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‘Sidewalk closed’: Portlanders fend for themselves amid building boom

Posted by on October 23rd, 2015 at 8:46 am

brian rod
Rod Yoder, left, and Brian Davis are both looking for long-term solutions.
(Photos: M.Andersen/BikePortland)

Portland’s official policy is that when push comes to shove, making it safe and efficient to walk is a higher priority than making it safe and efficient to bike, which is a higher priority than making it safe and efficient to drive.

So why is it that when construction closes part of a street, sidewalks are so often the first to go?

On Thursday, a local engineering consultant led a walk through downtown Portland to show that it doesn’t have to work this way.

The walk (part of Walktober, the annual festival of fun on foot by Oregon Walks) was led by Brian Davis of Lancaster Engineering. Earlier on Thursday, Davis laid out his argument in a midday tweetstorm:

When we gathered Thursday evening, Davis was joined by a pair of volunteers for Oregon Walks who’ve been working with the organization (and with the Bicycle Transportation Alliance, which has been trying for years to make inroads on this issue) to convince the city to adopt a single, clear policy for what builders need to do when their project spills onto a sidewalk or roadway.

sidewalk closed crew

Our first stop was this year-long project on SW Stark and 3rd, where a construction project has taken over not only the sidewalk but a right-turn lane. This has removed the mixing zone that’s supposed to give people driving a chance to cross over the green bike lane without risking a collision by suddenly turning right in front of a bike at the corner.

bike lane

People on foot, meanwhile, have to wait through two extra 24-second light cycles to walk down Stark. Davis said that though a sidewalk on only one side of the street is tolerable in downtown Portland because most streets are narrow and most corners have safe crossings, he thinks it’d be unreasonable on a larger street that lacks marked crosswalks.

In the case of this street, Davis said, it’d be easy to preserve mobility on Stark Street by removing the one block of auto parking during the project. Davis estimated that this would cost the city about $200 per day in lost revenue, which could simply be charged to the developer. (If the developer didn’t want to cover that cost, it might tell its builder to find a more space-efficient way to store its trucks.)

From there, we walked to 2nd and Pine, where a project had removed a general travel lane set up the sort of temporary barrier-protected sidewalk that’s common in some other cities. Because traffic is so light on this part of 2nd despite many lanes of traffic, Davis said it didn’t cause any auto congestion issues.

brian jersey barrier

Further north on 1st and Couch, a closed sidewalk pushes many people into the narrow space between the MAX train tracks and curb.

1st across tracks

1st from behind

Davis chose the downtown route because there were so many examples within walking distance. But this obviously isn’t a downtown problem only, and indeed it’s probably a bigger burden and greater danger in other parts of town.

Can anything be done? We talked about the fact that Portland has empowered many different agencies to issue permits for construction work that blocks roads, but given clear and consistent instructions to none of them. That means the solution is basically a matter of bureaucracy.

Oregon Walks Executive Director Noel Mickelberry said that if anyone is interested in helping advocate for the same sort of changes to Portland’s rules that Seattle just announced — that sidewalks should only be closed for construction as a last resort after other lanes have been temorarily removed — they should email her: noel@oregonwalks.org.


— Michael Andersen, (503) 333-7824 – michael@bikeportland.org

NOTE: We love your comments and work hard to ensure they are productive, considerate, and welcoming of all perspectives. Disagreements are encouraged, but only if done with tact and respect. If you see a mean or inappropriate comment, please contact us and we'll take a look at it right away. Thank you — Jonathan

  • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) October 23, 2015 at 8:50 am

    Thanks for doing this story Michael.. and thanks Brian for doing this walk. This is a huge issue! I’ve started counting the number of “sidewalk closed” signs I see on my daily rides in the city and it’s really alarming. In some places I can see 3-4 sidewalk closures in a dozen blocks or so. I’d love to see a larger campaign raise awareness os this… Perhaps a #sidewalkclosed hashtag on social media where we post pictures of closures?

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  • LC October 23, 2015 at 8:57 am

    Don’t look to Seattle.. Despite the official line that keeps getting repeated the city is still giving itself over to construction and allowing sidewalk closures and bike lane closures all over downtown. Development and construction rule here, second only to the almighty automobile.

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  • Chris October 23, 2015 at 9:03 am

    I live on the Williams corridor near Fremont.
    We’ve had sidewalks blocked everywhere.
    Williams before Fremont for over a year.
    MLK at Monroe for THREE years.
    Morris Street at MLK for over a year.
    Vancouver at Cook.

    It makes getting around difficult.

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    • daisy October 23, 2015 at 12:32 pm

      It’s really bad in our neighborhood right now. New Seasons is a pedestrian island — you can’t walk south on the same block from New Seasons on either side, so you have to cross Fremont, Williams, or Vancouver. And it’s so bad that New Seasons put up outside their store a large sign advising folks not to cross at a *marked crosswalk* on Williams at Cook because people in cars (and sometimes bikes) are so unlikely to stop.

      And let’s stop for a moment to appreciate the irony of closing sidewalks to increase density and build walkable neighborhoods.

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  • Adams Carroll October 23, 2015 at 9:06 am

    An all too common problem in many cities. In Nashville, advocates have been drawing attention to the problem on social media with #dontblockmywalk. Now the council there is planning legislation like Washington DC’s to protect people walking and biking near construction sites. http://www.tennessean.com/story/news/politics/2015/10/23/nashville-explores-rules-help-pedestrians-navigate-work-zones/74354380/

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    • rick October 23, 2015 at 11:15 am

      NYC has many open sidewalks during construction.

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      • Eric October 26, 2015 at 7:45 am

        It’s pretty hard to get permission to close a sidewalk in NYC. There was a closed sidewalk near my office in Soho and the only reason they got permission to close it was because it was a narrow street and they were using a crane which took up the sidewalk and half the roadbed.

        Of course, instead of converting the rest of the street into a pedestrian zone, they left it open to traffic. The worst part? There is a subway entrance at the corner on the side with the closed sidewalk, which means the crowds spilling out of it are almost immediately diverted to the other side of the street, and, this being New York, everyone crosses outside of the crosswalk.

        Vision Zero!

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  • Alexis October 23, 2015 at 9:10 am

    That closure on SW Stark and 3rd not only jeopardizes the safety of people cycling by encouraging right-hooks, it (as well as the other closure on Stark and 6th) forces delivery trucks that might otherwise have found street parking to block the bike lane.

    Outside of downtown, I’ve seen the construction around N Williams create some incredibly dangerous conditions for people on foot as well as people biking. When sidewalks are closed, pedestrians (as well as construction workers) congregate in bike lanes.

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  • Huey Lewis October 23, 2015 at 9:23 am

    I’ve been emailing the city about this for quite a while. Nobody cares. For weeeeeeks there was building renovations happening on MLK across from my house, the sidewalk and bus stop were completely inaccessible. It made my blood boil.

    Also, while we are talking about construction blocking sidewalk use, lets get riled up about people parking on sidewalks too. I flatten tires when on night strolls and encounter sidewalk parkers.

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    • Angel October 24, 2015 at 2:42 pm

      Alternately, you could knock on the door of the house where they’re parked and let them know (they don’t always realize), or report them to the city.

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    • canuck October 26, 2015 at 7:27 am

      “I flatten tires when on night strolls and encounter sidewalk parkers.”

      Is vigilantism the way to go? If you jay walk should witnesses be allowed to steal your shoes? Roll a stop sign on your bike, should you have your bike damaged?

      I may make you feel good, but is certainly isn’t how you resolve these issues, by doing damage to private property.

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  • brian October 23, 2015 at 9:26 am

    It is worth noting that the protected walkway at 2nd & pine was not installed until only recently, in May when the sidewalk was first closed I complained to the city and was told, “. . .their permit includes a Pedestrian Traffic Control Plan which has been approved by the Traffic Engineer. The Right of Way Inspector has confirmed that they have complied. . .”

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  • Keviniano October 23, 2015 at 9:29 am

    On SE 11th at Belmont, I was struck that the city allowed both sides of the street to be closed for the Goat Blocks. That’s a big detour to ask of the walkers in the neighborhood.

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    • Scott H October 23, 2015 at 11:17 pm

      I was struck

      Easy with the wording.

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  • Abraham October 23, 2015 at 9:32 am

    Do these sidewalk closures actually serve to prevent injury to passers by that would be directly below work happening if the sidewalk was still open? I would be interested to hear the other side of the story.

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    • Chris I October 23, 2015 at 9:37 am

      More often than not, it seems like the closures just enable the contractors to park their private vehicles right next to the job site. The vast majority of these guys are coming from the outer parts of the city, and they don’t want to pay to park downtown.

      The third picture in this article shows this. Notice the two vehicles parked behind the barbed wire fence, taking up the space that could be providing a safe detour for pedestrians. In the first picture, that drop bin could easily be placed on the sidewalk next to the building, allowing safe passage for pedestrians.

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      • Abraham October 23, 2015 at 11:10 am

        Thanks for the insight. I wonder if accessing the building with tools and materials from the trucks is part of the reason for the closure. It seems like separating the workers and their belongings from pedestrians would be a good idea, but I agree, it is frustrating to have to constantly detour.

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        • gutterbunnybikes October 23, 2015 at 6:24 pm

          I work as an ironworker and welder. My welding machine is in my company truck. Part of our contract for working downtown is a guaranteed parking spot on site.

          I need to be able to run sometimes hundreds of feet (even when parking in the closed off sidewalk) of welding lead from the welding machine in my truck to the points to be welded. I might also need the space for using a Gradall (extension boom forklift), boom lift, or crane if need be.

          Some of these closures are necessary, some aren’t. But trust me, you don’t want to be in the areas under me when I’m working. There is not only the risk of dropping big steel beams and joists, but sparks from welding and cutting torches too.

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      • GlowBoy October 26, 2015 at 12:43 pm

        I’ve seen a lot of this too, both here and in Minneapolis: I’m sure some of the vehicles are necessary for the job, but all too often a closed bike lane or sidewalk is just being taken up by random worker vehicles that sit there taking up the space ALL DAY … sometimes when there’s free parking on the street a block away.

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    • Spiffy October 23, 2015 at 12:00 pm

      they can erect scaffolding to protect sidewalk users…

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      • gutterbunnybikes October 23, 2015 at 6:26 pm

        Just spent most my work day today hanging 44′ long beams that weighed in at roughly 3000 lbs. That’s one heck of a scaffold to take that kind of blow if one dropped.

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        • Chris I October 23, 2015 at 9:01 pm

          And you are hanging them directly over the sidewalk?

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        • TonyT
          TonyT October 24, 2015 at 7:44 am

          At risk of beating the NYC drum too much, they’re somehow able to do a lot of construction in that city and close very few sidewalks. I’ve walked through many VERY sturdy pedestrian tunnels that are set up to facilitate construction AND access for people walking.

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  • Dave October 23, 2015 at 9:46 am

    Jesus, if I had to regularly walk someplace like that I’d start carrying a cop nightstick.

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  • SJ October 23, 2015 at 10:03 am

    I’m sorry, but Portland growing both physically and economically is great to see, and if I have to go a block or two out of my way, while walking or biking or driving, so be it; it’s temporary.

    I work on lower SW Oak and commute by bike and walk nearby daily. I can’t wait to see how the 2nd and Pine retail space looks when it’s completed. If they need the sidewalks for storage of sheetrock or machinery, both of which I’ve seen over the course of construction, they should have it.

    I try to keep these first world problems in perspective. My commute is affected by a few seconds, and I need to be a little more cautious.

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    • brian October 23, 2015 at 10:17 am

      I agree, its great to see these projects take shape. I think the point was that it is too easy to close down a sidewalk and provide minimal relief to pedestrians when other options exist.

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      • SJ October 23, 2015 at 10:29 am

        It should be easy for contractors to close down a sidewalk and erect fences (or barriers, or whatever) to keep people, including peds, safe. They also protect their tools, equipment, and materials; and they try to reduce or eliminate entry by thieves, the homeless, and drug addicts looking to loot. These efforts speed up construction by avoiding unnecessary delays and save the city money. Is a block detour too much to ask from peds? I don’t think so.

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        • brian October 23, 2015 at 12:02 pm

          Great points, the contractor has a huge liability for what happens inside that fence and on their jobsite. But in this particular closure, SW 2nd & Pine, the sidewalk & parking lane were closed and the 3 adjacent travel lanes were unaffected up until recently when the barricades were put in for peds, which should have been the treatment all along.

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          • gutterbunnybikes October 23, 2015 at 7:30 pm

            Mabey? or maybe they couldn’t do so before hand because they had to hire a crane to drop some AC units on the roof or hang some steel or roofing materials on the roof, or had a concrete pour and needed the lane for the line of cement and pump trucks. And once that stuff was done they made the walkway.

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            • Eric Leifsdad October 23, 2015 at 10:13 pm

              What if: Once all that stuff was done they re-opened the road (which was closed to thru traffic except peds/bikes) and made a walkway.

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        • Chris I October 23, 2015 at 12:26 pm

          It wouldn’t cost much to add pedestrian routes through or around the closure areas. The developers and contractors don’t do it because it isn’t a requirement and they don’t care. Nearly all developed cities have provisions for this, there is no reason why Portland shouldn’t.

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        • mark October 23, 2015 at 2:31 pm

          Yes, it’s ridiculous to ask those with no resources to change their life from those with unlimited resources to make sure no life is changed. It’s just laziness.

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          • SJ October 23, 2015 at 3:42 pm

            Walking an extra block is hardly asking someone to change his/her life. So all walkers have no resources, and builders have unlimited? Interesting theory.

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        • Scott H October 23, 2015 at 4:39 pm

          There are people that don’t have two legs and 20/20 vision that you’re not considering when you assume that going an extra two blocks isn’t that much to ask.

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        • Jeff Snavely October 23, 2015 at 4:57 pm

          Close a traffic lane. Erect a temp sidewalk in the street.
          Is a block detour too much to ask of motorists? HELL YES.

          That we close the sidewalk for little to no reason, yet would never consider closing the road makes no sense.

          It’s public property and it is given away far too easily.

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    • Scott H October 23, 2015 at 10:56 am

      The point is that you don’t have to go out of your way at all if you’re driving (or biking in a car lane), but if you’re trying to get somewhere on foot, well, the joke’s on you for trying to live a healthy lifestyle. And it’s not a matter of seconds on foot, you have to wait for a walk signal, traverse over to a sidewalk you can use, and repeat the process a block or so later to get back to where you were going.

      It’s generally not a matter of life or death, sure, but if we’re going to bother to put these policies on paper we ought to stick to them. Our goal here is to reduce dependency on cars (and all of the good things that go with that like clean are and healthier/longer lives), and closing a sidewalk instead of a car lane flies in the face of that.

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    • rick October 23, 2015 at 11:13 am

      Why is not allowed in NYC? I’ve been on those narrow, traffic-jammed sidewalks with pedestrians which could be solved with wider sidewalks and street trees for shade.

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      • was carless October 23, 2015 at 11:45 am

        NYC construction projects, and a few that have happened in Portland, have built out scaffolding protective covers over the sidewalk to protect pedestrians from falling debris.

        Which is the main issue with closing sidewalks, they don’t want stuff to kill people. That or parking their vehicles, but I haven’t seen too many of those examples personally.

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    • Champs October 23, 2015 at 11:28 am

      It’s not a dichotomy, it’s asking—nay, demanding—that new neighbors take consideration of the neighborhood. What they do there sets the precent for what happens next door, and a massive exclusionary zone doesn’t look so great for that retail space they hoped to lease. They may have to *gasp* use some creative thinking.

      To address it then I’ll bring you over to the city’s transportation policies. If the space is “needed” for commercial vehicles, then they are way down on the list: http://bikeportland.org/2011/05/05/editorial-does-portlands-bike-plan-matter-52579

      Then again you’d have to be one of the people who thinks that this city (or any other) believes in policies like the Green Transportation Hierarchy or Vision Zero.

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    • maccoinnich October 23, 2015 at 1:04 pm

      I’m as pro-development as they come, but I do think the City needs to greater stronger rules / incentives / whatever to keep sidewalks open. There are phases of a construction project where it is indeed too dangerous to keep the sidewalk open (ie during excavation, especially if the building extends under the right-of-way), but at later phases it’s mostly contractor convenience.

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    • SD October 23, 2015 at 1:59 pm

      Temporary may be > 1 year

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    • Anne Hawley
      Anne Hawley October 23, 2015 at 5:34 pm

      Ask my 85 year old mother, who keeps as active as she can by riding Tri-Met, but who IS 85 and no longer spry, whether a block or two detour is a minor inconvenience.

      These sidewalk closures have often caused her to miss a bus, and endure long waits she isn’t prepared for at crosswalks and bus stops. Try looking beyond your own wonderful, fit, healthy privilege now and then, and you’ll see that using the phrase “first world problems” simply dismisses large groups of people for whom these are real, actual problems.

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    • 9watts October 25, 2015 at 9:42 pm

      “Portland growing both physically and economically is great to see”

      = Stockholm Syndrome?

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    • GlowBoy October 26, 2015 at 12:44 pm

      I think we need a Godwin’s Law for the phrase “First World Problems.”

      You no longer get to just automatically minimize the other side by throwing out those three words.

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  • Granpa October 23, 2015 at 10:17 am

    Another issue with construction, is that stormwater catch basins are required to be protected from debris and turbid stormwater runoff. Rather than use inlet filter sacks, which fit inside the inlet so that drain grates can remain flush to grade, biofilter bags (mesh sacks filled with wood chips) are placed to surround the drain grates. Of course catch basins are next to the curb and located in bike lanes. A cyclist hitting a biofilter bag would almost certianly crash. At night they are almost impossible to see.
    (Ray Thomas to the white courtesy phone)

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  • cberkley October 23, 2015 at 10:21 am

    This has been a pet peeve of mine for a long time. It’s especially annoying because other cities have figured this out. San Francisco has required temporary sidewalk barriers as long as I can remember. I was just in London and all of their construction sites also had temporary barriers that created a new sidewalk in what was previously a traffic lane.

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  • Dan October 23, 2015 at 10:24 am

    Chris I
    More often than not, it seems like the closures just enable the contractors to park their private vehicles right next to the job site. The vast majority of these guys are coming from the outer parts of the city, and they don’t want to pay to park downtown.The third picture in this article shows this. Notice the two vehicles parked behind the barbed wire fence, taking up the space that could be providing a safe detour for pedestrians. In the first picture, that drop bin could easily be placed on the sidewalk next to the building, allowing safe passage for pedestrians.Recommended 2

    Often sidewalk closure permits prohibit parking private vehicles from parking in the closed area. Taking the parking lane requires additional fees. Typically, in my experience, sidewalks are closed for public safety (from overhead hazards, which could be controlled by temp. tunnels or from equipment – lifts, forklifts etc.) With more zero setback and infill construction, often times the sidewalk is undermined when digging to install footings etc.

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    • Chris I October 23, 2015 at 12:29 pm

      They may exclude it, but I see it all over the city. This article has just six pictures of construction sites, and one of them shows a clear example.

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  • Buzz October 23, 2015 at 10:26 am

    In New York City they almost never close the sidewalk for construction, mostly opting instead to install scaffolding over the sidewalk so the work platform is one floor up, and pedestrians still have access to an only slightly restricted sidewalk underneath.


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  • peejay October 23, 2015 at 10:40 am

    There should be stiff penalties for any closure to walking or biking facilities, and acceptance of the closure of any redundant car facility. One should never ever see two car lanes open if a sidewalk or a bike lane is closed. End of story.

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  • Random October 23, 2015 at 10:41 am

    Just charge a hefty per-day fee for closing a sidewalk.

    Construction companies will get the picture if they actually have to pay for sidewalk closures.

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    • Dan October 23, 2015 at 11:24 am

      We do pay for sidewalk closures. And parking lane closures.

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      • TonyT
        TonyT October 23, 2015 at 11:47 am

        Obviously that’s not working then. The city should simply not allow this if there are other options.

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      • Chris I October 23, 2015 at 12:31 pm

        Clearly, it isn’t expensive enough.

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      • mark October 23, 2015 at 2:33 pm

        Apparently not enough. $1,000/day sounds right.

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  • rick October 23, 2015 at 11:11 am

    This is should not be allowed. There are blind, deaf, and people with many disabilities who struggle to safely travel streets even in downtown Portland. I’ve seen it tough for people with crutches on even SW Oak Street. There needs to by NYC-style scaffolding construction sidewalks set up.

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  • Adam Herstein October 23, 2015 at 11:21 am

    Why not do what many other cities do and erect a temporary walkway in the parking lane?

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    • mark October 23, 2015 at 2:32 pm

      Because THAT would take real leadership.

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  • TonyT
    TonyT October 23, 2015 at 11:41 am

    I’m with Rick. This is a pain for the average person; this is an absolute obstacle for the elderly or handicapped.

    This should not be allowed except in the most rare last resort. If it’s a last resort, I want to see evidence that the developers have actually exhausted all other possibilities, including closing that section of road to all motor vehicle traffic.

    Walk the talk, Portland. Vision Zero, pshaw.

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  • AndyC of Linnton October 23, 2015 at 11:45 am

    This is also one of my biggest pet peeves. Thanks to Oregon Walks and all for taking up this issue.

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  • daisy October 23, 2015 at 12:33 pm


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  • rider October 23, 2015 at 12:34 pm

    The most comical example of poor sidewalk closure planning was Division last summer. One night we walked from Bollywood to Norma Jeans and had to cross the street four times because of closures. Absurd.

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    • 9watts October 25, 2015 at 9:48 pm

      FWIW, I always just walk in the street if the sidewalk is blocked. Taking the lane under the circumstances seems just about fair to me.

      I’m not suggesting this as a general remedy, or reason not to fix this obvious bias, and I am able bodied and unafraid of traffic, but I say this in response to all the folks here telling us that they keep crossing and re-crossing the streets when faced with an inaccessible sidewalk.

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  • pamalama October 23, 2015 at 12:49 pm

    There is a development on Corbett that has fenced off the sidewalk and parking for months. They built a new sidewalk weeks ago and they still have it blocked off. They keep their porta-potty on the new sidewalk. I have complained to the workers on the site and they just play dumb. This section in the Corbett neighborhood does not have good site distance and many use Corbett as a cut through street and drive above the speed limit. Grrr.
    Don’t get me started with the new development going in on the Willamette Greenway in John’s Landing with their sub standard circuitous trail which requires cyclists to walk their bikes….

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    • Stephanie B October 23, 2015 at 1:38 pm

      I was sort of pleasantly surprised to see the greenway trail kept open through that project. As narrow as the detour is, it is nice to see them throw us a bone instead of making everyone detour up onto Macadam. I have yet to see anyone walking their bike through that detour, by the way.

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    • mark October 23, 2015 at 2:32 pm

      Did you send photos to the city asking for a copy of the permit?

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  • mark October 23, 2015 at 2:35 pm

    The issue is pricing. It’s relatively cheap to close a sidewalk. Slightly more for a bike lane and a lot more for a car lane.

    See that problem?

    Let’s start with $1,000/day to close a sidewalk, $5,000/day for bike lane and $5,001/day for cars (just so cars don’t whine).

    I bet it costs a lot less than you think to close a sidewalk.

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    • Chris I October 23, 2015 at 2:56 pm

      I would say $1,000 per day to close a sidewalk AND provide a protected detour should be the minimum requirement. Is the sidewalk ROW worth less than an auto lane ROW?

      Why not this:

      $500 per day to close a full block of city sidewalk and provide a safe way around the site (this would allow them to build scaffolding)
      $1000 per day if the sidewalk detour uses adjacent parking
      Add $1000 per day for each additional lane (bike or car) used.
      $2000 per day to close the sidewalk without a safe diversion for pedestrians

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  • briandavispdx October 23, 2015 at 3:04 pm

    Thank you for this terrific write-up, Michael!

    It’s great to see the level of community support that’s building for fixing this problem. One thing I’m learning is that folks have been quietly frustrated by this for quite a while, but now that construction is booming, sidewalk closures have hit a critical mass and that’s increasing the energy around finding a solution.

    Many thanks to Noel and all the great people at Oregon Walks for their efforts around this! Let’s keep holding feet to the fire on social media and elsewhere. This is an imminently fixable problem…

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  • Eric Leifsdad October 23, 2015 at 4:00 pm

    You have to carry a tiny bike in your pocket so you can take the traffic lane whenever the sidewalks are closed. Maybe you could manage with a good pantomime.

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  • gutterbunnybikes October 23, 2015 at 6:14 pm

    I understand the problem, and I’ll confess I’ve seen many cases where the sidewalk closures aren’t justified.

    Though I gotta say, as an ironworker – there are times you don’t want to be on the sidewalk under where work is being done, there are times I don’t particularly don’t wanna be where I’m at but have to because it’s my job – even after nearly 15 years in the trade, I’m not too proud to say things get sketchy at times. A plywood roof isn’t going to stop my steel beams if there is an equipment failure, or (knock on wood) a bad decision or mistake. Even if it isn’t the big stuff, those tape measures and wrenches can injure or kill you too if they’re dropped.

    And on a side note, you’d be amazed how many people feel like they can just walk into or through a work zone, even when they’re fenced off with signs and the like.

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  • gutterbunnybikes October 23, 2015 at 8:26 pm

    First time I read this was pretty quick, but something just sat there in the back of my head disturbing me.

    You don’t see us when we come in at 3:00-4:00 am (usual start time for me 7) to unload trucks to minimize your exposure to the risk as we unload the trucks. But hey – you’ll likely call the city and make a noise complaint over the back up beeps of the forklift. How sometimes your crew must wait for X number of minutes (depending on the skill set and number of my workers needed it can run to hundreds of dollars for just a 1/2 hour) so enough of your crew is available to flag traffic while we do our jobs which could have most likely been done safely without the flaggers – but we do it to keep you safe. How we wait patiently for you pass safely those times when we need to use those public spaces too, and even in those times you get in our way as you decide to take a stroll into the site as well.

    You folks walk by a couple times a day, and have no idea of what kind of work is going on or the amount of risk, and you think you have the solution.

    Construction sites are dangerous places, you can fall, get cut, step on nails or screws, get electrocuted, have things dropped on you, you can get burned or even blown up, you can get poisoned, heck just watching me weld unprotected can cause temporary eye damage called flashburn – and there are a myriad of really nasty other things that can happen to you. This isn’t all just a coat of paint and some new bamboo flooring, this is heavy construction, designed to take on and survive (or at least last long enough so you can get your butt out) a major seismic event. This is removing asbestos and lead paint in renovations. Dirty and dangerous work. Honestly, you’re crazy for wanting to walk under it – there are times I think I’m crazy for being in it.

    The solution (and it’s effective and easy) is to keep the public as far away as possible. Sorry, if you gotta walk a block or two out of the way as we build you your apartments and coffee shops, the offices where you work, cute little boutiques which you can’t get enough of, and the organic grocery stores which apparently also bring bike lanes with them. We do it because it is the best way to keep you – the public the safest, and we apparently do a really good job of it, since clearly none of you understand the risk of it. Is it perfect, no – but it’s about as good as it realistically can get.

    Believe me those contractors can’t wait to open up the sidewalks and parking spaces, bike lanes, and traffic lanes – it does cost the general contractor a lot of money to close those things down and every single one of them will open them up the first available moment that they can. The margins for construction are thin, and if an expense can be cut, it will be cut as quickly as possible.

    Yes – these sites are also monitored by parking enforcement, you need a parking pass to park in the reserved area – and it has to be a work truck with company logo for the pass to work- personal vehicles without company stickers that have a pass will get tickets too. And as for those that park on the sidewalk as pictured above, you have no idea whos truck that is, could be an inspector, and engineer or architect, could be a delivery, could be the contractor rented the sidewalk for convenient parking for the workers there which is their prerogative after all they have rented the space.

    And in a few months – maybe a year on the bigger jobs, you’ll be sipping your latte that you bought from the cafe next door to that hot new place for brunch, then head home your cool new apartment building – all of which myself or my peers built- and you’ll be thankful (if you even remember) for the minor inconvenience.

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    • Joseph E October 23, 2015 at 9:22 pm

      Most readers here are not asking for the construction closures to end, but for protected pedestrian routes to be provided. Instead of keeping 2 or 3 lanes open for vehicles and street parking, turn one lane into a protected pedestrian walkway. If it is safe for bike riders to be in that space with construction nearby, it should be safe for pedestrians if cars are redirected. I don’t think construction should be expected to stay off the sidewalk. The pedestrian should expect to move over, but shouldn’t be eliminated when there is plenty of right-of-way still available.

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      • gutterbunnybikes October 24, 2015 at 8:55 am

        I get that, and those paths are provided from sidewalks across the street. But apparently you missed my point, it’s dangerous to have people that close to a construction site – much more dangerous than crossing the street.

        You’d be surprised how many times those cars get damaged that are in those lanes you want to walk in.

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    • Eric October 26, 2015 at 8:16 am

      This is silly. NYC keeps the vast, vast majority of sidewalks open during construction. It’s just more expensive/time-consuming for the developer to do so.

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      • rick October 26, 2015 at 11:46 am

        It is time-consuming for leg injuries.

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      • GlowBoy October 28, 2015 at 12:50 pm

        I went to Paris and London this summer. Lots of construction going on there, and you better-ass believe they keep the sidewalks open.

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  • mark October 23, 2015 at 8:31 pm

    Walking an extra block is hardly asking someone to change his/her life. So all walkers have no resources, and builders have unlimited? Interesting theory.Recommended 1

    Pedestrians have a bat phone to city hall? Pedestrians have pull over the developer? Pedestrians can be heard?

    Yes, developers have a key to the city compared to what little ole pedestrians have.

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  • Mark October 25, 2015 at 7:10 pm

    If the city were to charge the real amount for closures, some enterprising person will build and design a modular portable walkway made of steel that should protect folks from recklessness on the part of the contractor. Sort of funny that people should.be afforded a walkway while cars are given a thruway. What exactly does the city do with the permit fees from closing sidewalks besides blowing off citizens?

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