Own Worst Enemies

One of the hot button issues in the NE Quadrant Plan process was bike and pedestrian safety, particularly along Broadway near I-5.  In response to a spate of recent vehicle/bike accidents and pressure from multiple parties, including Eliot, City staff have agreed to try and speed the adoption of some of the proposals in the Plan.  One of these was to limit access to North Wheeler from Broadway as that has been a contributor to bike accident statistics.  To do so the City erected temporary wooden barriers with “no right turn” signs.

To reinforce the change, Portland Police conducted an enforcement campaign.  They did ticket several people attempting to detour around the signs, but they also cited dozens of bike riders who ignored the stop sign on Flint.  One of these was a bike advocate to the Mayor.  And, it wasn’t her first ticket for this infraction!

It is dangerous for bike riders to ignore traffic signs and signals, no more so than in this stretch of Broadway.  Eliot is advocating for safety improvements for riders, but those measures can only go so far if riders don’t take care of their own safety by obeying traffic laws.  Be careful out there!

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9 thoughts on “Own Worst Enemies

  1. Its probably using a wordpress login. You should be able to change it. click change below your comment.

    2 per year that are reported. According to Betsy Reese (Paramount Apt owner) there are probably 5-10x that number of times where a car has contacted a bike (not counting near-misses).

    The case may be closed for now, but folks who work in Lower Albina aren’t particularly happy about this being closed. The idea is to redesign the intersection so that this access can be re-opened without increasing accidents. I’m not sure how long that will take

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  2. Ok….well now that won’t happen anymore, so the case will be closed. right? Also, with the amount of bike traffic that intersection gets every day, two per year doesn’t seem too extreme. None would be better of course, but no one can ever be 100% safe.

    (and BTW Alan, this is Julie. I have no idea why this e-mail address came up, nor how to change it to my name. I’m not trying to post anonymously)

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  3. From cops I have talked to, a bike rolling through a stop at “walking speed” isn’t likely to attract their attention. So, on Allan’s point that someone going slow should get a pass. The enforcement action didn’t target them however, it targeted less cautious riders. The point of the article is that each individual needs to look out for their own safety. Sharp knives cut. Fire burns. Arrogant riders will get hurt. Sure some safe ones will too, but at least they stack the odds in their favor and don’t blame someone else for their risk taking.

    Since Allan I both worked on the design options for that area, I agree with him about the design, but it is what it is. Publically advocating noncompliance is irresponsible, regardless what you do personally.

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  4. That intersection would not be at all dangerous to bikers if they would obey the rules and stop at the stop sign. Especially since they closed Wheeler.
    And I have been looking for information on the causes of accidents….do you have links? There should be absolutely no reason for bikes to be near the cars….unless they veer into lanes of traffic, they should go from bike lane to bike lane. Do you have information that shows that the cars were indeed in the bike lane for the vast majority of the accidents?

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  5. As a pedestrian, I’ve been nearly leveled many times at that corner by bikers who look to the left but not to the right, assuming they have a clear passage down Broadway. Allan, it may be safer for the bikers not to stop, but it is not safer for others who share the right-of-way.

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    1. These are good points. I think we can all agree that that intersection needs to be redesigned so that this is not as much of an issue.

      Pointing fingers at bikes when they are the ones most often getting injured doesn’t sit well with me. Most of the accidents at that intersection don’t involve illegal activity on the part of the cyclist.

      If bikes are going through the intersection at 20mph, I don’t want to apologize for that, but if someone rides through at 5-10mph and looks for cars and pedestrians, it is not a terribly dangerous thing to do.

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  6. Correct Mike. I can’t tell you how many bikers I see that fail to stop. My husband, who commutes by bike EVERY DAY also is disgusted by the actions of his fellow bikers. The point is bikes are required to follow the law. Period. Just because “you can see” does not exempt you. If you don’t think there should be a stop sign there (for every one) the thing to do is present your plan to the proper agencies and work to change it, not merely pick and choose which traffic laws you want to follow.

    I routinely see bikes blowing that stop sign. Often at speeds that take them out in the lane of traffic. I have almost been hit, as a pedestrian, by bikers blowing that sign. Riders like that give the rest of us (yes, I ride too) a bad name.

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  7. This particular stop sign – in the right conditions – can be safer to run than to stop. A cyclist has a great view of traffic coming down Broadway. If there are no cars coming but cars farther off are starting out of the light, then the risk of accident is actually higher if the cyclist stops than if they run the stop sign. The problem with this intersection is bad design. Stop-sign running is a red herring.

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