the Burnside Couch couplet
is unsafe to ride.
(File photo: Adams Carroll)
The City of Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) is coming under fire for biking conditions on their East Burnside Couch Couplet project. In a blog post published yesterday, the Bicycle Transportation Alliance (BTA) wrote that the couplet is “not ready to ride” and last night KATU-TV put the story and on their 11 o’clock newscast.
BTA volunteer organizer and human resource manager Michael O’Leary has jumped on the issue in hopes of getting PBOT to make significant improvements to several aspects of the project’s design.
On the BTA blog, O’Leary wrote that the project falls short of “the world-class standards the city is known for,” and that, “Wide-ranging complaints… raise serious questions about safety.” He also spoke out about the project to KATU-TV in a segment that ran last night:
O’Leary happened upon a crash on the NE Couch s-curve last week that he photographed and sent to PBOT along with his concerns. That photo, along with a litany of concerns voiced in the comments of a story about the project we published on April 20th, got PBOT to visit the location.
Following their observations, PBOT project manager Chris Armes and bike coordinator Roger Geller acknowledged the problems and got to work on immediate fixes.
In addition to concerns with the curvy lanes on NE Couch that’s causing a lot of the uproar, O’Leary also says the on-street parking on Couch east of NE 6th (where the bike lane starts) “Makes Couch feel crowded and uncomfortable.” Because “cyclists are forced to ride too close to the doors of parked cars or out into the auto lane in the middle of traffic,” O’Leary wants PBOT to remove on-street parking on one side of Couch during the morning rush-hour.
O’Leary also warns that congestion on Couch increases the risks of right hooks. He wants PBOT to add bike boxes at high-risk intersections.
To improve bike safety on Couch, O’Leary suggests that bike traffic should be directed to the left hand side prior to Martin Luther King Jr., Blvd. and he wants a bike-only traffic signal installed to get bike traffic onto the Burnside Bridge on-ramp.
On the portion of Couch that leads up to the bridge, O’Leary thinks the bike lane should ultimately be set back and elevated up onto the sidewalk to avoid conflicts.
O’Leary says these fixes shouldn’t require major design revisions “It’s no more a design failure than buying a pair of pants that don’t fit. It’s not that pants can’t work, it’s just that they need some tailoring.” He likens the situation to how PBOT, TriMet, and the BTA retro-fitted the Rose Quarter Transit Center with green dedicated bikeways. “I think we can make a Rose Quarter scale improvement on a much faster timeline.”
PBOT spokesperson Dan Anderson says crews have already begun restriping lanes on the Couch s-curve and they’ll also be widening the bike path and adding a three-foot painted buffer this week.