Trucks, turns, and the tragedy on Powell Blvd

View from northbound SE 26th approaching Powell Blvd. (Photo: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

“That truck and that trailer really is not made for 26th at all.”

– Keith Wilson, TITAN Freight Systems

Note: Not all the details of this tragedy are yet known. I am only confident in the truck operator’s movement prior to the collision; but there are still unknowns about Sarah’s final moments.

Let’s talk about truck traffic at Southeast 26th and Powell Blvd and how it relates to the death of Sarah Pliner.

Last Tuesday, Sarah was biking toward the southeast corner of that intersection just before 12 noon. It was a school day and dozens of Cleveland High School students milled around — in the crosswalks and at Powell Park, which is catty-corner from the school and a popular place to hang out during lunch period.

As Sarah made her way to the corner (she approached it from the east, but we don’t know where exactly she came from), a man driving a 53-foot semi-truck with a trailer attached was traveling northbound on SE 26th Avenue. The truck operator made a right turn to continue eastbound on Powell (a state highway). Because of the limited space available, and based on where his truck ultimately came to rest (the left of two lanes facing eastbound on Powell), it’s likely that the truck driver swung out wide to the left and then turned back sharply to the right in order to complete the turn. Sometime during this movement, Sarah came in contact with the truck and was killed.

This type of turn, sometimes called a jug handle,  is inherently dangerous because it can fool other road users into thinking the truck is headed left or straight, when it’s really just prepping to turn hard to the right. When that hard turn to the right happens, the rear of the trailer does what’s known as “off-tracking” where the wheels cut into the corner. A similar turning movement contributed to the death of Kathryn Rickson on SW Madison in 2012 and a serious injury collision on the downtown transit mall in 2010.

The swerve of a jug handle turn is a well-known risk among truck drivers. In driver forums there’s a lot of discussion about how to perform these turns and the consequences when things go wrong.

We still don’t know exactly what happened on Tuesday, but I think there’s a chance Sarah rolled into a space she thought was safe initially, only to run out of time once that window of safety quickly closed.

Either way, the presence of the truck is what killed Sarah Pliner. So why was the truck there? Is it even possible to make that turn safely?  Did the design of that corner contribute to this outcome?

Gregg Dal Ponte (left) and Keith Wilson.

To get a handle on these questions, I reached out to Gregg Dal Ponte and Keith Wilson, who have 70 years of combined experience in the trucking industry. Dal Ponte is director of regulatory compliance with Oregon Trucking Associations Inc., an influential trade organization. Before the OTA, Dal Ponte spent time as a truck driver and sales rep for a trucking company. The majority of his career, 27 years, was spent at the Oregon Department of Transportation where he was administrator of the Motor Carrier Transportation Division in charge of vehicle regulation, truck and driver safety, size and weight enforcement, and so on. Keith Wilson is the president and CEO of TITAN Freight Systems, a company he has been at the helm of for over 24 years. He is also a member of the City of Portland Freight Advisory Committee and ran for a position on Portland City Council in 2020.

Both of these experts told me the infrastructure is inherently problematic.

Trucks on 26th

Map: BikePortland

There are a lot of truck drivers that use 26th Avenue and Powell Blvd. The reasons are obvious once you zoom out on the map. The main office and a distribution center for the Fred Meyer supermarket chain is just 600 feet away. Union Pacific’s 110-acre Brooklyn Intermodal Rail Yard is just a half-mile away. Powell offers direct connections to the Interstate Freeway system to the west and east.

Despite its industrial proximity, 26th Ave is not an official freight route. ODOT says it’s a “major collector”, not a freight route, and the City of Portland’s Transportation System Plan routes freight trucks to Holgate Blvd and McLoughlin — not 26th.

Even so, truckers continue to use 26th and make these turns to-and-from Powell.

That’s a big problem, according to both Dal Ponte and Wilson.

Turning the corner

Southeast corner of 26th and Powell where Sarah Pliner died.

Dal Ponte explained that truck turning radii are a function of the distance between the king pin (where the trailer attaches to the rear of the truck body) to the rear axle (or king pin to rear axle, KPRA). “The shorter that measurement is, the easier the vehicle makes turns common to an urban setting. The bigger the KPRA, the less likely it’s going to make good turning movements,” he said.

Many 53-foot trucks have sliding dual axles, which means the operator can move the axle fore or aft depending on the weight of the load. This can effectively shorten or lengthen the KPRA, thus changing a truck operators’ possible turning radius. The position of the axles also impacts the weight capacity of the trailer. A longer KPRA measurement, which leads to more dangerous turns, allows truckers to carry heavier (more profitable) loads. Dal Ponte said this sets up “competing interests” because if freight companies used safer trucks, they’d have to make more trips.

“An urban driver is going to have a hard time making corners with the axles all the way back… the danger is when you’re making that right-hand turn in certain geometries, your rear trailer and tandem [rear] axles are going to jump the curb cut across the sidewalk,” he added. “That’s just geometry, but it’s also not safe.”

Wilson, whose company operates trucks out of seven terminals across Oregon and Washington, said their policy would not allow a truck like the one that killed Sarah Pliner to be operated on 26th. “That driver had a 53-foot box,” Wilson said, “there is no physical way he could have made that corner without going into the oncoming lane to prep… That truck and that trailer really is not made for 26th at all.”

In 2015, ODOT realized this corner was unsafe and they spent part of the $4.6 million Powell Blvd Safety Project budget to address it. ODOT felt the corner didn’t have enough space to safely accommodate the large groups of students. They also knew that truck operators would routinely turn right from 26th Avenue to Powell and their rear wheels would mount the curb and roll up onto the sidewalk. To address these concerns, they cut back vegetation and made a larger concrete waiting area. ODOT also cut out the existing curb and replaced it with a “truck apron” and much wider turn radius.

ODOT said this would, “Increase safety by allowing large vehicles to turn without entering the pedestrian zone or encroaching on vehicle lanes.” Not only do truck operators still encroach on other lanes to make these turns, it’s not clear if the new corner design is actually any safer. ODOT has removed an obstacle (the tight corner and curb) and now truck and car drivers are able to take the turn at higher speeds with less consequence.

Prior to our conversation, Wilson visited the corner. When I asked him about the changes ODOT made in 2018 he said, “On balance, I don’t see it as a real positive… I don’t see it as an improvement.” Wilson pointed to the new curb ramps and added that, “Kids or people are standing right there with no protection. Those dual axles are very dangerous. There’s no doubt about it.”

If 26th is so problematic, why not ban trucks?

Photo of the scene looking west on SE Powell toward SE 26th intersection.

Wilson thinks any attempt to prohibit trucks from accessing Powell from 26th will just create other problems. “You’d simply push the traffic to an adjacent street,” he said. “Freight needs to play in that sandbox with those other vehicles because it’s a quasi-industrial area,” Wilson added, listing off the rail yard and the Fred Meyer headquarters.

Dal Ponte was more open to the idea of a possible ban on trucks. He said if he was still working at ODOT, he’d consider routing them off of 26th, or at least limiting the length and/or size of trucks allowed to use it. “I’d pinpoint the shippers and receivers in the area and see if an alternate truck route was viable.” Dal Ponte said any new freight truck regulation would be strongly resisted by business interests, but it would be worth it. “Shippers won’t like it because the costs would go up… but what value would somebody place on a life like this person that died?” he said.

Portland Bureau of Transportation Director Chris Warner talked about this on Oregon Public Broadcasting’s Think Out Loud radio program today. He said he’d, “Look at ways to move that [freight traffic] back to Holgate and not use 26th as a throughput.”

Focus on the infrastructure, not the trucks

Wilson and Dal Ponte had different ideas about where our focus on solutions should be placed.

Let’s start with Wilson. He thinks we’d be smartest to change the infrastructure so that truck operators can make safer turns.

Currently, there are two travel lanes on northbound 26th at Powell and one striped shoulder. (There used to be a narrow bike lane that led to a bike box at this corner. In 2018, ODOT removed the bike box and reclassified the bike lane as a “safety shoulder” in their effort to discourage bike riders from using 26th.)

Wilson thinks ODOT should make the lanes safer for bike riders and everyone else. To do that, he recommends removing the left turn lane in order to give more separation between users and give truck drivers the space to make right turns without having to do the jug handle maneuver. “The left turn lane shouldn’t be there,” Wilson said. “You can’t have a built environment with pedestrians, bikes and trucks sharing that same unprotected area. It’s just a recipe for disaster.”

“With just one lane [in each direction] it may impede the traffic flow a little bit, but then you’re able to have a lot larger bike lane.” “You have to look at what is your priority,” Wilson continued. “And if it’s only congested during that one hour in the morning, then our focus should be protecting pedestrians and protecting bikes.”

Focus on the trucks, not the infrastructure

Dal Ponte thinks, “There’s a insufficient land and inadequate financing to change the infrastructure,” so he’d focus on better regulation of existing truck traffic.

Unlike California, Oregon doesn’t use the KPRA ratio to regulate trucks on highways. Instead, they use only overall length. Dal Ponte thinks that’s a mistake because it doesn’t allow for “nuance” in policymaking. Dal Ponte said if ODOT used that ratio they could create a new policy that only trucks with a certain maximum KPRA measurement are allowed to use inner Powell.

While he studied a potential size restriction, Dal Ponte said he’d take immediate action to ban trucks with the longer trailers from using 26th altogether. “I think more trucks that can safely make the turn are better than fewer trucks that can’t. Right?” he said.


In the week since Sarah’s death, we’ve been able to direct tremendous scrutiny onto ODOT and this terrible intersection. The comments made by ODOT Director Kris Strickler Monday are a positive sign that there might be an opportunity for significant change (“To keep our community safe, no change is off the table,” he said).

While there’s a lot of work and big decisions ahead, it feels like almost everyone agrees the current infrastructure is broken and it must be fixed as soon as possible.

“The root of this problem is that the infrastructure is old,” Dal Ponte shared with me. “And it was never designed optimally for the mix of uses it sees today. Something’s got to give.”

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Cathy Tuttle
1 month ago

Sending heartfelt love to the friends and family of Sarah Pliner.

The design of every street and every intersection needs to start with making it safe for the most vulnerable people first. Without exception. This is true whatever agency “owns” the street, ODOT, PBOT or the Galactic Republic. Start first with making the street safe for children.

In a half hour standing at the intersection of Powell and 26th, I observed many women, some with very young children, getting on and off the bus, and a few people biking. The people managing our streets must provide enough visible safe space to wait, and enough time to cross the street on foot or by bike. Only then can we talk about how much space and what kind of movement to allow trucks and cars. Keith Wilson has it right, “You can’t have a built environment with pedestrians, bikes and trucks sharing that same unprotected area. It’s just a recipe for disaster.”

It’s true at 26th and Powell, and true throughout Portland. Start with making every street and every intersection safe for people first. Always prioritize safety over speed.

Sequoia
Sequoia
1 month ago
Reply to  Cathy Tuttle

It’s not just speed, especially with Powell & ODOT, it’s about trying to move as many cars, trucks and buses as possible. As the ODOT guy correctly called SE Powell, an “urban highway”.

And that’s how most motorists treat it as well. People are just looking straight ahead, trying to get to wherever they’re going.

Either we keep SE Powell a “urban highway” and build a ped/bike overpasses like on SE 9th & Powell to give non-motorized vehicle users safe passage across SE Powell or SE Powell needs a complete redesign so it’ handles a much smaller traffic volume at lower speeds.

Watts
Watts
1 month ago
Reply to  Sequoia

complete redesign so it’ handles a much smaller traffic volume at lower speeds.

Just as a thought experiment, what do you think would happen if Powell was restricted to carrying half the vehicles it does today? Would other streets and neighborhoods be impacted, and how? Would transit improve? Would half of those who currently drive on the road decide to take the bus (more actually, as a fair bit of the traffic on Powell is commercial, and less susceptible to “transitification”)?

Sequoia
Sequoia
1 month ago
Reply to  Watts

I’ve no idea. I suspect most of the cars on SE Powell are commuters that live east of 52nd. Just a total guess.

But I’ve been on SE Powell in the past and I’ve seen both east bound lanes bumper to bumper all the way out to SE 92nd.

A few years ago, while talking with a transportation wonky friend, I said, “What if SE Powell was just 2 lanes with a streetcar / max light rail right down the middle of it?”

axoplasm
1 month ago

Thank you Jonathan This is a really informative and thought-provoking pair of interviews. The timbre of conversation below is proof, some great ideas here.

Sequoia
Sequoia
1 month ago

This is the most informative and potentially useful article for starting a community wide stakeholder discussion and making needed changes.

They should immediately restrict the longer trailers from SE 26th.

I suspect the truck was at the intersection before Sarah and didn’t even know she was there when he made the turn. A large convex mirror on the NE corner would easily remedy that for trucks and cars that arrive at the intersection before a bike, scooter, etc.

What if instead of the bike box, there was ramp from the bike lane on the NB “safety shoulder” onto the pedestrian landing at the SE corner of 26th & Powell so that bikes & peds get a x-walk light together and vehicles have to wait until the x-walk light clears before they get the green?

FDUP
FDUP
1 month ago

Compounding the issues at this location is the fact that this intersection is not strictly speaking orthogonal. If you look at the map above you can see that SE Powell is angling to the southeast where it crosses SE 26th, and that the turn the trucker was attempting is an acute angle, i.e. less than 90 degrees, which makes negotiating that turn even more difficult.

Chris I
Chris I
1 month ago

Make 26th one lane in each direction with larger bike lanes, and then ban left turns. That will improve traffic flow and safety, and discourage many from using 26th to access Powell.

Betsy Reese
Betsy Reese
1 month ago
Reply to  Chris I

History, 2015: “As hundreds of people take to the streets in an expression of frustration about unsafe biking conditions in Portland, the Oregon Department of Transportation has just announced plans to install new left turn arrows at SE Powell and 26th Avenue — an intersection where two people have sustained serious injuries in collisions this month.” https://bikeportland.org/2015/05/29/odot-says-new-signals-left-turn-arrows-coming-se-powell-next-week-143732

Amit Zinman
1 month ago
Reply to  Chris I

Or better yet, make 26th a bike only route with local car traffic only allowed.

maxD
maxD
1 month ago
Reply to  Chris I

make Powell one lane in each direction with a center turn lane. The outside lanes could be MAX, BRT, parking- any of those would greatly improve the predicatbility of traffic- it would be slower and more congested, but if you timed the signals to move everyone at a consistnt 20 mph, I think it could handle 75% of the traffic it has now in a much safer way.

Chris I
Chris I
1 month ago
Reply to  maxD

You can’t have “consistent 20mph” signal timing on a 2-way road, unless you eliminate every signalized crossing. Maybe we can make Powell and Division into a giant couplet?

Rebecca Atkins
Rebecca Atkins
4 days ago
Reply to  Chris I

Umm no. Use 28th and the issue is solved. You are not trying to make something safer, you just want to stick it to drivers while providing a “safer”, but much less effective measure.

Why do bicycles have to use 26th which is obviously very dangerous? Why the stubbornness. Because this is really not about safety but more about “losing” 26th, which some cannot stomach because in their mind this means bicyclists lost a “fight.

Brandon
Brandon
1 month ago

Getting rid of the turn lane is a really bad idea. More drivers going north on 26th use the left turn lane than the lane to go straight or turn right. Cars are still going to use 26th to turn left because otherwise the next light up to turn left onto Powell from that area is at 33rd, it’ll just create a bigger traffic jam at 26th and Powell. And then you’ll still have semi-trucks mixed in with that. I bike this way every morning and can tell you for sure the single most dangerous thing about it is sharing it with semi-trucks and the best way to make it safer is to bring back the green boxes, provide a delayed greenlight after a bike/walk signal, and ban freight.

Sequoia
Sequoia
1 month ago
Reply to  Brandon

I tend to agree. Also, if traffic gets too backed up, even just morning rush hour motorists will get stressed & frustrated and make hasty decisions like trying to go around cars in the “safety shoulder” / bike lane.

That’s how I almost got killed a few years ago by a guy in minivan trying to go around evening rush hour traffic on SE Powell at SE 24th when he drove in the parking lane along the North side of Powell Park & crashed into me in the x-walk.

However, as with any problem, it should be studied a bit before any solution is implemented.

Chris I
Chris I
1 month ago
Reply to  Brandon

Making it no left in either direction will solve that problem. Holgate to 17th should be the main neighborhood route to Powell westbound. It has an overpass.

Brandon
Brandon
1 month ago
Reply to  Chris I

I agree that would be great but I don’t think people would stop turning left there unless there was some physical barrier preventing them from turning left. Williams just mentions getting rid of the left turn lane, I took that as meaning cars could still turn left but they’d have to do it from the one lane. It would be a mess if a line of cars were there waiting for oncoming cars so they could floor it and make a left turn, especially considering there could be oncoming bikes that possibly weren’t visible behind the cars.

I think having a left turn there with its own light is safe and isn’t a problem as it is. It would actually be nice if it was ONLY left turns there, no right turns, and only bikes and buses were allowed to proceed straight. I think switching the focus to getting rid of the left turn lane distracts from the actual issues of the intersection.

Daniel Fuller
Daniel Fuller
1 month ago
Reply to  Brandon

If people will still turn left without a barrier, I’m not sure what would stop them going straight if that were banned instead lol

Chris I
Chris I
1 month ago
Reply to  Brandon

We have a lot of places in Portland with no left turn allowed. Yes, it isn’t perfect, and some people will break the law. It is somewhat self-regulating, at least during busy periods, however. With one lane in each direction, anyone stopping to turn left is going to block everyone behind them, pissing everyone off. I drive Sandy Blvd a fair amount, and it’s pretty rare that I get stuck behind someone turning left at a no turn light.

Jimbo
Jimbo
1 month ago
Reply to  Brandon

Our priorities should be:
1. Safety
2. Freight
3. (Far distant) Personal Vehicles

That is an semi industrial area so you can’t ban freight. Our economy does depend on it too.

People driving to work or to get a burger can calm it down. They chose to drive when they had alternatives available. People don’t need to die to accommodate their bad decisions.

Brandon
Brandon
1 month ago
Reply to  Jimbo

This section of 26th ave. runs between two zones, a residential housing zone to the east (R 2.5) and to the west is a “General Employment” Zone called General Employment Zone 2 (EG2d). The d means it’s a design over lay zone: “The design overlay zone is applied to areas where design and neighborhood character are of special concern.”

The Design (d) overlay zone ensures that Portland is both a city designed for people and a city in harmony with nature. The Design overlay zone supports the city’s evolution within current and emerging centers of civic life. The overlay promotes design excellence in the built environment through the application of additional design standards and design guidelines that:

  • Build on context by enhancing the distinctive physical, natural, historic and cultural qualities of the location while accommodating growth and change;
  • Contribute to a public realm that encourages social interaction and fosters inclusivity in people’s daily experience; and
  • Promotes quality and long-term resilience in the face of changing demographics, climate and economy.

Freight can easily take Holgate, McLoughlin, or 17th and not take the shortcut on 26th.

Jimbo
Jimbo
1 month ago
Reply to  Brandon

I am going to be honest; I only understood how your last paragraph is relevant. I think the freight trucks should be smaller AND they remove the left turn lane. Again, safety should be number 1 priority. Plenty of ways to get around without using a lethal weapon.

David Hampsten
David Hampsten
1 month ago
Reply to  Jimbo

I think what Brandon is trying to say is that as much as we might want safety to be number one, the adjacent land uses and how people actually use that land will often determine the traffic on the street. The reality is that 26th (as well as 21st and 22nd) are outlets for a huge UPRR “multimodal” transfer operation (huge semi-trailers) and several nearby warehouses, none of which are going away anytime soon. Our ability to eliminate certain vehicle types is very limited, and if PBOT and/or ODOT isn’t willing to ban such huge vehicles on 26th, then one might try to limit vehicle types through land use zoning and land use design changes.

Daniel Fuller
Daniel Fuller
1 month ago
Reply to  Jimbo

We don’t need to ban freight, just larger trucks/trailers. E-cargo bikes can even replace trucks for local deliveries.

Tomas Paella
Tomas Paella
1 month ago
Reply to  Jimbo

Portland can offload its pollution, traffic and jobs to the suburbs like it’s been doing for the last two decades. We demand someone else shoulder our burden from the safety of a wine bar, from which we’ll smugly wobble home from on an ebike.

igor
igor
1 month ago

I’ll second Sequoia’s suggestion of a three phase light with an extra phase for bikes and pedestrians. There are already examples of that in Portland, and given the volume of pedestrians coming from Cleveland High it would be far safer than having pedestrians competing with drivers trying to turn right.

Chris I
Chris I
1 month ago
Reply to  igor

Any busy intersection next to a school should only have an all-walk phase. Drivers cannot be trusted to share a green light with children.

steve scarich
steve scarich
1 month ago
Reply to  Chris I

In many California cities, intersections have an all-pedestrian scramble phase. Pedestrians can cross in any direction they want, including diagonally. Large numbers cross, while cars wait, lights change, then only cars using normal signaling Easy Peasy

Aaron K
Aaron K
1 month ago

This is great reporting and corresponds almost exactly with my research into the problems with the SE corner of this intersection.

I personally observed that trucks coming from the nearby rail yard annex don’t need to use this section of 26th, but can make turns onto Powell from 21st or 22nd, both of which are identified as neighborhood greenways but are not directly in front of a high school. It hasn’t been made clear where the truck that killed Sarah originated, but I believe trucks coming from the industrial area south of Holgate are using 26th as a cut-through to avoid taking a longer route to Powell. The correct route for trucks as you point out, is Holgate to 99E. 26th does not need to be a truck route any longer.

Turning movements could have been made safer at this intersection by pushing the stop bars for car traffic back from the intersection on 26th and Powell, and with full size protected bike lanes and bike boxes, which would also give more room for pedestrian and cyclist crossing.

However, in addition to removing the bike lanes and bike boxes, ODOT increased the turning radius at the SE corner, as shown in your photos, moved the poles back, and installed a traversable truck apron. This prioritized truck turning above all else. Using a truck apron in this location creates longer pedestrian crossing distances, and leaves an ambiguous curb area that appears to be a safe refuge, when in fact it is not.

Looking into this I learned how bad truckers visibility is on the right side when they are making a tight right turn like this — almost zero. Manhattan bans trucks of this length from operating on their streets without a permit regardless of their axle configuration. London now requires large trucks to have Direct Vision of all road users without needing mirrors or cameras, which is designed to address the amount of pedestrians and cyclists killed in similar turning movements there. We should start talking about Direct Vision Standards for trucks in the US.

Steve
Steve
1 month ago
Reply to  Aaron K

Trucks should not use neighborhood greenways.

Watts
Watts
1 month ago
Reply to  Steve

Trucks should not use neighborhood greenways.

Agreed, and the sequence of events that led to this collision could have equally happened at 22nd or 21st. Pushing the problem around is not the same as solving it.

Mark McClure
1 month ago

Jonathan, I’ll echo what Sequoia said earlier. You wrote a very informative article! As I said on Sunday, I’m the son of a long-haul trucker. Therefore, I really appreciate you taking time to talk to Gregg and Keith to get their expert opinions.

In addition to Sarah’s family and friends, my heart also goes out to the trucker.

CasualCarlPDX
1 month ago
Reply to  Mark McClure

In addition to Sarah’s family and friends, my heart also goes out to the trucker.

Agreed. Compassion is important here. Thank you for calling this out. Given the circumstances and bad design of the intersection, the driver may not have seen Sarah and she may have thought she was in a safe position or not understanding the intentions or actions of his turn.

J_R
J_R
1 month ago

The article says Sarah was going toward the southeast corner of the intersection. It also says she was approaching from the east.

Does that mean she was riding westbound on the south sidewalk of Powell? Or westbound in the eastbound lanes of Powell?

Still lots of questions….

Steve
Steve
1 month ago

Is it possible she was at the corner, either on the sidewalk or on 26th, and the rear of the trailer came across and caught her?

Daniel Fuller
Daniel Fuller
1 month ago

SE 26th south of Powell is a preferred truck route on PBOT’s Portland Truck Map published in 2020. The street is way too narrow for three car lanes plus bike lanes, let alone semi-trailers turning onto Powell. I think both Dal Ponte and Wilson make good suggestions. I would reduce the car lanes to one in each direction, ban semi-trailers from SE 26th, and prohibit left turns from 26th onto Powell. There are alternate freight routes for all the facilities mentioned here. Some car commuters may have to take a longer route. That’s fine; not every street should prioritize motor traffic. The mix of land uses along 26th would be better served by prioritizing walking and biking over cars and trucks.

Screenshot 2022-10-11 at 4.37.12 PM.png
Buster
Buster
1 month ago
Reply to  Daniel Fuller

That map is somewhat misleading. 26th Ave is a Freight District Street in PBOT’s TSP because it is adjacent to a Freight District. It’s meant to enable circulation of trucks within the Freight District. It is not a Major Truck Street or higher classification, which are meant for through truck traffic.

JJ
JJ
1 month ago
Reply to  Buster

The map legend indicates it is a “preferred city truck route.”

B0408E42-ECFC-4C15-8AD9-1F92A00CEE04.jpeg
Buster
Buster
1 month ago
Reply to  JJ

That’s why I’m saying it’s misleading. That doesn’t match what is in the Transportation System Plan, which is the guiding transportation policy document for PBOT and overrules whatever this map is supposed to be.

Amit Zinman
1 month ago
Reply to  Daniel Fuller

It’s all true. Can’t have a highway, truck route, school, stores and a city park all in the same spot. The state and the city need to decide what this area should be.

Sequoia
Sequoia
1 month ago
Reply to  Amit Zinman

Yes, but not just the state and the city, but also the people who live, work and go to school there.

Rain Waters
Rain Waters
1 month ago
Reply to  Amit Zinman

E Mc Carran in Reno passes thru all that sorta human activity “stuff”. How many fatalities a year ? its also mostly safe to cycle on it if youre competent, why ?

everyone knowing those cars and huge semis DO go up to 60mph between lights.

kept me real safe on my bike ! Made me smile when driving my car too cuz I know its the best solution to that particular challenge. In the home of our “green batteries” no less.

poor portland, you get to drive around knowing youre being literally attacked for exercising maybe the only SAFE transport option you learned growing up in say, Poway Ca because neoPortlandification is “too good” to put down politics and listen to what it is.

hows Portland looking to the rest of Oregon, or dare say the rest of US now ?
this fosters any seething anger issues and creates division where cooperation is needed.

such circumstances really discourage any solutions based on what IS, not what may be.

steve scarich
steve scarich
1 month ago
Reply to  Rain Waters

I spent two weeks in Reno this Summer and I can count on one hand the number of bikes that I saw on E. McCarran.

FDUP
FDUP
1 month ago

It would be simpler and safer to ban the giant trucks from this route, rather than removing the left turn lanes.

Sequoia
Sequoia
1 month ago

A reply to multiple comments about trucks from the UP Annex Yard that is on SE 22nd.

Why not just make SE 22nd the designated truck route and give them their own light on SE 22nd & Powell?

There’s no x-walk there and I suspect very few cars traverse SE Powell on SE 22nd. It’s also a mostly industrial street so why not keep trucks on it?

It’s a straight shot out of the UP Annex Yard they roll up onto a sensor, the light triggers, they go, the light resets. It’d be a really short interruption for traffic on SE Powell.

It might even be possible to have the sensor only trigger by weight or length of contact so that cars wouldn’t trigger it.

David Hampsten
David Hampsten
1 month ago
Reply to  Sequoia

The city should have never allowed the Fred Meyer warehouse and corporate expansion in the first place, way back in the late 90s. I agree that all truck traffic should be redirected away from 26th, but how to control semi-driver scofflaws when the city already has spotty enforcement seems to be rather problematic. Moving truck traffic to 22nd means pushing for greater conflict onto another bicycling street (22nd has sharrows already) is trading one conflict zone for another, and 21st already has a record as bad if not worse than 26th. The whole area needs a critical rethink on traffic flow and circulation, IMO.

However, I do like your idea of a truck-only signal at 22nd, for both left and right turns.

Sequoia
Sequoia
1 month ago
Reply to  David Hampsten

You’re right about SE 22nd having bike sharrows. I bike it fairly often. One nice thing about it is that it’s wide and it doesn’t see much car traffic generally and there’s no buses and very little pedestrian traffic. It’s also straight w. a lot of visibility and with the UP yard in the corner of both Gladstone & 22nd, both parties can easily see each other easily from a few blocks.

Most bicyclists are only biking on SE 22nd from Gladstone to Bush.

There are bike lanes on SE Gladstone. They could just be extended onto SE 22nd.

As were going on 25 year old infrastructure design, you’re right that area does need a critical rethink. It needs to be studied. That all should take quite a bit of time to get right.

FDUP
FDUP
1 month ago
Reply to  Sequoia

I wouldn’t want to be trapped in a bike lane on 22nd, the pavement is awful and I want to be able to avoid the worst of it. the pavement on 21st is also problematic, but I agree I’d rather bike on 22nd b/c less traffic. If all the trucks were there, that would no longer be the case. Lots of incompatible land uses in this area, as many here have pointed out.

Watts
Watts
1 month ago
Reply to  David Hampsten

The whole area needs a critical rethink on traffic flow and circulation, IMO.

21st/22nd from Clinton to Gladstone should be a greenway!

axoplasm
1 month ago
Reply to  Sequoia

This is brilliant. It takes mode separation to obvious extremes: 21st for bikes, 22nd for trucks, 26th for commuters (bike + car). I think some truck drivers use 21st because it has a signal at Powell — which Sequoia’s suggestion would obviate. Yes that’s 2 signals in a row on Powell but that fits with reimagining Powell as a city street not an urban highway — more like Burnside, less like Macloughlin.

My kids & I bike through this area several times a week, often daily or 2x/daily (from the Lafayette overpass to 28th & vice versa) — we used to cut through the Fred’s parking lot until they closed the gate on 26th. 22nd is useful on a bike as a way around Fred’s to the south, and not much more. If 21st were a better street to bike on — especially north of Powell where it gets a lot of cut-through commuter traffic — then we’d have no need to take 22nd at all.

FDUP
FDUP
1 month ago
Reply to  Sequoia

That would also be an acute angle turn, and it is still a location that is adjacent to the park.

Sequoia
Sequoia
1 month ago

Looking at Google Maps and thinking about BikeLoudPDX’s & The StreetTrust’s demands about physically separating motorized and non-motorized traffic, the sidewalk on the west side of SE 26th is quite wide. as there’s no grass parking strip as there’s on the East side of SE 26th. It’s all concrete and It looks about twice as wide as the sidewalk on the east side.

So why not just build an elevated / separated 2 way cycle / ped track on the west side of SE 26th from SE Gladstone to Powell Park and then route bikes/peds through Powell Park across the new & improved x-walk at SE 24th?

Probably nothing more frustrating for motorists to stop for 1 bike or person to cross at SE 24th than have to stop again 2 blocks later and then maybe 2 blocks later again.

Also, more people crossing at the same spot will be more safe and more efficient. for all road users.

Take out all the x-walks at SE 26th and have the CHS students only cross SE 26th. There’s already a striped x-walk at Franklin.

Then they can walk on Franklin to get to the x-walk at SE 24th.

You could even direct bikes off SE Clinton via SE 25th to the x-walk at SE 24th. Nice, quiet, low traffic street instead of SE 21st that has no bike infrastructure w. cars parked on both sides the street w. 2-way motorized traffic.

Aaron K
Aaron K
1 month ago
Reply to  Sequoia

I appreciate creative solutions, although they may not be required in this case. The priority here, and next to every school and park, and really everywhere is pedestrian safety and convenience. We should never be asking pedestrians or cyclists to just go a few more blocks over to a safer crossing, that is the thinking that likely contributed to this death.

David Hampsten
David Hampsten
1 month ago
Reply to  Sequoia

Because in Oregon every corner is legally a crosswalk, whether it’s marked or not. Pedestrians have a right to cross and motorists have a legal obligation to stop, particularly if there is a signal. East Portland is full of such unmarked crosswalks.

In addition, pedestrians in any locality have a tendency to cross at the nearest “safe” crossing whether it’s marked or not, even if it is midblock or locally illegal. Most people are very unwilling to go even a quarter mile out of their way to cross at a safer crossing if it is the least bit inconvenient.

As for an elevated bike/ped crossing, Powell already has a fine example just down the street at 9th, which even ODOT acknowledges is severely underused, costly, and uses a lot of land.
https://www.google.com/maps/@45.5015643,-122.6569135,3a,75y,270h,90t/data=!3m7!1e1!3m5!1s1TIHuLGL527Z2utvYs0Oig!2e0!6shttps:%2F%2Fstreetviewpixels-pa.googleapis.com%2Fv1%2Fthumbnail%3Fpanoid%3D1TIHuLGL527Z2utvYs0Oig%26cb_client%3Dmaps_sv.tactile.gps%26w%3D203%26h%3D100%26yaw%3D76.75151%26pitch%3D0%26thumbfov%3D100!7i16384!8i8192

Sequoia
Sequoia
1 month ago
Reply to  David Hampsten

“As for an elevated bike/ped crossing, Powell already has a fine example just down the street at 9th, which even ODOT acknowledges is severely underused, costly, and uses a lot of land.”

I’m willing to bet ODOT has zero, nada, zilch, no data on the actual use of that crossing. Those spiral ramps on the corners are probably the most efficient use of land next to a simple staircase.

What’s a human life worth to you and/or ODOT?

It has taken me 4 yrs to recover from being hit in the x-walk on SE 24th. After a year of lawsuit wrangling, I was compensated for knee & back injury, pain, limitation of physical movement such as walking, biking and even what work I can for what amounts to about $20 / month.

The motorist violated 3 laws and received 0 citations nor points on their driving record. That person could go get a driving job.

FDUP
FDUP
1 month ago
Reply to  Sequoia

All starting to get too complicated now. My position will continue to remain that it’s legal to ride your bicycle on any local street and that it should be safe to do so. Closed crosswalks are also very frustrating, that’s simply an admission that the road managers have given up on creating a safer environment for non-motorized users. We should not be allowing these sorts of trucks to mix it up with local traffic in residential areas, problem solved.

Clem Fandango
Clem Fandango
1 month ago

I still don’t quite understand the movements of everyone here. If the truck was heading north on 26th and turning east onto Powell, and Pliner came from the east, was she riding against traffic flow on Powell or on the sidewalk?

I just saw a teenager on a skateboard get hit by a car with no tags on N Killingsworth earlier tonight. Can we finally agree on one thing? Eliminating all traffic enforcement has not made us safer?

Amit Zinman
1 month ago
Reply to  Clem Fandango

People do come from the east for a variety of reasons, not necessarily biking on Powell, but perhaps crossing the street to get to the park, etc. She might have even just been standing at the crossing and had the truck just grab her bike. The point is that not to victim blame or put a traffic cop at every corner, but to create infrastructure that prohibits accidents, even if people make mistakes, which they will.

Clem Fandango
Clem Fandango
1 month ago
Reply to  Amit Zinman

I’m extremely careful about riding against traffic flow, even on the sidewalk, because it puts me on a trajectory where cross traffic is less likely to be looking for me. We don’t know exactly what happened here, but taking an accurate accounting of what happened isn’t “victim blaming”. It will likely save future lives.

The teenager I saw hit by a car was in a crosswalk that had those little chicanes on the corners, on a street with a 20mph speed limit. Those infrastructure changes didn’t prevent a speeding drive with no tags from hitting her. Stopping him beforehand for his lack of tags would have.

Tomas Paella
Tomas Paella
1 month ago
Reply to  Clem Fandango

I see far too many cyclists riding the wrong way in bike lanes as well. Other roadway users don’t expect counter-flow traffic at intersections, driveways, really anywhere.

maxD
maxD
1 month ago
Reply to  Tomas Paella

A sidewalk is non directional, it is appropriate and legal to walk or ride counter to the direction of the travel lane. In some cases, it may be the only safe option. I used to ride the sidewalk north along MLK over I-84 everyday. Taking the lane on Grand was not safe, the sidewalks on Grand are not accessible (lacking ramps, poles, on-ramps, etc). It was ALWAYS sketchy at Lloyd where cars driving east would roll right through the intersection to turn right on MLK, only looking left for on-coming cars and ignoring the sidewalk totally. We need a state-wide ban on right-on-red!

FDUP
FDUP
1 month ago
Reply to  maxD

I ride the sidewalk on MLK over I-84 and the RR tracks all the time, it is a very useful route. The only problem are the poles for the street car power lines that block portions of the sidewalk.

Tomas Paella
Tomas Paella
1 month ago
Reply to  maxD

A sidewalk is non directional, it is appropriate and legal to walk or ride counter to the direction of the travel lane

Legality doesn’t have anything to do with it. What’s important is where other roadway users are going to expect traffic. (One might call this Defensive Riding.) If you’re riding counter-flow on a sidewalk then you’re choosing an inherently riskier activity. Obviously it’s more dangerous than walking counter-flow because of speed and reaction times.

Also your example (crossing I-84 on a bridge) is a bad one because there are no intersections or driveways to contend with.

maxD
maxD
1 month ago
Reply to  Tomas Paella

There is an intersection at LLoyd, and it is more dangeorus to approach the intersection from the opposite direction of the travel lane. And it is dangerous because we allow right on red adn do not punish peopel for rolling through red lights without checking if anyone is trying to use the crosswalk.

FDUP
FDUP
1 month ago
Reply to  maxD

Absolutely, when I’m heading north here I either detour through the parking lot on the south side of Lloyd or pay very close attention to the drivers turning right from Lloyd onto MLK; in fact I had to yell at one of them today, b/c the only way they were looking was north. To be clear, I am not recommending this route to inexperienced cyclists, but I could pretty much say that about anywhere in Portland, including the so-called PBOT designated bike routes and infrastructure. Once PBOT builds it, I almost always stop using it.

Rain Waters
Rain Waters
1 month ago
Reply to  Tomas Paella

the term youre searching for is situational awareness

Chris I
Chris I
1 month ago
Reply to  Clem Fandango

It sounds like she approached the corner from the east. Sidewalk riding here is legal and could be required for a number of reasons. At the corner, she may have been positioned to travel north. The truck was going from northbound 26th to eastbound Powell, and the point of impact looked to be just north of the corner. Perhaps she started to go north, thinking that the truck was also going north as it made a jugghandle move. These moves can be confusing because it looks like the truck is going straight or left, but they are actually going right. No word on whether or not the truck was signalling this maneuver.

Clem Fandango
Clem Fandango
1 month ago
Reply to  Chris I

This does seem like the most likely scenario. What a shame.

Tomas Paella
Tomas Paella
1 month ago
Reply to  Clem Fandango

Can we finally agree on one thing? Eliminating all traffic enforcement has not made us safer

Amen. We’ve already surrendered our MUPs and sidewalks to those who abuse them, then the city decides that people driving without plates / tags, lights, etc. can abuse us on the road as well. It’s getting ridiculous and it makes me want to stay home instead of subject myself to the trauma of drivers treating roads like an unsupervised playground.

Brighton West
1 month ago

Perhaps an article idea here. How many citations were issued before and after the elimination? I’m definitely seeing more cars without license plates now.

Also, add in the legislation that would allow PBOT to operate the cameras and issue citations without a police officer being involved. What ever happened to that? Will it be coming back in the next session?

I’m a huge fan of the “speed van” which can issue a lot of citations without an officer interacting with drivers (which can be dangerous for POC.) Is PPB using that when they are low on officers doing traffic enforcement? Seems like the most efficient way to enforce traffic rules when you are short-staffed (except for the lack of license plates.)

Thanks Jonathan! (I agree with other folks saying this article was particularly informative and well-written.)

Clem Fandango
Clem Fandango
1 month ago
Reply to  Brighton West

I believe a law needed to be passed at the state level to make it so that non-sworn officers could review traffic cam footage and issue citations. My recollection is that the city of Portland proposed the legislation, and it passed in the state legislature? That’s the last I remember hearing anyway. There still aren’t cameras everywhere, so I don’t know what the current holdup is.

steve scarich
steve scarich
1 month ago
Reply to  Clem Fandango

I’m guessing that such a change is a negotiable item in union contracts. I’m not sure the Legislature can override union/employer negotiating history.

Mary
Mary
1 month ago

Jonathan out here arguing that reducing by 95% is not eliminating. In other words, don’t believe your lying eyes.

“Portland police halt minor traffic stops— including expired plates and broken headlights, citing disparity” – AP
https://www.chicagotribune.com/nation-world/ct-aud-nw-portland-traffic-stops-20210622-2y7ldjuidrcqdmo7g3hy2jo52e-story.html

Clem Fandango
Clem Fandango
1 month ago

Maybe. I haven’t seen anybody pulled over on the side of the road with the berries and cherries on for several years now. Not in Portland anyway.

I do see multiple cars with no tags, or tags years out of date every single day. That used to *never* happen. I see red light runners every day. I see California stops at stop signs every single day. I see people speeding along on Greeley at 70 when the speed limit is 30. I see kids pulling over to smoke weed by the Willamette bluff then getting back in their car and peeling out, speeding and stoned.

As for county/state enforcement in the city? I’ve never seen the sheriff’s office patrol N Portland, and frankly in my 38 years here I don’t recall ever once seeing the state patrol pull anyone over on a surface street in Portland.

Mary
Mary
1 month ago
Reply to  Clem Fandango

So wait, you don’t think all the PBOT red-light and speed cameras are sufficient for Portland traffic enforcement?

The cameras that REQUIRE LICENSE PLATES TO BE PRESENT?

FDUP
FDUP
1 month ago
Reply to  Mary

As much as I agree, the truck and driver apparently were both licensed and the driver stopped.

Driving w/o license plates, car and bike chop shops, egregious traffic infractions, these are things that PPB doesn’t care about or put the resources towards policing anymore unless shots are fired, someone who is seriously inebriated is involved, or someone is injured to the point of it being life-threatening.

Don’t believe what you read about understaffing, the PPB are snubbing the community with a work slowdown b/c of BLM, Critical Mass, and other progressive activities which cops don’t like or support, even though they spent their time attacking these activities to the point of seriously violating the participant’s civil rights.

I think we should fire them all and start over. We can’t live w/o police, but we can live w/o the batch we currently have. The police union is a big part of the problem, they are not per se a traditional union, they are more like the legal version of the mob.

Lynn
Lynn
1 month ago

I’m sorry, Jonathan, but i find this a distinction without a difference. I lterally can’t remember the last time I say anyone pulled over in my part of N Portland. After riding in Portland for over 30 years, (and investing in an ebike!) I now regard cycling in Portand as just a way to get around, exercise and mitigating climate change. The need for near-constant hyper-vigilance has taken the fun out of it for me.

PTB
PTB
1 month ago
Reply to  Lynn

A license plate free car, with an absolutely spiderwebbed windshield blew through an incredibly red light at 82nd and Raymond this morning. At this point I wait for all lanes to stop before I walk/roll across the street and I’m grateful I did that today. I see kids here every morning headed to Marysville Elem. (not today, running late) and if this guy had been blasting by, I dunno, 15 minutes earlier, he could have easily taken out one, two, more? kids or kids and parents. I’m kinda done with urban riding. I do the bare minimum and if I lived closer to work I’d just walk. I also can’t recall the last time I saw anyone pulled over but I see multiple trashed and plate free autos daily. It’s stressful and I’m tired of it.

Sequoia
Sequoia
1 month ago
Reply to  PTB

This is the reality in many parts of Portland. I’ve seen one car driving around n SE without lights, a hood and doors.

I saw a guy riding a non-street legal dirt bike on the sidewalk in downtown Portland.

Over the summer, there were large groups of motorcycles including dirt bikes and ATVs racing around the streets, riding wheelies and just being reckless a-holes.

Rain Waters
Rain Waters
1 month ago
Reply to  Lynn

that electric moped is far more dangerous than a bicycle because it allows speed in excess of ones ability to process situational awareness.

very dangerous toys.

Sequoia
Sequoia
1 month ago
Reply to  Rain Waters

When I was taught how to drive a car, I was taught to always be scanning the horizon from left to right.

It doesn’t matter what your mode of transport is, there’s a speed where you’re unable to do that and your field of vision narrows as you focus more on what’s in front of you and farther away.

Over the years I’ve come to slow down while biking through the city so that I can process situations as they develop around me. That has also helped see things from a driver’s perspective on if they can see me and to maintain a predictable speed & path for them to base their calculations on.

Rain Waters
Rain Waters
1 month ago

one red light camera in Medford STOLE literally millions of dollars from unsuspecting motorists as it was illegally programmed to do so for MAXIMUM revenue generation.

what kinda solution WERE THOSE and what did they do for calming drivers ? And how did it get there after VOTERS overwhelmingly rejected them, more than once ?

FDUP
FDUP
1 month ago
Reply to  Clem Fandango

I think she was riding north on 28th and cut over to 26th via the parking lot and path, probably to avoid the hills and poor pavement on 28th north of Powell, plus maybe she was headed further west so 26th would make more sense than 28th for multiple reasons.

Sequoia
Sequoia
1 month ago
Reply to  FDUP

If that’s true and she just popped out of the alley between the triangle shaped building and the other building, rolled onto the corner just in time to catch the green, saw the truck going straight before it made the right turn and the driver couldn’t see her that’s a really unfortunate and quite unique sequence of events that would be really difficult to engineer a solution for.

And I’ll readily admit that I’ve made those kind of hasty, not well thought out decisions before.

Chris I
Chris I
1 month ago
Reply to  Sequoia

If a truck has to make a jug-handle maneuver into the adjacent or oncoming lane in order to make a turn, that truck is too large for that route.

Sequoia
Sequoia
1 month ago
Reply to  Chris I

Agreed. To the best of my knowledge there is no street coming out of the UP Annex Yard on SE 22nd & Gladstone, if that’s where this truck originated from, where that truck wouldn’t have to make a so-called “jug-handle” turn.

However, all those other intersections would be far less likely to have any peds/bikes on the corner.

Ryan
Ryan
1 month ago
Reply to  Sequoia

Yep. I work at the Fred Meyer office and see a lot of the trucks coming and going from there (I’ve almost been hit a couple times as well as seen near misses to cars from trucks entering/leaving the annex without stopping). Several of the delivery trucks/vans that come to the office appear to head north on 22nd and turn right onto Powell from there. Seems to be more common now than before the pandemic; since a lot of the office started working remotely they keep the gates to Gladstone and 26th locked up so you can only access the parking lots from 22nd.

I think it would make a lot of sense for those annex trucks to get to eastbound Powell from 22nd. There’s a bit more room with less pedestrians/cyclists in that spot, certainly not trying to get across Powell. The light at 21st should give them opportunities for breaks in traffic to open up so they can pull out. Plus, it’s far rarer for someone to be in the middle/turn lane at that point than at 26th, so if they still need to make a wide maneuver they would be able to use a third lane to facilitate that.

Amit Zinman
1 month ago

Wilson’s solution is obviously the type of solutions people who had never biked in their lives come up with. A left-side bike lane is a terrible solution as cyclists don’t expect it, and then don’t have access to places on the right they might need to go to. Would you change the side of the bike lane after crossing the intersection so that kids and teachers can park at their school?
Unless perhaps I’m wrong and Wilson’s idea entails a right-side wider bike lane. Sounds good but this means a large truck will possibly be turning onto people biking across the intersection.
I guess it’s time to be brave and cut into the profit margin of shipping companies. I bike through 21st, 26th and 28th often and none of these streets handle the presence of large trucks well. The whole area is a huge mess.
For example, even without trucks, cyclists going to the People’s Food Co-Op (a popular destination) cross Powell and immediately are forced into sharing a busy car lane because the right side is blocked by parked cars. One day a person will die or get seriously hurt there and people will be sad.

Watts
Watts
1 month ago
Reply to  Amit Zinman

If 21st had a diagonal diverter at People’s, it would be an ideal bike route through this part of town, connecting Gladstone to the Lafayette Bridge to Clinton to Ladd Ave. directly, with no hills.

steve scarich
steve scarich
1 month ago

If JM’s scenario is correct, it is almost exactly what caused the cyclist death in Bend 3 or 4 year’s ago. It was even more dangerous because the right turn that the truck (and cyclist) were making was a decreasing radius turn and there was only one lane in each direction. The truck was a much shorter box truck than the truck in this case, so truck length is relatively irrelevant to be honest. It has more to do with the truck signaling, and the cyclist seeing the signal and avoiding the collision. As trucks slow to turn, the cyclist is almost always going faster, and therefore closing distance, on the turning truck. In my experience, less than 5% of drivers of any motor vehicle actually pay attention to bikes approaching from their rear. I even have to remind myself when I am driving, and I am constantly thinking about cyclists. btw the Bend death resulted in a change to Oregon law, that now defines the lane as actually continuing through an intersection.

FDUP
FDUP
1 month ago
Reply to  steve scarich

Right turning vehicles should always be passed on the left side.

Steve
Steve
1 month ago
Reply to  FDUP

If the cyclist knows they are turning right.

Rain Waters
Rain Waters
1 month ago
Reply to  FDUP

A journeyman to master level cycling technique not appropriate for beginners.

FDUP
FDUP
1 month ago
Reply to  Rain Waters

So you’d rather beginning cyclists ride right through the right-hook zone instead? That’s way less safe and hardly good advice.

Clem Fandango
Clem Fandango
1 month ago
Reply to  steve scarich

As a rule I just never ride up in the blind spot of any large vehicle that may or may not want to make a turn across my path. If we’re at a stop I try to get out parallel to the driver or in front of them so they see me, if I can’t do that then I hang back until they clear the intersection by turning or going straight. I’m just not going to put my fate into someone else’s hands by being in their little kill zone. This policy may fail me some day, but it’s worked so far.

Ryan
Ryan
1 month ago
Reply to  Clem Fandango

Same, except I do it for every vehicle when approaching an intersection. I’ve seen so many drivers decide at the last moment they want to turn, without signaling or looking or sometimes even braking much. If I’m moving faster than the line of cars, I try to gauge if I’ll be able to get in front of any given car by the time I enter the intersection. If I’m not entirely confident that I will be, I hang back and keep an eye on the rear blinker and front tire, just in case they decide to turn and I have to brake.

Having said that, in this particular situation, even though we don’t have all the info, I can definitely imagine some scenarios where if I was coming from a different direction than the truck and its “body language” from my view appeared to be continuing north on 26th, I could possibly think that it was safe to turn north myself. I think that’s one of the main problems with trucks having to perform this kind of maneuver, is that they don’t initiate the turn until past the point that for most cars I’d think it was safe to assume that they aren’t turning. I try to remind myself of this when approaching vehicles with trailers, and if I’m approaching from behind and see a blinker it’s obviously easier, but if they don’t indicate or you’re approaching from a different direction I could easily see where the different visual cues could get you in trouble.

Mike
Mike
1 month ago

This area has been my neighborhood and commute route for the past 17 years. The increase in freight truck traffic has been substantial. A majority of it, based on my observations, has been from trucks going from the Annex on 22nd over to the main Yard on Holgate. The neighborhood association approached UPRR about creating an internal route between the 2 to cut down on traffic and was basically given double toothpicks as a response. So we’re stuck with trucks driving 1/2 mile on streets that weren’t designed for their size.
In general, most trucks I see exiting the 22nd Annex take 22nd if they need to get to Powell. It’s the trucks going from the main yard on Holgate that use 26th to get to EB Powell and I suspect that’s where this truck was coming from.
One solution would be to ban trucks on that stretch of 26th & get a light at 22nd so they can make turns. Freight leaving the main Holgate yard would need to go left on Holgate to McLoughlin and then turn right on the ramp to Powell. It would probably add 3 minutes to their route but I suspect they’d howl at the inconvenience.
This would take some effort & willpower on behalf of PDOT/ODOT and cooperation from UPRR so I’m not holding my breath.

Aaron K
Aaron K
1 month ago
Reply to  Mike

Mostly accurate Mike, however the UPRR gate on Holgate is an entrance only. Trucks exiting the main UPRR yard can only leave via McLoughlin at Harold. There is a signal there, and they can easily turn left, or turn right to get directly to Powell. Trucks leaving the UPRR Annex turn left on 22nd, or turn right on 26th, and then right on Holgate, at least that is their practice now after this death. There is no good reason for trucks to turn from 26th onto Powell.

Shonn Preston
Shonn Preston
1 month ago

Is auto traffic “no turn on red” on 26th, where the truck presumably turned at the collision point? That would be my first and only pragmatic and immediate solution. Along with resetting the intersection with the original bike box and lane there…add a “bike specific” signal, (with the head start feature) under the crosswalk signal – like at Grand and Multnomah.

It won’t stop drivers from illegally turning against the red, but if there’s traffic enforcement cameras as well as signs warning drivers of tickets, it might reduce some conflicts there. The “head start” delay would get vulnerable users out in the crosswalk before auto traffic proceeds…. hopefully making them more visible.

The only way to make it truly “safe” for the school kids and other pedestrians using the intersection would be to build ramped and elevated (I.E. overlook, failing) bridge pathways or under the intersection tunnel paths (Corbet/lair hill).

But honestly, the closures required for a project of that magnitude would be unrealistic. Probably.

Sequoia
Sequoia
1 month ago
Reply to  Shonn Preston

Google street view shows a “no turn on red” sign on the traffic light pole in the intersection from both directions on SE 26th.

SD
SD
1 month ago

Are engineers, specifically traffic engineers, ashamed of their profession and training? Do they look at US cities or read about all of the suffering they have facilitated and think that they and their colleagues are failures? The stance of just “doing what the rules stipulate or what the higher-ups tell you to do” can only go so far. Do many engineers have a sense of responsibility for what they do? Do they have a vision for a better, functional system that doesn’t routinely kill people and destroy the planet?

David Hampsten
David Hampsten
1 month ago
Reply to  SD

I have met many civil and traffic engineers over the years and every one of them without exception believe they are doing exactly what the public wants them to do, with no regrets whatsoever. However I have met lots of guilty-feeling planners over the years. It may be that engineers are self-selected types who don’t feel any of that type of guilt whereas city planners are much more touchy-feely – I don’t know.

A friend of mine who is a regional planning director met the retired engineering director in my area, who back in the 70s and 80s had our NC city build lots of double-lane roadways (collector and arterial) that are barely wide enough for two car lanes, and had the right-of-ways only up to the curbs, to prevent sidewalks from being built. He’s now wheelchair bound and is effectively a prisoner in his own cul-de-sac, as there are no sidewalks to get around on. The irony.

Fred
Fred
1 month ago

Outstanding work, JM! I wish the MSM (mainstream media) put this level of effort into figuring out why collisions happen.

Josh G
Josh G
1 month ago

I was standing right across from this sign on Cleveland H.S. as part of the human bike lane, thinking that we have to balance people and “commerce.” I was told that Powell isn’t even classified as a freight route. Alt text: Clinton Kelly High School of Commerce erected 1929″

IMG_20221012_163204182.jpg
Josh G
Josh G
1 month ago

I think Keith Wilson is right on about most things, but I can’t help but think this article would be bettered by mentioning that his family company specializes in smaller freight trucking. Certainly better than 50+ft. trucks all over city streets. I don’t question his altruism on this issue, but it’s good to state that he does have a vested interest. https://titanfs.com/services/ “TITAN Freight is the region’s leader in next day Less than Truck Load (LTL) and 28-foot truckload delivery”

FDUP
FDUP
1 month ago
Reply to  Josh G

why does that need a caveat if he is actually doing the right thing? 53 foot trucks have no place on city streets, they shouldn’t even be allowed to enter the city limits.

FDUP
FDUP
1 month ago
Reply to  Josh G

I replied to this post but it seems to have gotten lost. Thanks!

Carrie
Carrie
1 month ago

Such a great article Jonathan. Thank you. And thank you to the explanation of the trailer configuration and turning radius and how that all works. Yesterday I was on foot at 26th & Holgate and was too close for comfort as trailer jumped the curb as the driver was turning right onto holgate. The physics totally makes sense and or solution does need to be more than simply rerouting these vehicles.

Alexander Harding
Alexander Harding
1 month ago

> “The root of this problem is that the infrastructure is old,” Dal Ponte shared with me. “And it was never designed optimally for the mix of uses it sees today. Something’s got to give.”

If we designed city centers the way traffic engineers deemed “optimal” I’d argue you’d see a lot more people killed.

Rebecca Atkins
Rebecca Atkins
4 days ago

I wonder how many “experts” you went before one that was friendly to your views. The fact of the matter is that 26th ave is not a good place for a bike lane/intersection, yet bicycle advocates/PBOT under Eudaly/Hardesty resisted that since they were more interested in making sure not to lose a bicycle lane and give an inch to drivers than what is a much better router on 28th.

Frankly, I believe that Street Trist and BikePortland.org played a substantial role in this accident by resisting a perfectly reasonable and common sense solution of removing the bike lane and moving bike traffic to 28th.

Sadly we have groups that think that advocacy is about never compromising and sticking it to the other side and this is getting worse and worse on both sides. Sarah Pliner would be alive today and if PBOT/bicycle advocacy groups followed common sense.

Instead of trying to put a band aid, why not move that to a MUCH MUCH safer intersection. But God forbid accepting something from ODOT that you perceive as the enemy and make cars life easier as well even if it meant bicyclists would be much safer.

Sadly this is the way USA is now. It is more about not giving an inch and sticking it to the other side even if it means sticking it yourself as well.