BTA “concerned” about ODOT bike ban proposal

BTA Policy Director Scott Bricker just sent me the letter he drafted to ODOT regarding ODOT’s proposed rule change that would ban bikes on several Metro area freeways and highways that are currently used as bike routes. Here is an excerpt:

“We (the BTA) do not completely comprehend the impetus for the proposal. We feel that the level of use and lack of documented safety concerns are disconnected from prohibiting bicyclists, for whatever reason, to occasionally use these routes.”

Here is the complete letter (45K PDF).

My previous post on this issue has sparked some good dialogue. Many riders use these routes because there is no safe and adequate alternative. One such rider is Susan Otcenas. Below is an excerpt from her comment that illustrates why it is important for us to keep a close eye on ODOT, regardless of if you use these routes or not:

“ODOT is citing “safety concerns”. Yeah, maybe I personally wouldn’t want to ride on some of these roads, but that’s not the point. The point is that “safety concerns” is a slippery slope. What if “safety concerns” gradually brought about the banning of bikes on all sorts of roads we use all the time? Don’t laugh, or think it can’t happen – I was in Spokane last weekend and saw “NO BICYCLES” signs on major thoroughfares there – not freeways, just busy roads. A friend just had a conversation with a motorist this weekend, who told him he wasn’t “allowed” to ride on roads without shoulders. Is this the world we want to live in?”

I encourage everyone to stay tuned for opportunities to let ODOT know how you feel about this issue. I plan on attending the meeting of the Oregon Pedestrian and Bicycle Advisory Committee where this issue will be discussed. If you can’t make it, please leave your comments here and stay tuned for a report. If you would like to attend, here are the details:

OBPAC Meeting
Friday, April 7th
Location: Lovejoy Room, Portland City Hall, 1221 SW 4th Ave., Portland
Time: 10am – Highway Closure agenda item

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