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TriMet adjusts Orange Line crossing plans after community opposition – UPDATED

Posted by on September 29th, 2015 at 10:45 am

Orange Line crossings
How concerned is TriMet about safety of inner southeast rail crossings? At Sunday Parkways they had a police officer standing guard.
(Photos © J. Maus/BikePortland)

Despite opposition from the city’s official biking and walking advisory committees, TriMet plans to install manual “swing” gates at crossings of the Orange Line in inner southeast Portland.

Orange Line crossings
TriMet is particularly concerned with
“double threats,” the type of collision
that caused serious injuries to a
Beaverton man last month
.

Back in July, TriMet proposed plans back to install manual gates at two major inner southeast light rail and railroad crossings. The decision stemmed from the agency’s serious safety concerns where new paths cross Orange Line light rail and Union Pacific Railroad tracks. That initial proposal called for two sets of swing gates on the north and south sides of SE 8th and 11th.

That plan was strongly opposed by the Bureau of Transportation’s Bicycle Advisory Committee and the Pedestrian Advisory Committee. In a letter to TriMet, BAC Chair Ian Stude wrote that his committee didn’t support the gates because of, “the operating difficulties they will impose on members of the traveling public – principally those who are bicycling or walking.”


Now TriMet is back with a new plan. Here are the details (from a 9/24 letter from TriMet Community Affairs Manager Jennifer Koozer to BAC Chair Ian Stude):

1. By the end of October, install features to help slow people entering the crossings from the adjacent multiuse path:

  • SE 8th Ave: install “bedsteads”/switchbacks on south side of light rail tracks (total of two locations)
  • SE 11th Ave: install manual swing gates on the south side of light rail tracks (total of two locations)
  • West side of SE 12th Ave: install triangular “curb” on south side of light rail tracks that helps position people crossing at a right angle.

2. After installation, continue to monitor crossing behaviors and evaluate performance of crossing treatments.

3. Continue efforts to adjust heavy rail signal timing, in order to maximize unnecessary signal activation. This requires collaboration and approval by UPRR, a process which will take several months.

TriMet also supplied images showing examples of each type of crossing treatment they plan to install:
trimetexamples

As you can see, TriMet has decided to not install a swing gate at 8th but they are keeping one at SE 11th.

We’ve reached out to BAC Chair Ian Stude and several members of the Pedestrian Advisory Committee for comment but have yet to hear back. TriMet will hear directly from them when they bring this new plan to the committee meetings in October. Stay tuned.

UPDATE, 12:30 pm: We heard back from the City of Portland Pedestrian Advisory Committee Co-Chair Rebecca Hamilton. Here’s what she thinks about TriMet’s new plan (emphases mine):

“We appreciate that TriMet considered feedback from the advisory committees and substituted a different treatment for two of the four proposed swing gates. That means we’re halfway to a good solution! But the two remaining swing gates still create an unnecessarily difficult barrier for people using wheelchairs and other mobility devices. No one deserves that disadvantage when there are better ideas on the table.

As life expectancies increase and the Baby Boomer generation ages we’ll be seeing a lot more people using mobility devices to continue leading independent lives. These little decisions matter right now and they’ll matter even more in the future. TriMet has an opportunity to make a smarter choice here to ensure that anyone, regardless of their physical ability, can use their facilities without struggle and the PAC would like to see them make that smarter choice.”

UPDATE, 1:43 pm: And here’s what BAC Chair Ian Stude had to say:

“Our concerns remain the same regarding the swing gates. Those gates, even at that one location, are still problematic. The problem is that they are a barrier that’s constantly present whether there’s a train there or not. Let’s have active gates… Having an active system is more of a vision zero system than a passive gate that’s always there because a passive system looses its efficacy after a while.”

NOTE: At BikePortland, we love your comments. We love them so much that we devote many hours every week to read them and make sure they are productive, inclusive, and supportive. That doesn't mean you can't disagree with someone. It means you must do it with tact and respect. If you see an inconsiderate or inappropriate comment, please contact us and we'll take a look at it right away. Thank you — Jonathan and Michael

139 Comments
  • Scott H September 29, 2015 at 10:54 am

    If they put a swing gate on the sidewalk at 11th, I’m just going to ride into the road to get around it.

    Seriously TriMet, that intersection is already a horrible mess. When a MAX train is passing through, the parallel bike signals should be green! Instead everyone gets a red light. People are already so tired of it. It needs to get fixed.

    Is there a feedback form for this?

    Recommended Thumb up 79

    • SilkySlim September 29, 2015 at 11:06 am

      My goodness I couldn’t agree any more!!!

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    • Adam Herstein September 29, 2015 at 11:35 am

      Agreed! Some intersections have a bike light, some don’t. What am I supposed to follow? The bike light? Ped light? Green arrows? Those intersections are so messed up that people just do whatever they want, regardless of signals.

      Recommended Thumb up 28

      • Justin Carinci September 29, 2015 at 12:20 pm

        I can certainly vouch for that. The whole thing is a mess. I end up peeling off to still use the Hawthorne Bridge, even though Tilikum is so much closer, because it’s so frustrating to navigate.

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      • kittens September 30, 2015 at 4:03 am

        Fortunately, I have two eyes and a brain. Otherwise I might still be waiting at one of those signals.

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    • Adam Herstein September 29, 2015 at 1:03 pm

      And fix the right-hook at SE 8th! When the bike light is green, the car signals should be red and the “no right turn” signs should be illuminated.

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      • Adam Herstein September 29, 2015 at 1:04 pm

        I have brought this issue up to the “safety ambassadors” stationed at the intersection multiple times but they don’t seem to get it or I get the run-around.

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        • Scott H September 29, 2015 at 1:24 pm

          My hunch is that the safety -ambassador-people aren’t reliably recording the issues that are communicated to them and even if they were, there probably isn’t a reliable channel for them to pass the issues up to the engineers that can make a difference.

          October 5th looks like it will be the day we can submit comments online.

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          • Adam Herstein September 29, 2015 at 1:31 pm

            Oh, I definitely plan on attending TriMet’s Bike Plan meetings and bringing up this and many other issues.

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      • Alan 1.0 September 29, 2015 at 6:34 pm

        And fix the right-hook at SE 8th!

        “Fix the cigarette lighter.”

        (sorry…couldn’t help myself…it could be slightly on-topic with the swing-down safety gate…now, back to Adam’s legitimate point…)

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        • Adam Herstein September 29, 2015 at 7:13 pm

          Classic movie. :-)

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    • Charley September 29, 2015 at 2:02 pm

      Poor design and pointless delays (things like red lights for no traffic, or crossing gates that are triggered by trains *sitting at the station*) invite improvisations of all kinds, like riding contraflow on sidewalks or in “auto” lanes, as well as out and out lawbreaking. They’ve built it like hell and now expect us to ride like angels through it.

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      • Adam Herstein September 29, 2015 at 3:51 pm

        crossing gates that are triggered by trains *sitting at the station*

        The MAX operator must request a “go” signal in order to move westbound from the Clinton St/SE 12th station and cannot proceed forward until the gates are down and the ABS signal displays a yellow or green aspect. This is why it appears that the signal is triggered by the train just “sitting at the station”.

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    • gutterbunnybikes September 29, 2015 at 3:35 pm

      “For some reason that light never detects me when the trains are passing through, I easily waited through one cycle before proceeding through it”

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    • soren September 29, 2015 at 8:38 pm

      I cross the tracks at SE division and 9th (near Caruthers). There are no signals required to cross and it’s a straight shot up Division to Ladds.

      https://goo.gl/ECHy3R

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      • Elliot September 30, 2015 at 11:20 am

        Thanks for the tip soren, I will try this route!

        Recommended Thumb up 1

  • Buzz September 29, 2015 at 10:54 am

    Obviously, TriMet doesn’t really want cyclists to use any of these crossings. The whole area is a fustercluck; I used to bike this way before the ‘improvements’, but I’ve started using an alternate route that avoids this area altogether now.

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  • lahar September 29, 2015 at 10:58 am

    I am amazed at how poorly designed the bike paths/sidewalks are getting from Clinton down to the Tillicum. There is simply too much going on for it to be safe.

    Congratulations Trimet,on designing such a clusterfuggle that defeats the such a lovely bridge.

    Recommended Thumb up 33

  • 9watts September 29, 2015 at 10:59 am

    I’m confused. The title of this article TriMet adjusts Orange Line crossing plans after community opposition doesn’t seem to align with the actual decision-making. Or am I missing something?

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    • 9watts September 29, 2015 at 11:03 am

      never mind. I get it. reading comprehension!

      Recommended Thumb up 7

      • Alan 1.0 September 29, 2015 at 6:38 pm

        BikePortland’s editors are too professional to include “la-la-la-la-la, I can’t hear you” in the title.

        Recommended Thumb up 2

  • christopher September 29, 2015 at 11:07 am

    From Clinton to getting on the actual bridge is just a mess. It seems like none of the lights work and is just overall very chaotic.

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  • Bill Walters September 29, 2015 at 11:08 am

    “…in order to _maximize_ unnecessary signal activation” (emphasis added). Sigh. At least they’re honest.

    Recommended Thumb up 9

  • rainbike September 29, 2015 at 11:12 am

    Reminds me of Christmas with the in-laws. I never get what I want. I get what they think I need.

    Recommended Thumb up 22

    • MR September 29, 2015 at 12:12 pm

      And like any spoiled rich kid, you’ll always complain about whatever you get.

      Recommended Thumb up 6

      • Paul September 29, 2015 at 2:34 pm

        Really?

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  • MR September 29, 2015 at 11:14 am

    If people (peds and bikers) would actually follow the safety guidelines that are in place these wouldn’t be necessary, but as stated above “If they put a swing gate on the sidewalk at 11th, I’m just going to ride into the road to get around it.”, that doesn’t happen.

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    • Bill Walters September 29, 2015 at 11:21 am

      Doesn’t seem like anything anti-safety about a rider using the road instead of the sidewalk. The road is guarded by the usual swing-down crossing gates, no?

      Or if not, that seems like the more glaring problem. Count up the number of collisions over the last decade of MAX vs. person in car compared to MAX vs person on foot or bike.

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      • Alan 1.0 September 29, 2015 at 11:27 am

        The road is guarded by the usual swing-down crossing gates, no?

        Are you suggesting that if the city’s Motor Vehicle Advisory Committee had requested chicanes so tight that trucks or trailers wouldn’t fit through and hand-operated gates for the road that TriMet would have insisted they use swing-down gates instead?

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        • Bill Walters September 29, 2015 at 11:31 am

          Eh? Surely they’re not using hand-operated gates for the crossing folks use when motoring? I’ve been through there a couple times but only by bike, so I haven’t noticed. Too much other stuff to keep track of.

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          • Alan 1.0 September 29, 2015 at 11:36 am

            I’m pretty sure they aren’t adding chicanes for motor vehicles, either. Everything I said was facetious, as there is obviously no need for a Motor Vehicle Advisory Committee in Portland.

            (I’m not snarking at you, Bill, just used your line as a springboard. :)

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            • Bill Walters September 29, 2015 at 11:39 am

              Ah. When it comes to Tilikum connections, I just can’t tell anymore!

              Recommended Thumb up 6

            • Adam Herstein September 29, 2015 at 1:07 pm

              Motor Vehicle Advisory Committee

              You mean the Portland Business Alliance? ;-)

              Recommended Thumb up 11

  • Alan 1.0 September 29, 2015 at 11:17 am

    Any comment from TriMet on why they will not use common railroad crossing gates as found all around the world?

    Recommended Thumb up 36

    • jeff September 29, 2015 at 11:34 am

      that would be too easy and safe.

      Recommended Thumb up 11

    • davemess September 29, 2015 at 11:57 am

      Amen. Such a simple solution. I feel like I’m taking crazy pills!
      This should be the FIRST and only question every time this issue comes up.

      Jonathan, do you know that answer?

      Recommended Thumb up 11

    • Steve B September 29, 2015 at 12:11 pm

      This would be the better solution. My guess is those signals are likely more expensive than the manual gates.

      Recommended Thumb up 4

      • Buzz September 29, 2015 at 12:17 pm

        The project came in under budget, that means they should have more than enough money left over to spend on the more appropriate albeit more expensive crossing gates.

        Recommended Thumb up 10

      • jeff September 29, 2015 at 12:23 pm

        someone getting killed at those crossings seems like a better idea, right?

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      • Daniel Costantino September 29, 2015 at 12:50 pm

        The signals are already there. They just need the gates to go with them.

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    • Patrick Vinograd September 29, 2015 at 12:30 pm

      When TriMet presented their original plan At the HAND neighborhood association meeting (the HAND board also unanimously opposed any manual swing gates by the way), their stated reason for not using automated crossing gates was that this crossing did not meet their “design criteria” for such gates. They did not really elaborate on what their criteria were. Their representative (a safety engineer) did mention in the next breath that cost to install automated gates would be in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.

      -Patrick Vinograd
      HAND Board Secretary

      Recommended Thumb up 16

      • davemess September 29, 2015 at 1:13 pm

        So cost……….

        Recommended Thumb up 7

        • Opus the Poet September 29, 2015 at 7:44 pm

          And active transportation is the red-headed stepchild even to a group whose very charter exists only to serve active transportation. WTF? Literally.

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      • Elliot September 30, 2015 at 11:25 am

        The request for automated crossing gates was also brought up as a preferred alternative to manual gates at TriMet’s presentation to the Bicycle Advisory Committee, and similarly declined without further explanation.

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    • El Biciclero September 29, 2015 at 2:24 pm

      “…that’s not possible because gates with motors on them get vandalized and abused by the public.”

      From here

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      • Alan 1.0 September 29, 2015 at 3:08 pm

        That regards “an automated gate that opens with a button,” presumably a horizontally hinged gate like the manual ones in TriMet’s illustrations. Those will get vandalized just out of the sheer annoyance they inflict on users, whether or not they have motors. The ubiquitous, vertical-swing railroad gates seem durable against abuse. They already have them for cars at these two crossings and they seem to work just fine. Why would the same hardware on the ped/bike crossing be more prone to damage?

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  • peter haas September 29, 2015 at 11:34 am

    What a mess. This new route to and from the new bridge could have been awesome but instead it’s barely acceptable. Now it sounds like Trimet is going out of their way to get pedestrians and bike commuters to avoid this route…perhaps they feel keeping people away is the safest option. If so, they succeeded with me. After several trips back and forth trying it out, I’m going back to my old route through Ladds and across the Hawthorne. Very disappointing.

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    • jeff September 29, 2015 at 12:23 pm

      I’m joining you, that route just feels safer, albeit about 10 minutes longer for myself.

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  • Adam Herstein September 29, 2015 at 11:36 am

    Somehow, people in Europe manage to not get hit by trams. Why are we so special that we need gates to protect ourselves?

    Recommended Thumb up 7

    • JF September 29, 2015 at 11:48 am

      Maybe it is related to the reason we aren’t allowed to pump our own gas in this state. The people of Oregon have been identified as especially incapable of safely filling our tanks or crossing train tracks.

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      • oliver September 29, 2015 at 12:07 pm

        We’re not “allowed” to pump our own gas because we have decided that we don’t want to.

        Most self serve gas stations are an abysmal joke, there’s never any towels, rarely garbage cans and the window washing detergent buckets are always empty. Add to that the proliferation of credit card skimmers due to the lack of attendants.

        No thanks.

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        • davemess September 29, 2015 at 1:14 pm

          So 48 other states live in this apocalyptic gas-pumping world that you have laid out?

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        • gutterbunnybikes September 29, 2015 at 3:58 pm

          I like not pumpin my own gas, it’s not like the price of gas will go down without attendants. So why bother? unless of course you like huffing the product before heading out on the roads.

          Or is it like the false impression that self checkout is faster than going to a checker at the grocery store? (again doesn’t affect price either).

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          • rachel b September 29, 2015 at 11:14 pm

            Agree with gutterbb–it won’t lower the price. And since that’s the case, I’d rather have a professional handle it and not shift myself. If I still had a car, that is. I’m weary in general of the business trend of outsourcing labor onto customers (self check-out, self-bussing of table, self bagging of groceries, etc.). We’re dupes, I tells ya! Schmucks!

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          • davemess September 30, 2015 at 8:37 am

            “it’s not like the price of gas will go down without attendants.”

            It might not, but we could be getting more gas tax out of it for the same pump price.
            I don’t get the mentality that “well look it’s the same price as Vancouver, so the attendants don’t cost anything”. Simple math.

            And the “professional” argument? You mean the guys at my local station who top you off even though there is a sign directly behind them saying that topping off is illegal? Those professionals?

            And yes, pumping your own gas is most often much faster than an attendant (note that you do pretty much the exact same thing as the attendant, but don’t have to wait for them to come back from having a cigarette (“professionals” remember?).

            To people coming from other states these arguments are kind of funny.

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        • wsbob September 30, 2015 at 9:26 am

          “We’re not “allowed” to pump our own gas because we have decided that we don’t want to. …” oliver

          Oliver…thank you for noting that. Oregonians have voted against self-pump gas, several times, and repeatedly say no. In Oregon, pumping gas is jobs for people. People in other states that like pumping their own gas? More power to them. Here in Oregon, I doubt self-pump is going to happen anytime soon. Getting less service for more money is never a very appealing deal.

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      • Spiffy September 29, 2015 at 1:46 pm

        I always pump my own gas in Oregon…

        you’re driving the wrong kind of vehicle that has too many wheels…

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        • Psyfalcon September 29, 2015 at 5:06 pm

          Statute: ORS 480.349
          Title: Use of gasoline dispensing device by motorcycle operator
          (1) As used in this section, “motorcycle” has the meaning given that term in ORS 801.365.
          (2) Notwithstanding ORS 480.330 and 480.340:
          (a) Upon the request of an operator of a motorcycle, the owner, operator or employee of a filling station, service station, garage or other dispensary where Class 1 flammable liquids are dispensed at retail shall set the fuel dispensing device and hand the discharge nozzle to the operator of the motorcycle.
          (b) An operator of a motorcycle who is handed a discharge nozzle under paragraph (a) of this subsection:
          (A) May dispense Class 1 flammable liquids into the operator’s motorcycle.
          (B) Shall, after dispensing the liquids, return the discharge nozzle to the owner, operator or employee.

          Can’t actually run your own card or technically hang up your own pump.

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    • lahar September 29, 2015 at 11:50 am

      I think the gates are a good idea, bikes and pedestrians were crossing every which when I rode this area back home last week. I think people just got fed up with waiting for the train then the max that they just went against the lights. This area is a disaster waiting to happen. I am going to avoid it from now on. yuck

      Recommended Thumb up 3

    • jeff September 29, 2015 at 12:25 pm

      there are no gates at train tracks all across Europe eh?

      Recommended Thumb up 1

    • jeff September 29, 2015 at 12:27 pm

      that certainly was not my experience when traveling around several European countries. have you actually been there?

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      • Adam Herstein September 29, 2015 at 12:34 pm

        Any high-speed rail lines in Europe must be grade separated. Trams run either in mixed traffic (e.g. our Streetcar) or in their own ROW (e.g. MAX) in a median. I don’t recall seeing any gates or barriers wherever I saw trams running in a dedicated ROW. People just knew how to cross on foot or bike.

        And yes, I have been to Europe.

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        • davemess September 29, 2015 at 1:16 pm

          Sure and we don’t have any barrier downtown in a much more urban environment, but the area we’re discussing here is different.

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        • Paul September 29, 2015 at 2:41 pm

          The MAX toggles between urban tram-like operation to light rail/commuter rail type settings, so yeah, they beg different treatments depending on those “zones.” Commuter rail in Europe tends to have crossing gates. Having crossing gates may depend on what speed zone the crossing is in, whether or not close proximity to a station. Anyone know for sure?

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        • Tom September 29, 2015 at 2:42 pm

          I found what must be the only crossing gate in all of Europe:

          http://citytransport.info/Digi/P1030760a.jpg

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          • Spiffy September 29, 2015 at 3:08 pm

            I like the rustic look and how it’s strapped the fence…

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        • jeff September 30, 2015 at 4:26 pm

          Amsterdam, where the streetcars do about 5mph through urban areas?
          we’re not talking about that here so the comparison is silly. I’ve seen Amtrak doing well over 40mph on 12th and SE Clinton and freight doing close to the same.

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  • 9watts September 29, 2015 at 12:06 pm

    “At Sunday Parkways they had a police officer standing guard.”

    Why is this guy dressed for combat?
    Is that really the message Trimet meant to send?

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    • Adam Herstein September 29, 2015 at 12:35 pm

      He’s just protecting us from the Crime Train!

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  • Laura September 29, 2015 at 12:07 pm

    I frequently ran through the 11th/12th fustercluck in 2014 and earlier this year…it was relatively easy to just go where I wanted. We biked through the area this past weekend, and nothing was intuitive. I fail to see why Light Rail is treated the same way as big heavy freight trains, when it is really just a glorified bus. The UP signals are sequential (they go off as the train moves through) while the LRT signals are simultaneous…when the LRT is sitting in the station and not even moving. Dumb. Thanks, Tri-Met, but I’ll just go up to Lincoln and Hawthorne.

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  • Andy September 29, 2015 at 12:09 pm

    Does this gate need to be pushed or pulled to be opened to pass? I ask because I have a cargo bike.

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    • Patrick Vinograd September 29, 2015 at 12:32 pm

      They need to be pulled to enter the trackway, pushed to exit the trackway. So for the proposed gate on the south side of the tracks at 11th, you would need to pull the gate open when going northbound and push it open when going southbound.

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    • Adam Herstein September 29, 2015 at 12:35 pm

      Yes.

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  • pdx2wheeler September 29, 2015 at 12:16 pm

    Those manual gates look heavy and cumbersome. Would they even be ADA compliant? How’s an individual with a disability expected to get through?

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    • Doug Klotz September 29, 2015 at 3:45 pm

      Trimet claims that the ADA doesn’t apply to railroads, or has a special section for railroads, like it does for boats. (There’s an exemption for the gap next to the rails, for instance)

      That said, obviously the gates you pull toward you would not work AT ALL for a person who uses an electrically powered wheelchair, with limited arm movement, and small control stick on their chair to steer. They would not be able to reach out and grab the gate, and pull it toward them, while backing their chair up.

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  • Granpa September 29, 2015 at 12:16 pm

    All of my opinions on this topic have been stated, but on the off chance that anyone with Tri-Met reads this blog, Fluster Cluck!

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  • Ben Funkhouser September 29, 2015 at 12:20 pm

    Wow…

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  • Paul Souders September 29, 2015 at 12:30 pm

    If I read the graphic correctly the 8th ave crossing is getting its chicane only on the south. If so this remains the best route to/from the Tilikum and across the tracks. Westbound this means taking Caruthers to its end & then turning south. From Clinton this is about 3 block detour north on 12th. (Assuming the chicane is wide enough for cargo bikes, trailers etc.)

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  • fourknees September 29, 2015 at 12:32 pm

    I haven’t been over there yet to check all this out, but is the intent to keep people from backing up on the Max tracks or waiting in the island area in between the tracks when a train in passing (as in the photo above) and vice versa?

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  • Carrie September 29, 2015 at 12:35 pm

    So with those gates on SE 8th, if I’m going south and someone is coming north, I may have to wait ON THE TRACKS because there isn’t enough room for two of us on bikes to pass each other in that zig zag space.

    Looks like I may be riding on the street on 11th too once the ‘improvements’ address in place. I wish I had a different option getting home from work, but I have to cross those tracks somewhere….

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    • Bald One September 29, 2015 at 12:44 pm

      Only other options for getting from HAND to Brooklyn are:
      1) Use Hawthorne Bridge East side approach to cross the tracks and exit bridge approach to East side MUP.
      2) 99E raised viaduct (hey, there’s a nice, new bike lane to nowhere on this span).
      3) sidewalks along Powell at 17th as they go under the tracks.

      None of these are good options. Taking the lane to ride in the roadway across the tracks is also an option.

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      • Paul Souders September 29, 2015 at 1:13 pm

        You can also go south on 21st to Lafayette & use the new elevator-and-bridge combo to Rhine. This works pretty well if your destination is points south (Brooklyn, Sellwood, Milwaukie) & not the Tilikum

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  • Patrick Vinograd September 29, 2015 at 12:36 pm

    TriMet is holding open houses and accepting online comments in October for its bike plan: http://trimet.org/bikeplan/

    There are a range of TriMet-bike issues to be discussed but these crossings and the overall bike accessibility at either end of the Tilikum Crossing are certainly worthwhile topics to bring up.

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  • Rob September 29, 2015 at 12:40 pm

    Why can’t you guys use regular crossing arms like the rest of us? This is what I have in mind, it’s the closest railroad crossing to me: http://www.dupageco.org/uploadedImages/DupageCounty/DuPage_County_News/2014/Prairie%20Path%20Work%20small.jpg

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  • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) September 29, 2015 at 12:45 pm

    Looks like the Pedestrian Advisory Committee is still not too thrilled with TriMet’s plan. Here’s a statement from co-chair Rebecca Hamilton (emphases mine):

    “We appreciate that TriMet considered feedback from the advisory committees and substituted a different treatment for two of the four proposed swing gates. That means we’re halfway to a good solution! But the two remaining swing gates still create an unnecessarily difficult barrier for people using wheelchairs and other mobility devices. No one deserves that disadvantage when there are better ideas on the table.

    As life expectancies increase and the Baby Boomer generation ages we’ll be seeing a lot more people using mobility devices to continue leading independent lives. These little decisions matter right now and they’ll matter even more in the future. TriMet has an opportunity to make a smarter choice here to ensure that anyone, regardless of their physical ability, can use their facilities without struggle and the PAC would like to see them make that smarter choice.”

    Recommended Thumb up 8

    • Adam Herstein September 29, 2015 at 1:10 pm

      I also can’t imagine those chicane barriers being easy to navigate for people with disabilities.

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      • Opus the Poet September 29, 2015 at 7:50 pm

        Or tandems or LWB recumbents either. Jury is still out on trailers.

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  • Charles Ross September 29, 2015 at 1:19 pm

    The bike route from OMSI to about Holgate along the Orange line is complicated. It’s complicated because of the mix of various types of traffic. Burlington Northern trains going north and south, MAX lines moving north and south, car traffic crossing, car traffic paralleling the route, pedestrians. While adjustments can certainly be made, the route is what it is.
    One added safety measure would be for bicyclists to realize that they should not expect to travel along this corridor as fast as the car traffic.
    As it stands, someone very soon is going to get run over by one of these trains on one of the four sets of tracks they have to cross. It’s going to be a cyclist who is pushing it, maybe jumping a signal behind a train moving south and getting run over by a north bound.
    I’ve been along this route several times and have seen many, many cyclists not paying attention to signals.
    The very first comment in this stream says it all. At the end of saying basically that he won’t respect signs/signals/gates he asks for a “feedback form”. Here’s my feedback: slow down, or the “horrible mess” at that intersection might be more than just confused traffic.

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    • Scott H September 29, 2015 at 1:46 pm

      You completely missed the point of my comment, which was to emphasize that the intersection is already unsafe, and it’s not the trains that make it unsafe, it’s the confusing and unintuitive maze that TriMet has recently created.
      If you go back and read my comment you’ll see that I didn’t say I won’t respect signals: I said that I would take a car lane, which would actually reduce the chance of an altercation with a train since the car lanes have better signals than the pedestrian crossings. A manual gate doesn’t give any indication of an approaching train.

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      • Charles Ross September 29, 2015 at 2:25 pm

        You made two comments, Scott. Here’s the first:
        “if they put a swing gate on the sidewalk at 11th, I’m just going to ride into the road to get around it.” So, if there is a swing gate that closes you are “just going to ride into the road to get around it” How is that adding to “safety”?
        Also: “When a MAX train is passing through, the parallel bike signals should be green! Instead everyone gets a red light. People are already so tired of it. It needs to get fixed.”
        This is not making travel unsafe. It may be inconvenient but it’s not a safety issue.
        You read like someone who is in a big hurry and all I am suggesting is that it is simply not a travel corridor that is going to allow a cyclist to move as fast as one would wish. It’s going to be stop and go and I don’t see that getting fixed.

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        • Carter September 29, 2015 at 2:50 pm

          If the train is going through, why should the parallel lights be red?

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          • lop September 29, 2015 at 2:59 pm

            If they flashed red/yellow would cyclists look before entering the street to make sure there isn’t a car trying to clear out before a train comes?

            They probably won’t give pedestrians a walk phase on the longer crossings because the minimum crossing time is probably longer than the gates are down for in some cases.

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            • Bill Walters September 29, 2015 at 3:15 pm

              Inadvertent part 2: …presumably would have gates whose up/down status supplies info about whether a train is coming.

              Also, about routes parallel to rails getting a red light when a train is present: This actually IS a safety issue in that the broken-appearing design and function undermine trust in the signal (and others near it) and may well encourage a greater volume and degree of freelancing throughout the area.

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        • Bill Walters September 29, 2015 at 3:09 pm

          Charles, are you sure you understand the context? The proposal is for gates that would _always_ be closed. Their status would supply no info about whether a train is coming. (Or folks, correct me if I don’t have it right.) Meanwhile, the road presu

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          • Charles Ross September 29, 2015 at 3:22 pm

            I assumed that the gate proposal is one of the “active” systems that would open and close as needed. But . . . I’ll read it again. It is a messy way to cycle, I’ll agree to that. I was just on that route this morning from Omsi down to Bybee; stop and go, but still quicker than the Springwater Corridor; more direct. I’m often on the Esplanade/Hawthorne Bridge/Springwater and this ‘Orangeline’ route will never, ever be as smooth. There is simply too much going on.

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            • davemess September 29, 2015 at 3:59 pm

              But it could certainly be a heck of a lot smoother than it currently is.

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        • Doug Klotz September 29, 2015 at 3:51 pm

          The swing gate is closed all the time, train or no train. You have to wait until the trains are gone, and then manually pull it toward you to get across the tracks. It is spring-loaded, and closes behind you (hopefully not slamming into you as the spring wears out)

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          • El Biciclero September 30, 2015 at 10:02 am

            “hopefully not slamming into you as the spring wears out”

            Actually, the springs will be calibrated to slam into your rear derailleur just as you pass through.

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    • Bill Walters September 29, 2015 at 2:07 pm

      It sounds like, by your reckoning, the car routes though the area are both faster _and_ safer. That sorta implies that prudent people, while on bikes, will take the same routes they would use by car.

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    • peter haas September 29, 2015 at 2:33 pm

      I agree that if a bike rider crosses a train or even a car there’s high risk for a horrible mess. What frustrates me is the lack of excellent design with these new paths and crossings. Shouldn’t we expect that? Or even demand it? Instead bike commuters and pedestrians are given a confusing maze to navigate and expected to comply with it…or suffer the consequence. Signs, barriers, inconsistent markings and signals are no substitute for good design. They’re just reminders that the original design is flawed. I know he wasn’t a traffic engineer but could you imagine Steve Jobs approving this crappy design?

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  • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) September 29, 2015 at 1:49 pm

    Just added to the story…

    UPDATE, 1:43 pm: And here’s what BAC Chair Ian Stude had to say (emphasis mine):

    “Our concerns remain the same regarding the swing gates. Those gates, even at that one location, are still problematic. The problem is that they are a barrier that’s constantly present whether there’s a train there or not. Let’s have active gates… Having an active system is more of a vision zero system than a passive gate that’s always there because a passive system looses it’s efficacy after a while.”

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    • Alan 1.0 September 29, 2015 at 6:51 pm

      Good words, Ian. Stick to your/our concerns!

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    • Rob September 29, 2015 at 8:53 pm

      It is kind of insane that there aren’t any gates at the crossing, whatsoever. And if the specific issue is multiple-train threats… Union Pacific actually has a working solution for that, too: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5iLQgfCI39I

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  • Spiffy September 29, 2015 at 1:56 pm

    why does TriMet get to decide what treatments a public sidewalk gets?

    these aren’t just some transit station pathways, they’re the actual public sidewalks connection streets and neigborhoods…

    TriMet, stop messing with public accessibility and get rid of the zig-zag of mazes and the manual gates… real pedestrian train crossings have automatic arms or nothing at all… spend the money doing it right this time or spend years defending this terrible decision and end up doing it right anyway later… it’s not your decision, this is a public sidewalk…

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    • wsbob September 30, 2015 at 9:40 am

      “why does TriMet get to decide what treatments a public sidewalk gets? …” Spiffy

      Trimet is obliged to provide a treatment for the track crossing made by the sidewalk. Rather than the sidewalk, it’s the tracks and the trains running on them, from which Trimet is seeking to safeguard people using the sidewalk.

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  • J_R September 29, 2015 at 1:57 pm

    It’s painfully obvious that Trimet leadership has absolutely no interest in promoting bicycle use or taking any tiny step toward accommodating bicyclists. There may be some well-intentioned people at lower levels in the organization, but it’s clearly not in their best interests to rock the boat.

    The whole planning and design for bicyclists and pedestrians was really poorly done throughout the Orange Line development and construction. They will point to the damn bridge and claim how great it all was.

    Besides the well-documented disasters at 11/12/Clinton, I’ve encountered the non-intuitive designs all along Caruthers, Milwaukie Ave and along the Trolley Trail in Milwaukie, especially near 22nd and 23rd.

    I’m disgusted with Trimet.

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    • Scott H September 29, 2015 at 2:28 pm

      oooo have you been to where the trolly trail hits Bluebird street? That crossing is a real gem: You’re supposed to use the un-signaled crosswalks and just pray that anyone heading south on 99 planning to turn right can see you.

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      • rick September 29, 2015 at 3:14 pm

        Does ODOT have any ideas to fix the one by Bluebird street?

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        • J_R September 29, 2015 at 3:35 pm

          Same as at Powell and SE 26th: Eliminate the bike lanes!

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      • J_R September 29, 2015 at 3:37 pm

        Yes. That’s one of the problems I encountered yesterday. The whole thing is fraught with dangers because bicyclists were an afterthought.

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        • Granpa September 29, 2015 at 4:09 pm

          But bicyclists were not an afterthought. The bridge was touted as a bicycle bridge from the beginning. They designed the approaches as if bicyclists were google automatons and not humans with the ability to make decisions independent of signalized directives.

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          • J_R September 29, 2015 at 6:04 pm

            Bicyclists were not an afterthought on the bridge, but everywhere else they were clearly an afterthought. Getting to the bridge or riding parallel to the rail line varies from awful to poor to marginally acceptable. Crossing the tracks varies from poor to awful and Trimet is trying to “up the ante” by making it awful where it isn’t already.

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          • wsbob September 30, 2015 at 9:52 am

            “…humans with the ability to make decisions independent of signalized directives.” Granpa

            And humans never make mistakes, is that what you’re thinking? So if Trimet were to not bother with signals, by assuming people consistently can be relied upon to make good decisions as to whether the tracks are safe to cross…and yet someone makes a bad decision and gets smashed by the train…most likely, Trimet would be blamed for not putting up gates and signals.

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            • Granpa October 2, 2015 at 7:11 am

              When the signals reinforce nonsense like when cars are stoppped by crossing gates that clear intersections for bike but bikes have red lights it should be expected that they would be ignored

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              • wsbob October 2, 2015 at 10:19 pm

                “…like when cars are stoppped by crossing gates that clear intersections for bike but bikes have red lights it …” Granpa

                What you’ve written, doesn’t seem to make much sense. Rather than for bikes, crossing gates are to clear the intersection for train, isn’t that right? Maybe you could take another shot at explaining the situation more clearly.

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    • Alan 1.0 September 29, 2015 at 6:31 pm

      The whole planning and design for bicyclists and pedestrians was really poorly done throughout the Orange Line development and construction.

      +1

      The more I look at these two crossings, the worse it seems. From the very first time they were penciled in, TriMet had to know that that bikes and peds would need careful treatments. Plan reviews, both internally and with many overlapping jurisdictions and agencies, must have seen that sidewalks crossed rail lines. Details of a such a crossing abound in practically every related standards manual going back longer than any of the planners been alive. So, they knew about it from the start and they have countless precedents and standards from which to choose a good solution, and only now, after TriMet declares it finished (nod to pdx2wheeler’s post, below) and under budget, do they come up with chintzy solutions that don’t work right? There’s something really wrong with that story, and I want to hear more.

      Along those same lines but a bigger scale, and thinking about Ted Buehler’s Tilikum west to PSU comment, I also notice that the east side missed a great chance for a bike/ped connection from 3rd and Division to the East Tilikum landing. As it is, it’s 0.8 miles and 15 minutes walk to go around either the Clay St or SE 8th Ave crossings. Had a ped/bike facility been included on the streetcar ramp it would have been well under 5 minutes for a couple hundred yard crossing of all the rail lines cutting off that corner of the CEIC.

      Why did those breakdowns happen in the planning process of the Tilikum / Orange Line project?

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    • Opus the Poet September 29, 2015 at 7:59 pm

      But they should be planning for good pedestrian access because those are their customers, they service almost all of their customers via pedestrian infrastructure, and they aren’t even getting that right.

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  • rick September 29, 2015 at 3:14 pm

    That railroad corridor needs many more pedestrian bridges.

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  • Adam Herstein September 29, 2015 at 3:17 pm

    TriMet should not be designing any bikeways. The mandates should be coming from Metro, since they are tasked with managing regional land use, transportation, and coordination with local agencies.

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    • J_R September 29, 2015 at 3:41 pm

      Unfortunately, Metro doesn’t have any operations responsibility and little functional knowledge about how things actually work with regard to traffic, bicyclists, pedestrians, signal timing, rail operations, etc. Metro is a planning agency.

      ODOT has repeatedly demonstrated they don’t actually care about bikes.

      The best we have in the region are Portland and maybe Clackamas County. The traffic engineers of both are actually cyclists.

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      • Adam Herstein September 29, 2015 at 3:54 pm

        Not saying that Metro should be engineering the bikeways either, but they should be involved in the planning process and mandate a certain design standard (i.e. protected bike lanes), then coordinate with PBOT and TriMet on implementation. Otherwise we end up with whatever TriMet thought would be easiest, cheapest, and least interfering with TriMet operations.

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  • pdx2wheeler September 29, 2015 at 3:34 pm

    No wonder there was some extra money laying around after they stopped construction on the Orange line… they never finished it!

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  • soren September 29, 2015 at 3:56 pm

    BikeLoudPDX has had multiple conversations with city staff on these issues and even hosted a ride-along where we complained about the confusing bottlenecks, bikes on sidewalk (like PoS with a B*) infrastructure, and poor directional signage. If you care about these problems/issues then please attend our next meeting so that we can plan an action campaign.

    *hat tip Betsy R

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  • Endo September 29, 2015 at 4:02 pm

    How many TriMet articles is it going to take before people finally realize that TriMet is the enemy here? Everything they do hurts cycling more than it helps.

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  • Granpa September 29, 2015 at 4:10 pm

    But bicyclists were not an afterthought. The bridge was touted as a bicycle bridge from the beginning. They designed the approaches as if bicyclists were google automatons and not humans with the ability to make decisions independent of signalized directives.

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    • kittens September 30, 2015 at 3:51 am

      A classic case of over designing if there ever was one. Meanwhile they installed deathtrap aluminum expansion joint bridges at the apex of a curve on a downhill.

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      • jeff September 30, 2015 at 12:24 pm

        deathtrap? I’ve ridden over them twice a day since the bridge opened, at high speeds, and haven’t died. Not even once. Any bike can be dangerous if you don’t know how to operate it safely within your personal limits.

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  • gutterbunnybikes September 29, 2015 at 4:11 pm

    Is 11tha dn 12th really that difficult?. Are you folks really trying to navigate the maze???? Silly and completely unnecessary.

    Heading west from Clinton, cross 12th and turn south on the west side sidewalk – cross the tracks then turn west on the sidewalk (or if you like take the sidewalk on the east side of 12th south and cross towards the west at the light there), Follow the sidewalk across 11th.

    Coming the other way, just do the same in the opposite direction. (though I usually take the turn lane so I can legally turn on the red when clear).

    There isn’t any sidewalk riding ban there, and really unless there are events not too many pedestrians either. Infact there is even a bicycle sensor on the sidewalk for the eastward traffic (as well as the the ramp that dumps into the lane) at 11th.

    I’ve done it with the Trimet employees before opening ‘(not a word) and with the undercover cop in the area (not a word).

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    • wsbob September 30, 2015 at 10:01 am

      gutterbunnybikes…the route you suggest sounds o.k. in reading. Does it really work well and efficiently for more than one or two people riding at a time? More importantly it seems by reading some people’s concerns about routing: is it ‘intuitive’?

      Lots of people riding, have the smarts to figure out idiosyncrasies and quirks of associated with certain routes, but some don’t, and others, tired from work or whatever, may not either.

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  • Mark September 29, 2015 at 7:47 pm

    Trimet. A solution in search of a problem. We have no money for other infra..but we can put up gates that are unnecessary.

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  • resopmok September 29, 2015 at 8:32 pm

    Once the gates are in, will trimet continue to employ the guards so that they can open and close the gates for cyclists and pedestrians? Seems reasonable to me, anyway..

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  • kittens September 30, 2015 at 3:47 am

    I’m not usually one to pull out the old “How much did this cost?” argument, but in this case, I am going to guess the hundreds of thousands of dollars they have spent on staffing, monitoring, testing, designing, redesigning and now, installing push-gates, would have been more wisely spent on active crossing arms for the ped/bike path.

    Or maybe they could have dipped into that $5M slush fund they kicked back to the feds.

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  • was carless September 30, 2015 at 5:09 pm

    Grade separation of rail tracks would solve 100% of these types of problems… but there we go, Trimet still designing all of their MAX lines to be like a “streetcar.” Which they aren’t.

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  • lisa d November 18, 2015 at 11:55 am

    So, the “beadsteads/switchbacks” are installed, and seem to me to be hard to navigate (especially if there is more than one person, or a larger bike, or a less savvy biker), and also poorly lit/reflectored. A Trimet guy there told me that they would get reflectors, but didn’t say when. I also wrote a note to Trimet asking about when they were going to reflector them, and haven’t heard back (it’s been a week). They seem really dangerous to me. Other opinions? I was surprised that I haven’t seen complaints, but then maybe people just figure there is nothing to be done at this point.

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    • Carrie November 18, 2015 at 4:06 pm

      Lisa — I think they are VERY unsafe. My colleague and I had to slow down to a crawl ON THE TRACKS because there wasn’t room for us going south bound and some pedestrians going north to share the space.

      I also don’t think it’s possible to navigate through them pulling a trailer. And possibly not even on a cargo bike (or at least riding a cargo bike). And finally they are practically invisible in the dark rain like we had last night — a less attentive person could easily ride right into them, especially if you are trying to briskly cross the tracks to be safe.

      They are terrible.

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