It’s disheartening to start writing a post about the need for changes at a dangerous intersection only to recall that I already wrote the story. Nearly five years ago.
“Another right-hook at Broadway and Hoyt: What can we do about this intersection?,” screamed the headline in our October 2013 post.
And here we are today with the same concerns, the same problems and the same intersection.
“The cop who wrote the report said I was the 4th accident at that intersection past month.”
— Michael Rosenberg
In the past two weeks we have confirmed at least two serious injury right-hooks at Broadway and Hoyt. On May 9th, Michael Rosenberg was involved in a collision at Hoyt while biking down Broadway. He shared with us via email that, “A truck turned right in front of me.” Rosenberg also claims he tried to stop but skidded under the driver’s rear-wheel. He broke his pelvis in three places, fractured seven ribs, and fractured his spine. “The cop who wrote the report said I was the 4th accident at that intersection past month,” he added.
Then this past Friday May 18th, another person was involved in a right-hook collision with a truck operator at the exact same location. The victim in that crash suffered a broken collarbone and is on the mend.
Another similarity in these collisions is that the truck operator worked for the same company: Vancouver, Washington-based Dill’s Star Route Inc. That company is a (somewhat controversial) private contractor for the U.S. Postal Service, which runs a post office and mail distribution hub on the adjacent block. You can see another one of their trucks turning right on Hoyt in this short video I made this morning:
As we’ve chronicled too many times in the past, there are many reasons why Broadway and Hoyt is one of the most dangerous intersections for cycling in Portland: It’s on a downhill and most bicycle riders approach it at very high speeds; Hoyt is an official and signed truck route that experiences a high volume of right turns by large trucks; there’s a high volume of bicycle riders that go straight; and there’s zero protection for bicycle riders on a green signal phase.
(Let’s remember that road design is not solely to blame here. If people operated their vehicles more slowly, carefully, and with more respect for other road users, it’s very likely that none of these collisions would have occurred. But until we change our current road culture, we must change the environment that informs it.)
The City of Portland knows very well the dangers that lurk here. In 2007, following the deaths of Tracey Sparling and Brett Jarolimek via right-hooks by large truck operators, the Portland Bureau of Transportation included Broadway and Hoyt on their list of 14 intersections that would receive emergency funding and an innovative safety treatment: a bike box. It was intended to be filled with green color; but because bike boxes were still experimental at the time, the Federal Highway Administration required PBOT to keep it un-colored and to use it as a guinea pig in an experiment to see if color really influenced safety. In part because of that FHWA experiment, the bike box at Broadway and Hoyt remained uncolored.
Until May 9th.
The very first day the green paint went in, Michael Rosenberg was nearly killed in a collision. And nine days later, another person was hit under nearly identical circumstances. If nothing changes — or if we sit back and wait for the standard Portland pace of incremental changes — I’m afraid they won’t be the last.
PBOT’s 2017 bike counts tallied 2,835 average daily bicycle trips at Hoyt and Broadway, making it the third busiest biking intersection in the central city. All that bike traffic helped persuade PBOT to change the street design in 2013 by adding wider, buffered bike lanes on Broadway in the block approaching Hoyt. These lanes allow people on bikes to easily pass each other and offer a greater sense of safety — both of which might actually increase biking speeds and the risks of right-hooks at the intersection.
Reached today for comment on the intersection, PBOT public information officer Dylan Rivera confirmed that Broadway is the street with the highest crash rate for bicycles in all of Portland.
Yet even with that knowledge — and a demonstrated risk to the bicycling public since at least 2007 — nothing significant has been done to protect road users. Only paint and signs have been installed.
“The signage and striping at the intersection is now up to our current standards.”
— Dylan Rivera, PBOT
“As a high crash network street, we are constantly seeing what safety improvements we can make in the short term, as well as developing plans for larger scale improvements that would require more time to implement,” Rivera wrote via email. “We continue to monitor the situation to see what other improvements might be possible there, and how crash patterns may change in the coming months.” It wasn’t clear if Rivera was aware of the two collisions that have happened since the latest changes were made.
“Studies from across the nation indicate we can expect a 39 percent reduction in bike crashes after installing green paint as we did May 9 at this location,” Rivera continued. “The signage and striping at the intersection is now up to our current standards.”
Rivera then pointed me in the direction of two potential projects that might help this intersection. An online open house that launches June 4th for the Central City in Motion project will include an option for a protected bike lane on Broadway. And an unfunded project on PBOT’s Vision Zero Project List would, “Enhance the existing bikeway on Broadway from Hoyt to Clay,” and, “Includes the construction of a protected bikeway, signal improvements, short-term parking and loading zones, and shorter pedestrian crossings.”
It’s unclear what impact, if any, those projects (if they ever happen) would have on reducing the risk of right-hooks at Broadway and Hoyt.
But we can’t wait. Signs and paint are not enough.
Is it time to prohibit right turns here?
I’m not an engineer, but in the past when we’ve had lives at risk from repeated right-hooks and a demonstrated trend of collisions, we’ve done something more significant about it.
With support from the Portland Water Bureau (that prohibited its truck drivers from turning there) and in the face of strong opposition from a local business owner, former Mayor Sam Adams oversaw the prohibition of right turns from Broadway to Wheeler in 2012 and from Interstate to Greeley in 2009. Like Broadway and Hoyt, those right turns were on downhills and had a tragic history of right-hooks by truck operators. They remain closed to this day and everyone is safer because of it.
Absent something as bold as closing Hoyt completely to right-turning cars and trucks, perhaps we need a bike-only signal phase like we installed at Broadway and Williams in 2010? Or maybe it’s time to try one of those flashing signs that PBOT installed at Couch and Grand in 2011.
Something must be done. Broadway is the worst street for cycling in Portland. It’s also (arguably) the most important street for cycling in Portland. We must do more.
— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and email@example.com
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“The cop who wrote the report said I was the 4th accident at that intersection past month.” Is this an “accident” when signal separation at this intersection would make this problem nonexistent?
Incident that he was aware of 🙂
Simple – Remove the bike lanes & add sharrows to the right lane
Bikes take the right lane with traffic..if a bike wants to pass a right turning car/truck, they can signal and move to the left lane. .
Simple to write, but stressful and scary in practice, especially to newer riders. I’ll pass on your “simple” solutions, and instead opt for the solution that is proven to work: physical separation, full stop. This problem, like so many of Portland’s problem intersections, could be fixed overnight with a few well-placed jersey barriers.
It’s popular yet stressful routes such as these which have convinced many of my friends and coworkers that biking for transportation in Portland is not for them.
Jersey barriers could be good, but I would add that bike signals similar to the ones Jonathan posted photos of, would further reduce the chances of right hooks.
It’s not possible under current guidelines for sharrow placement. The traffic count of 9,233 Average Daily Traffic (PBOT 2016) on NW Broadway at Hoyt southbound is too high and conflicts with the metric of no more than 3,000 Vehicles Per Day that PBOT uses when determining if a sharrow is recommended for a particular road (NACTO 2014). Yes, ADT is different measurement than VPD, but this location is not likely to receive sharrows. I agree with you on the principle that sharrows on a downhill segment are better than bike lanes if motor vehicles can turn right and across the bike lane, but a different solution is needed here due to the traffic volume and the class of vehicle commonly found here (i.e. freight). It’d be better to route freight through a different route later along Broadway rather than immediately after the downhill segment. I’d have to look through the freight route maps to see if that is even possible (I’m sure it is!).
Can’t come soon enough for some people but it is safe to assume that Dill’s Star Route traffic will follow the USPS sorting facility when it moves near the airport later this year.
I’m personally looking forward to the current USPS site being redeveloped with a third bike/walk-only viaduct to the Broadway Bridge.
I was hospitalized after being knocked out from a head on collision at Broadway and Everett. I was cycling in the lane north through a green light. A car was going south on Broadway and turned left to go East on Everett, colliding with me head on. I had the right of way, and the only way I could have prevented the accident would be to hypnotically anticipate the car would not yield to me. I never bike along Broadway anymore, in either direction. That corridor is a death trap.
Given the crash record and the importance of this bike facility…perhaps the best interium mitigation would be to ban all commercial truck right turns (>20,000 GVWR or >28 FT in length) at this intersection. [Trucks would likely be re-routed from 405 or use the Lovejoy route.] The City may have more authority to restrict their routing or require safety features since these trucks are not actual USPS vehicles and only contract carriers. (An assumption only.)
Thinking out of the box…like former Mayor Sam Adams did for a similar problem…Mayor Wheeler can act now… through a declaration of a “state of emergency” at this intersection and other freight dangerous intersections (assuming the City’s traffic engineer does not have another way to accomplish this) thru Chapter 15.04 Emergency Code*…this condition would have to be renewed every two weeks until a longer term solution found or a mitigation is completed.
The longer term solution is already underway with the City’s planned purchase and relocation of the NW PDX US Mail Depot site…so long as the new use does not attract similar HGV trucks.
[*”The regulations are intended to reduce the risk of the City to loss of life, injury to persons, property, and the environment.” “The State has assigned the responsibility for responding to emergencies and disasters to local governments.”]
Of course my experience is purely anecdotal, but after bike commuting through this area daily for the past 4 years, I’ve learned to ride extremely defensively and keep my distance from these USPS contract truck drivers. I’ve had multiple negative experiences with them as they come and go from the USPS site. Not to make any excuses for their bad driving behavior, but I suppose I would be frustrated too if I had to drive one of those very large vehicles through such a congested area. Redevelopment can’t come soon enough.
It is not anecdotal, the USPS contract drivers are the absolute worst! Flagrant disregard for anyone but themselves. They are almost as bad as the Amazon van mercenaries.
There is just something about driving around in a nearly unmarked truck which makes you 1000% more a$$-h0lish apparently. The state should require clearer labeling to shame them.
Interesting observation about unmarked vehicles. That’s the same complaint many motorists have against unmarked (no license plate) bicycles.
And pedestrians too! Get a license plate on your butt you scofflaws.
Cute comparison, but when was the last time someone on an unmarked bike maimed one of those who you hear complaining? Or anyone?
Oregonlive is leaking…
If you can note their DOT number, you can often figure out who insures them. If insurance companies started hearing complaints, I suspect behavior would change
I ride on the other side of the postal facility on 9th heading toward the broadway bridge to cross eastbound each morning. After observing their driving style over a long period of time my conclusion is that this ” controversial ” trucking company is not very picky about who they hire to drive. If I see one of these trucks pulling out of the postal facility I stop and wait for them to get several blocks ahead, and once I pass the turn in point for them I ride like mad to get to the bridge before one of them can pull out and get near me. This should not be necessary, dangerous behaviour by drivers of huge deadly trucks in the center of a crowded urban area should not be tolerated.
If they end up choosing between a separate bike signal (like Broadway/Williams) or a flashing sign (like Couch/Grand), I hope they go with a separate signal. I ride through both of those intersections (along with Broadway and Hoyt) pretty regularly, and the flashing sign does absolutely NOTHING for right hooks. Maybe the placement of the sign is to blame; it’s kind of up high and out of the way, but it seems like motorists aren’t paying any attention to it.
Separate signals are helpful, unless you have a right turn only lane competing with a bike lane (like Sellwood bridge, turning North to Macadam)
When I ride downtown I ride this stretch and it is scary. I called the mayors office. The staffer was not helpful and said “well since PBOT knows about it, they will work on it.” “Mayor can’t speed things up.”
@Toadslick Does bring up an interesting point
“Simple – Remove the bike lanes & add sharrows to the right lane
Bikes take the right lane with traffic..if a bike wants to pass a right turning car/truck, they can signal and move to the left lane. ”
Why I don’t like the idea of removing the bike lane, I may consider taking the lane going forward, I am not a lawyer but IIRC you can take the lane if the bike lane is considered unsafe. Considering two accidents in a row and it being put on the 14 most dangerous intersections that seems pretty clear to me.
I already take the lane pretty early on the approach to the broadway bridge to avoid merge conflicts.
I’ve ridden this section daily for years and continue along Broadway past where it crosses 405.
This is far from the worst street in Portland. Traffic speeds are so low that cyclists can overrun the signals uphill on Broadway as well as the flat section up to Burnside and there is a bike lane the entire way. Sight lines are excellent for the entire distance and are outstanding up to Hoyt as there is zero visual distraction from the sides. I’m not even sure where cyclists have this much space and it’s very easy to figure out what motorists are doing.
Many roads have much faster and less predictable traffic, worse visibility, and no bike lane whatsoever.
This quote applies to everyone: “Let’s remember that road design is not solely to blame here. If people operated their vehicles more slowly, carefully, and with more respect for other road users, it’s very likely that none of these collisions would have occurred.”
I see a lot of conflicts. If some cyclists followed this advice — starting with riding as if the other road users (vehicles, cyclists, etc) exist — none of the ones I’ve personally witnessed in this specific area would have occurred.
Is it the speed differential between bikes (fast) and turning trucks (slow) part of what makes it so dangerous?
No. Cars which move and turn considerably faster than trucks represent a greater inherent danger.
One thing that is different about this intersection is that speed differential among cyclists is particularly high due to the longer approach and wide variety of cyclists/bikes — it’s not unusual to see cyclists enter the intersection at 10mph and 30mph at the same time. This makes it inherently harder for motorists to judge cyclist speeds — especially if fast cyclists are behind slow cyclists but will overtake them before the intersection.
Even at the high end, those are not unreasonable speeds on a bike and there’s nothing particularly unsafe about entering the intersection at those speeds because it’s very easy to see and avoid turning vehicles. It is unsafe to barrel into the intersection when a vehicle is obviously turning, and I see a lot of that.
Some of the specific “improvements” recommended here would make things worse. Jersey barriers are a horrible idea. Vehicle encroachment is not an issue in this section — the only practical effect it would have would be to trap the fastest cyclists who ride in the buffer or the lane with slower riders aggravating the existing situation.
A dedicated turn light would cause erratic traffic behavior because vehicles turning right on Glisan would pass the stopped vehicles on Hoyt and then cross over two lanes in one block. The stopped vehicles would block their view of cyclists and the cyclists wouldn’t know if they’re going to turn leading to inevitable higher speed conflicts.
This is not an unsafe intersection. In fact, it is easier to cross it safely than most due to the amount of space afforded cyclists and particularly good sight lines for motorists and cyclists alike — which is why almost 3,000 cyclists of every level ability on every type of bike can somehow manage to cross it daily.
You make a case for this intersection not being a dangerous intersection IN THEORY, but in practice, it is demonstrably dangerous
What makes it dangerous is the unusually erratic cycling — not infrastructure (better than average) or driving behavior (average)
My experience riding this section in the dark and the rain is that I witness fewer conflicts despite the reduced visibility and traction for motorists and cyclists alike as well as higher “typical” cyclist speeds. I find this intersection easier to ride in the dark and the rain than when the weather is good and there are other cyclists around. You would expect the opposite.
For other BP readers who ride here year ’round, is your experience different than mine?
I personally take the lane when I can and ride the buffer I can’t when the weather is good and there are other cyclists around because cyclist behavior is so variable I can’t make sense out of it — I don’t know how the motorists can. In the winter, I often stay in the bike lane, not because I’m worried about cars but rather because I don’t see a need to leave it because the other riders are more predictable.
I think prohibiting right turns, jersey barriers, and dedicated signals would cause more problems than they solve for reasons I’ve outlined in other posts.
If people truly consider this intersection dangerous, cycling isn’t accessible to a huge percentage of drivers. Compared to other sections on my own commute and other locations I ride, it’s neither difficult nor dangerous and I’m sure that’s true for many people. I’m not saying this area is nothing — I don’t think it’s good for kids (or novice drivers for that matter). But I’d say everything following the intersection is even more problematic so this isn’t particularly bad.
JI would not want to take my kids down Broadway. For me, that makes it an inadequate bike route. The best thing a city can do to improve safety is to grow its cycling population. It won’t do that with dangerous bikeways like this.
do you believe that your complaints about “cyclists” who do not ride as if other road users exist will in any way address the chronic traffic safety issue at this intersection?
“who do not ride as if other road users exist ”
Soren, it’s difficult to assign much credibility to what you say when you have admitted several times to ignoring traffic control devices when they do not suit you.
I don’t see the connection there. You could not follow every traffic law and control on a ride but still ride like other road users exist. E.g. Slowing down before a stop sign to yield to the car already at the stop sign and then rolling through it after they’ve gone.
Also pointing that out seems to miss the point of the question. Even if there were a successful campaign to get cyclists to ride more defensively and they all started slowing down while they go down Broadway and accidents decreased it still wouldn’t change the safety issue. And it would still be an issue because even the most defensive rider makes mistakes or loses control every now and then.
i don’t ignore them at all!
i intentionally and SAFELY violate traffic devices to illustrate how ridiculous our laws are when it comes to active transportation .
I am confident that when others see you doing this, their first thought is “what a ridiculous law!”
i get essentially zero grief for SAFELY violating laws.
pretty much the only time i personally experience negative interactions with people driving is when i’m riding on bike infrastructure with other people. in my experience, few things upset c*gers more than a person slowing them down while cycling legally.
if you really want to “stop making us all look bad”, stop riding your bike!
You have me confused with someone else. When I violate traffic law, I don’t try to justify it, especially not by claiming I’m performing an educational service to those around me.
I am going to take the same approach. 20 is plenty just doesn’t work for me…and since I’ve never had an incident at even 30-35mph on side streets, I have proven I shouldn’t be restricted by such silly laws.
I see that you are once again arguing that speeding in a 3-5 ton motorvehicle is a relatively safe behavior.
I will also note that I’ve provide evidence that idaho stop behavior is associated with a small decrease in risk multiple times. In contrast, you have been unable to provide any evidence to back up your repeated claims that automobile speeding or light running is a relatively safe behavior.
More details here:
Unless you have additional information indicating the victims would appreciate this, I suggest giving them some space.
This should be about the victims, not about using a devastating tragedy to draft them to a cause pursued by people they don’t know.
It’s important to know their wishes before proceeding. This–telling them they should have been more careful–is potentially a major and traumatizing intrusion.
At what point can PBOT be held liable? I often wonder if PBOT/ODOT can be sued. If they are engineering streets to be unsafe and not making impactful changes quickly then shouldn’t they be held accountable?
Sovereign immunity is going to defeat most of these suits. Technically, the state/city/county CAN be sued, but it’s a pretty difficult legal standard to meet. There are a few firms in town that take these cases on, and it’s great when they succeed. Bike Portland usually does a good job reporting on these cases (the Mike Cooley case is the most recent one that comes to mind). https://bikeportland.org/2017/03/02/portland-pays-525000-settlement-in-mike-cooley-dangerous-bike-lane-case-219751
May I ask what people find so unsafe about this particular intersection compared to others?
The approach has one of the widest bike lanes in the entire city and it’s buffered so seeing and avoiding errant drivers is easier than other locations. There are no grates, joints, tracks or anything, vehicles don’t move so fast here, ability to see what they’re doing is excellent, and there are no threats from the right. Traffic speeds are not high and motorists generally play pretty well here.
If right turns were banned at this intersection, how would it be safer for vehicles to turn right anywhere else? Every other intersection has much less space on either side, there’s way less ability to see, way less time to react, and threats on both sides.
People on bikes keep getting hit by people driving trucks, that is what makes this intersection dangerous. It has a dangerous record. The causes of the danger are likely a mix of behavior choices and design issues. If this intersection were patrolled more frequently, we might see some behavior modification. If we made some design changes, we may be able to prevent future collisions. I agree that in theory, this is not the worst intersection, but in practice it is.
Contributing factors to the level of danger this intersection poses:
– Downhill means higher than average speeds for bikes. This alone has multiple effects on the ability of a driver to judge whether they should turn, assuming they see the cyclist in their mirror.
– The number of large trucks making right turns at this intersection is high. These trucks have worse visibility of bike lane traffic, take longer to turn, and have a bigger turning radius. The safety record of the trucking company which operates many of these trucks is also questionable.
– The pavement may not have grates, but it is rutted, chewed, ground down, and bumpy nonetheless. This makes it more difficult to stop or slow quickly.
– Cyclists are put to the right of right-turning traffic. The green phase means there is alway s a risk of right-hook collision when drivers make one of the following mistakes: fail to use a turn signal, fail to check for conflicting traffic before turning, misjudge the approach speed of bicycles in the bike lane, or begin a turn and then stop for crossing pedestrians.
The idea that the onus should be totally on cyclists to “watch out” and avoid a collision when they have right-of-way is preposterous and speaks to the inadequacy of the design. Claiming this is a safe intersection is at odds with the data and objectively indefensible.
Again no side skirts on the ICC licensed semi. Side skirts have been around for decades. Myolder sister had them on her 0wner operated Freightliner with 80,000 gross in 1976 until she retired.she had over 2 million accident free before a 4 wheeler blasted across I-5 airborne instead of going over an overpass. Took out most of the cab and the 4 wheeler.
She always claimed that the skirts saved more money from fuel savings and insurance than they cost every year. Skirts may not be required but they do save many injuries from right turning trucks. They should be required for postal contracts.
“…most bicycle riders approach it at very high speeds.” Contributory negligence? If you know there’s danger ahead, SLOW DOWN!
How fast is very high speed, and how does speed factor into the driver seeing you in their mirror or not?
Let’s face it, you live in an inner city and you commute downtown of a growing city of 650,000 with a metro of 2.5 mil, so you are always going to have to deal with semi-drivers who will ignore the law, as in any other city. Here in the South we call them assholes, but they apparently exist in your neck of the woods too.
You are going too fast if you can’t stop in time – it depends on the power of your brakes versus speed and your ability to anti-lock your brakes (easier with rear disc, deadlier with front-cantilever-only-oh-my-god-i’m-going-to-faceplant!) Like what others have mentioned, there are always areas you need to be especially cautious. Maybe the city can put up yellow warning signs with turning semis in the sign and in the text, “Caution Assholes Turning”.
Quigley suggests that it’s negligent, which is pretty ridiculous. Saying it is is just a reflection of displaced responsibility away from drivers. If I’m following the law while driving, and another driver hits me because they didn’t stop or yield, no one is going to say I was being negligent. Just because most of us bike commuters are still alive is due to compensating for irresponsible driving doesn’t mean it should be a requirement that we’re more responsible than drivers.
I used to drive a big truck, and it makes a big difference. When you are jockeying a 20,000 lb dumptruck like I was, you are going 5 mph at most. Even if I was to look in my right side-view mirror as a initiated the turn, a bike going 30 mph would be a small image. It took me a good four or five seconds to complete that turn. A rider at that speed covers over 200′. There was no way I could allow for, or anticipate, that kind of interaction. Even if I could, if it was a widely used bike lane, I could be sitting there for minutes waiting for an opening. Just not reasonable to expect a truck driver to do that. Shared lanes is the best solution in a situation like this. I actually confront this exact same situation daily on my bike, and I assume the vehicles ahead, even if they are not signaling, will turn, and make sure I do not place myself in their potential path. I was thinking about this yesterday, and getting sort of angry that I had to always anticipate ‘bad’ driver behavior, even when I had the legal ‘right of way’, when it dawned on me that driving/cycling in traffic is just a big dance, and I should try to anticipate my partner’s next move.
This is exactly how I feel riding down Multnomah at night – there are 4 intersections with potential right hook conflicts where I’m going 20-30mph and overtaking slower traffic – even if I don’t see a signal, I brake and place myself out of the danger zone of the car approaching the intersection.
Except for the other day – and when that big SUV started moving over on me without a blinker, I had to bail to the right, hit a huge pothole and ended up breaking a spoke on the right wheel and wrecking the outside bearing on the left.
That will definitely remind me that I should have tapped and covered the brakes and held behind him going through the intersection – I was in too big a hurry and messed up though.
I see some people in this and similar discussions characterizing truck driving safety as more difficult than it actually is. I used to have a job driving an RV (showing laser light shows at schools throughout the central eastern U.S.), and recently on a few occasions I’ve driven a moving truck. They have mirrors, if the mirrors are adequate there should also be a bubble on each side mirror. for viewing the ridiculously-termed “blind spot.” Turning and you see traffic in the mirror? Then wait. Cyclist in the mirror and you can’t determine their speed? Stop and watch for two seconds to estimate speed. Automobiles backed up behind you? Too Effing Bad. Waiting behind turning vehicles is an everyday part of being in traffic.
When turning across a bike lane, or any lane, it is up to you to yield to traffic that has the right-of-way. It’s nobody else’s job to accommodate your inadequacy in seeing what’s happening around you. If you find this too hard, you have no businesss driving a truck.
Thank you, Brian. This is the same precautions that I take when driving an RV and I would hope that all operators with a Commercial Driver’s License would take around vulnerable users of the roads and walkways. Wait it out if there is doubt.
It’s not reasonable to expect a truck driver to wait for an opening in a line of human beings?
Reasonable to expect, yes, reasonable to depend on, apparently not.
Suppose you are a semi-truck driver trying to make the right turn from NW Broadway to NW Hoyt. You look in your right side mirror and see a bike 500 feet away (that is about halfway from the bridge exit to Hoyt). If the bike is going 12 mph, it will reach Hoyt in 28 seconds. If it is going 30 mph, it will reach Hoyt in 11 seconds. Which is it? Really hard to tell from the mirror.
When bike traffic is heavy on NW Broadway, you are seeing a bunch of bikes in the mirror, the near ones and blocking your view of the far ones, they are all moving at different speeds. It is even harder to figure out what is going on.
It probably takes at least 10 seconds for the truck driver to get his semi moving and fully negotiate that sharp turn.
Clearly, PBOT should have installed a signal with bike phase here, a long time ago. It is probably too late now.
I’ve ridden through this intersection 5-days a week for nearly the past four years. The wider bike lane helps marginally, but with big trucks, their turning radius is so huge they end up hugging the curb anyway. Also, they take so long to turn that an overtaking cyclist coming down the hill doesn’t need much time before they are too close. I’ve had more close calls with large trucks at this intersection than anywhere in the city, ever, and I am arguably overly watchful and defensive. It has saved me, though.
I think a contributing factor not mentioned is the roughness of the pavement coming down the hill and at the intersection. It has been ground up, is chewed, filled, bumpy, and rutty. This makes it much more difficult to stop quickly because one bad bump and you lose control, possibly flying over the bars.
A mixing zone which puts the bike lane to the left of the right turn (and turn it into a right-turn only lane) on the downhill section of the bridge would be “ideal” to prevent turning conflicts, but difficult for large volumes of cyclists (and auto users) to navigate during rush hour. A right turn signal sounds nice but will cause further delays and probably not prevent rights-on-red nor will it protect cyclists inside the wide turning radius of a truck that has a green. Also, the box would have to go. One more interim option which probably has no NACTO sanction would be to position a large, convex mirror somewhere at the intersection that truck drivers can use to check the bike lane before they start to make a turn (along with a sign instructing them to do so).
Ultimately, this is a dangerous intersection by design made more dangerous by the downhill. The city is likely dragging its feet since the PO is on a timeline for their move, and that move will eliminate a lot of truck traffic, at least until the empty building finds a new industrial tenant. Or, if redeveloped, I wonder how much worse this intersection will get? SOMETHING needs to be done, either way.
There’s a reason the asphalt is so bad here: big trucks.
If there can be any sort of silver lining in such a repeated tragedy…perhaps the upcoming civil suits will shed light on Dill’s Star Route truck operator training / fleet administrative practices / vehicle safety inspections (broken side mirrors etc.) etc…and also Dill’s Star Route’s crash history.
The US DoT has a web site with some inspection information (MCS-150 form) for Dill’s Star Route (very out of date self-submitted data…likely):
– Annual mileage 1.3 million miles (2016, …where is 2017 etc.?)
– 50 operators with 34 truck units (2016?)
– Self reported “perfect” crash history (“0” incidences submitted on MCS-150 form)
– FMCSA lists 3 crashes as of 4/2108 (1 during 4/2017, 1 during 12/2017 and 1 during 1/2018…so now 5? within 1 year…has driver training or maintenance or fleet practices changed?)
– Vehicle maintenance violations have started to increase greatly since 2017 (to 9 of 11 trucks inspected had identified violations and the number of average violations increased from 2 to 3 per truck inspected)
– Higher than national average for “out of service” vehicles during inspections (27.3% vs 20.7%)
– Driver “fitness” for inspected trucks is constant (and may be improving)…
– Classification: Exempt For Hire (transporter of “low value / non passenger freight”…USPS only)
– Vancouver operating address but Portland mailing address? (harder for DOT to regulate?)
– “No insurance documents on file with DOT” per Freightconnect.com
– Why does the DOT and others list Dill’s last safety rating / compliance review as 1994?
– First year of operation 1989 per quicktransportationsolutions.com
Look over the following public data and see what thought you have…
Entering the rabbit hole now…
So the name Dill’s Star Route …shares a historical legacy for deliveries…but “safety” was not included then it seems…no fourth “star”:
“The legislation establishing new mail service in 1845 called for contractors to carry the mail with ‘celerity, certainty, and security.’ ”
“Weary of repeatedly writing these words in ledgers, postal clerks substituted three asterisks—
* * * — and the phrase “Star Route” was born. ”
“Star Routes were renamed ‘Highway Contract Routes’ in 1970, though they are still commonly known by their original name today.”
Source: © 2013 THE NATIONAL STAR ROUTE MAIL CONTRACTORS ASSOCIATION.
Someday Hollywood is going to make a Western of robbers on penny farthings and safety bikes attacking a horse-drawn US Mail wagon circa 1870, and the operators shooting the would be robbers with celerity, certainty, and security.
Dill’s Star Route filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2012.
It strikes me from reading the comments that a huge glaring problem here is the contractor and their negligent operating behaviors. This is an easy one, use a different, more responsible company. Frankly these 2 crashes should be reason enough. If what commenters are saying is even half true you could set up a camera for a day and catch more than enough video evidence to support legal grounds needed to establish said negligence for contract termination.
Now this doesn’t fix the infrastructure problems that must be addressed, but at least would remove what seems to be the worst offender for the moment.
Dill’s trucks are always hustling. I get the feeling they are on a tight schedule and some of their departures are in commute hours (but there’s no really good time to shuttle between NW Portland and Vancouver.) Wouldn’t be surprised to find out it’s a high turnover job. I give those people lots of room with their trucks.
Actually you can thank Congress (and likely Oregon’s delegation) for this situation…the USPS has closed and consolidated many regional mail processing centers…thus Vancouver’s mail is now shipped across the bridges twice to be be delivered (as its now sorted in Portland) some of this a legacy of its crushing debt load due to congressional policies (how retirement holdings are set up).
Thus Dill’s Vancouver hub location has been in a perfect cat bird’s seat to shuttle the mail past these crash sites twice a load every hour. [Vancouver lost its mail sorting ~8 to 10 years ago…]
This strike me as an illustration, once again, of the dangers of having vehicles making right turns to the left of others going straight. We would never design a road for cars this way, and we shouldn’t accept it for bikes.
Remember that the USPS facility will move soon and the right-turning semi truck traffic here will go away. The Post Office property will be developed to offices and housing and at that will be an opportunity to completely rethink the the roads, signals, and other facilities in this area.
I think signals on NW Broadway with bike phases would be a good idea, similar to NW Broadway leaving the Broadway bridge and NE Broadway approaching the bridge, but exactly where those signals should be placed will depend on the traffic patterns in the new development.
For now, I think the best action would be to compel side guards on large trucks operating in the city.
USPS facility going away = five years of construction zones, torn up streets, and even more heavy trucks working on the project.
Agreed, and PBOT will have to figure out how to keep NW Broadway bikable during the construction and route the construction traffic appropriately. I don’t imagine the bulk of construction traffic will be coming over the Broadway Bridge, so Hoyt might not be the problem point during the construction.
Very simply, the bike lane should not be to the right of right-turning traffic.
I use the left lane here, as it is a relatively fast downhill, I am going straight through, and I don’t ever want to be caught in this situation.
The bike lane here is a magnet for these types of crashes, and its presence in no way is a safety improvement for cyclists.
Trucks can’t turn right from a curbside lane here.
This is one reason I regard large trucks as too dangerous for urban conditions. Whether the driver is at fault or not, they create a hazard that can trap the unwary.
When I cross over the bridge from the north side, I look down Broadway and immediately cut right to Lovejoy then to 14th downtown. There’s a lot more traffic and stop signs, not to mention all the walkers, but the congestion keeps everyone defensive and driving slow.
Sometimes the slower streets are better, this could just be my experience.
Broadway from Burnside to the bridge is a a tricky wicket.
Side skirt regulation can’t come soon enough. However, this needs to happen at the national level.
Another change that would address the problem of “trucker privilege” in general, not just for vulnerable road users but for drivers and motorcyclists as well is the automatic and permanent loss of a CDL in the event of a fatality regardless of fault. Yes, there will be a few instances where this turns out to be “not fair” to the CDL driver but rules like this exist for a reason, they work.
Finally, in this particular instance, there has to be separation between right turning traffic and bicycles. It seem that the easiest way to accomplish this here is with timing.
The information about truck side guards is out there…
…but don’t hold your breath for federal regulation. UW, Seattle, Boston, Cambridge, New York and other jurisdictions have policies in place for side guards. C’mon, Portland, do it, too.
Relying on a side guard has a dreadful track record. Several people have been killed in collisions with such vehicles.
Also: Would you want to “just” be scraped sideways by a side guard, or position yourself to avoid that contact altogether?
Riding into the coffin corner is dangerous. It always has been and it always will be. You don’t promote cycling by trying to make it ever so slightly less dangerous, when a far better alternative is staring you in the face.
Timing would separate the streams of traffic, but at the expense of delay. There areo nly 60 seconds in every minute. If the delay becomes annoying, people start to ignore the signals.
While we’re waiting for new regulations, infrastructure improvements, and driver re-education to take their glacial course — if you’re riding and there’s a truck near you and it looks like you might both reach the intersection at the same time, please please please just slow down or even stop and let the truck do its thing first. It’s not worth the risk to save a few seconds (as we often say to drivers).
Sounds like a separate signal is the only way to go here. When you keep bikes at the edge in an intersection, that’s always going to create conflicts with right turns, and a separate signal is the only true protection from that. Everything else is a compromise. Sounds like this intersection is through with compromises.
Also helpful would be a massive public education campaign to cyclists about not passing stopped trucks on the right, even in a bike lane.
Separate signal, or reven much more expensive, a grade separation.
My thoughts go out to the cyclists. Hoping for a good recovery from their injuries! Broken bones can heal, but they definitely can impact your mobility for the rest of your life. Take your time and do the physical therapy exercises when you can.
I hate to say it, but, postal contractor… if they drive as poorly as the US Post Office trucks then this will keep happening… every time I see a USPS truck they break a law…
I understand why the author is frustrated, but green paint isn’t going to help.
Stop encouraging cyclists to pass right-turning vehicles on the right! Pass on the left.
A perfect recipe for 1% bike mode share.
Drivers have always been told not to position themselves on the right of turning trucks and practically none do. Just because this practice is suicidal with a steel safety cage around you doesn’t mean it’s safe without one.
Some thoughts about why so many cyclists pass trucks on the right:
* In the case of tractor trailer trucks, the truck cannot turn from close to the curb, they have to start the turn from way out towards the center so that the trailer does not go onto the sidewalk during the turn. (See video I posted in a prior comment.) This leaves an open space on the right, where cyclists are used to squeezing through. The cyclist may also assume that the truck is going straight, particularly if the trucker is not signaling, or the cyclist is not paying attention.
* Cyclists may not realize how quickly the right hook can happen, so they may assume they could get out of the way in time, or that it won’t matter as much as in a car because they are narrower than a car.
* The bike lane lulls them into a false sense of security.
drivers have been told this because there are very few automobile lanes that turn across another through lane.
the same could be done for bike facilities but VC elitists prefer to demean people who use bike infrastructure rather than work to end (or mitigate) this immoral design.
Trucks often turn from the center lane, which, as a practical matter, means they do turn across other lanes.
Which is why I think they are not safe to be used in cities.
Sorry, ad hominem argument. What I prefer to do, as others have done in this thread, is to tell people how they can avoid the risk by not getting on the right side of a turning truck. That is empowering, not demeaning.
Which begs the question: why do we have infrastructure that lures cyclists into dangerous situations? Why do we allow vehicles that are too cumbersome to stay in their lane? Training may be a good short term solution, but fixing the environment is the better long term fix.
“why do we have infrastructure that lures cyclists into dangerous situations?”
Because so-called “bicycle advocates” demand it.
“Why do we allow vehicles that are too cumbersome to stay in their lane?”
Because trucks are absolutely vital to the commerce of the city. And because if every road user follows the rules of movement that are imbedded in the vehicle code, trucks are not dangerous to others. It’s when we violate the rules of movement — which we do when we have these coffin corner bike lanes — that the tragedies occur.
Here’s are the questions you didn’t ask:
“How easy is it for every individual cyclist to have ZERO risk of colliding with a turning truck?”
The answer: Extremely easy. Don’t ride beside it. Get behind, or stay in front.
“Why don’t the ‘bicycle advocates’ embrace the easy, effective answer?”
I have my own ideas about this, but I’ll just say I’m disgusted that they don’t. They are spending millions of dollars — that’s your money, from your taxes — to pursue quasi-solutions that don’t work. From the green paint that Kathryn Rickson rode over seconds before her death, to the separate signal phases that add to congestion so much they invite noncompliance, these are all miserable alternatives to the easy, effective answer.
Oh, another victim blamer. Great!
He didn’t blame victims, he blamed infrastructure.
“Very simply, the bike lane should not be to the right of right-turning traffic.
I use the left lane here, as it is a relatively fast downhill, I am going straight through, and I don’t ever want to be caught in this situation.
The bike lane here is a magnet for these types of crashes, and its presence in no way is a safety improvement for cyclists.”
After reading though all these comments and thinking about the issue, I had come to this same conclusion as I read through the page. The mix of speeds and directions is the danger.
And I agree that PAVEMENT SUCKS!
Truck is slow or stopped (how do I know its turning right unless its signal is on.) Bikes are legally going much faster, truck starts to turn and boom.
As the linked article above says “Or, just don’t pass a truck on the right at all. And be cautious when passing on the left, too.”
Some sort of signal or traffic sorting needs to happen. Could you do a signaled right turn only phase? Migrate the bikes to the left of the turn lane? Bike signal on the bridge giving a head start?
I do appreciate this thread because right hooks are now in the forefront of my mind.
Maybe a bike leading interval at the top of the Broadway Bridge/viaducts intersection so the bikes get to the Broadway & Hoyt intersection before cars?
Want to be safe? Ignore Mr. Maus’s recommendations. NEVER ride beside a turning truck.
(What part of NEVER don’t you understand?)
This two-minute video explains:
What do you do if a truck overtakes you just before a right turn? Do you dive onto the sidewalk out of precaution?
YES watch the video. do what you need to do to be safe. about 1:30 immediately jump off the bike and run to the right. https://vimeo.com/263377367
bike stockholm syndrome.
You use your brakes and slow or even stop, so that you do not enter the intersection with a truck on your left.
That’s why you should not stay to the right! Occupy/control the right-most straight-going lane. If you mess up and find yourself at the curb, and a large truck comes alongside you, dismount immediately, and get out of there.
I know, I know. . . Portland’s fixation with green paint complicates this.
And if the cyclist arrives first?
When you arrive first, don’t position yourself next to the curb. Position yourself in the middle of the lane.
As I wrote earlier…. I know Portland’s infrastructure complicates this at some intersections.
Please don’t put words in my mouth.
I don’t make any recommendations in this article.
I’d call the following a recommendation:
“we can’t wait. Signs and paint are not enough.
“Is it time to prohibit right turns here?”
And here’s what I think of that:
The whole point of streets is so that people and goods can get places. By making truck routes more circuitous, you would increase congestion, pollution, noise, and carbon footprint. Portland (like every city) already has too much of these things.
And you would do nothing to prevent the dangerous behavior at Portland’s thousands of other intersections.
From reading your blog, one would never know there is a 100 percent successful way to avoid all risk of right-hook collisions and car door collisions, while also radically reducing one’s chance of other types of intersection collisions.
“Hug the curb and hope for the best” has failed miserably. It is time to stop doubling down on this defective approach to bicyclists’ safety.
Who feels like getting killed in this intersection so that the city will finally be forced to take real steps to make it safe?
I knew without even reading the article that this was linked to US Postal Service traffic.
I wait for the line 17 bus sometimes at this exact intersection and get to watch the traffic for 10 mins or so each time until the bus arrives.
It is a total disaster of an intersection. It has a bikelane, or cycletrack, I’m not even sure which it is so unclear to me, and I’m a cyclist.
There is a bike box, but NO green paint. There is a bike lane, but no green paint. When traffic backs up at the light waiting for it to turn green, impatient drivers just shoot into the bikelane and turn right on red. There are no bollards, or green paint, or anything protective to prevent them doing this. The bikelane is wide enough to accommodate car traffic, and do that is exactly what car traffic uses it for.
we need bicycle calming speed bumps – so bike slow down and wait until cars and trucks finish their turns
I appreciate your calling for traffic calming. But speed bumps are not the way to get it. Speed bumps cause crashes, some of which have horrific outcomes.
I don’t believe in installing something that you know will produce such bad results.
I don’t quote Ronald Reagan very often, but here goes: “The bike lane IS the problem.” Full lane use means no one is trapped beside a turning truck; no one tries to shoot the gap beside a turning truck; no one is depending on the truck driver to see him in the mirror when the sun is striking the mirror just so, etc. etc. etc. Oh, and don’t forget how huge the truck’s rear view blind spots are. The driver can look all day and won’t see anything in his/her blind spot.
This is a great video, and suggested a lane positioning I had not considered before. It may have a whiff of “vehicular cycling” about it, but it seems to offer very sound advice.
He didn’t blame victims, he blamed infrastructure.
John wrote: “How easy is it for every individual cyclist to have ZERO risk of colliding with a turning truck?”
The answer: Extremely easy. Don’t ride beside it. Get behind, or stay in front.
The reason this is ridiculous, and amounts to victim blaming, is that someone on a bike can be endangered or spooked or hurt by trucks under conditions other than turning. To glibly exhort those on bikes to ride in front of trucks without acknowledging the full set of conditions is not helpful.
I simply disagree that any hint that there are things cyclists can do to avoid dangerous conditions constitutes victim blaming.
I get that John Schubert is not fond of bikelanes that put bikes to the right of turning trucks, and I get the importance of paying attention as a cyclist in those situations. My disagreement is with his absolutist framing of the circumstances and responsibilities.
“if every road user follows the rules of movement that are imbedded in the vehicle code, trucks are not dangerous to others.”
This kind of statement is simply not helpful. We live in a real world with real fallible humans. The trouble arises not with fallibility but with the asymmetries in level of danger posed by the interactions between different modes given those fallibilities. Infrastructure decisions are important, and certainly partially to blame, but it is not as simple as John is arguing here. And the language he has chosen strikes me as not only simplifying but exhorting vigilance in an asymmetric if familiar fashion. You, bikers, get it together! And all will be well. I just don’t agree with that framing.
Hey 9Watts, we have innumerable case studies of collisions with turning trucks and other large vehicles (like buses). Plus a few sideswipes, and some collisions that follow a dooring event. All those collision types are prevented by lane control.
Collision with a truck that isn’t turning, and isn’t a sideswipe? I’ve never seen one, and I’ve been looking for 45 years. (Yes, I started studying this stuff in 1973, when I was a junior in college.)
If there’s a collision type I’ve overlooked, please enlighten me.
Being spooked is no fun. I get that. But being run over, by a collision mechanism you didn’t understand, is worse.
I’ll bet that you watch the video that John S. Allen and I both posted, and that you heed its lessons. You may complain, but you’ll heed its lessons.
You may be right about the statistics. I’ll defer to you on that.
If I’m not mistaken some truck/bike collisions involve the truck driver overtaking the cyclist and then turning, and not the other way around, as your examples seem to suggest. I recall one caught on video recently in Boston?
Watch that Boston video again. The bicyclist overtook the truck on the right as the truck driver was executing the turn.
Every possible scenario of bike and truck speed has resulted in a fatality. Stationary cyclist, truck starting up from stop light: Alice Swanson and Tracy Sparling. Bicyclist (following green paint) overtaking turning truck on right at a police-estimated 15 mph: Kathryn Rickson. Nighttime: there was one in Boston. Bicyclists going faster, bicyclists going slower: I’m drawing a blank on the names, but every scenario I can think of has taken place.
What all these crashes have in common is the following:
The truck driver is performing a very difficult maneuver that requires massive concentration looking forward. Looking in the mirrors is NOT a reliable way of seeing a bicyclist, who may be hidden behind a curve or other screening feature, or who may easily be in the truck driver’s blind spot. And the truck driver can, at most, spare a fraction of a second to look. But what if there’s a wrong-way cyclist in the crosswalk ahead of him, and then other people to watch for in the next crosswalk? Might that distract him from studying the rear view mirror? Pinning one’s hopes on the truck driver studying the rear view mirror has had a miserable failure rate.
As for my being ‘absolutist,’ some things ARE absolute. The sun will go down tonight. Politics will be a mess next week and the week after. A bicyclist behind a truck won’t get right-hooked by the truck, and a bicyclist not in the door zone won’t get doored.