ODOT's dangerous paving work is widespread, goes against state guidelines

Monday, August 26th, 2013
Shoulder on Oregon Coast Route north of
Gold Beach after an ODOT repaving job.
(Photo: Sent in by reader)

As we reported on Friday, the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) has repaved many miles of state highways in a way that shows complete disregard for bicycling and creates unsafe conditions on some of Oregon's premier bicycle touring routes. The situation occurs when a new layer of pavement is applied over an existing road. Instead of laying it down across the entire width of the road and shoulder, ODOT (and/or their contractors) are only going about 1-2 feet from the fog line. This is leaving a gravel mess in some cases, as well as what one commenter called a "death ledge" between the old and the new pavement that is placed smack dab in the middle of where people ride. This ledge could force people to ride even closer to the fog line, which puts them even closer to fast-moving cars and trucks on roads that already lack adequate bicycle safety treatments.

ODOT is currently looking into the issue and we expect a formal statement sometime this week.

However, since our story was published, we have heard that the paving problems are much more widespread that just on one section of the Oregon Coast Bicycle Route. In addition, by not applying the new pavement layer across the entire shoulder ODOT (and/or their contractors) may have skirted their own pavement design guidelines. (more...)

ODOT in hot seat for dangerous Highway 101 repaving job

Friday, August 23rd, 2013
ODOT failed to extend a new layer of pavement
into the bicycle riding area of a long
stretch of Highway 101.
(Photo: Jeff Smith)

A recent repaving job by the Oregon Department of Transportation on the popular Oregon Coast Bike Route on Highway 101 between Yachats and Florence has raised eyebrows among veteran bike tourers, transportation department staffers, and national bicycle advocacy organizations.

It all started with an email sent yesterday from Jeff Smith, a veteran Portland Bureau of Transportation employee and a bike touring enthusiast, to ODOT's Bicycle and Pedestrian Coordinator Sheila Lyons. Smith — who sent the message from his personal email account and not as a PBOT employee — included a photo and a detailed description of what he called an "extremely annoying at best and dangerous at worst" section of repaving.

According to Smith, a 25-mile section of the popular Oregon Coast Bike Route from Yachats south to Florence has been re-constructed with a new layer of pavement that abruptly ends just a few feet past the fog line. Here's more from Smith's email: (more...)

Want wider shoulders on Hwy 26? ODOT seeks feedback on Mt. Hood area projects

Wednesday, August 14th, 2013
ODOT has created an interactive map of the projects.

The Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) has revealed their list of projects that could get funding through their Mt. Hood Multimodal Transportation Plan (MHMTP). Along with the list is an online survey where you can tell them which of the 40 projects you think are most important.

As we first covered back in March ODOT is putting a renewed focus on the highways that lead up to Mt. Hood (US 26/OR 35 between Sandy and Hood River) in an effort to improve safety and give people more options for traveling to and around the popular recreation area. This Multimodal Plan is a $650,000 effort to plan and then implement a number of small-scale projects that will make transit, walking, biking, and driving easier and safer. (more...)

New leadership, membership for ODOT's bicycle advisory committee

Monday, July 29th, 2013
Bike Summit Lobby Day-13
Jenna Stanke is now
chair of the committee.
(Photos © J. Maus/BikePortland)

The Oregon Department of Transportation's eight member, governor-appointed Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee (OBPAC) has four new members and a new leader at its helm. ODOT put out the call for new members back in January and announced their selections today.

The four new members are: Susan Peithman, formerly an advocate for the Bicycle Transportation Alliance (BTA) who now works as research and program administrator for the Oregon Transportation Research and Education Consortium (OTREC) at Portland State University; Evan MacKenzie, a city planner from Pendleton who is also an avid bike racer; Jeff Monson the executive director of Commute Options, an organization that promotes biking, walking and transit in Bend; and Salem resident Kenji Sugahara, executive director of the Oregon Bicycle Racing Association (OBRA). (more...)

ODOT to close St. Johns Bridge at night: No bicycle access for three weeks - UPDATED

Thursday, July 25th, 2013

(NOTE: ODOT now says biking and walking will be permitted over the bridge, through the construction zone during the closure. Read our full update at the end of this post.)

family riding on St Johns bridge
Traffic on the St. Johns Bridge.
(Photo © J. Maus/BikePortland)

The Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) announced a three week closure of the St. Johns Bridge yesterday. The closure will be in effect every night (seven days a week) from 8:00 pm to 5:00 am starting this Monday (7/29) through August 18th while ODOT crews re-tension the cables that suspend the bridge over the Willamette River. During those times, the bridge will be closed to all users — including bicycle riders and walkers.

In their official announcement, ODOT noted in their headline that "motorists can use the Fremont Bridge" as an alternate route during the closure. ODOT also gave detailed detour instructions to "vehicles" (by which they mean "motorists"). What about people who bike? The only mention was the final sentence in the statement: "Bicyclists and pedestrians may use the Broadway Bridge." (more...)

ODOT will install automated counter on new State Trail in the Gorge

Tuesday, July 23rd, 2013
Manufacturer's graphic of how the counter works.

The Oregon Department of Transportation just received shipment of an automated counter similar to the one in use on the Hawthorne Bridge in Portland. After ODOT Region 1 Transit and Active Transportation Liaison tweeted a picture of the new counter today, we followed up and learned a bit more about where it's headed.

Horning says the counter will be installed on the new segment of the Historic Columbia River Highway State Trail that is set to open on September 15th. As Horning shared in a guest article here on BikePortland back in May, ODOT has been investing millions to renovate and re-build the Historic Columbia River Highway's eleven miles that are set aside exclusively for hiking and biking. In September, ODOT plans to celebrate the opening of a 1.6 mile section that connects John B. Yeon State Park in Warrendale to the existing restored section of the state trail at the Moffett Creek Bridge (towards Cascade Locks). (more...)

SW Barbur Blvd is an embarrassment

Thursday, June 27th, 2013
Riding Portland's urban highways-33
A Pedalpalooza ride came face-to-face
with the dangerous and outdated Barbur Blvd.
(Photos © J. Maus/BikePortland)

(NOTE: The headline of this story was originally, "When it comes to bicycling, SW Barbur Blvd is an embarrassment." But after realizing that it's just terrible and dangerous for everyone, I removed the bicycling part. — Jonathan)

Let's be honest: SW Barbur Blvd, which is perfectly positioned to be the cycling conduit between southwest and downtown Portland, is a relic of traffic engineering. Its design is about five decades out-of-date and by lacking basic safe facilities for people on bicycles, it does not live up to the standards Portland prides itself on.

We've written about projects, plans, and tragedies on SW Barbur Blvd for years and have ridden on it several times. But Tuesday night, during the You Need A Better Barbur Pedalpalooza ride (and following two weeks in Copenhagen and the Netherlands where bicycles are a respected part of the traffic mix), it really hit me: Barbur is an embarrassment.

Governor's new transportation policy advisor seen as good for bicycling

Tuesday, June 25th, 2013
bike legislation discussion at PDOT
Kitzhaber's incoming transportation policy advisor, Karmen Fore,
speaking at a 2007 event on bicycle legislation.
(Photo © J. Maus/BikePortland)

Governor Kitzhaber announced yesterday that Karmen Fore will be his new transportation policy advisor. Fore will leave her post as deputy chief of staff to Congressman Peter DeFazio and report for work in Salem on July 1st.

Fore brings a deep well of experience and knowledge about transportation issues to her new role. Not only is Rep. DeFazio a senior member of the powerful House Transportation & Infrastructure committee and ranking member of the Highways & Transit Subcommittee, Fore was his senior advisor to that committee. It's worth noting that Rep. DeFazio is one of bicycling's biggest champions on Capitol Hill (and its only former bike mechanic, as he's fond of pointing out). Fore has been present at meetings with the Oregon delegation during many past years of the National Bike Summit. In 2007, Fore was guest speaker — along with former Bicycle Transportation Alliance Executive Director Scott Bricker — at an event hosted by the Portland Bureau of Transportation. (more...)

Ride takes closer look at I-205 path, the 'Grandaddy of MUPs'

Tuesday, June 18th, 2013
I-205 Path Ride - Pedalpalooza-50
A Pedalpalooza ride explored the I-205 path last night.
(Photos © J. Maus/BikePortland)

When it comes to our region's multi-use paths (known by wonks as MUPs), it's not a stretch to call the I-205 path the "Granddaddy" of them all. Built by the Oregon Department of Transportation with money from our heralded "Bicycle Bill" (that mandates 1% of new highway funds go toward bicycling), the first section of the path opened in the 1970s and it was "completed" in 1982. Today the path connects five cities, ten neighborhoods, and stretches 16.5 miles from the Clackamas River in Gladstone to Vancouver, Washington.

Last night, staffers from ODOT and TriMet led a Pedalpalooza ride (sponsored by the Women's Transportation Seminar) that gave attendees a chance to learn more about the path's past, present and future.

Before we got rolling, it was fun to hear the reasons why each person showed up on a weekday evening for a wonky tour of the I-205 path. "This was the closest Pedalpalooza ride to me tonight," said one guy. Another guy said, "I do all of the wonk rides." We were also joined by a a married couple named Michael and Wendy. Wendy shared that they live just one block off the path. "I love having this path next to our house," she said, "because I could re-learn how to ride a bike without cars scaring the crap out of me."

ODOT releases "The Bicyclist's Survival Guide"

Monday, June 17th, 2013
Cover of new ODOT publication

The Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) has just released The Bicyclist's Survival Guide (PDF), a new publication about bicycling. Here's how they introduce it in an official statement sent out this morning:

"Looking to get back on the bike and be part of the active transportation crowd? You'll save money, reduce pollution and improve your health! Here is "The Bicyclist's Survival Guide" with tips to keep you on the straight and vertical. Ride on!"

For ODOT, the graphics are actually quite nice. The information is also solid. There are four main sections with clear explanations of safe riding tips and accompanying graphics. They remind folks to not ride against traffic, to take the lane when riding on a road without a shoulder, to not wait in the blind spot of right-turning cars, to use hand signals, and so on. One tip that caught my eye was the recommendation to only use a blinking light during the day. "At night it blinds drivers and fellow cyclists," says ODOT, "and may actually put you in danger of a collision." Interesting to see the State weigh in on the blinky vs. steady light debate. (more...)

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