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Man severely hurt by collision with garbage truck on SE McLoughlin (updated)

Posted by on July 12th, 2013 at 1:57 pm

The garbage truck that hit the man is at right.
(Photo courtesy Jason Lee.)

A man riding across a McLoughlin Boulevard crosswalk on his bike was “traumatically injured” Friday morning when a man in a garbage truck turned left on a green light and the two collided in the middle of the crosswalk, two witnesses said.

Police didn’t released the injured man’s name Friday, or any details of their own investigation.

Both the man in the truck and the man on the bike had been southbound on Southeast 17th Avenue at about 11 a.m. as they approached the intersection, witness Jason Lee said. The truck was making a left turn onto McLoughlin.

Lee, who spends most of the day on his feet as general manager for K&J Express Wash on the southeast corner, said the injured man was in his 20s and was not wearing a helmet when the flat-fronted garbage truck hit him on his right as it turned left across the crosswalk. The man’s head struck the windshield of the truck, which was moving at about 15 miles per hour, Lee estimated.

Men cross the 125-foot crosswalk where another man and a truck collided Friday morning.
(Photos: M. Andersen/BikePortland)

Carmen Liebing, manager at the AT&T store across 17th Avenue, confirmed Lee’s account.

McLoughlin, a state highway, divides the Sellwood and Moreland neighborhoods from the rest of the city. At 17th, it’s seven lanes wide, divided by a center median without a pedestrian safety island.

Lee said near-collisions occur at the intersection crosswalk several times each day, and predicted that more will take place after TriMet’s Orange Line brings more foot traffic to the area.

“The speed limit’s 45 here, which means people are going 60,” Lee said.

Jason Lee, who manages the auto service station at
SE McLoughlin and 17th, said the intersection is unsafe.

Standing in the gas station lot, Lee gestured to a woman who was waiting to cross the same intersection on foot.

“I would almost willing to bet you money that they’re going to cut her off,” Lee said. Sure enough, two cars turned left, several lanes in front of the woman, as she set out across the 125-foot crosswalk. “See, they don’t pay attention.”

It’s a harrowing street to cross on foot: though 30 seconds is enough time for most people to walk across McLoughlin, the “walk” light displays for only four seconds, followed by 26 seconds flashing “don’t walk,” with no countdown. Because someone crossing has no further indication of how long before the signal changes completely, it’s little wonder why someone crossing with a bike would be tempted to hurry.

Under Oregon law, a person is allowed to ride across a crosswalk using a bicycle but forfeits the right of way if the bike is moving faster than walking speed. Even if a person is moving at walking speed, vehicles are not required to yield to them as long as at least half a traffic lane separates them.

Lee, the witness, said he thinks McLoughlin should have a pedestrian bridge, like the one that crosses Powell Boulevard half a mile to the north.

The police investigation is ongoing. Whatever the details of this incident, however, there’s no question that McLoughlin is one of the worst places in town for people on bicycles. The street is difficult to avoid for people coming in or out of the Sellwood-Moreland neighborhood.

As a state highway, McLoughlin’s design is largely controlled by the Oregon Department of Transportation rather than the City of Portland; as a designated corridor for wide-load freight, it’s one of a handful of urban streets where wide-load freight access would be a higher priority than other uses under interpretation of a new state law whose public comment period closes Monday.

I’m sure it’s been depressing to read about this week’s awful run of bike-related injuries, and it’s depressing to write about them, too. It’s important to remember, of course, that even in a terrible week like this one, riding a bike (and driving a car) in Portland have been getting safer and safer. We write about the times when it isn’t because if everyone accepted traffic crashes as normal and inevitable, we’d be unlikely to take steps to further improve our streets for everyone.

This weekend will bring some happier bike-related news, I promise. Let’s work together to make sure that future weeks will be happier, too.

Update 7/16: Police have identified the injured man as Matthew Charles Casperson, 22, and ODOT and TriMet have shared their plans for improving this intersection.

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  • Dave July 12, 2013 at 2:11 pm

    If there’s one thing all these collisions highlight to me, regardless of the ‘fault’ in the collision, is that our infrastructure is truly terrible, and often offers no good options for anyone on the road for avoiding collisions. No matter the combination of vehicles involved, collisions would (I believe) nearly always be preventable, or significantly less severe, if our infrastructure supported 1) lower speeds 2) better view of the road at intersections (no parked cars, no bus stops on near side of intersections, etc) 3) separation of modes that move significantly differently (in places where it makes sense, like on McLoughlin).

    Of course, there are other issues involved, but often times, these just really highlight how piecemeal and poorly-thought-out our infrastructure is.

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    • kww July 12, 2013 at 2:30 pm

      I wholeheartedly agree. Holistically, there should be a ped/bike bridge at that location as that intersection basically cuts off Moreland and Sellwood from the rest of the City. A bike/ped bridge would also allow access to the new Milwaukie max line as well.

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      • spare_wheel July 15, 2013 at 3:47 pm

        holistically we would all be better off without high-speed freeways running through our cities.

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    • Peter W July 12, 2013 at 3:03 pm

      Spot on. We need to look more at infrastructure design.

      Michael (or Jonathan), has BikePortland had much coverage of Sweden’s Vision Zero? The basic idea is that our transportation system needs to be “fault tolerant”: if an operator or a vehicle has a fault, it should not lead to significant injury or death. Check out the video here: http://www.visionzeroinitiative.com/

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      • confident but concerned July 12, 2013 at 11:35 pm

        Thanks for sharing this initiative! What a smart and productive way of framing the problem of traffic safety: Recognizing our human fallibility and building error tolerance for ALL travel modes into infrastructure design. It’s a deceptively simple concept and so important. I work in the software equivalent of human factors engineering, and one of the first core principles I learned was that if people fail at using something I’ve designed and built, it’s MY failure, not theirs. Yes, a small percentage of “super users” will work around a clunky system and be proud of their cleverness. That’s not good enough. We need to design our infrastructure for the 99%.

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  • Dabby July 12, 2013 at 2:16 pm

    I was right at, but had my head turned during, a crash between either two bikes or a bike and pedestrian at the east end of the Steel Bridge/bottom of the ramp on wed afternoon. An elderly lady was laying on the ground. Cyclist trying to help her.
    Right before that some hot head hipster had squeezed between me and others.
    Almost reached out and slapped him on the way by.
    He was that close.

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  • RH July 12, 2013 at 2:31 pm

    I think it’s time for me to take a vacation from this blog. Too many ‘tramatic injury’ stories lately that make me want to stop riding. Riding is the favorite part of my day.

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    • Anne Hawley July 12, 2013 at 2:41 pm

      I’m right on the edge of that myself, RH. On the one hand, these stories really are making me feel less joyful about riding my bike every day.

      On the other hand, though, they are contributing to decisions I make about my safety–notably, to be even more keenly devoted to riding on quiet streets than I already am.

      It shouldn’t be this way–my safety should be better protected by infrastructure than it is–but these stories help me understand that it *is* this way at the moment. I need to ride defensively, not wishfully.

      So I’ll stick around. Awareness of these dangers is terribly important.

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      • spare_wheel July 12, 2013 at 3:08 pm

        despite these anecdotes cycling in portland is still very safe. in fact, its probably safer than taking a walk.

        imo, recurring themes in bike-motor-vehicle collisions in portland have been: right hooks, intoxicated motorists, and poor decisions by cyclists.

        1. right hooks can be prevented by asserting the full lane (e.g. the middle or left side of the lane) at intersections.

        2. intoxicated motorists can be avoided by minimizing late night cycling (and sticking to residential streets when one has to cycle close to closing hours).

        3. poor decisions are always a choice. poor decisions can also be mitigated by development of basic bike handling skills.

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        • Dave July 12, 2013 at 3:15 pm

          I agree, riding a bike isn’t that dangerous – but that said, it could still be significantly *less* dangerous, and also subjective safety could be much higher for people not in automobiles.

          As they say in abuse situations, sometimes it’s not the actual abuse that’s the big emotional stress, it’s knowing that it *could* happen at any time, and you wouldn’t be able to do anything about it.

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      • Peter W July 12, 2013 at 3:10 pm

        I feel less joyful when I see stories like this but can’t do anything about it.

        If BikePortland is going to continue to cover the danger on the roads (which I hope it does), I’d like to see more advice for how to quickly and easily plug into an effort to improve safety.

        “It’s dangerous but there’s nothing we can do” is much more depressing than “It’s dangerous but we’re fixing it”.

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        • wsbob July 13, 2013 at 11:01 am

          “…It’s a harrowing street to cross on foot: though 30 seconds is enough time for most people to walk across McLoughlin, the “walk” light displays for only four seconds, followed by 26 seconds flashing “don’t walk,” with no countdown. …” anderson/bikeportland

          One simple fix to possibly begin with may be to change the crosswalk signal light to the audible, full countdown type. Whether at the curb debating whether to start out, or mid-crossing, it helps to know how much time is left to cross. For a 125′ crosswalk (compared to crossing a five lane with bike lanes thoroughfare, about 80′, this is quite a long distance.), an additional 5 seconds crossing time might be something to consider as well.

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      • Mindful Cyclist July 12, 2013 at 3:46 pm

        Cycling, statistically speaking, is safer than driving a car.

        If you make wise choices on a bike, follow the traffic laws, and ride in a defensive manner, you are going to be safe. Is there a chance something could happen? Sure! But, you take a risk getting out of bed everyday.

        Don’t live your life in fear!

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        • Pete July 12, 2013 at 11:23 pm

          I agree with your second paragraph, but if you’ve read the book “Pedaling Revolution” research has shown that your first paragraph isn’t necessarily true (the main problem is that it’s much more difficult to gather and validate data on bicycling-related crashes than auto though).

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          • spare_wheel July 13, 2013 at 8:56 am

            cycling crash data in the usa is ridiculously distorted. i personally have crashed many times during sport activities and some of these crashes ended up in the public record.

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    • Alex Reed July 12, 2013 at 3:25 pm

      Remember that bikeportland articles are not the whole story w.r.t the safety of your cycling! They don’t include the vast majority of motorist deaths and injuries in crashes. More importantly, they don’t include a whole boatload of “50-year-old (wo)man dies from complications from a case of obesity, diabetes, or high blood pressure that could have been prevented by cycling” stories. I believe there is significant peer-reviewed health research indicating that the health benefits of cycling compared to driving far outweigh the increased but still small risk of serious injury.

      Jonathan & Michael – if you’re going to start covering every serious bike crash and most serious ped crashes but not most serious auto crashes, maybe a disclaimer at the top or bottom of bike/ped crash stories is in order? Something reminding people that biking and walking is really good for them! These are important stories, but it’s easy for consumers of media to assume that what they read in the media is a random sampling of actual dangers in the world, which is not true….

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  • Goretex Guy July 12, 2013 at 3:08 pm

    I appreciate that it’s not fun to read about the carnage on the road, but I think we’ve become a little to used to it. I think that making people actually stop and think about what’s happing, think about how stupid some of this is, think about how it needs to be and can be fixed, is a good thing. I’m guessing this is how MADD (Mother’s Against Drunk Driving) took on a culture that said drinking and driving is “no big deal”, or how anti-smoking advocates made it possible for me to go out to dinner again without breathing smoke.

    In our culture car accidents are just part of the background noise. I think we need to make people actually think about how this needs to change.

    Jonathan, keep it up.

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  • SE Rider July 12, 2013 at 3:18 pm

    I’ve almost been hit here myself by people turning left/south onto McLaughlin from 17th. It’s a wide-open section of asphalt and drivers constantly gun it to make the turn and the lights. Further south on 17th is a diverter which makes it favorable for bikes to take 17th vs Milwaukie Ave. You can also easily make the speed limit on a bike as you ride north. It can be quite an eye opener to come from tree-lined 17th into the bus & truck-filled industrial wasteland of the 17th & Holgate area.

    Would love to see parking removed from one side of the street on Milwaukie Ave and bike lanes or sharrows and traffic calming infrastructure installed.

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  • was carless July 12, 2013 at 3:33 pm

    Man, I live about 8 blocks from there. Scary! Lots of big trucks along here, especially from the MAX construction.

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  • G July 12, 2013 at 3:47 pm

    big intersection to avoid..
    I always go up to Milwaukie Ave to the overpass

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  • Anne Hawley July 12, 2013 at 4:42 pm

    Another thought about whether and how much to report crashes: Mark at I Bike London started emphasizing road casualties in London abour three years ago. His steady drumbeat demanding safer infrastructure seems to have put his blog–and the very real problems of London bike infrastructure–in the spotlight, making his a voice that politicians pay attention to.

    Imagine how much more impact Jonathan and Michael can have in a city one-tenth the size of London! The more I think about it, the more I agree that BikePortland should take the lead on this issue.

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    • Dave July 12, 2013 at 4:46 pm

      From comments on Twitter, I got the feeling this is basically what Jonathan is aiming for in publicizing this stuff. Wider recognition that, in fact, people are getting hurt and killed out there, that it’s not limited to ‘vulnerable road users,’ and that there are some very real and practical things that could be done to cut down on that.

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  • spare_wheel July 12, 2013 at 9:35 pm

    From the KGW story:

    “You just gotta not wear headphones and just be observant. I mean, it’s your life that’s in your hands,”

    If only cyclists did not wear headphones none of these collisions would have occurred!

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    • are July 14, 2013 at 12:45 pm

      it is in fact not a good idea to wear headphones while operating a bike in traffic

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      • dr2chase July 14, 2013 at 4:04 pm

        And it is also proven that driving a car with the windows up and radio on makes you effectively deaf to anything outside the car — this was specifically tested with bike bells, which were not heard.

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      • Caleb July 15, 2013 at 6:20 pm

        Or when operating a bike anytime, I think. Sometimes things like brake pads rubbing tires can be hard enough to hear without headphones on.

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  • GlowBoy July 13, 2013 at 12:09 am

    I ride through this intersection frequently. It’s inherently unsafe. Actually, I more often use Milwaukie these days, which is only marginally less bad. Hopefully, at the absolute minimum, this will force PBOT or ODOT to finally install MUTCD compliant countdown timers on the Don’t Walk signals. A pedestrian bridge would be nice, but for God’s sake don’t make it like the one over Powell at 9th. It’s excessively steep and its double-corkscrew design forces pedestrians to walk several hundred extra feet, no matter what direction they’re coming from, versus simply crossing the street. Which a lot of people attempt to do as a result.

    Getting in and out of the Brooklyn neighborhood in almost ANY direction is problematic: to the south you have to deal with getting across McLoughlin or riding on Milwaukie, as referenced by the story above. To the east the only way out for bikes is Holgate (since the Powell sidewalk is closed for construction). Holgate has a lot of aggressive drivers and sees a surprising number of horrific crashes, making it one of the most dangerous places in the entire city to take the lane. To the north you have to somehow get across Powell, either on the crappy 9th Ave Bridge or the also-dangerous Powell/Milwaukie intersection. To the west … well, there is no west: the city’s promised “Brooklyn to the River” project has languished for 20 years or longer, despite the Springwater running a literal stone’s throw across McLoughlin away from us, tantalizingly impossible to reach. We’re really boxed in here.

    Recent MAX construction hasn’t impacted the McLoughlin crossing much yet (though Jason Lee is right that increased MAX-related foot traffic is going to throw a spotlight on it), but Holgate/17th is ripped up with construction, as is any attempt get north from Powell across the UP tracks (oh, and all of the crossings of those tracks are about to close for 3 weeks, forcing most Brooklyn cyclists into long and/or dangerous detours).

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    • grumpcyclist July 13, 2013 at 2:42 am

      I live in Westmoreland, and frequently ride in the area.

      1) I don’t see what’s so scary about either Milwaukie or 17th, I ride both frequently to get out of the neighborhood. 17th is really mellow north of McLaughlin, Milwaukie is busy but gets enough bike traffic that people know to look for you.

      2) To get east from Brooklyn I figure you have a couple of choices, either a) Go up Milwaukie to Clinton and the ride east, or b) if you’re too afraid of Milwaukie then ride down to 17th and Lafayette and take the ped bridge over the tracks. It’ll take you about 90 seconds to cross it on foot and then you’ll be able to ride east w/o having to face a major street.

      3) You gloss over the bridge on Powell, but if you’re too afraid to take the lane on Milwaukie it is a way to cross w/o fear.

      I’ve been reading way, way, way too much fear on this site. Portland is a great city to ride around, and despite living and riding here for 20 years and commuting daily to work by bike for more than 10, I have yet to have a collision. Don’t let the fear that’s being generated here push you off of your bike.

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      • was carless July 13, 2013 at 12:37 pm

        Agreed. Been riding around Oregon for 27 years, never had a collision with a car.

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        • GlowBoy July 13, 2013 at 7:43 pm

          Try riding with a child and see if you’re still such tough guys.

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      • Caleb July 15, 2013 at 6:33 pm

        For about a year I pedaled north on 17th from Westmoreland every day. I would not characterize it as being “really mellow” north of McLoughlin. On rare occasion, such as Sunday afternoons, I’d say it was, but most days I traveled next to a steady stream of automobiles including semi’s and buses (Trimet headquarters, of course). I don’t recall ever being afraid (I actually enjoyed riding with traffic on that road), but can understand how some would be.

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  • Ted Buehler July 13, 2013 at 1:26 am


    To those that use this intersection regularly, you can make requests for safety improvements to the Oregon Department of Transportation. Based on Micheal’s post and the comments, these actions would make the crosswalk safer:

    Easy improvements:
    * pedestrian refuge island in the median (add a concrete “nose” to the median on the outside of the crosswalk)
    * timed countdown of remaining time before light turns.

    Easy enforcement actions:
    * tickets to speeders
    * “speed reader board” sign on McLoughlin that shows cars how fast they’re going.
    * enforcement of laws pertaining to left-turning cars not cutting off peds in the crosswalk. (1.5 lanes of space required?)

    Medium improvement:
    * green/red arrow control of left turners, to give pedestrians better protection in the sidewalk.
    * reduced speed limit on McLoughlin.

    You can also ask for bigger items, like
    * pedestrian bridge

    Their contact info.

    Ted Buehler

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  • grumpcyclist July 13, 2013 at 2:34 am

    The Milwaukie MAX (Orange Line)’s two closest stations are 17th/Holgate and Bybee/McLaughlin. Neither stop is going to bring more pedestrian traffic to 17th/McLaughlin.

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    • was carless July 13, 2013 at 12:39 pm

      Except all the residents of Westmoreland who live closer to 17th than Bybee.

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  • Terry D July 13, 2013 at 8:30 am

    It is always terrible to hear about collisions like this and this is a particularly bad area of the city. After the Orange line opens, and the new bike lanes on SE 17th and the Powell overpass are finished there are going to have to be some conductivity improvements to the area. In theory the SE 19th Greenway connection to the Springwater should be built by then as as well as access westward via SE Mitchel just south of McLaughlin to the Springwater (Not Brooklyn to the river, but a start at least).

    A road Diet on Holgate from 17th across the Brooklyn Viaduct to SE 28th place comes to mind immediately…..

    Portland is very safe overall as a city compared to most of the country. We can be made MUCH better of course, but when I hear about some of my friends that get hit…repeatedly…..I begin to wonder why.

    I have been riding city streets since I was a teenager in suburban hell in the 1980’s before bike specific infrastructure existed. I have had a few accidents over the years (either by my mistake or faulty street construction), but other than being car-doored once (minor E.R. visit) there has been NO collisions with moving vehicles.

    Not a single collision in over 30 years of riding…which means that walking on my own property is more dangerous for me since I am a complete clutz on my own two feet.

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  • gutterbunnybikes July 13, 2013 at 9:12 am

    If I’m not mistaken the Max will will overpass that intersection, perhaps there will be a pedistrian/cyclist access to that overpass too?

    There isn’t much info on this intersection in the info I’ve seen on Trimet on the project other than a mention of a new crossing for McLaughlin. But it isn’t specific as what the”crossing” will be.

    Looking at this pdf from Trimet


    It looks like things are gunna improve alot in that area with the new rail system.

    Just a matter of waiting, of course it’s gunna get worse before it gets better once the construction over/through McLaughilin starts.

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    • OnTheRoad July 13, 2013 at 12:28 pm

      I don’t think there is a crossing of McLoughlin because the LR alignment runs on the east side of McLoughlin Blvd. I haven’t seen final alignment maps, but from what I have seen previously, the line will stay on the north / east side of McLoughlin. Not sure what “crossing” is being referred to.

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    • was carless July 13, 2013 at 12:58 pm

      The MAX will cross over Powell, but will be running at-grade through the 17th/99E intersection.

      The MAX will run along the center median of 17th from Powell to McLoughlin, then transition to the east side of the highway, running at-grade until SE Harrison, where it has overpasses at Harrison, Tacoma and Tillamook.

      17th ave & Holgate station: http://www.flickr.com/photos/portlandmilwaukie/6780329538/in/set-72157629445735643

      Bybee station: http://www.flickr.com/photos/portlandmilwaukie/6780323810/in/set-72157629445735643/

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  • Dabby July 13, 2013 at 11:00 am

    Things to not get better with TRI MET!
    Tri Met is truly a huge part of the safety problems on our roads.

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  • dwainedibbly July 13, 2013 at 1:07 pm

    In my professional life, one of my responsibilities is examining medication errors in a large healthcare system. (Yes, I am being intentionally vague.) The main concept that we keep in mind when assessing those types of incidents is that people don’t (generally) intend to make mistakes & cause harm. Instead, most errors are the result of system problems and multiple things have to go wrong for something bad to happen.

    Without getting into too much additional detail, I am encouraged when I see a lot of the same thought processes in the comments on BikePortland. What are the system problems that caused a particular incident and what can be done to prevent similar things from happening in the future? What were the root causes of the incident? This is a much more productive method to improving safety than a simple “blame the people” stance, and we should strive to continue looking at the carnage this way as Jonathan increases his coverage of the negative consequences and human toll of traffic.

    Admittedly, the traffic vs healthcare analogy breaks down when we see drivers, cyclists, and pedestrians doing stupid things (cyclists wearing headphones, drivers speeding, all 3 groups texting). Fixing stupidity is much harder than improving infrastructure. (Medical workers can certainly do stupid things, too, but they are trained professionals and generally take what they are doing much more seriously than most roadway users.)

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    • Concordia Cyclist July 14, 2013 at 5:05 pm

      Completely agree with your take on the systemic approach, but on your comments of headphones on bikers:

      I always thought the same – that they would impede my ability to recognize dangers around me. I have spent the last five years of commuting work under that assumption, but have lately experimented with listening to language lessons and podcasts to get more out of my ride time.

      And I have to say I probably pay more attention now to visual queues all around me than I did without headphones. Additionally, I’ve come to realize that the actual usable aural data available when riding is very minimal and not a lot of help in potentially dangerous situations. While I’m not advocating headphone use in general, I also think demonizing or exaggerating it’s effect isn’t helpful either. Car sound systems are way more dangerous in this regard as far as I’m concerned and nobody is advocating taking those away. I can hear a bike bell behind me with my headphones on while, but not in my car with the same loudness level.

      (And texting really isn’t a biking issue. That belongs among the car drivers and pedestrians as a rampant issue.)

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  • spare_wheel July 13, 2013 at 1:38 pm

    Allowing a 45 mph speed limit in an urban area is beyond pathetic — it’s inhumane. ODOT is the problem. This dinosaur of a motorist-centric agency needs major reform.

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  • Biker July 13, 2013 at 2:35 pm

    This intersection is the only reason we won’t let our kids bike to school. They go to school at winterhaven, in Brooklyn neighborhood, and we live in Eastmoreland. Cars traveling south on Milwaukie turn left onto McLaughlin without any regard for pedestrians or bikes in crosswalk. I had a near miss summer 2012.

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  • Doug Klotz July 13, 2013 at 6:04 pm

    If the safety of pedestrians and cyclists were a priority (instead of freight being the priority), the left turn for southbound drivers on 17th would not be the same phase as the n-s eastside crosswalk. But, that would mean making traffic wait another 30 seconds, so I’m sure that won’t happen.

    As Ted suggested, at least ODOT could add a median nose to the island that seems to already exist there, reducing the width cars could be turning in. I’m sure they’d claim semi-truck turning radius reasons for not doing so, but come on, it’s a huge intersection. Re-angling the crosswalk so it’s not exactly parallel with 17th (move the north end eastward 10 to 15 feet) would help that issue, as well as shortening the crossing distance, which is currently so long because of the oblique angle of the intersection (as well as the 7 lanes). The crosswalk may change a little with the Max construction. I saw the plan for the intersection at one time, but can’t recall the details. It’s unusual on the NE corner because as it heads north, Max is transitioning from the east side of McLaughlin to the center of 17th. I believe pedestrians cross the Max track about 20′ north of the intersection, and a bike lane begins on 17th at some point in there.

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  • bendite July 13, 2013 at 9:11 pm

    Since the crosswalk is signaled, drivers only need to give 6 feet of space to someone in the crosswalk, not wait for them to be across the adjacent lane. 6 feet could be pants fillable at the speeds drivers could reach by the time they reach the crosswalk with the size of that intersection.

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    • Ted Buehler July 13, 2013 at 11:05 pm

      bendite — somehow I thought it was 1.5 lanes, but, I see you’re correct, it’s only 0.5 lanes. Or 6′ if the lanes are 12′.

      Oregon Drivers Manual, 2012 – 2013, p. 80. Graphic on the top of the page, and top sentence. The graphic shows how pitifully skimpy the “safety buffer” is.

      Ted Buehler

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  • Buck Eichler July 14, 2013 at 6:44 am

    While I realize it doesn’t fit everyone’s need, it should be pointed out that there is a bike/ped bridge across McLoughlin near there.

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    • Katie Taylor July 15, 2013 at 9:18 am


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    • Caleb July 15, 2013 at 7:21 pm

      Like Katie, I am also wondering where. The only bridge near there I can think of is Milwaukie, which is not a bike/ped bridge, of course, and the only ped/bike bridge I can think of over McLoughlin is the Springwater bridge. What’s your range for “near”?

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  • Todd Boulanger July 14, 2013 at 6:44 pm

    Yes facilities like this – those with more than 25,000 vehicles per day are over their community sustainability level for livability and traffic safety. If one needs an over crossing to “fix” the problem then we should rethink our transportation network.

    Charlie Zeeger et al’s research has long shown how to deal with these issues. But when you hit over 25k ADT then you need to cap the traffic before the fix gets expensive or you have crazy false solutions like this 125 ft wide signalized crosswalk with a 4 second “walk” signal! They create other new safety problems and signal cycles of over 41 seconds to cross one leg of the intersection, longer cycles = more delay too.


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  • Joe Rowe July 14, 2013 at 8:36 pm

    More helmet bias, and this time not the Oregonian, it is BikePortland !!

    I have lost the last bit of respect for this blog called BikePortland

    Quote the author named: Michael Andersen who is paraphrasing a witness named Mr. Lee… quote Michael “the injured man was in his 20s and was not wearing a helmet”

    It is poor journalism bias to mention when a victim is wearing a skirt, short dress, helmet. None of those are legally needed, and none of them really matter when a truck mows you down with an illegal left turn.

    If a witness to a rape mentions a short skirt, that is not legally related, and it would be horrific if a reporter defended repeating sexual bias on the excuse of simply paraphrasing a witness.

    Jonathan, Please reply, and please don’t hold back my comments for hours as you always do. (While at the same time allowing your friends to add reader comments instantly. ) I am posting this at 8:34pm on Sunday July 14th. The previous comment is Buck and Todd at 6:44PM.

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    • Michael Andersen (News Editor)
      Michael Andersen (News Editor) July 14, 2013 at 9:09 pm

      Approved, Joe, quickly because I happened checking the moderation queue at the right time. I included the helmet information because I felt it was relevant to describing the mechanics of this particular head injury, not because the man should necessarily have been wearing one. I’ll make sure Jonathan reviews this decision. Thanks.

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      • wsbob July 15, 2013 at 12:10 am

        “…Lee, who spends most of the day on his feet as general manager for K&J Express Wash on the southeast corner, said the injured man was in his 20s and was not wearing a helmet when the flat-fronted garbage truck hit him on his right as it turned left across the crosswalk. The man’s head struck the windshield of the truck, which was moving at about 15 miles per hour, Lee estimated. …” anderson/bikeportland

        “…I included the helmet information because I felt it was relevant to describing the mechanics of this particular head injury, not because the man should necessarily have been wearing one. I’ll make sure Jonathan reviews this decision. …” anderson/bikeportland

        Michael, I think many people will agree that in reporting about this particular collision at least, mention of the injured person not having worn a bike helmet was the right decision. Incidentally, 11-14 mph is the speed range at which bike helmets are designed and tested to produce a helmet that hopefully will help protect the heads of people that wear them. http://www.helmets.org/testing.htm

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        • spare_wheel July 15, 2013 at 8:43 am

          Your comment about speed is completely inaccurate. Helmets are designed to protect from a vertical vector whereas you list a horizontal vector.


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          • Spiffy July 15, 2013 at 9:49 am

            helmets are designed to protect against impact from any angle…

            they are vertically drop-tested because that’s a lot easier than horizontal impact tests… it’s the same impact no matter if you fall down to the impact (road) or if the impact comes up to you (windshield)…

            the helmet mention seems relevant because it was noted that the rider’s head hit the windshield…

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            • spare_wheel July 15, 2013 at 4:02 pm

              when a person hits the ground only a fraction of their horizontal speed is transferred vertically. the majority of their kinetic energy is scrubbed during the slide and roll. only a very rare bike crash would result in a vertical vector with the same kinetic energy as those helmet impact tests.

              PS: i’m not saying that you should always wear a helmet. i certainly don’t.

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          • wsbob July 15, 2013 at 12:10 pm

            I think it’s the mph speed attained in helmet bench tests that’s relevant to actual head/helmet impact situations, rather than whether a bike helmet can offer similar level of protection from impacts coming from angles other than the vertical angle used in the lab to test bike helmets. To get more insight on this though, it might be worthwhile, for someone to do additional tests with the helmet dropped on the rack at different angles than the vertical.

            Information on the helmets.org page you provided the link to, suggest that at 14 mph rating, bike helmets actually are overbuilt for the 10 mph head mph speed attained in what they refer to as a “…typical bicycle crash…”.

            “…The typical bicycle crash impact occurs at a force level equating to about 1 meter (3 feet) of drop, or a falling speed of 10 MPH. The rider’s forward speed before the crash may be considerably higher than that, but the speed of the head closing with the ground, plus a component of the forward speed, less any energy “scrubbed off” in other ways, normally average out at about 10 MPH. …” http://www.helmets.org/limits.htm

            In the McLoughlin garbage truck-bike collision, if the truck really was traveling at no more than 15 mph, as the witness estimated it was when the truck’s window impacted the cyclists’ head, that’s very close to the specs that helmets are designed to offer protection for.

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            • spare_wheel July 15, 2013 at 4:03 pm

              wsbob, you are right that in the context of that kind of impact most but not all of that energy might be transferred.

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    • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) August 7, 2013 at 9:04 am

      Thanks for the comment Joe. I reviewed the story and I think Michael made the right decision about mentioning the helmet.

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  • Katie Taylor July 15, 2013 at 9:29 am

    I have to cross this intersection every day biking to work and I’ve been almost hit more times than I can count. SE Milwaukie is only a good alternative if you are fit and fast. If you are slow, people drive dangerously to get around you, pinching you between them and the parked cars, and you also have the benefit of frequent yelled insults from drivers who want you to get your fat a** off the road. People driving Milwaukie do not understand that there is no other way to get through on a bike, so they feel justified in endangering your life, to teach you a lesson. I would love to see bike lanes added to Milwaukie. If you eliminate parking, there’s plenty of space. Also would be helpful to add a few signalized crossings. People treat Milwaukie like a freeway too.

    I just wanted to note too that Union Pacific has moved all its intermodal operations down to Brooklyn Train Yard from Albina. What that means is that McLoughlin is handling freight traffic that used to use I-5. I don’t see ODOT doing anything that will hamper ease of use for freight in the area any time soon.

    I’m moving, so will only have to do this commute 11 more times. Keeping fingers crossed.

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  • Spiffy July 15, 2013 at 9:51 am

    forfeits the right of way if the bike is moving faster than a person could walk

    that’s not quite right… the law is “faster than a walking speed”… which the law has recognized at about 3-4 mph… a person can walk as fast as 8.5 mph, but it seems that’s not a valid argument since cyclists have been found at fault for going that fast on the sidewalk and being hit by a vehicle exiting a driveway…

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    • El Biciclero July 15, 2013 at 10:57 am

      I hate the wording of this law. It sounds like somebody was trying to be too nuanced, and left us with some ambiguity:

      A cyclist is required to operate at no faster than an ordinary walk when “approaching or entering a crosswalk”, but then must go no faster then an ordinary walk when “approaching or crossing a driveway or crossing a curb cut or pedestrian ramp” (emphases mine).

      Then right after that, the “exemption clause” states, “This paragraph does not require reduced speeds for bicycles at places on sidewalks or other pedestrian ways other than places where the path for pedestrians or bicycle traffic approaches or crosses that for motor vehicle traffic.”

      So the first section of paragraph (d) calls out crosswalks as special, in that reduced speed is required when “approaching or entering”, as opposed to “approaching or crossing“, but then in the last part of the same paragraph, reduced speed is seemingly required any old place where the pedestrian way “approaches or crosses” that for motor vehicles. The last bit seemingly includes crosswalks in the category of intersections where “crossing” requires reduced speed, unless we can assume that “approaches or crosses” means “whatever word was used above in relation to a particular kind of intersection (i.e., ‘approaches’ for crosswalks and ‘crosses’ for driveways).”

      It seems like a very unfair condition that would cause someone in a crosswalk to “forfeit their right-of-way” as a vulnerable road user. If it is true, who is the judge of speed for people in crosswalks? What if I am out for a run? If I run across a crosswalk at 10mph, have I forfeited my right-of-way? Or do I only lose my right-of-way if I ride a bike across at 10mph? Does it make a difference if the intersection is controlled by a signal or STOP sign? What about the case I observe almost every day, where due to the fact that I must enter a MUP (heading WB across Skyline/Scholls Ferry at Sylvan, for those that are familiar), I cross in a crosswalk on my bike. Almost invariably, traffic approaching from my right in the far lane rolls right on into the crosswalk without so much as hesitating first because they are fixated on squeezing in a right turn on red. If I am going 10mph across the crosswalk, and one of these motorists nails me, whose fault is that?

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    • Michael Andersen (News Editor)
      Michael Andersen (News Editor) July 15, 2013 at 1:31 pm

      Good catch, Spiffy. Fixed.

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    • wsbob July 15, 2013 at 2:43 pm

      Link to the statute referring to entry, exit and crossing speed of crosswalks by people traveling by bike: http://www.oregonlaws.org/ors/814.410

      Section (1)(d) of that statute: “…(d) Operates the bicycle at a speed greater than an ordinary walk when approaching or entering a crosswalk, approaching or crossing a driveway or crossing a curb cut or pedestrian ramp and a motor vehicle is approaching the crosswalk, driveway, curb cut or pedestrian ramp. This paragraph does not require reduced speeds for bicycles at places on sidewalks or other pedestrian ways other than places where the path for pedestrians or bicycle traffic approaches or crosses that for motor vehicle traffic. …”

      It’s a little vague, but what that possibly means relative to mid crossing of a crosswalk, is, if the cyclist goes faster than an ‘ordinary walk’…which is approximately the 3-4 mph speed spiffy refers to, they’re subject to a citation. Crosswalks do cross the path of motor vehicles. 811.055: http://www.oregonlaws.org/ors/811.055 effectively says that if a cyclist travels across the crosswalk at faster than an ‘ordinary walk’, motorists are not in violation if they don’t yield to such a person on a bike.

      This is kind of a clarification for myself, because until now, I’ve actually kind of had the impression that the law required people traveling by bike to enter crosswalks at an ordinary walk, but allowed them to pick up speed mid-crossing. Having thought about this more, I don’t think the law does allow people to ride a bike over crosswalks at faster than an ordinary walk. Common sense should be the prevailing rule here. Especially if there’s motor vehicles approaching the crosswalk after the person on a bike has commenced crossing, it’s best for the person crossing to slow down to an ordinary walking speed…even stop completely if necessary… to better deal with the possibility people driving haven’t seen the person crossing.

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  • Spiffy July 15, 2013 at 9:56 am

    Lee, the witness, said he thinks McLoughlin should have a pedestrian bridge

    there’s already a pedestrian bridge 1.5 blocks NW…

    but that doesn’t help if you’re trying to get to the bus stop on McLoughlin…

    2 minutes to cross McLoughlin to the bus stop vs 9 minutes to walk over Milwaukie to get there…

    the least vulnerable mode should be the one that’s made to wait longer…

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    • Ted Buehler July 17, 2013 at 10:41 pm

      “the least vulnerable mode should be the one that’s made to wait longer…”

      Ding ding!

      Ted Buehler

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  • JL July 15, 2013 at 11:23 am

    If there were no springwater path, which route would you ride between downtown and Sellwood/Moreland area?

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    • Caleb July 15, 2013 at 7:35 pm

      I lived in Sellwood for about a year, and in that time I believe I only took the Springwater to downtown once. All other times I wanted to go downtown, I went on Milwaukie, Division, 7th, Madison.

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    • Spiffy July 16, 2013 at 4:21 pm

      last time I did it I took Milwaukie Ave, but I got honked at by an older guy in a truck while I was riding across the McLoughlin overpass, even though it’s super wide there and he was nowhere near me… ironic…

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  • BURR July 15, 2013 at 4:27 pm

    Not sure why the cyclist was on the sidewalk/in the crosswalk, when he could have been positioned to the right of the left-turning truck in the roadway.

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    • Katie Taylor July 16, 2013 at 9:45 am

      It’s very dangerous riding on 17th southbound in that section. I stopped using the bike lane years ago because people were constantly cutting too close going too fast and clearly didn’t see me. Also, bike lane at that intersection is between two lanes of traffic (one turning right), so you risk being hit by someone frantically trying to get into the right turn lane if you use it. Getting up on the sidewalk and using the crosswalk really is the safest option, and it’s not very safe.

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    • Spiffy July 16, 2013 at 4:22 pm

      if you’re not “strong and fearless” it’s a pretty scary intersection…

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  • GlowBoy July 15, 2013 at 9:58 pm

    Just to respond in a little more detail this time:

    grumpcyclist and was carless are clearly more the Strong/Fearless types, and if they’ve been riding regularly this long in Oregon then they were among the elite 1.5% who were riding 20 years ago. Personally, I’ve been riding in Oregon for more than 15 years, but I’m in the Enthused/Confident camp and will definitely avoid certain routes, particularly busy arterials where my presence will force motorists to slow down and wait for an opportunity to pass (to be clear, I have NO problem making motorists wait on more quiet neighborhood streets).

    Throw f-bombs (“fear”) if you must, but I think we should acknowledge where our streets are dangerous or conflict-prone, and we should try to make them better, Candide. BTW I haven’t had a collision with a car in all those years either — nor, having a good nose for high-conflict routes, have I gotten into serious confrontations with motorists more than a handful of times.

    Maybe my statement was a bit too strong on 17th/McLoughlin: although I think the crosswalk is dangerous, I don’t mind riding across the intersection on a bike (solo), nor do I find 17th north of there to be dangerous. I won’t ride 17th south of McLoughlin though, because it’s much narrower and I sense too much risk of conflict there. As for Milwaukie, even though I’ve been heartened to see that adventurous cyclists have colonized it the last 3 years or so, I still will NOT ride it unless I’m in a serious hurry. Needless to say with the cargo bike or the kid, I stick to the sidewalk on Milwaukie, though its sidewalks have some serious problems in both directions.

    My statement about Holgate being the only eastbound option was in the context of the next 3 weeks’ construction. Fortunately Holgate’s sidewalks are decent, though the road diet suggestion would thrill me. I took the Lafayette ped bridge tonight, alone on my “normal” bike, but climbing and descending all those stairs is still NOT an option with my child, nor if I’m riding my cargo bike, nor if my wife is with me, nor late at night. But hey, it’s OK for you strong/fearless characters, and it’s OK if I’m making a quick run to New Seasons for a few small items. Same goes for the nearby and similar Gideon ped bridge.

    As for Milwaukie at Powell, I just checked the TriMet project website and learned that Milwaukie will have bike lanes both directions between Powell and the new Clinton station, which in my view fixes the problems with that intersection. Yay! Alone I wasn’t uncomfortable riding north on Milwaukie beyond Powell — until construction reduced it to one lane and turned it into a great way to get roadraged if you don’t ride 20+mph.

    The 9th ped bridge still sucks though. Yes it’s good for those who are “afraid”, but its grade is steep. Kids have a hard time climbing it, and a hard time getting back down around the curve safely.

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  • Susan Rosenthal July 16, 2013 at 12:16 am

    This accident is chilling for me. last week my son and two friends attended a camp near this intersection. On the first day I escorted them home on the #33 bus so they could learn the route and get themselves home. One experience crossing SE 17th and McGloughlin was enough to convince me that these boys would NOT be taking the #33. I found another bus route for them.

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  • Coach Dan July 16, 2013 at 12:03 pm

    I live near this intersection and wrestle with this monster quite often,
    especially now that I have to go over the Holgate overpass to get into
    mid-SE. It’s a double-black-diamond danger intersection for sure.

    This intersection has a particular, non-standard characteristic that makes
    it even more dangerous than others. I don’t think anyone has mentioned it.
    It is the cause for most of the close calls, and very probably was a
    factor in the crash at issue. It is somewhat hard to describe.

    When the signals turn red on McLoughlin, they go green on 17th southbound
    for the traffic proceeding straight. In addition, the left turn lane gets
    a protected green arrow.

    Then, after some time, the southbound protected left arrow just vanishes,
    and the northbound traffic gets the green light. The problem is that
    southbound, left-turning traffic often continues to proceed, as if they
    still had the green arrow, directly into the path of the newly oncoming
    traffic. Just like the cyclist in this case.

    This is very bad engineering and should be rectified immediately.

    As for Holgate between McLoughlin and 26th, that is a whole other horror
    story. That stretch is extremely dangerous for cyclists.

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    • Katie Taylor July 16, 2013 at 1:41 pm

      Yes! I curse them for putting in that protected left-turn arrow. Motorists watch it instead of the road, and when they see it disappearing, they panic and gun through the intersection without looking to see if anyone’s in the crosswalk. To your list, I’d like to add yet another problem with the intersection – people turning right from McLoughlin onto 17th northbound. If you’re waiting to cross McLoughlin on the north side of the street, you have to wait for that protected left turn arrow for the 17th southbound traffic to turn red. Meanwhile, right turners from McLoughlin don’t realize there’s a protected arrow so they think you’re just hanging out on the street corner and aren’t going to cross. They politely wait usually until the second your Walk light comes on, then they roll through the crosswalk.

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      • dr2chase July 16, 2013 at 4:55 pm

        I can’t help but wonder if it might not be a useful protest to have a bunch of pedestrians walking across on the walk signal, back and forth, perhaps pushing shopping carts so they take up more space and can bluff back at drivers that play chicken.

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  • bikegirl August 9, 2013 at 4:30 pm

    I saw that accident. i saw the look on the truck driver’s face after he hit the guy. It was intense.

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