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City project gives North Portland school a biking boost

Posted by on January 4th, 2012 at 9:42 am

The new bike lane and bike parking in front of Cesar Chavez School on N. Willis Blvd.
(Photo: Gabe Graff/City of Portland)

Biking continues to improve for residents of North Portland. The City just unwrapped a small but important improvement that will improve bike safety during pick-up and drop-off on the main road outside Cesar Chavez School on N. Willis Blvd.

As part of a their Safe Routes to School Program, PBOT engineers identified the lack of a marked crosswalk in front of the school and the lack of bike parking capacity as two key improvements they needed to make. The just-completed project has added a bike corral, a new bike lane, crosswalk striping and signage, and a curb ramp.

Before improvements were made. (Image: Google Map)

PBOT spokesperson Dan Anderson said the entire project was done for just $5,450 and was paid for with state gas tax funding allocated from House Bill 2001. Here’s more from Anderson:

“The goal of this small project was to improve student safety through cost-effective investments in a marked, accessible crossing at the school’s front door and additional bike parking that has the added benefit of protecting the marked crossing by preventing drivers from obstructing it.”

The project ties into PBOT’s North Portland Connector Neighborhood Greenway project.

PBOT has worked with Cesar Chavez School (formerly Clarendon at Portsmouth School) on the Safe Routes to School program since 2007. The program also includes hands-on biking and walking safety education.

In other North Portland news, PBOT has just added sharrows and turned stop signs on N. Bryant Ave between Albina and the Bryant Street Bridge as part of their Bryant-Holman Connector project.

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9watts
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9watts

Looking good. It would be interesting to get a photo of what it looks like just before school starts – where the cars are and how it all flows. Are cars encouraged to park past the bike racks in that wide spot? I can’t tell if the faded yellow paint on the curb extends past the start of the bike racks. I’m thinking it doesn’t.

Spiffy
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Spiffy

it should flow like chaos in good weather with hurried car drivers trying to avoid novice bike riders…

will probably work good when there aren’t any bikes though…

Paul Johnson
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Paul Johnson

Wasn’t there an article a while back about volunteers offering lessons to schools about the bicycle rules of the road? Perhaps someone can get a stack of the Oregon Bicycle Handbook to distribute at the school.

sorebore
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sorebore

Bikes need to yield to school children and school buss traffic the same as cars. If there is a flow problem, it is up to the motorist or cyclist to be aware of their surroundings and adjust their behavior accordingly.

Spiffy
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Spiffy

that doesn’t look safe at all to me… hurried parents dodging across a bike lane occupied by children just doesn’t seem safe to me…

seems like it would have been safer to have the bike lane hug the curb and move the bike parking and automobile pull-out that far out…

Paul Johnson
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Paul Johnson

That would make through cyclists get caught between a curb and a door zone, not to mention pop out at the end of the turnout.

sorebore
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sorebore

O.K. I HAVE TO JUMP IN HERE REAL EARLY ON THIS!!
C. Chavez is one of ,if not the least funded K-8s in all of Portland. My child attends this school, and to be honest the statements here eluding to Safe Routes involvement here are a bit misleading. Volunteers for safe routes have said to my face “That school is a joke!!”, based on their perception that the administration at the school are disorganized and uncaring. From my perspective the staff of this school is weighted with issues that very few schools in Portland face. If these crosswalk issues were present at Buckman, Chief Joe, Sunnyside or any number of other PPS system schools , I can assure you they would have been addressed long ago!! I have made countless attempts to drum up involvement with other Portland non-profit bike related events as well, such as Portland’s scene baby ” Bike Train” and have NEVER received even ONE email in return!!! Portland chooses to ignore this school, period. THE IMPROVEMENTS IN THIS ISSUE WERE ONLY BROUGHT TO LIGHT AFTER PARENTS AND SCHOOL ADMIN. RAISED THE ISSUE SEVERAL TIMES.
I am glad people are voicing their concerns over the implementation of these improvements,but the truth of the matter is that these safety issues have been ignored and are badly needed, no matter if they are NOT PERFECT. Portland has a problem with C. Chavez ,not the other way around, so if anyone is TRULY concerned with the safety of the children that have to deal with a school with NO FLASHING SPEED ZONE LIGHTS, FADED CROSS WALKS, SPEEDING TRI-MET BUSS and AUTO TRAFFIC, join the parents from this part of the Portland community and speak up!! Thanks,and peace.

9watts
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9watts

“Portland has a problem with C. Chavez ,not the other way around”
When you say ‘Portland’ are you talking about PPS? City government? PBOT? Safe Routes to School administrators? Please clarify.

sorebore
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sorebore

9watts…. I have had too much coffee and not enough lean protein this morning, and I admit my posting is a bit emotional, but I BELIEVE that the correct answer in the broadest term would be, all of the above. It speaks to the condition of economic and social prejudice in my opinion. Times are tight as well. Focus seems to be spent where involvement and voices are able to draw attention. and that seems to happen elsewhere far more than C.Chavez. I think the community as whole has little concern for this school and again that is my emotionally charged perception. This school has been in transition for a few of years, and it could be a while before things gel. There are wonderful teachers, admin., and sweet children at this school.

Spiffy
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Spiffy

I agree that any improvement is better, I’m just thinking they could have done better… it looks like a lot of vehicle conflict to me…

sorebore
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sorebore

The street to the east of the bike racks chokes down fairly narrow with parking on both sides of the street.There is a bus stop at both ends of the block. Traffic along Willis connecting with Portsmouth is spirited and swift even during school hours. Cycling on Willis seems moderate at best. And yes there is a ton of vehicular conflict in the area. I hope that continued support for the area around C.Chavez continues.

sorebore
Guest
sorebore

I agree, I am just glad something is being done! My sources say that PBOT did not have funds for flashing speed zone lights and signs. Speed bumps were also not allowed due to close proximity of a fire station, which seems to make sense. I wonder who funds speed zone lights and signs around the University of Portland and Astor Elementary just a stones throw away.

sorebore
Guest
sorebore

…..or Peninsula Elementary on Randall just off Willis a bit to the east. They have flashing speed zone lights as well.

Paul Johnson
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Paul Johnson

Therein lies why open enrollment is dumb.

Paul Johnson
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Paul Johnson

Is this bike lane just in front of the school or the whole length of the proposed bike lanes on Portsmouth? Both sides or one direction only?

Todd Boulanger
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Todd Boulanger

Congrats! – on supporting active transportation at this school.

Now the Tgeek in me has some design questions…as I have limited information:
– What purpose does the dashed bike lane serve at its exact location? (I ask this question, as there is no driveway, intersection or parking preceding this section as shown in Google Earth before construction. It looks like a no parking zone.) If it is to allow cars/ buses to legally cross the bike lane to reach the lay-by then is the dashed section placed too far away from the parking given the low design speed of the school zone? Does the City Traffic Engineer want drivers to begin merging into the parking bay at the dashed point…thus blocking the bike lane and corral before the crosswalk…and potentially blocking bicyclists when waiting for crossing pedestrians? [I hope this is more of a case of a contractor not following the striping plans. This striping change can be can be easily fixed post project.]
– Others have pointed out … the location of the bike parking corral may be problematic due to parents or buses picking up students. Except that the corral does help to buffer the new marked crosswalk. This location may have also been influenced by the current staffing plan for crossing guards or the principal’s direction or where the bike students ride to/from (like the cross street). Some of these conflicts between drivers and walkers/ bicyclists could be managed by allowing bike and walking students a 5 minute ‘early release’ (a headstart).
– And what about the crosswalk location? Yes it is at the main door…but is it the best location given the parking/ loading conflict and wider road cross section? Could walking students be queued at a side door with less road conflict? [At best this is a short term design/ safety compromise based on funding and ease of implementation vs. more reconstruction or doing nothing.]

sorebore
Guest
sorebore

The bike corral is awesome, but I also wonder if it location is the best. The cross walk also lies at the widest portion of road in front of the school. I would love to see TWO cross walks at the west and east ends of the school, as opposed to the main one as it is now. (the street, Courtenay that runs into the front of the school, always has congestion at the times of people coming and going.)
I have no idea how these flow issues are decided, as I am not a “Tgeek”, and I concur that money wasted doing them over if proven to be a bad design is a waste. Thanks for commenting with ideas T.B.

Paul Johnson
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Paul Johnson

Short skip lines are common at the start of restricted lanes. Lets you know a lane restriction is about to begin. Bus lanes and HOV lanes also do this.

Todd Boulanger
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Todd Boulanger

My previous comments assume the lay-by in the photo is only for school bus/ van loading. If parents are allowed to park there, then there would be much more risk and traffic conflict.

Spiffy
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Spiffy

my comments assumed the loading zone was for parents and not buses… *shrug*

good catch on the dashed line, I thought that was a school driveway right there so didn’t think about it…

Todd Boulanger
Guest
Todd Boulanger

Let me clarify my comments…overall this project looks to be an improvement over the existing conditions. …It just could be better with some tweeks…if my assumptions are correct.

ScottB
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ScottB

The dashed line is a lead-in space for cyclist and is common where bike lanes end, just less so where they begin. It was placed to reinforce the no parking zone approaching the bus pull out. Parents park opposite the bike lane, around the school or in the parking lot west of the school.
The bike lane is only in place along the bus pull out lane and the school crossing is where requested by the school where they are already crossing kids.
Visit the PBOT web site for more information on the SR2S program and improvements at Chavez already completed or in the works. Comments that Chavez is poorly funded ignores the reality that all PBOT funding is poor and that it is one of only 29 schools in the city to have received an engineering study.

Todd Boulanger
Guest
Todd Boulanger

Thanks for the additional information on the design per the dashed bike line. From the vantage point of the photographer, I had assumed that the bike lane was continued on behind the viewpoint vs. just starting.

AGRIBOB
Guest
AGRIBOB

I am afraid that arrangement is begging cars to crash into that bike rack, bikes in that rack, and riders congregating at that rack.

This arrangement cries out for bollards or a section of Jersey Barrier to protect this infrastructure.

Todd Boulanger
Guest
Todd Boulanger

Are drivers driving that fast on this section of street to warrant these devices?

Paul Johnson
Guest
Paul Johnson

Having the extra lane is handy for young cyclists entering and leaving traffic from the rack. As such, it has less to do with the speed of traffic in the adjacent lane and more to do with reducing congestion for all modes.

sorebore
Guest
sorebore

Sometimes yes. It is a busy east/west artery between Lombard and Columbia Blvd.

sorebore
Guest
sorebore

Agreed.

jim
Guest
jim

I’m not familiar with this school but Most schools occupy several acres of land. I would think that there would be a much safer location for the bike racks than next to the same place where the parents are also parking their cars, it might have been better just further away from the street in general. I know that parents waiting around schools are the worst of anyone about following traffic rules. They will park right on top of a cross walk right when school is letting out……
I also hope this is not the same street that the buses use??

Julia
Guest

Like most school drop-off zones, this one looks like it’s probably pure chaos!

Paul Johnson
Guest
Paul Johnson

I’m surprised serious consideration isn’t given to banning student dropoffs in private vehicles. Tulsa’s Union School District did this after a series of high profile and injurious traffic accidents between through traffic and parents picking up/dropping off kids in the front driveway. Granted, Union got dealt a weird hand having pretty much every school on a 5 or 7 lane boulevard, but still…having dozens to hundreds of private vehicles scales better to that size of street than something like Willis.

Just ban the cause for the chaos, it’s not like Willis needs that kind of traffic, and if it didn’t have it, the K-6 crowd would be able to more safely traverse the route to school.

sorebore
Guest
sorebore

you are correct Julia.