Browsed by
Category: bike lanes

City testing ‘rumble bars’ to prevent encroachment into NE Couch bike lane

City testing ‘rumble bars’ to prevent encroachment into NE Couch bike lane

New buffer bumps on Couch at E Burnside-1.jpg

New rumble bars added to Couch bike lane approaching Burnside Bridge.
(Photos © J. Maus/BikePortland)

Oh, if we could just get people to not drive in bike lanes. We’ve tried nearly everything (except for concrete barriers): First there was white paint, then blue paint, then green paint, then parked cars, then more white paint, then flexible plastic bollards, then solar-powered LED lights. And now Portland’s Bureau of Transportation is testing ‘rumble bars’.

The new bars have just been installed on the infamous s-curve on NE Couch as it approaches the east end of the Burnside Bridge. They’re about a foot wide, spaced a foot apart, and stand about one-inch high. PBOT has installed them only on the curved portion of the Couch bike lane — a segment of roadway that has raised bike safety concerns since the day it opened.

In April 2010 we reported how the curves encouraged people operating cars and buses to encroach dangerously into the bike lane. After a crash involving a bicycle rider, PBOT realized they’d made an error in the striping design and would work to fix it. After widening the bike lane and adding a buffer a month later, the Bicycle Transportation Alliance said the bike lane was still a safety risk. In 2013, PBOT installed solar-powered, LED lights inside reflectors that were embedded into the pavement. Those lights have since been torn out.

Fast forward to today’s new installation. “PBOT noticed that the outside buffer stripe had been worn away by people who were driving taking the corner too sharply,” said PBOT spokesman John Brady. “This gave us the opportunity to test a new rumble bar to give people who are driving an audible warning and vibration when they encroach into the bike lane.”


I stopped by today for a closer look. The new rumble bars are indeed quite loud. I know that because the majority of people who drove by them plowed right over them. For some reason people really like to shave the angle of the curve and not even a loud noise and vibration will stop them.

Here are some more photos:

New buffer bumps on Couch at E Burnside-3.jpg

New buffer bumps on Couch at E Burnside-4.jpg

New buffer bumps on Couch at E Burnside-5.jpg

New buffer bumps on Couch at E Burnside-6.jpg

New buffer bumps on Couch at E Burnside-7.jpg

New buffer bumps on Couch at E Burnside-8.jpg

New buffer bumps on Couch at E Burnside-10.jpg

New buffer bumps on Couch at E Burnside-12.jpg

Brady says PBOT is also installing these new rumble bars on North Greeley and Interstate. That location also has a troubled past: It’s where post office worker Mike Cooley was struck and paralyzed by a hit-and-run driver as he rode home from work in 2013. PBOT is currently facing a $21 million lawsuit in that case.

Funding for the rumble strips came from PBOT’s Missing Links program, the same small pot of money ($50,000 – $100,000 per year) dedicated to bikeway improvements that funded the new flexible posts on SW 13th and Clay.

— Jonathan Maus, (503) 706-8804 – jonathan@bikeportland.org


The post City testing ‘rumble bars’ to prevent encroachment into NE Couch bike lane appeared first on BikePortland.org.

City testing ‘rumble bars’ to prevent encroachment into NE Couch bike lane

City testing ‘rumble bars’ to prevent encroachment into NE Couch bike lane

New buffer bumps on Couch at E Burnside-1.jpg

New rumble bars added to Couch bike lane approaching Burnside Bridge.
(Photos © J. Maus/BikePortland)

Oh, if we could just get people to not drive in bike lanes. We’ve tried nearly everything (except for concrete barriers): First there was white paint, then blue paint, then green paint, then parked cars, then more white paint, then flexible plastic bollards, then solar-powered LED lights. And now Portland’s Bureau of Transportation is testing ‘rumble bars’.

The new bars have just been installed on the infamous s-curve on NE Couch as it approaches the east end of the Burnside Bridge. They’re about a foot wide, spaced a foot apart, and stand about one-inch high. PBOT has installed them only on the curved portion of the Couch bike lane — a segment of roadway that has raised bike safety concerns since the day it opened.

In April 2010 we reported how the curves encouraged people operating cars and buses to encroach dangerously into the bike lane. After a crash involving a bicycle rider, PBOT realized they’d made an error in the striping design and would work to fix it. After widening the bike lane and adding a buffer a month later, the Bicycle Transportation Alliance said the bike lane was still a safety risk. In 2013, PBOT installed solar-powered, LED lights inside reflectors that were embedded into the pavement. Those lights have since been torn out.

Fast forward to today’s new installation. “PBOT noticed that the outside buffer stripe had been worn away by people who were driving taking the corner too sharply,” said PBOT spokesman John Brady. “This gave us the opportunity to test a new rumble bar to give people who are driving an audible warning and vibration when they encroach into the bike lane.”


I stopped by today for a closer look. The new rumble bars are indeed quite loud. I know that because the majority of people who drove by them plowed right over them. For some reason people really like to shave the angle of the curve and not even a loud noise and vibration will stop them.

Here are some more photos:

New buffer bumps on Couch at E Burnside-3.jpg

New buffer bumps on Couch at E Burnside-4.jpg

New buffer bumps on Couch at E Burnside-5.jpg

New buffer bumps on Couch at E Burnside-6.jpg

New buffer bumps on Couch at E Burnside-7.jpg

New buffer bumps on Couch at E Burnside-8.jpg

New buffer bumps on Couch at E Burnside-10.jpg

New buffer bumps on Couch at E Burnside-12.jpg

Brady says PBOT is also installing these new rumble bars on North Greeley and Interstate. That location also has a troubled past: It’s where post office worker Mike Cooley was struck and paralyzed by a hit-and-run driver as he rode home from work in 2013. PBOT is currently facing a $21 million lawsuit in that case.

Funding for the rumble strips came from PBOT’s Missing Links program, the same small pot of money ($50,000 – $100,000 per year) dedicated to bikeway improvements that funded the new flexible posts on SW 13th and Clay.

— Jonathan Maus, (503) 706-8804 – jonathan@bikeportland.org


The post City testing ‘rumble bars’ to prevent encroachment into NE Couch bike lane appeared first on BikePortland.org.

What the heck is going on with the 26th Avenue bike lanes?

What the heck is going on with the 26th Avenue bike lanes?

26thbikelanesstreetview

SE 26th Avenue looking south toward Powell.

Is the City of Portland, newly anointed “Biketown”, really going to remove a bike lane because our state department of transportation said it would improve safety?

That story we reported yesterday has sparked outrage, confusion, and frustration — all completely reasonable reactions to the idea of removing a bike lane in order to make biking safer. While we work to clarify the details and get to the bottom of what’s really going on (weaving the different communications from city officials and state officials together into one coherent whole is proving more complicated than expected), I thought I’d share what two notable Portland bike advocates think about the idea.

“If we have a safety problem, why would you take the victims of that problem and force them to go to a different place?”
— Ray Thomas, lawyer and veteran bike advocate

I called lawyer Ray Thomas yesterday to ask him about the legal implications that might arise if the bike lanes were removed and someone riding a bike was subsequently hit and injured or killed. A lawsuit that settled in California just a few months ago ordered the City of Indian Wells to pay $5.8 million to a man’s family after he was killed while biking on a street where bike lanes were removed.

When it comes to the possibility of removing the bike lanes on SE 26th Avenue, Thomas said he was more curious about the political liabilities of the decision. Here are his comments:

“If we have a safety problem, why would you take the victims of that problem and force them to go to a different place? Why would you take an existing facility out on a corridor where people ride and force them into what is essentially a detour? It’s sort of like adding insult to injury. You’re punishing the victim. I’d rather see them spend money to improve the intersection or restrict traffic on 26th so it could be a pedestrian and bicycle non-motorized corridor.

This is a solution that doesn’t take into account the nature of the wrong, which is, that people are driving dangerously. A solution that sends the bicyclists on a detour, even with a nice signal, doesn’t make sense to me.

If someone was hit trying to follow the bike map on 26th that shows it as a bike route, or trying to follow the new the detour, then I could see it resulting in some liability; but mostly I see it as just a bad idea.”


The next person I talked to was the Executive Director of the Bicycle Transportation Alliance, Rob Sadowsky. He said he and staffer Gerik Kransky met with ODOT Region 1 Director Rian Windsheimer and ODOT’s Region 1 Public Policy and Community Affairs Manager Shelli Romero several months ago when the issue first bubbled up with a big rally at the site back in May. Sadowsky expressed some confusion about the removal of the bike lane because he has heard different things from ODOT and the Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT). “I’m hearing different things from different people at both agencies,” he said.

“Over our dead bodies. I made that clear. We will look at legal options if necessary.”
— Rob Sadowsky, BTA

At issue (and we’ll be reported more on this later today) is the timeline. If ODOT got an agreement from PBOT to take out the 26th Avenue bike lane in exchange for putting in a signal across Powell at 28th, when would the bike lane on 26th get removed? Sadowsky said he’s asked PBOT to keep the bike lane as long as possible, well after any construction on the signal.

In general, Sadowsky said, “This is a really clear example of how ODOT’s priorities are very different than local prioriries. It’s the same battle we’re having on Barbur.”

So, what does the BTA plan to do if the bike lane gets ripped out? Sadowsky didn’t mince words:

“We went to ODOT, and we said, ‘Over our dead bodies.’ I made that clear. We will look at legal options if necessary.

We’re not going to let this bike lane go away. We believe very strongly that you need arterial and neighborhood greenway treatments at the same time. And they picked the wrong street. Our Board Member Leslie Carlson has kids at (adjacent) Cleveland High and my stepdaughter goes to Cleveland. We will look at every option we have including legal options. We also want to partner with PBOT and ODOT and use this as a case study to do more planning as a group. We see this as a sympton of other challenges around the way DOT policy and implemntaiton lines up around bicycle planning.”

Stay tuned. Michael is working on a story today that should clarify exactly where things stand with this bike lane.

UPDATE, 3:#9 pm: Here’s the latest update with clarifications from PBOT and ODOT about the future of the 26th Avenue bike lanes.

— Jonathan Maus, (503) 706-8804 – jonathan@bikeportland.org


The post What the heck is going on with the 26th Avenue bike lanes? appeared first on BikePortland.org.

What the heck is going on with the 26th Avenue bike lanes?

What the heck is going on with the 26th Avenue bike lanes?

26thbikelanesstreetview

SE 26th Avenue looking south toward Powell.

Is the City of Portland, newly anointed “Biketown”, really going to remove a bike lane because our state department of transportation said it would improve safety?

That story we reported yesterday has sparked outrage, confusion, and frustration — all completely reasonable reactions to the idea of removing a bike lane in order to make biking safer. While we work to clarify the details and get to the bottom of what’s really going on (weaving the different communications from city officials and state officials together into one coherent whole is proving more complicated than expected), I thought I’d share what two notable Portland bike advocates think about the idea.

“If we have a safety problem, why would you take the victims of that problem and force them to go to a different place?”
— Ray Thomas, lawyer and veteran bike advocate

I called lawyer Ray Thomas yesterday to ask him about the legal implications that might arise if the bike lanes were removed and someone riding a bike was subsequently hit and injured or killed. A lawsuit that settled in California just a few months ago ordered the City of Indian Wells to pay $5.8 million to a man’s family after he was killed while biking on a street where bike lanes were removed.

When it comes to the possibility of removing the bike lanes on SE 26th Avenue, Thomas said he was more curious about the political liabilities of the decision. Here are his comments:

“If we have a safety problem, why would you take the victims of that problem and force them to go to a different place? Why would you take an existing facility out on a corridor where people ride and force them into what is essentially a detour? It’s sort of like adding insult to injury. You’re punishing the victim. I’d rather see them spend money to improve the intersection or restrict traffic on 26th so it could be a pedestrian and bicycle non-motorized corridor.

This is a solution that doesn’t take into account the nature of the wrong, which is, that people are driving dangerously. A solution that sends the bicyclists on a detour, even with a nice signal, doesn’t make sense to me.

If someone was hit trying to follow the bike map on 26th that shows it as a bike route, or trying to follow the new the detour, then I could see it resulting in some liability; but mostly I see it as just a bad idea.”


The next person I talked to was the Executive Director of the Bicycle Transportation Alliance, Rob Sadowsky. He said he and staffer Gerik Kransky met with ODOT Region 1 Director Rian Windsheimer and ODOT’s Region 1 Public Policy and Community Affairs Manager Shelli Romero several months ago when the issue first bubbled up with a big rally at the site back in May. Sadowsky expressed some confusion about the removal of the bike lane because he has heard different things from ODOT and the Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT). “I’m hearing different things from different people at both agencies,” he said.

“Over our dead bodies. I made that clear. We will look at legal options if necessary.”
— Rob Sadowsky, BTA

At issue (and we’ll be reported more on this later today) is the timeline. If ODOT got an agreement from PBOT to take out the 26th Avenue bike lane in exchange for putting in a signal across Powell at 28th, when would the bike lane on 26th get removed? Sadowsky said he’s asked PBOT to keep the bike lane as long as possible, well after any construction on the signal.

In general, Sadowsky said, “This is a really clear example of how ODOT’s priorities are very different than local prioriries. It’s the same battle we’re having on Barbur.”

So, what does the BTA plan to do if the bike lane gets ripped out? Sadowsky didn’t mince words:

“We went to ODOT, and we said, ‘Over our dead bodies.’ I made that clear. We will look at legal options if necessary.

We’re not going to let this bike lane go away. We believe very strongly that you need arterial and neighborhood greenway treatments at the same time. And they picked the wrong street. Our Board Member Leslie Carlson has kids at (adjacent) Cleveland High and my stepdaughter goes to Cleveland. We will look at every option we have including legal options. We also want to partner with PBOT and ODOT and use this as a case study to do more planning as a group. We see this as a sympton of other challenges around the way DOT policy and implemntaiton lines up around bicycle planning.”

Stay tuned. Michael is working on a story today that should clarify exactly where things stand with this bike lane.

UPDATE, 3:#9 pm: Here’s the latest update with clarifications from PBOT and ODOT about the future of the 26th Avenue bike lanes.

— Jonathan Maus, (503) 706-8804 – jonathan@bikeportland.org


The post What the heck is going on with the 26th Avenue bike lanes? appeared first on BikePortland.org.

City gives in to state demand to remove bike lanes from SE 26th Avenue

City gives in to state demand to remove bike lanes from SE 26th Avenue

26th powell crowd in bike box

10 a.m. southbound bike traffic at 26th and Powell.
(Photos: M.Andersen/BikePortland)

Two of southeast Portland’s most-ridden bike lanes are slated to be removed at the insistence of the state of Oregon.

The bike lanes on each side of Southeast 26th Avenue near Powell draw something like 600 to 800 people per day (even in winter) and run in front of Cleveland High School. They will be paved over sometime in the coming months and not replaced, the Oregon Department of Transportation said last week.

The decision comes five months after the city’s top biking expert said he thought it would reduce safety on the street.

The City of Portland’s decision to accept the change comes five months after its top biking expert publicly cited four studies showing, he said, that even a narrow bike lane like the one on 26th improves road safety compared to no bike lane.

ODOT spokeswoman Kimberly Dinwiddie said Tuesday that removing the bike lane would improve safety by reducing the number of people biking through that intersection. Many, she predicted, will switch to using 28th Avenue when a new traffic signal and neighborhood greenway are installed there in the coming months. (28th avenue runs along the back of Cleveland High School, which is home to its largest bike parking area.)

Dinwiddie could not identify any evidence, beyond the state’s judgment, that this combination of changes would improve overall safety. She said she was trying to find the information but wasn’t sure when she might.

The change is necessary, Dinwiddie said, because “the intersection of SE Powell at SE 26th is already over capacity for the sheer number of users across all modes: bicyclists, pedestrians, vehicles and buses.”

Dinwiddie said Tuesday that she was unable to say what the “capacity” of the intersection is.

She said the state will “revisit” its decision if large numbers of people keep biking on 26th after the lane is removed and the nearby signal added.

26th Avenue has bike lanes, and is marked for having them in the city’s 2030 bike plan, because it is the flattest and most direct connection between several Southeast Portland commercial nodes. TriMet’s No. 10 bus also runs on 26th once every 30 minutes or so.

Decision follows major collisions, safety demonstrations
Powell protest ride-53.jpg

A May 11 protest of Powell Boulevard. The street is also U.S. 26, a state-run highway.
(Photo: J.Maus/BikePortland)

The state seems to be reacting in part to two high-profile collisions last year at SE 26th and Powell.

In one, a man in a truck turned left from 26th to Powell on a yellow light just as a man biked south through the intersection, also on a yellow light. The left-cross collision severed Alistair Corkett’s leg.

In the second incident, three weeks later, a man driving a Jeep ran a red light on Powell just as a man biked north across it. The collision broke Peter Anderson’s leg.


The incidents became a focus for continuing anger about Powell Boulevard from people who live nearby, who say that typical speeds on Powell exceed the 35 mph limit and that the state has refused measures, like narrower lanes, that would reduce those speeds. During the 10 years to 2013, the state-run road saw 381 traffic injuries and three fatalities on the 12 blocks of Powell surrounding Cleveland High School.

Aside from the point where they cross Powell, the 26th Avenue bike lanes don’t seem to show a particular bike safety problem.

Aside from the point where they cross Powell, the 26th Avenue bike lanes don’t seem to show a particular bike safety problem, though they are uncomfortably narrow and run in the door zone at some points. Out of 17 bike-related injuries between Holgate and Division in that period, eight were at the Powell intersection.

About 100 people joined a May 11 protest by legally walking and biking back and forth across Powell in a crosswalk near 26th Avenue during the evening rush hour. Two days later, two dozen people joined a die-in outside ODOT headquarters.

Hours after the second collision, on May 29, ODOT said it would add a new left-turn arrow phase to the signal at 26th Avenue, a change that lengthened the traffic signal cycle. This also lengthened the red light facing Powell.

Meanwhile, the state was reviewing an unrelated request from the Portland Bureau of Transportation. The city had asked for permission to add a new signal at 28th Avenue for the new neighborhood greenway that had been planned as part of the 20s Bikeway — designed to be a less direct but lower-stress alternative to 26th Avenue’s bike lanes.

The state agreed to allow a new biking/walking traffic signal, but on one unusual condition: that the city remove the bike lanes from 26th.

State says it will “revisit” decision if substantial bike traffic remains on 26th
students biking in crosswalk 26th powell

Some people who bike on 26th already don’t bother with the bike lanes.

In an undated memo by the City of Portland, city staff projected that removing the northbound bike lane from 26th in order to widen the southbound bike lane there (which was another scenario discussed) would divert 90 percent of northbound bike traffic over to 28th.

That memo apparently inspired the state’s proposal to remove bike lanes from 26th Avenue completely. BikePortland received it in August after a public record request.

In an email last week, ODOT spokeswoman Dinwiddie wrote that if the bike lanes are removed from 26th Avenue but bike traffic falls less dramatically than the city expects, then ODOT “would be willing to revisit the agreement to remove bike lanes from SE 26th Avenue.”

“Encouraging bicyclists to use the new crossing at SE 28th Avenue or opt to use the travel lane on SE 26th Avenue will raise the visibility of the cyclist in the roadway as well as increase the likelihood they will be seen.”
— ODOT Spokeswoman Kimberly Dinwiddie

“We recognize some cyclists will continue to use the intersection, which is perfectly legal,” Dinwiddie wrote. “Removing the bike lanes on SE 26th Avenue and encouraging bicyclists to use the new crossing at SE 28th Avenue or opt to use the travel lane on SE 26th Avenue will raise the visibility of the cyclist in the roadway as well as increase the likelihood they will be seen by bike and vehicles using other approaches at the intersection. … SE 28th Avenue crossing at Powell has fewer conflict points for bikes and pedestrians than a traditional signal and provides a safe and comfortable location for bike to cross. The City will be installing bicycle wayfinding signs on 26th to encourage bicyclists to cross at the safer location two blocks away rather than using the intersection at 26th and Powell where we have seen a number of serious bicycle crashes in the past year.”

Rich Newlands, the city’s project manager for the 20s Bikeway, confirmed on Dec. 23 that the state had approved the signal at 28th but said he couldn’t comment on the decisions surrounding 26th Avenue. Newlands referred questions about 26th Avenue to city spokesman John Brady, who couldn’t find time in the next two weeks to answer any questions about the city’s decision.

(Brady did send a text message Wednesday saying “we appreciate that there seems to be room to revisit the issue after the much needed signal at 28th is installed.”)

As a result, it’s currently unclear when the city expects to remove the bike lanes, or why it agreed to do so despite its policy to prioritize bike traffic over auto traffic, its designation of 26th Avenue as a future bikeway and the four studies that it had said showed that removing the bike lane would make the street more dangerous.

In August, the state said it feels those studies do not support such a conclusion, but declined to say why.

— Michael Andersen, (503) 333-7824 – michael@bikeportland.org


The post City gives in to state demand to remove bike lanes from SE 26th Avenue appeared first on BikePortland.org.

A first for Washington: Green paint for bike lanes on a state highway

A first for Washington: Green paint for bike lanes on a state highway

washdotgreen

Drawing courtesy Washington DOT.

The Washington State Department of Transportation is going green to try and make a large highway intersection a bit safer to ride a bike on.

“Adding a splash of green to the existing bike lanes will enhance safety by adding a visual cue for drivers to lookout for cyclists on the road.”
— Rick Keniston, WSDOT Regional Traffic Engineer

Last week WSDOT announced they plan to restripe the intersection of West Fourth Plain Blvd and State Route 501 with what one of their regional traffic engineers called, “A splash of green.” It will be the first time ever that the agency has used green on a bike lane.

The location (map) is northwest of downtown Vancouver, about two miles (as the crow flies) north of Jantzen Beach shopping center in Portland. The intersection is on a popular cycling route that connects to Vancouver Lake via Fruit Valley Road.

In a statement about the project WSDOT said this is being done to “help drivers spot cyclists through busy intersections” and to “promote multimodal use of SR 501.” They plan to make this a pilot project and consider using it in other places throughout the state if it works well.

– Advertisement –


Here’s more from WSDOT Regional Traffic Engineer Rick Keniston:

Barbur green bike lane

ODOT’s green paint on SW Barbur.
(Photo © J. Maus/BikePortland)

“There are spots at this intersection where the bike lane disappears as it passes through right-turn lanes and merge areas, which can confuse all users of the road. Adding a splash of green to the existing bike lanes will enhance safety by adding a visual cue for drivers to lookout for cyclists on the road.”

WSDOT says the new “durable” green paint is designed to hold up to heavy traffic and rainy weather, “while still providing roadway friction for bicycle tires.”

If you recall, the Oregon Department of Transportation first added green to bike lanes in March 2012. ODOT’s application was on a very busy and unpleasant section of SW Barbur Blvd. I don’t ride this Vancouver intersection very often, but if my experience on using bike lanes on state-controlled highways is any indication, it will take a lot more than simply a “splash of green” on the ground to truly improve safety and promote cycling.

See the official announcement for more details.

— Jonathan Maus, (503) 706-8804 – jonathan@bikeportland.org


The post A first for Washington: Green paint for bike lanes on a state highway appeared first on BikePortland.org.

First Look: New bike lane, sharrows on NE 7th

First Look: New bike lane, sharrows on NE 7th

ne7thlead

Newness on NE 7th.
(Photos by J. Maus/BikePortland)

The Portland Bureau of Transportation has finished some striping and marking work on NE 7th in the Lloyd District.

As we shared in our first report on this project back in September, this street is a key connector for bicycling between the Lloyd District (and NE Multnomah protected bike lane) and the NE Tillamook bicycle boulevard. This project was aimed at improving the bicycling environment by giving riders dedicated space and reinforcing a shared street environment.

In the southbound direction, the new markings begin just south of NE Schulyer. It begins as a standard bike lane and then half-way through the block (right at Les Schwab Tire Center driveway) the bike lane ends and a shared right-turn lane begins (marked by alternating sharrows and turn arrows).

New bikeway on NE 7th in Lloyd district-1

I observed the new markings during the morning rush-hour a few days ago. In the case below, the bike riders opted to not share the lane and instead merged into the left lane in order to continue south…

New bikeway on NE 7th in Lloyd district-2

Continuing southbound, between Broadway and Weidler, there doesn’t appear to be much sharing going on. Instead, there was more of an awkward squeeze happening when road users in cars and on bikes attempted to create their own, separate lanes…

New bikeway on NE 7th in Lloyd district-3

New bikeway on NE 7th in Lloyd district-4

New bikeway on NE 7th in Lloyd district-5

The situation above might have something to do with the fact that PBOT has only installed one sharrow on this entire block face. The plans call for two. (UPDATE: PBOT confirms there will be another sharrow coming). Even so, sharrows have only very limited effectiveness and most road users either ignore them or don’t know what they mean.

In the northbound direction, the new bike lane looks well and was working fine…

New bikeway on NE 7th in Lloyd district-6

The plans we shared in September showed the inclusion of a green bike box/left turn box on NE Broadway, but that was dropped from the final plans (I’ve asked PBOT for a clarification – UPDATE: PBOT says, “The left turn box was removed from the final plan.”)

As we previously reported, these new bike access improvements still do not connect directly to Tillamook*. This project stops 2-3 blocks south of Tillamook. The PBOT project manager tells us that’s because, “The road simply gets too narrow and in order to make room for a bikeway they’d have to take out trees and a planting strip.” (And an auto parking lane.)

(*UPDATE: PBOT says sharrows will be installed (or have been installed?) northbound all the way to Tillamook.)

This project was paid for with Lloyd District parking meter revenue.

Have you ridden the new bike lane or the new sharrow-marked lane? Has it made NE 7th better? Let us know what you think.

The post First Look: New bike lane, sharrows on NE 7th appeared first on BikePortland.org.

First Look: New bike lane, sharrows on NE 7th

First Look: New bike lane, sharrows on NE 7th

ne7thlead

Newness on NE 7th.
(Photos by J. Maus/BikePortland)

The Portland Bureau of Transportation has finished some striping and marking work on NE 7th in the Lloyd District.

As we shared in our first report on this project back in September, this street is a key connector for bicycling between the Lloyd District (and NE Multnomah protected bike lane) and the NE Tillamook bicycle boulevard. This project was aimed at improving the bicycling environment by giving riders dedicated space and reinforcing a shared street environment.

In the southbound direction, the new markings begin just south of NE Schulyer. It begins as a standard bike lane and then half-way through the block (right at Les Schwab Tire Center driveway) the bike lane ends and a shared right-turn lane begins (marked by alternating sharrows and turn arrows).

New bikeway on NE 7th in Lloyd district-1

I observed the new markings during the morning rush-hour a few days ago. In the case below, the bike riders opted to not share the lane and instead merged into the left lane in order to continue south…

New bikeway on NE 7th in Lloyd district-2

Continuing southbound, between Broadway and Weidler, there doesn’t appear to be much sharing going on. Instead, there was more of an awkward squeeze happening when road users in cars and on bikes attempted to create their own, separate lanes…

New bikeway on NE 7th in Lloyd district-3

New bikeway on NE 7th in Lloyd district-4

New bikeway on NE 7th in Lloyd district-5

The situation above might have something to do with the fact that PBOT has only installed one sharrow on this entire block face. The plans call for two. Even so, sharrows have only very limited effectiveness and most road users either ignore them or don’t know what they mean.

In the northbound direction, the new bike lane looks well and was working fine…

New bikeway on NE 7th in Lloyd district-6

The plans we shared in September showed the inclusion of a green bike box/left turn box on NE Broadway, but that was dropped from the final plans (I’ve asked PBOT for a clarification).

As we previously reported, these new bike access improvements still do not connect directly to Tillamook. This project stops 2-3 blocks south of Tillamook. The PBOT project manager tells us that’s because, “The road simply gets too narrow and in order to make room for a bikeway they’d have to take out trees and a planting strip.” (And an auto parking lane.)

This project was paid for with Lloyd District parking meter revenue.

Have you ridden the new bike lane or the new sharrow-marked lane? Has it made NE 7th better? Let us know what you think.

The post First Look: New bike lane, sharrows on NE 7th appeared first on BikePortland.org.

On NE Glisan, new bike lane character (and lower speed limit) earn clucks of approval

On NE Glisan, new bike lane character (and lower speed limit) earn clucks of approval

chicken tall

Male? Female? The comb seems hiply unisex. Either way, it’ll now have a safer time crossing the road.
(Photo: Terry Dublinski-Milton)

Portland’s famous bike lane characters keep getting more colorful. As we wrote in December, this unique and wonderful tradition has been making a comeback, thanks to creative city staffers.

The bike-riding chicken above, whose photo was shared Monday by North Tabor Neighborhood Association board member Terry Dublinski-Milton, is the latest addition to Northeast Glisan. Dublinski-Milton noted that its appearance accompanies another change to the street: dropping the speed limit from 35 mph to 30 mph between Sandy and 82nd.

That’s the latest safety-enhancing step for a street that saw a walking fatality in 2013 but has at least gotten dramatically safer since it was restriped as one of the city’s first road diets.

As for the bike lane characters, part of the reason they’re cool is that PBOT workers create them on their own time using scrap materials. The cool thing isn’t that the public is getting a little cultural and economic value (which these definitely provide) for free. The cool thing is that Portland is the sort of city that hires the sort of people who are motivated to do things like this on their own time.

“Thank you PBOT, we appreciate the speed reduction,” Dublinski-Milton wrote to the City’s Bureau of Transportation. “And the chicken is cute as well.”

The post On NE Glisan, new bike lane character (and lower speed limit) earn clucks of approval appeared first on BikePortland.org.

Lack of sweeping makes for challenging conditions on “Dirty 30”

Lack of sweeping makes for challenging conditions on “Dirty 30”

Bike lane conditions Hwy 30-St Helens Rd-2

The bike lane on Highway 30 just north of downtown Portland is often in abysmal shape.
(Photos by J. Maus/BikePortland)

On the official City of Portland bike map, NW St. Helens Road/Highway 30 looks like a nice solid bike lane (see below). It’s the only north-south bike lane on the west side of the Willamette River between northwest Portland and Sauvie Island (and beyond). As such, this bike lane is an important route for many people — whether they’re commuting to St. Johns or using it as a gateway to many popular riding destinations.

Unfortunately it’s usually full of dirt, gravel, and other debris. It’s so bad that I recently learned in some circles it’s known as “Dirty 30”.

“Our street cleaning crews strive to serve all road users. That said, people using some modes of transportation experience roadway debris differently than other users.”
— Dylan Rivera, PBOT Communications Manager

When I posted some photos of this bike lane on Flickr recently, I got a comment from someone who said her experience on Highway 30 was so bad that it influenced her entire perception of Portland’s bike-ability:

“This exact “bike lane” is one of 3 or 4 main deciding factors in my decision not to move to Portland after 3 reconnaissance missions. I got so scared out of my mind on this bike lane that I ended up running up into the hills on my bad ankle to avoid having to complete my ride to Sauvie Island with huge trucks literally grazing my elbows at 55mph. I felt so trapped with no way to escape on foot or with my bike. Horrible… I found this and Barbur Blvd to be completely unforgivable of Portland and PBOT/ODOT. Utter insanity.”

Making matters worse is that it’s just a standard 5-6 foot bike lane (narrower in some spots, wider in others) and it’s adjacent to heavy auto and large truck traffic traveling at 50-plus miles an hour. In other words, you’re forced to ride directly in the debris zone or you risk being run over. As I’ve been riding this road more in recent months, I’ve been shocked at how poorly maintained it is. After I got two flats in one week (and I rarely flat), I decided to inquire with the authorities about who’s responsible for keeping it clean, why it’s so dirty, and what I can do about getting it swept.

PBOT bike map.

It turns out that the Portland Bureau of Transportation and the Oregon Department of Transportation share the maintenance responsibilities. PBOT crews have jurisdiction from I-405 to Linnton (8 miles north of downtown Portland) and ODOT crews are in charge from Linnton to milepost 18.

I asked ODOT spokesman Don Hamilton about their sweeping schedule and methods. He says they sweep Highway 30 “on average… every three months or so.” The traveling public can report bad conditions directly to ODOT by calling 888-275-6368 (AskODOT hotline) or the district maintenance office at 971-673-6200. “Both are effective for registering a problem,” Hamilton says, “and both will get right on it if something more serious is going on.”

As for the City of Portland’s section, which in my experience is in much worse shape than the ODOT-controlled section, PBOT Communications Manager Dylan Rivera says they “typically sweep arterial streets four to six times per year.”

Like Hamilton, Rivera said they also respond to citizen requests and he urged folks to call 503-823-1700 to report problems.

One of the big issues on Highway 30 is that there are several long sections where the roadway has no curb and the bike lane is adjacent to gravel and dirt driveways where trucks pull out, leaving a trail of debris in their wake. In researching this article, I learned that the City of Portland has a specific policy to not sweep these “uncurbed” streets. According to the City’s website, “uncurbed streets are, in effect, self-cleaning” because motorized vehicle traffic brushes it away.

Obviously, as you can see in the photos below, curb or no curb, the “self-cleaning” is more myth than reality…

Bike lane conditions Hwy 30-St Helens Rd-6

Bike lane conditions Hwy 30-St Helens Rd-1

Bike lane conditions Hwy 30-St Helens Rd-3

Bike lane conditions Hwy 30-St Helens Rd-4

Rivera made a point to tell us that street cleaning services were cut back “significantly” during the recession” and that PBOT has had to prioritize sweeping based on citizen reports and on streets, “where the public need is the greatest.”

About the gravel-filled bike lanes on uncurbed sections of Highway 30, Rivera said they’re well aware of that issue due to one persistent citizen activist. “There is one cyclist who apparently calls every two weeks to request sweeping on Hwy 30. We have explained to him that cars and trucks pull out into the highway from unimproved parking lots along this route, spitting gravel into the bike lane over time. While we certainly try to keep the area free from debris, we do not have the resources to keep the area spotless. Other than this gentleman, we have only had 2 requests to remove debris from this area in the past 12 months.”

It seems, for now at least, people who use a bicycle to travel on Highway 30 will simply have to deal with these dangerous and dirty conditions. When I shared my perspective with Rivera that it seems people on bicycles suffer a much greater impact from the City’s current sweeping policy than people who drive a car or truck, he replied by saying, “Our street cleaning crews strive to serve all road users. That said, people using some modes of transportation experience roadway debris differently than other users.”

That’s the understatement of the year.