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Once again, bike lane bollards torn out by auto traffic on NW Lovejoy

Posted by on January 25th, 2012 at 2:10 pm

A man riding down NW Lovejoy
yesterday, alongside what used
to be plastic bollards.
(Photos © J. Maus/BikePortland)

It looks like PBOT will have to head back to the drawing board in their effort to create separation between bike and auto traffic on the NW Lovejoy ramp leading down from the Broadway Bridge.

About a month ago, PBOT installed 34 plastic bollards (a.k.a. wands) on the ramp in order to prevent people in cars from driving in the bike lane. (The presence of newly installed streetcar tracks is causing some people to straddle them, thus putting their vehicle into the bike lane.)

After the first set of bollards were smashed into and uprooted pretty quickly by people driving cars, PBOT’s contractor on the project re-installed them on January 10th.

This morning when I checked up on them, there were only about 13 — out of 34 — bollards left standing…

I haven’t heard back from PBOT as to what they plan to do next. We’ll keep you posted.

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  • Chad Berkley January 25, 2012 at 2:17 pm

    It’s a testament to the drivers education system in the United States that drivers here are completely unable to keep their vehicles within the lane markings, even on a straight-away.

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  • Owen Walz January 25, 2012 at 2:21 pm

    Speaking of wands… I thought it was odd that they removed them from the interstate crossing at NE 12th when they finished the new markings there. They were actually keeping cars out of that lane, which is now a bike lane (and I’m still confused as to why they were there in the first place). Oh well. Apparently people just drive over them anyway. Bring on the reinforced steel!

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    • are January 25, 2012 at 2:58 pm

      my understanding, possibly mistaken, was that the diversion elements were placed on the 12th avenue overcrossing initially as an experiment to see what (motor) traffic flows would look like if the striping were reconfigured. everything worked out, and they put in the striping and took out the posts.

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    • craig harlow January 26, 2012 at 3:14 pm

      Those wands were only in use temporarily to test different lane configurations/widths and measure the data over time, before the changes were finalized and installed. A rumble strip has been discussed there as well, since some cars start merging right, on top of the bike lane, as soon as they pass Irving.

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  • OnTheRoad January 25, 2012 at 2:23 pm

    So the streetcar affects bicyclers because of the rails and the posts that are installed on sidewalks.

    And the streetcar affects auto drivers because they don’t want to drive on the rails either – which affects the bicyclers when those cars drift into the bike lane.

    Remind me again who thought the streetcar was such a wonderful urban amenity?

    Besides Charlie Hales.

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    • rider January 25, 2012 at 2:31 pm

      Condo developers.

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    • Spiffy January 25, 2012 at 3:04 pm

      I still think street-cars are the best way to go with a dense city… the reason we don’t have them is greedy capitalists that got rid of them in favor of selling cars to the public…

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    • poncho January 25, 2012 at 3:35 pm

      Some how cyclists manage the abundant streetcar tracks just fine in much more bike-centric cities like Amsterdam.

      The problem is not streetcar tracks per se in the Pearl its that the traffic engineers insisted on having 3 travel lanes (2+1 with street parking) on Lovejoy and that ridiculous one way couplet plan. This meant the Lovejoy bike lanes had to go because there wasnt space for them with the third lane and so were shifted over to Marshall which su cks big time, if the engineers just stayed with a two-way Lovejoy with 2 travel lanes one in each direction with bike lanes on the side (like it used to be on Lovejoy), the streetcar and bikes could co-exist very well.

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      • Paul Johnson January 25, 2012 at 3:54 pm

        THIS. Wide slicks don’t get caught easily in the tracks and basic bicycling skill makes them easy to negotiate. Keep in practice and choose appropriate equipment, and the rails become less of a hazard than worn pavement joints, potholes and those speed humps PBOT insists on installing instead of twisted chicanes.

        Speaking of the speed humps, how about making them a choke and a hump, one full size lane center channel, and a 7 or 8 foot cycletrack bypassing the bump on either side, as was done in Sellwood?

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      • craig harlow January 26, 2012 at 3:36 pm

        Another problem is the abundance of people using skinny tires for town riding. They’re faster, lighter and more fun, but prone to catching in any groove near an inch in width (I went over my bars at a mere 5mph on my own sidewalk when turning the corner while standing up on the pedals and hitting a 1-inch gap in the pavement).

        I now ride with utter abandon over and alongside the rails on my 2-inch wide semi-treads–on a less awesome city-ish frame with 26-inch wheels–and actually say “haha!” out loud as I do it.

        I do miss dashing across town on 700x25s, just because it makes me feel slightly more than human. But I’m making-do with more human speeds tempered by 26×2 tires.

        Also, not being so fast means I can’t count on getting places in a hurry, which, I think, keeps me safer. To quote the WPC’s Steph Routh…

        “…leave earlier! That has been the best piece of advice in terms of traffic safety…” (at 2:06 of

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        • 007 January 29, 2012 at 12:06 pm

          We’ll see if you have this attitude when you are 50+ and every pound counts.

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    • naomi January 25, 2012 at 3:44 pm

      without the streetcar a lot more people would own cars in the nw hood. be glad it exists, i know i am (not everyone feels like riding a bike on cold/rainy days).

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      • poncho January 25, 2012 at 4:19 pm

        thank you, agreed!!

        i agree that the tracks could have been better laid and that pole better placed, but lets not get into a huge fight between bikes and rail transit, bikes and rail transit are definitely both on the same side in creating more livable, sustainable and healthy communities and moving away from autocentric living.

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        • OnTheRoad January 25, 2012 at 6:04 pm

          Agree that rail and bicycle could be allies to get away from autocentric, but this streetcar system, as planned, is making things more difficult for bicyclers.

          Wait until streetcar starts impinging on the neighborhood collector street you use and can’t easily do so anymore, and see if you feel the same. Imagine a streetcar on Belmont, Killingsworth, Sandy, Foster, Broadway, Tacoma, Lombard. Those are on the horizon for Portland Streetcar.

          Maybe the streetcar planners will learn from their impacts of NW Lovejoy, King and Grand. Let’s hope so.

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      • Seth Alford January 27, 2012 at 4:50 pm

        Not necessarily. Without the streetcar there could be more rubber tired busses which do not require railroad tracks. And no more private cars.

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        • Seth Alford January 27, 2012 at 4:51 pm

          No additional private cars that should say.

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        • 007 January 29, 2012 at 12:11 pm

          Buses get stuck in traffic behind single occupant vehicles. Services continue to get cut, with fewer routes and longer wait times for a bus. Ever try to use one as your sole source of transportation? Not efficient or practical for busy people.

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  • Bjorn January 25, 2012 at 2:31 pm

    They should just put the poles for the streetcar wires on the white line.

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    • Mark January 25, 2012 at 3:22 pm

      We’ll be lucky if they don’t put them right in the middle of the path.

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  • Paul Johnson January 25, 2012 at 2:33 pm

    I thought they were anchored on reinstallation? If so, where’s the anchor holes in the pavement? I see no evidence that they were ever properly anchored…

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    • poncho January 25, 2012 at 4:24 pm

      i wonder if they are going to try a third time or admit defeat (or at least try something better). i realize its peanuts, but it troubles me especially with PBOTs budget crisis that they keep wasting money and rubber wands on this.

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  • Gabriel Amadeus January 25, 2012 at 2:38 pm

    LOL! Time to put a brick in this sandcastle, methinks.

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  • David January 25, 2012 at 2:47 pm

    put a rubber curb on that sucker!

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  • Jack January 25, 2012 at 2:49 pm

    If you look to the right of the bike lane there is a structure separating pedestrian traffic from vehicle traffic. It is made of concrete and steel so that even the most reckless driver is unlikely to encroach on the sidewalk. Why don’t we just repeat that between the bike lane and the vehicle/light rail line? Concrete barriers are really cheap and easy to install.

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    • Spiffy January 25, 2012 at 3:03 pm

      because that prevents bicycles from being able to leave the bike lane in order to pass or avoid obstacles…

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      • Alex January 26, 2012 at 10:42 am

        If the barrier is low enough, you could just pick up you bike and carry it over to the car lane and get around any obsticals that way.

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    • Tacoma January 25, 2012 at 4:28 pm

      and the car drivers would have to pay close attention and slow there vehicles down to a speed commensurate with the conditions.

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      • 007 January 29, 2012 at 12:13 pm

        They’d have to pay attention period.

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    • Steve B January 28, 2012 at 6:58 pm

      We asked. It’s considered a structural/civic improvement and would require a lot of $$ (and political will) to do.

      If we understood cycletracks back when the Lovejoy viaduct was built like we do today, we might have designed it differently from the start. Separation is key, especially when a bikeway is parallel to rail tracks.

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  • are January 25, 2012 at 3:06 pm

    at the risk of sounding like a broken record (and by even using the phrase “broken record” i guess i risk sounding about as old as maybe i actually am),

    the descent on lovejoy from the broadway bridge should never have had a striped bike lane on it anyway. the lane was too narrow to safely share even before the rails went in. the space between the concrete barrier and the first rail should be marked with sharrows. the bollards make it impossible for a cyclist to assert the lane in preparation for a left turn onto 9th at the bottom of the ramp.

    they have taken a bad design and made it worse. the streetcar tracks have very little to do with it.

    my concern is that with all this difficulty PBoT’s next move will be to designate the (rather wide) sidewalk on the other side of the barrier as an MUP, with signage and the whole nine yards, thereby suggesting to motorists that i have no right to the street at all.

    i actually think there are plenty of people for whom designating the sidewalk as an MUP would make sense, but i would not want to see that happen unless they also take out the stripe and put down sharrows, as they have done on the 12th avenue overcrossing.

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    • Tacoma January 25, 2012 at 4:29 pm

      Gosh, that might be the ticket.

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    • lavie.lama January 25, 2012 at 7:22 pm

      “assert the lane in preparation for a left turn onto 9th at the bottom of the ramp.”
      ^^There is a two point left turn bike box at the bottom already to remedy that.^^

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    • 007 January 29, 2012 at 12:18 pm

      Sharrows AND a green bike light for the right turn onto Lovejoy. This could be at the same time as the bike light for going south on Broadway, which should be longer during the a.m. commute BTW. It would be an extra stop for cyclists but it would also be an extra stop and more wait time for vehicles going down Lovejoy. Traffic would back up on the bridge – oh well – or drivers would maybe take a right on Hoyt instead.

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  • MattD January 25, 2012 at 3:10 pm

    make every 3rd or 4th one concrete. that should solve the problem.

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    • Chris I January 26, 2012 at 10:22 am

      Steel reinforced concrete.

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  • Cliff B January 25, 2012 at 3:28 pm

    The bollards haven’t faired to well at 15th Ave and going either.

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  • poncho January 25, 2012 at 3:43 pm

    ideally the crash barrier between the roadway and the sidewalk would be shifted over so that the bike lane could be protected behind the crash barrier (essentially as an expansion of a widened Lovejoy ramp sidewalk).

    this is why we need to move away from the standard bike lane which is that left over excess road space previously refered to as ‘road shoulders’ and actually build decent purpose-built cycling infrastructure.

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  • Paul Johnson January 25, 2012 at 3:50 pm

    The problem with suggestions to install a hard barrier between the lanes there beyond the obvious misapplication of devices is that it presents serious maintenance issues. You can’t get deicer over a wall with the existing equipment and it doesn’t make sense to retool for a single block. Curbs would prevent access to street sweeping and paving equipment. That said, this is twice now that PBOT has failed to properly secure the bollards into the pavement, and twice now that they’re running into problems with tarred down devices getting knocked off.

    Replacing the bollards and anchoring them properly is a start, but the fact that they keep getting driven on speaks volumes about issues with Oregon’s inadequate licensing system allowing incompetent drivers to operate a motor vehicle in the first place.

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    • poncho January 25, 2012 at 4:45 pm

      i hear you about the difficulty with maintenance of off-street paths such as plowing, but this specific location is tied directly into the broadway bridge sidewalk which already requires special maintenance given its separation from the roadway. its just continuing to plow and sweep this portion which they already must do further up on the bridge.

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      • Paul Johnson January 25, 2012 at 9:31 pm

        The broadway bridge sidewalk is maintained? News to me given the number of flats I’ve had on it.

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    • Alex January 26, 2012 at 10:51 am

      I have a feeling they are being driven over by someone with a large vehicle…on purpose.

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  • J-R January 25, 2012 at 4:22 pm

    When a lane is intended to be shared by streetcars and motor vehicles it should be wide enough that the motorist can straddle ONE streetcar rail while staying in the lane. That probably means the lane width should be 13 to 14 feet instead of 11 feet. 14 feet is the recommended width when there’s not sufficient pavement for a motor vehicle lane and a full-width on-street bike lane.

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    • poncho January 25, 2012 at 4:50 pm

      the last thing we need are wider auto lanes, the wider the lane, the faster the auto traffic. there is no problem with a car driving on the tracks in a shared lane.

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      • J_R January 25, 2012 at 7:07 pm

        I understand your general objection to wider lanes, but this is a special case deserving of a special design.

        Even if the wider lane “caused” higher travel speeds by motorists, I’d rather the motorist were completely in the wider auto-streetcar lane than “sharing” the bike lane with me.

        I disagree with your contention that there’s no problem with driving on the tracks. I find my car is a bit “squirrely” on the tracks. As evidenced by the photos on this website and my observations, it seems many motorists at least perceive that there’s a problem. Braking will most certainly be poor when one’s tires are on the rails.

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    • Paul Johnson January 25, 2012 at 9:32 pm

      It is wide enough to do that. I can fit a full size American sedan down that lane without driving on the rails, while maintaining safe separation from other lanes. It doesn’t even take much skill.

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    • 007 January 29, 2012 at 12:20 pm

      No. Besides being impractical it would makes the city more spreadout and car centric. People need to take the streetcar and stop driving to work.

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  • Jacob January 25, 2012 at 4:22 pm

    What is so hard about bolting these thing into the street? You would never glue a bike rack to the sidewalk. Why are they gluing these things. You’d think they would have learned the first time. Oh well. Sometimes it just takes people 2 or 3, or 4 times to figure it out. Keep trying PBOT.

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  • Scott January 25, 2012 at 4:36 pm

    I am glad they are gone. Everyone would just complain about the city not being able to plow the lane because of them on the one time it snows.

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  • was carless January 25, 2012 at 5:00 pm


    I drove (gasp! a car!) down Broadway a few weeks ago, when the bollards were still there, and managed not to hit anything.

    Must be a bunch of drunks…

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    • Paul Johnson January 25, 2012 at 9:33 pm

      It’d help if there was anything else to do in this city. Heck, even one of the prime sponsors of this site bases it’s entire existence on that.

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  • Aaron January 25, 2012 at 5:34 pm

    Has anybody actually witnessed somebody driving in the bike lane with a cyclist in the lane? I suspect drivers only do this when cyclists are not present.

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    • Paul Johnson January 25, 2012 at 9:34 pm

      I’d ask the opposite question; has anybody seen a motorist not driving in the bike lane when the bollards aren’t there?

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    • John Lascurettes January 26, 2012 at 12:47 am

      Yes. Both in front of and behind the cyclist.

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      • Aaron January 26, 2012 at 5:20 pm

        And I suspect the cyclist lived to tell the tale.

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    • 007 January 29, 2012 at 12:23 pm

      Are you serious? You must not be a cyclist.

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  • dwainedibbly January 25, 2012 at 5:39 pm


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    • dwainedibbly January 25, 2012 at 5:41 pm

      1. Get 20 bowling balls, bright colors preferred
      2. cut them in half
      3. drill hole through them, on the center
      4. bolt them to the pavement every 40 feet
      5. glue wands to the top

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  • Stripes January 25, 2012 at 6:26 pm

    Why not just install say, a four inch high, thin elevated strip of concrete (sort of like those things they have in parking lots to stop drivers parking too far forward) inbetween the car & bike lane. I don’t think many motorists would be able to drive over that.

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    • Paul Johnson January 25, 2012 at 9:43 pm

      SUV’s stopped existing? Where was I for this event?

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  • Kevin January 25, 2012 at 8:19 pm

    I’m guessing that permanent concrete barrier installation is too expensive initially and also at repaving time. This may be an acceptable solution that would allow drainage, careful lateral bicycle movement, and an effective motor vehicle deterrent. Those plastic wand barriers are little more than an audible annoyance to many motorists.

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    • Paul Johnson January 25, 2012 at 9:35 pm

      As far as I’m aware, the bike lane is a restricted lane but lane changes are still legal. These devices appear to be designed to be used in locations where lane changes are prohibited

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  • GlowBoy January 25, 2012 at 9:24 pm

    I own a relatively small car, which means that (1) the track width of my car matches the streetcar width pretty closely, and (2) the tires are fairly narrow. Which means that when I properly position my car in the center of a lane with streetcar tracks, I have VERY little rubber contacting pavement, and most of the tire is on slick metal. I think many of the cyclists here may be aware of how well rubber grips steel.

    No big deal on flat ground like downtown or NE MLK, but on a dowhill curve like this one it can actually be a bit dicey, especially since the tracks tend to jerk your car back and forth even on flat ground.

    The proper solution, suggested in an earlier thread, is to remove one of the uphill lanes and shift the downhill motor vehicle lane a couple feet to the south, so cars don’t have to drive with their tires in the tracks.

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  • amckimmey January 25, 2012 at 9:40 pm

    My ideas.
    1. more tar and how about bolting them
    2. put ink packs on them, so when cars hit them they explode and are marked, kindof like those old clothing anti-theft devices
    3. if it keeps happening cement bollards
    4. if that doesn’t help. move the entire cement crash wall over and create a wider MUP on the bridge so bikes are safer

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    • amckimmey January 25, 2012 at 9:42 pm

      5. flashing lights onto the top of all the bollards

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      • Paul Johnson January 25, 2012 at 9:44 pm

        Why? The stripes on them are already highly reflective and meet code. If you’re not able to see that, odds are your lighting isn’t up to code.

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  • q`Tzal January 26, 2012 at 12:06 am

    Paint balloons …
    topped of with Hello Kitty! glitter.

    The possibility of some raging ignorant homophobe getting this on his 4-wheel over-compensator might just be enough to keep the bollards up a full month.

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  • Ken Southerland January 26, 2012 at 9:42 am

    I just rode down that ramp on Tuesday afternoon and I don’t recall any being missing. So it must have happened in the last 24 hours. Undoubtedly by a single driver. Sheesh.

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    • John Lascurettes January 26, 2012 at 12:44 pm

      Don’t know where you’ve been looking Ken, but the top several were torn out within days of them going up. There’s a huge section in the middle (at the apex of the curve) where several have been taken out. It has not been in the last 24 hours that they’ve gone missing.

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  • craig harlow January 26, 2012 at 3:12 pm

    Geen paint, rumble strip (safer than turtles, I think?)

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  • beth h January 27, 2012 at 4:32 pm

    Our tax dollars are paying for this dogflarb of a design, a design I’ll bet most of us were never given a meaningful chance to comment on beforehand; and Bollards, Round Two is simply Round Umpteen of waste.

    The Lovejoy redesign remains a bad idea.

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  • jim January 28, 2012 at 11:12 am

    How long is it going to take them to accept the fact that they really screwed up with this plan to run tracks down the same ramp with cars and a bike path and sidewalks? It obviously isn’t working. The trolley hasn’t even started running yet and there are these problems they don’t know how to solve.

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  • mark kenseth January 28, 2012 at 12:42 pm

    Two things: 1) Place a police officer there to cite anyone who knocks over a bollard; 2) Make it double white line, just like the dbl-line marking to keep the cars out of the bus lane downtown. I don’t understand why cars get a double white line and bikes don’t.

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    • Paul Johnson January 28, 2012 at 12:53 pm

      Double white lines mean “no lane changes.” Single, wide white lines means “lane restrictions apply.” I imagine they didn’t do that on Lovejoy is because it is legal for bicycles to change lanes there.

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  • Penny-Farthing October 14, 2013 at 11:10 am

    Bots Dots work better and will last years not a few weeks…some huge delivery type truck will cleave off those bollards every time because there is just no way they can take that kind of force at their base. Really all we can hope for is audible/tactile lane markers that will alert drivers when they have drifted into the bike lane. Anything short of a full sized concrete curb will never keep cars/trucks in their lanes.

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    • Paul Johnson October 15, 2013 at 9:01 am

      Curbs don’t cut it. Combine the disrepair and total uselessness of the curb along with everything that makes riding against traffic so dangerous and you get the complete failure that is the bidirectional cycletrack on Farmington Road in Washington County.

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