Portland Streetcar Inc. (PSI) has completed a project to move an electrical pole at the entrance to the north sidewalk of the Broadway Bridge. The pole was installed in early January of this year. When its location constricted an already narrow opening on a very busy bikeway — and it was put there without review by citizens or stakeholders — City Planning Commissioner and member of the PSI Board of Directors Chris Smith penned a letter to PSI’s Director Rick Gustafson. The letter, which was co-signed by Rob Sadowsky of the Bicycle Transportation Alliance, said the pole was a “crash hazard” and that it was just one of many poles and other components of the Eastside Streetcar Loop project that has, “created compromises with the bicycle network.”
A few weeks after our story, Smith announced that he had worked out a solution with PSI and that the pole would be moved over and out of the way of biking and walking traffic.
Now, after a several day closure of the path, the project is done. And it comes just in time as today’s bike traffic was the heaviest I’ve seen in months. While the pole physically moved less than one foot, this change makes a huge qualitative difference. The pole is now nestled behind an existing (and old) light pole.
Notice in the photos below you can’t even see the pole as you approach (this is a huge difference from before, when PSI had to paint a white stripe so that folks didn’t run into it)…
And here’s a before shot:
I’m grateful that Chris Smith took action on this and that eventually PSI saw the light and decided to move it out of the way. Hopefully they’ll remember this episode and adopt a “do no harm” policy to the bike network as our streetcar network continues to grow.
Citizen activist Joe Rowe also deserves a shout-out for his role in documenting and spreading the word about this problem.