home
streetcar

The case for streetcar as pro-bike infrastructure

Wednesday, August 6th, 2014
hassalo
The Lloyd District’s new “bikescraper”: also a streetcarscraper.
(Rendering: GBD Architects)

Though the experience of China, Japan and Northern Europe makes it pretty clear that you can’t have a great bike city without also having a great mass transit city, streetcars are the one transit type that seems to rankle bike-lovers.

Maybe it’s the rails that turn traffic lanes dangerous for biking. Maybe it’s that streetcar projects often underinvest in adjacent bike improvements. Maybe it’s that streetcars are deeply controversial in the public transit world, too.

But there’s also an argument that streetcars are actually the very best sort of public transit at improving biking. On Portland Transport Monday, local streetcar and biking fan Chris Smith laid it out.

(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 will give free rides during Broadway Bridge closure

Thursday, July 11th, 2013
Riding the new streetcar line-1
Get free rides during next week’s closure.
(Photo © J. Maus/BikePortland)

The impending closure of the sidepaths on the Broadway Bridge next week has started a lot of discussions about how the Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) handles traffic mitigation during construction. We have reported on the bicycling aspect of the closure; but many people are now realizing that it’s people who usually walk across the bridge that will most impacted. Unlike people riding bikes, they are highly unlikely to simply take the lane and the detour over to the Steel Bridge is likely a deal-breaker for those on foot.

Many walkers will likely hop on the new streetcar line. If they do, why not make it free? That’s the idea put forward last night at the Multnomah County Bicycle and Pedestrian Citizens Advisory Committee (MCBPCAC). One member of that committee, Bicycle Transportation Alliance advocate Carl Larson, has asked (via email) Portland Streetcar Inc. to give free rides to everyone during the closure period. Here’s a snip from Larson’s email: (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…)

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…)

Project to move streetcar pole on Broadway Bridge comes with closures

Thursday, April 5th, 2012

Remember that pesky streetcar utility pole placed in the bike path on the Broadway Bridge? The project to move it will start next week and Portland Streetcar will close parts of the bridge during the work. See more info below:

Portland Streetcar Construction Advisory
(more…)

Guest Article: Getting creative to move a pole on the Broadway Bridge

Wednesday, February 15th, 2012
Broadway Bridge pole
It will be moved.
(Photo © J. Maus/BikePortland)

[Publisher's note: As an update to a story we covered several times last month, I've accepted a guest article from Chris Smith explaining his successful effort to have a streetcar pole on the Broadway Bridge moved out of the way of bike traffic. Smith is a well known (and quite busy) citizen activist who also happens to be a member of the City of Portland's Planning and Sustainability Commission, the founder of the Portland Transport blog, member of the Portland Streetcar Inc. board of directors and much more.]

Chris Smith

Today, I’m celebrating, because it looks like we’re going to be able to move a streetcar catenary pole (a pole that holds up the overhead wires) that has been impinging into the bike facility on the Broadway Bridge since this summer.

But I want to be clear about what I’m celebrating. I’m not celebrating a win for cyclists over streetcar. That would be the wrong lesson to take from this. I’m celebrating the ability of people of good will who don’t always share the same perspective to work together to achieve good outcomes (Congress, take note).

“I’m not celebrating a win for cyclists over streetcar. That would be the wrong lesson to take from this.”
— Chris Smith

This was not simple, and for a while I thought there might be no feasible way to move the pole, which is why, in conjunction with the BTA, I put a formal request for mitigation on the table as an alternative (download a PDF of that request here).

So how are we going to do it? The key challenge (acknowledged by a number of folks here in the BikePortland discussion who have looked at the bridge structure) is that the structural foundation for the pole is constrained by where the edge of the bridge structure is. The answer is to use the same foundation bracket, but then shift the pole horizontally from the anchor by a little bit (it will be more in ‘the shadow’ of the street-light pole on the sidewalk).

A number of folks noted that a similar “cantilevered” approach was used on poles on Weidler. In this case, the sidewalk is much more shallow. So instead of the large brackets used on Weidler, we’ll use a 2-inch thick metal plate with welded bolts (see diagram below).

Diagram of new pole location.
(Click to enlarge)

Secondary Effect # 1
The thin plate will sit on the surface of the existing the sidewalk. So we will need to increase the sidewalk height to match. This will require tapering the sidewalk gradually over a number of feet east and west of the pole. The plate itself will be flush with the new sidewalk grade and textured to keep it safe for people walking and cycling over it.

Once moved, the streetcar pole
will be in line with the
existing light pole (red).

Secondary Effect #2
Because the pole will now be much closer to the curb than standards provide for, we will need to place a bollard in front of the pole. This is to protect the pole if an auto ever jumped the curb. But the bollard will also be in line with the existing light pole, so it does not reduce the usable path.

Tertiary Effect
But we’re not done yet. No good deed goes unpunished. Because we’re raising the grade of the sidewalk, the railing on the river side of the sidewalk will no longer be tall enough above the sidewalk surface to meet standards. So we will fabricate and attach an extension to the railing on the two sections nearest the pole.

Impacts
Because of the extensive modification of the sidewalk adjacent to the pole and bracket, we’ll need to close the north sidewalk for about two weeks. The work will be funded from the Streetcar Loop project budget.

I’d like to thank my colleagues at Portland Streetcar who were willing to keep looking for solutions, ultimately threading the needle through all the constraints and regulations, and the members of the community who helped keep focus on the need to address this issue. Together we’ll keeping making Portland a better place for users of all modes of active transportation.


Thank you Chris Smith for not being afraid to stand up and make this happen. Citizen activist Joe Rowe also deserves our thanks for his persistence and effort in bringing this issue to the fore. — Jonathan Maus

Pole update: Streetcar Director weighs in, County doesn’t like it either

Friday, January 27th, 2012
The pole has narrowed the busy entrance onto the Broadway Bridge.
(Photos © J. Maus/BikePortland)

(more…)

No streetcar to Lake Oswego? How about a bikeway?

Thursday, January 26th, 2012
Could the route for the streetcar
become a bicycle highway?
(Image: Metro)

After what the Oregonian called “persistent doubts from suburban taxpayers and a wealthy enclave of homeowners” the Lake Oswego streetcar project is on the rocks.

Concerns about construction and operating costs of the streetcar were the reasons for its demise, but over $2 million has already been spent on planning and impact studies.

Instead of throwing that money out the window, officials have an opportunity to build on the previous momentum for the streetcar and construct a world-class bike connection between Lake Oswego and downtown Portland.

(more…)

The Oregonian’s commute columnist weighs in on Broadway Bridge pole issue

Monday, January 23rd, 2012
A new pole for the streetcar (marked
with orange/white stripes) has
narrowed the entry to
the Broadway Bridge path.
(Photo © J. Maus/BikePortland)

As the story unfolds about how and why Portland Streetcar Inc. installed a utility pole on the Broadway Bridge bike/walk path, it is becoming more clear that they made a bad move.

We’ll have more to share on this story in the coming days; but for now, check out what The Oregonian’s “Hard Drive” columnist Joseph Rose thinks about it (taken from a news roundup he published today):
(more…)

- Daily bike news since 2005 -
BikePortland.org is a production of
PedalTown Media Inc.
321 SW 4th Ave, Ste. 401
Portland, OR 97204

Powered by WordPress. Theme by Clemens Orth.
Subscribe to RSS feed


Original images and content owned by Pedaltown Media, Inc. - Not to be used without permission.