Posted by Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) on July 26th, 2010 at 9:54 am
(Photo © J. Maus)
The City of Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) is into their second week of a three week project to grind down and repave SE Hawthorne Boulevard and SE Madison Street from Grand to 12th. The project is part of the same $4.3 million, federal stimulus-funded project that brought a new street surface to NW 23rd.
After receiving a few emails about the riding conditions in the construction zone I decided to roll over myself and have a look. Keep in mind, these stretches of Hawthorne and Madison are two of the busiest bike streets in the entire city.
As expected at around 5:30 pm on a weekday, there was a high volume of bike traffic coming east off the Hawthorne Bridge viaduct. Coming up to Grand Ave, I noticed the familiar bright orange cones and flags of a construction site. I was a bit surprised at how abruptly the bike lane ended and joined with the outer-most vehicle lane. There were no transitional markings leading up to the lane closure and people had to rely on their wits to merge safely over and hope that people in cars noticed them. Another issue was TriMet buses getting over to service a stop situated just beyond the orange cones.
For most people, this isn't a dire safety situation. But I wonder, why must bike traffic be subjected to these conditions, even if it's just temporary? This is a major bike artery. We must make sure it is safe and comfortable to travel through -- by all modes -- even during a construction project.
The HB 2001 transportation funding bill passed in 2009 combined with federal stimulus-funded project, we are seeing historic amounts of road projects. Perhaps it's time for our region to adopt a formal ordinance regarding how to treat bikeways during construction projects. I also think it might be a good idea to educate contractors about bikeway continuity as part of the permitting process.
On a different note, since these two streets are getting repaved, any chance the lanes could be re-striped to give more room to non-motorized traffic (like PBOT did on Williams)? The current configuration is parking lanes on both sides, a 5-foot non-motorized vehicle lane (a.k.a. bike lane), and three vehicle lanes. This street definitely warrants more space for bikes.
Please use this post to share your comments about how the bikeways are being treated as this project continues in the coming weeks. Construction is expected to be completed by August 6th. Check out KeepPortlandMoving.org for updates on this and other projects.