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City has two years to make the case to save 26th Avenue bike lanes, it says

Posted by on January 7th, 2016 at 3:36 pm

Protest on SE Powell-1.jpg
The bike lanes on SE 26th run in front of Cleveland High School and carry about 600 to 800 people daily.
(Photo © J. Maus/BikePortland)

Because 26th Avenue won’t be repaved for another year or two, the city will have time and data to try to persuade the Oregon Department of Transportation to reverse its decision.

The Portland Bureau of Transportation confirmed Thursday that it has agreed to remove the bike lanes from SE 26th Avenue near Powell in order to get the state’s approval for a new signal at 28th.

A city spokesman said that because 26th Avenue won’t be repaved for another year or two, the city will have time and data to try to persuade the Oregon Department of Transportation to reverse its decision. But an ODOT spokesman said the state can’t say what data it might or might not find persuasive.

The new biking-walking traffic signal to be added at 28th will help create a new segment of neighborhood greenway, which the city had hoped would serve as a lower-stress alternative to the flat, direct and uncomfortably narrow bike lanes on 26th.

But as we reported in August, the state and city have been arguing for months over whether the presence of a nearby neighborhood greenway is a reason to remove the bike lanes from 26th Avenue. ODOT has said that removing bike lanes from 26th Avenue would increase safety by making fewer people bike through what it says is a dangerous intersection.

Whether or not there are bike lanes on a city street wouldn’t usually be up to the state government. But new traffic signals on Powell, a state highway, are the state’s business — and ODOT agreed to the new signal at 28th and Powell only on the condition that the city promise to remove the 26th Avenue bike lanes.

On Thursday, city spokesman Dylan Rivera said that the city will be able to gather data during the window of time, which he described as “one to two years,” after the 28th Avenue signal is installed but before the 26th Avenue lanes are removed.

“PBOT believes our planners and engineers can make a strong case for keeping the bike lanes there,” Rivera said, acknowledging that the decision will ultimately be up to ODOT.

ODOT spokesman Don Hamilton said Thursday that the city is welcome, one or two years from now, to try to persuade the state to change course.

“We can start discussing it again,” Hamilton said.

Last week, ODOT spokeswoman Kimberly Dinwiddie said that if bike traffic on 26th exceeded city “projections,” the state would “revisit” its decision to require the bike lanes’ removal. But the projections she apparently referred to had considered a scenario in which there was no northbound bike lane on 26th.

Dinwiddie was out of the office Thursday and referred questions to Hamilton.

Hamilton said ODOT can’t speculate on what sort of data it might or might not find persuasive in two years.

“We don’t know what information it would raise,” he said.

— 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

94 Comments
  • J_R January 7, 2016 at 3:44 pm

    It’s a dangerous intersection because motorists regularly exceed the posted speed, especially westbound in the downhill direction and because they blow through the red light.

    This morning I dropped my child off at Cleveland HS for sports practice at 6:00 am and observed three westbound cars on Powell blow through the red signal at 26th. The first would have had to brake fairly hard to stop, but the other simply sped through a very-clearly-red-for-a-few-seconds signal.

    If the ODOT were really concerned about safety, they could:

    – change the posted speed on Powell to a 20 mph school zone;
    – work with the city to install red light cameras; and
    – work with the city to have some real enforcement of traffic laws in the entire corridor.

    I gave these same suggestions to three ODOT staffers and at least on PBOT staffer at the “safety project” open house conducted at Catholic Charities a few months ago.

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    • Adam H. January 7, 2016 at 3:52 pm

      Speed limits don’t work. Only the design of the road can lower speeds. Powell needs to be re-engineered with narrower traffic lanes, more signals, and more street trees to lower motor traffic speed. Better yet, remove a travel lane in each direction and convert it to a bus-only lane.

      Red light and speed cameras would definitely be an improvement – especially considering the location next to a school.

      Enforcement of traffic laws is always welcome, but requires continuous funding and dedication. Plus, what happens when there isn’t an officer nearby to see the infraction? Cameras can help, but they can’t be put on every block. Engineering the road to make it safer is a one-time cost and works at all hours of the day and night.

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      • Dave January 7, 2016 at 4:43 pm

        Speed limits could work if the size of the fine and the zeal of the cops (and maybe paying officers a direct cash commission on tickets) give drivers something to truly fear. Look, people, this is triage. You stop the bleeding–the driver behavior–first. You worry about the other little niceties second.

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        • Adam H. January 7, 2016 at 4:53 pm

          You do that and drivers will complain about speed traps and unfair fines. Plus, that invites racism via selected traffic stops by police.

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          • J_R January 7, 2016 at 5:15 pm

            Red light cameras don’t differentiate between races, genders, or even color of car. Install them at Powell & 26th if it is a known dangerous intersection.

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            • El Biciclero January 8, 2016 at 11:26 am

              …Along with speed cameras. Are those legal yet?

              Research shows that a speed camera issuing everyone a virtually guaranteed $50 (for example) fine for speeding would be much more effective than a vague threat of a $500 fine only if cops were zealous enough. Further, any argument that red light cameras cause rear-end crashes seems off-base to me; if you see a light turning yellow or red and fail to slow because you assume the driver in front of you is going to run it, that’s your own friggin’ fault.

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              • Hello, Kitty January 8, 2016 at 11:35 am

                I 100% agree with this post.

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                • longgone January 8, 2016 at 2:06 pm

                  Which part, H.K. ?

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                • Hello, Kitty January 8, 2016 at 2:09 pm

                  The first 90% of it, as well as the last 10%.

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      • Tom Hardy January 7, 2016 at 5:25 pm

        The outer lanes need to be converted to bus only & bike lanes. Then add light operated tack strips in the center lanes.

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      • Dan A January 8, 2016 at 9:45 am

        School speed zones do work, and police I have talked to feel more inclined to give tickets to speeders in them.

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    • Hello, Kitty January 7, 2016 at 4:31 pm

      I don’t think ODOT does speed zones for high schools (though maybe they should), but a red light camera at 26th seems like a pretty obvious step.

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      • WD January 7, 2016 at 5:03 pm

        For what it’s worth, there’s a 20MPH school zone on state highway OR 58 outside of Eugene. Pretty sure it’s an ODOT road. Here’s a link:

        https://www.google.com/maps/@43.958698,-122.9108459,3a,75y,302.27h,80.17t/data=!3m6!1e1!3m4!1s3E_d7GfpUUmoTBCxkKU2bA!2e0!7i13312!8i6656!6m1!1e1

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      • Dan A January 7, 2016 at 6:33 pm

        I don’t know what roads belong to ODOT, but it’s very common to have school speed zones next to high schools. Westview, Sunset, Crescent Valley, Jesuit, Aloha, Tigard come to mind. Cleveland seems to be a significant exception to the rule.

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        • Hello, Kitty January 7, 2016 at 6:36 pm

          Maybe I’m wrong — I was repeating something I read on BikePortland in an earlier discussion.

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      • Tom Hardy January 7, 2016 at 11:06 pm

        ODOT does do speed zones on state highways. For instance look at Scholls Ferry road (210) at Raleigh Hills grade school, McKay Grade School and the Middle school 1 block further south. All are 20 MPH when students present. They have blinking yellow lights as reminders and Beaverton has a Radar van that regularly issues hundreds of tickets, with a retired officer watching inside. The radar van regularly parks in the bike zone while waiting for speeders going to Washington Square. I take him coffee.

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      • alankessler January 7, 2016 at 11:08 pm

        I pestered ODOT on this a while back… here’s what I got in response:

        Hi Alan,

        I’ve been meeting this week with ODOT Traffic Engineering staff about the prospect of a school zone on Powell by Cleveland High, and I wanted to share what I’m finding out. Overall, it does not appear to be a good fit under state rules.

        Here’s a link to ODOT’s guidance on school safety, which is fairly comprehensive:
        http://www.oregon.gov/odot/hwy/traffic-roadway/docs/pdf/guide_to_school_area_safety.pdf

        The guide explains the legal and engineering needs for establishing a school speed zone, which are interesting. The purpose of a school speed zone of 20 mph is to protect students walking or biking to and from school. On page 9, the guide describes where school speed zones should be considered, and it says that additional justification is needed to install school speed zones for high schools. There should be unique conditions at a high school to support establishing a school zone, which are not present in this case. Pedestrian crash demographics around schools show that in general older students understand pedestrian safety procedures and follow them, and a 2014 audit of safety issues on this section of Powell supported that broad trend. Cleveland students appear to be vigilant and to be using the existing crossings safely.

        School zones are intended to bring a measure of safety to specific situations where other means are not available. The safety improvements near Cleveland High now being designed, such as the pedestrian crossing signals (Rectangular Rapid Flashing Beacons), are expected to have a much greater positive affect on safety than a school zone would. These improvements will also further decrease the likelihood that a school zone could be considered for this location, under the guidance.

        It’s also the case that the decision process to establish a school zone is multi-jurisdictional, and based on many factors, as required under state law (ORS and OAR). The location of a school, even one adjacent to a State Highway, is not the determining factor when evaluating the possibility of establishing a school speed zone. Here’s some more detail on the process, which pertains to the situation at Cleveland:

        School safety requires a coordination of efforts by the school district, road authorities, policing jurisdictions, community members and parents. If a school district is interested in pursuing a school speed zone they must contact the Safe Routes to School (SRTS) program to establish a Safe Routes to School action plan. The goal of the program is to assist communities in identifying and reducing barriers and hazards to school children in walking or bicycling within 2 miles of the school and help facilitate the planning, development and implementation of projects and activities that will improve safety. Development of a SRTS plan is the responsibility of the local school district, in cooperation with the local road and policing jurisdictions. Schools work in cooperation with local public works staff, engineering staff, traffic safety committees, parents, and law enforcement officers to complete their plan. Funding is available through the SRTS program for both infrastructure projects and non-infrastructure activities. Safe Routes to School Program (SRTS) can be contacted at 503-986-4196 or visit http://www.oregon.gov/ODOT/TS/saferoutes.shtml. This is an important part of the process that reviews whether or not students are walking/biking to school, school policies, facilities/programs, identification of the most direct and intuitive route that takes advantage of existing traffic controls, identification of traffic safety issues and improvements to a preferred route that may be necessary. Physical improvements should be supplemented by enforcement and programs that educate children, parents, and drivers.

        If a Safe Routes to School action plan is completed and school speed zone is pursued, an official request must be made by the school district and an engineering study completed. The request should include a copy of the school district’s safe routes to school action plan. High Schools do not generally meet the necessary criteria needed for a school speed zone.

        Considerations necessary to establish a School Speed Zone include but are not limited to:
        o Crash History
        o Traffic Volumes
        o Gap Study
        o Number of bicyclists riding to school
        o Number of pedestrians utilizing crossings
        o Speed study for all directions of travel at the proposed location
        o Examination of pedestrian and bicycle facilities
        o Examination of school’s drop-off and pick-up operations
        o Examination of school’s safe routes to school plan

        Implementation of a school speed zone requires State Traffic-Roadway Engineer approval based on the SRTS plan and results of the engineering study.

        School speed zones can be a valuable tool in providing safer opportunities for students to walk/bike to school. Unwarranted school speed zones that are installed can have a negative impact on safety. Any traffic control, if not applied appropriately in a standardized and uniform manner, lessens respect for traffic control devices in general resulting in flagrant violations and decreasing safety for all users.

        There have been school speed zones on SE Powell Blvd in the past; however as a result of legislative changes these were found to no longer meet necessary requirements, were inappropriate and were eventually removed.

        Thanks again for your interest and for raising this concern.

        Nate

        Nate Scott | ODOT Region 1 | Project Manager | t: 503.731.3437

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        • Dan A January 8, 2016 at 8:41 pm

          They go to great lengths to argue against safety. What a job.

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    • Capizzi January 7, 2016 at 5:17 pm

      ‘Evidence-based decision making’ is a myth. I haven’t seen logical argument based on any data sway decision makers as much as political pressure. Does anyone have the statistics on how many pedestrians, Cleveland students in particular, have been hit crossing 26th?
      My son was a statistic crossing at 28th — went thru a windshield. I don’t see a strong case as to why a crossing at 28th will be any safer than 26th for pedestrians or bicyclists. I suppose it is an inconvenience for parents who want to park in the bike lane in front of Cleveland to drop off their kids. Are we going to get rid of the bike lane in front of Cleveland too?
      Maybe 26th should be a one-way road from Clinton south to Powell. That would reduce speed in front of the school and allow students/teachers to cross 26th safely. That Tri-Met bus can go up to the new light on 28th — bugs me anyway, smells like French fries.

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  • Spiffy January 7, 2016 at 3:44 pm

    it seems that a lot of the explanations we get from ODOT are the heavy-handed parental “because I said so” type without any logic to back up their decisions…

    they’ll make brats out of us all…

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    • SD January 7, 2016 at 4:18 pm

      You may recall that cyclists are “problem children” for ODOT.

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    • 9watts January 7, 2016 at 5:55 pm

      “the city will have time and data to try to persuade the Oregon Department of Transportation to reverse its decision. But an ODOT spokesman said the state can’t say what data it might or might not find persuasive.”

      Says it all. Right there.

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      • Hello, Kitty January 7, 2016 at 5:57 pm

        What does it say?

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        • 9watts January 7, 2016 at 6:02 pm

          That ODOT knows it is (and will be) unswayed by reasoned argument, data, findings.

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          • Alan 1.0 January 7, 2016 at 7:02 pm

            ODOT knows. That department of motor vehicles hasn’t swayed in ten years since they proposed banning bikes from metro-area state roads:

            http://bikeportland.org/2006/04/10/bike-ban-proposal-back-to-the-drawing-board-1144

            By the way, does ODOT still have a bike and ped coordinator as they did back then, or has that position been driven away?

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            • Tom Hardy January 7, 2016 at 11:13 pm

              The ODOT bike motor coordinator has been supplanted by the head of the department.

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              • Alan 1.0 January 8, 2016 at 10:13 am

                Thanks, Tom. That inspired me to dig in a little more, and I found that Sheila Lyons replaced Michael Ronkin in 2007 (a year after that bike ban debacle). Her position title is Pedestrian and Bicycle Program Manager.

                ODOT’s main page for bike/ped stuff is:

                http://www.oregon.gov/odot/hwy/bikeped/Pages/index.aspx

                Lots of links from there, but one that caught my eye is the Bicycle and Pedestrian Mode Plan:

                http://www.oregon.gov/ODOT/TD/TP/pages/bikepedplan.aspx

                The draft plan is still open to public comments through February 18th. In addition to a link to the plan itself*, that page has contact info for:

                Savannah Crawford – Principal Planner
                Brooke Jordan – Senior Planner
                Amanda Pietz – Planning Unit Manager

                Lead Consultant: Toole Design Group

                I’d guess|hope that BTA is all over that planning process, and maybe other bike/ped advocates are on it as well. I would be quite interested in BikePortland providing additional context and interpretation, and suggestions of what would be helpful to improve the plan.

                *The PDF isn’t downloading for me (not sure why not), but it’s supposed to be there, and there’s also an Executive Summary and ONLINE OPEN HOUSE 12/13 – 2/18 which I can access.

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        • J_R January 7, 2016 at 6:19 pm

          What he means is that regardless of whatever data is presented ODOT will declare that it is not persuasive. They will want whatever you can’t readily provide, then when you go to great lengths and provide it they will change their metrics. They will declare that the 1) duration was insufficiently long, 2) conditions have changed, 3) that there was no “control” with which to compare, or 4) something else.

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          • Hello, Kitty January 7, 2016 at 6:28 pm

            I know what he means, but I don’t agree with his interpretation. I see several ways this could play out.

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            • Chris I January 8, 2016 at 9:47 am

              You’re right. There are several possible options; but we all know which one is going to happen.

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              • Hello, Kitty January 8, 2016 at 10:51 am

                I don’t.

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  • Adam H. January 7, 2016 at 3:47 pm

    ODOT has said that removing bike lanes from 26th Avenue would increase safety by making fewer people bike through what it says is a dangerous intersection.

    Using that logic, ODOT should remove car lanes on all of its roads.

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    • Dave January 7, 2016 at 4:43 pm

      I like how you think!

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      • Opus the Poet January 7, 2016 at 4:52 pm

        Yep, cars are the problem, not bikes. Remove the cars and the death rate drops to near zero. But getting rid of cars is like preventing criminals and the mentally ill from getting guns, “too hard”.

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        • sabes January 7, 2016 at 8:43 pm

          Cars aren’t the problem; people are the problem. Remove the people!

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    • ED January 7, 2016 at 4:58 pm

      If it’s a dangerous intersection, how about making the intersection more safe for the people that currently use it rather than telling some users they are no longer welcome? Especially since it’s not the bikes making the intersection dangerous, but rather the drivers.

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    • wsbob January 8, 2016 at 12:35 am

      “…Using that logic, ODOT should remove car lanes on all of its roads.” adam

      It would be logical for the dept to remove car lanes, if motor vehicles were the small percentage of vehicles used on the roads, instead of bikes. Motor vehicles aren’t a small percentage of vehicles used…they’re a huge percentage. That’s the dilemma transportation departments, and not just ODOT…have to deal with. Transportation departments have limited autonomy…they have to answer to state government leaders, and ultimately, the public, through their elected officials.

      Urban residential density that many bikeportland readers…and this weblog’s staff…would seem to be emphatically in favor of, is among the forces that are bringing more people, all with their own travel needs which they’ll be relying on street vehicle capacity to help meet…into the city’s neighborhoods.

      The easiest and most economical thing the transportation depts could do to make 26th more safe to travel for people in motor vehicles and people on bikes, would be to drop the posted speed limit(simple as putting a sticker over sign’s existing numerals.)…for motor vehicles…from 25 mph, to 20, or even 15 mph. The reduced speeds may seem slow, but for short distances such as the length of 26th, the resulting additional trip length is not so significant.

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      • Peejay January 8, 2016 at 5:40 pm

        Urban residential density does bring more people to the area, by definition. And many of them will be moving in with a car or two, although I suspect that a significant portion will not, because a dense neighborhood attracts people who desire low car lifestyles. But, nonetheless, yes, there will be more cars owned by residents in the short term.

        The question is: what to do about those cars? It is known without question that single occupant cars are the least space-efficient way to utilize our public streets, so trying to accommodate those new cars isn’t going to work. There just isn’t space for them all. No removal of bike lanes is going to change that. However, removal of bike lanes WILL discourage biking at the margins, thus driving some residents to take more trips by car. That’s hardly a good solution, but it appears to be ODOT’s preference.

        One idea is to gradually make it harder to drive. Keep improving street conditions to allow for more bike and walk capacity, keep expanding mass transit, keep squeezing the space cars get to operate in, and all those new cars brought in by extra density will sit parked for more of their time. Eventually, the elimination of free parking on our public streets will push these cars out of the area.

        Will those actions drive down property values or cause a mass exodus to the ‘burbs? I bet all my money that that will not happen. There’s still a significant under supply of urban non-car-dependent housing—it’s why prices are so high here! Some new residents just need to see that using a car to get everywhere is not any fun at all, and eventually to realize that maintaining a car you rarely use is costly. These people do not need to be catered to, especially since it’s IMPOSSIBLE to cater to cars in a dense neighborhood.

        If you don’t see how increased density leads to less car use on our streets, you’re just not thinking long term. But then again, neither is ODOT, so you’re not alone.

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        • wsbob January 9, 2016 at 1:53 am

          Your antagonistic tone towards people you assume don’t agree with you, is uncalled for here.

          In our area, streets on commute routes often are at capacity during rush hours, but these streets during off-commute hours, tend to be far below capacity. Plenty of room on the street during those hours, to drive a couple miles or more, or less, for groceries, pick up kids, take people to the doctor, etc.

          Lots of people need to own and use motor vehicles, even though they may not have need of using it during rush hours of the day. On a street like 26th, with some adjustments made, it could do a better job of accommodating both bike and motor vehicle traffic.

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  • Amy SUbach January 7, 2016 at 3:55 pm

    This is a deal with the devil, imho.

    http://visionzerousa.org/2016/01/07/portland-biketown-and-odot/

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    • 9watts January 7, 2016 at 5:57 pm

      symbolically dead on arrival

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  • Paul Atkinson January 7, 2016 at 4:05 pm

    If that intersection is so dangerous but auto throughput must be maintained at all costs, will they be removing the crosswalks as well?

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  • gutterbunnybikes January 7, 2016 at 4:15 pm

    Though I know it’s not how it’s going, but ODOT has no jurisdiction for 26th street or 28th. Not sure why the city has to prove a damn thing to ODOT – it’s none of their business.

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    • Beeblebrox January 7, 2016 at 4:48 pm

      ODOT owns the signal at 26th, and had to approve the new signal at 28th. That’s why they have jurisdiction.

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      • 9watts January 7, 2016 at 5:58 pm

        ODOT owns nothing, not even the big diesel trucks with their logos and flashing lights on top. We own all of it and ODOT is (supposed to) be the steward of these resources but they are doing a piss-poor job of it.

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        • Hello, Kitty January 7, 2016 at 6:02 pm

          You are simply wrong. ODOT owns its trucks. We do not “own” ODOT in any meaningful sense.

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          • 9watts January 7, 2016 at 6:04 pm

            Does BES own the streets and the sewer lines? Or do we own them? How about the sidewalks?
            I guess we have a different view of what public means when applied to this kind of infrastructure, these institutions.

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            • Hello, Kitty January 7, 2016 at 6:12 pm

              What does it say on the property deed/title/etc.? I don’t think there is much ambiguity.

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      • gutterbunnybikes January 7, 2016 at 8:02 pm

        Well great, they can put a light on 28th too. I got no problem with that, but 28th for bicycles in its current condition is horrid. Hilly and the pavement sucks (especially on the south side of Powell).

        26th is the better route just needs some minor tweeking (couple speed bumps would suffice) to control auto traffic speeds not a complete repaving.

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        • Hello, Kitty January 7, 2016 at 8:51 pm

          PBOT won’t allow speed bumps on 26th because it is a collector.

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          • ethan January 8, 2016 at 5:54 am

            NE 15th is a collector with speed bumps.

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            • soren January 8, 2016 at 8:04 am

              And SE 21st/20th.

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              • Hello, Kitty January 8, 2016 at 10:45 am

                20th/21st is a local service street south of Hawthorne.

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                • gutterbunnybikes January 8, 2016 at 4:17 pm

                  72nd between Powell and Division? 76th Between Division and Stark?

                  You make it sound as if the “rules” are carved in stone, they can all be changed if needed. There is no good reason that collector streets shouldn’t have speed bumps.

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                • Hello, Kitty January 9, 2016 at 1:32 am

                  Sure… just ask PBOT to change their policy.

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        • J_R January 7, 2016 at 9:04 pm

          The posted speed on 26th between Powell and Holgate is 30 mph. North of Powell and south of Holgate it’s 25. By coincidence I wrote to the City of Portland last week asking that the speed be lowered in this section to 25 while commending them for having recently lowered the posted speeds on other streets in SE including Cesar Chavez and Duke.

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          • Hello, Kitty January 7, 2016 at 9:52 pm

            I agree 25MPH would be much more appropriate south of Powell.

            If you want to improve the chances of getting this done, contact the Creston-Kenilworth Neighborhood Association and ask them to write a letter to PBOT (or better yet, draft one for them and ask them to use it as a model).

            I’ve worked with some of their board members in the past, and I suspect they would be very supportive.

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  • Josh Chernoff January 7, 2016 at 4:23 pm

    Why not both a bike lane on 28th and 26th???

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    • rick January 7, 2016 at 4:27 pm

      It would require more studies.

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  • Granpa January 7, 2016 at 4:24 pm

    ODOT wants to put fewer cyclists through the SE 26th dangerous intersection which will still remain dangerous and still carry cyclists, BUT we get to have a new dangerous intersection on SE 28th. It is Powell that is dangerous and spreading the hazard across more intersections will not in, and of itself, make users safer. It will only spread the hazard area wider.

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  • rick January 7, 2016 at 4:27 pm

    More street trees

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    • q`Tzal January 7, 2016 at 5:17 pm

      Only useful if cut down and left blocking street.

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    • J_R January 7, 2016 at 5:19 pm

      Incredibly, ODOT is recommending REMOVAL of many existing street trees as part of the Powell “safety project” to improve the visibility of pedestrians on the sidewalk regardless of whether they are crossing or simply walking along the sidewalk!!!

      Several ODOT staffers argued that specific recommendation at the open house for the Powell safety project conducted a few months ago at Catholic Charities across Powell from Cleveland HS.

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  • Peejay January 7, 2016 at 5:48 pm

    Evidence-based decision making is ODOT’s way of saying “We’ll make the decisions, and then find the evidence to back them up”, where they cherry-pick data and mangle conclusions to get that evidence.

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  • Jeff January 7, 2016 at 6:56 pm

    ODOT may also require you to wait about three minutes to get a cross green once that new signal is put in at 28th. That’s how long you have to wait to cross SE Mcloughlin Blvd. where the new section of dedicated bike path installed with the Orange Line ends at SE Harold St. The long wait required by ODOT so that cyclists/pedestrians don’t impede auto traffic flow.

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    • Hello, Kitty January 7, 2016 at 7:00 pm

      More likely it will be coordinated with the signal at 26th, which I suspect has a faster cycle time.

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  • Mark smith January 7, 2016 at 6:57 pm

    Seems pretty simple. Widen the sidewalk and dedicate part of it to bikes then bury the utilities. Utilities on sticks is dumb anyhow.

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  • wsbob January 7, 2016 at 7:49 pm

    The picture, top of this story, does a really good job of illustrating how it’s often best to ride bike lanes, particularly those that are quite narrow: directly on the line dividing main lane from bike lane.

    Strong bike handling skills allow holding a line of travel with a minimum of wavering. This in turn helps people riding to have safer travel in the presence of faster traffic in the main lane. Some safety problems occur directly from motor vehicle speeds that are excessively high for streets whose function is to provide for a range of different travel modes.

    What might be the minimum posted top motor vehicle speed the city must have for 26th Ave, in order for it to be able to meet hourly and daily vehicle capacity for this street? Maybe the city can meet its traffic flow capacity guidelines for this street with a 20mph, or even a 15mph posted limit, instead of a 25? Most people ever having been in rush hour bumper to bumper motor vehicle traffic congestion, know that motor vehicle speeds far less than 15 mph isn’t unusual, or particularly unsafe.

    Contrary to what the transportation departments seem to be favoring, if bike travel on 26th Ave were somehow to become considerably more hospitable than the street’s narrow bike lanes and typical motor vehicle speeds now have it, what daily increase in the number of people biking 26th presently, might there be from the present reported 600-800 people riding? Seems like that’s a question at least worth giving some thought to.

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    • pdx January 8, 2016 at 12:38 pm

      I must say the photo shows faster cyclists trying to pass slower cyclists without any thought to the motor vehicle traffic. It’s pretty much bumper to bumper in that photo yet somehow the faster rider is too impatient to wait until the vehicle lane is clear to pass.

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      • wsbob January 9, 2016 at 2:01 am

        Impression I get, is that the person biking on the left, riding the line, is not passing the woman riding the center of the bike lane, but is riding with her. Not really easy to see in the picture, but there appears to be many people on bikes ahead, close to each other. Looks like a group ride, or maybe the commute.

        It’s a good point though, that if the two people riding didn’t know each other, it would be kind of close quarters for someone riding faster, to pass someone riding the center of this bike lane.

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  • Mark Dawson January 7, 2016 at 8:03 pm

    The Oregon Transportation Commission will meet in Salem for each of its first three monthly meetings of 2016. The squeaky wheel gets the political attention, so call the media first and bring a crowd. The first meeting is Jan. 21. The commissioners biographies are here: http://www.oregon.gov/ODOT/COMM/pages/otc_members.aspx

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  • Clarence Eckerson January 7, 2016 at 8:38 pm

    Here’s what I would do – and since I don’t live in PDX and haven’t ridden on that street in many, many years maybe the spirit of this idea has a better form, but…try this…

    Since both lanes are very narrow, I would combine the width of the two lanes and create a better, higher visibility, wider bike lane in one of the directions. Which direction? That I am not sure. (Is one direction more used? And at what times of the day? Does one direction tend to have faster drivers and that would be better traffic calmed?)

    What I would then do is try to emphasize for the side that completely loses the bike lane is to direct people to a better alternative – like the neighborhood greenway mentioned. And/or have a local ordinance ODOT change ALLOWING bicycling (with yield to pedestrian signs) on the sidewalk. There are actually a few examples of that all over the country and even 1 or 2 in NYC.

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    • Michael Andersen (News Editor)
      Michael Andersen (News Editor) January 7, 2016 at 11:09 pm

      Clarence, this is exactly the solution that the city was talking about a year ago: nice buffered southbound bike lane on 26th, no northbound bike lane on 26th, neighborhood greenway on 28th. The city later abandoned this, but I’m not sure why. It may have been at ODOT’s request but it may have been something else.

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      • davemess January 8, 2016 at 7:21 am

        So the bike lane would go downhill only?

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      • Bald One January 8, 2016 at 9:30 am

        This was one of the highly-promoted options by the city for the 20’s bikeway. Trying to make some sort of one-way couplet for bikes only on 26 and 28th. The main problem is that many of the users of southbound 26th peel off at the first left turn (Rhone) to avoid the hills if they keep going south on 26th. So, city needs to figure out how to safely get southbound bikers into a left turn to head up the hill somewhere along this route. This one-way couplet idea might work, but city is fighting bikers’ natural tendency to avoid hills and many commuters desire to have the straightest, flattest, most direct route.

        These plans are all carefully crafted to increase and promote the heavy truck traffic hauling foreign cargo through the neighborhood on SE 26th from the UPRR yards (can you say, “freight lobby”). City needs to draft a long term plan to reduce and control this freight cargo traffic and encourage use of other highways, not make it easier to drive through local neighborhoods.

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  • sabes January 7, 2016 at 8:42 pm

    Opus the Poet
    Yep, cars are the problem, not bikes. Remove the cars and the death rate drops to near zero. But getting rid of cars is like preventing criminals and the mentally ill from getting guns, “too hard”.Recommended 5

    Cars aren’t the problem; people are the problem. Remove the people!

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    • 9watts January 7, 2016 at 8:55 pm

      That trope is really getting old. Can we retire it once and for all?

      If it were as simple as your retort suggest, why are people on bikes or horses or roller blades not a problem?!

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      • Derp January 7, 2016 at 9:21 pm

        Seriously. As a scientist, this is like reading anything titled “Nature vs Nurture” in 2015…2016. It’s not A vs B….it’s A + B. There’s no such thing as “spot reduction” either. Society needs to learn and move on damnit 😛

        The human element (A) is the constant across all travel modes (B) and yet pedestrians aren’t killing each other in the thousands by running into each other. Put those people in cars and we have tens of thousands dying a year in the US. Hmm, maybe the B component of the equation has something to do with it? I’d love to know how Sabes would approach any kind of logical problem solving that lacks political/philosophical ramifications. Maybe if he said it out loud he could bring himself to start applying it to those “don’t talk around the dinner table” subjects.

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        • Hello, Kitty January 7, 2016 at 9:49 pm

          Not to speak for Sabes, but I suspect he or she would respond “It was a joke!”

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      • Hello, Kitty January 7, 2016 at 9:47 pm

        I agree! Remove the streets!

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  • K'Tesh January 7, 2016 at 9:44 pm

    Here’s an idea ODOT… For every signal installed for the safety of motorists, we get to take out a lane of automotive exclusive road. That would be fair to me.

    #ODOT_Safety_3rd

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  • Ed January 7, 2016 at 10:57 pm

    The last 2 articles on this subject have made me even angrier. We’ve learned nothing really new about ODOT, already known to be both a serious chronic threat to public safety and either clueless or uncaring about how they appear to the public. But, I am actually disappointed in PBOT. I thought they had their hearts in the right place, but I will never again trust them after having made this agreement with ODOT. And the explanations they’ve offered since the first announcement are pathetic. At the very least, they should have firm guarantees about a timeline for removal of the bike lanes and that erasing them would be halted depending on outcomes from improvements on 28th. Even then, I don’t think they should consider removing any, even inadequate bike lanes.
    “PBOT believes our planners and engineers can make a strong case for keeping the bike lanes there,” Rivera said, acknowledging that the decision will ultimately be up to ODOT.
    Like, are you f’ing kidding? In what alternative universe would that agency be persuaded by any case? These are the same jerks who think removing those bike lanes would improve safety in the first place, without offering any evidence whatsoever.
    It’s time to go to the barricades, folks.

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  • Tom Hardy January 7, 2016 at 11:02 pm

    ODOT does do speed zones on state highways. For instance look at Scholls Ferry road (210) at Raleigh Hills grade school, McKay Grade School and the Middle school 1 block further south. All are 20 MPH when students present. They have blinking yellow lights as reminders and Beaverton has a Radar van that regularly issues hundreds of tickets, with a retired officer watching inside. The radar van regularly parks in the bike zone while waiting for speeders going to Washington Square. I take him coffee.

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  • soren January 7, 2016 at 11:38 pm

    It boggles the mind that anyone believes the Oregon Dept. of Traffic Fatalities will “allow” a bike lane. For decades, their bike bill avoidance schtick has been that a parallel facility somewhere over there is good enough. PBOT should be ashamed for making this deal with the traffic safety devil.

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  • Dave January 8, 2016 at 8:14 am

    Adam H.
    You do that and drivers will complain about speed traps and unfair fines. Plus, that invites racism via selected traffic stops by police.Recommended 2

    Adam H.
    You do that and drivers will complain about speed traps and unfair fines. Plus, that invites racism via selected traffic stops by police.Recommended 2

    Stop. The. Bleeding. First.

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  • Bald One January 8, 2016 at 10:05 am

    ODOT is simply acting on behalf of the heavy-haul freight lobby and the UPRR railroad yard in SE Portland. ODOT wants to support the UPRR interest to increase Chinese container cargo that has to make a 5-mile truck trip from one rail yard in SE Portland to another in N. Portland to continue on it’s 10,000 mile journey. This lobby interest wants to see more trucks on SE 26th carrying these containers and their idea is to get the bikes off this street so the drivers don’t have to worry about crushing them with their 53′ trailers.

    This is all one big boon-doggle for out of state freight interests.

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    • Clark in Vancouver January 8, 2016 at 2:28 pm

      So, are there official truck routes in Portland? If so, shouldn’t big container trucks be disallowed elsewhere? If this is a neighbourhood street, even if it’s a collector, should it have big truck traffic on it? If 26th is an official truck route then is it the best street to be one? How about 28th south of Powell be for trucks?

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  • nuovorecord January 8, 2016 at 11:23 am

    At the risk of repeating myself…

    The problem with ODOT is systemic. Despite the few good people working there who actually do care about creating a transportation system that works for EVERYBODY, they’re still working with “vehicles only” collective mindset.

    Start the institutional change at ODOT by replacing Matt Garrett, as David Bragdon recommended in his recent speech to the City Club. Replace him with someone who has a much more sophisticated understanding of the unique needs of Portland, relative to the rest of the state, and is willing to work with the City as a partner, not a dictator.

    Write to Garrett’s boss, Kate Brown and let her know your thoughts.

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  • Mike Sanders January 8, 2016 at 7:57 pm

    If ODOT thinks that intersection is dangerous, then the approaches to it in all four directions should be posted with large, yellow and black signs which read: “WARNING – DANGEROUS INTERSECTION AHEAD.”

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  • K'Tesh January 10, 2016 at 3:59 pm

    davemess
    So the bike lane would go downhill only?Recommended 1

    Going downhill a cyclist has a much better chance of maintaining a speed comparable to a car. If it were to be reduced to one bike lane only, uphill would be the better choice.

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  • Alistair Corkett January 13, 2016 at 11:22 am

    Absolutely pointless.

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  • Carrie January 19, 2016 at 12:51 pm

    So when the city or the state collect the data on bike usage on 26th Ave, will they only look at the intersection with Powell? I ask because this morning I observed many high school students riding to CHS (in really junk weather — good for them!) via SE 26th Ave from the north. Which means they will never cross or interact with the intersection at Powell, but they are significant users of that street and the bike lane infrastructure who may not be counted if you only count those who cross the intersection.

    As part of my musing while running, I realized that there are probably many people who ride on 26th Ave but don’t cross Powell because that intersection is scary — they either don’t ride if they have to cross Powell or they try to find another way. But that doesn’t mean they don’t use the bike lanes on 26th regularly.

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