What a week! In addition to all our regular news and feature stories we shined a light on bikeway gaps. Places where — for maddening and often inexplicable reasons — a perfectly fine bike lane vanishes for just a few short blocks.
Because if we want to fill these bikeway gaps we must first fill the knowledge gap.
Before I share your submissions and some thoughts on this topic, I want to say thanks to our business sponsors and subscribers. We need your continued financial support to keep doing this work. If you haven’t stepped up to subscribe or to become an advertising partner, please sign up (and join 200+ fellow readers!) or drop me a line today.
Now back to our programming…
The State of the Gaps
We learned quite a bit taking this closer look at bikeway gaps — not just about the specific locations we profiled, but about gaps in general.
As we discovered with the tragic death of Martin Greenough last month, many significant and dangerous gaps aren’t even reflected on official city and regional bike maps (in Greenough’s case, the gap he was hit in wasn’t even in ODOT’s inventory). This is a problem. These maps show continuous bikeways when in fact, on the ground, there are no bikeways. Metro is aware of this issue and has responded on one gap so far; but the City of Portland hasn’t responded to our requests for comment about it. Bike maps should reflect reality. Agencies need to be honest with road users so we can make informed — and safe — decisions.
Perhaps overlooking these gaps on maps is a byproduct of another thing we learned: Different types of riders experience gaps differently. Strong and confident riders can fly through a gap and never even know it’s a problem spot because it doesn’t impact their experience. But another person can bike through the same gap and feel their blood pressure rise. Others can be so scared of a gap they won’t even use the route at all.
Our story on a gap on SW Terwilliger had some people saying they hadn’t even noticed it. One reader, 2WheelBeamer, sent us a video showing how he was honked at in the gap mere minutes after our post went up!
And now the moment we’ve all been waiting for: A selection of gaps as pointed out to us by you, our esteemed friends and readers. Most of them came from the excellent comment thread under our Gap Week introduction post last week. I strongly suggest all the city/county/regional agency staff bookmark or print out that page and use it for future planning reference.
We’ve also made a Google Map with our four gaps and the nine below. Feel free to add more gaps to help inform our future coverage.
From Alex Reed:
1) 87th & Flavel: Greenway ends, 1 block of unpaved road & short muddy path from the Springwater (Map)
2) Burnside gap in the Gresham-Fairview Trail is a real head-shaker.
3) Woodstock bike lanes disappear for 1 block each direction @ SE 82nd, maps show continuous
“A long bike lane, punctuated by a short stretch of absolute terror.”
— Meghan Humphreys
4) The most annoying, although not most dangerous, gap I’ve encountered is where the bike lanes drop off on SE 26th just south of Clinton to preserve a small number of parking spaces. The connection with the greenway is RIGHT THERE, but nope.
From Meghan Humphreys:
5) SE Woodstock, between SE 69th and 72nd. A long bike lane, punctuated by a short stretch of absolute terror.
From Chris I.:
6) NE 181st where it passes under I-84. The northbound bike lane on 181st ends at the freeway offramp, and cyclists are forced to cross two lanes of traffic that is turning onto the freeway onramp. The I-84 bike path also abruptly ends here, forcing cyclists who want to go north to either ride on the sidewalk, or attempt to turn left with the traffic exiting the freeway. Many drivers roll through the red light to turn south onto 181st, creating a major hazard.
From Social Engineer:
7) N Interstate around Rosa Parks. That has to be one of the most egregious in the entire city.
8) Ugh, NW 16th, where the bike lane disappears for 3 blocks between Johnson and Glisan to create an extra auto lane. What’s weird is that I can’t even work out why this happens. There no obvious reason why auto volumes along 16th would be higher south of Johnson than they are north of it. There is a right arrow marked for drivers turning onto Glisan, but it’s not even a dedicated turn lane.
From Ted Labbe:
9) NE 7th between Broadway and Weidler in front of FedEx Office. Bike lanes to the N and S but nothing in this 1 block section with busy traffic all around. And no good alternative route to cross the Lloyd District. This needs to be fixed ASAP.
Thanks again for all your feedback.
The big takeaway from this week is that there are simply way too many gaps in our bike network. To really do this topic justice we need to do Gap Year. On that note, we plan to keep writing about these gaps (and hopefully covering great work to close them by our friends at PBOT, Metro, the Bicycle Transportation Alliance, and so on) until there are no more left. It’s a big job, but we must create a safe and connected road system for bicycle users that is on par with what we offer people who drive, walk, and take transit.
— Jonathan Maus, (503) 706-8804 – firstname.lastname@example.org
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