Hardesty Calls for Transferring Southeast Powell Boulevard to Local Control After Beloved Chef Is Killed

The city takeover of 82nd Avenue is the model, Hardesty says.

City Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty today called on the Oregon Department of Transportation to transfer Southeast Powell Boulevard to city control after local chef Sarah Pliner was killed while cycling there.

Earlier this year, the city won ownership of 82nd Avenue from the state and vowed to slow drivers and improve safety. Hardesty says the city should do the same thing with Southeast Powell.

“This was a preventable death at an intersection that [Portland Bureau of Transportation], alongside community, had previously advocated for substantial safety improvements to be made by ODOT, including a bike lane,” Hardesty said in a statement. “ODOT opted for a different option, and this intersection remains far too dangerous.”

More immediately, Hardesty said, ODOT must heed the advice of transportation advocates like the Street Trust and make changes to a stretch of road that has literally claimed life and limb in recent years. At least three crashes involving cyclists and vehicles have occurred since 2015 at Southeast 26th Avenue and Powell, where Pliner was killed just before noon on Tuesday.

On May 10, 2015, a cyclist named Alistair Corkett, then 22, was struck by the driver of a pickup truck at the same intersection and lost one of his legs, according to The Oregonian. Weeks later, Peter Anderson was bicycling through the intersection and was struck by a Jeep, breaking his leg.

Pliner, 50, was killed by a truck while biking through the intersection, the Portland Police Bureau said. Officers responded and found Pliner dead at the scene. Cleveland High School is on the northeast corner of 26th and Powell. Hardesty said students witnessed the tragedy.

Pliner was the founder of Aviary, a restaurant on Northeast Alberta Street that WW named Restaurant of the Year in 2012. Aviary closed in 2020 at the height of the pandemic.

Yesterday, the Street Trust demanded that the city and ODOT cooperate to “physically separate from motor vehicle traffic all vulnerable street users, including people on bicycles, pedestrians, and transit riders, until a full investigation of yesterday’s killing is completed.”

ODOT spokesman Don Hamilton didn’t immediately comment on the matter.