The Worst Day of the Year Ride is February 11th

Leaves in bike lanes: Open thread to report locations

Posted by on November 17th, 2011 at 1:54 pm

Leaves in the bike lane
on Naito this morning.
(Photo © J. Maus)

After the burst of fall was followed by stiff winds and rain last night, leaves are covering many bike lanes in Portland. For cars, leaves aren’t a big deal, because the mass, velocity and tires on a car act like sweepers to keep lanes clean. But bikes aren’t big enough to have that same effect, so the leaves pile up.

The dangers of leaves are two-fold: Ride in them and risk slipping out in the slimy muck; ride around them and risk getting hit by other traffic in other lanes. Add in the early darkness of the evening commute and it becomes even more important to keep bike lanes free of debris and hazards.

I noticed nearly all of the northbound bike lane on Naito Parkway was completely covered in leaves this morning. I’ve also heard of major leafing up on N. Willamette on the bluff overlooking Swan Island.

Where else are you seeing big piles of leaves in the bike lanes?

To get them swept, email or call it in to 823-1700. I’d like to think that — since this is an annual problem and we shouldn’t have to rely solely on citizen reporting to keep traffic lanes unobstructed — perhaps PBOT could create a list of places where this occurs and order proactive sweeps in the future.

For now, let’s try to get a good list of locations. Ready, go….

UPDATE: Read the story we just published: PBOT says they’ll put “focused attention” on bike lanes this weekend.

NOTE: We love your comments and work hard to ensure they are productive, considerate, and welcoming of all perspectives. Disagreements are encouraged, but only if done with tact and respect. If you see a mean or inappropriate comment, please contact us and we'll take a look at it right away. Thank you — Jonathan

  • K'Tesh November 17, 2011 at 1:55 pm

    Beaverton… SW Lombard from Center St. south
    Portland… SW Broadway

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  • Dave November 17, 2011 at 1:58 pm

    I actually saw a couple of guys that looked like they were from the city shoveling leaves out of the west-bound bike lane on NE Lloyd yesterday morning, but after all the wind last night, they were totally covered again this morning. So, there’s one location 🙂

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    • -J November 17, 2011 at 3:31 pm

      Well, I guess it is more practical for the maintenance crews to wait until almost all the leaves are off the trees before removing them, but it is tricky out there. I find myself taking the lane more … Also, Interstate ave headed south has a good mat of leaves on the downhill section.

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  • Tony November 17, 2011 at 1:58 pm

    SW Madison between 3rd and 4th is not only full of leaves, but also has a fence running right through the middle of the bike lane. The supports for the fence are covered in leaves and it forces commuters in the evening out into the street. This one really needs immediate action.

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  • Esther November 17, 2011 at 1:59 pm

    N Williams is bad just south of Russell (in front of Quad Inc.’s facility). There are some sketchy spots on Going too in the teens.

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    • daisy November 17, 2011 at 6:06 pm

      N. Williams near Russell was still really bad this afternoon. There are trouble spots south and north of Russell.

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  • Julie November 17, 2011 at 2:02 pm

    NE Lloyd Blvd, especially bad in between 12th and MLK. Both sides of the street. So many leaves and sticks it’s forcing people into traffic lanes. Dave’s correct, there were guys out there yesterday, but this morning the wind had made the problem even worse again.

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    • Joe November 17, 2011 at 3:00 pm

      Agreed, very bad there.

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    • ME 2 November 18, 2011 at 1:56 pm

      I ride NE Lloyd home eastbound each night. I took the lane last night because it looked like PBOT piled the leaves in the lane to create some space near the curb so the rain could drain without clogging up the storm drains.

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  • Chris November 17, 2011 at 2:02 pm

    All of Ladd’s Addition is covered in leaves. It’s been really bad for at least a week.

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    • Nick V November 17, 2011 at 2:56 pm

      Carefully placed by their residents to keep you scofflaw cyclists out. Mwaa-ha-ha.

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      • Neighbor Gregg November 17, 2011 at 2:59 pm

        Ever notice that the same neighbor who blows his leaves into the street is the same neighbor with a sign on the front lawn that reads “Don’t let your dog shit on the grass”?

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        • Nick V November 17, 2011 at 3:24 pm

          Actually, nobody is allowed to go potty at all in Ladd’s Addition unless it is of a color, scent, and consistency specifically examined and approved by the neighborhood association.

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        • Schrauf November 17, 2011 at 9:10 pm

          The saddest part about your comment is that now it is actually legal, and encouraged, to throw leaves out of our yards into the streets. That is where the City picks them up from, for $60 per year, unless you opt out.

          Use streets for a dumping ground. Gee, seems safe.

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          • J_R November 18, 2011 at 8:16 am

            It’s actually only $30 per year. The city asks that you wait until the day before the scheduled leaf pickup, but that is clearly not followed by people.

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          • Joseph E November 18, 2011 at 8:45 am

            You are supposed to rake the leaves into the parking zone on each side of the street, not into the travel lanes in the middle. But I can see how this could be misinterpreted on streets that have bike lanes.

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  • Zac November 17, 2011 at 2:05 pm

    NE Multnhomah just east of 16th.

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  • Name November 17, 2011 at 2:07 pm

    Uh, seriously? This is what we want our public dollars spent on?

    I must be doing it wrong: I’m riding through the leaves on my bike and surviving without complaint.

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    • Chris November 17, 2011 at 2:37 pm

      It can be very easy to slip and skid out on piles of wet leaves when riding a bike. That probably should have been explained in the article above.

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      • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) November 17, 2011 at 2:42 pm

        Thanks Chris. See the new paragraph I just added!

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        • Zac November 18, 2011 at 7:21 am

          Leaves also visually obscure the bike lane, making it much harder to see all the typical debris that usually exists in the bike lane, e.g., potholes, sticks, gravel, glass, standing water, etc.

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          • jeff November 18, 2011 at 8:06 am

            You took the words right out of my keyboard!!

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    • A.K. November 17, 2011 at 3:18 pm

      They already pay folks to sweep the streets, may as well notify them of the areas that need to be cleaned up, yes?

      *Not* notifying them isn’t going to save the city money somehow.

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      • Machu Picchu November 17, 2011 at 5:35 pm

        Not all streets in the metro area are swept by workers that only sweep, and are just waiting for someone to tell them where to go. In this case, “squeaky wheels” could cause a sweeping crew (which costs a lot more than just wages) to be deployed, perhaps deployed prematurely and/or repetitively, causing streets to be swept more times than previously budgeted for.

        I’m all for clear bike lanes, and if the money’s there I’m all for doing it every day. But just wanted to clarify that citizen requests while well-intentioned and frequently helpful, can and do impact expenditure of tax dollars.

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        • A.K. November 17, 2011 at 6:29 pm

          Well I don’t think it should be done DAILY, obviously that would be impractical and way too expensive. But I imagine the city has a way to record and prioritize requests when they are determining their upcoming cleaning routes.

          I hope? Perhaps I’m overly optimistic with my vision of what the planning department for city street sweepers looks like!

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          • Machu Picchu November 17, 2011 at 8:04 pm

            When leaves are falling, sweeping daily is the only way to prevent piles, branches, et cetera. In the worst locations, they accummulate and cause new problems the day after they are swept.

            If you’re optimistic, it’s probably a good thing. You’re probably right about how this will work out for the City. You let them know, they get to it asap, they get back the usual plan afterward, and it all comes out in the wash. That’s what you said, right? 😉 I just know street maintenance, and it stands out to me when people make comments that are assumptions and frequently incorrect, as it probably does to all of us when the topic is our specialty. In this case, the optimistic assumption I would make is that 1. extra sweeping is already in the budget, 2. the sweeper operators already know exactly where their problem spots are, because the same stuff happens in the same spots every fall, and 3. the City values everyone’s input, and passes it on to the crews to make sure they’re aware.

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    • gumby November 17, 2011 at 4:31 pm

      On Monday I saw a rider with a kid on a trail a bike wipe out on SW first (SW First just south of downtown)

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    • velvetackbar November 18, 2011 at 4:58 pm

      I had ANOTHER flat tire yesterday. Ran over a poster with tacks in it that had blown off a pole and was obscured by leaves. Its not the leaves with the consistency of a banana peel that are necessarily the problem, its that you can’t always tell whats underneath them (rocks, wood, sticks, posters, tacks, puppies, netbooks, actual banana peels.)

      Side note: As a stupid teenager we used to go “leaf bashing” in my friend’s family minivan. that worked GREAT until someone “salted” a leaf pile with railroad ties. That was a very awkward conversation with my friend’s dad.

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  • C.J. November 17, 2011 at 2:08 pm

    Rosa Parks, East and West bound bike lanes from MLK to Interstate.

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  • jeremy November 17, 2011 at 2:12 pm

    all of Vista from the Bridge south up into the hills–not a complete bike lane (it appears and disappears) but leaves throughout forcing me (and other bikers) into the travel lane.

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  • Alli November 17, 2011 at 2:12 pm

    Leaves up and down SW Fairview–be careful descending around some of the sharp turns.

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  • ME 2 November 17, 2011 at 2:18 pm

    NE Lloyd just east of MLK until NE 9. The worst part is NE Multnomah just east of NE 15.

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  • Mark November 17, 2011 at 2:21 pm

    The new bike track on Moody has plastic blown into the lane and one of the new trees fell over into the southbound lane. Fun times at 5 in the morning with poor visibility!

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  • Brian November 17, 2011 at 2:23 pm

    Bybee/SE Tolman/SE 28th between 99E and SE Steele by Eastmoreland Golf Course there were quite a few leaves. I saw some people using leaf blowers on one section of this strip this morning, hopefully they are doing the whole thing.

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  • 9watts November 17, 2011 at 2:23 pm

    perhaps we need a brigade of pedal-powered bike lane sweepers. Maybe tall bikes would be good raw material so you can see what you’re doing?

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    • -J November 17, 2011 at 2:41 pm

      I have been thinking about this too….there is a product out there made for riding lawnmowers. They are called “lawn sweepers” and have rotating brushes that push leaves into a rear bagger. I don’t know where to get one used, but it seems that with a little welding, I could make one into a trailer…with a couple people with extra trailers to carry the leaves, I bet we could clear the lanes faster than the City.

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  • GuardRail November 17, 2011 at 2:29 pm

    EVERYWHERE!!! I’ve been workin on a rake bike for a couple years now and haven’t made a ton of progress. Maybe by next fall???

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  • Oliver November 17, 2011 at 2:37 pm

    I didn’t ride today but it reminds me of 2 years ago when the only leaf-free section of my 6 mile commute was about 50 feet in the center of the lower steel bridge crossing.

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  • K'Tesh November 17, 2011 at 2:39 pm

    I seem to remember that sidewalk maintenance is the responsibility of the adjacent property owner, whereas the street is the responsibility of the jurisdiction that it falls in. Liability suits could be a lot more than simple maintenance.

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  • Dave November 17, 2011 at 2:49 pm

    SW Terwilliger is brutal right now, as is the Riverview Cemetary. There are spots in the cemetary where there is 5-10″ of leaves piled up across the lane.

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    • A.K. November 17, 2011 at 3:11 pm

      I was going to post this very thing! I rode on Terwilliger this past weekend and had to stop and clean all the crap out of my fork and brake calipers because it was making such an annoying vvVVVVvvvVVVvvvVVV noise as I pedaled. Almost the entire lane is filled with a thick pile of leaves.

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    • Tony H November 17, 2011 at 3:59 pm

      SW Terwilliger is also quite innundated with leaves by the VA Hospital. This makes going downhill at night quite the experience.

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    • bigfatlamer November 17, 2011 at 4:54 pm

      Two more thumbs up (down?) for Terwilliger which is a total disaster. I ride it daily and have had to “take the lane” in every outside curve in both directions because the leaf piles are so big and slick. I think what makes this area such a problem is the curves and hills. It’s still a drag (but overall less dangerous) in areas where the road is straighter (in all 3 dimensions). I’ve been tempted to ride on the pedestrian path lately since it’s nearly devoid of leaves.

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  • ed November 17, 2011 at 2:49 pm

    Jonathan noted it but I have to repeat this: inbound Willamette (from St Johns to Rosa Parks) is a potential killer. Deep piles of leaves with sticks that are bad enough to require weaving into the travel lane.

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    • j November 18, 2011 at 3:28 pm

      yes! i have been riding in the car lanes when possible along my Willamette commute all week. it’s ridiculously slippery out there (and apparently with hidden glass – flat coming home last night).

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  • John Lascurettes November 17, 2011 at 3:00 pm

    After last night’s winds, it’s pretty much anywhere there’s trees. NE Knott is pretty bad between MLK and 21st. NE Russell was pretty bad last night. NE Skidmore next to Wilshire Park was carpeted curb to curb this morning.

    I have no qualms about taking the lane where the leaves are bad. Even stayed out of the bike lane on NE Russell because it was just too covered in leaves.

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  • Andrew November 17, 2011 at 3:01 pm

    All over Ladd’s. All over SE Gladstone.

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  • Joseph E November 17, 2011 at 3:11 pm

    The bike lanes on NE Glisan thru Kents and Laurelhurst is covered both ways, from Sandy to 47th

    I saw NE Ankeny getting leaf-plowed today, at least. That was nice!

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  • beanpdx November 17, 2011 at 3:32 pm

    It was an interesting ride home last night down SW Barbur. Tonight will be similar. The big piles are the scariest.
    It is autumn, and leaves fall. I really don’t mind it, just slow down and be a bit more careful. It is good for cyclocross skills!
    The annoying thing is the people who sweep the leaves in to the street. There is weekly yard debris pick up now. Just sweep some into the green barrel every week. Sure it will take a few weeks to get rid of, but it’s better than putting it in the street and making everyone else pay for it.

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    • JAT in Seattle November 17, 2011 at 3:37 pm

      Pffff! Sweep? Weekly yard debris pick-up? I didn’t buy my loud smoky 2-stroke gas powered leaf blower in order to Sweep!

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      • JAT in Seattle November 17, 2011 at 3:39 pm

        Of course I jest; I bought it to convert my bike into the world’s least efficient jet powered transport…

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    • Porter November 17, 2011 at 3:57 pm

      I’m guessing that you will see more people putting leaves in the street now than in years past. The city started charging home owners (at least in NE PDX) for leave pickup and basically tells them to rake, blow, whatever leaves into the street. Many NE PDX homeowners did this prior to the fee, but more are doing it because of it.

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  • jeff November 17, 2011 at 3:33 pm

    AFter last nights storm, I’m sure the city is WELL aware there’s a big leaf problem. Minimal equipment, small work crews. Give them time. Deal with it like an adult in the meantime.

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  • Paul Tay November 17, 2011 at 3:37 pm

    Roll left, and make cagjaaaas roll in the leaves. Problem solved.

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  • Art Fuldodger November 17, 2011 at 4:27 pm

    Banks-Vernonia trail. Bigleaf Maple leaves everywhere, as of a week ago.

    Time to clearcut & burn. Oh, wait, we did that already…

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  • Tessa November 17, 2011 at 4:30 pm

    The bike/ped pass through at NE Wasco and 28th is covered with leaves and very slippery.

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  • S November 17, 2011 at 5:04 pm

    East side of NE 122nd between Fremont and the I84 trail is really, really bad, covered not only in leaves but fallen branches, broken glass, gravel and other debris.

    South/Southeast of NE Fremont between NE 102nd and NE 122nd is also clogged with garbage and debris…has been for a few weeks before the last night’s mini-storm.

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    • Lisa November 18, 2011 at 3:47 pm

      super duper dangerous there

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  • dwainedibbly November 17, 2011 at 6:10 pm

    SW Jefferson though the South Park Blocks to SW 10th is pretty bad.

    Agree that Terwilliger on Marquam Hill is pretty bad, too.

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  • danny November 17, 2011 at 6:20 pm

    Riding Burbur northbound this morning was very dicey in places — not something I’d want to do at night in particular!

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  • Hugh Johnson November 17, 2011 at 7:04 pm

    going st. sidewalk going down to swan island is bad.

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  • Stephanie November 17, 2011 at 7:04 pm

    We ride Willamette every day with kids and I call the city’s traffic safety hotline @ 503-823-SAFE to report dead animals…leaves, etc.

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    • Robert Ping November 18, 2011 at 11:47 am

      Hey Steph, Is that big pile still there on Willamette? It was ten feet long and over a foot high when I rode past Tuesday on the way to the airport.

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  • Kevin Wagoner November 17, 2011 at 8:02 pm

    I was out of town the first part of the week. I told my wife before I left that I was timing the trip perfect with hopes of all the leaves being down and up by the time I got back. Well almost, I’m getting to ride SW Barber to work in the morning….it looks rather bad.

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  • GlowBoy November 17, 2011 at 8:12 pm

    What Guardrail said above: EVERYWHERE! I rode home from Beaverton on my usual fair-weather route (which reminded me why it’s not a foul-weathe route) and there were leaves in the bike lanes the entire route: Millikan from Murray to Hall, Hall from Farmington down to Washington Square, Oleson back up to Garden Home, Garden Home to Multnomah, Multnomah to the Village, Barbur back down to Hamilton. ALL the bike lanes I used had deep debris for extended stretches, and in many places the leaves covered the stripe indicating where the bike lane is.

    I’m not worried about slipping — I use a front studded tire this time of year precisely because it punches through moderate leaf piles to the pavement — but some of the piles are deep enough to make for a rough ride, and can hide stick and rock debris that can throw you OTB.

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    • Kristen November 18, 2011 at 9:16 am

      Re: studded bike tires: where do you find them, and how are they in the wet?

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      • GlowBoy November 18, 2011 at 12:10 pm

        The only place that stocks them locally is Universal Cycles (probably because they’re mostly an online business). They are expensive — most are $70-80.

        I only use one on the front because our conditions are usually pretty mild as snow and ice go. If you’re riding on wet glare ice or heavily rutted ice (such as found in cities back east) you’ll need them on both wheels to keep the back end from slipping out on you, but for most of our conditions I just need to keep the front from slipping.

        Grip on wet or dry pavement is pretty much indistinguishable from non-studded tires. They are quite a bit heavier than normal tires (800-1100g for a 26″ or 700c tire) and they do roll a bit slower. But the better ones (I like the Schwalbe Marathon Winter) still roll faster than knobby mountain bike tires.

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  • Braden November 17, 2011 at 10:26 pm

    Capitol, from Barbur to PCC Sylvania it is too risky to ride in the bike lane. Too many leaves. Most of Barbur is clean.

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  • Dave November 18, 2011 at 7:35 am

    NE Lloyd was almost totally clear this morning, so apparently the city cleared it out again yesterday.

    I have to say, it seems like they’re being way more pro-active about leaf cleanup this year, and I really appreciate that. Thanks PDX!

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  • jim November 18, 2011 at 7:37 am

    I think they should take all those occupy protesters that were arressted and give them rakes and put them to work 🙂

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  • lda November 18, 2011 at 8:05 am

    NE Weidler in front of the Rose Quarter.

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  • jeff November 18, 2011 at 8:16 am

    Slightly off topic, but has anyone else noticed those orange plastic warning posts stored *in* the bike lane all along Capitol Hwy through Hillsdale. They aren’t actually warning against anything–it seems somebody thinks that the bike lane is a good place to store these things. I can’t even see any construction work going on on the south side of the street, where I noticed them.

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    • bigfatlamer November 18, 2011 at 2:45 pm

      Yup…there and on Barbur southbound, just south of Hamilton as well (when I last rode it a week ago). I could live with the bollards since there’s still room in the lane but they also put folded up warning signs in the lane as well and the feet extend through the bike lane into the traffic lane. I actually moved a couple of them up onto the sidewalk the other day when the fog had visibility down to ~100ft. I haven’t been past since to see what happened to them.

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  • Scott November 18, 2011 at 9:15 am

    Seriously, it is easy to slip and fall on leaves. It is also easy to rear end someone in a car when conditions change. It is also rather easy to purchase an H2. Yet all of these things can be avoided with only a modicum of understanding and a tiny bit of awareness and forethought. If everyone keeps wanting to be coddled into safety by the city, the one time something slips through the cracks it will be an even greater danger. Stop wanting the city to micromanage your safety. This will result in being unprepared for what will inevitably happen. It’s not if, it’s when.

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    • Dave November 18, 2011 at 9:26 am

      I don’t think it has to be either/or. We can be aware of dangers, be wary and take precautions, but also expect the city to take reasonable measures to promote our safety on the roads.

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  • Kristen November 18, 2011 at 9:16 am

    In Tigard, Durham Rd from at least Hall to 76th. I haven’t been down Durham Rd the other way recently, but I’d imagine wherever there are overhanging trees, there are leaves in the bike lane.

    Also Tigard, sporadically up McDonald and Gaarde.

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  • Christianne November 18, 2011 at 9:29 am

    SE 17th from Umatilla to Mcloughlin is a hot mess. Leaves + Potholes and speeding traffic = nervous riding. Plus I don’t even know who would handle it seeing as Portland ends and Milwaukie begins smack dab in the middle of it.

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    • Paul November 18, 2011 at 3:06 pm

      Agreed. 17th is especially bad south of Linn.

      Just as bad is the long grade on McLoughlin just south of downtown Milwaukie. Heading south isn’t so bad because uphill speeds are slower anyway, but heading north is crazy. The stretch from Park Ave all the way to the railroad viaduct is nasty — and I ride that section before sunrise. Ick.

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  • Dan V November 18, 2011 at 10:02 am

    Willamette from Rosa Parks all the way deep into St Johns. Also, Portsmouth from UP to Columbia (amazingly, the yards along there are spotless…)

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  • Travis November 18, 2011 at 11:43 am

    SW Multnomah Blvd and SW Oleson Road bike lanes are full of leaves and debris.

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  • Tom C November 18, 2011 at 11:51 am

    The City had swept Terwilliger earlier in the week but they are no match for the wind and rain.

    As others have noted, the downhill sections (northbound) are particularly dangerous: the bike lanes are essentially invisible and unusable. I have been ‘taking the lane’ the last several nights as it is the only safe way down the hill.

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  • peoples republic November 18, 2011 at 12:25 pm

    I am looking forward to a similar article when it snows. Just copy and replace “leaves” with “snow” and you are good to go.

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  • Joe November 18, 2011 at 12:47 pm

    some Cities clear sidewalks to blow leafs into bike lane. hmm.. ride safe.

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  • S November 18, 2011 at 1:30 pm

    Jonathan, are you going to email this link to the folks in charge (as indicated above)? Or perhaps we could multiply our efforts, flooding their inbox (with a unified message) linking to the page…to raise the “squeak” volume, as it were. 🙂

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  • Barbara November 18, 2011 at 2:18 pm

    Terwilliger was indeed bad. I noticed that it was swept Wednesday morning and by the evening the bike lanes had thick layers of leaves again. Plus a tree fell over the bikelane right in the darkest and steepest curve west of Homestead. Luckily, I was taking the lane. My husband was in the bike lane, saw the tree last minute, but the bike trailer with our daughter hit it with one wheel. She tipped over but luckily nothing major happened. We called Portland SAFE from home and by then they we already informed and had a crew out. At least they responded really fast! Still, I took the bus instead on Thursday. Leave season sucks, but at least it’s only a few weeks!

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  • Jason November 20, 2011 at 12:42 pm

    How about this, The leaves are everywhere. In bike lanes, in the streets, in my yard, on my CAR. GET OVER IT! Leaves fall every year at this time. Just another stupid article so people can blabber on about nothing.

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    • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) November 21, 2011 at 10:40 am

      I hear you Jason, but this isn’t just about the annoyance of leaves in bike lanes… It’s important for PBOT and other agencies to understand that the bike lanes deserve just as much attention as other lanes of travel when it comes to maintenance and sweeping.

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  • TomC November 20, 2011 at 1:17 pm

    Jason, yes leaves fall every time this year and initially fall everywhere. But they accumulate in the bike lanes and create a safety hazard. I don’t think anyone posting here is asking the city to do anything more than it does than when snow falls on the streets or the roads ice, which they also do every year.

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  • Enrico November 22, 2011 at 1:11 pm

    Stop your bitching and do some skidding!

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