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Local dad calls for ‘super-legal slow-down’ of Powell Boulevard during Monday rush hour

Posted by on May 10th, 2015 at 5:23 pm

Pedalpalooza Kickoff Ride 2009-42

Dan Kaufman with one of his sons in 2009.
(Photo:J.Maus/BikePortland)

Saying that traffic injuries like the ones that are common on Powell Boulevard “inexcusable and unnecessary” outside the doors of Cleveland High School, the father of two Cleveland students is organizing a protest of the speed-oriented urban highway during Monday’s rush hour.

A collision Sunday involving a pickup truck and a bicycle severed a young man’s leg. Police said the truck had been northbound on 26th and turned left onto Powell in front of two people heading southbound on bicycles.

Dan Kaufman described Monday’s event as a “super-legal slow-down,” in which people deliberately move slowly on a street in order to call attention to the fact that high speeds, and roads designed to encourage them, are inappropriate in an urban context.

According to the online map of traffic injuries since 2004 created for the Portland Bureau of Transportation’s Vision Zero campaign, 1,018 people were injured on Powell between 7th Avenue and Cesar Chavez Boulevard from 2004 to 2013, the vast majority of them in cars. Seven people died: two people in cars and five people walking.

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Kaufman, a longtime local livable streets advocate, started organizing the event on Sunday after learning about the collision, which remains under investigation. Here’s his description of the event on Facebook:

Another inexcusable and unnecessary casualty has occurred on Powell Blvd. This time, a man has lost his leg and is in danger of dying. Other deaths and injuries occur on our inter-urban highway on a daily basis.

26th and Powell is a particularly dangerous stretch of Hwy 26 that runs in front of Cleveland High School (where my children attend), Powell Park, Hopworks Urban Brewery, Burgerville 25th & Powell, and many other shops and residences.

Join us for a super-legal slow-down of this intersection at afternoon rush hour.

Take a slow tour on foot, bike, automobile, or skates. Bring your friends, neighbors, family, and signs. Let ODOT know that we will no longer tolerate this kind of carnage and we demand immediate street-repair that puts human lives and safety first.

Let us continue this these protests at any/all ODOT Neighborhood Highways until we are satisfied that ODOT puts safety far and above speed and throughput on our streets.

The event is listed for 4 p.m. at Cleveland High School, 3400 SE 26th Ave.

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Kyle
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Kyle

Thank you for writing about this, Michael! I hope this is a success, and I’d love to see it elsewhere in Portland. I’d also like to see more protest bike rides. I’m so tired of all the bike hate lately and the city’s inexcusable inaction.

WD
Guest
WD

I’m looking forward to the Slow-Down. This intersection and the streets around it are totally unsafe for families. Gladstone, Holgate, 26th, Powell, and Division are all built looking like freeways even though they run right through our neighborhoods.

Our elected officials want to talk about how great this city is for walking and bicycling, but they ignore the clear and present danger we face on our streets. The City neglects to collect data on crashes except when they result in a serious injury like Sunday’s tragedy. That means officials ignore all the near-misses, the close-calls, and the dozens (or probably hundreds) of times people come a hair’s breadth away from a serious injury or death. City officials are ignorant of the magnitude of the problem and show little compassion for the Portland residents who regularly face lethal danger when simply trying to get their families to school, work, or the store.

I hope it’s not an inappropriate time to remind folks we are still collecting signatures to have Portland’s Bicycle-Friendliness downgraded to something more in line with the average, mostly-survivable bicycling community we are at the present moment:
http://change.org/p/league-of-american-bicyclists-downgrade-portland-s-ranking-as-a-bicycle-friendly-community

Carrie
Guest
Carrie

This is the intersection my children often have to negotiate to get to school on foot or on bike. It’s awful and scary and the only ‘good’ option for blocks. I will be there tomorrow.

Josh Chernoff
Guest
Josh Chernoff

Thank you for getting the word out.

Shaun
Guest
Shaun

Was speed a contributing cause to this injury crash? Seems like failure to yield by the motorists to the cyclist rather than speed was the cause. My fear is this “protest” will only polarize cyclists and motorists… Hope I’m wrong 🙂

caesar
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caesar

I support this and will do my best to participate.

I would be helpful if the cognoscenti on this board would chime in on the possible legal repercussions when we congregate to take “a slow tour on foot, bike, automobile, or skates” of that intersection. Seems like I remember that blocking traffic or moving at a pace slower than surrounding vehicles is a punishable violation. Would hate to see demonstrators getting ticketed, or worse.

Doug Klotz
Guest
Doug Klotz

“Super legal” for a driver, would imply not that you’re going slower than ‘normal’, but that you’re going as slow as is prudent given the conditions. If it’s raining, you need to go slower so you can see people turning, cyclists, pedestrians. If it’s dark, you need to go slowly enough that you can see someone (in dark clothing, since that’s the “norm”) stepping off the curb to cross the street. You should drive slowly enough that you can spot a cyclist on the street. If it’s dark and raining, that may mean you’re going 20 mph, even on Powell Blvd. The “speed limit”, is the high limit, under “ideal conditions”… mid-day, sunny, without the low sun in your eyes, no rain, etc. Anything else, drivers actually should be going much slower than most of them are.

TJ
Guest
TJ

As our cities change, the attitudes towards the purpose, functioning, and interaction of all moods of transit must change. These attitudes must be molded through aligned laws, penalties, infrastructure design, and public relations.

Push through-traffic to the interstates by crippling the status car culture with enforced speed limits of no more than 25 miles an hour city wide–Powell, 30, Sandy, etc (sue and gridlock cross-street, until the state and county comply).

Slow Portland down.

Joe Rowe
Guest

I urge Portland area cyclists to buy a bike mounted camera or loan mine.

Then upload both photos and videos to http://flickr.com/groups/carsdeadlybikesnot

Some cameras are buggy and take a lot of work to keep them charged and with a clean memory card. I’ll train anyone who rides a lot on these dangerous routes. It’s made my brain much more aware and safe.

Hell is a concept for people who drive cars and believe in god, spirituality is for cyclists facing the wrath of motor vehicles.

Clyde S. Dale, Sr.
Guest
Clyde S. Dale, Sr.

I have lived in the southern half of the Creston-Kenilworth neighbor hood for the last 11 years. On Holgate, on Gladstone and on 28th Place just south of Powell. I was a daily bike commuter using that intersection from 2005 through 2008. I have seen the aftermath of more than one hit and run deaths in this small area. I also drive a car though I will do almost anything to avoid that intersection in my car.

I respectfully point out that increasing the irritation and anger that the run of the mill motorist will feel at this slow down will not provoke future safety awareness. I am horrified at the carnage wrought upon pedestrians and bicyclists in my neighborhood and am livid about the kind and amount of traffic that speeds 20 feet from my door on Holgate near Caesar Chavez. I am not sure how to change things. My years of activism in our forests and for social justice have shown that direct action, while making me and my affinity group feel good and righteous, it does little useful in bringing change. I completely understand the protest. Things need to change and 20 years ago is not soon enough! And, further alienation of faster and slower users of our community commons does not strike me as either effective or useful in achieving the stated goal. Nevertheless, thank you for your thoughts and efforts to bring about change and I hope that against all experience that it will bring about change that is so necessary.

Amy
Guest
Amy

Maybe we should plan a BetterBlockPDX event at that intersection? What better place to demonstrate the benefits of a road diet than a dangerous intersection in front of a school?

Lester Burnham
Guest
Lester Burnham

Maybe Hales and Novick could personally come by the protest and lend their support.

Dave
Guest
Dave

What the hell is wrong with Portland’s policing priorities? Your city has heat aplenty to send out to police policitcal demonstrators, but no extra officers to spare to slow these deathtrap streets down?

spencer
Guest
spencer

i’d recommend always using a strobe light during daylight hours, especially when traveling > 10 mph. I find that motorists do not appreciate the closing speeds when traveling quickly on bikes. the lights make them think twice before cutting in front of a cyclist. this is a tragedy, pure and simple.

Dave
Guest
Dave

Is Powell one of those streets that’s a state highway even within PDX city limits?

Corgy
Guest
Corgy

My heart goes out to the young victim of this tragic accident. Tomorrow night, May 12th, Reed Neighborhood Association will be having a meeting at Tucker-Maxon School at 6:30 pm in the gymnasium. The email blast includes the following agenda item – “Rich Newland from the City of Portland will be present to discuss the Bikeways 20 project and what that means for our streets.” I would encourage those who live in the neighborhood to attend this meeting and show support for the project. I’ve heard some folks grumble about “losing parking” and “we’ll no longer be able to drive North on SE 28th from Holgate to Gladstone”. I’ll be there to show support.

Andy K
Guest
Andy K

My thoughts go out to him and his family & friends.

Can someone explain why a coordinated, two-lane slow-down on Powell wouldn’t be a violation of ORS 811.130 (Impeding traffic)?

Spiffy
Guest
Spiffy

I rode home on Powell on Friday after the Clinton ride, but it was only above 50th since that’s where I ended my Clinton ride…

only 1 person honked at me, and just one honk as they were passing… I was impressed that I didn’t receive more hostility…

I could commute down Powell in the morning since it’s such a straight shot…

I’d join this afternoon but I’m not even off work by 4:00 much less in the area before 5:30… also, I took TriMet cuz I’m a wuss in the rain…

Cheif
Guest
Cheif

It would be nice if police would come out to enforce against road ragers while things like this are going on.

Eric
Guest
Eric

Is that guy in the picture seriously riding with no shoes?

forest
Guest
forest

How late is this going?

Chris Anderson
Guest

It looks like Mayor Hales has mentioned this rally a few times in a positive light, so maybe it’s alread making a positive difference.

Opus the Poet
Guest

Something that would help slow drivers down would be a law that required any car that hits a pedestrian or cyclist be crushed within 48 hours of the wreck or being found by LEO in case of a hit-and-run, unless more time was needed to process the vehicle for evidence, in which case the vehicle would be crushed immediately after being released by forensics.