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Another right-hook at Broadway/Hoyt: What can we do about this intersection? – UPDATED

Posted by on October 23rd, 2013 at 11:46 am

NW Broadway at Hoyt is a high-risk right-hook spot and it needs to be improved.
(Photo © J. Maus/BikePortland)

Around 8:15 this morning, two people collided at the intersection of NW Broadway and Hoyt. According to a witness who was riding a bike behind the collision, someone driving a car southbound on Broadway, turned right onto Hoyt and hit a bike rider who was going in the same direction. Ambulance and police responded to the scene and the bike rider was taken to the hospital.

Our witness says it happened during a green light and the person in the car “appeared to be yielding to through-bicyclists, then seemed to suddenly turn.” The witness also added that foggy windows in the car might have been a factor. We’re awaiting more details from the Portland Police about the person’s condition and any other information about the collision.

It’s worth noting that this is a very busy intersection for bicycling and that the right-hook potential has been well known by the Portland Bureau of Transportation since at least 2007. Back then, they put this intersection at the top of their list to receive the city’s first batch of bike boxes. (Interestingly, this is one of the only bike boxes that isn’t colored green. This is because the FHWA wanted PBOT to test whether or not the color made it safer. As we shared back in 2008, it seems like a no-brainer that color is key; but studies and that FHWA experiment have been inconclusive so it remains uncolored.)

But we all know that bike boxes are mostly intended to be effective only during red light situations. When the light is green, people in cars are allowed to ignore them and the intersection is treated like any other place with a bike lane to the right of right-turning auto traffic (which many people think is an inherently unsafe design). What makes this intersection tricky is that there is a lot of bicycle traffic going straight and a lot of auto traffic turning right. And since it’s at the bottom of a hill, bike speeds tend to be very high. This means people in cars might have trouble estimating the time it takes for the bike rider to arrive in their path.

Back in October 2012, PBOT expressed concerns about the safety risks at intersections with a combination of high bicycle speeds and a bike box. At SW 3rd and Madison, one of four intersections they noticed an increase in right-hooks following installation of a bike box, they implemented additional measures to help prevent right-hooks. However, even after a major redesign of this segment of Broadway back in July, the basic design of this particular corner was left unchanged. (Likely due to the fact that crash data didn’t show an uptick here. However, we all know bicycle collisions are vastly under-reported.)

So now, we’re left with an intersection that still has safety issues. As we pointed out on several occasions earlier this year, Broadway is a very busy bike route and it deserves the very best bike facility we can muster. We’ve also been hearing more and more of late that many families with kids on bikes pass through this intersection en route to the Emerson School (105 NW Park) every morning.

Here are a few ideas that might make this intersection better:

  • PBOT should seriously consider installing a bicycle-only signal phase. This seems warranted given the amount of bike traffic and the safety issues.
  • People on bikes could slow down a bit and ride at a safer speed — especially when people are driving nearby.
  • PBOT should consider additional pavement markings, caution signage, and/or other traffic calming devices.

Do you ride through this intersection? What do you think about it? Do you have ideas on how it could be safer?

UPDATE, 10/24 at 9:30 am: The man hit is a parent at The Emerson School which is just a few blocks away at NW Park and Couch. He broke three ribs according to people who know him. We have also heard back from the PPB. Here’s what they say about the collision:

Driver was making a right hand turn to go westbound on Hoyt from Broadway. Driver yielded to 2 bicyclists before making his turn but did not see the cyclist he collided with. The cyclist suffered what appeared to be minor injuries after he went over the handlebars. The driver was very remorseful, as he himself is an avid cyclist.

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119 thoughts on “Another right-hook at Broadway/Hoyt: What can we do about this intersection? – UPDATED”

  1. Avatar PorterStout says:

    I ride through it daily. I try to be careful going through that intersection but it’s hard to resist the pull of gravity when it’s working in your favor. Still, I always slow way down before passing a signaling vehicle on the right. You can never be sure that a turning vehicle is even going to signal much less check over their shoulder first.

    If safety is the ultimate concern, I think the bicycle-only signal phase (which also means an accompanying vehicle-only phase) is probably the best solution.

    1. Avatar wsbob says:

      Relying on a signal to manage this particular situation of people driving and needing to cross the bike lane at the intersection for a right turn, would require a red light for bikes traveling in the bike lane. This would stop bike traffic to enable main lane traffic to cross over the bike lane and onto a right turn without a conflict with bike lane traffic.

  2. Avatar spencer says:

    Dont put bikes to the right of cars, and until that happens people on bike please dont pass on the right. Right hooks are preventable. That said, to place blame, its the person driving the car that SHOULD have yeilded. No victim blaming here, just crappy ‘infra

    1. Avatar indy says:

      So basically up-end almost the entire infrastructure of cars and bikes, because cars hook occasionally? Surely there has to be a better solution.

      1. Avatar spare_wheel says:

        two lefts make a right!

  3. Avatar AndyC of Linnton says:

    Put the bike lane in the middle from Lovejoy . Make the right lane a “right turn only” lane. Time the lights at Lovejoy. Auto traffic can then either make the right onto Lovejoy with their signal, or continue down to Hoyt. When the bike signal is green(as it is now) you cannot make a right turn on to either Lovejoy or continue through to the right turn lane for Hoyt.

    1. Avatar Paul Cone says:

      How would you do that? Bikes and cars would have to swap places at the top of the ramp, with bikes crossing the right-turning cars going west on Lovejoy. Seems that would just be moving the problem upstream.

      1. Avatar AndyC of Linnton says:

        Oh, I meant utilize the existing bike signal at Lovejoy, like it is now, just make cars turning right onto Hoyt use this signal as well. As in, if you are in the right hand lane on the Broadway bridge, you are definitely either making a right onto Lovejoy or Hoyt, and the signal at Lovejoy would be sufficient.

    2. Avatar wsbob says:

      “Put the bike lane in the middle from Lovejoy . Make the right lane a “right turn only” lane. Time the lights at Lovejoy. Auto traffic can then either make the right onto Lovejoy with their signal, or continue down to Hoyt. …” AndyC of Linnton

      Beaverton, Millikan eastbound at Cedar Hills Blvd has something like you’re describing, and it generally works well. Check it out on google maps. There’s still some potential for right hooks further back from the intersection, but less so because of the gradual transition allowed for main lane traffic across the bike lane into the right turn only lane.

  4. Avatar Racer X says:

    As the article reports…there are operational conditions* here that should have been addressed through signalisation, as the technical ‘know how’ and awareness of the situation exist…

    …but only if the City chooses to prioritise this location and thus spend the funds and staff time to make this safety investment. [Sadly this project just now moved up in ranking.]

    *heavy right turn car volumes across a thru bike lane are poorly managed by a bike box along

  5. Avatar Racer X says:

    Sorry “along” should have been “alone”

  6. Avatar Erinne says:

    I’ve noticed that only about 20% of car drivers in this city seem to use their turn signals (that’s only slightly exaggerated). Yesterday evening I had close calls with both a pickup truck and a police car, neither of which had their turn signal on. I try to act as if every car might turn right because I’ve noticed it so much. That’s my long-winded way of saying that there needs to be more enforcement of turn signal usage by motor vehicles. I don’t know whether this case involved that BUT it’s got to be a big factor in some right hooks.

    1. Avatar dan says:

      Having spent time living a couple of places in New England, and cycle toured extensively in the US and Canada, I can assure you that it’s not just “in this city” where drivers see turn signals as optional. Come to think of it, signaling by cyclists is even less common.

      (BTW, does anyone else ever see cyclists signal right and then turn left? I see it somewhat often, which is weird. A few years back, I even saw a guy teaching his young son the wrong signal for a left turn, and told him in passing “that’s signaling for a right turn.” He was adamant that he was correct…I told him to look it up in the driver’s manual, I wonder if he did.)

      At any rate, I would love to see signaling turns/lane changes become an enforcement priority for the PPD, but don’t think it will ever happen.

      1. Avatar lavie.lama says:

        I’m wondering if you might be conflating the more universal ambidextrous point with the US-centric left-arm-only techniques? Both are actually legal.

        1. Avatar dan says:

          Nope, these were people using the left-arm-bent-90-degrees-at-elbow-open-hand-pointing-up signal and then turning left. I’m an ambidextrous pointer myself, so that wouldn’t throw me off.

          Last week I even saw — for the first time ever — a cyclist signal with right arm bent 90 degrees at elbow, open hand pointing up, and then turn left. This looked totally kooky at first, but she was towards the left side of the left lane of a one-way street, so all the traffic was to her right. From a hand signal visibility standpoint, it makes sense to me, though I’m not so sure I will adopt it myself.

          1. Avatar N says:

            I do this. I signal with my right or left hand depending on where I am in traffic and who I think needs to see me more clearly.

          2. Avatar Todd Boulanger says:

            Mark my words…Future researchers will come to the conclusion…that this use of the bent arm to signal a turn on the same side of the body…was due to the Millennial/ Y Generations growing exposure to Anime / Superhero culture and mannerisms…it is that simple…versus pervious generations exposure to cars (or carriages) without effective turn signals…

            Just think of it…how else would Superman make a turn in the sky when flying with a group? He would use a bent arm on the side of his turn…as If he were to stick his arm out at a 90 degree it would be ripped off by air friction, etc. 😉

            1. Avatar dan says:

              Pffft, as if Superman’s arm could be ripped off by a force as puny as air friction / air resistance. But you may be right that the full extension would create too much turbulence=a bouncy ride, so he would adopt the 90 degree bent arm as a kind of rudder.

      2. Avatar Spiffy says:

        Come to think of it, signaling by cyclists is even less common.

        that’s because it’s optional… you don’t have to signal if you need both hands to control your bike, which I usually do…

  7. Avatar c-gir says:

    Your list at the end has three suggestions – two are infrastructure based and one is behavior based (bike ride slower). Please add a fourth behavior based one to make it even: “Car drivers should look before making a right turn and yield to bikes.” This wouldn’t be a problem if car drivers drove safely and followed the law. The burden shouldn’t only be on cyclists to avoid bad drivers. The bad drivers should have a burden to drive better as well.

    1. Avatar JRB says:

      You are oversimplifying. The article clearly states that the driver yielded to two cycles prior to the collision and that the driver himself is a cyclist. Yes, he should have seen the cyclist and yielded, but you can’t write this off as the usual inattentive or reckless driver. When people are right hooked even under these circumstances it screams that we need to do more with infrastructure to prevent collisions.

  8. Avatar David says:

    I used to ride with a whistle on a chain around my neck because of this very intersection. About two years back, I used the whistle when a car came very close to hitting the rider right in front of me. The driver actually heard it and slammed on their brakes at the last second and nobody got hit.

    This intersection is bad, and people will continue getting hit until it’s made safer.

    1. Avatar CaptainKarma says:

      I thought about doing that, but I looked it up ; it seems to be it’s illegal, believe it or not. Whistles are for cops, I guess.

      1. Avatar Chris I says:

        Air horn, then?

        1. Avatar indy says:

          Your voice will be far faster in any situation than any horn or whistle. I suggest you practice getting it as loud as possible.

          1. Avatar peejay says:

            That’s my specialty, as anyone who knows me can attest. I use it more than once a day, with surprising effectiveness, including the time my shout made a driver fling her cellphone out of her hand in shock.

      2. Avatar Spiffy says:

        the law also says that you can’t have a bell on a vehicle…

  9. Avatar dan says:

    Seems like bikes taking the lane would be the best fix while we wait for any infrastructure fixes. On the other hand, it would suck waiting in a long line of car traffic when you could just zip by in the bike lane…

    1. Avatar Mikehelpme says:

      That is what I used to do before the widened the bike lane, guess it still makes sense to do it.

  10. Avatar VTRC says:

    This would be a fantastic place for a dedicated bike signal. I’ve driven this a couple of times to turn right on Glisan, and it’s just tricky to gauge speeds to make the turn safely.

    1. Avatar spare_wheel says:

      there is nothing tricky about waiting until its no longer tricky.

      1. Avatar VTRC says:

        That’s one of the reasons I use Glisan for my right turn instead of Hoyt. The decisions to merge and turn at Glisan are just easier to make well than the decisions at Hoyt.

        Someone suggested just prohibiting the turn on Hoyt, that might be the correct design decision.

        1. Avatar Paul Cone says:

          Broadway Hoyt is a designated truck route. That’s how postal trucks get from their facility to and from the freeway. If you closed that turn they’d have to go use Lovejoy instead, but then other trucks might end up further west on Lovejoy and Marshall.

  11. Avatar kittens says:

    fix the pavement so it is not all tore up. its hard enough to avoid getting killed while also navigating all the irregularities of the surface.

    1. Avatar William says:

      This is an excellent comment. I ride take this route every morning. The pavement in the bike lane is so choppy and irregular for about a block leading up to, and including, the intersection. Because bike speeds are a little fast, it takes almost all of one’s concentration to navigate the pavement – it makes it more challenging to pay close attention to what the car drivers are doing and to bike defensively. This should be a relatively easy and inexpensive fix that would greatly help the situation in the short term (though this is clearly not a long term solution).

  12. Avatar David says:

    3 things would make this intersection way better:

    1. Dedicated bike signal
    2. Car signal with green ball for going straight with arrow for turns (obviously red when the bike signal is on)
    3. Red light running license plate camera

  13. Avatar Glen says:

    I like the idea of bike only signals for some part of the cycle. This is done downtown for light rail (think SW Morrison westbound). I would bet that somewhere there is a design manual that provides the formulas to determine when dedicated signals are warranted.

    As a driver, and cyclist it’s also worth reminding people to be cautious. I am extra careful to wait before turning when I’m driving, and also extra careful when going straight as a cyclist.

    I don’t want to start a flame war here, but I think that there is a difference in car driver’s behavior based on where they live or drive the most. For example, my neighbors in SW pdx simply are not as used to being around bikes as my old neighbors were in NE pdx. I would imagine that the awareness decreases as you move to places that are farther from common bike destination. In other words, don’t assume the car driver is is used to driving around bikes; they might be from a place like Atlanta, just borrowing a local car, and not at all accustomed to bikes.

  14. “that foggy windows in the car might have been a factor.”

    Does anyone know if there are minimum opacity or visibility requirements for operating a car?

    Ted Buehler

    1. ORS 815.220 Obstruction of vehicle windows, combined with State v. Elmore, 241 Or App 419, which defines material as any physical substance would, I think, prohibit driving with fogged up windows (the condensation being the obstructing material).

      The other morning a driver pulled out in front of me with totally fogged up windows and when I yelled “hey!” she rolled down her window and yelled “What? I can’t see!”.

      1. “What I can’t see?” she said.

        I hope you replied, “Then don’t drive until you can!”

        1. I just said, “I know. That’s the problem.”

    2. Avatar Todd Boulanger says:

      the closest thing would be the laws regulating the percentage of window tint allowed on each window depending on which window pane it is…

  15. One thing that will make it safer for each bicyclist is to turn on a flashing headlight whenever going through a possible right hook area. A driver can see a flashing headlight through a foggy window and/or mirror, even if they can’t see the bike itself.

    This, of course, puts the onus for safety on the bicyclist, and escalates expectations for bicyclists for safe roadway operations without escalating it for car drivers. So, even if it works to a certain degree, even if widespread adoption would make travel distinctly less safe for bicyclists without daytime headlights.

    But, cars always give me lots more respect on Broadway with regards to right turns when I have a blinky headlight on…

    1. I operate with an always-on, high-intensity LED light powered by a dyno hub. Granted, I think it has stopped some cars in their tracks that otherwise would “not have seen me” but I still get plenty of ignorant to my presence behaviors from drivers. Personal awareness of what drivers are doing around you is still key.

  16. Avatar Steve B says:

    The speed differential between bikes barreling down the broadway ramp and cars waiting to turn right is significant. Since there is a dedicated right turn lane one block up, PBOT could restrict right turns here for vehicles. This would be workable in the event the city doesn’t spring for a bike signal.

    1. Avatar Todd Boulanger says:

      Yep. I concur with this design option.

  17. Bike boxes were not engineered as a pavement marking to prevent right hooks when the light is green.

    They were designed to provide bikes comfort, safety and queue jumping privileges when the light is red.

    When approaching a red light at a bike-box intersection, I always ride to the front and plant myself squarely in the middle of the lane, as directed by the Oregon Drivers Manual. But I don’t see many, if any, other bicyclists doing this in Portland. p. 84.

    “Bike Boxes
    “The bike box helps prevent collisions
    between motorists and bicycles at
    intersections. It is typically a painted box
    on the road with a white bicycle symbol
    inside. Bicycle lanes approaching and
    leaving the box may also be painted.
    As a driver, you must stop for a traffic
    signal behind the bike box. Do not stop
    in the box. Bicyclists will move into the
    box, in front of your vehicle or other
    traffic, at the intersection. No right turns
    are allowed at these intersections when
    the traffic signal is red. If turning right
    on a green light, you must signal and
    watch for bicyclists on the right.”

    1. If we want to make bike box intersections safer for bicyclists overtaking cars on the right during the green phase, we need to look at how a bike box would be designed, from the ground up, if that was its intention.

      In Portland, since the city doesn’t promote use of the box itself to queue-jump gridlocked cars, do we even need that box to be green? If its going to be green, they ought to instruct bicyclists to occupy that space, and let a whole fleet of bikes up to the front of the line at each cycle. Portland has enough bike traffic to warrant this, and we should do it.

      But, to engineer a pavement marking specifically to prevent right hooks, you don’t need the green box. Its just distracting to motorists, who are trained to look out for bicycles in the green area.

      A “better” pavement marking pattern to prevent right hooks during the red and green phase, and give up on the “queue jumping for bikes at red lights” would look like this:

      1) Green bike lane — solid green up to the intersection, skipped green through the intersection, and solid green on the far side.
      2) A “box” to make cars stop well in advance of the crosswalk. So turning trucks don’t kill bicyclists with the “sweep” and so cars can see the “no right turn on red” sign.
      But this wouldn’t be a green box, it would be a white hashed box, like the Streetcar has put in on Grand at Broadway. (which is a variation of the “Box Junction” used internationally to keep cars from blocking intersections, and approved for US use in the 2009 MUTCD — Figure 3B-18. Do Not Block Intersection Markings, Option C. P. 384

      Or, a variation on 2), leave it green, and hop bikes will start queueing up someday. But make it a hashed green box, since its space shared by cars and bikes depending on the light cycle. But leave the right hand side of it, where the bike lane is, solid green.

      Bam. Done.

      Identify the problem, engineer a pavement marking that is designed specifically to alert all users of where the conflict areas are, and who has the right of way.

      Personally, though, I think it was a great move by the Adams administration to use the conventional bike boxes, following the European engineering, to try to reduce right hooks in the USA. It probably cut a year or two of design work out, and they look great, and someday bicyclists may start using them to jump the queue in gridlocked traffic.

      Ted Buehler

      1. If there’s a bike box, I always queue up in front of the cars at the red. Used as designed. 🙂

  18. Avatar daisy says:

    I rarely see people on bikes filling into the bike box at this intersection, but it’d be a good place to do it, to make way for bikes that are turning right (who often get stuck behind bikes who are stopped the light).

    I like the idea of making this intersection straight only for cars, and straight or right turn for bikes. That would increase conflict at the next intersection, at Broadway and Glisan, but speeds there are usually slower.

    But much of Broadway downtown is a right-hook waiting to happen. A few blocks up, cabs and delivery trucks take up large chunks of the bike lane. It all sucks.

  19. Avatar davemess says:

    “In Portland, since the city doesn’t promote use of the box itself to queue-jump gridlocked cars, do we even need that box to be green?”

    Isn’t this exactly what the city is doing? Have you sat in the box trying to go West onto the Hawthorne Bridge? There’s a huge box of bikes!

    I know I use the boxes like this all the time.

    1. dave — excellent — glad to hear people are filling them up, I just haven’t seen it in my usual routes and travel times. I’ll ride that way some afternoon and enjoy the sight for myself.

      1. Avatar Jeff says:

        You’ll see it better if you ride it in the morning.

        1. Avatar GlowBoy says:

          Agreed about the bike box on the westbound Hawthorne approach. I ride through this every morning around 8am, and the bike box almost ALWAYS fills up on each red phase. With a backup continuing well back of the bike box in the bike lane itself (sometimes with a gap where people are giving a left-signaling bus room to merge back across).

    2. Avatar Bald One says:

      Bike box at Westbound Hawthorne approach is not similar to most bike boxes in that it is situated in front of the right turn lane, not the forward moving lane which also allows right turns. It is difficult to compare behavior of typical cyclists at this location with other bike boxes throughout the city. This bike box is unique in that it is one of (if not the most) heavily used in the city, it is on the right turn lane (for cars), and it is has the Tri-Met bus stop square in the middle of it, so it is also a left turn/merge area for a very busy bus stop. It is difficult to pass other cyclists here to get to the box when they are queued up 30 feet back of the bike box. This whole intersection needs to be redesigned for the amount of cyclist volume that it sees.

  20. I ride this intersection every day. If when I’m at speed coming off the viaduct and catching a green, and I have any reason whatsoever to think a motor vehicle is going to turn right at the bottom (blinker or not), I will take the lane. Sometimes when it turns out that the person is turning right and yet still succeeds at yielding to the other people on bikes, I will take the next lane and proceed straight through the intersection at Hoytt an then make my way back over to the bike lane on the right.

    1. Avatar Pete says:

      I ride with (California) traffic using this technique and find it works very well when I signal and take the full lane. More often than not it helps to uncork right-turning traffic anyway. What I find doesn’t work is if you don’t fully take the lane and leave enough room for the occasional aggressive motorist to squeeze by.

      That being said, this works well when at traffic speed and done with confidence. Unfortunately it’s not so accommodating for the slower bicyclist, though the reason for this is less infrastructure and more the impatience of our society in my opinion.

  21. So yeah, I do that because I don’t trust people driving cars and trucks to estimate the speed of cyclists coming off the viaduct correctly (I’m usually doing about 30mph right there at the bottom if I have a green).

  22. Avatar Hau says:

    I usually ride this route with my kids, with the two older boys riding on their own bikes. Our impromptu bike train this AM consisted of 4 kids biking on their own, 3 riding with parents, and 5 adults passing by the scene of accident within minutes of it happening. Scary! I am always on edge heading down Broadway especially when there is a large volume of riders. Most riders are very courteous but quite zippy zooming past us on the way down. I like how you’ve suggested a 3-prong approach to solving the issues at this intersection. I would also think a sign similar to the one at NE Couch and NE Grand(?) would be helpful to alert drivers to bikes in lane. This is our “safe” route to school. Aside this forum, is there a way to provide feedback to the city? Should we just email

    1. Aside this forum, is there a way to provide feedback to the city? Should we just email

      Luckily for everyone, PBOT staff are known to monitor these comments and they take the feedback here seriously. But yes, definitely use the 823-SAFE and email as much as you can.

      I also think a letter coming from The Emerson School stating safety concerns and proposing some solutions (like the signal, smoother pavement, more signage, and so on) would go a long way. Address it to Commissioner Novick, PBOT, and Mayor Hales.

  23. Avatar CaptainKarma says:

    As a person who drives and ride bikes, I am well aware of the right hook potential. Yet I catch myself looking over my shoulder (when driving) too little and too late. There are way too many attentional demands at an intersection when driving. More signs, lights, paint etc compete with everything else, causing cognitive overload and right-hooked victims. The onus is on you, the rider, to save your skin. Simply the laws of physics and psychology at work. Wish it were otherwise, but I never depend on laws, paint, signs, lights, or drivers, to function as they should to save my behind. $#it Happens.

  24. Avatar sean says:

    The sheer number of bikes (traffic in general) at that intersection and down Broadway is very heavy and will only increase. Broadway as is cannot handle this traffic.

    Some day we may be able to consider a bike-only route through downtown. Shifting the main route to the park blocks (which is also a much more even grade), and adding signals (particularly at Burnside) will allow families as well as gung-ho types. Sacrifice: parking. But imagine a mostly-stress-free ride through downtown. How amazing would that be?

    1. Yes — when they redevelop the Post Office, how about a “Park Blocks Viaduct” that would bring Broadway bikes and peds down to the top of the Park Blocks?

      When dropping down the Broadway Bridge, instead of turning right on Lovejoy or making a half-left to stay on Broadway, you’d cruise straight ahead on a new approach bridge that would drop you at Hoyt and NW Park?

      1. Interestingly, this map in the ‘West Quadrant Plan” shows a connection from Broadway/Lovejoy to the southeast through the Post Office, making connections to the the Johnson Neighborhood Greenway and to the Park Blocks. last page

        I like it. Anyone know if they’re for reals about this idea?

        1. Avatar sean says:

          Before this master plan of redeveloping the post office happens (which looks amazing), with a modicum of improvements it would be fairly easy for the city to allow bikers to use this route already. NW Johnson needs a diverter (at present it is a thoroughfare for cars), and the Park blocks needs a light at Burnside. Thanks for the link.

  25. Avatar oregon111 says:

    cars need to merge into bike lane — thus preventing bikes from passing on the right when cars make a rt hand turn

    1. Avatar BURR says:

      Or, if you’re cycling and going straight, you could merge out into the car lane to prevent any pass-and-hook maneuvers by the motorists.

    2. Avatar EC says:

      My understanding of the law is that cars cannot drive in bike lanes. They can cross them to park or turn, but in Oregon cars cannot drive in bike lanes to block cyclists.

    3. Oregon111 — back in 2007 or so Joe Rose at The Oregonian made an animation showing the difference between the California law and the Oregon law on this. Very instructive. I can’t find a link. Anyone know where to find it?

      In California (and many other states), cars can merge into the bike lane as they approach the intersection. This reduced right hooks, but contributed toward gridlock in the bike lane if it gets clogged with cars.

      In Oregon, drivers need to stay in the driving lane, then cross over the bike lane at the intersection itself. They can’t enter the bike lane until they’ve verified that there are no bicyclists overtaking from behind.

      See “Right Turns” p 38-39 “Do not move into a bicycle lane in preparation for a right hand turn”

      1. Avatar El Biciclero says:

        It’s very interesting, the debate between the “Oregon” and “California” rules of merging into bike lanes or not. I find it funny that there is all kinds of support for the California rule by motorists, who have no issue merging into and potentially blocking through bicyclists (all while still having to yield to bikes already in the bike lane)–‘cuz, you know, safety!–yet when considering allowing bicyclists to leave the bike lane to merge into through auto traffic, not so much. “They would slow me down, plus, it just doesn’t seem safe!” Sounds like a desire to eat my cake and also keep it in my hand. One potential benefit to the California rule that I don’t know whether motorists understand, is that, if followed, it would virtually put an end to right turns on red in any area with a bike lane and at least one through cyclist who waits for red lights. However, I’ll bet that even if we changed to the California rule, creative motorists would find a way to make those sacred rights on red anyway. They would either attempt to squeeze past waiting cyclists on their right (something they don’t consider safe if cyclists do it), or would ignore the rule when it suited them to swing around on the left of waiting cyclists by not merging into the bike lane.

  26. Avatar Hau says:

    I just found out that the bicyclist is a parent from The Emerson School. He usually rides with his son, but his son thankfully wasn’t with him this morning. To me, this raises the urgency of making this intersection safer. We want to bike with our kids, and our kids want to bike to school. Please make it safer!

  27. Avatar rreodc says:

    What about turning the car lane on 5th and 6th Ave through downtown into a bike-only lane separated from public transit by bollards? That would leave two lanes for public transit and make one lane for bicyclists. Traffic signals could be adapted to MAX, bus and bicyclists. Bollards could be placed at intersections on the bike lane to prevent cars from turning into it. Not sure of how the connections would work at the northern end in from Broadway Bridge, though.

    I find myself using 6th to go north to Broadway Bridge from my downtown office more frequently these days; only having to deal with one lane of auto traffic on 6th can feel safer than dealing with three lanes of auto traffic on 4th Ave (where drivers frequently and suddenly decide they do or do not want to turn down to the Morrison or Burnside Bridge and swerve in and out of lanes).

    1. Avatar rreodc says:

      Meant to put this under sean and Ted’s comments about alternate downtown routes…

  28. Avatar Champs says:

    This doesn’t excuse what happened, but I’m willing to bet this happened after a break in bike lane traffic.

    So long as some people are fighting for that Hoyt Holeshot, and others try to time the light for their chance to get out front and pretty much beat all the lights, there will be waves of traffic rather than a constant stream.

    My rant about how the Esplanade is slower than taking Broadway through downtown can wait for some other day. But timing, people!

  29. Avatar GlowBoy says:

    I know bike boxes aren’t primarily intended to prevent right-hooks, but I do think the green pavement coloring helps bring attention to the presence of bicyclists and keeps the problem from being worse than it would be otherwise. The other day I rode through this intersection for the first time since they gave it a bike box, and I thought it was REALLY odd that it wasn’t green.

    That said, you’re always going to have right-hook problems on downhills where cyclists are going faster than motorists have been conditioned to “expect”, regardless of whether you have bike lanes or not. I don’t think there are easy solutions to this, short of preventing right turns from the car lane or having separate signal phases for cars and bikes. I think a dedicated right-turn-only lane with a substantial green merge-across zone might help, but you’ll still have motorists who don’t look far enough back for fast cyclists, and I’m not sure there would be room on this particular block anyway.

  30. Avatar Scott says:

    You throw a smaller left hook on the inside when the car begins to come across you. Your body should pivot clockwise as you throw the left hook and this will turn the car away from the right hook and minimize the damage. Your left hook should land perfectly. You can keep doing this as long as the car keeps up the wild right hooks.

  31. Avatar Zaphod says:

    I rolled past this with a kid on-board and another on his own bike a few minutes after it occurred. The morning commute has such a volume of people on bikes that I can’t imagine it to be possible for a driver to successfully make a right between 7:45-9a or so. It’s a fast intersection by nature of it.

    If I were driving, I’d NEVER attempt it.

    Maybe it should be illegal. Conditions have some similarity to Interstate/Greeley where a life was lost.

  32. I think this would be safer if they colored the bike box green.

    All of the other bike boxes in the central city are colored green.

    The Oregon Driver Manual Bike Box diagram shows a green bike box.

    I’m going to guess that all of the drivers’ instruction handbooks have a green bike box.

    And I’m going to guess that if there’s a picture of a bike box on the Oregon Drivers’ Exam its going to be colored green.


    If you want to see it colored green, I bet that if 10 of us sent an email to and asked them to color it green, they’d color it green in a couple weeks.

    * to improve visibility of bicyclists
    * to bring it into conformity with the Bike Box shown on page 84 of the Oregon Driver Manual

    1. For background, the city put in 12 bike boxes in 2008, and studied compliance and behavior.

      3 were left uncolored to see if there was any difference.

      “In 2008, the City of Portland completed the first large-scale installation of this treatment in the United States… Three installations omitted the green textured thermoplastic so that a comparison could be made.”

      I’m thinking that since the study was published in 2010, and they’re now included in many design manuals, that there is no reason not to color this one green if its going to help dads and schoolkids get through safely.

      The results — relatively little difference between colored and uncolored, but:

      “Motor vehicle encroachment in the bike lane prior to arriving at the intersection decreased for color locations, but not no-color locations.”

      Which indicates drivers are more aware of the presence of the bike lane, and may make them more cautious about right-hooking a bike.

      From Evaluation of Bike Boxes at Signalized Intersections, OTREC-RR-11-06 January 2011, quote from executive summary.

    2. & if 20 people write in and ask for a bike signal there, like they have at Broadway and Lovejoy, and Broadway and Williams, it will march up the priority list and might get installed around 2016.

      Be a squeaky wheel. Let them know you care.

      Ted Buehler

  33. Jessica Roberts Jessica Roberts says:

    How about prohibiting motor vehicle right turns at this location?

  34. Avatar Opie says:

    So basically up-end almost the entire infrastructure of cars and bikes, because cars hook occasionally?
    Recommended 0


  35. Avatar Sho says:

    Its interesting when visiting southern california where they are much better at cyclists having the full lane right of way they dont use stop boxes. Instead as you approach the intersection the white line between bike lane and car lane becomes dashed allowing for vehicles to slowly merge into it when clear and defining they are turning (if approaching a red light with the car already there then the car would already be merged over ready to turn or the car would simply line up behind the cyclist if they are first to the light). This rarely caused any backups in the bike lane, I noticed significantly less road/bike rage, and no right hooks (not even any close calls). It was pretty amazing and worked quite well.

  36. Avatar William says:

    The time will come – perhaps sooner than we imagine – that the solution to problems like this will be much grander, more in line with the comments made by sean, ted, and rreodc. We’ll soon have a no-car bridge connecting SE to SW. What if the Broadway bridge was no-car and connected NE to NW? What if one lane was turned into two-way bike lanes and the sidewalks were restored to pedestrians? Or what if little shops or even little condos could be built in one of the current auto lanes? How cool would it be to live or shop or work ON the Broadway bridge? What a great tourist attraction. What if ALL of downtown was no-car except for early mornings for deliveries? Tinkering with green coloring and precise bike lane locations is absolutely critical. But I also hope that the visionaries are considering what transportation will look like in 5, 10, and 15 years.

  37. Avatar wsbob says:

    “…Our witness says it happened during a green light and the person in the car “appeared to be yielding to through-bicyclists, then seemed to suddenly turn.” The witness also added that foggy windows in the car might have been a factor. We’re awaiting more details from the Portland Police about the person’s condition and any other information about the collision. …” maus/bikeportland

    Among information that will be important to hear, is whether the person driving, had the car’s turn signal on as they were waiting for a break in bike lane traffic to make the right turn across the bike lane.

    Using the photo illustrating this story as an example, a long line of people biking in the bike lane could pose quite a challenge to someone in the main lane waiting to turn across the bike lane. Without the car having its turn signal on, any indication the person driving may have been conveying that a turn was being prepared for would have been a challenge at best for people in the bike lane to determine.

    Other details too, such as whether the car…said by the witness to appear to be yielding…was moving while doing so, or whether it was stopped at the intersection with no cars ahead of it, while the driver seemed to appear to be yielding.

    With long lines of people in the bike lane, it’s going to be more difficult to handle traffic conflicts like this. Even with a green light ahead, one person riding alone and seeing a car ahead with its turn signal on, might feel inclined to slow, allowing the person driving, time and distance to safely make the turn. With a long line of other people on bikes behind them, their may be some pressure to throw some caution to the wind, forging on ahead with the green, past the waiting car.

    1. Avatar rreodc says:

      Witness here. Some points of clarification: there was no car directly in front of the car involved in the collision. There was a car directly behind it which prevented me from seeing whether or not the driver had his turn signal on.

      I was riding approximately 20-25 feet behind the bicycle rider. There were no bikes immediately in front of him and, from what I remember, no bikes came through behind me until after I passed through the intersection on the same green light, pulled over to assist, and the signal went through a cycle of yellow, red, then back to green.

      From my vantage point, it appeared that the driver was stopped at the green light and waiting at a stop for the rider to go through the intersection. I believe that I would have ridden through the intersection the same way the rider did had I been in his position.

      Whether there is a single bicycle rider or a long line of riders it’s not a “challenge to someone in the main lane waiting to turn across the bike lane,” it’s the law. If a driver has to wait through multiple cycles of this traffic signal before executing a safe right turn, so be it.

      The sooner the city can fix this dangerous intersection, the safer and happier we’ll all be… Bicyclists, drivers and pedestrians.

      1. Avatar wsbob says:

        rreodc…as a witness to the collision, thanks for additional details about it. A couple additional notes:

        Please say whether the car was stationary at the green light, or moving. This is important, because the driver of a car with the intention of turning, followed by another car immediately behind it and none ahead of it as both approach an intersection with a green light, could inadvertently convey to road users/people riding bikes in the bike lane, that a turn isn’t intended.

        In that event, people on bikes traveling in the bike lane may reasonably proceed on past the car, in this case, two cars together, even though the lead car had a green light and may have been moving slowly. If on the other hand, the car was stationary at an intersection with a green light, that should raise red flags to people on bikes traveling in the bike lane, that something is up, one possibility being that the person ahead in the car may be preparing to turn, to which the cautionary response of people riding would be to slow and wait for the car to complete the turn, clearing the bike lane for continued safe travel forward.

        “…Whether there is a single bicycle rider or a long line of riders it’s not a “challenge to someone in the main lane waiting to turn across the bike lane,” it’s the law. …”

        While it certainly is the law for people driving in the main lanes of the road to yield to people riding bikes in the bike lane, it nevertheless can at the same time be a major challenge for the person driving to find a break in bike lane traffic that allows the car to brought across the bike lane, avoiding a collision. People that bike should know this, and factor it into their riding procedure.

    2. Avatar Oliver says:

      You’ve illustrated a case where the bike box doesn’t make sense, as the right turning vehicle is required to wait for the though traffic coming along on the right. If the bicycle traffic was non-stop, the solution would be to wait out the light cycle, and then turn right on red. But, since there’s a bicycle box there, there is a possibility(expectation) that once the light turns red, bicycles can fill up the box in front of you, preventing your turn.

      come to think of it, this is probably a common argument against bike boxes from a motorist point of view.

  38. Avatar jim says:

    It could be that since the car did wait for other bikes to pass that this bike might have not been riding in the bike lane at the time the driver looked. If he was behind the driver rather than in the bike lane and then moved back into the bike lane to pass the driver would not have seen him. Cyclists need to ride in a predictable manor. Not saying this is what happened, just speculating.

    1. Avatar rreodc says:

      The rider was in the bike lane the whole time; he did not move out of it and behind cars at any point.

  39. Avatar Steve says:

    Junction design the Dutch – cycle friendly – way >

    1. Avatar sean says:

      Steve. This video was fantastic. This is what we need.

  40. Avatar 100th Monkey says:

    IMO there are only 2 possible solutions to this intersection design. The first, which I have been advocating for years for EVERY INTERSECTION is the “Dutch Intersection” as Steve mentioned above. The obvious flaw in the implementation is how to educate both the automobile and bicycle drivers in it’s use, short of massive PSAs on TV and other visual entertainment medium; for which there is no $ to do so. The other option is the prevention of right turns ala the intersection treatment done at the N Interstate/Greely south-bound a year and half after the 2007 fatality of Brett Jarolimek and multiple non-fatal or nearly-right-hooked car-bicycle interactions. The obvious issue with this “solution” is the outcry by automobile drivers at being inconvenienced by being forced to drive an additional block to make a right turn on Glisan, which has twice the capacity with two lanes instead of one on Hoyt and also has a right turn lane to the right of the thru lane. The flow of traffic is slower and I see most bicycle traffic shift left to the thru lane also. But again, people are creatures of habit and HATE being FORCED to change their daily commute route, no matter if it makes sense and is likely more efficient!

    1. Avatar spare_wheel says:

      denmark and germany do not have many dutch intersections and yet right hooks are far rarer. maybe a big part of the problem is not a lack of mitigating infrastructure but motorist behavior. call me an optimist but i believe that with the right mix of laws and enforcement USAnian motorists can learn to drive more like danish and german motorists.

      1. Avatar wsbob says:

        Details aren’t all in for bikeportland readers to pore over, but this collision appears to be one in which the person driving did drive with regard for people biking, and the collision happened nevertheless.

        People apparently rode by a car at an intersection that was probably either moving slowly or stopped in preparation for making a turn, maybe with its turn signal on as it should have been…what should have been seen as a clear sign of possible danger to bike traffic in the bike lane.

        A good traffic control design for this section of Broadway may be something along the lines of that suggested in this earlier comment:

        …to which I added some remarks of my own in response, further down.

        1. Avatar spare_wheel says:

          “People apparently rode by a car at an intersection that was probably either moving slowly or stopped in preparation for making a turn”

          This is like arguing that a motorist who slows and signals in advance has the right to make a sudden lane change into another vehicle’s right of way.

          1. Avatar wsbob says:

            No, it’s not like that kind of argument, and ‘the right to make a turn’ in this situation, is not an argument I’m making.

            I’m pointing out that a motor vehicle having slowed down or stopped at an intersection with a green light, possibly indicates that a turn is intended, and that people riding in the bike lane should take this as a warning, using it to determine whether it’s safe for them to proceed on past the motor vehicle, or wait until the motor vehicle has crossed the bike lane and proceeded with its turn, clearing the bike lane for continued safe travel by people riding in the bike lane.

            1. Avatar spare_wheel says:

              yadda…yadda…defensive driving/cycling…BUT:

              a turn across a bike lane is a lane change and it is ALWAYS the legal and ethical responsibility of the vehicle changing lanes to make sure that the path is clear!

              1. Avatar wsbob says:

                “yadda…yadda…defensive driving/cycling…”, yourself.

                Of course it’s the legal responsibility of the person turning across the bike lane to make sure the bike lane is clear. That’s a foregone conclusion, but no guarantee that the person turning will successfully be certain the bike lane is clear before turning across it.

                People riding in the bike lane past cars apparently on the verge of turning, have their own life and limb to look after. Caution on their part as well as on the driver’s, is warranted in such a situation. But hey…you can ride right on by such a driver if you want. It’s your right to do that, and it sounds as though to you, the risk of a collision and injury to yourself is worth exercising that right.

              2. Avatar spare_wheel says:

                thanks to the relatively low posted speed limits in pdx i almost always take the full vehicle lane in this type of situation.

              3. Avatar wsbob says:

                “thanks to the relatively low posted speed limits in pdx i almost always take the full vehicle lane in this type of situation.” spare_wheel

                That’s great for you and other people willing to ride the main lanes of traffic…but looking at the pic illustrating this story, showing a line of people in the bike lane on Broadway, one of Portland’s more heavily traveled streets…there seems to be a lot of people for whom generally riding the main lanes when a bike lane is available, isn’t very desirable.

                From the bike lane, watching for motor vehicles that are preparing to turn, people riding and slowing down, allowing them to turn, clearing the bike path for continued procession on the bike lane can in many situations be better and simpler than riding the main lanes.

              4. Avatar EC says:

                spare_wheel, I think that violates “ORS 814.420: Failure to use bicycle lane or path.” Unless the bike lane is to the right of a lane from which the vehicle MUST turn right, you have to stay in the bike lane if it’s available.

              5. Avatar El Biciclero says:

                Yeah, well, if a turning motorist runs over a cyclist in a bike lane, I think that violates “ORS 811.050: Failure to yield to a rider on a bicycle lane.”

                Which violation is more likely to get somebody killed? I’ll violate 814.420 all day long rather than have the integrity of my physical person violated by infractions of 811.050.

  41. Avatar jim says:

    Perhaps it would be better if it was mandatory to have headlights on in the day time, just like motorcycles.

    1. Avatar EC says:

      I totally agree! It’s incredibly hard to see dark clothed cyclists even in good lighting. It only takes a second to turn them on and off and frankly I can’t figure out why people don’t just automatically use them.

      1. Avatar spare_wheel says:

        so you have a choice between hitting a hard to see cyclist and getting to your destination a tiny bit faster.
        tough choice…eh?

  42. John Liu John Liu says:

    Because most bicycle headlights are not bright enough to be visible in the daytime, and those that are, will not last for even an hour before the battery is dead. It isn’t like a car or motorcycle where the alternator will happily pump out 20 amps until the gas tank runs dry.

    1. Dynos make always-on a possibility as do the newer Magnic lights. Dynos add a negligible drag and a bit of weight to the bike and are expensive. The newer Magnic lights offer no drag whatsoever, are mechanically simpler (mount easily like most battery lights) and are easily removable to prevent theft. Both solutions are also brighter than simple disposable-battery lights.

    2. Avatar GlowBoy says:

      That’s a good reason why powerful, steady lights are great at night, and inexpensive blinky lights are great in the daytime.

      That said, my not-very-expensive headlight is good for 20+ hours on “low” and is still very visible (at least in contrast to “dark clad cyclists”) on that setting.

  43. Avatar Mindful Cyclist says:

    Someone may have mentioned this, but could we not just get rid of the bulb out there by the intersection and make it in to a right turn only lane? Put the bike lane between the current lane and the new turn lane? From the photo above, it looks like it could be done.

    1. Avatar Todd Boulanger says:

      That curb extension is for pedestrian access and safety…and helps to keep the marked crossing as short as possible. There is a transit stop there too (my memory)…that serves the Greyhound Station area plus the USPO.

    2. Avatar Pete says:

      Since moving to California I’ve noticed a few things about infrastructure differences. Bike lanes seem to be older here and more integrated with right-turn lanes, and the lines are dashed where the bike/car merges are supposed to take place. That being said I have to take the lane earlier on several, and regardless of there being a bike lane I signal and take the main travel lane more often because of the strip malls on either side of many intersections (I’ve grown to LOVE my handlebar mirror to help time these merges). I feel riding with cars is actually easier here than when I was in Oregon, but I also ride at traffic speed and recognize this doesn’t work for everyone (and shouldn’t have to be the case IMO).

      One problem I see with this “right-turn-yield” infrastructure, though, is it seems to have enabled generations of drivers who feel they can take these turns without slowing, stopping, or even having to look left. I grew up driving in the days when right-turn-on-red-after-stop was just coming into being, so a stop or yield in these “pipelines” makes sense to me – often earlier on as I see lots of rear-end collisions happen ‘around the corner’.

      Lately there have been several new “bulbs” and crosswalks put in around here, but mid-block on roads with less stoplights where speed tends to creep up, and a few of them accompanied by high-intensity signal-activated lights. I’ve noticed these new “bulbs” are merely concrete and not decorated with planters, which seems to have been a trend a few years back. So far it seems these treatments do a pretty good job of slowing drivers from what I’ve observed. I think they work better due to being mid-block as opposed to crowding and confusing intersections.

  44. Avatar are says:

    loving that word “avid.”
    since moving from portland a couple of months ago i have not been frequenting this blog, but here i just want to mention that in the five years i lived in portland and the hundreds of times i made this descent, i never, zero times, took the bike lane unless i was turning right onto hoyt. if you are not in the right hook lane you cannot get right hooked.

  45. Avatar Dennis Gilbert says:

    Hit the walk button and use the pedestrian cross walk while pushing your bike across the street. I find this a very safe alternative.

  46. Avatar kww says:

    Want to hear my solution?
    Take the LANE.
    Specifically, modify ORS 814.420 to allow for bikes to exit the bike lane, and take the motorized vehicle lane when a right turn is allowed in urban areas (only in 25mph zones). Another solution is for PBOT to put in sharrows and allow bikes to take the full lane.

    I take the lane at SW 3rd & Madison. I don’t want this to happen to me:

  47. Avatar RW says:

    Always take the lane. Never never get on the right side of a motor vehicle at any intersection. Anything else is dangerous.

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