The barricades are up: No more right hooks on N Wheeler Ave

The barricades are up: No more right hooks on N Wheeler Ave

No more right hooks on Wheeler Ave-7

This person no longer has to feel threatened for their life and limbs while pedaling past Wheeler; and people who drive near this intersection no longer have to worry about being involved in a collision.
(Photos © J. Maus/BikePortland)

It finally happened. Today at around noon, Bureau of Transportation crews put the final touches on barricades and signage to prevent road users from turning right on N. Wheeler Avenue from Broadway (exiting Wheeler onto Broadway is still allowed). Mayor Adams shared the news and a photo via his Facebook page, where many folks are telling him what they think about it.

Think about this for a second: There will be no more right hooks at Wheeler.

No more right hooks on Wheeler Ave-13

It has been nearly five years to the day that I first wrote about the dangerous conditions at this intersection. In fact, things were so bad back then that my story was about how the Portland Water Bureau — concerned that their employees might hurt someone, or be hurt themselves trying to access their headquarters on N. Interstate — first began to consider a bureau-wide prohibition from turning right on Wheeler (they went through with it a few months later).

Now Mayor Adams, buoyed by his staff at PBOT and listening to a loud chorus of concern from nearby business owners and citizens, has limited access to Wheeler for the entire city.

I spoke with a lead employee from a very nearby business today while I was out taking photos (she wished to keep her name/business out of the story pending notification of her marketing department). She said they fully support the closure. She also said that employees and visitors to their business had dreaded the stressful intersection for many years, and that, while they must now go around the block to access their parking lot, the delay is “worth it.” “This is long overdue,” she said.

That woman’s perspective was similar to other business owners in the lower Albina district that I’ve talked to. No one felt comfortable making these right turns because the stakes were so high. Even though some local media coverage made this out to be a “bicyclists vs motorists” or “bicyclists vs businesses” story, that’s not what it was. This was about doing the right thing to improve safety.

We should continue to have the discussion about how people don’t obey laws as much as they should; but we should not continue to let blatantly dangerous streets continue to hurt our fellow citizens.

Below are a few more photos and thoughts …

Here’s how it looks from the windshield of a car (sort of) as you drive down Broadway…

No more right hooks on Wheeler Ave-3

No more right hooks on Wheeler Ave-12

And a bit closer up…

No more right hooks on Wheeler Ave-9

In addition to the medians in the road, PBOT has added “No Right Turn” and “Do Not Enter” signs, as well as Detour signs helping folks in cars and trucks access businesses on other streets…

No more right hooks on Wheeler Ave-4

No more right hooks on Wheeler Ave-16

Looking northeast from northwest corner of Wheeler/Broadway.

As you can see in this close-up, there isn’t any room for a quick right turn by people on bikes either; although it’d be relatively easy to roll up the curb ramp and onto the sidewalk to head north…

No more right hooks on Wheeler Ave-8

And here’s the full view looking toward the northeast while standing on northwest corner of Wheeler/Broadway…

No more right hooks on Wheeler Ave-15

For more context, in this photo I’m standing north of the intersection looking south at the Leftbank Building…

No more right hooks on Wheeler Ave-6

Overall, it’s very obvious and clear that you are not allowed to turn right. Even so, I won’t be surprised if the barricades get run into and/or if people try to turn right (north) into the opposite lane. If that happens, I just hope no one is coming the other way!

As a parting thought, remember that this fix helps just one of many safety and connectivity problems in this area. In the coming years, major changes are afoot with the I-5 widening plans and associated surface street projects. Stay tuned…

— For full background on how this closure came about, browse our Broadway Flint Wheeler archives (15 posts dating back to August 2007).

Comments are closed.