Posted by Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) on January 8th, 2015 at 11:37 am
(Photos by J. Maus/BikePortland)
An intersection on the Springwater Corridor path where a serious injury collision happened last spring could be updated with new safety measures in the coming months.
The path’s intersection with Oaks Bottom Wildlife Refuge (about 3.5 miles south of downtown Portland) is in a valley where path users often have high speeds and sight lines are very poor. The Oaks Bottom path — which is on a slight downhill itself — goes under a railroad track tunnel just before it pops out onto the Springwater at a “T” intersection. Last year that perfect storm led to a very serious collision.
On the morning of May 30th a woman was riding northbound on the Springwater path. According to witnesses, as she came to the Oaks Bottom intersection, another rider suddenly appeared in front of the underpass. The woman on the Springwater grabbed her brakes and flew over the bars, suffering major lacerations in her face. From reader tips and witness accounts we received at the time, it was a very scary situation (more than one person mentioned “lots of blood”) and the woman had to be escorted off the path via ambulance.
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Southeast Portland resident Harth Huffman spends a lot of time cycling in the area as well as working on service projects in the Oaks Bottom refuge. He rolled up on the collision last May and helped the wounded rider and feels something should be done to improve the intersection. “I regularly witness uncertain behavior from riders coming out of the tunnel as well as riders coming down that hill. Nobody seems certain of how to be safe there… My experiences continue to convince me that something should be done in that spot to improve cycling safety.”
When we scouted the location this week we noticed a temporary stop sign and orange traffic cones had been placed at the intersection. We then asked the Portland Parks Bureau if they were aware of the safety issues and whether or not there were plans to address it. To our relief, they are considering some improvements
Here’s what Parks spokesman Mark Ross shared with us via email yesterday:
“We have been made aware of some challenges at the intersection… Cyclists have the responsibility for adhering to the stop sign, and to look both ways before entering Springwater Corridor traffic. Portland Parks & Recreation is reviewing whether it may be possible to add some further safety improvements at and/or around this intersection; possibly including signage and striping. We will continue to evaluate possible measures and funding…”
Another idea Huffman has shared with Parks is to place a large convex mirror on the path(s) to improve visibility.
If funding is the only remaining issue, now would a great time to tell Parks to make this project a priority in their 2015-2016 budget. They had a public budget hearing last night, but you can still leave feedback via this online survey/feedback tool (until January 13th).