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The trouble with trash cans on the Cully cycle track

Posted by Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) on July 15th, 2011 at 11:53 am

Trash cans obstructing the cycle track on NE Cully Blvd. Garbage trucks have trouble getting to them up on the curb.
(Photos © J. Maus)


A reader got in touch with us yesterday to share concerns about a problem with the new cycle track in NE Cully Blvd. To refresh your memory, the Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) recently completed a complete street rebuild on Cully from Killingsworth to Prescott. With a clean slate, PBOT decided to try the city's first ever, separated cycle track.

Cully Blvd cycle track-8

As I reported when it first opened, it's quite a dramatic improvement over what the street was before the project (a high-speed, neighborhood arterial with no sidewalks).

One issue of concern was that cars would park in the cycle track. While the bikeway is on a separate grade, it's a very small, and mountable curb that is easy to roll over. In my own observations, I haven't seen many cars parked in the cycle track (I did see a U.S. Mail truck servicing some mailboxes last month however).

Reader Bjorn Warloe, who rides Cully regularly, agrees that parking in the cycle track is, "going much better" than he expected. Warloe's concern is "the plethora of trash cans in the bikeway." trash cans. Warloe says the problem isn't just on trash day, but that some people leave their cans out all week.

"I thought parking in the bikeway was going to be an issue," wrote Warloe via email, "but I see that maybe once a week, the cans are a constant issue."

Warloe has noticed that when garbage trucks try to pick up the trash, their automated equipment doesn't work when the trash is on the curb (adjacent to the sidewalk, where it should be). But, residents have nowhere else to put it. The cycle track is for bicycling, the parking lane is for parking, and the roadway is for through vehicle traffic.

"I think in the future maybe garbage cans need a dedicated space."

Warloe is already in contact with the City and heard back via Twitter from Mayor Adams' staff. Ultimately, Warloe says it's not a huge problem, just an "unexpected annoyance." He hopes that a combination of education about the issue and perhaps dedicating a few parking spots on each block for trash cans might solve the problem.

Have you noticed cans or cars obstructing the new cycle track?

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Comments
  • Dabby July 15, 2011 at 12:03 pm

    The other evening I came across a line of fat cones along the northbound 1-5 bridge sidewalk.
    A full 1/3rd of them were out in the sidewalk.
    I spent some time walking along rearranging them.

    How is this allowed?
    A flagging company just leaves their stuff laying around blocking one of two river crossings?

    I have pics, coming soon.

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    • noah July 15, 2011 at 2:46 pm

      I did something like that myself, once, when the Vancouver Avenue / I-5 bridge was under construction. I actually moved the signs from the bike lane onto the sidewalk, since the sidewalk is permanently closed in that section. They remained where I moved them to for the rest of the project's length.

      Compared to where I'm staying now, in Eugene, Portland construction sites are very well done.
      In fact, I've never seen a path closure done right here. They'll close sidewalks here in the middle of a block with no (spatially) advance warning, without any temporary ramps built to enter the street either to cross it or to walk around the site. They also never set off temporary sidewalks on the same side of the street. You always have to cross, or just walk in traffic.

      Right now, they have one such closed MUP along Franklin Boulevard that tells us to cross the six-lane highway to the other side -- where there's no crosswalk for blocks, and where the other side *also* has its closed sidewalk with a "use other side" sign.

      I've also found myself moving construction signage out of the sidewalk or bike lane to an equally suitable place, to allow wheelchairs and bikes to pass, respectively. But unlike in Portland, they keep movin' em back!

      In addition to that, it's common for auto and pedestrian traffic to be diverted into bike lanes without any warning to the cyclists!

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    • Ted Buehler July 18, 2011 at 6:25 pm

      Dabby --

      Next time you see traffic cones that are blocking the bikeway, be sure to call 823-SAFE and report them. Or, better yet, take a photo of the cones with your smart phone and email it to safe@portlandoregon.gov so they can see the exact nature of the problem and make sure future cone are placed outside of the bike travel lane.

      Ted Buehler

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      • Dabby July 19, 2011 at 9:09 pm

        I have a great pic of the cone with the flagging co's name and number

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  • Oliver July 15, 2011 at 12:07 pm

    I put my cans in the street, next to the curb. I think this is where they belong on garbage day.

    When I get home, I put them back on my property.

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    • Pete July 15, 2011 at 5:40 pm

      The city instructions are not 100 percent clear, but they imply the carts go not on the street, but at the curb off the street: "Place your container within three feet of the curb or roadway. Don’t block sidewalks or driveways."

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    • 007 July 16, 2011 at 10:42 am

      I do not put mine in the street and I asked my garbage service to not put them in the street -- they had no problem whatsoever complying with my request. I don't live in the suburbs. City streets are not wide and with cyclists going back and forth, these cans in the streets are a hazard. They're so freaking huge that they really aren't suitable for the city and IMHO they shouldn't be left in the street.

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  • Allan July 15, 2011 at 12:08 pm

    everywhere else in the city cans go in the parking area or on the sidewalk. perhaps it was inevitable that with new space comes along it'll get used for trash

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  • Jeff P July 15, 2011 at 12:10 pm

    not only on cully - sw portland residentials with bike lanes get the same treatment. it's as if the bike lanes are really bin lanes one day a week.

    it's discouraging [afterall nobody puts their cans in the actual car lanes...] but innocuous to ride around them. if they stay around longer than a day they get unceremoniously relocated.

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  • jeff July 15, 2011 at 12:16 pm

    how about stopping. getting off your bike. and move them?
    more proactivity. less complaining.

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    • Matt July 15, 2011 at 1:06 pm

      I do that all the time. I also periodically ride with pruning shears to trim away vegetation i.e. thorny rose branches, that encroach upon the lanes.

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      • jeff July 15, 2011 at 3:50 pm

        hey, and good on ya. be the change you want to see man. :)

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    • noah July 15, 2011 at 2:52 pm

      At least if the contents have already been collected.

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    • El Biciclero July 17, 2011 at 8:44 pm

      If I stopped and got off my bike and removed every hazard from the bike lanes on my commute, it would go from 40 minutes to an hour and a half.

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      • Bjorn July 17, 2011 at 10:51 pm

        Things were pretty good when the photo was taken, the most cans I have counted in the lane was 11. The cans in the lane are annoying, and maybe dangerous at night, but I think the bigger issue especially for future construction is that when there are cars parked all along the street, which there often are in the morning it is a lot of extra work for the garbage guys to pick up the trash while negotiating the cars. The street needs a spot for putting out the garbage, and for sure people should take their empty cans back in after they are dumped.

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  • BURR July 15, 2011 at 12:27 pm

    wow, that facility looks likes it's really heavily used from all the cyclists in the photos, great investment, City of Portland!

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    • cyclist July 15, 2011 at 12:36 pm

      You should hang out at bojack.com, you can complain about all of the money spent on biking just like the rest of them.

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      • BURR July 15, 2011 at 1:13 pm

        He has a point. Cycle tracks are a waste of money. The money the city wants to spend on cycle tracks should be spent instead on completing the separated path system (Eastside Esplanade north to Kelly point, Sullivan's Gulch trail, and west side path to Lake Oswego).

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        • Roger Geller July 15, 2011 at 2:08 pm

          The cycle tracks may have cost slightly more than constructing traditional bicycle lanes; they may have even cost less. I'm preparing a cost comparison.

          It's less expensive to use concrete than it is to use asphalt; you don't use the same depth of material as for asphalt, don't have to build as deep of a cross section so you don't have to dig up as much material as with an asphalt bicycle lane and thus don't need to use as much fill for a cycle track as for a bicycle lane.

          Because bicycle lanes have to be built to accommodate regular car traffic they're built to roadway standards. Cycle tracks, because they don't have to accommodate regular auto traffic don't have to be built to that standard, which means less cost. They also won't require as much maintenance when the roadway needs to be overlaid with new asphalt during its regular maintenance cycle.

          So, cost isn't really a legitimate argument here.

          As others have noted, with the complete roadway rebuild we were going to provide some level of bicycle facility--either bicycle lanes or something else. In this case the "something else" is a better facility and did not cost more than a bicycle lane.

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          • woogie July 15, 2011 at 2:14 pm

            Look at the picture at the top of the article., those are not bioswales.

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          • BURR July 15, 2011 at 2:29 pm

            garbage trucks are heavier than cars, doesn't the cycle track have to be designed to withstand the weight of the garbage trucks? If not, they will damage the pavement.

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          • Seth D. Alford July 19, 2011 at 3:25 am

            What about tree roots heaving the cheaply built cycle track? Since it isn't a sidewalk, which the adjacent property owners maintain, doesn't the City get to fix the cycle track?

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        • Hugh Johnson July 15, 2011 at 6:16 pm

          I'm with ya on that Sullivan's Gulch trail. I always wondered if there was enough cyclists on Cully to justify the cycle track to begin with, but it's sure better than what we had before.

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        • spare_wheel July 17, 2011 at 10:54 am

          I can think of other things that waste money, such as, trillions in spending on petrochemicals and petro-wars. If bojack rally cared about finances bike infrastructure would hardly merit a mention.

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    • Chris I July 15, 2011 at 12:41 pm

      I'm sure it's been said before, but this project was rebuilding the entire street. Pavement, utilities, sidewalks. They had a clean slate and chose to spend slightly more to install proper bike facilities.

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    • JAT in Seattle July 15, 2011 at 12:47 pm

      I only count two cars in use in one of the two photos and zero cars in use in the other. By your logic the city could have simply ripped out the street and built a small parking lot and called it a victory.

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      • Matt July 15, 2011 at 1:06 pm

        Like.

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        • 007 July 16, 2011 at 10:47 am

          What he said.

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      • BURR July 16, 2011 at 11:54 am

        low traffic volume; another reason a cycle track isn't necessary here.

        :-)

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    • eli bishop July 15, 2011 at 1:05 pm

      yes, I only see one car being driven on it and two being stored. and yet i suspect there is more to be seen on the road than this one picture can show us, so please hold off on your astute but limited observations.

      also, yes, i was just noticing garbage cans in the bikeway last night. and i really love having a good bike lane while going -up- cully!

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    • Tony July 15, 2011 at 4:16 pm

      Yeah look at that road all full of traffic too!!!

      By your logic they should turn the whole street into a parking lot and trash can storage facility. Oh wait...

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      • Tony July 15, 2011 at 5:03 pm

        Doh! Did not see the three identical comments before i posted!

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    • Justin July 17, 2011 at 1:37 pm

      wow, the street looks really heavily used as well from all the cars in the photos... guess we should only build roads that are filled to capacity the moment they open, for all hours of the day.. great investment Portland, building those roads empty of cars

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    • Bjorn July 17, 2011 at 10:57 pm

      The photo does not indicate the active transportation usage of the street. There are several large apartment complexes at killingsworth and cully, and most of the people who live there do not have cars. Before this improvement large groups of people would be walking in the middle of a high speed street because there were no sidewalks. This is an important connection between the housing and the bus line that comes down prescott to cully as well as the albertsons grocery store. It is heavily used and while I admittedly live in the neighborhood so I saw how bad it was before I can't think of any 6 blocks in the city that needed to be improved for bike/ped access more or would have provided such a service to so many people than this stretch of Cully.

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  • woogie July 15, 2011 at 1:19 pm

    Poor design, the side walks are separated from the curb by 2 feet of green space. If that's where you want to have the garbage cans left it's not going to stay much of a green space come march after hauling those cans in and out of the mud for three months.

    That green space should have been concrete, with spaces for the trees. This would allow for the the garbage cans to sit on a level suface instead of on uneven green space. And the trucks could place the cans back where they came from out of the bike lane.

    Now that would mean the garbage truck would have to travel in the bike lane to collect the garbage, but it's once a week and not much of an inconvenience as the garbage cans.

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    • Oliver July 15, 2011 at 1:26 pm

      Except the garbage truck couldn't travel in the cycle track because of the on-street car parking.

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    • DK July 15, 2011 at 1:41 pm

      It's not just green space for the sake of green space. They're stormwater mitigating bioswales. They are specifically designed, placed, and planted to help alleviate the city's stormwater/CSO problems and improve water quality in the WIllamette and Columbia. More pavement there would have meant more stormwater runoff and more degraded water quality in the City's watersheds. To second a number of the other comments, the City had a clean slate and did the right and ambitious thing implementing a number of LID principles, including minimizing new impervious surfaces. I say kudos, City of Portland, keep this sort of transportation redesign coming. Also, I use this route and the cycletrack almost daily to commute to work. It is a great idea and I've not had many issues with obstructions. It does have the same problem that bike lanes have with accumulated gravel and other detritus making for a less-smooth-than-ideal ride. But that's my only issue. If a garbage can is in the way, I'll move it, and I have. If a car is parked in the cycle track I'll enter the roadway or, if the driver is there, attempt to engage in a little civil dialogue and get them to move to the designated parking spaces.

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  • Spiffy July 15, 2011 at 1:30 pm

    the garbage cans should be on the street... not on the median killing the grass and causing the garbage trucks to have to use the bike lane to pick them up... and not on the sidewalk where they block other users...

    when I come across a garbage can in a bike lane or on a sidewalk I relocate it...

    if there's a lot of garbage cans in the bike lane call the city and file an obstruction complaint... they'll have to come move them... if they don't then just move them all to the middle of the automobile lane and then see how they react...

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    • 007 July 16, 2011 at 10:54 am

      The cans aren't going to kill the grass, come on. And even if they did, so what? "Grass" as we know it today is just another unnecessary necessity created by marketers. The lawn, especially the poisoned lawn, has nothing to offer insects, birds, wildlife. See much life on a golf course or even your own lawn?

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  • Paul July 15, 2011 at 2:16 pm

    Or have something like this: http://bit.ly/beywJe

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  • Chris I July 15, 2011 at 2:45 pm

    BURR
    garbage trucks are heavier than cars, doesn't the cycle track have to be designed to withstand the weight of the garbage trucks? If not, they will damage the pavement.

    They don't drive on the cycle track. Isn't that the whole point of this post? They can't return the cans to the curb because the track and parked cars are in the way.

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  • bumblebee July 15, 2011 at 3:24 pm

    "Portland--The City that Works"--sometimes.

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  • esther c July 15, 2011 at 3:45 pm

    There are also zero people so perhaps they should turn it into some sort of wildlife refuge or farm.

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    • 007 July 16, 2011 at 10:56 am

      LOL

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  • jeff July 15, 2011 at 3:51 pm

    should the title read 'trash can'?
    I really only see one and there's still plenty of room to ride around it.

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    • velokitten July 15, 2011 at 4:58 pm

      Yeah, seems like plenty of room to simply go around it, and no crowds to maneuver through.

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  • Scott Mizee July 15, 2011 at 4:10 pm

    Double Like.

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  • dwainedibbly July 15, 2011 at 5:47 pm

    When I see trash cans set out where they shouldn't be, I am very tempted to just tip them over backwards. Then maybe the resident will learn that they don't go there.

    Tempted, but haven't done it, and I would never, ever, ever suggest that anyone else do that, either.

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    • dmc July 15, 2011 at 9:06 pm

      This was my first thought. Unfortunately doing this would make all bicycle riders look bad.

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    • was carless July 16, 2011 at 12:21 am

      Are you kidding? I tip my pot head neighbors trash can when it's full of crap when they don't put it away!

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      • kevin July 16, 2011 at 2:12 am

        very environmentaly responsible of you.

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  • Aaron July 15, 2011 at 6:08 pm

    I find the twists and turns they made around the bio swells more of a pain that going around the occasional garbage can.

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  • Doug Klotz July 15, 2011 at 11:49 pm

    I live on a SE street with no cycle track and on-street parking. I put my trash cans, etc. on the planting strip (between the sidewalk and curb), adjacent to my driveway. This seems to work okay for the garbage folks, and doesn't block the sidewalk. Yes, it's a little uneven. Also, the planting strip on Culley looks to be about 4' wide, not 2', so there's room. The difference may be that along Culley there aren't many driveways, as the buildings mostly face the side streets. Thus they're blocked by parked cars. They may be blocked by parked cars on any street where there aren't driveways.

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  • Roger Averbeck July 16, 2011 at 8:58 am

    In the photo, the green bin is in the proper location, the blue one is not. The green bin is in the planting strip, ie "furniture zone" also occupied by street trees, utility poles, mailboxes, fire hydrants, etc. Placing trash and reycling bins in a planting strip overnight, or for approx. 24 hours, will not kill the grass. If the bins have not yet been emptied, the city needs to educate it's residents. If bins are empty, the company that picks up the waste and recycling needs to educate it's employees. The "garbage" trucks should not drive up onto the cycle track. Imagine that this space was still asphalt and partly occupied by on street parked vehicles. Waste company employees would then have to walk the extra 8 feet to access the bins, it's part of the job.

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  • cyclist July 16, 2011 at 10:39 am

    I'd put money on the fact that the blue (recycling) bin has been picked up already and the green (compost) bin has not. The pickup crews and the people who leave the bins out need to understand that the bins either need to be placed in the parking area or on the curb once they are emptied, if they cycle track didn't exist that's exactly where the bins would be left.

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  • Dave July 16, 2011 at 12:03 pm

    I thought the problem with the Cully cycletrack was that it doesn't go anywhere. What would have been great is a cycle track on a busy wider road, like Sandy.

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    • kittens July 16, 2011 at 1:39 pm

      Seems more and more, PBOT goes all-out on bike facilities which are frivolous (at least in appearance.) SW Stark downtown, SW Broadway, Holgate over 205, Cully... are all quite unnecessary from a usage standpoint. Imagine how popular freeways would be if in the early 60s states built them in short sections which did not connect and went nowhere useful. Great that the city is working and experimenting but less useful in the public dialoge where it only serves to embolden the viewpoint that bike facilities are wasteful novelties.

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      • JW July 16, 2011 at 4:16 pm

        Its obvious the reason this was built, it wasnt out of need, it was to throw a bone to outer Portland who has been complaining about all the ped-bike improvement in inner Portland (nevermind the complete autocentricity and unbike-friendliness of outer Portland).

        Stark & Oak are great, they just lead nowhere now. We really need a NW/SW 9th Avenue bike blvd/bikeway to make Stark/Oak successful. There is no good N-S bike route in Downtown Portland/Pearl and 9th would be the perfect N-S street if there were traffic signals at Burnside, Everett, Glisan.

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      • Bjorn July 17, 2011 at 6:03 pm

        You don't live in Cully because if you did you would know how needed this facility is. There are huge apartment developments at cully and killingsworth where many recent immigrants to the US live, and a large percentage of the residents of these apartments do not have cars. Cully before practically forced people to walk in a busy street to get from their homes to the nearby grocery store. This was a needed improvement, and as Roger Geller said earlier, the cycle track did not significantly add to the price tag of the project.

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        • Aaron July 18, 2011 at 6:37 pm

          If they are walking in the street, wouldn't sidewalks be a better choice? I'd bet there is less than 50' of sidewalk in the Cully neighborhood.

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          • Bjorn July 18, 2011 at 10:11 pm

            The cully street upgrade also included adding sidewalks, see the photo, both the cycletrack and the sidewalks are new. We have far more than 50' of sidewalk but many of our streets lack them. I recently started asking how we can start to get sidewalks put in, my understanding is that when it happens property owners are assessed for them so there is probably going to be some opposition. The lack of finished streets in the area is a remnant of the fact that the neighborhood was annexed into the city very late and many of the homes were built when they were still in unincorporated multnomah county.

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  • kittens July 16, 2011 at 1:43 pm

    Regarding: garbage cans, I think it is an affront to any neighborhood when people leave their garbage bins laying around the street all week. I am sure there is an arcane ordinance somewhere which addresses this!

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  • Nuada July 17, 2011 at 12:03 pm

    Would we be even having this discussion if we still used the yellow bins for recycling? Probably not. I was not in favor of the switch to the big, noisy roll carts, thinking that it wasn't such a big deal to carry the bins to the curb, especially with all the extra cost to pay for the carts, and the extra pollution from three different trucks. Unless a person is disabled, which would be the only exception, I saw it as just another cave-in to laziness. Now after all the subsequent price hikes we got "off the grid" and do our own recycling with a bike trailer to Far West Fibers every few months. No noise pollution and no air pollution.

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  • jim July 17, 2011 at 10:08 pm

    i cant tell from the photo- is that new grass planted on the strip?

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  • SteveD July 18, 2011 at 8:24 am

    The street (or sidewalk) is NOT where garbage cans belong. They should be in the planter strip, or in your own driveway. If they are in the street they obstruct traffic, parking, and storm water drainage. Garbage & recycling cans are private property and do not belong in the public right-of-way. Technically, the public right-of-way includes the sidewalk and can even extend onto your front lawn in some neighborhoods. This is a problem with the new mechanical loading systems on garbage trucks - they require you to put your cans on the street or the sidewalk so the driver doesn't have to get out of the truck. Then the cans remain on the street or the sidewalk all day, or in some cases every day of the year.

    Think of it this way; if I set up my picnic table in the street and enjoyed sitting there watching traffic, would that be allowed? I know it's not a fair comparison, however, in both cases you are using public property for private use. It can also be argued that parking a car on the street is using public land for private use and should not be allowed.

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    • beth h July 18, 2011 at 11:36 am

      The new mechanical loading system on garbage trucks was necessitated by an increase in the amount of stuff we're putting out on the curb.
      Here's a solution: buy more mindfully, avoid purchases with excessive packaging, and reduce your waste so that you can move to a smaller garbage can and monthly instead of weekly pickup. Do the same with your recyclables -- buy less, reuse more, and put your recycling can out once a month instead of weekly.
      Doing our part to reduce waste will reduce the amount of trash we need to pay someone to pick up, and those pesky cans won't go out on the curb as often.

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  • A.K. July 18, 2011 at 12:57 pm

    BURR
    wow, that facility looks likes it's really heavily used from all the cyclists in the photos, great investment, City of Portland!

    Yes, because no one happens to be on the cycle track during the precise time the camera took the picture, the whole project is a waste of money!

    Great logic there.

    I also don't see anyone walking to driving. May as well tear down the whole neighborhood.

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  • Ted Buehler July 18, 2011 at 6:33 pm

    I'm optimistic that the city will figure out how the residents, garbage service and bicycles can all peacefully co-exist on Cully.

    If you ride Cully and want to ensure the problem is solved quickly and effectively, you can call in a complaint abou the improperly placed garbage cans.

    Call 503-823-SAFE or email safe@portlandoregon.gov

    It never hurts to give them extra motivation to solve a problem.

    Ted Buehler

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  • roger noehren July 19, 2011 at 2:23 pm

    In my SE neighborhood, the common practice is to place our yard debris & recycling carts, glass pails and garbage cans at the curb, in the street in the segment where cars park.
    This may because many of us treat the section of ground between the sidewalk and curb as an adjunct to our gardens and cultivate or landscape it.
    Also, this placements facilitates the task of the sanitation engineers to roll the carts out to their trucks to be emptied by the machinery.
    On Cully, every cart placed in the planting strip would have to be lifted over the curb onto the bike path (after waiting for any cyclists to pass), rolled across the path, over the second curb and then rolled past the parking strip to their truck and then reverse the process. Placing the carts and cans in the parking strip (as opposed to the planting strip) makes a lot more sense, no matter how one interprets "within three feet of the curb". They should definitely not be placed on the bike path before or after pickup.

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  • Dabby July 19, 2011 at 9:10 pm

    Cans should go on your driveway or on the space between the sidewalk and the street.

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    • Dabby July 19, 2011 at 9:11 pm

      NOT ON THE STREET!

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  • roger noehren July 21, 2011 at 10:47 am

    Roger that.
    I did an informal survey of my neighborhood yesterday, since it was recycling & weekly garbage pu day and observed that roughly 50% of the roll carts & cans were placed in the parking strip and the rest on the planting strip, sidewalk or driveways.
    On SE 26th (between Clinton & Powell) which has a bike lane where the parking strip would be, 100% of the roll carts were off the street - primarily on the planting strip.

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  • cully neighbor August 3, 2011 at 5:23 pm

    It was bad this morning, I moved the 7-8 containers that made the path unusable after seeing a rider nearly hit when they veered out around the cars into the vehicle lane to avoid this hazard: http://tinypic.com/r/219pif6/7

    There were 3-4 more bins in the cycle track further down the street, but this set made me wonder if someone got the note from the hauler and intentionally tried to make a bigger hassle.

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  • tonyt September 3, 2012 at 9:47 am

    I realize this is an old story, but I just had my first opportunity to ride on the "cycle track" yesterday.

    While I appreciate the obvious effort put into the track, and see this as perhaps a first foray into separated cycling facilities, its final form discourages me from using it.

    What isn't seen in the photos above, yet was the first thing to strike me, is the constant zig zagging that the track does each block as it negotiates each intersection. This is a meandering path, designed for riding at 7mph, not a facility designed for efficient transportation riding done at speed.

    I found myself giving up and just taking the street. Fortunately there wasn't much traffic so this wasn't a problem. If this were a regular part of my route, I'd MUCH prefer a bike lane or no lane at all to this.

    Thumbs down.

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