Sam Adams says safety is his
#1 transportation priority.
(Photo © J. Maus/BikePortland)
This morning another person was taken to the hospital after suffering injuries in a right hook collision at N Broadway and Wheeler.
Last week I sat in a meeting at the Portland Building and listened to an impassioned PBOT employee describe the agency’s desire to close, N Wheeler Avenue at Broadway to prevent right hooks. The staffer said a partial or full closure of Wheeler was the only solution they have found to prevent repeated right-hooks, “that we think is very likely to cause a serious injury or death.” The staffer added, with a palpable sense of urgency, that PBOT sees this is a “a critical safety problem that we’re focused on addressing in an immediate way.”
There was talk from PBOT at that meeting, and agreement from several key stakeholders, that traffic barricades should be placed on Wheeler right away, without delay, in order to prevent further injury.
Unfortunately, action is stalled because a few businesses in the lower Albina district are concerned about how a closure of Wheeler might impact them (Wheeler is not the only road that accesses the businesses).
On Tuesday, Dan Bower, the head of PBOT’s Active Transportation Division, told the Bicycle Advisory Committee that these talks are ongoing and he doesn’t expect a closure to happen for another “two weeks to a month.”
This morning another person was injured in a right hook at this location.
This morning’s collision follows several others I’ve reported on going as far back as August of 2007.
According to the Portland Police Bureau, and several witnesses I’ve heard from, the collision happened at about 7:45 am this morning. A woman traveling down Broadway toward the river was right-hooked by someone attempting to turn right (north) onto Wheeler. The woman on the bike was taken away to the hospital on a stretcher. Thankfully, the PPB says the woman suffered only “minor cuts and bruising” because the car was reportedly going very slowly at the time of impact.
Mayor Sam Adams has run Portland’s transportation department for the last eight years. He repeatedly says that safety is his “number one priority.” If that’s indeed the case, why does it always take people being injured and killed before significant action is taken to improve these urgent public safety/transportation issues?
Wheeler needs to be closed immediately. PBOT has admitted it is statistically one of — if not the — most dangerous intersections for bicycling in the entire city. They have, as recently as seven days ago, spoken about closing it with a major sense of urgency and concern for the well-being of Portlanders. Yet despite this, because of their fears that a few business owners might not fully support the plans, they have delayed the fix they themselves know is the only solution.
Last week the representative of the lower Albina businesses, Eric Lovell, was asked whether he felt doing something immediately was worth saving a life. While he expressed concerns about business access, he also said, “It’s pretty easy to see that closing Wheeler will prevent the accidents and it’s cheap, so it’s hard to take any position against that.”
On October 22nd 2007, Brett Jarolimek was killed in a right-hook at N. Interstate and Greeley. Two weeks later, Siobhan Doyle suffered a broken arm after being right hooked at the exact location. Saying that, “I don’t want another tragedy,” Adams closed Greeley to right turns that same day.
We’ve been through this before. Why the delay now? Is it because there hasn’t been a fatality yet?
This is not acceptable. Would PBOT rather apologize to the family of a person who gets killed or apologize to a business owner or two for making it a bit less convenient to drive to their building?
— Learn more about the long history of collisions and problems at this intersection via our “Broadway Flint Wheeler” story tag.
UPDATE, 1:30 pm: The BTA has just published a blog post calling on Mayor Adams to “close Wheeler now”.
UPDATE, 3:10 pm: Mayor Sam Adams says he will do a site visit on Monday. Here’s what he just tweeted:
“Wheeler: Got it. I will visit again tomorrow. Meet with staff Monday. Let folks know ASAP.”
So, no promise/plan to close it right away; but there could be action on Monday. I’m planning to be there for the site visit. Stay tuned.
If you have questions or feedback about this site or my work, feel free to contact me at @jonathan_maus on Twitter, via email at email@example.com, or phone/text at 503-706-8804. Also, if you read and appreciate this site, please become a supporter.
Tom Miller, PBOT Director: director[at]portlandoregon[dot]gov
Sam Adams, Portland Mayor: mayorsam[at]portlandoregon[dot]gov
A perfect opportunity for a local bike advocacy organization (hint hint) to hold a rally at the location, shutting down the street temporarily/symbolically during the event. No doubt we’ll hear there are “meetings” taking place . . . same old same old.
Perhaps a Critical Mass like ride blocking the intersection by simply putting too many people into the intersection to allow traffic to even think of turning there?
This really applies everywhere, but: At some point everybody has to decide “I want to kill cyclists” or “I want everybody to be safe.” Those are the choices available.
Make it a temporary closure for now while you work on some nuanced solution that pleases everyone. But right now all we have are the choices above.
Whoever gets killed at this intersection, their business is impacted 100% (i.e. down to 0) forever.
It needs to be barricaded right now. I emailed Sam and Tom. Please everyone else, pile on. They obviously need to be pushed on this.
meanwhile out on the east side of town we put up with glass strewn paths partially covered with overgrown bushes…
Just wait til the lawyers bring this up in a claim…the city did nothing at a notoriously dangerous intersection…pay up!
the victim should sue the city, TODAY, for negligence… I bet it will then be closed on Monday…
If the businesses here want to oppose this closure they need to propose and fund a proven solution.
No less than a full time 24/7 police officer station at this intersection with backup from a speed camera van.
There needs to be a real, sustained and effective effort to mitigate speed hazards here even if Wheeler is not closed.
Any alternative to closing Wheeler that does not include dedicated and permanent traffic enforcement of all violators, not just the ones involved in a crash, will fail.
No part of any of that area would I call “high foot traffic” or a “pedestrian mall”. Any business therein is a destination and not a happen upon type of business. It will affect business none percent of zero.
PBOT should know by now not to delay on actions that eliminate dangerous conditions. Today’s victim’s lawyers are going to have a field day
I wish PBOT’s stance wasn’t always so reactionary.
Why do we always have to wait for somebody to get killed on a bike before any action is taken?
Also, to the business owners in Lower Albina whining about access being more important than people’s lives.
Your customers in cars are going to have to expend what, a whole, oh, **TWO CALORIES** to keep their feet on the gas in order to drive a further, oh, colossal 100 feet around the block to access your businesses from Interstate instead. Boo F-ing Hoo!
+1000 to everything Jonathan said. Put up temporary signs and barriers while deciding on the best long-term solution.
I think downtown drivers have some very bad habits.
I emailed Tom Miller, PBOT Director ( director[at]portlandoregon[dot]gov ) and Sam Adams, Portland Mayor ( mayorsam[at]portlandoregon[dot]gov ). Thanks for the email addresses, Otis (above)!
I agree with the tweets Jonathan has republished – I refuse to ride on Broadway except for the small stretch by PSU because it is just too uncomfortable and dangerous. That is too bad for me because it would be very convenient at times. Despite years of slow improvement, cars still get *much* better service from our city’s transportation infrastructure than bikes.
one wonders whether your commute requires you to exit the cycle track while screened by a wall of vehicles into a right hook used by trucks. after nearly being pancaked on two occasions i never use this death trap. the fact that this stretch of broadway was never a problem makes me livid. instead of fixing the ridiculous hotel stretch pbot created a problem where there was none.
Uh, I’m assuming you’re referring to the south end of the cycle track? No, I haven’t ridden there. Maybe you could ask PBoT to fix it somehow? I like the part of it that I ride.
We need gorillas.
I think they have some at the zoo.
No Gorillas at the Oregon (Portland) Zoo. Orangatangs and Chimps though.
How about bears?
You can not tell me that there is not one or two of those cement barricades laying around somewhere on PBOT property. Anyone know of a storage area for them? Since PBOT seems confused Maybe they need exact directions….
All they need to do to get a large crane and place it there. Place yellow cones around it until drivers get used to the idea. Deal with everything else later.
The Bureau of Maintenance shop is located just a short distance away at N. Kerby and N. Russell in the Albina neighborhood. They’ve got barricades galore hanging out there.
I ride down Flint and take a right at Broadway every weekday morning. I normally roll through stop signs, but not at this intersection. I stop (without putting a foot down) at the stop sign but hardly anyone else does and many fly throught it. While we’re having a protest about Wheeler, let’s protest the cyclists that don’t stop on Flint. I have long suspected this is one reason why there are so many right hooks there. I’m a 365-days-a-year cyclist, and have been so for 20 years, 15 in Portland.
I’m glad you said this as a bike rider. I have observed that intersection from the bus and noticed the same thing. Most bicyclists do not slow down at that corner which makes it too easy for a driver to not see them because the bikes seem to come out of nowhere.
It’s been observed by PBOT (and me) that hardly anyone stops here regardless of vehicle type. See earlier article linked at the top of this article.
I’ve almost been hit on a few occasions by other cyclists not stopping at this intersection.
this is indeed something that does happen, and if as a cyclist you are at the stop with your foot down and someone blows past just as you have found your clear space and are starting out it can be slightly dangerous, otherwise either just annoying or yet another opportunity to make anthropological observations.
however, that is not what occurred in this incident. the report says the cyclist was coming down broadway from (apparently) farther east and got clipped passing on the right a car that had slowed down.
Maybe I missed this in the article, do you know specifically which businesses on lower Albina are opposing immediate closure until something else can be sorted out? It seems such a reasonable solution so as to avoid further injury or potential fatality.
you didn’t miss it. I don’t think it’s worth knowing that at this point. Eric Lovell of Uroboros Glass mentioned to PBOT last week that the closure might not be OK with some of the businesses; so instead of closing it immediately like planned, PBOT decided to go talk more about it with them.
i fully expect, that once briefed on the issue, all the businesses will be OK with either a full or partial closure.
This issue is that PBOT needs to do the right thing for an urgent public safety threat first and then iron out any issues with business owners later… instead of making the business owner feelings more important than people’s safety.
I was thinking the victim of today’s right hook might want to sue the businesses that prevented Wheeler from being closed immediately. Something along the lines of what happened to Ford after the release of the “Pinto memo” where they laid out a expectation of how many deaths they would have to pay for vs. the cost of installing a shield that would prevent those deaths. In this case the businesses were complaining about lost sales (imagined) vs. lost lives and pain and suffering. If I were the victim I would be suing for the gross receipts from the time when the businesses rejected the closure to the time of the wreck.
Business owners didn’t prevent anything. They seem to have expressed a preference, just like the other parties did. The buck stops with the entity that has the power to close it, decided that closing it was the right thing to do, then lost its cojones in the face of a challenge.
Perhaps it’s time for cyclists to take direct acton on this and put up their own barricades.
Interesting – the traffic diverter at NE 16th & Tillamook came about EXACTLY that way. Local residents put up an unauthorized barricade. The city removed it. Residents put up another – rinse, repeat, and eventually the city put one in permanently.
Sam Adams just tweeted:
“Wheeler: Got it. I will visit again tomorrow. Meet with staff Monday. Let folks know ASAP.”
Have they considered an enforcement camera, like a red light camera but for people turning right illegally?
The state legislature regulates what can be enforced by camera and only speeding and red light violations are currently permited to be enforced that way.
Can someone tell me why this is different than any of the 5,000 right hook potentials in Portland? Why the appearently high crash rate?
I’ve heard there is a geometric issue uncommon throughout the city.
First, there are too many roads on the right so drivers are unpredictable and have many options for crossing the bike lane to make a right turn.
Secondly, this is on a down-hill so the cyclists traveling west towards the Broadway bridge tend to be going very fast to the point of being close to the posted speed limit. Thus, the auto drivers do not see, pay attention, or miscalculate the bike approaching and then turn crossing the bike lane causing the right hook.
I take this stretch a lot and am always on hyper alert. You have to be constantly paying attention to where the cars are in relation to your lane and the intersections.
Bring up a google aerial view of the intersection. The Broadway-Flint-Wheeler group of intersections make for a relatively complicated traffic situation. What that means, is that there’s a lot for road users to look for in order to safely travel this section of road. Maybe more things to look for than can be expected of them.
What I want to know is why Benton or Ross streets just following Wheeler will be any different once Wheeler is closed.
Make all 4 streets right turn only, exit only on a traffic signal; no turn fro Broadway. Make it an on demand signal trigger for the secondary streets and set the time threshold over 30 seconds, maybe over 90.
All this while leaving the Dixon and Larrabee intersection as uncontrolled as it is now to encourage impatient drivers out to a side road.
I want to know this also. Has anybody offered any insight into this?
Maybe I’m missing something, but if cars/trucks/etc. are turning into people biking in the bike lane in this manner so predictably, why are they not cited? Why are we not hearing about scofflaw drivers, rather than that ‘this is the most dangerous intersection in Portland,’ as if this deplorable set of circumstances were somehow purely a function of intersection geometry or layout, and unrelated to the behavior or inattention of people in cars?
Do people biking get cut that kind of slack?
Yeah, I didn’t think so.
As 007 and Dutch mentioned, there’s more to this than bad drivers making right hooks into cyclists. I’ve seen very few cyclists and only some drivers make full stops at the right turn from Flint onto Broadway despite the very visible Stop sign and white “Bikes Stop” painted in the bike lane. I think it’s because of the downhill speed you pick up and that turn feels like a merge for bikes where you think it’s safe to just roll into the bike lane.
Wheeler comes up about 15-20 feet later. So if a cyclist rolls thru the Flint stop sign onto Broadway, a car about to turn right on Wheeler doesn’t have a whole lot of time to see the cyclist, react and stop their turn.
I’ve learned my lesson too many times after some close calls. Now I always put a quick foot down at Flint and check that the car lane next to the Broadway bike lane is clear-ish in case a car(or often times delivery truck) is planning to turn right without signaling.
Before we get up in arms, there needs to be some acknowledgement of our responsibility to ride predictably as cyclists. It’s a poorly designed dual intersection, compounded by the fast moving commuter traffic of Broadway.
Sorry If I’m not surprised by a lack of action on the city’s part. Governments have a long history of kow-towing to business interests in this country and abroad. Global warming probably wouldn’t be such a big issue otherwise, for example. Business is unconcerned with the human condition, they are concerned with their bottom line and anything which might potentially effect it.
Why not put up a stop light and have a stop light in the bike lane that work in conjunction like they do at the right on Vancouver.
It would be easy to stand up a stop sign in the bike lane for bikes. Then they could proceed safely through the intersection. This could be done this afternoon without a lot of expense.
Just a note —
This has been identified as a high-crash intersection, especially for bicyclists getting right-hooked on Broadway by right-turning traffic onto Flint.
In the interests of self-preservation, Bicyclists on Flint might consider coming to a full stop at the Broadway stop sign, looking both ways, and before proceeding on Broadway, make sure that there are no cars in the right lane of Broadway that might turn onto Wheeler.
Just a thought,
Also, turn on front and read blinkies before going through this or any other high-crash risk areas…
Turning on the front and rear bike lights when going through intense, complicated traffic situations such as the Broadway-Flint-Wheeler complex of intersections, both day and night…makes so much sense. Depending on the design of light the bike is equipped with, this can be very easy to do; just push or flip a couple buttons or switches.
Having daylight bike lights running in no way solves all the problems associated with street situations like this one, but to some degree, the practice does help people on bikes to be more visible to other road users. It’s something people riding in traffic can do for themselves to increase a margin of personal safety…now…rather than hoping to accomplish the same by waiting days and weeks for the community and city officials to agree that closing streets as a safety measure is an unavoidable need.
Why not strike a deal such that ALL bikes rout through the parking lot before B’way, so that bikes are routed down N. Dixon before getting on B’way again?
One of us is missing what’s going on, or you’re proposing a two-block (up and back) detour with two left turns across traffic to avoid one right hook.
Machu — I think kww is suggesting an extension of Dixon so it connects directly to Flint. All you need to do is remove one fence and you can do this through the parking lot. Makes a lot of sense — cuts out Broadway entirely, you just ride down Dixon to Larrabee, make a left, then a right turn onto the Broadway Bridge.
The left turn onto Larrabee is dicey in heavy traffic, but they could put in a signal eventually.
This would also be rock-solid for bike traffic from the Broadway Bridge to Williams — you’d do a Copenhagen Left onto Larrabee, then a right on Dixon, and go up Flint to Russell, then left on Williams. Takes you away from all traffic from the Broadway Bridge to Russell and Williams. And completely out of the Wms/Van/I-5/Rose Quarter snarl.
Map at http://binged.it/NAgdZM
Here is the same link but in Birds Eye View, you can see that the apartment building parking lot is an existing pavement continuum that connects Dixon to Flint.
Thanks Ted, my internet access was out this weekend. I would add one additional improvement, that the intersection of Dixon and Larrabee be an all-ways stop sign.
That could tame the situation.
Also, looking at these maps gives me another idea for a route from the Broadway Bridge to N Williams:
* After crossing the bridge, make a Copenhagen Left onto Larrabee.
* Make a right on Dixon.
* Make a right on Wheeler.
* Make a left turn into the parking area on Wheeler, dismount, walk across the sidewalk at the apartment building’s front door to Flint.
* Mount up in the parking lane on Flint, make a left turn to go north up to Russell/Williams.
It’s 2 blocks longer than the usual route up Weidler to Williams, but I take a particular dislike to riding up Weidler. The lane is way to narrow for a serious uphill grind, there’s often bike congestion, there’s lots of car congestion and you’re basically breathing exhaust on the steepest, slowest uphill portion of the whole route. And right-hook risks galore.
I’ve tried the Broadway north-side sidewalk, but it’s pretty dangerous at the intersections and too narrow to comfortably pass pedestrians. I usually do the Weidler sidewalk since its plenty wide and has low pedestrian traffic.
I think the Dixon route will be a big improvement. And there’s only three traffic lights on the whole route, and the only “long” one is at Broadway and Larrabee.
Why don’t we do this for the cars? They’re faster anyway.