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Lawsuit filed against city for streetcar tracks deemed ‘unsafe for bicyclists’

Wednesday, May 14th, 2014
NW Lovejoy streetcar-1
Track warning sign just a few yards from
where the crash happened.
(*Note that the sign wasn’t there in May 2012.)
(Photos by J. Maus/BikePortland)

The Oregonian reported last week that a Portland woman named Leslie Kay has filed a lawsuit against the City of Portland after she crashed her bicycle on streetcar tracks. She suffered a bad injury to her foot and is suing the City for $49,999. The incident happened back in May 2012 on NW Lovejoy just west of 13th (map).

According to The Oregonian, the lawsuit, “faults the city for the bicycle path’s design; for building streetcar rail lines that are “placed in a way that make them unsafe for bicyclist(s),” and for “creating a bicycle path design that did not look out for the safety of the bicyclist nor the pedestrians…”
(more…)

Streetcar-nage continues while other cities look for answers

Wednesday, September 25th, 2013
Conditions on Lovejoy-5
The view from NW Lovejoy.
(Photos © J. Maus/BikePortland)

While Portlanders continue to suffer physical injuries and property damage due to falls on streetcar tracks and our local agencies put out safety videos and erect signs warning about the hazards, cities in Europe are actively trying to solve the problem. In the past few weeks we’ve come across word of new technology being tested in Zurich while at the same time hearing new first-hand accounts of the treacherous cycling conditions around the (relatively) new streetcar tracks on Northwest Lovejoy Street in Portland. (more…)

Will Portland Streetcar ever find a way to prevent bike-rail crashes?

Wednesday, August 14th, 2013
German product veloSTRAIL might offer promise
for safer urban rail crossings.
(Image from Strail.de.)

Twelve years after Portland Streetcar added its rails to city streets, it’s still a Portland rite of passage to crash your bike on its tracks — and it’s still a maddening problem for the handful of people trying to solve it.

“I just can’t believe that in a place like Amsterdam or any number of European cities where they have had girder rail — I can’t believe that somebody hasn’t figured this out,” Portland Streetcar consultant Carter MacNichol said in an interview Wednesday. “But apparently they haven’t.”

MacNichol, who occasionally researches the issue on his own time, said he’s currently hoping for an email reply from veloSTRAIL, a German company that makes plastic inserts for urban rail crossings designed to collapse beneath a streetcar wheel but not beneath a bike. But veloSTRAIL, he said, seems to be designed for T-shaped ballasted tracks — not the C-shaped girder rail used by Streetcar.

(more…)

Portland Streetcar Inc. releases “When I Ride” safety video

Thursday, September 20th, 2012
Still from “When I Ride” video.
- Watch it below-

With the big grand opening of the new eastside/central city loop extension of the streetcar being this weekend, Portland Streetcar Inc. (PSI) has just unveiled a new safety video.

The video features (and is narrated by) Bicycle Transportation Alliance (BTA) Advocacy Director Gerik Kranksy; but it doesn’t just focus on bicycling. Titled, “When I Ride,” the video is made for all road users, from skateboarders to walkers and even drivers.

Here’s more from a statement released by PSI: (more…)

Man badly hurt after losing control on NW Lovejoy ramp

Thursday, September 13th, 2012
Crash on NW Lovejoy-3
First responders attend to the injured man,
while a concerned citizen looks on.
(Photos © J. Maus/BikePortland)

This morning a man was taken away on a stretcher with serious injuries and numerous cuts and scrapes after he lost control while bicycling down the NW Lovejoy ramp.

A witness who was driving his car up the ramp, saw the spill and called 911. I happened to be biking by and rolled over to get a closer look and find out what happened. According to the witness, the man was riding down Lovejoy in the bike lane, then as he started moving to the left across the adjacent streetcar tracks, “he started wobbling and then face planted.”

I was unable to make a definite confirmation that the streetcar tracks caused the crash; but given what I know about riding in that area and what the witness described, it seems pretty clear that the tracks were a contributing factor. The man’s bike had skinny, road-bike style tires.
(more…)

Photos and notes from my ride on the new streetcar line

Thursday, September 6th, 2012
Riding the new streetcar line-9
I got a new view of the Pearl District today from inside the yet-to-be-opened eastside streetcar line.
(Photos © J. Maus/BikePortland)

(more…)

With pole moved, bike traffic breathes easier on Broadway Bridge

Monday, April 23rd, 2012
Broadway Bridge pole has been moved-6
Yellow arrow shows location of old pole. (Photo taken this morning)

(more…)

Streetcar/bikeway integration porn from Seattle

Friday, April 13th, 2012
A visualization of plans at Broadway and Marion streets in Seattle as part of their First Hill Streetcar project that breaks ground this month.
(Graphics: Alta Planning + Design and Fat Pencil Studio)

(more…)

Seattle judge says City not liable in streetcar track lawsuit

Thursday, April 12th, 2012
Conditions on Lovejoy-5
New tracks on Lovejoy.
(Photo © J. Maus/BikePortland)

There’s been a big development in a legal battle up in Seattle that has similarities to an issue we have here in Portland. As we shared back in June 2010, several Seattle residents who crashed while bicycling across streetcar tracks filed a lawsuit claiming that the City of Seattle, “knowingly allowed unsafe conditions.”

According to the Seattle Times, that lawsuit has been tossed out by a judge who says the City is not liable. Before you jump to the conclusion that the plaintiffs are just whiners who need to figure out how to ride their bikes (a common reaction whenever this topic comes up), what’s important to note is that the case didn’t center around whether or not the tracks posed a danger to people on bikes. All the City had to do in their defense was prove that they followed existing engineering standards.

Here’s a snip from the Times (emphasis mine): (more…)

Once again, bike lane bollards torn out by auto traffic on NW Lovejoy

Wednesday, January 25th, 2012
A man riding down NW Lovejoy
yesterday, alongside what used
to be plastic bollards.
(Photos © J. Maus/BikePortland)

It looks like PBOT will have to head back to the drawing board in their effort to create separation between bike and auto traffic on the NW Lovejoy ramp leading down from the Broadway Bridge.

About a month ago, PBOT installed 34 plastic bollards (a.k.a. wands) on the ramp in order to prevent people in cars from driving in the bike lane. (The presence of newly installed streetcar tracks is causing some people to straddle them, thus putting their vehicle into the bike lane.) (more…)

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