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First look at new bike lanes through cobblestones on NW Marshall

Posted by on May 6th, 2010 at 9:41 am

New bike lanes on NW Marshall. See what
it will look like when completed below.
(Photo: Paul Peterson)

New bike lanes are being constructed on NW Marshall between 12th and 14th Avenues in the Pearl District — but these aren’t just any bike lanes. What’s notable about this project is that the new lanes are being cut right through historic cobblestones (a move that has irked some local residents who say the cobbles are key to the area’s charm) and they’re part of a larger streetcar project that will make NW Marshall into a bicycle boulevard.

The new bike lanes are part of the Eastside Streetcar Loop project, a $128 million, 3.3 mile extension of the streetcar that will loop from the Pearl District, across the Broadway Bridge and down to OMSI. The project will turn NW Lovejoy and NW Northrup (two blocks north) into an east-west couplet (one-way traffic in each direction). As part of that construction, the bike lanes currently on Lovejoy will be removed and Marshall and NW Johnson (four blocks south) will become the preferred bikeways.

Here’s another photo (both photos were sent in by reader Paul Peterson):

The new lanes will make for a much smoother ride.

PBOT (with sign-off from the Bicycle Advisory Committee) decided that the cobbles on Marshall did not provide the desired level of comfort for people riding bicycles, so the decision was made to pour new pavement to smooth out the ride.

When this idea was first floated to the public back in 2008, some Pearl District residents were not pleased. The NW Examiner detailed the debate (I’m still trying to track down the article) and reader Tom Durkin emailed us calling the idea a “debacle.” When he heard about the plans, he said, “What a bunch of baloney. When REI went in on Kearney, the cobbles were restored. Riding cobbles gives riders the feelings of the past, the old world. I am very unhappy about this project.”

But local design firm Alta Planning, who helped analyze the Marshall alignment, said the treatment is common in European countries with high bike usage. Alta CEO Mia Birk sent me the photo below as evidence:

How the Dutch do it.
(Photo courtesy Mia Birk)

For Birk and PBOT, a bike boulevard on Marshall is part of a larger effort to make the Pearl District the city’s first officially designated “Bicycle District.” For a glimpse of what Marshall might look like when construction is complete, here’s a conceptual drawing by Alta Planning that shows two newly paved, 5-6 foot wide concrete bike lanes and one large lane for motor vehicle travel while preserving all-important curbside parking on both sides:

Concept drawing by Alta Planning showing NW Marshall between 12th and 14th avenues.

The streetcar project is spurring many changes to how bikes get around this area (especially around the Lovejoy ramp onto the Broadway Bridge). Stay tuned for more coverage of what’s in store.

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Comments
  • Matthew May 6, 2010 at 9:50 am

    Neat! I’m all for historic charm, but I’m also all for NOT bruising my tailbone.

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  • dan May 6, 2010 at 9:50 am

    Heck, if those Paris-Roubaix guys can ride their skinny-tire, gossamer-weight race bikes at 35 mph on cobbles, you’d think us Portlanders could manage it on our commuters. Money not well-spent IMO.

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  • Rogier May 6, 2010 at 9:53 am

    Cool. Hopefully they’ll use the removed cobbles to patch the sections ruined by utility companies?

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  • Nick V May 6, 2010 at 10:04 am

    #2 Dan,

    Exactly what I was thinking. Then again, despite how often I hear Phil Liggett’s voice in my head, I’m not Hincapie or Cancellara.

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  • K'Tesh May 6, 2010 at 10:06 am

    I’m with Matthew and Rogier on this one.

    Reusing the cobbles +1

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  • Dave May 6, 2010 at 10:07 am

    The nice thing about this, is that keeping the road surface cobbles for automobiles will maintain slow vehicle traffic, along with the narrow street area, and repaving for bikes will give them a smoother ride, allowing them probably to maintain a very similar speed to much of the automobile traffic. It’s not that you couldn’t ride on cobbles, but evening the playing field a little is helpful I think, and street interactions are likely to be calmer and less-stressful when all traffic is moving at similar speeds.

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  • wsbob May 6, 2010 at 10:07 am

    Interesting. The photo Mia Birk sent you of the Netherlands (by the way, I’m so glad our streets aren’t red-pink like that) paving cut for the creation of bike lanes seems to show…not cobblestones being cut for the asphalt bike lane, but bricks, carefully laid with a brick border.

    It’s been awhile since I walked or biked down NW Marshal on the cobbles there. I wouldn’t want people to fall because of them, but that probably hasn’t been a big problem (people riding bikes in Europe seem to manage cobbles just fine…racers too…Paris-Roubiaix)…at least not nearly so much as the streetcar tracks have been.

    I like the aesthetic the cobblestones add to the city. Walking on them, they require a little adjustment, transitioning from perfectly smooth concrete sidewalk. It’s probably good for physical conditioning.

    This cutting cobblestones idea does not seem like an improvement so much as design overkill.

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  • Alexis May 6, 2010 at 10:12 am

    The concept drawing looks like the “bike lanes” are in the door zone. (In Amsterdam, too!) Hope the real ones are a bit better, but it doesn’t look like it from the photo.

    I wasn’t able to find much info about this in a web search, but I also hope PBOT is planning to improve the stop sign situations on Marshall and Johnson if they want cyclists to prefer them to Lovejoy. Personally, I love the idea of Lovejoy/Northrup as a one-way couplet. It’s something I discussed in my PSU/PBOT class presentation as a possible solution to the bike/streetcar mixing on Lovejoy. I would probably use Lovejoy instead of Johnson or Marshall (taking the lane; traffic doesn’t go that fast and it’s downhill) unless Johnson and Marshall can be sped up.

    Johnson is stop-signed at every intersection except 20th, 17th, and 15th down to 9th (mix of 4-way and 2-way stops), whereas Lovejoy has timed signals that keep traffic moving.

    I never ride Marshall since it’s not currently a through route to 23rd (and if that’s not changing, getting people to ride it may be a challenge) but I walk it sometimes and it has a lot of stops as well.

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  • Aaronf May 6, 2010 at 10:23 am

    East Portland can CHOKE on this!

    You guys want sidewalks? Paved roads?

    Fuggedaboudit!!

    :p

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  • armando May 6, 2010 at 10:34 am

    i think they are just going to flip the stones over. they should be smooth on the other side…

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  • naomi May 6, 2010 at 10:40 am

    Awesome! My apartment is right over this particular cobblestone street and have been wondering what all the construction was for. Great idea as I hated riding my bike over the stones!

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  • fredlf May 6, 2010 at 10:43 am

    Actually feeling something is part of the pleasure of riding a bike. For those whose posteriors are too delicate for cobbles, I recommend one of the many excellent full suspension bicycles you can buy nowadays.

    Agreed with AaronF, I would rather spend the money on getting East Skidmore actually paved all the way to Rocky Butte than on this dubious improvement.

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  • Anne Hawley May 6, 2010 at 10:48 am

    @Aaronf #9: I was thinking exactly the same thing. The concentration of beautiful new infrastructure in the lovely property-tax-abated Pearl seems way out of line with reason, unless tourism is the reason. Otherwise I’d have to assume that “the rich get richer” in Portland, and that just could not possibly be.

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  • Brad Ross May 6, 2010 at 10:52 am

    I want more cobbles, not less.

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  • GLV May 6, 2010 at 11:03 am

    Reusing the cobbles +1

    There is precedent for this: the cobblestones you see between the MAX tracks on Yamhill and Morrison are re-purposed cobblestones from old streets.

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  • SkidMark May 6, 2010 at 11:08 am

    So much for the Paris-Roubaix experience.

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  • 9watts May 6, 2010 at 11:43 am

    One of these days we’ll all be happy for cobble stones when the alternative is potholes in asphalt, patching material for which will no longer come so readily and cheaply out of the Middle East. We need to be thinking about *all* the ways our infrastructure is reliant on petroleum products.

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  • Spiffy May 6, 2010 at 12:05 pm

    looks more like setts than cobblestones… I wouldn’t want to ride on a real cobblestone street, but those setts aren’t that bad…

    but I like the idea of slowing down the cars with the setts and having smooth pavement for the bikes to roll faster… and it’s a physical divider between cars and bikes to help everybody stay it the correct lane…

    I also hope they reuse those setts that they cut out…

    and in laying new pavement they can use something that’s not slick like those setts likely are in the rain…

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  • f5 May 6, 2010 at 12:27 pm

    It is a bit too bad that they just sliced through the old cobblestones. I’m sure it’s cheaper in the short run for the city to cut rather than fumble with rearranging and relaying the ends, etc.

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  • Oliver May 6, 2010 at 12:28 pm

    Seems like there must be a cheaper solution here. Street trees, bulb outs, some more traffic calming features (besides the cobbles themselves). Put some wider tires on your bike to reduce the jostlin’! This seems like a great street already, but it will be interesting to see the overhauled version.

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  • Dave May 6, 2010 at 12:47 pm

    I have to agree that this seems a bit like overkill, I can’t say that I ever felt like I was connected to the “old world” riding through the Pearl on those cobble stones.

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  • Todd Boulanger May 6, 2010 at 12:54 pm

    I know it is a bumpy ride…but how sad! A real shame.

    Cities around the world are working on recreating this type of street…and Portland does the opposite? This type of street has a 100+ year lifecycle if cared for vs. ~20 for asphalt.

    For the riders who complain – Just put some real city tyres on your bike (32mm) and 200m of Belgium block will pass quickly. (As pointed out above.)

    I gotta ask – What is the CoP doing over the long run to protect these heritage streets from such short sighted alterations…and unnecessary utility cuts and barbaric patch jobs? They have done a poor job to date.

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  • sam May 6, 2010 at 1:20 pm

    Wow. What a waste.

    I can’t say riding the cobblestones gives me any feelings of the old world (whatever that is), but it always gives me lots of “dang, my bike is a rattly bike” feelings. Especially when I have something jumping up and down in my basket.

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  • Paul Johnson May 6, 2010 at 1:41 pm

    How do they intend to keep motorists out of the cycle lanes when they’re probably just going to drive in them for a smoother ride themselves?

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  • are May 6, 2010 at 2:20 pm

    hard to tell from the info posted to the http://portlandstreetcar.org/index.php website, but it appears lovejoy will be one way east from 23rd to 11th. so when they talk about getting rid of the bike lane on lovejoy they must mean that absurdity on the south side of the street that starts at 14th and keeps jumping up onto the sidewalk. with lovejoy running one way east, of course cyclists can simply take the left lane. but what will the onstreet parking situation be? (or are marshall and johnson supposed to become the mandatory alternate routes for cyclists?)

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  • vanessa May 6, 2010 at 2:26 pm

    I hope there isn’t really going to be a giant seam/crack in the concrete running parallel down the middle of the track like the artist’s rendering shows. I ride 25/28s, and have a hard enough time negotiating sidewalk cracks like that when it’s dry, let alone wet; I’ve had a lot of near crashes in rain.

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  • daniel May 6, 2010 at 2:27 pm

    Debacle indeed: money and time that could have been better spent, than by ruining a small oasis of charm. Riders who didn’t like riding on the cobblestone could easily have taken another route. Riders who did like it and the people that live in the neighborhood and appreciate it now have no choice, however, than to accept this dubious “improvement.”

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  • Paul Johnson May 6, 2010 at 3:05 pm

    Why are you riding on the sidewalk? That’s not a legal practice except where posted. And why run tires too narrow to safely negotiate a concrete expansion gap?

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  • Dave May 6, 2010 at 3:08 pm

    @Paul Johnson: actually, it’s legal to ride on the sidewalk anywhere except downtown proper.

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  • Dave May 6, 2010 at 3:08 pm

    Not necessarily advisable, but legal.

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  • Paul Johnson May 6, 2010 at 3:12 pm

    @Dave: At walking speed or less only. Not exactly what most people would call riding.

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  • Dave May 6, 2010 at 3:14 pm

    @Paul Johnson: I’m just saying, you basically asked the question “why don’t you ride like me?”, as if that’s a shock or something. Maybe she has a perfectly good reason for riding on the sidewalk from time to time and/or having more narrow tires?

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  • GLV May 6, 2010 at 3:19 pm

    The current bike lane on eastbound Lovejoy does in fact coincide with the sidewalk, between 14th and 13th. This is also the case on SW 5th, between Mill and Montgomery.

    Riding a bike on the sidewalk is illegal only between Hoyt/Jefferson and 13th/Naito. See City Code 16.70.320, paragraph E.

    http://www.portlandonline.com/auditor/index.cfm?c=28596&a=16278

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  • Jason Skelton May 6, 2010 at 3:22 pm

    A lot of pro riders have heinous wrecks on the cobbles in Paris-Roubaix, especially when wet. The treacherous riding has helped the race earn its nickname “The Hell of the North.”

    Also, much of the race is on regular pavement. The cobbles are just a portion of it.

    Just an FYI.

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  • Jeff May 6, 2010 at 3:38 pm

    Yeah, all this old world nonsense has got to end. Safety and convenience will ultimately further the cause of increasing cycling attractiveness more than any delusional notion of “honoring” the deficiencies of the past.

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  • Paul Johnson May 6, 2010 at 4:28 pm

    @GLV: That’s not a bicycle lane on the sidewalk, but rather a sidewalk on a median. The bike lane is still part of the roadway, there just happens to be a pedestrian island in the middle of the road.

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  • Paul Johnson May 6, 2010 at 4:31 pm

    @Dave: No, the question isn’t “Why don’t you ride like me?” but rather “Why are you riding like a self-absorbed jerk, endangering any pedestrians that might want to use that space?”

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  • suburban May 6, 2010 at 4:31 pm

    It’s lazy to jump-associate cobbles to ‘that race’. The subject of those photos is sad and shameful. I disapprove, and use the word rape.

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  • joel May 6, 2010 at 6:16 pm

    1. bummer. i actually really enjoy those cobbled streets. guess ill be riding in the lane! cobbled streets are history, and while there is a safety concern, im sure, im still bummed to see even a section of them go away.

    2. the photo of holland? somewhat apples to oranges. thats new bricks, laid between two paved cycletracks, not cycletracks cut through existing cobblestones. street was laid out like that, not retrofitted.

    3. as someone whos ridden various paris-roubaix sections, and held a cobble from the arenberg trench in his arms (theyre too big to hold in one hand) – these cobbles dont even remotely compare to those – marshall is as smooth as glass in comparison.

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  • P Finn May 6, 2010 at 7:51 pm

    Door Zone-a-rific! Door me, I’m slick!

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  • jim May 6, 2010 at 8:36 pm

    some cobblestones would have surely tamed some speedy cyclists that generaly have little regard for anyone but themselves

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  • wsbob May 6, 2010 at 8:38 pm

    “looks more like setts than cobblestones…” Spiffy #18

    Spiffy…The term ‘setts’ isn’t one I’m familiar with, but I think I know what you’re referring to: those pavers molded out of concrete. I’m fairly sure these are the real deal…basalt. Word about them that comes up in Portland news stories periodically, is that they were ship ballast re-purposed. Should be fairly easy to tell with a first hand close up look.

    Those fake concrete cobbles are ‘o.k.’, but aren’t nothing like the real thing. I don’t know if Portland or even anywhere in Oregon has those big cobbles that Joel #39 is talking about.

    I’m kind of curious what citizen design review the treatment for Marshall St might have received before being approved. Certainly not everyone commenting here so far doesn’t care for it, but the vast majority seem not to.

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  • jim May 6, 2010 at 8:38 pm

    the cobblestones would have outlasted the new concrete by generations.
    They also just destroyed all of the caracter of the street, might as well just pave the whole thing now the damage is done. We have nitwits running the city

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  • Matt May 6, 2010 at 9:00 pm

    I think it’s a waste of money too. Unless there’s some real problem we don’t know about, like that street is a documented high crash zone or something. I’d prefer that the money were spent on some other bike project.

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  • pdxebiker May 6, 2010 at 10:05 pm

    I wonder if any car drivers, seeking a smoother ride, will roll their right tires up onto the paved bike lane; it’s signed as a bike lane in the Dutch version, but not in the Alta concept drawing.

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  • jim May 6, 2010 at 10:10 pm

    I wonder if any car drivers, seeking a smoother ride
    Of coarse they will. did you ever watch a car drive around a speed bump? even if its only 2 wheels it is smoother

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  • Mia Birk May 7, 2010 at 8:59 am

    Thanks to Jonathan for the article and to all of you for weighing in.

    This project was debated in great detail by numerous committees, residents, and the BAC, with all sorts of options considered. The streetcar project will make Lovejoy and Northrup into one-way streets, making functional bike lanes challenging. Interaction with turning streetcar tracks was the biggest problem.
    From our surveys, meetings, and research, we found near universal discomfort with the current bike lanes on Lovejoy. Better would be protected cycle tracks (like on SW Broadway near PSU) but this would have required trade-off with all on-street parking.
    The various committees were 100% in sync that Marshall would be a better option, but ONLY if the the City could create a smoother riding surface. The clear message was that Marshall must become a world-class bikeway in order to justify losing bike lanes on Lovejoy.
    I too share an appreciation for the aesthetic quality of cobblestones, and I personally ride a utilitarian bike with fat-enough tires to not be bothered by cobbles, but we heard loud and clear that the many skinny-tired bike users would not use and were very passionately frustrated by the bumpy cobbles. Although residents of the Netherlands almost universally use sturdy-tired bikes, we have a much wider variety of bike types. It is our responsibility to accomodate all these types; we’re all part of the solution.

    It is my understanding that the cobbles will be reused elsewhere. We recommended a number of changes to the stop signs and intersections to create a smoother ride, and also a number of changes at 9th/Lovejoy.

    I would simply ask folks to reserve judgement until the streetcar and other changes are complete and we’ve all had time to get used to it. Again, thanks for weighing in.

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  • Anonymous May 7, 2010 at 9:21 am

    nobody chooses to ride on cobbles over smooth pavement. those pros in P-R would rather ride the little dirt track to the side of the cobbles.. anything to avoid them, really.

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  • k. May 7, 2010 at 9:31 am

    They should have preserved the cobbles. There are plenty of other streets to develop as bike routes.

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  • wsbob May 7, 2010 at 10:27 am

    Mia Birk, I appreciate your taking the time to give us readers a little summary of the review process that led to the approval of this bike lane design through the cobbles. Sounds as though you put in some hard work yourself. Thanks! With that said:

    “…but we heard loud and clear that the many skinny-tired bike users would not use and were very passionately frustrated by the bumpy cobbles. …” Mia Birk

    The ‘skinny-tired bike users’. Hah! Exactly how many blocks does the cobbled section of Marshall run? If I remember correctly, not many…6? 8?. They’re confined to the formerly industrial section of Portland east of I-405 that became the cushy ‘Pearl’ district.

    I ride skinny tires..23′s. It’s not that big a deal riding over those cobbles. Riders have to ride a little bit slower, and more carefully, but that’s about it; lift more of the bod’s weight onto the pedals and off the saddle for this short section.

    Keeping a little bit of the old stuff around can be a good thing. For example, it seems to me the city might have considered leaving a block or two of the graveled street up on…I think it was on NW 12th or 13th. It was kind of fun for a change of pace, walking or biking. Oh no…that had to become asphalt too.

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  • Steve B. May 7, 2010 at 10:44 am

    There was a cobblestone street on my bike route when I lived in Philadelphia. Not very proud of it, but I would sometimes take the sidewalk for fear of busting a tire or spoke. Preserving a smooth cutout through these streets, assuming the are out of the door zone, would be welcome for riders of all skill levels.

    We’re building a bike city for all types of cyclists, I think it’s reasonable to expect less-adventurous riders to prefer a smoother option to cobblestones.

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  • Adam May 7, 2010 at 11:53 am

    I’m all for it .. hopefully it will help give the cyclists someplace safe to ride so I can walk onthe sidewalks safely again! :)

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  • matt picio May 7, 2010 at 11:58 am

    Paul (#31) – Walking speed only applies in crosswalks, not on sidewalks. It’s polite, but it’s not a legal requirement. In regards to your comment #28, there are plenty of times to legally be on the sidewalk even downtown – driveways / parking ramps, for instance. Also, riding on the sidewalks in the Park Blocks is legal. In regards to #37, you’re making a lot of assumptions – do you even know vanessa? How do you know she is “a self-absorbed jerk”?

    jim (#43) – I agree. Making the street look like Amsterdam is, frankly, stupid. We have 150 years of historic character in Portland, and up to 100 years of pavement on some of these cobbled streets. We destroyed all our culture when we invaded this land ~200 years ago, but that doesn’t mean we should necessarily destroy the culture we built out of whole cloth here in order to emulate Europe. If people want Amsterdam, they can go to Amsterdam, or Copenhagen, or wherever. There’s not a lot of surviving cobblestones, 150-year old houses, giant trees, whatever left here in Portland. They’re part of the charm, like our plethora of curbside horse-rings.

    Oh, well – we still have cobbles on Kearney.

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  • Paul Johnson May 7, 2010 at 12:17 pm

    Legal or not, what does it say about the kind of person who drives a vehicle, motorized or not, through a pedestrian space?

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  • Dave May 7, 2010 at 12:19 pm

    @Paul Johnson: what does it say about a person who makes huge assumptions about someone else’s character from a passing comment on a blog?

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  • Paul Johnson May 7, 2010 at 12:54 pm

    Not much at all, I’m not the one endangering pedestrians.

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  • Brad May 7, 2010 at 1:41 pm

    I’ve seen the future of cycling in Portland! It goes 10 mph, has no handling skills, and is terrified of just about everything it encounters.

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  • Argentius May 7, 2010 at 3:22 pm

    I wish they would’ve kept the cobbles intact. I like them.

    I currently live in Tacoma, WA and the smooth stones of NW PDX are nothing compared to the bread-loaf shaped, battleship-grey ballast stones that still form many of Tacoma’s old streets.

    I like those, too, and lament the budget-challenged city occasionally patching them with asphalt, and the mass pave-over that happened several years ago.

    I don’t mind slowing down a bit for cobbles, and feel that streetcar tracks are many times more dangerous to a rider than any stones, but, we learn to handle them just as riders in europe do.

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  • joel May 7, 2010 at 8:48 pm

    spiffy #18 and wsbob #42 – theyre not setts (setts are cleanly and squarely quarried, usually granite, cobble-like stones), they are genuine cobbles of the variety commonly seen in cities along the us west coast. small, bread-loaf-shaped, typically basalt, about 4w x 8l x 5d.

    anonymous #48 – heh. i almost ALWAYS choose to ride on cobbles, if theyre available. its just fun. :)

    mia – ah, the spectre of on-street parking rears its ugly head again. if we could just convince merchants to give this up, we could have some real world-class stuff. im convinced that a bike/rail only street would lead to increased business for merchants. no data to back it up (though i seem to believe its out there), just gut feeling.

    lovejoy/northrup becoming one-way is worth this to me, though (as much as i hate to see a section of cobbles go, knowing theyll likely end up as landscaping somewhere :) ) – thats how those streets should have been set up with the streetcar to begin with – ive always thought two-way traffic + streetcar on a street with one lane in each direction was just mind-numbingly stupid.

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  • vanessa May 8, 2010 at 11:21 pm

    @Paul Johnson (#28 and #37) and @Dave (#32) For the record, I don’t ride on sidewalks. I used the term “sidewalk crack” in my post (#26) to describe the kind of crack in cement that I, personally, find dangerous: the kind that you find in cement poured not only in sidewalks but as MUPs in some places, and yes, even as bike lanes in other places. I’ve almost biffed it many times on the Waterfront Park path; and on cement MUPs on my college campus. I ride 25/28 touring tires; not particularly skinny.

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  • wsbob May 9, 2010 at 11:07 am

    Vanessa…I think those are ‘contraction joints’. Here’s a really informative couple of web pages about them an others:

    concrete.com exp joints

    concrete.com joint fundamentals

    The latter page has diagrams indicating that suggested joint width can vary between 1/8″ and 3/8″. The reason for the wider width used is something I’ve wondered about too. Out on the new sidewalks created as part of the WES construction here in Beaverton, some of the longitudinal joints are kind of wide. They can kind of make the bike wobble a little if the tires run directly in them.

    They’re a real hazard for inline skating (hear that cheering sound from people that are tired of having to struggle to walk safe with skaters weaving down the sidewalk?). I’ve inline skated Portland’s Waterfront Park. The deep horizontal joints there kind of spoil what would otherwise be a really fast, smooth run. That might just be part of the idea behind the use of the wider joints.

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  • Richard May 9, 2010 at 11:34 pm

    There was really no need to remove the cobble stones. In Copenhagen, they simply grind the cobble stones down so the surface is smooth. It works great and probably is cheaper. We have so much to learn.

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  • Todd Boulanger May 10, 2010 at 11:31 am

    Richard’s comment reminded me of some other old tricks of the street builder’s trade…if you look in the old manuals at Powells…streets with other types of smooth pavers (brick, wood, and stone) were smoothed out by covering them in thick tar and then this tar was screed off. Smoother and sealed. But this type of skill predates the mechanized asphalt skills most local contractors and engineers have…so the expectation to remove and make new vs. keep in place.

    …on a trip many years ago I stumbled into a crew of Italian (or Croatian) stone masons repairing whole sections of heritage streets north east of Battery Park (NYC)…its was a nice sight to see the hammer and stones chiming away…vs. the noise and heat of a modern road crew (I used to work on one).

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  • matt picio May 10, 2010 at 1:13 pm

    Paul (#54) – The park blocks are not a pedestrian space – they are a human-powered space. Every park in the city allows bicycles on its paved paths, and indeed the city encourages this. It’s not a hazard unless cyclists and skaters fail to recognize the mutual rights of pedestrians.

    And lumping all vehicles together is a fallacious argument – unlike cars, trucks and motorcycles, the weight of a bicycle can’t crush a person. A car at 2mph can shatter a kneecap, hip, or skull. A bike at 2mph causes a bruise. At 5mph they can be dangerous but usually not seriously. At 10mph, they should be slowing down when passing pedestrians, and giving audible warning as required by state law.

    Dave (#55) – I think the reader can make their own determination about people from their comments. Not that I disagree, with your statement, just saying that the more we all focus on what is said, and known facts, and the less on what we think is implied, or the perceived motives of others, the stronger our own arguments become.

    Paul (#56) – Juding by vanessa’s subsequent comment, no one in this thread is endangering pedestrians.

    wsbob (#61) – I don’t know if they still do it, or if it was just regional, but when I was growing up in Michigan the expansion joints of sidewalks, roads and bridges all had a compressible filler in them that prevented most of the bad effects of the road. Now that I think about it, though – that might have only been when the road was new. Numerous freeze/thaw cycles tended to destroy or pop out the filler. One of the reasons for the longitudinal joints is that beyond a certain path width, the absence of an expansion joint makes it very likely you’ll get a longitudinal crack – one which isn’t planned for and tends to spread.

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  • jks May 11, 2010 at 12:08 pm

    Ridiculous. A waste of money and a destruction of history to remove the cobblestones. And NOT an improvement. Period.

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  • BURR May 12, 2010 at 11:16 am

    So I withheld judgement until I rode this two block segment this morning.

    1. The cobbles are very rough to ride and they are far from pristine, there are numerous utility cuts that have been poorly patched with asphalt or concrete.

    2. The paved bike lanes are a vast improvement, but the transitional margins could use some work, there are several places you could easily catch a wheel and crash if you inadvertently left the paved area.

    3. The cobbles that were removed could/should be used to repair the aforementioned utility cuts that have been poorly patched with aphalt and concrete.

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  • BURR May 12, 2010 at 11:23 am

    My other comment is that transforming Lovejoy and Northrup into a one way couplet is probably a mistake, and may turn these two streets into motor vehicle sacrifice zones and raise auto volumes and speeds, but I don’t see why cyclists can’t also be accomodated on Northrup and Lovejoy, since there will actually be a lane free of tracks for cyclists as well as motorists to use; I don’t see why that lane can’t be painted with sharrows.

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  • are May 12, 2010 at 4:47 pm

    plus one to putting sharrows on lovejoy, comment 67. and thanks for scoping out the actual situation on marshall. sounds like some of the rhetoric here turns out to have been excessive.

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  • Phil, Bath UK May 14, 2010 at 1:59 am

    One of the reasons paved roads were originally covered in tarmac was to prevent citizens prising up the cobbles/setts to use as missiles in times of unrest.

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