Urban Tribe - Ride with your kids in front.

Stripes in bike lane pose interesting legal question – Updated

Posted by on December 26th, 2011 at 12:30 pm

Are these road markings legal?
(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.

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  • q`Tzal December 26, 2011 at 12:47 pm

    Are these road markings legal? (Photos: Will Vanlue)

    Strictly speaking: YES.
    See US MUTCD
    Section 9C.06 Pavement Markings for Obstructions.
    Figure 9C-8. Examples of Obstruction Pavement Marking Example B specifically addresses the situation you have questioned.

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    • Will Vanlue (Contributor) December 26, 2011 at 12:50 pm

      Thanks for the links to the relavant sections of the MUTCD!

      It’s interesting that they use the word “obstruction”, which could certainly be seen to “interfere” with bicycle traffic.

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      • q`Tzal December 26, 2011 at 4:18 pm

        Not to say that I agree with the obstruction being there but the line is legal.
        It is effectively, but not officially, an admission by the responsible transportation department that the problem is very low budget priority.

        There is so much tonnage going over our roads these days, representative of commerce and economic success, but an ever decreasing funding pool: decreasing fuel taxes and tax loophole that spawn like bunnies.

        All of our nation’s, states’ and regional transportation departments face hard choices that look only to become more bleak.

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  • Paul Johnson December 26, 2011 at 12:57 pm

    These markings aren’t unique to Tigard, I’ve seen them throughout the Portland metro region over the course of the last 20 years, and I’ve seen them in various other states to warn of unusually deep drain basins.

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  • wsbob December 26, 2011 at 1:05 pm

    The catch basin storm grate illustrating your story doesn’t look like one that’s relatively safe for bike travel, except possibly for cruisers and suspended frame bikes.

    Check out the wide shadow adjoining the street-side edge of the grate. It suggests an abrupt grade differential between street and grate. Someone hitting that at speed with a road bike or a English touring type bike is likely going to experience a major ‘Whoomp!’ that could jar bones, teeth, and bike, maybe even throwing some people off balance and the bike.

    I’ve read people referring to examples of the diagonal lines in before the storm grate, as ‘shy lines’. As used here, it appears to be a helpful temporary make-do solution, but not a good long-term answer to the problem.

    Many bike lanes are retrofit affairs established along existing roadways and infrastructure. This particular catch basin likely wasn’t designed and constructed with the bike lane. At some point, or sooner if enough people object, it might be raised closer to street grade.

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    • Spiffy December 26, 2011 at 1:19 pm

      those jar me on my cruiser plenty hard…

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  • Spiffy December 26, 2011 at 1:20 pm

    they could grind the bike lane down a couple inches and put in a curb where the automobile lane rises above it…

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    • Spiffy December 26, 2011 at 1:21 pm

      a small curb, we’re talking 1.5″ to offset the rising of the drain, but enough to level the drain out and deter people from driving in the bike lane at the same time…

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      • was carless December 27, 2011 at 1:01 am

        Some of the drains near Tigard and Tualatin sink about 6″ or more in depth. I used to commute out there. Biking at night was slightly hazardous because of them- would not want to hit one!

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  • David Thomson December 26, 2011 at 1:28 pm

    These could easily cause someone riding at 15 MPH to crash. They are the result of Tigard not following the correct practice to raise the grates when they added the pavement overlay. Basically they didn’t want to pay to make the bike lane safe, so they added the stripes to try and reduce their liability exposure.

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    • wsbob December 26, 2011 at 6:21 pm

      “…Basically they didn’t want to pay…” David Thomson

      Aside from specific information you may have that supports this being true in Tigard’s case, in general, my theory is that cities may not have the budget to promptly correct problems with infrastructure.

      I’m basing this theory to a large extent on a personal experience with having a problem catch basin out in Beaverton, corrected. The city recognized it was a problem, but as a year and a half went by, I eventually got the word that the work was delayed until the city could develop the most economical approach to fixing it, along with other catch basins also needing grade correction.

      More people riding and more frequently sending the message to city officials that bike lanes aren’t simply some backwater code spec that cities must meet to qualify for federal grant money, could possibly help to correct at a faster rate, make-do bike infrastructure with bike infrastructure that can be ridden swiftly and safely.

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      • wsbob December 26, 2011 at 6:30 pm

        To try put it a little more clearly: when things don’t get fixed right away, my thought is that it’s because, cities with those kinds of problems (and all cities probably have them.) may not have the budget to promptly correct the problems. Or the city departments responsible for fixing the problems don’t have sufficient budget for the job. Not necessarily that the city is trying to put economy before safety and functionality.

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        • BURR December 26, 2011 at 8:35 pm

          the larger problem is city engineers and maintenance workers who aren’t cyclists, and who don’t perceive these hazards in the bike lanes as problems.

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          • wsbob December 26, 2011 at 10:59 pm

            I’m also convinced this can be a problem, but the money is a big issue.

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          • matt picio December 27, 2011 at 1:10 am

            Honestly, BURR, I don’t think that’s the larger problem in cities like Tigard, Milwaukie, Gresham, Tualatin or Wilsonville – the larger problem is a lack of funds to correct long-standing issues. Most if not all of these communities now have understanding and/or sympathetic engineers. Large cities like Portland have (at least until now) the budget to promptly address and correct issues like this. The smaller suburbs which ring Portland are less advantaged from a funding perspective.

            The funding problem is even worse at the county level, in the unincorporated urban areas of Multnomah, Clackamas and Washington counties.

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            • BURR December 27, 2011 at 11:13 am

              Honestly, Matt, even though money is tight, they still continue to build streets and do maintenance, and on the scale of costs, fixing those drainage grates as part of a larger road overlay project is not all that significant, it just isn’t perceived as a priority by the decision-makers.

              And if you really think it’s all about the money, make sure you contribute to and sign the petition to ban studded tires, because studded tire damage is what’s sucking up one of the largest slices of the road maintenance money pie these days.

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              • Paul Johnson December 27, 2011 at 11:27 am

                I got offered that petition the other day. Couldn’t sign it. Then again, despite my state allowing studded tires, and actually having winter, nobody uses studs because they reduce traction when it’s not snowy or icy. I wonder where the logical disconnect is in Oregon…

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              • wsbob December 28, 2011 at 2:18 pm

                “…and on the scale of costs, fixing those drainage grates as part of a larger road overlay project is not all that significant, …” BURR

                Do you have some labor/cost figures to more clearly express your thought on this? Or even just a general idea of how much time it would take to raise the grate as part of an overlay project?

                Raising a grate such as the one shown in the picture, takes time. The job of raising the Hall Blvd catch basin grate out in Beaverton, occurred over two to three days, though workers weren’t there the whole time. While the work was in progress, there were cones set up, and forms for the higher sides of the basin. Moving forward with having the bike lane compatible grate installed, was able to occur in part because some smart guy within Beaverton’s public works department was able to see that there was a better way to accomplish the job than the traffic engineer was aware of.

                The money is a big deal. It’s not simply that cities are ‘too cheap’ or dismissive of bikes as transportation, that’s responsible for bike lanes often being fraught with road hazards. Money the city has available to spend is provided by residents as taxpayers. There’s a lot of concern over cost increases. People worry about what they’re paying for, and what the money they put out is buying.

                At least out here in Beaverton, my impression of the city officials I talked with, is that they weren’t at liberty to just go out and spend whatever they wanted to fix a problem a citizen brought to their attention. To keep costs under control, they have to shop around for the best deal for the resident taxpayers, and/or wait for the next general road work cycle, which can take months.

                More people are needed to get the word around that bike lanes are an important part of the roadway, that must meet a certain standard if they’re to be expected to support swift and safe bike travel out of the main traffic lanes.

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              • Machu Picchu December 28, 2011 at 5:11 pm

                I’m hearing a lot of why these don’t get “fixed”, when BURR’s suggestion at least focuses on the idea that the problem was how the overlay was done, leaving a ridiculous transition between new asphalt and existing structure. There are five ways (at least) to prevent this during the overlay, as well as the same number of ways to aleviate the problem now. What you say about economics and public concern is true, no doubt, WSBob, but your earlier assumption that all cities deal with these shortcomings is off the mark. Portland metro may not be rare in these treatments, but there are many other cities that would never leave a 1.5 inch lip of asphalt next to a concrete apron around anything. Roads in America have been engineered with the idea of at least one overlay before the ultimate replacement of the pavement. Some roads are designed for nearly perpetual resurfacing. Spooging asphalt up to the edge of drains, manholes, et cetera, without feathering, grinding or raising, as well as overlaying up a curb until it’s almost not there is not just taxpayer cost-saving. It’s hack-work, and it’s noticeably bad around here.

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              • wsbob December 28, 2011 at 6:23 pm

                “…There are five ways (at least) to prevent this during the overlay, as well as the same number of ways to aleviate the problem now …” Machu Picchu

                List them, and roughly estimate how much time and expense you think each might add to a road or street overlay project for each grate posing that kind of problem.

                I’m open to more information about how various cities may differ in the way they address roadway issues that could compromise the functionality of bike lanes established on them. I’d like to think that some cities, when establishing a new bike lane on an existing roadway, would include in the budget, expenses as needed for raising sunken catch basins to street grade.

                All of us reading here are probably thinking of the catch basin shown in the picture illustrating this story. Having some information about the road in question, it’s maintenance and the creation of its bike lane could help us understand better how a catch basin with that extreme of a surface differential, could have come to be located within a bike lane.

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  • John Lascurettes December 26, 2011 at 1:42 pm

    So, it’s an obstruction and the mandatory side path law does not apply. Bikes should come out of the lane and take the main lane well before the grate. They are entitled to.

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  • BURR December 26, 2011 at 1:55 pm

    The effective width of any bike lane with drainage grates like that in it is only as wide as the distance between the edge of the grate and the bike lane stripe, about 12 to 18 inches.

    There are bike lanes all over the City of Portland with sunken double-wide drainage grates like this in them, and no warnings whatsoever. Kudos to Tigard for actually marking the hazard.

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  • K'Tesh December 26, 2011 at 3:28 pm

    Will, perhaps you should look through the forums again…


    I’m the one who talked Mike into placing them. There are several there on Durham that project far into the bike lane, and have the potential to catch a cyclist unawares (like at night).

    While you’re looking at it… Check out this location nearby that ODOT has yet to address on SW Hall…


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    • Lazy Spinner December 26, 2011 at 9:21 pm

      Based on the Hall photo, I see at least 24″ of clear pavement between that grate and the white line – plenty of room to run that section at 20 mph or more.

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      • K'Tesh December 26, 2011 at 11:23 pm

        And why shouldn’t we be able to use all of the bike lane? Really?

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        • K'Tesh December 26, 2011 at 11:25 pm

          !@*&!!!! computer…. it posted before I was finished.

          The entire bike lane is supposed to be a refuge for us to be able to ride in, not just the outer 2 feet.

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          • Paul Johnson December 26, 2011 at 11:32 pm

            Generally the shy lines indicate that they know about the problem but don’t have the immediate budget to fix it, but also want you to know they know.

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  • Alexis December 26, 2011 at 3:42 pm

    These are also in Wilsonville, although there they don’t seem to be marking specifically hazardous grates, just grates generally. I always regarded them as advisory and they seemed kind of silly.

    I have reported some of the genuinely hazardous unmarked ones in Portland to 823-SAFE (such as the ones on Woodstock near 28th), and some have been fixed and others haven’t. I’m not sure why, but I’d recommend anyone seeing a hazardous grate in Portland report it to them.

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  • Jim Hook December 26, 2011 at 4:21 pm

    I am very glad to see these hazards marked effectively.

    I think the real issue is that motorized road users perceive anything striped like a bike lane to be a bike lane. This shoulder area was already not a bike lane because of the hazard. It fails to meet reasonable engineering criteria for being a bike lane.

    If it is necessary to rehearse safe passage in daylight to traverse a path safely with a well lit bicycle at night then it is not a bike lane.

    Throughout the region these decoy bike lanes compromise cyclist safety. If cyclists believe they are bike lanes they are directed into frequently unmarked hazards. If motor vehicle operators believe they are bike lanes they are surprised when cyclists elect to ride lines that take them off the side path to clear the obstructions.

    If any paint should be removed here it is the stripe marking the bike lane. If they want to keep that paint, then they should do the improvements to make it a safe and compliant bike lane.

    K’Tesh is absolutely right to draw attention to the unmarked hazards on Hall. ODOT needs to look at Hall seriously as a regionally important bike route. I sent a list of issues to ODOT in the Spring of 2009 related to Hall that included my concern over the failure of the stormwater inlets to be at the proper grade of the road. It also included several concerns where the bike lane was too narrow for safe use. Most of these issues persist to this day. The impression of my interactions with ODOT were that sending me polite responses to my emails was a high priority, but that fixing the problems I had identified was not. Perhaps things have changed since I last engaged in this dialog. Hall is potentially a very good cycling corridor. It just needs the attention of a traffic engineer who understands cycling, and has the authority to effectively resolve issues.

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    • K'Tesh December 27, 2011 at 3:02 am

      I’d recommend that you forward the message to the media, local advocate organizations, local injury lawyers, and make sure that the person you contacted sees who all you included…

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  • K'Tesh December 26, 2011 at 4:36 pm

    You know, it’s odd that they haven’t responded to my frequent requests for improvements on SW Hall… But then again, when I went after them on the Sunset MUP, I had more people emailing them w/complaints… (I say this having not been through there for over a month, but I haven’t received any feedback that the issue has been addressed).

    Here’s a photo set of what the problem was (on the MUP), how I dealt with it, and how ODOT came in and made it better.


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    • wsbob December 26, 2011 at 6:42 pm

      I seem to recall that bikeportland forums member q`Tzal had a hand in bringing about shy lines to indicate presence of the lamp posts on the Sunset MUP.

      Part of his effort was to search out the US MUTCD for pavement markings appropriate to that situation, then using the computer to create a visualization of what those markings would actually look like on the Sunset MUP. Those visualizations were posted to a thread in the forums. What eventually was installed on the MUP was very close in appearance to the visualizations.

      Thanks, both q`Tzal and K’Tesh!

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      • K'Tesh December 26, 2011 at 11:28 pm

        q’Tzal did play a major role in this with his visuals, and his knowledge of the MUTCD. I’m sorry if it appeared that I was taking all the credit, that wasn’t my intention.

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        • q`Tzal December 27, 2011 at 3:09 am

          I’m just glad they got those lines put in when they did, much longer and I’d have been out there making an architectural plot of the MUP and adjacent tax lots.
          I was prepared to invest a couple months teaching myself the intricacies of getting this done through all technical and bureaucratic details.
          ODOT saved me the time so I could go off to my next shiny project.

          After all that was done I think the best solution is this:
          install a bunch of outdoor “garden rock” LED lights on the sound wall anywhere from 10′ to 12′ high.
          Aimed down of course with fixtures that prevent direct glare in to homes.
          If I wanted to sell the idea the first thing I would do would be to contact any manufacturer in Oregon who can make the lights; see if I could arrange a low purchase cost deal for sponsorship-publicity for the installation of the lights.
          Then contact SolarWorld in Hillsboro and see if I could get them interested in funding a local safety improvement that would bump up their local public image and potentially help some of their employees at the same time.

          With some batteries and solar panels on top of the wall the lighting would require little from code compliance other than permission to attach something to the sound wall.

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    • Machu Picchu December 27, 2011 at 2:52 am

      Think about what kind of road Sunset and its MUP are, versus what kind of road Hall BLVD (OLD Hwy 217) is. Hall is sort of a retired state highway that the local municipalities utilize, but will not assume responsibility for.

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      • Paul Johnson December 27, 2011 at 11:18 am

        Hall Boulevard is not a retired state highway, and it’s not old 217. It’s a current state highway, and it’s current OR 141.

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        • Machu Picchu December 27, 2011 at 11:51 am

          You are correct that it’s not retired, that’s why I said “sort of”, because it is, indeed, old route 217 (along with parts of Boones Fy Rd), as well as Highway 141. Just as the current route 217 is also Highway 144. See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/State_highways_in_Oregon
          And this: “This route, along with a further extension north into Beaverton on Hall Boulevard, and a further extension south into Woodburn via Boones Ferry Road, was the original route of OR 217, before the current freeway alignment was constructed in 1972.” is from here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oregon_Route_141


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  • resopmok December 26, 2011 at 4:56 pm

    they aren’t all that safe even with the grating perpendicular to the travel direction and at level with the street. when they are wet, like any bare metal, they become slippery and can potentially cause you to lose steering and balance if caught unawares. submerged into the pavement like this they are even more dangerous – enough so to be avoided at any speed. they’re all over the outer east side as well and it would be nice if the city of portland would look into taking the same measures and install some “shy lines” on those ones too. storm drains built into curbs would be ideal for any bike route, but ITTET i don’t think we can expect any problems like this to be addressed by anything more than a little paint.

    perhaps the city could designate an email address or some contact to report locations that are in need of shy lines?

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  • kiteguy December 26, 2011 at 6:11 pm

    On a wet day these lines get very slick and are themselves a hazard. Maybe when a few cyclists fall due to these lines, and sue the city, they will realize that it would have been cheaper, and higher morally and ethically to have repaired them correctly in the first place.

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  • kiteguy December 26, 2011 at 6:14 pm

    Me again, I have not encountered these. But it looks harder to avoid the lines than the drains.

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  • Lazy Spinner December 26, 2011 at 9:17 pm

    Funny how most here fully expect drivers to be 100% aware of their surroundings and drive according to both the traffic and the conditions of the roadway with no excuses. But when bikes are involved, we’re merely unsophisticated children with shiny toys that cannot be expected to scan the upcoming surface or think a few seconds up the road.

    I’m all for making conditions as safe as possible but for crying out loud stop this drumbeat that government should never fail to miss a potential hazard that only causes harm when the rider isn’t paying adequate attention. The light poles on the Sunset MUP were never an issue. Then again, I pay attention to the riding surface and eschew hugging the edge of the concrete path just millimeters from the loose stone buffers on either side hence, taking those poles out of play.

    Ride defensively! Daydreaming on a bike is just as dumb and dangerous as when a driver does it.

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    • q`Tzal December 26, 2011 at 10:34 pm

      Lazy Spinner
      Ride defensively! Daydreaming on a bike is just as dumb and dangerous as when a driver does it.

      Heck yeah!

      Lazy Spinner
      The light poles on the Sunset MUP were never an issue.

      I respectfully disagree.

      Lazy Spinner
      Then again, I pay attention to the riding surface and eschew hugging the edge of the concrete path just millimeters from the loose stone buffers on either side hence, taking those poles out of play.

      On an 8′ wide MUP a concrete light foundation juts out from 18″-24″ in to the path of travel. This is not so much of a problem if there is sufficient daylight out or there are no other users.

      When it becomes dark there are some engineered deficiencies in that area that are best summarized in K’Tesh’s picture of a light pole that he just applied DOT grade reflective road tape to (http://www.flickr.com/photos/ufobike/6181786518/); this picture was taken WITH a helmet light aiming at the reflector and light pole.
      The light intended to light the MUP (from the offending light poles) is spill over from fixtures meant to light Sunset Hwy; as such the area where light is needed most is the one spot the light will not shine. Ambient light-wise this path has every drawback other than being a tunnel.
      I honestly believe the best solution would have been better lighting, specifically for the MUP.

      If you are against warning markings being painted for cyclists please go and tell the American public you’ve just discovered how to save several Billion Dollars out the annual transportation budget:
      “We are going to stop marking, painting and putting up warning signs for SPEED BUMPS. Be safe and pay the F^!% attention!”

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      • K'Tesh December 28, 2011 at 9:12 am

        About that photo… Not only was that after I applied the reflective tape to it, but also painted the base Highway Yellow. Before that, there ware no reflectors (they had broken off a long time ago), and the base was concrete gray with bits of moss growing on it (read: camouflaged).

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        • K'Tesh December 28, 2011 at 9:16 am

          Here’s an older photo of the same area, taken in daylight…


          I’m the one who found the reflector seen in it. I then superglued it to the base. It stuck around for a few weeks before someone broke it off again.

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      • Paul Johnson December 28, 2011 at 9:30 am

        Something to be said for having adequate lighting on your vehicle, too. If you’re not able to light up retroreflective traffic control devices, you’re creating a safety risk for yourself.

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    • wsbob December 26, 2011 at 10:57 pm

      “…The light poles on the Sunset MUP were never an issue. …” Lazy Spinner

      Perhaps not for you, but the light poles were definitely a concern, because they were mounted on a difficult to see, low concrete platform that jutted into the bike path. In low light conditions, which is often, particularly in Oregon winter, and at night, the low platforms of the series of several light poles were a hazard even with lights. The shy line fix may have been the only real option for improvement here, and most likely the most economical.

      I also believe it’s too easy for some people to assume that people riding bike paths don’t need to have the entire width of those paths as consistently free of obstruction as possible. When an obstruction is present in the bike path, often this requires a person on a bike using the path to transition temporarily into the main travel lane.

      Making such a transition properly with hand signals of an adequate length of time and sufficiently in advance of the lane transition. on a busy thoroughfare often can be difficult, dangerous and time consuming for road users. As opportunity allows, it’s better to get the infrastructure up to snuff, allowing bike lane users full width of the bike lane.

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    • El Biciclero December 27, 2011 at 1:19 pm

      No one builds hidden obstructions into the part of the roadway that cars are supposed to use. Do we tell drivers, “Keep your eyes open, there might be unpainted curbs or posts or giant holes right in your tire track!”? No, we don’t. We design roads that are reasonably hazard-free for drivers if they stay within the painted lines.

      This is not a laziness issue or some double standard cyclists are applying to drivers regarding paying attention. It is a double standard being applied to the care and attention in engineering of sections of the road that we expect different types of users to use: design “car” lanes to be free of physical obstruction and to involve enough excess width to accommodate some lateral movement within a lane to avoid incidental (not designed-in) obstructions or debris. If some obstruction must be present, install signage and paint the obstruction to bring it to the attention of drivers. Design bike lanes to be out of the way of cars.

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  • erikv December 26, 2011 at 9:18 pm

    These markings are nothing but helpful and thoughtful.

    Why would you need to avoid running over it, especially when you’re riding in a straight line?

    No biggie. I’d much rather ride over that than a surprise sewer grate like the one pictures.

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  • Filmman December 26, 2011 at 9:58 pm

    I agree with lazy spinner. While I respect your desire to promote cycling as an alternative lifestyle, you really need to get a grip. Life is not perfectly safe 100% of time. Not for cars, not for pedestrians and not for bikes. The only way to make everything perfectly safe to ban all modes of transportation and that is just stupid. All of life has risks involved. All of you here know this right? I hope?

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    • Machu Picchu December 27, 2011 at 3:01 am

      And. . .the hazards that “we” expect people driving cars to be ever vigilant for are the vulnerable users of the road. Rare for a car is the equivalent control-compromising depression, intentionally engineered into the middle of the lane, that these grates represent for a bicycle.

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      • Machu Picchu December 27, 2011 at 3:03 am

        Meant to drop this after Jim Hook’s comment below, which I believed to be in response to FlimFlam, er. .Filmman.

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  • Jim Hook December 26, 2011 at 10:40 pm

    Flimflam: I don’t follow your comment or the earlier comment you cited. The theme of the article and the majority of the comments above is that the relevant regional, state and national conventions for traffic engineering and signage should be applied rationally in the design and maintenance of our roads, including in the bike lanes.

    No one is calling for total risk elimination.

    The comments are asking for transportation professionals to take cycling seriously and to apply the relevant standards. The built infrastructure for cycling should be useful and appropriately safe; it is not just a check box on a check list.

    As far as the reality of hazards: the stormwater intake hazards I am most concerned about are the ones on Hall. I ride this regularly at rush hour. This time of year that means riding it in the dark. I am paying attention, riding a route that I have ridden hundreds of times.

    I know the hazards because I ride the route frequently. But the motor vehicle operators do not see the unmarked hazards. They do not anticipate that I need to avoid them. So far I have managed the hazards successfully. However, the hazard could have been eliminated if the maintenance on that road had been performed to standard. The compromises taken for the storm water inlets in the bike lane would not have been taken in travel lanes on this ODOT road.

    I believe that in the case of Hall there are a handful of simple, economically feasible changes that would make this road significantly safer. I believe that when the personnel supervising and performing maintenance have appropriate awareness of cycling as a serious mode of transportation that in many cases “doing it right” would cost no more than “doing it wrong.”

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  • K'Tesh December 27, 2011 at 2:49 am

    Since we’re in the neighborhood, does anybody know if the responsible agency for the SW Upper Boones Ferry Rd./SW Durham Rd intersection ever got around to fix this storm drain grate?


    Its located at the beginning of the SE bound bike lane on SW Upper Boones Ferry Rd. The object located in the gap is my Ranger Model Swiss Army Knife.


    Which you can compare to a road bike’s tires…


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    • K'Tesh December 27, 2011 at 2:58 am

      (I reported it to several local agencies)

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      • Kristen December 29, 2011 at 10:29 am

        K’Tesh, maybe ODOT as Upper Boones is a state road?

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  • Tourbiker December 27, 2011 at 3:18 am

    Take it as the city’s acknowledgment that it’s a hazard, as such, take the lane as necessary.

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  • Oh Word? December 27, 2011 at 8:28 am

    Indeed, quite an interesting legal question.

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  • JAT in Seattle December 27, 2011 at 8:55 am


    …Many bike lanes are retrofit affairs established along existing roadways and infrastructure….

    Many bike lanes? or Most bike lanes?

    If a motorist feels the road conditions in a particular lane are unsafe or potentially harmful to their vehicle he or she will usually steer around it with either a full or partial lane change. This is considered normal driving behavior and as long as they signal, there’s not going to be criticism from other road users or a penalty from law enforcement.

    Bike lanes, on the other hand are so often so poorly implemented that they frequently have standing water or unsafe storm drains requiring (but rarely having) a supplemental set of lines just to warn the users.

    What happens if a cyclist strays from the bike lane to avoid unsafe conditions?

    I don’t mean this to be a vehicular cycling screed by any means, but clearly the crumbs thrown to cyclists by city and state transportation departments aren’t a good answer to the question: how do I get to my destination safely?

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  • lyle December 27, 2011 at 11:36 am

    I’m really trying to think hard on this one as to where it is, but I know there’s at least one storm drain in inner Portland that still has the long slants, without any diagonal slats welded to protect bike tires. I was waiting for a light, and my tire fell into it, and I was just sitting there with my mouth wide open.

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    • K'Tesh December 27, 2011 at 12:10 pm

      Report those immediately to the 24 Hour Maintenance Hotline… 503 823 1700

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  • lyle December 27, 2011 at 12:41 pm

    I would if I could remember… uggh.

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