A recent blog post on the BikePortland website seeks to draw attention to Portland’s NW Broadway and Hoyt intersection, which the author calls “dangerous by design.” It is among the sites that BikePortland has long sought to highlight as the city continues its efforts to make one of America’s most bike-friendly cities even better.
BikePortland’s editor/publisher notes that he has been writing about the dangers posed by NW Broadway and Hoyt for several years. As May came to a close he got an email documenting a very scary incident in which a car making a right turn “tried to thread the needle between two groups of cyclists by speeding up a bit.” This forced one rider to slam on his brakes and crash into a truck (the cyclist was seen limping at the site but apparently did not require medical assistance).
As BikePortland notes “this is a very heavily-used bike route.” That would seem to make it the sort of place where drivers are particularly aware that bikes are part of their surroundings, but because of the way the intersection is laid out the intersection continues to be an especially dangerous spot. The post reminds readers that a car turning across a bike lane cannot simply put on its blinker and go. People in the bike lane have the right of way, and for a moving car to cut through groups of cyclists moving across its path is no more legal or acceptable than a driver “threading the needle” between pedestrians at a crosswalk. ORS 811.065 and ORS 811.050 specifically lay out the responsibilities of drivers when sharing the road with cyclists. The latter specifically concerns how drivers are supposed to act vis-à-vis bike lanes.
As a Portland attorney who has long worked with and advocated for the cycling community I urge everyone to read the BikePortland post at the link below, but also to consider how this incident fits into the city’s broader efforts to eliminate pedestrian and cyclist deaths as part of the nationwide Vision Zero initiative. It is a sad fact that even in a city like Portland we all still need to be vigilant about protecting the rights of cyclists. Organizations like BikePortland and the efforts of the city itself are important. Ultimately, however, it is each of us – as cyclist, driver and pedestrian – who has to work to keep Portland one of the best places to bike in the country by taking our own responsibilities seriously.
Portland Bureau of Transportation: Vision Zero
ORS Chapter 814: Vehicles with fewer than four wheels