Posted by Will Vanlue (Contributor) on December 26th, 2011 at 12:30 pm
(Photos: Will Vanlue)
If you’ve ridden through Tigard (about 10 miles south of downtown Portland) recently you might have seen short white stripes in front of storm drains in the vicinity of Tigard High School.
The stripes are placed in front of grates sunken a couple inches into the pavement. Dropping unexpectedly onto the grates can be jarring but usually they’re relatively safe for bicycle travel (the slots of the grates are oriented perpendicular to the direction of travel and won’t catch your bike’s tire).
The markings, installed on streets maintained by the City of Tigard, seem to be an indication the drains are a hazard to be avoided and therefore don’t meet state requirements for bike lane construction.
It’s nice to have warning of a grate coming up, but the stripes extend nearly to the edge of the bike lane. Avoiding the hazard marked by the stripe leaves only a couple inches for your bicycle to pass.
Oregon Revised Statue (ORS) 810.150 clearly states that storm grates must not interfere with bicycle traffic. The statue requires drains in the road be built so that bicycle traffic can pass over grates “safely and without obstruction or interference.”
I’ve left a message with Mike McCarthy, Tigard’s Bicyce Coordinator, to get more information about the purpose of the markings and if the city has further plans to address the interference the sunken grates cause.
McCarthy is out of the office for the holidays, but once he returns I’ll update this story with his comments on the markings.
UPDATE: I spoke with McCarthy this morning and he confirmed that these stripes were placed to warn people on bicycles about the presence of grates which, in the past, were installed without full consideration for bicycle traffic. He explained that the City of Tigard does consider bicycle traffic a priority and now will usually raises up the level of the drain basin, when needed, as they resurface roads.
Stripes on Durham (pictured above) were installed after the city received feedback from people who bike in Tigard, including BikePortland commenter K’Tesh. McCarthy took the time to ride the route himself and purposely rode over the drains to determine which were jarring enough to warrant a warning stripe.
The drains could have been retrofitted and raised to street level but the process is fairly cost-intensive when it’s done as a separate project and not as part of resurfacing the road.
Also, when a drain basin is raised as part of street resurfacing it can be worked into the budget of the resurfacing project. When the drains are raised up one at a time the cost must be taken out of bicycle and pedestrian improvement-specific budgets which, based on input from citizens and Tigard’s Bicycle Advisory Committee, is usually spent on larger projects which can create new, safe routes for people on bicycles.
— Read more Washington County bike news here. Contact Will Vanlue, will [at] bikeportland.org with tips and feedback.