right on Wheeler.
(Photo © J. Maus/BikePortland)
Yet another person has been injured due a collision on North Broadway where it crosses Flint and Wheeler (map). This has been a known problem spot for years and just last week there was a collision that ended up with a man in the hospital and a shattered rear window.
Today I got an email from Betsy Reese, owner of the Paramount Apartments that are situated on the peninsula between Flint and Wheeler north of Broadway. She typed hastily from her phone (hence the typos):
“There was just another car/bike accident out front. Biker taken bx ambulence. Driver said she didnt know where he came from.”
In a follow-up with Reese I learned that the responding officer said the two people were headed west on Broadway (toward the river) and the collision happened when the person operating the car turned right (north) onto Wheeler. The person on the bike hit the rear passenger door and was taken to the hospital with what appear to be non-serious injuries. The person in the cars says their turn signal was on, the person bicycling disputes that claim.
Whatever happened, it’s blatantly clear that this intersection is tricky and prone to collisions. To review, the entry to Wheeler and Flint are spaced just yards from each other. Traffic on Broadway is often moving relatively fast (cars have lots of room and it’s downhill), and traffic coming from Flint does not always comply with the stop sign before entering onto Broadway. In a car, you can be traveling west on Broadway and not see anyone else to your right (because they’re still on Flint), but in a matter of seconds, that person can be right next to your car as you try to turn onto Wheeler. In many of these collisions, the person on the bike isn’t even coming from Flint, they are traveling down Broadway.
Here’s a map showing the non-standard configuration where these three streets come together:
Reese has watched and worried over this intersection for a very long time. She’s frustrated that collisions keep happening and she’s worried for everyone’s safety, including her 80-plus tenants (many of whom ride bicycles).
We have got to figure out something soon to improve this situation.
Maybe prohibiting right turns onto Wheeler — and making it a one-way only southbound — is the best solution. This step would not be without precedent.
Due to the potential for collisions, back in 2007 the Portland Water Bureau (whose headquarters can be accessed via Wheeler), took the admirable step of prohibiting all official vehicles from using Wheeler. Also in 2007, Mayor Sam Adams declared the right turn onto Greeley from N. Interstate to be “inherently dangerous” and eventually made the decision to prohibit them forever.
If reducing existing access to Wheeler is not possible, there are surely other measures that might help. How about a signal on Broadway at Wheeler and an accompanying no right turn on red sign?
What are we waiting for? Has not enough blood been spilled? Has there not been enough media coverage to get PBOT’s attention? Are we going to get bogged down into finger-pointing and arguing about who’s at fault instead of seeing this as an urgent public safety issue?
Back in 2007, we were told fixes would have to wait until the Eastside Streetcar project came through. More recently, we’ve been told that a fix would be a part of the N/NE Quadrant planning process. It’s time for action, not just more promises.