A Portland roadway known for pedestrian and bicycle accidents is getting an upgrade that city officials say will make the area a lot safer for people on foot.
This has a Hawthorne Boulevard neighborhood feeling left out and vulnerable.
A grieving father recently reached out to the city’s commissioner to see if changes could be made to the plans that would address risks to cyclists.
Seth Smart, the father of Fallon Smart, a 15-year-old girl who was killed while crossing Hawthorne legally about 5 years ago, said the street needs more effective improvements. Smart said he was excited when he heard about the city’s plans to pave and paint Hawthorne, but as the plans developed, he lost hope.
No bike lanes will be added to the street.
“As this process has developed and the redesign solidified, it has become clear that the changes do not address the safety needs for a street like Hawthorne,” Smart wrote. “A redesign plan that does not include clearly marked protected bike lanes is doomed to repeat the mistakes and the hazards of the past.”
Cyclist safety? Not this time
In response to his letter, the commissioner said that the city’s funds are limited and that the work they have planned is geared toward pedestrian safety. If bike lanes were added to the street, she argued, pedestrians would have to cross them as well as lanes of vehicle traffic. Pedestrian islands would also have to be made smaller.
In a city that has more bicycle commuters than any other major U.S. city, this seems short-sighted, not only to Seth Smart, but other members of the biking community.
Among the upgrades planned for Hawthorne this summer are:
- The addition of a center turn lane.
- Pedestrian islands, better lighting, and more crosswalks to be installed at 10 key intersections.
- The reduction of traffic lanes from four (two for each direction) down to two and a center turn lane.
In the future, updates to Hawthorne may include wider sidewalks and curb extensions — two more features that don’t specifically address bicycle safety.
Is Portland good for bicycles?
Portland is a bicycle-riding paradise — mostly. As of the last count, more than 6% of commuters — or 22,600 people — ride bikes to work. Nationally, the rate of bicycle commuters is 0.5%.
The busiest place for bike traffic in Portland is in the city’s center along SW Naito Parkway.
The city features at least 94 miles of neighborhood greenways, 162 miles of bike lanes, 85 miles of paths, and another 9 miles of marked, shared roadways.
Out of Portland’s nearly 400 designated miles of bikeways, less than 40 miles provide protection between motor vehicles and bicyclists.
To be fair, the City of Portland does put a lot of work into improving infrastructure for the bicycling community. The city features more than 30 intersections with bike-specific traffic signals and 42 “bike boxes” that raise a cyclist’s visibility at intersections.
Bicycle accidents in Portland
On any given day in the summer, Portland can see nearly 49,000 people on bikes getting around the city. For the most part, riders enjoy the trip and have no issues, but accidents do happen.
Every year, about two people die in Portland bicycle accidents. The most recent happened in December when a 64-year-old man was killed in a car vs. bicycle accident on North Martin Luther King Junior Boulevard and North Union Court.
When a bicyclist is involved in an accident, it’s almost always the rider that pays the highest price. Injuries caused when a car hits a person on a bike are often severe and include brain injuries, facial fractures, scars, deep cuts, internal bleeding, spinal column injuries, and broken bones.
Injured cyclists have legal rights
If you or a loved one was injured in a bicycle accident that was not your fault, do not rely on an insurance company to look out for your best interests. Yes, you can file a claim with an insurance provider to request compensation for your injuries and other damages. Often, these requests are denied.
The problem is insurance companies are profit-driven and aren’t interested in paying you appropriate compensation for your losses. That’s why you need a savvy, experienced bicycle accident lawyer who understands how to fight for the money you deserve.
At Zbinden & Curtis, LLC, we know how to deal with insurance companies and advocate for maximum compensation. Our firm also offers legal representation on a contingency fee basis, which means you pay nothing unless you win.
See how our attorneys can help you. Take the first step and contact us today for a free consultation.