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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.

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Scott
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Scott

Message: Things happen when judges get hurt.

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

Tim G
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Tim G

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.

Andy
Guest
Andy

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. 🙁

John Beaston
Guest
John Beaston

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?

meteorite
Guest
meteorite

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!

wsbob
Guest
wsbob

“…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.

Spiffy
Guest
Spiffy

too bad bikes can’t turn left…

Kevin Wagoner
Guest
Kevin Wagoner

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

Kevin Wagoner
Guest
Kevin Wagoner

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.

Joseph E
Guest

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?

Anton Vetterlein
Guest
Anton Vetterlein

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.

Joseph E
Guest

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: http://g.co/maps/24z6k

Ted Buehler
Guest

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 safe@portlandoregon.gov

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. http://www.oregon.gov/ODOT/HWY/BIKEPED/docs/bike_manual.pdf )

Ted Buehler

Paul Souders
Guest

It’s a little much.

JV
Guest
JV

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

hank ferguson
Guest
hank ferguson

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.

Fixedale
Guest
Fixedale

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.

ES
Guest
ES

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.

Joe
Guest
Joe

heavy car traffic area. be safe all.

Champs
Guest
Champs

The very turn under discussion, documented by Google street view:
http://g.co/maps/cettu

GlowBoy
Guest
GlowBoy

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.

ES
Guest
ES

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.

Steve B
Guest

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.

Kevin Wagoner
Guest
Kevin Wagoner

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.

Barbara
Guest
Barbara

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.

Tom C
Guest
Tom C

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.

Sigh.

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.

GlowBoy
Guest
GlowBoy

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

Jimmer
Guest
Jimmer

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

Mitch Gold
Guest
Mitch Gold

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.

Jason
Guest
Jason

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

Barbara
Guest
Barbara

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.