Saturday, October 26, 2019

Three Crashes on Terrible Streets: Portland and River Roads and Lancaster Drive - Updated

Update, Sunday Morning: The person biking, Jason Libel, has died. 

An updated story
Earlier post: Two crashes were in the news last night, both on wide, zoomy streets. Just the same, sad, tired notes as always.
The original story.
The person on bike is "he" and has agency
The person driving is erased as "a car drove by"
  • The agency of a person driving is erased here in the passive voice and robot car formula: "a car drove by and clipped the bike"
  • By contrast, the agency of a person on bike is highlighted, and fault assigned: "he collided with a car."
  • Nevertheless, "no citations have been issued" and it is premature to conclude the person on bike was at fault. Maybe they were intoxicated and carelessly swerving or unwisely waving to a friend. But they can't give testimony, and I often see people driving over and into the bike lane, and they might have clipped a person biking that way, and sought to minimize their responsibility.
Columbia Journalism Review
There was a second crash on Lancaster Drive involving people trying to cross the street. Though they were injured, the initial report suggests they did not sustain life-threatening injuries - though these might also be life-changing injuries, and we do not discuss this aspect enough. The language in this report is also worth notice.

Friday evening online story tiles
From the piece:
A woman and a toddler were hospitalized Friday afternoon after a car struck the pair while they were crossing Lancaster Drive NE....

Initial information revealed the involved driver was northbound on Lancaster in a white Honda Civic when they hit the 36-year-old woman and 3-year-old boy...
Notes again:
  • First it's "a car struck the pair" but then it shifts to "the involved driver...hit the...woman and...boy"
  • And also, "the involved driver...they": this might be the first time I have seen the singular, gender-neutral "they" used in a crash story. 
  • I'm not sure what "36-year-old woman" adds to the story, and perhaps we will shift to "parent and 3-year-old child" or "parent and toddler." It seems like that is the only relevant level of information and that it is not important to drill down to try to gender the people in a crash report. 
  • And of course, there is Lancaster Drive itself, a terrible, terrible stroad.
Monroe Ave at Lancaster Drive jogs and has no marked crosswalks
The nearest signalized crosswalks are at Auburn and State Streets, but there are significant destinations as well as bus stops on the corners at Monroe.

Two parking lots on the Geer Line at Lancaster Driver
And a little south of Monroe is the Geer Line alignment, and an auto repair shop and beverage distributor appear to have parking lots on it. So this is a place where the RR line right-of-way has fallen into private hands and makes a path very difficult.

Anyway, no great conclusions here. Just more of the same.

(This post may be updated, especially if the person biking dies and more is reported by police or the paper. And for the litany of problems with erasing the driver, see all notes here.)


The MPO has two projects on Lancaster Drive near Monroe. In the 2018 cycle they funded a project south from Center Street to Auburn, in "phase one."

The project summary on phase two
In the 2021 cycle they are currently scoring, there is phase two between State Street and Monroe on Lancaster Drive. The project description also suggests that phase one extended past Auburn to Monroe, but the original project application says only to Auburn. So that's a little ambiguous, but perhaps it changed

The more important detail is that the project does not seem to include new crosswalks or a pedestrian median refuge, improved bike lanes, or anything much for non-auto travel beyond the ADA compliance. It's about the cars and rebuilding the pavement for cars.

Currently this phase two scores low and is not on the preliminary list for funding. It does not appear the project would have anything to improve safety for people crossing Lancaster at Monroe, and the crash here does not therefore provide evidence for changing the ranking.

Lancaster Drive needs bigger interventions and redesign.

Another Crash

Tuesday a driver struck a child in a Keizer crosswalk
(next to news on a "safety campaign" is nice, I guess)
Tuesday in Keizer on River Road a driver making a turn struck a young child in a crosswalk. The motorist was operating an SUV, and in the Niles lecture last month on walking safety, Angie Schmitt especially highlighted that our shift to SUVs and trucks harms people not in cars, especially smaller humans, who sometimes do not clear the grill height and are invisible or less visible to drivers.

SUVs and large trucks have a visibility problem
(via Schmitt's slide deck)

But consistently we do not talk enough about drivers. Last night for Halloween, the Police didn't say, "don't drive if you don't have to; the streets are full of kids," and instead they said to kids and parents, "dress up like a traffic cone or carnival ride." They shift responsibility to non-drivers rather than to those who actually employ the lethal force.

Responsibility always shifted to those on foot - twitter


Salem Breakfast on Bikes said...

(Added note about scoring for the 2021-2026 TIP at the MPO)

Salem Breakfast on Bikes said...

Sad news: Jason Libel's injuries were fatal and he died over the weekend. The driver is still erased and unnamed.

Salem Breakfast on Bikes said...

Dread and more sadness - Last night a brief notice in the paper:

"A 7-year-old boy was taken to the hospital with a head injury Tuesday evening after he was hit by an SUV while crossing an intersection in Keizer.

Keizer police officers responded to the incident just before 5 p.m. at Sam Orcutt Way NE and River Road N.

A 30-year-old woman, driving a black 2015 Chevrolet Tahoe, was turning south on River Road from Sam Orcutt Way when she collided with the boy, according to Lt. Bob Trump with Keizer Police Department.

The boy was crossing River Road on a bicycle using the crosswalk, Trump said.

The boy was taken to Salem Health hospital and later taken by Life Flight to Legacy Emanuel Medical Center in Portland for further treatment.

The driver remained on scene and is cooperating with investigators, he said.

Salem Breakfast on Bikes said...

Added a news clip and commentary on the Keizer crash. The child was six, not seven.