Esplanade closure begins February 1st

Woman hit while walking on Barbur; but help is on the way – UPDATED

Posted by on September 26th, 2013 at 12:58 pm

SW 26th Ave is not a nice place to walk.

The bad news is that the Portland Police responded to yet another collision on SW Barbur Blvd this morning. The good news* is that help is on the way — in the form of a recently awarded, $1.8 million state grant — to add safer crossings and other improvements where it happened.

(*We’re still debating if waiting years for a paltry $2 million safety upgrade to a known danger spot — while people continue to get hurt and killed — should really be considered “good”.)

According to Police, a woman suffered “traumatic injuries” and is currently at a local hospital after she was “struck by a vehicle”. The incident occurred at around 8:00 am at the intersection of SW Barbur and 26th Ave. at the 9600 block of Barbur. We haven’t heard any other details about the woman’s condition or how the collision occurred;. It’s worth noting that this is an area well-known for its safety problems.

UPDATE, 4:05 pm: Here’s what happened according to the PPB:

“Investigators learned that the 27-year-old female pedestrian was crossing Southwest Barbur Boulevard from South to North, at 26th Avenue. There is not a crosswalk at this location. Both lanes of eastbound traffic stopped and allowed her to cross into the center median but then she stepped into the westbound lane of traffic and was struck by a Honda Accord driven by a 34-year-old woman.”

This stretch of Barbur is so notorious as a danger zone that the City of Portland and local neighborhood activists have been trying for many years to implement some basic safety updates. According to the Portland Bureau of Transportation, SW Barbur Blvd is a designated “High Crash Corridor” for all modes. “Within City Limits, there were 19 pedestrian crashes and 23 bike crashes on SW Barbur from 2000 to 2009. Speed was a factor in many of the crashes, as was failure to yield,” wrote PBOT in the grant application (PDF).

PBOT map of project area and planned changes. This morning’s collision happened in the lower left corner of the map. (click to enlarge)

Thankfully (unlike the road diet stalemate situation further south north), the Oregon Department of Transportation has given the PBOT permission to move forward and implement safety upgrades on this section of Barbur even though it’s a state-owned facility.

And just last week, Portland City Council voted to support the Barbur Demonstration Project 19th Ave to 26th Ave. This project will pump $2.1 million in funds (allocated via Metro) to make this section of Barbur Blvd safer and more pleasant and it includes upgrades to the bicycling and walking environment. The project has been in the works for several years and the funds come in addition to $750,000 passed by City Council as part of the same project back in August 2011.

According to PBOT’s grant application, this project is designed to,

“improve safety for both pedestrians and cyclists, providing good access to transit, reducing the double barrier effect of crossing SW Barbur Blvd and the I-5 Freeway, improving pedestrian and bicycling connectivity and access for users of all ages and abilities and enhancing the walking environment. This project will build critical missing gaps in the sidewalks and bike lanes along SW Barbur Blvd, rationalize driveways, make minor improvements to existing signalized intersections and provide two new enhanced crossings for pedestrians and cyclists to access transit and destinations along or across SW Barbur Blvd.”

Unfortunately for the woman struck this morning, and all the other Portlanders who have to experienced the embarrassment that Barbur has become, these safety updates didn’t come fast enough. PBOT and ODOT are slowly making Barbur better, but as this morning’s incident makes clear yet again — there needs to be a much greater sense of urgency.

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  • Peter Micahelson September 26, 2013 at 1:09 pm

    Another person jumps in front of a massive, speeding automobile. These people must be stopped!

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    • RWL1776 September 26, 2013 at 4:11 pm

      It’s her fault for crossing where there is NO CROSSWALK. I feel sorry for the driver who now has to live with hitting a pedestrian who was not using their better judgement!She made a bad decision……..

      “There is not a crosswalk at this location.”

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      • 9watts September 26, 2013 at 4:29 pm

        You should read Peter Norton’s Fighting Traffic. The book is about the inversion of right of way from human & animal powered modes to the auto in the early twentieth century here in the US. The idea that we can only cross in designated areas (or where there aren’t any such areas just not cross) is a social construct. It doesn’t have to be this way, and in fact didn’t used to be this way. Cars got to wait.

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        • Alex September 27, 2013 at 10:44 am

          I don’t think that is a necessarily wise idea – the idea that “cars have to wait”. Stopping a car and starting a car takes a lot of energy and it is sort of wasted energy if it is only for a single person wanting to cross the street exactly where they want, when they want with no regard for the flow of traffic (also, this probably affected more than just 1 car, probably 10 cars). I am all for putting ped’s and cyclists before cars when designing city infrastructure, but wasting even more energy for the wonts of a ped is stupid.

          tl;dr – I want better infrastructure for peds/cyclists, but cars definitely get the right of way sometimes.

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      • Spiffy September 26, 2013 at 4:38 pm

        more misinformation from the PPB…

        there IS a crosswalk there, just like there is a crosswalk at every street corner…

        there is no MARKED crosswalk there…

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        • Alex Reed September 26, 2013 at 9:03 pm

          I emailed the PPB contact, , as well as the commissioner in charge of the PPB, , about this apparent error. It is simply not acceptable for the PPB to imply that the pedestrian was at fault when it appears she had a perfect right to cross Barbur unmolested by cars.

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          • Craig Harlow September 27, 2013 at 11:44 am

            Right. I’m pretty sure the law states that as long as she was crossing from–or to–a corner or other natural crossing (regardless of markings), then she had legal priority to cross, and traffic in either direction in the next lane on either side of her were obliged to 1) take their cue from the other stopped vehicles, and 2) stop until she cleared their lane and the next adjacent lane.

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          • Alex Reed September 30, 2013 at 1:51 pm

            I have gotten a reply from Mr. Simpson. He says he does not intend to change the press release but states that he “will be cognizant of this in the future.” It doesn’t feel right to me that he supposedly recognizes an error but refuses to publicly correct it. It makes me feel that he actually does not recognize the error but is simply saying so to placate me. Does anyone have other interpretations of this or ideas on how to go forward from here?

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        • Todd Boulanger September 27, 2013 at 11:39 am

          CORRECT! This is something I wish the press would check and comment on when they news “report” vs just news “read”, now that there is such a great tool callled Google Streetview. Just like in this case when I heard KGW (or another 5PM news account) report on it.

          Just reading the crash report or police account verbatim often leaves out important information that could educate more drivers as to where to expect pedestrians in the street in urban areas.

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        • Mike September 27, 2013 at 8:47 pm

          Does the UNMARKED CROSSWALK also give the false assumption that all cars will stop? Of course not so let’s not be shocked when someone crosses the street with out looking both ways and gets hit. If you don’t look both ways and or make eye contact with the person driving it probably increases the possibility of getting hit. It really doesn’t matter who is right or who is wrong when it comes to physics. Just be safe

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    • Spiffy September 26, 2013 at 4:39 pm

      I want to know if the Honda Accord was wearing a helmet before I’ll pass judgement…

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  • LoveDoctor September 26, 2013 at 1:31 pm

    Although many people were involved in getting ODOT/PBOT to act, kudos to Roger Averbeck for being a voice of change. He’s done a lot to organize the action that led to some of the proposed changes.

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  • CarlB September 26, 2013 at 1:35 pm

    My map shows the 9600 block of Barbur to be a ways south of 26th and closer to the park and ride. In any case, all of Barbur is way more dangerous than it needs to be.

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    • davemess September 26, 2013 at 2:00 pm

      Yeah, I think the article is incorrect, regarding location of the lane reductions (it should read the “road diet situation further North”).I had to look at the map to see where it was actually referring to.

      Doesn’t look like they’re going to touch north of Safeway? The shoulder on that section is HORRIBLE. I used to run on the shoulder there (with a guardrail and about a foot of space), not comfortable, and there isn’t a super easy way around it.

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      • davemess September 27, 2013 at 12:32 pm

        Thanks for fixing that Jonathan

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  • Kristen September 26, 2013 at 2:54 pm

    “Within City Limits, there were 19 pedestrian crashes and 23 bike crashes on SW Barbur from 2000 to 2009. Speed was a factor in many of the crashes, as was failure to yield,”

    As if the pedestrians and bikes just crashed on their own. This statement makes it sound like the bikes and peds were all running or biking at max speed, and also failed to yield to…. each other? No mention of the major instigator of these crashes, cars and trucks and buses.

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    • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) September 26, 2013 at 3:36 pm

      Bingo Kristen! That’s exactly why I stopped using the term “crashes”. Many people think “crashes” a good term to use instead of “accidents”… But I prefer to use “collisions”. The reason is IMO “crashes” sounds like driver-error problems and given the US cultural bias around bicycling, it’s easy for many ppl to hear “bicycle crash” and think of someone simply losing control of their bicycle. The word “collision” makes it clear that two things collided.

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  • q`Tzal September 26, 2013 at 2:58 pm

    ODOT and the rest of us have a philosophical difference of opinion on what SW Barbur Blvd is.
    ODOT seems to see SW Barbur Blvd as the same primary thoroughfare for all traffic coming into Portland from the south and west. This is despite the fact that I-5 replaced it in that function in every conceivable way.
    The rest of us see SW Barbur Blvd as a spillover drag strip for frustrated commuters from I-5. Safety of all local users are sacrificed for the convenience of drivers who don’t stop to spend money at any of the businesses on SW Barbur Blvd. As its function as a rural thoroughfare has evolved in to a dense urban mixed use zone ODOT stubbornly refuses to treat it as anything other than a drag strip for I-5 overflow.

    This though process must be stopped.

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  • J_R September 26, 2013 at 4:30 pm

    According to state law, there is a crosswalk at every intersection unless there is signing that indicates “crosswalk closed.” I’m unfamiliar with the area and google street view is not definitive. Did the PPB statement really mean “there is no ‘marked’ crosswalk?” Or is it clearly signed “no crosswalk?” PPB should be precise and accurate in their statements.

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    • Spiffy September 26, 2013 at 4:44 pm

      here’s the intersection:

      I don’t see any signs prohibiting pedestrians crossing at the unmarked crosswalks…

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  • D September 26, 2013 at 8:12 pm

    How about no more prosecution of auto theft until there is one full calendar year of no pedestrian fatalities? The state should have no more regard for drivers’ property than drivers have for other road users’ lives.

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  • Doug Klotz September 26, 2013 at 8:21 pm

    I think there should be an effort to call PPB on this announcement. If they don’t know that there’s a crosswalk at that intersection, then this is an indication of why we can’t get enforcement of pedestrian right of way. Who should we call/write to notify PPB of the existence of “unmarked crosswalks”? Should we send them a video? This is really inexcusable from our police department, who are charged with enforcing laws, that they don’t even understand the law themselves.

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    • tonyt
      tonyt September 27, 2013 at 11:07 am

      It would help if at least ONE of the Mayor’s PR/photo-op crosswalk enforcements happened at UNmarked crosswalks. All those enforcements at marked crosswalks only reinforce the misconception that there need to be lines on the road for it to be a crosswalk.

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      • Craig Harlow September 27, 2013 at 11:52 am

        I’ve been asking the coordinator of those activities for this for years.

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        • paikikala September 27, 2013 at 1:50 pm

          They do happen at unmarked crosswalks.

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          • tonyt
            tonyt September 27, 2013 at 2:30 pm

            Then they’re failing miserably at publicizing it. I follow these things obsessively and always look up the intersection in question. I’ve yet to see them do one at an unmarked crosswalk.

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            • paikikala September 27, 2013 at 4:08 pm

              I’ll Grant you it’s not common. The city’s web site has a list of locations. Burnside at 16th in 2007 didn’t have markings.

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              • Doug Klotz September 27, 2013 at 8:53 pm

                And, they should be at rush hour, rather than 1:00 in the afternoon on a Tuesday. They should be in the rain, in the dark, and at unmarked crosswalks…the majority of them should be at unmarked crosswalks.

                They should be more than once a month or every other month. It doesn’t seem like they even do 12 a year. How about once a week instead?

                They have done, as far as I know, 2 actions in darkness. One was in 2012 at SE 54th and Powell during rush hour, and the other was at West Burnside at NW 20th Place this February (?). Since rush hour only occurs in the dark during about 4 months, there needs to be a lot of pressure on PBOT/PPB to do more of these actions in the dark. A lot of folks were ticketed at both the evening actions, so they could be seen as successful education efforts.

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  • Chris I September 27, 2013 at 8:17 am

    This stretch of Barbur is one of the worst examples of a “stroad” out there. ODOT basically designed it with freeway-style off and onramps to access SW 26th. It’s a waste of valuable land and horribly dangerous for pedestrians. I feel sorry for anyone that needs to cross the street here.

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    • MaxD September 27, 2013 at 9:57 am

      I hate all of the ramps in the city! Those ramps should all be closed today in favor of slower, safer intersections. Vacouver BC was actively doing this when I lived there about 5 years ago and I witnessed first hand the tremendous safety improvements and negligible change for traffic. THe next ramps I would like to see decommissioned are on the bridges- I think the Morrison east side is the worst!

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      • q`Tzal September 27, 2013 at 10:24 am

        Wanna really slow it down? Roundabouts.
        Real ones, not traffic circles, about every half mile will prove to be a complete disincentive to drag stripping and inattentive driving.
        Roundabouts force drivers to pay attention and by design they slow traffic inside and in their surrounding areas. They would only need to be 5′-10′ smaller diameter to restrict speeds to ~25-30mph while still allowing big truck access.
        With a slower overall speed that can’t be defeated by aggressive driving and a design that forces drivers to be much more attentive than an interstate highway requires I would expect a double benefit in speed and total traffic reduction.

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  • Roger Averbeck September 27, 2013 at 9:58 am

    In the 1999 State Highway Plan, Barbur Blvd is designated as a District Highway. Here is the definition, from ODOT’s website:

    “District highways are facilities of county-wide significance and function largely as county and city arterials or collectors. They provide connections and links between small urbanized areas, rural centers and urban hubs, and also serve local access and traffic. The management objective is to provide for safe and efficient, moderate to low-speed operation in urban areas for traffic flow and for pedestrian and bicycle movements.”

    How are we doing? Please send your comments to:

    ODOT Region 1 Manager Jason Tell

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  • Roger Averbeck September 27, 2013 at 9:59 am

    The post dropped the e-mail address –

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  • Kevin Wagoner September 27, 2013 at 3:46 pm

    Did I see that changes might be coming in 2016! OMG I can’t wait! 2016 is only like…um 800 days away?

    If speed is an issue in these terrible events why not lower the speed limit this weekend and permanently increase the enforcement? Do we really have to wait for anything until 2016?

    I periodically look at to see what kind of enforcement is in the area. Particularly on SW Spring Garden where the speeds are high and the enforcement is low (just a few blocks from the accident). Anyway looks like that website reports 1 traffic stop and 1 accident there in the last 30 days. 1 traffic stop seems lame….it seems like we could get many traffic stops in 1 hour. I don’t get it.

    Growing up my mom was everything from a dispatcher to a probation officer and my step dad was a deputy sheriff so I was always around every branch of law enforcement. I have a lot of respect for anyone that takes up the uniform for us. But I can’t help but be disappointed with the what I perceive as the lack of enforcement.

    I call the PDX Safe Line a lot asking for enforcement…it doesn’t show up on this web site noted above and I don’t get any feedback. Massively disappointed.

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  • Don Baack September 27, 2013 at 8:12 pm

    Don Baack September 27, 2013 at 3:55 pm
    PBOT RECEIVED A MILLION DOLLA R GRANT TO FIX 6 or 7 Barbur crossings INCLUDING BARBUR AT SW26 th in 2000 or 2001, or some time long ago.

    I was SWNI Transportation Chair at the time, walked the needed crossings with PBOT staff. They seemed to find many reasons why they could not install the crossings.

    Since that time they have done some crosswalk work at Huber and maybe a couple of other crossings, but it appears the funds were frittered away by the many project managers that have apparently been assigned to this project. Another important Barbur uintersection that needs immediate attention is SW Lauade, It also was on the 2001 list. ODOT and PBOT have been fixing to do somethinug there since 2001!

    We need an immediate accounting of where this grant money was spent and why the needed crnossings were not done! Maybe it is too much talk and not enough doing.

    Finally, while we are talking about Hwy 99, when is the promised HAWK signal crossinf Naito at Whitaker going to be installed? It was to have been a part of the Hooley/Gibbs Bridge project but is still in the fixing to do it stage. Do we need another death to get PBOT off the dime on this?

    Don Baack, Hillsdale

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  • Trek 3900 September 29, 2013 at 12:42 am

    As a pedestrian you can NEVER assume that all lanes of traffic will stop just because the closest ones have stopped. Drivers in the opposing traffic lanes may not notice that cars in the other lanes have stopped. What they see is that THEIR LANE is clear so they go merrily along until an invisible (to them) pedestrian walks out from behind the stopped cars and they hit the ped.

    There was a prominent case in this area a few years ago where I think car drivers were killed from a similar situation; a stopped car let another car go (not a ped). I think there was a lawsuit or else negligence charges against the car that stopped so the other car could go.

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