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Take a photo tour of new bike access on nearly completed Sellwood Bridge

Posted on December 1st, 2016 at 3:14 pm.

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A new bridge on the greenway path on the west side of the main bridge connects walkers and rollers headed eastbound into Sellwood.
(Photos: J. Maus/BikePortland)

It’s been almost a decade since our very first post about replacing the old Sellwood Bridge. Now, after years of debates over funding sources and designs, the new bridge is almost 100 percent complete.

While it re-opened to traffic back in February, many of the bikeway elements were unfinished. In recent weeks Multnomah County has made significant progress on the bike lanes, sidepaths, crossings on the west side, and on the greenway path connections. I rolled over a few days ago for a closer look at how it was all shaping up.

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City will make Clinton traffic diverter permanent after data shows it’s working

Posted on November 30th, 2016 at 2:47 pm.

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It worked.
(Photo: J. Maus/BikePortland)

On the eve of the Bureau of Transportation’s Vision Zero Action Plan going before City Council, the City of Portland just released some positive safety news: The traffic diverters installed on Southeast Clinton Street are working very well and the one at 32nd will be redesigned and made permanent in the next few weeks.

The diverters at SE 17th and 32nd were part of a comprehensive effort to tame auto traffic on Clinton that included educational outreach, public meetings, speed bumps, lower speed limits, “Bicycles May Use Full Lane” signs, and targeted enforcement. As one of the oldest and most used neighborhood greenways in the city, Clinton (which has about 3,000 bicycle users a day) was originally designed to prioritize bicycling; but driving skyrocketed in recent years as the surrounding neighborhoods added new residents, shops, restaurants and offices. In July 2014 we reported on growing rancor among bicycle users who called Clinton a “bikeway in name only.” Those concerns led community activism and became a rallying cry for the fledgling, all-volunteer bike advocacy group Bike Loud PDX.

Just four months after BikeLoud’s activism began, the City’s Bureau of Transportation launched a comprehensive assessment of the neighborhood greenway system (that would later be adopted by City Council) and agreed to meet with representatives from the group to learn more about the issues.

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First look: New raised bikeway on Couch curve at Burnside bridgehead

Posted on November 29th, 2016 at 2:59 pm.

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PBOT has given riders a raise on Couch as it winds onto the Burnside Bridge.
(Photos: J. Maus/BikePortland)

For years now the Portland Bureau of Transportation has tried to keep people from driving into the bike lane on the Couch curve at the eastern end Burnside Bridge. They’ve used buffer stripes, reflectors with LEDs inside them, and even rumble bumps — all without much success.

The curve. Note that the vacant lot on the right will soon be a new office building.

The curve. Note that the vacant lot on the right will soon be a new office building.

Have they finally figured it out?

Their latest attempt is a new concrete surface that’s raised a few inches above the adjacent roadway and that looks more like a sidewalk than a vehicle lane. We reported on this back in June and took a closer look at the finished product yesterday.

This section of Couch is a high-volume bikeway (especially during morning rush-hour) that collects traffic from inner southeast and northeast neighborhoods and then feeds right into Old Town/Chinatown via the Burnside Bridge. The road cross-section includes two standard vehicle lanes along with this new bike lane (which is the standard width of about five or six feet). Due to the curves (a design that was agreed upon in order to make the lot on the northwest corner of MLK and Burnside as large as possible for development), long buses and trucks need plenty of room to maneuver (see photo below).

The raised bike lane begins right at the start of the “s” curve after Couch crosses Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. Bicycle users take a gradual ramp onto the lane and there’s a mountable curb with a very slight angle between the bike lane and the standard lane. Between the bike lane and the sidewalk there’s a three-inch curb that isn’t rounded at all. The width of the bike lane isn’t wide enough for side-by-side riding and, as local urban planner Nick Falbo pointed out on Twitter last week, it’s barely wide enough for a freight delivery bike.

Before we share more feedback and images, it’s important to know the urban context at this location. The area around the Couch curve has, quite literally, grown up a lot in the past few years. In every direction there are new developments that have brought hundreds of new residential units and well over 100,000 square feet of office and retail space. That means the future demand for space on adjacent public spaces (which includes streets) will grow considerably in the years to come.

It seems crazy to me that we have two lanes of motor vehicle traffic bisecting a thriving new neighborhood in our central city; but I digress.

The good news is that the raised bike lane and all the development have already slowed road users down. That’s a natural reaction to the built environment that we hope continues.

As for the new bike lane design, it’s a nice step forward. We’d love to see physical separation, but making the bike lane a different color and texture than the other lanes and raising it up a few inches is an improvement. One puzzling thing about the design is how the mountable curb is between the standard vehicle lanes and bike lanes, instead of between the bike lane and the sidewalk. This means people on bikes who want to pass will leave the (relative) safety of the bike-only lane and enter a lane shared with motor vehicles — instead of using the sidewalk.

The issue we’ve heard a lot about since this new bike lane was installed is the big puddle that has formed where it transitions back onto the Burnside Bridge (see photo below). The puddle was still there on Monday and the people I observed left the bike lane to go around it. This puddle needs to be fixed.

Here are more photos…

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Another thing to keep in mind is that there will soon be a new, carfree road that connects to the Couch curve from NE 3rd Avenue. This will create a potential conflict point where people on bicycles merge from the new road onto the existing bike lane. As with all the changes around the east side of the Burnside Bridge, we’ll be watching that closely.

Have you ridden this new raised lane? What do you think? Would you like to see more of them in the central city?

— Jonathan Maus, (503) 706-8804 – jonathan@bikeportland.org

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ODOT wins $28 million federal grant for Historic Highway project

Posted on November 23rd, 2016 at 1:05 pm.

Not many gaps left.

Not many gaps left.

The Oregon Department of Transportation has inched ever closer to its goal of reconnecting a 75-mile paved path and low-volume road between Troutdale and The Dalles. Their Historic Columbia River Highway State Trail project just won a $28 million grant from the US Department of Transportation for the Mitchell Point Crossing.

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City of Portland boosts network with 5.6 miles of newly buffered bike lanes

Posted on November 22nd, 2016 at 7:44 am.

A few of the streets recently striped by PBOT to narrow standard lanes and provide more space for cycling-only lanes.(Photos: J. Maus/BikePortland)

A few of the streets recently striped by PBOT to narrow standard lanes and provide more space for cycling-only lanes.
(Photos: J. Maus/BikePortland)

Have you noticed all the new white stripes on Portland streets? In the past few weeks, several key bike lanes across the city have been beefed up with an additional bike lane stripe. These buffers create more breathing room between bicycle riders and automobile drivers.

After coming across several of them while riding around recently, I asked PBOT what was going on.

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Speeding, truck traffic top concerns at St. Johns neighborhood forum

Posted on November 16th, 2016 at 7:19 am.

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A big turnout in St. Johns.
(Photos: J. Maus/BikePortland)

About 75 people packed into the St. Johns Community Center on a rainy Monday night because they want the streets in front of their homes, schools and businesses to be safer and more humane.

The event, hosted by the St. Johns Neighborhood Association’s Safety and Livability Team, was scheduled before the death of a bicycle rider on the St. Johns Bridge late last month; but that tragedy has given even greater urgency to the concerns expressed last night.

Like many areas of Portland, St. Johns residents are fed-up with their streets being dominated by people who drive too fast and cut-through their neighborhoods to avoid congestion. Another issue on the minds of many last night was how their part of the city is hemmed in by large arterial streets managed by the Oregon Department of Transportation to prioritize freight traffic at the expense of everything else.

“Trucks drive fast past homes and crosswalks,” someone scrawled on a piece of paper that was turned in after the meeting. “And the road is too small for them… Residents don’t open their windows because of the fumes!”

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New skills trail, major upgrades proposed for Sandy Ridge trailhead

Posted on November 11th, 2016 at 2:40 pm.

Velo Cult's party-barge parked at Sandy Ridge after an event last month. A major expansion to the parking lot will feature more room for tailgating and other uses.(Photo: Velo Cult Bike Shop)

Velo Cult’s party-barge parked at Sandy Ridge after an event last month. A major expansion to the parking lot will feature more room for tailgating and other uses.
(Photo: Velo Cult Bike Shop)

Since they first opened in 2010, the off-road cycling trails at Sandy Ridge have become such a resounding success that the Bureau of Land Management wants to double-down on its investment.

According to environmental assessment documents filed by the BLM, their Sandy Ridge Trailhead Access project is comprised of a slew of additions and upgrades that will add over four acres to the facility. The project includes: an expanded parking area with oversided stalls and “tailgate bumpouts,” a beginner skills trail loop and a bike demo area; a “bicycle hub” featuring a changing room, bike-wash station and a bus stop; a designated special events area; an upgraded entrace; and two short connecting trails.

Here’s a bit more info and a few images of the proposed improvements (taken from the BLM environmental assessment document):

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Fact check: The St. Johns Bridge does not need 19-foot wide lanes for freight traffic

Posted on November 9th, 2016 at 2:59 pm.

The St. Johns Bridge looking west. (Photo: Joe Mabel/Wikipedia)

The St. Johns Bridge looking west.
(Photo: Joe Mabel/Wikipedia)

Despite multiple demands over the years to improve bike access on the St. Johns Bridge, the Oregon Department of Transportation has used many different excuses for why the current lane configuration simply cannot change. And it turns out their latest excuse — that state design guidelines for freight traffic require 19-foot wide lanes in both directions — is untrue.

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First look: New striping and pavement on key stretch of Highway 30

Posted on November 9th, 2016 at 12:25 pm.

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Riding the shoulder bikeway through Linnton on Highway 30.
(Photos: J. Maus/BikePortland)

The Oregon Department of Transportation has completed a major repaving project on a key section of Highway 30 that’s a popular bike route between the St. Johns Bridge and Sauvie Island.

Back in March we said this was a “golden opportunity” to make the highway better for bicycling. Unfortunately ODOT didn’t make any major improvements to bike access; but the shoulder is now a more consistent width throughout the project’s seven-miles (between the bridge and McNamee Road). We were also disappointed that the shoulder wasn’t striped until a few days ago — well over a week after all the lanes for auto use were completed and striped.

Portlander Ira Ryan (co-founder of Breadwinner Cycles) pointed out the lack of striping in a post on Instagram:

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One year in, how’s the Lafayette Street bridge elevator treating you?

Posted on November 7th, 2016 at 12:12 pm.

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The bridge has been in operation for just over a year now.
(Photo: J. Maus/BikePortland)

I used the Lafayette Street Bridge for the first time last week. And I liked it.

The bridge was completed by TriMet in 2015 as part of the Orange Line MAX project and creates a connection over railroad tracks in the Brooklyn neighborhood between SE Lafayette and Rhine streets. It’s the only crossing of the tracks between Holgate and Powell (major arterials).

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