February 1, 2006
Updated: Pedestrian Safety Hits Close to Home
Updated 1:20PM February 1st: KATU is reporting that Sara Cogan, 66, died from her injuries.
Walking the dog last night, my partner and I came across the intersection of NW 23rd and Quimby (one block from our home) taped off with crime scene tape and a number of police vehicles in the area.
Watching the 11 o'clock news, we learned that two women were struck by a car, one had a broken leg, and the other, 60, is in critical condition. The driver of the car - who police said was not speeding - said she never saw them.
I was out earlier in the evening with my 16-year-old-with-a-learners-permit behind the wheel and there is no question visibility was poor in the rain, and I was scanning somewhat nervously for pedestrians as we drove through the neighborhood.
Two immediate thoughts as I absorb this in a rather personal way:
1) This is exactly why speed limits on neighborhood streets should be more like 18mph than 25mph (although 23rd is technically a collector, not a local service street) - the survivability of the pedestrians hit by a car would go up dramatically at the lower speed.
2) As transportation chair of the neighborhood for about a decade, getting something to break up the traffic flow on 23rd between Northrup and Thurman (we argued whether a stop sign or traffic light was more appropriate) was a frequent discussion. I can't help wondering if we (I) should have pushed harder...
My thoughts and prayers go out to the two women who were hit.
February 1, 2006 11:15 PM
Makes me really wonder about the idea of a Woonerf... although it has already been retired in Denmark in favor of even more integrated streets...
Well, you guys have seen the pics on this site of Amsterdam. Methinks 23rd ave would be THE BEST place in the metro area to try this idea out on!
Let's lower the speed limits down to like 15 mph, and actually enforce it. I can't believe it when I see people speeding down the street at 45 mph at nighttime... those people should be drug out of their cars and thrown in jail for a year. And it happens pretty often late at night (2 am) on the weekdays, even though there are still a bunch of residents out & about.
February 1, 2006 11:24 PM
Chris Smith Says:
NW 23rd is slated to be reconstructed from Burnside to either Glisan or Lovejoy (depending on how much money they find). The neighborhood has been pushing for this work to include the pedestrian environment, not just the roadway, but this is unfunded. I have suggested to Sam's office that this would be a great demonstration area for an Amsterdam-style street.
The speed limit issue has a couple of hurdles:
1) You have to get ODOT to remove its control of speed limits, even on local streets (they set the minimum speed limit you can post - 25pm for a neighborhood street unless special conditions).
2) Even the Dutch would say it's insufficient to just post a speed and try to enforce it. You have to engineer the street so that it only feels safe when you go that slow.
February 2, 2006 7:21 AM
Greg Raisman Says:
One technical point here:
State Statute establishes Business Districts as having a 20 MPH designation. That's why downtown (except for Broadway and a couple of segments on a few other streets) is 20 MPH. If 23rd were a designated Business District it's possible that it would become a 20 MPH zone under law.
February 2, 2006 7:34 AM
Chris Smith Says:
Thanks, Greg, that's good to know. I'll pass it on to my neighborhood transportation committee colleagues. Any preliminary conclusions from the investigation of this accident?
February 2, 2006 7:50 AM
Greg Raisman Says:
That's not something I'd know. I'd suggest checking in with the Police Traffic Division to see if there's been any progress.
February 2, 2006 2:33 PM
Susan Kelly Says:
Last week Sara called me to network with her daughter-in-law, Danielle, freshly arrived from the Bay Area. Danielle had worked for Nancy Peolosi and a councilman in Oakland. Delightful young woman, 32, husband soon to follow from the Oakland school district. What a loss, Sara gone and Danielle injured, and in her heart, forever. Everyone please be careful, peds, bikes, drivers. I recently bought an orange jacket for these dark, wet days.
February 2, 2006 4:43 PM
That's interesting; I remember learning that from when I was 16! And... 23rd IS a business district! Why isn't it already 20?!
February 6, 2006 11:10 AM
Miles Hochstein Says:
Interesting that "State Statute establishes Business Districts as having a 20 MPH designation. That's why downtown (except for Broadway and a couple of segments on a few other streets) is 20 MPH. If 23rd were a designated Business District it's possible that it would become a 20 MPH zone under law. "
Presumably that's because people are assumed to be walking there... (and because dead pedestrians don't spend money? if you'll excuse the graveyard humor)... but if 20 mph is the limit for places where people are valuable because they might SPEND MONEY... why isn't 20 mph the rule for places where people are valuable because the LIVE there, and WALK TO SCHOOL there, and so on. If businesses can organize to protect their customers, why can't neighborhoods value their RESIDENTS in the same way?
Hmmmm. This gets ya thinking.
February 6, 2006 11:17 AM
Miles Hochstein Says:
I lost sight of the original topic of this thread, the tragic death of a woman. My joke was inappropriate in the context. Chris, would you delete this comment and my above comment... I'll make the point in another context in another day, but not in a thread about a recent death. My appologies.
February 9, 2006 10:54 AM
Mike Radway Says:
One pedestrian was mowed-down, and another seriously injured, less than one block from where the city recently held a "Crosswalk Enforcement Action" on NW 23rd Avenue. The Northwest District Association (NWDA) board has unanimously asked PDOT to take a number of steps to enhance pedestrian safety in the neighborhood.
Specifically, the NWDA is asking the city to:
1. Stripe crosswalks on all intersections on NW 21st and NW 23rd Avenues, as well as NW 20th Avenue at Glisan (where many children cross to go to Couch Park and the Metropolitan Learning Center).
2. Put up "Yield to pedestrians" signs at the north and south entrances to the neighborhood on NW 21st and NW 23rd Avenues.
3. Stripe and enforce "no parking zones" within 20 feet of crosswalks as is required by state law.
4. Post speed limit signs and reduce the speed limit on NW 21st and NW 23rd Avenues to 20 mph (same as in school zones).
5. Remove items that block intersections and crosswalks (like "A" signs and newspaper stands)
The full text of the letter to the city follows:
Susan Keil, Director
Portland Office of Transportation
1120 SW 5th Ave, Suite 800
Portland, OR 07204
Dear Ms. Keil:
The recent fatality and serious injury of a second pedestrian on NW 23rd Avenue at NW Quimby reinforces our long-held belief that drivers outside the downtown core of Portland do not know that they must yield to pedestrians even at intersections that are not marked with crosswalks.
Since the city does not have enough law enforcement officers to adequately enforce the existing law, we must provide additional protections to pedestrians on major commercial streets. At its board meeting last night, the board of the Northwest District Association (NWDA) unanimously approved the following course of action, which was also unanimously recommended by our Transportation Committee.
First, and most importantly, the city must stripe crosswalks on every intersection on NW 21st and 23rd Avenues between Burnside and Vaughn, as well as the intersection on NW Glisan Street at 20th Avenue. This last intersection is used by many children coming and going from the Metropolitan Learning Center and Couch Park. The marking of the intersections on NW 21st Avenue can easily be accomplished this spring when the road is resurfaced.
We know that your staff believes that marked crosswalks create a false sense of security for pedestrians. We disagree. As this recent fatality suggests, that false sense of security already exists.
The driver in this most recent accident claims to have never seen the pedestrians. The majority of drivers are not aware that there is an implied crosswalk. This is the problem painted crosswalks address. They are vivid visual reminders to drivers to slow down and watch out for pedestrians. Without them, drivers simply race from traffic light to traffic light assuming incorrectly that they have the right-of-way.
It should also be noted that this accident occurred less than six months after, and only one block away from, the Crosswalk Enforcement Action the city held at 23rd & Pettygrove on August 31, 2005. According to the city’s own release on the Crosswalk Enforcement Action, “This location was selected because it has high pedestrian activity and the City has received multiple complains about cars not stopping for pedestrians in this area.” Now we have both multiple complaints, and a fatality. It is clear that additional steps need to be taken.
Second, in order to maximize effectiveness, we also request that you to put up a sign on the northbound side of 21st and 23rd between Burnside and Davis/Everett, and on the southbound side of 21st and 23rd between Vaughn and Thurman saying, “Yield to pedestrians at intersections.” It would also be useful to have a similar sign on Glisan just prior to 19th Avenue (where Couch Park begins). Speed limit signs would also be helpful, and the city should consider establishing 20 mph zones in busy commercial areas with large numbers of pedestrians, similar to the 20 mph zones that surround schools.
Third, we ask you to take additional steps to increase visibility at intersections so that drivers can see pedestrians and vice versa by: clearly marking and enforcing a no parking zone in the 20 feet before crosswalks on 21st and 23rd Avenues (Oregon law); reviewing the adequacy of street lighting at intersections; and removing any impediments (e.g. sandwich boards and newspaper boxes) which block the corners of crosswalks.
Please do not wait until there are even more fatalities before taking these simple and inexpensive steps to protect pedestrians in our neighborhood.
Mike Radway, Chair
NWDA Transportation Committee
February 9, 2006 1:54 PM
As a resident of Northwest portland - I live 1 block from 21st - I am very thankful that the NWDA is pursuing such improvements. Cars really do need to be secondary to the neighborhood. There are so many people that come to visit, young and old in particular, that need to be protected from traffic as much as possible.
I have personally almost been run down a half dozen times last year alone... several times deliberately by drivers who think you should scamper back to the sidewalk even when you have the walk sign.
February 12, 2009 10:25 AM
It is no secret that the volume of pedestrian accidents is alarming. There are no arguments that something must be done to stop sending people to their graves regardless of their age or status. Steps must urgently be taken to reduce this annual fiasco of over 6,000 mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, sons, daughters, friends and relatives who's lives are being snuffed out each year thus leaving family and friends grieving, As well as more then 15,000 severely wounded, never to recover. The question is can that frightening predicament be solved? The answer is 90 percent of these calamity's can be avoided. Many accidents earns unjustified the term "accident" but should rather be called homicide. A substantial amount of accidents can be credited to bad traffic laws. As a driver for 10 years who is constantly on the road, and as a "safety" activist who wrote many articles in various newspapers regarding "safety" matters, I would like to share my opinions. I strongly urge everyone who has the authority, to help enforce my suggestions, thus saving countless lives.
One of the most crimes on our world is the fact that a pedestrian has no right to cross the street. The sign may say walk, but a vehicle comes speeding from the other street and turns in. it won't be exaggerated to say, that, (in smaller streets) it is safer to cross in the middle of the street then by the corner. By the corner you have no control whatsoever what is going on in the other street. The law is very dry. "If the pedestrian is on the road the vehicle must stop", but parked vehicles are blocking the whew, and the only time the driver of that vehicle gets to know that he must stop is only when he gets to the intersection and he sees the pedestrian. Should a law like this be a called, "a protection for pedestrians?" that a driver who runs a 3,000 pound of metal and plastic at a speed of 25 M.P.O. should be told to stop at a range on 10 – 20 ft. (only by bigger avenues, the light will be red for both sides of the street while pedestrians are crossing.) I am shocked to see on the internet one accident after the other from vehicles that turned into a street and knocked down a pedestrian in the crosswalk. The driver claimed that the pedestrian wasn't in the middle of the road when he arrived at the intersection, and the pedestrian is dead and doesn't say anything, and the joke goes on. What it's worrisome, is the fact that even if the driver of the turning vehicle is careful, hazards will remain. Consider that one. Here is a two-way street and a driver wants to make a left turn, so he waits for a gape in the lane of the opposite direction. Traffic is busy and let the anxious driver wait for a while thus holding up a huge line of cars (and many times there horn honking is like a big orchestra) who are making his nerves dissolving. Finely some gape is created. The anxious driver accelerates franticly and makes his turn. In the same time a pedestrian is in the crosswalk. What is going to happen? Will signs on the street urging drivers to "stop for pedestrians" prevent anything? I myself had recently such awful story when I once made a left turn from a two-way street. I always use extra caution so I still managed to stop, but many drivers would already hit the two girls who were on there way home from school.
The concern is even further, people feel that they are not safe in the crosswalk, so they end up jaywalking which decreases safety and increases accidents. We must make crosswalks really safe so a responsible lady or gentlemen have a choice to cross the street safely.
There are some laws, that, although they are vital, they are never heeded by drivers. As a school bus driver, I always look at other school buses as they pull out of a parking by the school and must back up, that they aren't going to the back of the bus to see if somebody is behind. The law in the book is very firm not to back without doing this procedure. In the mid of December '08, a lady was crushed to dead because of that. One most not be very smart to understand that backing a large vehicle while relying just on the side-whew mirrors is like driving half blind. You never know what's behind you. It is not school buses who commit this crime, from all of the many thousands larger vehicles who fill the streets in New York, you won't found even 1 percent who will go out to make sure nobody is behind. The question is why the law is not issuing tickets to such violators. The only thing which scares drivers, is, tickets. People who got killed don't matter. Yung kids, who will be left in a coma for their entire life, won't make people change their driving habit, the silly 150$ will do it, it seems that this vital rule (to walk to the back before reversing) is just a mere recommendation.
Most laws which are written in the driver's manual are essential for "safety". These laws are supposed to refrain those fast moving heavy pieces of metal and plastic, from destruct whatever comes in their way. Hence it is no question regarding the necessity of traffic laws, what needs to be challenged, is, the enforcement of these regulations. I see all kinds of violations not on daily bases, but on minute bases. From passing school buses to, passing a street light. From entering a bike lain (to pass other vehicles) to backing out from one street to another. From being engrossed in a hand-cellphone Conversation, to riding at 40 M.P.O. in 20 M.P.O. zone. Why is all this happening? Perhaps, the law enforcement should be multiplied. A) It seems that it must be 5 times the amount of traffic officers, and maybe things will start to get in place. The money to finance that huge army can be driven from the ticket itself. (Plus penalty charges for not paying the ticket in time) I also suggest that instead of issuing so many parking tickets, moving violations should be the priority. The slightest moving violation is doing more harm then most of parking violations. B) Cameras should be installed at many intersections. C) False cameras which is not expensive should be seen everywhere, to scare reckless drivers.
Please read my suggestions about the subject written above, plus other safety points.
1) Lights at intersections must give a minute for "safe pedestrian crossing". This means, that it must be red for vehicles of both sides of the street when the pedestrian has walk. (or should a law be passed that every vehicle must come to a full stop before turning regardless if a pedestrian is in the crosswalk or not.)
1-A) The time of pedestrian's right of way should be estimated by elder people. The sign should say walk as long as it takes an 80 year old men to cross that street.
2) In a crosswalk where it already happened an accident, a bump on the road should be build, sufficient enough to force vehicles physically to slow down. If several accidents occurred in the same crosswalk, the crosswalk should be removed from the intersection @ be placed in the middle of the street.
3) Wide crosswalks where people have to cross more then four lanes should have a 4 ft. wide platform in the middle.
4) A road without a sidewalk is a potential danger. In a residential area it shouldn’t be a road without sidewalk at least 4 ft. wide.
(Bumps on the road are extremely safety-friendly, and should always be considered and encroached in residential places.)
5) Many motorists are waiting at red lights in the crosswalk. a substantional amount of motorists don’t acknowledge the crosswalk as a place designated exclusively for pedestrians. I suggest to ticket such drivers.
School bus safety
1) The laws regarding school bus safety must be reconsidered. Too many drivers are passing school buses. The law of “stopping for a school bus with the lights on,” is containing some unnecessary abuse to the traffic which causes to reduce the respect towered school buses. For example, to keep up a whole line of cars while loading-unloading an entire bus with dozens of children when they don’t have to cross the street will only make matters worse. (However, this must be considered carefully. I had plenty times that kids have darted out in the gutter which wasn’t a pleasant experienced.)
2) If the child is waiting on the opposite side of the street (the child will have to cross the street), then the bus should position in an angel to block the street before picking up or letting down. To rely upon the red fleshers means jeopardizing the life of the child! Cars keep on passing school buses with the red fleshers on, willingly or while being distracted. Only the frame of the bus will protect the children.
3) Never should a driver stay at a bus stop with his lights off. When a child sees the bus, he/she will come running. A driver shouldn’t think he had trained the children not to come before signaling. If he is running early, he should pull aside 100 ft. before the stop and wait for the exact time. Staying at a stop with the lights off is a mortal danger. It’s the worst mistake a school bus driver can make.
4) Many motorists would stop for school buses but cant withstood the honking horns from cars behind. Honking a horn on a driver who stops for a school bus is the same sin as passing, and should be handled so.
5) A bus driver can't show for cars to pass. The child interoperates it as a signal to come. It also takes away the authority of police officers. Many times when a police officer tickets someone for passing a school bus the passer claims that the bus driver signaled him to pass. The bus driver who knows the passer and don’t want to buy an enemy will agree to the arbitration. I personally know several of such incidents. The law which permits for drivers to signal for cars to pass is a mistake.
6) Every bus must be equipped with a stop arm. It will reduce the number of violators to half.
7) As of now, the law doesn’t require from school buses to have a stop arm. Many drivers that are passing school buses are just distracted. A stop arm reduces school-bus-passers, and should therefore be a must.
8) Power doors are not safe in school buses. The bus driver must have the option to open the stop arm (to stop oncoming vehicles) without opening the door, which will cause the children to come before the traffic is stopped. (As of now, drivers are trying to stop traffic with the yellow flashers, but that only causes the opposite. Cars are speeding up to still-make it before the stop arm opens up. Many kids were killed when they dart out in the gutter on their way to the bus, and the stop arm wasn't open. I had two bad near-accidents where the child almost got killed. I had my lesson. I always release the latch of the door before I come to a full stop, [you can't do that with power doors] so the arm comes out. By the time the child sees the bus stopped, traffic is stopped to. [I also position the bus in an angel to block traffic physically. It may not comply with the law, but it surely complies with those kids who got killed by cars that passed the school bus wile they were getting on-of the bus.])
Other safety tips
1) Tinted windows don't add to safety. Whenever a man puts his feet on the gutter, he must know if the driver seat (of the parked vehicle he must go in front [or behind]) is occupied. I myself had 5 cases where I let down children from my bus, and all of a sudden the vehicle in front started to back. One time he stopped just when he was about to hit the child. I always try to look inside the vehicle the kids will have to go behind, but the windows that were tinted like paint, denied any view.
2) As of now, a motorist who kills a person while driving reckless, will get a tiket... The biggest crime in the universe is driving reckless, This is truly homicide. A driver who is submitting to he's anxiousness and does reckless things while maneuvering he's 2-3 thousand pound of metal and plastic, is a far more danger to the universe then a man who robes a bank. It is an earthshaking transgression, that one can kill innocent people while committing a reckless act, and will be punished with a 150$ fine. Will g-od forgive us for that? A law of making the committing a reckless act, equivalence to pulling a trigger of a gun, must be passed.
3) As mentioned above, there are laws that are written in the driving manual, but violators are not subject to tickets if they violate it. I require enforcing all those laws in a way that drivers should be ticketed for violating them.
4) A law should be passed, that no vehicle is allowed to park double 50 ft. close to a crosswalk. Double parked vehicles, block the sight of pedestrians from seeing oncoming traffic, as well as the sight of oncoming traffic from seeing crossing pedestrians. (You can always see delivery trucks that salve the parking problem by parking in the crosswalk, thus blocking entirely the way for pedestrians. Where are the ticket writers? They are not to be found. You will only find them by street cleaning violations, not by things regarding safety.)
5) The new technology of vehicle who ride very silent (older vehicles’ are more nosy), cause people not to hear the sound of a backing vehicle. A law should be past that every vehicle regardless of the size, most have an installed backing-alarm.
6) Every driver must take a 6 our "pedestrian safety" class each and every year. The lessons should contain all sorts of hazards involving pedestrians. The class should be fallowed by a written test.
7) Police officers who fight crimes aren't sufficient enough to fight traffic violations. A special unit, made out of a huge army of trained official's who's only task should be traffic crimes, will do the job. The finance source can be the money that the tickets will bring in.
9) When you go to wallmart, you will see people who think they are driving in an open highway. A parking lot must be equipped with bumps at every 100 ft.
10) The maximum speed limit in the U.S. and perhaps in the world is 65 M.P.O., why should vehicles be build to a maximum riding of over 100 M.P.O.? Emergency vehicles should need special permission for additional speed capacity.
10-A) Vehicles shouldn’t have the capacity of backing more them 1 mile per our. Backing is always dangerous; let that hazard be reduced to a minimum.
11) Those racing cars as corvette, e.t.s., belong in a racing car field. Why should vehicles have the capacity of rising from zero to 60 M.P.O. in 6 seconds? A pedestrian can be in the middle of the street and suddenly an excited youngster who just got his new toy wants to get the full satisfaction of his investment, and presses down on the gas. The poor pedestrian is running back to the sidewalk and gets killed by an other vehicle. The happy youngster doesn’t have the time to attend to the victim and zooms off….
12) Many sanitation truck drivers are extremely reckless. They feel as tough they are protected because they are working for the city. No police officer wants to ticket them and they just do what ever they want. Passing lights - passing school buses - making u turns in a crosswalk while the light is red. (Is the best time to do it, Cars are stopped….) - in a small street they will turn in, in the wrong direction to be able to get to the next street without having to circle the street. Talking on a hand sel. While backing fast. Sanitation drivers must be educated on safe driving.
13) Cameras should be installed at intersections in substantial amounts. The money should be funded from the tickets.
14) In the winter, all vehicles must be equipped with snow tires. (All year tires are not really effective. Only snow tires will do the job.
15) Every car has a feature that locks the wheels unless the key is in the ignition. It's ironic that a school bus which always has children on board lays free for every vicious child to release the parking brakes and to let this 25,000 lb. bus rolling freely. A law of installing this brake-lock feature on new @ older buses should be passed.
16) A horn of a vehicle is made to alert other drivers of road hazards, but most of the horn honking occurs, when people are anxious on other motorists who are driving safe and carful. If a driver stops for a school bus with the red fleshers on he will be honked feverishly. If a driver is slowing down because the street light is turning yellow he will be a victim of the anxious motorist behind. Honking the horn when safety is not concerning is a violation and should be treated so.
Laws for pedestrians
1) Every pedestrian must wear a reflector from 8 a clock at night.
2) Crossing the street wile talking on a hand sel. Is the same hazard (for him and for the husband of his wife @ the father of his children. [In many cases they also endanger the motorists who try to avoid them]) as driving with a hand sel. And should be treated the same.
3) Once crosswalks will be safe, it will be justified to force people to use it.
The efficiency of the current system of crosswalks we had already seen. A number that ranges between 5 @ 6 thousand fatalities and approximate 70,000 wounded per year is far more then a waking call to look for a different solution. If it will be hard to bring fort all the recommendations mentioned above, at least let's start to steer in that direction.