiar with the intersection. Does anyone know how many cars turn onto and off of Condor (to Terwilliger) per day? It’s a shame that a low use street like Condor gets this special treatment.

    I disagree with the commenter who says you should move into the lane if you’re going 25. Ride in the bike lane at the fastest speed you feel comfortable.

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      Rob Tell September 27, 2011 at 4:06 pm

      Lots of cars take this intersection as a way to get off the hill bypassing the main intersections.

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    Dave September 27, 2011 at 1:30 pm

    I ride it every day, and while I am happy they are taking an interest in cyclists’ safety, I take the lane when going down this section because it’s sketchy as hell when going over it at speed.

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    Tony H September 27, 2011 at 2:04 pm

    I am a very grateful daily commuter. I’ve had a few close calls here in the dark (I leave work at 5:30pm), and I hope that this marking serves to remind everyone to be careful. @Andy: the street isn’t getting “special treatment”; Road users are getting a much-needed visual assist.

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    Steve B September 27, 2011 at 2:17 pm

    Great work, PBOT! This is the sort of responsiveness we should expect from our local transportation bureau. Thanks to PBOT Director Tom Miller for ushering in changes so quickly.

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    Spiffy September 27, 2011 at 3:40 pm

    special victims get special treatment as usual…

    lots of collisions and unsafe intersections all over the city that are way more deserving than this location, but a local official hasn’t crashed at them yet so they stay neglected…

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      Paul Johnson September 28, 2011 at 9:34 am

      To be fair, this wasn’t any city official, this was a judge. I bet you’ll get a similar jump if you get your attorney to call 823-SAFE on your behalf.

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      dr2chase September 28, 2011 at 4:20 pm

      On the other hand, be thrilled that a judge is biking. Clearly she needs to be invited on a tour of all the local cycling low points.

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    sw resident September 27, 2011 at 4:21 pm

    This is a welcome improvement. As long as the paint doesn’t get slick in the rain then it should be alright. Still, always assume that other vehicles don’t see you and have a low skill set.
    Also, a very important thing to remember when descending Terwilliger is that the majority of the turns are off-camber (including this one). If there are no cars right behind you consider taking the lane on the turns.

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    Brian September 27, 2011 at 6:29 pm

    Not only green bike lane striping, but also a striped ped crosswalk.

    Can I get a HELLS TO THE YEAH!!

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    Ted Buehler September 28, 2011 at 1:07 am

    Andy wrote:
    “It’s a shame that a low use street like Condor gets this special treatment.

    and Spiffy wrote
    “lots of collisions and unsafe intersections all over the city that are way more deserving than this location,

    I’m glad to see this intersection get improvements for bicycle safety.

    They have to start somewhere.

    It takes less time to get things fixed than it does to quibble over which places are most deserving of the first fixes.

    Do you have a dangerous spot on your regular riding route? Call it in to 823-SAFE or email safe@portlandoregon.gov Get your fellow riders to do the same.

    If a few people would have called this one in maybe it would have gotten fixed *before* it put someone in the hospital.

    Ted Buehler

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    dwainedibbly September 28, 2011 at 4:22 am

    It should make things better for all users, whether motorist, cyclist, or pedestrian. Nice!

    Special treatment? Perhaps, but I prefer to think of it as a test, a prototype. If it works well here, then I think we all should expect PBOT to do the same thing elsewhere. (And I do mean “expect”, as this should become a norm.)

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    Paul Johnson September 28, 2011 at 8:30 am

    I wonder why PBOT’s flaggers didn’t set up their workzone with a cone taper, instead treating a travel lane (the bicycle lane) as a shoulder. Basic traffic control FAIL.

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    Barbara September 28, 2011 at 8:45 am

    I ride Terwilliger daily and I think the new striping is great! Especially the combination of bike lane striping and crosswalk striping. There is a visual barrier now and I hope that it will make a difference. A lot of pedestrians complained as well that this intersection is dangerous, so the corsswalk striping is a good addition.

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    Fixedale September 28, 2011 at 9:15 am

    I’ve just been told by my coworker who lives lower down on Condor that the upper section of Condor isn’t a city street but a park road. He said someone at the city told him it could be easily closed because of this.
    Jonathan- Is there anyway you could follow up on this? Although the new striping might help, I still think the only way to eliminate close calls and accidents here is to close Condor to through traffic. (I’ve been commuting through this intersection for 15 years.)

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    Fred September 28, 2011 at 2:02 pm

    I ride Terwilliger everyday. The green paint makes me think I am going to slip, but so far it hasn’t happened. The pine needles and leaves are much more treacherous when wet. I ride at about 20-25 mph on this stretch and never take the lane because drivers are always passing me in this area.

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    Glen Bolen September 28, 2011 at 2:25 pm

    I rode by Condor this morning as a car was approaching to turn onto Terwilliger. This new treatment was indeed helpful – I never got eye contact with the driver but she indeed came to a full stop and didn’t pull out until I’d passed.

    To be honest, as an experienced cyclist it’s easy to start taking things for granted. Painting this area green worked to get my attention as well as the drivers.

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    Paul Tay September 28, 2011 at 4:54 pm

    What is the latest on the Judge’s condition?

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    Liz September 28, 2011 at 6:30 pm

    This is an awesome improvement to this stretch of road.

    I have to say though, I am a little miffed… why is it that despite five or six people being injured on the new Couch couplet system, ZILCH has been done to fix it.

    Yet, the second a Multnomah County Judge has a traffic altercation on a street, PBOT are falling over themselves to fix the intersection as fast as possible.

    Perhaps if every cyclist said their day job was a JUDGE, a lot more dangerous intersections would get fixed.

    Sorry to rant. The double-standard just really irritates me.

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    mike September 29, 2011 at 10:19 am

    going downhill at this intersection is definitely one of those places where being in the bike lane is NOT the safest place to be. if you’re going 20 to 25 mph, move left into the car lane. you will not hold up car traffic from behind and you will be much more visible to cars entering from Condor. it’s a win/win….and kudos to PBOT for doing something.

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    commuter September 30, 2011 at 2:11 pm

    20-25mph in the vehicle lane is not fast enough on this section..i usually do close to 30 in the bike lane and its just fine. Cars go way faster on this stretch due to the nature of the road.

    I’m a little hesitant about the green paint as I think it will be slippery when wet at high speeds. Most green painted lanes are around intersections where speeds are much lower.

    When winter rolls around and its dark, most motorist will not notice the paint as they will be more concerned with headlights.

    If we want to talk about areas that need more improvement just try riding your bike heading west off the Hawthorne bridge into downtown during morning rush hour. The lane literally dumps you on Main St. and the bike lane disappears among a sea of cars, buses and pedestrians. We need a dedicated bike lane that goes all they way up to Broadway! It is by far the most dangerous stretch of my commute followed by the bikeway/lane that runs you into PSU students on Broadway. I have been commuting on Broadway for 11yrs now and I prefer the old bike lane.

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    Paul Souders October 5, 2011 at 1:25 pm

    I ride and have ridden this route several times a week, for the last 8 years. (I’m the reader who took the photo above.)

    I appreciate the striping, it draws attention to the bad sight lines.

    I’ve never had a close call at Condor but I’ve seen a few and it gives me the heebie jeebies. I HAVE had a few close calls while running, once when I had a stroller. The loud zebra striping is more important than the green paint IMO.

    I often take the lane here but car traffic might be much faster than the posted 25mph. So it’s nice to have the bike lane there.

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