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PBOT: “Major improvement” for bikes coming to Gibbs Bridge stairs

Posted by on October 1st, 2012 at 1:32 pm

Annual BAC facility tour-16

The current stairs on the Gibbs Street Bridge are not
befitting of a bike-friend city.
(Photo © J. Maus/BikePortland)

Sort of a joke,” and “atrocious” is how we’ve described the design of the bicycle wheel gutters on the stairs of the new Gibbs Street Bridge. Now it appears that the Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) will do something about it.

Last week I confirmed with PBOT spokesman Dan Anderson that they have decided to move forward with a project to revamp and improve bike access on the stairs. Currently, there’s just a very narrow flat spot at the far edge of the one side of the stairs where bicycle wheels are supposed to roll. As I shared last week, the design is simply not adequate. There are well over 100 stairs and the incline is quite steep. Yes, there’s an elevator but it’s bound to be out of order and/or undergoing repairs now and again and people with bikes need a reliable 24/7/365 option.

Anderson says the final designs aren’t set in stone yet, but he assured me it would be, “a major improvement.” He says they’ll be doing the work in-house and that they’ll be looking at what other cities have built.

On that note, here are a few inspirations I hope they keep in mind…

First, here’s what we have now…

Gibbs Street Bridge-20

Here’s how they do it in The Netherlands…

Entree gratis bewaakte fietsenstalling met trap en fietsgoten

(Photo: Fietsberaad/Flickr)

And here’s one from Copenhagen…

Bicycle Ramp up to S-Train Platform

(Photo: reinvented/Flickr)

The example below is from the bicycle stairway Wikipedia entry. It’s called “kinderwagen” so perhaps it’s from Germany. And with two tire channels, it’s also usable by some strollers…

(Photo: Wikipedia)

And this one from Japan is nice and wide

(Photo: katakanadian/Flickr)

Whatever PBOT decides to do it will almost certainly be better than what we have now. As for when it will be completed, Anderson says, “The goal is to get something in by this fall.” Stay tuned.

NOTE: We love your comments and work hard to ensure they are welcoming of all perspectives. Disagreements are encouraged, but only if done with tact and respect. BikePortland is an inclusive company with no tolerance for discrimination or harassment including expressions of racism, sexism, homophobia, or xenophobia. If you see a mean or inappropriate comment, please contact us and we'll take a look at it right away. Also, if you comment frequently, please consider holding your thoughts so that others can step forward. Thank you — Jonathan

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Indy
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Indy

Other than the Copenhagen one, the incline appears much steeper for Gibbs Street, so I’m curious why you keep showing us other cities. kinderwagen picture would be lawsuit-happy in the U.S., so many potentials for pedestrians to slip/trip.

There seems to be just as many downsides to these gutters:
1. Increased risk of slipping from pedestrians.
2. The weight of your bike keeps you off-balance.
3. Rain+gutters+steep incline doesn’t look pleasant.
4. Pedal hitting stair issues.

Also your wikipedia link isn’t working.
Should be http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bicycle_stairway

o/o
Guest
o/o

I still dont use it in there. =:0

get over it!
Guest
get over it!

What you’re suggesting in your “inspiration” photos would not be allowed for hazard and ADA reasons in the US. Keep in mind that other people besides cyclists (visually impaired, the elderly) will use these stairs too and there can’t be tripping or slipping hazards in an area you would normally expect a step. Personally, I’ve used the existing gutter and it worked fine for me. It was absolutely just fine. I don’t see what all the whining is about. We get a new beautiful bridge connection and a wonderful amenity to the city and all I read about the bridge here is a bunch of whining about the bike gutter.

Alan 1.0
Guest
Alan 1.0

Good “comps,” Jonathan. A local example is the Eagle Creek staircase outside Cascade Locks on the HCRH Trail. (source: http://cyclingat50.blogspot.com/2011_05_01_archive.html)

9watts
Guest
9watts

“would not be allowed for hazard and ADA reasons in the US”

Is that really true? I’d be curious to hear more about how sensible, functional infrastructure that meets needs in other countries is thwarted by our laws or litigiousness. I’m not saying it couldn’t be so, but I’d like to know specifics if anyone knows any.

The fun part about the Kinderwagen photo above is that installing it would cost a fraction of what was *already* (mis)spent on the Gibbs stair gutter. No special forms required, just a way to fasten the metal channel to the stairs after they’re done.

Rol
Guest
Rol

A Kinderwagen (“children wagen”) IS a stroller. i.e the German one apparently is specifically for strollers and would also incidentally handle bikes.

KRhea
Guest
KRhea

I have a simple question…I think

How does a project of this magnitude in such a “cyclecentric” city get planned, designed, funded, built AND THEN they find these problems. I don’t get how that happens and how those in charge keep their jobs. We all cry and whine about not enough funding for all kinds of projects, on this blog it’s bike specific obviously and then funds are allocated and their “misused” or used poorly or without much thought. It’s confusing to me that PBOT only now sees this situation as an issue. Is there not at least one designer/engineer or planner in that office that rides a bike and can offer some suggestions during the planning stages BEFORE something is built. Now they’ll spend even more money on a brand new remodel of a brand new bridge. Doesn’t that bother anyone else????????? We need people who value every single penny found to fund bike infrastructure to watch with an eagle eye to make sure it’s spent in best, smartest most cost effective way and that the end result is right the first time. These “adult do-overs” are ridiculous, costly, embarrasing, time consuming and wasteful. Let’s get it right the first time and move our efforts forward to the next important project. Having spent 27+ years in design it’s imperative that the last 5% of a project gets as much attention as the first 95% or the end result will not be the best it could be. This bridge and the access issue is an obvious example of someone’s “afterthought” about a bike “gutter” once the project was to far along. I can just hear the ‘ol “CYA”cover your a_ s conversation now, “don’t worry, no one will notice how narrow and hard to use it is and hey, there aren’t that many of those long cargo bikes around anyway and hey, parents can carry their kids bike in one arm while they use the gutter to roll their own bike and hey, at least we thought of gutter, and hey, those tires are really skinny anyway so how wide does it really have to be and those bikes aren’t that heavy most people will just carry them down anyway and won’t need a gutter…” Unfortunately that attitude bit them in the butt and it’s back to the drawing board.

John_in_NH
Guest
John_in_NH

Call me crazy but for those posting that these are against ADA, I see absolutely nothing under the stair section that would prevent these. I see new stairs all the time that are wide and have center railings and a concrete base without the grooves in it. The Netherlands picture shows just that design without a handrail in the middle. There is a clear edge to the steps and the steps have tactile surfacing on the edge (the dots). The only one that may be a bit dodgy is the last German one, but that is in a rural area and was clearly a retrofit so it might slide under the radar.

Kevin Wagoner
Guest
Kevin Wagoner

I wonder if that one from Copenhagen would be much better? It looks narrow and requires the person to angle the bike similar to what we have now. That is just my impression from the picture.

Good to hear this, I’m sure it will be appreciated.

roger noehren
Guest
roger noehren

I expect that the plan was that cyclists and others who might find the stairs challenging would use the elevator, which was working on the two occasions that I used the bridge.
A friend who lives in South Waterfront told me that the elevator has been out of order frequently, which presents a challenge for people with wheels and other mobility enhancers.

Steve B.
Guest

Despite being a non-breeder, I find the ramp designs that can also accommodate strollers appealing.

Anthony
Guest
Anthony

I wonder how much money PBOT would save if it just included better bike infrastructure at the outset, rather than build the crappy token gesture to cyclists and hope that not too many people complain, until enough people finally do, then re-design the whole thing at extra cost. This seems to happen an awful lot these days.