Another person has been hit trying to walk across a notoriously dangerous street in Portland. This time it was a six-year-old girl who was walking with her mom on Southeast Division Avenue.
According to the Portland Police Bureau it happened yesterday evening just after 6:00 pm at the intersection of 107th and Division:
Preliminary information suggests the child and her mother had activated the lights for the marked cross walk in the intersection and cars had stopped. As they started crossing in the cross walk, the suspect vehicle passed the stopped vehicles on the right hand side, in the bike lane, then struck the child. The vehicle continued without stopping. The mother was not hit.
The girl was transported to a hospital with what PPB describes as “non life-threatening injuries”. If you have any information about this collision, and/or if you’ve seen the white sedan that committed this crime, please call the police non-emergency line at (503) 823-3333.
As the police statement suggests, this collision took place at a crosswalk that has a rapid flashing beacon. The crossing at SE 107th and Division was upgraded by the Portland Bureau of Transportation in 2015 with median islands, caution signage, a flashing beacon, and a protected bike lane. The project was part of PBOT’s East Portland Rapid Flash Beacon initiative that added similar crossings at 17 intersections.
The flashing beacons are not enough. When placed on untamed arterials with high driving volumes and high speeds, they can offer a false sense of security. Last October a man and young child were hit in a similar type of crossing on SE 122nd outside Midland Library. Less than one month before that collision, we reported that, “It will take much more than flashing lights to tame 122nd.”
From the photo you can see that last night’s collision might not have happened if the bike lane was protected on both sides of the street. Police say the suspect driver was headed eastbound and that the two general traffic lanes were occupied by other drivers. If the driver was going westbound, a concrete median would have prevented them from zooming around the stopped traffic.
This dangerous behavior of using bike lanes to swerve around stopped traffic is rampant across Portland. I see it almost every day on North Willamette Blvd and Rosa Parks Way. It happens because we’ve made our bike lanes wider in recent years (a good thing), but we’ve failed to do anything to protect them (a bad thing). Making it possible for people to use bike lanes to go around stopped traffic is dangerous, illegal, and it forms bad habits that — as we saw with last night’s tragedy — can and will lead to serious injuries and deaths.
We must build more protected bike lanes and implement more aggressive measures to control driving behavior and rein in the inherent deadly power of automobiles.
Last night’s crash is just the latest illustration of Portland’s transportation crisis.
While electeds and bureaucrats try to justify their support of $500 million for an unnecessary freeway expansion at the Rose Quarter, Portlanders continue to pay with our lives for the lack of progress on road safety.
Last week PBOT Commissioner Chloe Eudaly stood on the corner of Northeast Broadway and Grand — another notorious high-crash arterial where safety upgrades have languished and just feet away from where Lori Woodard was killed in a crosswalk — and said, “These recent tragedies show us it’s time to do more of this work and to do it faster.”
This Friday, St. Johns residents will march to demand safety updates on North Fessenden where there have been two people killed and three others seriously injured while walking in the past three years. Other north Portland residents are so desperate for safer streets they’ve resorted to placing plastic cups on unprotected bike lanes.
Commissioner Eudaly’s sense of urgency is a good sign. It’s unfortunate however, that Mayor Ted Wheeler didn’t even mention transportation safety during his (invite only, and BikePortland was not invited) State of the City speech last night.
We need to defend our streets from the menace of people driving dangerous vehicles.
When a six-year-old is hit in a crossing with flashing lights that PBOT touts as “safety improvement,” we need to stop and look at ourselves in the mirror. Are we doing enough? Who will die next? Could we have done something to prevent it?
— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and email@example.com
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People driving cars and monster trucks routinely use the bike lanes on SE Powell and beyond as a defacto passing-on-the-right lane. This is also the defacto mamma-with-a-baby and toddlers walking lane. Just a little enforcement, please?
And build more stinking sidewalks in East Portland!!!!!
Maybe time for a TedTalk with the Mayor?
1965: Motor vehicles are labeled “Unsafe at any speed” for their occupants. In 2019, we’ve found that they’re unsafe at any speed for everyone else.
Yesterday I was biking toward downtown on SE Stark. At SE 3rd there was a truck waiting to turn left into the Winks parking lot and a car was stopped behind it. The car driver got impatient and zoomed over into the bike lane to pass, just 10 feet ahead of me. I doubt they saw me; they easily would have crashed into me if the timing had been just slightly different.
Once they got past the truck, the driver was promptly T-boned by another driver heading north on SE 2nd. That second driver was probably in a hurry, didn’t expect the car to pass the truck, and so didn’t look right a second time before zipping across the street. I guess depending how attentive that second driver was, they also could have hit me if the timing had been different. Instead they hit one another.
People are so stressed out and distracted. Meanwhile our built environment is predicated on every car driver being relaxed, attentive, and responsible enough to operate heavy machinery at lethal speeds in very complex environments. That’s just not the society we have any more (if we ever did), and there’s nothing to indicate that we’re heading that direction any time soon. The built environment, the laws, and the design of the vehicles are what need to change.
Your story would make me sorta happy in that schadenfreude way except I’m still thinking about that 6 year old. Damn. Think about a first grader you know, or yourself at that age if your memory serves. How small, how unknowing, how undeserving of this violence.
Mr. / Ms. Not-Fulfilling-the-Duties-of-a-Driver is going to get it in the neck, if caught.
Thanks for bringing it back to the point of the article, X. I hope her physical and emotional recovery is swift.
Did you stop and offer your info as a witness to the crash?
You know, I didn’t and I should have. It didn’t occur to me until a while later. A lesson for next time.
I did check in with both of them to make sure that neither of them needed a 911 call.
While Nader may have made cars safer for their occupants it seems like few have tried to make them safer for those outside of vehichles. Why hasn’t there been more focus on requiring the auto industry to include safety features that prevent vulnerable users on the outside of vehicles from the serious harm that vehicles can enact? What if the fastest a motorized vehicle would go on a surface street was 20mph. Or how about mandatory external air bags? It seems there is a lot that can be done.
Is this one of those victim-blamey crossings that has a recorded voice that says, “Use caution, vehicles may not stop” when you press the button to activate the flashing lights?
I hope there are serious charges if they find this driver.
Would it be safer if the signals did not say that?
Surely the point he was making is that the computer voice programmer is reifying law breaking by motorists, and this does a lot of unhelpful work toward normalizing Car Head. It doesn’t have to be this way, and your question obfuscates this dynamic.
That’s an accurate summary, 9W.
Rapid flash beacons are just as victim-blamey — if drivers were doing the right thing, they wouldn’t be needed at all. Should we complain when they are installed?
The audio is like the text on the back of a roller coaster ticket. [It also makes the traffic engineering / traffic enforcement profession feel better about their half measures too.]
This “mixed” bike way / pedestrian design at this intersection does seem odd (why was the protected bike lane dropped on the other side?)…as if either are two phases of the same project or a boundary of two different jurisdictions / facility classifications. Or was it the adjoining property owner wanting property access? Anyone know the back story?
Well for one thing: the CoP / PBoT can quickly upgrade this tragic design oversight by infilling a few Jersey barriers bracketed with RPMs and Finch Barrier in the buffered area until a more permanent solution is installed. There should be some in the base yard off of Mississippi…
Dear Mayor Wheeler: Just call the PBoT OPS section and delivery them right now!
I wonder if this parent/child were targeted for reasons other than crossing the street.
Am I understanding you correctly?
That you are suggesting / implying this could be a planned murder? (One that might be easier to get away with because our society generally has less severe punishments for vehicular homicide vs. killing with a gun …with intent?) That seems to be a bit extreme with the initial information out in public, unless you know more than we do…
…unless by “targeted” you meant that the accused driver would rather strike a soft target vs. a hard object like a stopped car [that would do more property damage to their car]?!
This demands nothing short of a third-world fascist policing policy against SE PDX drivers–nothing else is going to do any good. Drivers need to fear law enforcement, period.
Completely agree – but then the argument generally devolves into police bias etc…and they easy thing for them to do to avoid that argument is to not enforce at all.
Third world fascist? Where did that come from?
Enforcement can and does work just fine, without resorting to such over-the-top language.
I am interpreting that as “severe and no questions asked”.
But assigning fascist tendencies to third world countries is doubly ethnocentric besides being, as far as I know, ahistoric. Fascism is chiefly a First World phenomenon.
Where the the “third world fascist policing” idea come from? Because I would like drivers terrorized by police–ALL colors, and ALL classes of drivers–to the point where we have a docile, cowed driving population that’s terrified of driving faster than 5mph under posted speed limits and who lock their cell phones in the car trunk like open bottles of booze.
This is exactly what I don’t want. No one should be afraid of the police. Their role is not to cow people into docility; they should earn and enjoy the respect of the public they serve.
It is Division STREET, btw.
Avenues run N-S in this town.
Nest failure. Was meant to go at the end. Sorry.
I hate to be grim here, but the depravity of motorists seems to be increasing faster than the rate of infrastructure improvements. This crossing had a flashing yellow light for gosh sakes.
I’m encouraged you are focusing on the individuals operating the vehicles rather than the vehicles themselves.
It’s no secret that many ordinarily kind and responsible people become quite different when they take control of a motor vehicle.
As shown in the 1953 Disney short “Motor Mania” starring Goofy. Documented for over 65 years.
Again, I’m encouraged you are focusing on the individuals operating the vehicles rather than the vehicles themselves.
Why do you keep writing that?
No one can be ticketed for running those flashing lights — they have absolutely no legal meaning . This intentional choice by our legal system encourages people driving to ignore them.
My comment focused entirely on the fact that the rapid flash beacon — a widely used traffic signal — is entirely devoid of legal meaning. This omission is an intentional choice by the city and state that signals their lack of interest in the safety of vulnerable road users.
Where did I even hint that I disagree?
I’ve never understood why we/they spend ANY money on treatments that have no force of law. “Cross-bikes” have no meaning, and drivers have learned that. RRFBs cost a hell of a lot of money for something that only makes a suggestion.
They are intended to draw motorist attention to the fact that someone is crossing, and if they increase safety, I support them. My experience is that they do make it much easier and safer to cross a busy street like Powell, but that you still need to take care when crossing.
My position is that RRFBs, marked crosswalks (at intersections), neighborhood greenway sharrows, and crossbikes should all have specific legal meaning. It’s telling how signals and lane markings for people driving all have legal meaning but signals and markings for vulnerable human beings are only “decorative”.
Concern over court cases is akin to worrying about shark attacks while driving to the beach.
By the time a case ends up in court you are either dead or injured. This obsession with incredibly rare court cases is a form of Stockholm syndrome. The main point of legal protections is not to protect the minuscule number of people who end up to court but to grant legal *RIGHTS* to the vast majority of vulnerable people who never end up in court.
“The pedestrian has legal protection from the very lines you mention. The crosswalk gives them that protection”
The unmarked crosswalk at an intersection confers that protection in the absence of any lines. Our society could have conferred additional legal meaning to a marked crosswalk but chose not to. This is telling.
Why would you want some crosswalks to have lesser protection than others?
The amount of ppl in a hurry for no reason at all 🙁 slow down save a life! this also applies to ppl that follow to close.
At some level, most incivility comes down to a lack of patience and/or a projection of expectations about what other people should be doing to meet your needs.
Wait, we spend how much on a thing that has no significance in traffic court? No bearing on a civil case? I remember numbers like $100,000 to install a signal. Can we get the legislature to take a Mulligan on this? –Apologies to my bright & articulate friend Padraic.
I would expect it would have a big impact in court — it makes it much more difficult to claim you didn’t realize someone was crossing.
But the signal itself has no special legal power, just crosswalk paint doesn’t.
What do you mean a marked crosswalk has no special legal power? It’s mentioned numerous times in the ORS. Specifically this law was violated.
The flashing signal is no more official than the crosswalk paint. Both could be absent and it wouldn’t matter legally.
I believe HK is referring to the fact that the paint itself has no legal bearing. It’s the same, according to the law you cite, whether a crosswalk is marked with paint or not. The marking is just more of a visual warning to motorists that it’s likely a pedestrian could be crossing there, just as John mentioned above that the flashing beacons are even more of a visual warning.
But based on that ORS without the paint indicating a marked crosswalk any mid block crosswalks wouldn’t exist. Our ORS outlines what a marked crosswalk is and how you’re supposed to treat them. The paint is what makes it a marked crosswalk. To Soren’s point the flashing signal has no legal meaning and you are allowed to go through the crosswalk when the signal is still flashing as long as the pedestrian has a buffer lane worth of space from you. So there is a legal significance for a marked crosswalk that doesn’t not exist for the flashing signal.
In addition to the paint that marks the crosswalk. The white stop line also has legal significance and cars are supposed to stop before the line. Without the line they would have to stop before the crosswalk.
I think you’re suggesting that a marked crosswalk can be ‘installed’ at a location that otherwise would not meet a legal definition of “crosswalk” (if not marked). (Examples include the mid-block crosswalks along the center ‘spine’ of the south park blocks.)
Others, however, are pointing out that there is no legal difference in Oregon between a marked crosswalk and an unmarked crosswalk (which exist at all intersections, unless indicated otherwise).
I got that others were pointing out that a marked and un-marked crosswalk are relatively the same. I originally asked about HK’s vague statement which I never got clarification on. This whole chain was about how the flashing yellow beacons actually have no legal standing so equating them to a marked crosswalk or even an unmarked one doesn’t make any sense. I really don’t get how “others” don’t understand that.
The flashing yellow lights just say “Warning: there may be someone in the crosswalk right now!”
Our society could install red lights at crosswalks (for about the same cost) but instead it chooses to install legally-meaningless signals with far lower compliance rates. The fact that yellow paint, median islands, diamond warning signs, or amber flashers *MAY* have some value in civil court does not excuse this choice.
“Our society could install red lights at crosswalks…”
I used to work in a building that had me walking across the street in a crosswalk that was “protected” by a full-on traffic signal, Red, Amber, Green—everything. Drivers still pretty much treated it like the RFB’s; after one person crossed in the crosswalk, most drivers would just run the red without looking for any other pedestrians. Other times, they wouldn’t stop at all. I witnessed countless instances of pedestrians (including me) saved only by their own defensive walking. This is the good full traffic signals do.
Drivers know when they are (or are supposed to) stop or yield at a crosswalk or bike lane, they just automatically deem it less important and flout those laws at will.
A study of Portland “half signals” found very low levels of “failure to yield” to pedestrians:
Apparently these results were consistent with previous studies.
I wouldn’t say that definition of “half-signalized” intersection counts here. In those “half-signalized” intersections, there is still the threat of colliding with another motor vehicle, which automatically ups the compliance level. At an intersection such as a mid-block crosswalk, there is no such threat, and IMO, full compliance with such signals is lower.
A red-light-controlled crosswalk costs about the same amount as a “rapid flash beacon”. Apparently people walking are not worthy of a signal with any legal meaning.
Spend some time at Southeast Grind at 13th & Powell and you can see that signals don’t always perform better than flashing beacons. At least the beacons activate instantly.
Sorry, but I don’t believe for a minute that a RRFB and a “red light controlled crosswalk” cost the same.
Besides that, you need to be more specific about what you think a red light controlled crosswalk actually is and whether it is allowed in the MUTCD or Oregon Supplement to the MUTCD.
I meant a red-light controlled crosswalk. Here is an example in Portland :
This signal-controlled pedestrian crossing was replaced by the overly complicated pedestrian hybrid signal because the FHWA was concerned that conventional signals would unnecessarily delay motorized traffic.
Thanks. There’s no way you can construct that for less than twice the price of an RRFB.
I cited an FHWA report which indicates that the far more complicated hybrid signal costs ~58K on average:
It is also important to note that pedestrian signals do not require vehicle detectors, signal boxes, computers, connections to automated signaling networks, and, often, do not require installation of poles (they can be strung across existing utility posts).
PBOT has often claimed that mid-block pedestrian signals costs exactly half of the cost of a full traffic signal (a suspiciously even $150,000) without providing any data to back up these claims. It’s disappointing that “advocates” takes these claims on face value.
You’re going to have to supply some references on that claim. Just looking at the two systems, the red light signal is clearly larger and more complex. I was told at a neighborhood greenway meeting by PBOT staff that they are several times more expensive than RFBs.
I wish that were the case however there is a significant cost difference between those two types of signals.
According to this 2013 analysis from PSU, the comparison breaks down as about $20k for a yellow flashing beacon vs $150k for a half signal. https://activelivingresearch.org/sites/activelivingresearch.org/files/Dill_Bicycle_Facility_Cost_June2013.pdf (pg 6)
An FHWA report estimates that the cost of a hybrid signal is on average ~$57860.
RRFB installations in Portland involve a 1) a median island $13520 and 2) a 4 way beacon $22250.
According to this report, a hybrid signal is only one third more expensive than a RRFB. I assume an actuated red-light would cost even less than a hybrid signal since no non-standard signaling equipment is required (simply a standard red light).
To be specific: a mid-block pedestrian red light would require a cable strung up between two utility poles, 2-4 signal heads, and two actuators.
In comparison, a RRFB requires a concrete median island, multiple signs, two actuators, and at least four rapid flash beacon installations.
It would seem dangerous to put up any sort of pedestrian crossings on a street like division without also including concrete medians. I know that driver compliance with red lights is higher, but the risk of someone using the median or shoulder to pass stopped traffic is still present.
“but the risk of someone using the median or shoulder to pass stopped traffic is still present.”
I doubt this risk is high at an actual traffic signal. Regardless, my main point is that we have moved away from pedestrian signals with actual legal meaning to signals with no legal meaning. The city or state could easily remedy this by passing a law requiring people driving to treat a RRFB like a red light.
I am increasingly frustrated that PBOT doesn’t seem to understand how rampant bike theft and total lack of traffic enforcement is impacting their ability to reach bike mode share goals. I sometimes drive places rather than biking because I know I can’t park my bike on the street and depend on finding it there when I return. It’s not that hard to understand…is it?
The complete absence of traffic enforcement in this town is beyond belief.
Beyond saving lives of pedestrians and bicyclists (as if we need any other reason!), traffic enforcement has also been responsible for apprehension of terrorists and murders.
Too many cops and politicians seem willing to allow killing of vulnerable road users because they are focused on “real criminals.”
Consider the following examples how traffic stops led to “more important crimes”:
Timothy McVeigh, Oklahoma City terrorist/bomber, was stopped by a Oklahoma Highway Patrolman for driving without a registration tag.
Randy Kraft, the “Southern California Strangler” eventually convicted of 16 murders, was stopped for weaving on Interstate 5 with the body of a victim in his car.
William L Suff, convicted of rape, murder, and mutilation and now on California’s Death Row, was stopped for an illegal U-turn and expired license.
Ted Bundy, killer of more than two dozen, was stopped multiple times for traffic violations, sometimes being released, sometimes escaping, was finally caught for good driving a stolen car.
There are plenty more examples of traffic stops leading to finding killers.
Let’s try E N F O R C E M E N T.
Interesting that you mentioned Timothy McVeigh in Oklahoma City. I moved here from OKC a little over two years ago and my partner and I routinely comment on the lack of traffic enforcement in Portland. It seemed people followed traffic laws MUCH more in OKC, because there was a genuine fear of getting a ticket for speeding, running red lights, etc.
Living in NW Portland, I can count on more than one hand the number of times I’ve seen cars driving the wrong way down one way streets or using the bike lane as a turn lane this week alone. My partner was hit on his bike by a car (a lyft driver, of course) using the bike lane for a right turn lane just a few weeks ago. They also drove away.
I’m only a casual biker, and I want to bike more, but I’m honestly scared to. The drivers here are out of control.
_We need to defend our streets from the menace of people driving vehicles dangerously._
Fixed it for ya…
unless you believe that vehicles are, in & of themselves, inherently dangerous.
“unless you believe that vehicles are, in & of themselves, inherently dangerous.”
Regarding motor vehicles, I sort of do believe that. Cars are way too powerful and hard to maneuver while also lulling the driver into a false sense of security in a climate controlled infotainment lounge.
It’s so, so easy to kill somebody with one of these machines.
Well, yes they are inherently dangerous, if they’re used. Name any other thing that people use daily that kills so many people. And most injuries and deaths aren’t from egregious behavior as in this case. Very slight mistakes in driving result in deaths every day. Many fatal crashes don’t even trigger a traffic ticket, meaning its common for people who’ve killed someone with their vehicle to be found not to have broken even minor laws.
This stuff is getting common because there is NO enforcement, basically none and drivers have got the idea.
We basically have an honor system for traffic rules in the city and a fair amount of dishonorable drivers..
The regulations governing traffic used to be known as laws. You’ve referred to them as “rules.” Actually, they have become “suggestions.” Entirely optional. Use them or don’t; your choice.
We once had a motoring system based on responsible adults paying attention to rules of the road in pursuit of safety and smooth interaction overseen by vigilant enforcement and swift punishment. That is why many who were around then, remember the relative safety of the 70’s bike boom when we had almost no bike infrastructure. The system we have now is the equivalent of a band of monkeys armed with shotguns, roaming a zoo full of children. Our solution seems to be to set up little barriers for the kids to hide behind when threatened, but to only do this on a slow, random and piecemeal basis. Any logical person’s solution to this problem would be take away the shotguns from the monkeys, or only give them to the trained and responsible ones ( a very small percentage).
COMMENT OF THE YEAR!!!
Cast iron pedestrians anyone. Instead of flashing walk signals, how about steel bollards that rise up to protect pedestrians. Go ahead – try hit and run – dare you.
This is not a bad idea and sounds excellent in nation-states built around the rule of common law where “no harm, no foul” has arisen, but it would incredibly difficult to implement this underneath statutory law where liability of negligence exists for outcomes that are reasonably imagined or foreseen (i.e. people can imagine cars smashing into the hypothetical “pop up” steel bollards). See the Oregon Department of Transportation and its best practices for a real world example of this rule.
In strict grammar “…may not stop…” means the motor vehicles are not permitted to stop.
So the law seems to imply that the big boys gotta keep on goin.”
He may not understand it fully, and in case he’s reading this, I don’t mean he’s not permitted to understand it.
This crossing was put in place less than two-three years ago, and has already been repaired 2-3 times over after cars have plowed into it, taking it out of commission. I’ve used it as a pedestrian a few times myself to get to the bus stop heading into town.
Traffic on Division at that time of day is just crazy – for every car obeying the 30 mph speed limit, you have those trying to dodge around ‘slower’ cars, or using the bike lane to swerve around. This is my neighborhood and I see the madness/hear constant sirens.
I hope that girl is okay now and that the asshole driver is found and prosecuted.
One bad thing about the flashing yellow crossings is that you often see the lights flashing with nobody crossing, and sometimes you can’t even see anyone near who’s crossed. So there’s a “cry wolf” effect. The same thing is true with pedestrian-activated red lights, but with those, drivers don’t have the option of making a decision to drive through it. With the flashing yellows, some drivers are making the decision the lights are a false alarm when they’re not.
They also make the decision they can drive through when they see someone crossing as long as they don’t hit them. Again, not something that happens with red lights (except for right turns on red).
They really need to just put this road on a road diet.
One lane each direction, with a center turn lane, and cycletrack and ample vehicular parking each direction.
One lane each direction would utterly eliminate the “double threat” scenario at crosswalks, because the raised median would prevent speeding cars from going around stopped cars at the crosswalk.
Road diets for the win!!
Having asked this question of many drivers, they mostly believe the bike lane is to be used at will if they see no bicyclists. This is the problem. Drivers who either don’t know the rules of the road, or don’t care about the rules of the road. We shouldn’t have to build infrastructure to protect people from idiots. The police have a job to finally do…
Drivers feeling free to use the bike lane IS a problem. One possible solution is enforcement. Another is designing bike facilities so drivers can’t drive onto them so easily. Enforcement and design both make sense, one more than the other depending on the issue and situation.
“We shouldn’t have to build infrastructure to protect people from idiots.” True, but the idiots are out there, and enforcement can’t stop them all from doing idiotic things. Design can help protect from the idiocy.
And in all aspects of life, we do design things to protect idiots from themselves, and others from idiots. In many cases, the idiocy the design is protecting us from isn’t even illegal, so there is no enforcement component at all.