Focus On Safety First: Restrict Right Turns Onto Wheeler (More Background)

Update: Click here to sign your name to our call for immediate action.

This morning, on her way to work, BTA advocate Susan Peithman witnessed a right hook crash involving a woman riding a bike at the intersection of NE Broadway and N Wheeler. We found out that while the woman suffered cuts and bruises, thankfully her injuries were not life threatening.

As BikePortland reported this morning, this intersection is so bad that PBOT has called it statistically one of the most dangerous intersections in the city and very likely to cause serious injury or death. So why hasn’t the city taken any action?

 N wheeler

Right hook hazard: In this street view photo from Google Maps, the white truck is turning
right from NE Broadway across the bike lane onto North Wheeler.

One possible reason for delaying action: PBOT doesn’t have support from all the businesses on lower Albina to restrict right turns on Wheeler (even though the street would still be accessible to vehicles one block to the west).

We understand the importance of getting neighbors and businesses on board with transportation projects, but this is an unacceptable reason to preclude action that will save lives. The city’s number one priority is to keep people safe. Closing Wheeler would not cut off access to any business, and it would eliminate the serious risk of a right hook by cars turning right on Wheeler.

As advocacy director Gerik Kransky wrote in a blog post this morning, we have witnessed serious crashes this year on 8/177/106/13, and 6/6 with countless other reported and unreported safety concerns.

That’s why the BTA is calling for immediate action by the city to focus on safety first by restricting automobiles from turning right onto Wheeler from Broadway.

Mayor Adams is planning to visit the site on Monday. He needs to visit during the morning rush hour to see the high volume of bicyclists using Flint to access the Broadway Bridge.

Take action now. Email Mayor Adams at and request immediate action to keep people in our city safe.

PBOT has indicated a willingness to close NE Wheeler to right turning automobiles from NE Broadway. Mayor Adams: Now is the time to act, before anyone else gets hurt or killed.


Comments (5)

  1. Kirk Paulsen Permalink  | Aug 17, 2012 08:59pm

    Close it! I ride this EVERY morning. This is the worst part of the trip…by far. There isn’t much of a debate. In the future, when the street has been closed and it attracts a lively atmosphere, you’ll look back and wonder why it hadn’t been done sooner…


    Thanks for listening.

  2. CharonPDX Permalink  | Aug 18, 2012 12:20am

    I don’t have reason to bike that route often, but the few times I have, I have hated it.

    A friend was just hit a few blocks up (Broadway and 2nd, red-light-runner,) but between that and his witnessing of MANY close calls on Wheeler, he said he’s not going to take Broadway any more. (He lives just one block from Broadway on the East side, and works ON Broadway on the West side, so it’s quite a detour to avoid it.)

  3. Carol Orange Permalink  | Aug 18, 2012 12:36pm

    Please close NE Wheeler to right turning traffic from Broadway. I have almost been hit there several times myself.

    Thanks! Carol Orange

  4. Dan Permalink  | Aug 23, 2012 12:28pm

    As a former bicycle messenger, when you pass a car on the right, you are asking for trouble. Out of 10 messengers, 6 were hit by right turning cars; I was not one of them.

    Please notice blinkers & slowing of cars. As a driver and an avid cyclist, I am careful & use common sense with all modes of transpo. I’ll often pull out of the bike lane to pass a right turning car (on the left), just to make sure, as I assume they don’t see me.

    My heart goes out to any people injured, but going around and closing streets isn’t the only solution.

  5. JCunha Permalink  | Oct 17, 2012 04:03pm

    Is there not a logical compromise to the right hook dilemma? Why isn’t BTA advocating changing the law to require vehicles to turn from the farthest lane possible including the bicycle lane?

    Having traveled nearly 40k miles on a bike I can say without question that removing any ambiguity of whether a vehicle is turning or not is going to save lives. The current law is basically setting up cyclists to get killed. As a cyclist while you are certainly paying attention to what is going on around you, being in a bicycle lane gives you a false sense of security at intersections and driveways where cars are very likely to simply turn into you and then run you over.

    The reaction time allowed in a right hook scenario is virtually zero, especially if you are passing a line of stopped cars and you only get a split second to see if a vehicle has their turn signal on, if in fact they actually use it.

    If a vehicle is going to move into a bicycle lane that is adjacent to you, both you and the driver have a much longer reaction window as they are slowing and preparing for the turn. In the worst case you end up getting squeezed to the curb or falling down next to the vehicle instead of under the vehicle’s rear wheels.

    Will this impede the flow of cycling traffic? Yes, ideally the lanes need to make it so that the turn lane is to the right of the bicycle lane in those situations but another simple fix is available. Allow bicycles to legally pass between cars as they do in California for both bicycles and motorcycles. Then the cyclists are not held up in traffic and they don’t end up under the rear wheels of turning vehicles.