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Auto Accidents Downtown Prompt Traffic Signal Changes

The intersection of any two streets you care to mention will always come with its own inherent set of dangers. The busier the street, the greater the chance that someone will do something at that intersection that leads to someone’s car getting banged up. However, Portland car accident attorneys have noticed that one intersection in particular has had more than its fair share of incidents, and it seems that the Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) has noticed it, too, and they plan to do something about it.

The intersection of NW Broadway and Couch has been identified as being one of Portland’s most notorious accident black spots for both drivers and cyclists. No fewer than 103 collisions have been reported 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 has brought 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 the PBOT budget is very tight. It would be years before the money could be found to implement that strategy, and with the crashes continuing to happen at the rate of almost two per month, PBOT doesn’t think waiting for the funds to become available is a viable option. Their interim answer is to put in 4-way stop signs at the NW Broadway and Couch intersection. The new signs are due to be in place by April. The PBOT also plans to stripe crosswalks and put signage in place warning approaching 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 said the crashes haven’t tended to be too severe, but the numbers were still unacceptable and action is needed.

Most of the 103 accidents that have occurred happened when vehicles traveling east or west on Couch have attempted to cross Broadway and were struck by north or southbound vehicles. No fewer than 90 of the 103 collisions have been what are called angle crashes, or collisions occurring during crossing attempts. Portland car accident attorneys frequently deal with cases such as these that 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 southbound lanes and one northbound lane on Broadway at this intersection. Visibility also seems to be a problem. Traffic backs up at the Broadway and Burnside signal, making it difficult for drivers to see cyclists on Couch who are trying to cross Broadway.

Will the new stop signs really work to reduce the number of crashes?

Several people have expressed doubts as to whether installing stop signs as opposed to the preferred traffic signals will actually be effective in reducing the number of collisions. Burchfield himself admitted as much when he said, I wouldn’t be surprised if we put the stop signs in and then hear about cyclists not being compliant.

Portland BAC member and head of transportation options for Portland State University Ian Stude also said he had a hard time seeing the benefit. Stude says four-way stop signs at a multiple-lane intersection (as is the case with Broadway) could create a complicated system for road users that 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 only intersection between the Broadway Bridge ramp and Burnside without any traffic controls. All other intersections, apart from the one with Couch, are controlled by signals as opposed to stop signs.

In spite of their reservations, BAC members conceded that the new solution is better than the current state of affairs, at least until the traffic signals can be installed. BAC chairperson Matthew Arnold 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 not unsafe. They may be inefficient, but they dont translate into crashes. Im 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 of unsafe 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 held accountable, as well as the negligent drivers. If you’re a cyclist, pedestrian or driver who has been injured at a dangerous intersection, contact one of the experienced and reputable Portland car accident attorneys who can explain your options in pursuit of compensation. Act fast, however, if you are considering taking out a lawsuit against the city or state – very strict statutes of limitations apply.