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First look: New striping and safety features on Springwater at Oaks Bottom

First look: New striping and safety features on Springwater at Oaks Bottom

springwater2

(Looking south on the Springwater at Oaks Bottom.
(Photos by Betsy Reese)

The Portland Parks & Recreation bureau has completed a project that aims to improve safety on a busy portion of the Springwater Corridor path.

As we reported on April 20th, the project came in response to safety concerns that came into focus after a collision between two path users last spring that resulted in a serious injury.

The location of the changes is two miles south of OMSI where the Springwater path comes to a “T” intersection with a path through the Oaks Bottom Wildlife Refuge. The Oaks Bottom path emerges on the Springwater after a tunnel, which limits sight lines. Making things more dangerous are the relatively high speeds Springwater path users reach as they ride downhill to the intersection.

Parks has used a variety of pavement markings, signage, and plastic bollards to encourage people to slow down and use caution. BikePortland reader Betsy Reese rode by the area yesterday and sent us a few photos…

Parks added lane striping to the Oaks Bottom path as it approaches the Springwater…

springwater-oakspath

We rely on financial support from readers like you.

Here’s the view looking west from Oaks Bottom path just before the tunnel and the Springwater…

springwatertunnel

And here’s what it looked like before the changes…

Springwater path at Oaks Bottom-2

This is a closer-up view of of the “T” with the Springwater…

springwater-oakswestbound

And here’s another view of the entire intersection looking southbound from the Springwater…

springwater-1

Compare that to this photo taken before the changes…

Springwater path at Oaks Bottom-1

Betsy says it looks pretty good: “I like the solution. It is a simple and relatively inexpensive fix. I think it will work.”

Have you ridden it yet? What do you think?

The post First look: New striping and safety features on Springwater at Oaks Bottom appeared first on BikePortland.org.

Project aims to improve safety at Springwater/Oaks Bottom intersection

Project aims to improve safety at Springwater/Oaks Bottom intersection

Springwater path at Oaks Bottom-1

There will be a new stop sign for riders coming out of the Oaks Bottom path, which is on the left side in this photo. Parks will also add additional measures including paint striping on the Springwater that warns riders to slow down.
(Photos J. Maus/BikePortland)


Next week the City of Portland Parks & Recreation bureau will start a project that aims to solve serious safety issues at an intersection on the Springwater Corridor path. As we reported back in January, the parks bureau has said they’ve been “aware of some challenges” at the intersection and were considering changes.

Now they’ve moved forward and the changes are likely to be completed by the start of May.

Springwater path at Oaks Bottom-2

View from Oaks Bottom path as
it emerges onto Springwater.

Where the Springwater path makes a “T” with the Oaks Bottom path (that connects to SE McLoughlin Blvd), PP&R will add a permanent stop sign, a series of pavement markings, and plastic “delineator” posts to sharpen the turning radius and encourage slower riding.

The changes come after a collision last spring when a woman riding west on the Oaks Bottom path rolled out onto the Springwater path, causing another rider to stop suddenly and fly over her handelbars. The woman who was riding on the Springwater suffered major injuries and had to be taken to the hospital by an ambulance.

This intersection is tricky because of bad sight lines on the Oaks Bottom path due to a tunnel just before it pops out onto the Springwater. Add in the downhill on the Springwater that leads to high bicycling speeds and you’ve got a recipe for disaster.

Here’s more about the project from a PP&R statement:

Portland Parks & Recreation is committed to taking special care in the planning and design of such paths to encourage a satisfactory experience and safe sharing of the facilities for the full spectrum of trail users, regardless of differing ages, speeds, interests, and abilities. The intersection of the Springwater Corridor and the Oaks Bottom Wildlife Refuge Trail poses potential challenges for the various users that converge on the intersection.

We rely on financial support from readers like you.

PP&R crews will be installing a number of signage and striping improvements to enhance user safety. The improvements include new painted traffic control striping, highly visible flexible safety delineators and signage including a stop sign from the Oaks Bottom spur trail (where people access the Springwater from city streets) onto the more highly-traveled Springwater Trail. The improvements intend to provide clear right-of-way assignment to trail users, to provide guidance for trail users to ensure full awareness of the intersection, and to minimize conflicts and clarify the intersection to separate conflicting movements.

PP&R could not supply us with a detailed design drawing, but they did share stock photos of the type of signs, bollards, and pavement markings they plan to use…

springwater-designelements

(Photos/graphics: PP&R)

The diagonal-grid crosswalk stripes will be painted on the Springwater to encourage downhill riders to use caution. The new stop sign and painted stop bar (on the pavement) will be placed on the Oaks Bottom path right where it enters the Springwater. The plastic delineator wands will force riders to make a slower, right-angle turn into — and out of — Oaks Bottom.

We’ll update this post tomorrow with the budget estimate for this project; but it will likely be less than the $10,000 roundabout solution we shared back in January.

The project is set to begin next Monday (April 27th) and last about a week.

The post Project aims to improve safety at Springwater/Oaks Bottom intersection appeared first on BikePortland.org.

Project aims to improve safety at Springwater/Oaks Bottom intersection

Project aims to improve safety at Springwater/Oaks Bottom intersection

Springwater path at Oaks Bottom-1

There will be a new stop sign for riders coming out of the Oaks Bottom path, which is on the left side in this photo. Parks will also add additional measures including paint striping on the Springwater that warns riders to slow down.
(Photos J. Maus/BikePortland)


Next week the City of Portland Parks & Recreation bureau will start a project that aims to solve serious safety issues at an intersection on the Springwater Corridor path. As we reported back in January, the parks bureau has said they’ve been “aware of some challenges” at the intersection and were considering changes.

Now they’ve moved forward and the changes are likely to be completed by the start of May.

Springwater path at Oaks Bottom-2

View from Oaks Bottom path as
it emerges onto Springwater.

Where the Springwater path makes a “T” with the Oaks Bottom path (that connects to SE McLoughlin Blvd Milwaukie Ave.), PP&R will add a permanent stop sign, a series of pavement markings, and plastic “delineator” posts to sharpen the turning radius and encourage slower riding.

The changes come after a collision last spring when a woman riding west on the Oaks Bottom path rolled out onto the Springwater path, causing another rider to stop suddenly and fly over her handelbars. The woman who was riding on the Springwater suffered major injuries and had to be taken to the hospital by an ambulance.

This intersection is tricky because of bad sight lines on the Oaks Bottom path due to a tunnel just before it pops out onto the Springwater. Add in the downhill on the Springwater that leads to high bicycling speeds and you’ve got a recipe for disaster.

Here’s more about the project from a PP&R statement:

Portland Parks & Recreation is committed to taking special care in the planning and design of such paths to encourage a satisfactory experience and safe sharing of the facilities for the full spectrum of trail users, regardless of differing ages, speeds, interests, and abilities. The intersection of the Springwater Corridor and the Oaks Bottom Wildlife Refuge Trail poses potential challenges for the various users that converge on the intersection.

We rely on financial support from readers like you.

PP&R crews will be installing a number of signage and striping improvements to enhance user safety. The improvements include new painted traffic control striping, highly visible flexible safety delineators and signage including a stop sign from the Oaks Bottom spur trail (where people access the Springwater from city streets) onto the more highly-traveled Springwater Trail. The improvements intend to provide clear right-of-way assignment to trail users, to provide guidance for trail users to ensure full awareness of the intersection, and to minimize conflicts and clarify the intersection to separate conflicting movements.

PP&R could not supply us with a detailed design drawing, but they did share stock photos of the type of signs, bollards, and pavement markings they plan to use…

springwater-designelements

(Photos/graphics: PP&R)

The diagonal-grid crosswalk stripes will be painted on the Springwater to encourage downhill riders to use caution. The new stop sign and painted stop bar (on the pavement) will be placed on the Oaks Bottom path right where it enters the Springwater. The plastic delineator wands will force riders to make a slower, right-angle turn into — and out of — Oaks Bottom.

We’ll update this post tomorrow with the budget estimate for this project; but it will likely be less than the $10,000 roundabout solution we shared back in January.

The project is set to begin next Monday (April 27th) and last about a week.

UPDATE, 12:38pm: The cost of this project is approximately $3,200 and it was funded through the General Fund.

The post Project aims to improve safety at Springwater/Oaks Bottom intersection appeared first on BikePortland.org.

New flashing beacon on Springwater path at SE 136th

New flashing beacon on Springwater path at SE 136th

beaconspring1

New push-button beacon on Springwater path at 136th.
(Photo: Gretchin Lair)

Whenever biking/walking paths cross larger streets there can be a potential for conflict. Path users might get lulled into a false sense of security while users of the street — especially if they’re moving fast in a car — might not expect cross traffic.

We’re happy to report that one such crossing is now a bit safer thanks to the installation of a flashing crossing beacon. Reader Gretchin Lair sent us several photos of the new beacon that has been installed on the Springwater Corridor path where it crosses SE 136th (map).

beaconspring2

We’ve yet to confirm why this particular beacon was installed, or whether it’s part of a larger safety project.* Back in 2013, a five-year-old girl was killed by a passing auto driver when she tried to cross 136th about 1.5 miles north of this location. That tragedy led to $4.8 million in funding (state and city) to add sidewalks and crossing improvements all along the street.

*Oregon State Representative Shemia Fagan confirmed with us today that this flashing beacon was indeed part of the state funding package. This is one of two “rectangular rapid flash beacons” to be installed through that project.

If you’ve used this crossing, share a comment and tell us what you think about it.

The post New flashing beacon on Springwater path at SE 136th appeared first on BikePortland.org.

A $10,000 solution to dangerous Springwater path intersection

A $10,000 solution to dangerous Springwater path intersection

springwaterroundaboutsolution

Design concept for a roundabout on the Springwater Corridor path where it intersects with Oaks Bottom.
(Graphic: paikiala)

Last week we highlighted a known danger spot on the Springwater Corridor path. A “T” intersection with bad sight lines, high speeds, and a history of collisions and near-misses.

The Portland Parks Bureau is aware of the issue and is likely to address it via new signs and markings; but we all know simply adding more paint and signs often has limited impact on behavior. A BikePortland reader has a much more comprehensive solution. Paikiala, a regular commenter who often shares his detailed insights about traffic engineering, thinks the fix should be a small roundabout.

Paikiala says the California city of Davis, arguably the best city for biking in the country, uses roundabouts in situations like these. “Getting everyone approaching the intersection to slow down is the key,” he says, which is why he likes the roundabout idea.

And he estimates it’d cost about $10,000 — just 0.01% of Portland Parks’ annual budget.

Ideally, he’d like to see a 20-foot diameter center island with an eight foot wide path around it and the circle would be offset (west) from the tunnel exit.

Other ideas readers shared included: convex mirrors (which PBOT apparently doesn’t install anymore due to maintenance requirements); an unlocked gate on the Oaks Bottom path that would require riders to dismount; a two-inch deep gravel pit to slow people down; a stop sign; an overpass or bridge; and so on.

Someone even mentioned a Hovenring-style solution, but even I’d have to admit that finding money for that is unlikely.

Speaking of funding, there’s still time to weight in on the Portland Parks Bureau’s 2015-2016 budget. Their online survey asks you to prioritize a list of projects (among them are matching funds for Gateway Green and the Citywide MTB Master Plan) and there is also room for write-in requests. Take the survey ASAP because it closes today (1/13) at 4:00 pm.

The post A $10,000 solution to dangerous Springwater path intersection appeared first on BikePortland.org.

Parks Bureau considering changes to tricky Springwater path intersection

Parks Bureau considering changes to tricky Springwater path intersection

Springwater path at Oaks Bottom-2

Temporary stop sign at exit of Oaks Bottom path where it joins Springwater.
(Photos by J. Maus/BikePortland)

An intersection on the Springwater Corridor path where a serious injury collision happened last spring could be updated with new safety measures in the coming months.

The path’s intersection with Oaks Bottom Wildlife Refuge (about 3.5 miles south of downtown Portland) is in a valley where path users often have high speeds and sight lines are very poor. The Oaks Bottom path — which is on a slight downhill itself — goes under a railroad track tunnel just before it pops out onto the Springwater at a “T” intersection. Last year that perfect storm led to a very serious collision.

Springwater path at Oaks Bottom-1

T-intersection where Springwater
and Oaks Bottom paths meet.

On the morning of May 30th a woman was riding northbound on the Springwater path. According to witnesses, as she came to the Oaks Bottom intersection, another rider suddenly appeared in front of the underpass. The woman on the Springwater grabbed her brakes and flew over the bars, suffering major lacerations in her face. From reader tips and witness accounts we received at the time, it was a very scary situation (more than one person mentioned “lots of blood”) and the woman had to be escorted off the path via ambulance.

Southeast Portland resident Harth Huffman spends a lot of time cycling in the area as well as working on service projects in the Oaks Bottom refuge. He rolled up on the collision last May and helped the wounded rider and feels something should be done to improve the intersection. “I regularly witness uncertain behavior from riders coming out of the tunnel as well as riders coming down that hill. Nobody seems certain of how to be safe there… My experiences continue to convince me that something should be done in that spot to improve cycling safety.”

When we scouted the location this week we noticed a temporary stop sign and orange traffic cones had been placed at the intersection. We then asked the Portland Parks Bureau if they were aware of the safety issues and whether or not there were plans to address it. To our relief, they are considering some improvements

Here’s what Parks spokesman Mark Ross shared with us via email yesterday:

“We have been made aware of some challenges at the intersection… Cyclists have the responsibility for adhering to the stop sign, and to look both ways before entering Springwater Corridor traffic. Portland Parks & Recreation is reviewing whether it may be possible to add some further safety improvements at and/or around this intersection; possibly including signage and striping. We will continue to evaluate possible measures and funding…”

Another idea Huffman has shared with Parks is to place a large convex mirror on the path(s) to improve visibility.

If funding is the only remaining issue, now would a great time to tell Parks to make this project a priority in their 2015-2016 budget. They had a public budget hearing last night, but you can still leave feedback via this online survey/feedback tool (until January 13th).

The post Parks Bureau considering changes to tricky Springwater path intersection appeared first on BikePortland.org.

Collision on Springwater a reminder to ride cautiously on shared paths

Collision on Springwater a reminder to ride cautiously on shared paths

Springwater path in Boring.
(Photo: Clackamas County)

On Friday I picked up an incoming call on the BikePortland hotline and heard a very sad story.

Mary LaLiberte, an “almost 70-year-old” by her own description, called to share her experience on the Springwater Corridor path outside her home in rural Boring, Oregon. On November 30th, Mary was walking on the path when someone riding a bike zoomed up from behind her.

As the man approached came up from behind her, all she heard was “Left!,” so she moved to the left, only to step right in his path. “And he was going so fast he wasn’t able to stop in time.”

“He was going so fast when he collided with me,” she recalled, “that I actually flew up into the air and hit the pavement.” The man who hit her was riding “one of those very skinny-wheeled bikes” and was in “full racing regalia,” Mary said. She told her friends that she, “Got nuked by Lance Armstrong’s brother.”

maryquote

Thankfully, the man stopped and rendered aid to Mary. She said it was cold outside so she was wearing many padded layers of clothes — which probably saved her from more serious injuries. Even so, Mary suffered a fractured pelvis, serious bruising, spent five days in the hospital, and now faces over a year of physical therapy. “I’m in pain,” she said, “I’m not a good age to be getting banged up.” She also faces major financial burdens due to medical bills and lost wages she’ll never recover. (She hired a lawyer to look into the case, but the man doesn’t have any type of insurance they could seek compensation from.)

As I listened to Mary’s story, I kept waiting for the bomb to drop. I was sure the conversation would end up in me being lectured about the bad behavior of “bicyclists” who ride with no regard for laws or safety, how the path should be closed to bicycling, how “you bicyclists” need to be licensed, and so on. But to my surprise, Mary was different.

There was no venting, no anger. Despite this turmoil she’s gone through, she didn’t call to complain or rant against bike riders. She even said the man who hit her “was a nice person” and she was grateful that he stopped and helped her get medical attention after it happened. “I have him to thank for getting me off the trail. He was probably getting to the end of a long ride and didn’t take caution… And I paid the price.”

Mary just wants everyone to know what happened. She also wants to make sure the incident is counted in official statistics. “This is something more people need to be aware of. There’s not enough signs on the trail that warn pedestrians of this danger.

The section of path where Mary was hit has only been paved for just over a year. Prior to December 2013 it was still gravel and dirt and only used by locals on foot and horseback. But now that it’s paved, it’s a popular cycling destination and connection to other routes in Clackamas County.

Mary’s attitude is a breath of fresh air; but it doesn’t lessen the lesson we should all take from this. Her story is a cautionary tale. Riding on shared paths in the presence of people walking demands extreme care, courtesy, and caution. Not only did one rider’s choice lead to a serious injury (that could have ended much worse if Mary wasn’t in such good physical condition), but now Mary and her friends aren’t likely to ever feel safe on that path.

“I’ll never set foot on that trail again,” she said, “And I’m advising the same to all my friends.”

The post Collision on Springwater a reminder to ride cautiously on shared paths appeared first on BikePortland.org.

Want to breathe as little pollution as possible? Pedal at exactly 11 mph

Want to breathe as little pollution as possible? Pedal at exactly 11 mph

Traffic-3

A woman being exposed to more pollutants than she’d like.
(Photos J.Maus/BikePortland)

With a homebuilt $300 pollution monitor strapped to his bicycle and seven years of Portland State University education in his brain, Alex Bigazzi has been leading a deep exploration into your lungs.

Bigazzi’s findings might be an argument for electric bikes, which let people move quickly through an area without exerting themselves heavily.

Since we wrote last year about the PSU Ph.D candidate’s research into the amount of pollution people ingest while biking, Bigazzi has been taking what the Portland Tribune called his “breakthrough findings” on a successful tour, authoring two upcoming journal articles on the subject and, last week, presenting them (slides, audio) at the city’s “Lunch and Learn” series about bike transportation issues.

By designing his own low-cost equipment, gathering data from his own commute and others’ and thinking critically about previous research, Bigazzi has taken the science of pollution ingestion to what you might call an obsessively practical new level.

Here’s some of what he’s found so far.

1) The Springwater Corridor is a surprisingly polluted route.

springwater pollution

Slides from Alex Bigazzi’s city presentation last week.

Bigazzi discovered that the air along the city’s best off-street path is actually some of the dirtiest, at least where traffic-related gases and grime are concerned.

“Even though we’re talking about traffic-related air pollutants, it’s not all coming from traffic,” Bigazzi explained last week. The many industrial developments near the Springwater (a former freight railroad), including Precision Castparts‘ three operation facilities for steel and titanium, send industrial solvents and other potentially harmful substances into the air.

But here’s one of the big insights in Bigazzi’s work: when it comes to biking, exposure to pollutants isn’t everything.

“That, it turns out, is where most people stop,” Bigazzi said. “We shouldn’t stop there because it’s only part of the health effects of traffic-related pollutants.”

2) Harder pedaling means more pollution per second — but fewer seconds of exposure.

intake dose formula

The biggest contributor to pollution intake, Bigazzi found, isn’t actually how dirty the air around you is. It’s how much of it you breathe.

“Ventilation completely dominates the exposure differences,” Bigazzi said. “The exposure differences are not that big.”

That creates an interesting mathematical puzzle: the harder your body works, the more pollution you breathe in. But the faster you move, the less time you’ll spend in the dirty air.

So assuming you’re headed to a place where the air is cleaner than it is along a roadway (Precision Castparts commuters, take note), here’s a curve Bigazzi constructed that shows the optimum speed to ride for various bikeway slopes. It’s expressed in kilometers per hour; the 17.5 kph “minimum ventilation speed” for a flat 0 percent grade is 11 mph.

minimum inhalation speed

For a steep 10 percent grade, the optimal speed would be just 3 mph; for a 4.5 percent grade like the one on Southeast Belmont near 11th Avenue, the optimal would be about 6.2 mph.

At Thursday’s presentation, one of the attendees made an interesting point: Bigazzi’s findings might be an argument for electric bikes, which let people move quickly through an area without exerting themselves heavily.

3) Biking on a big busy street is a lot dirtier than biking on a local street.

exposure by location

Based on these calculations and Bigazzi’s hard data, he found that biking along a major arterial like Powell Boulevard means ingesting three to five times more traffic-related pollutants than biking on a local street.

There’s been some study of pollution levels in protected bike lanes, Bigazzi said, and pollution exposure there seems to be “measurably lower than where a bike lane would be on the same facilities for traffic-related air pollution.” He said he didn’t have exact numbers on this phenomenon.

4) The good news: Pollution problems are outweighted by the huge health benefits of biking.

East Sunday Parkways-38

Bigazzi, who obviously rides a bicycle himself, is sensitive to the charge that because he’s found that people on bikes (or foot) are exposed to more traffic-related pollution than people in cars, he’s implying that biking isn’t healthy.

The opposite is true, Bigazzi said. The act that puts bikers and walkers in contact with pollution — exerting their lungs — is so inherently healthy that it more than offsets the pollutant’s damage, other scholars’ studies estimate.

“All of them found an order of magnitude or two difference in exercise benefits outweighing pollution risks,” Bigazzi said. “So the net benefit is likely to be much much higher. But air pollution is still a risk.”

The same is true, he said, of whether people should avoid biking on major streets. Not if that’d mean taking a car, he said.

“Bicycling is better than no bicycling,” he said. “But it’s even safer from a pollution point of view if you’re not on an arterial.”

The post Want to breathe as little pollution as possible? Pedal at exactly 11 mph appeared first on BikePortland.org.

Parks bureau works to clear large encampment on Springwater Corridor

Parks bureau works to clear large encampment on Springwater Corridor

The encampment along the Springwater path has grown considerably. Parks says they’re working on the issue.
(Photo by reader Steve B.)

Over the past several months a large encampment has sprung up along the Springwater Corridor Trail near the Ross Island Bridge. People are living directly adjacent to the popular and busy bicycling path that connects downtown Portland to Sellwood and points beyond. Their tarps, shelters and vehicles (bicycles) are situated between the path and the shore of the Willamette River.

A reader emailed us some photos earlier this week, and said the encampment is “making unsafe conditions” due to broken glass, fires, and lots of garbage and other debris strewn about the area (and into the river).

The area where the camps have been set up is managed by Portland Parks & Recreation. Their spokesman, Mark Ross, says they’re aware of the issue and are working with the Portland Police Bureau and the Multnomah County River Patrol to find a remedy. “We expect to see a positive solution in the area soon,” Ross shared with us via email this morning.

This is not the first time a local agency has had to address people living along the Springwater. This past October, KGW-TV reported on an effort by the PPB and the Oregon Department of Transportation to shut down a camp on the path near SE 92nd and Flavel. In that case, crews picked up 20 tons of garbage and restored habitat damage to Johnson Creek.

In this recent case, Mark Ross said Parks has repeatedly engaged the campers and encouraged them to pack out. He says they “did not initially express a willingness to leave the area with their belongings.” Even though camping in this location is against the law per City Code, Ross said they only use law enforcement as a last resort. Instead, Park Rangers are taking a different approach: “Our efforts include offering to facilitate social services, any needed medical care, education and explanations of the no-camping rules per City Code.”

— Read more news about the Springwater in our archives.

Springwater now paved — and open — from Portland to Boring

Springwater now paved — and open — from Portland to Boring

Newly paved, now open.
(Photo: Clackamas County)

As promised last month, Clackamas County has just announced that paving is complete on the final segment of the Springwater Corridor Trail from Rugg Road to Boring Station Trailhead Park. This 2.25 mile section now means the popular paved path extends 21 miles from downtown Portland to Boring.

The new section is 10-feet wide with 2-4 feet of compacted gravel shoulders (for people on horses). The County has also added a new bridge deck and railings and improved intersection treatments and signage at street crossings. Funding for the $1.9 million project came from a $1.2 million federal Transportation Enhancement grant and addition funds from Metro’s 2006 Natural Areas Bond Measure and Clackamas County Parks.

I had the pleasure of riding the newly paved section a few weeks ago and it’s fantastic. If you’re looking for a fun weekend excursion from Portland, take the Blue Line MAX to the end of the line in Gresham and head south to connect to the Springwater Corridor. Once on it, you’ll ride east for a few miles before turning south where you’ll hit the new section and you can take it to Boring, or continue a few miles south to Barton Park for a view of the Clackamas River.

Clackamas County is hosting a community ribbon-cutting event on February 1st at Boring Trailhead Park.