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New skills trail, major upgrades proposed for Sandy Ridge trailhead

New skills trail, major upgrades proposed for Sandy Ridge trailhead

Velo Cult's party-barge parked at Sandy Ridge after an event last month. A major expansion to the parking lot will feature more room for tailgating and other uses.(Photo: Velo Cult Bike Shop)

Velo Cult’s party-barge parked at Sandy Ridge after an event last month. A major expansion to the parking lot will feature more room for tailgating and other uses.
(Photo: Velo Cult Bike Shop)

Since they first opened in 2010, the off-road cycling trails at Sandy Ridge have become such a resounding success that the Bureau of Land Management wants to double-down on its investment.

According to environmental assessment documents filed by the BLM, their Sandy Ridge Trailhead Access project is comprised of a slew of additions and upgrades that will add over four acres to the facility. The project includes: an expanded parking area with oversided stalls and “tailgate bumpouts,” a beginner skills trail loop and a bike demo area; a “bicycle hub” featuring a changing room, bike-wash station and a bus stop; a designated special events area; an upgraded entrace; and two short connecting trails.

Here’s a bit more info and a few images of the proposed improvements (taken from the BLM environmental assessment document):

Expanded Parking Area
sandy-proposed-improvementmap

In order to construct the parking area and additional amenities, a total footprint of 4.2 acres will be disturbed. To construct the parking area, 2.02 acres of the total footprint will be cleared of all vegetation, including small diameter trees if necessary for safety and overall design. The type of vegetation that would be removed includes small Black Cotton Wood, Red Alder, small Western Hemlock, Salmon Berry, California Hazelnut, and Vine Maple. The parking area will be asphalted and parking spaces will be delineated with strips and curbs.

The parking spaces are designed to be over sized spaces to allow for any size passenger vehicle to be parked comfortably and leave ample space to maneuver their gear in and out of the vehicles. Eighteen additional areas for tailgating or picnicking between three parking spots, or bump-outs, will be cleared, graveled, and outfitted with a picnic table for spaces on the exterior of the parking area (EA Figure 2). The expanded parking area will remove 19 standard parking spaces from the existing trailhead parking area, leaving 17 standard parking spaces; while adding 163 new standard parking spaces, four large vehicle parking spaces, and additional handicap designated parking. One additional vault restroom will be installed adjacent to the existing vault restroom to accommodate visitors within the expanded parking area. Two gates will be installed on either side of the expanding parking area loop near the large vehicle spaces to allow for winter season closure of a majority of the new parking spaces for public health and safety.

Beginner Bicycle Skills Trail
Within the interior of the expanded parking area a mountain bicycle beginner skills trail will be built. The skills trail area will encompass approximate 2 acres of the disturbance footprint within the expanded parking area loop (EA Figure 3). Vegetation within the 2 acres will remain in place, including large woody debris. The BLM will remove any non-native and invasive plant species and replace them with fruiting and flowering shrubs and understory trees, Western red cedar, and other vegetation as prescribed by the BLM Wildlife Biologist and Botanist to facilitate wildlife and migratory bird habitat. Construction of the beginner trails will be completed by either BLM or the International Mountain Bicycling Association (IMBA) through an existing assistance agreement for the Sandy Ridge Trail System. All trails constructed in the beginner skills area will follow IMBA and BLM non-motorized trail guidance and design features (EA Section 2.4.4).

Bicycle Hub Structure
sandy-bikehub-busstop

sandy-changingroom

A bicycle hub, wash station, changing room, and bus stop will be encompassed into one structure and installed south of the existing parking area (EA Figure 3). The structure will be built and installed in cooperation by a BLM non-profit partner. The hub itself will provide tools for small bicycle repairs as well as local area safety equipment and information. Changing rooms and a Mount Hood Express bus stop will also be added to the hub structure. All of the amenities included in the bicycle hub will have a total disturbance foot print of approximately 800 square feet.

The bicycle wash station will help reduce the spread of non-native and invasive species by providing an area for visitors to pressure spray dirt and debris from their bicycle before entering and leaving the trail system. The bike wash station would consist of a structure to hang the bikes on, a low pressure water source to spray bikes and gear off, and a stiff bristle brush to brush off any remaining dirt that cannot be sprayed off. A well head will be installed near the hub to provide less than 5,000 gallons a day of potable water for drinking and for the wash station, which would not require a water right according to the state water master of the region.

Designated Events Area
The existing parking area will be re-purposed to function as an area for permitted trailhead events and concessionaires, including bicycle demos and food carts (EA Figure 3). The Designated Events Area will be built within the center of the existing parking area. A bike demonstration event is where a mountain bike manufacturing or retail company brings a trailer of mountain bikes to Sandy Ridge Trailhead and allows potential customers to test ride the mountain bikes. There is a need to develop a formal bike demo and event area to allow for better accommodations and to reduce the amount of parking spaces used for events. In 2016, there have been 28 scheduled events at Sandy Ridge Trailhead.
A 125 foot by 150 foot pad will be cleared of vegetation, graded, and paved with asphalt within the interior of the existing parking area. Approximately 20 small trees will be removed from the areas in order to construct the pad. In addition to formalizing the event area for bike demos, the re-purposed area would allow for food trucks and carts, providing for a greater level of service for the community and visitors. The area will be available to reserve for events through the Northwest Oregon District SRP process.

Entrance Redesign
sandy-bikerack

A new entrance will be developed that better meets the management objectives of the Sandy Ridge Trailhead. The entrance will incorporate the same style of design, material, art, structure, and sculptures that will be throughout the parking area. The new entrance design may feature an arch entry way that spans the width of the entrance road, with sculptures and stonework of mountain bikers and native wildlife. The location of the new entrance design will be in roughly the same location as the current entrance sign. Considerations for security and safety will be taken into consideration for the new entrance design. For additional design drawings, see EA Chapter 5.

Connecting Trails
Two small connecting trails, totaling 120 feet in length, will be built to connect to the existing trails that are near the trailhead (EA Figure 3). There is currently a loop trail that rings around the proposed parking area. A new trail will be built connecting the northern most portion of the trailhead to the existing loop trail.
Another connecting trail will be built to tie in a nearly completed trail from Barlow Wayside trail to the Sandy Ridge Trailhead. This connecting trail will be for pedestrians only, and trail constructing may include stairs or other built in obstructions to deter the use of bikes on the Barlow Wayside trail.

The BLM estimates about 90,000 people visited the Sandy Ridge trails in 2015, making it one of the most popular recreation spots in the entire region. They say these new amenities and upgrades are necessary in order to, “provide increased site access, improved safety, and to protect the natural environment to provide for a high quality recreation experience.”

The major increase in parking capacity for instance is proposed because many people park out on Barlow Road when the current lot with just 36 parking spaces gets full. There are an estimated 326 vehicles a day that use the lot during the peak riding season. When people park along the road it’s a, “serious safety concern” because of poor sight distances and high volume of trucks that use the road.

The BLM also wants to encourage people to not drive to the trailhead. They say the new bus stop, “would allow visitors that do not have access to privately owned vehicles the ability to frequently access the trailhead from the surrounding communities and the Portland-Metropolitan area.”

If you have concerns or want to show your support for this proposal you can share your feedback via this online form through December 8th. You can also contact NW Oregon District Recreation Planner Dan Davis via email at BLM_OR_NO_Rec_publiccomments@blm.gov.

We’re trying to track down a project timeline and will update this post when we hear more.

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

BikePortland is supported by the community (that means you!). Please become a subscriber or make a donation today.

The post New skills trail, major upgrades proposed for Sandy Ridge trailhead appeared first on BikePortland.org.

Fact check: The St. Johns Bridge does not need 19-foot wide lanes for freight traffic

Fact check: The St. Johns Bridge does not need 19-foot wide lanes for freight traffic

The St. Johns Bridge looking west. (Photo: Joe Mabel/Wikipedia)

The St. Johns Bridge looking west.
(Photo: Joe Mabel/Wikipedia)

Despite multiple demands over the years to improve bike access on the St. Johns Bridge, the Oregon Department of Transportation has used many different excuses for why the current lane configuration simply cannot change. And it turns out their latest excuse — that state design guidelines for freight traffic require 19-foot wide lanes in both directions — is untrue.

ODOT is facing renewed pressure to make the bridge safer for cycling after 55-year-old Mitch York was killed while biking on the bridge on October 29th.

The claim about lane width first raised eyebrows on October 31st when ODOT spokesperson Kimberley Dinwiddie told KGW News that state law mandated 19-feet of width. We immediately questioned the figure in a Twitter post and a KGW reporter then followed-up with Dinwiddie in an effort to clarify the information.

In a Q & A posted as an update to the original KGW story, Dinwiddie repeated the claim…

Snips from KGW story.

Snips from KGW story.







I checked both the relevant Oregon law (ORS 366.215) and the Oregon Administrative Rule that implements that law and found no reference to 19-feet, so I also asked Dinwiddie to clarify the statement. On November 2nd she reiterated the claim she made to KGW. The 19-foot lane width is, “a guideline we use statewide to make sure freight can move over a variety of different kinds of highways and bridges,” she said via email. When I followed up again two days later to ask whether or not it applied to both directions (meaning they’d need 38-feet of width for freight), ODOT’s Public Information Coordinator David Thompson also mentioned the 19-foot guideline. Thompson then said he’d check with ODOT’s Motor Carrier Division just to make sure precisely when the 19-feet stipulation applies.

As promised, yesterday I heard back from ODOT Region 1 spokesperson Don Hamilton who met with the agency’s freight experts in Salem. Hamilton said the 19-foot guideline applies only during construction. “In our earlier communications with you, we misunderstood this guideline,” Hamilton said. “Our apologies.”

So, just to be clear, ODOT does not need to preserve 19-foot lanes in each direction on the St. Johns Bridge.

The other excuse they gave KGW for why there’s no room to improve bicycle access on the main bridge roadway was, “because of the congestion and dangerous situations that could occur from that.” That claim also doesn’t quite match up with the facts and deserves much more scrutiny.

In fact, the more I learn about this issue, the more it seems like ODOT doesn’t have any legitimate excuse for not considering design changes on the St. Johns Bridge; changes that could vastly improve safety for all users. So why aren’t they more open to ideas? That’s a good question.

Stay tuned.

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

BikePortland is supported by the community (that means you!). Please become a subscriber or make a donation today.

The post Fact check: The St. Johns Bridge does not need 19-foot wide lanes for freight traffic appeared first on BikePortland.org.

First look: New striping and pavement on key stretch of Highway 30

First look: New striping and pavement on key stretch of Highway 30

New striping on Highway 30-2.jpg

Riding the shoulder bikeway through Linnton on Highway 30.
(Photos: J. Maus/BikePortland)

The Oregon Department of Transportation has completed a major repaving project on a key section of Highway 30 that’s a popular bike route between the St. Johns Bridge and Sauvie Island.

Back in March we said this was a “golden opportunity” to make the highway better for bicycling. Unfortunately ODOT didn’t make any major improvements to bike access; but the shoulder is now a more consistent width throughout the project’s seven-miles (between the bridge and McNamee Road). We were also disappointed that the shoulder wasn’t striped until a few days ago — well over a week after all the lanes for auto use were completed and striped.

Portlander Ira Ryan (co-founder of Breadwinner Cycles) pointed out the lack of striping in a post on Instagram:

I contacted ODOT about the lack of shoulder striping and pointed out that it created dangerous conditions for bicycle riders — especially on a highway that has a 50 mile-per-hour speed limit, a high volume of truck traffic, and is very popular for cycling. ODOT Community Affairs Coordinator Susan Hanson said the striping wasn’t finished because the contractor didn’t have enough days of dry weather to do the installation. In a follow-up question I asked Hanson to try and understand how it feels to be a bicycle rider when all the striping needed for driving was prioritized and completed despite the weather.

“I do understand your view on the order the striping was done in,” Hanson replied. “We will definitely keep that in mind for future projects for the shoulder striping to be done earlier by the striping sub-contractor.”

Hanson also shared the details on how this project has improved the shoulder for cycling:

The lane and shoulder widths have been standardized to make them more consistent throughout the corridor and provide a wider and more consistent shoulder width for cyclists in response to their concerns.

…The inside lane will be 11 feet wide and the outside lane will be 12 feet wide. The 12 foot outside lane is required for trucks and buses and the 11 foot inside lane is very adequate for cars. This change often results in wider shoulders that are better for cyclists safety.

The shoulders on US 30 in the project area will now be a minimum of 6 feet wide wherever possible. There are a only couple of areas: one just south of Linnton and one around Bridge Avenue where the shoulder will only be 5 feet wide for a short distance.







I rode in the area on Tuesday and can confirm that the striping is finally complete.

It’s important to note that there is a distinction between a shoulder and a bike lane. The stretch of Highway 30 between the St. Johns Bridge and Sauvie Island is technically considered a shoulder. This means it doesn’t have the same legal standing that a bicycle-only lane would have. It also comes with just a four-inch white stripe (fog line) instead of a six-inch stripe. And you won’t see any bike lane symbols.

Here are some photos of how it looks starting northbound south of the Linnton neighborhood where the speed limit is 35 mph…

New striping on Highway 30-1.jpg

The new pavement is nice and smooth; but I worry that it only encourages higher speeds because people don’t have bumps or potholes to worry about.

As you get into Linnton, the same danger spots remain. This fabrication shop’s truck is always pinching the shoulder in this location…

New striping on Highway 30-3.jpg

Then you have the section with lots of big driveways where the shoulder narrows and drops several times…

New striping on Highway 30-5.jpg

North of Linnton, the shoulder opens way up and there aren’t any driveways to worry about. Unfortunately the speed limit goes up to 50 mph…

New striping on Highway 30-7.jpg

And unfortunately ODOT’s sub-contractor doesn’t appear to care at all about people who travel in the shoulder. They placed several of these signs on both sides of the highway, forcing me to merge with people driving over 50 mph…

New striping on Highway 30-8.jpg

In the southbound direction, I was happy to see that ODOT has added bumps to the shoulder lane stripe. These will hopefully be a visual and audible reminder to people in cars to stay away from the shoulder unless they need to park for an emergency…

New striping on Highway 30-9.jpg

New striping on Highway 30-10.jpg

While ODOT is proud of what they’ve done for bicycle riders in this project, I didn’t feel much difference overall. The fact remains there’s a lot more that should be done. Given the importance of this this segment of highway in the regional bike network, it should be considered a bicycle safety corridor with striping, signage, and other design elements that make cycling as low-stress as possible and makes it clear to users they should expect bicycle traffic. As you can see in the overhead image below there’s a painted center median and the standard lanes give motorized vehicle users more than enough space.

New striping on Highway 30-11.jpg

Hopefully in the future we can make more — and more significant — bicycle access upgrades on Highway 30. Until then, ride with caution and make sure you use the ORCycle app to report problems and maintenance needs directly to ODOT.

Have you ridden this yet? What do you think?

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

BikePortland is supported by the community (that means you!). Please become a subscriber or make a donation today.

The post First look: New striping and pavement on key stretch of Highway 30 appeared first on BikePortland.org.

First look: New striping and pavement on key stretch of Highway 30

First look: New striping and pavement on key stretch of Highway 30

New striping on Highway 30-2.jpg

Riding the shoulder bikeway through Linnton on Highway 30.
(Photos: J. Maus/BikePortland)

The Oregon Department of Transportation has completed a major repaving project on a key section of Highway 30 that’s a popular bike route between the St. Johns Bridge and Sauvie Island.

Back in March we said this was a “golden opportunity” to make the highway better for bicycling. Unfortunately ODOT didn’t make any major improvements to bike access; but the shoulder is now a more consistent width throughout the project’s seven-miles (between the bridge and McNamee Road). We were also disappointed that the shoulder wasn’t striped until a few days ago — well over a week after all the lanes for auto use were completed and striped.

Portlander Ira Ryan (co-founder of Breadwinner Cycles) pointed out the lack of striping in a post on Instagram:

I contacted ODOT about the lack of shoulder striping and pointed out that it created dangerous conditions for bicycle riders — especially on a highway that has a 50 mile-per-hour speed limit, a high volume of truck traffic, and is very popular for cycling. ODOT Community Affairs Coordinator Susan Hanson said the striping wasn’t finished because the contractor didn’t have enough days of dry weather to do the installation. In a follow-up question I asked Hanson to try and understand how it feels to be a bicycle rider when all the striping needed for driving was prioritized and completed despite the weather.

“I do understand your view on the order the striping was done in,” Hanson replied. “We will definitely keep that in mind for future projects for the shoulder striping to be done earlier by the striping sub-contractor.”

Hanson also shared the details on how this project has improved the shoulder for cycling:

The lane and shoulder widths have been standardized to make them more consistent throughout the corridor and provide a wider and more consistent shoulder width for cyclists in response to their concerns.

…The inside lane will be 11 feet wide and the outside lane will be 12 feet wide. The 12 foot outside lane is required for trucks and buses and the 11 foot inside lane is very adequate for cars. This change often results in wider shoulders that are better for cyclists safety.

The shoulders on US 30 in the project area will now be a minimum of 6 feet wide wherever possible. There are a only couple of areas: one just south of Linnton and one around Bridge Avenue where the shoulder will only be 5 feet wide for a short distance.







I rode in the area on Tuesday and can confirm that the striping is finally complete.

It’s important to note that there is a distinction between a shoulder and a bike lane. The stretch of Highway 30 between the St. Johns Bridge and Sauvie Island is technically considered a shoulder. This means it doesn’t have the same legal standing that a bicycle-only lane would have. It also comes with just a four-inch white stripe (fog line) instead of a six-inch stripe. And you won’t see any bike lane symbols.

Here are some photos of how it looks starting northbound south of the Linnton neighborhood where the speed limit is 35 mph…

New striping on Highway 30-1.jpg

The new pavement is nice and smooth; but I worry that it only encourages higher speeds because people don’t have bumps or potholes to worry about.

As you get into Linnton, the same danger spots remain. This fabrication shop’s truck is always pinching the shoulder in this location…

New striping on Highway 30-3.jpg

Then you have the section with lots of big driveways where the shoulder narrows and drops several times…

New striping on Highway 30-5.jpg

North of Linnton, the shoulder opens way up and there aren’t any driveways to worry about. Unfortunately the speed limit goes up to 50 mph…

New striping on Highway 30-7.jpg

And unfortunately ODOT’s sub-contractor doesn’t appear to care at all about people who travel in the shoulder. They placed several of these signs on both sides of the highway, forcing me to merge with people driving over 50 mph…

New striping on Highway 30-8.jpg

In the southbound direction, I was happy to see that ODOT has added bumps to the shoulder lane stripe. These will hopefully be a visual and audible reminder to people in cars to stay away from the shoulder unless they need to park for an emergency…

New striping on Highway 30-9.jpg

New striping on Highway 30-10.jpg

While ODOT is proud of what they’ve done for bicycle riders in this project, I didn’t feel much difference overall. The fact remains there’s a lot more that should be done. Given the importance of this this segment of highway in the regional bike network, it should be considered a bicycle safety corridor with striping, signage, and other design elements that make cycling as low-stress as possible and makes it clear to users they should expect bicycle traffic. As you can see in the overhead image below there’s a painted center median and the standard lanes give motorized vehicle users more than enough space.

New striping on Highway 30-11.jpg

Hopefully in the future we can make more — and more significant — bicycle access upgrades on Highway 30. Until then, ride with caution and make sure you use the ORCycle app to report problems and maintenance needs directly to ODOT.

Have you ridden this yet? What do you think?

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

BikePortland is supported by the community (that means you!). Please become a subscriber or make a donation today.

The post First look: New striping and pavement on key stretch of Highway 30 appeared first on BikePortland.org.

One year in, how’s the Lafayette Street bridge elevator treating you?

One year in, how’s the Lafayette Street bridge elevator treating you?

Lafayette Street Bridge-6.jpg

The bridge has been in operation for just over a year now.
(Photo: J. Maus/BikePortland)

I used the Lafayette Street Bridge for the first time last week. And I liked it.

The bridge was completed by TriMet in 2015 as part of the Orange Line MAX project and creates a connection over railroad tracks in the Brooklyn neighborhood between SE Lafayette and Rhine streets. It’s the only crossing of the tracks between Holgate and Powell (major arterials).

lafayettediagram

Lafayette Street Bridge-5.jpg

It appears to be pretty popular with bicycle riders.
Lafayette Street Bridge-4.jpg







Lafayette Street Bridge-3.jpg

The design allows you to pull into and out of the elevator without getting off your bike.
Lafayette Street Bridge-2.jpg

I used it as a way to get back to the Willamette river (via the Orange Line) from the industrial area off of SE 21st south of Powell. I was visiting Portland Design Works and a few of the employees there raved about the bridge — saying it makes their daily commute much easier. They also said the elevator had been very reliable. I was worried about reliability since the elevator that services the Gibbs Street Bridge under the Aerial Tram in south waterfront has been anything but. (Note: TriMet manages the Lafayette Bridge, the City of Portland manages the Gibbs Bridge.)

When we first reported on the bridge in September 2015 we said it would, “be a useful link to people looking to head east or west using the bikeway on Gladstone Street, including people moving between downtown Portland and Reed College, Woodstock and Creston-Kenilworth.”

So far my hunch is that it’s been a success. I base that partly on how easy it was for me to use last week — and also because I haven’t heard a peep about it from anyone.

Have any of you incorporated it into your daily riding? And if so, how do you like it?

UPDATE: Thanks for all your comments. Here is some feedback we heard from readers via Twitter:

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

BikePortland is supported by the community (that means you!). Please become a subscriber or make a donation today.

The post One year in, how’s the Lafayette Street bridge elevator treating you? appeared first on BikePortland.org.

First look: Portland’s new bike roundabout and two-way cycling lane on NE 21st Avenue

First look: Portland’s new bike roundabout and two-way cycling lane on NE 21st Avenue

New bikeway on NE 21st Avenue-10.jpg

A circular bikeway interchange (or whatever you want to call it) is the centerpiece of several changes on the NE 21st bridge over Interstate 84.
(Photos: J. Maus/BikePortland)

Slowly but sure our city’s transportation bureau is creating more protected space for cycling. I took a closer look at the latest example of this on the Northeast 21st Avenue bridge over I-84 just east of the Lloyd District.

As we reported back in May, it’s one of the nine projects in the hopper citywide that feature physical separation between cycling and driving traffic.

“It’s now the most bicycle-friendly crossing of the Banfield in inner Portland.”
— Roger Geller, PBOT bicycle coordinator

PBOT has significantly changed the lane configuration on 21st between Multnomah and Pacific (at Sunshine Dairy) to include a paint-only buffered bike lane on the west side of the overpass and a two-way bikeway on the east side physically protected with flex-posts and rubber curbs. There are also bike-related additions to the north and south ends of the project in order to facilitate cycling connections to the Lloyd District (via the existing bikeway on Multnomah) and southeast neighborhoods (and eventually the 20s Bikeway).

The project is also the debut of Portland’s first-ever bicycle roundabout — a paint-only circular feature at the south end of the project that aims to improve safety at a four-way cycling junction.

To get the space needed for these additional non-motorized lanes, PBOT slightly narrowed the two standard vehicle lanes and removed a few auto parking spaces on each side of the bridge.

The changes in bike access now give southbound riders two options: A buffered bike lane if you are headed west after I-84, or a protected bike lane if you are headed east. For northbound riders, PBOT has painted a left-turn box in the northeast corner of the intersection at Multnomah and 21st in order to improve the westbound connection (toward Lloyd Center Mall destinations).

PBOT Bicycle Coordinator Roger Geller said during an interview last week that the changes make 21st Avenue, “The most bicycle-friendly overcrossing of the Banfield in inner Portland” (which he also admitted isn’t saying much).

Let’s take a closer look at the southern end of the project.

As you approach northbound from the southern end at Sunshine Dairy and NE Pacific Street, you see the start of the bi-directional, green-colored bikeway. The curbs, buffer space, and delineator posts are welcome here because of heavy truck traffic in the area.

New bikeway on NE 21st Avenue-4.jpg







New bikeway on NE 21st Avenue-6.jpg

As you get to the overpass, there’s a new ADA crosswalk and stop signs for motor vehicle users…

New bikeway on NE 21st Avenue-7.jpg

Here’s a view looking south from I-84 toward the southern terminus of the project at Pacific:

New bikeway on NE 21st Avenue-8.jpg

The roundabout feature is about 5-6 feet in diameter and has been creatively adorned with a flower theme…

New bikeway on NE 21st Avenue-24.jpg

Here’s another view of the circle…

New bikeway on NE 21st Avenue-25.jpg

And looking southbound…

New bikeway on NE 21st Avenue-23.jpg

Our friend Jeff Johnson calls it a “community circle” and took this fun video of it yesterday:

A video posted by jeff johnson (@jeffjpdx) on

As you can see, the angles of entry to and around the circle for auto users (from northbound 21st) and bicycle users (from northbound 20th and southbound 21st) are not gradual or even possible to use perfectly. When I asked PBOT engineer Andrew Sullivan about this last week, he said that’s sort of by design. “I understand people aren’t going to ride it the way it’s intended to ride,” he said. “It’s really there to raise awareness to look out for other cyclists.” In other words, the circle is a tool to encourage caution and communicate an expectation to road users that people might be coming into it from different directions.

Once on the overpass, the two-way bike lane feels good. Keep in mind that this isn’t a high-volume bicycle corridor yet. This means you’ll usually have plenty of room to ride. It’s also worth noting that all these changes create a much more balanced cross-section, which leads to people driving more slowly and increases the safety of everyone.

New bikeway on NE 21st Avenue-11.jpg

Notice the leaves building up as it approaches Multnomah. This is a problem PBOT needs to address. This many leaves degrades the quality of the facility…

New bikeway on NE 21st Avenue-12.jpg

New bikeway on NE 21st Avenue-14.jpg

Here’s the two-way facility looking southbound from Multnomah…

New bikeway on NE 21st Avenue-21.jpg

New bikeway on NE 21st Avenue-19.jpg

One very important aspect of this project is how it provides a much safer environment for young people who attend Da Vinci Arts Middle School which is just a few blocks southest of it. During both of my recent site visits I saw a lot of pre-teen kids biking by themselves (as in both photos above). It was so awesome to see them in a protected lane!

Notice how the kids in the image below are using the new, green-colored left-turn box in order to continue west on Multnomah…

New bikeway on NE 21st Avenue-22.jpg

This project also comes with a new buffered lane on the west side of the overpass. This is the location where the PDX Transformation group installed unsanctioned cones due to the high rate of drivers who cut into the bike lane at the corner. Below is a shot of someone riding at the crux of that corner…

New bikeway on NE 21st Avenue-13.jpg

While these changes are great to see, we still don’t gave continuous connections to other protected facilities on either end.

Here’s what you get if you continue north of Multnomah…

New bikeway on NE 21st Avenue-18.jpg

And here’s what you get if you continue south of Pacific…

New bikeway on NE 21st Avenue-5.jpg

After watching this during peak-hour traffic twice now, I think it’s a big improvement. Yes it’s strange and will take some getting used to, but overall it provides more dedicated space for cycling, it reduces driving speeds, and it improves important connections on either end.

And yes, people are already illegally parking inside the bike lane. When I rolled up yesterday, a water delivery truck was parked across both lanes, leading to this classic display of frustration…

New bikeway on NE 21st Avenue-1.jpg

I suspect this type of behavior will go away once folks get used to the changes.

Speaking of which, it seems bicycle riders have mixed feelings so far.

A Jimmy Johns bike delivery guy who told me he rides this overpass 15 times a day said he likes the new protected bikeway because of how it allows him to connect more easily to neighborhoods east of 21st; but he doesn’t like the circle. He was worried about possible conflicts from bicycle riders not paying attention.

Yesterday a woman emailed us to express her disapproval. “The two-way thing is so awkward!,” she wrote.

Have you ridden through here yet? Tell us what you think.

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

BikePortland is supported by the community (that means you!). Please become a subscriber or make a donation today.

The post First look: Portland’s new bike roundabout and two-way cycling lane on NE 21st Avenue appeared first on BikePortland.org.

Media coverage of St. Johns Bridge fatality makes ODOT answer for lack of safe bike access

Media coverage of St. Johns Bridge fatality makes ODOT answer for lack of safe bike access

KGW's Q & A with ODOT is a must-read.

KGW’s Q & A with ODOT is a must-read.

The Oregon Department of Transportation is being forced to answer questions about unsafe biking conditions on the St. Johns Bridge after 55-year-old Mitch York was killed while biking on it Saturday.

All four of the major network news outlets led with follow-ups on the story during last night’s newscast.

As we continue to do our own reporting about the fateful decisions ODOT made during a multi-million dollar renovation project on the bridge in 2003 (to prioritize motorized vehicle capacity at the expense of everything else, summarized by this commenter who was around at the time), let’s take a look at how the issue has been covered so far by KOIN (CBS), KATU (ABC), KPTV (Fox), and KGW (NBC).

(Note that three of these four newscasts included my comments shared via on-camera interviews. Those videos are embedded below.)

KOIN: “Is it time for bike lanes on the St. Johns Bridge?”

“Some are calling on the Oregon Department of Transportation to remove a lane of traffic and create a safe path for bikes,” KOIN says in the lead paragraph of their story. In response, ODOT spokesman Don Hamilton says, “the solution may not be that simple.”

Here’s the rest of Hamilton’s response:

“I don’t know if a bike lane would have made any difference,” Hamilton said, adding that the department is looking into whether it could have helped avoid the crash.

Hamilton tells KOIN 6 News the St. Johns Bridge is a freight route and a state highway that also has to meet the needs of heavy traffic. While a bike lane isn’t out of the question, the old bridge’s narrow lanes may make it challenging to do.

Adding bike lanes could also cause serious traffic backups, Hamilton explained.

KATU: “Bike community demands ODOT readdress St. Johns Bridge safety”

KATU’s story includes a statement from BTA Executive Director Rob Sadowsky where he says the organizations wants ODOT to “create physically separated bike lanes similar to what we have on the Hawthorne Bridge.” Sadowsky also told them the BTA wants, “Our criminal justice system to stop letting drivers have multiple chances.”

Hamilton from ODOT told KATU that his agency must, “make sure that this is an effective avenue for freight, for motorists, for commuters, for bicyclists, for pedestrians.” “We’re trying to do what safest for everybody,” he said. Then he made a familiar promise we’ve heard from ODOT many times in the past: “We’re going to look carefully at this and find out if anything additional can be done.”

KPTV: “Driver accused of killing cyclist on St. Johns Bridge has history of traffic crimes”

KPTV – FOX 12

KPTV reported that advocates are “calling for traffic changes to make the bridge safer,” but that ODOT isn’t likely to oblige because the bridge is “a major freight route and building a bike lane would cause ‘bottlenecking.’”







KGW: Bike lanes on St. Johns Bridge were nixed 13 years ago

KGW has had the best coverage of the story so far. Their story delved deeper into ODOT’s 2003 engineering decisions and an obscure state statute that regulates freight capacity on roads that’s known as “hole-in-the-air” (ORS 366.215, read our coverage of that issue here).

ODOT spokeswoman Kimberley Dinwiddie made an interesting assertion in an interview with KGW. She said state law requires freight routes like Highway 30 over the St. Johns Bridge to be 19-feet wide in each direction. Since the total curb-to-curb width of the bridge is 40-feet, Dinwiddie told KATU, “If we placed a bike lane with a separated barrier we would be in violation of the state law.”

After an exchange about this on Twitter yesterday, KGW updated their story with insights from BTA Advocacy Director Gerik Kransky. He disagrees with Dinwiddie’s interpretation of the statute. He knows a lot about the statute because he was part of the 2012 lobbying effort that pushed back ODOT’s attempt to further strengthen it in favor of truck drivers.

KGW then did a Q & A with ODOT’s Dinwiddie to try and clarify the disagreement. It’s a must-read:

Is it really true that freight routes have to have a 19-foot lane?

Freight routes in Oregon require by law that freight haulers have at least 19 feet of width in each direction they’re traveling. On the St. Johns Bridge it’s only 40 feet wide, so if we put protected bike lanes in each direction on the St. Johns Bridge, it would prohibit us from following that law. The entire width of the bridge is 40 feet wide. The 19-feet cannot be obstructed by any barrier. It doesn’t matter how many lanes there are, what matters is the width. And it doesn’t matter whether that 19-feet is in one lane or two lanes. What matters is that its unobstructed with any barriers or curbs.

Could you lose a lane… in order to get bike lanes?
We have studied removing travel lanes. We discovered in that study it would cause backups on U.S. 30 as well as into the St. Johns Neighborhood. In addition it would limit the width available to freight haulers.

You said that based on ORS 366.215 the roadway must have 19-foot unobstructed lanes. Does that mean a TOTAL of 19-feet of unobstructed travel lanes in each direction? So, two 10-foot wide lanes each way satisfy the requirement? But one 10-foot wide lane plus a protected bike lane would not?
That is correct.

Does state law allow any flexibility in this? Would the city of Portland or Multnomah County be able to request an exemption? What would that process look like?
The process to change the exemption would require a possible change in the statute but it would also have to be approved by the Oregon Transportation Commission before that could be moved forward

You referenced a previous study on this bridge. Do we need a new road study? It’s been a decade since the 2005 study on the St. Johns Bridge – the region and it’s roads have clearly grown and become more taxed by changing demographics in Portland. In particular, North Portland seems to have experienced a major growth spurt. Would ODOT support a new study? What would it take get a new study done?
At this time we have not had any discussions about a new study.  The study that took place in 2003 included projections for up to the year of 2020. 

To make room for bike lanes could ODOT create a flexible traffic pattern with 1 dedicated lane each direction and a center lane that would change based on flow of traffic for freight? 
That has not been considered in either study and it’s not under discussion.

This is a really sad reminder we have to take responsibility for the safety of others every time we get behind the wheel.

We had the study in 2005 as we were leading up to the rehabilitation project for the bridge. And what we did was we widened the sidewalks around the bridge spires to allow for more room for people who choose to walk or bike on the sidewalks. In 2012, we looked at this again to see if there was anything else we could do and we still came to the same conclusion that bike lanes, and especially a separate bike path, was not feasible for the St. Johns Bridge. What we have done instead is install sharrows and signs to warn drivers that there are bikes in the travel lane and they have the legal right to be in that travel lane so people who are driving need to expect there are going to be bikes in that travel lane and to give them their room and to slow down.

At this time there is no further discussion to place bike lanes on the St. Johns Bridge because of the congestion and dangerous situations that could occur from that.

KGW deserves high praise for this line of questioning. It’s way more detail than we typically see from local networks on transportation issues.

That being said, Dinwiddie’s perspective is both jarring and illuminating. This Q & A and the other statements from her ODOT colleague Don Hamilton make it crystal clear that ODOT still places motorized vehicle capacity at the top of their priority list. This is disappointing for an agency that just released a Transportation Safety Action Plan with strong verbal commitments to a future with zero traffic deaths.

We have more coverage of this story coming. Stay tuned.

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

BikePortland is supported by the community (that means you!). Please become a subscriber or make a donation today.

The post Media coverage of St. Johns Bridge fatality makes ODOT answer for lack of safe bike access appeared first on BikePortland.org.

City Council votes to fund Better Naito and Halsey safety upgrades

City Council votes to fund Better Naito and Halsey safety upgrades

Hales at council this morning.

Hales at council this morning.

What started as a vision of a few tactical urbanists is now officially ensconced in City of Portland policy.

A few minutes ago Portland City Council unanimously agreed to to pass the fall supplemental budget package that included $350,000 for a seasonal version of the Better Naito project. The budget also includes $1 million for upgrades to outer Northeast Halsey Street — funding that will trigger a $1 million match in funds from the Bureau of Transportation to complete the project.

As we reported earlier this week, these two projects emerged from a list of six requests made by the Bureau of Transportation in an attempt to get a piece of a $4 million piece of the General Fund that was up for grabs.

“We’ve killed 34 of our fellow citizens with cars [this year], and that’s the #1 threat to public safety in our city.”
— Charlie Hales, Mayor

It was the last budget-related act for outgoing Mayor Charlie Hales, and he was motivated to make good on promises about making cycling on Naito Parkway easier and safer. During his pre-vote remarks in City Hall this morning Hales has strong words of support for both the projects. He spoke directly about hearing from many Portlanders who supported the Naito project.

Hales rode a bike on Naito’s temporary protected lane in July and implored advocates to get loud if they wanted the city to fund it.

“I’m very happy about Better Naito,” he said this morning, “And in terms of community involvement, I want to thank the hundreds of people who let us know it was a priority for them. It really helped us make the case that having more safe places to bike, and expanding the public realm for bicycles in this city, and is something we’re still committed too.”

And perhaps alluding to permanent, year-round changes to Naito, Hales added, “This is a step in the right direction.”

The seasonal version of Better Naito will reconfigure the lanes on the east side of the street during the busy summer festival season in Waterfront Park. For the next five years, city crews will screw in flexible plastic bollards to protect a wide space for walking and biking in both directions. The project also institutionalizes the tactical urbanism approach to street management popularized by Better Block PDX, the nonprofit group who first deployed the project in 2015. This more nimble, flexible, and cheaper approach to re-imagining streets bodes very well for the city’s new Livable Streets Strategy initiative.







Better Naito kickoff-12.jpg

Coming back this summer!
(Photo: J. Maus/BikePortland)

“People should have an absolute right to the safe use of our streets and it’s a goal we’ll get closer to if we make these types of investments.”
— Nick Fish, Commissioner

Hales also spoke forcefully today about the need for safety upgrades on Halsey, a project that lines up with the city’s vision zero committment and its need to invest in safety upgrades east of I-205. “Gang violence is still a serious problem in this city, we’ve had 15 homicides so far this year,” he said. “But we’ve killed 34 of our fellow citizens with cars, and that’s the #1 threat to public safety in our city.” Hales also mentioned testimony he heard last month from the mother of Fallon Smart, the 15-year-old killed by a reckless driver while walking across Hawthorne Blvd earlier this year. “We had Fawn Lengvenis here, talking about the hole in her heart from her daughter’s death… So vision zero is real and it’s human and it matters… Budgets are how you put values into action, and this is good action and I’m very proud of it.”

Commissioner Nick Fish also voiced strong support for both projects. Back in July, Fish decried Better Naito because it made it harder for him to drive on the street. “When I am in a car and trying to get from point a to point b,” he said during a Council meeting on July 29th. “There are huge consequences when we take a lane out of Naito or we close a street, and effectively what it means is that you just can’t get from here to there.”

Thankfully Fish has changed his tune. “Thanks to everyone who educated me about the benefits of Better Naito,” he said, before voting “aye” this morning. And about the Halsey vision zero project, Fish said, “Vision zero has to be at the center of what we do as a city. People should have an absolute right to the safe use of our streets and it’s a goal we’ll get closer to if we make these types of investments.”

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

BikePortland is supported by the community (that means you!). Please become a subscriber or make a donation today.

The post City Council votes to fund Better Naito and Halsey safety upgrades appeared first on BikePortland.org.

City Council votes to fund Better Naito and Halsey safety upgrades

City Council votes to fund Better Naito and Halsey safety upgrades

Hales at council this morning.

Hales at council this morning.

What started as a vision of a few tactical urbanists is now officially ensconced in City of Portland policy.

A few minutes ago Portland City Council unanimously agreed to to pass the fall supplemental budget package that included $350,000 for a seasonal version of the Better Naito project. The budget also includes $1 million for upgrades to outer Northeast Halsey Street — funding that will trigger a $1 million match in funds from the Bureau of Transportation to complete the project.

As we reported earlier this week, these two projects emerged from a list of six requests made by the Bureau of Transportation in an attempt to get a piece of a $4 million piece of the General Fund that was up for grabs.

“We’ve killed 34 of our fellow citizens with cars [this year], and that’s the #1 threat to public safety in our city.”
— Charlie Hales, Mayor

It was the last budget-related act for outgoing Mayor Charlie Hales, and he was motivated to make good on promises about making cycling on Naito Parkway easier and safer. During his pre-vote remarks in City Hall this morning Hales has strong words of support for both the projects. He spoke directly about hearing from many Portlanders who supported the Naito project.

Hales rode a bike on Naito’s temporary protected lane in July and implored advocates to get loud if they wanted the city to fund it.

“I’m very happy about Better Naito,” he said this morning, “And in terms of community involvement, I want to thank the hundreds of people who let us know it was a priority for them. It really helped us make the case that having more safe places to bike, and expanding the public realm for bicycles in this city, and is something we’re still committed too.”

And perhaps alluding to permanent, year-round changes to Naito, Hales added, “This is a step in the right direction.”

The seasonal version of Better Naito will reconfigure the lanes on the east side of the street during the busy summer festival season in Waterfront Park. For the next five years, city crews will screw in flexible plastic bollards to protect a wide space for walking and biking in both directions. The project also institutionalizes the tactical urbanism approach to street management popularized by Better Block PDX, the nonprofit group who first deployed the project in 2015. This more nimble, flexible, and cheaper approach to re-imagining streets bodes very well for the city’s new Livable Streets Strategy initiative.







Better Naito kickoff-12.jpg

Coming back this summer!
(Photo: J. Maus/BikePortland)

“People should have an absolute right to the safe use of our streets and it’s a goal we’ll get closer to if we make these types of investments.”
— Nick Fish, Commissioner

Hales also spoke forcefully today about the need for safety upgrades on Halsey, a project that lines up with the city’s vision zero committment and its need to invest in safety upgrades east of I-205. “Gang violence is still a serious problem in this city, we’ve had 15 homicides so far this year,” he said. “But we’ve killed 34 of our fellow citizens with cars, and that’s the #1 threat to public safety in our city.” Hales also mentioned testimony he heard last month from the mother of Fallon Smart, the 15-year-old killed by a reckless driver while walking across Hawthorne Blvd earlier this year. “We had Fawn Lengvenis here, talking about the hole in her heart from her daughter’s death… So vision zero is real and it’s human and it matters… Budgets are how you put values into action, and this is good action and I’m very proud of it.”

Commissioner Nick Fish also voiced strong support for both projects. Back in July, Fish decried Better Naito because it made it harder for him to drive on the street. “When I am in a car and trying to get from point a to point b,” he said during a Council meeting on July 29th. “There are huge consequences when we take a lane out of Naito or we close a street, and effectively what it means is that you just can’t get from here to there.”

Thankfully Fish has changed his tune. “Thanks to everyone who educated me about the benefits of Better Naito,” he said, before voting “aye” this morning. And about the Halsey vision zero project, Fish said, “Vision zero has to be at the center of what we do as a city. People should have an absolute right to the safe use of our streets and it’s a goal we’ll get closer to if we make these types of investments.”

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

BikePortland is supported by the community (that means you!). Please become a subscriber or make a donation today.

The post City Council votes to fund Better Naito and Halsey safety upgrades appeared first on BikePortland.org.

County closes carfree path onto the Hawthorne Bridge

County closes carfree path onto the Hawthorne Bridge

I didn't even get a chance to say goodbye.

It was nice while it lasted. This carfree onramp to the Hawthorne has been closed.

I cherish every inch of carfree infrastructure downtown. It’s such a rarity when biking around the central city to be able to take a deep breath and not worry about any other vehicles — even if only for a few seconds.

That’s why I’m a bit sad that we can no longer bike on the ramp that goes from southbound Naito Parkway up to the Hawthorne Bridge eastbound.

Multnomah County closed that ramp today as construction on the new Central Courthouse gets underway.

The ramp wasn’t a major popular or particularly smooth connection up to the bridge; but I loved it. Because driving wasn’t allowed on it, I always felt like I was getting some sort of special access.







View looking southwest from the Hawthorne Bridge.

Goodbye old friend.
(View looking southwest from the Hawthorne Bridge.)

According to Mike Pullen at the County, the on-ramp was closed to auto use in 1998 after a major Hawthorne Bridge renovation project. That project widened the bridge’s walking and rolling path from six to ten feet and improved the sidewalk that’s now adjacent to the bike lane (and built the curb extension that the late Kirk Reeves used to entertain us on).

You can still access the south sidewalk of the bridge via SW Madison Street or via the path that leads up from Waterfront Park.

But it just won’t be the same.

Will you miss this ramp? Share your memories in the comments.

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

BikePortland is supported by the community (that means you!). Please become a subscriber or make a donation today.

The post County closes carfree path onto the Hawthorne Bridge appeared first on BikePortland.org.