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Opinion: Portland held hostage by motor vehicle menace

Posted by on July 14th, 2017 at 11:36 am

One of 10 deaths in the past three weeks.

Another person was killed in a collision involving an automobile user just after midnight this morning. It was the 20th 24th fatality on Portland roads so far this year and the 10th in just the last three weeks.

Portland Police say the latest tragedy occurred on Southeast Powell Blvd east of 50th. In a statement they wrote that,

“Preliminary information learned from the investigation suggests the pedestrian crossed southbound over Southeast Powell Boulevard east of Southeast 50th Avenue and was struck by a vehicle. The pedestrian reportedly made an unexpected movement in front of an oncoming vehicle while crossing… The pedestrian was not in a cross-walk at the time of the collision. The driver of the vehicle remained at the scene, contacted 9-1-1 to report the crash and is cooperating with the investigation. At this time it does not appear the driver of the vehicle was impaired while driving.”

While the PPB includes a boilerplate paragraph about Vision Zero in all their traffic crash statements these days, the statement fails to live up to the spirit of that goal.

A city committed to zero traffic deaths by 2025 should not publish blame-oriented statements about a traffic crash so soon after it happens. Especially when the victim is a vulnerable road user. That type of tone and framing is speculative, unnecessary, and makes the culture change we need much harder to accomplish.

Beyond this death on Powell, it’s clear that Portland isn’t doing enough — fast enough — to achieve Vision Zero.

PBOT’s ‘High Crash Network’ is basically every major street in the city.

The Bureau of Transportation is working hard, evidenced by yesterday’s City Council support for their impressive list of 105 “Vision Zero projects.” But those projects won’t be built fast enough.

The Portland Police Bureau is working hard, evidenced by their focused enforcements missions, support of Vision Zero and partnerships with PBOT. But it’s not enough.

Activists are working hard, evidenced by rallies in the streets and lobbying to give Vision Zero more political and policy heft. But it’s not enough.

The inconvenient truth is that the scale of the threat we face is growing much more quickly than our efforts to stop it.

The motor vehicle menace is out of control. That’s not a “bike advocate” talking, that’s just an acknowledgment of reality. Large steel vehicles and people inside them imbued with a feeling of invincibility fueled by a pervasive culture of selfishness and speed mixed with a systemic acceptance of its consequences has led to nothing short of chaos in our streets.

I have a good perspective on this issue because I regularly walk, bike, and drive. I also follow police alerts from around the region very closely, constantly scanning them in case they involve a bicycle rider. That means I’m much more aware of the daily insanity taking place on our streets than most people — and it’s why I’m so outraged by it.

Here’s a sampling of what I’ve seen in my inbox in just past few weeks (taken directly from PPB statements, emphases mine):

June 26th

…the Portland Police Bureau’s Traffic Division conducted a mission aimed at the street racers that congregate on Marine Drive and perform illegal races and other stunts out in public.

On Sunday night, officers in the area of North Marine Drive and Ledbetter Street witnessed individuals racing and driving recklessly. Officers came into the area and were able to stop several drivers and issue a total of nine citations covering 27 different charges. Two drivers were arrested on 15 separate charges. A motorcycle rider sped away from officers, crashed, and ran away on foot. That driver was not located.

June 27th

… North Precinct officers attempted to stop a driver for a traffic infraction in the area of North Vancouver Way and Middlefield Road. The driver stopped near Jubitz Truckstop, but as officers exited their patrol vehicle, the driver sped away towards I-5.

Officers pursuing the driver attempted a Pursuit Intervention Technique (PIT) on I-5 northbound approaching Hayden Island but were unsuccessful. During a second attempt, the driver rammed into the patrol car, resulting in the driver losing control of the vehicle and crashing into a jersey barrier.

The driver got out of the vehicle and was taken into custody without incident. A 47-year-old female passenger suffered non-life-threatening injuries and was transported by ambulance to a Portland hospital for treatment. Neither officer suffered injuries that required immediate medical treatment.


… East Precinct officers responded to the report of a single vehicle crash at Southeast 68th Avenue and Duke Street. 9-1-1 callers reported that a driver crashed into a power pole causing significant damage and that the suspect was attempting to drive away… The driver, 38-year-old Aaron Dennehy, was booked into the Multnomah County Jail on charges of Driving Under the Influence of Intoxicants (DUII), Reckless Driving, and Failure to Perform the Duties of a Driver (Hit and Run).

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June 28th

Portland Police Bureau officers arrested the driver of a stolen car after she rammed into a patrol car to evade capture. Two others in the vehicle were arrested on unrelated warrants.

… As officers approached the driver’s side of the vehicle, the driver put the car into gear. Officers discharged pepper spray into the vehicle, but the driver was able to ram her way past an unoccupied police car, and sped away northbound on 10th Avenue. Officers could see that the vehicle was occupied by the female driver and several male passengers.


… Investigators have learned that a 29-year-old female was driving a silver 2001 Mercedes 500 westbound on Columbia Boulevard and initiated a left turn across the eastbound lanes of traffic.

A 29-year-old female was driving a gray 2001 BMW 330 eastbound on Columbia Boulevard at the time the driver of the Mercedes turned across the lanes of traffic. The driver of the BMW collided with the passenger side of the Mercedes. In the Mercedes were two passengers, a 22-year-old male and a 23-year-old male, both of whom were killed in the crash… Preliminary indications are that the driver of the Mercedes was impaired by alcohol while the driver of the BMW was driving with a suspended license.

June 29th

Drunk Driver Crashes into TriMet Bus Shelter on Powell Boulevard… an East Precinct officer responding to an emergency call was driving on Southeast Powell Bouelvard near Southeast 50th Avenue when the officer saw the driver of a white truck driving at a high rate of speed eastbound on Powell Boulevard. The officer saw the driver crash into a TriMet bus shelter and concrete barrier.

The driver got out of the vehicle and started walking away from the crash, along with a passenger who also got out of the vehicle.

Officers stopped the driver and determined that he was impaired by alcohol. The driver, 28-year-old Andrew McLaughlin, was arrested and booked into the Multnomah County Jail on charges of Driving Under the Influence of Intoxicants (DUII), Reckless Driving, Recklessly Endangering Another Person, Failure to Perform the Duties of a Driver (Hit and Run), and Criminal Mischief in the Second Degree (two counts).

June 30th

Major Crash Team Responding to Fatal Crash on Marine Drive

… Tomlinson, driving a 2005 Jeep Cherokee, began turning westbound on Marine Drive from 148th Avenue when he was struck by 69-year-old Richard Ramsay of La Pine, Oregon, driving a 2015 Max Semi tractor trailer. Ramsay was driving eastbound on Marine Drive. Tomlinson’s vehicle crashed over the embankment on the northside of Marine Drive and came to rest on the bike path. Good Samaritan’s pulled Tomlinson from the vehicle and attempted CPR but their efforts were not successful.

After colliding with Tomlinson’s vehicle, Ramsay had a slower speed collision with a 2013 Audi Q7 being driven westbound on Marine Drive. Neither Ramsay nor the other driver were injured in the crash.

July 1st

…East Precinct officers responded to the report that a pedestrian was struck by a driver on Southeast 122nd Avenue near Liebe Street… The victim was transported to a Portland hospital with traumatic, life-threatening injuries (victim died in the hospital).

The driver did not stop at the scene and continued traveling northbound on 122nd Avenue. Officers located the vehicle in the area of Southeast 140th Avenue and Holgate. Two people associated with the van have been detained. The driver, 35-year-old Fernando Cuevas Jr. of Vancouver, Washington, was arrested and booked into the Multnomah County Jail on charges of Failure to Perform the Duties of a Driver (Hit and Run) and Recklessly Endangering Another Person.

July 3rd

Two Officers Receive Minor Injuries in Hit and Run Traffic Crash

… two East Precinct officers working in a partner car were driving eastbound on Southeast Flavel Street at 72nd Avenue… As they crossed through the intersection with a green light, they were struck on the driver’s side by another vehicle that was being driven southbound on 72nd Avenue though a red light. The marked police car came to rest on the sidewalk, south of the intersection. The other driver’s car came to rest in the street just south of the intersection.

The two occupants of the vehicle, both females, got out of the car and ran southbound on 72nd Avenue but were contacted and detained by a third officer who was also responding to the call on 82nd Avenue… Following the crash investigation, the driver of the other car, 24-year-old Laquonda Fuller-Hudson, was issued traffic citations for Failure to Perform the Duties of a Driver (Hit and Run) and Reckless Driving.


Fatal Crash on Southeast 96th Avenue

Officers and medical personnel arrived and learned that a driver crashed into an unoccupied parked car and was ejected from the vehicle. Medical efforts to save the driver were not successful and he died at the scene… Traffic investigators learned that Wescott was driving northbound on 96th Avenue from Division Street at a high rate of speed, swerving and spinning his tires. Just prior to the crash, Wescott made a sweeping turn towards the east curb line and struck a parked 1980 Volvo. Wescott was ejected and died while his passenger, 44-year-old Mary Ann Heuer, suffered a non-life-threatening ankle injury.


Fatal Crash Investigation Underway on Airport Way

… North Precinct officers responded to the report of a traffic crash involving a driver striking a tree in the 13000 block of Northeast Airport Way.

Officers and medical personnel arrived to find the crash scene and one person deceased outside the vehicle. Officers learned that the deceased was a passenger in the vehicle and was pulled out by passersby due to the vehicle being on fire. A Good Samaritan extinguished the fire and others attempted CPR on the passenger but were unsuccessful.

Traffic investigators learned that Burton was driving westbound on Airport Way and failed to follow the curvature of the roadway, striking a tree in a center island of the roadway.


Pedestrian Critically Injured in Crash on Southeast 122nd Avenue

… The pedestrian critically injured in last night’s crash died shortly after arriving at the hospital for treatment. He’s been identified as a 23-year-old male.

The involved driver, 55-year-old Eric Sebastian Oman, was arrested and booked for Driving Under the Influence of Intoxicants (DUII).

Traffic investigators learned that the 23-year-old male was with friends and was exhibiting strange, paranoid behavior just prior to the crash – behavior consistent with either a mental health crisis or drug psychosis, both of which is not normal for the young man according to friends… Friends attempted to restrain the 23-year-old man as he tried to run into traffic but he broke free and ran into the path of Oman’s truck, where he was struck and eventually died as a result of his injuries.

July 4th

Bicycle Rider Seriously Injured in Crash in Northeast Portland’s Cully Neighborhood

The bicycle rider … remains in a Portland hospital with serious injuries.

Investigators learned that Benton was driving eastbound on Killingsworth Street in a 2004 Honda Accord. As Benton was entering the intersection with Cully Boulevard, he collided with Canche-Mukel who was riding his bicycle northbound through the intersection.

July 7th

Drunk Driver Arrested After Crashing onto MAX Platform, Injuring One Person

East Precinct officers responded to the report that a driver crashed into a pedestrian at Southeast 122nd Avenue and Burnside Street and that the driver fled the scene.

Officers followed a debris trail from the scene and located the suspect and vehicle a few blocks away from the crash location. Traffic officers determined that the suspect was turning east from southbound 122nd Avenue and drove onto the MAX platform, injuring Olson, before driving away from the scene. Through the investigation, officers determined that the suspect was impaired by alcohol.

July 11th

Hawthorne Boulevard Closed 20th to 24th Due to Multiple Injury Crash

Central Precinct and Traffic Division officers responded to the report of a crash involving three vehicles on Southeast Hawthorne Boulevard and Southeast 22nd Avenue.

Officers and medical personnel arrived and determined at least one person had potentially life-threatening injuries and other persons involved received serious but non-life-threatening injuries.

July 13th

Fatal Crash in Lloyd District

North Precinct officers responded to the report of a traffic crash involving a driver striking a pole near the intersection of North Broadway and North Benton Avenue.

Officers and medical personnel arrived to find the crash scene and one person in the crashed vehicle. Fire and medical personnel extracted the driver from the vehicle in order to render him medical aid; however, the driver died at the scene.

speed is believed to be a factor.

This is utter madness. All this irresponsible, incredibly selfish and dangerous behavior. All these lives ended. All these lives changed forever. All in just three weeks.

Our inability to moderate our use of motor vehicles is wreaking havoc on our daily lives. What’s not captured here are all the people held hostage by our auto-centric city — those who are too afraid to use our streets they way want to. The way they need to. Those who sit in traffic on buses stalled by too many cars on the road. Those who breath the toxic fumes emitted from our engines. Those who constantly worry about friends and family being in one of these police statements.

And these are only the incidents reported by the Portland Police Bureau. There are numerous other serious traffic crashes that never make it into the news.

How would our city respond to any other issue that resulted in this much chaos, fear, injury, and death?

How are PBOT Commissioner Dan Saltzman, Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler, ODOT Director Matt Garrett, and other leaders reacting to all this? Are they doing enough?

No

How are The Street Trust, Oregon Walks, AAA Oregon, Oregon Trucking Association, and other transportation advocacy organizations reacting to this? Are they doing enough?

No

Are we all doing enough?

No.

The game has changed. The motor vehicle menace is getting worse much faster than our ability to mitigate it. We must use new approaches. Stronger regulation of motor vehicles (a.k.a. “car control”), more carfree spaces in our city, more protection for vulnerable road users, more modern street designs, and more aggressive measures are needed. ASAP.

And please don’t tell me about politics. This is about people. We can either make a city that works well for cars or for people. Not both. The choice is ours.

SE Division Takeover-20.jpg

— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and jonathan@bikeportland.org

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Gena G
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Gena G

Jonathan,

Please also include the crash on June 22nd at 3pm on a residential street (SE 80th Ave off Stark) in Montavilla, where Erin Brenneman, manager of the Hungry Heart Bakery, was struck by a hit & run driver. Erin is still in the hospital with a traumatic brain injury and, from what I understand, no driver has been found yet.

https://www.gofundme.com/weloveyouerin

Thank you for your continued coverage on this. I’m just sick over the carnage on our streets.

Donovan Caylor
Guest
Donovan Caylor

“Large steel vehicles and people inside them imbued with a feeling of invincibility fueled by a pervasive culture of selfishness and speed mixed with a systemic acceptance of its consequences has led to nothing short of chaos in our streets.”

THIS

Adam
Subscriber

That “high-crash network” map is hilarious. At first, I though it was just a regular map of Portland with major streets highlighted, or maybe a bus network map. Our high crash network is basically every major road in Portland. If that map isn’t a testament to the fact we’ve given up, I don’t know what is.

SD
Guest
SD

If only engineers were more like scientists and asked important questions.

Keviniano
Subscriber
Keviniano

It’s so interesting what counts as worthy of notice and action. For instance, motor vehicle-related violence is much worse than the opioid crisis, and substantially greater than gun violence. https://www.cdc.gov/injury/wisqars/overview/key_data.html
http://www.vpc.org/regulating-the-gun-industry/gun-deaths-compared-to-motor-vehicle-deaths/

Insanely, in that CDC link, after the appalling statistics, they say they “know what works” when it comes to preventing motor vehicle injuries. It’s “improving proper restraint use, including seat belts, child safety seats, and booster seats.” I mean, really? Not a single word about speed, defensive driving, or road users who aren’t in cars? !

Christopher of Portland
Guest
Christopher of Portland

I usually won’t go outside during the peak hours of rush hour. It’s like some kind of weird horror movie where the zombies breaking down my doors to eat my brains are instead drivers popping out of every residential intersection at ridiculous speeds with zero concern for my brains.

Dave
Guest
Dave

If the city gave a damn about Vision Zero, they would not prosecute auto theft or vandalism and would instruct police to have no regard whatsoever for the rights of anyone in a motor vehicle.
Start by being less encouraging toward the group with the worst behavior.

jonno
Guest
jonno

I’ve been feeling similarly for a while now. It’s like the War on Cars is over, and the Cars won.

I have felt it worst in the east side neighborhoods experiencing meteoric growth, mostly along the Ankeny and Tillamook greenways. So many cut-through drivers blowing stop signs at speed to avoid the crippling congestion along all the major roads and highways, angry and believing that saving 1 minute is worth putting everyone else at risk.

Aside from Vision Zero failures, this is just eating up what’s left of Old Portland’s vaunted livability. How can you settle into your home when your formerly quiet street could become a cut-through at a moment’s notice? I left Hollywood/Rose City Park for that reason. Car access trumps all other considerations, and it’s only going to get worse.

We should have done more back when we still had the space. It can be so bad that I feel like I’m the irrational one every time I get on my bike. Might as well just take the car so I can have A/C and airbags, even if I’m just idling on I-5. There’s no room left to expand the network and precious little will, since who wants to put themselves at risk in this melee? And it’s not like it costs much extra, just a little cheap gas.

Oddly enough, my new commute on Vancouver/Williams, while it took some getting used to, has dropped my Anti-Car Anger level significantly. It’s almost as if the addition of infrastructure that says my mode has parity, if not priority, actually means something. Might be too late to do more in the rest of the city.

I take heart in all the wobbly Biketown tourists, though. It’s still so much better here than it is nearly everywhere else!

colton
Guest
colton

“should not include blame-oriented statements about a traffic crash so soon after it happens”

up voted, but also applying to commenters on this site.

mran1984
Guest

The city needs to ban people walking in front of moving vehicles. Too many people anyway, oh well. This is ridiculous. I ride everyday and clueless people on bikes(orange ones especially) and pads on the phone are a far bigger issue.

mran1984
Guest

Peds, not pads…

bikeninja
Guest
bikeninja

Bravo Jonathan, This is a crisis that can not be solved without a healthy dose of indignation. I think the fundamental principal that has to be addressed is the concept that one has a “right” to drive a motor vehicle. I think the idea that everyone has a right to drive a 4000 lb death machine wherever they want with only the most minimal of rules and enforcement is an idea that is past its sell date. We must prioritise sanity and the right to move about the earth under ones own power over the right of some to careen from the frypit to the nfl stadium at mad speeds while spewing greenhouse gases. We must not let the auto, petroleum, and commercial real estate industries to dictate the terms of life and death on the planet. We need to apply the kind of strict and comprehensive training, operating and compliance standards to motoring that the FAA applies to flying if we are to escape this madness.

Bill Stites
Subscriber

Thanks Jonathan, for bravely exposing the situation for what it really is. Sharing actual police statements lends credibility to what many of us are feeling … it has gotten really dangerous out on the streets.

Everyone I talk to agrees that traffic has increased to a critical point – even in just the last 18 months. Not only does the system start to break down relative to its intended purpose – moving people and goods from point A to B – but that it has indeed given rise to frustration, anger, and more dangerous behaviors. Running red lights is routine now – how the hell did that happen? Clearly way more enforcement of the existing rules is needed.
Since we want to take bias out of the equation whenever possible, I think the answer lies in more automation of enforcement. We should take advantage of hi-tech solutions that exist now – more red light cameras, more speed cameras, phone-jamming tech. With a concerted effort to enforce existing laws, this general bad behavior can be reigned in.

And the cost of driving needs to be much much higher, commensurate with investment in public transportation – congestion pricing and tolling are obvious solutions that have been proven to work at reducing driving in many places around the world. Why not here?

I do believe that this is a situation where we can put the beast back in the cage … but it’s going to take some serious will.

MaxD
Guest
MaxD

I rode to Cornelius form Portland last evening. For the most part, the people I encountered on the rural roads were patient and courteous, but there were a disconcerting number of people driving who passed too closely or passed dangerously (when on-coming traffic was present. There were also a lot of jacked up trucks and cars with loud mufflers. When I grew up, I spent time as a kid on rural roads in Michigan on my bike, on a horse or driving a tractor (or on the hay wagon). It is my recollection that people driving were occasionally annoyed, but also seemed to understand that these were people using the road to the extent they needed to, and that all road users need to be accommodated. It struck me yesterday that things are different now. More people driving seem to have zero patience for other road users and even take their presence as a personal insult. I am not sure how to change that culture or mindset, but I think we could start by taking a tougher stance on things like loud mufflers, dieseling, and jacked-up trucks. Tampering with your emissions to the extent that it is visible or audible is (I think) something one can be ticketed for- I would love to this enforced. Raising your vehicle endangers other road users. I would like people who want to drive modified vehicle be required to get a license endorsement so they are made aware of these risks. They also have to carry more insurance. Just a thought.

rick
Guest
rick

I’m still waiting for an answer from PBOT about when they will paint the bike lanes on the repaved SW Beaverton-Hillsdale Highway. People are driving so fast lately on SW Scholls Ferry Road and through Metzger.

Scott Kocher
Guest

It feels bad to see the advocacy organization I volunteer for (and others I care about and support) called out by someone I respect for not doing enough when we’re working hard and growing and doing more all the time. But, advocacy groups are occupying the “space” and need to be pushed, too.

K Taylor
Guest
K Taylor

“The inconvenient truth is that the scale of the threat we face is growing much more quickly than our efforts to stop it.” Very well said, Jonathan, and dismaying, and depressing. Thanks very much for this article. I knew it had gotten much worse, but seeing that list of Police blotter items really made it stark how things have changed.

It crept up on me, the end of my desire to ride my bike in this city. I used to ride everywhere at any hour of the day or night. It was so easy and pleasant to get around that way that I let my driver’s license lapse when it came up for renewal. Now, it’s really hard for me to get myself to bike in Portland.

My last refuge was the Council Crest ride. It was the only city ride I could do that was still as lovely as it had always been, still as low-traffic and still as free of sketchy dudes and aggro drivers. The last couple of times I did it, though, it was almost impossible to cross Patton at Montgomery – too many cars moving way too fast – – and traffic on Fairview has gotten denser and crankier – and new construction is happening all over the place. It was still pretty, but gradually I found myself not wanting to ride there either.

It was always necessary to be alert as a cyclist in Portland, but it used to be possible on longer rides to slide into that lovely, meditative mode, where you’re just riding along, not constantly dodging things or fearing for your life. I really miss that.

Big Knobbies
Guest
Big Knobbies

We’re all guilty of being careless at least occasionally – cyclists and drivers. In this case it appears that the pedestrian was the most guilty, based on what the police have reported so far. Doubt they have any reason to lie about it. If you ride without making yourself very visible, then you are not doing your part for vision 0. Being visible is no guarantee of safety, but you’ll have a slightly better chance. So, what color will you be wearing on your daily rides? Will you use flashing lights front and rear?

Many car drivers are unsafe – I see them every day, maybe even most of them, looking at their phones. Many are speeding, driving recklessly, etc. They are many – cops are few – and cops are in clearly marked vehicles so everyone knows to be on their best behavior until they are out of sight.

El Biciclero
Guest
El Biciclero

Confiscate cars. In any other type of *-control we don’t just temporarily turn your *’s license invalid, the thing goes away.

Andrea Capp
Subscriber
Andrea Capp

It’s much too easy to get and keep a driver’s license. I’m constantly worried about my husband and babies whether we’re walking down the neighborhood sidewalk (we avoid sidewalks on 30+mph streets whenever possible), riding our bikes, or in our van. I’m sick of the selfish people in vehicles. We need more enforcement, stiffer penalties, impounded vehicles, revoked licenses and better public transportation to support all the people whose licenses will be suspended/revoked…and we need it YESTERDAY.

SE
Guest
SE

I have noticed during this spell of nice weather that many testosterone heavy drivers of large pickups “flooring it” from stoplight to stoplight. It would be funny to watch them accelerate without looking at the looming light and then having to “jump on the brakes” (if it weren’t so dangerous) . 🙁

Are they just turned on by their own noise ?

Carter Kennedy
Guest
Carter Kennedy

The common element in all of these incidents is driver error, usually alcohol impairment. Dan Saltzman, the Street Trust, and other local organization have no power over drivers. We should be targeting our efforts on the state to make driver licensing more rigorous and testing more frequent. Driving while suspended must result in serving real time. Maybe some kind of electronic monitoring can be devised to notify the law if a suspended person is trying to drive.

q
Guest
q

It is crazy. I cross a busy street around rush hour several times per week, at a signaled intersection. You have to press a button to get a “walk” signal, so I ALWAYS am standing for several seconds at the curb, looking across the intersection at the front car in the left-turn lane that will also be getting a green light when I get my “walk” light.

The signal changes, and from experience I expect to get hit by a left-turning car that speeds right into my path as I step off the curb. It happens at least once or twice per week. Almost invariably, the drivers have shocked looks as they either slam on their brakes or swerve when they see me. These are people who’ve been sitting at the front of the turn line, looking right at me standing on the curb, for 30 seconds or so before the light changes.

And again, this is crossing in a crosswalk at a standard signalized intersection, with perfect visibility in daylight.

John Liu
Subscriber

K Taylor
“The inconvenient truth is that the scale of the threat we face is growing much more quickly than our efforts to stop it.” Very well said, Jonathan, and dismaying, and depressing. Thanks very much for this article. I knew it had gotten much worse, but seeing that list of Police blotter items really made it stark how things have changed.
It crept up on me, the end of my desire to ride my bike in this city. I used to ride everywhere at any hour of the day or night. It was so easy and pleasant to get around that way that I let my driver’s license lapse when it came up for renewal. Now, it’s really hard for me to get myself to bike in Portland.
My last refuge was the Council Crest ride. It was the only city ride I could do that was still as lovely as it had always been, still as low-traffic and still as free of sketchy dudes and aggro drivers. The last couple of times I did it, though, it was almost impossible to cross Patton at Montgomery – too many cars moving way too fast – – and traffic on Fairview has gotten denser and crankier – and new construction is happening all over the place. It was still pretty, but gradually I found myself not wanting to ride there either.
It was always necessary to be alert as a cyclist in Portland, but it used to be possible on longer rides to slide into that lovely, meditative mode, where you’re just riding along, not constantly dodging things or fearing for your life. I really miss that.
Recommended 5

Well, we chose to live in a busy, dense city. You can’t usually drive in a city in “that lovely, meditative mode”, and you can’t usually ride a bike in the city in that mode either. Nor can you usually cross the street as a ped in a lovely, meditative mode. That’s living in a dense city among 600,000 other people. To meditate on a bike, go to a MUP or ride Leif Erickson or Skyline, do laps up Mt. Tabor, or ride out to less crowded areas. City riding is about alertness and traffic skills.

Big Knobbies
Guest
Big Knobbies

In Parade Magazine today, Marilyn Vos Savant, certified smarty pants, discusses distracted driving. In this article there is a photo of a female driver at the wheel of a car – first thing I’d point out is that she is sitting WAY too close to the steering wheel. Her arms and legs are very bent indicating she probably could move back several inches. Stay as far from the air bags as you can – they are going to hit you like a baseball bat if they deploy. AND keep hands low on the steering wheel so your arm isn’t smashed into the drivers side window which normally results in some severe broken glass injuries – do NOT do the 10 & 2 position in a car with a steering wheel air bag – keep ’em lower at 9 & 3 or 8 & 4.

https://parade.com/586272/marilynvossavant/doomed-to-be-a-distracted-driver/

Bjorn
Guest
Bjorn

I heard yesterday that the girl injured in the hit and run in montavilla last month passed away this weekend.

John Mulvey
Guest
John Mulvey

Beautifully said, Jonathan. Thank you.

Deke N Blue
Guest

As always, excellent job describing the madness of Portland traffic. It’s frustrating that so many of these collisions involve people who are impaired. I welcome those, who after having a few too libations, choose to ride my bus rather than chance driving in that condition. Usually, they’re jovial and fun-loving. It’s nice to deliver them safely to their destinations. Spending $2.50 for bus fare, they’re being responsible. It’s those who think they “drive better drunk than sober” who endanger us all on the road, especially pedestrians and bicyclists.

Please, also seek alternative transportation if you’re using a bike and have had too much “fun” at a party or bar. I’ve seen some cyclists weaving along our busy and dark streets who shouldn’t be riding. If you spent all your money at the pub, don’t worry… we’d rather have you on our bus than endangering your life, or someone else’s.

Thanks Jonathan, and congratulations on being named WW’s Best Local Blog.

Dan Kaufman
Guest

And how much of billions of investment in the 2017 Oregon transportation bill that will address this health crisis? The answer, precious little. This, even though communities across the state begged the transportation subcommittee for safety and relief.

If ever the analogy of the frogs in the boiling pot of water applied it is with cars. The vast majority of the society does not see the problem and/or mistakenly believes that we must accept these life changing wrecks and deadly pollution as the cost for a functioning transportation system and healthy economy.

But we can (and must) make the case that the automobile health crisis is more damaging than any other when you add air-pollution deaths, wreck fatalities, oil-war casualties, and climate change disaster. But will anyone listen? Will there ever be a tipping point?

John Liu
Guest
John Liu

After DUI, I’d suspect that excessive speed is the next biggest factor in traffic deaths.

HB2621 (2015) permitted the city to install speed cameras on its high crash streets. On how many such streets have speed cameras been installed, in the two years since HB2621? I can find reference to only four. Can this rollout be accelerated?

Mike Caputo
Guest
Mike Caputo

Some incremental improvement can be made through better system design, but most places I look I am not seeing it happening.

One example that drives me mad: curb extensions. It should be standard city code to have big, generous curb extensions on *every* corner and not have parking on the corners of intersections. Recently I’ve seen a lot of new curbs being re-constructed, and I eagerly hope to see a curb extension for safety. But I almost never do.

If we can bake these sort of improvements into the standard DNA of our city’s design, that will go towards improving safety in our city.

Dan A
Subscriber
Dan A

Are curb extensions an improvement for cycling, or a detriment? That point has been debated a lot here.