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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

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

Activists (temporarily) take the swing out of TriMet’s swing gates

Activists (temporarily) take the swing out of TriMet’s swing gates

gates

TriMet’s swing gates at SE 11th are working as intended again as of this morning.
(Photo: J. Maus/BikePortland)

The latest chapter in swing gate-gate wasn’t open for long.

Elle Steele tries to open
the gate for her and
her bike.

Ever since TriMet announced plans to install manual gates on the path that crosses their new Orange Line MAX in inner southeast Portland, people have not been pleased. The gates require users to pull them open and — in addition to the permanent barrier they cause in the path (they are closed whether a train is coming or not) — concerns have been raised that the gates would be difficult for people with disabilities and cumbersome bicycles to easily use.

Turns out those concerns were warranted. Videos we published last week show a man in a motorized wheelchair having significant difficulty opening one of the gates. In two other videos, women with large cargo bikes full of children are seen struggling to pull open the gates and get through.

On Sunday afternoon transportation activists decided to take matters into their own hands.


class="twitter-tweet" data-width="500">

It’s a really good time to ride your wheelchair or cargo bike thru the @trimet gates at SE 11th now. pic.twitter.com/uXudQ8TFx9

— PDX Transformation (@PBOTrans) January 31, 2016

People working on behalf of PDX Transformation, the same secretive group that put out traffic cones to protect a bike lane back in December, propped open the gates on Sunday and then announced their action on Twitter. An anonymous representative from the group told us they used steel cable and ferrules to do the job. They made sure to not damage any TriMet property and the gates were re-opened shortly after by the transit agency.

Reached this morning, a TriMet official said: “We were aware of this… Having the gates propped open does not help with our data gathering. We ask that people not tamper with these safety devices.”

That data gathering is part of an ongoing analysis of the new gates being performed by TriMet to determine their effectiveness. Despite being told numerous times by official advisory groups that the gates would be problematic for the community, TriMet installed them anyways out of concern for path users’ safety. It remains to be seen if they’ll change course.

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

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The post Activists (temporarily) take the swing out of TriMet’s swing gates appeared first on BikePortland.org.

Videos show difficulties navigating TriMet’s swing gates

Videos show difficulties navigating TriMet’s swing gates

A new video just released by veteran transportation reform advocate Doug Klotz (we profiled him back in November) shows that the new swing gates installed by TriMet along the Orange Line in inner southeast Portland pose a significant barrier to people in motorized wheelchairs.

In the video, Joe VenderVeer, a former chair of the Portland Commission on Disability, can be seen struggling to open the gate. After lots of trial-and-error, VanderVeer does get through — but only because of his amazing chair-driving skills and a dazzling reverse spin move.

gatejoe

Joe VanderVeer trying to use the gate.

TriMet’s swing gates have been roundly criticized by cycling and walking advocates because of how they unecessarily limit use of the path along the new Orange Line. TriMet says they are needed for safety (there is both a light rail and heavy rail line and it’s a no-horn “quiet zone”).

When we first reported on the gates back in July, TriMet heard a wave of opposition. The gates were then officially opposed by City’s pedestrian and bicycle advisory committees.

The bike advsiory committee was worried about “the operating difficulties they will impose on members of the traveling public” and the pedestrian committee said, “swing gates still create an unnecessarily difficult barrier for people using wheelchairs and other mobility devices. No one deserves that disadvantage when there are better ideas on the table.”

TriMet changed their plans in response to these objections; but they still moved forward with swing gates at SE 11th. To bolster their case for the gates, TriMet released a video of their own showing a wheelchair user easily getting through.

Klotz remains concerned for users like VanderVeer. It’s a concern he first raised last summer. People with limited hand movement to control their chairs, he said in a BikePortland comment on July 16th, “will not be able to use these gates.” Now he’s got the video to prove it.

We sent TriMet the video and asked for their response: “Now that the gate installation is complete, we are monitoring how they work. We appreciate users’ observations and feedback.” You can tell TriMet what you think via their comment page.

UPDATE: Here are two more videos that show local women trying to get through the gates with their loaded cargo bikes:


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

BikePortland can’t survive without paid subscribers. Please sign up today.


The post Videos show difficulties navigating TriMet’s swing gates appeared first on BikePortland.org.

TriMet projects on Orange Line path at SE 8th should improve cycling

TriMet projects on Orange Line path at SE 8th should improve cycling

trimet-leader

Looking west from the path toward SE 8th.
(Photo by Adam Herstein/Twitter)

TriMet is making changes to the path that runs along the new Orange MAX line in inner southeast.

After seeing pictures of the path closure shared by a reader this morning on Twitter, we followed-up with TriMet to find out what was going on. Turns out they’re making two key changes to the intersection of SE 8th and Division Place and you can expect to detour around the construction zone through the end of January.

Here’s a map with the location of the coming changes…

trimet-project-map



Here’s more from TriMet Public Information Officer Mary Fetsch:

“Beginning Monday, January 11th through the end of this month, construction crews will be reconstructing the eastside of the intersection of SE 8th Avenue and Division Place. This work will require the westbound closure of Division Place between 8th & 9th avenues. Traffic and pedestrians will be detoured and local access will be maintained during this work.”

Fetsch says the project aims to address to concerns they’ve been hearing about.

They will add a right-turn pocket lane for westbound traffic on Division Place. The new lane will also have its own signal phase. Fetsch says this will eliminate the conflict between people who turn right (on 8th) with their cars and people on bikes and foot who continue straight on the path.

Here’s more from Fetsch:

“In order to create the space for the right-turn pocket, we have to narrow the north sidewalk, just east of 8th Avenue. The new sidewalk will have a minimum of 12 feet clear approaching the intersection with 20 feet of width at the corner. The signal operations will also allow westbound through traffic to move while trains are in the crossing.”

TriMet is also widening the sidewalk on the northwest corner of SE 8th and Division Place. Currently there’s a pinch-point at that location as the path veer sharply around a large utility pole. This is great to hear because I just rode this yesterday and grumbled to myself that it was way too narrow.

Detours around the work crews will remain in place for all users until the work is completed.

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


The post TriMet projects on Orange Line path at SE 8th should improve cycling appeared first on BikePortland.org.

Despite objections, TriMet installs swing-gates at 11th Avenue rail crossing

Despite objections, TriMet installs swing-gates at 11th Avenue rail crossing

New swing gate at the Orange Line crossing
of 11th Avenue.
(Photo: TriMet)

Portland’s regional transit agency has installed swing-out gates that biking advocates say will force people on bikes and trikes to stop or dismount in order to cross its new MAX tracks at SE 11th Avenue.

However, it installed only two out of eight swing gates it had earlier proposed for the area.

As part of a collaboration with the Portland Bureau of Transportation, TriMet crews installed the new gates on Tuesday. The idea is that if people biking are forced to stop and open a gate, they won’t roll onto the tracks without first checking to see if a train is coming.

This is a scaled-back version of the plan TriMet circulated earlier this year, which would have put swing gates on both sides of the MAX tracks at both 11th Avenue and 8th Avenue.

Here’s where the new gates were installed, just south of the point where SE 11th Avenue (which is at the top of this image, running north-south) bends to become Milwaukie Avenue:

milwaukie crossings

(Image: Google Maps)

Facing critical questions from the Portland Bicycle Advisory Committee in July, TriMet staffer Jennifer Koozer said the agency couldn’t install automated gates for people biking or walking (as it does for people driving) because gates with motors on them get vandalized and abused.

The gates weren’t originally part of TriMet’s plan, but were added after the agency stationed staffers at the rail crossings for weeks to see how people used them. TriMet concluded that some sort of obstacle was necessary.

The new rail crossings are part of TriMet’s $1.5 billion Orange Line, which returned millions of dollars to the federal government because the project came in under budget.


The city’s Bicycle Advisory Committee later made its opposition to swing gates here formal in July. The Pedestrian Advisory Committee did too, because of the difficulty of getting through the gates while using a wheelchair or other mobility device.

After that response, TriMet changed its plans at the 8th Avenue crossing and built fenced switchbacks instead. It also added a triangular concrete island placed on south side of light rail tracks west of 12th. TriMet spokeswoman Mary Fetsch said in an email Wednesday that those are “to help orient riders to look both ways before crossing. Fencing on those two islands will be completed over the next few weeks.”

And it removed plans to have a second set of gates immediately north of the MAX tracks.

“The fencing is effectively channelizing appropriately already,” Fetsch said. “That wasn’t the case on the south side.”

Back in November, after TriMet announced the revised plan that was installed this week, we asked Jessica Engelman of BikeLoudPDX and the adjacent Hosford-Abernethy Neighborhood Association for her take.

This is a frustrating response from TriMet, considering the overwhelmingly negative response they received from their first, nearly identical, proposal. In addition to the bicycle and pedestrian groups that spoke out against these proposed “safety” measures, the Hosford-Abernethy neighborhood association board was quite clear in their disapproval of both switchbacks and swing-gates. …

This whole situation is just another instance of “bikes vs public transit,” when we should be active transportation allies. Hopefully once bike share takes off, TriMet will realize that bicycles only enhance the reach and reliability of public transportation. I wish TriMet were operating bike share, as it would force them to take a more holistic perspective in their projects.

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


The post Despite objections, TriMet installs swing-gates at 11th Avenue rail crossing appeared first on BikePortland.org.

One commuter’s take on the many turns and stops on Tilikum’s east-side

One commuter’s take on the many turns and stops on Tilikum’s east-side

tilikum east side map with numbers

Issues identified in Justin C.’s letter below.
(Map: Google. Annotations: BikePortland)

How many inconveniences does it take to add up to a serious problem?

“I feel like I’m using a system that was not designed for me… It seems to be designed to get me out of the way of transit vehicles, not to get me to work.”
— Justin C.

For about a year now, we’ve been watching the expanse of east-side paths to Tilikum Crossing with unease. We’ve heard from many readers, publicly and privately, about its many problems. But like most of us, we wanted to give TriMet and the Portland Bureau of Transportation a chance to get it built, celebrate the good parts and work the kinks out before talking about what can be done to fix the problems here.

After more than a month of Tilikum crossings, it’s time to start talking about what’s still wrong and what can be done. And we couldn’t frame the situation better than one reader, Justin C., did in an email to BikePortland last week.

The following is slightly rearranged for clarity, and we’ve added boldface numbers to correspond roughly to the map above.

A few of the issues mentioned here (such as wayfinding) have been getting better. But as a summary of the general situation, this is spot on.

Fridays I have a late start for child-care reasons and I’m usually biking in (from SE Holgate/67th area) starting at 8:15 or 8:30. I’ve tried on those days to avoid the Ladd’s/Madison bridge crowd, to use the Tilikum Crossing since it opened (so maybe seven weeks or so). Most of those times I’ve gotten stopped by a train at the Clinton crossing. Sometimes I wait and sometimes I detour to Hawthorne.

Having used the Clinton-to-the-River route frequently before the bridge opened, I was excited at the possibilities that the new project offered. My route had previously involved detouring south to nearly Powell and then back up 9th or 8th to Division Place and the Esplanade (when it was open) or another route to Hawthorne. I got tired of this eventually and joined the crowd using the Madison-Hawthorne approach (despite living and working south of there). When they opened a bit of separated multi-use path between the tracks and future bridge, I was thrilled. I sat through the poor signal timing because I figured that would all get fixed in time. It would have to, right, with all the Interested but Concerned people the new bridge would get on bikes? They wouldn’t open the best new bike bridge without making it easy to access on bike.

Of course, that’s what has happened, at least so far. Here are how minor inconveniences can add up:

We didn’t put in a bike bridge over the freight tracks. Fine. I understand, things cost money and no one can negotiate with Class 1 railroads. And you think, maybe being inconvenienced by a poorly timed light at Clinton and 12th (1) isn’t such a big deal. Maybe rolling the dice on being late for work because of a freight train (2) is no big deal.

But once we get over the tracks, it should be pretty smooth sailing for people on bikes. Instead, I feel like I’m using a system that was not designed for me. Because, obviously, it wasn’t. It seems to be designed to get me out of the way of transit vehicles, not to get me to work.

Maybe waiting for a bike signal to cross 11th/Milwaukie and get to the stretch of MUP (3) isn’t a big deal, even though the southbound platoon on 11th/Milwaukie hasn’t been released and it’s red all around.

cut the corner

SW 7th and Tilikum Way, looking west. Justin said
he’s seen people heading westbound cut this corner
and nearly run into someone heading eastbound.

Wayfinding would be nice, but if there’s a well-thought-out approach to the bridge, people will find it with or without signs. Fine. And the intersection at 8th (4) is complicated, so I don’t mind waiting.

When I get across 8th, I have to navigate a tight curve across a utility pole right in the bike path. And then stop for buses at 7th Avenue, only to hit another 90 degree turn right next to a blind corner (5) (where I’ve seen three(!) bike collisions already).

industrial caruthers

Caruthers Street just southeast of Tilikum Crossing.

So then you get to Caruthers, and you see the beautiful new bridge ahead of you, and you ride toward it and realize that you can’t get onto the bridge! I’ve just been abandoned in an industrial area. (6) You have to find a way over to a T intersection, cross the road and both sets of tracks (7) and then use a tangle of an approach lane to get onto the bridge’s main span.

– Advertisement –


But here’s the thing: They built a nice new concrete road right there from scratch! A blank slate. It’s called Tilikum Way, and this portion of it runs from Seventh Avenue right onto the bridge. But you can’t use it. (You get routed farther away from the bridge to Caruthers and another stop sign at Fourth.)

tilikum way

Tilikum Way: transit only.

There’s a new sidewalk built on the north side of Tilikum Way (fenced between the Rail Heritage Center and the MAX tracks) that goes from the new bridge along Tilikum Way, under the MLK/Grand bridges, and just dead ends into a fence. It’s as if someone thought of connecting the bike route to the bridge via Tilikum Way but then decided against it.

I’m not naïve; I know it would take some planning to get bikes on the right side of the MAX tracks. And the bridge is lovely. But maybe I was naïve for assuming that more was being done to make this an actual “bike bridge” as opposed to merely a bridge that allows bikes.

I came to terms with my gripes about the west side connection (no bikes on the Harbor Viaduct structure from Lincoln to Moody), and I somewhat bought TriMet’s explanation that they couldn’t squeeze it between the existing bridges they had to thread. Taking Harrison to the MUP to Moody is solid “B” infrastructure, so they could be forgiven for not building an A+.

But the east side is just such a mess that here’s the reality: We’re hoping for signal timing to make a bad route slightly less bad. Wasn’t this supposed to be the shining example for the rest of the country on how committed we are to non-car modes? We really couldn’t do any better for bikes?

For years, I had hoped this bridge would make me feel proud to be a cyclist (and I know your views on this word, but this is how I feel), and that all the planning and attention to detail would make me feel that someone valued me as such and was looking out for me. What I’m instead left with is the thought, “well, I guess it’s better than Powell.”

Thanks for listening.

Like Justin, we at BikePortland try not to be naive. Crowded trains and buses get priority over bikes on a TriMet project because, from a pure street-efficiency standpoint, they should. Not to mention that TriMet is first and foremost a transit agency (did you notice that they refer to this as the Tilikum Crossing Transit Bridge?).

What happened with Tilikum’s eastside approach wasn’t that no one spared a thought for bikes. There was clearly some thought put into how bikes would find their way across the bridge. But what didn’t happen here was an effort, from the early stages of planning, to think about what it would feel like to actually bike through this new district.

As Justin mentions, there are still some things that could be done to improve the cycling experience around the Tilikum. We’ll be covering several of those over the next few weeks.

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


The post One commuter’s take on the many turns and stops on Tilikum’s east-side appeared first on BikePortland.org.

One commuter’s take on the many turns and stops on Tilikum’s east side

One commuter’s take on the many turns and stops on Tilikum’s east side

tilikum east side map with numbers

Issues identified in Justin C.’s letter below.
(Map: Google. Annotations: BikePortland)

How many inconveniences does it take to add up to a serious problem?

“I feel like I’m using a system that was not designed for me… It seems to be designed to get me out of the way of transit vehicles, not to get me to work.”
— Justin C.

For about a year now, we’ve been watching the expanse of east-side paths to Tilikum Crossing with unease. We’ve heard from many readers, publicly and privately, about its many issues. But like most of us, we wanted to give TriMet and the Portland Bureau of Transportation a chance to get it built, celebrate the good parts and work the kinks out before talking about what can be done to fix the problems here.

After more than a month of Tilikum crossings, it’s time to start talking about what’s still wrong and what can be done. And we couldn’t frame the situation better than one reader, Justin C., did in an email to BikePortland last week.

The following is slightly rearranged for clarity, and we’ve added boldface numbers to correspond roughly to the map above.

A few of the issues mentioned here (such as wayfinding) have been getting better. But as a summary of the general situation, this is spot on.

Fridays I have a late start for child-care reasons and I’m usually biking in (from SE Holgate/67th area) starting at 8:15 or 8:30. I’ve tried on those days to avoid the Ladd’s/Madison bridge crowd, to use the Tilikum Crossing since it opened (so maybe seven weeks or so). Most of those times I’ve gotten stopped by a train at the Clinton crossing. Sometimes I wait and sometimes I detour to Hawthorne.

Having used the Clinton-to-the-River route frequently before the bridge opened, I was excited at the possibilities that the new project offered. My route had previously involved detouring south to nearly Powell and then back up 9th or 8th to Division Place and the Esplanade (when it was open) or another route to Hawthorne. I got tired of this eventually and joined the crowd using the Madison-Hawthorne approach (despite living and working south of there). When they opened a bit of separated multi-use path between the tracks and future bridge, I was thrilled. I sat through the poor signal timing because I figured that would all get fixed in time. It would have to, right, with all the Interested but Concerned people the new bridge would get on bikes? They wouldn’t open the best new bike bridge without making it easy to access on bike.

Of course, that’s what has happened, at least so far. Here are how minor inconveniences can add up:

We didn’t put in a bike bridge over the freight tracks. Fine. I understand, things cost money and no one can negotiate with Class 1 railroads. And you think, maybe being inconvenienced by a poorly timed light at Clinton and 12th (1) isn’t such a big deal. Maybe rolling the dice on being late for work because of a freight train (2) is no big deal.

But once we get over the tracks, it should be pretty smooth sailing for people on bikes. Instead, I feel like I’m using a system that was not designed for me. Because, obviously, it wasn’t. It seems to be designed to get me out of the way of transit vehicles, not to get me to work.

Maybe waiting for a bike signal to cross 11th/Milwaukie and get to the stretch of MUP (3) isn’t a big deal, even though the southbound platoon on 11th/Milwaukie hasn’t been released and it’s red all around.

cut the corner

SW 7th and Tilikum Way, looking west. Justin said
he’s seen people heading westbound cut this corner
and nearly run into someone heading eastbound.

Wayfinding would be nice, but if there’s a well-thought-out approach to the bridge, people will find it with or without signs. Fine. And the intersection at 8th (4) is complicated, so I don’t mind waiting.

When I get across 8th, I have to navigate a tight curve across a utility pole right in the bike path. And then stop for buses at 7th Avenue, only to hit another 90 degree turn right next to a blind corner (5) (where I’ve seen three(!) bike collisions already).

industrial caruthers

Caruthers Street just southeast of Tilikum Crossing.

So then you get to Caruthers, and you see the beautiful new bridge ahead of you, and you ride toward it and realize that you can’t get onto the bridge! I’ve just been abandoned in an industrial area. (6) You have to find a way over to a T intersection, cross the road and both sets of tracks (7) and then use a tangle of an approach lane to get onto the bridge’s main span.

– Advertisement –


But here’s the thing: They built a nice new concrete road right there from scratch! A blank slate. It’s called Tilikum Way, and this portion of it runs from Seventh Avenue right onto the bridge. But you can’t use it. (You get routed farther away from the bridge to Caruthers and another stop sign at Fourth.)

tilikum way

Tilikum Way: transit only.

There’s a new sidewalk built on the north side of Tilikum Way (fenced between the Rail Heritage Center and the MAX tracks) that goes from the new bridge along Tilikum Way, under the MLK/Grand bridges, and just dead ends into a fence. It’s as if someone thought of connecting the bike route to the bridge via Tilikum Way but then decided against it.

I’m not naïve; I know it would take some planning to get bikes on the right side of the MAX tracks. And the bridge is lovely. But maybe I was naïve for assuming that more was being done to make this an actual “bike bridge” as opposed to merely a bridge that allows bikes.

I came to terms with my gripes about the west side connection (no bikes on the Harbor Viaduct structure from Lincoln to Moody), and I somewhat bought TriMet’s explanation that they couldn’t squeeze it between the existing bridges they had to thread. Taking Harrison to the MUP to Moody is solid “B” infrastructure, so they could be forgiven for not building an A+.

But the east side is just such a mess that here’s the reality: We’re hoping for signal timing to make a bad route slightly less bad. Wasn’t this supposed to be the shining example for the rest of the country on how committed we are to non-car modes? We really couldn’t do any better for bikes?

For years, I had hoped this bridge would make me feel proud to be a cyclist (and I know your views on this word, but this is how I feel), and that all the planning and attention to detail would make me feel that someone valued me as such and was looking out for me. What I’m instead left with is the thought, “well, I guess it’s better than Powell.”

Thanks for listening.

Like Justin, we at BikePortland try not to be naive. Crowded trains and buses get priority over bikes on a TriMet project because, from a pure street-efficiency standpoint, they should. Not to mention that TriMet is first and foremost a transit agency (did you notice that they refer to this as the Tilikum Crossing Transit Bridge?).

What happened with Tilikum’s eastside approach wasn’t that no one spared a thought for bikes. There was clearly some thought put into how bikes would find their way across the bridge. But what didn’t happen here was an effort, from the early stages of planning, to think about what it would feel like to actually bike through this new district.

As Justin mentions, there are still some things that could be done to improve the cycling experience around the Tilikum. We’ll be covering several of those over the next few weeks.

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


The post One commuter’s take on the many turns and stops on Tilikum’s east side appeared first on BikePortland.org.

TriMet adjusts Orange Line crossing plans after community opposition – UPDATED

TriMet adjusts Orange Line crossing plans after community opposition – UPDATED

Orange Line crossings

How concerned is TriMet about safety of inner southeast rail crossings? At Sunday Parkways they had a police officer standing guard.
(Photos © J. Maus/BikePortland)

Despite opposition from the city’s official biking and walking advisory committees, TriMet plans to install manual “swing” gates at crossings of the Orange Line in inner southeast Portland.

Orange Line crossings

TriMet is particularly concerned with
“double threats,” the type of collision
that caused serious injuries to a
Beaverton man last month
.

Back in July, TriMet proposed plans back to install manual gates at two major inner southeast light rail and railroad crossings. The decision stemmed from the agency’s serious safety concerns where new paths cross Orange Line light rail and Union Pacific Railroad tracks. That initial proposal called for two sets of swing gates on the north and south sides of SE 8th and 11th.

That plan was strongly opposed by the Bureau of Transportation’s Bicycle Advisory Committee and the Pedestrian Advisory Committee. In a letter to TriMet, BAC Chair Ian Stude wrote that his committee didn’t support the gates because of, “the operating difficulties they will impose on members of the traveling public – principally those who are bicycling or walking.”

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Now TriMet is back with a new plan. Here are the details (from a 9/24 letter from TriMet Community Affairs Manager Jennifer Koozer to BAC Chair Ian Stude):

1. By the end of October, install features to help slow people entering the crossings from the adjacent multiuse path:

  • SE 8th Ave: install “bedsteads”/switchbacks on south side of light rail tracks (total of two locations)
  • SE 11th Ave: install manual swing gates on the south side of light rail tracks (total of two locations)
  • West side of SE 12th Ave: install triangular “curb” on south side of light rail tracks that helps position people crossing at a right angle.

2. After installation, continue to monitor crossing behaviors and evaluate performance of crossing treatments.

3. Continue efforts to adjust heavy rail signal timing, in order to maximize unnecessary signal activation. This requires collaboration and approval by UPRR, a process which will take several months.

TriMet also supplied images showing examples of each type of crossing treatment they plan to install:
trimetexamples

As you can see, TriMet has decided to not install a swing gate at 8th but they are keeping one at SE 11th.

We’ve reached out to BAC Chair Ian Stude and several members of the Pedestrian Advisory Committee for comment but have yet to hear back. TriMet will hear directly from them when they bring this new plan to the committee meetings in October. Stay tuned.

UPDATE, 12:30 pm: We heard back from the City of Portland Pedestrian Advisory Committee Co-Chair Rebecca Hamilton. Here’s what she thinks about TriMet’s new plan (emphases mine):

“We appreciate that TriMet considered feedback from the advisory committees and substituted a different treatment for two of the four proposed swing gates. That means we’re halfway to a good solution! But the two remaining swing gates still create an unnecessarily difficult barrier for people using wheelchairs and other mobility devices. No one deserves that disadvantage when there are better ideas on the table.

As life expectancies increase and the Baby Boomer generation ages we’ll be seeing a lot more people using mobility devices to continue leading independent lives. These little decisions matter right now and they’ll matter even more in the future. TriMet has an opportunity to make a smarter choice here to ensure that anyone, regardless of their physical ability, can use their facilities without struggle and the PAC would like to see them make that smarter choice.”

UPDATE, 1:43 pm: And here’s what BAC Chair Ian Stude had to say:

“Our concerns remain the same regarding the swing gates. Those gates, even at that one location, are still problematic. The problem is that they are a barrier that’s constantly present whether there’s a train there or not. Let’s have active gates… Having an active system is more of a vision zero system than a passive gate that’s always there because a passive system looses its efficacy after a while.”


The post TriMet adjusts Orange Line crossing plans after community opposition – UPDATED appeared first on BikePortland.org.

First Look: Lafayette Street pedestrian bridge crosses inner SE railroad tracks

First Look: Lafayette Street pedestrian bridge crosses inner SE railroad tracks

ped bridge wide

The new bridge replaces a wooden one from approximately 1943.
(Photos: M.Andersen/BikePortland)

One of the big obstacles to biking in south-southeast Portland has once again been bridged.

Along with the opening this weekend of the new Orange MAX Line and the Tilikum Crossing, TriMet opened a new Lafayette Street pedestrian bridge across the Union Pacific Railroad tracks in the Brooklyn neighborhood.

It runs from approximately 18th to 20th avenues and connects Lafayette Street, east of the tracks, with Rhine Street west of the tracks.

Though nothing could be as seamless as the tracks not being there at all, the new $3.9 million bridge is a vast improvement on the rickety 70-year-old one it replaced.

As TriMet explains in its official news release, Union Pacific covered $1.7 million of the cost and the Orange Line project covered the other $2.2 million. Half of the Orange Line money comes from the federal government, with the rest coming from various state, local and regional governments.

It’s the only crossing of the tracks between the major arterials of Holgate and Powell, and will 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.

ped bridge path

It’s certainly a sign of how much higher our infrastructure standards are than they were in 1943. Instead of creaking wooden stairs, the new bridge has a roomy, roll-in glass elevator on each side.

ped bridge elevator

If you haven’t used them yet, I’ll be the first to warn you: These elevators are lessons in how the greenhouse effect works. On a sunny day, they’re very, very hot.

Fortunately, the ride is brief.

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If you want to skip the elevator and are heading up the stairs with a bike, you can also use the wheel tracks on the right and left of both staircases.

ped bridge bike gutter 2

They’re built with a nice wide angle, so I was able to lean my bike at a 45-degree angle fairly easily and roll it up without much strain.

ped bridge bike gutter

Going down was another matter. At the angle required to keep my bike in the track, my bike’s center of gravity wound up beneath me on the descent. I decided it was easier just to hoist my bike over one shoulder as I usually do for stairs.

Six or seven people crossed the bridge when I stopped by early Saturday evening, and they all seemed to like the design. There are a few appealing artistic touches and even that sadly forgotten urban amenity, a pay phone:

pay phone

Because why not? Sometimes you need to make a telephone call.


The post First Look: Lafayette Street pedestrian bridge crosses inner SE railroad tracks appeared first on BikePortland.org.

Orange Line/Tilikum Bridge opening day open thread

Orange Line/Tilikum Bridge opening day open thread

bike dress

Today is the Big Day. TriMet’s new Orange Line MAX and the Tilikum Crossing Bridge opens for regular service.

There are a ton of free activities happening all along the new line, from South Waterfront down to Milwaukie.

We’re putting up this post in hopes you’ll share your experiences out there — whether you’re biking, walking, taking the bus, riding streetcar, or riding the MAX.

And of course the real test will begin Monday as thousands of people re-route their commutes to take advantage of the new bridge.

Will the Tilikum change how you get around?

What do you think of the incline/decline on the bridge?

How are the crossings of the tracks in inner SE Clinton area?

Thanks for sharing your experiences.


The post Orange Line/Tilikum Bridge opening day open thread appeared first on BikePortland.org.