*Existing conditions (left) and PBOT concept drawing of SW Salmon and Park with “X” marking approximate collision location. (Click to enlarge)
This morning someone died while walking across a street in downtown Portland. It’s the first traffic fatality of 2019.
A project approved by City Council in November might have prevented it.
According to the Portland Police Bureau, the collision happened just after 7:00 am this morning at the intersection of SW Salmon and Park, just across from Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall and the Park Blocks, in an area known as the center of our downtown theater and cultural district. “Based on preliminary information,” the police statement reads, “investigators believe the pedestrian was crossing Southwest Salmon Street in an unmarked crosswalk when he was struck by a vehicle that was traveling on Southwest Salmon Street.” The man suffered major injuries and died shortly after at a nearby hospital.
This is a tragedy for our city; not just because we’ve lost another person to traffic violence, but because a project that’s already been planned, designed, and funded could very likely have prevented the death.
In November, council approved the Portland Bureau of Transportation’s Central City in Motion plan. That plan aims to improve downtown streets by making them safer and more efficient for all users. 18 projects were included in the plan, with eight of them slated for implementation in the first 1-5 years. PBOT has around $25 million already in place to start building them.
One of the projects slated for the first phase of construction is Project #8, a $3.7 million upgrade to the SW Salmon/Taylor couplet. Once the project is complete, PBOT says Salmon and Taylor between 14th and Naito Parkway will, “become key east/west bike routes for people of all ages and abilities” and will also include, “Pedestrian crossing improvements.”
What’s often lost in debates about projects that include protected bike lanes is — especially in Portland — they rarely come with only cycling-related upgrades. In this case, the intersection where the man was hit and killed this morning is slated to be improved for everyone. The project comes with a new bus stop, a protected bike lane, extended curbs to decrease the crossing distance, and fewer on-street auto parking spaces to improve sightlines at the intersections (the space where that big red van is parked in the streetview image above would be a bicycle lane).
Perhaps most importantly in light of this morning’s tragedy, Project #8 will include a “tabled intersection.”
Right now only one crossing of Salmon at SW Park is striped with a crosswalk. Preliminary reports say this morning’s victim was using the side of the street that doesn’t have one. In Oregon we’re told that “every corner is a crosswalk,” and while existing statute might not be so clear (ORS 801.220 says, “Whenever marked crosswalks have been indicated, such crosswalks and no other shall be deemed lawful across such roadway at that intersection”), the onus for safety should always be on the person with most potential to do harm.
As you can see in the concept drawing and cross-section above, PBOT plans to stripe all four crossings of this intersection with crosswalks and create a large speed table, a.k.a. a “tabled” or “raised” intersection. According to the National Association of City Transportation Officials (NACTO), raised intersections, “reinforce slow speeds and encourage motorists to yield to pedestrians at the crosswalk.”
This morning’s death is a stark reminder that the current condition of our downtown streets is unacceptable. They are a ticking time bomb that we should treat with similar urgency. When streets are dominated by drivers and cars, drivers and cars will dominate. We can’t implement these Central City in Motion projects soon enough. And we need to plan even more of them. Portlanders deserve a safe and inviting downtown where driving is discouraged and demoted, and where a foot on pavement is more powerful than a foot on a gas pedal.
— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and firstname.lastname@example.org
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The fatality might also have been prevented if there were any meaningful traffic enforcement, any meaningful prosecutions, and any significant punishment associated with blatant violation of traffic laws.
Every day, including today, I see motorists blow through red lights, exceed the posted speed by at least 10 mph, and fail to yield to pedestrians in crosswalks.
We live in the modern day equivalent to the wild west, except in the wild west cattle rustlers were hung.
Drivers rarely stop at Right Turn On Reds anymore. Often I count 10 or more cars cruise right on through at 15 mph or more. Oh, they look for other cars and trucks that might ruin their day, but a baby in a stroller in the crosswalk would be a total surprise to them.
I had to roll onto the hood of one such car that hit me in a marked crosswalk on my walk light. Put some pretty nasty dents into it, but she kept on going knowing it would not benefit her to stop. It’s true what they say about shock preventing you from thinking quick enough to memorize the license plate though.
I’ve always thought that if we banned RTORAS in the US for even a year it would re-program drivers and improve pedestrian safety. It was actually on this blog that I learned from someone there is a federal law requiring all states to have a law enabling right turns on red (after stop). Some cities do ban it though; I’m told NYC.
I think the right word is “hanged.” Anyway, hard to fathom why PPD won’t enforce traffic laws when so much money could be made by doing so. Plus, it’s not all that hard or time consuming.
Exactly! I could count on all my fingers/toes/strands of hair how many people I see on smart phones while driving on a daily basis. However, I rarely see an officer pull anyone over. Almost at any busy intersection you could have police officers in uniform walk up to motor vehicles and issue tickets like handing out free candy!
Ah reckon that given haw few pol-ice y’all have, thems are havin’ to dec-cide if they’re goin’ after bad horse riders, rustlers, murderers, or foreigners driving Ferrari horseless carriages down the middle of a 5-laner. Tough choices for lawmen in Portland.
You seem unaware of how the courts and citations work in Portland.
I though the brace new world of progressive politics didn’t allow for enforcement, because, uh…racism.
Speaking of anecdotes, I saw about 15 vehicles blow stop signs this morning. About 14 were at I-5 and Alberta where they rolled it while we were walking across the street, and another one at a 4-way stop in Milwaukie (guy didn’t even slow down, blew through it at 35 mph).
Or, perhaps, it’s a symptom of liability-based over-design and regulation? When slowing is sufficient to safely cross an intersection, YIELD would be the most appropriate sign, but in our culture the maximum protection for liability for the road authority is the STOP sign. Would a mini-roundabout at the Alberta intersection be less safe, or more safe?
I live not far from here and often walk through this intersection on my way to Pioneer Square, etc. Cars go very quickly, encouraged by the descent. The bus stop makes it more dangerous for pedestrians by creating a blind spot. Here’s hoping that Project #8 can provide some traffic calming.
For the sake our the lives of our community and our climate we need to figure out a way to move these projects along faster. It is still radio silence on the 7th ave greenway as well. We need political leadership that understands the need and pushes theese faster but the planners also need to find ways to move faster.
Much like many intersections in that area, visibility is piss poor at best. Let’s stop letting people park so close to the them so less don’t have to walk into the street to know what exactly is going on.
I’m sure this won’t be well received but should be noted is what the person who was driving was doing as well as the person walking. Quite frequently on my ride in I see too many people driving and walking downtown that clearly don’t know what they are doing and lights are a mere suggestion rather than some sort of order.
This is the only place I’ve ever lived where people can park right up to the intersection. It’s really dangerous because of the sight lines and it’s even more dangerous when cars can turn right on red and creep into the intersection to try to look around those parked cars.
Seconded! I recently had the, ahem, “opportunity” to drove around downtown in the dark in the busy days leading up to Xmas. Sightlines are HORRID and the amount of conflicts between cars stuck in traffic blocking intersections, pedestrians at all corners, and people looking for car parking and trying to get across intersections is absolutely horrid, and overwhelming even as a conscientious driver who’s a ped or biker downtown most frequently. Sightlines need to be better.
Was there cattle or sheep in your drove?
Those are 2 laws that are never enforced and a constant danger to my life.
“what the person who was driving was doing as well as the person walking.”
This is a driver’s response.
Yes, we should be concerned about what the driver is doing while they’re piloting a 2 ton weapon through a crowded city. They need to be focused and paying attention at all times due to the amount of damage that they’re capable of doing.
But how concerned should we be about the pedestrian? Yes, we have a law that says you can’t just step out in front of a car suddenly without giving them time to stop. But just how capable of a person do you legally have to be in order to walk through a dense pedestrian area without fear of being killed by motor vehicles? I always try to appear as clueless as possible when I’m walking because I want drivers to think I might step in front of them at any time. Otherwise they think I see them and will give them the right of way because they’re bullies.
Being so concerned about the actions of a pedestrian walking in an area that is meant for pedestrians is telling us that freedom of movement is reserved only for those with specific capabilities and is not for everyone who is capable moving themselves along.
I’m going to go out a limb and predict that speed was a factor. Cars routinely break the speed limit on this stretch. We definitely need projects that add speed tables at intersections. No ones life is worth a few seconds shaved off someone else’s commute.
The speed limit is 20. The lights are timed at 15. People drive 25.
I’m sad to hear that another person died as a sacrifice to our really broken way of transporting ourselves in a town. I truly believe that the operator of the vehicle is –unhappy? but we constantly see people making such bad choices with the same potential bad outcome in clear view.
It’s common to see motor vehicle operators accelerate to pass in this stretch either for place in line at the SW Broadway traffic light or for a last minute lane change. I don’t know if a double yellow lane line would be an appropriate emergency fix here, but can we at least expect some after-the-fact traffic enforcement from Portland’s police? Don’t give tickets, just a post-it that says, ‘Hey, somebody died here last Friday. Thought you’d want to know.’
I professionally drive (catering business) through this intersection quite often and always slow down and keep my eyes open because it is a high pedestrian traffic area. But I agree the design sucks. I am a cyclist and pedestrian so I am probably more aware. But the downhill grade and the desire to “make” the light at Broadway along with the other design flaws creates a terrible situation. I see these physical situations all over Portland.
It’s an oddity of the light timing on SW Salmon between SW 10th and Broadway that a person rolling down the hill at 12-15 MPH hits a solid red instead of a green as you would expect. It takes a serious effort or a flying start to catch a green on a bike (not to say impossible). A person in a car might be able to make the green consistently when there is no traffic but in my opinion they would be breaking the law every time.
“…a project that’s already been planned, designed, and funded could very likely have prevented the death.”
Saying that the project is designed makes it seem like PBOT is sitting on a stack of engineering drawings that are ready to build. As far as I know, the projects in CCIM aren’t designed yet. Getting through City Council is what allows the projects to begin design.
John, as a member of the Bicycle Advisory Committee I can assure you they’ve been designed because I’ve seen the designs for the whole network including those for SW Taylor & Salmon. The build out can’t happen soon enough. Abutting property owners need to be informed of the changes, rather than engaged for general feedback. The designs need to be implemented, after which they can be adjusted/improved on a case by case basis for abutting property owners.
The primary safety problem in those east/west streets in the Park Blocks to my thinking is that they are unsignalized in the Park Blocks section.
While the timing of the signals in the rest of the area limits speeds to the 12 mph of the signal timing, the 3 unsignalized blocks of the Park Blocks area allows drivers to run their vehicles up to 30 mph or more in an attempt to race to the next signal. That isn’t really possible in other areas of downtown.
The Park Block is intended to be a more pedestrianized area of downtown but this lack of controlled intersections ends up making the area less hospitable to pedestrians.
If the vehicle that hit this guy was really going the 12 mph as dictated by the signal timing, how in the world did the impact end up killing him. It’s possible. Pretty much any fall or impact to the head can kill a person. But the possibility that the driver was going much faster than that exists in the Park Blocks in a way that is doesn’t in other areas of the city.
Downtown is statisically the safet part of the region. Why must stis site always editorialize everything? Is subjective journalism dead?
Plus, weren’t you just recently lauding the CCIM plan as a major boon for the city despite is lack of funding and many many flaws? There’s no guarantee this project would have prevented the death here, we don’t even know what the changes will look like, if it happens at all.
Yes I lauded the CCIM plan because it’s a good plan that we need. Of course it’s not perfect. Nothing is.
And I never said this specific project would guarantee anything.. merely that if it were built already there’s a chance this might not have happened.
***comment deleted because the person is using two different usernames in the same thread. Please don’t do that.***
This site doesn’t “editorialize everything”. That’s not an accurate statement.
I choose my spots for sharing my opinion carefully and I think it’s warranted in this post.
And I think you meant to type “objective” journalism.. not “subjective”.
“Downtown is statisically the safet part of the region.”
Is it? I’m looking at the “Portland Traffic Deaths and Injuries since 2007” map and there are a lot of dots in the downtown area, ESPECIALLY for pedestrians and cyclists. The map shows that downtown and the inner city are the sites of most injuries and fatalities.
Portland Vision Zero Map: https://pdx.maps.arcgis.com/apps/MapSeries/index.html?appid=47c2153a3fa84636bb63e25b451372d0
For bike injuries and fatalities, downtown has definitely the greatest concentration, no doubt about that. Downtown has a lot of car and pedestrian crashes that lead to injuries, but not a lot of deaths as compared to East Portland. The point of Vision Zero is if you can slow car traffic to 20 mph, then deaths from crashes will drop to zero and injuries will be less severe, which is largely reflected on the gis. Unfortunately, traffic still moves way to fast outside of downtown, but especially in the wild east side, out yonder beyond 82nd, where the killer cars roam and pedestrians fear for their lives…
East Portland has seen far worse delays in construction of full-funded bike/ped safety projects that twee inner Portland. Apparently fatalities and serious injuries matter more when they happen in inner PDX.
The Google Street View shows a major problem with our city. It would help if the city would enforce the law prohibiting parking within 20′ of a crosswalk. Or the law prohibiting parking vehicles that block visibility within 50′ of a crosswalk. Or any other number of parking laws violated by thousands every day that the police just ignore. These drivers contribute to the lax attitude that they can get away with whatever they want because even if it’s reported it’s unlikely they’ll be cited.
Yes. ORS 811.550(17), Portland City Code 16.20.130(A)(2), and the MUTCD (see, e.g., 2009 Ed. Part 3 Figure 3B-21) all require parking setbacks from the crosswalk (marked or unmarked) that PBOT violates at this location and many others (SW Alder at 9th and at at Park is particularly notable for its similarities). This is a huge liability for the City, a safety risk for all users not just people walking, and so easily preventable.
The MUTCD is not law and most states adopt local exceptions.
State law for parking is not applicable in cities with their own parking code.
vehicles over 6 ft applies in this case.
True, and yet, what is Portland’s justification for the difference? Parking > Safety?
Actually yes, that is the justification from PBOT. I have previously requested intersection daylighting at some specific high pedestrian traffic intersections (for example, N Mississippi & Shaver) and received in response that the city allows parking in these areas to provide more parking capacity.
You also have some within the agency who believe more visual obstructions at intersections inspires drivers to slow down and be more cautious because they don’t have clear sight lines. While I believe the latter idea has some merit, it often doesn’t make sense to do so when those sight lines obscure pedestrians preparing to cross or entering the street.
Here’s hoping this internal PBOT policy that favors parking over intersection daylighting evolves in the near future.
The policy has changed. clearance of parking for visibility where the pedestrian would step out from nearside parking is recommended for removal on a case by case basis. In pedestrian districts and on new neighborhood greenways it is considered a ‘shall’. See Ladd/Harrison/Lincoln.
Then it’s time to start suing and MAKE it a liability. Make it more expensive (and shameful) to keep their lax standards than to correct them.
Pedestrians have to violate ORS 801.220 all the time. Even children are forced to break this law due to how the crosswalks are painted near schools. It’s either that or walk blocks out of your way.
You should see the nasty comments that prompted me to write this response to a recent pedestrian death near my house: http://windluvr.com/WhyBlameTheVictim.pdf.
I didn’t witness the impact, only noted her walking into the road during my scan of the road ahead, but it was during a nightmare a few nights later that it dawned on me – she had likely stopped to wait for the same lone northbound minivan in the second travel lane that I timed a break in front of to turn. Legally speaking, that driver should have yielded for her to continue crossing, but probably didn’t ‘cognizantly’ see her – plus a lot of people believe pedestrians outside of marked crosswalks must be jaywalking.
No clue what you’re talking about. The marking of one crosswalk does not eliminate the other.
The marking of a crosswalk eliminates the statutory crossing at that location, not the statutory crossing across the street.
The pedestrian in this case was in a legal, statutory crossing, across the street from a marked statutory crossing.
Of course, this is only true if the judge in the anticipated civil suite agrees with this interpretation.
Why doesn’t PBOT always (except for unusual situations) mark both crossings? I know the proposed changes would do that, but why are there so many intersections where the decision was made to only mark one?
If markings are needed, PBOT prefers to mark the safer one.
I know this area well. The narrow streets , poor visibility and high volume of pedestrian traffic at nearly all hours makes this part of Portland incompatible with automobile traffic. Letting people drive motorized jalopies here is akin to letting elementary school kids do chain saw carving in art class. No matter what the outcomes will be bad.
The headline sums up East Portland’s history within Portland.
Small fringe groups have wanted to “de-annex” areas like Parkrose, but we are too tight in Portland’s grip now.
Why would anyone want to de-annex East Portland? Given the area’s high growth rate, by 2050 well over half of the city’s residents will live east of 82nd/I-205 (currently 30+%, up from 15% in 1992). Combined with the federal government pushing major cities to switch to ward-district representation (most recently Cincinnati & Denver), it only a matter of time before East Portland dominates city politics and budgets. It already controls the city’s water supply.
I’m looking forward to when city hall is moved to 122nd & Division, when Sunnyside is just a hippie Disneyland-type tourist destination and the Pearl is a run-down millennial retiree slum. But I doubt I’ll be alive by then…
The article states, ” In Oregon we’re told that “every corner is a crosswalk,” and while existing statute might not be so clear (ORS 801.220 says, “Whenever marked crosswalks have been indicated, such crosswalks and no other shall be deemed lawful across such roadway at that intersection”), the onus for safety should always be on the person with most potential to do harm.”
ORS 801.220 seems VERY clear to me that this pedestrian was breaking the law, because they were not using the marked crosswalk. I think even people who disagree with that would agree that this law at least adds some troublesome murkiness to the situation.
ORS 801.220 has come up before in articles, at least in the comments. People have logically questioned why–if the law says what it seems to say–doesn’t PBOT always mark BOTH crosswalks at any intersection? What’s the logic of marking one but not the other? Especially given this law that seems to say at an intersection with no marked crossings, both are legal crossings, but once you mark one, the other one becomes illegal. That’s an argument against marking crosswalks, unless both are marked. What’s the logic or safety benefit of having people cross the street (Park) to use the crosswalk to get across the street ahead of them (Salmon), then cross back (Park again)?
When one is marked but the other isn’t (as at this intersection) it implies to drivers that people should or will be crossing at the marked crossing, but not unmarked one.
I think the law should be changed, and PBOT should mark the second crossing at just about any intersection where one crossing is marked.
My greatest fear would be this driver’s lawyer would point to ORS 801.220 and claim the victim was crossing illegally, which caught the driver by surprise–and would get somewhere with that. If judges are ruling that bike lanes disappear at every intersection, that horrible outcome seems plausible.
One a one-way street it makes sense. You want to be at the far side of the intersection because then there are no parked cars blocking immediate visibility. I use this tactic all the time crossing Hawthorne in the 41st-50th stretch. Otherwise drivers won’t see you until it’s too late for them to stop.
The marking of one crosswalk does not eliminate the other.
The marking of a crosswalk eliminates the statutory crossing at that location, not the statutory crossing across the street.
The pedestrian in this case was in a legal, statutory crossing, across the street from a marked statutory crossing.
Ray Thomas gave an explanation why he believes as you do, further down in the comments. I believe him due to his expertise, but I still think the law is worded in a way that it can easily be interpreted to say the opposite, which means it could benefit from being written to remove any ambiguity.
Jonathan’s comment below shows that some people at ODOT may disagree with you. They may very well be wrong, but the fact that they are interpreting it differently is still a problem.
The law states, “Whenever marked crosswalks have been indicated, such crosswalks and no other shall be deemed lawful across such roadway at that intersection”. Can you explain to me why this means that “Whenever marked crosswalks have been indicated, such crosswalks along with the unmarked crosswalk across the roadway at that intersection shall both be deemed lawful”? It seems like those are opposite statements.
The edges of a crosswalk are defined by the back of walk, or property line, and face of curb, or road edge.
The parallel imaginary lines that connect those corresponding points on either side of the street being crossed, usually perpendicular to the centerline of the street being crossed except when one road runs diagonally, define a statutory crossing (everywhere). So, at a standard 4-leg intersection of two streets, there are four statutory crosswalks. Each one is it’s own thing, separate from the others.
A marking that does not correspond with one of those legal definitions of a statutory crossing takes precedence over the statutory location. This is the meaning of the law for all such crosswalks.
in this one, the one at 65th matches statutory, the ones at 64th do not:
Your examples don’t seem to support what you’re saying about the unmarked crosswalks still being legal even if they are close to a marked crosswalk.
In the first (Woodstock) there are two marked crosswalks and two unmarked. Under what I think the law seems to say, people crossing must use the two marked crosswalks to cross. Under your view, the two non-marked crossings are still lawful, even though they look dangerous to cross at. The photo doesn’t tell us which interpretation is correct, but my interpretation would be safer.
In the second (Foster Road) there is a marked crosswalk across Foster. Great. Under my interpretation, people crossing Foster should use that marked crosswalk if they are within 150′ of it. I’m not sure if unmarked crossings exist at T intersections, so I don’t know if they exist to cross Foster from the corner of 78th just east of the marked crosswalk, or across Foster at 77th. But it doesn’t matter, because if they do exist, people should still be crossing at the marked crosswalk. If they don’t exist, people obviously shouldn’t be crossing at them. Under your view, if those unmarked crossings exist, then people can also cross at those. If they don’t exist, then people shouldn’t cross at those locations. But the example just shows a situation, and it doesn’t tell us which interpretation is correct.
In the third example, I agree that the marked crosswalks at 64th do not match statutory, but the one at 65th does. But what is your point? The issue is whether it is legal to cross Foster at the east side of 65th, where there is no marked crosswalk. Under my interpretation, it is not, and under yours, it is. But the aerial photo just illustrates the situation–it doesn’t tell us which interpretation is correct.
For all your rebuttals:
Per the law, unless the unmarked crossings are signed closed, they are still valid, legal crossing locations.
I already said I have faith that Ray Thomas knows what he’s talking about when he says the the marked crossings don’t negate the unmarked ones nearby. But that’s because of his expertise, not because his explanation was convincing to me. And I don’t think his explanation was unconvincing because of any failure on his part, but because the law is written in such a way that it can’t be explained more easily or clearly.
You gave some examples that didn’t help explain to me why the law means what it does, and I told you why. Just repeating to me what the law means doesn’t tell me anything, other than it seems to show that you’re not able to explain why the law means what it means. As with Ray’s explanation, that’s not a criticism of you, it’s saying that so far nobody has given a clear explanation of why the law means what it does.
And as I’ve said, my worry is that unclear laws create problems. If the law’s meaning can’t be explained easily, I can see a repeat of the “bike lanes end at intersections” problems the next time this law appears in a court case.
I live between Stark & Division in the 14200 area. Our exit street to either of those arterials is 139th. (which has now become an afternoon cut through for cars avoiding 122nd)
Construction company has placed a large (12×12 ?) tool shed east of the exit to Division in the bike lane, it completely blocks the view of oncoming traffic. You are forced to enter traffic blind, on a prayer.
I keep wondering what bonehead issued the permit to do that ?
Probably no bonehead, because probably no permit was issued. You can go to the Permit Center to see if a street use permit was issued for that address. You can also look at PBOT’s website for how to report it.
PBOT is inconsistent, and often frustrating, but they did just fine a contractor over $2k for blocking a sidewalk after I reported it.
In good walking cities, there are human scaled street lights that light up the corners. Portland has very poor lightning. In a city where it rains this much, which decreases visibility, having street lights at street level at crossings would be a big improvement. And I agree about the sight lines. No parking within 25 – 50 feet of an intersection would at least begin setting up drivers for successful turns.
Animal rights groups always oppose more city lighting on the basis that it is bad for animal’s internal clocks. Apparently animals aren’t capable of finding a dark quiet space.
Animal rights groups don’t always oppose more lighting. They (from what I see) oppose light that spills unnecessarily into animals’ habitats.
A main reason they take that stance is that yes, it is getting to the point in cities that animals are not capable of finding dark, quiet spaces–because those are becoming rare.
The commenter you responded to mentioned having human-scaled streetlights at street level because it would be more effective for safety. It’s also the type of lighting “animal rights groups” like because it focuses the light where it’s needed.
The Audubon Society, as an example, is a proponent of lighting that avoids spilling light needlessly into animal habitat. They have all kinds of info about how to achieve lighting for safety or other functions that minimizes negative impacts. There are also negative health and safety impacts on humans caused by poor lighting–light not being focused where it’s needed, glare going into people’s eyes while they’re walking or driving because the fixtures aren’t shielded, spilled light interfering with sleep, etc.
The comment about needing human-scaled streetlights is excellent, and it would likely be favored by people interested in impacts on animals, versus using the current fixtures that provide poor lighting and spill it all over needlessly.
Recall that the Portland Business Alliance brought up this intersection / project in their opposition to CCIM. They were concerned about the loss of parking and wanted to maintain Salmon as a thoroughfare for cars entering and leaving downtown. The constant opposition to downtown becoming a place for people who live, walk and ride bikes in downtown has slowed down efforts to improve safety. I don’t know of any other group that deserves more blame for unsafe road conditions downtown than the PBA.
At least they just got rid of one bad apple off the board.
I’m so sorry to hear this. A person is dead, and the incident sends out a psychological chill among people who get around by foot and bike.
Thank you for the coverage Jonathan. I have a question: is there a particular agency or elected official I can write a short email or postcard to in order to prompt immediate action on this intersection and other redesigns that are approved but are being delayed?
I want to do something but I could use specifics – names, email, phone, etc. – to make my 10-minute effort the most effective.
The view we have always taken of ORS 801.220 is that it does not “take away a crosswalk at another corner ” but instead that a marked crosswalk location denotes the crosswalk for that crossing and there is no other crosswalk, for that particular place. However at this four corner intersection there are four crosswalks. Unless there is signage, like at the west end of the Morrison Bridge on the east crosswalk over the foot of Washintgon Street that says “No Pedestrian Crossing” or something like that, ORS 801.220 is not a crosswalk “trimming” or elimination statute. Note that the actual language of ORS 801.220 states: “Whenever marked crosswalks have been indicated, such crosswalks and no others shall be deemed lawful across such roadway at that intersection.”https://www.oregonlaws.org/ors/801.220
NOTE, the plural use of the word “crosswalks” not “crosswalk”. That is intentional. AND note that where such “crosswalks” exist “no others” shall be deemed lawful. Clearly this indicates that marked crosswalks denote the crosswalk where such markings exist but where no such markings exist then the unmarked crosswalk definition in the link to ORS 801.220 above (which by the way is very expansive, 6′ to 20′ wide!) still exists for the other 3 unmarked crossings on a four corner intersection. Further, “such roadway” “at that intersection” is a different part of roadway from the crosswalk where the collision occurred, separated by my guess of about 20′ or so. I am not saying PBOT could not close that unmarked crosswalk (the Oregon Vehicle Code provides cities the legal authority to do so), but in my view it would require signage to do so, and would be a dumb idea.
Thanks for that Ray. I was in the process of asking you about it. Some ppl at ODOT see it a bit differently. I have some work to do before sharing more here. I’ll be in touch.
Thanks for pursuing this. I remember this law popping up several times in articles and comments over at least the last year (the first I recall was when some parents painted their own crosswalk in front of a daycare or school after PBOT would not). Looking forward to everything you find out….
That’s encouraging that you view it that way. It’s also great to hear an informed explanation by an expert.
At the same time, your explanation doesn’t sound as convincing as I’d hope it would be. That’s not a criticism of you, but of the law.
As an example, you quote the law as saying, “Whenever marked crosswalks have been indicated, such crosswalks and no others shall be deemed lawful across such roadway at that intersection.” You then explain what that language clearly means to you. But what strikes me is that, if the plural “crosswalks” is being used to mean both crosswalks (the two that are both crossing the same street at the intersection) what’s the point of the rest of the sentence: “…such crosswalks and no others shall be deemed lawful across such roadway at that intersection.”? There are only two crosswalks going the same direction at each intersection, so if both are marked, then there are NEVER “others” existing, so no need to say that those crosswalks that cannot exist are not lawful.
In contrast, if the plural “crosswalks” is being used generally, it could apply to a situation like the one in this article where just one of the two crosswalks across Salmon are marked, and in that case, the rest of the sentence does make sense (meaning that the unmarked crosswalk isn’t legal to use).
The point isn’t that I’m trying to argue with you (you’re the expert) but that I wish the law were much more clearly written, so that anyone reading your explanation would quickly agree with you. I see Jonathan has responded that “some people at ODOT see it a bit differently” which seems to support the scary thought that the law is open to interpretation.
Needed: A PSA on the back of every bus that explains about crosswalks.
Alternatively: Just report the bit about the dead footist not wearing a helmet.
I don’t have the last word on this, but did hear the following (I work in the Schnitz and a colleague talked to witnesses that morning and was told this):
The driver was turning left onto Park, then noticed that a garbage truck was blocking Park. In order to continue moving (not get stuck behind the truck) the driver backed up back onto SW Taylor. Unbeknownst to the driver (because, really, why should you have to know what you’re doing in a car, right?) a pedestrian had entered the crosswalk behind the car. When the driver backed up, he consequently ran over the pedestrian. Sensing (miraculously) that he had done something odd with the car, the driver then shifted into drive and drove over the pedestrian again. There was a lone walker sitting on the sidewalk next to the car, and I know from working at this location that a lot of folks on Section 8 housing travel this crosswalk from the building at the corner over to the park blocks to sit, and many of them use walkers. So, my guess is that it is one of those elderly, less mobile people.