After a walker is killed, BikeLoud says city should improve safety near Lents Park

SE Holgate just west of 92nd, where someone was killed while walking this week.

A nonprofit that pushes for safer cycling has swung into action following a traffic collision on Southeast Holgate that left someone dead early Monday morning.

According to the Portland Police Bureau, they responded to a call just after 3:00 am on Holgate just west of SE 92nd Avenue. They found a person in the road with severe injuries and a car driver who had stopped to see what happened. The injured person, who police say was a pedestrian, died shortly after at the hospital. It was the third person killed while using this intersection since 2016.

This stretch of Holgate is adjacent to Lents Park and has a tragic history of deaths and injuries. The Portland Bureau of Transportation ranks it ninth citywide on its list of high crash intersections. Between 2015 and 2019, two people were killed, five people were seriously injured and 44 other people suffered minor injuries due to traffic crashes at this location.

BikeLoud PDX is dismayed that the street outside Lents Park is so dangerous. In a letter sent Wednesday to PBOT Commissioner Mingus Mapps, PBOT Interim Director Tara Wasiak, and members of the city’s Bicycle Advisory Committee, BikeLoud Chair Kiel Johnson wrote, “We ask for an immediate traffic safety solution at SE Holgate and 92nd and a plan to extend the bike lanes from the Holgate Transit Station to the neighborhood greenway on 87th Avenue.”

In 2009, PBOT installed buffered bike lanes on Holgate from SE 122nd to the I-205 bike path, but the lanes end about one block east of 92nd. BikeLoud wants PBOT to extend the bike lanes about 0.3 miles west to an existing neighborhood greenway on 87th. In their letter, they argue that buffered bike lanes also offer pedestrians a safe space and can improve visibility for people trying to cross the street.

We don’t yet know what exactly happened early Monday morning, but when PBOT first installed the bike lanes on Holgate they reported a 19% decrease in the number of people driving over the speed limit.

Johnson and BikeLoud are calling on PBOT to live up to their Vision Zero commitments which call on the city to respond to every fatal crash with an evaluation of how it happened and to determine what safety changes are needed. “Where feasible,” reads PBOT’s Vision Zero website, “put swift, temporary traffic and operational changes in place.”

“The section of Holgate where this crash occurred is dominated by space for cars,” Johnson writes in his letter. “It took two months for PBOT to reinstall the green bike boxes at SE Powell and 26th after Sarah Pliner was killed. We hope that PBOT can work just as quickly to extend the Holgate bike lanes and make this stretch of Holgate safer for all road users.”

So far this year, three people have been killed while walking on Portland streets. Just last night someone was hit by a driver and killed while walking across SE Powell and Foster Road.

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)

Founder of BikePortland (in 2005). Father of three. North Portlander. Basketball lover. Car owner and driver. If you have questions or feedback about this site or my work, feel free to contact me at @jonathan_maus on Twitter, via email at maus.jonathan@gmail.com, or phone/text at 503-706-8804. Also, if you read and appreciate this site, please become a supporter.

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hamiramani
hamiramani
10 months ago

This is simply heartbreaking and makes me feel ill. We have loveless streets that have been handed over to the fossil-fuel military-industrial complex. Drivers have killed three people walking our streets in just over three weeks in 2023!?! Commissioner Mapps – nay, the entire City Council – ought to declare a public health emergency; car violence is an epidemic and it ought to be treated with the urgency that it deserves.

To maintain the status quo is to bolster the white supremacist infrastructure that exists today. If Portlanders and our “leaders” are serious about being anti-racist/anti-fascist we will rebuild our streets and public spaces with Love, for the People. Car supremacy IS white supremacy. You put an end to one and the other will wither for lack of oxygen.

Granpa
Granpa
10 months ago
Reply to  hamiramani

people have died but that tragedy is not evidence of an overarching conspiracy to support fascism and racial subjugation.

SolarEclipse
SolarEclipse
10 months ago
Reply to  hamiramani

Yeah, and the 97% of Portlanders who own cars will just roll over and let that happen.
I won’t even touch the racist nonsense.

cc_rider
cc_rider
10 months ago
Reply to  hamiramani

Declaring public health emergencies is the epitome of virtue signaling. You can throw that in the heap with the 2030 bike plan, sharrows, and #ZeroVision

. Car supremacy IS white supremacy

What an odd statement. Especially when the usual suspects also scream about how bike lanes and sidewalks are the trojan horse of white supremacy through gentrification.

Car supremacy exists because cars speak directly to the heart of human selfishness. All the negative externalities of driving are put on others. You’ll find that’s a trait that permeates through all groups, be it ethnic, religious, or nation.

1kw
1kw
10 months ago
Reply to  cc_rider

Well put Cc rider…(Comment of the week?!)

nic.cota
nic.cota
10 months ago
Reply to  cc_rider

Car supremacy exists because cars speak directly to the heart of human selfishness. All the negative externalities of driving are put on others. You’ll find that’s a trait that permeates through all groups, be it ethnic, religious, or nation.

I do believe we have a comment of the week here.

dw
dw
10 months ago
Reply to  hamiramani

Alright, I’m gonna respond. I think you have a point about the difference between antiracist promises and antiracist actions. Some folks are having a real hard time with your choice of language but I hear your point. I promise it’s in good faith and I would like to know your thoughts.

I work in East Portland in a majority POC environment. Obviously not going to say where because I don’t want some internet weirdos to dox me. I am white myself and always seeking to learn and improve my own understanding of race and racial issues. In my conversations with many POC colleagues and clients, they see the city’s efforts to improve safety – such as the Division upgrades – as white elites imposing their will and limiting the freedom of Black and Brown communities. Fast, big, and loud cars are seen by many within these communities as a symbol of freedom and prosperity. Trying to slow those cars down is met with the same (understandable) skepticism as any other enforcement mechanism or structural change to society.

Is it okay to steamroll over those communities’ concerns and build infrastructure they aren’t really asking for? I don’t know your racial or ethnic background, and won’t speculate. However, I have seen too many white advocates try to “whitesplain” why making it harder for people to drive is actually good. How can we get those people to step out of the way and drop the white savior complex? Who are the voices in our Black and Brown communities calling for safer streets and how can we signal boost their messages? What do the people in East Portland actually want done to improve the safety of their streets?

mark
mark
10 months ago
Reply to  dw

“Fast, big, and loud cars are seen by many within these communities as a symbol of freedom and prosperity.”

I don’t think that is specific to communities of color. I’ve seen plenty of white folks who base their cultural identity on big, dumb, noisy trucks and fast, loud sports cars. They get very testy when you try to tell them that they need to drive more responsibly, even if that is coming from another white person.

It is totally okay to demand that people of any color or ethnicity behave with respect for others when using our public roads.

joan
10 months ago
Reply to  dw

Our interstate highway system was developed to facilitate the movement of white people out of cities to the suburbs, so I think it’s pretty fair to say our current transportation system and car dependence are part of the bigger system of white supremacy in this country.

It’s also the case that poorer folks and folks of color are being pushed out of cities to areas not as well served by public transportation and with worse infrastructure, and so focusing infrastructure improvements in the central city doesn’t necessarily help those folks now either.

dw, I have struggled with some of the same questions you are raising, but I don’t think it’s as simple as “don’t build things communities don’t ask for.” And certainly no community is a monolith. I definitely agree that too many white-led groups in Portland that push their ideas for transportation improvements that don’t necessarily reflect the needs of marginalized communities (listen to Jonathan’s interview with Will Cortez where Will specifically mentions Bike Loud as one example of this).

So, I too have looked for local leaders of color in transportation, and in Portland, we are so lucky to have some incredibly talented Black and brown folks in these roles, including in East Portland. Here’s a quick list of some of these leaders:

Rep Khanh Pham, one of the very best in our state legislature and also on the transportation committee

Councilor Ashton Simpson, formerly director of Oregon Walks and now on Metro

Vivian Satterfield, formerly of Verde and OPAL and now working for the city, and profiled here on BP recently

JoAnn Hardesty (she pushed through that long-discussed transfer of 82nd to PBOT from ODOT)

And some of the organizations working in and for East Portland on issues of transportation:

APANO

Oregon Walks

Verde

OPAL Environmental Justice

Unite Oregon

Getting There Together Coalition

And BikePOCNW is a great group of folks to follow and listen to as well.

As for how to get white advocates to step out of the way: I don’t know the answer, but I have conversations with white bike folks about this issue all the time. I have made a lot of folks pretty upset, and I’m not always the best messenger, but I also know that it’s on me to have these conversations. Do listen to Jonathan’s interview with Will Cortez to hear Will’s take on this. He said out loud what I have heard a lot of white folks saying more quietly, and it made me wonder why we all haven’t been courageous enough to be a bit louder to other white people about this.

blumdrew
blumdrew
10 months ago

For all the talk/money spent on making East Portland more bike/ped/transit friendly it still feels like there is a long way to go. Lents Park is awesome, it’s fairly close to where I live (4 to 5 miles), and my favorite local sports team plays there (the Pickles). But it’s really annoying to get to by bike, with the safest feeling routes going fairly far north or south of the park. The bike lanes on Holgate need to extend to Foster, and it needs to be done now – before someone else gets killed.

Jenny the Bike gal
Jenny the Bike gal
10 months ago

NO TRAFFIC ENFORCEMENT = TRAFFIC VIOLENCE. This record setting number of traffic deaths unfortunately is the “new Portland” we voters brought on ourselves. I hope Mapps can reverse course. He seems to know traffic enforcement (INCLUDING TRAFFIC POLICE) is a vital component of reducing traffic related deaths and injuries.

blumdrew
blumdrew
10 months ago

I mean I would say it also has a lot to do with the PPB acting like thugs and refusing to work during contract negotiations. And for removing the traffic division, and for not advocating for enforcement cameras.

Also, the US as a whole is seeing a rise in pedestrian deaths from cars and mostly every place has increased municipal police funding in the last 2 years. It’s just not as simple as you make it out to be.

Matthew
Matthew
10 months ago

“In 2009, PBOT installed buffered bike lanes on Holgate from SE 122nd to the I-205 bike path, but the lanes end about one block east of 92nd.BikeLoud wants PBOT to extend the bike lanes about 0.3 miles west to an existing neighborhood greenway on 87th.”
 
This example of a gap in the city’s bike network is baffling, if not hapless. Why haven’t they filled in a mere 6 block gap? Why have they failed to connect two important bike routes, which would then connect to the I-205 path? How many at PBOT look at the map, see the gap, and think, “Job done.” 
 
These sort of so-close-yet-so-far examples of the bike network are why our status as a Platinum bike town seems a tad generous.

David Hampsten
David Hampsten
10 months ago
Reply to  Matthew

Walmart, ODOT, Walmart, Lents NA, Walmart, POC who shop at Walmart in their big noisy cars (see 82nd Ave discussion), shy engineers at PBOT, Walmart, Fire Bureau, oh I forgot, Walmart.

Adam
Adam
10 months ago
Reply to  Matthew

This section of Holgate is especially bad. It is super wide from 88th to 92nd. Just to the west of 92nd there are 5 driving lanes and I think it remains that wide until 88th, just striped for only 2 lanes.

Mashona
Mashona
10 months ago

Jonathan,
Why do you suppress comments that bring to
light the questionable tactics and demands of Bike Loud PDX?

Dave (Not Here)
Dave (Not Here)
10 months ago

Elephant in the room: the 205 path is not safe and has been trashed by illegal camping. I’ve stopped riding it all together even though it was the safest and most convenient to get to Lents Park for Pickles games.

Our gross misinterpretation of Martin v. Boise needs to end. Pedestrian and cyclist blood is on the activists’ hands, though they’d never admit it.