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ODOT’s first-ever ‘bicycle warning beacons’ start flashing next week

Posted by on March 7th, 2014 at 10:42 am

The wraps come off next week.
(Photo by Team Lazy Tarantulas)

-NOTE: The signs will be turned on Thursday, 3/13-

Looking to improve the quality of bicycle access on a controversial and deadly stretch of SW Barbur Boulevard, the Oregon Department of Transportation will turn on four new “bicycle warning beacons” next week (they were first proposed last spring). ODOT says the new flashing signs will be the first of their type ever used in Oregon.

The signs will be placed at each end of the Newbury Street and Vermont Street bridges and will activate automatically as people on bicycles roll past sensors embedded in the pavement. ODOT is pouring $5 million into rehabilitating these two bridges and these bicycle signs are the result of public input on that project. ODOT’s Public Information Officer Don Hamilton says the four signs cost the agency $180,000.

When ODOT first announced the bridge project, concerned users of SW Barbur Blvd implored them to use the opportunity to put the large arterial on a “road diet” and add a dedicated bikeway. Barbur, a potentially perfect bicycling connection between southwest and downtown Portland, currently has just a standard bike lane that abruptly drops at the two bridges, placing bicycle riders directly in a lane shared with fast-moving traffic.

Despite pressure from citizen activists and advocacy groups — including the Bicycle Transportation Alliance — ODOT and Portland Bureau of Transportation Commissioner Steve Novick have opted to delay any major changes on Barbur for now.

While a major re-design of Barbur isn’t on the table, ODOT says these signs will increase safety. Here’s more from them via a statement they’ll send out later today:

When the beacons are activated, motorists will be alerted to bicyclists on the bridges and can then make appropriate driving decisions, such as slowing down or changing lanes. Cyclists will still need to use caution and watch for a gap in traffic before safely moving into the traffic lane.

Here are the features:

• The signs increase awareness by drawing the attention of motorists to bicyclists in the right lane.
• No stopping is required. The signs are activated by an automatic sensor.
• The signs will be located prior to the bridges in each direction.

We’ll see how the signs perform once they’re up and running. If you ride on Barbur, please drop us a line and tell us how the signs change your experience.

— Browse our past coverage of SW Barbur Blvd here.

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Comments
  • peejay March 7, 2014 at 10:55 am

    I’ve just designed a flashing beacon alerting citizens for the presence of idiots in state government agencies. The circuit is pretty simple: it always flashes.

    Fix Barbur Now!

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  • dan March 7, 2014 at 10:58 am

    Better than nothing, I guess. I assume the remaining $4.8 million in the project budget will be spent on making it easier for motorized traffic to drive faster?

    I’d like to know how the ODOT planners making these decisions would feel if their children were biking this section of Barbur. Would they view these signs as providing an acceptable level of protection then?

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    • Alan Love March 7, 2014 at 11:28 am

      The project is actually about keeping the bridges from falling down, not for making things “easier” for people in cars.

      The scope of the project is small, and the budget would not allow for any real changes. I would have liked to see Sharrows are part of the changes, since this adds nearly nothing to the cost, and at least reinforces the message to drivers that people on bikes aren’t just selfishly taking “their” lane. Nothing will eliminate that perception, but a few buck(et)s of paint are a cheap investment.

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      • davemess March 7, 2014 at 12:47 pm

        “The scope of the project is small, and the budget would not allow for any real changes”. A lane diet would have only cost the expense of paint (which is definitely below $5M).

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        • Alan Love March 7, 2014 at 1:00 pm

          Oh, I agree, and of course would love that to be a reality. Unfortunately, the political cost was too high.

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  • ktmhz March 7, 2014 at 11:03 am

    These seem like nothing but trouble, just like much of the rest of Portland’s so called bike infrastructure. I ride this road every day, and the safest way I have found to do it is to place myself firmly in the right lane, about where the left tire of the car would go, starting approximately at Brier pl or earlier, depending on traffic. Then, stay in this position in the lane until I get to the Capitol Hwy ramp. Avoids the forced merges at the bridges, and discourages unsafe passing. Some people driving cars don’t like it, but they can slow down to 25mph for 30 seconds and deal with it.

    These beacons certainly won’t detect this riding pattern, and may give people driving cars the idea that 1) bikes aren’t allowed in the travel lane between the bridges, and 2) that when the lights aren’t flashing, they don’t have to look for bikes. Of course, that would assume that people driving cars even notice the sign and flashing lights, which isn’t guaranteed anyway.

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    • Alan Love March 7, 2014 at 11:33 am

      At least Northound, where bike speeds are higher, I can’t agree more with the Take The Lane approach, though Brier seems a bit early. My trusty but dorky looking mirror lets me spot a convenient hole in traffic well before the lane ends. Take your place without forcing emergency moves on drivers, and they won’t hit you. Even without HiViz dork-jackets (I wear one, btw) drivers can’t use the “I didn’t see him” defense when someone on a bike is right in front of them. It’s a very different thing to neglect looking in a mirror (e.g. a right hook) vs. making a deliberate decision to intentionally hit someone.

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      • ktmhz March 7, 2014 at 11:51 am

        Yeah, I meant Northbound. I avoid this road in the Southbound direction because the speed differential is so much worse and the Capitol Hwy exit is right-hook city, so I was only speaking for the NB direction. There are ballsier folks than I who ride Barbur southbound, though.

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  • Mac March 7, 2014 at 11:03 am

    They have a flashing “Bikes in the Road” beacon on the coast in the tunnel between Cannon Beach and Manzanita. These can’t be the “first ever”.

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    • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) March 7, 2014 at 11:06 am

      Mac,

      The ones on the coast are push-button activated. These are the first that are automatically triggered without the user having to embarrass themselves by pushing a beg-button.

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      • Paul March 7, 2014 at 3:02 pm

        Assuming you occasionally travel on foot, are you embarrassed to use a crosswalk button?

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        • Anne Hawley March 7, 2014 at 5:57 pm

          “Embarrassed” might not be the word I’d choose, but it bugs the crap out of me to have to push a walk-sign button.

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          • Art Fuldodger March 10, 2014 at 9:51 am

            especially the ones that are conveniently hidden from view on the far side of the pole. So you stand there for several minutes before discovering that there’s a button you need to push…love it when that happens.

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        • spare_wheel March 10, 2014 at 9:41 am

          only rarely since most of the time i jaywalk.

          peds>>cyclists>public transport>freight>>low occupancy vehicles!

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        • GlowBoy March 10, 2014 at 10:29 am

          It IS embarrassing and humiliating to be treated as such a second-class road user that you have to push a “Beg Button” and request your right of way. Sometimes I wonder if I’ll be asked to report the velocity of an unladen swallow before being allowed to pass. African or European? Aaaagh!

          Imagine if drivers were forced to get out of their cars, walk a few steps out of their way and push a button before given the green light to proceed, just as pedestrians all too often have to do. I’m talking about YOU, 39th & Hawthorne!

          And Beg Buttons aren’t just a symbolic slap in the face, they’re also a genuine and substantial inconvenience:

          1. Their placement often requires a detour of quite a few steps out of the way. This is also a problem for cyclists – out in Beaverton I sometimes find myself using pedestrian facilities at certain extremely car-busy intersections, and the button placement often forces me to dismount, walk over a few steps, go back to where I was, turn the bike back around and finally remount.

          2. Beg Buttons often cost pedestrians a full extra cycle of wait time. Most intersections now have vehicle detectors which sense the presence of approaching vehicles (including bicycles) and will trigger or hold a green before you even get there. So far I have yet to hear of an intersection sporting optical pedestrian detectors to detect the presence of approaching pedestrians. Why not? Apparently motorists’ time is considered valuable enough to justify the cost of detectors, but the assumption must be that if you’re on foot your time is not that valuable.

          Another way in which pedestrians get screwed by Beg Buttons is if you reach an intersection and hit the button after the light has already turned green, often you will not get a walk signal even if it’s a fresh green and the current green phase includes enough time for a walk Phase. I suspect this may be because some phases have a very short minimum green when vehicle traffic is low, but if a late-arriving car can extend the green, why can’t a late-arriving pedestrian – at least if the late-starting walk phase won’t extend the green phase beyond the maximum?

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      • Dave Thomson March 8, 2014 at 12:24 pm

        You must embarrass pretty easily.

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    • Poisonpony March 8, 2014 at 2:00 pm

      I was thinking the same thing. It was a few years back, but I remember riding through a tunnel on Hwy 26 on the way to Seaside with a flashing “Bikes in Tunnel” sign.

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  • Nathan March 7, 2014 at 11:04 am

    The big question : patronizing press release aside, is this better than nothing?

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    • Peejay March 7, 2014 at 11:16 am

      My answer is that it is not better than nothing, because it does two very bad things:
      1) ODOT thinks they fixed the problem, and they assume no more money or time needs to be spent;
      2) desensitizes car users to only look out for bikes when lights flash.

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      • Nathan March 7, 2014 at 1:54 pm

        I’d tend to agree with you on both points.

        It lets someone at ODOT place a check in a box while not addressing the issue at hand at all.

        That and I am still a steamed over the paternal “advice” in the release that if I’m on my bike on these bridges, that it is up to me to not get hit. As if riders were going to take a blinking light as carte blanche license to do flatland BMX tricks on a street that is designed as and is used as a defacto freeway by people in cars.

        ODOT should just say “Ride this street at your own peril. We couldn’t give more of a sh** than creating these signs. Cars, I love you. You’re great.”

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  • Gravalox March 7, 2014 at 11:10 am

    ::looks up to read new flashing sign::
    ::Pegs biker in front of me::

    I estimate it will take regular drivers of Barbur about 2-3 years to react to these lights by moving over into the other lane. For non-regulars, see scenario above.

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  • Granpa March 7, 2014 at 11:11 am

    Lipstick on a pig

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  • Spiffy March 7, 2014 at 11:26 am

    continuing to train drivers that they only need to be alert when something bright tells them to be….

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  • Paul Souders March 7, 2014 at 11:30 am

    I’m dubious this will make the crossings better and may make them worse. For the reasons elucidated by ktmhz, spiffy, peejay and others above. Still gonna avoid Barbur generally, and still not gonna take my kids on it.

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  • Buzz Aldrin March 7, 2014 at 11:31 am

    Band aid for a broken arm

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    • Buzz Aldrin March 7, 2014 at 11:32 am

      Plus, no doubt if you take the lane a bit early here you won’t cross and trip the sensors, which will likely be well to the right of the travel lanes.

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      • Schrauf March 7, 2014 at 11:39 am

        My biggest concern. To properly take the lane in front of distant, fast-approaching traffic one needs to get in the lane early, rather than swerve in front when the car is only 100 meters back (and cause the driver to react quickly). Unless there are also sensors in the bike lane way before the sign, this is money mostly wasted.

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    • Buzz Aldrin March 7, 2014 at 11:33 am

      and the signs do not appear to say anything about bikes allowed full lane, change lanes to pass…

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      • Pete March 8, 2014 at 12:42 am

        BINGO! Someone mentioned sharrows above; I would advocate sharrows be accompanied by BMUFL signs in advance of this treatment.

        Drivers need explicit instructions, and even then…
        http://windluvr.com/BMUFL.jpg

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  • Gravalox March 7, 2014 at 11:43 am

    what does that second line say? this has been bugging me for a month.

    Can’t we just put a sandbag on the sensor like in Raiders of the Lost Ark and just keep it on all day?

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    • peejay March 7, 2014 at 11:48 am

      Guessing “WHEN LIGHTS FLASH” is the covered line.

      The sensor may be an inductive loop, so you’d need an anvil.

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    • Paul Souders March 7, 2014 at 11:51 am

      “When lights flash.” So if the light’s not flashing, no need to pay attention…

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  • Gerik March 7, 2014 at 11:45 am

    I’m disappointed that this treatment is expected to make it safe to cross those bridges on a bike. The bike lanes disappear on a 45MPH road… how on earth is this acceptable to ODOT and PBOT?

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  • Paul Souders March 7, 2014 at 11:46 am

    Y’know, the more I think about this, the cruddier it seems. It’s so transparently lazy on ODOT’s part, and of such dubious benefit, and yet I bet someone in Salem thinks they’re doing me a favor. Like receiving a 10¢ tip. I’d prefer to think you just forgot about me…

    So, actually, yes, it IS worse than nothing.

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    • Paul Souders March 7, 2014 at 11:54 am

      And, as I never get tired of saying: this road is lousy for DRIVERS too. 3 dead in the last 2 years. Such a broken road with such a cheap and obvious solution.

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  • JL March 7, 2014 at 11:47 am

    I wonder what city traffic-signal engineer Peter Koonce thinks of this design.

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  • peejay March 7, 2014 at 11:52 am

    Headline in the Oregonian: “Cyclists Still Not Satisfied After Costly ODOT Bike Project”

    Go ahead, Mr Rose, we know you want to.

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  • GlowBoy March 7, 2014 at 11:53 am

    Well, activating the signs will certainly be better than having them sit there non-functioning and wrapped in plastic bags, which has been the case for the last few months. With the slightly longer days I’ve ridden this section a couple of times in the last week (I won’t ride it in the dark), and I’ve gazed up at those signs going “oh, c’mon…”

    I generally take the lane at least 100 meters ahead of each bridge, sometime s earlier depending on the gaps behind me (like Alan above, I’m a full-on dork/viz/phred/mirror rider) so my biggest concern is whether the flashing signs will actually work. I haven’t heard what their method of detection is. If they do work, I think this will be a slight improvement. If they don’t, it will definitely make things worse.

    And while I fully support a total Barbur redesign with major traffic calming, I’m also disappointed that ODOT doesn’t appear to at least be working on raising the railings on these bridges and improving the ramps up onto the sidewalks. Honestly, that wouldn’t cost very much either, and would be enough to placate me.

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    • Alan Love March 7, 2014 at 2:55 pm

      Actually, I think that is part of the plan when they grind and resurface the roadway in a few months. The sidewalk (please note: sideWALK) will get smoother transitions and the railing raised. Great for people on foot, but this in NOT an improvement for people on bikes.

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      • GlowBoy March 7, 2014 at 4:13 pm

        Well, not an improvement for some people on bikes. It’s a huge improvement for me, and I’m a person on a bike. If it had a decent ramp up and railing, I’d use the sidewalk in a heartbeat and avoid having to take the lane. Unless there was someone walking on it, of course, but I’ve never actually seen that happen.

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  • JL March 7, 2014 at 11:53 am

    This is worse than going to my friend’s house and finding out late that they switched to the 3 seashell method.

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    • Peejay March 7, 2014 at 12:06 pm

      I just googled this. Gross! But a great analogy.

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      • Jane March 7, 2014 at 12:49 pm

        He doesn’t know how to use the three seashells!

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        • Pete March 8, 2014 at 12:47 am

          I could see how that could be confusing.

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  • GlowBoy March 7, 2014 at 12:00 pm

    Oh, and while we’re on the subject, my commute through SW just got a MUCH bigger problem than Barbur: Multnomah Blvd. A construction project has narrowed Multnomah and removed the bike lanes all the way from SW 35th to Barbur! So just when it’s finally safe(r) to ride Barbur, they made it harder for me to get to Barbur on my way home from Beaverton.

    I don’t know if this is part of the eternal sewer pump station project or something new, but the barely functioning electronic sign appears to indicate this is going to be in place through October.

    At least they’ve dropped the speed limit to 30 and slapped down sharrows, but geez no one with four wheels is observing it. And even if the cars all went 30, that’s twice as fast as I’m going here. This road carries a lot of traffic, and that means a lot of potential conflict. Unfortunately (as with Barbur) any of the alternatives add several minutes to my trip.

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    • GlowBoy March 7, 2014 at 12:06 pm

      Sorry I know this is a slightly OT but hmm. Guess I’d better be careful what I whine about. A little Googling shows that they’re narrowing Multnomah so that they can install sidewalks, new pedestrian crossings and protected bikeways along that stretch. Holy wow. Guess it has to get worse before it gets better though.

      http://portlandtribune.com/pt/9-news/212688-71291-construction-to-restrict-lanes-of-sw-multnomah-boulevard

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    • Pete March 8, 2014 at 12:53 am

      You get SHARROWS?? You should see what they’re doing to Homestead to accommodate the giant spaceship tribute to Steve Jobs down here in ‘bike-friendly’ Cupertino…

      (Google Maps shows what it used to look like).

      TTLAPYAO: Take The Lane And Pedal Yer A$$ Off!

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  • Jeff M March 7, 2014 at 12:38 pm

    It looks like the sensor is very close to the bridge. So you are expected to stay in the bike lane until the last few feet and then watch for a gap in traffic before merging?

    Meanwhile, travelling northbound, I take the lane much earlier than this point since I’m usually going about 30mph. So now I am expected to swerve back into the sensor? I’m not going to move over and give someone the impression that now is a good time to pass.

    Maybe this would be effective if the sign read, ‘motorized vehicle use prohibited in right lane while lights flash.’ And then put a camera on the bridges to hand out tickets.

    I would prefer that they did nothing and put the $180,000 toward something useful.

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    • El Biciclero March 7, 2014 at 1:57 pm

      This is one concept I REALLY wish lawmakers and traffic/roadway engineers understood. When you are riding a bike, you don’t merge into or across auto traffic when you get within some magical distance of where you need to be merged, you do it when there is a gap that allows it! Even if it means merging earlier than your motoring compatriots might believe is necessary.

      Unfortunately, I think the belief among many is that if you are on a bike, you should “stay out of the way” until you get to the point of needing to be merged, then if there isn’t a fortuitous gap, you should stop and wait, opt for a pedestrian turn, dismount and walk to a crosswalk, etc.

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    • wsbob March 7, 2014 at 11:05 pm

      “…my biggest concern is whether the flashing signs will actually work. I haven’t heard what their method of detection is. …” Glowboy

      It is important to know how the sensors are designed to detect people biking, and to what actual use performance objective, ODOT’s engineers, technicians have installed them.

      Placed so they’re able to detect someone riding in the bike lane, the sensors should be placed at least 100′ before of the bridges, because it’s that distance from a lane change that road user’s are suggested to start signaling for a lane change. Really the sensor should detect at 125′-150′ before the bridges.

      The flashing signs should be flashing before people riding have actually reached the bridges and have started to cross them, and stay flashing at least until they’ve completely crossed the bridge and have had time to re-enter the bike lane.

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  • MaxD March 7, 2014 at 1:04 pm

    IMO, the problem with Barbur is high speed and distracted/impaired drivers. A big, wide-open road encourages or facilitates this and you see a lot collisions and injuries as a result. This ridiculous sign provides incomplete and inaccurate information and only serves as a further distraction. A much better sign would span the road and in giant letters it would say “SLOW THE FUCK DOWN STUPID!”

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  • J_R March 7, 2014 at 1:35 pm

    This will be equally effective as the “bikes in tunnel” on the Oregon Coast – not at all. When we rode the Oregon Coast four years ago, no motorist slowed down or even moved over in the tunnels in spite of the flashing lights.

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  • Christopher Sanderson March 7, 2014 at 1:55 pm

    Problem fixed! Yeah right…

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  • James Sherbondy March 7, 2014 at 2:11 pm

    $180,000? That would pay for a lot of motorcycle cops to set up and bust the speeders, texters, and drunks while at the same time generating some revenue.

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  • dan March 7, 2014 at 2:29 pm

    I qualify as “strong and confident” and I would be very hesitant to ride that bridge in the uphill (slow) direction.

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  • Nick March 7, 2014 at 3:40 pm

    Flashing lights don’t cushion the blow from a 50mph car hitting you from behind. Neither will wearing this shirt, but I encourage everyone who rides Barbur to put one on anyways: http://skreened.com/fitbuzztshirts/fuck-off-it-s-my-lane-too
    $180K for one more roadside distraction for drivers. Money poorly spent.

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  • Ted Buehler March 7, 2014 at 3:47 pm

    This would have been pretty good circa 1985.

    This solution does not represent much of a commitment to Platinum service.

    Ted Buehler

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  • Mossby Pomegranate March 7, 2014 at 5:22 pm

    Portland: The city that shirks.

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  • dwainedibbly March 7, 2014 at 5:58 pm

    The signs would work better if the poles were bent at a 90 degree angle so that they laid out into the road. That way, they’d block the right lane keeping cars out of it for a few hundred feet, probably. Sure, you’d have to go way out to get around them when you approached, but then you’d have the right lane to yourself.

    ODOT seems to be getting suggestions from their counterparts in Florida, and it’s embarrassing.

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  • Gumby March 7, 2014 at 6:19 pm

    I travel Barber five days a week in both directions and I get out into the lane well ahead of the bridges to give motorists a lot of time to notice me. I don’t go back to the bike lane between the bridges either, that might mean having to take the lane again at an inopportune time. I’m interested to see how difficult it is to activate the lights.

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  • Gin March 7, 2014 at 6:41 pm

    Because actually widening the road to accommodate not only bike lanes but pedestrian sidewalks would cost too much, yearly fatalities be damned.

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    • GlowBoy March 8, 2014 at 8:21 am

      That’s great, but PPB needs to do it not just in occasional public stings, but Every Damn Day. Because people are driving carelessly and recklessly Every Damn Day. And those of us on our bikes are mixing it up with these assholes Every Damn Day.

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  • Jim March 7, 2014 at 11:49 pm

    How come farm machinery is required to have that slow moving vehicle placard on the back but bikes don’t?

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    • JL March 10, 2014 at 10:36 am

      Because the bigger the object, the more likely someone is to drive into it.

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    • El Biciclero March 15, 2014 at 2:30 pm

      Because the “slow” triangle is there not for the protection of the implement operator, but for the protection of the unobservant motorist that might plow into them. Running over a bike rider and bike isn’t likely to harm the motorist, so no requirement. Plus, bikes are required to ride as far to the right as “practicable”, and are skinny, and most motorists have no compunction about passing a cyclist with only a foot or two of clearance, which they can usually do within a single lane, as a bicycle does not usually take up a whole lane or more like a tractor or combine would. Also, most of the available (sturdy) placards are bigger than can even fit on on the back of the child seat on my cargo bike–I looked. I ended up just sticking reflective tape in as large a triangle as the seat-back would accommodate. Smaller-size triangles are usually of the floppy variety that would have to be worn, rather than mounted on a bike. As well, when drivers see a large vehicle, they are more likely to assume it is traveling at the speed limit, and need more of a warning if it isn’t. When (if) they see a bike, they usually assume they will have to immediately pass it; there is no confusion about why it might be going slow.

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  • BIKELEPTIC March 9, 2014 at 8:04 pm

    In Amherst, MA In There’s an old dirt path that runs behind Orchard Hill, connecting it to the Sylvan Residential Area. It goes through a wooded area behind the hill, with parts that are unlit and dark at night. This path is known to the University of Massachusetts students as the “rape trail.”

    After MANY attacks, assaults and rapes (jokes in the forms of signs “Drop your daughters off here”) Did they fix the wooded path that led along a pond from the dorms to the quads, library and town? Did they add lights or police it at night? No. They posted a sign at either end that warned of the dangers of walking on the trail, especially after dark.

    When I see someone post a SIGN, or paint a “lane” without updating the infrastructure, what I see if that they don’t care about the safety of the people using it. To me, that sign is a huge waste of money and electricity. because people are going to ignore it. They’ll see it as a “Bridge slippery when icy” or “Bridge narrows” and totally ignore it. The sign is lipservice because people complained to satiate them and it’s bullshit. Fix it. Quit wasting money on not fixing it and fix it.

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    • wsbob March 10, 2014 at 12:16 pm

      The flashing ‘Bikes on Bridge’ signs are infrastructure, and for the points along the road where they’ve been installed, they’re more than a sign or a painted bike lane, which up until now, has had neither.

      People using this road, whether by bike or by motor vehicle, may do well to study closely how well this new infrastructure is set up, and how well it senses approaching bike traffic in the bike to allow an improved, safer transition into the main lane of the road for crossing the bridge. Relay those notes to ODOT, and have the department make adjustments as necessary.

      If it’s found the flashing signs aren’t working out, after honest efforts are made to optimize the effectiveness that may be possible from these flashing lights, that’s the time to move onto other answers to the situation.

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      • JL March 11, 2014 at 11:36 am

        Do we have an idea of what some of those ‘other’ answers might be?

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        • wsbob March 11, 2014 at 11:49 am

          Who are you thinking ‘we’ is? If you’re new to this weblog, and haven’t read earlier stories about Barbur, do a search and read some of them. You’ll learn that a road diet; reconfiguring the road for fewer main lanes and the addition of through bike lanes, is another answer some people have hoped would be used.

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          • JL March 12, 2014 at 12:29 am

            Not new, no need to do a search. I have read a lot of what you have posted originally or in response to people and I disagree with most everything you say.

            Respectfully…

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            • wsbob March 13, 2014 at 9:47 pm

              JL
              Not new, no need to do a search. I have read a lot of what you have posted originally or in response to people and I disagree with most everything you say.
              Respectfully…
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              In other words, it seems that what you’re saying, is that despite all the stories and comments that have been written about the situation on Barbur, you have no idea what other options there may be, that have been considered, besides the flashing sensor activated signs. Given the type of response you’ve posted, that’s no surprise.

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              • JL March 14, 2014 at 12:42 pm

                wsbob

                JL
                Not new, no need to do a search. I have read a lot of what you have posted originally or in response to people and I disagree with most everything you say.
                Respectfully…
                Recommended 1

                In other words, it seems that what you’re saying, is that despite all the stories and comments that have been written about the situation on Barbur, you have no idea what other options there may be, that have been considered, besides the flashing sensor activated signs. Given the type of response you’ve posted, that’s no surprise.
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                No, not in other words. And no “seems to be” about anything I said.

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                • wsbob March 15, 2014 at 5:19 pm

                  Here’s your original remark:

                  JL
                  Do we have an idea of what some of those ‘other’ answers might be?
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                  You don’t seem to be interested in what other answers to the Barbur road situation may be, in the event adjustments to the flashing light signs can’t be made to work out for safe transition across the bridges.

                  That’s too bad. If you’d tried, you may have been able to offer something constructive to the discussion. If all you wanted to do is post a comment saying you disagree with nearly everything I say, you could have done that right up front. No big deal. Of course, your disagreeing may actually have meant something, if you’d made the effort to explain what about what I’ve written that you disagree with. Thanks for reading.

                  The Barbur situation is interesting. If it turns out the flashing sign sensors can be adjusted to support safe crossing by bike, of the road’s bridges, that may mean less, or no need for the road diet.

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  • Andy K March 11, 2014 at 4:49 pm

    I agree with PeeJay’s comment that people in cars, over time, may only start to look for bikes when the lights are flashing. Reduction to one lane was the best solution IMO but eliminated because of opposition from freight community.

    Considering the budget, instead of this new technology, I propose some or all of the following: rumble strips in the slow lane (before bikes merge into lane), a Bike Lane Ends sign, a Bikes May Use Full Lane sign, and a Share The Road sign (mounted overhead). Both the northbound and southbound slow lanes would also have two or three sharrow legends.

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  • Don B March 13, 2014 at 6:35 pm

    Waste of money and time for no increase in safety. Bottom line is you are responsible for your own safety. Be bright, put lights on yourself and look around. Be safe out there.

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  • GlowBoy March 14, 2014 at 9:48 am

    Turned off Barbur at Miles St last night because I felt like taking the Sellwood Bridge. Might have to check these out tonight though, and see if they work.

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  • J_Madcow March 14, 2014 at 12:23 pm

    Passed these yesterday on my Northbound commute on the way home (They were not operational in time for my morning commute). They are indeed functional, and honestly they are quite noticeable. In my sample group of 1, people did seem to give me a wider berth than usual, changing lanes much earlier to pass than I have noticed in the past.

    I made sure to activate both of them, and I’m not 100% sold on their placement. One thing is certain, the activation square is WAY too close to the bridge. I typically take the lane in both North and South Directions well before where they are located, and in order to activate the second one, was “forced” to stay in the bike lane well longer than I would have liked with traffic approaching.

    An interesting thought that I had as I went through them yesterday was how easy it would be to set up a simple electro-mechanical counter to the signal activation pulse. It wouldn’t need to be an elaborate public sign like the Hawthorn, but it would be useful to know what the actual bike traffic is like on that road.

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    • wsbob March 14, 2014 at 12:39 pm

      “…I made sure to activate both of them, and I’m not 100% sold on their placement. One thing is certain, the activation square is WAY too close to the bridge. I typically take the lane in both North and South Directions well before where they are located, and in order to activate the second one, was “forced” to stay in the bike lane well longer than I would have liked with traffic approaching. …” J_Madcow

      J_Madcow, thanks for the report, on the signal’s performance, and about the sensor’s placement. This is likely to be very helpful feedback towards adjusting the sensors so they’re able to support a safer, smooth transition, from the bike lane to the mail lane of the road and across the bridge.

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  • Alan Love March 14, 2014 at 1:26 pm

    Just emailed ODOT (anyone who uses Barbur, PLEASE do the same to provide your feedback) about the placement of the sensor loops and how, at least Northbound, they need to be moved up at least another 50 feet. Moving at 25+mph, one must ride over the loop and then immediately move over into the lane, thus making the lights moot. By the time a driver sees them, I’m already in front of them because the bike lane just ended. Back to my usual routine: Move over WAY before the end of the lane. Southbound, however, the system actually works just fine (though it’s still lipstick on a pig).

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  • Alan Love March 14, 2014 at 1:47 pm

    BTW, that email is askODOT at odot.state.or.us

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  • GlowBoy March 14, 2014 at 8:24 pm

    I rode there on the way home today too, and I agree with the above sentiments that they are too close to the bridges: somewhere in the neighborhood of 200′ back, according to my bike computer. Even with what seemed like a slight headwind I was still going above 20mph, and it would NOT have been safe for me to have lingered in the bike lane that long if I’d had substantial traffic coming up behind. With more favorable winds I might be close to 30mph would want even more room.

    So I think I’d ask for the sensors to be more like 100′ back from where they are, not just 50′.

    Hopefully ODOT will listen and improve this; otherwise it’s unhelpful in precisely the higher-traffic types of situations where we need help. In its current state it’s like giving a patient a band-aid when they’re having a heart attack.

    As with most heart patients, a (road) diet would certainly would be healthier in the long run. But the bloated heart-attack patient that is Barbur more immediately needs a defibrillator, STAT! To me, defib on Barbur means fixing the sidewalk ramps and rails on the bridges. Honestly, most of us would much rather NOT have to take the freaking lane on a road like that anyway.

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    • wsbob March 15, 2014 at 12:31 am

      How many feet back are the sensors now, and how many feet back are you suggesting they should be?

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      • GlowBoy March 15, 2014 at 5:19 pm

        I’d estimate them to be about 200′ back currently, since my bike computer clicked off 0.04mi between the second sensor and the beginning of the second bridge. I would prefer around 300′.

        I have emailed ODOT with my feedback, BTW.

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        • wsbob March 16, 2014 at 5:54 pm

          Glowboy, thanks for the clarification.

          It could be good if ODOT would rig up some video cameras with a wide view lens, to get some insight on how smoothly people riding are able, with the help of the activated flashing signs, to make the transition from bike lane to main for the bridge crossing.

          With northbound bikes on this busy, fast road possibly traveling 20-30 mph downhill, people riding may need to signal well in advance of the transition, for it to be a smooth, safe lane change. Some people say they have a hard time with hand signaling from a bike, especially at higher speeds.

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  • Gniles March 16, 2014 at 4:19 pm

    wsbob
    Here’s your original remark:

    JL
    Do we have an idea of what some of those ‘other’ answers might be?
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    You don’t seem to be interested in what other answers to the Barbur road situation may be, in the event adjustments to the flashing light signs can’t be made to work out for safe transition across the bridges.
    That’s too bad. If you’d tried, you may have been able to offer something constructive to the discussion. If all you wanted to do is post a comment saying you disagree with nearly everything I say, you could have done that right up front. No big deal. Of course, your disagreeing may actually have meant something, if you’d made the effort to explain what about what I’ve written that you disagree with. Thanks for reading.
    The Barbur situation is interesting. If it turns out the flashing sign sensors can be adjusted to support safe crossing by bike, of the road’s bridges, that may mean less, or no need for the road diet.
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    Holy cow guys! It seems with all the words typed here, one of you could have re-iterated the “other answers” are.

    Here’s the link to the topic page: http://bikeportland.org/tag/barbur-blvd

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    • wsbob March 16, 2014 at 5:10 pm

      Holy Cow is right. I did advise what some of the answers were:

      http://bikeportland.org/2014/03/07/odots-first-ever-bicycle-warning-beacons-start-flashing-next-week-102600#comment-4565769

      As it turned out, that wasn’t really what JL was interested in.

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      • JL March 17, 2014 at 1:44 pm

        As far as I can tell, a road diet is the only other option that has been really been discussed. My original comment about what some of the other answers might be should have been phrased differently.

        What I don’t like about your comments wsbob is that you have commented that you aren’t actually all that familiar with this stretch of road AFTER you voiced your opinion about what could be done, and made comparisons to other roads like 217.

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        • wsbob March 17, 2014 at 10:27 pm

          In terms of actual options the city prepared, right off hand I don’t know that there’s been others besides the road diet. I think there has been other ideas suggested though, such as reducing the posted speed limit by 10-15 mph, making it 30mph or so. Also, photo speed enforcement cameras.

          I don’t remember exactly what I’ve written earlier in comments to past bikeportland stories, about how familiar I am with Barbur Blvd. Suffice it to say, while I don’t travel it everyday, I’m familiar with it, and over many years, have driven it many times, ridden it numerous times. I know first hand about the squeeze at the bridges, and agree they’re a problem.

          Also don’t recall exactly what comparison with 217 I may have made to Barbur. The section of Barbur that includes the bridges, is more like Canyon Rd between West Slope and Sylvan. Canyon isn’t as long, but it’s downhill and has somewhat the same kind of sweeping curves as Barbur. No bridges. Bike lanes on this section of Canyon are lousy, but unlike Barbur, it does have some fairly good side street alternatives.

          I’d say, before resorting to the road diet, on at least a trial basis, go for reducing the speed limit, because it’s easier to do, and shouldn’t cost much at all.

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  • J_Madcow March 17, 2014 at 3:24 pm

    UPDATE: Today on my morning commute, as I approached the bridges, I saw the lights begin flashing on the first southbound beacon with no bikes in sight. It took a second for me to realize what happened, but a bus turning right got too close to the induction loop, and activated the lights. So there they were, happily flashing away with no bikes in sight. If this happens every time a larger vehicle makes that turn, it won’t take long for people to start ignoring these lights.

    I imagine moving the loops back would help this problem.

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  • Brian K March 18, 2014 at 10:39 am

    The northbound sensors do need to be moved back like others have mentioned. Maybe 100-200 feet. I end up merging into the lane well before hitting the sensors so they never turn on. Trying to merge after you hit the sensors doesn’t really give you enough time to realistically and safely merge into traffic when you are going 20-25mph. Moving the sensor back for the northbound direction also gives the fast moving cars proper warning that a bike is on the bridge. The way it is now, they turn on just as you are about to go over the bridge. The other issue is the way they flash. This pattern is just like all the other flashing yellow lights on roadways that most drivers ignore. They are desensitized to them. Weren’t there already flashing lights on the bridges before? They need to flash similar to the way the crosswalk signs flash at the crosswalk a half a mile or so north of the bridges. Those get everyone’s attention.

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