As you’ve probably already heard, last Friday evening U.S. Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici (D-1st District) was struck by a car driver as she and her husband walked across a street in northwest Portland. According to a statement from her staff, the couple were walking across NW Everett and 19th in the crosswalk prior to being hit.
A Portland Police spokesperson told The Oregonian that it happened around 8:44 pm “when a woman turned at low speed and knocked them down.” Rep. Bonamici and her husband were leaving an event at Congregation Beth Israel, which is on NW Flanders near 20th. The exact details of what happened prior to the collision haven’t been released yet. Police say the driver was not arrested or cited.
Rep. Bonamici suffered a concussion and lacerations to her head. Her husband had only minor injuries. Both of them are healing up and are expected to make a full recovery.
NW Everett and 19th is a relatively calm, signal-controlled intersection. The City of Portland’s Vision Zero Crash Map shows two injuries crashes at the intersection — with one victim a pedestrian and the other a cyclist — since 2011. Everett is a one-way eastbound and 19th is a one-way southbound at this location. Everett has one general travel lane, a bike lane, and two parking lanes on that block and 19th has two general travel lanes and two parking lanes. Since reports say they were hit by a turning driver, that means they were likely using the crosswalk on the southern or eastern side of the intersection*. There are no glaring safety issues I can think of at this intersection — other than perhaps general visibility. It could have been dark depending on the street light situation and/or visibility could have been constrained by the presence of parked cars all the way up to the corner.
(*UPDATE, 2:55 pm: We have confirmed with PPB that Rep Bonamici and her husband were walking southbound in the eastern crosswalk of the intersection. The driver was going south on 19th and hit them while turning left to go east on Everett.)
This type of collision is far too common in Portland. And given the extent of the injuries and other factors, this one only made the news because the person who was hit happened to be an important elected official. It also comes as Portland continues to lose its fight with traffic deaths and injuries and headlines of our record-breaking pedestrian death toll in 2022 have barely receded from view.
“We have been sounding the alarm on the epidemic of traffic violence in our community all year,” wrote The Street Trust Executive Director Sarah Iannarone in a statement released Saturday. “If a congressperson and federal judge aren’t safe in a crosswalk in one of our most affluent, pedestrian-oriented neighborhoods, what Oregonian can cross the street with confidence?”
I’ve asked PBOT and the PPB for more details about the crash. I’m curious where exactly it happened and it would be nice to have more details on how it happened. There’s also the issue of the driver not being cited. While it’s common for PPB to not cite anyone at the scene of a crash until an investigation has determined fault, if this is as clear-cut as we’ve been led to believe thus far, it’s possible the driver could still be issued a traffic citation. We’ll update this post if we hear any significant updates.