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An innocent man on the sidewalk died because two drivers collided on East Burnside

Posted by on September 15th, 2020 at 3:13 pm

Intersection of 18th and Burnside where two drivers collided. One of their cars slid onto the sidewalk of The East Burn in the upper left.

A violent collision between two drivers on East Burnside Street in the Buckman neighborhood on Friday night left an innocent man dead.

Chris Copeland.
(Photo: Facebook)

Chris Copeland wasn’t in either car. He was on the sidewalk in front of his workplace, The East Burn Public House, a popular neighborhood eatery on the southeast corner of 18th and Burnside.

According to the Portland Police Bureau, it happened around 7:00 pm Friday night. That’s when an 18-year old who was under the influence of intoxicants failed to stop at a stop sign while driving southbound in his Subaru Forester. The Subaru driver was then hit by someone driving a Toyota Tacoma truck eastbound on Burnside. The impact shoved the Subaru across the intersection and up onto the sidewalk in front of East Burn.

Copeland was pinned up against the building. He suffered severe injuries and died later at the hospital. He was 36 years old.

The driver of the Subaru was arrested after a breath test revealed his blood-alcohol content was 0.12%. He’s been charged with Manslaughter in the Second Degree, Driving Under the Influence of Intoxicants, Reckless Driving, and three counts of Reckless Endangerment. Two of the people in the car with the driver initially fled the scene before police arrived. One of them returned later and was interviewed as a witness.

Driver view headed south toward Burnside. Notice stop sign in upper right. The East Burn is in upper left corner.


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Amateur reconstruction of what happened.

Copeland was from Indianapolis, Indiana and appears to have moved to Portland in 2014. He had a cat named Zeppelin that he loved hanging out with (if the numerous photos and videos of it on his Facebook page are any judge). One of his friends remembered him on Facebook by sharing,

“We lost the brightest fucking light, the sweetest soul, the most solid person we’ve ever met. I’ve never met anyone who worked harder or cared deeper. His sense of humor was twisted and beautiful. You’ve made an impression on all of us Chris. We will be forever better having known you.”

Copeland was tight with his co-workers at The East Burn. A phone call to the restaurant today was met with a recorded message. “We will be closed for the next week due to a fatality car accident that happened at The East Burn.”

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From a 2017 PBOT report on the East Burnside Safety Project.

East Burnside is part of the Portland Bureau of Transportation’s “High Crash Network” because it has a higher than average amount of serious injury and fatal collisions. According to city data the section between 14th and 32nd Avenue has twice the amount of crashes that involve people on foot (than the citywide average), 50% more collisions at intersections, and twice the rate of reckless and distracted driving-related crashes.

In 2014 PBOT started a project that aimed to make the street safer. They lowered the speed from 35 to 30 mph, added several new crossings with median islands and swapped one westbound travel lane for a center lane. Our report on the project detailed why on-street auto parking was maintained on both sides of the street. Another project in 2016 added more safety features.

A 2017 report from PBOT showed the changes reduced collisions and speeds, but this destination-filled section of Burnside is still claiming lives. Two people died within blocks of Friday’s crash in 2019. In May a motorcycle rider died in a collision at NE 17th. And in November someone was killed by a driver while walking near 22nd and Burnside.

Chris Copeland is the 35th person killed while using Portland streets so far this year. That’s four fewer than the number we had last year by this date and 13 more than we had by this date in 2018. See more on our Fatality Tracker.

If you’d like to share a memory of Chris that his family will read, you can do so here.

— 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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Alain L.
Guest
Alain L.

Really sad, I read about this in the PPB Bulletin. Reminds me of some of the crossings on NE MLK, where drivers often jump east-west across north-south traffic. Much safer to cross at the location of a traffic light. Maybe diverters are needed to prevent these types of crossings, though may likely cause conflicts with emergency vehicle turn radius, etc. Anyway, just terrible news.

hamiramani
Subscriber

Very sad news in already trying times. When will “leaders” get serious about making streets friendly for people? Enough planning for cars. We need some bold changes.

David Hampsten
Guest
David Hampsten

What I’d like to know, is it the fault of the city for a poor street design? Or is it the fault of the drunk driver for getting drunk and then driving his or her car? Or is it the fault of the two passengers for not allowing the driver to drive while drunk (or were they drunk too?).

There are really no other bars in the area other than Eastburn. Is it possible the drunk driver just came from there? Might there be a possibility that the very person who died was the same person who allowed a patron to leave the pub drunk, get into his car with two friends, and was subsequently killed when the drunk patron’s car was smashed into him from a two-car collision?

Or is it the fault of the car manufacturers and city/state/federal regulators to not require that all motor vehicles have breath analyzers to allow for ignition, and regular inspections to make sure the technology hasn’t been tampered with?

Or is it the fault of our society, and ourselves, for allowing these tragedies to keep reoccurring on a regular basis, giving everyone the freedom to get drunk, or stoned, or even take legal medications, and still be allowed to drive?

Will we ever know?

buildwithjoe
Guest

Victim Blaming by David Hampsten should be removed.

David H is also blaming the many direct action safety activists. That’s a clear sign of bad faith dialog, and should be removed. David H is blaming people who have no hand in this murder. I consider myself someone who has used every tool possible to prevent the deaths of Chris Copeland and Fallon Smart long before the murder (or mansalughter) took place at the hands of the driver and road designers. The guilt lies there and the courts agree constantly.

I know this. Chris Copeland would be alive if we had 2 simple policy changes that I’ve fought years to implement through policy work and direct action.
a) All roads like Burnside reduced to 20mph
b) Speed Cameras all over Portland.

I’ve also fought for
c) More consequences for pattern driver who pose risks

Show me one email from the The Street Trust that says Burnside should be 20mph and have speed cameras all over the city?

David’s victim blaming post linked here:

https://bikeportland.org/2020/09/15/an-innocent-man-on-the-sidewalk-died-because-two-drivers-collided-on-east-burnside-320789#comment-7359049

David Hampsten
Guest
David Hampsten

False IDs are becoming increasingly convincing these days, so the drunk driver being 18 doesn’t necessarily mean he didn’t get drunk at a bar or pub. I agree he could have gotten drunk elsewhere, but I’d like to know where – wouldn’t you like to know?

We as a society hold police and barkeeps to a higher standard than the rest of us, that why we give them special licenses and have then go through a review process that we hope is thorough.

cmh89
Guest
cmh89

Plenty of people above 21 drive drunk. It’s a cultural issue. As a former bartender, it’s almost impossible to tell from someones body language if they are 0.08 or 0.12. Everyone responds differently to alcohol.

Dagny Taggart
Guest
Dagny Taggart

Reply to David and buildwithjoe,

David considers banning the freedom to get drunk, stoned, use medications “and still be allowed to drive”. buildwithjoe wants Davids comment censored and removed, then posts a link to that very post, apparently in an attempt to shame David?

Are all cyclist ***inappropriate insult deleted by moderator***, or just you two? We’ve outlawed drinking before – how’d that work out; driving UI while using alcohol, drugs, and meds that impair is already illegal. 18 year olds like the driver in this case are immature, and notoriously bad drivers – I was a bad driver at that age because I did not have enough experience behind the wheel – stuff happens fast when driving – older drivers who survived dangerous youth anticipate possibilities that young drivers can’t. 18 year olds 40+ years ago had perhaps the maturity of a 30 y.o. today due to poor parenting/schooling. 18 y.o. folks in my day didn’t run bawling to a safe space when someone expressed an opinion they didn’t agree with.

What is the fix? I’d say get back to the 3 Rs in schools, cut ALL SJW bullcrap, mandatory 2 years in the military for all males, voting age increase to age 30.

This particular accident? Pure bad luck on the part of the deceased, but caused solely by the drunk 18 year old; revoke his driving and voting rights for 5 or 10 years plus 1 year in the big house.

Eawriste
Guest
Eawriste

It’s just an “accident,” and “pure bad luck.”

Hello, Kitty
Guest
Hello, Kitty

Certainly you don’t think it was good luck, do you?

Middle of the Road Guy
Guest
Middle of the Road Guy

He didn’t blame anyone specifically. He asked questions that you “heard” as victim blaming.

cmh89
Guest
cmh89

Why not all of it?

It’s the city’s fault for allowing 30 mph streets in the relatively dense central city. It’s the city’s fault for allowing wide open roads that encourage speeding above 30 mph.

It’s the driver’s fault for driving drunk. Its the driver’s friends fault for letting him drive drunk.

It’s society’s fault that it’s socially acceptable to drive drunk. It’s also society’s fault that speeding and other dangerous driving actions are completely socially acceptable.

Plenty of blame to go around.

I also think the statement about Eastburn is baseless. Portlanders and the surbanites around us driving drunk frequently all the time. The driver could have easily come from a house or bar in NoPo and been headed somewhere else.

maxD
Guest
maxD

David, the drunk driver was an 18 year old kid. It seems highly unlikely that they would serve him in Eastburn

David Hampsten
Guest
David Hampsten

Why is it unlikely? With false IDs so common and businesses struggling to get customers during the bad air and pandemic, why couldn’t the drunk driver and his 2 buddies hang out there and steadily get drunk?

X
Guest
X

Lacking any evidence the Subaru driver and passengers were in Eastburn you are way off base with this one. The workers there lost a friend, they closed down for a week in his memory. Why pile on?

Rain Waters
Guest
Rain Waters

Bad air and what ?

PdxPhoneix
Guest
PdxPhoneix

Given IN THE WRITE-UP it says that the driver was EIGHTEEN…so unlikely that they came from a bar in any case.
And while it’d be just great if stupid people just didn’t do stupid things, some design changes might be able to prevent them from inflicting their stupidity on others.

GlowBoy
Guest
GlowBoy

Third fatality on this stretch of Burnside in less than a year? Yikes. Time to calm that car sewer even more.

Middle of the Road Guy
Guest
Middle of the Road Guy

Poor fella.

Erik
Guest

Yes. Great fella. People have known others who have past due to tragic circumstances. Since I knew him (to some degree) I’m just speaking up. He deserves it. At the very least. He really was a great guy.

Middle of the Road Guy
Guest
Middle of the Road Guy

I am (honestly) sorry to hear that. It sucks to have a good person taken away from you.

Todd/Boulanger
Guest

Sorry to read and hear such news about another innocent street death…RIP Copeland.

And in an all too similar case that week…a Vancouver pedestrian killed by a likely intoxicated driver (out on a skipped bail)…while crossing Mill Plain crosswalk.
https://www.columbian.com/news/2020/sep/14/woman-accused-in-fatal-hit-and-run-crash-appears-in-court/

Bicycling Al
Guest
Bicycling Al

Obviously intoxication was at fault but how fast was the Tacoma driver going to hurl a 3500 pound vehicle into a building? Presumably no braking was done prior to impact?

I personally witnessed automated emergency braking deploy and avoid a collision when the driver would have mindlessly proceeded through a red light otherwise. AEB should be a required feature on all new vehicles.

 
Guest
 

I think the second half of your comment is spot on. Copeland’s doesn’t look like one that better infrastructure alone could have been prevented, but better vehicle technology certainly could have. My heart goes out to his friends and family; so tragic.

buildwithjoe
Guest

So we have a nameless person… Who are you who says “infrastructure alone” cold not have prevented this. That’s a quote right out of PBOT and Leah Treat.

I would bet 20 bucks you nameless person are connected to PBOT or the people who design our roads or one of the NGO groups who cozy up to the city.

I can just as easily make an opinion. My opinion is that Burnside at 20mph would have been infrastructure to prevent this

My opinion is that Burnside with speed cameras would have been infrastructure to prevent this

My opinion is that having every transportation NGO staff person quit would be great been infrastructure to prevent this . We could rebuild and have some european NGO staff help us form a new NGO with some teeth. Re-apply for your jobs you nameless NGO peeps.

 
Guest
 

I was not originally even going to dignify this blithering drivel with a reply, but I will say that I have no connection to any transportation bodies or initiatives. I use a handle that is nameless because I do not want my comments to be judged by anything other than their content rather than any preconceived notions. And news flash, speed cameras won’t prevent drunk driving.

buildwithjoe
Guest

I’ll pay you that $20 bet you won in person and I’ll write you a check by name. And I bet another $10 that you are somehow connected to system that comes up with ideas like “could not have prevented this” . Your family or friends are telling you this, and you seem to have adopted the slogan and put it in writing.

It’s very clear you find other people’s comments “drivel”..

I can promise you that a vast network of speed cameras and signs would pay for themselves and lower death rates. We can easily post signs posted in drinking establishments, bathrooms, exit doors, receipts, stating that the city has a network of speed cameras and if you drive drunk you will not drive for a very long time.

 
Guest
 

Jonathan, please delete this evidence-less and false accusation that I am a shill. Very Trumpian of you, buildwithjoe, to claim without evidence that I am something I am not. And I am not disputing that speed cameras would create lower death rates — they clearly would. I am saying that speed cameras would not have prevented this particular death. That you can’t see the difference between those two statements is astounding.

maxD
Guest
maxD

In Vancouver BC they set up random checkpoints to screen for drunk drivers and they dole out harsh punishments. I have heard that is not allowed in Portland, but I would support changing the laws to allow that. Random screening and loss of car/license plus fines and community service would change the culture that tacitly allows drunk driving.

Hello, Kitty
Guest
Hello, Kitty

It’s not a law in Oregon that prohibits it, but the constitution. It’s certainly possible to change it, but I think many would be wary of tinkering to reduce civil liberties.

David Hampsten
Guest
David Hampsten

That’s odd, they do it here in NC on certain holidays. I’ve heard of other states doing it too. But no two states have the same constitution of course, except the national one.

X
Guest
X

buildwithjoe is clearly angry. From a bumper sticker: “If you’re not angry you’re not paying attention”

Middle of the Road Guy
Guest
Middle of the Road Guy

Well, Trumpers are angry.

I think it really depends what people are angry about. Being angry is not indicative there is something actually wrong – just that you think you’ve been wronged.

X
Guest
X

…not paying attention

Erik
Guest

Yes, correct. There’s really nothing that could have prevented this. It makes me think twice how exposed someone may be dining outdoors though. We would go crazy thinking of every terrible scenario. I imagine Chris had his back turned to the collision. There’s nothing he could have done to avoid it. I don’t recall how smoky Friday evening was, but there the table outside would normally be pretty full at 7 PM.

Chris was an awesome person. I only knew him as a customer, but I’ve been in the East Burn countless times over the years. I think he was the main guy as he ordered all the beer, wine, and spirits. He was always calm, in control, low key, friendly, and accommodating. Purdue grad I believe, so he could have studied an engineering field.

Easily one of the worst pieces of news all year, which is saying something. As an atheist who also doesn’t believe in karma, this is yet another thing I can point to.

buildwithjoe
Guest

Erik, I’m sorry Chris is gone. I’m sorry for your loss as a customer of Chris. I understand you have said “nothing that could have prevented this”….. I would strongly disagree, and if you ever want to meet up I can share some ideas later.

 
Guest
 

I notice that even though Erik and I both said there is nothing that could have prevented this, but you have had quite a different reaction to each of us saying this, being polite to him yet calling me a shill. Really begs the question of why.

cmh89
Guest
cmh89

There is a lot that could have prevented this. Just nothing that we as a society are willing to do.

Joe Rowe
Guest
Joe Rowe

Well said CMH ( Thank you)

.. You did a much better job of stating how I feel.

I would bet a hill of money that most people agree with CMH’s quote… “there is a lot that could have prevented this. Just no (policy)…. we as a society are willing to do”

and here is another quote for us to ponder:

“Do we have the courage to face the realities of our time, and allow ourselves to feel deeply enough that it transforms us and our future?” – Chris Jordan ( artist, Seattle )

Johnny Bye Carter
Subscriber
Johnny Bye Carter

doesn’t look like one that better infrastructure alone could have been prevented

Wow, baseless comment that takes responsibility away from the driver.

When I saw this intersection I immediately thought of many infrastructure improvements that would help avert crashes. Speed limit 20 MPH on Burnside, raised crosswalks, curb extensions on 18th (so that the stop sign can be on the edge of the roadway with more visibility), and intersection daylighting are the ones that first come to mind. Maybe another streetlight opposite the existing one.

Ed Menze
Subscriber
Ed Menze

Yeah, my first thought when I saw that second photo of the intersection was that the stop sign would be much easier to see without that car parked right up against the crosswalk. Not to excuse the drunk driver, not at all, but PBOT’s tolerance of parking that close to the intersection is inherently dangerous.

Betsy Reese
Guest
Betsy Reese

Please, everyone, adopt an intersection near you that needs daylighting, and call Parking Patrol on vehicles over 6 feet tall.

Oregon law prohibits vehicles from parking within 20 feet of a crosswalk. It also allows cities to deviate from this law, which Portland chooses to do.  So we are stuck with contacting 823-SAFE and making a case to have a specific intersection officially “daylighted”.
https://www.portlandoregon.gov/transportation/article/697596
   
However, it’s a City ordinance that prohibits vehicles over 6 feet tall from parking within 50 feet of an intersection. Signs and curb paint (daylighting) do not need to be present to enforce this law.  Donald Hunter, Parking Enforcement Supervisor of Portland has stated that he will direct his staff to do so. Parking Enforcement Hotline: 503-823-5195
  
The DMV manual (sorta) includes (some) driver education on these laws.
  
Yes, it would be nice if the City did a public education campaign on this issue, and enforced these laws without citizens having to make a complaint. In the meantime, help save lives, adopt your intersection.
  
“It is unlawful to park or stop a vehicle over 6 feet tall within 50 feet of an intersection.” (For full text see 16.20.130 City Parking Code 
https://www.portlandoregon.gov/citycode/article/16046

” . . . violation of ORS 811.555 (Parking):(17)
Within 20 feet of a crosswalk at an intersection.”  For full text see ORS811.555(17) 
https://www.oregonlaws.org/ors/811.550

DMV Driver Manual: “No Parking. 
• Within 20 feet of a marked or unmarked crosswalk at an intersection. 
• Within 50 feet of a traffic signal or sign if your vehicle hides the signal or sign from view.”
For full text see page 51 of the 2020-21 Oregon DMV Driver Manual 
https://www.oregon.gov/ODOT/Forms/DMV/37.pdf

qqq
Guest
qqq

I agree, more reporting is better, but at the same time it can get disheartening because one of the worst offenders for parking tall vehicles blocking intersections are City vehicles with their orange “Vision Zero” stickers. Also, the response time can be slow if you’re not in a regularly patrolled area.

Opus the Poet
Guest

I object, “not infrastructure” places all the blame on the driver, because when there is no infrastructure in place the driver alone is responsible for preventing wrecks. Vision Zero is the premise that infrastructure should make driver error impossible or non-fatal.

Kyle Banerjee
Guest

It will be by 2025. However, automakers accounting for over 99% of sales have already committed to meeting that goal by 2022.

This is not a hard one. Not only is it safer, it’s super popular with the public, it reduces insurance payouts (as well as rates), and apparently doesn’t cost that much to implement.

 
Guest
 

That is great to hear!

soren impey
Guest
soren impey

A kooky anti-car comment that makes you look bad:

AEB is associated with only marginal reductions in fatalities while significantly reducing collisions (cost-savings for drivers and insurance companies). It’s telling that the EU prioritized Intelligent Speed Assistance (e.g. speed limiters) which, unlike AEB, has been shown to be enormously effective at reducing fatal collisions (26-50% reduction in fatalities using the regulated technology required in the 2019 EU law).

https://ec.europa.eu/transport/road_safety/sites/roadsafety/files/ersosynthesis2016-adas15_en.pdf

https://www.europarl.europa.eu/news/en/press-room/20190410IPR37528/parliament-approves-eu-rules-requiring-life-saving-technologies-in-vehicles

David Hampsten
Guest
David Hampsten

Bicycling Al: “Obviously intoxication was at fault but how fast was the Tacoma driver going to hurl a 3500 pound vehicle into a building? Presumably no braking was done prior to impact?”

I have to admit I was wondering about that too. Sure the Toyota driver was probably not drunk and probably not driving too far over the speed limit, but apparently they didn’t even think to slow down at an obvious zebra-striped yellow-padded pedestrian crossing on Burnside. I wonder if drivers at such cross street, inebriated or otherwise, expect the main street traffic to slow down for them as well as for pedestrians and bicyclists, and whether that is the original intent of such crossing designs.

Erik
Guest

Even if the person slowed down…. which every motorist should do nearing an intersection like this. There’s no warning at that intersection coming from the left (north going south) in this situation. There’s no field of vision. A large house is on the corner with lots of vegetation. This would come completely out of nowhere if you were traveling at a normal speed.

Eawriste
Guest
Eawriste

The street is designed for speed: 30mph +/-5. “Normal speed” is the logical result. When collisions occur at higher speed, more people are injured/killed.

David Hampsten
Guest
David Hampsten

Given the high levels of pollution in Portland lately, how murky was the air that night? If it was pea-soup, both drivers should have been moving at no more than 10 mph (if both were sober, that is.)

Not only can we not design any system that deals with drunk drivers, but we also can’t design a system that deals with all weather conditions either. At some point all users need to use common sense, which tragically seems to be lacking in this case.

X
Guest
X

Visibility has been limited but completely adequate for driving at any legal operating speed on surface streets.

Johnny Bye Carter
Subscriber
Johnny Bye Carter

they didn’t even think to slow down at an obvious zebra-striped yellow-padded pedestrian crossing

Why would they? If the speed limit is 30 MPH and there’s no pedestrians then most people are going to be driving 30 MPH. Most drivers don’t think like they taught us to in driving school.

Johnny Bye Carter
Subscriber
Johnny Bye Carter

how fast was the Tacoma driver going to hurl a 3500 pound vehicle into a building

You mean, how fast was the Subaru going that it was still able to continue through to the building after being hit by a Toyota?

You don’t have to be going very fast to hit a car and change it’s trajectory. The Toyota could have easily been going 29 MPH and still knocked the Subaru enough to change it’s course.

The Subaru driver should have been going 20 MPH, which should have been slow enough to stop mid-intersection or slow down enough that they hit the Toyota and changed it’s course so that it went into the building instead.

Either way, anybody going 30 MPH next to buildings is at risk of being pushed into one of them by another vehicle. The city is no place for speeds over 20 MPH.

Jon
Guest
Jon

With so little traffic enforcement in Portland these days I’m beginning to think that the only way to get arrested for DUI is when the driver is in an accident bad enough that they can’t just drive away afterwards. I’m guessing things are not any better than 2 years ago when DUI arrests dropped by over 50%. https://www.wweek.com/news/courts/2018/09/05/portland-arrests-for-drunken-driving-have-dropped-thats-because-police-cut-back-on-traffic-stops/

buildwithjoe
Guest

Burnside remains designed for death. We have the money for freeways, but not speed cameras. I bet this never would have happened if Burnside was 20mph. It should be. This never would have happened if this reckless driver had been given a few speeding tickets by speed cameras. I think it’s safe to assume he was a pattern reckless driver.

We need automated speed cameras all over this city.
We can ban facial recognition and admit that capture of deadly drivers plates is a must.

Please mention these patterns. 6/15/2015… Ben Carlson was a pedestrian on the sidewalk of Burnside when Douglas James Walker of Beaverton broke several laws and Doug’s car jumped on the sidewalk and killed Ben and seriously injured his Partner Bridget. Cops did not cite the driver. DA did not ask for any citations. Traffic division said they will not cite the driver. So end result is no ticket. None. Never. I called these offices every 2 weeks for months… Mayor Charlie Hales had staff who finally answered my email and they said “no laws were broken” to explain the lack of citations. Search the hashtags #BenCarlsonPDX on twitter, or #zeroCitation

Dustin Finney was killed by a drunk driver and deadly design. There is near zero enforcement of deadly driving. A few cement islands are just empty words to keep people in their elected office and city job.

How many Mad Moms demanding action and familes for safe streets must we create to end the slaughter. Answer is zero. Vision zero. We have a plan that works in other countries where deaths are now zero for the whole year and much larger populations. We just have to put actions behind the empty words of our lawmakers.

call Oregon House Speaker Tina Kotek (503)986-1200 demand she cut back most of the $12 billion on the mega freeway budget being spent over the next 5 years.

Here is a list of mega projects, and their project numbers and a few videos. All in my google doc.

https://docs.google.com/document/d/1FIGubOtI5dhM1POt849W8Z_YPbyfSnKTUBZzpby77hU/edit?usp=sharing

Erik
Guest

The driver under the influence is 18 years old, so very few assumptions can be made. I hope he rots in prison the rest of his life though.

Thanks for your post. Good information.

buildwithjoe
Guest

Putting people in prison to rot or otherwise is not a solution , and it is not a solution most people would agree with. I do not want to put this killer in prison. I do want him to pay back for what he has caused. we can rethink the world. There are some people who belong in prison, but I don’t think this person is one. But it depends upon their records..

Rain Waters
Guest
Rain Waters

And death has NO mercy. . .

Jeik
Guest
Jeik

The curb ramps are placed so that most of the corner has no curb, which maybe would have slowed down the vehicle as it moved on to the sidewalk. Looks like the engineers were avoiding the fire extinguisher and other street furniture. Ramps are not in a great location for actually crossing the street either. Disappointing (and now tragic) that the city would rebuild the corner and not put in a curb bulb or position the ramps correctly.

No One
Guest
No One

This is an excellent observation. The ADA requirements for flat slopes on curb ramps and landings lead to a lot of retrofit upgrades that look like this – reduced curb exposure, poor ramp alignment, etc., often to avoid utilities.

Curb extensions (aka “bulb outs”) provide many benefits where there is parking – shorter crossing distances, space for flatter curb ramp slopes, visibility for peds, space for utilities and others. A potential disadvantage is they can lead to more ped conflicts with cyclists in an adjacent bike lane, but that depends on the width of the bike lane. Curb extensions don’t cost much more on their own, EXCEPT where drainage and utilities would have to be moved. At this corner, the drainage inlets are in the way on both Burnside and 18th, so adding curb extensions would require new storm sewer pipe and inlets in addition to moving utility poles and water line for the fire hydrant.

In upgrading intersections like this for ADA and safety, agencies are in the unenviable position of choosing to spend available funding on as many locations like this as possible with less-than-ideal solutions, or improving a lot fewer locations with a more ideal fix at much higher costs for each. As advocates for these improvements, our role is to convince agencies to allocate more of their funding to get both “more” and “better.”

squareman
Subscriber

Jonathan, could you do a retrospective review of the VRU law? Even searching on your site, I can find only one definitive mention of it being put to use in 2013. One time since it was passed in 2007!?

https://bikeportland.org/tag/vulnerable-roadway-user-law

Bjorn
Guest
Bjorn

Unfortunately it has been very difficult to get the VRU law enforced since it was passed. I am only aware of a handful of cases. The reasons seem to be a combination of cops and DA’s who aren’t aware of the law or don’t understand when it should be enforced, combined with a lack of infrastructure around how to administer the community service portion of it. There is currently a case where it was used in Corvallis in which the driver did not complete his community service within the required time frame but the judge in the case has been giving him extensions because he says it is too hard to find community service options. Having a clearer setup for administering the community service would be a good thing to do if the law were to be updated in the future. The VRU law was designed as an in between to be used when a driver seriously hurt or killed someone but wasn’t doing something that would be considered reckless enough to warrant manslaughter charges. It wouldn’t really apply in this case.

Max
Guest
Max

I ride through this intersection on 18th both North and Southbound basically daily and it’s pretty terrifying. Drivers on Burnside are practically never looking for cross traffic, a huge number of drivers act like you don’t have a right to even cross Burnside. If you’re lucky enough to get one lane of traffic to stop almost inevitably someone tries to blast past in the adjacent lane.

While the drunk driver is clearly at fault, unfortunately it’s so easy to imagine this exact scenario playing out without anyone being drunk and drivers on Burnside just acting how they do.

Tom
Guest
Tom

Usually in these cases the driver will be back drinking and driving soon. Drunk driving has very high recidivism, regardless of treatment. Typically only on the fifth conviction does the drunk driver actually loose the drivers license.

The DA could be proactive and save the lives of future victims by offering to trade license revocation instead of jail time on the first offense. Why not offer a deal for permanent lifetime revocation of the Oregon drivers license, with no possibility of reinstatement. Plus a permanent lifetime ban on obtaining an Oregon vehicle registration, with no possibility of reinstatement. If ever found driving in Oregon, then the jail time would kick back in.

Erik
Guest

Historically true, but Oregon, Washington, and California laws have become quite strict. It’s also a felony the second time.

Max
Guest
Max

Also, a manslaughter charge here already puts a felony on the table.

Tom
Guest
Tom

I agree the charges sound significant, but in reality they often don’t end up translating to much punishment in the end after deals are made and charges are dropped. Often a felony will only result in probation and some community service. The dangerous drivers tend to end up driving again a lot sooner than you might think.

What is most important? Do we just want to get revenge, or should we act to prevent further victims. I would rather trade punishment in order to ensure we don’t have more victims in the future, even though that might not seem like justice.

Middle of the Road Guy
Guest
Middle of the Road Guy

What if more BIPOCs are impacted by such a policy? because you just know that racial disparities are going to come into the discussion.

Eawriste
Guest
Eawriste

Burnside has 6 lanes of cars. The design choice to maintain parking, speed and car capacity on Burnside increases the chance that crashes will occur at higher speeds. PBOT could have/can easily narrow the street by expanding the sidewalk, install protected bike lanes and keep two lanes of car traffic. There are streets all over the city where PBOT’s design choices often prioritize speed and capacity. An increase in unsafe conditions is the result. When someone makes an unsafe decision such as the person with the DUI above, the results can be a lot different when streets are designed for safety, not parking, speed and car capacity.

buildwithjoe
Guest

And the city just spent about $500,000 to grind off the surface of East Burnisde and make it fast and smooth and repaved. No rumble strips, no speed bumps, no new flash beacons, no new zebra stripes, no new islands, no drop to 20mph, no removal of parking to clear for line of sight. The new Burnside was upgraded to be more deadly than the burnside of 2018…

mark
Guest
mark

I agree that a lower speed limit on Burnside combined with automated enforcement could have provided a better outcome.

I will assert that better parenting would have prevented this from happening at all. The 18-year-old driver could a student who graduated from nearby Grant High School just this June, still living at home with his parents. He had access to a car, and was driving around with two passengers, who may not even live in his household. He was away from the house long enough to get drunk, or he left the house after already drinking.

Did the parents say anything like:

“Gee son, we’re in the middle of a pandemic; You shouldn’t be in a small enclosed space like an automobile with your friends.”

“Gosh Aidan, our air quality today is ‘hazardous’ on the AQI. You really shouldn’t go outside at all.”

“Boy, if I ever catch you drinking and driving, there will be hell to pay.”

I realize that this is pure speculation, but so are the other comments. I know that at 18, the driver is legally an adult, and should be responsible for his own actions, but I have to wonder how the sense of entitlement that allows these extremely poor decisions to be made was created in the first place.

Hello, Kitty
Guest
Hello, Kitty

I will assert you are wrong. It’s pretty clear from your simplistic view of parenting that you’ve never had an 18 year old, and, maybe, you’ve never even been one.

That said, I am quite sure the kid’s parents are feeling plenty guilty about what happened. It’s less clear who you think is feeling “entitled”.

mark
Guest
mark

We’ve got a 15-year-old at home, so yeah, I understand some of the challenges of raising a responsible teenager. I know other parents that might be too permissive with their kids, because it’s easier to tell them yes than no. Just because they’re old enough for a driver license doesn’t automatically mean they should have one.

The entitlement I spoke of referred to the driver, as he clearly judged that it was okay for him to do whatever he wanted, without a thought for how it might impact others.

Hello, Kitty
Guest
Hello, Kitty

Just curious… How do conversations with your teen go when you begin them with “Gee son…”? (assuming a son)

I’m guessing not well.

mark
Guest
mark

touché

Rain Waters
Guest
Rain Waters

In the middle of a what ?

Jason
Guest
Jason

Obvious question, was the Tacoma speeding? The speed limit in that area is 25mph, if memory serves. However, motorists regularly drive 35mph or more on that stretch. Clearly the Subaru driver had no right being on the road, but for the Tacoma to push the Subaru that far and pin a pedestrian, speed was definitely a factor.

My sympathy to friends and family of Chris.

Chris I
Guest
Chris I

The air quality and visibility were atrocious when this incident occurred. Any speed that was fast enough to throw that Subaru into a building was “too fast for conditions”. Unfortunately, the police just don’t care about speeding and the basic rule.

Rain Waters
Guest
Rain Waters

They cared about speed in 2005. Gosh what happened ?

Johnny Bye Carter
Subscriber
Johnny Bye Carter

It was 30 MPH last year, not sure if they changed it. When speed data on Burnside at 16th Ave was taken people weren’t driving over the limit very frequently. Maybe they gained speed in those 2 blocks. Oddly, they have no other speed data for Burnside until 60th.

It’s no surprise that if the Subaru was going 30 MPH and was hit in the front side by the Toyota that it had then effectively reoriented the Subaru to now be driving right at the building without slowing it down very much. Being so close to the building the Subaru would not be able to stop in time. But had the Subaru been going a little slower then it would have been the Toyota that crashed into the building.

Lower speeds on Burnside and better pedestrian infrastructure are certainly needed here.

Rain Waters
Guest
Rain Waters

Sure as Dodge Ram equals . . . Mazda Miata equals. . .Sooby usually equals “look out im a sketchy driver”. Unless you believe sooby commercials.

dan
Guest
dan

I know what you’re talking about, but the stereotypical Forrester driver is pretty different from the stereotypical WRX driver, which is the Subaru that (if stereotypes are true) would be most likely to be involved in this kind of wreck.

Jason
Guest
Jason

Is there a diagram of how the vehicles came to rest? That would tell us a lot.

Dave
Guest
Dave

It would help for all media to drop mincing, timid expressions like “alleged possible intoxicated driver” and instead refer to these creatures as something like “homicidal booze fiends.” Creating greater intolerance of DUI would be an excellent way to move society along.

Hello, Kitty
Guest
Hello, Kitty

I have to say the “society accepts drunk driving” meme makes no sense to me. I’ve never seen any evidence that this is true. I think most people understand the danger of drunk driving, and do not tolerate it.

“Not tolerating,” I should note, does not mean “will pay any price, no matter how high” to stop it.

cmh89
Guest
cmh89

Do you hang out with the bar crowd?

I think one the biggest drivers of drunk driving in the United States is our lack of transit. It’s expensive to get around Portland if you aren’t driving.

Hello, Kitty
Guest
Hello, Kitty

I prefer to drink my rumplemintz alone, thank you. But just because people do something doesn’t mean society accepts it.

X
Guest
X

An experiment: go to some place that serves alcohol, drink two pints of craft beer, and, on ordering the third, see if they ask you kindly how you are getting home.

Steve C
Guest
Steve C

This is so sad.

With the increase in outdoor dining, even on busy streets, it seems we are putting more people in venerable positions in relation to fast moving traffic. Would placing bollards along the curb, especially near corners help? These look a bit flimsy, but Paris seems to love protecting sidewalks and cafe seating with them: https://www.google.com/maps/@48.857401,2.3574446,3a,90y,175.63h,60.92t/data=!3m6!1e1!3m4!1sN6x2__7XxheZeeEE5SNP3g!2e0!7i16384!8i8192

Johnny Bye Carter
Subscriber
Johnny Bye Carter

Wow, that street has a head-on bike lane! I bet drivers hate bikes right there.

Those bollards look ornamental as to keep people from parking up on the sidewalk.

Vincent Dawans
Guest
Vincent Dawans

I know in Brussels at least (my birth town), most one-way streets are automatically 2 ways for bikes. And yes drivers complain about it because that’s what drivers do worldwide. If fact European drivers are not much different than american ones when it comes to complaining. The main difference in Europe as far as I can tell is that drivers no longer have the majority voice in urban design decisions. Brussels for instance has had a 30kmh=20mph speed limit city-wide for a while and just announced the entire downtown area will now test new speed limits of 20kmh=13mph for a 3 month period…

Steve C
Guest
Steve C

I don’t disagree, those particular bollards wouldn’t be able to withstand a huge impact. Maybe articles below are better examples of what I’m talking about. But regardless of the effectiveness of these specific examples, I think creating barriers that could harden and protect corners maybe should be an option for dangerous situations like we see here.

https://www.strongtowns.org/journal/2019/8/19/the-streets-of-paris#:~:text=If%20you%20are%20a%20moderator%20please%20see%20our%20troubleshooting%20guide.&text=I%20think%20that%20it's%20worth,pedestrians%20from%20crossing%20the%20street.&text=Very%20few%20signalized%20right%2Dangle%20intersections.

https://nacto.org/publication/urban-street-design-guide/intersections/minor-intersections/raised-intersections/

EP
Guest
EP

Those bollards are just a little toothpick to a car. You need a massive barrier to stop a vehicle at Burnside speeds. Last summer I saw these Archer 1200 vehicle barriers setup on SW Main outside the Schnitz when they had the street closed for a show. They weigh 700lbs… Granted they’re portable instead of a giant concrete filled steel pole in the ground, but it’s the kind of solution that would likely be approved for outdoor areas.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zgagmkTHwq0

maxD
Guest
maxD

I agree that one of the Parisian bollards would not stop a speeding car, having a bunch of bollards lining a sidewalk would be very likely at preventing a swerving, drunk driver from gaining much speed.

mh
Subscriber

Nice. Price?

X
Guest
X

This is a tragedy for Chris, his family and friends, and anyone who leaves their house, ever. This could happen to anyone because:
*Motor vehicles are routinely overpowered and give an illusion of safety and control that is clearly false. In this crash the drinking driver was arrested but to my mind the other driver who was almost certainly speeding was equally to blame (if not more). I’ve seen some serious car crashes on surface streets but none of them projected a vehicle out of the bounds of the intersection to impact a building with such force. I would not be surprised to find out the pickup was doing 50+ mph.
*We bar young people from drinking even in situations where it might be relatively safe (with family, in regulated businesses) but it’s just not that hard for kids to get alcohol or drugs which they can use unobserved in private places. Places such as cars which our society allows them to control at the age of 16.
That’s five years before they can legally drink. I say relatively safe because I’m aware that alcohol is a drug with dangerous potential.
*The Vulnerable Road User law on the books is currently interpreted in a way that negates its stated purpose.

X
Guest
X

I looked at that intersection and what was missing was any sign of skidmarks. ABS? I don’t know. I take back the 50 mph thing, I’m sorry about that one. Second take: the driver on Burnside had no time to react. Ordinary people aren’t driving around watching for cars coming out of side streets without a stop. Should they be?

The kid–no driving of anything ever.

Now I feel much, much worse about those ‘Copenhagen turn boxes’ inside crosswalks. There is so much wrong with those things.

RudiV
Guest
RudiV

I totaled my car in nearly this exact same collision in 2003. Only difference was I was heading west on Burnside, and the guy I hit was trying to dart across at 17th. I see nothing has changed.

Rain Waters
Guest
Rain Waters

Cept for dual 19″ monitors in pbot cubicles.

Jason
Guest
Jason

Why does that matter to you? This is pretty typical, in fact 19″ is pretty small.

James S
Guest
James S

While 99% of the blame is the drunk driver…

Why is there no painted stop bar? Why is there no marked crosswalk on all sections? Can Portland not afford paint?

Jason
Guest
Jason

They can’t even afford to keep the gutters clean.

Vincent Dawans
Guest
Vincent Dawans

Meanwhile we have this crash @ 65th and Foster reported on Reddit.
https://www.reddit.com/r/Portland/comments/iu88j4/behind_plaid_pantry_on_65th_and_foster/
Luckily it doesn’t appear anybody was hurt. Frightening none-the-less. How do we protect pedestrians from these monster vehicles? In a sane world we would ban these vehicles from our cities or at least require commercial licences, permits and additional insurance. My family in Europe always ask me wether I am scared of guns in America. In reality, it’s not guns I am scared of, but these insanely large vehicles driven by irresponsible drivers.

Rain Waters
Guest
Rain Waters

Theres always the option to stay completely out of range of your so called “monster vehicles”. Hanging out next to a metal river of death with an attitude of passive hanger outer might be less than aware.

Jason
Guest
Jason

Not really, considering everyone lives on tiny islands separated by “metal rivers of death”. Of course, I’m saying that every street is a metal river of death.

Vincent Dawans
Guest
Vincent Dawans

You are right of course that I have the option to leave just like anybody else, if this is what you are telling me. In the meantime, I am a US citizen and have as much right as you to voice my opinion about the place where I live, regardless of my place of origin. And if you don’t like it, well I guess then you have the option to leave, no?

qqq
Guest
qqq

How would anyone “stay completely out of range” in any practical sense, when they’re crashing into people and things on sidewalks?

Hello, Kitty
Guest
Hello, Kitty

Are you asking about practical steps you can take to increase your everyday safety against common threats, or for things you can do to protect yourself against every freak event that you might encounter out in the world?

Jason
Guest
Jason

Okay, so,

Hello, Kitty

Fewer cars on the road means fewer fatalities

Or it means people driving faster and a fatality rate not too different than when there are more vehicles. We’re running that particular experiment now, and the results aren’t positive.

less cars does not equate to less road fatalities. Somehow however, a traffic accident caused by a combination of speeding and DUII (both all too common) is a freak occurrence?

Clearly contradicting yourself.
link

Hello, Kitty
Guest
Hello, Kitty

It is rare for a car crash to end up on the sidewalk, and your chances of being harmed by such an incident are quite low. When hundreds of millions of people drive every day, plenty of statistically rare things will happen. But probably not to you.

People win the lottery every day.

Eawriste
Guest
Eawriste

When PBOT designs the street for speed and car capacity, with a rarely enforced speed limit of 30mph, something you might call an “accident” is inevitable. Probability for events such as these increases. This is the trade-off we implicitly accept when creating conditions that will likely kill people. Our culture often calls it an “accident,” selectively choosing to ignore factors we know will result in injury/death.

Hello, Kitty
Guest
Hello, Kitty

We could also call any given incident an “accident” while fully acknowledging (and hopefully working to mitigate) the factors we know make such outcomes highly likely to happen sooner or later. We do routinely and without irony in many other facets of life.

Eawriste
Guest
Eawriste

Absolutely true in colloquial language. This is why it is so easy to accept 100 road deaths a day. If they are called “accidents,” instead of something more neutral, it is a lot easier to chock them up to whim when you are often introduced to a death with this assumption. It may be why it is so easy for PBOT to design places for speed and car capacity that are often inherently dangerous to everyone. Or why so many people develop a pattern of driving recklessly and are surprised when they injure/kill someone.

Hello, Kitty
Guest
Hello, Kitty

Accident is completely “neutral”. It is a description of the intentionality of the driver.

PBOT uses the word “crash”, both internally and externally, and still designs the roads it does. I believe ODOT does the same. That suggests that language does not offer the explanatory power you are claiming.

Jason
Guest
Jason

You sure that’s not “cash”?

qqq
Guest
qqq

I’m not asking either of those. RW said, ‘Theres always the option to stay completely out of range of your so called “monster vehicles”.” I’m saying that’s impossible in any practical sense. if you live in any normal urban situation, you can’t avoid those large trucks. If you drive, they’re on the road with you. If you walk, you’re exposed to them every block when you cross the street, midblock at least once on any block that has a driveway, and regularly if your route includes a street without sidewalks.

“Freak accidents” aren’t the problem. It’s being hit while crossing the street or walking across a driveway, or walking on the shoulder of a road without sidewalks, or walking through a parking lot to get to a store entrance. If you look at pedestrian fatalities in Portland, those things (getting hit while crossing legally in a crosswalk, etc.) make up the bulk of situations where people are getting killed.

Of course you can take steps to minimize your exposure, but you can’t eliminate the exposure without extreme, impractical measures.

Hello, Kitty
Guest
Hello, Kitty

I fully concur. The cost of protecting yourself against a car-on-the-sidewalk crash would be unbearable to most, but it’s also completely unnecessary on any practical level.

Crossing the street is far, far more dangerous, but, fortunately, there are many well established low-cost ways to make it relatively safe.

EP
Guest
Jason
Guest
Jason

Sad when a telephone pole elicits harsher penalty than a dead cyclist or pedestrian.

w
Guest
w

Obviously PBOT works within its budget but some of their street re-designs come off as “lipstick on a pig.” Where’s the big, transformative moves? There seems like there’s a lot of effort in safety or stormwater redesigns that obtain marginal results, and even then the streets are kind of ugly and utilitarian looking after they’re done with them.

I wish there was a larger movements for beautiful boulevards and streets (like multi-way boulevards) in this city. Imagine Burnside was more like a boulevard you see in Barcelona or Paris, with large street tree, bike lanes, wider sidewalks and less space ceded to cars (and overall less speeding). Crosswalks meeting two lanes of traffic (w/o streetlights) is dangerous.

Portland’s street designs are so hodge-podge design wise. Outside of the transit mall Downtown, our streets are pretty boring here.

qqq
Guest
qqq

Great point. It’s so sad when there’s a new project announced, with a chance to do something great, or even just good. By the time the project is built, your expectations have been beaten down to where you’re happy to get some basic functional improvement, and relieved if the project doesn’t actually make things worse. Then you feel stupid for ever having thought this project would be different, and that the city or county would have ever actually cared about going beyond minimum code compliance to create an environment that people would want to come to just to experience.

On the other hand, there are a few recent projects that actually are pretty great, although not streets (Tilikum for example). Some of the closed street and new plazas are pretty encouraging also. There are lots of opportunities for the streets you describe–any street with parallel parking or travel lanes that could be converted to non-vehicle space could be a candidate.

SRB
Guest
SRB

As a regular walker, this story makes me cringe. What a preventable waste of a young man’s life. Condolences to Mr. Copeland’s family and community…and if anyone is to be scrutinized, let’s start calling parents and their indulgent, hands-off methods into question. WTF: your 18 year old is out on a drunk-driving rampage at suppertime? Really? Six years ago this knucklehead and his buddies were 12 year-olds. How do they degenerate so fast? How’s fault is that?

Hello, Kitty
Guest
Hello, Kitty

It’s the grandparents’ fault, of course, for raising children so incapable of raising children of their own.

Without any information about the situation, it’s really irresponsible to start throwing around blame like that.