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Man and young child hit while crossing SE 122nd at Midland Library

Posted by on October 2nd, 2018 at 10:13 pm

The crossing where tonight’s collision happened. The Midland Library is on the right.

We are not moving fast enough to make 122nd Avenue safer.

“Didn’t know that living in outer SE would mean saying a prayer every time you cross the street. What’s going on in this city?”
— Ana del Rocío, nearby resident

Portland Police say a man and a young child have sustained “critical, life-threatening injuries” and are being treated at a hospital following a collision that happened outside Midland Library just after 5:30 pm tonight.

According to photos we’ve seen via Twitter user @splindlypete (see below), the victims were crossing at the marked crosswalk and rapid flashing beacon just outside of the library south of Morrison Street. A large white van can be seen in the lane adjacent to the median, fully blocking the painted crosswalk striping. It’s too early to know for sure, but it appears like this could have been a classic “double-threat” situation where one driver stops, but another driver doesn’t.

The Twitter user who was on the scene said the young person looked to be about nine years old and was responsive prior to being loaded into the ambulance. The dad was unresponsive.

“Lot of of folks wondering how this could have happened,” wrote @splindlypete on Twitter tonight. “Those crosswalks are really unsafe. it’s not too hard for a driver in one lane to not see pedestrians that are in front of and slightly to the side of another car, and sometimes the lights go off when people are still crossing.”

This is heartbreaking — not only because these two innocent people are clinging to life; but because we know how dangerous 122nd is and we’ve endured these tragedies far too many times. According to crash statistics (which don’t begin to tell the tale) 122nd has four of the top ten most dangerous intersections and it’s one of only 13 streets citywide that’s earned a “high crash” designation for bikers, walkers, and drivers.

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SE 122nd and Stark, just north of the Midland Library crossing.
(Photos: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

Crosswalks with yellow signs and flashing lights — like this one on 122nd near NE Stanton — are common responses to safety concerns. But are they enough?

For years now, advocates and city planners have been aware of the dangers posed by this neighborhood highway. In 2014, following his participation in a Pedalpalooza ride that took a closer look at its pitfalls, reporter Michael Andersen wrote an article titled, “What would it take to make 122nd Avenue great?

It’s not that PBOT doesn’t have plans to make 122nd better, it’s that the threat is growing faster than our efforts to mitigate it.

Just a few weeks ago I reported on a press conference a few miles north of tonight’s collision. Electeds and agency staff from the City of Portland, Multnomah County and TriMet made speeches and cut a ribbon on an early phase of the Portland Bureau of Transportation’s 122nd Avenue Plan.

At that event, I could only shake my head with concern as I watched all sorts of dangerous driving behaviors unfold around a newly installed crosswalk with a beacon. After the event I spoke with a PBOT staff person and shared my thoughts that, while these incremental improvements are nice, it will take much more than a few flashing lights to tame drivers on 122nd. To make a real impact, we must encourage people to drive less by making transit and cycling more competitive and we need to directly constrain auto use by lowering speed limits and making dramatic changes to the profile and design of the road itself.

PBOT has millions set aside for 122nd and their goal to make it a more human, multimodal street is admirable. But I’m afraid it won’t be enough, soon enough.

For people who live, work, and play on and around the 122nd Avenue corridor, every day that passes is another day of hoping something terrible doesn’t happen to them. No one should have to live like that — especially when the solutions to the problem are so obvious.

“Didn’t know that living in outer SE would mean saying a prayer every time you cross the street,” wrote local resident Ana del Rocío on Twitter tonight in response to hearing the news. “What’s going on in this city?”

If you want to help PBOT make 122nd Avenue safer, they’re hosting an open house at Midland Library (805 SE 122nd Ave) on November 7th from 5:30 to 7:30 pm. More info at their 122nd Avenue Plan website.

UPDATE, 12:06pm: According to Portland Police Bureau Sgt. Christopher Burley, the man who was driving the van has been cited for Careless Driving with Injury to Vulnerable Roadway User. The two victims’ injuries are now described as being, “serious but non-life-threatening.”

— 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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David Hampsten
Guest

I’m sorry for this tragedy. Obviously their injuries will be life-changing to say the least. I know this section of 122nd all too well, having used it often while living nearby for 8 years. I never fail to be appalled by PBOT’s (and other DOTs) seemingly inability to connect likely driver behavior with how a street is designed on lane configurations, signal spacings, and sight-lines.

Take your photo from Google Streetview at the Midland Library crossing just north of SE Morrison, which is pretty typical of 122nd from NE Marine Drive to SE Foster. The ROW is 90 feet (up to 95 feet here and there) with an average curb-to-curb street width of 75 feet. There are dual travel lanes in each direction of 10-11 feet each, an 11-ft center-turn lane that turns into a left-turn lane at signals, two 7.5-ft parking lanes that are almost never used throughout its length, and an under-sized 3-4′ bike lane on each side. IMO, the present configuration of long straight sight-lines and lanes is designed to move as many vehicles as fast as possible, making the street inherently deadly-dangerous for all pedestrians and most cyclists.

The present street was built by Multnomah County in the 1980s, but PBOT has owned the street since it was annexed in 1991 – 27 years ago. PBOT has since repaved the street a few times and always kept exactly the same lane configuration striping, even as they did a bit of sidewalk infill, added bioswales here and there, and the odd RFB crosswalk. IMO, what they should do (or had done) each time they repaved the street was to change both the lane configurations and sight lines – to meander the overall configuration by removing the parking on one side or the other alternately every 2-3 blocks, but also create one-lane only choke points in residential areas and only allowing dual lanes in the commercial sections, so that overall traffic speeds are vastly reduced. In the choke areas, the unused right-of-way can then be used for bus express lanes, or better yet, small pocket parks, protected bike areas, street seating, etc. And add big trees on the median.

mh
Subscriber

…and do it without the usual public process and concern for neighbors’ and road users’ – including or especially commercial drivers’ – opinions. Just %$#@ing do it.

David Hampsten
Guest

Actually, a good deal of public process has already been done related to 122nd over the past 10 years, but as usual little came of it…

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

Seriously. Skip the process and start building already! Oh wait, we’re not talking about the Rose Quarter expansion?

9watts
Subscriber

“Seriously. Skip the process and start building already! Oh wait, we’re not talking about the Rose Quarter expansion?”

# false equivalencies

Mike Quigley
Guest
Mike Quigley

Being struck by a vehicle on the streets of Portland is met with the same unconcern for being gunned down anywhere in America. Shrugs, ho-hums, and thoughts and prayers.

Lester Burnham
Guest
Lester Burnham

This street is insanity. One crappy flashing light crosswalk at a LIBRARY and nothing else.

But keep paying east PDX with more “Vision Zero” lip service BS. It’s really working Portland!

David Hampsten
Guest

If the headline was “Man and young child hit while crossing SE 122nd in Front of Car Dealership”, what would your reaction be? Because across the street from the Library is in fact a car dealership, Ron Tonkin Toyota.

Que
Guest
Que

My reaction is the same. A car dealership is not exempt from causing dangerous situations regarding automobiles, despite your implication, and should in fact be held to a higher degree of responsibility due to the fact that they are party to putting vehicles on the road.

q
Guest
q

What are you getting at?

David Hampsten
Guest

I think what I’m trying to get to is our reaction to the headline than what actually took place. Is it more important that the victims were crossing from the library to catch the bus (a combination of basic human rights + education + transit) or that they might have been viewing cars at the dealership before crossing towards the library (a combination of basic human rights + car shopping + some other future errand). The article title that Jon wrote implies to me that the victims were at the library or were trying to get to the library, which in my highly biased opinion is much more worthy than car shopping across the street (which some pedestrians there do.) I’m highly sympathetic to both victims because I believe they have a basic human right to mobility and access without getting hit, but my indignity at their being hit goes up a lot more on a headline that mentions the Midland Library than it does if it mentioned Ron Tonkin Toyota – IMO, visiting the library or catching a bus is more worthy than car shopping.

So I guess what I’m asking, given a choice of two headlines, would your reaction be the same or would it be different for each headline?

Bikeninja
Guest
Bikeninja

I think it is high time we get a serious charge ,like the one levied against the guy who accidentally killed his friend with a bow, handed down in cases like this where innocent pedestrians are mowed down in a marked crosswalk with a flashing light. We badly need better infrastructure on streets like 122nd ,but until we get that and /or improved enforcement at the very least we need careless motoring scofflaws to know there will be serious consequences for putting their impatience and inattention ahead of public safety.

Johnny Bye Carter
Subscriber
Johnny Bye Carter

We’ll be lucky if this even triggers the Vulnerable Road User law.

Most likely they get a couple citations for failure to stop for ped in crosswalk (ORS 811.028) and passing stopped vehicle waiting for ped at crosswalk (ORS 811.020). That’s just $260 each, though they might receive each citation twice for each ped.

Chris I
Guest
Chris I

Approaching a crosswalk at full speed when there is an active flashing beacon and stopped traffic in the other lane should be a crime. No different than shooting a gun into the air within the city limits. You’re going to hit someone eventually.

q
Guest
q

It’s crazy. When I drive on a four-lane road, and stop for someone crossing, I cringe as I watch several cars coming up behind me and swerving around me until someone else finally stops.

I walk across 4-lane Macadam on non-signaled corners often, and if someone stops for me, I still have to wait for several cars to swerve around them before I can step into the inside lane. Then I’m stuck in the middle of the street having to do it all over again for the 2 lanes on the far side. A TriMet bus just did it to me (swerved around a car, realized I was there, started to hit the brakes, realized he couldn’t stop in time, so just blasted through in front of me while I’m standing there with my dog).

People who do stop know how bad it is. Sometimes I’ll stand in front of their car, and we both just look at each other rolling our eyes as car after car swerves around them and in front of me and my dog.

People swerving around cars stopped at a crossing never even consider why someone might be stopped.

paikiala
Guest
paikiala

if you mean against the law, it is.

q
Guest
q

I mean crazy. I know it’s against the law. I’d say on Macadam, maybe 1 out of 20 drivers will stop for me when I am attempting to start across the street. Once I am in the street, most still will not stop, and I’m standing there with cars going by in front and behind me. Once a car stops for me, typically up to several will swerve around it.

That poor conformance with the law is crazy. Crazy because either the illegality is not being conveyed to drivers through enforcement or publicity, or because drivers don’t care.

I’ve also noticed people clearly do better (poor instead of abysmal) when I’m crossing with my German Shepherd. All I can imagine is that they are giving me a break (or thinking I won’t stop before walking in front of them) because they think I’m blind.

soren
Guest
soren

Can you please cite a law that specifically addresses rapid flash beacons?

J_R
Guest
J_R

The rapid flash beacon is a warning device. The pedestrian in the crosswalk has right of way, regardless.

soren
Guest
soren

funny how actuated traffic signals for automobiles always legal control devices but actuated traffic signals for people who walk/roll are just “warnings”.

soren
Guest
soren

have you ever tried to cross 122nd during rush hour at an unmarked crosswalk?

rapid flash beacons are installed as a traffic control devices that are intended to create a safer crossing spot for vulnerable traffic they are not unmarked crosswalks. if the city and/or state had any interest in protecting vulnerable traffic they would pass laws that make RFBs legal signals with significant penalties for violations. the fact that they have not done so is morally repugnant. and the fact that some are parotting their “excuses” in this midst of this tragedy is also unfortunate.

mark
Guest
mark

Is that one of the rapid flash crossings that plays a recorded message when you press the button? Something like, “Use caution, cars may not stop.” Rage boils up inside me every time I’m preemptively victim-blamed by an official recording.

Johnny Bye Carter
Subscriber
Johnny Bye Carter

My thoughts are that if this was a 20 MPH area the victims wouldn’t be in such bad shape. That’s my thought for the entire city. We’re part of the way there, just have to get the major streets converted.

Chris I
Guest
Chris I

You are most likely spot on with that thought.

mh
Subscriber

And actually enforce behavior on the residential streets that now are limited to 20 mph.

Jason
Guest

Any time I’ve had to ride briefly down 122nd, I ride on the sidewalk.

Portland streets on the east side are straight up dangerous. Just crossing Halsey near Gateway Green means watching cars intently and still crossing fingers.

Catie
Guest
Catie

I am not convinced that any 4 lane road will be able to meet Vision Zero. No matter how eye catching they attempt to make the crosswalk.

Craig Giffen
Guest
Craig Giffen

But the ribbon cutting ceremonies and self-congratulating awards banquets will be FABULOUS!

Middle of The Road Guy
Guest
Middle of The Road Guy

Which is why we should admit Vision Zero is simply “greenwashing” with a different name. Just an attempt to make it look like something positive is being done, creating programs around it and if it makes a difference it is marginal and at great expense. Probably a greater expense than more enforcement would cost.

J_R
Guest
J_R

Until there is actual enforcement and actual penalties that hurt the scofflaw motorists who exhibit blatant disregard for lives and traffic laws, there will be no change in motorist behavior.

Vision Zero is worthless without enforcement!

Al
Guest
Al

Obviously, I don’t have all of the information yet. However, these crosswalks are BS.

There’s a correct way to do a cross walk and it involves a standard walk / do not walk signal for those crossing the street and a green light, a yellow light and a RED light for vehicle traffic. These “have it both ways” cross walks with a caution sign and blinking lights are DANGEROUS because they allow drivers to decide when or if they will yield to pedestrians at all. Just because one driver is yielding, pedestrians may proceed to cross without knowing that none of the other drivers around feel like yielding to pedestrians at that moment. I have also personally witnessed cars rear ended at these because the driver in front was going to yield but apparently, the driver behind wasn’t going to yield.

All of these should be replaced by stop light cross walks as soon as possible. There’s no ambiguity with stop lights. It’s like any other traffic light. There’s also no ambiguity if drivers violate them. It’s just like running a red light.

Tim
Guest
Tim

I use one of these red cross walk signals nearly every day. I wait for 1 to 2 minutes for the light to change then carefully cross the street because some cars don’t stop. I have watched people who don’t know these unwritten rules nearly get hit. But, I haven’t seen any close calls for people who get fed up with the long wait and cross against the light.

Chris I
Guest
Chris I

Every one of these should have a red light camera.

paikiala
Guest
paikiala

Based on your years of study and training?

Rapid flash beacons are the minimum standard for such a mid-block crossing.
It has island curb extensions and a median refuge with a Z crossing, so pedestrians focus on the oncoming traffic before entering the travel lanes.
The stop bars are 40 feet in advance of the marked crossing, plenty of space for a second lane vehicle to visually see a pedestrian in the road.
Drivers not stopping correctly at the stop bar, not stopping when another car is stopped in an adjacent lane, and even pedestrians not double checking everyone has stopped can also be blamed.
I’ve been nearly hit by a driver approaching a midblock red signal without other cars around.
Trusting technology to make you safe is a fallacy.

q
Guest
q

Why aren’t red lights used instead of flashing beacons?

Middle of The Road Guy
Guest
Middle of The Road Guy

Because drivers get angry when inconvenienced by 30 seconds.

paikiala
Guest
paikiala

It was likely a cost consideration at the time of the change. The Pedestrian Hybrid Beacons are about $200k per crossing these days.

Johnny Bye Carter
Subscriber
Johnny Bye Carter

A narrow door zone bike lane is also the norm but it’s certainly not safe.

Are more drivers going to stop for a flashing yellow light or for a solid red one? Which one is easier to understand?

Opus the Poet
Guest

Minimums should be raised where proven insufficient. I would suggest the minimum for a mid-block pedestrian or cyclepath crossing that had serious injury or a fatality would be a rising bollard in the center and edges of all lanes to protect vulnerable users, with a beg button for drivers to lower the bollards for ten seconds.

But I’m a survivor of someone trying to murder me for riding a bicycle on the street, so my views might be a little biased.

soren
Guest
soren

“There’s a correct way to do a cross walk and it involves a standard walk / do not walk signal for those crossing the street and a green light, a yellow light and a RED light for vehicle traffic. ”

Half signals are explicitly forbidden according to the FHWA MUTCD and PBOT stopped installing them decades ago. Interestingly, Seattle continues to install half signals. Another example of PBOT’s timidity.

paikiala
Guest
paikiala

PBOT installs the Pedestrian Hybrid Beacon at intersections, 90% same thing.

Steve B.
Guest
Steve B.

They still roll out HAWK signals like this one, they are considerably more expensive than the yellow flashing beacons.

https://goo.gl/maps/MJfnzMQdZQH2

soren
Guest
soren

Yeay they roll out new-fangled and confusing signals with incomprehensible red flashing lights instead of the familiar, cheaper, and easy to understand half-signal that is still the default in Seattle (for these use cases).

I challenge you to monitor compliance at the half signal at Hawthorne and 16th vs the HAWK at Hawthorne and 29th. It’s rare that I do not see one or two cars blow through the HAWK at high speed when the light is red and it’s also rare to see people not run it the minute pedestrians or people biking have crossed (on a steady red).

Dave
Guest
Dave

Enforcement, enforcement, enforcement. Fine for speeding or red light running should be equal to six months’ rent or mortgage. Drivers need to fear law enforcement.

soren
Guest
soren

Rapid flash beacons do not confer any additional legal rights in Oregon. The fact that a widely-used signaling device is not associated with additional legal protection illustrates how little interest our society has in protecting people walking/rolling from harm.

Middle of The Road Guy
Guest
Middle of The Road Guy

Every scofflaw needs to fear law enforcement 🙂

Beth
Guest
Beth

This is tragic, and I’m glad to see Portland Police start to use the Vulnerable Roadway User charges. Maybe they can also start enforcing red lights and cell phone laws, but I won’t hold my breath for those.
And thanks for including information about the upcoming PBOT open house to learn about plans for 122nd. I’m planning to go, and ask them how many kids have to be injured inside marked crosswalks with blinky lights before they get serious about outer neighborhoods. Guess I just need to teach my kid to assume that anyone in a car will kill them.

Tim
Guest
Tim

Nothing will change until some effort is made to enforce the traffic laws intended to protect pedestrians. I stopped for a family to cross the street today and watched 6 cars drive by. One slowed down, but then accelerated when he noticed it was just a family of pedestrians, another was a school bus. No amount of infrastructure will change this behavior, and I am beginning to think that to we are creating a culture where bikes need to stay on their separated bike lanes and pedestrians can only cross if they have a light and all drivers have stopped.

While Europe sees the benefit of removing stop signs and reducing speeds, we install more infrastructure to keep pedestrians and cyclists out of the way of speeding drivers.

B. Carfree
Guest
B. Carfree

Your comment about folks speeding through once they identified that it was “only” a family trying to cross reminds me of all the times I have seen motorists patiently wait for wildlife on the same road where they literally tailgate me mere inches from my fender while I ride the speed limit on my bike.

Maybe I need a cute deer or turkey kit to wear when I ride.

El Biciclero
Guest
El Biciclero

I’ve heard wearing a fake ponytail can help…

El Biciclero
Guest
El Biciclero

“No amount of infrastructure will change this behavior…”

Some retractable bollards or tire eaters would stop it very, very quickly.

q
Guest
q

Does anyone know why these flashing beacon signals are used instead of red lights? Is it cost? After all, in both cases–the flashing beacon, or an actual red light–the person walking presses a button, there’s a delay, then a light appears that is telling drivers to stop.

Or is the idea that flashing beacons are put in so that people in half the lanes can continue driving through the crosswalk, whereas with a red light all the lanes have to stop? That would imply that the beacons are a compromise between safety and vehicle traffic flow.

David Hampsten
Guest

It’s partly material cost: the kit for the Library crossing is around $80,000-$100,000, while a full signal is $200,000-$300,000 depending upon the intersection, number of lanes, etc. Presumably a half-signal talked about earlier would be closer to $100,000-$150,000. But the other main reason is more bureaucratic costs in time and personnel – a red/amber/green signal requires a “warrant”, that is, a detailed study to determine if the traffic and number of ped crossings justify a signal versus an flashing beacon or other crosswalk treatment, and then the appropriate paperwork and permits have to be filed and issued by various agencies, including usually the state DOT even if it isn’t one of their roads, while the paperwork for the flashing beacon is far less.

I do remember when they put in the crosswalk at the library, PBOT did look at the various options, including a full signal, but they couldn’t justify the infrastructure because there was neither enough car traffic going in and out of the library, nor enough people trying to cross the street (at a then-unmarked crossing.)

Johnny Bye Carter
Subscriber
Johnny Bye Carter

No need to make a crossing safer if nobody is crossing at it (because it’s unsafe).

B. Carfree
Guest
B. Carfree

Yes, we’ll build the bridge when there are enough people swimming across the river to warrant it.

Que
Guest
Que

Only if they start drowning in numbers at least..

stephan
Guest
stephan

The crazy thing about all of this is that most of these types of crashes on that street could be prevented if PBOT closed one lane each direction. They could do that right now, and keep the lanes closed until they have fixed the design. Now of course, that would lead to more congestion and travel time, but what is more important?

David Burns
Guest
David Burns

mark
Is that one of the rapid flash crossings that plays a recorded message when you press the button? Something like, “Use caution, cars may not stop.” Rage boils up inside me every time I’m preemptively victim-blamed by an official recording.Recommended 19

I also feel rage about the choice to use ‘may’ — expressing permission, rather than ‘might’ — noting a possibility.

paikiala
Guest
paikiala

They are equivalent words (but I’m called nit-picky):

may:
auxiliary verb, present singular 1st person may, 2nd may or (Archaic) may·est or mayst, 3rd may; present plural may; past might.
1.(used to express possibility):
It may rain.

2.(used to express opportunity or permission):
You may enter.

might:
auxiliary verb
1.simple past tense of may1.
2.(used to express possibility):
They might be at the station.

3.(used to express advisability):
You might at least thank me.

Chris I
Guest
Chris I

I’m still waiting for the cynical RFBs that say “Caution, vehicles probably won’t stop…”

David Hampsten
Guest

Personally, I’m looking forward to the future RFBs that employ tank traps every time you hit the button, like they have around the Capitol in DC, with warnings of “Caution – watch for debris in case vehicles hit barrier at speed.”

Opus the Poet
Guest

I would be thrilled if the ones here in TX didn’t include the instruction to thank drivers (for what? not killing you for invading their turf?)

Kittens
Subscriber
Kittens

We can not design our way out of this. We need enforcement.

With every year, Portland’s streets feel more and more lawless. Literally can not remember the last time I heard or saw of someone getting a ticket except for a red light cam.

John Liu
Guest
John Liu

If this beacon were a red light, it could have a red light camera.

soren
Guest
soren

The red light camera at SW 4th and SW Jefferson flashes constantly. It’s beautiful.

Middle of The Road Guy
Guest
Middle of The Road Guy

We call for more enforcement, yet do not want to fund more police.

J_R
Guest
J_R

Some of us do. We also want actual penalties and higher fines.

Chris I
Guest
Chris I

We don’t need more funding. We need legislators to grow a spine and legalize automated enforcement.

SD
Guest
SD

Wow, we’ve made it 4 days since this story was posted without a single victim blaming comment.