Tuesday was another day that illustrated how Portland has a long way to go to make its streets — even one with a much-heralded recent investment — safe for people not inside cars. Even on Southeast Hawthorne, where the Portland Bureau of Transportation recently completed a major project billed by Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty as a significant upgrade in pedestrian safety, we see that the consequences of car-dominance are no match for a few median islands, signs and paint.
Portlander Nicole Funke shared on Twitter that she was “pretty beat up” after being hit while walking in the new crosswalk on Hawthorne at 38th. “Been a pedestrian for 38 years and finally got got by a Volkswagen while crossing Hawthorne. The driver took PBOT’s fancy new zebra crossing as a suggestion, I guess.”
As BikePortlanders know, PBOT completed a major renovation of Hawthorne billed in large part as an upgrade to pedestrian safety in November 2021. While I think the new street design (in photos below) has tamed drivers significantly, it’s clear that risks remain. I don’t have more details on what led up to Nicole’s collision, but I’ll update the post if/when I hear more.
Also yesterday, just a half-mile south of Hawthorne on SE Powell Blvd, we learned from local news coverage that a 15-year-old person riding a bicycle was hit and very seriously injured while crossing SE Powell at 45th. KATU says the victim has “life-threatening” injuries. We can see from KATU’s photos that the car driver was operated a large SUV and headed eastbound when the collision occurred. There’s significant front-end damage to the vehicle so the person must have either been driving at a high rate of speed and/or slammed into a curb.
The location is adjacent to Creston Park. There’s a neighborhood greenway route just one block west at 43rd. A BikePortland reader heard about Tuesday’s crash and told us they filed an official complaint about the 43rd Ave crossing in January 2021. Their main concern was “lack of visibility of cyclists at the intersection”. The complaint has worked its way through PBOT’s process and they plan to install bike boxes on 43rd and 42nd (its an offset crossing) sometime this summer. It’s unclear if our readers concerns are directly related to what happened to the bicycle rider yesterday.
SE Powell is a state highway and is and owned/managed by the Oregon Department of Transportation.
We hope the victim will make a full recovery, but in my experience when the Portland Police Bureau says “life-threatening” they really mean it.
These are just some of the collisions that have happened recently as Portland remains a hostage to dangerous drivers and street designs that don’t do enough to rein them in.
CORRECTION, 8/29: This story originally said PBOT owns and manages a section of SE Powell from 99th west. That is wrong. Powell is all under ODOT jurisdiction. I regret the error and any confusion it might have caused.