Urban Tribe - Ride with your kids in front.

After another fatality on Barbur Blvd, ODOT tweet hits a nerve

Posted by on November 27th, 2013 at 10:26 am

Another person died while traveling on SW Barbur Blvd this week. It’s the fourth fatality since 2010 on the notoriously dangerous 1.6 mile section of the road between Terwilliger and Hamilton.

With a record of so much carnage and rampant high speed and high risk driving, many Portlanders want to see the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) take a more aggressive approach to changing the design of Barbur in a way that would slow people down and encourage safer behavior. However, as we shared back in August when a 27-year-old man died after traveling at a “very high rate of speed” and losing control of his Prius, ODOT has no plans to seriously consider a roadway reconfiguration (a.k.a. “road diet”) on Barbur.

Many people have urged ODOT to put Barbur on a “road diet” because such a design is considered a “proven safety countermeasure” by numerous studies and even by the Federal Highway Administration.

This tension between ODOT and the community around Barbur was evident after the agency tweeted on Monday — just two hours after the most recent fatality — that, “Speed, aggressive and distracted driving on [sic] big factors in crashes.” Later that night, Friends of Barbur volunteer Kiel Johnson replied by tweeting, “so are roads that encourage those behaviors.”

It was ODOT’s reply to Johnson’s tweet that really struck a nerve: “Not sure how a road encourages distracted driving, speeding or agressive [sic] driving.”

Here’s the thread so far (you can also see it online):

Reached on the phone this morning, ODOT spokesman Don Hamilton said he understands the public’s reaction to the tweet; but he also offered an explanation. “That tweet was intended to say that even the best designed road cannot prevent bad decisions by motorists — no design elements can remove bad judgment.”

Hamilton said ODOT does indeed feel that road design “very clearly” has an effect on user behaviors and that the work they’ve done on Barbur is a good example. He pointed to the improved crosswalks, rapid flash beacons, and other projects they’ve done on the street in recent years as proof.

According to Hamilton, ODOT feels the responsibility for safety on Barbur is ultimately up to the user. “You can make smart choices about driving on that road… We have signs that help advise you about what’s safe in an area.”

As for this most recent fatality, Hamilton said it’s too early to make any determinations about why it happened.

NOTE: We love your comments and work hard to ensure they are productive, considerate, and welcoming of all perspectives. Disagreements are encouraged, but only if done with tact and respect. If you see a mean or inappropriate comment, please contact us and we'll take a look at it right away. Thank you — Jonathan

  • Dave November 27, 2013 at 10:35 am

    I find it really hard to believe that they are touting the ‘work’ they’ve done on Barbur as really positive in the wake of several fatalities and major injuries, a community outburst urging them to look at re-designing the road, and their own repeated refusal to do so.

    Recommended Thumb up 38

  • encephalopath November 27, 2013 at 10:35 am

    So ODOT is just trolling us now? And in response to a fatality? Wow…

    Recommended Thumb up 16

  • Opus the Poet November 27, 2013 at 10:39 am

    Can you say tone deaf?

    Recommended Thumb up 15

  • dh November 27, 2013 at 10:49 am

    Crosswalks and beacons on what’s effectively a freeway, albeit a slightly (SLIGHTLY) lower-speed freeway, don’t change the nature of the roadway.

    Recommended Thumb up 7

  • Eli November 27, 2013 at 10:52 am

    Please tell me that whoever answered that tweet is not an actual ODOT traffic engineer.

    Recommended Thumb up 20

  • Dwayne Dibbly November 27, 2013 at 10:53 am

    The person who tweets for ODOT should be forced to resign immediately.

    Recommended Thumb up 21

  • Peejay November 27, 2013 at 10:53 am

    You’re drunk, ODOT. Go home.

    Recommended Thumb up 62

    • MsMilk November 27, 2013 at 12:14 pm

      But whatever you do don’t take Barbur to get there.

      Recommended Thumb up 38

  • David November 27, 2013 at 10:54 am


    Recommended Thumb up 6

  • Brian Davis November 27, 2013 at 10:58 am

    Yikes! When I first saw that tweet I figured it was a simple messaging failure from the person running the social media. It’s hard to believe they’re defending it, though.

    It’s one thing to approach problems with an auto-centric mindset, but ODOT has drifted fully into the realm of science denial when it comes to Barbur lately. Yes, road design affects behavior. Profoundly, in fact. Yes, Barbur has the capacity to be reduced by a lane. Yes, climate change and evolution are real, and 2+2=4.

    I don’t expect to always agree with the good folks at the state DOT, but I do expect them to offer legitimate, informed, intellectually honest and defensible arguments. This is disappointing.

    Recommended Thumb up 38

    • Pliny November 27, 2013 at 2:29 pm

      They’re also in denial of the requirements of the Bike Bill which they’ve decided doesn’t apply to the bridge project.

      Recommended Thumb up 5

  • Terry D November 27, 2013 at 11:03 am

    The writer either needs to go back to school or find a new line of work. Prefferably both. How are we in Portland supposed to respect ODOTs suggestions on anything with comments like this? All it shows us is their shere lack of understanding of moderrn road design.

    Recommended Thumb up 7

  • Carl November 27, 2013 at 11:06 am

    Let’s be clear on this.

    What ODOT *tweeted* was: Roads don’t encourage speeding, aggressive driving or distracted driving.

    What Hamilton *said* was: No road can prevent bad decisions or bad judgement.

    These are two ENTIRELY different statements. Of course no road can entirely prevent a behavior…but pretending that road design has no impact at all is like saying no lock can discourage a determined thief, so why bother locking your bike? It is absurd, and patently false.

    Road design has a tremendous impact on driver behavior, and every collision or fatality obligates ODOT to examine whether road design could prevent a repeat. To dismiss this fact by shrugging and saying “what could we do?” is irresponsible.

    Recommended Thumb up 32

    • Dave November 27, 2013 at 11:31 am

      Those are very different statements if taken literally and out of context, but Hamilton is still defending the position stated in the tweet, and using the statement “No road can prevent bad decisions or bad judgment” to excuse ODOT from doing anything – so in essence, because of the way they are being used, these two statements work out to the same meaning in the end: that in their minds, ODOT is clear of any responsibility, and if people choose to drive irresponsibly, that’s none of their business.

      Recommended Thumb up 7

      • 9watts November 27, 2013 at 7:33 pm

        And for that matter, why is Hamilton invoking the most perfect road when the subject is Barbur Blvd, which he just admitted has about the worst record for crashes in the Portland area?

        from the KATU story:
        “‘We can have the most perfect road out there and bad judgment can still cause problems on the roads,’ said Hamilton.”

        This is no doubt true but in this instance it is arguably irrelevant/misleading/disingenuous/obfuscatory.

        Recommended Thumb up 4

    • eli bishop November 27, 2013 at 1:41 pm

      “No road can prevent bad decisions or bad judgement.” the holgate road diet cut the number of crashes in half almost immediately. a year later, there were only two major crashes instead of 7, and no loss of life.

      Recommended Thumb up 15

    • Todd Boulanger November 27, 2013 at 4:35 pm

      An open note to the ODoT Social Media/ Twitter texter,

      Most of the communal reaction to your initial Tweet would be that many in the community would expect ODoT to have a more nuanced approach to roadway safety…vs. its all up to you and throw one’s institutional hands up. (Then why have as many traffic engineer’s at ODoT?)

      Most Oregonian’s in urban areas would expect ODoT to at least have a policy similar or better than the Dutch DoT’s “Sustainable Safety””:

      “In the Netherlands, the sustainable safety approach differs from Vision Zero in that it acknowledges that in the majority of accidents humans are to blame, and that roads should be designed to be “self-explaining” thus reducing the likelihood of crashes. Self-explaining roads are easy to use and navigate, it being self-evident to road users where they should be and how they should behave.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vision_Zero

      Barbur Blvd is “self explaining”, as ‘go ahead and speed …its all about you, Mr. and Ms. Driver’…and that is the problem with it.

      “More recently the Dutch have introduced the idea that roads should also be “forgiving”, i.e. designed to lessen the outcome of a traffic collision when the inevitable does occur, principles which are at the core of both the Dutch and Swedish policies.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vision_Zero

      Barbur Blvd can be designed as “more forgiving” of driver error and driver behaviour if ODoT were to embrace the “road diet” and other now well established design tools.

      Recommended Thumb up 14

    • wsbob November 27, 2013 at 11:56 pm

      What is it you think it is about Barbur Blvd’s design, configuration, or whatever…that’s caused collisions to happen there, and not so much elsewhere. Most likely, it has nothing particular to do with the road having two lanes in each direction, because other roads have the same, and they’re not the subject of a great effort to have them reconfigured.

      With Jersey Barriers, create a divider down Barbur between opposing directions of traffic. That would have stopped the person driving in this most recent collision, from having crossed into the opposing lane of traffic, but not necessarily a collision from occurring.

      Jersey Barriers wouldn’t probably stop late night high-speeders from playing around and occasionally getting killed in crashes, or killing other innocent road users.

      Is removing one of the four lanes of traffic to allow reconfiguration of the road into three lanes, so continuous bike lanes can be installed on part of the road, likely to reduce the rate, or stop collisions from occurring? Maybe, but probably not. That would just be a slightly greater challenge for the high-speeders, but they’d still wind it up on Barbur, like the drunk woman did on Canyon Rd a couple years ago, killing a kid and seriously injuring another and the mother.

      Recommended Thumb up 1

  • David November 27, 2013 at 11:16 am

    “People keep dying here. What a coincidence!” -ODOT

    Recommended Thumb up 23

  • Pat November 27, 2013 at 11:18 am

    I agree that some people are going to drive like assholes no matter what. However, good road design can help prevent those assholes from hurting and/or killing the other users sharing the road with them.

    Recommended Thumb up 5

  • spare_wheel November 27, 2013 at 11:26 am

    “even the best designed road cannot prevent bad decisions by motorists”

    speeding is a bad decision.

    Recommended Thumb up 3

  • Alan Love November 27, 2013 at 11:33 am

    When one section of roadway has a significantly higher fatality count than another section with equal capacity/usage, is ODOT advocating that the deciding factor between the two is that more bad drivers use one road vs. another?

    Recommended Thumb up 24

  • Richard Kilshaw November 27, 2013 at 12:02 pm

    ODOT spokesman Don Hamilton said “Even the best designed road cannot prevent bad decisions by motorists — no design elements can remove bad judgment.” Really? I would think that a center barrier would prevent illegal U turns for one(Think Greeley 405 entrance). Two lanes have forever encouraged speeding and aggressive driving in my opinion. A road diet down to single lane in both directions must reduce bad judgement speeding even if only based on the fact that you cannot pass a slower moving vehicle! How can one say otherwise? I don’t get it

    Recommended Thumb up 13

    • wsbob November 27, 2013 at 5:48 pm

      “…A road diet down to single lane in both directions must reduce bad judgement speeding even if only based on the fact that you cannot pass a slower moving vehicle! …” Richard Kilshaw

      It can be more difficult, but on two lane roads, people do pass slower moving vehicles. Other roads in the metro area are of the four lane/two in each direction configuration, such as Hwy 26, parts of Canyon Rd, Hwy 217. The reason for a relatively higher rate of collisions on Barbur, assuming that’s the case, probably is due to some other characteristic than the road having the four lane/two in each direction configuration.

      Hwy 26 is a four lane/two in each direction road. So are other roads in the metro area, but there’s no push to subject them to a road diet.

      Recommended Thumb up 0

      • Jeff M November 28, 2013 at 12:08 am

        I don’t understand your point. 26 (in the Portland area) and 217 are well lit, highly populated, divided highways. They are nothing like the stretch of Barbur in question. And Canyon Rd is also well lit, highly populated, and lined with businesses and police, but not divided. You examples have nothing to do with Barbur. Hwy 26 through Welches would be more comparable.

        Recommended Thumb up 0

        • wsbob November 28, 2013 at 10:17 am

          “I don’t understand your point. 26 (in the Portland area) and 217 are well lit, highly populated, divided highways. They are nothing like the stretch of Barbur in question. And Canyon Rd is also well lit, highly populated, and lined with businesses and police, but not divided. Your examples have nothing to do with Barbur. Hwy 26 through Welches would be more comparable. ” Jeff M

          You think the problems on Barbur are due to the road not being as well lit as 26 and 217? Suggest that then.

          All four roads are four lane highways. 21 is flatter and straighter than Barbur, but 26 from Sylvan to Downtown is curvy and downhill/uphill as is Barbur. The section of Canyon between Hwy 26 and West Slope, is quite a lot like Barbur. It doesn’t have continuous bike lanes either.

          One thing distinguishing Barbur from 26 and 217, is that the latter don’t have pedestrian crosswalks crossing them. Another, is that their posted speed limit is higher, yet apparently they don’t have a collision rate that brings about requests that they be reconfigured for fewer lanes.

          Something the section of Canyon Rd that I mentioned, has, which I don’t know whether Barbur has…is speed reader boards and photo radar speed vans. Get some of those on Barbur, and start issuing citations.

          Recommended Thumb up 0

  • pdxpaul November 27, 2013 at 12:12 pm

    In ODOT’s defense, it’s a really bad idea to use the Twatter machine for anything beyond technical issues/informational updates when you are a bureaucratic organization.

    Recommended Thumb up 4

  • queen Annes Revenge November 27, 2013 at 12:40 pm

    You’re drunk, ODOT. Go home.
    Recommended 22

    And DUIs are a serious matter here in Oregon

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • sadlycynical November 27, 2013 at 12:41 pm

    “…no design elements can remove bad judgment.”

    True. But the statistics in this case make that a moot point to make.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • AndyC of Linnton November 27, 2013 at 12:41 pm

    I know Twitter is an English-usage garbage can on fire, but it’d be nice to see simple syntax and spelling comprehension from agencies and leaders.
    This isn’t the main point, but honestly it makes your case even weaker.

    Of course, this kinda fits the big-dumb-oaf-bully profile, especially when ODOT’s case this time seems to be doing the bully’s classic maneuver of taking hold of your arm and slapping your head while repeating, “Stop hitting yourself, stop hitting yourself, stop hitting yourself.”

    Recommended Thumb up 4

  • Chris I November 27, 2013 at 1:03 pm

    It’s time to clean house at ODOT. We need to make sure the next governor of Oregon has this on his/her agenda.

    Recommended Thumb up 16

    • Hillsons November 27, 2013 at 1:28 pm

      ODOT’s complacency, inaction, and unwillingness to simply listen to requests from citizens who are tired of seeing their neighbors killed on roads have reached a tipping point, and people deserve to lose their jobs over it.

      Recommended Thumb up 10

    • was carless November 27, 2013 at 2:35 pm

      You mean besides building a $4 billion bridge for suburbanite Vancouver commuters paid for by Oregon taxpayers???

      no sarcasm there.

      Recommended Thumb up 10

  • q`Tzal November 27, 2013 at 1:27 pm

    At what point should we be ashamed that we aren’t surprised that yet another person has been killed on Barbur?

    Recommended Thumb up 4

    • Jeff M November 27, 2013 at 10:35 pm

      It is shameful. Tragically, nothing about this situation surprises me. In fact, I expect it to happen again, and so should ODOT.

      Recommended Thumb up 0

  • q`Tzal November 27, 2013 at 1:33 pm

    ODOT: take a lesson from PBOT and admit you are wrong.
    Then take the big leap and admit you don’t know how to fix this problem.

    Recommended Thumb up 7

  • Curt November 27, 2013 at 1:55 pm

    IIRC a recent metro safety study showed a pretty strong correlation between the number of lanes and the number of crashes. Road diets are one of the FHWA’s “proven safety countermeasures”. I’m too lazy get the links now. But ODOT should check them out.

    Recommended Thumb up 1

    • q`Tzal November 27, 2013 at 2:25 pm

      Maybe you should get the links; it doesn’t seem that we can trust ODOT to do their own job to their own standards.

      Recommended Thumb up 4

      • paikikala November 27, 2013 at 4:04 pm
        • q`Tzal November 27, 2013 at 5:38 pm

          Thank you.
          Does anybody have links to the operational requirements and specifications that control SW Barbur Blvd? I’m thinking of everything from original build parameters and the current freight requirements that ODOT would claim they are hamstrung by.
          If I’m going down the rabbit hole of educating myself on this from amateur to “can tell engineers what for and have a chance of being right” I need to get a complete picture to build a good foundation on solid ground.

          Recommended Thumb up 1

  • Todd Boulanger November 27, 2013 at 4:23 pm

    Does ODoTs reaction to Barbur Blvd incidents mean that they are now no longer interested in placing traffic safety first before roadway capacity and speed?

    Perhaps it is time for Oregonians interested in more urban highway arterial safety to contact their Governor and state representatives.

    I was looking back in the file to see what ODoT the institution had promised in the past on this topic.

    One would expect ODoT to have embraced Vision Zero by now…it is now a 15 year old transportation paradigm.

    But if not Vision Zero then I would welcome ODoT adopting the Dutch traffic safety paradigm of “Sustainable Safety”.

    “A core principle of the Vision Zero is that ‘Life and health can never be exchanged for other benefits within the society’ rather than the more conventional approach where a monetary value is placed on life and health which is then used with a Benefit-cost ratio evaluation before investing money in the road network to decrease risk.”

    Recommended Thumb up 2

    • q`Tzal November 27, 2013 at 11:04 pm

      On Vision Zero: it is obvious ODOT doesn’t do this here and by inference we can reasonably assume that there is a price used in design tradeoff calculations.
      What I want is to publish that price and shame ODOT for it.
      And when they sputter and gasp that we are blowing it out of proportion I want to get a video camera on some major politicians and ask them point blank “Is the life of your child worth X dollars?”

      ODOT is getting serious about burning bridges with the non-automotive citizenry in Oregon. I’m inclined to, metaphorically speaking, nuke them from orbit with their failures to follow through on their own rules, guidelines, promises and bumbling incompetence.

      Am I angry? Yes I’m angry but like the saying goes “If you aren’t angry you aren’t paying attention.”
      ODOT: are you paying attention? You should be angry. Not just at death after death that needlessly occurs on your watch but your systemic failure to even recognize that this is a problem.

      Recommended Thumb up 2

  • Todd Boulanger November 27, 2013 at 4:36 pm

    The Army has the marketing slogan, “Army of One”

    ODoT’s marketing slogan is, “Roadway for One”

    Recommended Thumb up 1

  • Alan 1.0 November 27, 2013 at 5:27 pm

    Perhaps Hamilton would like to do a few morning and evening commutes on Barbur, as the signage there indicates it’s safe.

    Recommended Thumb up 1

  • 9watts November 27, 2013 at 7:18 pm

    Don Hamilton:
    “Hamilton said ODOT does indeed feel that road design ‘very clearly’ has an effect on user behaviors and that the work they’ve done on Barbur is a good example. He pointed to the improved crosswalks, rapid flash beacons, and other projects they’ve done on the street in recent years as proof.”

    Oh, really?
    Sgt. Sessions of the PPB doesn’t agree that those are good enough:

    I still come away wishing, as I’ve said here before, that ODOT would for once get out in front of an issue rather than always playing defense; mustering what come across as weak, mopey, bureaucratic arguments *against* doing anything for the population who bikes now or might bike with a little help from, you know, our state agencies.
    Recommended 0

    Recommended Thumb up 2

  • q`Tzal November 27, 2013 at 11:05 pm

    ODOT: people dying is not business as usual.

    Recommended Thumb up 1

  • Trek 3900 November 27, 2013 at 11:44 pm

    Has there ever, in the Metro area, been a cyclist killed by a car while wearing high visiblilty orange and/or yellow AND when using flashing lights front and rear? Maybe there has been one, or more, but I’ve never heard of it happening.

    Well, let’s hear it. If you want to say there has been, please produce a link to prove it.

    The cyclists of Portland have officially been challenged.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

    • 9watts November 29, 2013 at 8:12 am

      “The cyclists of Portland have officially been challenged.”

      Trek3900, you might want to brush up on your philosophy. The assumed absence of a well-illumined, reflectorized cyclist being run over and *killed* in Portland you keep mentioning proves nothing; in no way enshrines illumination as protecting us from death or injury. I could imagine there have also been no fatalities of ‘ninja’ cyclists, so called, in the metro area.

      You and I have had these conversations here several times already. You persist in arguing that *not getting run over* is something you as a cyclist can take charge of by doing X or Y. I have countered and will continue to counter your statements with examples of people who have been hit, run over, and in some instances killed by people driving around without paying nearly enough attention. For lighting or reflective clothing to be useful you also have to have an attentive driver.

      Christeen Osborn: broad daylight, straight highway, good visibility, wearing reflective vest. She was nearly killed, though not in the Metro area (not sure why this matters).

      Hank Bersani, Steven Dayley, Reese Wilson, Karl Moritz: in all of these cases visibility was not an issue. The roads were straight and they were run over during the day.

      Dave Apperson: was killed by a driver who claimed there was *too much light* – the sun was in his eyes. I doubt that the garb you specify would have made the difference in that instance.

      Nick Bucher: witnesses say that the man who ran over and killed him at midnight “did not have his headlights on and was speeding to the point where you could hear him accelerating multiple blocks away. this doesn’t even include whether or not he was drunk, which it sounds like he was.”

      Bret Lewis: “Lewis had a functioning light on his bike, but Nguyen told police he couldn’t see it in time to avoid hitting him.”

      Man pulling child in bike trailer on SE 60th at Division: reflective garb, lights: still run over (though not killed). “He was wearing a reflective yellow jacket and his trailer had a strobing rear tail-light.” He was stopped at a light, for crying out loud.
      Shall I continue?

      Lighting and reflective clothing is wise, prudent, etc. As we’ve seen here it can be overdone (blinding oncoming traffic, Trimet clown in orange suit, etc.) but that aside it is an area worthy of attention, advocacy, and education.
      What this tragic example highlights, however, is that all those campaigns that focus attention on the supposedly unlit or underlit human-powered modes, are misconstruing the problem, which is still inattentive drivers. European authorities get this and generally don’t blame the un- or under-lit victims.
      Recommended 2

      Recommended Thumb up 8

      • wsbob December 1, 2013 at 9:10 pm

        “…What this tragic example highlights, however, is that all those campaigns that focus attention on the supposedly unlit or underlit human-powered modes, are misconstruing the problem, which is still inattentive drivers. …” 9watts

        Hi-vis campaigns aren’t doing any misconstruing. It’s you that’s misconstruing hi-vis campaigns’ message by suggesting they imply that use of hi-vis gear by vulnerable road users provides them with 100 percent guarantee against collision with motor vehicles.

        All that though, is outside the topic this bikeportland story reports on, which is occurrences of irresponsible driving and collisions involving people driving motor vehicles on Barbur Blvd, and how this could possibly lead to changes to the road that would allow it to be more functional for travel by bike.

        Recommended Thumb up 0

    • Chris I November 29, 2013 at 9:25 pm

      Do you not consider yourself a “cyclist of Portland”?

      Recommended Thumb up 1

  • Trek 3900 November 28, 2013 at 12:59 pm

    To my knowledge there has never been an instance, in the Metro area, of a cyclist being killed while wearing high-visibility yellow/orange clothing AND while using front and rear flashing lights.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

    • 9watts November 28, 2013 at 3:03 pm

      To my knowledge there has never been an instance, in the Metro area, of a cyclist being killed while riding naked. For that matter I haven’t heard of any grandmothers being killed while cycling in the Metro area. Nor have have there been any reported fatalities among bicycling politicians.

      Recommended Thumb up 7

    • Chris I November 29, 2013 at 9:21 pm

      Better get that citizen-initiated legislation going to mandate those as a minimum requirement in Oregon.

      Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Trek 3900 November 28, 2013 at 1:16 pm

    I read the story on the minivan/dump truck collision. This had nothing to do with the highway “design”. Many tens of thousands of drivers make the same trip safely each week – there is nothing difficult about it in any way. The minivan driver for some unknown reason drove across the double yellow and hit a dump truck head-on. I suppose a concrete divider between opposing traffic lanes would have prevented this particular crash. If they also put one on the outside white line, then it should be fairly safe even for blind people.

    Recommended Thumb up 1

  • kittens November 28, 2013 at 1:25 pm

    Ugg. This is why I hate Twitter, it makes almost everyone dumbr by reducing complex issues into flippant one-liners.

    Recommended Thumb up 4

    • q`Tzal November 28, 2013 at 2:02 pm

      +5 for ironic spelling of “dumbr”.

      Recommended Thumb up 4

  • Trek 3900 November 28, 2013 at 9:22 pm

    “To my knowledge there has never been an instance, in the Metro area, of a cyclist being killed while riding naked. For that matter I haven’t heard of any grandmothers being killed while cycling in the Metro area. Nor have have there been any reported fatalities among bicycling politicians.”

    I don’t fall into any of those categories so I’ll stick with the other one that is proving to be safe: Wearing high visibility yellow and orange clothing AND using flashing lights front and rear. Gotta go with what works…….

    Recommended Thumb up 0

    • 9watts November 29, 2013 at 9:19 am

      “I’ll stick with the other one that is proving to be safe: Wearing high visibility yellow and orange clothing AND using flashing lights front and rear. Gotta go with what works…….”

      Works for whom?
      We can all bike around wearing flak jackets and carrying Howitzers. But where does this lead?

      Recommended Thumb up 3

      • q`Tzal November 29, 2013 at 2:08 pm

        I’d prefer a sawed-off shotgun; you don’t have to aim it and it’s small enough to make holster that would tastefully adorn ones handlebars.

        Recommended Thumb up 0

      • Paul in the 'Couve November 29, 2013 at 7:48 pm

        Also the postal worker riding home from Swan Island up Interstate last year hit by a white Ford F-350 truck. He was wearing high vis clothing and had 3 flashing lights. Pictures in the Bike Portland article showed his riding set up – headlights, tail lights and safety orange vest. Is he out of the hospital yet?

        Recommended Thumb up 3

        • 9watts November 29, 2013 at 7:55 pm

          Right. I forgot about Mike Cooley.
          I listed a bunch of others in a post that’s been in moderation purgatory for a day now. It was long but didn’t include anything inflammatory.

          Recommended Thumb up 3

  • Dave November 29, 2013 at 9:47 am

    Most of us drive cars some of the time. How about we make a habit of driving Barbur and other free-fire zones at 5mph UNDER the posted speed?
    How many anti-speeders could make a difference? On another note, it’s nice that Oregon provides traffic engineering work for the developmentally disabled.

    Recommended Thumb up 4

    • q`Tzal November 29, 2013 at 2:39 pm

      The terrain on eithet side of this stretch is not conducive to affordable business development (which would slow traffic as a function of commercial chaos) but there is plenty of room for billboards.

      Normally I’m not a fan of big ugly billboard advertising and I’m especially not a fan of the electronic ones that don’t dim at night from the light intensity needed in full sunlight (like we have at SW Broadway and SW 6th : even VEGAS knows better) because they can be blinding at night but there might be a trade off here.
      This section of SW Barbur is so dark and rural looking that people drive fast and don’t see the vulnerable users. If we add bright electric billboards it makes the area look garishly urban, provides a consistent ambient light level increase and the cost of operation would rest solely on the advertising companys; all we want is the light 24/7 and a reasonable limitation to imagery and slow intervals between ad flips.

      If there is as much traffic on SW Barbur as ODOT claims the billboard advertising companies should jump at the chance to sell to an otherwise captive audience.

      Recommended Thumb up 0

  • GlowBoy December 1, 2013 at 8:35 pm

    “People who don’t know how road design affects driving should find another line of work.”

    Scott Hillson FTW!

    Recommended Thumb up 1

  • kww December 2, 2013 at 11:24 am

    No respect for ODOT at all. They continue to stonewall on Barbur -death after death, and their maintenance practices are horrid – worst roads in the lower 48. What an embarrassment.

    Recommended Thumb up 1

    • wsbob December 2, 2013 at 12:03 pm

      You sound like someone that considers themselves to be a bright guy or gal, certain that ODOT’s highway department maintenance practices are less than average across the nation. Maybe you’ve got some ideas about how the state highway department, within its budget and consistent with orders given it, can do a better job. Let’s hear them.

      Recommended Thumb up 0

      • kww December 2, 2013 at 6:47 pm

        Let’s use a food analogy. There are plenty of restaurants, and I’m not a chef, but I am a paying customer. I don’t have to be a chef (or even a bright guy or gal) to know when I am getting ripped off. Worst still, with this ‘restaurant’ I have to pay whether I like it or not, and this kind of ‘food’ is killing ‘customers’ – especially on SW Barbur.

        Recommended Thumb up 3

        • wsbob December 2, 2013 at 11:25 pm

          I appreciate your effort to offer a thoughtful analogy. In a comparison between roads and restaurants, the survival of both, depends upon devotion to their primary customer base.

          With many restaurants, the customer base can be hugely varied. With roads, the overwhelming customer base roads depend on for survival, are people that use roads with motor vehicles. An academic, road survival related question, is whether road use with bikes, is needed for roads to continue to built, or at least, maintained. Over past decades, lots of people have said ‘yes, they are needed.’, and with good reason given increasing road congestion in many areas of the country, despite reports of vehicle miles traveled per capita, declining some.

          To that question though, not enough people say ‘yes’. As a result, restaurant-wise metaphor applied to road use with bikes: people riding pay, and in exchange get to use the road with their bikes, but because they’re not the primary, big customer the restaurant depends on for survival…they get the bum seats next to the doors to the restrooms and the alley where the garbage gets hauled out.

          Recommended Thumb up 0

          • 9watts December 3, 2013 at 7:55 am

            “the overwhelming customer base roads depend on for survival”

            No, see, that is not how it is at all, wsbob.

            As we’ve had occasion to learn and discuss here lately, ODOT doesn’t give a rat’s ass what any of us (or subsets of us) think or prefer when it comes to this or that road. They don’t even follow their own rules, and then play dumb when someone catches them at it.
            You see ODOT as responsive to the majority of it’s ‘customers’ – those who drive. But while I grant that this would seem a reasonable assumption, it is not accurate. The process you imagine by which we all register votes, get some proportional representation or paying their salaries, is broken–if it ever worked.

            ODOT magnanimous: we must build the CRC, even if we have to beg, borrow, and steal!
            ODOT miserly: we can’t pave the whole shoulder; we need to save money.
            Recommended 19

            Recommended Thumb up 6

            • wsbob December 3, 2013 at 11:54 am

              “…With roads, the overwhelming customer base roads depend on for survival, are people that use roads with motor vehicles. …” wsbob

              If you don’t think this is so, tell us who you do think the roads depend on for survival.

              Recommended Thumb up 0

              • 9watts December 3, 2013 at 12:02 pm

                I am not aware of any road that is threatened, at least since Harbor Drive’s demise. So first off I don’t feel that the term survival is apt.

                Secondly, roads are maintained (or not maintained), if that is what you are getting at, according to the whims of ODOT or PBOT. As we know, roads where poor people live get less attention. Roads (or shoulders) that those who bike count on get less attention. Ueber-expensive-we-can’t-afford-them-*new*-highway-projects, by contrast, get massive attention from ODOT, but this has nothing to do with people who use roads by automobile or by any other means, or their preferences (however you may imagine these are expressed); it has to do with foolish Cold War algorithms and a century of boosterist attention to ever more *new* roads, often to the detriment of existing roads that go unmaintained. Or that we have no money left to maintain because we keep spending more than we have on *expanding* capacity, for what we don’t know, and rarely if ever get to vote on.

                Recommended Thumb up 6

              • wsbob December 3, 2013 at 11:22 pm

                “…I am not aware of any road that is threatened…” 9watts

                All roads’ survival depend upon funds for their continual maintenance and upgrades, from the people that use them. They’re all subject to decline if people stop paying to have them kept up. People that use motor vehicles or rely on them in one form or another to sustain the lifestyle that’s the engine of this country, the U.S., are the lifeblood of roads’ continued survival.

                Big road and highway projects are taken on by transportation dept’s, very much at the beck and call of the nation’s public. It’s an economy growth thing.

                Recommended Thumb up 0

              • 9watts December 3, 2013 at 11:57 pm


                …the public wants growth and ODOT complies by building new roads we can’t afford? Huh?

                Some of their projects go waaaay over budget* and in exceptional cases they seem to be contemplating abandoning the project, throwing in the towel.
                You don’t really believe that this craziness is originates with the public do you? Can you give examples? Point to mechanisms by which this democratic trickle-up infrastructure planning you seem to think exists comes about? I’m very curious. Because to me what you’re saying looks completely fanciful.

                “They’re all subject to decline if people stop paying to have them kept up.”

                What is this If people stop paying business of which you speak? Last time I checked (with Todd Litman) this paying business involved property taxes and user fees. I know a few tax resisters but have a hard time visualizing what you’re saying. Nobody’s refusing to pay. ODOT spends money we don’t have on things no one asked for.

                *Highway 20 Pioneer Mountain-Eddyville project –

                Recommended Thumb up 2

  • jim December 2, 2013 at 8:13 pm

    If you put barbur on a road diet, where do you want all of the cars to drive?

    Recommended Thumb up 0

    • 9watts December 2, 2013 at 10:40 pm

      If you go on a diet, where do you put all the food?

      For a century we have bent over backwards to champion cars, shove every other mode aside, encourage more people to drive more miles, provide subsidies of every kind, razed neighborhoods to build freeways, given kids asthma, fought oil wars, etc.

      All a road diet is is an acknowledgement that a given stretch of road doesn’t carry as many cars as its width/capacity could, that it does not offer as much balance to all modes as it could; that the potential for other modes to pick up the slack justifies taking a car lane and giving it to those who prefer other modes.

      “all of the cars” doesn’t really apply here since by most accounts Barbur doesn’t carry nearly as many cars as it used to/as it was designed to hold. See how easy this is once you move away from thinking of this as a zero-sum thing, jim?

      Recommended Thumb up 6

    • GlowBoy December 3, 2013 at 1:29 pm

      Jim, there’s still plenty of room for all the cars if you put Barbur on a road diet. That stretch of Barbur is ridiculously underused and overbuilt.

      Recommended Thumb up 4

      • wsbob December 3, 2013 at 11:30 pm

        As I’ve said before about the road diet idea, in comments to past stories on Barbur: Let’s get the numbers, and decide from that whether to try the road diet experimentally. It could be very interesting to see how the pinch point that a road diet starting at the bridges would create for at least one direction of travel…will affect traffic flow.

        I would say, be hesitant to proceed with this unless it was understood before reconfiguration, that the project would be budgeted for reversal to the present configuration, if the public feels after an experimental period…for example, 6 months to a year… the road diet has been too much of a compromise.

        Recommended Thumb up 0

  • El Biciclero December 3, 2013 at 1:26 pm

    “…an acknowledgement that a given stretch of road doesn’t carry as many cars as its width/capacity could…”

    I’ve been noticing lately that a lot of the non-freeway road expansions I’ve observed seem to be aimed at storing cars rather than moving cars. I live near one such expansion where extra lanes have been added to the road (number of lanes has doubled), but due to new traffic signals and narrowing of the road at one end of the project area, time to navigate this segment by car has actually increased, despite the extra lanes. I have come to realize that the goal of the project may not have been to move anybody faster, but just to cram twice as many stopped cars into the same linear space.

    Bike lanes have also been added, but again, due to the extra lanes (plus a concrete median) bike travel on this segment has not really been improved as much as it could have been had the number of “car” lanes been kept to a minimum.

    I guess my point is that going on a “road binge” doesn’t necessarily mean things will speed up, so conversely, going on a “road diet” doesn’t necessarily mean things will slow down all that much.

    Recommended Thumb up 3

  • Spiffy December 4, 2013 at 12:24 pm

    just over 1 fatality per year, same as the Vista Bridge over the previous decade…

    so it follows that if we get three fatalities in a 6 month span that the city will put a fence around Barbur Blvd to prevent further deaths…

    I’m in favor of this…

    Recommended Thumb up 3

  • Ted Buehler December 5, 2013 at 12:00 am

    Just remember, folks, things often get fixed based purely on the number of complaints that the authorities receive.

    So, whenever someone gets killed, maimed, clobbered, etc. on Barbur, shoot off a couple letters to your favorite officials. Like:
    * State sen and rep
    * Da Guv
    * Those dudes and dudettes at ODOT that keep saying its not a problem because not enough people have been killed yet, and we really need to open up all of those lanes for the declining traffic.
    * Your favorite friends at the Oregon Freight Haulers Association, or whatever its called.
    * Your city councilors
    * Leah Treat and Rob Burchfield, head honchos at PBOT.
    * The Oregonian, Willamette Week, Tribune.
    * email SAFE@portlandoregon.gov and askodot@odot.state.or.us
    * Rob Sadowski and Gerik Kransky at the BTA.
    * Sheila the Bike/Ped main bike/ped person at ODOT in Salem.
    * State highway patrol, ask them to enforce the speed limit and red light running.
    * Maybe some civic leaders — Presidents of OHSU, Lewis and Clark, PSU, and Mr. Sam Adams, exec dir of the Portland City Club.

    Send them nice letters, angry letters, short letters, long letters, hard copies, electronic copies, telephone messages. Mix it up a bit.

    You don’t need to send a million letters every time, but keep the heat on.

    Also, remember that by advocating for a safer Barbur, you’re also advocating for safer streets everywhere. Whenever public comment comes in asking for safer streets and improved bike lanes gets registered. And those that complain get placated. Even if the Barbur road diet doesn’t come on line for a couple years yet, your letters asking for improved bicycle facilities will result in the authorities giving more favor to bicycle issues in other areas of their jurisdiction.

    Ted Buehler

    Recommended Thumb up 0