The Worst Day of the Year Ride is February 11th

PBOT prohibits left turns on tricky Terwilliger intersection

Posted by on February 16th, 2012 at 4:31 pm

No more left turns from SW Condor onto Terwilliger and no more left turns off of Terwilliger onto Condor.
(Photos: Armando Luna)

Remember Kathleen Dailey? She’s the Multnomah County Judge who was seriously injured after someone operating a car didn’t see her and turned into her path as she pedaled into work on SW Terwilliger Blvd back in August. The collision left Dailey with serious injuries and it left PBOT with a lot to think about.

The person in the car was attempting to turn left (south) onto Terwilliger from SW Condor, a small sidestreet. The poor visibility, the curves of Terwilliger, and the speed of traffic (both bike and car) at the intersection created dangerous conditions. One month later, PBOT took action and added new striping and signage to warn people of the presence of bicycles.

Apparently PBOT felt paint and signs weren’t enough. They have now installed plastic bollards in the middle of the intersection to prohibit left turns. Bureau spokesman Dan Anderson says the intersection has “a history of bike crashes” and that this is just a temporary median.

The median will be installed for a month and monitored. PBOT wants to make sure the local Homestead Neighborhood Association is O.K. with how the changes impact neighborhood cut-through traffic. Anderson says the City will make a final decision about whether or not to keep the median after the neighborhood’s April meeting.

Below are a few more photos sent in by reader Armando Luna…

Looking north on Terwilliger (Condor comes up on the right)…

Looking south on the east side of Terwilliger…

On the west side of Terwilliger, looking south…

And a set-back view from up the hill looking east at the intersection…

It seems like PBOT is using these plastic, “candlestick” bollards more frequently these days. I think that’s great, since they are much cheaper and more feasible to install than hard concrete/curbs. But, like we’ve seen NW Lovejoy and in other locations, these bollards are only as effective as the glue that holds them to the ground. Hopefully these new ones on Terwilliger hold up to the abuse.

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. Thank you — Jonathan

  • Scott February 16, 2012 at 4:44 pm

    Message: Things happen when judges get hurt.

    Johnathan, has there been other people on bicycles hurt at this intersection?

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    • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) February 16, 2012 at 4:57 pm

      I just added some new info to the story. Yes, PBOT says there’s been a “history of bike crashes” at the location and they also say it’s only a temporary fix until the neighbors give the final sign-off.

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    • dp: Bicycle Lawyer March 5, 2012 at 10:09 am

      As of today, all bollards down. not sure why or who?

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  • Tim G February 16, 2012 at 5:23 pm

    On my ride home this afternoon I saw that about half of the rods have been knocked off and are currently stacked on the side of the road opposite the footpath. Doesn’t seem like they lasted even 24 hours.

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  • Andy February 16, 2012 at 5:37 pm

    I walk this path 3-4x a week and the paint is excessive and can’t help bikers stop suddenly when there are cars here.
    Sadly, I’ve almost been hit here even with the paint, people like to tear through this one. 🙁

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    • Indy February 17, 2012 at 3:14 pm

      Just a follow-up. On my walk into work today today a car just completely ignored the no left turn. I could see why, as they drove up to the intersection, they were already looking back South to see if any oncoming traffic was coming.

      It is pretty amazing how many really, really bad drivers are out there.

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  • John Beaston February 16, 2012 at 6:05 pm

    This is on my commute route downtown in the evenings. It is the source of many close-calls, both from southbound cars turning left across the bike lane who aren’t expecting fast bikes and northbound cars turning right who don’t adequately stop.

    I’m glad to see PBOT is trying but I don’t like the bollards since northbound cars will move closer to the bike lane. Cars rarely obey the 25mph limit on this road. This is a downhill section so fast cars and fast bikes close together is not a good mix. The bollards will cause me to take the lane.

    A little speed enforcement for cars along this section of Terwilliger would be a big help.

    What’s with the odd “Look, left arrow, bicyclist” caution sign for southbound traffic?

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    • Suburban February 16, 2012 at 9:16 pm

      There will be NO speed enforcement. None, ever

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      • Ted Buehler February 17, 2012 at 2:11 am

        Not with that kind of attitude.

        But if 50 bicyclists all call 823-3333 or email, you can bet that there will be speed enforcement.

        Ted Buehler

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    • spare_wheel February 17, 2012 at 7:58 am

      when cycling downhill on terwilliger motorists routinely pass me at ridiculously high speeds. the problem is not cyclists. the problem is that motorists almost uniformly choose to break an important traffic law. i am sick and tired of scofflaw motorists.

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  • meteorite February 16, 2012 at 6:08 pm

    It’s about time for an effective physical barrier if not a compete closure of SW Condor Lane at Terwilliger! This route was never intended for access to OHSU or the VA. Such traffic changes are woefully overdue given the long history of serious injury bike crashes here. Motorists coming up Condor have poor sight lines as do southbound vehicles on Terwilliger.

    Back in 2005 safety concerns at this intersection were highlighted in PSU’s Portland Traffic and Transportation class. PDOT representatives, then Director Sue Keil and Tom Miller who now heads PDOT, were receptive but deferred any mitigation for inclusion in the Marquam Hill Traffic Calming Study. After further delays, initial remediation steps were taken about 2 years later – mostly signage. Eventually the green paint was added and now finally real movement toward a physical barrier. That still leaves the hazard of northbound traffic merging onto Terwilliger and, in the process, crossing downhill bike traffic on a major bike route into downtown…

    Downhill cyclists: Be on heightened alert here for vehicles darting out in front of you because many motorists either don’t see you or mis-judge your speed or both!

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    • Indy February 17, 2012 at 3:18 pm

      “mis-judge your speed or both!”

      I see what you did there.

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  • wsbob February 16, 2012 at 6:17 pm

    “…until the neighbors give the final sign-off. …” maus/bikeportland

    What do the neighbors think of ODOT’s experiment and potential long term intersection remedy?

    Looking at the map, Condor at this intersection appears to be a little spur off a bigger length of Condor that forms a loop. The spur allows people living along Condor to enter and exit their neighborhood using Terwilliger as an option to Barbur Blvd.

    Limiting turn direction at this intersection stands to significantly impact access to and from this neighborhood. With that in mind, it shouldn’t be a surprise if there’s a lot of opposition to this potential remedy.

    Possibly the problem that’s most affecting this intersection, is the oblique angle at which Condor meets Terwilliger. If the two streets met at a conventional 90 degree angle, maybe seeing approaching traffic would be much more manageable for people entering Terwilliger from Condor. With the steep terrain Condor travels over, it might be expensive to realign the road so it could do this.

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    • Chris I February 16, 2012 at 9:10 pm

      Too expensive to justify the project given the levels of traffic seen here. This whole area is landslide territory anyway. I suggest they move to a flatter area if they want easy access. (this is coming from someone that grew up in the west hills)

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  • Spiffy February 16, 2012 at 7:09 pm

    too bad bikes can’t turn left…

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  • Kevin Wagoner February 16, 2012 at 7:33 pm

    Awesome! I’ll plan on biking Terwilliger to work tomorrow to check it out.

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  • Kevin Wagoner February 16, 2012 at 7:36 pm

    Something else that should be monitored is the ability of vehicles to stay in their lane and not drive in the bike lane on the curves of Terwilliger. My guess is that more vehicles will tend to lean away from the post and into the bike lane. I see this a lot with buses on Terwilliger. I would be intersted to see if there are any negative impacts there. PS: Still excited about seems like an improvement.

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  • Joseph E February 16, 2012 at 9:33 pm

    If the 25 mph speed limit isn’t obeyed, the best way to reduce speeds is to narrow the road. (Enforcement only does so much)

    Would it be feasible to narrow the roadway by 12 feet, and then add a 12 foot two-way bike path adjacent to the sidewalk? There could be just a 6 inch concrete curb between the bike path and the roadway, so it would not be ridiculously expensive – the same asphalt would be used.

    Would current bike users of this road support that sort of cycletrack?

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    • spare_wheel February 17, 2012 at 8:11 am

      i ride up and down terwilliger 6-7 days a week and absolutely do not want a cycle track. terwilliger also already has a protected mup that sees low traffic (although it could use a repaving).

      the cycletrack on broadway with its kamikaze pedestrians and right hook risk at the terminus is by far the most dangerous part of my commute.

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      • A.K. February 17, 2012 at 9:09 am

        And people who think it’s some sort of handy loading/unloading zone for their cars/vans…

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        • Fred February 17, 2012 at 12:40 pm

          And the PCC bus!

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  • Anton Vetterlein February 16, 2012 at 9:39 pm

    I bike this route frequently and I always take the lane in the downhill (north) direction when approaching the Condor intersection.

    Terwilliger was designed 100 years ago to be a leisurely scenic drive, not a commuter route to OHSU, the VAMC, or downtown. I would like to see the bike lane eliminated in the downhill direction and for bikes to take the lane the whole way, thereby slowing traffic down to the 25 mph speed limit and re-establishing Terwilliger’s function as a recreational route.

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    • spare_wheel February 17, 2012 at 8:13 am

      word. a motorist is much more likely to see you when you are *in* the lane.

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  • Joseph E February 16, 2012 at 9:45 pm

    Looking at satellite imagery, the current roadway (including bike lanes) is about 33 to 34 feet wide, and the sidewalk is about 9 to 10 feet wide. So you could have a pair of 10-foot lanes for cars, a 1 foot concrete curb, and a 12 foot wide bidirectional bike path, which would be a couple of feet wider than the current sidewalk. This would not require any repaving, the only new concrete would be the curb.

    Here’s a diagram and map:

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    • Eric February 17, 2012 at 6:52 am

      I like this idea. I ride this every day (M Vill to OHSU) and I think a separate MUP on the East side of the roadway (twice as wide as it currently is) would be a pretty decent solution. The only serious potential downside I could see is safe entry/exit points at Homestead, the VA and Campus Drive. It would probably require a light at Campus Drive which might be a deal breaker.

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    • davemess February 17, 2012 at 11:09 am

      I disagree. That’s going to seriously slow down those of us who bike faster than 15mph.
      I used Terwiliger every day when living in the SW and going to OHSU. I very rarely had problems there, and it was easily the best part of my commute.

      Bidirectional bike paths give you even less options than the current set up. At least now you can maneuver around slower cyclists pretty easily.

      I think speed and lane enforcement is the way to go.

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    • Rob Anderson February 18, 2012 at 11:27 pm

      no. terrible idea. better idea: try riding up there first before offering decisions as to how to address the infrastructure challenges on a stretch of roadway (do you even live/ride in SW PDX? judging from the link to your blog, it appears doubtful). I ride Terwilliger multiple times per week and it’s a relatively safe stretch of road if one pays attention and stays free of distraction (especially compared to Barbur Blvd.)

      a dedicated, separate bike facility is not the way to go here. the Terwilliger bike lanes are already perfectly adequate, it’s the roadway lighting/speed/inattentive drivers that are the root cause of safety issues. separating the drivers from cyclists altogether via a cyclepath or MUP is expensive, will cause additional ped/bike/vehicle conflicts, doesn’t address the core issues.

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  • Ted Buehler February 17, 2012 at 2:09 am

    This is a good improvement, thanks PBOT!

    For you folks who ride here, if cars are exceeding the speed limit, you can call the police nonemergency number and ask for enforcement. 823-3333. Or email PBOT at

    Remember, ODOT asks bicyclists to let local governments know about unsafe conditions for bicycling. Unless you report them, they’re not going to know about them. Don’t delay, give them a call.

    “To make riding safer for you and other bicyclists, report unsafe road conditions to local authorities as soon as possible.” (from the Oregon Bicyclist Manual, p. 4. )

    Ted Buehler

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    • Ted Buehler February 17, 2012 at 2:12 am

      You can also report people running that stop sign on Condor…

      Ted Buehler

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  • Paul Souders February 17, 2012 at 6:59 am

    It’s a little much.

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  • JV February 17, 2012 at 8:56 am

    I went by there last night; many of the bollards are already torn out so that it looks like a turn is specifically allowed…..

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  • hank ferguson February 17, 2012 at 9:32 am

    I’ve been making my commute to the v.a. for 14 yrs and this is the best improvement I’ve seen, however it only lasted a day, the center of the barrier is now missing and I’ve seen southbound cars turning left in the gap. I always take the lane when headed north but at 30 or 35 I’m still getting tailgated by speeders.

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  • Fixedale February 17, 2012 at 9:34 am

    This spur of SW Condor is not a delineated right of way. It is a park road not a city street. If the City of Portland wants to remedy the dangerous nature of this intersection the Parks and Recreation department needs to close this PARK road. An acquaintance that lives on Condor was told by a city employee closing the road is an easy thing to do since there is no public ROW.
    OHSU will most likely not let this happen due to access issues.
    BTW the bollards lasted less than 24 hours, they were knocked down by lunch yesterday. As a previous poster mentioned, the gap in the bollards now makes it look like the turn is allowed.

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  • ES February 17, 2012 at 9:48 am

    I bike to work via Terwilliger daily, but also live in the local Homestead neighborhood, so perhaps can speak a bit to the “neighborhood” view.

    The neighborhood has long been advocating for traffic calming at this intersection, and actually had secured funding (from OHSU) for this project years ago… but it seemed to take a high-profile accident (sadly, not the first serious incident here) to finally get things moving. The current design resulted from the observation that the majority of incidents resulted from people turning left onto and off Condor Lane, probably because a combination of 1: misjudging the speed of bikes down the hill 2: poor visibility and 3: distracted/rushed commuter mindset. The design isn’t perfect, and hopefully with some feedback it can be made better.

    The lower part of Homestead neighborhood gets about 6000 cars/day through traffic, mostly cut-through commuters to/from the institutions on the hill, and this has been steadily worsening year after year. The worsening safety and neighborhood livability has caused people to move away, and the rest of us remaining here (many with young children) are concerned… a number of close calls especially at commute hours. A restriction of flow at one of the few cut-through intersections might just transfer the volumes and danger to the other streets in the neighborhood. PBOT is studying this and hopefully that won’t be the case…. but my guess is that this is the main concern on the part of the neighborhood.

    Anyway, as far as I can tell this project will have a positive impact at this intersection, but if it ends up feeling too narrow, I think that I will take the lane as well. Hopefully there can be some design improvements to avoid that. It would also be good, however, for the city to be more proactive in dealing with the overall automobile congestion on the hill in a way that preserves the parkway character of Terwilliger and residential character of the neighborhood, and doesn’t just designate Terwilliger and the local residential neighborhood as simple automobile access to the hill… people live here and the park is a lovely ride to/from downtown.

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    • wsbob February 17, 2012 at 11:03 am

      “…A restriction of flow at one of the few cut-through intersections …” ES

      ES, are you speaking of other intersections besides the Terwilliger-Condor intersection?

      Has the neighborhood given thought to what Fixedale spoke of? :

      “This spur of SW Condor is not a delineated right of way. It is a park road not a city street. If the City of Portland wants to remedy the dangerous nature of this intersection the Parks and Recreation department needs to close this PARK road. An acquaintance that lives on Condor was told by a city employee closing the road is an easy thing to do since there is no public ROW. …” Fixedale

      Seems kind of extreme to close the Condor spur entirely to motor vehicles, but maybe it’s justified. I’d be thinking of emergency vehicle access, since according to the map, Condor doesn’t seem to have another access to Terwilliger. Possibly, Condor made into a MUP with keyed metal bollards, removable for emergency access.

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      • Chris I February 17, 2012 at 11:36 am

        Traffic and parking on the hill is already nuts. I think the city should be doing all they can do discourage auto travel up and down the hill, particularly now that we have the Tram.

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  • Joe February 17, 2012 at 10:01 am

    heavy car traffic area. be safe all.

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  • Champs February 17, 2012 at 12:46 pm

    The very turn under discussion, documented by Google street view:

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  • GlowBoy February 17, 2012 at 12:54 pm

    Two-way MUPs and cycletracks only work on relatively flat terrain. Putting one in on Terwilliger, where downhill cyclists routinely travel 20-30mph, would be disastrous.

    We don’t need to futher segregate bike traffic, we need to calm and slow CAR traffic on Terwilliger, both through engineering and enforcement. The latest work seems like a good step, though the bollards should perhaps be replaced by a curb. I don’t know why Portland doesn’t use narrow concrete curbs as lane dividers more often — Seattle uses them all over the place, and they get more snow than we do.

    I am intrigued by the idea of closing Condor Lane to motor vehicles completely, since it’s only a park road anyway. If it were closed to cars it would be a more pleasant way to climb up to Terwilliger than Hamilton Street, which is what I currently do. Speaking of Hamilton Street, it and Bancroft/Hamilton Terrace provide neighborhood drivers TWO different access points to Terwilliger, just a couple blocks south of Condor. Isn’t two enough?

    Given that, I’d be interested to see if the neighborhood would buy into closing Condor Lane to cars, and have it revert to a park pathway for pedestrians, bikes and other nonmotorized users.

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    • dan February 17, 2012 at 1:11 pm

      Sadly, if Condor Lane were closed to motorized traffic, I bet that neighborhood residents would be way more vocal about bikes “going too fast downhill” than they are about cars now.

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    • Anton Vetterlein February 17, 2012 at 5:33 pm

      The plastic pylons are temporary during the test period (…little did they know how temporary.) If they decide to make it permanent PDOT will install a concrete median.

      Right On to calming and slowing car traffic on Terwilliger.

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    • Rob Anderson February 18, 2012 at 11:31 pm

      great post, exactly what we need. recommended!

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  • ES February 17, 2012 at 1:23 pm

    wsbob: The other intersections that allow cut-throughs through Homestead via Terwilliger are Hamilton St and Hamilton Ter (these two together see about 4000 cars/d).

    Although I haven’t been involved, in the past individuals have suggested closing some of the access points, but the sticking point appears to be that if you close some, but not all, of the access points, the ones remaining open would get much worse than they already are. Currently, it’s not uncommon to have bumper-to-bumper traffic backed up a block or two at peak moments, and fast moving high-density streams of cars at other peak times. Rather than pit neighbor against neighbor about which intersections should close and remain open, people have tried to come up with a more comprehensive approach.

    Agreed with Joe.. “heavy car traffic area. be safe”. The ideal solution, would be to reduce the volume to/from the hill… that would take pressure off the choke points and Terwilliger overall. I’m not sure how possible this is without massive changes to commuter patterns. I’m guessing that the tram helped overall (many bikers use it), but since many cut-through commuters come from far afield (e.g., Newberg, Camas, etc), it hasn’t been a panacea.

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  • Steve B February 17, 2012 at 4:10 pm

    Beautiful! Really happy to see PBOT using two of the best tools in the toolbox: traffic diversion and limiting vehicular movements. Let’s hope this sort of innovative approach can be used in other problematic intersections around the city.

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  • Kevin Wagoner February 17, 2012 at 8:52 pm

    Several comments above about the need for more enforcement on Terwilliger. I couldn’t agree more!

    I road this today on the way to work. Looks like a great improvement. A car coming up Condor did a little lurch toward their right hand turn until they saw me. I was already slowing down as I didn’t get the impression they were going to stop. Having to focus on a car potentially turning Left onto Condor would have been distraction for me and the other driver. I’m not saying we almost had an accident or anything (because we didn’t), but I felt like it was an improvement.

    I didn’t notice the down post. We (the city) should put up a low tech recording device the next time they install these post somewhere…..disturbing that there is so much buzz about these things getting knocked down around town.

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  • Barbara February 17, 2012 at 9:28 pm

    As a regular Terwilliger Commuter I applaud this attempt to make traffic safer. Too bad that already so many bollards are down, potentially ending up in the bike lane.
    By the way, OHSU and the city have a Marquam Hill traffic managment plan that says that cars shouldn’t use neighborhood streets. Problem is, that employees don’t know about it.
    Regarding speeding: if I wanted to report every speeding car, I would never make it to work, but be busy calling Portland Safe from my cell phone. I rarely experience anybody going at the speed limit. I often see cars zooming around the sharp curves with no sightlne just to slam on the brake behind the next car.
    Regarding MUP: with all the leaves this would only work if the city would alos clear the MUP from leaves, snow etc and not treat it like another sidewalk. In Germany I have seen cute little snowplows that cleared the bike part of the shared sidewalk. But they also have a different tax base to pay for this.
    Something that would make a big difference in safety would be street lights on the hill side of Terwilliger (there are only lghts on the valley side). Riding in winter in the dark with leaves and other tree debris in dark downhill curves often makes for a very dangerous ride.

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    • spare_wheel February 19, 2012 at 5:03 pm

      “I rarely experience anybody going at the speed limit. I often see cars zooming around the sharp curves with no sightlne just to slam on the brake behind the next car.”

      You accusation that motorists routinely break a law that puts other people at risk is just more cyclist finger pointing. If cyclists came to a complete stop at stop signs I am sure motorists would stop flying around blind corners.

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      • Barbara February 19, 2012 at 5:54 pm

        I was not finger pointing, merely observing. I observe this while im driving a car or a bicycle. Bicycling gives me more time to observe. I’m really trying to drive at the speed limit recently and I’m constantly passed or tailgated by other cars. Also, rolling through a stop sign usually just endangers the bicyclist itself, not other vulnerable traffic paticipants.

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        • spare_wheel February 20, 2012 at 10:10 pm

          maybe i was too subtle in my sarcasm there. 😉

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          • Barbara February 21, 2012 at 8:15 am

            Apparently I’m too sensitive to comments like this… It seemed a bit unusual for bikeportland…

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  • Tom C February 19, 2012 at 12:11 pm

    I ride this route daily in both directions.

    Since they put up the bollards, they have been knocked off steadily, like bowling pins. There is now a very large gap that allows room for cars to make the newly prohibited left turn. And illegal left turns they are making- had a car cut right through the gap in the bollards in front of me Friday evening as I headed north, downhill.

    And that despite a large electronic reader board just a little further downhill in the pull out alerting southbound traffic that there is no left turn ahead.


    I think the PBOT should now have enough information to know these flimsy devices won’t be up to the task. But i don’t know what a good alternative will be, given how narrow Terwilliger is and the effect placing anything more substantial (example, concrete median) would have on vehicles encroaching on the bike lanes.

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  • GlowBoy February 20, 2012 at 8:23 pm

    After reading the article I rode Terwilliger to Condor Lane on Friday and again today. Not many bollards left, that’s for sure.

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  • Jimmer February 22, 2012 at 4:13 pm

    Out for a walk today (02.22.12) and watched 2 cars turn left anyway. Yes, the white ‘bollards’ are taking a beating already.

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  • Mitch Gold February 28, 2012 at 2:18 pm

    Just an update, I ride this route back and forth everyday of the week as my commute. The latest scare is the car’s that can’t turn at Condor now make a left across the double yellow center, enter the parking lot just south of the turn, to come back and if the car is too large they cross over into the opposing traffic (happend just last night) I’ve also witnessed several drivers just ignoring the bollards to make the left.

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  • Jason March 5, 2012 at 9:39 am

    They bollards, or what was left of them, came out last Friday, March 2nd. PBOT was taking down the signs.

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  • Barbara March 5, 2012 at 12:44 pm

    I contacted the city last week after I witnessed a particularly brazen and dangerous left turn from Terwilliger onto Condor. The response from the city was that people are so persistent on doing left turns here, doing all kinds of “interesting” (aka dangerous) manouevers that they decided to end this experiment early and think about other ways of making this intersection safer. I would have put a police patrol in there. They could have solved all kinds of budget problems during that time… At least cars were passing me slowly in this section, especially going south on Terwilliger.

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    • Jimmer March 5, 2012 at 6:45 pm

      Thanks for the update. 🙁

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