Bikes Aug 24, 2016 at 4:00 am

But as Road Deaths Spike, That’s About to Change


A vast number of accidents could also be prevented by improving corner visibility. Anyone who has lived in a larger city is immediately struck by the fact nearly all Portland intersection corners are obscured up to their very tip by parked cars, commercial signage, foliage, or all three. Most cities zone these obstructions away, clearing AT LEAST 30 feet at corners of parking, plantings, signage, etc.

Reducing speeds is a good idea, but even 30mph can be perfectly adequate to kill a cyclist or pedestrian, and is much more likely to do so if no one can see anything. This measure would be even harder to enact than reducing the speed limits, but it is a certainty the accident rate would see a steep and immediate decline, and it's foolish to assume none of the prevented accidents would be fatal.

If the city is serious about a zero-fatality policy, they need to start thinking about how they're going to sell Portland on corner clearance.
#1 I entirely agree, that is a serious problem when I cycle daily for a commute, if anything I as a cyclist who does not drive appreciates it greatly so at the very least I can have better visibility in order to see the cars. People who drive are fucking not paying attention at all, it's just a fact, I have to look people in the eye, and often yell at them in order for them to even see me, they are not checking mirrors as they should be, they are not slowing down until literally 10-5 feet before where they need to, and not even stopping at stop signs they just roll through, and most times don't see me when it is my right of way without a stop sign. Portland drivers are the worst, and it's getting out of hand, everyone is so impatient to get to the next stop light, they are eating while driving, they are so fucking bad looking at their phones, constantly I see the phones, faces down in their laps, people are going to die because of this, their needs to be a serious change.
“Slashing” speed limits on arterials is... shortsighted at best. The goal should be to expand capacity there to encourage motorized vehicles into those funnels, while providing separate human-powered routes. If you destroy what few arterials even exist now, you actually encourage more motorized traffic onto smaller residential streets—the opposite of what you should be doing, for the reasons #2 described above.
iamauser: Arterials are specifically excluded from the process.
I'm calling BS on torkfool's claim that other cities routinely limit parking within 30 ft of an intersection. I have never seen this, and just to be sure, I picked several random places in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Kansas City, Buffalo, and Boston, examined them on StreetView, and did not see this. Where can I find these allegedly universal parking bans?
That's the extent of the brain power when it comes to any kind of solution to what is a total disaster. Lowering the speed limit in a town where nothing moves? When you're still in heavy slow traffic at 8pm on a Sunday night? The streets and flow of traffic are at a complete breakdown with the influx of people. It's way too late for crosswalks and bike lanes, but let's see how many more people we can kill just to make a righteous point. Fix the lights and get traffic moving!! And do something about the bowling alley parking lot on 92nd and Powell, serving as the only way to go East off of a major freeway onto a major street you dipwads!!!
@Charles, here are a few in Los Angeles. I guessed on a few neighborhoods.

Here's SF, tighter than LA:

I have heard the reason Portland doesn't enforce distance from intersection is because of the short blocks- 30 feet on each corner removes 30% of Portland's short blocks.

On the other other hand, parking doesn't seem to be the significant factor in fatalities that are coming to mind.
You know what, to hell with some of you cyclists. I was walking down se 12th today and one arrogantly mean mugged me as I was crossing an intersection he was approaching and was going to turn on. Disregarding the fact that pedestrians have the right away in that situation (I was there first), the entire shoulder of the road he was on was entirely clear of parked cars, meaning he could have gotten out of the way of the car behind him, slowed down, and swiveled around me no problem. Instead he pretended he is a 5,000 lb vehicle and made a big show out of his left hand signal while mean mugging me.

When I road bikes I embraced the versatility of bikes. Take walking for instance; on the streets of NY hundreds of people converge at an intersection and criss-cross and side-step one another. Nature made us versatile and intelligent like this. Embrace it if you got it. Roads are for big dumb and versatility limited cars. I'm not saying don't use them, I'm just saying don't pretend your a car and get mad when people fail to acknowledge that you do in fact have equality among cars. You are not a car. But like driving, riding is a privilege not a right, and there is only so many times I can hear that passive aggressive little "ding" before I throw a stick in your wheels.
How about designing the streets so the '85th percentile' of drivers actually drive more slowly? Narrower lanes and visual friction for drivers will slow them down, not arbitrary speed limit signs.
Something that would really help would be if the recently updated pedestrian right of way law was better explained to pedestrians. Since it has been enacted, when I drive, I have had more problems with pedestrians walking right out into traffic from blind spots without even pausing to see if traffic is too close to safely stop. Cars require stopping distance, but too many pedestrians appear to think a car can stop on a dime when traveling 25mph. It doesn't work like that. The updated pedestrian right of way law still says pedestrians MUST indicate they want to cross the street by stopping, placing one foot off the curb in the street, looking both ways, and waiting for traffic to stop, before fully stepping out into the street, but you'd never know it from the way pedestrians just appear walking quickly or running from behind a parked SUV and heading into intersections without even looking both ways, much less actually indicating they plan to cross. I walk, bike, and drive, and I've been hit by cars as both a bicyclist and a pedestrian, so I'm very careful any time I'm out on the street. Given the kind of near misses between pedestrians with cars, and bikes, that I've witnessed, ODOT has been particularly remiss in how they explained the updated pedestrian right of way law and ODOT should share the blame for traffic accidents that involve poorly informed pedestrians.

Another law that isn't enforced, that could help this situation would be the law against vehicles over 5 ft tall parking within a car length of crosswalks. Tall vehicles make it impossible for many pedestrians and bikes to be seen by cars, if a car has no indication that a pedestrian or bike is about to shoot out of a blind spot, how can the car stop in a timely manner to avoid an accident?

These are laws that are ALREADY on the books which would save lives if they were enforced or at least explained properly.
#1 torkfool: We do have some laws about visibility. No front yard fences over 48" tall, no parking vehicles over 6' tall within 50' of an intersection, no foliage growing into the street/sidewalk up to 7' tall. However, there are places such as downtown where the setback requirement for buildings is waived and we have no visibility. Those are the places that I'm most uncomfortable when driving because I have to creep into the crosswalk/intersection to check visibility when there's no traffic light keeping the peace.


#2 BlahBlahBlah1111: Portland driver's aren't even close to the worse, but the behavior you describe is unfortunately typical of most drivers.


#6 Ted Red: Yeah, it's unfortunate that you can't turn East of I-205 south at Powell. Although having to use private property in your journey is a poor excuse for a lack of planning. It's easy enough to take Division down to 104th/112th. Your response to an article about the speed limits needing to be lowered is to state that they need to be raised? Fast cars kill. We need less killing. We also need to get that influx of people not to drive so they won't slow you down further. We have no room for more roads.


#8 guidogazz: Cool story, bro. Why might a cyclist have a grumpy look on their face? No idea with your ordeal, but for me if I'm not smiling it's because by the time I've got to 12th I've endured dozens of blocks of aggressive motorists who seem intent on killing me. Forgive me for looking grumpy. The DMV bicyclists manual tells you not to ride in the parking lane. It also is the law that you use hand signals when possible and ring a bell when passing pedestrians. Do you want cyclists to obey the law, or only the ones convenient to you? Roads for thousands of years have been for people, not vehicles. Corporate interests have taken them over in the name of cars for the last 100 years. We're only now starting to reclaim them for the people.


#10 PatSplat: I thought your post was going to be about the problem I see with the pedestrian crossing law. That problem is that pedestrians don't know that they have the right to exert their intent to cross the street and sit there on the side cowering until traffic clears. I try to empower people to get that piece of them sticking out so people will be required to stop. However, it sounds like you haven't run anybody over so I'd argue that you have plenty of time to brake and people aren't darting in front of you. Hopefully you're paying as much attention as it seems you are. But most of the time people say a pedestrian came out of nowhere that pedestrian has actually been standing there in plain view unseen by dozens of cars and finally decided to put themselves in harm's way just to get people to obey the law. I know I often try to look like I don't see traffic in order to get people to stop. They simply won't stop if they think I see them. But if they think "oh no I'm about to hit them" then they'll actually stop. It's not a fun way to cross the street but it beats standing there forever.
There are a lot of roads bikes should not be allowed. Germantown road for starters. St Johns bridge is another. Be sensible!
Perhaps St. Johns Bridge doesn't need to be four lanes wide? It connects into a town, not like it's connecting two big highways.
#11 Spiffy, Walking out into moving traffic isn't a wise choice for any pedestrian, is that what you are proposing pedestrians should do? When a pedestrian is cowering 5 ft back from the curb they are not giving a clear indication they intend to cross. I see pedestrians who are standing at the curb of a crosswalk looking like they intend to cross, and I stop for them.

Your can argue anything you want, but your dead wrong on this one. The only reason I haven't hit a pedestrian coming out of a blind spot, jaywalking, or dashing into traffic without looking, is because I drive slowly in a constant state of being prepared to slam on the brakes, and I'm constantly looking for careless pedestrians. Having been hit as a pedestrian I am really cautious about this. There are plenty of pedestrians who are lucky it was me behind the wheel instead of someone less aware of this problem.

Do I think drivers need better education on the updated pedestrian law? Yes most of them do, but pedestrians need the same education even more, because they are at greater risk when cars and pedestrians interact.
I have never seen this, and just to be sure, I picked several random places in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Kansas City, Buffalo, and Boston

I guess you've never been to Seattle, then.
Why is no one addressing the bizarre law here that lets pedestrians cross at any corner? It's so unsafe. Marked crosswalks at 4-way stops and lights are the safe way to do pedestrian crossings, that law should be changed. Also, why does no one ever address pedestrians that don't look before crossing in these articles, or that jaywalk? One of these deaths recently was a result of straight up reckless driving, well over the speed limit. The other deaths were not. As someone who drives slowly and cautiously (and generally under the speed limit anyway), with my neck in a swivel looking for sudden pedestrian appearances, I'd love to see some pedestrian education along with this focus on drivers. Safety is a two-way street (see what I did there?).

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