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Woman walking near Tilikum Bridge suffers serious injuries in collision with bicycle rider

Posted by on October 21st, 2015 at 11:37 am

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Carole Barkley (before the collision).
(Photo: David Loftus)

It has happened. And I hate to say that I’m not surprised.

On Sunday October 11th, Carole Barkley was hit by a man riding a bike near the Tilikum Bridge. The woman was walking her dog (the dog was not injured) near the west end of the new bridge when the collision occurred.

We received the email below last week from David Loftus, Carol’s husband (emphases mine):

“My wife was hit, hard, by a cyclist near the west end of Tilikum Crossing bridge on Sunday morning about 9 a.m. The collision knocked her down and put her in the hospital for more than two days with four broken ribs, a separated shoulder, a chipped vertebra, lots of cuts and abrasions, and attacks of vertigo.

She was walking our six-pound dog (who was fortunately unhurt), and specifically waited for the pedestrian crossing signal at the east end of the Orange Line MAX platform. Presumably the cyclist had a red light, but my suspicion is that he wasn’t looking for a signal under the presumption that he’d passed the big intersection at Moody and Meade and was free to climb the bridge heading east.

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I don’t wish to demonize him; he stayed at the scene, gave us his name and contact info, and seemed very upset and apologetic. What puzzles me is that Portland Police did not respond to the 911 call, and they would not take a police report when I called a few days later. (As a side note, two of the Police Bureau employees I worked my way through on the phone had no idea what Tilikum Crossing was.)

There are plenty of other issues with regard to the signaling at both ends of the bridge (I work part-time for the Portland Streetcar and have observed other red flags with regard to cross traffic and signaling), but I was wondering whether you’d be interested in using my wife’s story as a jumping-off place to discuss them.

Here’s a closer look at the exact intersection where this happened. It’s east of Moody at the future location of SW Bond:

My first walk across Tilikum Bridge-4

As I said above, this story doesn’t surprise me. I’ve had concerns about the routing, signals, and path design on the west end of the bridge for weeks now. Compared to the transit lines, the bikeways often seem like they were mere afterthoughts. We have also received several emails and comments (especially in response to our open thread the day the bridge opened) from readers who share these concerns. Our News Editor Michael Andersen and I plan to cover the issues in more detail soon.

As David says in his email, perhaps this collision could help highlight the issues and start another discussion about how best to address them going forward.

Now that the bridge has been open for a few weeks and some of you have ridden it many times already, do you have any concerns about the west end near SW Moody and the MAX platform?

UPDATE: We’ve just received the photos below of the location where the collision occurred from David Loftus:

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Comments about the photos from David:

The first photo is from the cyclist’s perspective approaching the accident site. The tiny signal on the big silver light pole is the only bicycle signal at that intersection, with no prior warning that there is a pedestrian crossing coming up, and that pole as well as the power boxes in front of it neatly hide a waiting pedestrian as well as the normal-sized bicycle signal that’s 40 or 50 feet BEYOND the intersection. (So what is it for?)

The second photo, much closer to the pedestrian crossing, shows how near you have to get before the larger, main signal comes out from behind the items that obscure it. And, being so far beyond the intersection, where is a cyclist supposed to know where to stop?

UPDATE, 4:30 pm: TriMet has released video of the collision.

— Jonathan Maus, (503) 706-8804 – jonathan@bikeportland.org

NOTE: We love your comments and work hard to ensure they are welcoming of all perspectives. Disagreements are encouraged, but only if done with tact and respect. BikePortland is an inclusive company with no tolerance for discrimination or harassment including expressions of racism, sexism, homophobia, or xenophobia. 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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Paul Manson
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Paul Manson

I am curious about the PPB response – did you ask them for a comment on the claim that they did not respond? I assume medics arrived based on a 911 call.

Anne Hawley
Subscriber
Anne Hawley

I am sorry a serious injury crash had to come so soon on our wonderful car-free bridge. I wanted to believe that Tri-Met and the City could start fixing obvious problems before someone got hurt, but now we’ll never know.

I’m glad the bike-rider stopped, helped, etc. He did the right thing. I don’t want to demonize him either – infrastructure probably didn’t help the situation. But as with car-on-bike and car-on-pedestrian crashes, it would seem that the faster vehicle operator here was careless. “I didn’t see the red light” might be a partial excuse if the red light was unexpected, badly placed, or whatever. But “I didn’t see the human being who was in plain sight” means “I wasn’t looking.”

ynn
Guest
ynn

Oh, this poor woman. I am sending her best wishes for healing up. This incident should put paid to the idea that “getting hit by a bike isn’t that bad compared to a car” which is language that seems to come up (see thread about people on bikes/people on foot at Riverplace MUP) when bike/pedestrian collisions are discussed.

J_R
Guest
J_R

There are obvious problems with the bike signals at the Moody Avenue crossing at the west end. I sent a very detailed message to the City of Portland about the problems I encountered. I did not receive a response. The signals did not respond to the presence of bicycles through two signal cycles so eventually we all went through on the red. A few occurrences like that and people will begin to regularly ignore the signals

mw
Guest
mw

One problem down there is the signals are unnecessarily long. For instance, a train will go across Moody, but the bike/ped signals stays red for another 15-20sec. It doesn’t sound like a long time, but it is pretty annoying when you are just sitting there for no reason. I think it makes people more prone to ignoring the signals in general. I think this also annoys drivers, and many will run that red light on Moody. It happens so often, that I never cross Moody immediately when the bike signal goes green… I always check to make sure that cars have stopped in both directions. Which brings me to my next point.

I always check to make sure cross traffic is stopped when I get a signal to go. Red-light running is a major problem around here, especially around heavily congested intersections with short signal cycles. I’m sure that the day I forget to do this is the day I get nailed.

So, while it sounds like the cyclist was definitely at fault in this story for not stopping at a signal, there should probably be more signage for pedestrians around there that there is bike cross traffic to be aware of.

Adam
Subscriber

Sorry to hear this happened. The signals at that intersection need some work. Often, the bike light remains red for an extended period of time, even if there is no cross-traffic or train coming. This leads many people to ignore the signals. Also, what’s up with that flashing red bike signal? Does that mean treat as a stop sign?

The issue is mainly because TriMet (understandably) designed the intersection to priorize transit vehicles instead of people walking and people riding bikes. Hopefully, the signal timing can be changed to fix this.

Here’s hoping she recovers soon.

Buzz
Guest
Buzz

This could have been done so much better, now it’s just another area to avoid…

Granpa
Guest
Granpa

It sounds like the cyclist hit a stationary person. If that is the case, it is not signals or infrastructure, but operator malfunction.

K'Tesh
Guest
K'Tesh

Praying for a fast and complete recovery.

I hope that the “powers that be” will immediately begin an investigation to determine how to prevent future collisions… Than quickly act to fix this problem.

John Liu
Guest
John Liu

Is this more about the infrastructure, or more about a careless cyclist? There’s not, in my opinion, usually much excuse for hitting a pedestrian in a marked crossing, in broad daylight. Not for drivers, and not for cyclists.

Ben
Guest
Ben

The poor design of the signals around the new bridge is conditioning cyclists and pedestrians alike to ignore them. Westbound, the bicycle signal where I think this collision happened remains red even when a train is crossing the bridge and pedestrian cross-traffic is impossible. A similar failure of coordination happens on the east side, where east-west traffic remains stopped even when a freight train is delaying north-south traffic.

I expect more bike-pedestrian and bike-bike collisions will happen at the westbound exit of the bridge, where bicycle traffic headed downtown twice crosses pedestrian walkways, and along the Moody cycletrack, which is far too small to accommodate the amount of traffic it’s getting already.

Given the ambitious plans for new housing on the southeast side of the bridge and office buildings at the western landing, why were the facilities for bicycles and pedestrians built too small even for existing use? This area is going to be an even worse mess in five years, when the Zidell properties are finished.

AIC
Guest
AIC

I accidentally ran a red “bike” light heading south on the west side. Right over the streetcar tracks (luckily no street cars around). I have ridden the area 20 or so times in the past few months, so I kind of know the area. I am not a rookie. I ride alertly and can’t believe I missed that light. There is a lot of distraction down there for bike signs/lanes/lights/people/fences, poles, sidewalks, etc.
Not sure what the solution is, that is for someone smarter than me. But it could be better in that area. Trimet used to have people stationed down there to stop bike/peds at the street car track crossing, I thought that was good “training wheels” method.

Also, some of those bike crossing lights are timed REALLY long, I got caught at one of them for so long, I started to get cold and stiff. Needed to jog in place or something…..

q`Tzal
Guest
q`Tzal

This article could use a clear diagram of this traffic flow fubar for those of us that don’t have the area memorized.

Or a link to a diagram; lots of disconnected ground level photos aren’t as useful.

jeff
Guest
jeff

I was going east over the bridge yesterday. Full green bike lights. **word deleted by moderator** new mom with baby in stroller, on her cell phone, stepped right out in front of me crossing the tracks. complete hard stop. she got an earful.

lahar
Guest
lahar

I am usually a cautious rider, I do not run lights, I strive to be predictable and follow the right of way rules of the road. But last couple of times I accessed the Tillicum, I accidentally ran a red light and another time I missed my bike lane and found myself riding on the sidewalk figuring out where I went wrong. There is far too much going on there for safe travels.

Scott H
Guest
Scott H

This is why we can’t have nice things.

pdx2wheeler
Guest
pdx2wheeler

Tri-met spent 6 months habituating people on bikes to ignore the signals in this area. For months they made you stop and wait on the cycle track for literally nothing, no pedestrians, no trains, no buses, no emergency vehicles, just the breeze and a stop light… The Tri-met crossing guards helped keep everyone in line, but they’re gone now, and so seemingly is signal compliance. Anyone who didn’t see this coming wasn’t paying attention.

BTW – People on bikes are constantly cutting directly across my path as I ride North on the cycle track and they’re riding South but turn East to cross Moody… Their turn puts us on a head-on collision course. The signals seem oddly give us both a green light at the same time.

You definitely need to ride super careful through this area, it’s a busy place.

TonyT
Guest
Tony T

This brings up something that I encountered when I first used the bridge. On the West side, heading east, there is a bike signal right at the beginning of the climb. I couldn’t for the life of me figure out what the point of it was. I had just crossed the tracks and turned left to climb and there was this weird signal telling me to stop. As I recall (I could be wrong) there was no place for any crossing traffic of any kind, bikes, peds, or anything else. Granted this was the weekend after it had opened, so something might have changed to make the signal useful, but I sat there and looked at it for the longest time and couldn’t figure it out. I was baffled.

I wonder if this was the signal where this collision occurred and I just missed something. To me it was a classic example of excessive and pointless controls which end up just training people to ignore them.

I even took a picture of it. I still don’t see the purpose. There is a gap in the railing to the left, but it sure didn’t seem that that is where people would be coming from. I had just crossed the rails myself. Why would you get a green signal, cross, start to turn left and be commanded to stop? To keep you from hitting the very crossing traffic you were part of? There is SO much going on on both sides of the bridge. It’s nuts.

I can email the pic to you if you’d like, Jonathan.

mark
Guest
mark

Wow, one bike/ped accident when the bike actually stayed at the scene…and it’s big news. With a car, how often would the car stay? Half the time? Most of the time? Who knows these days?

Sounds to me like a positive story. Crap happens, people get hit, fall over, trip…etc…that’s apart of being outside one’s house. However, this cyclist (not a person on a bike which is different) stayed..gave info..and will probably be rewarded with a threat of lawsuit or a lawsuit at some point…as we all are when driving a car. That’s just life.

How long before someone get impaled on the spikes on this bridge?

Anyway, what would be cool is if the bike community rallied and helped defray some of this person’s expenses while they sort out their next steps.

Ted G
Guest
Ted G

There are five modes of transportation (MAX, street car, bus, bike, pedestrian) all converging at one spot on the west end of that bridge. the only way to move through that area safely is with your head up and on a swivel.

Of those five modes, bikes are most effected by gravity coming down off the bridge and it is very easy to get up a lot of speed. I definitely agree there is a lot of stuff (green paint, crossings, tracks, lights, bike signals, people) to be looking at. More than anywhere else I can think of a posted speed limit for bikes, with regular enforcement, would be very beneficial. including one of those signs that shows a riders speed would encourage better compliance as well. Any attempt to incorporate infrastructure to slow bikes down would only add to the confusion.

This is not an easy-breezy route into and out of the city for bikes. It is a transit bridge that accommodates bikes and peds.

SD
Guest
SD

There is a learning curve for this area. I see confused pedestrians and cyclists there routinely making mistakes. For a first time user there is a lot to take in. I could easily see someone crossing Moody on the green bike light, thinking they were free to go, not expecting pedestrians, not seeing or understanding the second red, looking over at the bus/ train area to the left to understand how it all works instead of focusing on path in front.

I have seen cyclists presuming that the green lights they see as they approach Moody indicate that it is safe to cross Moody only to have to slam on the breaks when they make a right turn and see a red light in a split second.

This area has more complexity than a motorist would ever have to deal with.

Based on what I have read, there is no way to know what happened between the cyclist and the pedestrian or the level of carelessness or distraction from confusing infrastructure that contributed to the collision.

mark
Guest
mark

One other thought, I have cable brakes with one cantilever and one V brake for the front. My cantilever, though well adjusted is ok. The V brake will put the rear wheel in the air under full lock.

Seems like something good to check for commuters. Make sure you brakes are well adjusted.

Mark
Guest
Mark

That’s horrible. That would never pass for a car signal.

Todd Hudson
Guest
Todd Hudson

“but my suspicion is that he wasn’t looking for a signal”

I’m guessing he disregarded it and said “oh my gosh I didn’t see you!” when he hit her.

Dawn
Guest
Dawn

I’m sorry to say that we need to see aggressive enforcement action against both cyclists and pedestrians at these crossings. Maybe start with a sign indicating the penalty for crossing against a light or running a red light.

I work at the CLSB and experience this area as both a pedestrian and a daily bike commuter. The bike signals pictured above ARE hard to see. As a pedestrian or bike trying to cross with the walk sign at this second crosswalk (near the beginning of the bridge ascent) I have never once had a cyclist heading eastbound from Moody stop for this light.

Psyfalcon
Guest
Psyfalcon

If you hit a stationary object or pedestrian, its obviously some sort of rider error. Its just not something you do no matter how bad the signals are. I mean assuming the rider was near the center, it takes a second or two to get there.

On the other hand, this place is such a mess that it makes it difficult to ride responsibly. Signal timing, hidden signals, and the 5 modes (+the dog). I have no idea how something can be so engineered and signalized and still be so confusing to use.

Name the actual engineers and policy people that planned and approved this so they wont work again. They have shown they can not design people sized spaces. (but they did make a decent train bridge). The 100 year old Hawthorne is STILL the better route for anything not on the south waterfront.

Champs
Guest
Champs

I want to chalk this up to our human resistance to change, but it does seem like engineers went out of their way to confuse. With time I may get used to some things like the omnidirectional intersection at SE 11th/Milwaukie and Rube Goldbergian, Interstate Bridge caliber routing. Other things, especially the interaction with trains and tracks seem like a genuine effort to rustle your jimmies.

The site of the collision isn’t surprising. That moonscape puts my brain in “WHAT IS GOING ON” mode.

Jim and Becky
Guest
Jim and Becky

In the first pic, I can clearly see the first signal, and a change in the sidewalk which should make any cyclist go heads up. I agree it needs to be improved, but if you can’t detect at least what I did in the first pic, hang up your bike, dust off your shoes, and get an eye check.

A.C. Greiss
Guest
A.C. Greiss

It is true that this is not OK infrastructure. What is even worse is that the west side of the bridge is so many times better than the east side. On the west side the way pedestrians get shifted up instead of crossing at the intersection is confusing and the lights can be long at Moody, but after that it is good. A nice set aside cycle track on Moody and a multi path off Sheridan that gets downtown well.
But go the other way and cross the bridge east and what do you do? Where are you meant to go? The road just ends. I turned right and ended up on the Springwater somehow (not where I was going).
And do not ask me about trying to get onto the bridge the other way from Clinton St. I heard they were going to extend Clinton to the bridge but I was wrong I guess? It is a mess and some sort of a maze. It looks like they started to build a cycle track for a couple blocks and then quit. People are using the bridge, so maybe its just me who can not find a way there without all the weird crossings and lights and delivery trucks. Is it still under construction?

Eric Leifsdad
Guest
Eric Leifsdad

Hope she heals well and quickly. This is a sad way to design cycling and pedestrian infrastructure, but nobody is surprised of course. We need all police to do routine bike patrols — not having heard of a bridge is ridiculous.

I’ve ridden through that light 5 times when I was facing a bike green and four times there was somebody in the crosswalk, usually entering, once a field trip of kids. Makes me wonder if the signals are matched-up.

I’

mark
Guest
mark

John Lascurettes
Those power boxes are of particular concern. They block the line-of sight to the area where a pedestrian will cross the bike path. They should have been placed further downstream so they don’t block the view of cyclists heading that direction. Also note, the pedestrian about to cross a path would also like clear line of sight of the traffic headed their direction. Eye contact is everything (both for riders and walkers).Recommended 1

I agree. Those boxes either got to go. That’s just dumb.

What would help is these:
http://lincoln.ne.gov/city/pworks/engine/traffic/rrfb/

They use them on car lanes to get driver’s attention.

SD
Guest
SD

I am on board with everyone who says slow down when conditions are uncertain or complicated. However, it appears that much of the cycling infrastructure that is being created presumes and requires that cyclists travel at very low speeds. The TCx is a prime example of this. This bridge should have been considered a commuting route first and a recreational route second. The design should have included expectations of cyclists at 15+ mph with sight lines, stopping space and signaling to allow for this and to accommodate peak commuter traffic.

Instead, we have a bridge and a template for cycling infrastructure that creates one conflict after another as if modal conflict were the preferred method of traffic calming.

Cycling at a reasonable commuting speed shouldn’t be taboo and it shouldn’t be engineered out of infrastructure.

In this case, a design built for a higher rate of cycling speed would eliminate sight-line obstruction, made cross-walks visibly distinct, simplify traffic signals and provide more space.

I also admire and appreciate Mr. and Mrs. Loftus for approaching this with the goal of improving conditions on the bridge and preventing more injuries.

Ann
Guest
Ann

So far, every time I’ve ridden this bridge it’s been for recreation, so I ride east to west, then turn around the east end of the MAX stop and head back over. The current set up basically has you stop in the bike line to cross over, while people are coming down the hill behind you. I’m generally there when traffic is light, so I haven’t caused an accident, but it’s still a problematic spot.

daisy
Guest
daisy

Guys! I’ve ridden my bike through the intersection at SE Clinton/Milwaukie/Tilikum/12th a handful of times now, and I still have NO IDEA what I’m supposed to be doing there! I’ve even looked for directions to follow and can’t find them!

Todd Boulanger
Guest
Todd Boulanger

Other minor design tweaks to consider:
1) outline the white on white ped crosswalk striping with a black outline (similar to what was done for bikeway striping on the same project);
2) stripe in a high vis “piano key” style crosswalk bars;
3) add a pronounced stop bar for the cyclist movement;
4) add a short arm for the far side bike signal (to pull it out into view);
5) develop internal policy for placement of traffic signal / utility cabinets on bikeway facilities to keep the sight lines open (perhaps require them to be underground or on the far side of the intersection leg); and
6) adopt designs that reflect higher speed cyclists on commuter facilities (ebikes, etc.) where appropriate.

Spiffy
Subscriber

the dog is adorable…

Adam
Guest
Adam

My problem is the bike traffic lights.

They are not visible enough. Because only the outline of the bike is lit up, I find them hard to see. If I wasn’t actively aware they existed, I would not notice them. Whereas a motor traffic light is very easy to see – the entire circle is lit, and brightly too.

Another example of this is the “bike only” traffic signal on NE Broadway heading downtown before the freeway entrance. If nobody had told me that bike light existed, I would never have known it was there. It is not super-visible.

I’m not trying to pass blame from the cyclist, who was likely going too fast, and not looking where he was going.

But I think poorly designed infrastructure definitely plays a large part in these sorts of incidents too.

jd
Guest
jd

I hope she’s good as new soon, and I’m glad the cyclist and the pedestrian’s husband have been decent (more than decent in the husband’s case) about this.

I’ve been over that bridge a few times. I get the sense that I could ride it 100 times and still be surprised by some new dangerous possibility I didn’t notice before. From Division to Naito, it’s confusing as hell. Still, I tend to slow down when I don’t totally know what’s going on…

gl.
Guest
gl.

Holy cow. I work there sometimes and had NO idea there even was a pedestrian crossing signal. Yikes!

K'Tesh
Guest
K'Tesh

Just saw the video on TV, and again here. It seems to me like all the electrical boxes and poles served to hide Carole until it was too late to do anything.

My recommendation, change the layout so that all the boxes and poles are on the *FAR* side of the crosswalk, so that people aren’t hidden.

How in HELL did this design pass any kind of design review. It’s F*****G AWFUL!!!

Mike
Guest
Mike

It doesn’t matter how large you make the red light. You could make the red light 3 feet around. Bicyclist don’t stop for red lights or stops signs. I have pictures of many cyclist blowing through them. Happens all the time. The story is usually they don’t like to start and stop.

It’d be nice if you stop making excuses for the cyclist and start doing what you claim motorist don’t do. Pay attention to you surroundings and obey the traffic laws!

Dan
Guest
Dan

KristenT
Apparently, both cyclists and pedestrians also need to have X-ray vision to see through the large solid objects blocking their view.Yes, the cyclist could have been going slower, but in the absence of any other pedestrians, and not having seen this one approaching the intersection, and having the bike signal sized and placed in such a way as to be easily missed, how could this incident be foreseen? I guess just assume that you’re going to hit or be hit and walk and ride accordingly?Recommended 0

Isn’t that exactly what we say about cars vs. pedestrians? Drivers should assume they’re going to hit someone and drive accordingly?

Randall S.
Guest
Randall S.

Was the pedestrian wearing a helmet?

Ace B.
Guest
Ace B.

Anne Hawley
“I didn’t see the human being who was in plain sight” means “I wasn’t looking.”

And when did the pedestrian come into plain sight? To me, it was very clear that she appeared just a second before she was hit. Before that, she was behind a pole. The red light was definitely lit, yes. But it is not easy to see.

Pedestrians must understand that they cannot step out from behind something and expect someone to react instantly. Always assume that the driver/rider is not seeing the light, not seeing you behind that pole, and not going to stop. Your life or health depends on YOU looking both ways. Don’t rely on the other person looking out for you. After all, it’s the SLOWER MOVING person’s responsibility to make sure they stay safe.

The guy in or on the faster vehicle has more protection than you–a helmet, for instance. While it’s all well and fine to say, “look out for others,” and it would be nice if everyone did, let’s not forget, it’s stupid to say, “look out for me, would you, because I just don’t have the time to bother doing it myself.” That’s a good way to get dead.