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SW Barbur Blvd

With or without Vision Zero, a safer Barbur might be an economic win

Thursday, December 18th, 2014
looking back
An organized ride on Barbur last year.
(Photo: J.Maus/BikePortland)

A few times each day on the wooded four-lane stretch of inner SW Barbur Boulevard, state data released last week suggest, someone decides to hit the gas and zoom through at an average 55 mph or more.

And about a dozen times each year, Barbur’s crash history suggests, someone on this part of Barbur loses control of their vehicle and hits something. Once or twice a year, someone dies.

Since narrowing the road in this stretch to one lane in each direction appears to make many fewer people choose to hit the gas, a redesign that would replace one of the northbound lanes with a bike lane and walking path in each direction could be seen as a perfect test case for Vision Zero. That’s the principle, endorsed by Portland’s transportation director, that safety is always a higher priority than convenience when it comes to road design.

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ODOT’s Barbur Blvd lane closure analysis finds 1 minute delay, big cut in speeding

Tuesday, December 16th, 2014
SW Barbur Blvd-5
SW Barbur in August, when repaving work created a temporary simulation of a possible road diet. The state studied the results, and they make a redesign seem feasible.
(Photo: J.Maus/BikePortland)

Converting one northbound traffic lane on 1.9 miles of SW Barbur Boulevard to two protected bike lanes with sidewalks would apparently prevent unsafe weaving during off-peak hours without massive impacts to morning traffic.

That’s one conclusion from data released Friday that analyzed changes to people’s driving habits during construction work on Barbur this summer. A repaving project had temporarily closed one traffic lane in each direction.

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First Look: Protected bike lane on SW Multnomah Boulevard

Wednesday, December 10th, 2014
entering sw multnomah curb
(Photos by M. Andersen/BikePortland)

Like NE Cully Boulevard before it, SW Multnomah Boulevard has become a relatively far-flung street with a few blocks of one of the city’s best bike lanes.

With work nearly finished on the city’s eighth protected bike lane — three years in the making, it’s one of the last few bike projects begun under the Sam Adams mayoral administration — I stopped by Multnomah Tuesday to check it out.

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ODOT “improvements” for Barbur Blvd set for construction this month

Thursday, July 3rd, 2014

ODOT just announced a few changes coming to SW Barbur Blvd (including a restripe of the southbound bike lane at Taylors Ferry Rd) that are expected to be completed by this fall. Check out the details via the official statement blow:

A series of improvements will get under way this month along Southwest Barbur Boulevard that will improve safety for bicyclists, pedestrians and transit users.

The improvements will be found at three locations: Southwest Taylors Ferry Road, the Barbur Transit Center and Southwest 13th Avenue. Some of the work is under way while additional elements will begin later this summer. Motorists may find occasional lane closures during the projects.
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Expect traffic impacts on SW Barbur as ODOT begins bridge rehab project

Monday, June 2nd, 2014

The Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) began construction today on a project that will rehabilitate two bridges on SW Barbur Blvd — a key bicycle route that offers people a straight and relatively flat connection from southwest to downtown Portland. Lane closures began this morning and the work is expected to last five months.

This is the same project that spurred a grassroots movement for improved bicycle access on Barbur back in January 2013. Despite Barbur’s abysmal safety record and a strong case made for putting the major road on a “diet,” ODOT and Portland Transportation Commissioner Steve Novick have been reluctant to move the idea forward.

On the brighter side, as we reported back in March, Novick has directed PBOT to work with ODOT on a traffic study during this construction closure. Their aim will be to observe how traffic responds and then determine the impact of a potential, future, and permanent lane reconfiguration. (more…)

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.

(more…)

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…)

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