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3 crashes, 2 fatalities: Updates and reactions to Portland’s tragic weekend

Posted by on March 21st, 2016 at 3:44 pm

A small memorial has been created where 17-year-old Austin Hrynko was hit and killed on Saturday.
(Photos: J. Maus/BikePortland)

In less than 24 hours between Friday and Saturday three people were hit while using Portland streets without a car. Two of them died and another person is hospitalized with life-threatening injuries. In both fatalities, Police made an arrest for drunk and reckless driving.

This is a wake-up call for Portland, a city that has embraced “Vision Zero” and made a very public commitment to get serious about street safety.

Mayor Charlie Hales and Steve Novick released a statement this morning to reiterate that committment and to “urge the public to take steps to reduce crashes.” Hales warned against the dangers of drunk driving and Novick, who leads the Bureau of Transportation, said “Clearly we need to do more.” “I remain firmly committed to improving transportation safety, especially in areas such as East Portland, where historically underserved communities brave some of our city’s most dangerous roadways,” Novick said.

I visited both sites this morning.

Cully and Mason: A well-known danger spot

View southbound on Cully at Mason. Spirits bar is on the right.

The man who was killed here just after 11:00 pm on Saturday night was 58-year-old Patrick Curry. He was trying to cross Cully at Mason. According to police, 29-year-old William Hurst was driving southbound on Cully when he struck Curry. A man who works at Appliance City on the southeast corner of the intersection told me Curry’s wife is a bartender at Spirits bar (on the right in the photo above).

“I am left feeling that I should have done more.”
— David Sweet, Cully Association of Neighbors

This section of Cully is one of those streets that everyone seems to know is very dangerous yet little has been done to make it safer (this happened just a few blocks north south of where the City installed Portland’s first protected cycle track in 2011). When I asked the man who works at City Appliance about the street conditions he said, “It’s Cully! Everybody flies through here. It’s big and wide and everybody speeds.” A woman who works at Sprits bar said, “This street is really dangerous. People get hit here all the time. It’s notorious.”

Cully is 85-feet wide at this location and the posted speed limit is 35 30 miles per hour (lowered from 35 a few years ago). Because there’s only one standard lane next to a wide center turn lane, a bike lane, and a parking lane on both sides, it feels very wide and open. Along with the high speeds on Cully, Mason crosses at an angle and sight lines are poor. Next to this intersection is light commercial density (a bar, a body shop, an appliance repair place) next to low-density residential.

In 2013 a Cully neighborhood resident made a formal request to the City of Portland to improve this crossing. The City investigated the request and determined the location was too dangerous for a marked crossing because “in part due to the drivers who are not aware of the marked crossing and the pedestrians who feel a sense of security with the markings,” a PBOT engineer said at the time. The City will only improve this crossing if it can come with a median refuge island and some sort of beacon and/or signal. And neighbors were told in 2013 that that’s just too expensive.

Cully Association of Neighbors land-use chair David Sweet emailed us to share the neighborhood’s concerns. “Cully Boulevard is structurally unsafe,” he said, “The wide street encourages speeding and increases crossing time. The curve south of Mason obscures visibility for northbound drivers. The sidewalks are narrow, curb-tight, and non-continuous. The bike lanes need protection.” Sweet is frustrated because he says PBOT has pushed back the timeframe for a host of safety updates to Cully Boulevard. “Originally slated for a 1-10 year timeframe, it was pushed back to the 11-20 year timeframe in revisions to the [Transportation System Plan] list last summer,” Sweet said. “The explanation I received was that other parts of Cully Boulevard were improved just a few years ago and we should spread the wealth.” Following Curry’s death, Sweet has drafted a new letter to send to PBOT officials and will seek endorsement of it at the neighborhood association meeting tomorrow night.

“I am left feeling that I should have done more,” Sweet added.

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Quiet Center Street an uncommon place for traffic tragedy

This speed bump is just feet away from the driveway a man turned into prior to striking Austin Hrynko.

Austin Hrynko was just 17 years old. He was biking westbound on Center Street just east of 141st in broad daylight on Saturday. Other kids were out and about on a beautiful spring day. 55-year-old Frank Drobny was going in the opposite direction and, for some reason we don’t know of yet, he turned left in front of Hrynko and the two collided. Drobny was turning into a cul-de-sac driveway where he lives. Witnesses told TV news crews he didn’t even try to stop.

Fatal crashes aren’t supposed to happen on streets like this. It was raining this morning and I still saw several families in the area. One woman was driving by and stopped her mini-van right in the middle of the road, got out, and walked over to a small memorial of flowers placed near the collision point. She didn’t know what had happened but saw me and the flowers and was curious. I told her a boy was killed while biking and she looked at me with absolute horror. “Here?! Biking?! I have many small children….” She didn’t speak much English but it was clear she was shocked at the news.

There are speed bumps on the street, but they don’t do a very good job of slowing people down. This morning while being interviewed by KGW, several people zoomed by way faster than they should have been going.

Fortunately in both of the fatal collisions, the person driving the car was quickly arrested and booked with serious charges of Reckless Driving, DUII and Manslaughter II. Even if justice is ultimately served, these senseless and preventable tragedies will never be forgotten by the families and friends of those involved. Our thoughts are with them. Now we must return to taking direct actions to end this cycle of traffic violence. Everyone can and should do something to stop it.

More coverage: KOIN-TV Groups outraged by preventable auto-ped crashes.

CORRECTION, 3/22 at 8:55 am: This post originally stated that the Cully Association of Neighbors made the request to the City of Portland for a safer crossing at Mason in 2013. That was incorrect. A private resident made that request.

— Jonathan Maus, (503) 706-8804 –

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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

  • Joe March 21, 2016 at 3:52 pm

    🙁 RIP

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  • Anne Hawley
    Anne Hawley March 21, 2016 at 3:58 pm

    Thank you for covering the hard and painful news with dignity. It’s a sad day in Portland, and my heart goes out to all the friends and family of these two innocent victims.

    No amount of engineering, it seems, can keep impaired drivers from creating havoc and sorrow. This is an enforcement issue. How much worse does it have to get before we start cracking down, impounding cars, and really and truly preventing these people from driving?

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    • BB March 21, 2016 at 4:03 pm

      It would be a very small amount of engineering to put sensors in automobiles that require a valid license and a zero blood/alcohol level in order to activate the ignition. Not perfect but better than we have now.

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    • Tyler March 21, 2016 at 5:10 pm

      My guess is these 2 drivers are in the big house and will remain there for a while.

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      • Tom Hardy March 21, 2016 at 5:31 pm

        Without a doubt they will probably be released when they can pass the sobriety test and given their keys back.

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      • nuovorecord March 21, 2016 at 7:35 pm

        I wish I could be as sanguine as you.

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  • Michael March 21, 2016 at 4:01 pm

    I find Hales’ and Novick’s statements incredibly frustrating and discouraging.

    Hales seems to place blame on the generic public since “we” (the public) haven’t done enough (what does he imagine we should be doing or should have done??), and rather than just say “we need to do more”, Novick should refer to what PBOT is doing (more) to improve conditions for bikes and pedestrians.

    I hope the new Mayor and new commissioner responsible for PBOT actually understand that they are the ones who need to have and implement plans, and they are the ones who are to be held accountable. the elections cannot come soon enough.

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  • soren March 21, 2016 at 4:01 pm

    I am planning on installing a ghost bike at Center and SE 141st. Please contact me at if you have a bike you can donate (or if someone else is already doing this).

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    • Kristi Finney March 21, 2016 at 4:20 pm

      …I’m not sure about this. A city staffer (who reached out to us) told me the family is wanting complete anonymity; I was surprised to see the young man’s name in this article. That may be too much right now.

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      • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) March 21, 2016 at 4:27 pm

        FWIW the police released the boy’s name and said the family didn’t want to talk to the media.

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      • soren March 21, 2016 at 6:40 pm

        Thanks for letting me know, Kristi. I’ll hold off until I hear otherwise.

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  • Jeff March 21, 2016 at 4:14 pm

    public safety starts with, well the public. how is the city supposed to stop drivers who drink and grab their car keys through any sort of policy or program? its not going to happen that way, sorry.

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    • Tom March 21, 2016 at 4:27 pm

      It’s called a sobriety check point. They work really well.

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      • Jeff March 22, 2016 at 7:17 am

        on every street during every day of the year? good luck with that. the gridlock would be amazing.

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        • paikiala March 22, 2016 at 9:16 am

          The Oregon constitution would have to be changed to enable sobriety check points.

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          • 9watts March 22, 2016 at 9:21 am

            The Oregon constitution would have to be changed to enable sobriety check points.
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            Exactly! The Constitution!
            I have learned that Jonathan doesn’t like the term Car Head, but this is perhaps the most poignant instantiation of Durning’s notion I’ve come across:
            * we know lots of people drink and drive every day
            * we know that a full 10,000 people are KILLED each year due to this habit
            * we have on paper a commitment to Vision Zero,
            … and yet our Oregon CONSTITUTION forbids us from interfering in a systematic way with this situation.

            I’d like someone to try to suggest that this sort of lopsided enshrining of bad car-related behaviors isn’t something we can recognize for what it is and seek to change. Hey Steve Novick, how about it?

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    • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) March 21, 2016 at 4:32 pm

      well since you asked…. the city could lobby the state legislature to pass funding that would give the state more capacity to enforce drunk driving laws. Lack of oversight on liquor license holders who serve drunk people is a key problem here.

      The city could also prioritize more police staffing so that officers have a greater ability to proactively stop drunk driving from happening.

      The city could hold a press conference and launch a media campaign to denounce bad driving choices and increase awareness of the threat posed by dangerous and drunk driving.

      yes, we the public have a lot of responsibility, but the city gov’t can definitely do more.

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      • Jeff March 22, 2016 at 7:19 am

        so, in your view, people don’t drink at home now? or at family gatherings? enforcement only goes so far. sorry, you can’t legislate the problem of drunk driving out of existence. its fairly myopic to believe so.

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        • 9watts March 22, 2016 at 9:06 am

          Why so dismissive? Other countries and probably other jurisdictions within our own borders have tackled this widespread problem (booze + cars) better than our blase approach. We could learn a bunch from those efforts, and Jonathan’s list seems like a very good place to start.

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        • Pete March 22, 2016 at 9:31 am

          When I was growing up, drunk driving was commonplace and openly bragged about. MADD was only in its beginnings, and one thing their influence brought to our school was the practice of putting crashed cars on the front lawn leading up to prom time and graduation. Fast forward to today, their political influence alone has had a substantial effect on both legislation and culture in this country.

          From Wikipedia:
          “In part due to MADD’s influence, all 50 states have now passed laws making it a criminal offense to drive with a designated level of alcohol of .08% or higher.”

          I’m hoping to see ignition interlock devices become prevalent for repeat offenders in my lifetime, but I’m not holding my breath (sorry).

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      • Mike Reams March 22, 2016 at 8:15 am

        I wonder if anyone has ever looked into NIMBY zoning laws that keep drinking establishments away from residential neighborhoods. I’m pretty fortunate to live in a place where there are several bars/pubs within walking distance but, for many, the nearest bar is too far to walk and thus, they choose to drive.

        I don’t know whether that is the case here but, it’s something that came to mind.

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        • 9watts March 22, 2016 at 9:06 am

          A very interesting point. Thanks.

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    • SD March 21, 2016 at 4:36 pm

      I agree that it often appears futile to expect public policy to directly affect an individual’s behavior. However, a 50+ yo driver who drinks and grabs his car keys does so after a many years of exposure to a culture that is permissive of careless driving. Both the built environment that is created by the city/ ODOT and the public acts of elected officials are powerful determinants of the culture that ultimately informs individual choices.

      It is more powerful for individuals to work to influence their local government than to dismissively recite the refrain that tragic events boil down to personal responsibility alone. Vision Zero is a way to focus efforts on a much needed cultural shift.

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      • Stephen Keller March 21, 2016 at 5:05 pm

        Perhaps it is time for road homicide law similar to the one Italy enacted but with a hit and run equals reckless driving clause.

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      • 9watts March 22, 2016 at 9:07 am

        Thanks, SD. This is what I was trying to say above, but you said it better.

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  • Terry D-M March 21, 2016 at 4:17 pm

    The intersection of NE Mason and NE Cully is a major city Bikeway crossing as NE Mason is slated to be the main east-west greenway through inner NE. If we actually would boost the Greenway budget, crossings like this could be fixed.

    I’m not sure what could have helped in the other two cases except than if we really actually took licenses away after the first offense for drunk driving. Perriodic road testing as the driver at 117 th and NE Glisan is very elderly and that crossing was recently upgraded is also a good idea.

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    • are March 22, 2016 at 8:47 am

      if the city is willing but the cost is prohibitive, perhaps the intersection improvements could be crowdfunded. or phil knight could throw some money at it.

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  • peejay March 21, 2016 at 4:23 pm

    Is it Hales or Novick who wants to “urge the public to take steps to reduce crashes”?

    I’m having a lot of problems with that statement, frankly, and it makes me convinced that either Novick or Hales don’t understand Vision Zero, or they know they will never be able to seriously fix our streets and saying this makes them feel better. I’m disgusted.

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    • paikiala March 22, 2016 at 9:57 am

      The path to Vision Zero/Safe Systems does not depend on a single point of attack, but multiple. Better designed roads, yes. Better enforcement of current laws, yes. But also, better laws, better adjudication, better vehicles and better road users as well.

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  • Ted Buehler March 21, 2016 at 4:27 pm

    If you want cend the pattern of carnage on Portland streets, make sure city officials know your position.

    Left to their own devices, they’ll proceed at a pace so slow we’ll lose dozens more vulnerable road users before they get things fixed. One of these could be you. Or your niece. Or me. Or Jonathan.

    If they get 100 emails or phone calls whenever vulnerable road users are killed, they’ll get on it a lot faster.

    Commissioner Steve Novick

    Mayor Charlie Hales

    PBOT Director Leah Treat

    Just sayin…

    Ted Buehler

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  • Tyler March 21, 2016 at 5:09 pm

    Quote from article above: ” Now we must return to taking direct actions to end this cycle of traffic violence. Everyone can and should do something to stop it.”

    I do what I can to help achieve vision zero. I could do more like avoiding rural high-speed roads with no bike lane and no shoulder – I really should find safer routes but those seem limited unless you want to haul your bike to some place just to go for a ride – I prefer to ride from my apartment. I could ride on city streets with bike lanes but I really don’t like riding in town with traffic and many intersections – I want to ride on the open road.

    So, OK, I admit it, even I, don’t do everything I can but I do make significant efforts to be safe and keep from being hit. I do that by riding far to the right (ON the white line if no shoulder), and by wearing extremely visible attire, and by having multiple flashing lights front and rear. Cars know I’m there long before they get to me unless I’m going over a hill, around a curve, or am being passed by a big line of cars/trucks.

    Another thing I do if I’m on a rural road is that if I’m riding in a location where cars can’t see ahead so that it’s unsafe to pass, then I will ride in the gravel or else pull over and stop and let them go by so that one of them does not become impatient and cross the double yellow to pass resulting in an accident. I get out of their way – I don’t want them tailgating.

    I do all of those things because I also do a lot of car driving and I know that it is difficult to be aware of everything as you drive – particularly in congested urban and suburban areas. I know that if a cyclist is extremely visible I will see them long before I get to them; and I know that I have seen cyclists at night and some even in the day wearing dark clothing, no lights that I could barely see even when I knew they were there. The other reason I do those things to be seen is that I don’t like pain, broken bones, riding in ambulances, being paralyzed, or being confined to a wheelchair. Sadly, in many cases the lucky ones who get hit are those who don’t make it.

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    • Paul in the 'Couve March 22, 2016 at 3:36 pm

      Riding far to the right probably increases your chances of getting hit, overall. It depends on the road, but within the cities, taking the lane is generally far safer.

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  • Todd Hudson March 21, 2016 at 5:14 pm

    Vision Zero? Zero Vision.

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  • Tim March 21, 2016 at 5:20 pm

    Felons are not allowed to posses a firearm, so why not DUII in possession of a motor vehicle? DUII – loose your license and forfeit your car and you can’t go out and buy another. We ask 40 year olds to prove they are old enough to buy beer, why can’t we expect someone to show they have a drivers license before buying a car?

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    • lyle w. March 21, 2016 at 6:52 pm

      That’s always really bothered me, too. That you can just park a car in front of your house, and always have that temptation.

      At the very least, if it was ruled that it was arduous for people who were planning on relying it for employment once their suspension was up… you could require them to remove the steering column, battery, ignition, etc… and store it in their house. And be willing to have random checks of their car, where, if any/all of those things were somehow intact, it would be seen as a de facto violation/the same as being caught driving.

      I’ve known of people who were suspended and continued to drive. Shockingly, if you can pull your driving together for a while, and make sure all your lights are working, there’s a very good chance you’re not gonna get pulled over.

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  • Tom Hardy March 21, 2016 at 5:26 pm

    I like the Italian approach to the bike crash solution. Take away the car for 15 years and 1-10 years in prison. Then give tnem a bike and make them ride it. Problem solved!

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    • BB March 22, 2016 at 9:26 am

      Bicycles should not be used as a punitive action.

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  • barblin March 21, 2016 at 5:45 pm

    It’s called a sobriety check point. They work really well.
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    At 4pm?? Did St. Patty’s Day/weekend inspired drinking and bar specials have anything to do with all this? Terribly, terribly sad.

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    • Tyler March 21, 2016 at 6:45 pm

      I believe I did hear on the radio that St. Patty’s Day is when the highest number of fatalities occur.

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      • bjorn March 21, 2016 at 10:19 pm

        I was recently in Australia, they do them at all hours and all over the place there. I think it probably does have an impact, although they also apparently had to ban apps like waze since people were using them to warn others of the checkpoints. However there is a major problem with the strategy at this point which is that I believe that courts in oregon have ruled random breathalyzer checks unconstitutional by state law. Overall it seems to me that since so many of these cases involve repeat offenders that a better solution is to do a lot more to keep people who get dui’s out of the drivers seat. Also perhaps a DUI should cause you to have to have the interlock device for 5 or 10 years. Let’s breathalyze people who have been convicted of DUI every time rather than everyone every once in awhile.

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  • Todd Boulanger March 21, 2016 at 5:57 pm

    Yeah – Cully and Mason – so old school county. I cannot imagine having to cross it as a pedestrian at night or in poor weather or with kids/ groceries / wheelchair in tow…I did not even like trying to reverse into a parallel parking space to load / unload my wall vintage oven and stove top being tested at Appliance City. The two lanes of northbound traffic almost always seems to not give a good gap. This location could use a refuge island and other enhancements…and perhaps one less lane.

    [Also…there is a sink hole developing at this intersection…so perhaps the repair work might integrate some of these ideas…depending on how large the hole gets.]

    PS. I had great service at Appliance City…quick, complete and affordable…great guys…check them out if you need an affordable appliance to repair.

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    • Todd Boulanger March 21, 2016 at 6:00 pm

      The one less lane is the free flowing median…

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    • paikiala March 22, 2016 at 10:01 am

      Cully only has one northbound and one southbound lane at mason, with a center turn lane already there.

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    • CaptainKarma March 22, 2016 at 1:28 pm

      I drive the max speed limit on Cully when conditions permit. Yet I have been passed by car drivers several times acting as if I am personally impeding their constitutional right to race to the next stoplight. Once, between Albertson’s and Mason, someone passed me on the right, driving 35-40 in the bike lane! Makes me wanna stay home.

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  • kittens March 21, 2016 at 6:05 pm

    As a professional taxi driver, nightly I witness the sheer magnitude of what can only be described as “impaired driving” and it is shocking not more people are dead.

    All matter of stupidity and lawlessness on the streets of Portland. Things which are highly illegal; driving without lights, failure to signal, flagrant speeding, missing license plates, wrong-way driving, blowing stop signs and lights. Fridays and Saturdays between 10-3am it is almost as if it becomes a different world out there.

    For the life of me, I can’t understand why the good people of Oregon are so opposed to sobriety check points. We can’t design our way out of this one, it comes down to good old-fashioned enforcement.

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    • James Sherbondy March 21, 2016 at 6:31 pm

      Yup. A few years back I had to do some overnight network maintenance and would end up coming home around 1 or 2 in the morning and thanking god I had my work truck. I swear every other car was swerving all over the place, running stop signs, going erratic speeds, etc. It was insane and I simply cannot believe the police can’t do more. I know checkpoints aren’t allowed here but that doesn’t mean traffic patrol couldn’t be beefed up on the weekend nights. A motorcycle cop going up and down the “cool” streets could probably get a DUI every 30 minutes but it just seems like they don’t care. Disheartening.

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      • Tyler March 21, 2016 at 6:48 pm

        If you work at a gas station or convenience store on the night shift you will notice, particularly on Friday and Saturday night, that a huge percentage of customers have been drinking.

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        • AJ_Bikes March 22, 2016 at 8:11 am

          Undercover cops posing as gas station attendants? Random and unannounced. Get them while they’re already stopped, before they start driving again.

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      • kittens March 21, 2016 at 10:28 pm

        Every few weeks we see a fair bit of night enforcement out on 26 and Burnside Bridge, but clearly there is just shooting fish in a barrel.

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        • 9watts March 22, 2016 at 9:13 am

          “shooting fish in a barrel”

          except it sounds like the fish are being interviewed rather than shot, according to what we’re learning here. Or did I miss something?

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    • gutterbunnybikes March 22, 2016 at 8:58 pm

      Nice to know nothing has changed since I was a night hack some 15 years ago. I think the worse I saw was a car that bounced its way through the Terwilliger Curves and it never once slowed down, still surprised the car kept running. Got a huge tip from that fare when I got her home safely.

      Keep the shiny side up.

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  • RushHourAlleycat March 21, 2016 at 6:21 pm

    Do traffic fatalities go up every year around St. Patrick’s Day? This one was probably extra bad because for being so close to a weekend. 3 days of mayhem.

    April 20th seems go come and go without a consequence each gear though..

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    • gutterbunnybikes March 22, 2016 at 9:00 pm

      They go up on most holidays (Memorial, Labor, Christmas, NYE, Haloween), and Super Bowl Sunday.

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  • SE March 21, 2016 at 6:31 pm

    >>This speed bump is just feet away from the driveway a man turned into prior to striking Austin Hrynko.

    should that be “after” ? or was cyclist in his driveway ?

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  • q March 21, 2016 at 11:08 pm

    PBOT is dysfunctional. It set up a detour near our home that created a blind dead end coming off a state highway. Signage was poor. Several hundred cars per night–several per signal change–were driving into the dead end PBOT created and having to do dangerous u-turns to get out while more cars were being funneled in. Several dozen cars per night tried to escape out of the dead end by driving head-on northbound into the southbound traffic lane, trapped there with cars coming at them at 40 mph because the median didn’t allow them to get out of the way. PBOT took over A MONTH to fix it. Novick’s office wasn’t interested in helping solve it at all–in fact denied it was an issue. PBOT and Novick are part of the problem.

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    • paikiala March 22, 2016 at 10:06 am

      Random anecdotes without verifiable locations even makes it easy to dismiss your complaint.
      How do we know PBOT had anything to do with the detour (utilities create their own)?
      The water bureau is not PBOT. BES is not PBOT.
      If you mean the City, when you say PBOT, that’s just sloppy.

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      • q March 22, 2016 at 12:16 pm

        Whoa there! I said PBOT because it was PBOT. I talked to them for a month–dozens of calls and emails. It was a BES project on SW Taylors Ferry, but PBOT set up the detour, and the highway was OR43 (Macadam). I didn’t give details because they’re irrelevant to my point, which was that here was a huge safety problem, and it took a month of me hounding them for PBOT (yes, PBOT) to solve it. And when I went to Novick’s office because PBOT was unresponsive, the staffperson dismissed it, and wouldn’t follow up.

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      • q March 22, 2016 at 12:23 pm

        Another point–when I first brought up that the detour was confusing, I was told by the staff involved that the detour was fine, and the hundreds of people driving into the dead end the project created was due to driver stupidity.

        The more I read from others, the more I see PBOT and the City tend to not take responsibility for proper infrastructure. It blames safety problems on drivers, not infrastructure shortcomings. But even if a detour, intersection, or road is dangerous because drivers are stupid, that doesn’t mean the City gets a pass on fixing it. It means it needs to create infrastructure that stupid drivers can safely drive on, and not kill themselves or other users.

        And in my detour example, the drivers clearly weren’t stupid–there simply wasn’t any visible detour signage.

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        • paikiala March 22, 2016 at 1:11 pm

          It means it (PBOT) needs to create infrastructure that stupid drivers can safely drive on, and not kill themselves or other users.

          What about stupid cyclists? Who defines ‘stupid’? ‘Stupid’ pedestrians too?

          “PBOT needs to create” and the citizens of Portland need to pay for…

          Eliminating fatal and serious crashes is a hard enough goal. Now you want Portlanders to pay to eliminate ‘stupidity’ and inconvenience?

          From your observance of the ‘huge safety problem’, how many crashes occurred in the work zone during the detour? Facts please, not fear and conjecture.

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          • q March 22, 2016 at 1:56 pm

            You’re getting silly. I never said anything about asking people to pay to eliminate stupidity or inconvenience. I never even mentioned inconvenience. And it wasn’t me claiming all drivers who got confused by the detour were stupid, it was the project personnel.

            I don’t know if any crashes occurred in the detour case I mentioned. I do know PBOT ultimately agreed it was dangerous, and fixed it. I’m sure they didn’t do it just to appease me. And I’d say forcing several thousand cars to do illegal u-turns to get out of they way of others, and forcing several hundred cars around a blind curve of a landscaped median head-on into oncoming highway traffic is dangerous, and it doesn’t take crashes happening to prove it.

            And actually, yes, if streets are dangerous because drivers are stupid, it is society’s responsibility to take steps (and pay for them) to ensure those stupid people are not killing others. Many of our laws in all areas are aimed at minimizing damage stupid people can do to others. But again, a lot of what makes roads dangerous has nothing to do with drivers being stupid.

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          • gutterbunnybikes March 22, 2016 at 9:05 pm

            That is actually my biggest problem with VZ.

            The biggest causes of collisions and fatalities on the streets all boils down to stupidity. And PDOT and ODOT can do absolutely nothing about stupidity.

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            • 9watts March 22, 2016 at 9:14 pm

              Are you suggesting that we here have a higher stupidity quotient than, say, Sweden? Because they seem quite capable of not just pursuing but making huge strides toward Vision Zero.

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            • q March 22, 2016 at 9:44 pm

              They may not be able to prevent it, but they certainly can reduce its impacts. Imagine how much more damage stupid drivers would do if there were no signals, lanes, crosswalks, separate bikeways or sidewalks, lighting…Agencies can only NOT reduce the impacts of stupidity if you believe all streets are already designed and built as safely as possible. I’d guess both ODOT and PBOT would say they could make streets much safer with better budgets.

              I also don’t think the biggest causes of collisions and fatalities is stupidity. But even if it is, that would still leave huge numbers of those where stupidity isn’t involved, so huge room for improvement.

              I don’t know if stupidity was involved in the Cully incident, but even if it was, the death may well have been prevented with better street/intersection design.

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              • gutterbunnybikes March 23, 2016 at 12:24 pm

                80% of collisions boil down to 3 factors speeding, intoxicated driving, and distracted driving. All three are 100% preventable, and all three are stupid behaviors. So yes, I still think stupid is a condition which can not be designed around.

                Sweden has lowered numbers recently, but it’s too soon to tell if it is a direct result of VZ, every geographical region has years or periods that fall above and below the norm, often for no observational reason. And of course there a whole slew of factors like culture and education that come into play.

                It’s not that I’m not for improving road safety, it’s just that statistically infrastructure is largely the least effective and most expensive piece of the puzzle – enforcement, education and culture play a much greater role than a curb here or a bollard/jersey wall there.

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              • q March 23, 2016 at 1:46 pm

                Seeing it presented like that, I agree with you. We might quibble about the degree that design can protect against stupidity, but it makes sense that the non-design strategies can be the most effective and efficient against speeding, drunkenness and distraction.

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              • Dan A March 24, 2016 at 7:00 am

                I was passed by a small white truck this morning with “POLICE” on the side. It was going at least 15 mph over the limit.

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          • q March 23, 2016 at 9:40 pm

            The irony of this whole exchange blows me away. Because after I gave an example of PBOT coming up short in response to a safety issue, you recreated, blow-by-blow, EXACTLY what I went through dealing with PBOT–saying my observations were a random anecdote, implying I was confused and scolding me for saying it was a PBOT issue and not BES’s, dismissing what I was reporting as unsubstantiated fear-mongering, implying that if I didn’t have actual crashes to report there was no proof it was unsafe…it’s as if I were talking to PBOT all over again!

            My example had a fine outcome eventually–the problem was completely solved–thanks to other PBOT staff. But this same thing has happened to me several times with PBOT, and to others based on the reporting and comments. It’s as if PBOT has set up a gatekeeper system to make reporting safety issues as discouraging and difficult as possible. If you can avoid being worn down by the gatekeeping, PBOT eventually can come through–often well–but only for the EXTREMELY thick-skinned and persistent.

            If I were Novick, that’s the first thing I’d change. It’s also a reason the advice from others to contact agencies directly with concerns–and persistently–is such good advice.

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            • 9watts March 23, 2016 at 9:44 pm

              “it’s as if I were talking to PBOT all over again!”

              Well… you kind of were.
              Paikiala is as far as we know a PBOT employee who posts here regularly.

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            • q March 23, 2016 at 9:45 pm

              Just to be clear, I’m referring to the exchange with paikiala, not the others who also replied.

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  • Joe March 22, 2016 at 8:14 am

    bad infra and bad drivers.. stop the madness, cars getting more like guns, turn the key and point 🙁

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  • Steve Scarich March 22, 2016 at 9:08 am

    Tom Hardy
    Without a doubt they will probably be released when they can pass the sobriety test and given their keys back.
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    Yes….we will never be able to engineer totally safe streets, but big strides can be made in keeping drunks off the road. Better enforcement and really tough sanctions and followup (I mean surveillance) of prior offenders. By surveillance, I mean that, in most cases, I would bet that many people know that an offender is driving impaired again. They should be encouraged to report this behavior.

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    • Chris I March 22, 2016 at 9:12 am

      We need the equivalent of social services checkups for DUI offenders. You lose your license for x number of years, and someone from the DMV will make unannounced visits to your home to ensure that you are not driving.

      DUI offenders and drivers who cause collisions or are tickets for speeding 15+, in a school zone, etc would have to take a driving test annually for 5 years after the offense. This would all be funded with greatly increased vehicle registration fees (5x the current amount). This alone would get some of the crappiest, most dangerous vehicles off of the road.

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      • paikiala March 22, 2016 at 1:14 pm

        Current fees and potential penalties don’t appear to be keeping such drivers off the roads, or insured.
        I’m not clear on how greater penalties deter those uninterested in obeying the law, or those unable to.

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        • Paul in the 'Couve March 22, 2016 at 3:44 pm

          What Chris is suggesting isn’t strictly speaking an increase in penalties. It is a serious increase and actually a basic change in the philosophy of how penalties are enforced. Right now DUI convicts get license suspended for and for multiple offenses revoked, but there is no active, focused effort to stop those people from driving. They can and do drive regularly and they are unlikely to get caught, then even when they do get pulled over for a minor offense they get a “Driving While Suspended” ticket and usually drive home. What Chris suggests is that we stop playing that game. Active enforcement could not ever be perfect, but it would be a huge improvement. Actually going out and checking up on convicted DUI offenders and putting them in jail for 2 or 3 days every time they get caught with a set of car keys in their pocket.

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  • Hazel March 22, 2016 at 9:32 am

    I live near Cully and Mason and the speed limits on both Cully and Prescott were reduced over a year ago. No drivers seem to care and I’ve never seen any enforcement. Prescott is a notorious high speed area with lots of drunk drivers at night since it’s another wide open street with very few lights/stop signs. Pretty tired of a lack of enforcement of any laws in Portland at this point.

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    • paikiala March 22, 2016 at 1:16 pm

      The Police Bureau is overseen by the Mayor. The Police Bureau failed to predict a personnel shortage (it’s called succession planning), which has led to the current problems. It’s likely the current Police Chief was not in charge when the problem could have been dealt with a couple years ago, but it would be interesting to know who was in charge of personnel planning a couple years ago.

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    • Ted Buehler March 22, 2016 at 2:36 pm

      Hazel — I have a radar gun, you can borrow it if you’d like.

      If you take a minute of video showing speeding cars, police and city officials will take your concerns much more seriously. Share your video clip by Facebook, email, Twitter, etc.

      The radar gun works like this

      & you can buy one online or at a sporting goods store

      You can also attend your neighborhood meeting and ask the board to make a formal request to the city to address speeding. It will take about 3 meetings and some follow-up between meetings, but eventually you’ll get some action.

      Ted Buehler

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  • Josh Chernoff March 22, 2016 at 9:40 am

    Heres an idea.
    What if we take the stories of people being killed by cars and take the car and replace it with gun and instead of hit we replace it with shot.

    It could even be said that someone accidentally shot the other person even if drunk. So logically the accounts still follows the same logical outcome. That is, an operator of a tool in a public domain misused said tool and killed someone else as a result of negligence or otherwise incompetence.

    Now heres what we test. Hypothetical, could there be a different legal out comes as a result of the subject tool being a gun vs a car?

    Just a little food for thought for the people would argue that its not a form a murder. Or maybe its not murder because we don’t hold people who drive to the same level of quality standards of as we hold or fast food workers to preparing safe to eat food.

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  • EricIvy March 22, 2016 at 10:34 am

    Ted Buehler
    If you want cend the pattern of carnage on Portland streets, make sure city officials know your position.
    Left to their own devices, they’ll proceed at a pace so slow we’ll lose dozens more vulnerable road users before they get things fixed. One of these could be you. Or your niece. Or me. Or Jonathan.
    If they get 100 emails or phone calls whenever vulnerable road users are killed, they’ll get on it a lot faster.
    Commissioner Steve Novick
    Mayor Charlie Hales
    PBOT Director Leah Treat
    Just sayin…
    Ted Buehler
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    We need more of this and less commenting on BP. Please spend your time writing our representatives rather than arguing about grammar and vocabulary on BP. I just emailed all three of the above my thoughts. I also send communication to mayoral candidates on a regular basis. Thanks for consistently reminding people Ted!

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    • q March 22, 2016 at 2:44 pm

      I learn a lot from the discussions here (the relevant comments) and they’re great for getting info and helping formulate opinions and arguments. But yes, that’s great advice to follow up with officials.

      If for no other reason, it counters what I hear often: “Well, since you’re the only person who’s said anything, apparently nobody else thinks there’s a problem.”

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  • Ted Buehler March 22, 2016 at 2:31 pm

    I was recently at a party where the host had a breathalyzer.

    If folks were going to drive home, they tested themselves on the breathalyzer. If they failed, (nobody was particularly drunk who was going to drive home) they just waited 30 mins or an hour until they were under the limit. & the host had a standing offer to spend the night on the guest sofas.

    I’m surprised and disappointed that every party I’ve ever attended didn’t have one of these.

    But, I’m pleased that we have a new tool to use in helping Americans drive sober. Here’s how: We all buy a couple. We carry them around when socializing.

    And use them like this:

    * Going out to the bar with friends? Send an email to them ahead of time letting them know you have a breathalyzer and they can use it to monitor their drinking so as to drive home safely.

    * Going to a party? Email the host ahead of time and offer to bring your breathalyzer, and ask the host to email/Facebook post a message to guests saying that everyone should pass the breathalyzer test before driving home, otherwise he/she will have Uber’s phone # or pillows and blankets for guests to stay over.

    * Want a fun party trick? Pass it around, whether folks are driving home or not, and everyone finds out what their blood alcohol level is. Most people, I’m guessing, have false assumptions about how much they can drink and still drive. Data can help educate people.

    There’s lots for sale at I’m not sure which ones are the best buy for the $, but a few minutes in the reviews should be helpful.

    Ted Buehler

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    • paikiala March 22, 2016 at 2:50 pm

      That is a great idea, and unusually responsible of the host, considering their liability.

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    • Kristi Finney March 22, 2016 at 5:35 pm

      Ted, I just gotta say, I really love you sometimes!

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    • Alan 1.0 March 22, 2016 at 10:06 pm

      Ever seen coin-op breathalyzers in bars? It’s a popular drinking game to see who can blow the highest BAC. Beware the law of unintended consequences.

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    • Ted Buehler March 23, 2016 at 4:52 pm

      Thanks for the comments and appreciation, paik, Kristi and Alan.

      It’s all about increasing dialogue about driving and drinking. When to do it, when not.

      Where most approaches to reducing the problem break down is that they try to act in the moment of an intoxicated person walking out the door to drive home.

      The easiest and best ways to discuss the matter are pretty much any other time — 3 days before the event where drinks are imbibed, early on in the event, 3 days after the event.

      Toting a breathalyzer around is an easy, fun, and empirical way to open the dialogue. *You’re* not making the judgement call as to whether your peers are fit to drive, a *machine* is making the judgement call. And the machine has no bias.

      Ted Buehler

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      • Alan 1.0 March 23, 2016 at 6:09 pm

        Good point on timing. Overall, I think it’s a good idea…with the right crowd. It seems less likely to stop someone who’s already had a couple DUIs but yeah, like you, Ted, I’d like to know before I drive. (I think I’m pretty dosed by .08, anyway.) That “right crowd” might also respond to things like field sobriety tests or knowing the standard consumption charts for themselves.

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  • K'Tesh March 23, 2016 at 5:59 pm

    Variation on Todd’s idea. Walk into a bar, turn in your keys, get a chit. Ready to leave, put your chit in, blow into the breathalyzer. Pass, you get your keys back. Fail, and you get your chit back.

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