New left turn signals should make intersection safer

ODOT crews installed left-turn signals at SE Powell and 26th in Portland, June 1, 2015 (KOIN)
ODOT crews installed left-turn signals at SE Powell and 26th in Portland, June 1, 2015 (KOIN)

Two new left turn signals are now up at SE Powell and 26th. The signals provide green left turn arrows for northbound and southbound traffic on 26th Ave. These will keep drivers from making left turns when bicyclists and pedestrians are crossing the intersection.

ODOT made this a priority after two serious crashes at the intersection in the month of May. Both wrecks involved drivers colliding with bicyclists. In one of the crashes, 23-year-old Alistair Corket lost his leg.

“I went through on a green light where the driver just had a yield. If he had a red turn signal I think he would have stayed where he was, but he didn’t see me or thought he could slip by me,” said Corket.

As KOIN’s traffic reporter, I hear about crashes between drivers and bicyclists too often. Unfortunate incidents like these should serve as a reminder that many people in Portland commute by bicycle. I’ve learned to be very careful and watch out for them. I have to constantly remind myself to make sure a bicyclist isn’t creeping up beside me when I’m about to make a right turn.

ODOT hopes other drivers also play it safe. Just in case, the new left turn signals should make a difference. ODOT, the City of Portland and TriMet are also in the process of designing a series of safety improvements along Powell between 20th and 34th. ODOT has set aside $3.8 million for a 2017 project that will install rapid flash beacons, add signals, improve lighting, and cut back on landscaping.

“At this point i’m just glad that it will help other people and hopefully reduce the amount of accidents,” said Corket.

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