State says there’s not enough proof that bike lanes boost safety, so 26th Ave lanes should go

by on August 26th, 2015 at 11:37 am

26th powell bike box
The City of Portland wants to create a second, more comfortable crossing of Powell at 28th, but the state says it won’t allow one unless bike lanes and bike boxes at 26th (shown here) are removed.
(Photos: M.Andersen/BikePortland)

Three weeks after being asked if it can cite any evidence supporting its claim that removing a bike lane can sometimes increase bike safety, the State of Oregon has come up empty.

Moreover, a state spokeswoman wrote in an email Tuesday that four studies cited by the City of Portland that document safety benefits of bike lanes are inadequate, though the state did not say in what way the studies fall short.

“More research needs to be done,” the Oregon Department of Transportation said in its statement.

Research notwithstanding, the Oregon Department of Transportation is continuing to deny the City of Portland’s request to install a new stoplight at 28th Avenue and Powell (which would let the city create a new north-south neighborhood greenway on 28th) unless the city agrees to first remove the narrow bike lanes from nearby 26th Avenue.


State’s proposal to improve bike crossings of Powell: Remove bike lane from 26th

by on August 13th, 2015 at 2:34 pm

26th powell bike box
About 600 to 800 people a day currently bike on 26th to cross Powell. The city wants to create a second, more comfortable crossing at 28th, but the state says it won’t allow one unless the lanes and bike boxes at 26th are removed.
(Photos: M.Andersen/BikePortland)

The Portland Bureau of Transportation is facing pressure from its counterparts at the Oregon Department of Transportation to do something it’s almost never done before: remove bike lanes from a street.

An ODOT official said she could not cite evidence other than the site-specific judgment of her engineering colleagues that removing the bike lane on SE 26th Avenue would improve overall road safety. But she said that because 26th is not as safe to bike on as 28th would be, it stands to reason that the bike lane on 26th should be removed in order to encourage people to cross at 28th.

Therefore, ODOT has agreed to approve the city’s request to add a new traffic signal at 28th and Powell only on the condition that the city remove the bike lane and bike box from 26th.


After media reports, state says it will smooth sunken grates on Barbur

by on August 7th, 2015 at 4:07 pm

Beaverton to Tualatin ride-14
Jim Parsons in a 2011 photo.
(Photo: J.Maus/BikePortland)

For at least one last time, the squeaky wheel known as Jim Parsons has gotten some grease onto the gears of government.

After the veteran Portland-area bike advocate’s unsanctioned paint job of two sunken grates in Barbur Boulevard’s bike lanes landed them on TV news for two consecutive days, the Oregon Department of Transportation said Friday that it’ll follow his recommendations for addressing the problem within the next week or two.

An agency spokesman added that ODOT owes thanks to Parsons, who recently finished a degree at Portland State University and is planning a move to China.


After man adds warning paint to sunken grate, state roads agency calls it vandalism

by on August 5th, 2015 at 1:23 pm

sunken grate prepaint
A 2012 photo of the offending grate, long before Parsons’ unsanctioned paint job.
(Photos: Jim Parsons)

Update: After this and other media coverage of Parsons’ action and ODOT’s repsonse, the agency has announced plans to fix the grates and says it is grateful for Parsons’ work.

A local man who says he’s been warning state officials for seven years about a sunken grate in the middle of Barbur Boulevard’s northbound bike lane has finally gotten some action from the agency.

After he marked the grate himself with yellow warning paint and with the letters “ODOT KNOWS,” the agency is planning to visit the site … to erase his paint.

In a Wednesday email to the man, Jim Parsons, an Oregon Department of Transportation staffer with the title “citizen’s representative” scolded him for what she said would make the street more dangerous.


Across Oregon, traffic fatalities abruptly return almost to pre-recession levels

by on July 31st, 2015 at 9:47 am

For Oregon’s roads, the first seven months of 2015 have been the deadliest since 2008.


Police response to Greenpeace action closes south sidewalk of St Johns Bridge (updated)

by on July 29th, 2015 at 5:07 pm

Activists hang from the St. Johns Bridge
to block an oil ship’s passage.
(Photo: Greenpeace USA)

Update 5:45 p.m.: Police now say that only the southeast sidewalk (upstream, closer to downtown Portland) is closed and that officers were mistaken when they previously blocked people from crossing the bridge on bike or foot.

“It was just that someone didn’t get told,” Portland Police Bureau spokesman Sgt. Greg Stewart said Wednesday evening. “We’re just having people use the other side of the street.”

An updated version of the original post follows.

Some Portland police officers ordered the sidewalks of the St. Johns bridge closed to foot and bike traffic in response to a direct action on the bridge Wednesday.

Late Wednesday, police changed their operation and closed only the southeast (upstream) sidewalk to people on foot or bike.


Did you know ODOT revises the driver’s manual every two years?

by on July 1st, 2015 at 9:17 am

Detail of Oregon Driver’s Manual.

We didn’t either.

Neither did Ray Thomas, the man who literally wrote the book on Oregon bike law (and has personally written and/or lobbied for many of them). Neither did Rob Sadowsky, the executive director of the largest bicycle advocacy organization in the state, or Noel Mickelberry, the leader of Oregon Walks.

“It caught us totally off guard,” Sadowsky shared with me this morning, “And it points to a lack of collaboration.”

This is a big deal because the 84-page Oregon Driver’s Manual impacts how people learn to behave on the road. It’s probably the one source of traffic law nearly every driver has consulted at least once and it’s used in court to justify behaviors both right and wrong. Making sure the driver’s manual presents information accurately and from a variety of perspectives — especially the most vulnerable road users — is a key component of the gradual march toward Vision Zero. (more…)

State seems ‘very receptive’ to a raised bike lane on outer Powell, advocates say

by on June 11th, 2015 at 4:56 pm

Cully Blvd cycle track-3
A low mountable curb like the one on NE Cully
is among designs being seriously debated for
SE Powell east of I-205.
(Photo: J.Maus/BikePortland)

It’s looking as if the Oregon Department of Transportation might become one of the first state transportation agencies in the country to build a raised bike lane into an urban highway project.

It’s just a possibility and it’s still years away, but it’s the upshot of a meeting Monday in which several biking advocates urged the state to consider the design as part of its Outer Powell Safety Project.

David Hampsten of the East Portland Action Plan bike committee and the Portland Bicycle Advisory Committee said in an email this week that he attended to urge ODOT “to consider modifying the planned 8-foot bike lanes into either raised cycle-tracks or adding barriers between the roadway and the bikeway users (bikes and mobility devices).”


By pushing for road safety audit, state Rep. Ann Lininger steps into leadership role on Barbur

by on May 29th, 2015 at 11:04 am

Lininger says she had “a number of conversations”
with ODOT’s new regional manager about safety
improvements on Barbur.
(Photo via Oregon Legislature)

When the Oregon Department of Transportation announced on Tuesday that it had decided to change course and formally consider a road diet on Southwest Barbur, its news release included two words that hadn’t been associated with the issue before:

Ann Lininger.

The state representative appointed last year to represent much of Southwest Portland and her hometown of Lake Oswego, Lininger was quoted by ODOT itself as favoring “improving safety for all users on this crucial roadway.”

Though she’s only one of many people who’ve contacted ODOT in support of low-cost, short-term improvements to Southwest Barbur — multiple sources said that U.S. Rep. Earl Blumenauer has expressed his opinion, not to mention Portland Transportation Commissioner Steve Novick and hundreds of local residents and organizations — Lininger is one of a few who’ve done so from a position few people have: direct authority over ODOT, thanks to her seat in the state legislature.


State will conduct safety audit of Barbur and formally weigh road redesign

by on May 26th, 2015 at 2:01 pm

barbur curve looking north
Typical midday traffic approaching a curve in Barbur Boulevard from the south.
(Image: Google Street View.)

Four months after saying it had no plans to do so, the Oregon Department of Transportation will formally consider the possibility of new changes to a two-mile stretch of Barbur Bouelvard where six people have died in cars, on motorcycles and on foot in the last six years.