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Car lands on its side facing wrong way after crash at North Williams and Beech – UPDATED

Posted by on June 17th, 2015 at 3:45 pm

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N Williams and Beech, 3:30 pm today.

williamsbeech2

(Photos via anonymous text message to BikePortland)

Someone just sent me a text with the two photos above. The location is N Williams and Beech.

According to the Portland Police, there were two motor vehicles involved and one of the drivers ran away from the scene. (He’s described as a tall, thin, white male, 40-50 years old with gray hair.)

But seriously… How can two people possibly operate their cars at this location in such a way that would result in so much damage and leave one of the cars facing the wrong way in the bike-only lane?

Beech is a tiny residential street and this section of Williams is in a commercial zone where it’s one-way in the northbound direction and there’s one lane intended for driving and another lane intended to be shared by bicycle riders and people accessing auto parking or making a left turn on that block.

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Given that this is one of the busiest bike lanes in the city, seeing this type of carnage is very disheartening. Steve Bozzone, a local resident and neighborhood activist said via Twitter that, “You need to get some speed going for that. See these crashes with frequency around here, especially near Skidmore & Williams.”

It’s a good thing this didn’t happen at 5:30 when hundreds of people riding bikes pass by this location every hour. We hope no one was hurt and we’ll update this post when we have more information.

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. Also, if you comment frequently, please consider holding your thoughts so that others can step forward. Thank you — Jonathan

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Scott H
Guest
Scott H

The vehicle must have had a medical incident.

Rob Chapman
Guest
Rob Chapman

The driver should have worn reflective clothing.

K'Tesh
Guest
K'Tesh

and a helmet…

Opus the Poet
Guest

And a firesuit…

q`Tzal
Guest
q`Tzal

I like the way Bill Cosby put it in the 33rpm LP recordings I have of his earliest standup comic routines:
“I don’t know what happened officer. I was just driving and that tree jumped out and BIT my car!”

Spiffy
Guest
Spiffy

“Why did you do it?”

“I dunno.”

“That’s the brain-damage!”

mikeybikey
Guest
mikeybikey

I was a block away coming up Williams when it happened. I didn’t see what caused the crash but I did see the saw the car land on its side. It was not a solo collision there was another car involved but everyone is ok but the driver of the car that rolled FLED. A bystander chased him and I tried to catch up but a bakfiets is not exactly a speed machine, so he got away.

Ted Buehler
Guest

Thanks for trying!

I ride or walk through this intersection about 4 times a day.

Ted Buehler

ethan
Guest
ethan

I have only a few words to say about this that aren’t expletives and dismay. I hope PBOT realizes this design is not optimal.

Sigma
Guest
Sigma

I saw someone driving southbound on Williams from Fremont to new seasons just yesterday. I gave her a serious honking.

Ted Buehler
Guest

An SUV flipped on Williams just 3 blocks south of here last winter. Never made the news, I didn’t have a camera with me to document it.

BikeLoudPDX in their request to PBOT for safety improvements following the rash of injury and fatality crashes this spring has asked:

“Stop building conflict into our streets
“Reduce conflict points on our roads during repaving and restriping projects by implementing road designs that follow the nationally-recognized NACTO guidelines.”

The multiple types of car-bike conflict that were included in the Williams redesign are an excellent example of how to build conflict into the streets. It won’t matter how many years this facility is in place, there will always be newcomers that aren’t familiar with it, and will crash as result of the conflict.

Ted Buehler

Ted Buehler
Guest

Also, that “Left Turn Only” signpost on the island was mowed down a couple days ago, so this isn’t the only time in the last week that someone has driven their car in a way that resulted in it going careening into the bike lane.

Ted Buehler

Steve
Guest
Steve

The Williams Street redesign came up in another comments section, and I genuinely asked someone to explain how it made any sense from a safety standpoint. I don’t want to be one of those “Armchair Civil Engineers,” because I’d like to think that the people in charge of this stuff are much smarter and better educated than I am, but as soon as they finished it I thought, “This isn’t going to end well.”

Rob Chapman
Guest
Rob Chapman

I’m with you on this one. My destinations are on the left when I’m cycling so it works out pretty well for me but driving that stretch is ummm… novel.

Pete
Guest
Pete

Coincidentally, my bike mirror is on the left so I can see traffic to my left.

Todd Boulanger
Guest
Todd Boulanger

The standard practice for a post construction review often…purposely does not look at the first 6 months post construction traffic crash data until drivers get used to the new layout. So these recent crashes may not be part of the official analysis.

Andyc of Linnton
Guest
Andyc of Linnton

Hey Ted,
Did you work to create the Davis Bicycles non-profit?

I’m interested in the existence of a website where you can report dangerous obstructions, debris, etc in bike lanes like the one on that site, which would automatically be sent to the city, instead of always calling/emailing SAFE, and maybe even be collected in a database. Heck, maybe even get these widgets on the BTA home page or something.

This is what I was looking at:
http://www.davisbicycles.org/
The DB! Safety Report.
Thank you.
Chadwick

Angel
Guest
Angel

Have a look at nearlykilled.me. At a glance, it looks like a similar project.

John Lascurettes
Guest

I saw that (the aftermath) I think. Was it on a foggy-ish evening, near Knott? There were already people on scene when I went by on my bike.

Ted Buehler
Guest

John, the one I saw was at the top of the hill at Fargo. If you saw one by Knott that would be a third flipped car.

Ted Buehler

Ted Buehler
Guest

Oh, and it was 11:30pm or so.

Tim
Guest
Tim

Sounds like someone who should have not been driving in the first place (ran) was driving way too fast and ran a stop sign. How is this the result of design. Sounds like a crime to me.

Interestingly, Europe is moving away from controls. Stop signs, lane marking and all traffic control are being removed from small city streets and replaced with 30 kph zones.

Eric
Guest
Eric

=18mph. See also “twenty is plenty”.

Zaphod
Guest

I’d love to see the forensic recreation of what they think happened if that’s something PPD does in these cases. I can’t work out the set of events that could result in the photo. One thing’s for certain, I’m grateful for the time of day because this could have been quite tragic.

ethan
Guest
ethan

This is pure speculation and in no way scientific: with that said, I’m imaging the driver of the flipped vehicle was going southbound and hit the island as someone else was driving perpendicular to them and hit them right as they hit the island, causing the very top heavy vehicle to tip over like a breached land whale. I’m also assuming that the driver did not have insurance, license or was intoxicated. That’s the only reason I could think for them running.

wsbob
Guest
wsbob

“…I’m imaging the driver of the flipped vehicle was going southbound and hit the island as someone else was driving perpendicular to them and hit them right as they hit the island, causing the very top heavy vehicle to tip over like a breached land whale. …” ethan

Before I’d read the comment referring to the reddit report about the car being hit because the person driving ran a stop light, the thought occurred to me that the car may have flipped in part from having hit the traffic island.

On television recently, I heard about a phenomena occurring on some Alaska roads, in which spots on the road can over a short period of time, dramatically rise up to a foot in height because of the extreme cold, creating what’s whimsically referred to as ‘frosties’. Sometimes it seems, people unsuspectingly roll a car’s wheel over the high spot at speed, causing the car to flip. No ‘frosties’ here in balmy Portland.

paikiala
Guest
paikiala

There would not have been the space for higher speeds during the ‘rush’ hour, so the likelihood of such a result then is small.

ethan
Guest
ethan

“In roadway design, either lower speeds or separate users”

So when are we going to see a re-re-design of Williams that separates bikes and cars? It’s quite obvious to everyone that the current way isn’t working. A very easy solution would be to ban left turns by car off of Williams and change all of the on street parking to bike parking. It would have the added benefit of supplying 10x the amount of parking in the same amount of space.

Dwaine Dibbly
Guest
Dwaine Dibbly

Clearly, the driver didn’t take the “Vision Zero Pledge”.

9watts
Guest
9watts

Or perhaps he was in the process of signing it when he crashed.

Eric Iverson
Guest
Eric Iverson

Hopefully Will Vanlue reported this bike lane blockage to PBOT

encephalopath
Guest
encephalopath

I’m beginning to wonder if on streets like Williams, people on bicycles are expected to be the traffic calming device by design.

OnTheRoad
Guest
OnTheRoad

Beginning to wonder? It’s been pretty plain that bicylers have unwttingly been used by the city to be movable traffic circles and curb extensions for years.

Like on Ladd Avenue where the traffic islands force drivers into the same road space used by bikers. Those devices have been there for decades.

k1ndun
Guest
k1ndun

This only strengthens my conviction to avoid Williams like the plague. I rode it every day before the redesign. I miss it a lot. It wasn’t perfect but I felt safe enough and appreciated the gentle incline and company of other people on bikes.

Ted
Guest
Ted

Carnage.

“You keep using that word…I don’t think it means what you think it means.”

Reza
Guest
Reza

At least it wasn’t untold carnage.

q`Tzal
Guest
q`Tzal

ODOT will think we’re riled up over a hill of beans.

Spiffy
Guest
Spiffy

not a literal meaning, but as thefreedictionary.com will tell you, it also means: Overwhelming defeat, loss, or destruction.

macmillandictionary.com also says that journalists use it for: a situation that is difficult or full of problems

yes, it’s a bit extreme and reactionary… but I suppose if we don’t start using more extreme terminology then people will continue to think that these are just accidents rather than the plague that they are…

Gary
Guest
Gary

While we’re wordsmithing, can we talk about the definition of “reactionary”?

q`Tzal
Guest
q`Tzal

This is what I love about Bikeportland.org’s comments community:
Sure we can get into a heated argument about helmets, vehicular cycling or any number of things but the semantic grammar nerd-ery is a refreshing break from the rest of the interwebs.

wsbob
Guest
wsbob

Ted
Carnage.“You keep using that word…I don’t think it means what you think it means.”Recommended 8

Advisability of using the word so inaccurately is debatable. But then, there’s the irresistible to some people, sensation creating, attention grabbing ability the word is capable of, or should I say, is ‘still’ capable of, unless it becomes used so loosely to the point its real meaning becomes lost.

In the context of a two car collision in which nobody is hurt, and only the cars get smashed up, it sounds like something an egotistical frat boy would say to boast about the damage their car inflicted on another.

John Liu’s comment, http://bikeportland.org/2015/06/17/car-lands-side-facing-wrong-way-crash-north-williams-beech-144624#comment-6426903 …has the particulars: someone runs a stop light and someone else runs into them. That’s bad news, and what can happen when people play loose and fast with laws written to manage traffic.

Nice that the person that ran the red light wasn’t on foot or a bike. At least the motor vehicle’s body offered him some protection from the crash, allowing him to survive it unscathed, even though he used that benefit to run away like a coward. Or maybe…he ran away because he was in a hurry, having remembered he left something on the stove, and just had to get home ASAP to turn the heat off.

davemess
Guest
davemess

That’s my thought.
And when did this site just become a blotter for auto crashes?
I get that this was on/near a bike facility, but a bike wasn’t involved.

Jonathan I completely respect and appreciate what you do, but I think you might be beating the drum of hysteria a little too much with this one.

Scott Mizée
Guest

I disagree that it has no place on bikeportland. It is in the middle of a major bicycle facility, therefore it warrants coverage here. As far as the use of the word “carnage…” I agree it is a bit extreme. I tend to associate the word carnage with loss of human or animal life.

Opus the Poet
Guest

Should be CARnage…

9watts
Guest
9watts

This is what PBOT has to say about this:
Pedestrians:
+ make eye contact with drivers
+ put away your cellphone and earbuds
+ don’t cross until cars have stopped
http://www.portlandoregon.gov/transportation/article/494304

Eric
Guest
Eric

Carry a large, highly visible hammer.

caesar
Guest
caesar

Carnage could either be human or vehicular. There was broken glass all over the street and the car was badly dented. I hope it didn’t suffer much. Cars are people too.

John Liu
Guest
John Liu

Description posted on Reddit

“A man ran a stop light, was hit by an oncoming car going up Williams (not going very fast mind you) and flipped the car on its side. He quickly popped out of the driver’s side door, and ran away. On foot. A stander-by sprinted after him, but returned within minutes saying he’d lost him. ”

Looks and sounds like the SUV was on Beech, ran the stop sign, was hit by a car on Williams, the SUV went over on its side. Not sure why the SUV driver ran but could have been intoxicated or maybe not the owner of the vehicle, who knows.

I’m not seeing the bike-relevant aspect of this event.

Paul in the 'Couve
Guest
Paul in the 'Couve

The car is laying on its side in the middle of the bike lane, on the street that used to be one of the most popular cycle routes in the “platinum” cycling city of Portland and has be destroyed in a botched re-design that was supposed to make the street safer and instead because of no political will has turned into the kind of street where close calls happen every time I ride it, and apparently cars flip over in the bike lane… that is how it is relevant to bikes because Vancouver Blvd is the poster child for why Portland is not Platinum.

John Liu
Guest
John Liu

I guess every fender bender on a street with a bike lane will now be “carnage” to rile up the BP readership.

davemess
Guest
davemess

So you’re telling me we just need to figure out how to get people to stop making bad decisions……..

Opus the Poet
Guest

That is the goal of Vision Zero, to redesign the infrastructure so that bad decisions are physically impossible to carry out.

mikeybikey
Guest
mikeybikey

John,

I was a little bit surprised to get home and see coverage on BP but I think Jonathan’s instincts here are on target. I was riding up Williams with my 9-month old daughter and had just crossed Fremont when I heard the impact. This was hardly, as you put it in a later comment, a “fender bender” This was a very violent crash. The car that rolled did not just flip over on its side. It went airborne, turned 90 degrees and flipped. This kind of violent, high energy crash at a location that is supposed to be human-scale is shocking and inexcusable. To put it another way: had my shoe not come untied when we were headed back out on the bike, my daughter and I might very well have been more than witnesses to this crash. Safety on the streets should not be a function where the primary variable is fate. Now I ask you, which article would you rather read on BikePortland? The one where a father and daughter are injured or killed on the streets or the one that highlights the level of irresponsibility and violence that is accepted as status quo?

ENC
Guest
ENC

I watched this accident happen. The SUV ran the stop sign at beech and the car going n on williams tried to get out of its way, but spun and t-boned the SUV. It tipped over, but did not go airborne.

Vanessa
Guest

I was trying to cross here a few weeks back. It was rush hour and I was on a bike heading west on Beech. The car in the east lane on Williams stopped to let me cross. Then a Wash.plate car, on the cell phone, suddenly sped the hell up way over the speed limit in the left turn only lane,did not go left, but cut over to the straight north lane, in front of the car that stopped for me. Luckily I was paying attention.

paikiala
Guest
paikiala

If you were walking, the person driving around the stopped car made the mistake.
If you were biking in the travel lane, the person driving that stopped made the mistake.
Gladly, you did not make the mistake of thinking everyone would stop.

John Lascurettes
Guest

If on a bike, it depends on whether or not it was in a crosswalk or in the street.

paikiala
Guest
paikiala

hence the qualifier ‘in the travel lane’.

Paul in the 'Couve
Guest
Paul in the 'Couve

Actually, if she was on a bike in the travel lane, then you are correct the car that stopped was wrong to do so, but if you read her statement, the WA plated car that came after still broke several laws. He passed a car stopped at a crosswalk – even if that car needn’t have stopped, and he changed lanes to do so. But more importantly he proceed through the intersection in a left turn only lane. Depending on how aggressively he changed lanes and accelerated it could aggravate it to reckless driving.

Eric
Guest
Eric

Fortunately, we have a law for that: city code 16.70.900 – Reckless Driving.

http://www.portlandonline.com/Auditor/index.cfm?&a=16318&c=28596

Though it would seem that this is never enforced, since I see at least 10% of drivers doing something that would qualify nearly every day.

Monica
Guest
Monica

I just sent an email to a friend of mine who is new to bike commuting (I’ve been giving her tips). I told her to stay off Williams at all costs. I also used to travel Williams and enjoy the shops, but I have a child to raise and the risk isn’t worth it. I’m sticking to Rodney since my heart beats much steadier on that route (and the new Fremont crossing will make it even better).

Bart
Guest
Bart

We bought a house a block over from Williams. I had never ridden over that way, but after I did a test ride out there and experienced it first hand, we cancelled the deal.

paul g.
Guest
paul g.

car·nage

ˈkärnij

noun

the killing of a large number of people.
synonyms: slaughter, massacre, mass murder, butchery, bloodbath, bloodletting, gore;

pat lowell
Guest
pat lowell

“car”nage

Anne Hawley
Guest
Anne Hawley

“Incredible”: unbelievable, not to be believed.
“literally”: actually, in reality
“awesome”: inspiring of awe
“decimate”: to kill one soldier in ten in a Roman military unit, as a disciplinary measure

The language changes. We tend to co-opt powerful words when we need hyperbole.

I agree that “carnage” still carries its bloody, meaty meaning above newer meanings, and I’d rather not see it thrown away on a mere metal-and-glass bust-up. But it’s just another powerful word that’s being co-opted for hyperbole.

El Biciclero
Guest
El Biciclero

…plus it starts with “car”. See “Carmaggeddon”

Eric
Guest
Eric

I remember when I lived off of Holgate and a car slammed into the house I was renting in the middle of the night. Luckily a cement porch, railing and a near-by dumpster prevented the vehicle from entering the kitchen. The dude that was driving was super-sketchy. When I got outside, he was rummaging through the back of the car trying to cram a full-sized car battery into a small kids back pack. Then he wandered off (with the battery) before the police got there.
Anyways, where was I…..
LESSON: Don’t assume everyone on the road driving is a rational thinking human. There are so many weirdos out there, someone fleeing a scene on foot does not seem that far fetched. Glad no innocents were injured.

ac
Guest
ac

the photo seems to document the flipped car in response to the “flip here” arrow 🙂
maybe the wrong spot for a flip here sign?

q`Tzal
Guest
q`Tzal

It would be interesting if a public safety fund (from a DOT or jurisdictional police department) gave vouchers for webcams to private property owners adjacent intersections providing that part of the field of view covers the intersection and the footage will be made available for traffic investigations.

It would be awfully ironic if any of the buildings nearby had camera footage of the incident.

Justin Gast
Guest
Justin Gast

My opinion, the guy that ran was driving a car he stole, was driving quickly from the scene, blew the stop sign and t-boned the other car.

I hope the victim is OK. I also hope PPB cleaned up the glass, instead of the typical brush the glass to the far right of the bike lane and wait for the city to eventually clean it up.

q`Tzal
Guest
q`Tzal

Too bad the police can’t charge the drivers at fault for the time, effort and disposal costs incurred in making the public ROW safe & non-toxic.
Not just from glass and solid vehicle debris but from oil, gasoline, diesel, antifreeze or any of the other hazardous chemicals that usually leak during collisions.

I can forsee some “3rd party service providers” listening to police scanners and showing up at particularly nasty crashes to deal with hazardous spills (because the clean up personnel would DEFINITELY need training and, in Oregon, licensing) and anyone else showing up offering to clean up light debris for a quick buck.