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Yikes! Bikes almost roll in the way of buses, trains in close-call videos

Yikes! Bikes almost roll in the way of buses, trains in close-call videos

Sometimes we all make mistakes. TriMet wants more people to think about the fact that some mistakes can be fatal.

It can be difficult to talk about this subject without blaming the victims of traffic violence. To its credit, the video TriMet released today focuses on examples of people who are acting both illegally and at least a little recklessly rather than (as the New York City transit union did recently) condemning people simply for not being cautious. There’s a big difference.

“These aren’t meant to shame anyone, but to show how dangerous a lack of awareness is,” TriMet wrote on its website.







The next question, of course, is what to do about such behaviors. Unfortunately, there will always be people who act recklessly, even around (not to mention with) giant motor vehicles. That’s why transit agencies need experienced and well-trained operators like the ones in these videos.

But it’s also why we need to remember, when we build our streets, that design shapes behavior.

The reason people too often disregard the bike signal on SW Moody is that TriMet ordered it to be red at times that don’t make any sense.

One of the clips here is on the west landing of Tilikum Crossing, where TriMet staff have personally insisted on having the north-south bike signal turn red even when people are merely walking across Moody Avenue east-west without crossing the bike lanes. The result is that for many people biking north-south on Southwest Moody, the red bike signal often seems meaningless — which encourages people to disregard the red light when it actually matters.

This was a decision TriMet made. Does TriMet accept its consequences?

In another clip shown above, people nearly walk their bikes in front of a train at what looks like an Orange Line MAX station. If TriMet had installed swing gates that force people to dismount from bikes before crossing train tracks, that’d probably makes people less likely to bike thoughtlessly in front of trains — but it’d also makes people less likely to bike, and it seems unlikely that the mediocre bike traffic across Tilikum Crossing is good for TriMet in the long run.

Close-call videos can be perversely interesting to watch. But let’s hope TriMet’s managers are putting a little more thought into this problem than just hitting the “repeat” button and shaking their heads.

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

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The post Yikes! Bikes almost roll in the way of buses, trains in close-call videos appeared first on BikePortland.org.

First Look: Southwest Moody is now probably Portland’s best street to bike on

First Look: Southwest Moody is now probably Portland’s best street to bike on

moody lead

The new coloring and lane sorting makes things much more intuitive and comfortable for people biking and walking.
(Photos: M.Andersen/BikePortland)

Just in time for Tilikum Crossing’s public preview last weekend, TriMet and the City of Portland unveiled a new design for the main street leading to the South Waterfront.

In two words: It’s fantastic.

moody high

Gone: the confusing weave that sent people biking and walking across one another’s paths right below the Ross Island Bridge. Both bike lanes now remain on the curb side of the Moody sidewalk throughout, with people walking closer to the western hill side. The trees on the Moody sidewalk now serve as part of the buffer between people walking and biking rather than the buffer between the two directions of bike traffic, which is more intuitive and helps keep everyone out of each others’ way.

moody transit bend

Upgraded: the lonely Hawthorne Bridge-style circles that mark which mode is supposed to go where. Backing them up in the most visible way possible: lots of textured green pavement coloring that makes it impossible to mistake the bike lanes’ route in the most complicated part of the street, just across from the bridge and the new OHSU-OSU-PSU Collaborative Life Sciences Building.

Moving the bike lane away from the hill also mitigates an awkward bend around a freeway support pillar further north on Moody.

Almost all of the $310,000 for these changes came from TriMet. That’d make it one of the most expensive bike-focused projects ever built in Portland, but it’s pocket change in the $1.5 billion Orange Line — which, as we reported in March, finished tens of millions of dollars under budget.

Why was the biking-walking “weave” on Moody in the first place? TriMet spokeswoman Mary Fetsch said it was because the city and TriMet had wanted to avoid sending bike lanes in between the sidewalk and transit stops on Moody — a design that’s widely used in other countries and cities but only exists in a few Portland locations.

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However, the new design handles this nicely, getting the attention of people biking by prompting them to bend around the station and creating a marked crosswalk where, presumably, people walking have the right of way.

One aspect of Moody’s new design troubled me: the amount of time that north-south foot and bike traffic gets a red light at the bridge landing. Obviously red lights here are important when bus, light rail and streetcar traffic is crossing Moody. But the signal at Moody and the bridge also gives north-south traffic a red light every time someone gets a green light to cross Moody on foot or bike, which doesn’t seem necessary and threatens to create a sense that the signals can safely be ignored — which, of course, they can’t.

moody tracks

If there’s no east-west traffic detected across Moody, the light at the bridge landing is always green in the north-south direction by default.

Another big issue on Moody will be the length of the traffic signal for people crossing Moody coming on and off the bridge. It’s currently very long north-south and very short east-west, which will be frustrating to many people on bikes and seems likely to lead people to ignore the signal. During rush hours, when many people are likely to be heading eastbound from the Moody protected bike lanes across the bridge, the long signals seem likely to lead bikes to back up across the bike lane. You can see a little bit of that starting to happen in this photo from last Sunday’s bridge preview day:

queuing

Hopefully TriMet and the city will continue to treat those signal timings and other details here as works in progress.

Generally speaking, though, it seems to me and to the people I’ve talked to that anyone who uses Moody by bike or foot is likely to be well-served by these changes. John Landolfe, the transportation options coordinator for Oregon Health and Science University, said Friday that he’s a big fan of the new design.

“We submitted recommendations based on our observations of how Moody was used and feedback from OHSU commuters,” Landolfe said. “We’re delighted that TriMet and the city have opted to fast-track safety improvements ahead of the opening of the new bridge. … This street serves not just OHSU but the larger community. We want people to feel safe as they travel by bike, by foot, by rail or road.”

“Improvements generally don’t come as fast as you want them to,” Landolfe said. “This time we got it.”

moody chair

Obviously there are lots of unique things about Moody that make it relatively easy to have such high-quality bike facilities there. There are no driveways, no conventional intersections and no on-street parking on this stretch. There’s very little commercial activity (yet); in many ways it resembles a short off-road path segment, even though this is part of a city street.

But that shouldn’t detract from the credit that the city, TriMet and other involved parties like OHSU deserve for making this as nice as it is. It’s simply the most intuitive, comfortable, low-stress set of bike lanes in the city. With the free bike valet at its south end, it already deserves to be a stop for every Portland bike tourist; this half-mile of first-rate bike infrastructure should be held up as a model of how well Portland can do these things when it sets its mind to it — and when it’s willing to learn from and correct its mistakes.

If all goes well, that’ll continue on Moody and elsewhere.

“I’m excited, but it’s of course a wait and see,” Landolfe added. “There might be future improvements too.”


The post First Look: Southwest Moody is now probably Portland’s best street to bike on appeared first on BikePortland.org.

TriMet announces big changes to SW Moody cycletrack

TriMet announces big changes to SW Moody cycletrack

SW Moody cycle track-7-6

It won’t look like this much longer.
(Photo © J. Maus/BikePortland)

With the opening of the Tilikum Crossing Bridge now less than two months away, TriMet has decided to change the way bicycle riders and walkers access it. They plan to switch the lane assignments on the SW Moody cycletrack and add more striping to make it clear where people are supposed to bike and walk.

In partnership with the Bureau of Transportation, TriMet has announced several “refinements” to SW Moody in hopes of encouraging safer and more efficient biking and walking and better access to the new bridge. In a press statement released tonight at the monthly meeting of the Bicycle Advisory Committee, TriMet says the changes come after weeks of monitoring the cycletrack, sidewalk and transit operations around the SW Moody MAX station.

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Here’s more from that statement about the upcoming changes (emphases mine):

On the west side of SW Moody Ave, the lanes of the cycletrack and sidewalk will be permanently repositioned between SW Sheridan and the Ross Island Bridge area so that bike and pedestrian movement is consistent along this entire north-south route. The sidewalk will be against the west railing, the southbound cycletrack will be in the middle, and the northbound cycletrack will be closest to the curb. Striping will be added to more clearly delineate the space for each mode. Guidance railing will be added around the southbound Portland Streetcar stop, and some signals will be adjusted.

This project will start next week and will result in the complete closure of the cycletrack between Sheridan and the Ross Island Bridge from July 20th to August 7th. From July 23-29, the closure will extend north to SW River Parkway. TriMet says the detour will be adequately signed and people should expect to use sidewalks and bike lanes until the project is completed.

Stay tuned for updates and a first look at the changes once they’ve been implemented.

For more information, download a PDF
of the announcement
.

UPDATE, 7/15 at 4:00pm: TriMet has just released the official announcement about these changes and the upcoming detours.


The post TriMet announces big changes to SW Moody cycletrack appeared first on BikePortland.org.

Trucks using Portland’s marquee cycle track as loading zone

Trucks using Portland’s marquee cycle track as loading zone

moodeylead

You can’t park there. Seriously. It’s a City Code violation.
(Photo: Kiel Johnson)

Ask Portland bike advocates, planners, or city staff what our best example of a high-quality bikeway is and many of them might say the SW Moody cycle track. That’s why we were so disappointed when photos appeared on Twitter yesterday showing large delivery trucks parking on it.

SW Moody is the main artery between the burgeoning South Waterfront district and downtown Portland. Its cycle track opened three years ago (read my first impressions here) and was funded through a $23 million federal stimulus grant that also paid for a reconstruction of the street to facilitate a streetcar and light rail line that connect to the new Tilikum Bridge.

A new mixed-use development on SW Moody includes several ground-level retail businesses including a bakery and a deli. According to people who ride the route regularly, it’s common to see delivery trucks using the cycle track to load and unload.

Yesterday, Kiel Johnson, owner of the Go By Bike valet service and bike shop under the Portland Aerial Tram, posted this to Twitter

In response, another picture emerged from Flickr user zakschwank:

image

PBOT has taken note of the tweets. Agency spokeswoman Diane Dulken said in a telephone interview this morning that, “It is a safety issue.” Dulken added that it’s also a violation of city code (16.20.130) and City of Portland parking enforcement officers will respond to the area once a report has been made.

The city hotline for parking violations is 823-5195 and Dulken urges everyone to call that number to report this type of behavior.

Dulken also said that this could also simply be an “awareness issue.” “The truck drivers might not know it’s not a loading zone,” she said. On that note, Dulken added that staff from PBOT’s Active Transportation Division will visit the business owners to do some educational outreach.

As an aside, during my time in Copenhagen last year I noticed trucks would sometimes block cycle tracks. I was fascinated at how people on bikes didn’t seem to care much. They would just roll off the cycle track, go around the truck, and keep on riding (often without even putting their phone down!); or simply stop and wait for the unloading to finish. This “no big whoop” attitude in Copenhagen was in stark contrast to the anger with which many American riders react.

Norrebrogade scenes-1

I’ve come to realize the difference in response is that here in the U.S., this type of thing is like the straw that breaks the camel’s back. It’s just one more sign of disrespect and potential danger along a route that is likely full of several others — and therefore the angry response is from the cumulative impact of other frustrations. Whereas in Copenhagen, when a truck blocks the cycle track, it’s just a tiny blip on an otherwise perfectly calm and pleasant bicycle journey and therefore there’s no built-up stress looking for an outlet.

The post Trucks using Portland’s marquee cycle track as loading zone appeared first on BikePortland.org.

Truck drivers are using Portland’s marquee cycle track as loading zone

Truck drivers are using Portland’s marquee cycle track as loading zone

moodeylead

You can’t park there. Seriously. It’s a City Code violation.
(Photo: Kiel Johnson)

Ask Portland bike advocates, planners, or city staff what our best example of a high-quality bikeway is and many of them might say the SW Moody cycle track. That’s why we were so disappointed when photos appeared on Twitter yesterday showing large delivery trucks parking on it.

SW Moody is the main artery between the burgeoning South Waterfront district and downtown Portland. Its cycle track opened three years ago (read my first impressions here) and was funded through a $23 million federal stimulus grant that also paid for a reconstruction of the street to facilitate a streetcar and light rail line that connect to the new Tilikum Bridge.

A new mixed-use development on SW Moody includes several ground-level retail businesses including a bakery and a deli. According to people who ride the route regularly, it’s common to see delivery trucks using the cycle track to load and unload.

Yesterday, Kiel Johnson, owner of the Go By Bike valet service and bike shop under the Portland Aerial Tram, posted this to Twitter

In response, another picture emerged from Flickr user zakschwank:

image

PBOT has taken note of the tweets. Agency spokeswoman Diane Dulken said in a telephone interview this morning that, “It is a safety issue.” Dulken added that it’s also a violation of city code (16.20.130) and City of Portland parking enforcement officers will respond to the area once a report has been made.

The city hotline for parking violations is 823-5195 and Dulken urges everyone to call that number to report this type of behavior.

Dulken also said that this could also simply be an “awareness issue.” “The truck drivers might not know it’s not a loading zone,” she said. On that note, Dulken added that staff from PBOT’s Active Transportation Division will visit the business owners to do some educational outreach.

As an aside, during my time in Copenhagen last year I noticed trucks would sometimes block cycle tracks. I was fascinated at how people on bikes didn’t seem to care much. They would just roll off the cycle track, go around the truck, and keep on riding (often without even putting their phone down!); or simply stop and wait for the unloading to finish. This “no big whoop” attitude in Copenhagen was in stark contrast to the anger with which many American riders react.

Norrebrogade scenes-1

Scene from Nørrebrogade in Copenhagen.
(Photo by J. Maus/BikePortland)

I’ve come to realize the difference in response is that here in the U.S., this type of thing is like the straw that breaks the camel’s back. It’s just one more sign of disrespect and potential danger along a route that is likely full of several others — and therefore the angry response is from the cumulative impact of other frustrations. Whereas in Copenhagen, when a truck blocks the cycle track, it’s just a tiny blip on an otherwise perfectly calm and pleasant bicycle journey and therefore there’s no built-up stress looking for an outlet.

The post Truck drivers are using Portland’s marquee cycle track as loading zone appeared first on BikePortland.org.

Light rail work leads to closures, detours on SW Moody cycle track

Light rail work leads to closures, detours on SW Moody cycle track

SW Moody cycle track-5-4

Expect the unexpected when you ride
on the Moody cycle track for
the next few months.
(Photo © J. Maus/BikePortland)

The hits in our detour-filled summer just keep on coming…

TriMet has temporary closures in place on the SW Moody Ave cycle track as part of their ongoing Portland-Milwaukie Light Rail Transit Project. The closures started last week and will last through October 18th. DeeAnn Sandberg with TriMet Community Affairs says the closures are necessary to allow TriMet to install tracks in the roadway. SW Moody is a major corridor to the South Waterfront neighborhood (and points south), the Aerial Tram, as well as OHSU’s various patient facilities and offices.

Bicycle access will remain throughout TriMet’s light rail work; but closures will alternate between the cycle track on the west side of the street and the sidwalk on the east side of the street. Here are details from a flyer TriMet is handing out in the area:

  • Aug. 1–Sept. 6: East sidewalk on Moody CLOSED, please use west sidewalk
  • Sept. 9–Oct. 18: West sidewalk on Moody CLOSED, please use east sidewalk
  • Where to cross Moody Avenue to the open sidewalk during this work: SW Gibbs traffic light near the Portland Aerial Tram or at SW Sheridan Street
  • Please watch for signage and flaggers
  • Travel slowly during these closures to make sure all bike and pedestrian traffic can get through the area safely

And a map to help orient yourself…

This light rail construction comes in addition to existing work being done on The Emery apartments and OHSU’s new Collaborative Life Sciences Building. Both of those projects have narrowed the eastern sidewalk. Sandberg says TriMet is working closely with contractors to make sure there is always an adequate path available for people to bike through the area.

For more info and detour maps, visit TriMet.org/PM/construction or contact Sandberg directly via sandberd@trimet.org or (503) 962-2273.

NOTE: We want to keep you posted about all the detours in the area. Please let us know what you are seeing out there and for more information, visit our “Detours” page.