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?

Traffic Diverters in Portland

I returned to Portland about a week ago from the Netherlands. While I miss the connected network of protected bike lanes and protected bike intersections that I biked on daily in the Netherlands, I’m thankful to still have traffic calming in Portland. Since a few traffic diverters caught my attention while biking today, I’m going to focus this post on traffic diverters, which is a traffic calming device.

Holman Pocket Park

During my bike ride to experience Northeast Portland Sunday Parkways, which is part of a series of open street events, I biked through Holman Pocket Park, which may be the first street to park conversion in Portland history. In case you are wondering, local residents fully supported the street to park conversion with cheering during an open house meeting. The below video shows people biking through Holman Pocket Park.

The below map shows where NE Holman St used to go through the park. For more information about the Holman Pocket Park transformation from a street to a park, visit the City of Portland’s website.

Map of Holman Pocket Park

Map of Holman Pocket Park

Diagonal Traffic Diverter

On my bike ride home from Northeast Portland Sunday Parkways, I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw the diagonal traffic diverter at NE Tillamook St and 16th Ave because it is a permanent diverter. Many traffic diverters are temporary, which means they can be easily removed if people, especially motorists, don’t like the diverter. This is why I was impressed to see it is a permanent diverter. The below panorama shows the diagonal traffic diverter.

Diagonal traffic diverter at NE Tillamook St and 16th Ave

Diagonal traffic diverter at NE Tillamook St and 16th Ave

Since I didn’t stay long enough to get a photo with a cyclist using the diverter, I found the below photo that shows cyclists using the diverter.

Cyclists on NE Tillamook St using the diverter. Photo: David Baker Architects

The following map shows how the diagonal traffic diverter looks on a map. I talked with an elderly couple that was walking by when I was taking photos of the diverter. The couple said there are several other diverters in the Irvington neighborhood and they love how the diverters reduce cut through automobile traffic and make their neighborhood quieter. They walked away before I could ask how they felt about the diverters before the diverters were installed. From my experience with new infrastructure, people are often nervous about unfamiliar infrastructure so are usually against it until after the infrastructure is installed. I wouldn’t be surprised if the elderly couple didn’t always love the diverters.

Diagonal traffic diverter at NE Tillamook St and 16th Ave

Diagonal traffic diverter at NE Tillamook St and 16th Ave

Speaking of history, I was able to find some history about the diverter. According to Shawn Granton’s photo description, the diagonal traffic diverter on NE Tillamook St and 16th Ave was the “city’s first traffic diverter. I heard it was first installed as a neighborhood guerrilla action in the late 60’s to calm traffic, then was made official by the city.” A comment on his photo suggests 16th Ave was “the main drag”. Since 16th Ave is no longer the main drag, the diverter was successful in making the neighborhood have less cut through automobile traffic. Even though it didn’t exist in the 1960s, the diverter helped make the Tillamook neighborhood greenway possible by reducing automobile traffic on NE Tillamook St while providing bicycle and pedestrian access. I constantly saw this in the Netherlands so it is great to see this in Portland.

As you may have noticed, I haven’t finished blogging about everything I saw in the Netherlands. Fall quarter starts on September 28 so I have about two months to finish blogging about the Netherlands or else I will have to wait until after graduation next June to finish blogging. It feels great to write that I will finally be done with school soon!