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SW Barbur Blvd

Barbur Blvd construction will be a real-life test for a road diet, city says

Monday, March 24th, 2014
A Bicycle Transportation Alliance visualization of a possible Barbur road diet.
(Graphic by Owen Walz/OwenWalzDesign.com)

If SW Barbur Blvd were redesigned to improve safety and bicycle access — a.k.a. be put on a "road diet" — how would the changes impact traffic? That question is the key sticking point for any big changes for the road.

When this issue made headlines last fall, Transportation Commissioner Steve Novick promised a traffic study as a way to satisfy the concerns of "Barbur road dieters." Now, the city is outlining its plan for doing so: it's going to pay close attention to traffic patterns during road work on Barbur this summer.

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Got thoughts about Barbur Blvd? Tell ODOT at open house Wednesday

Monday, March 17th, 2014
Riding Portland's urban highways-29
Taking a lane on the bridge.
(Photo by J. Maus/BikePortland)

The Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) is hosting an open house this Wednesday (3/19) to discuss the Newbury Vermont Bridges Rehabilitation Project.

This is the project that sparked interest in doing a "road diet" on Barbur that was ultimately rejected in favor of future traffic studies. While some saw the bridge rehab project as a golden opportunity to re-design Barbur, ODOT maintained that consideration of a road diet was beyond the scope. Instead, they opted to spend $180,000 to install four "Bikes on bridge" flashing warning signs that were turned on last week.

Wednesday's open house is a chance to offer feedback on those signs and learn more about how the rehab project will impact traffic on Barbur Blvd. (more...)

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

Friday, March 7th, 2014
The wraps come off next week.
(Photo by Team Lazy Tarantulas)

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

Looking to improve the quality of bicycle access on a controversial and deadly stretch of SW Barbur Boulevard, the Oregon Department of Transportation will turn on four new "bicycle warning beacons" next week (they were first proposed last spring). ODOT says the new flashing signs will be the first of their type ever used in Oregon.
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9% of Portland road fatalities in 2013 happened at a single intersection

Saturday, December 28th, 2013
The southbound approach to Southwest Barbur and Miles.
(Image: Google Street View.)

I promise we're going to be able to focus on cheerier subjects soon, but some facts are too shocking to pass over.

After a late-night crash that police say involved drunk and reckless driving, the corner of Southwest Barbur and Miles has now seen three road deaths in a single year. That's 9 percent of the 35 traffic fatalities that have happened in the entire city of Portland in 2013.

The intersection is on the main bike route that connects most of Southwest Portland with rest of the city.

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After another fatality on Barbur Blvd, ODOT tweet hits a nerve

Wednesday, November 27th, 2013

Another person died while traveling on SW Barbur Blvd this week. It's the fourth fatality since 2010 on the notoriously dangerous 1.6 mile section of the road between Terwilliger and Hamilton.

With a record of so much carnage and rampant high speed and high risk driving, many Portlanders want to see the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) take a more aggressive approach to changing the design of Barbur in a way that would slow people down and encourage safer behavior. However, as we shared back in August when a 27-year-old man died after traveling at a "very high rate of speed" and losing control of his Prius, ODOT has no plans to seriously consider a roadway reconfiguration (a.k.a. "road diet") on Barbur. (more...)

Woman pleads guilty in Barbur hit-and-run

Friday, October 25th, 2013
(Screen capture from KOIN.com.)

Miriam Clinton of Lake Oswego is likely to get more than two years in prison after a guilty plea Friday to driving while intoxicated, hitting a man (who was walking his bike) with her car and leaving him for dead on the side of Southwest Barbur Boulevard Aug. 16.

Clinton accepted one count each of third-degree assault, driving under the influence of intoxicants and failure to perform the duties of a driver, according to KOIN-TV's report this morning from Multnomah County Court. Upon her release, her driver's license will be suspended for five years, the Oregonian reported.

KOIN reported that Clinton "cried throughout Friday's proceedings, and declined to comment afterwards."

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A closer look at the opposition to a road diet on Barbur Blvd

Friday, October 25th, 2013
Riding Portland's urban highways-40
(Photo © J. Maus/BikePortland)

Since early fall, the Oregon Department of Transportation has often mentioned stakeholders who oppose a proposal to re-stripe about 1.5 miles of Southwest Barbur Boulevard, replacing one northbound lane to create room for two bike lanes.

"Over the past several months, ODOT has received both strong messages of support for a road diet and strong objections from stakeholders who feel that reducing motor vehicle capacity on Barbur/99W would create unacceptable impacts for commuters, businesses, transit, and freight operations," ODOT's Jessica Horning wrote in a Sept. 5 memo.

The current design pushes bikes and cars into the same 45-mph auto lane as they cross two narrow bridges. Barbur has been eyed for bikeway improvements for many years as it's the only flat link between most of Southwest Portland and the rest of the city.

But there are many factors at play here, so we wanted to give other views a fair airing and if possible get in touch with these stakeholders to include their comments for our stories. So, on Sept. 11, we asked ODOT to share the messages it was referring to. Two days ago, after a formal records request, the agency did.

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Opinion: Another death on Barbur

Tuesday, October 15th, 2013

Another person died early this morning while traveling on SW Barbur Blvd.

According to the Portland Police, a 27-year-old man was driving at a "very high rate of speed" when he lost control of his car (a Prius), crossed the centerline, demolished a bus shelter on the opposite sidewalk, hit a building, then smashed into a car parked in a lot. (More coverage from KGW and KATU).

This has become a depressingly regular occurrence on Barbur, a road that the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) insists on managing like a freeway, even though it's a neighborhood main street for many business owners and residents who walk, bike, and drive on it every day.

— Back in August, 20-year-old Henry Schmidt was seriously injured after a woman hit him while he walked on the shoulder of Barbur Blvd.

— In May of this year, just a mile or so north of this morning's fatality, 45-year-old Lance Marcus died after losing control of his car. He too was traveling at a "high rate of speed."

— In October 2011, 25-year-old Nisha Rana died in a single-vehicle traffic crash just a few blocks away from the Marcus fatality. Police again said she lost control of her car after driving "at a very high rate of speed."

— And who can forget December 2010 when Angela Burke was hit and killed while walking her bike across Barbur by a young man who was, you guessed it, driving way too fast. (more...)

Freight Committee: "Postpone any advancement" of Barbur road diet

Thursday, October 10th, 2013
Barbur needs more capacity, not less,
says freight committee.
(Photo © J. Maus/BikePortland)

The Portland Freight Committee, a group that advises the City's Bureau of Transportation on "issues related to freight mobility", penned a letter to Commissioner Steve Novick (and sent a copy to Mayor Hales) that outlines their opposition to the proposed "road diet" on SW Barbur Blvd. Novick mentioned the letter during his remarks at a City Council hearing on the SW Corridor Plan yesterday.

The PFC claims the road diet proposal would lead to a reduction in vehicle capacity and they feel SW Barbur needs an increase in capacity. They also say if the conditions are unsafe, "the cyclist community" should pay for a public outreach campaign and that if people want to ride bicycles they should walk them on dangerous sections or consider using other streets. (more...)

Barbur road diet addressed at Portland City Council meeting

Thursday, October 10th, 2013
Novick in Council chambers yesterday.
(Photo © J. Maus/BikePortland)

City Council took up a resolution yesterday to endorse the SW Corridor Plan, a regional planning effort to determine the best way to implement high-capacity transit through the Barbur Blvd corridor in southwest Portland. Thanks to a concerted push led by the Bicycle Transportation Alliance that included groups like Friends of Barbur, Oregon Walks, City Club of Portland and others, this hearing was pegged as an opportunity to speak up for two projects in the Corridor Plan that would study the impacts of a "lane diet" on SW Barbur Blvd. But transportation Commissioner Novick took some of the wind out of advocates' sails when he addressed the road diet issue on his website Friday afternoon.
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