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In letter to TriMet, man urges safety fix after crash on MAX tracks – UPDATED

Posted by on April 18th, 2012 at 2:40 pm

Location where MAX tracks cross E Burnside.
Crosslin was traveling from the right
side of the image to the left.

This morning, the MAX tracks on East Burnside just east of I-205 (at SE 97th Ave) caused Portland resident Thomas Crosslin to crash his bike. Thomas crosses these tracks every day on his commute from East Portland to downtown and says he’s an experienced rider. He shared a letter with me that he wrote to TriMet in hopes they might do something to fix what he sees as a serious safety issue.

I decided to share Thomas’s letter to raise awareness of this crossing and to show that it’s not just novice riders who have trouble navigating around streetcar and MAX tracks. It’s also important to note that this specific set of tracks has been on our radar as a safety issue for over five years.

“This crossing is Dangerous with a capital D.”
— Thomas Crosslin, in a letter to TriMet

Back in March 2007, BTA Alice Award winner and long-time former member of the City of Portland Bicycle Advisory Committee Sharon Fekety, fractured her arm in three places after crashing on these tracks in the same location. In response to that crash, TriMet first advised people on bikes to dismount and walk bikes across MAX tracks. A few months later they promised to launch a full-scale review of tricky bike/MAX crossings. (To my knowledge, no results of that study have ever been released, and I’m awaiting word from TriMet as to whether or not it ever actually happened. UPDATE: see end of post )

Here’s another view (looking west on Burnside) of how the tracks cross the road at this location…

Here’s the letter from Crosslin:

Dear Trimet,

I start every day on my bicycle, riding to downtown from Outer SE Portland (east of 205) and today started out perfectly normal. Then everything went wrong – I fell on my bike on the MAX tracks on Burnside where they cross just east of the 205 bridge.

I cross these tracks every day, and every day I try to pick a speed and line across the tracks that I HOPE will deliver me safely to the other side. Today was different, I can’t tell you what was different, my speed, angle were off, I didn’t hold my breath correctly, or perhaps I flinched. Either way, as I hit the black pads on that crossing, my bike and my body parted company…

Today I was lucky, there were no cars near me, as my line across the tracks takes me from the right side to the left side to try and get as close to a 90-degree crossing as I can. A Train came up behind me, and politely waited while I removed myself from the track bed (the driver even pulled up and asked me if I was ok – kudos…)

I’ve written in about this crossing to both Trimet and PBOT, about how dangerous this crossing is, about how someone is going to get more than a bruised knee and some abrasions (this mornings toll) someone is going to fall and then get run over by a car. This crossing is Dangerous with a capital D.

I work in Manufacturing. We have 3 categories of safety related incidents, Near Miss, Incident and Recordable. Since I did not need to be transported to medical attention, I suppose that I would rate this in the incident category – Please Trimet, Please, do something about this crossing before you have a Recordable… I don’t want to see anyone killed at this crossing – especially myself.

For the record, I am not a Trimet hater, I use the service daily for the Downtown to Beaverton section of my commute, and I generally love Trimet. My Trimet pass is the single best benefit that I get from my employer. I cross many RR track crossing during my commute, all except this one have concrete infill for the track bed. In fact a couple of hundred feet east of this crossing is another crossing that has concrete infill. The crossing with concrete are not slippery, it’s just this black material (whatever it is) that turns slick as snot in the rain.

Please, please fix this!!

We’ll let you know when/if TriMet responds to Thomas’s concerns.

UPDATE 1: I just heard from Sharon Fekety, the woman who broke her arm in three places at this same location five years ago. Turns out after trying to work the TriMet system for a few months she eventually gave up:

“I was passed down the line and followed up with many TriMet employees but finally just gave up. Now I either avoid that intersection or dismount and walk. I can’t afford another broken arm. I hope that Mr. Crosslin has better luck that I did and continues to pursue it.”

UPDATE 2: TriMet spokesperson Mary Fetsch has supplied me the pages dealing with this intersection from their Light Rail Pedestrian and Bicycle Crossing Final Report published in September 2008. Download the PDF here. I am still awaiting details about any follow-up actions that have been taken by the agency to remedy safety concerns.

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  • dan April 18, 2012 at 2:49 pm

    Wow, the angle at which those tracks cross the bike lane is so oblique I don’t see how it can be fixed, short of a bicycle overpass.

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  • Allan April 18, 2012 at 2:52 pm

    My brother went down in that location a few years ago. The fix could be a path that curves to the right and then left to cross at a more perpendicular angle.

    There is another one around W 177th and Baseline in Hillsboro that is similar although not quite as bad. TriMet reportedly doesn’t care about it either

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    • Chris I April 18, 2012 at 7:31 pm

      This. They have plenty of space to the right. They need to direct bike riders up onto the sidewalk and across the track at a better angle. This project shouldn’t require much work or money.

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  • Joe April 18, 2012 at 2:57 pm

    Looks like a get off bike aka dismount section until something is done.

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    • Chris I April 18, 2012 at 7:34 pm

      I used to cross these tracks all the time. Getting off is not necessary. Check for pedestrians, mount the sidewalk, look over left shoulder to check for cars, make a sharp left at the tracks and travel back out to the bike lane.

      This does need to be fixed, but I am sure that if people use this technique, no one will have a problem. The problem is that many cyclists do not know to do this. If you proceed across the tracks while staying in the bike lane, crashes could definitely occur.

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  • Lisa Marie April 18, 2012 at 2:58 pm

    Sorry to hear you were injured, Thomas. Thank you for speaking up and drawing attention to the issue.

    The more of us who bring these issues to PBOT, our government, and our communities the more likely they are to address dangerous conditions for cyclists in this city.

    I truly hope there aren’t any “recordables” before they take care of this intersection.

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  • Nik April 18, 2012 at 3:05 pm

    It looks like metal plate with a stamped “traction” pattern on it. I think that while it’s best to cross at 90 degrees to the tracks, if the surface is wet, it probably doesn’t matter what angle you cross at, you just need to be lucky to keep the rubber side down until you find something less slick. Concrete infill would at least make it possible to cross safely, especially in wet conditions.

    It’s like when I stopped with my back wheel on a wet manhole cover yesterday afternoon without realizing it and just spun my tire when I tried to start back up again.

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  • Shetha April 18, 2012 at 3:05 pm

    When I first used this interchange, I would routinely use the curb cut to hop onto the sidewalk and cross the tracks at a better angle up there (traveling from right to left of the sidewalk as I went over the track). This meant that I rode the whole bridge across on the sidewalk, despite there being a (now buffered) bike lane there. After gaining confidence I would stay on the road, but it is a pinch point, where the bike lane disappears, and the cars are forced into the same space as bikes, so there’s very little room to choose an angle in the roadway. On group rides, I know some pretty confident riders that started to slip on these tracks in the wet – it gets pretty complicated pretty fast.

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  • 9watts April 18, 2012 at 3:05 pm

    If we can come up with an app for finding the cheapest gas station anywhere in the world, or that can identify the constellations at night when pointed at the sky, we can come up with a mechanical contrivance that covers points of crossing such as this, until a MAX train or street car approaches and then briefly rotates away or flips up, or is made of some material that withstands wear from the steel wheels for a given length of time before being replaced. I don’t believe this is a technical hurdle as much as a low priority.

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  • Brian E April 18, 2012 at 3:05 pm

    A few of yards of carpet and some glue. Or, is that too simple?

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    • was carless April 18, 2012 at 5:28 pm

      Sandpaper. Wet-or-dry.

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  • NF April 18, 2012 at 3:06 pm

    This location also has bollards in the middle of the crossing. Not only do you need to navigate perpendicularly, you need to thread a needle through the bollards as you ride.

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    • Spiffy April 18, 2012 at 3:37 pm

      that’s just on the MUP, which is also annoying due to the track angle and the traffic light that takes forever to change (which I routinely run)…

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  • JRB April 18, 2012 at 3:08 pm

    This is pretty timely. I spilled this morning trying to negotiate the new streetcar tracks on NE Broadway. Couple of nasty scrapes and bruises but otherwiose okay.

    With the north MUP closed the last couple of days, I’ve been taking the lane to turn left at the convention center and access the southside MUP in accordance with the detour. As I merged left, I successfully crossed the first track and then traveled to where the left turn lane starts. As I attempted to cross the second track to enter the left turn lane, my rear wheel just flat slipped on the wet rail and my bike went out from under me. I didn’t get my wheel caught in the gusset. That happened to me years ago and it’s a mistake I’ve never repeated. This was just a matter complete loss of traction for the split second my rear tire was on the wet rail.

    It’s got me scratching my head as to how to avoid this type of problem in the future. It also reinforces my believe that peaceful coexistence between cyclists and light rail/street car infrastructure isn’t just a matter of people riding better. In eighteen years of bike commuting and recreational riding, this is only the third spill I’ve had.

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    • JRB April 18, 2012 at 4:52 pm

      correction, I should have said I was trying to make a left at the Memorial Coliseum, not the convention center.

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  • Dave W April 18, 2012 at 3:16 pm

    I also use this crossing daily as I commute from SE to 181st for work and have myself, been laid out on these tracks. I cut my hand so bad last year after carefully trying to cross when it was wet (yet taking a nasty dive over my front bars) that I had to hold it to the side as I dripped blood the rest of the ride home until I could get stitches. I completely agree with the author and have thought that this and the lovejoy street are two of the most dangerous areas in the city. When lying on the tracks, I was fortunate to have no cars around me or a train approaching.

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  • Mike April 18, 2012 at 3:27 pm

    I was almost in an accident myself at this very location, & sorry to hear of your fall there, Thomas. There is not enough warning of the danger that exists there.

    A bit off subject, but in regards to the I-205 multi-use path crossing Burnside at this location (shown in the photo) – and the heavy traffic Glisan Street crossing just north of there. These crossings are two of the most poorly marked/signed crossings of the entire I-205 path. I often wondered why some of the Gateway Urban Renewal Area funds couldn’t be spent to fix or improve these crossings since they are cleary within the district. The Gateway URA was created over 10 years ago and still no real improvement to the path crossings there in terms of safety for bicyclists and pedestrians.

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  • Nathan April 18, 2012 at 3:49 pm

    I may be overreaching here, but it seems like there is a trend of late…

    Thomas, thanks are due on all of our behalf for the well written, polite, public (!) letter. I’m sorry that you got hurt.

    Trimet should adopt this little kid’s bike for this crossing’s mascot: http://www.flickr.com/photos/offhegoes/5228045254/in/photostream/

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  • Kristin April 18, 2012 at 3:57 pm

    I used to have to cross these on my commute … this was WORST crossing I had to make (and I rode from SE portland all the way to Camas, which is saying a lot). Coming from the 205 bike path (headed south), and then turning West on Burnside is just plain terrible. You’re making a sharp turn over weird, slippery tracks, and the worst part is you can’t see if a train is coming or not. I held my breath and prayed every time.

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    • Chris I April 18, 2012 at 7:38 pm

      You will know the train is coming because the adjacent signal will start chiming to warn that a train is approaching. It is a very distinct DING DING DING DING sound. If you hear this, do not proceed over the tracks.

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  • rupert_pupkin April 18, 2012 at 4:04 pm

    Yup. I commute by bike from the Edgefield to downtown and that is the single sketchiest part of the entire trip. I try to signal and take the lane just before getting there so I can jig to the left and hit the tracks as perpendicularly as possible, but auto traffic doesn’t always get what I’m trying to do and give me the space to do it. It is a shame, because otherwise Burnside between 82nd and 181st is the calmest, best-marked, safest route out there.

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  • nate April 18, 2012 at 4:24 pm

    1) lawer
    2) public information request from Tri-Met, et al, on all incidents here
    3) tort claim
    4) arbritration
    5) Tri-Met fixes crossing with high-friction panels; and maybe you go to Maui for a few weeks; all expenses paid.

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  • Josh Berezin April 18, 2012 at 4:30 pm

    Thanks for helping publicize this, Jonathan. It’s clear that it’s going to take public pressure supporting thoughtful notes like Crosslin’s to get safety hazards like this fixed.

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  • Joseph E April 18, 2012 at 4:42 pm


    I ride westbound over this crossing almost every day, and I’m rather carefree about it. I’ve never fallen there, but I did have a bad fall at a very similar light-rail track crossing in Long Beach, CA, when I first started riding home from work by bike. And I fell on the streetcar tracks downtown on 11th street, while signaling a left turn onto couch, just 1 week ago. Both falls only caused bad scratches and some damage to my pants (the bikes were fine), but I could have been run over by a car both times.

    The streetcar track problem can be mostly fixed, by setting aside the streetcar lane for transit only (so bikes would ride in the left lane instead), or by making cycletracks along those streets. But the diagonal crossing for light rail is a tough thing to fix. Perhaps a new 1 block long bike path could be made, which would swing out so that bikes could cross the tracks at a 90 degree angle, and away from cars.

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    • was carless April 18, 2012 at 5:32 pm

      I actually ride in the middle or left lane on 10th and 11th. Never had any problems with traffic or drivers. And I always pass the streetcar!

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      • Joseph E April 19, 2012 at 1:03 pm

        I’ll do that from now on, based on a very liberal interpretation of the “keep right” law exceptions.

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        • John Lascurettes April 19, 2012 at 2:54 pm

          On a one-way street, cyclists are also allowed to “keep left”. It’s in the law as such. I posted a link to it in another BP article recently. Technically speaking, riding in the middle lane of a three-lane, one-way street is not allowed except for reasons of passing, avoiding hazards, transitioning to the other side or preparing to make a turn.

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  • al m April 18, 2012 at 4:53 pm

    Getting the Trimet run around? Ha! Welcome to the club-lots of lip service zero action.
    There is only 1 type of action that government officials listen to-


    through the courts.
    The rest of it is just PR and a waste of our time.

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  • Kevin Wagoner April 18, 2012 at 7:37 pm

    Very well written letter. I’ve bike roughly 3000 – 4000 miles a year since 2001 and I’ve crashed twice on Max tracks (ripped the entire right pant leg off one one of the crashes).

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  • Kit April 18, 2012 at 8:28 pm

    Agreed. Riding this every day for two years coming south along the I-205 path and then turning the corner to go west on Burnside you would be surprise how quiet the Max going east to Gresham can be. There have been plenty of 5 AM rides that you turn the corner and the MAX is upon you. The ringer does not go off till the MAX is about 10 ft away in which it starts to slow down but the crossing is about 5 ft away from that. Also that crossing can be downright slippery in rain. It is just not a safe crossing and I have seen plenty of riders just use the street only to snarl traffic. Good luck with Tri-Met. You will need it.

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  • maxadders April 18, 2012 at 8:58 pm

    “Sometimes you eat the bar and sometimes… well, he eats you”

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    • JAT in Seattle April 19, 2012 at 8:10 am

      Sure, this is true, and amusing. But if these are tri-met tracks and not some legacy burlington northern infrastructure, then they were comparatively recently installed and everyone should have known better.

      Imagine the outrage if a new bike lane were put in that required motorists to exercise extreme diligence and superior skill to navigate past AND those who failed faced expensive car damage and painful injuries. (I had to add that last part because we already see the outrage every time a bike lane is added that only required ordinary diligence and moderate skill for motorists to navigate past).

      Transportation engineers and municipalities point to their standards and say good enough. Cyclists complain (with or without injury) and we’re called whiny scofflaw elitists.

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  • mmann April 18, 2012 at 9:02 pm

    I live 8 blocks from this location. I cross it all the time. I’ve crashed there twice – fortunately just scrapes, bruises, torn clothes both times – no broken bones. Like the OP, I couldn’t tell you what was different about the times I crashed compared to all the times I didn’t. Wet both times, but wet lots of times I was fine. I always try to cross at 90 degrees, but the problem is that you have to point straight out into a one-lane busy street to do that. I agree – just a matter of time before someone goes down right in front of a car that’s unable to stop in time. Really poor design.

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  • Joe Rowe April 18, 2012 at 9:16 pm

    Same problem as the broadway streetcar pole in the bike lane. Once a project is done, one lone person can’t easily get things changed. If we act together, we get things fixed.

    The people in power use several tools: A) Time, B) Their PR staff C) answering the phone as if you are calling the wrong number.

    Until the bike community builds an action alert system we should simply call and report call results here. Blog comments are good, phone calls are a lot better.

    Please call BOTH to demand a fix at Burnside near 102:

    (503) 823-SAFE Even if those staff claim it’s not their duty, ask to have the call noted in the record.

    (503) 238-RIDE call 8am-4pm Mon-Friday. Again, have the call noted in the record.

    and join the local group of activists
    click the join us links on the right side bar.

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    • John Lascurettes April 19, 2012 at 2:57 pm

      BTW, that infamous Broadway Bridge pole is undergoing changes right now.

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  • sabes April 18, 2012 at 9:22 pm

    If TriMet suggests that people should walk their bike across those tracks they should put a sign up saying it.

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    • Joe Rowe April 18, 2012 at 10:44 pm

      I agree. Get it in writing. Then take a picture of how absurd it is in the bike capital of the world. Then share photo nationwide with phone numbers of people in power who refuse to change. Wink Wink. We know you have staff reading this who will add this to their report.

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    • El Biciclero April 19, 2012 at 11:23 am

      How many places does Trimet recommend that drivers get out and push?

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  • Eric W April 18, 2012 at 9:35 pm

    I thought there was some sort of rubber/plastic track guide to increase bicycle tire traction when it’s wet? I am thinking of a thick rubber mat that’s bolted next to the tracks and prevents a bike wheel from getting stuck. These are available for speed bumps, does anyone know if there’s something similar for train tracks? Might be a big help for this spot!

    Eric W

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  • are April 18, 2012 at 10:03 pm

    that final report from update 2 seems to be addressing a different problem, that is, sight lines. a recommendation that would address the angled crossing problem might be to mark the bike route up onto the curb cut and then across the tracks at nearly a right angle, with signage indicating to motorists that this is what they should expect to see cyclists doing. maybe drop the limit to 15 mph it is not already.

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  • A.K. April 19, 2012 at 9:18 am

    I cross these when I ride to work and never realized they could be such a problem! No spills yet thankfully…

    The other set of tracks I cross almost every time I ride are the RR tracks over on 11th/12th Ave, just a few blocks from Division.

    Upon closer inspection, I noticed the RR tracks are set in concrete, while it appears that the MAX tracks are set in some sort of metal. Could the metal “flanges” (no idea what they are called) be replaced with concrete slabs, that don’t lose so much traction in wet conditions?

    I’d suggest anyone that has EVER had an issue here, be it minor fall with no injuries to broken bones or worse, email Tri-Met again regarding this issue.

    A mass email to news media could also result in some shaming.

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  • spare_wheel April 19, 2012 at 9:42 am

    I can bunny hop both tracks with no hands and closed eyes. Also, a sensible bike with 3 inch moon tires would have no problem clearing these tracks.

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    • El Biciclero April 19, 2012 at 11:15 am

      Heh. Truly… Don’t people have skillz? Come on!!! Circus training should be mandatory before issuing a bike license!

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    • Paul Souders April 19, 2012 at 12:03 pm


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  • JR April 19, 2012 at 10:42 am

    Perhaps bikes should be directed onto the sidewalk at this location. The oblique angle appears to be more manageable there than in the roadway. Can’t someone add a new higher friction surface to the black rubber abutting the tracks?

    On a related note, has anyone noticed where the streetcar tracks and MAX tracks cross on SW 10th Ave? There are giant gaps in the asphalt that must be at least 4″ wide and 4″ deep right where the tracks intersect. It looks like a war zone! So easy for a bike to get trapped and a rider to be flung over handlebars. Seems like pretty basic maintenance that has been deferred for years!

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  • Jerry April 19, 2012 at 11:50 am

    Oh, I do hope something is done before this becomes a real headline.
    Remember Brett Jarolimek? He was killed by a right hook at Interstate and Greely. Six months before that I was right hooked, and tried to get some attention directed to the situation there. I was informed that no report would be made, and no citation written since my injuries were not life-threatening. But I had to be taken to surgery by ambulance with head and other injuries. Doesn’t that count? I was informed, “If you didn’t die, it wasn’t life threatening.”
    AFTER Brett was killed they changed the traffic flow.
    PBOT and TriMet, please do not make us pay for this with a life!

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  • Thomas April 19, 2012 at 1:23 pm

    Thanks Jonathan for publishing and thanks everyone for the well wishes.
    The oblique angle is hard to fix at this location, but the track bed is easy to fix. Concrete infill is the current design standard, and they finish that concrete with the grooved surface that helps traction, leaving the rails themselves as the only slip points. The black plastic/rubber material is a hold over from the 1980’s-1990’s when they were trying some alternate materials. That material is so slick, I see and hear cars spinning their wheels on it under normal driving conditions. If replaced with concrete, a bicyclist would still be wary of the rails, but that’s relatively minor when compared to the entire width of the trackbed.
    I’ve been commuting by bicycle for over 20years, this is my first accident due to a road surface issue. It is both frustrating and enlightening to see what Jonathan uncovered and what others have written in about this location. I know I’m not alone, and while that doesn’t fix the problem, it makes me feel a little better.

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    • Alan 1.0 April 19, 2012 at 3:42 pm

      Thanks for having the guts to speak up. If it happened to you, I know it could happen to me and many others. Heal well!

      Agreed on the concrete infill.

      BTW, I can’t help but notice the sidewalk salmon in that streetviews pic. What a coincidence!

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      • Mike April 19, 2012 at 4:51 pm

        No doubt a sidewalk salmon there, but technically – according to google maps and most others i’ve seen – the MUP does in fact cross Burnside there at the bollards and then uses the southern sidewalk of the overpass to cross the freeway. Bike signage positioning on the southwestern corner of Burnside/97th (visible in google streetview) implies the official (?) route for bikes is to be on sidewalk, ‘salmon style’. I’ve headed southbound on the MUP here & if you use the Burnside bikelane to cross the bridge you’ll find no curb cut to get back up onto the MUP on the other side. The whole MUP crossing here is poorly executed.

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        • Alan 1.0 April 19, 2012 at 8:53 pm

          Good observation! At the same time, Google maps satellite view (overhead, not 45º) shows a bike lanes along both sides of Burnside, too, both east and west of the tracks and MUP crossing. I suppose the idea of the MUP route is to avoid westbound bikes crossing Burnside to get on or off the path to the south. It’s a complicated junction, but agreed that it’s poorly executed.

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  • GlowBoy April 19, 2012 at 1:44 pm

    I used to commute over this back in the late 90s, and I remember it sucking. But I learned to slow down, cross at least a 45 angle and sometimes pop my front wheel up over the tracks as I cross (this is what I sometimes do crossing streetcar tracks).

    Then in the early 2000s my commute took me to the northern end of Front Avenue. If I wanted to ride the most expeditious route home, I had to cross more than SIX sets of tracks at oblique angles like this. Never caught my front wheel — although I did once catch a rear wheel and almost bought it. Several of these crossings have since been removed, thankfully.

    Now on my commute home from Beaverton, my otherwise-preferred route takes me across 3 sets of similarly oblique tracks on SW 5th Street. Slowing down and crazy swerving is required. I suppose it doesn’t cost me that much time, but it is annoying as hell and is a daily-humiliating reminder of where we cyclists sit on the food chain. No matter where I’ve worked, I seem to have always had to deal with this problem.

    Seems to me the best practice to improving these crossings, short of removing the tracks, is to fill in the bike lane (or sidewalk) crossing with concrete, widen as necessary so it’s possible to cross at a 45 degree or better angle without slowing down too much, install a curb or barrier to separate “swerving” bikes from motor vehicles, and install warning signs.

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    • El Biciclero April 19, 2012 at 3:27 pm

      I hate those tracks on 5th. I’ve had drivers literally screech to a stop on seeing me do the right/left swerve when using the paved tip-outs to cross the tracks EB. One time I poorly timed the passing of another cyclist and ended up plowing straight over the same tracks while riding in the middle of the lane. Managed to unweight my front wheel, but my rear wheel got deflected by the slippery groove, causing me to fishtail. I lucked out and didn’t fall, but I have seen other riders sitting in the EB tip-outs looking like they have just wiped out on those stupid tracks. The only worse tracks in Beaverton that I know about are those on WB Farmington at Lombard…

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      • GlowBoy April 20, 2012 at 8:00 am

        I witnessed a cyclist go down on 5th last year. Heard it rather than saw it, since he was right behind me. He wasn’t badly hurt, but the clatter of the bike going down and the thud of the rider hitting the pavement sure have stuck with me.

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  • Scott April 19, 2012 at 2:29 pm

    Perhaps I missed it in the comments, but what is TriMet planning to do?

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  • Ed April 19, 2012 at 5:43 pm

    Another vote that this track configuration is dangerous. Had a friend who crashed badly here. Out of commission for a couple weeks. A curb cut to the sidewalk and signage might be a start. If they don’t fix it eventually someone will get run over by a car and die.

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  • q`Tzal April 21, 2012 at 7:59 am

    As an interim step: coarse quartz and granite grit could be bonded to the surface of these rubber/plastic RR crossing plates.
    And by bonded I don’t mean glue. I mean use the propane torch that is used for asphalt repairs, partially liquify the problem area and apply grit. Apply more heat while tamping grit firmly in to surface.

    This would be better done at the manufacturing stage but can be kludged almost as well.

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