Urban Tribe - Ride with your kids in front.

ODOT’s paint policy leaves riders wounded

Posted by on October 25th, 2005 at 2:51 pm

Check out this recent comment to my “Close Calls” post:

“We were riding up the I-205 bike path on the way to the airport. Going under a bridge we both slid and fell on a freshly painted yellow center line. There was NO signs, cones or anything indicating the lines were freshly painted. We didn’t even no what happened until we got off the ground and found we were covered in yellow paint. We headed up the path to find a worker from TriMet who told us the line painter truck from ODOT had just went through about 5 minutes ago.

So far we have got little response from ODOT. The comment of the workers has been, “Normally the paint dries in 10 minutes so we don’t bother marking it with cones”. Well for the first 10 minutes it is like putting 1/8th inch of grease on the road.”

Apparently ODOT keeps referring the riders to the claims department so they can be reimbursed for damage to their bike and their medical supplies…but the riders are more interested in having them change this dangerous policy than getting money. It seems to me like laying down a few cones wouldn’t be that big of a deal. Or is it? Is 10 minutes of dangerously slippery paint on the road acceptable? I wonder what ODOT’s response would be if this accident involved a motorist…

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  • Jessica Roberts October 25, 2005 at 3:20 pm

    Did you talk to Michael Ronkin, ODOT’s Bicycle & Pedestrian Program Manager? Give him a call at 503-986-3555 and ask him what he thinks. He’s a great resource for cyclists.

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  • Jonathan Maus October 25, 2005 at 5:21 pm

    Thanks for that suggestion, Jessica. I will give him a call tomorrow or maybe just email tomorrow.

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  • […] Just got some photos from the victims of the recent “Wet Paint” incident. The riders have contacted ODOT’s Bicycle and Pedestrian Program Manager, Michael Ronkin. From the looks of his cool personal website and bio, and from what I’ve heard through the grapevine he does great work on behalf of cyclists. If we hear something from him I’ll let you know…or maybe he’ll come over and leave a comment. That would be cool. […]

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  • Michael Ronkin November 11, 2005 at 8:06 am

    This was brought to the attention of the head of ODOT maintenance for the Portland area, and she turned around and brought it to the regional manager’s attention right away. I’ve been cc’d on their email exchanges; it looks like they are planning to change their procedures.

    Thanks for bringing this to ODOT’s attention; it’s one of those things you’d never suspect would happen. The world of bicycling is intriguing – two skinny tires barely making contact with the earth, and we zoom around like gravity barely existed. Fun and exiting!

    In the future, please use my official ODOT email address: michael.p.ronkin@odot.state.or.us


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  • […] A few weeks ago I posted something about a couple riding a tandem that had slipped on wet paint laid down by ODOT road crews. The paint had just been applied and no signs or cones were placed to warn of the slippery substance. […]

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  • Tony Tapay November 11, 2005 at 2:17 pm

    Regarding Michael Ronkin’s comment.

    “. . . it’s one of those things you’d never suspect would happen. The world of bicycling is intriguing – two skinny tires barely making contact with the earth, and we zoom around like gravity barely existed. Fun and exiting!”

    Is this a thinly veiled slam? Sarcasm? Hmmm.

    You’d never suspect that someone would come along within 10 minutes of your painting the lines? Thay might slip? That never occured to you? Perhaps you all need to hire some folks who actually use bikes as a form of alternative transportation. It sure would occur to them.

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  • Michael Ronkin November 11, 2005 at 10:07 pm

    Tony, no slam or sarcasm intended. I’ve been on this job for 16 years, have heard of myriad incidences with bicyclists suffering damage or injury because of potholes, railroad tracks, grates, debris, tree branches, you name it, but this is the first time I’ve heard of slipping on fresh paint. We react to such complaints as quickly as we can, and usually get the problem fixed within a few days. And yes we ride bikes, so we’re aware of both the pleasures and pitfalls of bike riding. Just today I got a flat as I rode over a staple, and it P’d me off the think people just throw things on the road without considering what it means for others.


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  • […] My first experience with Ronkin was almost a year ago when I posted about the infamous “wet paint incident.” Here’s the story: A couple on a tandem had slipped on the wet paint of a newly re-painted street. Concerned for the lack of signage and what they considered a safety hazard, they contacted ODOT but got the runaround. Ronkin got wind of my post and was quick to respond. About three weeks later Ronkin posted a comment saying ODOT had changed its paint policy. […]

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  • […] pedestrian coordinator for the Oregon Department of Transportation, Michael Ronkin, took heed of a bike safety issue I reported on. He acknowledged the issue, left a comment about it, and then fixed the problem less […]

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