Harvest Century September 22nd

PBOT goes back to the drawing board on Terwilliger/Condor fix

Posted by on March 5th, 2012 at 1:54 pm

After bollards were uprooted — and despite new signs that say “No left turns” — this taxi pulls onto Terwilliger from Condor. This is the same maneuver that resulted in serious injuries to a bicycle rider in August and spurred PBOT into action.
(Photo: BikePortland reader)


PBOT has decided to end an experimental traffic safety measure they installed at the intersection of SW Terwilliger and Condor last month. The fix was meant to improve the safety of bicycle operators at the notoriously dangerous intersection. The combination of poor sight lines from Condor along with curves and high speeds on Terwilliger have made this intersection a safety problem for a long time (activists first brought the issue to the City’s attention way back in 2005). In August of last year, a Multnomah County judge who was riding into work was hit and seriously injured when a woman driving a car pulled out from Condor right in front of her.

“While this is not an illegal maneuver, it significantly increases the number of potential conflicts with bikes along Condor.”
— PBOT, describing one of three maneuvers they observed since the bollards and signs went in

To improve safety, last month PBOT installed plastic bollards in the middle of the intersection and installed signs in an attempt to prohibit left turns onto Condor from Terwilliger and vice versa. They also added green thermoplastic to the bike lane and made other striping changes.

Almost instantly, motor vehicle operators uprooted the bollards and continued to make the prohibited turns. In addition, some people would drive past the intersection and turn into a parking lot just south of it to turn around — a maneuver that isn’t illegal but added potential for collisions. One OHSU employee, Barbara Stedman, shared her concerns with us via email:

“Today, I witnessed a car that was traveling south on Terwilliger turning left onto Condor just before the bollards (the first few are knocked out). The car was traveling fast, did not stop and had to go diagonally across the opposite lane to turn left onto Condor. There was both a jogger and me as a bicyclist approaching this intersection going north (downhill). Luckily, we had a safe distance, but the driver also didn’t pay attention to us.”

Stedman was appreciative that PBOT has tried to fix this intersection, but she lamented the lack of compliance and courtesy by motor vehicle operators.

After receiving complaints from concerned citizens and after their own engineers observed the dangerous and illegal driving behavior, PBOT removed all the bollards and signage and officially ended the experiment on Friday.

In follow-up with PBOT, they confirmed that engineers they sent to observe the intersection observed a mix of dangerous and illegal behaviors.

Here are the results of observations by PBOT engineers during the PM rush hour on March 23rd:

  • PBOT engineers witnessed 31 motor vehicles in 30 minutes drive south, past the Condor intersection, then pull into a parking lot to turn around, head north on Terwilliger, and then make the right onto Condor. “While this is not an illegal maneuver,” says PBOT, “it significantly increases the number of potential conflicts with bikes along Condor.”
  • PBOT says they received “several reports” of motor vehicles flipping a u-turn on Terwilliger just south of the plastic bollards. They observed one motor vehicle make that illegal maneuver during their observations.

  • The worst behavior PBOT heard about was drivers that would be headed southbound on Terwilliger and then skirt over into the northbound lane just before the bollards began — driving the wrong way — in order to access Condor and bypass the plastic bollards. PBOT engineers observed one motor vehicle operator make this illegal maneuver.

Now that PBOT has decided to go back to the drawing board, they plan to attend next week’s meeting of the Homestead Neighborhood Association. At that meeting, they’ll discuss the behaviors above, address citizen feedback, and then talk about next steps.

Stay tuned.

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56 Comments
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    Nik March 5, 2012 at 2:00 pm

    But cyclists are the dangerous scofflaws!

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      lyle March 6, 2012 at 8:37 am

      Yeah, I… umm… saw one run a stop sign one time… or something.

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      middle of the road guy March 6, 2012 at 12:14 pm

      could it be possible that BOTH cyclists and drivers do dumb things on the road?

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        9watts March 6, 2012 at 12:19 pm

        of course (isn’t that the answer to all rhetorical questions?). but that isn’t the issue here, is it?

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        Nom de Plume March 6, 2012 at 4:30 pm

        The difference of course is tonnage.

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    9watts March 5, 2012 at 2:02 pm

    entitlement

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    was carless March 5, 2012 at 2:14 pm

    Concrete Jersey barriers. Or anti-tank mines.

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      K'Tesh March 5, 2012 at 2:59 pm

      you forgot severe tire damaging claws, but you’re on the right path

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        NW Biker March 5, 2012 at 6:22 pm

        Two words: concertina wire

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          Opus the Poet March 6, 2012 at 9:35 am

          Even better .50 cal machine gun nest. One bullet will destroy any engine, then while they wait for a tow truck the operator can verbally abuse the driver via amplification. A few of those and people WILL stop making illegal left turns.

          Ahh, making roads as dangerous to people in cars as they make it for everyone else…

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    JJJ March 5, 2012 at 2:14 pm

    So they will reward scofflaw behavior by removing the safety features? Sounds like the 85% rule. Speed, and get rewarded with higher speed limits. Ignore no left turn sign and be rewarded by sign being removed.

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      Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) March 5, 2012 at 2:20 pm

      I assume there are some neighbors who have complained to PBOT about the new safety measures for other reasons — like how it impacts traffic through their neighborhood.

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        Anton Vetterlein March 8, 2012 at 10:27 am

        No neighbors complained about the turn restrictions at recent Homestead NA meetings. The bollards weren’t up long enough for residents to notice a difference and, as we saw, most drivers managed to evade the turn restriction.

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      John Lascurettes March 6, 2012 at 1:55 am

      Also sounds like there was no measure of enforcement coordinated with PPD – even if it was to just hand out warnings during a grace period.

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    Indy March 5, 2012 at 2:39 pm

    The green thermoplastic is pretty much in the worst possible location as well. If a car pulls in front of a bike during rain the bike WILL be hitting it. It is extremely slippery when it is wet to bike tires. At the very least they need intermittent thermoplastic with the natural road material.

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      Psyfalcon March 5, 2012 at 3:01 pm

      I’ve never noticed it to be extremely slippery.

      This stuff is all over town and we’re not hearing a major outrage, nor the number of crashes associated with streetcar tracks. Smooth metal is slippery, this is at worst a bit more slippery than pavement.

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      Chris I March 5, 2012 at 3:57 pm

      Is that perception or actual experience? I have not lost traction on these surfaces yet.

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      Paul Souders March 6, 2012 at 10:38 am

      This is on my regular commute and I can testify that the thermoplastic (here, at least) is actually kind of grabby. Unfortunately, moving out of the lane of traffic here puts you away from the expected line of sight for cars turning off/on Condor.

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    Chase March 5, 2012 at 2:56 pm

    Since motorists can’t be expected to behave in a safe, responsible manner, it sounds like the only workable options are to either allow this intersection to remain dangerous for cyclists, or to completely close Condor to motor vehicles. Guess which one PBOT will choose?

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      middle of the road guy March 6, 2012 at 12:16 pm

      How nice that you make such generalizations about all drivers. My guess is that you complain when the same thing happens to cyclists.

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        PorterStout March 9, 2012 at 12:55 pm

        How nice that you point out all inconsistencies and “gotchas” related to posts on this cycling blog. Being middle of the road, my guess is that you do the same on automotive blogs.

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    J-R March 5, 2012 at 3:16 pm

    I suggest that PBOT remove the “experimental” stop signs at Ladds Circle. I’m frustrated that only a few of us stop at the signs even though there is no safety rationale for stopping at what should clearly be a yield sign for all vehicle users.

    If the Terwilliger/Condor intersection is so dangerous, why no enforcement action by PPB?

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      9watts March 5, 2012 at 3:30 pm

      hilarious. I think someone should make a little video premised on this theme and post it here.

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      jeff March 5, 2012 at 3:48 pm

      nice thread hijack.

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        A.K. March 5, 2012 at 4:50 pm

        Seems like a valid point to me, not a thread jack.

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    Chad Berkley March 5, 2012 at 3:19 pm

    So, has PBOT learned that they can’t just hot-glue bollards to pavement and expect them to stay there? This has failed in two major spots now. Look at the bollards on Hawthorne. They’re *bolted* down and they’ve been there for years. Are bolts really that expensive and hard to install? Instead of giving in to bad behavior, just use some bolts next time.

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      rider March 5, 2012 at 4:25 pm

      Interestingly, the temporary bollards on Willamette by U of P and the Wald Bluff Trail have held up quite well. I think it has more to do with drivers intentionally driving over theme than their installation method.

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        Oliver March 6, 2012 at 8:40 am

        I think that very same thing every time I ride or drive through there.

        This is definitely intentional.

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          Chris I March 6, 2012 at 12:22 pm

          I’ve seen large trucks and SUVs drive over the barrier at SE 20th and Ankeny. The idea that plastic bollards are going to prevent anyone from turning left is silly.

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      Art Fuldodger March 6, 2012 at 11:22 am

      and randomly fill 20% of the plastic bollards with concrete.

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    Jim Hook March 5, 2012 at 3:28 pm

    From the map it looks like the simple fix of closing Condor Lane to motorized vehicles is feasible. There appears to be excellent access to Barbur and alternate access to Terwilliger (via Lowell).

    The city needs to decide if Terwilliger is a calm road through a park-like setting or an urban expressway serving a very large academic medical center and health care complex.

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      OnTheRoad March 5, 2012 at 4:18 pm

      Condor is used quite frequently by emergency vehicles coming from the south – I-5, Macadam and other areas.

      I had an office at SW Corbett & Hamilton and ambulances coming north on I-5 would take the Corbett exit, north to Hamilton and west on Hamilton to wind up at Condor and Terwilliger. Seems like all the regional ambulance providers took this route.

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      Eric March 5, 2012 at 4:32 pm

      Not sure that closing Condor is feasible for the reason OTR mentions…emergency vehicle access. But those trucks always turn right there so I don’t think a concrete Jersey barrier there is a bad idea at all. Extend it from the VA to Homestead and you’ll get rid of most of the U-turn folks.

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        Eric March 5, 2012 at 8:07 pm

        D’oh! SW Campus Drive to Homestead, not VA to Homestead.

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      Anton Vetterlein March 8, 2012 at 10:31 am

      Lowell doesn’t actually connect Barbur to Terwilliger; it only happens on paper.

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      OnTheRoad March 8, 2012 at 12:26 pm

      Here is SW Lowell a block west of Barbur. The ROW is the green area in front of the white car and the guardrail. The houses you see actually do have a Lowell address, but no street, only a sidewalk!

      http://g.co/maps/szehn

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    A.K. March 5, 2012 at 4:31 pm

    I hope Amanda Fritz notifies all drivers that until this unacceptable scofflaw behavior ends and all drivers are accountable for other drivers actions, drivers will be receiving no more road improvements! /snark

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      DK March 9, 2012 at 5:56 pm

      Funny, I just stopped by to say the same thing. Thinking that either Fritz will for the end of funding for motorist projects until the “motorist community” steps up and puts an end to this constant disregard for the law. We’ll either that or she a complete and utter hypocrite.

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    dwainedibbly March 5, 2012 at 5:37 pm

    This won’t be fixed until Terwilliger becomes a 1-way street, northbound.

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    Kevin Wagoner March 5, 2012 at 6:58 pm

    Interesting. That has to be frustrating for PBOT. They are trying to do some good work here and our collective driving behavior is not cooperating.

    Driving the wrong way and the U-turns are pretty good indication of the fact that road needs a lot more enforcement.

    Is it illegal to destroy public property and not report it? PBOT might want to consider putting up some kind of recording device through the initial roll out period of their implementations. It would be great to get some data and maybe even penalize the people that continue to destroy our public property (which we paid for).

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    gfunc March 5, 2012 at 9:57 pm

    I was hit by a woman making a right turn onto Condor a month ago. I was lucky, with only minor damage to my bike. I sure hope PBOT can do something to make it safer.

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    Opus the Poet March 5, 2012 at 10:32 pm

    It should be easy enough to identify the cab in the picture at the top of the article and institute a citizen traffic ticket. That would be a start. How much does the citizen get from one of those citizen traffic tickets anyway? It could end up being a decent source of income for someone who was unable to work for one reason or another and also contribute to improving the safety of that road.

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      middle of the road guy March 6, 2012 at 12:18 pm

      A valid argument for cycling license plates if I have ever heard one!

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    Merckxrider March 6, 2012 at 8:22 am

    Maybe some folks could hide in the bushes with paintball guns and mark some cars doing illegal turns……

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    Steve Brown March 6, 2012 at 8:26 am

    Would really like to see a comment by PPB about enforcement or the lack of with regard to this intersection.

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    k. March 6, 2012 at 9:10 am

    Making Condor a one way road (north bound) might alleviate a lot of these conflicts. That still allows emergency vehicles access to the hospital as well.

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      Eric March 6, 2012 at 12:22 pm

      Actually, it’s the NB (uphill) traffic that causes the biggest problems because the visibility from there sucks. People turning off of Terwilliger onto Condor have decent sightlines coming from either direction. Whether or not they choose to use them is a different story.

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    El Biciclero March 6, 2012 at 10:43 am

    Wow. This is very interesting to me. Enough drivers behave illegally and destroy traffic control devices, endanger themselves and others, and the response is, “gosh, we must be using the wrong traffic controls, here.”

    Enough cyclists behave illegally by running stop signs in places where there shouldn’t even be stop signs, endangering very little, and the response is, “time for an ‘enforcement action’.”

    It almost looks like everybody is allowing themselves to be bullied by drivers in cars: PPB, PBOT, ODOT, pedestrians, other drivers, cyclists–when do we castrate the bull? Do we keep letting him run rampant through every china shop in town and just keep sweeping up the mess?

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      Spiffy March 6, 2012 at 11:33 am

      that was exactly my first thought as well…

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      wsbob March 6, 2012 at 12:17 pm

      This traffic control experiment with the bollards on Terwilliger is different than traffic control with established traffic control devices such as stop signs.

      To start with, PBOT should have a better type of wand. In a comment to an earlier story on this issue, I expressed an idea about spring loaded wands that pop right back up when they’re hit or run over by motor vehicles, but that make serious noise and cosmetic damage to motor vehicles that hit them.

      Also, there should have been enforcement and citations issued for people that apparently deliberately disregarded the wands; maybe not for an introductory period…a week or 2 weeks, but after that, start writing up the citations.

      The turn-a-round activity in the parking area south of Condor is a tougher one to break.

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      k. March 8, 2012 at 9:04 am

      Actually good traffic engineering should provide for a safe accommodation of demand. You can’t simply close off roads where people want to go. People don’t follow regulations that seem arbitrary and go against popular will. This is evidenced by, yes bike riders running many stop signs, drivers on the freeway paying no attention to 55 mph speed limits, and perhaps, these drivers not following the initial attempts at controlling this intersection. The real answer lies in finding a safe way for that intersection to work for the traffic demands placed on it. Of course they could close the road altogether.

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        9watts March 8, 2012 at 9:19 am

        “The real answer lies in finding a safe way for that intersection to work for the traffic demands placed on it.”
        Well, sure. On the face of it this is the challenge for any situation that attracts attention because something isn’t working.
        What seems to be the case here, though, is that those in cars are making things dangerous for everyone else. That is less symmetric than your ‘everyone likes to get where they’re going’ characterization suggests. Someone is going to have to give up their sense of entitlement, and at this intersection I think that is/should be those in cars. PBOT’s actions suggest they are not on board yet with that.

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        El Biciclero March 9, 2012 at 4:26 pm

        “People don’t follow regulations that seem arbitrary and go against popular will. This is evidenced by, yes bike riders running many stop signs, drivers on the freeway paying no attention to 55 mph speed limits, and perhaps, these drivers not following the initial attempts at controlling this intersection.”

        Of course. The difference is in the response to the behaviors you list. When drivers flout rules, the rules get changed, e.g., this intersection, the “85%” rule for determining speed limits, etc. When cyclists flout rules (to much less deleterious effect, as 9watts notes), they get fined at motor vehicle rates during “enforcement actions”.

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    Tom M March 6, 2012 at 12:44 pm

    How about a traffic camera? It would be the one location where it *would* actually be appropriate.

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      PorterStout March 9, 2012 at 12:48 pm

      And a $1000 fine. I guarantee it would only take a couple of paid violations to change behavior. We can start with the taxi driver above.

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    KT March 14, 2012 at 6:48 am

    How did the PBOT engineers observe during rush hour on March 23rd when today is March 14. They must have a time machine or maybe it was another dimension ruled by bike enthusiasts. RIde defensivley, Ride safe

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