A woman riding a bike was injured Wednesday morning at the corner of NE Couch Street and Grand Avenue. The right-hook crash became the first crash after the Portland Department of Transportation labeled the intersection their number one priority for a green "bike box," as reported on bikeportland.org.
The injured woman, Jill Michaelree, sustained three broken bones in her left foot and lacerations on her left leg that required stitches after the truck turned right, crossing the bike lane in which she was traveling. Michaelree said she attempted to avoid the truck, but was pulled under the back tires.
The driver was cited for a bike lane violation.
In full disclosure, Michaelree is the wife of The Skanner News reporter Brian Stimson.
Both Michaelree and the driver of a United Rentals delivery truck were travelling westbound on the newly opened Couch couplet, a troublesome spot for city engineers. When the couplet first opened, the city had to make modifications to the curving bike lane in the block west of Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard after several crashes involving bikes and cars. Police at the scene said the intersection at Grand had been the site of several collisions involving right hook turns into the bike lane.
According to Portland Police Lt. Kelli Sheffer, there have been a total of eight incidents recorded at this intersection from Sept. 1, 2009 to Aug. 31, 2010: five hit and runs; one crash injury that included a bike (not this morning's incident), one traffic crash injury classified as "other," and one traffic crash involving a bike with no recorded injury.
In the previous year, there were three traffic incidents, none involving bicycles. The Skanner News is waiting information on how many bicycle incidents occurred at the old westbound intersection of East Burnside and Grand Avenue.
The Portland Bureau of Transportation is responding to this intersection, and other problem intersections for bikes, by installing the somewhat experimental bike boxes – those green patches of paint at a variety of intersections around town.
The boxes are meant to prevent collisions between motorists turning right and bicyclists going straight at intersections. At red lights, bicyclists are supposed to wait in front of cars, making them visible to the waiting cars who may be turning right, according to PBOT. During green lights – such as this morning's crash – drivers would presumably be reminded by the green box to check their mirrors and blind spots for bikes before commencing with a right turn.