PORTLAND, Ore. – A city study shows bike boxes are working in most intersections, especially when it comes to offering a place for cyclists to queue up. But at four of them, dangerous collisions are way up.
“Motor vehicles are turning right and hitting bicyclists as they are coming through these intersections… we’ve had an alarming increase in the number of right hook collisions to bicyclists at these locations which tells us that we need to do more,” said Cheryl Kuck of Portland's Bureau of Transportation..
The numbers show right hook collisions doubling from 16 in the four years before bike boxes, to 32 in the four years since. But most of those 32 happened at just four intersections: Southwest 3rd and Madison, Southeast Hawthorne and 7th, Southeast Hawthorne and 11th, and Northwest Everett and 16th.
One of the crashes killed 29-year old Kathryn Rickson back in June at SW 3rd and Madison. A truck driver turning right says he didn't see Rickson as she traveled in the bike lane through the intersection.
The problem spots are where a slope allows bikes to pick up speed.
The city will start by adding striped paint and new signs, to warn drivers and cyclists of what they call "conflict zones".
Gerik Gransky said the Bicycle Transportation Alliance is pleased the city is looking for solutions. The BTA supports bike boxes, but has pushed for stronger measures at the problem intersections, such as right turn lanes and bike-only signal lights.
“Another opportunity is to limit the right turning movements at the intersections where we know this is a problem,” said Kransky.
Cyclist Trey Young said despite cars sometimes taking over the bike box, he feels relatively safe.
“I guess I sort of just trust the cars, for some reason, I may be too trusting- it doesn’t seem too dangerous,” said Young.
At 3rd and Madison, he may now think twice.