Experience Brings Results

Portland plans to improve safety in high bike-car crash areas

Our fair city continues to earn good marks for bicycling safety. Compared with other large U.S. cities, data supplied by the national Alliance for Bicycling and Walking shows that Portland is better than most. While our bike-to-work rate is riding high, the fatality rate for bicyclists is relatively low.

The Alliance credits the city with meeting what it says is the significant challenge of finding cost-effective means of moving greater numbers of people without taking up greater amounts of space. This has been done by focusing spending on building a better biking infrastructure.

Officials admit there's still more to do, though. And data released by the Oregon Department of Transportation creates a very clear picture of where action is needed. According to that information, six of Portland's 10 worst roads for crashes involving cyclists and other vehicles are in the southeast part of the city. That follows a review of some 1,600 accident reports made from 2009 through 2013.

It revealed that Southeast Division Street had the highest number of car-bicycle crashes during that time with 59. The other high-risk streets in the region include:

  • Southeast Hawthorne Boulevard, 42
  • Southeast Powell Boulevard, 37
  • Southeast Stark Street, 30
  • Southeast Holgate Boulevard, 27
  • Southeast Foster Road, 26

The other four streets with high car-bike crash rates were:

  • Northeast Broadway Street, 49
  • East Burnside Street, 35
  • Northwest Broadway, 31
  • Southwest Capitol Highway, 28

Calls for better biking safety are not new, and officials appear responsive. Along that line, they point to completed improvements on what is called the 50s Bikeway and plans for work on what is called the 20s Bikeway.

They also say there are plans for millions of dollars in upgrades along a stretch of Powell where a 22-year-old cyclist recently lost a leg after colliding with a pickup truck. It's not clear when those will start, but they're due to be finished in 2017.

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