Posted by Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) on September 22nd, 2009 at 10:09 am
coffee to share a safety message
on the Mississippi Hill this morning.
(Photos © J. Maus)
Oh, the life of a bike commuter in Portland. Last night, people riding east across the Hawthorne Bridge were serenaded by a harpist and offered chamomile tea; and this morning, people coming south on Mississippi Avenue were offered free donuts and coffee. Both events were meant to raise awareness of bike safety.
On the Hawthorne the issue is how to deal with congestion. On the Mississippi Hill, PBOT is concerned about bike safety because they maintain two yards full of maintenance operations equipment and the street is frequented by large trucks.
Maintenance Operations staff have grown even more concerned about bike safety after PBOT installed a new bike lane and re-configured the roadway last month.
Engineers added an uphill bike lane and removed the center turn lane. That center turn lane is where large trucks used to be able to wait prior to turning left into the maintenance yard. Now, when they slow down and stop to turn into the yard, they are sticking into the travel lane — where some fear they could collide with people on bicycles who are going too fast to stop safely (the left turn area is also in somewhat of a blind corner).
PBOT Maintenance Operations Supervisor Kirstin Byer — who works in the Albina Yard on Mississippi — was at the event this morning. “Our concerns are really just based on fear. We’re really just afraid that we can’t see everyone.” Byer says that the new bike facility has encouraged even more people to use the route and added that “we don’t want to hurt anybody.”
As bikes rolled by on their morning commute, Byer (along with PBOT Transportation Options Division staffers Scott Cohen and Jeff Smith) yelled, “Be careful of the big trucks down there.” Many riders stopped and were appreciative of the message (and the donuts).
[Note: You might remember Byer as the person behind many of Portland’s beloved bike lane characters.]
Also at this morning’s event, PBOT had placed temporary signs in the median adjacent to the downhill lane with messages like “trucks turning below”, “no room to swerve” and “slow down”.