Near Death Experience

Even though I didn’t plan it, this is my third legal blog post in a row. I was biking along the SE Salmon/Taylor neighborhood greenway during my lunch break yesterday (Thursday) when I almost got hit by a motorist going full speed through a stop sign. The motorist was driving southbound on SE 37th Avenue and must not have seen the stop sign because she didn’t slow down. The intersection of SE Taylor Street and SE 37th Avenue doesn’t have a stop sign when biking on SE Taylor Street so I wasn’t prepared to stop.

Near death experience on Salmon/Taylor neighborhood greenway

Near death experience on Salmon/Taylor neighborhood greenway

Since the two southbound lanes of SE Cesar Chavez Blvd (39th) had bumper to bumper congestion in this area due to construction, the motorist was likely trying to bypass the congestion by using neighborhood streets. The southbound lanes are on the right side of the road so I’m going to assume she decided to turn right to bypass the congestion. As the below map shows, which can be zoomed out, the nearest through street to the west that parallels SE Cesar Chavez Blvd in this area is SE 37th Avenue. In addition to it paralleling SE Cesar Chavez Blvd, SE 37th Avenue and all the neighborhood streets in this area had very low traffic volumes so they are enticing as a detour to all the congestion on SE Cesar Chavez Blvd.

Even though SE 38th Avenue looks like it goes through in this area, a neighborhood trail blocks automobile access from SE Taylor Street to SE Salmon Street so only non-motorists can access the trail. Since I’m assuming the motorist who almost killed me knows the local streets, she likely was aware of this trail so chose SE 37th Avenue.

SE 38th Avenue Trail

SE 38th Avenue trail looking north from SE Salmon Street

Unfortunately this isn’t the first time in Portland that I have almost been killed by a motorist running a stop sign or light. As the below Facebook post shows, a Portland police officer almost killed Drew DeVitis and I when we were biking towards the Hawthorne Bridge in downtown Portland because the police officer sped through a red light without sirens on.

Portland, Oregon police almost killed me by running red light

June 2015 Facebook post with reply from my mom

Even though I didn’t post about it on social media, I was almost hit by a motorist on SE Salmon Street at SE 17th Avenue last winter. I was biking downhill (westbound) on SE Salmon Street and the motorist was heading northbound on SE 17th Avenue. The motorist had a stop sign and I had no stop sign so I wasn’t expecting to stop. Instead of coming to a complete stop, the motorist did a rolling stop while glancing to see if any traffic was coming. He evidently didn’t see me so I had to slam on my brakes to prevent crashing into him. Thankfully, after I yelled “you had a stop sign!”, he stopped and rolled down his window. He told me he did stop but didn’t see me and apologized for almost hitting me. I said thank you to him for apologizing and stopping to talk with me.

While I am thankful for still being alive after all these near crashes, what can I legally do in Oregon if I get in a crash and no police are present to report the crash? Oregon has a law that allows a citizen initiated citation. As this article discusses, the citizen initiated citation has been successful as long as you have video recording to show what happened. Since I don’t have a handlebar-mounted camera like a GoPro, I can’t currently have much success with a citizen initiated citation. Due to this, I’m seriously considering purchasing a handlebar-mounted camera to record all my rides. My 25th birthday is September 19 so I could purchase a GoPro for my birthday!

I didn’t discuss it in this post, but I’d love to know your thoughts on whether and what types of traffic diverters could help with reducing motorists from using neighborhood streets as a bypass around congestion on major roads. The Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) recently published a Neighborhood Greenways report that includes examples of diverters so PBOT is looking at installing diverters. Where and what types of traffic diverters would you install?

Ray’s Interview with Perils for Pedestrians

While I am excited that my interview with Perils for Pedestrians from early 2013 has been posted online, I am frustrated that the bicycle and pedestrian safety issue I was interviewed about has become reality. Here is the video, which should be forwarded to when my interview takes place at 10:33.

In case you are unfamiliar with Charlotte, I have provided a map below that shows where the Mallard Creek Greenway is closed at North Tryon Street. As you can see, this closure is near an entrance to UNC Charlotte so people commuting from across North Tryon Street have few, if any, safe routes to arrive on campus by walking or biking.

The intersection on February 22, 2013

As any good advocate does, I took photos of the intersection on February 22, 2013. While looking at the below photo, where should pedestrians and bicyclists safely cross North Tryon Street?

Mallard Creek Greenway looking west towards North Tryon Street

Mallard Creek Greenway looking west towards North Tryon Street

If you expected people to safely walk or bike across North Tryon Street, please look at the below photo. Automobiles travel about 50 mph through here. The nearest signalized pedestrian crossing is about 1/3 miles north at Mallard Creek Church Road, but I highly doubt anyone is going to walk that far to use the crosswalk when this section of North Tryon Street has no sidewalks.

Would you walk across North Tryon Street?

Would you walk across North Tryon Street?

Phase I detour: August 2014-May 2015

Since I am currently living in Portland, I don’t have photos of the detour. I’m hoping one of my Charlotte friends will help by sending me photos of the detour. Thankfully, I found a University City Partners blog post from July 1, 2014 that discusses the phase one and two detours. The detour during phase one, which started in August 2014 and may have closed in May 2015, involved a temporary detour path along North Tryon Street’s southbound lanes, which were closed to automobile traffic during the detour. The below map shows this temporary detour.

Mallard Creek Greenway Detour Map

Mallard Creek Greenway Detour Map

State engineer Ron Graham said the greenway detour path traveled up a gravel access road to North Tryon Street and onto a temporary paved path along the edge of the closed southbound lanes to Mallard Creek Church Road. People using the detour path crossed Mallard Creek Church Road and North Tryon Street via existing pedestrian crossing signals. An existing sidewalk led them to the Kirk Farm Fields Park and the start of Mallard Creek Greenway. A short walk back up the greenway connected with the Toby Creek Greenway bridge and access to UNC Charlotte. Even though I didn’t see the detour or walk it, I’m impressed with reading this detour.

Phase II detour started in May 2015

Unfortunately, the phase two detour is very disappointing. As I expected because I already knew the Barton Creek Greenway was being delayed when I asked Gwen Cook, Mecklenburg County’s greenway planner, about it in 2013,

“Design challenges have delayed a hoped-for second detour path – Barton Creek Greenway to University Place and UNC Charlotte. As a result, we may face several months in late 2015 without a greenway alternative.”

According to the blog post, phase two has no detour for pedestrians and bicyclists!

Once the state reopens the southbound bridge in May 2015 and reroutes northbound traffic onto the new bridge, the state must close the temporary greenway detour path, Graham says.

I find it interesting how the state “must” close the temporary greenway detour path. The main reason why NCDOT “must” close it is because NCDOT prioritizes automobiles over walking and bicycling.

Ray’s proposal for a phase II detour

Since I feel people in the United States often dismiss Dutch and Danish transportation infrastructure because they feel their city is too automobile dependent and doesn’t have funding to spend on bicycle and pedestrian safety projects, I’m very thankful inspiration for my phase two proposal comes from the United States. As I was biking along the Mount Vernon Trail near Fort Hunt National Park in Alexandria, VA on August 17, 2014, I was amazed by the below bicycle and pedestrian detour. To see all 22 photos of the detour, view my facebook album (sharing is set to public so anyone should be able to view it).

Bicycle and pedestrian detour along the Mount Vernon Trail

Bicycle and pedestrian detour along the Mount Vernon Trail

The below photo show the detour being routed onto an entire lane of George Washington Memorial Parkway, which is a state road maintained by the National Park Service. The reasons why I pointed out that it is a state road is because local jurisdictions have less control over what they can do with the road and North Tryon Street is a state maintained road. This is why many jurisdictions try to transfer state roads to city roads.

Let’s return to the NCDOT statement where Graham said, “the state must close the temporary greenway detour path.” Another option could have been to close the right southbound lane on North Tryon Street to automobile traffic so cyclists and pedestrians could have safely biked or walked to the signalized intersection at Mallard Creek Church Road. Was this option even discussed? If it was, I’m sure someone at NCDOT said, “motorists are going to hate us if we remove a travel lane!” I’m confident motorists didn’t enjoy having a travel lane removed on the George Washington Memorial Parkway either. Why did the Mount Vernon Trail have such a great construction detour for bicycle and pedestrian traffic while the Mallard Creek Greenway has no construction detour for bicycle and pedestrian traffic during phase two?

Mount Vernon Trail detour routed onto George Washington Memorial Parkway

Mount Vernon Trail detour routed onto George Washington Memorial Parkway

Phoenix’s Traffic Barricade Manual

John Wetmore informed me about how effective Phoenix’s Traffic Barricade Manual is for requiring contractors to provide a safe and convenient detour for pedestrians through construction zones. Here is a video of his interview with City of Phoenix staff about accommodating pedestrians through construction zones.

I plan to update this blog post after getting some photos of the phase two detour from a Charlotte friend and asking Gwen Cook for her thoughts on the feasibility of implementing my proposed detour for phase two.