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County says Hawthorne Bridge speed bumps a “mistake”

Posted by on November 14th, 2013 at 10:30 am

New rumble strips Hawthorne Bridge-11

Second thoughts about bump installation.
(Photos by J. Maus/BikePortland)

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.

The committee discussing the bumps last night.

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.”

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ChamoisKreme
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ChamoisKreme

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.

Terry D
Guest
Terry D

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.

Joe
Guest
Joe

I knew it was going to end like this, seemed rather odd just sayin

K'Tesh
Guest
K'Tesh

Now let’s hope that grinding them off doesn’t make things worse than with them

Peter W
Guest
Peter W

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.

wsbob
Guest
wsbob

“…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.

JAT in Seattle
Guest
JAT in Seattle

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?

GlowBoy
Guest
GlowBoy

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.

Joe
Guest
Joe

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 :)))

Sho
Guest
Sho

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.

Todd Boulanger
Guest

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.

dmc
Guest
dmc

How many tax dollars got wasted in this mess…. Whoever gave the green light needs to compensate wasted time and materials with their paycheck.

Bald One
Guest
Bald One

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!

dan
Guest
dan

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.

q`Tzal
Guest
q`Tzal

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.

Matheas Michaels
Guest
Matheas Michaels

I like that, “Clearly a mistake”.

Schrauf
Guest
Schrauf

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.

greg byshenk
Guest
greg byshenk

Is there some reason that the bike lane can’t be routed behind the bus stop? Such is fairly common in the Netherlands:
http://www.cycling-embassy.org.uk/photos/good-cycling-facility-of-the-week/good-cycling-facility-of-the-week-31st-october-2013

dwainedibbly
Guest
dwainedibbly

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.

Art Fuldodger
Guest
Art Fuldodger

Institutional Memory = 0
( or déjà vu, all over again)

Charley
Guest
Charley

Good riddance. There’s a better solution than putting obstacles on the bike lane.

Steve Scarich
Guest
Steve Scarich

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.

Suburban
Guest
Suburban

The question stands: Who signed the work order?

Mike bodd
Guest
Mike bodd

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.

Puddlecyle...is your destiny
Guest

dwainedibbly
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.
Recommended 3

Totally – this public recall took guts and I salute this team and the leadership at the County, and hope others emulate them.

Carter Kennedy
Guest
Carter Kennedy

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.

Adron @ Transit Sleuth
Guest

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. :-/

Mossby Pomegranate
Guest
Mossby Pomegranate

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.

Moss

JL
Guest
JL

There is no warning that the bike lane ends, bad design.

greg byshenk
Guest
greg byshenk

Alan 1.0
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 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.

BTW, bikes and peds do occasionally conflict with each other in the Netherlands.

I neither stated nor suggested that there are no conflicts. The point is that greater visibility allows for better negotiation of those conflicts.

was carless
Guest
was carless

This would require thinking. Or a committee!

JL
Guest
JL

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.

Paul Cone
Guest
Paul Cone

This morning it was cold and borderline icy at that spot, and the bumps are still there.

GlowBoy
Guest
GlowBoy

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.