We’ve all seen it. Probably dozens of times. A sign or other hazard placed in a bike lane by a construction crew doing official work in the public right-of-way.
On Monday, BikePortland subscriber Kim Isaacson saw a particularly egregious case of this. Kim was riding south in the bike lane on SW Broadway. As he rolled toward the I-405 overcrossing at SW Jackson he came across a large reader-board sign. The sign was completely blocking the bike lane.
Being the well-informed citizen that he is, Kim took a few photos and emailed the City of Portland as soon as possible. To help ensure her issue would get some attention, Kim emailed not only firstname.lastname@example.org, but also the city’s permitting manager and PBOT spokesman Dylan Rivera. He also cc’d BikePortland.
Here’s his email:
I am reporting a street hazard. This evening, as I was commuting home on the buffered bike facility on SW Broadway, I noticed something new at the corner of SW Jackson: a temporary reader board at the SW quadrant of the intersection (announcing some weekend traffic changes) that completely blocked the use of the bike facility, forcing bikes into the traffic lanes. See attached photos. Is this something that was approved by PBOT permit? Whether locating the reader board was the responsibility of PBOT or the contractor (a logo on the reader board suggests that Wilder Construction is the owner of the device), its placement belies poor judgement and lack of concern for bicycle safety.
But why block the bike lane? And for something as non-critical as an upcoming weekend traffic change. Notice that there are three south bound vehicle lanes adjacent to the bike lane. Why not park the sign in the adjacent vehicle lane and merge three lanes of traffic into two? Or, why not park the sign in one of the parking spaces just north of the intersection? I’m sure the contractor could pass along the cost of renting a parking space for a week and pass this along as a cost of doing business.
Riding a bike is hazardous enough without moves like this. Can you please see about correcting this problem?
Now that’s an effective way to share a concern with the city. Notice how Kim includes the exact location, clearly states the problem, offers a possible solution, and requests (nicely) that some action is taken.
And lo and behold, someone responded to her no more than 20 minutes later. It was City of Portland Development Permitting & Transit Manager Christine Leon.
Here’s her response:
Thank you for alerting us to this. I will have someone check who was issued this permit and send an inspector to follow up.
It’s nice to see this quick and clear of a response from the City.
It appears that the contractor is in violation of at least one permit requirement. I’m not aware of any code that speficically prohibits putting signs like this in a bike lane, but according to PBOT, if a bike lane is blocked by construction the holder of the permit must provide signage that warns of the blockage.
The image below comes from PBOT’s Standard Traffic Control Plans website under the heading 6a: Bike Lane Closure:
We’ve asked Leon and PBOT for updates on this situation and will update this post when we hear back.
Have you come across this type of bike lane blockage? If so, what did you do about it?
UPDATE, 11:52 am: The signs have been moved. Here’s what we’ve just heard from the City of Portland. The email below was forwarded to us from Christine Leon and it comes from PBOT’s Senior Traffic Engineering Associate John Wilson:
I walked by the location last night and saw that the sign had been moved from the bike lane. We had not permitted its placement. The contractor was working for ODOT, and was confused about where to place the sign, apparently. Thank you for reporting this hazard.
— Jonathan Maus