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Driving In Downtown Portland, Oregon
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Driving In Downtown Portland, Oregon

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  • 1. High Frequency of Auto Accidents Prompts Change DowntownThe intersection of any two streets you care to mention will always come with its own inherent setof dangers. The busier the street, the greater the chance that someone will do something at thatintersection that leads to someone’s car getting banged up. However, Portland car accidentattorneys have noticed that one intersection in particular has had more than its fair share ofincidents, and it seems that the Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) has noticed it, too, andthey plan to do something about it.The intersection of NW Broadway and Couch has been identified as being one of Portland’s mostnotorious accident black spots for both drivers and cyclists. No fewer than 103 collisions have beenreported at this one intersection in the past five years. Worryingly, seven of those involved bicycles;it’s a situation that has gained unwanted attention, so city traffic engineer Rob Burchfield hasbrought new plans to keep Portland streets safer before the Bicycle Advisory Committee (BAC).Burchfield says the ideal solution would be to install a new traffic signal at the intersection, but thePBOT budget is very tight. It would be years before the money could be found to implement thatstrategy, and with the crashes continuing to happen at the rate of almost two per month, PBOTdoesn’t think waiting for the funds to become available is a viable option. Their interim answer is toput in 4-way stop signs at the NW Broadway and Couch intersection. The new signs are due to be inplace by April. The PBOT also plans to stripe crosswalks and put signage in place warningapproaching vehicles of crossing traffic.What makes that intersection so dangerous in the first place?Burchfield admits the crash rate is surprisingly high and says it shouldn’t be that way. He also saidthe crashes haven’t tended to be too severe, but the numbers were still unacceptable and action isneeded.Most of the 103 accidents that have occurred happened when vehicles traveling east or west onCouch have attempted to cross Broadway and were struck by north or southbound vehicles. Nofewer than 90 of the 103 collisions have been what are called “angle crashes,” or collisions occurringduring crossing attempts. Portland car accident attorneys frequently deal with cases such as thesethat lead to whiplash injuries, soft tissue damage and other side-on collision injuries.Traffic volume on Broadway is almost certainly a contributing factor, as there are two southboundlanes and one northbound lane on Broadway at this intersection. Visibility also seems to be aproblem. Traffic backs up at the Broadway and Burnside signal, making it difficult for drivers to seecyclists on Couch who are trying to cross Broadway.Will stop signs really work?Several people have expressed doubts as to whether installing stop signs as opposed to thepreferred traffic signals will actually be effective in reducing the number of collisions. Burchfieldhimself admitted as much when he said, “I wouldn’t be surprised if we put the stop signs in and thenhear about cyclists not being compliant.”Portland BAC member and head of transportation options for Portland State University Ian Studealso said he had “a hard time seeing the benefit.” Stude says four-way stop signs at a multiple-laneintersection (as is the case with Broadway) could create a complicated system for road users that
  • 2. doesn’t really fix the problem, but simply converts it to another problem. “I see a lot of issues,”Stude said. The new set of stop signs will leave the intersection of NW Flanders and Broadway as the onlyintersection between the Broadway Bridge ramp and Burnside without any traffic controls. All otherintersections, apart from the one with Couch, are controlled by signals as opposed to stop signs.Better than nothingIn spite of their reservations, BAC members conceded that the new solution is better than thecurrent state of affairs, at least until the traffic signals can be installed. BAC chairperson MatthewArnold said in a statement, “I feel this is better than what’s out there today.”Burchfield agreed. “While those things (four-way stop signs) may be awkward, they are typically notunsafe. They may be inefficient, but they don’t translate into crashes. I’m confident this (solution)will reduce crashes,” he said before concluding, “Not doing something is not an option.”Portland car accident attorneys are constantly dealing with situations where the combination ofunsafe drivers and an unsafe road situation leads to people receiving serious, life-altering injuries.Sometimes, the authorities who are responsible for providing safe roads have to be heldaccountable, as well as the negligent drivers. If you’re a cyclist, pedestrian or driver who has beeninjured at a dangerous intersection, contact one of the experienced and reputable Portland caraccident attorneys who can explain your options in pursuit of compensation. Act fast, however, ifyou are considering taking out a lawsuit against the city or state. Very strict statutes of limitationsapply.