The Oregon Department of Transportation has just released a list of crosswalks they plan to close in our region this year. There are 181 crossings on the list — 53 of them are in Portland. ODOT plans to close 16 crosswalks on Southeast Powell Blvd between SE 8th and I-205, including closures at: 8th, 11th, Milwaukie, 13th, 20th, 22nd, 36th, 42nd, 45th, 47th, 57th, 61st, 70th, 74th, and 86th.
In an email with the innocuous subject line “ADA Program and Safe Crossings on U.S. 26 (SE Powell Boulevard)” the agency says they plan to erect “Crosswalk Closed” signs like the one above at these locations in the name of safety. ODOT also frames these closures as part of an ongoing project to comply with an ADA lawsuit the agency settled with a disability rights group in 2016. “Bringing curb ramps up to accessibility standards and closing unsafe and inaccessible crosswalks are tools we use to meet these obligations,” reads the email.
Here’s more from ODOT:
In Oregon, every intersection is a crosswalk unless marked otherwise. This means that if a crosswalk is open, it should meet our safety and accessibility standards… We evaluated crosswalks statewide and found that a number of them do not provide equal safety to all users for a variety of reasons. These reasons may include crosswalks ending at or in close proximity to a driveway, a median island or landscaping in the crosswalk path, or traffic signals that do not have pedestrian signals and push buttons. In these cases, the crosswalks are closed… This ensures that people are guided to use an alternate, nearby, safer and open crosswalk.
“Crosswalk Closed” signs have been proliferating in Portland and statewide for several years now. In 2019 we reported on a major uptick in them from the Portland Bureau of Transportation. Despite concerns from readers about how these closures make walking less respected and convenient, PBOT said they only do it as a last resort.
We went further into the story two months later when we heard ODOT was just ramping up their closure effort. At that time, ODOT was closing crosswalks without any standardized process to make the decisions. And there was zero public input. The decisions were in the hands of just two ODOT engineers. In 2019, ODOT State Traffic Roadway Engineer Mike Kimlinger told members of the Oregon Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee (OBPAC) that they were closing only two per month.
Given that ODOT plans to close 181 crosswalks in Region 1 alone this year, the pace has clearly skyrocketed.
See the full list of closure locations below…
These closures come after a record number of pedestrians were killed on Portland roads last year — with many of those tragedies happening on ODOT-owned highways.
The closures also remove the legal protection for people trying to cross the street. People can still legally cross the street where a “Crosswalk Closed” sign is posted, but they are no longer afforded any right-of-way privileges. If the person was hit, they would be much more likely be held at fault for impeding traffic or failing to yield.
That’s just one reason these closures are cause for concern.
One legal expert we spoke to in 2019, Portland lawyer Ray Thomas, said, “It’s almost like they’re making us trespassers on our own crosswalk.”
I have asked ODOT if the decision-making process around these closures has been formalized since 2019 and if there’s any way the public can offer feedback. I’ll update this story when I hear back.
Bad bad bad news. Especially on Lower Powell wow. Are they seriously considering closing the other crosswalk at Milwaukie, and the crossing at 13th?! I literally will be left with two crossing options, both overpasses, at Powell between my neighborhood and points north. Neither of which are all that convenient to be honest. ODOT is nakedly uninterested in making Powell a place where people can exist – if PBOT doesn’t actively protest this I will be extremely disappointed.
The crossing of 99W at 74th is also the crosswalk I used to get from my bus stop in the morning to work… Horrible stuff wow.
I agree the list is BS, but it might be that the 13th & Powell crossing is not the signalized one with the painted crosswalk, but the unmarked crossing on the other corner that is largely superfluous and crazy dangerous (which is a legal crossing that no sane person would ever want to use).
The list is a bit confusing in that it doesn’t actually label which crossing, and considering the signal is actually at 13th Place not Ave I have a lot of questions. At 13th ave, there is a median which I always figured was a soft “no crossing indicator” – I suppose that’s maybe not true though. But it would not surprise me too much if ODOT wanted to close the lighted ped signal as well (for traffic flow considerations), but maybe a wait and see on that specific one.
I think that’s the point.
Are you seriously giving them the benefit of the doubt?
Watts thinks that some magical ev micro mobility fairy will solve all climate and transportation safety issues. People will never have to walk, drive, or cycle again. So why worry about anything. The problem has been fixed.
That’s not at all what I think. I think that TriMet’s model of transit is outdated and it will be replaced by automated taxis that facilitate the type of travel folks actually want to make (where you go where you want on your schedule, rather than where TriMet will take you on theirs).
This will almost certainly be safer and more efficient than our current transportation system (I think there are a lot of dangerous drivers out there), but I don’t think it will be a panacea.
I do think it’s the only way to break away from our current system that we all agree doesn’t serve us all that well.
I am seriously pointing out that the list as presented is ambiguous, and that the most logical interpretation may differ from the most sensational.
It’s not legal to close all the crosswalks at an intersection, so I think this list is just referring to closure of certain legs of the intersections. In many cases, it looks like they are just formalizing a closure of a leg that already lacks a marked crosswalk, like that one leg of Powell & Milwaukie.
It definitely is legal to close all the crosswalks at an intersection, they do it all the time. Every intersection on Naito between the Ross Island Bridge and Barbur is closed.
The closed leg of Milwaukie/Powell is already signed as closed – why would they bother to put it on if it’s already closed?
First of all, that’s not true about Naito. The crosswalks across Naito are closed, but not the crosswalks along Naito. Second of all, it’s legal to close crosswalks if there’s a median or jersey barrier down the middle that makes the road more of an expressway.
From what I can tell, ODOT is mostly just formalizing “informal” closures that are already in place. Even if there are signs like at Milwaukie and Powell, that doesn’t mean they ever did the paperwork to formally close it.
I was referring to the crosswalks across Naito. And there are a few instances on this list where there is a median on Powell that they are also going to close (13th, 8th, 10th) – so I do think they need to formally have a sign up of sorts to indicate it (which I think they have at Naito now, I can’t exactly recall and I’ve only ever crossed down there once). I wasn’t able to find any indication of it being illegal for ODOT to close both legs of an intersection – can you provide that?
I am operating on the assumption that a signalized intersection without a ped signal on one leg is already closed – especially when there is signage for it like there is at Milwaukie. I don’t have any indication to think otherwise – unless you count “it would be really stupid and inconvenient for pedestrians if this crosswalk closed”. But I’ve never ever seen ODOT consider pedestrian convenience when making a decision, and won’t be starting now when they plan to close 181 crosswalks this year. What gives you the indication that they are formalizing informal closures in the specific case of Milwaukie and Powell?
ODOT has always been a problem agency who seem to operate without any input from community members, and sadly, this is just another example of that.
I guess we will just have to start painting our own crosswalks across the roads now, and then putting up our own barriers to protect pedestrians from terrible drivers.
Last year I bought traffic stencils and started spray painting. There are stop signs at the intersections around/near my house but the streets aren’t sprayed with the word “stop” and they don’t have the thick white line (I learned that it’s called a “stop bar line”). Those are visual signals to drivers that I think help. Portland has many four-way intersections with two-way stops and I got tired of watching people go through the stop, barely slowing down. Neighbors were happy and I even got some donations to defray the cost. As soon as the weather turns drier I will be back at it again.
That’s awesome, I think it’s the right idea, protect what matters. Waiting for issues like this to arise is reactionary and it means everyone’s rights are being taken away. People deserve safe spaces. Cars are capitalisms dream come true. What a wonderful tool for exploitation, everything about them. Chop up communities and make people PAY! Take away their food and healthcare and housing and make them PAY! Oh yeah also you have to pay and pay for the car. No wonder people are pissed. “YOu neEd cAR foR tO driVE THo”
Cars are tool in a 100+ year conspiracy to take away people’s food, healthcare, and housing?!?
I strongly suspect that most people in the general population like the convenience and mobility that cars give them. I rarely drive, but I know I’m an outlier in that regard.
Wow. ODOT helps out the difficult and dangerous lives of pedestrians by making crossing the street impossible and rendering walkers liable for the harm suffered in motor vehicle crashes.
ODOT: “Walking is not transportation, it’s not our problem. You’re on your own.”
No pedestrian may cross a street other than within a crosswalk if within 150 feet of a crosswalk.
thanks. That link is to a city code, not state statute. But good to know. Also, FWIW the top traffic engineer at ODOT is where I got the idea that people can still legally cross at these locations.
Does that mean that this new list is not legally-binding in Portland city limits or in certain parts of the Portland area?
What about the Dunthorpe/Highway 43 closing someone mentioned? When the new sign says not to cross there, then you have to walk along the shoulder of sidewalk-less and almost shoulder-less Highway 43 to get to where you can cross. But doesn’t another law say you have to walk facing traffic. What if you need to walk with traffic to get to where you can cross? Or do you have to go the the crosswalk that’s several blocks further away, because you can get to it by walking against traffic?
The legal answer isn’t that important to me. The more important thing is that when these signs are put up on sections without sidewalks, the result can be forcing people to walk unsafely along the highway to get to a further crossing, and the getting there is more dangerous than using the crossing that was closed.
I think you and the “top traffic engineer at ODOT” are wrong about the legality of crossing where there is a Crosswalk Closed sign. Maybe it’s not technically illegal to cross, but under the provisions of ORS 814.040(1)(b), I think the pedestrian is obligated to yield to vehicles in this instance.
814.040 Failure to yield to vehicle; penalty.
(1) A pedestrian commits the offense of pedestrian failure to yield to a vehicle if the pedestrian does any of the following:
(a) Suddenly leaves a curb or other place of safety and moves into the path of a vehicle that is so close as to constitute an immediate hazard.
(b) Fails to yield the right of way to a vehicle upon a roadway when the pedestrian is crossing the roadway at any point other than within a marked crosswalk or an unmarked crosswalk at an intersection.
(c) Except as otherwise provided under the vehicle code, fails to yield the right of way to all vehicles upon the roadway
The article does say what you are saying:
“The closures also remove the legal protection for people trying to cross the street. People can still legally cross the street where a “Crosswalk Closed” sign is posted, but they are no longer afforded any right-of-way privileges. If the person was hit, they would be much more likely be held at fault for impeding traffic or failing to yield.”
Jonathan, the other devils in the legal details per the ODoT traffic engineer’s comments to you…such as if you are a pedestrian crossing at these future ODoT closed by sign crosswalks and you are struck by a driver, then I doubt this pedestrian will have much ability to successfully win an injury lawsuit. (Lawyers please correct me [and add guidance] if i am wrong.)
Typical blocks here are roughly 250 feet long so you would be able to cross at the closed crosswalk in many of these places. Obviously if it’s at a lighted intersection and there’s a crosswalk still on then other side you would need to cross over and use it but the ones on Powell aren’t so your closest option is a block or more away. The 122nd 84 ramp one is an interesting case too since the other side is a sidewalk not a crosswalk.
Also that law is garbage and should be scrapped.
Also, on the west side of that one at 122nd/I-84 is a tunnel (under the railroad overpass) that is not a wonderful way to go since you have no way of seeing who might be waiting out of sight on the other side.
Guess I’ll be driving to the local store and coffee place from now on.
This will only increase jaywalking. As a walker I would disregard the sidewalk closures and continue to walk.
What a stupid idea.
This is compliance for one group at the expense of another group in the ‘name’ of safety.
Note, that it doesn’t say “marked crosswalk” only “crosswalk,” which would include every corner still unless otherwise prohibited by an explicit crosswalk closure.
Wow ODOT. What a stupid and backwards move. If a crosswalk is unsafe, the solution is to make it safer, not to close it. I do think ODOT takes too much criticism, but this is an extremely regressive policy. Enhance the crosswalks, don’t close them.
Does that list include already closed crosswalks, or is just crosswalks that aren’t yet closed but will be in 2023?
I ask because some of the locations listed seem to already have closed crosswalks. For example, there’s a crosswalk closed at Glisan and 16th, near the Mudbay and Vinopolis. If they’re planning to close another crosswalk near i405 on Glisan, that seems really bad. I wish it also listed which ramp it is. There’s an off ramp at Glisan and 16th, and an on ramp and Glisan and 15th. It’s hard to know which one the closed crosswalk will be at from the list, but they do have both 15th and Glisan on there, so I’m guessing the ramp at 16th is considered the Glisan ramp and the one at 15th is considered the 15th ramp. I know it’s the cross street that’s listed but it’s still a bit confusing cause some ramps aren’t at a ninety degree angle to either street. Super frustrating to see them closing both.
If my interpretation is right and the list doesn’t included previously closed crosswalks, that means that both crosswalks across 16th at Glisan will be closed, which would make it impossible to cross over 405 when walking from west to east on Glisan. That’s super frustrating. Thank god for the Flanders bridge, I guess.
I was wondering about that. OR-8 and Cedar Hills already only has one open crosswalk. If they close the other, I’ll have to walk blocks further out of the way to get to the grocery store. Honestly, this state is such a joke. It claims to be “progressive”, and it’s just as conservative as any other part of the country. On the other side of the problem, traffic lights on OR-8/10 both stay on so long that it’s no wonder people treat them as if they were highways, all while crossing traffic (vehicular or otherwise) spends huge blocks of time waiting at red lights while no one goes through. ODOT needs its traffic-handling responsibilities taken away from it; it’s very clear they have no idea what they’re doing.
ODOT is just formally closing the crosswalks that have already been closed for all intents and purposes. They are not removing any currently-marked crosswalks. This whole thing was just a big miscommunication issue.
Are you sure? Because the crosswalk on Glisan that I said is already closed already has a “crosswalk closed” sign up. It seems like it’s already formally closed, to me. The other crosswalks at that intersection have markings on them.
It’s possible you’re right and ODOT won’t be closing any crosswalks that have crossing markings, but it’s not made clear by that list that that’s what they’re doing.
What makes you think that?
47th & Powell has a pedestrian signal! I wonder how many other crossings with signals they are closing? Why are they not just upgrading to HAWK’s? To make matters worse, the one at 47th is the crossing used by Creston Elementary and Head Start program.
Note that there are several corners on that intersection… And because the law says “Every corner is a crosswalk” they are likely going to put the signs up at a corner that is not the one with the existing signalized crosswalk. At least that’s what I assume. I haven’t checked the entire list, but I would be surprised (and appalled!) if they removed any crossings that have existing painted crosswalks, signals, or any other type of crossing enhancement. They are mostly closing crossings (I assume because I haven’t checked the whole list) that have some element that makes them non-standard and/or inherently less safe than standard crossings.
At Powell and Milwaukie, one crossing is already closed (and marked as such – although not with the signs they’ve put on recent ones).
At the I-84/122nd ramp, if they close that crosswalk there will be no way to get from the NE corner of the intersection to anywhere else (except where you came from)
At 99W and 74th, there is a beg button/signal that only has one leg open now – if it’s closed I’ll have no good way to get from my bus stop to work. Nearest crossings are both more than 500 feet away, and onto streets I don’t want to walk or bike on.
NW Sauvie Rd already has just one leg open to cross US30, there are no nearby crossings. This one will definitely make it feel a little less safe to bike out there.
And considering that some are labeled with specific legs, I think it’s fair to be concerned about lots of crossings totally closing (ala Barbur in Laird Hill) until shown otherwise
They’ll almost certainly close the sidewalk at Freemont honestly they should have done that decades ago as it is substandard width. Really they should just fix the width by narrowing the travel lanes and or removing one. Most of their closures could also be improvements by making those spots marked crosswalks. Like almost every single one on Powell. Everyone would be praising them instead of the shit show that this is already becoming.
I think they probably “can’t afford” to make them accessible in most of these cases? I mean I can’t really think of another justification. And by can’t afford I mean “don’t want to pay for”, since they seemingly have millions to throw at marketing campaigns for freeway mega projects.
47th and Powell does not have a signalized pedestrian crosswalk. The crosswalk you are thinking about is a midblock crosswalk.
ODOT is a truly horrible organization but the buck stops at Tina Kotek’s desk.
We should be writing to her and anyone else who can affect this decision. It’s unacceptable!
I was thinking the same thing. Also, the offset one at 42nd/43rd is the access to Creston Park and part of the 40’s bike route. There is really only one way to cross there, using the striped crosswalk and signal.
Are we sure that these are all planned closures? Going through the ones down in Tigard I can see many of the intersections already have closed crosswalks (e.g. Hall and Durham). If they plan on closing additional crosswalks at these intersections I am literally going to riot.
Seriously. If they’re going to force me to walk so much further out of the way just to run simple errands, they’ll have to force me out of the way to put the “crosswalk closed” sign in. How is this region so backwards about something so simple as this?
I’m literally wondering what kind of tool I’d need to cut these signs down.
People seem to run over signs all the time, and get away with it, so…. A car?
Better contact Tigard’s city council, they have a stated plan to make Tigard one of the best walkable cities in the region, and this ain’t making that happen.
On the list for Hwy 99w is the crossing at Gaarde. Which part of Gaarde, the main intersection (stupid idea) or the cutoff?
Hall Blvd at Durham already has one leg officially closed, and the other leg is heavily used. It’s at a light, with a beg button, and I don’t understand why they didn’t open the closed leg when they split the light cycle for the vehicles coming off 85th across from Durham.
Hall Blvd at Burnham has one leg open but the other is officially closed. Same with the intersection with McDonald.
Tigard is already trying to take Hall away from ODOT, now they need to work harder at that!
Removal & Closure =/= Accessibility
Announcing this without saying a word regarding how they are going to actually improve the crossings seems like a real bad faith move on their part, and antithetical to what the settlement was hoping to achieve.
Of course it’s a bad faith move, this is ODOT.
Public: Too many pedestrians are dying on the roads!
ODOT: Pedestrians, get off the road!
Vision Zero (pedestrians)
dw: really its a policy of ‘Zero Vision’…
Um WHAT? How are those of us that live inner SE supposed to cross Powell now? They left what, the 28th one open and that is IT???
ODOT wants you to drive to cross Powell. That’s kind of their whole thing.
I guess you’re not.
I hate this.
Why are they allowed to close crosswalks on Highway 43 by Dunthorpe? This will require people to walk so far in the other way in order to get to a “crosswalk.”
How can ODOT remove a crosswalk that is currently in place where SW Barbur meets SW Hooker? A part is directly there and OHSU, Portland’s largest employer, is in walking distance!
I also do not understand this. It looks like they will explicitly remove a painted crosswalk that is signalized here. That is insane.
That park at that intersection has been there for decades!
It doesn’t look like they plan to do this. The list says SW Barbur & SW 4th Ave, which is a different spot, one without markings and where it would be dangerous to cross. If you google “SW Barbur Blvd & SW 4th Ave, Portland, OR” you’ll see it (on the south side of SW Sheridan).
How can ODOT remove a crosswalk on Highway 30 where it meets Cornelius Pass Road? Native people once traveled that section to get from one tribe to another! The entire intersection was redone several years ago!
Some of these make sense since there’s a marked crosswalk on one side of the road and not on the other so I assume they think people are using the marked crosswalk already like at 57th and Powell. Others not so much.
Like the lower Powell ones up through 22nd. For instance, at 8th are they going to close both sides? 22nd as well, the two closest curbs are on opposite sides of 22nd so are they just going to put signs up there. Is that technically even a crosswalk? Could you still cross along the same side of 22nd diagonally across Powell?
Their ADA reasoning also falls flat at places like the 122nd 84 ramp where PBOT already improved the curbs. Are they going to remove them now?
As far as safety is concerned this will do absolutely nothing. People are still going to cross where they want. Like jaywalking laws all this does is remove driver responsibility, create another opportunity for police to harass people, and generally make things less safe.
Assume nothing with them.
Yes, ODOT might very well close both sides of the the lower Powell ones. “Falls flat” is an extremely charitable term for their ADA reasoning. it is just plain infuriating! There is no reason they couldn’t fix it if they wanted to.
Oof. If you thought crossing powell in a marked, unlit crosswalk was harrowing, try getting across that highway now.
So, if we extend this analogy: “Pedestrians are being killed crossing the street, so let’s close the crosswalks” then the next logical step is: “People are dying while driving cars, so let’s close the roads.”
*** Moderator: deleted first sentence, last link. ***
Is the I-5 & N Hayden Isl Blvd ramp in question the crosswalk used to get onto the bridge???
Ben, this is my question too…when I reviewed the list.
I hope ODoT does not do what WSDoT did when they closed the signalized pedestrian / bike crosswalks for SR-500 @ Stapleton Road with the promise of ‘we will build a pedestrian overcrossing in a few years’ to fix this barrier…and for now call this CTRAN number for a shuttle reservation a day before to take you across this 200FT gap. Four + years later and no bridge built, but they found funds to close the crossing in months…and no record of the shuttle status on line…
So glad you wrote about this. I’ve been meaning to send in photos of the several they recently installed on Macadam (OR-43) in the South Waterfront/Johns Landing area. It’s insane. They’re in random locations, and all in locations I’ve never seen anyone cross in a decade. Nobody ever would cross there because they are at locations where the opposite side is a retaining wall or freeway–there’s literally no destination, and they’re not routes to other destinations.
At the same time, some of the signs interfere with walking on the sidewalk or waiting at a bus stop. They’re hazardous to using the sidewalks legally. Ironically, at least one has already been hit by a vehicle, unless it spontaneously sheared off at the base.
My view is that ODOT has been criticized for the huge numbers of pedestrian deaths on their roads, so these signs are a PR campaign to place the blame on pedestrians instead of ODOT. When people see the signs, people will think (or ODOT wants them to think) “Wow, no wonder so many people are getting run over. ODOT must have had to put up so many signs because there’s been an epidemic of people crossing streets unsafely.”
What does the data say, are the vast majority of people killed as pedestrians crossing roads safely? Are they doing so at places where drivers should expect pedestrians?
PS, I seem to recall that most pedestrians are killed in a crosswalk, crossing legally.
I recall the same, from an article here with PBOT statistics.
Some similar statistics from PBOT: https://www.portland.gov/transportation/vision-zero/making-streets-safe
71% of all pedestrian crashes occur at intersections, with 44% at signalized intersections.
20% of pedestrian crashes result from left-turning drivers failing to yield to pedestrians in the crosswalk at signalized intersections.
25% of all pedestrian crashes occur mid-block, due in part to long distances between marked crossings.
And especially this from Oregon Walks:
Oregon Walks found that 73% of pedestrians killed were hit while crossing legally at a crosswalk, either marked or unmarked.
There are statistics (see Lisa’s comment and my reply below) that do say most pedestrians in Portland ARE killed crossing legally.
But I’m not sure why that’s relevant to what I wrote. My comment was different than most here. Most are pointing out places ODOT is closing crossings (or may be) that ARE being used, and that closing them will create inconvenience and safety issues for people who need to cross.
Mine was that on Macadam/OR-43, ODOT has put up many signs in locations where nobody EVER crosses, because there’s nothing to cross to. ODOT spent money to clutter the sidewalks pointlessly. And the signs give the impression to everyone who sees them that there must be an epidemic of illegal crossers who are causing all the recent pedestrian deaths.
Here’s an example:
I’m just going to assume these signs are going up in locations where ODOT had already previously closed crosswalks. Otherwise this is just baffling ineptitude on ODOT’s part. Even more so than is typical. For example: l see Barbur at SW Bertha listed here. Closing the existing signaled crosswalk there would orphan a medium-sized Trimet bus stop. One that is directly across from a major grocery store.
It’s rather unfortunate even if it’s not the worst-case scenario though. ODOT? More like Oregon Department of Highways, amiright?
The ODOT personnel in charge of these decisions should face public ridicule whenever the opportunity avails itself. It’s like it hasn’t learned a single lesson since the 70’s. Fewer people walk/cycling/transit means more money on transportation infrastructure, more dangerous roads, and to top it all off, worse traffic, to say nothing about social equity and environmental concerns. How are they still heading in the exact opposite direction we need to be going?
To answer your question – bureaucratic inertia. ODOT’s leadership average at least two decades with the bureaucracy. Like all bureaucracies, they take a lot of time to change. Too bad from all those who suffer from their sorry engineering.
I use Powell & 36th well as Powell & 42nd all the time, both really important crossings as there aren’t a lot of safe passages for people on their bikes across Powell in that area!
I am mortified to be holding ODOT’s water, but a charitable assumption would be be that they’re “closing” the unsignalled eastern crossing of the same intersection. Of course, my trust is low.
FYI – Oregon Highway 213 is 82nd Avenue. You know, that stroad that ODOT is rebuilding to PBOT specs soon, ASAP, by Wednesday teatime of 2735 at the latest.
99E is McLaughlin Blvd.
US 30 is NW Yeon.
Maybe perhaps ODOT is posturing and trying to actively goad PBOT into taking over these orphan highways without making any costly improvements?
Because let’s face it, if your dumb state legislature you keep reelecting is mandating that ODOT build the RQ and CRC2 projects for $6 Billion that the state doesn’t have, it’s time to admit that none of these crossings are ever going to meet any sort of legal ADA criteria. So just ban any sort of crossings and force the city to take over responsibility of the streets is actually, to me at least, a perfectly rational response by an otherwise bankrupt state agency.
A bankrupt state agency transfers unsafe roads to a bankrupt city Bureau, viola nothing changes.
Ahh… The classic ODOT “solution.” If there are pedestrian/vehicle conflicts, get rid of the pedestrians. What the hell are they doing wandering around on foot anyway? Get ’em out of the street!
Exactly. A few years ago, ODOT tried to close several driveways serving businesses on Macadam, and make the access to the businesses through a really poor (no sidewalks, doesn’t even look like a street) City street. When I pointed out at a public meeting that that’s much more dangerous, ODOT said it’s safer for the highway, and whether it’s more dangerous is irrelevant because the danger would be occurring on a City street. They didn’t say it directly, but when I told the (senior) ODOT woman that that’s really what she was saying, she silently grabbed her things and left in mid-presentation.
So, it’s exactly the same “ODOT’s concern is highway vehicle traffic flow and nothing else is relevant” approach.
Absolutely outrageous move from ODOT. Their solution to pedestrian safety is to make walking more difficult.
Jonathan, do you know how many crosswalks PBOT closed this year? I know they closed a bunch on Outer Division and I think Outer Halsey. I have noticed a few closer in, too.
Closing crosswalks is totally the wrong move and makes the streets less safe. Transportation bureaus need to address safety concerns caused by bad design instead of just kicking bikes and peds out of the way
That is so freaking typical! “We don’t want to make this accessible, so we’re just closing it to everyone.”
Well…this implementation outcome of administrative policy does open up an interesting transportation equality question…if existing intersections are too dangerous (high injury frequency) for one road user mode (pedestrians) then if another intersection has a similarly poor record for another mode (cars) then we should expect similar ‘no crossing’ signs and prohibition to be placed on the road for car and truck traffic. In effect a “dead end’ with an out of direction detour. (Just in the ‘interim’ until a capital project can fix the safety deficiencies. 😉
Remember that this is ODOT. Do you think they’ve ever really appeared to be particularly concerned with pedestrian safety?
The list is more alarming than informative because:
This is so frustrating to me. Closing crosswalks doesn’t make people less likely to use them. It feels like ODOT and PBOT are prioritizing spending money so they don’t get sued rather than actual safety. How much money is wasted on this project in staff time and crosswalk closed signs that could be spent on actual pedestrian improvements?
ODOT has a number of blind spots without a doubt but they also don’t have any money. You can.point to the freeway projects but most of those are legislatively mandated. ODOT makes bad decisions don’t get me wrong but our legislators and the governor including the OTC could make.better decisions and pass laws to make making better decisions easier for ODOT
ODOT plainly does have money. They’ve published a list of “small freeway improvements” which total well over $250 million in largely discretionary funds. They could use that money on improvements to crossings on their roads that kill dozens of Oregonians every month. But instead, they are using it to maybe save a commuter 10 seconds during rush hour
There are dozens of pedestrian deaths every month on roads that ODOT is responsible for the crossings on?
In 2022, Oregon had 575 total traffic fatalities. Considering 7(!) had died on ODOT facilities in 2023 by January 3rd, I think “dozens” per month is appropriate. You may note that I did not say “dozens of pedestrian deaths every month”.
The justification for some of the projects I referenced are “safety” – but I don’t really see things in the highway projects they push that really move the needle on safety in a positive way. Projects that are designed to ameliorate traffic concerns necessarily increase average speeds, which also increases the rate of deadly crashes – so I have a hard time believing that adding a lane to an on ramp to I5 at Terwilliger will really make things any safer for example.
And anyone understand the proposed closure of the i-205 NE Airport Way crossings (which ones) and what the new route will be?…as this section connects to another important bi-state bike ped route.
Near as I can tell they’re closing _something_ near the nb & sb 205 onramps at airport way, which aren’t on the bike route to pdx. You’re well west of them when you hit 82nd at airport way to traverse to the frontage road.
Oh and the 205 path has you above the onramps by the time you get there, as I recall.
There is a very sketchy crosswalk under the i205 MUP bridge that crosses NE Airport Way, I assume that is the crossing they are closing. They already have Sidewalk closed signs across the NB onramp, and this crosswalk connects to there from the NB offramp.
That list from ODOT must be over 2.5 years old. All the dozen or so cross-streets listed under OR-43 (Macadam) are noted as “SW”. The City changed those to “S” in May 2020.
Either that, or ODOT is so unaware that they didn’t notice, or didn’t care–which could be true, given that ODOT’s directional signs on Macadam still say “SW” (which creates confusion and undermines the whole point of the City’s changing to South for that area).
This list is definitely old, and appears to be mostly useless. Just look at Barbur/99W and Briar Place and ask yourself where the existing crosswalk is. I checked on quite a few of these locations, and nearly all of them have already had the crosswalks removed.
Chris I…I would say that is most efficient of ODOT!
This list suggests that crossing 405 on existing overpass sidewalks will become illegal on four overpasses.
Couch and Glisan have only one sidewalk on the ramp side, so closing the crosswalk would outlaw crossing 405 on those streets. There are two 15th Ave ramps. One is at Glisan, which is listed twice, leaving only the ramp at Everett as the “15th Ave ramp” crosswalk, which adds Everett to the list. That leaves Flanders as the *only* legal overpass crossing of 405 in NW Portland.
Montgomery has only one sidewalk, on the ramp side, so that sidewalk would also become illegal to access.
The Broadway closures will block useful access to the Broadway and 5th bus stop, and make more of a maze of walking through that already cursed area.
405 has 23 overpasses. 11 have a sidewalk on both sides. 11 have only one sidewalk. The 13th-14th Ave overpass has zero, where it will ironically remain legal to walk over 405.
Calling it: this is a clickbait headline designed to generate outage.
While our poorly-thought-out “every intersection is a crosswalk” law is very much on brand for our dysfunctional state, common sense dictates that not all places are appropriate for crossing on foot. Simply put, this is a compromise that has to be made if we’re going to allow any mode other than walking. I know, I know: in your perfect world there’d be no cars and everyone would love one another and celebrate whirled peas, etc. But that’s not realistic.
Activists need to move past their dead-end, polarizing and often counterproductive “never give an inch!!” arguments. Do you want marked crosswalks, flashing lights, signals, etc., or not? Do you think they improve safety or have you adopted the Flat-Earther-like position that they’re somehow bad because cars are evil, and so on? This blog feels increasingly disconnected from the everyday reality of pedestrian / cyclist experience and more like an exercise in competitive navel gazing.
I hear you. I understand your criticism and why you’d make it. But I don’t think you understand my frame of mind or the nuance of my presentation.
Regardless of what I believe about bikes vs cars and compromise, I think the issue is as much about the fact that ODOT can just drop this list without anyone really noticing. If not for this story, no one would know this is even happening. And it is a big deal IMO to put these signs up in so many places… especially when we are still unclear about the actual policy and process they used to do it.
Also, please don’t mistake what “this blog” thinks for what you read in the comments and how people react to what we post. Thanks.
And you think this logic is common sense? We have lived for quite a while with many other modes with this law mainly intact.
And while I agree with your “never give an inch” sentiment is wrong, we have been giving miles to cars and almost nothing to other modes. I own a truck and car and they are great to use, but we really need to become more mixed mode friendly and we are really not even close to that and these decisions and the way they are made aren’t doing anything towards furthering that goal.
Your continued hyperbole (really comparing this to a flat-earther argument?) only weakens your other points. I don’t think Jonathan thinks cars are evil. To me it certainly is frustrating they keep removing crosswalks because it is an inconvenience to cars. Our whole travel infrastructure is basically catering to cars and they can’t seem to give an inch – I mean, have you read much about the i5 widening at the RQ?
More’s the pity. Automobiles are evil by any ethical measure of the harm they have done and continue to do to others. If someone has no other option than the bloody car/SUV, their use is morally excusable. Otherwise, not so much.
What you refer to as common sense, I refer to as “automotive interests usurping ancient rights of pedestrians to the public right of way”. And while the ship has evidently sailed on that compromise (back in the 30s and 40s), the ship is still in the harbor on preventing pedestrian crossings at intersections. And I refuse to give anything more than what has already been given.
If it’s not realistic for a roadway to be safe for pedestrians because of cars, then steps should be taken to curtail unfettered car access – not the other way around. All of the roadway facilities ODOT has jurisdiction over (outside the limited access highways) are dangerous (or deadly!) for pedestrians. They need to be rethought in a much more holistic manner (lane reductions, transit only infrastructure, wider sidewalks, bike paths, etc.).
A flashing beacon is almost always a safety improvement over an unmarked (or marker) crossing. But they are expensive, and ultimately not a structural change. If every crossing on outer SE Stark had an RRFB, the crossing situation would be improved a lot! But would it make SE Stark a functional city street? A place where you would want to go for a walk? An area where you’d want to open a cafe? With 5 lanes and high speeds – I’d reckon not. For the pricetag of upgrading every crossing, I’d prefer a more thorough redesign of the corridor into something that people actually would want to linger on. Too many of our roads cater to exactly one use – cars going faster, and that is a huge loss for our society.
You seem to be offended by the content of this article, but in what world is this headline clickbait? It’s a fact, supported by the documents noted in the article.
What headline would you use, to make it less “clickbaity”?
Hi Chris. The crosswalk closure language is terrible misleading – it implies existing crosswalk infrastructure (painted lines, signals, etc.) will be removed, i.e. that actual crosswalks will be closed. I believe it mislead you too, judging from your reply to qqq (in another comment). Instead, ODOT is “closing” crosswalks that technically existed under Oregon law but were unmarked.
You wrote, “Calling it: this is a clickbait headline designed to generate outage (sic)”
The headline is, “Citing safety concerns, ODOT will close 181 Portland area crosswalks this year”
The headline that ODOT wrote for its closure list is “ODOT Region 1 (Portland metro area) anticipated crosswalk closures in 2023”. And ODOT wrote that it’s being done to address safety concerns.
I wouldn’t call the headline click-bait. It describes what ODOT is doing in the same terms that ODOT used.
Good point, ODOT shot itself in the foot by using such misleading language in the first place. If you don’t see why it’s misleading, it mislead you too. No actual crosswalks are being closed. By “actual crosswalks,” I mean crosswalks in the way we all think about them and have understood them since we were kids. (“Cross at the crosswalk,” our mothers said. “But in Oregon, every random corner is assumed to have a crosswalk invisibly projecting from it,” the future ODOT communications specialist replied.)
Closing crosswalks to improve safety? This is Orwellian.
ODOT removed bike boxes at SE 26th & Powell for “safety” and multiple people on foot have been hit there and then someone died.
JP, … it is actually “Hermsian”…
“In 1972, a researcher named Bruce Herms conducted a study of crosswalk safety in San Diego. He found that intersections with marked crosswalks had higher injury rates than ones with unmarked crosswalks. He concluded that marked crosswalks should only be installed where they are ‘warranted’ because they can give pedestrians a ‘false sense of security,’ encouraging risky behavior.” – Streetsblog 2016
Well educated North American traffic engineers and transportation planners stopped relying on this study as far back as in the 1990s (my experience)…when follow-up research found additional methodological shortcomings (not brought up by Streetsblog)…like the pedestrians typically seeking out crosswalks were the very old or infirm…while most other adult pedestrians cried anywhere that they could in addition to marked crosswalks. He did not control with this and other confounding issues.
“Since the Herms study, other studies have refuted his conclusions, including work produced by the FHWA. Nevertheless, the influence of his research from  years ago persists. As backward as it seems, engineers still refuse to install crosswalks on the grounds that it would harm pedestrian safety.” – Streetsblog 2016
Comment of the week right here. Headline: ODOT engineers rely upon 50yr old disproven research for decision making
My brain is melting. Last resort? Lol. Of course it’s for liability. “We aren’t going to make streets safer so instead we can slowly make walking illegal for the CARS” blameless cars. Using a loophole as an excuse to do a shitty job, the modern American way. Pbot you’re fired. Major fail. Failing everyone.
A little late on this one. So we’re fixing the symptoms, not the problem. Cool.
The decision to announce the closure of 181 crosswalks in such a confusing way seems pretty self-inflicted. Some crossings may already be posted and some may be so manifestly dangerous that nobody uses them anyway. Lumping everything together is a PR fail, especially since we don’t know what leg of an intersection is referred to so have to assume the worst.
If ODOT thought much, or cared, about people outside cars they wouldn’t do this stuff.
How in the actual F*** are we supposed to cross Canyon Rd now? There are no close crosswalks to SW 107th! That’s a perfectly fine crosswalk!
They aren’t getting rid of the crosswalk there. They want to put up signs discouraging people from crossing Canyon on the east side of the intersection, where there isn’t a painted crosswalk. The goal is to encourage more people to cross in the painted crosswalk on the west side. The “crosswalks” they’re “closing” are currently unmarked and un-signaled.
ODOT = Oregon Dept Of
Tragedy, Travesty, Torpor, Terror, Thoughtlessness, Torment, Toxicity, Trauma, Treachery, Trickery, Trouble, Turmoil, Tumult, Tyranny, Temerity, Thuggery, Transgression, Tribulation, Trepidation
ODOT is failing the people of Oregon
The headline makes it sound like ODOT is removing painted crosswalks and other infrastructure like signals. After reading the article and thinking about it for a minute, it dawns on the critical thinkers among us that ODOT is actually putting up signs to warn people not to cross where it has long been unsafe. The way Oregon’s laws are written, those unsafe places were technically “unmarked crosswalks.” So that’s what ODOT is “closing.”