they biked during the storms last
winter. 78% of them said bikeways
were in poor condition.
(Photo © J. Maus)
Mayor Adams’ office has released the results of a survey they conducted to learn more about the experiences of people who rode their bikes through our spate of severe winter snow storms.
The bike survey was conducted separately from a general storm response survey because the Mayor’s office completely forgot about bikes in the first one.
The bike survey had about 450 respondents and the general survey had about 600. Here are the results of the bike survey:
1. Did you attempt to bike during the recent snowstorms?
2. If yes, were you able to reach your destination(s) by bike?
3. If yes, what were the conditions, for bikes, of Portland’s roadways?
4. Following the snow melt, how soon did the City remove gravel or storm debris from your bike route(s)
5. If biking is your primary mode of transportation and you chose not to bike during the storm, what were some reasons?
6. If bicycling is your primary mode of transportation and you chose not to bike, what mode of transportation did you most commonly use?
7. How would you rate TriMet’s accommodation for bikes during the storms?
The final question on the bike survey was open-ended and asked for other comments and suggestions. Reading through hundreds of responses, nearly all of them mention that gravel in bike lanes and on shoulders was (and still is in many cases) the biggest issue for bikes during the storm.
Here are a few of the responses (emphasis mine):
“bikers HAD to bike in the MAIN streets during the snowstorm(s) because that’s where snow had been worn from the roads. perhaps this should [be] a consideration–even if streets had bike lanes they were unusable. i bike 365 days of the year and i was terrified. and after the snowstorm and all of the snow had melted, i had to continue biking in the center of lanes because the sides of roads and bike lanes were full of gravel and littered with other debris such as branches.”
“post melt, road clearing should clear debris from entire road, not just car lanes.”
“i think the city’s man focus should be on cars and bikes last. choose other ways to get around like the bus.”
“It didn’t bother me much that we couldn’t bike in the snowstorm. What bothers me was that it took months to remove the gravel after the snow melted.”
“Snow ploughs [sic] push gravel, ice and snow in to the bike lanes. I ended up biking on the road after the major part of the storm was over. We need more and better separated bike facilities so that people can bike safely and comfortably no matter what the weather, and we need dedicated funding to maintaining bike facilities during storms. Autos are prioritized during storms, even though biking can be safer in bad weather. The city needs to start priotritizing [sic] bikes and walk the green talk.”
“After questioning a cyclist I saw, I tried getting on mine and was surprised at how easy it was to ride on the snow-packed roads. (Mountain Bike with off-road tires.)”
“Bike lanes and routes appeared to be the last for snow plowing as well as last for cleaning up gravel. The City’s maintenance efforts along bike routes year round is a great opportunity to “walk the talk” about bikes as a transportation option… Lots of room for improvement.”
“Why didn’t you clear bike boulevards? Why didn’t you clear painted bike lanes? Where’s the mode split for maintenance?“
“I think it just felt like pedestrians and bikers totally got the shaft, because the process of plowing the car lanes made sidewalks and bike lanes even less passable than if nothing had been done at all. It seems that walking, biking and public transit are the safest options for people in a storm like that, and yet two of the three of those were made nearly impossible…”
The City of Portland was obviously unprepared for a storm of this magnitude and they were in crisis-mode for several weeks. However, they also chose to almost completely ignore bike traffic in both policy and in practice. Despite this, many Portlanders chose to go by bike during the storms.
Not only were bikes a viable option for many, they also did nothing to contribute to the vast amount of damage that was done to our roads due to car tire chains and studded tires.
Hopefully next year, when another 100-year storm hits, the City of Portland can do a little more to accomodate bike traffic. At the least, I hope they don’t just forget about it completely.