Collision between driver and bike rider on Williams

Posted by on December 3rd, 2014 at 6:43 pm

The scene.
(Photo by J. Maus/BikePortland)

There was a collision on N Williams this evening at around 5:30 pm.

It happened just south of Fremont right outside New Seasons market. Fire and police units responded but there were no serious injuries.

I happened to roll up on the scene about a half-hour after it happened. The driver and the bike rider were still at the scene. I spoke to both parties and they were both very shaken up by what happened.

According to the man who was driving the car, he was coming up Williams in the left lane. He works off of NE Broadway and lives in Vancouver. Just north of Cook, he noticed another driver who was “nosing out” of the New Seasons parking lot. (There is a major construction site between Cook and New Seasons that has fencing and other materials coming right up to the bike lane. In order to see around the construction zone, people in cars must nose out in order to see oncoming traffic.)

The man continued to tell me that he drove around the car that was poking out of traffic and when he came back into his lane “she was just right there in the lane.” There were a few skid marks in the lane next to the bike lane.

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The woman on the bike confirmed this story. She told me she was merging over, out of the bike lane, in an attempt to go right (east) on Fremont. She’s a regular, everyday bike rider who works at OHSU and lives near NE 13th and Fremont. She wasn’t seriously hurt, but her bike was damaged.

I haven’t confirmed from the PPB what, if any, citations will be issued. Because there were no serious injuries and both parties are cooperating with each other, my hunch is that there will only be an information exchange and the insurance companies will figure it out. (UPDATE, 8:44 pm: That’s indeed the case. PPB confirms no citations issued.)

This collision highlights weeks of concerns about how people are reacting to the huge changes brought on by PBOT’s North Williams Traffic Safety Project. The City’s recommended way to turn right from the new, left-side bikeway, is to do a two-stage turn or a “Copenhagen Left.” (Note: There are several new green left turn boxes to facilitate these two-stage turns, but there is not one at Fremont.) In reality however, most people simply do what this woman attempted to do. I have personally seen this behavior a lot lately and it makes me cringe.

Abraham Sutphin, owner of a bike shop across the street from this collision, emailed us tonight. He wrote that, “Williams has been nuts since the lane switch… I think it would be prudent to report on the chaos. I’ve never seen or heard of a crash for the 4 and a half years of sitting on this corner.”

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120 Comments
  • Avatar
    Rob Chapman December 3, 2014 at 7:21 pm

    I’m glad the rider is O.K. Is this good cause to lower speed limits through the construction zone?

    I’m always going west on Fremont in that intersection. Is there a green bike box at Fremont and Williams eastbound? If there isn’t it throws the Copenhagen right idea out the window.

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      So... December 3, 2014 at 8:29 pm

      Today I noticed there was a green box on Russell to go eastbound but there is not one on Fremont, yet (or maybe ever).

      Looking at the website (http://www.portlandoregon.gov/transportation/53905) the project should be done on December 15th and the only 2 action items left are curb extensions to be installed (the outlines are there) and signage telling people on bikes to pass on the right. After that, I have no idea if they plan on seeing how the flow of traffic is doing after all the changes.

      I emailed Rich Newlands (rich.newlands@portlandoregon.gov) today voicing some of my concerns about my experience biking on Williams (almost getting hit by the same person twice in a span of 4 blocks was the final draw for me) but never got a response.

      I know there was a lot of community meetings planning this project, but are there any being planned to let the same people talk about how it is after the construction has finished?

      Also, how is going on Rodney and avoiding all this mess for people choosing this path?

      I’m getting really tired of having to deal with a weekly almost collision on my ride home from work.

      And I am glad to hear the rider is O.K.

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    Emily December 3, 2014 at 7:26 pm

    Thank for the details. I was concerned it was more serious b/c she was on the ground until the paramedics got there. Looked more serious. Whew.

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    9watts December 3, 2014 at 7:26 pm

    “This collision highlights weeks of concerns about how people are reacting”

    Right, but it’s not bikes running into other road users… Cars are just a bad idea all around. Operating them safely at all times requires more of us than we can muster sometimes.

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      S. Brian Willson December 3, 2014 at 8:15 pm

      Cars are one of the worst inventions ever. Bicycles among the best.

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    Champs December 3, 2014 at 7:52 pm

    I was right there at almost that exact time. Must have just missed it.

    There’s no turn box on Fremont. I’m not sure what you’re supposed to do except take the lane or block a crosswalk.

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    John Stephens December 3, 2014 at 8:09 pm

    Williams now feels like an obstacle course every time I ride up it.

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      Dean December 3, 2014 at 9:34 pm

      Exactly. My commute home these days feels like a video game.

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        Rob Chapman December 4, 2014 at 1:35 pm

        Frogger or GTA V?

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    Mark December 3, 2014 at 8:20 pm

    I cringe at the idea of the “Copenhagen Left (or right).” Can you imagine asking motorists to turn left by turning right, making a U-turn, then waiting for the next signal cycle or appropriate break in traffic? It’s unnecessarily complicated and not at all intuitive. Oregon law allows for leaving the bike lane to make a turn.

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      Blake December 3, 2014 at 8:36 pm

      I generally agree about unnatural Copenhagen Left, but there is a place on NE Sandy at 42nd-ish where there is a turn-right-to-turn-left-and-a-light.

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        Todd Boulanger December 5, 2014 at 10:13 am

        It’s NE 40th Street and there is a traffic signal to assist with this protected traffic movement.

        It is like a compressed “jug handle” traffic movement. An automotive ‘Copenhagen Left’.

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      wsbob December 3, 2014 at 11:13 pm

      “…Oregon law allows for leaving the bike lane to make a turn.” Mark

      If a given situation allows for sufficient preparation to perform the turn procedure in a manner reasonably consistent with the law, and safely.

      With the complicated situation existing on Williams, near the grocery store, a safe, legal turn procedure, transitioning from the bike lane, right, across the two main lanes of traffic, may be difficult and dangerous.

      Whether either the person driving on Williams, or the person riding the bike, performed, or tried to perform transitions from the lanes they were traveling in, somewhat by the book, and safely, would be helpful to know. Both of them though, are probably just counting their blessings that a serious injury didn’t come out of this mess near the grocery store parking lot exit.

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        KristenT December 4, 2014 at 9:43 am

        Except if you are anticipating your turn appropriately, you’d start merging out of the bike lane and into the lane you want at least a block in advance. That way you are in the appropriate lane to make your turn when you actually get to your turn, instead of merging across all lanes of traffic at your turn to make your turn.

        It’s stupid behavior on a car (I see it all the time) and it’s stupid behavior on a bike.

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          wsbob December 4, 2014 at 11:09 am

          “Except if you are anticipating your turn appropriately, you’d start merging out of the bike lane and into the lane you want at least a block in advance. …” KristenT

          Kristen, the way it seems to me, is that when traveling in the left side bike lane, preparing for a right turn on the other side of two main lanes the ‘by the book’ procedure would involve three turn procedures.

          The law for turns requiring signal for a turn to be displayed 100′ from the turn, racks up a lot of advance prep distance for someone riding a bike in the Williams bike lane. If they were to make the transitions strictly according to the law. Generally, I think some liberty taken with the 100′ signal start distance is widely accepted, as long as efforts to safely prepare for merges and turns are made.

          What I think should be looked at, is whether someone riding a bike in the left side bike lane in heavy traffic conditions on Williams, can, using turn signals, let’s say, 35′-50′ from a lane change, make a reasonably safe transition to the other side of the street for the right turn. Seems like something PBOT, or some citizen with a video camera, could easily get video of.

          In fact, to me it seems like this is the kind of question traffic engineers most likely study, first hand, or with computer aids, when they plan for road and street improvements to be made.

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            KristenT December 5, 2014 at 2:00 pm

            I don’t think merging over at least a block-length, or 100 feet, ahead of your turn, is too much to ask for or too early to merge over.

            Especially in these conditions. The worse the traffic is, the farther out you have to plan your moves, whether you’re driving a car or riding a bike.

            On a bike, signaling for 100 feet before a turn is not always feasible, but if it can be done, it should be done. That way, people know what your intentions are.

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          wsbob December 4, 2014 at 6:29 pm

          It’s a guess, but basically, by the details given, it sounds as though this particular collision occurred primarily because possibly, neither the person driving nor the person riding made their lane transitions by any means close to appropriate for the situation. Both likely knew the road construction was an issue, because it was there to be seen, and for them to adjust their use of the road accordingly.

          If they just went blurping from lane to lane, without advance signaling and looking for traffic, as some lane road users tend to do, that can contribute largely to a close call or collision. It gets down to a fundamental lack of knowledge and experience in using the road safely.

          Not everyone riding a bike should be riding in the bike lane at all times. Some of them, some of the time, will legally be riding on the main lanes of the road.

          If they’ve got to make a turn onto a cross street, from the other side of the street from the bike lane they’re riding on, they’ve got to know how to plan for and use a procedure that’s both appropriate and safe to get this done. The Copenhagen turns are fine for people who for whatever reason, that kind of planning isn’t an option.

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      MaxD December 4, 2014 at 10:06 am

      I can imagine that, and I think they have instituted that on Williams! Instead of the sketchy bike/left turn lane, cars wanting to head west would turn right and go around the block!

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      Andrew Coe December 4, 2014 at 10:32 am

      Hi Mark – There is such a thing! Google “Michigan Left”

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      invisiblebikes December 4, 2014 at 11:16 am

      N Interestate Ave (south) and Russell St has a “right turn redirect” what would be a left turn to go up Russell st for cars. It works well.

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      Craig Collins December 4, 2014 at 11:35 am

      But you shouldn’t because that city has >50% ridership and that’s exactly what every cyclist (fast or slow) does in that city all day long. It’s one of the safest and most effective ways to connect perpendicular bike lanes and it keeps more cyclists more safe more of the time. I get that it is slower, cause you have to wait for the light and that many cyclists (including myself) feel safe merging through traffic, but what about when you are riding with a child, or with a less experienced cyclist?
      The turn boxes are there to make our commutes safer and I’m personally grateful that they included the “Copenhagen Right” green box at the intersection of Williams and Tillamook. That’s my route and if there is automotive traffic it provides a much safer method for making my right turn which is now across the automotive lane.
      IMO Portland should embrace the Copenhagen style intersection and start designing more bike path/cycle track intersections around it.

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      Bill Stites December 5, 2014 at 5:48 pm

      It is awkward, but I would argue extremely safe. I ‘Copenhagen’ turns at any intersection I’m not completely comfortable with taking the lane to prepare for a turn. You don’t need any boxes or paint, just do some wiggling in the crosswalk area to get re-oriented.
      If you think about it, you always wait for less than 1/2 signal cycle.

      Trust your gut – if something doesn’t feel right, take a safer alternative … or create one, as in ‘Copenhagen’.

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    dmc December 3, 2014 at 8:23 pm

    Sounds like the mitigating factor here was the person pulling out of the New Season’s parking lot and having a blind spot due to construction.

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    Joebybike December 3, 2014 at 8:58 pm

    I am all for innovation and new bike infrastructure, but I agree with the comment about N Williams feeling like a high stakes obstacle course now. I noticed the new green turn boxes over a week ago and used it exactly once to turn right (or three lefts) onto Tillamook. It mostly confused everyone around me- including a car who was heading east on Tillamook. Three bikers behind me simply merged into the auto traffic and made the right, while I had to wait for bike and auto traffic to pass before I could continue. I abandoned the green box since it seemed inconvenient (and frankly silly), but this story has made me reconsider. Merging into the very busy now one lane of auto traffic to turn right can be harrowing at that hour.

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    AG December 3, 2014 at 9:26 pm

    this is recent correspondence with PBOT’s Dan Layden:

    Sorry I’m a bit late in responding to you, I was on vacation last week. I understand your concern with turning right off Williams. When we developed the project we knew this would be a tradeoff with the left side bike lane. We are putting in turn boxes at the intersections of the major bike routes which should help some. We will continue to montor the situation and work to make it better.

    Thanks, Dan

    Dan Layden
    Capital Program Manager
    dan.layden@portlandoregon.gov
    (503) 823-2804

    Sent: Monday, November 24, 2014 7:01 PM
    To: Layden, Dan
    Subject: Williams St safety

    This is a comment I left recently on a post at Bikeportland:

    I ride Williams home every evening and since the update it does not feel safe. I go east at either Russell or Knott. Trying to cross two lanes of traffic that are going 30 + mph in dark, rainy conditions is scary. The alternative is slowing down and trying to stay out of the way of bikes while pulling out on the left at the intersection to try a Copenhagen turn. At Russell you turn into oncoming bike traffic/car traffic. On Knott its not lit so you can’t see where to stop. If there are cars stopped there waiting you have to pull around them and go to the end of the line.

    Studies showed that the majority of people go east off of Williams so they will all have to do this maneuver at some point on their ride home. I’ve given it a try and find it unsatisfactory and scary. I’ve been commuting on Williams for years and its now worse.

    Thank you for allowing me to provide you with my opinion on the Williams Street project.

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      So... December 3, 2014 at 10:01 pm

      AG,
      Glad to see you got a response (unlike my attempt with Mark at PBOT). I guess I need to send my concerns over his way.

      Thank you for posting this.

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    Doug Klotz December 3, 2014 at 9:39 pm

    Construction fencing blocking sight lines is pervasive in the city. At SE Morrison and 16th (a bike boulevard), there was fencing into the street that made it difficult for cyclists to cross Morrison, for at least 6 months. Calls to PBOt and eventually Roger Geller resulted in the tarps being taken off the fencing so you could kind of see oncoming cars through it. But certainly the drivers couldn’t see you through it. In that case the blockage was not for any construction purpose, but merely so they could park their construction office trailer in the street.

    The fencing on Williams is equally bad, actually worse because there’s also a heavily used auto driveway at that point. Construction can be done without so much room. It’s just more difficult, and perhaps more expensive. So, the city lets them block the sidewalk, and the parking lanes, and as far as I can see, they have never fought back on such a request.

    Again it comes down to where the priorities are. If the construction use of the parking lane is necessary, remove the parking lane on the opposite side of the street, shift the auto lane over to the curb, shift the bike lane over, and even provide a sidewalk on the construction side of the street, which also provides sight distance for those “nosing-out” cars. But that would be too expensive, so we get crashes instead.

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    Mark December 3, 2014 at 9:47 pm

    N Williams is worse than before the changes. We have traded right hooks for left hooks; one kind of conflict for another. Did anyone study how many people on bikes turn right rather than left on Williams? And, why not get rid of the always dangerous and too fast one way couplet arrangemts entirely?

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      Bjorn December 3, 2014 at 11:29 pm

      I think the reason for swapping sides of the street was not right hook turns but rather the dangerous interactions with the trimet buses that would leapfrog back and forth with cyclists.

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    Adam H. December 3, 2014 at 9:48 pm

    Glad everyone is okay. This is just more evidence that the design on N Williams is inadequate and dangerous. The left side bike lane should have been a protected cycle track.

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      spare_wheel December 4, 2014 at 7:45 am

      A protected bike lane without expensive signal improvement would have been a more dangerous option than the current situation.

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        Paul December 4, 2014 at 10:08 am

        Not if the intersections are designed properly

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          spare_wheel December 4, 2014 at 10:11 am

          Agree…and this is why we need more funding for bike infrastructure.

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        Adam H. December 4, 2014 at 1:39 pm

        Which is why signal upgrades would have been necessary.

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    Alex December 3, 2014 at 10:15 pm

    I bike this route daily and have not been impressed with the changes. The changes force more car and bike interactions than before. There is more sharing of lanes and it is confusing for both the cars and cyclists. I am interested to see how this shakes out in the future, but overall I am pretty bummed out how this project turned out. I feel like I am always merging in and out of traffic instead of having to deal with the random bus I might encounter on my way home.

    I wish they would have just turned either Vancouver/Williams into a bike/ped only street and the other into a car only street – separating them seems wise. Perhaps some of the additional space left over could have been claimed for outside seating for businesses as well.

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      Scott H December 4, 2014 at 9:56 am

      Why does every idea need to be complex. The simplest solution is always the best solution. Why can’t the speed limit just be 10 mph.

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        Alex December 4, 2014 at 11:12 am

        Separating traffic is not complex at all and is very simple. Complexity arises when there are many choices being made – this would decrease the total number of choices. Slowing down does nothing other than increasing the amount of time one can make a decision. Getting hit by a car going 10mph still hurts.

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          Scott H December 4, 2014 at 11:38 am

          You don’t suppose giving people more time to make decisions increases safety?

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            Alex December 4, 2014 at 11:47 am

            That wasn’t your original argument, nor was it mine. I think it is annoying to have to go 10mph on bike or in a car. Do I think it increases safety? Yes, but it keeps complexity and decisions making higher and is more annoying to deal with on a day to day basis. To me it is about finding a happy medium and there is nothing happy about going 10mph while still keeping navigation problems there.

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              Scott H December 4, 2014 at 12:22 pm

              That was exactly my argument, slow everyone down, stop using Williams as some sort of freeway. No one has any business thinking they need to go fast on such a crowded street.

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                Alex December 4, 2014 at 12:37 pm

                My point was that you were looking for a simple solution and slowing down isn’t the simplest one. It still maintains complexity and isn’t that simple as it doesn’t solve the problem of throughput

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          spare_wheel December 5, 2014 at 8:08 am

          Separating traffic is a *reaction* to dangerous high-speed motoring. Given the utter inadequacy of bike infrastructure funding now and for the foreseeable future in PDX should we not explore other options that help promote active transport? A 20 mph speed limit in a commercial zone, for example, would do a lot to make bike lanes safer and more attractive to cautious cyclists.

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            Adam H. December 5, 2014 at 10:19 am

            People won’t obey the speed limit without redesigning the road to encourage slow driving. Separating modes of travel is the best way to ensure safety – this is precisely what The Netherlands and Denmark does.

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              spare_wheel December 5, 2014 at 11:29 am

              I disagree. Signal timing, inexpensive traffic calming, and a little bit of enforcement can be effective (see downtown for example of signal timing at work). Our commercial streets are hell for cyclists and I am tired of waiting for improvement because we might some day obtain the (imaginary) hundreds of millions necessary for “world class” infrastructure everywhere.

              PS: Quite a bit of infrastructure in Denmark is not separated from traffic…unless you consider a route protected by a 1-2 inch lip for a portion of the route to be “separated”.

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        jeffb December 4, 2014 at 12:10 pm

        Well here’s an easy one, remove one side of parking and this whole mess goes away.

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        paikiala December 4, 2014 at 12:40 pm

        The state sets speed limits, not cities. 10 mph appears nowhere in the ORS. The lowest speed possible would be 10 mph, on a designated bike street, in a residential neighborhood, that is less than 18 feet wide for two directions of traffic, and under 2,000 trips per day. (15 mph is possible on narrow residential roadways, and -5 mph is permitted on designated bikeways with less than 2,000 vpd)
        N Williams is a Neighborhood Collector street with frequent segments of commercial use.

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          Alex December 4, 2014 at 12:45 pm

          Exactly – there are tons of people that go through each day. Slowing down to 10mph would just create deadlock. It isn’t the right solution in this situation. Sometimes it is, but not here.

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            spare_wheel December 5, 2014 at 8:18 am

            Slowing down to 10mph would just create deadlock.

            FUD.

            There are plenty of alternative routes for people who drive. How many safe and efficient alternative routes are there for people who bike or walk?

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          spare_wheel December 5, 2014 at 8:16 am

          20 mph is possible, however. The problem is that some “people who bike” are not enthused about advocating for a 20 mph speed limit because it undermines the idea that separation from *dangerous* traffic is the best and only infrastructure solution. Mixing of traffic in commercial zones is not uncommon in “world class” nations. Maybe some day pbot staffers will consider giving it a try here…

          Some suggestions of where this might be possible:

          Old town – SW 2nd and 3rd.
          Hawthorne.
          Division.
          Alberta.
          Mississippi.
          SE 28th.
          Williams.
          NW 21st.

          PS: While pbot does not set speed limits, there is a clear process for requesting an exception to ORS standards (if this is even necessary).

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    Kyle December 3, 2014 at 10:20 pm

    I wonder if it would have been better if the city had simply striped temporary lanes (perhaps with the original right-side bike lane) during the physical construction process, and then striped everything to the new configuration when all the pieces were in place. It seems like having construction AND a new layout going on at the same time has caused a lot of issues.

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      paikiala December 4, 2014 at 12:40 pm

      I think so.

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    Jeff December 3, 2014 at 10:25 pm

    anyone know about the bike/car collision on SE Ankeny and ~20th last night? rider was on the ground not moving with paramedics all over them.

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    DaveH December 3, 2014 at 10:51 pm

    I’ve been saying all along that the Williams street project would be an overly complicated solution to a non-existent problem. Williams was never a problem. Really, we could have just had wider bike lanes to facilitate both slow and fast bicycle riders. The project is a mess with signs, colors signaling directions which are nonobvious and therefore dangerous to a driver who needs to make a quick decision. What a waste of money and resources which could have been spent on areas with much more need (SE Portland)

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      paikiala December 4, 2014 at 12:42 pm

      The local neighborhood has long lobbied to have Williams be one of the future street car streets, and bikes on the left is the standard practice on such streets (like 5th Ave).

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        Jonny B December 7, 2014 at 7:08 pm

        putting bikes to the of the right-side parked cars could also work with a street car line.

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    q`Tzal December 3, 2014 at 11:08 pm

    Our city’s and state’s official guidance for bicycle and pedestrian safety and accommodations in and around construction zones is little known by those setting up such zones, rarely adhered to and if ever enforced I’ve never heard about it.

    It would seem that there are no consequences for setting up a construction zone in a way dangerous manner as long as it does affect automobiles.
    As long as there aren’t stiff financial penalties for these 3rd party private contractors disobeying any safety rules we can’t honestly expect people to learn thwm and follow them.

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      paikiala December 4, 2014 at 12:42 pm

      contact OSHA.

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        q`Tzal December 4, 2014 at 4:08 pm

        Why? Setting up a construction zone in a way that benefits the construction worker (the person in a “workplace”) that negatively affects other users (who are not working) doesn’t sound like a” workplace safety violation “. The worker has set the area up so he is safe.

        It seems like other people who are not working the construction zone would not be under the jurisdiction of the OCCUPATIONAL Health and Safety Administration. If OSHA does protect innocent bystanders from standard practices that endanger the public you’ve just come up with a clever way to shut down all coal fire power plants.

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          wsbob December 4, 2014 at 5:06 pm

          “…Setting up a construction zone in a way that benefits the construction worker (the person in a “workplace”) that negatively affects other users (who are not working) doesn’t sound like a” workplace safety violation “. …” q`Tzal

          You seem to be wanting to say that a construction crew can legally set up a construction zone so that it doesn’t hurt them, but does endanger people that aren’t working at that construction zone, or that are just passing by.

          I believe construction crews do have to legally set up the construction for the safety of everyone, rather than just themselves. Insurance liability for certain, regard for avoiding injury or death to other people as well though.

          On the other hand, you may well be right that construction sites don’t always get properly set up, because someone on the crew is doing slipshod work, or hasn’t got up to speed on the regulations. That’s why there are inspectors. Maybe there should be more of them. And of course, maybe some of the regulations are in need of review and revision.

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            Bald One December 4, 2014 at 10:03 pm

            City has little oversight or enforcement of construction zone guidelines for private contractors operating in the public right of way. Construction zone creep (physical space, hours of operation, vehicle parking and staging, placement of signs and traffic control) seems to be rampant and always at the convenience of the few workers at the expense of the many in the general public. City has these guidelines and training at project award but not so enforced during project duration.

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              wsbob December 5, 2014 at 10:30 am

              Then work to have the city increase its oversight of construction zone guideline compliance.

              If, as some people commenting to this story have suggested, the construction zone near the grocery store parking lot entry exit, truly have been set up inconsistent with required guidelines for safety, get some officials out there and have them, one way or another, correct the situation.

              Recently, bikeportland published stories about a new start up citizen bike advocacy group, Bike Loud. Maybe checking and following up on construction zone safety compliance from a citizen perspective is something that group would be interested in taking on.

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    spare_wheel December 4, 2014 at 7:54 am

    I have personally seen this behavior a lot lately and it makes me cringe.

    Bike stockholm syndrome.

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    Ted December 4, 2014 at 8:23 am

    I ride N Williams home every day and every day I am smiling to myself at just how HUGE that bike lane is and how fortunate I am to live in a city that would eliminate a lane of traffic and give me almost 50% of the roadway on such a busy road. I never really had too much of a problem with the old bike land but I remember well all of the griping about how insufficient it was to accommodate the large amount of bikes that traveled it. PBOT has now given bikers this huge bike lane and the majority of what i read her is complaining. I don’t get it.

    Change is hard so i understand that people may not know where to go as the implementation evolves…and the amount of construction that is going on along Williams has certainly compounded the difficulties, but it is getting there. When it is done, and everyone has adjusted to it, I think it will work well.

    I support PBOT and their design because they had to implement something that improved things and accommodate a multitude of stakeholders. To suggest that the design should have been more bike-centric minimizes the needs of other users.

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      paikiala December 4, 2014 at 12:43 pm

      See also ‘status quo bias’.

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    redhippie December 4, 2014 at 8:42 am

    I’ll plus one on the danger posed by cars entering from the left. Cars entering from the Fremont bridge represent a large volume of traffic and now bikes must negotiate more with these vehicles. Much more stressful.

    Also, it seems like there are a lot of washington plates on williams beating the I5 traffic. I wonder if there is a way to discourage this?

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      Spiffy December 4, 2014 at 9:38 am

      ironic that this collision was with a Washington commuter, the very people PBOT wants to keep off the street…

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        Todd Boulanger December 5, 2014 at 10:26 am

        Portland took “our” new CRC bridge from us and now they took our arterial commute route any…’oh the humanity’…what evilness is next?!

        Actually, the real solution is to just not hire Washingtonians who are unwilling to move to OR within X months during their probationary hire period…or adopt an alternative commute mode. Oregon / City step up and set up some cutting edge tools of managing this: incentives to home sale / mortgage “swap” between out of state commuters needing to move in state, tax free off street commute parking offered as benefit (to all commuters or just those from out of state), more school investment, etc.

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          Todd Boulanger December 5, 2014 at 10:27 am

          oops…”any” should have been “away”

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      paikiala December 4, 2014 at 12:44 pm

      Red, that williams at cook will get a signal.

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    Trotter December 4, 2014 at 9:01 am

    For several years I bike commuted up this stretch every day during rush hour and only witnessed one accident.

    I applaud the city for their efforts and believe that it is an overall good design; however, the area by New Seasons is am absolute mess, in my opinion.

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    Spiffy December 4, 2014 at 9:09 am

    no citations for those involved in the collision seems ok since they both merged into each other into the lane at the same time…

    however, the person nosing out of the parking lot should be cited for stopping on a sidewalk…

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      Pete December 4, 2014 at 10:07 am

      I’ve never ridden a bike on this road but have driven on it, and it’s been congested and slow whenever I have. If I recall the speed limit is fairly low. Frankly if I was only doing 25-30 MPH and encountered someone nosing out into traffic like that I’d probably stop and flash my lights to let them go (especially if there were several cars behind me). I can only speculate of course as I wasn’t there. Where I live you simply can’t drive a car without having to block sidewalks to see into oncoming traffic, unfortunately.

      When taking the lane I’ve had my fair share of near-sideswipes. I’m usually vocal (but courteous) at the time, but I’m guessing the majority of drivers simply don’t know or expect to see bicycles in ‘their’ lanes, or assume you’re in the bike lane (even if there isn’t one) if they even do look and see you.

      Sadly it’s the nature of the beast, and I’m glad to hear she’s OK.

      We implemented a left bike lane here in Santa Clara a few years ago. Even with public input and many planning sessions (with Alta’s help) it still confuses the heck out of both cyclists and drivers. Sigh.

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        Spiffy December 4, 2014 at 11:17 am

        “Where I live you simply can’t drive a car without having to block sidewalks to see into oncoming traffic, unfortunately.”

        sure you can, but it’s inconvenient… the problem is that the system is so broken and people are constantly urged to use it that it becomes useless if you don’t break the law…

        you should get a ticket for impeding traffic if you stop and flash your lights at somebody to let them in… you have no legal right to cede your right-of-way there…

        the person in the parking lot should back up and find another exit rather than driving blindly into traffic or illegally stopping on the sidewalk… actually, New Seasons should close that driveway to people exiting until the view can be restored…

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          Pete December 4, 2014 at 6:00 pm

          Believe me, you have much better designed driveways there than in more dense areas (specially that grew up in the 50’s). Driving gets to be a cooperative act when done properly – choreography, really. John L gets it…

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        El Biciclero December 4, 2014 at 12:22 pm

        “Frankly if I was only doing 25-30 MPH and encountered someone nosing out into traffic like that I’d probably stop and flash my lights to let them go…”

        That’s how I almost got creamed the other day (different location). I was riding in the bike lane, and the driver just ahead of me decides to stop (blocks away from the next signal, roadway in front of him was clear all the way to that signal—he was not stopping just to avoid blocking the intersection) to let somebody enter from the right. As this driver gives an amicable wave to “be nice” to his fellow driver, I have to stop short as an SUV lurches into my path. Thankfully, the SUV driver saw me at the last minute and also stopped short. I continued on my way through, mostly as a live PSA to remind drivers to watch for cyclists in bike lanes.

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          Pete December 4, 2014 at 5:53 pm

          I tend to scan ahead so like to think wouldn’t be so abrupt like that, and as a cyclist I’m keenly aware of bikers on the road when I drive – half the time can tell you what you’re riding. But you make a very good point. Just like with everything it boils down to situational awareness and critical judgment. Glad you’re unscathed!

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      John Lascurettes December 4, 2014 at 10:16 am

      So would you rather have the person who was nosing out remain behind the sidewalk, blind to street and then just roll the dice and dart out into it? I don’t think so. That involves stopping behind the sidewalk first (in order to yield to pedestrians) and then proceeding into the lane only when it can be confirmed it is safe to do so. But that can’t be done without seeing around the construction zone. THAT is the problem.

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        Spiffy December 4, 2014 at 11:18 am

        “So would you rather have the person who was nosing out remain behind the sidewalk, blind to street and then just roll the dice and dart out into it?”

        no, they should find another way to get out of the parking lot… they shouldn’t break the law just because it’s inconvenient to them…

        if drivers can’t see then they shouldn’t be allowed to exit there… much like almost every downtown parking garage…

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    Dave December 4, 2014 at 9:16 am

    Technical advice–if one wears glasses and uses a mirror, the “Take A Look” mirrors can be completely inverted for use when riding on the left side of a road. I’ve done it.

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    mikeybikey December 4, 2014 at 9:32 am

    I’ve used Williams daily for the better part of a decade and never had any run-ins w/ motorists but the first time I rode the new design I was nearly hit by a car. I thought the project was supposed to come with speed limit reductions which as far as I can tell hasn’t happened yet. Reason says that should have probably been step one? The wide buffered lane seems to work OK but I _dread_ riding once I hit New Seasons. The shared road portion is a stressful nightmare. I use the “Copenhagen Left” maneuver regularly in my daily riding in places that make sense (i.e. making a left turn at signaled intersections) but the turn boxes on Williams are a very poor design. The poor design is why people (myself included) are not using them and just taking the lane and moving across one or two lanes to make a right turn. Since the cross-streets are two-way the turn boxes are on the near side of the intersection which makes maneuvering into them unintuitive or downright difficult if not impossible if you are on something like a bakfiets. Even more so if the parking lane is occupied all the way up to the intersection. We’ve been witnessing the great bike stagnation in Portland over the last few years. A few more projects like Williams and we might start seeing the great bike exodus.

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      John Lascurettes December 4, 2014 at 10:14 am

      The speeds aren’t going to be reduced as long as we have Vancoverites still using it as an I-5 bypass (as this guy was doing).

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        paikiala December 4, 2014 at 12:48 pm

        Speed is a function of available space. changing from two through lanes to one will slow motorists down. I am also under the impression the speed limit is being lowered, but don’t quote me.

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    TJ December 4, 2014 at 9:50 am

    Driver of car works on NE Broadway, lives in Vancouver, WA, and takes Williams home at night. He scoots-up Williams then takes Killingsworth to either Interstate or starts the many right turns to the 205. Seems I5 via Broadway is the route planners assume/prefer he take home.

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      paikiala December 4, 2014 at 12:49 pm

      Vancouver takes you to Rosa Parks, farther north.

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    Blinkie Seizure December 4, 2014 at 9:58 am

    was this as simple as TriMet saying, “Move the bikes to the other side of the street.”?

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      Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) December 4, 2014 at 10:14 am

      No. TriMet knows they don’t have quite that much clout.

      From what I recall, TriMet said they’d only support a right-side bike lane if very long and expensive bus islands were built for them to let riders off to the left of the bike lane. The expense of that proposal was enough for PBOT and the committee to give up on the right side bike lane and move to the left. Did TriMet know there proposal was unworkable and would force the bike lane to the left side? Not sure. But I think it’s unfortunate that TriMet was able to wield so much influence over a process, yet they weren’t even officially at the table. There was no TriMet rep on the committee and I never saw them at the many meetings I was at.

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        Blinkie Seizure December 4, 2014 at 12:44 pm

        thank you for the response. very interesting.

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        paikiala December 4, 2014 at 12:51 pm

        The needs of transit are always considered automatically in major PBOT projects. Technical Advisory Committees meet separately from Citizen Advisory Committees.

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    David McCabe December 4, 2014 at 10:17 am

    I may be in the minority here, but I feel the new Williams configuration is far safer: so much so that I’m finally willing to use Williams instead of Rodney, cutting my commute time in half. I no longer need to choose between the door zone and the paint stripe. There is room to go around obstacles.

    The construction presents many safety problems, among which the poor sight-lines at the New Seasons driveway are the worst. This could be fixed by moving the bike-lane-turn-lane-switcheroo (term?) a few meters south. Other problems are the trees between Russell and Monroe, poor pavement, and remaining unfinished construction. These are all fixable.

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    GlowBoy December 4, 2014 at 11:02 am

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: left-side bike lanes don’t work. Period. Putting in a wider, protected bike lane was the right thing to do, but putting it on the left was wrong. It eliminated one set of hazards and created a new, somewhat larger set of hazards.

    Other jurisdictions are figuring this out: Minneapolis (to where I am moving later this month, BTW) has restriped the wide protected bike lanes on their Park/Portland couplet to be on the right side, and I believe I’ve heard Seattle is restriping their left-side downtown bike lanes to be on the right too.

    Mark my words: Within 5 years Portland will follow these other cities in abandoning these right-size . By the end of 2019 these bike lanes will have been relocated to the right side of the street, and different measures will have been taken to mitigate the problems of bike/bus leapfrog and cross-over access to New Seasons.

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      Alex December 4, 2014 at 11:13 am

      Agreed, 100%.

      Have fun in Minneapolis – I miss the city, but don’t miss the weather. At least you get mountain biking in the city.

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        GlowBoy December 4, 2014 at 1:56 pm

        Thanks. Looking forward to it. Having lived in the PNW for over two decades I can’t say for sure whether I can still handle the weather, but that wasn’t why I left, so fingers crossed.

        I will be living close to the Park/Portland corridor, the Grand Rounds and other better-than-Portland bike facilities, and within easy striking distance of the River Bottoms (which I’ve never visited) so there’s a lot to be excited about. Already have the commuter shod up with studded tires for the streets and paths, and the mountain bike with 29×3.0 / 29×2.5 tires for off-road fun when the snow isn’t too deep and loose. Can’t wait.

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      paikiala December 4, 2014 at 1:05 pm

      So, SW 5th Avenue isn’t working?

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        GlowBoy December 4, 2014 at 1:49 pm

        Dunno. Never ridden it. But in general, I don’t think putting slower-moving vehicles on the left solves more problems than it creates. In most cases, at best it shifts problems to their mirror image, making them less familiar to deal with.

        There may be occasional exceptions, and a street like 5th with streetcar and very heavy bus traffic may be one of them. But I would argue that a protected lane – on the right, and separated from pedestrian boarding/deboarding – would still be a far better way of reducing bike/transit interaction.

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          spare_wheel December 5, 2014 at 8:30 am

          A protected bike lane would only be an improvement with intersection restructuring and/or signalling changes. I’d personally be ecstatic to have the opportunity to help pay the large increase in taxes that could fund these kind of changes. Nevertheless, the hullaballo over the modest street fee shows that many of those who whine about the inadequacy of current infrastructure are not willing to help pay for better infrastructure.

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            Adam H. December 5, 2014 at 10:32 am

            I’d love to pay extra taxes if it were to fund world-class cycling infrastructure.

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      GlowBoy December 4, 2014 at 1:50 pm

      “abandoning these right-size” oops, meant to say “abandoning these right-side lanes on Vancouver/Williams.”

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      Andy K December 4, 2014 at 3:29 pm

      Good luck to you in Minneapolis, Dan, and don’t forget about us!

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    Christopher Jones December 4, 2014 at 11:19 am

    Where Williams has one standard lane and one bike lane, the new project is excellent. To be clear, that’s from Broadway to Russell, and again from Skidmore to Killingsworth.

    Wherever there is a shared lane, I see confusion. Unfortunately, that’s where most of the businesses are, from New Seasons, past all the shops and restaurants until Vendetta (at Skidmore). I can’t know for sure, but I don’t see how this helps attract the “interested but concerned” set of potential cyclists.

    Why is the treatment of one standard lane on the right and one bike lane on the left not consistent for the length of the project?

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    Zaphod December 4, 2014 at 11:22 am

    As I bike along this route it is easy to play through likely collision scenarios that require vigilance by both driver and cyclist to prevent. I generally like the configuration but turn up awareness to 11 at certain points. I would like to see the fully complete and signed design before coming to any conclusions.

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    invisiblebikes December 4, 2014 at 11:53 am

    I think we’re missing the truth here… We all know there is the “truth” or facts of the incident, then there is the story the driver has fabricated based on his knowledge of his liability as a motorist.

    Which leads me to believe The driver is at fault for making unsafe lane change(s) and not checking and allowing for a safe lane change, which caused a collision with another road user.

    He knew there are many cyclists on that road and should be more than aware that he needed to be using extreme extra caution while driving on Williams during this transition period.

    And that still doesn’t excuse the true facts here;
    1) he should not have been using Williams, but chose to so he could bypass some I-5 traffic.
    2) the driver nosing out was most likely fabricated but in any case if motorists can’t enter the street safely then that street/parking lot entrance should be temporarily closed till it is safe
    3) it was very poor timing for PBOT to start this project during the shortest daylight period of the year. this project would have been much safer performed during the spring/summer for better visibility of road users and most likely quicker execution.

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      LoneHeckler December 5, 2014 at 1:39 pm

      1) Last time I checked, Williams was open and legal for motorists to use without restriction no matter what their home address is. Perhaps he wanted to stop at a local business on his way home? Maybe he WAS tired of getting stuck in traffic. These aren’t illegal or even unethical acts.

      2) Fabricated? Unless you’re a witness, I don’t see how this even enters the discussion. Not fair to label someone a liar without facts.

      And yes, the parking lot at NS is a giant cluster, but having exited from there in my car at times, it is wholly doable in a safe manner, which includes a little bit of “nosing”. I don’t like riding by on my bike, though: I will say that.

      3) Well this I agree with. I used to be pretty nonchalant about commuting home along Williams, often leaving it early to cut over to Rodney. Now it’s a crap show, white-knuckle ride where I’m sure I’m it’s only a matter of time I get hit. I hate the changes, DO think it’s more unsafe, and wish they had saved it for the long summer days.

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        invisiblebikes December 5, 2014 at 2:57 pm

        1) you might want to check again, or go to traffic school. there are more than a few traffic laws that state that citations can be issued for unsafe driving in situations like these, police officers can issue citations if a driver causes an indecent (I refuse to use the word “accident” because it is not) while using a neighborhood or city street as a “cut through” or “drive around”
        There are actually many state and federal traffic laws that allow police to reroute motorists off of neighborhood and city streets as a public safety measure. To control excessive speeds or unsafe driving conditions which Williams falls into most of those categories.

        2) If it looks like a duck, swims like a duck, and quacks like a duck, then it probably is a duck.
        Motorists that cause “accidents” are notorious liars its the plane truth.

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    esther2 December 4, 2014 at 12:01 pm

    Actually in Portland we have blind spots at every intersection because there are not setbacks for parking. You have to pull out past sidewalks and bikelanes to see what the hell is coming everywhere.

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      Rob Chapman December 4, 2014 at 12:35 pm

      Absolutely esther2! This is a huge problem all over town and it is terrible for every mode be it foot, bike or motor vehicle.

      I know free parking is holy in Portland but we could reduce a significant amount of our heartaches with a one or two car-length setback at every intersection and combine it with strict sidewalk access rules at construction sites. In the meantime I’ll be rocking the hell out of my blinky lights on Williams. If you see somebody that looks like the spaceship in Close Encounters say hi.

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        Christopher Jones December 4, 2014 at 12:44 pm

        I’m curious if this actually slows everything down and ends up preventing collisions. I wonder if it’s in any way similar to the idea that a narrower standard lane with reduced visibility is safer and slower than a wider standard lane with increased visibility.

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          Rob Chapman December 4, 2014 at 2:51 pm

          That’s a good question. I suspect it slows down people who are mindful to begin with. Having that extra visibility can give you time to react to the people who aren’t paying attention.

          I rarely exceed 15mph on neighborhood streets to begin with so my perspective may be an outlier.

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        mike December 4, 2014 at 9:14 pm

        According to some people here the blinky lights may increase your chances of being hit. It’s best to not have any lights and ride like a ninja

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      Oliver December 4, 2014 at 12:43 pm

      Another reason why curb bulb outs are a menace.

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      GlowBoy December 5, 2014 at 12:14 pm

      Portland does require setbacks from intersections for taller vehicles, but I’ve never heard of it being enforced.

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  • Lenny Anderson
    Lenny Anderson December 4, 2014 at 12:04 pm

    Especially in the shared use lane stretch speeds must be held to 20mph or LESS! I think motorists are using that lane as a “passing lane!”
    But now that half of the ROW is for bikes, its past time for someone to approach the major property owners/developers…Ben Kaiser, New Seasons, Emanuel, etc. about creating a modest LID to raise a couple of million bucks to really do a first class job on a corridor that works for enhanced Frequent Service transit and for bikes. An LID was how Streetcar’s initial line was funded. Why not for a real bikeway?

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    chris December 4, 2014 at 2:19 pm

    Alex
    I wish they would have just turned either Vancouver/Williams into a bike/ped only street and the other into a car only street – separating them seems wise.
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    Absolutely. While the Dutch and Danes seem to have nailed a particular separated bike lane design that works well, our attempts to replicate them don’t follow industry best practices and always seem a bit half-assed, and the result is frequently even worse than what it replaced. I’ve resigned myself to the fact that we lack either the budget or will to do them correctly. What we are capable of doing well are greenways/bike boulevards — low traffic streets with diverters and crossings optimized for bikes at major streets. We should stick to what we do well, and stop doing what we obviously suck at. As it is, there are a lack of north/south bike boulevards in inner NE and SE, in addition to downtown, and some of our existing ones need more diverters. Adding a few diverters and crossing medians is far cheaper than almost any other infrastructural upgrade, and construction for a complete network of bike boulevards theoretically could be completed in a month.

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    NH December 4, 2014 at 2:26 pm

    Now that you mention it, they could’ve made Vancouver into a two-way street just for motor vehicles, and made Williams into a two-way street just for bicycles. Keep all the traffic lights to make it a fast route but put in diverters so motor vehicles can’t get in. Wouldn’t that be nice? We have a restricted access transit mall downtown, why can’t we do it for bikes?

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    JP December 4, 2014 at 4:43 pm

    I’m very glad the cyclist hit was okay. I keep looking for coverage on the N. Williams change, because I think it’s really dangerous and sketchy and the people I know who have ridden it since the change agree. It seems like such a confusing plan for both cyclists and drivers, and that fencing coming up to the New Seasons is so unsafe. Has Bike Portland covered this, and I’ve missed it? Any other blogs or publications? There’s been so much money spent on the project that I can’t imagine they’re going to undo it or change it, but is there any way to provide feedback on this so that the next project might be better planned?

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    was carless December 4, 2014 at 4:54 pm

    If you think that Williams is a scary street to make cross-traffic merges/turns, try making a left-hand turn while biking on SE Milwaukie down in Sellwood. Its a 2-lane road with very high traffic speeds, trying to make left-hand turns can be very scary – cars will often pass on your left as you make your left-hand turn (driving in the wrong lane while doing so).

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    Zaphod December 4, 2014 at 6:05 pm

    I’m taking time out of my pm to tap out this post. I just drove Williams (car2go) and learned a lot. The short of it is that many changes are needed NOW. I’m typically seeing things from a biker’s perspective and my car2go experience was enlightening. First, I’m driving with 100% focus and 100% intent to be safe around bikes. And I’m an aware and solid driver. In the wet and dark, I found myself in a left-only turn lane where I had to stop and have another driver kindly yield. If I had gone straight, I’ve have been surprised to be in the bike lane. Only because I made a strong mental note earlier while riding my bike did I know something unusual was afoot. PBOT cannot use a “wait and see” approach. Suppose regular commuters work it out, the 1 in 20 will create a high probability injury spot at that spot. Later I had to execute a left across the bike lane. It’s not extremely clear who has right of way. I happen to know so I rolled down my window to await a long gap. I made it through without damaging anyone but damn I had to focus. Your average driver on a random day isn’t going to turn their focus to 11 each and every time. I want to support investments in cycling but this needs improved signage and physical infrastructure to minimize risk.

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    John December 4, 2014 at 9:35 pm

    Recently drove up Williams from the Rose Garden. Depending on traffic, this was a good alternative to my normal route. Having several near misses due to random lane endings and new bike only center dividers, this is no longer an option for a car. Maybe that was the point. Feel a bit sorry for the businesses along that street. The bike lane before made much more sense but it wasn’t perfect. The new maze will take some time to figure out. Hope no one is killed during the learning phase. Construction, random lane endings, strange merging patterns seems like Portland is trying to reduce the cycling population by getting them killed rather than making the road safer.

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    TB December 6, 2014 at 11:15 am

    Daily downtown –> North Portland commuter here. I agree that the changes have made commuting on Williams even more of a nightmare. It is like a video game that demands an unbelievable amount of caution and attention in order to stay safe – it’s downright dangerous right now. At this point, I have opted to take Interstate/Mississippi/Michigan home even though Williams would be faster. Despite the giant hill and extra mileage, it is a much safer and pleasant ride home.

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    jim December 7, 2014 at 10:21 pm

    What bugs me is when cyclists change lanes in front of a car without signaling or even yielding to oncoming traffic. They just move over and expect cars to hit their brakes.

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    Jeremy Jones December 8, 2014 at 6:57 am

    Ditto what John and TB said. The new Williams configuration must be the most expensive Portlandia set ever…wish they’d shoot the episode and put everything back together quick. What an un-funny joke.

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