Posted by Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) on March 5th, 2012 at 1:54 pm
(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.