Updated: Trucks make for perilous gap in popular trails

Posted by on July 14th, 2008 at 2:45 pm

[Updated 7/16, 10:42am (see below)]

A truck parked in the bike/ped lane forces a woman and children into the roadway as they make their way from the Eastbank Esplanade to the Springwater Corridor Trail via SE 4th Ave.
(Photos © J. Maus)

Last week I had to cover a story in Sellwood and I decided to take the Springwater Corridor Trail to get there (my office is near SE Hawthorne and 7th).

While on the several-block gap between the end of the Eastbank Esplanade and the beginning of the Springwater, I encountered a large amount of big-rig truck traffic on SE 4th. That’s not surprising, given that this is an industrial zone and that a major construction project is in progress

trucks near Springwater entrance-1.jpg

Can you spot the trail users in this photo?
That white line is supposed to be a bike lane.

But making matters worse is that some of the trucks seem to think the bike lane is a loading zone.

As I rode by, I noticed a woman walking on the trail with two small children. Since a big truck was parked in her path, she had to walk out into the motor vehicle lanes to continue south.

I spoke with the woman after snapping these photos. She is a nanny for the two boys and she told me that their mother warned her that she should be careful while walking in this area. Given what we know about the blind spots of big trucks, something should be done to make this stretch of road safer.

This experience reminded me of the importance of working to build the waterfront connection of this trail. Unfortunately at least one developer seems hell-bent on making sure that never happens (but luckily the Oregon Court of Appeals thinks differently).

It’s also worth noting that the Portland Police Bureau has made this area an “Enhanced Enforcement Zone” due to safety concerns with the construction project. Perhaps some of that enforcement could go toward making sure trucks do not block the bike lane.

Does anyone else have experience riding (or walking) on SE 4th? What do you think could be done to improve safety in this area?

[UPDATE: The construction zone manager saw the photo and this story and has notified the Portland Police Bureau about the issue (ODOT pays the PPB for enhanced enforcement in this area). Hopefully there should be less of this happening in the future. Please continue to report what you see below. ]

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Forseti
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Forseti

For those of you who don\’t go through here regularly, trucks violating the prohibition on parking in the bike lane is a daily occurrence.

And there is *absolutely zero* enforcement of this law by the PPB, even though PPB officers routinely hide at the intersections and hope to catch cyclists not coming to a full stop at the stop sign.

It\’s even a known fact that at least one member of the PPB has parked his own vehicle illegally in the bike lane here – and not while on duty or with any related police business.

wyatt
Guest
wyatt

I ride this stretch every day and I see semis parked in the bike lane around 3 to 4 times per week.

nuovorecord
Guest
nuovorecord

Well, whatever you do, don\’t yell at the truck drivers about their parking infractions, unless you want to be a hood ornament on a Kenworth… 🙁

Hank Sheppard
Guest
Hank Sheppard

More tarnish on Portland\’s platinum.
The Spirit of Portland should be put on notice to show a bit more Portland spirit and help get this terrible trail gap built.

ambrown
Guest

These photos make me cringe. What a critical link in our trails system that desperately deserves a safe connection.

Martha R
Guest
Martha R

This stretch is on my daily commute, and I often see semis parked in the bike lane. That produce distributor on the corner of Division Place and 4th (not Apple Distributors) creates one big nasty mess of truck jams in the mornings, so maybe it\’s time they re-thought their layout and truck circulation plan.

On the other hand, there is plenty of space on those roads, if only everyone would cooperate politely. I\’ve found the Ross Island Cement drivers to be particularly inconsiderate and aggressive, so just getting them to chill out and drive responsibly would make that area a whole lot safer.

erin g.
Guest
erin g.

I have been riding my bike through this area each day for four years. When I see trucks parked in the bike lane, I stop to notify workers, and they note that I am supposed to call the city or police when this occurs. Whereas some truck drivers in this multi-use traffic zone are highly courteous and grant the right-of-way as I ride (I smile and wave to express appreciation), there have been countless occasions where I have had to bail from my path or even my bike at times when large Class 8 rigs swing onto the thoroughfare without slowing or stopping for cyclists nearby. Once I kindly and calmly followed a truck driver who cut me off an in effort to engage and convey why his actions were dangerous, but he was outraged an inaccessible, noting, “We’re just sick of you people!”* This is just one of myriad perspectives, but it does exhibit some tension between the various parties who use this roadway (*not all truck drivers feel that way, of course. For example, recently, in Ladd’s Addition, something similar happened, and the conversation ended in a friendly, mutually respectful handshake. I wave to the motorist in Ladd’s whenever I see him on his porch.)

This area is in dire need of safety solutions to make things universally easier on pedestrians, cyclists, and trucking professionals alike. I am grateful that you are raising awareness about this, Jonathan!

When I see motorbike police officers issuing tickets to cyclists who dust stop signs in this area near the Portland Opera (I always stop, as I observe those who learn the hard way), I yearn to see similar enforcement operations directed toward trucks and cars in the dangerous intersections nearby.

Arem
Guest
Arem

Perhaps some signage is needed there which says something along the lines of \”High bicycle and pedestrian traffic area. Parking in marked bike lane is prohibited.\” Of course, enforcement would be good as well. However, it might be a decent bet that a good many of these trucks that come in from outside of Portland are unaware of the large amount of bicycles that are around the city as they may be coming from an area that sees very little if any bicycle usage. Wherever they come from, it may be \”okay\” to park in a bike lane. Some signs to make them aware may deter more truck drivers from parking their rigs there.

chris
Guest
chris

Yikes. Looks like some jersey barriers could be a temporary fix.

brettoo
Guest
brettoo

Can we get a statement from the PPB about why they\’re failing to enforce the law on these chronic, repeat violators? Seems like this would be an easy enforcement target area and would promote safety more than many others.

The Machine
Guest
The Machine

It\’s a problem all over the city. UPS, FedEx, DHL and various other delivery trucks use bike lanes as their personal parking spaces on a regular basis.

Klixi
Guest
Klixi

I go through this area twice a day (once on my way to Sellwood and once when coming back to the Pearl).

It can be annoying, but the trucks are pretty slow moving and most drivers seem hyper attentive to cyclists and pedestrians.

The bigger issue should be what happened with connecting the Corridor with the Esplanade? SK lost their case and I thought that paved the way (get it? hrhr) for us to link the 2 trails.

What is causing the snag in linking the trails together?

maritimus
Guest
maritimus

I used to ride through there daily. I think I used the traffic lanes more than the trucks did. Jersey barriers might actually help.

On another note, I saw a chronic bike lane-parking FedEx driver ticketed on 1st a few months ago. I haven\’t seen him parked there since. I think a little signage and enforcement could go a long way.

DS
Guest
DS

There needs to be a complete redesign of the truck parking in this area. If the truck parks in the bike lane, then the bikers are left to fend in the road, with some truck drivers who are a bit aggressive. If the truck parks in the road, leaving the bike lane clear, the bike is blocked from view of other vehicles, potentially leading to a situation where the bike \”suddenly\” appears from behind the trucks, with the potential for collisions.

xb
Guest
xb

can we make an easy-to-use citizen citation form for people parked in bike lanes? i would print them out and put magnetic backing on them so i could slap them on all the vehicles i see in the bike lane.

Toby
Guest
Toby

I don\’t think there should even be a bike lane through there. Where else are the trucks going to park, in the middle of the lane? Personally, I wouldn\’t want to be riding between the trucks and the wall. Remove the bike lane, let the trucks have the wall and then take the lane. Install a sidewalk on the northbound side with a wall or barrier of some kind between it and the tracks for the peds, and be done with it. That\’s not taking into consideration the path through SK, if that ever happens. I need to read more on that before I could even begin to formulate an opinion.

Stripes
Guest
Stripes

If you ever see anybody violating a parking regulation, whether it\’s a truck blocking the bike lane, or an SUV parked rudely across the entire sidewalk on your daily stroll through your neighborhood, you can call the City of Portland\’s Parking Enforcement hotline –

503-823-5195

You leave a message with all the info, but it really does seem to be a hotline. They send a parking officer out there pretty quickly, and ticket the vehicle. I\’ve called several times on my bike commute into work along the bike blvd several times to report repeat offenders. After I called, I never, ever saw their cars parked illegally again, so I guess getting that $70 ticket changed their minds!

503-823-5195 – program it in your cell!

George W Bush
Guest
George W Bush

I find it funny that the cyclists are pissing and moaning about lack of enforcement of trucks parking in your precious bike lane. I would like to see more enforcement of laws that cyclists violate everyday….

greenkrypto
Guest
greenkrypto

I ride this route on my way from St.John\’s to my job in Lents. Last week a concrete truck was parked in the same place, I passed on the truck\’s left and another concrete truck driver from Ross Island \’crete shouted \”Hey, you\’re gonna get a ticket for not riding in the bike lane\”.

Maybe when Sam gets control of the city we\’ll see some change.

Donna
Guest
Donna

Can we get a statement from the PPB about why they\’re failing to enforce the law on these chronic, repeat violators? Seems like this would be an easy enforcement target area and would promote safety more than many others.
When I was on Tracey Sparling\’s memorial ride last fall I was told point-blank by a member of the Portland Police Bureau\’s Traffic Division that there is \”nothing the police can do about cars parked in the bike lane\”. (He was forcing the ride members to move into the bike lane, but a third of it was taken up by big trucks.) I remember his words quite clearly. Perhaps the police do nothing because they don\’t think they can?

John Russell
Guest

Stripes, you wouldn\’t happen to know of a similar number for Vancouver and Clark County, would you?

PoPo
Guest
PoPo

@#1 Forseti

Yes, that was my car. There\’s even a photo of it in an article Jonathan posted. As I mention in the comments for the article, I debated about posting the article and photo, as I knew it would irritate some people who would latch on to the cop\’s car partially in the bike lane and not the point I was trying to make about humility, but finally decided that most people would appreciate the context and the message, so it was worth posting.

I would also encourage people to call the parking patrol number Stripes thoughtfully provided in #17.

Officers can issue parking citations for cars parked in a bicycle lane, but parking enforcement in general ends up being a lower priority with emergency calls and other crime reports to take. I\’m guessing that taking this load off of the police was one of the reasons a parking patrol (a different agency than PPB) was created.

I\’m sure this might spur comments about police priorities, but I just wanted to be as forthright as possible.

Donna (#20), it may have been that the officer who said that to you on the ride didn\’t know that he could issue a citation, or that because he was occupied by ride escort duties, he felt that he couldn\’t stop to cite the truck immediately. He may have also thought that you were asking about towing the truck, and to be honest, I\’m not complete sure we can to that for that offense or not. Regardless of the reason, sorry for the misinformation.

Kevin Wagoner
Guest

I ride there at least a couple times a week as it is one of my routes home. I imagine they are there sometimes, but I never see someone there enforcing the law. It is not uncommon to see vehicles parked in the bike lanes. I\’ve never had any bad experiences there as a result though.

specialK
Guest
specialK

Last Friday I also encountered a large truck taking the bike lane on this stretch. I went on the inside, between the truck and the building… a tight squeeze, and made me nervous.

Forseti
Guest
Forseti

@ #22:

The obvious first step in solving this problem is simple enforcement of the existing laws that are being routinely violated.

But how can we expect any help from the PPB when their officers violate the laws themselves and openly tell citizens that they will not enforce them?

This is the most basic duty of police and the PPB has utterly failed.

But does this really surprise anyone? The PPB has literally gotten away with murder in Portland, so I don\’t think it\’s realistic to expect their help with a problem like this.

Because of the PPB, nothing will change here. There will continue to be a safety risk and eventually someone will get injured or killed.

Chad
Guest
Chad

503-823-5195 has worked for me on two different occasions.

Not only is it effective in putting the current violator in the right, it conveys the message to others that park in the area that parking in the bike lanes is a bad idea.

As for Fed Ex, UPS, and other delivery drivers…they do have the right to park in the bike lanes for loading and unloading. When I still drove delivery truck in PDX I was caught in a conflict of interest more than once so please try to be understanding of the delivery truck that has it\’s four ways on and is ONLY there to make a delivery. On the other hand, have little tolerance for the truck or car that is definitely \”parked\”…call the above number ASAP so others don\’t have a chance to follow the first violators lead.

George W Bush is the new Big Diesel.

Forseti
Guest
Forseti

\”Fed Ex, UPS, and other delivery drivers… do have the right to park in the bike lanes for loading and unloading.\”

Really? What law says that?

Red Hippie
Guest
Red Hippie

I have the parking patrols number programed into my cell phone. Tickets work far better than anything else. A commercial driver has 2 choices; 1. pay the ticket themselves, 2. explain to their boss why they got a ticket and jump through the hoops to get it paid.

This works really well. I would suggest posting the parking bureaus number by the opera headquarters and by Ross Island Cement. For example \”report parking in the bike lane, 503-blah blah. That way, people will know what to do, the city will make more money on parking tickets, the local buisnesses will push to get better standing only parking assigned and ultimately, the issue will get resolved.

This issue will also be extremely pertinent to the present/future north portland greenway as it goes through swan island.

Cheers,

Matt Picio
Guest

Forseti (#27) – \”What law says that?\” (parking in bike lane allowed for loading / unloading)

ORS 811.560(3): When applicable, this subsection exempts vehicles stopped, standing or parked momentarily for the purpose of and while actually engaged in loading or unloading property or passengers.

http://www.leg.state.or.us/ors/811.html

Don Bevington
Guest
Don Bevington

Re #28 This is TRUE!!! It works and they respond pretty quickly.

503 823-5195 Parking Enforcement

Chad
Guest
Chad

Forseti,

I apologize for not having the exact name or # of the law, but I\’m sure it is the law.

A few months ago when I was still delivery driving I had a customer on N Vancouver (along my commute to work BTW) who insisted on me parking in the bike lane so they could unload me via forklift. I protested, pissing off the customer by not doing what I thought would be breaking the law, only to find out later in the day as I compiled the facts to bolster my case with my upset supervisor that I had every right to be in the bike lane for loading and unloading as long as my four-ways were flashing.

And if you stop to think about it for a few minutes and put yourself in the position of a business owner who happens to be along a bike lane and/or route…what are they to do when they need product delivered or shipped out and the only place they can load or unload a truck is in the bike lane?

To take this to the next level, are you possibly considering that all businesses be located outside of Portland proper where there are no bike lanes conflicts so everybody can then drive 15 miles to work instead of riding their bike five miles to a business that happens to right along a bike lane?

I know you don\’t think that, but take it into consideration.

Commerce happens…for better or for worse it\’s one more thing we need to share the road with.

Matt Picio
Guest

Chad (#31) – reference my post (#29). It\’s perfectly legal, so long as the vehicle in question is actually engaged in loading / unloading. UPS/FedEx is technically in a gray area IMO, because being parked in the bike lane while sorting packages is not covered by the wording of the statute as I read it. I highly doubt that the police and the courts would enforce the statute that narrowly (or maybe even at all) – a.O., Mark Ginsberg or Ray Thomas would be the best people to comment on that. I\’m not a lawyer, merely a literalist.

Of course, there are times when that trait comes in handy… and others when it just pisses people off. YMMV.

andrew
Guest
andrew

i\’m all about the parking enforcement line. usually i try to warn the driver if i see them get out that it\’s not a legal parking spot and that i\’m calling them in. if it\’s a business i\’ll go in and let them know that i\’m calling so they can warn their customers. that also has the side effect of getting the businesses to warn their clients that the bike lane isn\’t just additional parking.

Aaron
Guest
G.A.R.
Guest
G.A.R.

When construction temporarily obliterates a bike lane, there should be a temporary bike lane built nearby that minimizes inconvenience and maintains safety. I-205 is an excellent example of how not to do it. The network of streets we are expected to navigate through Lents is absurd. There should be a nice ten-foot-wide lane with plastic reflective pylons every ten feet–or jersey barriers–along 92nd, or something on that scale. The picture in the story with the nanny and the two tykes should show a ten-foot-wide bike/ped lane separated from traffic. If the businesses need access to large trucks, it poses more of a challenge, but it doesn\’t mean you don\’t do it.

Martha #6 might suggest sharrows in the construction period, and I think that would make sense if this were a bike issue only. But in this case it is a ped trail too, so sharrows are not a solution.

Obviously the waterfront trail is the real answer in this case, but in general I think bike/ped facilities are one of the first things to go when there is construction, and they shouldn\’t be.