Posted by Michael Andersen (Contributor) on April 2nd, 2015 at 3:13 pm
With a few dozen orange cones and minimal fuss, a team of bridge inspectors and a county traffic safety specialist assembled a perfect Portland-quality detour on the Burnside Bridge Thursday.
It might seem like a small matter, but anyone who’s ridden a bike or walked near many construction detours knows how frequent it is for them to push people into mixed-traffic lanes rather than meddle with the flow of cars — even on streets that are far wider than they need to be for cars to keep flowing freely.
The good things about this short-term, lightly mobile midday detour started right at the beginning, with the well-placed warning signs:
Closer to the heavy machinery, the bike lane peeled off gracefully, while the machinery itself remained clear of the sidewalk:
With the cones in place, it was perfectly comfortable to merge left and ride in the bike lane next to traffic moving 30 mph or more, while also staying clear of the trucks on the right. Coming across the bridge at 2:30 p.m., there didn’t seem to be any traffic congestion issue.
The cones continued for a bit on the west side of the detour, letting people decide when to merge right into the bike lane or whether to remain straight in preparation for the shared-lane descent into downtown.
The detour was the work of Kevin Smith, a county employee assigned to support the private bridge inspection contractors during their annual job hanging over the side of the bridge.
“We just had a brainstorm in the morning,” Smith said when I stopped to ask what the planning looked like. “We try to do it the best way possible without obstructing and keep everybody safe.”
Smith mentioned that not everyone on a bike is going to use the detour, with some exercising their judgment that the main travel lanes are safer. Every person I saw pedal past seemed stress-free and content to be using it, though.
All in all, this was a detour that perfectly upheld this famous image in the city-county Climate Action Plan:
It was enough to make you wish the Burnside had physical separators to improve the bridge’s bike lanes on every other day of the year, too.