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.