Urban Tribe - Ride with your kids in front.

With pole moved, bike traffic breathes easier on Broadway Bridge

Posted by on April 23rd, 2012 at 11:36 am

Broadway Bridge pole has been moved-6

Yellow arrow shows location of old pole. (Photo taken this morning)

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)…

Broadway Bridge pole has been moved-1

Broadway Bridge pole has been moved-2

And here’s a before shot:

Broadway Bridge streetcar pole-5

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.

Broadway Bridge pole has been moved-7

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  • Scott April 23, 2012 at 11:41 am

    How much did that cost to move?

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    • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) April 23, 2012 at 11:46 am

      pre-project estimates put it at about $30-40,000. Not sure what the finally tally was. UPDATE: Thanks to the sharp folks below… who have pointed out the final price was just over $17,000 (as reported by Joseph Rose in The Oregonian)

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    • wsbob April 23, 2012 at 12:09 pm

      What the expense was is my question too, and I hope that figure will soon be reported. The originally estimated expense to properly site the pole was part of the excuse for not doing so in the first place.

      The new location of the pole is a far more intelligent siting that allows the modest width of the bridge MUP to be used as effectively as possible given the circumstances.

      To some people, the former location of this pole seemed like no big deal, just as the Broadway catch basin grate…subject of a bikeportland story last week…seemed also to be no big deal to some people. As this Broadway pole location issue has shown, when sidewalk or roadway area allowed for travel by means other than motor vehicle is minimal, the functionality of inches and fractions of an inch can be very significant.

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  • Dan April 23, 2012 at 11:50 am

    Not bad for something they originally said was impossible to move!

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  • Chris Smith April 23, 2012 at 12:10 pm


    I believe the final contract price Joe Rose quoted is correct.

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  • John Lascurettes April 23, 2012 at 12:11 pm

    While the pole physically moved less than one foot, this change makes a huge qualitative difference

    Is it really less than a foot? It looks and feels significantly more than that. Regardless, I thank everyone involved for making the correction.

    Jonathan, perhaps you could post a good before and after shot of what the approach looked like. I also note that they installed a hefty bollard for the wayward car that might hop the curb.

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  • Joe Rowe April 23, 2012 at 12:35 pm

    The fix has created well over 18 inches of new space in an extremely critical spot where every inch counts for a foot.

    I’ll be posting a new photo using a bike today to show the significance.

    Below is the URL to the pictures and PDF shared on google

    Thanks to anyone who picked up the phone to have their complaint added to the growing numbers. !!

    What do people nominate for the next grass roots bike action?

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    • matt picio April 24, 2012 at 12:29 pm

      Nice job, Joe, and Chris, and everyone who made this happen. Good going, folks!

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  • K'Tesh April 23, 2012 at 12:45 pm

    I love it when maintenance does the work that needs to be done. Now about those grates on SW Harrison and SW 6th…. Anyone? Anyone?

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  • Frank April 23, 2012 at 1:30 pm

    Well thank God someone called the whaaaaamulance on this one, I was having a really hard time texting while passing this pole.

    Seriously… $17,000 for this? That’s shameful. I passed it today and didn’t even notice.

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    • Joe Rowe April 23, 2012 at 1:47 pm

      Frank. I’m writing this for people who might be open minded, but lacking the other side of your opinion.

      I think you lack both: Empathy and awareness.

      a) Empathy: how to share feelings of others and understand how those feelings feel for others

      b) Awareness: That others have less bike navigation skill and less tolerance for risky bike routes. To grow a city that uses all modes of transpiration we can’t put up barriers like this that hinder significant number of people from using bikes.

      I did not work on this project for Joe. I worked on it for the benefit of others.

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    • q`Tzal April 23, 2012 at 2:05 pm

      Whaaaaaambulance or not as a taxpayer I feel that eventually there would have been an injury lawsuit that far exceed what was spent to:
      (1) install the pole wrong
      (2) have engineers ponder how it could be fixed
      (3) remove the incorrectly installed pole
      (4) install it as it should have been the first time.

      Pain and suffering be damned.
      Inconvenience be damned.
      Indignity be damned.
      This is a simple matter of a government payed contractor who in an effort to save a buck would have easliy cost the city MANY tens of thousands of dollars in a legal settlement for a small injury and potentially upwards of 1 million dollars for a long term disability injury.

      I don’t feel like gambling with my tax money in the pathetic hope that the infinite monkey theorem doesn’t apply here.

      Realistically the contactor should have done this for free as this WAS their screw up.

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  • CaptainKarma April 23, 2012 at 2:38 pm

    “…saw the light…” was that a pun on light poles? 😉 But seriously folks, my son crashed into a parked Porche and his hospital bill for three days was like 45G, same as I paid for a house back in the midwest. We will never know how many trips to the hospital will have been saved down the road by spending the 17Gs. Priceless, as the cliche’ says.

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    • sabes April 23, 2012 at 3:51 pm

      but could that $17,000 have been spent somewhere else that could have made something even more dangerous more safe? That’s the question. It’s not whether that money should have been spent to move the pole, but whether or not that money could have been put to better use somewhere else.

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      • q`Tzal April 23, 2012 at 4:23 pm

        The argument of every procrastinator is that there is no way to disprove that work differed might be the right choice.
        We all know that procrastination, 2nd guessing and postfacto armchair quarterbacking does not solve problems in the here and now.

        Are there are equal or worse problems that could have been solved for $17,000 or less? Almost certainly.
        Rather than posing a hypothetical situation where nothing is done please include your engineering list of what our city’s problems are. Then you can prioritize them based on actual cost of implementation, number of users positively affected by a change and the potential repercussions of doing nothing.

        Everything you do and everything you don’t do will affect the public when you are in charge.
        You make the call: who gets to be left unsafe today?

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  • Scott April 23, 2012 at 4:58 pm

    I want Darwinism back.

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    • q`Tzal April 24, 2012 at 12:26 am

      Here here.
      As long as I don’t have to pay for the clean up; carrion eaters are never as punctual as you’d like.
      /dark british humor

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  • Livellie April 23, 2012 at 5:14 pm

    I sort of put this pole move in the same category as changing street names like 39th to Cesar E. Chavez…a nice thing to do if you don’t anything better to spend the money on.

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    • Jeremy Cohen April 24, 2012 at 2:49 pm

      I couldn’t DISagree more with both parts of your post. The pole was an unnecessary hazard for a group of people that are already working within a hazardous commuting environment. As to the renaming of 39th, that was done to recognize the value, achievement and contribution of a large segment of our population–like MLK, Rosa Parks, etc. I welcome the city spending money to give due recognition to the contributions of members of other groups than those represented by: Washington, Lincoln, Madison, Lovejoy, Pettigrove, Villard, and all the other wealthy, dead white guys. So, I too put them in the same category, well spent money.

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  • Kevin Wagoner April 23, 2012 at 8:23 pm

    I love it when maintenance does the work that needs to be done. Now about those grates on SW Harrison and SW 6th…. Anyone? Anyone?
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    I was thinking of the story of the grates when I read this too. Mission Impossible 2.

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  • Tourbiker April 24, 2012 at 2:59 am

    Looks a heck of a lot better, along with being safer

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  • dwainedibbly April 24, 2012 at 8:09 am

    It should never have been there in the first place, of course, but I think it says a lot about Portland when you consider how everyone came together to get it moved. Kudos!

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  • Toby April 24, 2012 at 6:59 pm

    I went through it this morning and it felt MUCH better, every inch really does count. good to see that is was where it was originally designed to go. My devils advocate question is this; What happens if a few years down the road the mount fails and the post falls? Who’s shoulders does that rest on? I’m not asking rhetorically, it’s a legitimate question. And saying that it won’t fail is not an answer, I’m really wondering about if it does fail.

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    • Opus the Poet April 24, 2012 at 7:34 pm

      That should fall under the contrator’s warrantee. The project is supposed to last for a certain number of years without failures, and any failures within that period would be covered by the warrantee. Of course from where I sit (outside Nashville TN at the moment) I have no way of knowing what that warrantee would be, if any.

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  • scaryseth April 24, 2012 at 7:57 pm

    Went through for the first time this evening after the pole move.
    That distance does make a difference. Will see what it is like when a ped is there when going through.

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  • 007 April 24, 2012 at 11:07 pm

    Holy c**** that’s a lot of money to move a pole, but I sure do appreciate it. It will probably prevent some serious injuries. Thank you!

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