If you’re a seasoned Portland cyclist, you probably already know that the Southeast Division is booby-trapped. If you enjoy using a bike as transportation and are new to Portland, you may wish to avoid the Southeast Division altogether. Statistics demonstrate that, while on the whole biking is becoming safer in Portland, some of the most dangerous individual streets for biking are as risky as ever, despite efforts by Vision Zero Portland.
In 2011, the Portland Bureau of Transportation reported an increase of 190% in bike traffic between 2000 and 2009, and a decrease of accidents by 39%. There are several locations throughout the city that are particularly dangerous for cycling; however, Southeast Portland has the highest concentration of bicycle-car crashes.
Top 10 Worst Streets for Bike-Car Crashes
Data released by ODOT’s Crash Analysis and Reporting unit reveal that of the city’s 10 most dangerous roads, over half are in Southeast Portland with 1,600 incidents reported between 2009 and 2013. During these five years, the following roads experienced the most incidents:
- Southeast Division Street: 59
- Northeast Broadway Street: 49
- Southeast Hawthorne Boulevard: 42
- Southeast Powell Boulevard: 37
- East Burnside Street: 35
- Northwest Broadway: 31
- Southeast Stark Street: 30
- Southwest Capitol highway: 28
- Southeast Holgate Boulevard: 27
- Southeast Foster Road: 26
The six Southeast Portland streets in the above list surprisingly account for 14% of the total bicycle-car accidents reported during that period. Southeast Division Street, Powell Boulevard, and Foster road are all included in PBOT’s top ten high crash corridors. High crash corridors account for just 7% of the city’s streets, yet they are where nearly half of all deadly crashes occur. The city is working to improve transportation in these areas to reduce risk.
Some of the worst intersections for cycling in Portland are:
- Cesar Chavez Boulevard and NE Sandy Boulevard: 3 lane intersection near the entrance to I-84 experiences a lot of congestion.
- SW Naito Parkway and Market Street: nearby entrance to I-5
- SW Macadam Avenue and Sellwood Bridge: shortest route from Clackamas County into SE Portland
- SE 82nd Avenue and Powell Boulevard
- Several intersections on West Burnside Street are magnets for pedestrian incidents
- SE McLoughlin and 17th Avenue has been the setting of several fatal pedestrian accidents
- NE Sandy Boulevard at the I-205 interchange
- SE Foster at the I-205 interchange
- SW Barbur Boulevard and Terwilliger
- SE Powell Boulevard and Milwaukie Avenue
For a complete list of intersections to avoid, you can check out the city’s report of high collision intersections between 2011 and 2014, which is the most recent data available. It may be impossible to fully avoid all of these routes, but exercising caution is key as the city continues to unroll safety measures.
Recent Accidents in Southeast Portland
One of the most memorable accidents of 2015 involved a young cyclist by the name of Alistair Corkett. At just 22 years old, Corkett lost his leg in a horrifying crash on Southeast Powell Boulevard in May 2015. The cyclist recalls the entire scene, even seeing his leg on the sidewalk after being struck by a truck turning left going westbound. He was quickly taken to the intensive care unit of Oregon Health and Science University where he began his recovery and regained hopes for the future. Alcohol and/ or drugs are not believed to be a factor in this accident.
A group of cyclist protesters gathered on Powell Boulevard following the tragic accident to call for more safety improvements. They asserted that such situations are not uncommon on that road. A spokesman for ODOT responded that since Powell Boulevard is part of US 26, ODOT was planning $3.8 million worth of safety upgrades on Powell between 20th and 34th avenues by 2017. More traffic signs, left turn signals, lighting, and a reduction of obstructive foliage are in the works.
Portland’s 31st roadway fatality in 2016 of a pedestrian or cyclist occurred near the intersection of Southeast 124th and Division Street. Forty-year old Clifford Perry Jr. struck 60-year old Damon Burton, whom police found deceased in the road where there is no crosswalk. Perry proceeded to crash into a gas station signal after he struck the pedestrian while speeding. That night Perry was arrested and taken into Multnomah County Jail for second-degree manslaughter, DUII, and reckless driving. Division Street is one of the most dangerous high traffic corridors and sees 50% more pedestrian collisions than the city average.
Another young cyclist, this time a teenager, was struck and killed in Southeast Portland on Southeast 142nd Avenue and Southeast Center Street at 4 PM by Franklin Eugene Drobny, 55 and also intoxicated. This time the intoxicated driver, whose lawyer labeled an alcoholic, was turning into a driveway.
There is no shortage of sad tales of senseless injuries and deaths on Portland’s roads. Although the city’s Vision Zero initiative is a noble action, how will adding more crosswalks, lighting, traffic signals, and lowering speed limits curb the behaviors of those who simply refuse to abide by the law? There will always be the potential for traffic deaths so long as humans consider to act recklessly and selfishly. For the tough times, you have the legal right to a personal injury attorney who understands your plight. Contact RizkLaw for a free legal consultation by calling (503) 245-5677.