News Oct 18, 2012 at 4:00 am

Depressing Data Shows Crashes Have Spiked at "Bike Box" Intersections


Maybe I missed it (I just skimmed the story), but there doesn't seem to be any consideration of changes in the traffic load. If, for example, twice the number of bikes were passing through the intersection, then twice the number of crashes would be expected. A change in the absolute number of crashes is almost meaningless in determining the effectiveness of a safety measure. They need to figure out the change in the ratio of crashes to riders.
As a pedestrian, I am real tired of these selfish, inconsiderate, speed demon bicyclists, who come up right behind me without a sound until they are right there, and I am forced to have to jump out of the way to yield to them. I have even been hit by a bike, with a rider who had apologized three times BEFORE impact. He must have figured it would be less damaging for him to hit me, then to change course, because he was traveling so fast. Bicyclists are always begging cars to share the road, but then they ride on the sidewalks and do as bad to pedestrians as the drivers of cars do to them. Bicyclist should slow the fuck down. Don't wait until they are right on top of a pedestrian to say something or ring a bell. The best thing would be for them to stop, get off their bike, and walk past pedestrians, if they are riding on the sidewalk. I now carry a long umbrella, and each time a bike passes by close to me at a high rate of speed, I am perfectly prepared to shove my umbrella into their spokes. It will happen. The next time I actually get hit, I will not bear the brunt. I will evade and bump the cyclist from the side, out into the street. Abusive bunch of pricks. Even skateboarders seem to have more awareness.
Well if it costs boatloads of money, achieves nothing, and alienates auto commuters, you can bet Portland will be putting them on every street corner.
Why is there an increase in crashes at these intersections? Perhaps...

1. The green boxes offer a false sense of security for bicyclists to pass on the right in a manner that would be considered unsafe if not being done in a "protected zone".

Why is this sense of security false?

2. The sense of security is false because not everyone who drives in Portland and encounters a green bike box is from Portland and thus hasn't the slightest of ideas what the heck it is.

"Journalists" of Portland. Ask the Police Bureau to dig deeper into the numbers and determine how many of the motor vehicle drivers involved in these crashes live in Portland proper, the Metro area, or even in the state.
@Torgo - I don't think there are stats on the increase of bike traffic through the intersections specifically, but the citywide increase in bike traffic vs. crashes is noted near the end of the story: From 2004-2007, there were 188 crashes annually across Portland. In the next four years, as 6,000 more people began biking daily, the overall number of crashes increased an average of 50 percent.
My friend Teddy Hriskos got mutulated riding his bike, when he got run over by a truck, driven by an drunk, illegal Mexican, who was driving on an Oregon driver's license that had been revoked for drunk driving.

Fury builds over drunken driving
Belmont accident galvanizes, saddens bicycling community

By Jim Redden And Jennifer Anderson

The Portland Tribune, Jun 27, 2003, Updated Oct 30, 2009

Local anti-drunken driving activists blame weak Oregon laws for the early Wednesday traffic accident that killed two bicyclists and left another with critical injuries.

Lindsey Llaneza had pleaded guilty to drunken driving charges in a previous accident three months before he was charged Wednesday with hitting three bike riders near Southeast 42nd Avenue and Belmont Street.

Police said that Llaneza’s alcohol level on Wednesday was twice the legal limit of 0.08 and that he was driving with a suspended license because of previous traffic offenses.

Under Oregon law, even drivers repeatedly convicted of drunken driving can choose to enter counseling programs or perform community service work instead of going to jail.

“It makes me so angry. Nothing stops these people from driving. It just goes on and on and on,” said Gerrie Collins, a member of the Multnomah County chapter of Mothers Against Drunk Driving, whose son was killed by a drunk driver in 1993.

According to court records, Llaneza was arrested for drunken driving March 3. He pleaded guilty and was released April 1 after agreeing to enter a substance-abuse counseling program, as allowed by law.

Collins criticized the Oregon Legislature for refusing to increase the penalties for drunken driving this session.

The Legislature recently passed a bill House Bill 2885 requiring that drivers lose their licenses after a third conviction for driving under the influence of an intoxicant, or DUII.

“It’s a joke. You have to kill someone before there’s any jail time,” said Jim Whitehead, whose son, Mark, died in the same accident that killed Collins’ child.

Gretchen McKenzie, director of the Traffic Safety Division of the Oregon Department of Transportation, said budget problems prevented the Legislature from passing a tougher law.

“They considered jail time, but there’s no space,” she said.

Llaneza was scheduled to be arraigned Thursday afternoon on charges of manslaughter, assault, hit-and-run and driving under the influence of intoxicants. The 49-year-old North Portland resident was arrested after police say he hit the three bicyclists with his van about 12:20 a.m. Wednesday.

Angela L. Leazenby, 26, of California, and Orion C. Satushek, 27, of Portland, died at the scene. Caroline J. Buchalter, 23, of Portland, was critically injured.
Sheriff begins review

Multnomah County Sheriff Bernie Guisto said the fatal accident is prompting a review of options for keeping drunken drivers in jail. According to Guisto, a committee that includes representatives from the courts and the district attorney’s office is currently reviewing all sentencing and release policies.

“I remember when drunk drivers went to jail on the first conviction,” said Guisto, who began his law enforcement career in 1974.

Lt. Mike Shults, a sheriff’s spokesman, said people charged with DUIIs now are typically cited and released, rather than jailed until their court date.

It has to do with the nature of the charge, he said. Although DUII is a Class C felony, the typical DUII offender is “an average person who makes a stupid mistake,” he said.

Offender might be jailed until their court date if the officer deems it necessary, based on the offense, prior history and any additional charges.

Police said Llaneza was driving on Southeast Belmont Street when he came up behind four bicyclists on a recreational ride. Police said that although he swerved to miss one of them, he struck the other three.

“It was pretty horrible,” said Casey Spain, 27, who was awakened by the crash and came outside to see the aftermath, about 20 feet from his back door. “Initially, I thought, I don’t know how I’d manage to ride (my bicycle) again, but I will. It is scary.”
‘I find it very disturbing’

Another bicyclist was killed last Thursday by a driver later charged with DUII. Theodore Paul Hriskos, 45, of Southeast Portland, died when the bicycle he was riding was struck by a vehicle at the corner of Northeast 148th Avenue and San Rafael Street.

The fatalities have outraged many in Portland’s large and politically active bicycle community.

“It makes me angry that the man already had a DUII, was driving on a suspended license, and it was going to be a hit-and-run that he kept going. I find it very disturbing that anyone out there can be that oblivious to the world around them,” said cyclist Karen Miller, 26, who lives a block away from where Wednesday’s accident happened.

The incident prompted her to take more safety precautions, she said. “I know I’m a dangerous bike rider because I don’t wear a helmet, but it made me a little more aware,” she said. “I think I might buy a helmet, although I know it’s not going to protect me if a drunk driver plows into me.”

Miller plans to participate in the monthly Critical Mass bike ride this afternoon. For the past decade, cyclists in Portland have participated in the event, designed to celebrate and promote cycling as a mode of transportation.

The ride is scheduled to leave from Gov. Tom McCall Waterfront Park under the Burnside Bridge at 5:35 p.m. and travel to Wednesday’s crash site for a memorial.
Traffic swells in summer

Local attorney Ray Thomas, who has handled bicycle injury cases for 20 years and recently wrote the book “Pedal Power,” said he sees hundreds of injury cases each year and has at least a dozen death and serious injury cases at any one time.

“This is so unnecessary and tragic,” he said. “What happened was that the driver, because he was driving drunk, failed to recognize the profiles of the bicyclists in time to avoid them.”

Thomas said road safety is a bigger issue in the summer months, when not only bicyclists but skateboarders, joggers, pedestrians and in-line skaters are active.

“People get in a hurry, and they forget the road has human-powered vehicles on it, especially in the summer, at all hours,” he said. “What we have to do in the city now is send a message to the police and court system that we think this is a big problem.”

Thomas holds a bicycle legal clinic every other month. The next one is scheduled for 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. July 16 at the office of the Bicycle Transportation Alliance, 717 S.W. 12th Ave.

Contact Jim Redden at and Jennifer Anderson at
I have an idea, how about cyclist start watching where the fuck their going! Everyone knows that the roads are dangerous and even if you have the "right of way" it's smart to be aware of other drivers. Seeing as how cyclist are more likely to be fatally injured in a accident, if you're a cyclist it would make sense to pay attention to your surroundings instead of counting on your right of way for safety. Or get a fucking car!
@S.Mirk - Thanks for the response. I'm a little embarrassed that I missed the part of the article that you referenced. Yet, I still think that until they start monitoring the bicycle traffic levels in the green box intersections, it will remain impossible to measure their effectiveness. Of course, that's a problem with their reporting, not yours. - So, people should pay attention to their surroundings OR get a car!? You should really pay attention all the time, whether you have a car or not.
It's a lot safer to read while driving a Cadillac then on a bike, for the driver, anyway, and you can buy a good, vintage Caddy for only a couple grand. Puts the foreign cabbies out of work at the same time. Kill two birds with one stone. Put a bird on it.
it is a bad idea to suggest that bikers at a high rate of speed have a right of way to pass right-turning traffic, on the right-- with these painted boxes, but also the solid bike lane lines leading all the way in to the intersection. Both are REALLY STUPID ASS IDEAS: they are contrary to common sense, and contrary to normal traffic flow around the world (where people pass on the left).

I doubt these right hooks are about a false sense of security-- but about people bombing through intersections passing on the right. This is about having no common sense.

How about this: when going through a light, turn your head, LOOK FOR CARS NEAR YOU in every direction, then proceed through the intersection if nobody else is there. If you need to STOP to be safe, or god forbid get off your bike/ or go at pedestrian speed through a crosswalk (legal), do it. I have never been right hooked because 1) I do this, and 2) I assume nothing from cars, and 3) I can handle my bike.

Passing fast on the right with an expectation of safety is a very, very stupid idea.
Sagging fFint , YOU are one of the GOOD ones!

Remember the old Diamond Lane on Barbur Boulevard, heading South out of Downtown? It was just ONE single lane, in the middle of the highway. In the morning, it was for cars with more than one passenger, headed North, into town. In the evening, it was for car poolers headed South. Of course, the exact hours are still a bit foggy as they were at the time, and HEAD ON COLLISION were RAMPANT. It took the City I don't know how many fatalities before they ever got the clue about THAT!
The green boxes are doing their job of preventing the right hook, but only when bikes are at a red light and waiting in front of a car as intended. 20 years on the bike, it took me a few months to realize that entering an intersection next to a car while in motion is dangerous every time, green box or not. With that in mind, I love that Portland is investigating new ideas and looking to make cycling safer, change is not always easy, fast, or perfect. As a car driver too, I recognize I have a responsibility that many drivers seem to ignore or refuse to accept. Ignorance is bliss, bikes have been on roads before cars were even invented. I can do serous damage with my truck and I wish others were as careful as I am when in the city.
Spoken! I should have been more subdued when I commented. Yours makes sense. But if the green boxes are doing their job, I would say the solid bike lane lines all the way up the intersection aren't. like you say, passing cars on the right from behind (entering next to a car) is dangerous; the solid lines imply it's fine and "protected". Bike lanes are SO important, sharing the road critical-- but trying to reverse natural rules of traffic (see my prior comment- passing on the right, assuming heavier traffic knows you're there) is a sad, misguided effort that shows irrationality rules in portland's bike traffic efforts. Fluoride, anyone?
In downtown, bicyclists need to ride in the same lanes behind cars and acting like cars. Downtown car speeds and subsequent timing of the traffic lights easily facilitates this.

I see way too many bicyclists riding on the side speeding between traffic and parked cars without regard for the fact a car cannot see you all the time, not to mention at the same time having to look at other pedestrians cross the street, traffic signs, the uniqueness of the transit mall, differentiating between streetcar tracks and LR tracks, dodging clowns on double-decker bikes, etc., etc., etc.

This is dangerous. Be behind/in front of cars and you will be seen by ALL traffic. I have to admit, some bicyclists are really oblivious to what's going on around them, as if they're the only things on the road.

Act like people cannot see you, and safety will increase.

Please, be safer people!
Bicyclists are reckless. Car drivers are reckless. When two reckless vehicle operators collide, they are not less a wreck, but the bicyclist is going to get the worst of it. Streets are for cars. Sidewalks are for pedestrians. If the streets are clear and the sidewalks are clear, then fine, go ahead and ride your bike, but don't go buzzing pedestrians or you're going to get an umbrella jammed into your spokes. I mean it.
A truck driver hits a cyclist, killing her, and the truck driver isn't issued a ticket for doing anything wrong??


I hope her family sue's him and whoever he was working for for everything they have!
A cyclist has as much right to ride in the street as any car or truck.

If drivers don't like it that's just too bad, it's THE LAW!

Riding a bicycle on sidewalks north of Hoyt is also permitted.

I'm not sure why since the streets are far less crowded there than the downtown area.
@ dilligaf:

i know it must sound impossible to you, but sometimes the bicyclist is at fault. that doesn't mean she was dumb or deserving of it, it just means that she made a poor decision and/or had some bad luck. it's horrible from all sides -- i'm pretty sure i read in an earlier article that the trucker was in tears just like the rest of us -- i would be, too, if i was in his shoes, her fault or not.

try not to be so quick to condemn -- or at least not until you've done a little more homework on your subject.

Please wait...

Comments are closed.

Commenting on this item is available only to members of the site. You can sign in here or create an account here.

Add a comment

By posting this comment, you are agreeing to our Terms of Use.