A set of speed bumps in the bicycle lane of SE Madison Ave as it approaches the Hawthorne Bridge are likely to be removed. The bumps have garnered a lot of feedback — much of it negative — since they were installed a few weeks ago with the aim of slowing people down. We were surprised to learn that the County had installed them given the fact they were forced to remove a similar installation of speed bumps back in 2005.
Multnomah County has an advisory committee that meets once per month to discuss issues like this. However, we learned last week that the Multnomah County Bicycle and Pedestrian Citizen Advisory Committee was never briefed about the bumps before they went in. At their meeting last night, the bumps were on the top of the agenda and the County’s Engineering Services Manager Jon Henrichsen showed up to hear the committee’s concerns and try to explain why the decision was made to put them in.
“It was clearly a mistake. It’s not something we should have done.”
— Jon Henrichsen, Multnomah County Engineering Services Manager
According to Henrichsen, the bumps were installed by bridge maintenance crews and the project never went through the planning department. The staff at the bridge department apparently weren’t aware of the history of the issue and didn’t realize there would be push-back. Another issue at play came down to staffing: Henrichsen explained that County planners and much of the bridge department veterans more familiar with the history of this issue weren’t available for input because they are dedicated solely to the Sellwood Bridge Project.
In the end, Henrichsen said the decision to install the bumps, “Was clearly a mistake. It’s not something we should have done.”
Bike advisory committee members were in unanimous agreement that making a significant change to such a vital bicycle route without planning or citizen advocate input was a bad move. All but one of the members in attendance voted for the bumps to be removed.
Committee member Andrew Holtz remembered that the previous bumps “weren’t really doing anything” and said, “There wasn’t a compelling reason to change that previous decision, so let’s take them out.” Carl Larson, an advocate with the Bicycle Transportation Alliance who sits on the committee, said “They are at best a net zero for safety because people are avoiding them in away that’s really dangerous [by swerving into the adjacent lane]. I’d be up for recommending they be removed.”
As we reported last week, bridge maintenance staff felt compelled to install the bumps after receiving complaints about people riding too fast through a TriMet bus stop that’s bisected by the bike lane when it merges up onto the bridge sidewalk. While most people acknowledge that bike speeds are a problem in this location, the bumps are not considered to be the right solution.
A much better solution is what the County already plans to do this summer: Extend the existing sidewalk bulb-out to provide more space to people waiting for, and stepping off of, the bus (that design, however, is unlikely to reduce bicycling speeds).
Last night, the committee didn’t want to wait until summer and they passed a formal recommendation to the County to remove the bumps as soon as possible.
I asked Henrichsen after the meeting if he thinks the County will act on the recommendation. “I think there’s a reasonable chance they [the bumps] will come out.”
who was the individual who gave this the green light, and what was the reasoning besides anecdotal evidence from TriMet drivers or riders? I’m guessing it was the drivers, but I’d like to be proven wrong. this reeks of a couple grumpy buddies sticking it to people who ride their bike over the bridge.
What sort of precedent is this? The public needs some more info here.
I’d bet good money this ends up happening.
I did not know that being on the Sellwood bridge project would make you SO unavailable that an e-mail coversation along the likes of ..”Hey, we are thinking of doing…you worked on the Hawthorne before, what do you think” would be too much to ask.
True… they could have just hopped on a bike and pedaled down to the Sellwood and asked them real quick too… takes like 5 minutes.
Depending on the funding agreement they may be required to not think about non-funded issues outside of Sellwood. Just something to keep in mind – as ridiculous as it sounds, it is part of the accountability we build into these projects.
I knew it was going to end like this, seemed rather odd just sayin
Now let’s hope that grinding them off doesn’t make things worse than with them
you mean like when they f*cked up painting the bike lane on the S-curve going onto the west bound Burnside Bridge and when they ground that and painted the new line – it really didn’t matter because you still have the old ground down line that your wheel falls into every single time? Because that’s freaking annoying. Especially since it’s still too narrow.
Aren’t these just foil? I think they peal off with heat
I’d be interested to know what happens if you took out half of them (maybe every other). Part of the issue is there are so many, so close. May be less jarring otherwise.
That’s similar to what I am wondering. It seems to me that it probably would be very reasonable to have a standard for how such pavement devices and ETC should be implemented for cycles. Whether this is the place for any marking is one question, but certainly there is very likely a need for some sort of devices for warning people, slowing people down at places. It would be beneficial to study the issue and find out what types of devices and designs work and achieve the intended results.
I think a series of Six 1/2 inch wide grooves spaced 1 inch apart and repeated ever 2 feet three times might be a good starting point for a warning. It would take some study both in controlled conditions and the environment to figure out what works best.
I see a need for something like this where Cycling path exit controlled areas especially if entering or crossing traffic or if bollards and other barriers are coming up.
I know that in Copenhagen they use sharks teeth marking to denote mixing zones. Do they ever using anything other than paint to indicate slowing or caution zones?
In the UK they use a variety of tactile warnings to denote changes in bikeway/walkway conditions, such as going from a separated, to shared environment like we do on the Hawthorne bridge.
Their use of these warnings is so much more sophisticated than ours, we pretty much only have the ADA domes at crosswalks.
“Ladder & Tramway” is such a brilliant concept on this side of the pond but old hat over in The Fog thus reinforcing the obnoxious stupid American stereotype.
Pavement ride vibration technique isn’t some new, unexplored science. Arriving at what specific type for a given situation just depends on whether enough people think it’s worth the time and money to do something different than the economical way of simply sticking something down on the pavement in a conventional way.
On the other recent thread about the rumble strips, Ted Buehler expressed an interest in looking into changes to rumble strips or the way they’re laid down could effectively convey the info while reducing the discomfort some people claim to experience when riding over them.
“…A much better solution is what the County already plans to do this summer: Extend the existing sidewalk bulb-out to provide more space to people waiting for, and stepping off of, the bus (that design, however, is unlikely to reduce bicycling speeds). …” maus/bikeportland
So the basic problem of some people that ride, not showing consideration by slowing down for people walking and waiting for the bus, will still exist.
Removal of the rumble strips will actually be removing part of the measures in place to help remind people riding that they need to slow down for people on foot. Unless a better alternative to the rumble strips is installed at the time they’re removed, should that happen, this is not much of a success.
Speeders gonna speed… there’s plenty of riders who can just bunny hop, or cut around any obstacle in their way.
Perhaps, ‘Just do nothing’, is your suggestion for an alternative to the rumble strips.
I suppose I could go down there and wring my hands as loud as possible when I see somebody approaching at speed…
In my limited understanding of the situation, these strips were installed to remove conflict between trimet riders and those who ride bikes at that bus stop. the glaringly obvious problem here is that one has to effectively cross a lane of active traffic to get on the bus.
you hit the rumble strip and say, oh yeah, i’m going downhill and should look around for any conflicts ahead, or something…
of course I could say that the problem may stem from the fact that trimet riders are not looking because they are opening their ticket app while they are getting on the bus so even if a bike rider is going 3 mph, they could still hit somebody who is crossing the bike lane to get on the bus.
The fact still remains that there is this dumb bike lane IN BETWEEN the bus stop and the bus. Normally, the bus can just enter and block the bike lane so that bikers need to do some sort of pass or wait behind until the transaction is completed, but that is not the case at this particular stop.
So, wsbob, what would I do? what’s my suggestion? That’s easy:
Hawthornering… yup, one big circuitous ring over and around the offending intersection suspended by cables… gets bikes out of the way and provides rain shelter for bus riders. Also think of the awesome 4th of Julys… this isn’t rocket surgery here. I have unlimited money right?
It is honestly such a small issue that it doesn’t really warrant money being spent on it. If there is going to be money spent on the problem, perhaps spending it with an eye towards history would have been better.
Quite frankly, the traffic engineering in that area is horrible and that rumble strip didn’t do anything. I ride just as fast with or without them.
Not according to an anonymous source on the bike blog from the other side of the country.
Portlanders can’t bunny hop
November 13, 2013 at 12:27 PM
Bunny hop speed bumps, rr tracks, road kill, leaves, DANG everything short of global warming can be addressed with a deft and self righteous bunny hop. If only “freds” “gutter bunnies” Mary Poppins, cargo bikes and newbies would get with the program the world would be rainbows and unicorns.
“…Bike advisory committee members…” maus/bikeportland
Unless that’s a different committee, a faithful abbreviation would include ‘pedestrian’.
“So the basic problem of some people that ride, not showing consideration by slowing down for people walking and waiting for the bus, will still exist”
For someone who seems to be such a stickler when it comes to documentation it’s odd that you accept the anecdotal comments of a rogue bridge maintenance crew as evidence of a problem. In my experience, there is very little conflict here. The main problem is, IMO, on the bridge deck and the presence of two rumble strips there has done little to increase courtesy among MUP users.
More would be helpful, but last Saturday, I talked to a bus passenger waiting at the viaduct stop. They explained to me their experience getting off the bus and having someone on a bike roar by and almost collide with them. Also, that bus drivers feel compelled because of hazards created by poor bike use there, to warn passengers getting off the bus to “Watch out for the Bikes!”.
More input from, or a review of input Trimet has received from people riding buses, and people driving buses, about this situation, should probably be part of the decision as to whether to take the rumble strips out before a more effective alternative is arrived at.
I think they should reconfigure the stop so that an approaching cyclist can see the doors of the bus (usually it’s obscured by the bus until you are right there).
I also think they should install a “STOP here when bus present” sign and line. While that won’t make people stop, it will give the moral authority to those who do. Every time I stop or slow there I either almost get run over, or someone passes me. In fact, if they put the line right at the top of the ramp, it will just take one person to stop the bike traffic.
Finally, occasionally send a cop down to write some tickets. Unlike the stupid Ladd’s Circle stings, this would actually be worthwhile.
“I think they should reconfigure the stop so that an approaching cyclist can see the doors of the bus (usually it’s obscured by the bus until you are right there). …” Tony
That’s good observation, which I noticed too on Saturday. Whether the angle the bus parks/stops, could be changed slightly to allow better long distance view of bus passengers disembarking, by approaching people on bikes, would be something to look into. Good suggestion.
Fair suggestion on the stop sign too, although, there’s already a ‘bikes yield to pedestrians’ sign in place. A stop sign would/should be more authoritative.
Ladd’s Circle enforcement details are off topic, but I couldn’t support your opinion that they’re “…stupid…”
and you nailed it. i’d enthusiastically support enforcement on the hawthorne bridge.
Bob, many of us have suggested they move the bus stop. It’s in a bad location. It’s the equivalent of a having a bus stop in the middle lane of a four lane street (facing out!).
Which is probably not a good suggestion, because the bus stop probably needs to be there. Ask Trimet to be certain. If its records show that very few people riding the bus use this stop, maybe the stop could be moved or eliminated.
that’s what they did at SE 122nd (at the library). The bus stopped right in the middle of the new lighted ped crossing and blocked everything. I saw that and hoped somebody would wake up and move that stop. It did take them about a month to figure that there was a problem and did move it.
So you’re saying it’s not a good suggestion, and then in the next breaths suggesting we research it to make sure it’s not a good suggestion……..
I’m saying your suggestion…probably…isn’t a good one for the reasoned mentioned. And also, if you think your suggestion is good, consult Trimet, and ask them whether it’s doable.
Well, one solution would be to further extend the “rumble strip” all the way to the edge of the road, so that a rider could not navigate the weave around it, and be forced to slow down. I have ridden this multiple times over the past couple weeks, and really the bumps are not bad at all. Does anybody notice that there are also similar bumps at the end of the Hawthorne bridge, going westbound before the split, made out of the exact same material? Does anybody notice that this is also the exact same material (except yellow) that crosswalks are marked with?
Not the same. The ‘bumps’ on the bridge itself are placed in front of each of the gates that close when the bridge opens and are only one layer of thermoplastic thick. The speed bumps in the bike lane are multiple layers of thermoplastic thick. Most likely the bumps in the bike lane would not have generated any controversy at all if they had stopped at one layer of thermoplastic.
Many a time I’ve thought of venturing out at night with a few bags of concrete and some rebar to fill in some railroad tracks that make my commute a little more treacherous when it’s raining. Can I borrow a reflective vest and hard hat from one of these bridge maintenance guys?
You can get away with anything if you have the appropriate maintenance uniform and likely get access to any secure site if you show up to the gate with a septic pump truck.
While I’m still dumbfounded by all the complaints about how “jarring” these little bumps are (the stretch of SW Main that you ride onto from the bridge is worse), and by the fact that anyone would bother swerving around these little things like your typical SUV driver, I also don’t see how the bumps are accomplishing anything.
They’re not a proper rumble-strip design (which should be “innies” anyway, not “outies”), but they’re too close together and too small to function as actual speed bumps. The objective of the former is to raise awareness of an impending conflict zone, which they probably are achieving, while the objective of the latter is to limit speeds, which they are definitely NOT achieving.
There may be ways to reduce conflicts on this path, but these speed bumps probably aren’t the right way.
Not to mention that you can steer around them very easily at speed.
I don’t know. I have a basket on my bike and these bumps make more noise from the basket than nearly any other part of my commute (upper Belmont to downtown). Unscientific, but I think true to my observation.
like the busses that need to turn into that stop at the top, and the down section can get hairy…cars turning right.. so maybe some sweet signs for all road users :)))
Is everyone not aware that similar speed bumps exist right after crossing the bridge heading westbound. They have been there forever and there is no moaning about them. Just leave the bumps there and people will get used to them or immediately install an alternatvie to slowing cyclists. Ride this everyday on skinnies and its really not that big of a deal. Try yeilding to peds for once also so the city doesn’t need to come up with bandaids like this. Its not that difficult, if you don’t yeild and I do – we are still getting off the other side of the bridge at the same time.
I rode those last night as well and certainly noticed them, but they are not as jolting as the ones under discussion and there are only two that are raised much at all and those are further apart than the 5 close together ones that are likely to be removed. Indeed, It isn’t clear that these ones at the west end are even intentionally raised or meant to be speed pumps. I think they are just the thickness of the applied striping material.
They have them going eastbound too. When those were first installed I’m sure they were more “jolting”.
Yeah, I totally forgot the other set were there. But, I bike up the Springwater, so have not experienced the new set of bumps by the bus stop.
i remember when they were installed and they were just as hard to notice then as they are now. once again, how hard is it to give other cyclists the benefit of the doubt!
Other places with speed-bumps:
-SW Madison between 4th and 3rd (paint stripes)
-Oaks Bottom trail on the downhill section from SE Milwaukie (concrete inverted bumps)
This is another example, of how planning and design processes can be overlooked by maintenance tasks….some of this is due to institutional silo issues vs. important ability that maintenance has to act quickly to “fix” safety deficiencies, as was recently identified by the BTA’s review of work zone processes in Oregon.
How many tax dollars got wasted in this mess…. Whoever gave the green light needs to compensate wasted time and materials with their paycheck.
This result makes me happy.
I still think the county could have done better with a creative marketing effort: claimed these speed bumps were designed in Copenhagen and called them “rumplestruben” (with umlauts) – handmade in Amsterdam by local bike craftspeople!
Of course, rumplestruben are only for the export market, because everybody in Copenhagen commute one speed (slow), behind a giant line of other cyclists, on a protected cycle track tucked between many intersecting train and streetcar tracks. But, they sure look stylish, safe, and relaxed.
FFS, please move the bus stop or re-route the bike lane already! Running a bike lane through — rather than around — a bus stop is ridiculous.
They were obviously able to figure it out for the eastbound stop…why not this one?
It seems we have a problem with ground level civil servants making engineering and planning level decisions that are not only above their pay grade but out of their experience and education.
Just in the last couple of years we’ve had a little incident with an electrical pole installation on the Broadway Bridge (pole 533+41) where critical design change was made by people acting completely out of scope with no knowledge or apparent care that what they did could be harmful.
As much as I wanted to operate independently as a maintenance person in my years of military service there is a point to following the chain of command there as there is in Portland transportation decisions.
Also, there would be fairly severe punishment for those that though they could operate outside the chain of command as there should be in this case.
I like that, “Clearly a mistake”.
They should sand down the leading edge of each bump, and otherwise leave them in. Then they would not be jarring, but provide a visual & auditory cue to people otherwise to stupid to comprehend it might be a good place to reduce speed when a bus has just pulled up.
Is there some reason that the bike lane can’t be routed behind the bus stop? Such is fairly common in the Netherlands:
Lots more room in that Dutch example; there’s not that kind of space on the bridge. With that extra room it all sort of merges together in a mixing zone, where on the Hawthorne approach the narrow pedestrian and sidewalk bike lanes the mixing is forced into a short cross-over (or two if the bike path was routed outside the bus waiting area).
There are all sorts of variations on this, some in much smaller spaces than the one in the photo. The point of this configuration is to give bus passengers a protected area to dis/embark along with lots of visibility in the bike/ped interaction zone.
Please reference such a tight Dutch configuration, if it actually exists, and explain how it is different than this one because otherwise that’s exactly what this bus stop does: It has pedestrian access on the north edge of the sidewalk (via stairs as well as the bridge sidewalk), a pedestrian bus loading zone on the south edge, a bike path through the middle of those two zones, and a crossing where people walk across the bike lane to the loading zone. It’s all really tight (too tight) because there’s no other room up on the viaduct. (Maybe car lanes could be tighter?)
I doubt anyone thinks this bus stop is a very good design. The problem is that no one has come up with a better one for the circumstances and changing the circumstances is tremendously expensive (building more viaduct), or it involves removing one of pedestrians, bikes or motor vehicles from the mix and so far no one’s ready to do that.
BTW, bikes and peds do occasionally conflict with each other in the Netherlands. They have adopted an easier, flowing mentality about mixed modes than we tend to see here and seamless merging is a fine art for them, their bike speeds are mostly in the 10-18kph range in crowded areas, and their ‘strict liability’ policy means that bikes are required to yield. Conflicts still happen.
I am pleased that it is the kind of organization where someone can say, “I screwed up”. In a less open organization, you’d have all sorts of denials that a mistake was made or that the bumps need to come out, with all kinds of butt-covering.
Institutional Memory = 0
( or déjà vu, all over again)
Good riddance. There’s a better solution than putting obstacles on the bike lane.
When a school bus stops and is letting kids out, traffic in both directions is required to stop. How is this any different? Should cyclists who are approaching a TriMet bus unloading its passengers across the bike lane stop? Today while riding in the country in a bike lane, I came upon a stopped school bus with its lights flashing and its doors open. Kids came out. Should I be allowed to zig zag though them? Uh, No.
The difference is school bus vs city bus. The school bus is full of children. Cars have to stop for school buses, as do bikes. Cars don’t have to stop for adults getting on and off a bus, nor do bikes.
The question stands: Who signed the work order?
I rode over them today. You guys are a bunch of …. Really they just rumble not much more than raised thick white reflective paint striping. It is supposed to get your attention that there is congestion ahead. Thank the guys that show everyone that they can ride 25 mph on the sidewalk. And i ride a bit around town ill end up with about 7500 miles for 2013.
another tough guy on the internet…
Totally – this public recall took guts and I salute this team and the leadership at the County, and hope others emulate them.
Anyone can see when a bus is stopped and passengers are afoot in and near the bike lane. That calls for slowing, whether signs and rumble strips are there or not.
Might of missed this comment… but seriously, “As we reported last week, bridge maintenance staff felt compelled to install the bumps after receiving complaints about people riding too fast through a TriMet bus stop that’s bisected by the bike lane when it merges up onto the bridge sidewalk.” <- so when does it get fixed for real? Like actually getting a bike bulb? It seems that is the real solution and that it might happen in the summer time? Why not NOW when it is needed. This is kind of one of those safety things for EVERYBODY involved.
…but I do digress. :-/
As cyclists we brave heat, cold, rain, darkness, and the risks of sharing the road with distracted motorists…but these little plastic strips have our panties in a knot? Put yourself in the place of a pedestrian with bicycles barreling towards you. Think how we feel towards motor vehicles. We love slowing those down, but when the same is asked of us we have an attitude about it.
Maybe this whole stop is a pretty poor design to begin with, but I would sure like to think as a group of road users we are little more robust than that. And besides I routinely commute on old inner NE Portland streets far worse than those strips.
Just my 2 cents. I know these strips really have become controversial.
so you prefer to ride unsignalled, meandering, rutted, and potholed alleys instead of fast, efficient, and direct arterials because you are a tough dudette/dude.
“but when the same is asked of us we have an attitude about it.”
huh? please provide a single example of someone arguing for harassment of pedestrians.
You seem awfully confrontational. Why the anger? I happen to ride the lousy routes I do because, guess what!? It’s all I have available to me where I live. Yes I’m one of the many uncivilized east Portlanders who have the audacity to demand our share of good bike infrastructure. Yet I still do not have a problem with slowing down for other vulnerable road users. Apparently you do? Are we supposed to take it out on the pedestrians because bad planning messes up *our* bike path?
i think someone who writes about “panties being tied in a knot” should not be protesting a confrontational reply too much.
“Think how we feel towards motor vehicles. We love slowing those down, but when the same is asked of us we have an attitude about it.”
it’s kind of insulting to presume that rumble strip critics are upset because they are being asked to slow down near pedestrians. i support both slowing down for peds and ditching this annoying facility.
There is no warning that the bike lane ends, bad design.
I am unable to reference “such” a tight configuration, as I don’t have a good sense of the stop in question. When I use the Hawthorne Bridge, I almost always come from the Esplanade, so I don’t use that section of the viaduct.
My comments were mostly directed at the issue of bus passengers debarking into bicycle traffic, and/or bicyclists being unable to see pedestrians as they debark, as mentioned above. If such is not the issue, and if there is already a configuration as I suggested (ie: a separate pedestrian debarkation zone), then my suggestion was beside the point, and noting that the situation is already as suggested (apart from scale) would address my comment.
I neither stated nor suggested that there are no conflicts. The point is that greater visibility allows for better negotiation of those conflicts.
Sorry if I put you on the defensive, Greg; not my intention. I just don’t think there’s any simple, elegant solution to this particular problem.
I did realize there’s one idea in that cycling-embassy.org.uk pic you mentioned that could help this case: paving treatments! While the cost is initially more than paint or thermoplastic, the benefits come over time which means that any use of paving for lane/zone marking needs to be in a location which won’t change during the amortization time. It seems like this bus stop might be such a location. Then all that’s needed is the political will to decide that yes, the city (or county) is into improving multi-modal transportation options over the long run, and yes, investing in durable paving design will have a long-term advantage over more frequent painting.
This would require thinking. Or a committee!
I was on the bus this morning at this stop. The driver had just passed a decent sized group of bike riders that were moving at a decent speed.
The bus driver pulled into the stop and immediately opened the doors to passengers getting off, even though he knew that bikers were just a few seconds away.
This is the worst door zone in the city.
This morning it was cold and borderline icy at that spot, and the bumps are still there.
This morning, just as i was crossing these “speed bumps” a bus pulled into this stop and starting discharging passengers.
I slowed way down, but I could see a look of terror on the face of the person who stepped off the bus. Then I realized the jackass riding behind me was passing me on the right. In the pedestrian zone.