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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

center-flowerslead

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

cul;lygoogle

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.

Advertisement

Quiet Center Street an uncommon place for traffic tragedy

center-bumpdriveway

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 – jonathan@bikeportland.org

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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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Joe
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Joe

🙁 RIP

Anne Hawley
Subscriber
Anne Hawley

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?

Michael
Guest
Michael

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.

soren
Guest

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

Jeff
Guest
Jeff

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.

Terry D-M
Guest
Terry D-M

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.

peejay
Guest
peejay

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.

Ted Buehler
Guest

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
https://www.portlandoregon.gov/novick/59990
novick@portlandoregon.gov

Mayor Charlie Hales
https://www.portlandoregon.gov/mayor/
mayorcharliehales@portlandoregon.gov

PBOT Director Leah Treat
https://www.portlandoregon.gov/transportation/article/456821
leah.treat@portlandoregon.gov

Just sayin…

Ted Buehler

Tyler
Guest
Tyler

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.

Todd Hudson
Guest
Todd Hudson

Vision Zero? Zero Vision.

Tim
Guest
Tim

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?

Tom Hardy
Guest
Tom Hardy

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!

barblin
Guest
barblin

Tom
It’s called a sobriety check point. They work really well.
Recommended 0

At 4pm?? Did St. Patty’s Day/weekend inspired drinking and bar specials have anything to do with all this? Terribly, terribly sad.

Todd Boulanger
Guest
Todd Boulanger

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.

kittens
Guest
kittens

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.

RushHourAlleycat
Guest

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..

SE
Guest
SE

>>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 ?

q
Guest
q

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.

Joe
Guest
Joe

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

Steve Scarich
Guest
Steve Scarich

Tom Hardy
Without a doubt they will probably be released when they can pass the sobriety test and given their keys back.
Recommended 3

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.

Hazel
Guest
Hazel

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.

Josh Chernoff
Guest
Josh Chernoff

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.

EricIvy
Subscriber

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
https://www.portlandoregon.gov/novick/59990
novick@portlandoregon.gov
Mayor Charlie Hales
https://www.portlandoregon.gov/mayor/
mayorcharliehales@portlandoregon.gov
PBOT Director Leah Treat
https://www.portlandoregon.gov/transportation/article/456821
leah.treat@portlandoregon.gov
Just sayin…
Ted Buehler
Recommended 6

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!

Ted Buehler
Guest

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 Amazon.com I’m not sure which ones are the best buy for the $, but a few minutes in the reviews should be helpful.
http://www.amazon.com/s/?ie=UTF8&keywords=breathalyzers&tag=googhydr-20&index=aps&hvadid=80686112109&hvpos=1t3&hvexid=&hvnetw=g&hvrand=9410500134954616497&hvpone=&hvptwo=&hvqmt=b&hvdev=c&ref=pd_sl_18cmf4pook_b

Ted Buehler

K'Tesh
Guest
K'Tesh

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.