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Man and six-year-old son injured in crash crossing NE 33rd on a neighborhood greenway

Posted by on July 17th, 2018 at 11:46 am

A sight you hope to never see.
(Photo: Josh Ross)

The Going Neighborhood Greenway is one of the busiest and arguably best example of a family-friendly cycling street we have in Portland. That’s why what happened to Josh Ross and his six-year-old son on Saturday matters.

(Map graphic: BikePortland)

Ross was biking with his son in a Weehoo bike trailer when they were hit by a woman driving a BMW coupe. As he described it to me on the phone yesterday, Ross was riding east on Going. He used the two-way, elevated cycle-track on the west side of 33rd (map) and was one full lane into the intersection just prior to the collision. People in cars were bumper-to-bumper in the southbound direction, so Ross had an easy time pulling in front of someone in the lane closest to the cycle-track. Then, after he slowed to make sure the driver in the northbound lane saw them, he rolled forward. “The BMW had been stopped on Going heading west. I noticed her sitting there, but she wasn’t on my radar because she shouldn’t have been going,” Ross explained about The BMW driver who was waiting to turn left.

But as he and his son began to roll across 33rd, the woman inexplicably lurched forward directly into them. “I think she thought that traffic had stopped for her so she just jumped… She said she didn’t see us.”

Ross and his son were returning home after getting lunch and running some errands on Alberta Street. The collision left him with a badly banged-up foot and both he and his son hit their heads and might have had a minor concussion. Ross reports that the woman who hit them, “was really freaked out.”

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“We enjoy riding. And I really hope I can get back to doing that with him.”
— Josh Ross

It’s hard to know why exactly this woman would make such a grave mistake; but her behavior suggests she might have been distracted. It’s common to see people looking down at their phone or other device while stopped. They feel like it’s OK to do when they’re not moving. But I’ve noticed that even when you’re not moving, when you stop paying attention to the task of driving for a few moments it’s easy to become detached from what’s going on around your car. You lose the situational awareness that’s essential for safety. You assume the conditions present when you last looked at the road will be similar to when you’re done looking at your device. That’s not only dangerous behavior, it’s illegal.

There’s a very good reason Oregon’s distracted driving law explicitly forbids using a device while stopped in traffic and requires people to pull over and park if they need to take their attention off the road.

Another element of this collision worth noting is that it could have been much worse. That might not be much consolation to the Ross family; but when you talk to traffic engineers about road design, you won’t find one who expects to prevent all collisions. Even a Vision Zero approach assumes bad things will still happen sometimes — the goal is to minimize consequences when they do. To PBOT’s credit, this was a very slow-speed collision that resulted in relatively minor injuries. If this same thing happened on a multi-lane arterial or larger neighborhood collector street that didn’t have a crossing treatment updated to neighborhood greenway standards, it’s likely this would have been much worse.

As for what the future holds for Ross and his son’s cycling aspirations. He says he’s not sure his son will want to get back into the trailer. “We enjoy riding,” he said, “And I really hope I can get back to doing that with him.”

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

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NOTE: We love your comments and work hard to ensure they are productive, considerate, and welcoming of all perspectives. Disagreements are encouraged, but only if done with tact and respect. If you see a mean or inappropriate comment, please contact us and we'll take a look at it right away. Also, if you comment frequently, please consider holding your thoughts so that others can step forward. Thank you — Jonathan

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Adam
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Adam

“… She said she didn’t see us.” …or didn’t look for them? There is a big difference.
I’m glad they are ok in relative terms and the collision was low speed.

Chrystal
Guest
Chrystal

If an enforcement like this was followed through then maybe less people would be less “distracted”.

Edward
Guest
Edward

Enforcement will never work. It’s a big waste of time & money.

The much better option is to make the distracting devices liable for accidents.

In that scenario, device designers would build them in a way that to make sure people can’t text, check FB or BikePortland thread responses while they’re in motion (i.e., driving). There’s really no reason to build the devices to allow that. Heck, even PokemonGo shut off if you went over 12 mph. Why can you text at 40 mph?

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

Because you’re a passenger?

Edward
Guest
Edward

Yeah, I get that — the need to text while being a passenger.

Is being a passenger in a car in traffic really so lousy that you absolutely cannot wait a bit to send a text? to check FB? etc. etc. Is being in a car so bad that you must mentally abandon your driver? And how does it feel for the driver whose passenger “checks out” into digital device-land? When your passenger is doing it, can really resist the pull to touch your device and check to make sure you’re not ‘momentarily missing out’?

Maybe we need something where devices are only fully functional in the back-seat, and in the front seat you only get NHTSA approved apps. I don’t know. But I do know we need to start being honest with ourselves.

Most texts that we “NEED” to send are really social obligations, “Save our seats! Be there in 10!” etc. etc. How many times did you stop a nuclear armageddon with a text? That “need” is really a judgment call. The temporary risk I put us all in is OK for me, because I haven’t wrecked the last 500 times I did it (even though I agree none of us should do it), but it’s not ok for everybody else to do it. That’s the lie we all tell ourselves. We need to stop. Devices either belong up front or they don’t.

Turn your device off. Have a conversation in the actual moment with the person who is right there with you. And while you’re shooting the breeze, your extra set of eyeballs might prevent an accident.

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

Abandon? Or support? Sometimes I want my passenger to check an address, phone ahead, refer to a map, etc.

q
Guest
q

I’d rather have a passenger texting “Save our seats!” so the driver can relax than have the driver racing to get to the seats.

Johnny Bye Carter
Subscriber
Johnny Bye Carter

“Is being a passenger in a car in traffic really so lousy that you absolutely cannot wait a bit to send a text? to check FB? etc. etc. Is being in a car so bad that you must mentally abandon your driver?”

Yes, they really are that bad. It’s only slightly better than being the driver.

As an auto passenger you get directives all the time from the driver to look things up or maybe respond to something on a phone. It’s your responsibility as a passenger to be the one distracted so that the driver can focus. Phones are the new maps.

Why don’t you want me playing with my phone while I’m riding the bus? If I’m not distracted then I look outside and see that everybody driving is breaking the law and it’s a serious emotional downer to have to absorb all that.

I’ll continue to play with my phone while not driving a motor vehicle.

seRider
Guest
seRider

In the article, Jonathan said “…but her behavior suggests she might have been distracted. It’s common to see people looking down at their phone or other device while stopped…” So Jonathan’s “might have been” is now taken as a known fact by many commentors! If you don’t know why the driver behaved the way she did, just say so. Don’t build an argument on “yeah, that’s what those bastards do” kind of speculation. (Leave that to Sean Hannity)

paikiala
Guest
paikiala

“It’s hard to know why exactly this woman would make such a grave mistake…”

Since no one reporting interviewed the other person involved, it is technically impossible to know, not just hard.

Middle of The Road Guy
Guest
Middle of The Road Guy

Whatever happened to personal responsibility?

brian
Guest
brian

Because you’re riding the bus

rachel b
Guest
rachel b

Enforcement works. Consequences work. Without them, humans do awful things.

Edward
Guest
Edward

The right consequences work and change our group behavior. Otherwise consequences are just a random punishment that make us all feel better for something we all do, but allow us each to remain morally superior because it wasn’t me, and I didn’t caught.

Last time I stood at a corner and counted drivers on devices I stopped counting because it was ALL OF THEM. I noticed a teenage driver who was not on a device, but her mom the passenger was. Out of people with NO DEVICES one was a lady talking to her dog and the other was a guy busy smoking a bowl.

Enforcement/consequences only work for most of the rules of the road because the most important consequences are immediate. If you don’t stop for that stop sign … you’ll get in an accident or somebody honks their horn. Speed a little bit and you’re rolling with the flow of traffic. Speed a lot, weaving in and out of traffic and they’ll come after you specifically. Consequences need to be immediate and obvious to be effective.

The consequence that would work is that companies who make and profit from these addicting distraction machines need to pay when the distraction causes a predictable harm.

Lyle w
Guest
Lyle w

A more feasible option, in my mind, would be placing cellphone jammers of some sort in the cars of people who have been convicted of distracted driving. Say six months for the first offense, and then dramatically escalating from there (along with huge fines/suspensions/possible jail time) for chronic offenders who refuse to respect the law. Just like DUI laws and how punishment escalated exponentially with each conviction.

portlandyup
Guest
portlandyup

I am more of a runner than a cyclist, but this is the exact excuse that was used by a driver the only time I’ve been hit while running. Lady ran a stop sign in broad daylight, while I was halfway through a marked crosswalk, wearing dayglo yellow shorts and sports bra. My response was the same as yours: “You didn’t see me, or you weren’t looking?” I’ve had a couple near-misses since then, always in a crosswalk, always in broad daylight, and always while wearing bright colored clothing. I put in 25+ miles a week, and it seems like inattentive drivers are nearly impossible to avoid encountering.

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

One could conclude that driving is too dangerous an activity for mere humans to participate in.

Clayton Stahnke
Guest
Clayton Stahnke

A harrowing reminder that eye contact with drivers and other riders is paramount to safe bicycle riding, especially within the chaos of NE rush hour gridlock.

And don’t get me started on tinted windows…

BradWagon
Subscriber

The only thing eye contact has ever done for me is make sure they see my middle finger, most often they prefer to gaze ahead in shame rather than face my glare.

soren
Guest
soren

Eye contact is extra effective if you use the “connection” to broadcast your thoughts directly into their brains. I can’t think of how many times eye-contact telepathy has saved my bacon while cycling!

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

Eye contact has been a critical component of human communication since long before we were human. Working as it does at the subconscious mammalian level, sometimes it does seem to border on the telepathic.

Chris I
Guest
Chris I

If it is so critical, then we probably should start regulating vehicle heights and window tint to ensure that eye contact is possible at all times, between all road users. I hope you will get the ball rolling on this.

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

Done, and done. We have limits to both vehicle height and window tint. Any other requests?

B. Carfree
Guest
B. Carfree

Could we maybe consider enforcing those laws? How about we crush any vehicle with illegal tinting and confiscate the property of anyone doing business doing the illegal tinting on motor vehicles. While you’re granting requests, can we diminish the amount of tint that is legally allowed? I would like to see the faces of all the wonderful people who are signalling with their hands that I’m number one. (I wonder why no one uses their index finger these days.)

Middle of The Road Guy
Guest
Middle of The Road Guy

Yes…no more dark sunglasses either. Sorry cyclists!

Dan A
Subscriber
Dan A

Tiresome false equivalences, MotRG. Sunglasses don’t prevent other people from seeing what you are doing inside of your vehicle.

Jeff Forbes
Guest
Jeff Forbes

Four or five times over the past 20 years I’ve nearly hit someone when making a left turn in a vehicle and didn’t see the pedestrian crossing the street in the opposite direction because I didn’t see them through the 3 inch wide post that separates the windshield from the driver-side window. My wife in the passenger side could see them and stopped me from hitting someone at least twice. There may not be an engineering solution to that, but the near misses have made me much more aware of that failing.

Clayton Stahnke
Guest
Clayton Stahnke

I keep trying to broadcast my thoughts to drivers, but I think my helmet is blocking my telepathic signals…

Dan A
Subscriber
Dan A

Is it tinfoil?

Kate
Guest
Kate

It’s by no means a silver bullet, but making eye contact is a very useful way to judge if a motorist has seen you, or has the vacant gaze past you where you can largely assume they are not “seeing you”. To totally write it off is disregarding a useful defensive riding tool.
For that reason I join Clayton in my hatred of tinted driver windows- they should absolutely be illegal.

Middle of The Road Guy
Guest
Middle of The Road Guy

What about sunglasses?

FRED TRAMPLER
Guest
FRED TRAMPLER

THEY TOOK AWAY THE STRAWS SUNGLASSES R NEXT

q
Guest
q

As soon as I saw sunglasses being discussed, I knew this is where the conversation would head. Sunglasses are just too polarizing.

soren
Subscriber

“To totally write it off is disregarding a useful defensive riding tool.”

Do you have any evidence to back up this incredibly strong claim?

Tom Hardy
Guest
Tom Hardy

Continuous eye contact with closing drivers is manditory. When their face disappears in tinted glass, the driver in going to cut directly across your lane. If he is pointed directly at you he is using you as a target. This has not changed in decades.

Paul J Atkinson
Guest
Paul J Atkinson

Eye contact through the glare off a windshield is often literally impossible for me as a cyclist, so I cannot fathom any kind of accountability falling on vulnerable users based on whether they locked eyes with the driver of the car.

9watts
Subscriber

At which point you have just made it impossible or much more difficult for the person to make eye contact *with you*

I dislike sunglasses For this reason: they prevent me from seeing the other person’s eyes. Must be a quirk of mine.

Toby Keith
Guest
Toby Keith

Yeah 9watts…it is.

q
Guest
q

I’m with 9watts, too.

Middle of The Road Guy
Guest
Middle of The Road Guy

I use clear lenses pretty often – I find it’s easier to make contact with drivers but on the other hand, women can now tell when I am starting at them 🙁

rachel b
Guest
rachel b

I’m with 9watts, in general. But you need sunglasses in the sun. I just dislike not being able to see eyeballs.

Paul J Atkinson
Guest
Paul J Atkinson

That might work in the daytime for some people, but it won’t work at night for anyone.

Seriously…eye contact is not the issue; it’s a terrible distraction and tantamount to (though perhaps not equivalent to) victim-blaming.

The issue is that this driver didn’t look straight ahead, directly in front of the hood of her car, to make sure there wasn’t a family there before she stepped on the gas. Pretty sure high-viz clothing wouldn’t have helped the family either, nor would a blinking rear light, because helping someone see you only works if they look.

soren
Subscriber

Many “defensive riding” techniques are akin to operant conditioning of pigeons.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vGazyH6fQQ4

Huey Lewis
Guest
Huey Lewis

Seriously they are the worst. Some tint, yeah ok. But so many windows are blacked out! Despite this absolute garbage weather we have for now we do not live in the Sun Belt! In my Fantasy World tinted windows are outlawed and smashed out with rocks. And it’s always overcast.

Dan A
Subscriber
Dan A

Ha ha, technically.

Edward
Guest
Edward

No, you’re wrong. Tint is not “outlawed”. This code section is about people applying tint other than what the manufacturer builds into the glass itself.

Tait
Guest
Tait

Actually (and to my surprise — I hadn’t realized it before now), it does not have an exemption for OEM or factory-installed tinting. And a person operating a vehicle with such tinting must have in the vehicle a certificate showing compliance. Such a certificate certainly never came with the factory tinting on my car. I don’t know anybody else who has such a certificate. In practical terms, it seems like nearly every vehicle and every driver in the state is in violation (at least those with any tinting at all).

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

Are you sure there’s no boilerplate certificate in the back of your owner’s manual?

Tait
Guest
Tait

Nothing. It looks like 815.222 became law in 2014; my vehicle is older than that. (However, no exemption for older vehicles, either.)

Edward
Guest
Edward

I think the language of ORS 815.221 was written in a manner contemplating post-factory installation, “a person may install …” So, that’s how they built the exception into it.

I presume this code was written in a way that reflects the national NHTSA standards but i confess i didn’t actually check. And I probably over-stated when i wrote “did not outlaw”. Can I delete or alter my previous posts? Sheesh. Sorry everybody (I can easily go a little bit “over the top”).

Dan A
Subscriber
Dan A

In Oregon you can’t have ANY tinting on the windshield except for the top 6 inches, unless you have a certification from your optometrist. I see a lot of tinted windshields out there…..

Nick W.
Guest
Nick W.

Funny thing is that so many drivers look right at you, giving the impression that they see you and then act in a fashion that indicates they’re actually looking right through you or somehow otherwise situationally unaware.

SD
Guest
SD

Sure, we should use all possible information to anticipate driver behavior, but eye contact is overrated in that it is often not possible due to glare and is sometimes misleading.

Chris I
Guest
Chris I

I don’t look for eye contact. I look at the wheels. Where are the pointed, are they moving? They are the first indicator of a vehicle’s movement, and where it will be going.

SD
Guest
SD

Wheels are a great first indicator. The tough thing about this situation, if I understand it, is that there are three drivers that could potentially act unpredictably. Hard to keep eyes on all three.

Johnny Bye Carter
Subscriber
Johnny Bye Carter

As long as you remember that most people make a slight left before right-hooking you.

Paul
Guest
Paul

I deliberately avoid eye contact or even turning my head toward cars when crossing busy streets. I find cars are much more likely to stop if they’re not sure that I’ve seen them. I’m secretly ready to stop if they don’t, but better that they don’t know that, or else they’ll never stop for me.

Paul
Guest
Paul

To clarify, talking about using marked or unmarked crosswalks while walking or biking.

Johnny Bye Carter
Subscriber
Johnny Bye Carter

This is always my strategy. Make them think you’re about to go directly in front of them and they will stop so that they don’t run you over. Make eye contact with them and then they know you see them and think it’s clear for them to go.

Drivers want to ensure you see them so that you know to give them the right of way. They don’t know you have the right of way.

was carless
Guest
was carless

What? How can you even see the driver’s silhouette, let alone face through a dirty, reflective glass windshield?

The one time I thought I saw a driver’s face they tried to run me over. Don’t fall for the false belief that you are “making eye contact,” watch the vehicle’s wheels to see if they are turning and which direction they are moving. Saved my bacon more than once.

Johnny Bye Carter
Subscriber
Johnny Bye Carter

There’s a place on 82nd that will tint your windows illegally dark if you pay them in cash. I suspect there are a lot of places like that. They just want your money.

TonyT
Subscriber
TonyT

The shortcomings of PBOT’s NOT legally recognized bikewalks will surely come into play here.

From https://www.portlandoregon.gov/transportation/article/585677

“Do cars have to stop?
People driving are not legally required to stop for people bicycling through the cross-bike.”

PBOT is ultimately not helping safety with wishful thinking infrastructure like this. They’re depending on it in so many instances in their newest projects and it’s legally meaningless. It leaves us hanging out to dry if we use their infrastructure as intended.

BradWagon
Subscriber

Agree, even driver that waited for them in Southbound lane could have changed his mind and plowed into them and would be 100% free and clear in court.

Gary B
Guest
Gary B

That’s complete nonsense. Right of way is not license to run over anybody and anything in the road. A victim in such a collision most certainly can pursue liability from the driver and prevail, it’s just not as easy as showing that they committed a traffic violation.

BradWagon
Subscriber

Are you new? How many times have we seen drivers hit and even kill cyclists and not face any single charge because of some technicality “Oh cyclist didn’t have a light, deserved to die”, “Cyclist ‘came out of nowhere’ and I didn’t see them”. That you think a driver in this kind of situation would face any consequences is incredible wishful thinking.

Paul J Atkinson
Guest
Paul J Atkinson

This is…complex. Because you’re right but that’s not how it works.

You’re right, of course, that if a driver in that situation said “well, officer, I saw them but I knew they didn’t have the right of way and I did so I decided to run over them,” then the driver would likely suffer some kind of punishment. Absolutely true but it scarcely ever happens (though the driver who took Alastair’s leg is a frightening exception, in that he *did* see the oncoming cyclist but thought he could make it, yet still got only a minor citation).

However, if the driver follows the Oregon 3-step plan to avoid responsibility then history indicates they’re likely to get away completely unscathed. Step 1: be sober (if you’re drunk they will nail you). Step 2: stay at the scene (if you leave they may not catch you, but if they do then they will nail you). Step 3: say the magic words, which are either “I didn’t see them” or “they came out of nowhere.” Follow those steps as a driver and, barring extraordinary circumstances, you’re in the clear.

B. Carfree
Guest
B. Carfree

As far as I know, and this has been confirmed by both a long-time local judge and a patrol officer who has dealt with it, the premise that someone with the right of way must take action to avoid a collision is not valid in Oregon. It was many years ago, but it was overturned. (I do wish I could remember if the judge told me whether it was legislative, bureaucratic or judicial action that undid it.) A driver in Oregon has no legal obligation to avoid running someone over. Obviously there’s a moral imperative to not go around killing jay-walkers, but apparently that’s all there is.

PATRICK BARDEL
Guest
PATRICK BARDEL

I think the car had a stop sign at Going St and used the break in traffic (for the bike) to jump onto 33rd going south. Reason for mistake, perhaps; but no excuse.

Josh Ross
Guest

That is what happened.

Trebor
Guest
Trebor

I’m not sure legal status of users in bike walks is terribly relevant here. If there wasn’t a bike walk in this location, the cyclist still would not have the right of way because Going has a stop sign at 33rd. The real issue is that the intersection does not offer cyclists the opportunity to stop traffic via a hawk signal.

Johnny Bye Carter
Subscriber
Johnny Bye Carter

The cyclist didn’t have a stop sign. They were on a path on 33rd.

BradWagon
Subscriber

The relevance of the cross bike here is that it lulls cyclists into thinking they have the right of way or makes some motorists stop but others not (as was the case here).

soren
Subscriber

the same thing could be said about crosswalks (marked or unmarked).

one wonders whether some people who bike even want human-powered traffic to occasionally have right of way.

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

The difference is that “crossbikes” don’t confer right-of-way the way crosswalks do.

soren
Subscriber

the green or white paint is completely beside the point. if i’m riding in a crosswalk marked by green stripes at ~3-5 mph then people driving are legally required to ceded right of way.

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

But is it a crosswalk?

soren
Subscriber

that depends on the location of the striping but some cross bikes are legal crosswalks.

Dan A
Subscriber
Dan A

source?

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

None of the ones I’ve seen meet my understanding of the location criteria.

I might feel more reassured if PBOT made a clear statement on the legal status of the crossbikes. To my knowledge, they haven’t.

soren impey
Guest
soren impey

crossbikes that are inside the area demarcated by the curb are legal because all crosswalks (marked or unmarked) are legal.

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

Perhaps, but most aren’t like that.

mh
Subscriber

“Crossbikes” is what I believe Roger is marketing them as.

was carless
Guest
was carless

It would be nice if PBOT installed a fast flashing light there like on SE 17th on the MAX line.

Johnny Bye Carter
Subscriber
Johnny Bye Carter

I’m sure the cross-bike will come into the conversation, but I don’t think it will ultimately make a difference.

What will matter is that there is an official public path directing vehicles into this intersection without a traffic control device. The driver came from the only direction with a traffic control device and thus needs to yield to all other traffic in the intersection, even if it’s coming from a weird angle before it gets there.

ORS 811.505 doesn’t seem to cover this because it’s not an alley, driveway, or privately owned building/road. The cyclist was coming from a public vehicle thoroughfare.

This should be a fairly easy case.

paikiala
Guest
paikiala

‘not legally recognized’
Pavement markings are supplemental to signs and the law. They are not, in themselves, rules, or rule invoking, unless the law specifies such (like mid-block crosswalks, with signs).
Crosswalks exist without marking them, as do roadway intersections.
The law is clear that vehicles at stop signs have to yield to conflicting traffic, including oncoming traffic.
Before the marking was installed here, it might have been unclear that cyclists could be going east:
https://goo.gl/maps/bXUnXM6r7sm

The marking makes it very clear there is another, conflicting, vehicle path.

Scott Mizée
Guest

Ugh! That’s TERRIBLE! I hope they heal quickly!

BradWagon
Subscriber

Horrific but so thankful for minor injuries.

That said, stuff like this is why I ride with normal traffic patterns where vehicles expect cyclists to be, especially when towing my own son in his trailer. Turning towards and riding feet away from oncoming traffic then using a legally meaningless “cross bike” is a recipe for unpredictability from a drivers point of view. Safest way to ride this intersection is to ignore cycle path, turn left onto 33rd, use vehicle lane, and turn right to continue onto Going like 99.9% of all other intersections in the city.

Non standard, unconventional and confusing bike infrastructure like this is actively hurting efforts to improve safety and get more people cycling. The most at risk I feel when cycling is when I am on narrow, non intuitive raised areas attempting to enter or cross traffic against it’s natural flow. If you’re going to do these two way cycling tracks and cross separate from auto vehicle streets they need to have fully signalized crossings and extremely restricted vehicle access (for example: prohibit turning left across crossing like the woman here did).

Daniel
Guest
Daniel

Totally agree, this particular intersection is terrible (and reeks of bike infrastructure that appears to have been shoehorned in primarily to get bikes out of the way of cars, instead of to improve safety or efficiency).

It’s also endemic of much of the routes available in NE; they all seem logical, but most are hamstrung by poorly-thought-out intersections which make actually getting somewhere much more of a chore (and more dangerous) than it really should be.

Clayton Stahnke
Guest
Clayton Stahnke

My thoughts exactly.

Chris I
Guest
Chris I

You must not have children.

B. Carfree
Guest
B. Carfree

BradWagon’s comment is similar to what I would have written if I had his flair with words. I do a great deal of riding with my granddaughters, ages four and five. In fact, our primary ride is a tandem with a kiddie crank for the four-year-old and a trailer bike attached to that for the five-year-old. The four-year-old rides ten miles per day to/from school with me, plus weekend joy rides. (Obviously, we’re in a break for summer, so less now.)

How would this have played out if the father had chosen to ignore the substandard sidewalk path that PBoT directed him to? Well, since southbound traffic was stopped for congestion, he would have easily been able to execute the left turn in front of a stopped vehicle. Then he would have turned right to continue eastbound without even entering a conflict zone with the BMW. Sounds like a nicer way to ride to me.

Had PBoT actually been serious about making this thing work for people on bikes, they would have just bitten the bullet and put a pair of stop signs in each direction on NE 33rd. Sure, cars would have to stop twice and people on bikes would have one stop sign that they would likely roll through while making a right turn (Oregon does allow for stop signs that do not require right-turning vehicles to stop.) That would be weird, but less weird than what they did, and certainly safer for people on bikes.

paikiala
Guest
paikiala

You use words like ‘substandard’, I think, without knowing what they mean.
Stop signs on a District Collector for a neighborhood greenway and Major Response route?
This was a Vision Zero success – major injury avoided.

J_R
Guest
J_R

Well, if this is an example of Vision Zero SUCCESS, hold a press conference!

Send some PBOT staff to transportation conferences to celebrate it and brag about how this peculiar configuration that resulted in injuries to two vulnerable road users is really a GREAT thing.

PBOT will do anything to pat itself on the back.

Stephan Lindner
Guest
Stephan Lindner

I actually think that this incident, while not a success story for VZ, is consistent with successful VZ. The driver was at low speed given traffic circumstances, preventing more serious injuries.

From a VZ standpoint, you should focus on intersections and streets where people driving cars have a high chance of hitting people biking or walking at high speed. Another aspect of this intersection design from a VZ perspective is that the driver faces the bike riders. This is much better than your typical right hook cases where the bike rider is only visible in the side or back mirror. Those are the intersections that we would need to improve immediately, and there are plenty of those in Portland.

This is not to say that the design of the intersection is confusing. I ride it sometimes and do not like it particularly much. But I think that if we want to talk about intersection redesign from a VZ perspective, than this is not a good example; three are 100 intersections in Portland that we’ll all know too well that should get more attention.

J_R
Guest
J_R

I don’t see how this could be considered a success by any stretch of the imagination. The motorist failed to yield, or didn’t look. The City was complicit by introducing a confusing design of the intersection. Two vulnerable road users were injured. Okay, so it could have been worse; they might have been killed. That’s a pretty low bar.

If the bicyclist and his child never ride again due to injury or psychological trauma, is it still a success?

paikiala
Guest
paikiala

The ignorance that Vision Zero, and the better Safe Systems, results in no crashes is abundant, even in engineering circles.
The point of the effort is to eliminate fatal and serious injury crashes. full stop.
Not to eliminate all crashes.

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

You are right — Vision Zero means zero deaths, not zero crashes.

That said, it seems this incident could have easily become grave or fatal; low-speed collisions between vehicles are usually safe and rarely result in injury, but I’m looking at a photo of what appears to be a car on top of a bicycle. It’s not hard to imagine how, with a slightly different set of random inputs, the rider could have been under the vehicle as well, with a much more serious outcome. When it comes to conflict between vehicles and VRUs, zero deaths probably does mean zero crashes.

If I were in the position to do so, I would look at this intersection and see if something in the design contributed to the car being on top of the bicycle, if there were a way to fix it, and what I might learn to apply to future designs.

Johnny Bye Carter
Subscriber
Johnny Bye Carter

“especially when towing my own son in his trailer.”

BradWagon
Subscriber

I do 20 mile round trips from Beaverton out to Hillsboro or down to Tualatin towing by toddler in his wide trailer. We often take the lane on roads like Murray, Hall, etc… While the extended greenway routes of Portland’s Eastside would be awesome compared to the routes I have to take I do not envy those that have to negotiate areas like this where bikes are actively pushed out of the way of vehicles.

mikeybikey
Guest
mikeybikey

This intersection is on our daily commute w/ the kids and its definitely one of the worst spots. My spouse no longer uses the raised cycletrack when going eastbound but instead makes a left off of Going and just rides up 33rd to the offset right back onto Going. So that should tell you something about the effectiveness of its design.

Beth H
Guest
Beth H

Exactly what I do there as well. The design is based on the outdated and unrealistic theory of Vehicular Cycling, which should not inform ANY new bicycle infrastructure, period.

B. Carfree
Guest
B. Carfree

No, this design is the opposite of what a design based on vehicular cycling would do. It’s actually PBoT’s response to calls for more segregation of cyclists and motorists, though obviously the intersection bugaboo of that sort of build has not yet been solved. And since intersections and door-zones are the primary urban cycling hazards, I’d prefer it if they stopped doing this sort of substandard thing.

J_R
Guest
J_R

No. This design is not based on vehicular cycling; it’s a cycletrack, which is a separate facility adjacent to the motor vehicle travel lanes. mikeybikey, to whom you responded, describes how his spouse uses the motor vehicle travel lane; that is vehicular cycling.

This intersection features a cycletrack in combination with a “crossbike,” which has absolutely no legal definition. It’s confusing as heck and puts the cyclist in a position where he/she is not normally expected by a motorist.

Until motorists become familiar with the PBOT-way of shoehorning in bike infrastructure in peculiar locations, I fear more crashes.

I think the motorist was mostly at fault (with PBOT secondarily at fault for the design), but I wouldn’t expect anything more than a citation for the motorist, and maybe not even that.

BradWagon
Subscriber

“If this same thing happened on a … street that didn’t have a crossing treatment updated to neighborhood greenway standards, it’s likely this would have been much worse.”

Disagree with this, had they used auto lane on 33rd and normal right turn onto going instead of path and cross bike the collision would not have even happened. And if it had the cyclist would have been in the legal right of way, as it is they in no way had right of way and driver is not liable for any failure to yield. This kind of infrastructure is less safe and less protective legally for cyclists.

paikiala
Guest
paikiala

Complete and utter B.S.
Bike lanes are vehicle lanes, elevated or not.
An alternate path for cyclists does not negate the responsibilities of opposing left turn vehicle operators to yield to oncoming traffic.

BradWagon
Subscriber

This is not “oncoming traffic” though… legally the cross bike is equivalent to bare black pavement.

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

Does a Vision Zero approach suggest we build infrastructure for what people should do, or to improve safety for what they actually do?

9watts
Subscriber

I’m not sure that is a meaningful distinction. Guard rails, to pick just one example, are some of both, wouldn’t you agree?

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

With guard rails? Yes.

But look at the thread I was responding to. In that context, there seems to be a conflict between infrastructure built based on what drivers should do (look over here, where there are no cars, someone might be coming off the “sidewalk” at high speed), and what they actually do (focus on the other streams of vehicles coming at them, looking for an opportunity to turn, which is a reasonable thing at 99.99% of other intersections).

[Note I have no experience with this particular intersection, and all my “facts” are gleaned from the other comments here.]

Greg Spencer
Guest
Greg Spencer

For the last two years, I rode Going Greenway everyday with my 8-year-old. This crossing at NE 33rd is tricky because the southbound lane at rush hour usually= is bumper-to-bumper with cars (backed up from stop light at 33rd and Killingsworth, one block south). So when you’re going west on the greenway, you have to creep across the near lane and peek around the backed up traffic to see what’s coming in the northbound lane — exactly the situation as described in the article. It’s natural that most of your attention is focussed on what’s coming down the northbound lane. It’s heavy traffic coming downhill and it’s moving fast. You don’t pay nearly as much attention to the rare car coming out from Going on the opposite side of 33rd. It’s incredible that this woman could have lurched from a stop into these two people who were nearly in the center of her field of vision — at least if she’d have been looking. She should thank her lucky stars she didn’t kill anyone, get rid of her Beemer and start taking the bus.

Bennett Shane
Guest
Bennett Shane

that crossing is sketch af

Brandon
Guest
Brandon

I’ve been at 4 way stops before where it was my turn to go and I’ll make eye contact with the other driver and I’ll start going and halfway through they will start going and then slam on their brakes and be so shocked and apologetic that they didn’t see me. I don’t understand how this works, they’ll be looking right at me but it seems like it doesn’t register to them.

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

Have you never experienced this yourself? The human vision/cognition system is highly imperfect, and I’ve had the experience of looking right at something but not seeing it (even when actually searching for it). Not every day, but often enough to understand how this could happen.

Brandon
Guest
Brandon

I have experienced this when trying to find something around the house, for example. But, while driving a car I’ve never not seen a bike or pedestrian I’m looking at. I feel that when I’m driving a car my biggest goal is to be completely aware of my surroundings.

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

You mean you’ve never not seen one that you know of.

SD
Guest
SD

I’ve had people roll at me and my kids in four way stops while making eye contact just to save time (.2 sec) because they couldn’t wait to start moving. And, yell at me when I looked at them incredulously.

rachel b
Guest
rachel b

With the way cars are built now, all they have to do is lift their foot from the accelerator and they’ll roll forward. I hate that and don’t understand how such a dangerous design ever passed muster.

rachel b
Guest
rachel b

Er…foot off the brake, I mean.

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

It’s probably safer to remove your foot from the brake to move forward slowly, then to step on the gas where 1) your foot is no longer on the brake; and 2) you could easily press too hard and accelerate more quickly than anticipated; and 3) if you panic and press down hard, you’ll shoot forward at full power.

The current design is far safer.

Stephen J Sanow
Guest
Stephen J Sanow

Like the dancing gorilla going through the basketball dribbling group of students experiment. Google it. The students never see the gorilla because their minds are focused on something else and never expected there to be a dancing gorilla in their midst momentarily.

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

This is why, while we try to figure out how to retrain our driving population, we should be building infrastructure that acknowledges this reality and helps cyclists be where they are expected and are most visible.

Ryan
Guest
Ryan

Look up “saccades”. Like HK points out, our visual system is actually fairly flawed. When we scan side to side, we think our eyes are tracking smoothly and will pick up everything that’s there, but actually our eyes make quick jumps from point to point, and we actually miss a lot of the in-between. But then our brains basically make up stuff to fill in the gaps, which makes us think we’ve seen everything in front of us when, actually, our eyes may have completely missed a car/bike/person right in front of us. The quicker we’re trying to scan and/or the larger the area we’re trying to scan the bigger the jumps can be. There are ways to compensate for this, but if you’re stressed (as driving can be) and trying to get into a gap that finally opened up then it’s much harder to slow yourself down to make sure you haven’t missed anything important.

This is not at all an attempt to excuse the driver, it’s more of an argument that cars should be much more restricted in where they are allowed to operate. I’ve read multiple reports about how our brains can’t fully process all of the input flooding our eyes and ears while driving, and yet somehow that’s used to argue that cyclists shouldn’t be on the road or at least should be mandated to wear helmets/hi-viz. It tells me that we should have much stricter licensing standards, less built-in distractions in cars, and keep cars further away from areas where people outside of metal cages will be.

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

Is there any evidence at all that the driver was using a device? The story spent a paragraph speculating about it (making some good points about why it’s dangerous behavior even when stopped), but has anyone suggested this actually happened?

Caesar
Guest
Caesar

Hello, Kitty
Is there any evidence at all that the driver was using a device? The story spent a paragraph speculating about it (making some good points about why it’s dangerous behavior even when stopped), but has anyone suggested this actually happened?Recommended 1

Pure speculation.

BradWagon
Subscriber

If someone was trying to turn left onto a busy street and waiting for someone to let them in I’m gonna guess it’s almost a given the only thing this person was distracted by was looking for other cars and trying to negotiate a busy spot. All the sudden a bike is coming perpendicularly off the sidewalk, not saying it’s ok, but very probably thing to not see, however, continuing to drive into them… another story.

Dan A
Subscriber
Dan A

It’s not normally expected behavior for cross traffic to appear from the opposite end of a t-intersection. That whole intersection is bizarro.

Chris I
Guest
Chris I

The cyclist would have been waiting (with a long weehoo trailer even) directly across from this woman. All she had to do was look directly ahead when she mashed on the gas. You are describing the situation incorrectly, because you are trying to make it sound like the cyclist “appeared out of nowhere”. This crossing is dangerous because of driver behavior on NE 33rd. The bike infrastructure provides a refuge for those that aren’t comfortable taking the lane on 33rd, or can’t take the lane because traffic is at a standstill.

Dan A
Subscriber
Dan A

Was the driver given an instruction manual for how this intersection works? I’ve never encountered anything like it, and would have been confused if I hadn’t been there before.

Chris I
Guest
Chris I

Yes, it’s the part of the manual that says: don’t drive into things already in the intersection.

BradWagon
Subscriber

But why would she look directly ahead of her to a sidewalk and someone’s yard when the traffic she is worried about is coming from left and right?

Chris I
Guest
Chris I

Because you shouldn’t blindly drive ahead ? I mean, seriously…

Greg Spencer
Guest
Greg Spencer

My speculation, nothing more than speculation, was that the driver was so fixated on her chance to go, i.e. a break in northbound car traffic, that as soon as she saw the gap she gunned it — and lo and behold — the gap wasn’t as empty as she assumed.

SD
Guest
SD

This is the most likely explanation. Anxiety and fear of other cars is one of the strongest drivers of motorist behavior. I have seen this so many times on Williams that I watch the cross streets for darting cars in stopped traffic without thinking about it.

mh
Subscriber

We were all trained to “drive defensively,” meaning “watch out for things that can hurt you.” If they’re not afraid of it, they might not notice it, “it” in this case being us.

Glenn
Guest
Glenn

Even with the more aggressive distracted driving law in effect, I have not noticed a change in driver behavior. I see people everywhere talking or texting while driving. Many people don’t even attempt to conceal their phones. That suggests to me that the law is not being enforced equally aggressively. I’ve had a number of close calls. Recently I was riding on 13th in the Pearl with no stop sign. A young lady on her phone blew through a stop sign on a cross street. I had to brake hard to avoid T-boning her.

Gary B
Guest
Gary B

I was pulled over on Hwy 30 on my way to St Johns. I wasn’t using my phone, so I can only speculate the cop saw my scratching my face. But regardless, they seemed to be doing a concentrated enforcement–several others were pulled over nearby.

That said, it’s certainly going to take a lot more effortthan that to change behaviors.

rachel b
Guest
rachel b

It’s epidemic, the drivers and phones. I can’t believe my eyes. I’ve watched people who look like they’re watching a movie while driving, slack-jawed, eyes down on the device in their hand… Have almost been taken out several times by these selfish people. Serious, consistent enforcement and fines would greatly curb the behavior.

Caesar
Guest
Caesar

Wondering why mentioning the car and bike manufacturers is relevant to the story.

TonyT
Subscriber
TonyT

The make/model of the car is standard fare for stories like this. And as far as the Weehoo, it’s not a bike, it’s a unique kind of a trailer (the kid pedals) that has a low stance on the ground and offers very little protection. I found it to be an important part of the story considering this vulnerability.

Dave
Guest
Dave

Stereotyping by car brand and type is absolutely reasonable–asked anyone who has cycled for more than a decade and they’ll have very accurate profiles in their heads. It’s wisdom, not bigotry.

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

I’m sure the police officer pulling over a brand new car full of young black men for failing to signal thinks the same thing. There may be some overlap between wisdom and bigotry.

[I’ll save you the trouble — I am not creating a moral equivalency; they are different situations, with very different consequences, but the underlying pattern of thought is the same]

Johnny Bye Carter
Subscriber
Johnny Bye Carter

Stereotyping has kept humans alive for a long time.

Middle of The Road Guy
Guest
Middle of The Road Guy

You are completely correct. Some of it is so ingrained that it is a natural reaction now – take snakes and spiders for instance.

paikiala
Guest
paikiala

fear of the other did, a long, long, long time ago, but we learn/are taught/choose what to fear today.

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

Fear of the other is deeply ingrained in our psyche, and we see it manifest itself in a hundred different ways each day, most of which have nothing to do with race, gender, or the other obvious cases.

Dan A
Subscriber
Dan A

Failure to signal in a car is very dangerous and has resulted in cycling deaths in Portland. It should result in a traffic stop.

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

The point was not whether or not the car should be pulled over, but what the officer might be thinking during the stop.

rick
Guest
rick

I saw a man driving a BMW coupe very similar to that on NW Skyline last month driving very dangerously and at very high-speeds to the west of where it meets Rock Creek Road.

Jason Skelton
Guest
Jason Skelton

BMW drivers tend to be the impatient self-important types.

PeaDub
Subscriber
PeaDub

You can scratch “BMW” and this still reads as pretty true. If we’re doing anecdotal evidence, BMWs aren’t particularly better or worse that other makes, in my experience. I have a lot more trouble with Priuses and Acura MDXs.

Chris I
Guest
Chris I

The most dangerous drivers I encounter tend to be at the extreme ends of the spectrum. Poor people in dangerous vehicles (poorly maintained large pickups for example) and rich people (or people with a lot of vehicle debt) driving luxury vehicles.

I wear many hats
Guest
I wear many hats

I disagree with you here. People driving luxury cars don’t want to pay anyone to remove blood or hair from their grills, unless they own Mt Hood Ski Bowl. I find the most dangerous drivers are those under 30 years old, as they cannot function without staring at their phones while walking or driving.

Dan A
Subscriber
Fat Spandex Dude
Guest
Fat Spandex Dude

About 4-5 times I’ve nearly been squished by a fella driving a Prius with a Share the Road plate. And once by a Range Rover, also with a Share the Road plate. Makes me think that the plate functions as a way for drivers to visualize the shape of their 1000pt. targets before they hop behind the wheel for the daily death race. 😉

Tina
Subscriber

Agreed. Priuses are quiet and have snuck up on me a few times.

world's slowest mamil
Guest
world's slowest mamil

One of them I remember very well. He ran a stop and almost smacked into me while I was making a left, because he was too busy looking at his phone. He had the SHARE THE ROAD plate and an empty bike rack on his roof. When he realized what happened, well after he cleared the intersection, he panic stopped. I turned around, rode up to him, and pleaded, “BRUH, come ON, I’m begging you man!”

He said, “I know, I know,” swore at himself a bit, and I just had to laugh and wave (with all of my fingers raised, mind you, not just the one) as I rode off. I hope he’s been more careful since then.

Dave
Guest
Dave

The only question that need be asked is, iPhone, Samsung, or Motorola?

Doug Hecker
Guest
Doug Hecker

Even as an experienced cyclist, I hate that “intersection?” It’s confusing and provides very little on the visibility aspect to help all users. When I drive, I make sure to avoid it as to not have a run in of this nature. I hope PBOT can get a light or something in there to help everyone know what’s going on as to avoid this.

I’m sure some folks like the Better Naito aspect of having both bike lanes on one side of the street but there is something to say about common themes and redundancy as it pertains to safety. When everyone knows/ or can quickly understand the rules, everyone wins. My heart goes out to the injured parties.

John Liu
Guest
John Liu

I don’t use that little bit of two-way bikeway. I simply turn from Going onto 33rd then turn onto Going after the dogleg. I’d like to see a stop sign for 33rd here and elsewhere.

Brian W.
Guest
Brian W.

Everytime I crossed that intersection going east on Going and I have to crane my neck over to check traffic and swerve into the pedestrian “lane” of the bike track to make the turn, I wondered: “when will this hurt some one?” It is just a flawed design. PBOT needs to reconsider it.

onegearsnear
Guest
onegearsnear

Agreed, was part of my commute and finally back to crossing other streets as too many close calls with cars and other cyclists even due to the design of that crossing.

Chris I
Guest
Chris I

Agreed. This should be right turn only for cars.

Chris
Guest
Chris

I use this crossing daily and have always been surprised that the left turn this BMW driver made is permitted to begin with. Much of the traffic I see here is clearly using it as a way to avoid busier intersections on Prescott/Killingsworth and is therefore noticeably impatient and inattentive. To combine that with PBOT’s unusual bicycle infrastructure here is a recipe for disaster and, as noted above, puts bicyclists in a tough spot legally due to the ambiguous nature of “crossbikes.”

Todd Boulanger
Guest
Todd Boulanger

Has PBoT or the original engineering consultants considered adding striping and signage to keep this intersection clear? [Like NYC’s Don’t Block the Box]

paikiala
Guest
paikiala

To remind people of the existing law?

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

Reminders help. It’s why marked crosswalks work better than unmarked crosswalks.

J_R
Guest
J_R

Really? What’s your source for this statement?

A study conducted by Zeeger, et al. concluded “The study results revealed that on two-lane roads, the presence of a marked crosswalk alone at an uncontrolled location
was associated with no difference in pedestrian crash rate, compared to an unmarked crosswalk. Further, on multilane roads with traffic volumes above about 12,000 vehicles per day, having a marked crosswalk alone (without other substantial improvements) was associated with a higher pedestrian crash rate (after controlling for other site factors)
compared to an unmarked crosswalk. Raised medians provided significantly lower pedestrian crash rates on multilane roads, compared to roads with no raised median. Older pedestrians had crash rates that were high relative to their crossing exposure. ”

Read it all at: https://www.fhwa.dot.gov/publications/research/safety/04100/04100.pdf

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

Does “two lane” here mean one lane in each direction, or two? As unsignalized crosswalks of any kind are death traps on roads with two lanes in each direction, it might be true in those cases.

Also what does rate mean? Deaths per pedestrian crossing, or death per car passing? If the latter, it might just mean more pedestrians are crossing (perhaps being drawn in from nearby unmarked crossings), so of course collisions would increase per car. I also know the theory that markings encourage pedestrians to take less care.

I was thinking of streets like Division and SE 26th where I have observed significant changes in driver behavior before vs. after installation of a painted crosswalk, and I rarely see anything that appears unsafe. Marked (or unmarked) crosswalks on Powell on the other hand…

pruss2ny
Guest
pruss2ny

spent 2 seconds reading the study…admittedly know nothing..but the pedestrian estimate adjustments being a simple factor based largely apparently on time of day seems like poor modeling.

KristenT
Guest
KristenT

People get so lazy about driving– especially in cars with automatic transmissions.

They’ll take their foot off the brake and roll up on the car in front of them– traffic hasn’t moved one iota, but they still do it. Repeatedly, sometimes, until there’s no more room to roll forward without hitting the car in front.

And then they forget which pedal to mash and end up crashing into a building, or a bicycle rider.

If it’s too hard to keep your foot firmly planted on the brake when you’re stopped, maybe you shouldn’t be driving, or you should get more exercise and tone those leg muscles.

Dan A
Subscriber
Dan A

My car was bumped into by a driver behind me at a red light in the same way. We were all stopped, and he would just roll forward a few feet, and a few more feet, and then he hit me. Of course, he was looking down at his phone while doing this, and I knew he was going to bump into me — I just didn’t have any way to move out of the way.

Middle of The Road Guy
Guest
Middle of The Road Guy

That’s one reason why I always get manual cars (though this will apparently be next to impossible in the future). I find I am much more attentive and alert when I have to use one hand for shifting.

El Biciclero
Guest
El Biciclero

In my own observation, it seems that a little automation is worse than none in many cases. You’ve brought up automatic transmissions, but there have been several “incidents”, let’s say, due to more advanced automation such as lane departure warnings, steering assist, “autopilot”, etc. My theory is that when people think something is magical (i.e., they don’t understand how something actually works or is supposed to work), they have a hard time knowing where the boundaries are, where the magic ends. If doing A seems like magic, then why can’t it just do B and C, and whatever else I imagine it should do, since those seem no more or less magical than doing A?

Once we turn thinking over to the machines, we stop even thinking about the machines, so if there are some things we don’t need to think about and some things we still do need to think about, and there is confusion about which things are which, and many of us prefer to not think about anything—IMO, that is the most dangerous arrangement.

Joe
Guest
Joe

why are ppl smiling in the photo? smh can we get these new ppl coming to Portland that love their cars so much to slow the eff down for others outisde the metal box.

Josh Ross
Guest

They had been exceptionally helpful and had been there for a while. No reason to be upset with them.

bikeninja
Guest
bikeninja

I just got back from Singapore which is a good example of the power of vigorous enforcement of traffic laws. Cars never speed, legal distance between is kept at all times and despite poor bike infrastructure it is safe to cycle in the car lanes ( even on highways) because speeds are low and laws are followed exactly. For the week I traveled around by bike, bus, subway and walking I never saw so much as a fender bender nor even a close call. I am not advocating the top down authoritarian government that this small crowded country has, but using it as an example of how vigarous enforcement of traffic laws can create safety for all road users is worth considering.

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

Mussolini made the trains run on time, which, for Italy, is quite a feat.

You may have noticed that vigorous law enforcement is not a common feature of democratic countries.

9watts
Subscriber

Hahaha.
The trains also, it is worth pointing out, run on time is decidedly un-fascist Germany today. I think you’ve drawn your Venn diagram a bit too narrowly.

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

The Germans are a bit more… German than are the Italians, which help may explain it.

The Germans are not (currently) known for their vigorous law enforcement, but they were a at one time. Perhaps you learned about that era in history class.

9watts
Subscriber

Yeah, I grew up in Germany.
But thanks for the history lesson.

Middle of The Road Guy
Guest
Middle of The Road Guy

Well from here on out I am going to mentally say your name as “Nein Vatts”.

J_R
Guest
J_R

I’d consider Norway, Sweden and Denmark, to be highly democratic countries with pretty vigorous law enforcement. FYI, I lived in Denmark.

B. Carfree
Guest
B. Carfree

I guess that’s why our neighboring cities called us “The People’s Republic of Davis” back when Davis, CA had a modal bike share well over 50%, all achieved with zero-tolerance traffic law enforcement. Funny, we still voted in elections, so at least we pretended we were a democracy.

Dan A
Subscriber
Dan A

Places with vigorous traffic enforcement are great places to live and raise a family.

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

I actually agree. I say bring it on, and accept the wrath — from all quarters — that will come with it. I just hope you’ll be there to stand up for the police when the backlash comes.

Peter Hass
Guest
Peter Hass

Yikes! The picture of the collision looks like it could have been much more serious. I’m thankful the injuries sound minor and hope for a speedy recovery. I wonder if one of drivers in the line of stopped/slow moving cars gave a “go ahead” hand gesture to the woman driving the BMW. That’s something that drivers will do to be polite but it can have awful consequences.

Edward
Guest
Edward

The article does not need the speculation implying that she was on a device.

People don’t have to be on a device to be distracted. Driving is such a boring thing to do, people go on “auto-pilot.” It’s hard to pay attention to something so inherently boring as slow moving traffic. The brain starts to wander … rehashing emotional stuff … making lists of things to do …. and BLAM! #### happens.

“I didn’t see them” is entirely believable.

“Its hard to know why exactly this woman would make such a grave mistake;” Seriously?

q
Guest
q

It IS hard to know exactly this woman would make such a grave mistake.

Your guess is possibly the reason. So is using a device. So is the idea that she was focusing on looking for a break in traffic.

It’s not hard to think of possible reasons why, but it is hard–in fact impossible with what’s known–to know exactly why.

John Liu
Guest
John Liu

I think it is very unlikely the driver was distracted by a cellphone or other device. What could have happened was that she had been sitting at the intersection, facing westbound on Going, waiting for a break in the bumper to bumper southbound traffic, and when she saw the opening she tried to get into it. The bike and trailer were visible but all of the driver’s attention was focused on finding that gap in traffic.

If there is evidence that the driver was indeed distracted by a device, let’s hear it. If there is no evidence, then that claim should be removed or qualified. I realize BP bounces around between advocacy, opinion, and reporting, but it really shouldn’t be baseless.

Stephen Keller
Guest
Stephen Keller

Agreed. This the same behavior that makes the yellow blinking left turn light so dangerous for vulnerable road users.

q
Guest
q

The article doesn’t claim she was distracted. It states, “…her behavior suggests she might have been distracted”. “Suggests” and “might have been” are both qualifiers.

I do think your theory–she was focusing on getting a break in the traffic–could very well be true.

Toby Keith
Guest
Toby Keith

The backup at 33rd and Prescott makes this a pretty tense crossing trying to ride behind some towering SUV to see if it’s clear. Not a good crossing at all.

B. Carfree
Guest
B. Carfree

The way American communities that have adopted Vision Zero have interpreted it is that we won’t change awful driving behavior (I disagree fwiw), so we must build our infrastructure in such a way that terrible motoring habits don’t harm people.

With that in mind, I can’t think of a worse way to have constructed this intersection than what PBoT did. While not a good way of driving, I would absolutely expect motorists who are waiting for a break in traffic at a T-intersection to gun it at the first gap they see without looking for someone riding in from the top of the T off the sidewalk. The fact that this didn’t occur to whoever approved this design demonstrates a failure of understanding how our roadways are used. In short, that engineer isn’t exactly up to snuff, imo.

B. Carfree
Guest
B. Carfree

For Sale: One slightly dinged-up WeeHoo bike trailer and the bike that hauls it.

And we wonder why our modal share isn’t growing. Let’s see, one family and all their not-quite-committed-to-cycling friends are now returning to their cars. Of course each of those cars has the potential to convert more families, and so the spiral goes in the wrong direction.

Thanks advocates for partially-segregated infrastructure. At this rate, we’ll never have to worry about bike traffic jams.

El Biciclero
Guest
El Biciclero

As a parent who carries my own kids on a cargo bike fairly frequently, this is the kind of event that I most dread. Friends and family often subtly hint at how dangerous they think it is that I ride my own bike so much, let alone cart mere children around on one (“I’m sure you’re extremely careful”, or “…and everyone wears their helmets, right?”, or “now, do you ride on the sidewalk, or…?”). All it would take would be one incident like this—not even as severe as this—and all the I-told-you-so’s, I-knew-it-was-bound-to-happen’s, and every other expression of “concern” you can think of to come out and get worked into every conversation for years to come.

And yes, half-separation is worse than none.

Eric K.
Guest
Eric K.

Edward
Enforcement will never work. It’s a big waste of time & money.The much better option is to make the distracting devices liable for accidents.In that scenario, device designers would build them in a way that to make sure people can’t text, check FB or BikePortland thread responses while they’re in motion (i.e., driving). There’s really no reason to build the devices to allow that. Heck, even PokemonGo shut off if you went over 12 mph. Why can you text at 40 mph?Recommended 2

My Iphone has this feature, most people turn it off.

X
Guest
X

People raising their children on bikes, god love you, or your local equivalent.

NE 33rd and Going: I never did like it. But NE 33rd and Prescott is just broken. The number of people who want to drive their cars through there at rush hour just can’t. This leads to erratic behavior including occasionally drivers making sharp fast turns eastbound onto Going St. against the sign.

NE 33rd is a bus route. That can’t be going well.

NC
Guest
NC

“but her behavior suggests she might have been distracted. ” <- projecting much?

9watts
Subscriber

You could also look at this from the opposite angle, had she not been distracted don’t you think she would have seen what was right in front of her?

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

Not necessarily. People sometimes don’t see things right in front of them, especially when there’s a lot going on, and they are expecting nothing to be there. I know we all seek perfection in others, but the humans don’t work that way, sadly.

Tom
Guest
Tom

Yet the excuse is rarely ever accepted when its a car that is hit, but almost always used when it’s a vulnerable user that gets hit. This seems to discredit the excuse a bit.

In 10s of thousands of miles, I never once failed to see a bike that was in front of me.

It makes for a nice theory, but just not that believable in practice.

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

“Came out of nowhere” is not accepted when cars get hit? Are you sure?

How could you possibly know you’ve never not seen a bike?

I believe it because I’ve experienced it. Since my eyes and brain otherwise work well, I doubt I am unusual in this regard, but if I’m the only one who has missed something right in front of them, maybe I should see a doctor.

El Biciclero
Guest
El Biciclero

We may just not have a wide enough definition of “distracted”. If we define “distracted” as “not paying enough attention to one thing due to paying too much attention to another thing”, then I find that drivers are continually “distracted” by other cars, to the point where they are not paying attention to pedestrians or bicyclists. This aligns with the theory that we tend to pay more attention to things that are threats to us, rather than things to which we might be a threat. I’ve been nearly T-boned on a few occasions by drivers who have spotted that fleeting gap in car traffic that will allow them to shoot out from a side street, but who didn’t spot me approaching in the bike lane. Does tunnel vision count as “distraction”?

I could very easily imagine this driver seeing a gap in traffic (to allow the bicyclist to cross), and thinking that it was her big chance to gun it before the gap closed. Not expecting bicycle traffic to have approached from the wrong way (IMO, two-way cycle paths/bike lanes are a terrible, terrible, terrible idea unless they are fully separated and signal-controlled at all intersections…), she likely wouldn’t have been looking for anything other than cars and gaps in car traffic. So, “distracted”? Yes, but by an electronic device/phone? Who knows?

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

It is quite possible to be focusing on a particular aspect of traffic to the extent you lose track of another aspect of it, possibly resulting in a collision. The term “distracted driving” has a more specific meaning, though, and doesn’t typically mean being distracted by the act of driving itself.

El Biciclero
Guest
El Biciclero

Regardless of the definition or cause, the behavior induced and the outcomes of, let’s say, “inattentive” driving are generally the same. I don’t care if you were looking at your phone or the perfectly-groomed Lhasa Apso on the sidewalk; if you run over me, the distraction was an issue. What, if anything, is to be done about it? Should I just wear my Ford techno-jacket?

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

If the driver is looking at their phone or a dog, the jacket isn’t going to help.

The only think you can do is ride carefully. What else is there?

9watts
Subscriber

“The only think you can do is ride carefully. What else is there?”

See, this is why we can’t make any progress. We seem determined to individualize everything. Somehow I doubt that the Swedes or the Dutch or the Danes or the Germans took this approach.

This is a collective failing and to solve it we need a collective/policy approach that is informed by a thorough understanding of how we got here. All this hand wringing is not helping anything. The cheeses at PBOT and ODOT and PPB and City Council must take responsibility, up their game, reprioritize the things to which Vision Zero draws our attention.

New strict rules, communicated in the context of VZ;

A new bias free approach to enforcement;

Swift communications after every incident; and

No-nonsense targets/milestones.

We have seen the hints of this in the VZ communications from PBOT, but it comes across pretty timid and without much in the way of accountability. Why can’t we expect them to do this with greater seriousness, honesty, humility?

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

The question I was answering was personalized, so it was appropriate to answer in kind.

Like on any big issue there are limits to what we can do as individuals. You suggested several collective actions, which could possibly be effective, even if they haven’t been so to date.

Alone, I can’t do much besides be careful and stay lucky.

Johnny Bye Carter
Subscriber
Johnny Bye Carter

The driver was so distracted by looking for gaps in cross traffic that they didn’t check around for other people entering the intersection from other places.

This is a Driving School 101 violation.

Always check your surroundings for things like children, dogs, and bicyclists that have the ability to dart out immediately in front of you, and then you avoid them.

Bike Guy
Guest
Bike Guy

I am shocked, shocked I say that a person in a BMW hit a cyclist.

The Going Street corridor is in jeopardy in another spot, too. Trimet is placing a new bus barn at the north end of 42nd Ave. They are going to multiply by several times the bus traffic on NE 42nd. The place where Going crosses 42nd Ave will see fatalities by bus; mark my words.

X
Guest
X

Where to begin? The Going St. corridor isn’t on Going St. at the point, at least in terms of the marked bike route. That jogs down to Alberta Ct. where there is a pedestrian signal. But let that pass. I’ve crossed NE 42nd at Going St. over 10,000 times. It’s a horrible spot, rampant speeding by MV operators and, you know, a preschool. No pavement markings for the crosswalk??? C’mon. Something bad may well happen there but buses are not the problem. If only there were MORE buses.

Steve Scarich
Guest
Steve Scarich

This sort of thing happens to me 4 or 5 times per week. I do not ride in town (Bend), except as part of recreational riding getting out of town. It is impossible to be sure, but I am thinking about half the time, the driver does not see me (is not paying proper attention), and the other half, they disrespect my right of way intentionally. I have never been hit in these thousands of situations, but only because of my riding abilities, and my defensive riding techniques. I know Jonthan does not like to hear this sort of comment, but riding with a kid in city traffic is not fair to the kid, who cannot defend themselves.

Johnny Bye Carter
Subscriber
Johnny Bye Carter

Nobody on a bike can defend themselves against a car.

Alan 1.0
Subscriber

Steve Scarich

Jonathan Maus comment image

This sort of thing happens to me 4 or 5 times per week.

That’s a lot of crushed bikes!

Matt S.
Guest
Matt S.

I’ve commuted 1000’s of miles and I’ve never been afraid. Put me on my tandem with my wife and our trailer with our two dogs and I’m super concerned of drivers. I feel like no part of the city is safe enough when I have my whole family, life, with me. And we’re a big bright unit that takes the whole lane. I act like a slow moving car when I’m on busier commercial streets (i.e., Alberta, Mississippi). We often get off the bike to cross intersections like Going St. I know, it sucks and you shouldn’t have to.

FRED TRAMPLER
Guest
FRED TRAMPLER

BAN CARS ENTIRELY MAKE EVERYONE RIDE BIKES MANDATORILY

Bald One
Guest
Bald One

Two-way cycle tracks that force the counter-direction rider to cross driveways and other intersections are not good designs or a good application of this bike-infra treatment in Portland. Two-way cycle tracks that are adjacent to long stretches of unbroken curb are just fine (think Naito), as are those that route through congested areas where no turns are legal (think rose quarter crossing of Max intersections). Two-way cycle tracks that route for a short distance across private home driveways are not great, but perhaps acceptable as the home residents can become used to the idea of looking both ways for bikers; but forming a cycle-track serpentine to cross a road as in the case of NE Going/33rd is not a good idea as clearly stated above. Two-way cycle tracks in high-speed, industrial freight areas where the traffic are not local and not familiar with the potential for a cyclist popping up in an unexpected location as a vehicle makes a turn across the counter-direction cycle track is a very bad idea.

The new two-way cycle track on N. Lombard (north of Pier Park) is going to get cyclists killed.

Why does the City keep installing these dangerous new designs? Some of these are highly dangerous, and they miss the opportunity to provide a traditional bike lane on both sides of the road which can be made with protected buffers and traditional routing where all road users can expect to find a cyclist, instead of popping up where they are not expected to be.

Matt S.
Guest
Matt S.

What do you think of the cycle track on 28th by the Broadway Fred Meyer? I think it’s a terrible design: making a cyclist heading north on 28th cross both lanes to thread into the adjacent neighborhood — who’s idea was that?

X
Guest
X

Mind-readng a bit, I assume they are saving us from making a left-right combination turn on a busy street. Instead we get a right turn while looking back over the shoulder (eastbound crossing of 33rd) while simultaneously keeping track of what’s happening on our left and of course now, across. It’s doable just not clearly better. It doesn’t help that so many motor vehicles are over 5 feet tall.

John Liu
Guest
John Liu

“Distracted driving” means doing something else that takes your attention away from driving. Nowadays that’s often fiddling with a phone or other technology.

E.g. Wikipedia “Distracted driving is the act of driving while engaged in other activities that take the driver’s attention away from the road.”

This accident doesn’t seem to be “distracted driving”. There’s no evidence cited that the driver was engaged in another activity while driving.

It seems to be some combination of careless, incompetent, impatient, or dangerous driving.

Dan A
Subscriber
Dan A

…and goofy infrastructure.

q
Guest
q

It’s probably time for the term “distracted texting”. Anyone who texts knows what I mean. You’re texting with someone, when they rudely stop replying for a minute. Chances are they’ve become distracted from texting by having to pay attention to driving while they’re passing a cop or swerving to avoid hitting someone.

Hazel Gross
Guest
Hazel Gross

I bike through here often and I’ve always felt it would be slightly safer if cars on Going could only turn right onto NE 33rd.

X
Guest
X

I had the same idea. Residents who park on that block would probably complain bitterly.

John Thurston
Guest
John Thurston

Your inclusion of maps and photos is an asset to the article.
For the benefit of your non-Portland audience, please consider slapping a compass rose on your included map. I don’t know the orientation of your map or the roads, which means I must do some mental gymnastics to determine if there is enough information to orient without firing up my own copy of google maps.

q
Guest
q

That would be nice.

Your comment did spur me to look at google street view. My first impression is that that’s sure a weird set-up, with the two-way bike path/sidewalk. It was still the driver’s fault, but it doesn’t seem like an ideal design.

It also seems too bad people can’t walk across the west side of the intersection (the one without the marked crosswalk) and in fact, if there was a marked cross-walk there, that might have clued the driver in better that people on bikes would be crossing there, too. That may have its own problems, though.

So I don’t know all the thinking that went into the design, but my first impression from google is that I wouldn’t want to be biking through there with inattentive drivers. I might prefer riding in the eastbound street lane, then turning right onto Going southbound. Then I wouldn’t be in any driver’s path. Others may have already said something similar in the many comments already.