After man adds warning paint to sunken grate, state roads agency calls it vandalism

sunken grate prepaint

A 2012 photo of the offending grate, long before Parsons’ unsanctioned paint job.
(Photos: Jim Parsons)

Update: After this and other media coverage of Parsons’ action and ODOT’s repsonse, the agency has announced plans to fix the grates and says it is grateful for Parsons’ work.

A local man who says he’s been warning state officials for seven years about a sunken grate in the middle of Barbur Boulevard’s northbound bike lane has finally gotten some action from the agency.

After he marked the grate himself with yellow warning paint and with the letters “ODOT KNOWS,” the agency is planning to visit the site … to erase his paint.

In a Wednesday email to the man, Jim Parsons, an Oregon Department of Transportation staffer with the title “citizen’s representative” scolded him for what she said would make the street more dangerous.

odot knows straight

“Cyclists may take that as a sign that they must avoid the drain and steer themselves into a lane of traffic,” wrote the staffer, Monica Bustos. “Mr. Parsons, I was made aware that you painted the drain yourself. It is dangerous, you are on the highway without proper traffic control to advise the public that someone is on the roadway. It is also illegal to vandalize (paint) ODOT property. The ODOT Maintenance Manager will now be spending the already limited maintenance budget funds on removing the vandalism from ODOT property.”

In an interview earlier this week and in previous emails to ODOT over the last week, Parsons said he had first notified ODOT about the problem in 2008, but was moved to start worrying about it again in June after he accidentally crossed it while biking to Portland State University and broke a spoke from the impact.

“Front wheel in, front wheel out, rear wheel in, rear wheel out,” Parsons said Wednesday, describing the jolts of crossing the grate. Here’s a photo he took showing the depth of the grate:

prepaint with foot

In an email to ODOT Monday and in an interview with BikePortland Wednesday, Parsons said his preferred solution would be to “grind the thing smooth.”

“You don’t have to raise the grate, you don’t have to pave it, you just have to grind the damn thing,” Parsons said.

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Parsons said the site is north of Barbur’s two narrow bridges where the bike lanes vanish and south of the crosswalk that ODOT installed after the 2010 death of a woman walking her bike across the street.

Parsons said he decided to paint the street himself only after a series of responses from ODOT dating back to 2008.

“Every time I call they’re like, ‘Oh, we’ll be paving that area next year,'” Parsons said in an interview last week. “They just don’t think it’s a problem.”

Beaverton to Tualatin ride-14

Jim Parsons in a 2011 photo.
(Photo: J.Maus/BikePortland)

Parsons applied his paint Friday. The “ODOT KNOWS” message, he said, was intended to be a message to any lawyers whose clients might be injured by collisions with the grate.

“It’s downhill,” Parsons said. “With a tailwind, you can hit 40 mph easy. … Sooner or later, somebody’s going to hit that thing the wrong way.”

Parsons said he had previously painted warning paint around the grate back in 2012, but without the “ODOT KNOWS” message.

Also on Friday Parsons also applied paint to another location just to the south. Here are his photos of that grate before his paint job (with a Home Depot paint stirrer to show the scale):

paint stirrer wide

The divot between grate and pavement runs parallel to the roadway, so a bicycle wheel might be caught in it.

paint stirrer closeup

And here’s his unsanctioned treatment:

odot knows yellow

odot knows curve

Parsons does seem to have received one fairly detailed email reply about his problems, sent on Monday by ODOT Active Transportation Liaison Jessica Horning. She sent this in response to his emailing a link in which he shared his photos of the unsanctioned paint job.

Hi Jim,

Thanks for the update. I’ve forwarded your message on to our maintenance crew, who will take another look at this area. As I mentioned last time, we plan to adjust these grates next time we have work scheduled in the area. I do not currently have a timeline to give you.

As I mentioned on the phone, ODOT recently conducted a Road Safety Audit on Barbur. The whole RSA team rode over these grates on a bike ride from Naito to the “Crossroads” (Capitol Highway/99W/I-5 interchange) and back… and the consultant leading the RSA bike commutes on Barbur daily. The RSA report will include prioritized recommendations for near and long term bike safety improvements on Barbur. I know that storm grates are included on the long list of issues that were noted during the RSA, but do not know where they will fall on the draft prioritized list. I will let you know when there is a complete version of the RSA report ready to share. You can also read more about the Barbur RSA on our website: www.BarburSafety.org.

(We reported about ODOT’s in-progress road safety audit in May.)

On Wednesday morning, Parsons received the email from Bustos, saying that “The ODOT Maintenance Manager has looked at the drain and determined that paint lines are not in the best interest of anyone” and informing him that ODOT would be spending part of its maintenance budget to remove the paint. It didn’t mention any schedule for fixing the grates.

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John Lascurettes
7 years ago

Unbelievable. Just. Wow.

Bella Bici
7 years ago

Far from unbelievable. Especially on Barbur Blvd.

Bicyclists are given the gutter with all of it’s obstructions and detritus. Yeah, the land of third-class transportational citizens.

ODOT, you suck when it comes to planning that is inclusive of the safety of bicyclists!!! Boooooo!!!

rick
rick
7 years ago
Reply to  Bella Bici

pedestrians too for Barbur because there are many floating sidewalks

Mike Ard
Mike Ard
7 years ago

This is only the tip of the iceberg. When ODOT does maintnance on the corridor and closes a travel lane, they provide warning signs in advance to tell motorized vehicles that the right lane is closed. The warning signs completely block the bike lane, so people on bicycles get no advance warning that their lane ends at a sign and they need to merge with traffic that regularly travels at speeds in excess of 40 mph.

Rob Chapman
Rob Chapman
7 years ago

Good on Jim, shame on ODOT.

rainbike
rainbike
7 years ago

Imagine the equivalently scaled hazard in the adjacent auto lane, and how long it would be allowed to persist.

Spiffy
7 years ago
Reply to  rainbike

it looks like the hazard is the total height of a normal bicycle tire sidewall… higher then the usual fast bike tire…

if there was a 4″-6″ (typical auto tire sidewall) ditch across 75% of an auto lane it would be fixed that same day…

these types of bike lane hazards are simply not acceptable…

Tom Hardy
Tom Hardy
7 years ago
Reply to  Spiffy

I never ride over grates because of several instances over the years of encountering grates where half the wheel fell into the grate. It makes you stop from any speed very rapidly, like 1″. Last Monday I was riding down Barbur as I do at least once a week and encountered another slower rider near the painted grate(it was not then I don’t think). I took the traffic lane as there was over 150 feet behind me open. I was riding at 35 and moved over about 30 foot back. A redneck sports car (bigwheel 4WD) missed me by less than 6 inches as I swerved in front of the other rider. I did not cut her off but it was too close for comfort. If there would have been a speed reader board there, it would have read “Slow Down”. BTW 700-23 tires.

Chris Anderson
7 years ago
Reply to  Tom Hardy

I don’t understand how it’s legal for those grates to be considered part of the bike lane, they should ALL at least have paint and reflectors.

longgone
longgone
7 years ago
Reply to  Tom Hardy
q`Tzal
q`Tzal
7 years ago
Reply to  rainbike

Separate and Unequal.

K'Tesh
K'Tesh
7 years ago
Reply to  q`Tzal

What do you expect for you 1/2¢ from gas taxes?

q`Tzal
q`Tzal
7 years ago
Reply to  K'Tesh

Less than I do than from the property and general taxation I contribute to Oregon’s roads.

Captain Karma
7 years ago

Paintgrate scandal. Like watergate.

:add Ave. pedestrian
:add Ave. pedestrian
7 years ago
Reply to  Captain Karma

How well do you remember 1973? Watergate was a bona fide consitutional crisis, and the senate hearings were an entire summer’s high drama.

bob
bob
7 years ago
Reply to  Captain Karma

I’m so glad you clarified what “paintgate” meant. I was lost there for a second.

K'Tesh
K'Tesh
7 years ago

What’s more… the northern grate has the sudden drop-off that parallels the direction of travel, you drop down, then try to steer out of it… You are going down. You’ll be lucky if there isn’t a passing car, or bus there to run over you as you sprawl out on the road.

nuovorecord
nuovorecord
7 years ago
Reply to  K'Tesh

Good on ‘ya, Jim!

K'Tesh
K'Tesh
7 years ago
Reply to  K'Tesh

BTW… I used striping paint, which is intended to be permanent, instead of marking paint which is temporary.

Dan
Dan
7 years ago
Reply to  K'Tesh

Where do you get it from? Don’t ask why….

Spiffy
7 years ago
Reply to  Dan

you can get the good stuff at Sanderson Safety Supply on SE 3rd/Salmon…

but most hardware stores should have some consumer level stuff…

K'Tesh
K'Tesh
7 years ago
Reply to  Dan

Home Depot

q`Tzal
q`Tzal
7 years ago
Reply to  K'Tesh

One of the techniques I’ve used to make painted patterns withstand surface wear is to embed them in the surface.
It doesn’t take much depth. Once you have that depth you can almost pour in a paint and it’ll wick in to the relief you’ve defined.

Acetone would work wonders it this specific situation.

Chris Anderson
7 years ago
Reply to  K'Tesh

I have a can of Reflect All that’s been looking for a use. The nasty grates downhill on NE Wheeler are at least well-lit.

I was also thinking it’d be fun to paint some of the smooth paths I’ve found through the bumpy stretches of Going St, so anyone who looks at the ground can have the benefit of years of daily ridings, sometimes trying to keep a baby asleep in the bike.

Anne Hawley
Anne Hawley
7 years ago
Reply to  Chris Anderson

I am a frequent Going Street rider, and I approve this idea!

K'Tesh
K'Tesh
7 years ago
Reply to  Chris Anderson

Reflect all isn’t all that effective. I’ve tried it before.

For the “good stuff” you need reflective vinyl, or the ability to mix the glass beads that are used by transportation agencies into your paint. For the drains, I sprinkled my stockpile of the beads into the wet paint. My stockpile was what I was able to salvage from a site where ODOT spilled some on the shoulder of HWY 217 when they were restriping it years ago.

Yellow and white striping paint is $5.27USD/can (less by the case) at Home Depot.

Reflective vinyl (Oralite from Oracal) is available from Multicraft Plastics in Tigard Oregon (~$15.00USD/yard x 24″/color). This is the type of material I used to make my bike reflective (see avatar).

Mike Ard
Mike Ard
7 years ago
Reply to  K'Tesh

If they have to grind off the paint, maybe we can keep painting it until they have done enough grinding to eliminate the hazard. Or they could just grind off the paint by FIXING IT.

Dan
Dan
7 years ago

Grow up ODOT.

invisiblebikes
invisiblebikes
7 years ago

Jim, we’ve passed each other a few times on that section of our commutes and I have also reached out to ODOT and gotten zero response along with using the PDXreporter app (which is useless!) for this exact issue.

Michael or Jim is it possible for you to post that email from “Monica” with her email address so we can respond individually?
Jim can you post it on FriendsofBarbur Facebook page?

invisiblebikes
invisiblebikes
7 years ago

noted. I just haven’t gotten any responses when I’ve emailed multiple contacts on this very same issue so I figure trying this one with a courteous reminder that she needs to keep it professional as well?

nuovorecord
nuovorecord
7 years ago

I’m assuming Monica is in the Salem office and probably didn’t write this response, but is merely passing it along from someone at Region 1. Spend your energy and time talking to Jessica Hornung.

Nathan Hinkle (nearlykilled.me, The Bike Light Database)
Reply to  invisiblebikes

PDX Reporter app doesn’t work in that location because Barbur is managed by ODOT, not by PBOT. ODOT does not get reports from the PDX Reporter app.

This is one of the problems we’re trying to solve as we develop a more featured NearlyKilledMe site – automated detection of which agency (and even possibly which person) should receive reports of road hazards for a given reported issue. We’re also considering features to automate following up on issues, to remind transportation agencies to deal with a report if it hasn’t been resolved after a certain amount of time.

Seth Alford
Seth Alford
7 years ago

Do you have a kickstarter or gofundme or similar account set up for people to contribute to your efforts?

K'Tesh
K'Tesh
7 years ago

Hi Mr. Parsons,

Thank you for contacting Ask ODOT at the Oregon Department of Transportation’s (ODOT) Citizen Representative Office. Per our discussion, I am following up on the concerns you shared during our conversation on Thursday, 7/30/15.

1. Status of locust trees on SW Caruthers, 5th Ave and Broadway (where 5th and Caruthers meet). As I mentioned in our conversation, the locust trees have been cut back in the past. They have grown back. Our crews began cutting and trimming the area yesterday (8/4/15).

2. Could paint be added to the storm drains to make them stand out? No. The ODOT Maintenance Manager has looked at the drain and determined that paint lines are not in the best interest of anyone; cyclists may take that as a sign that they must avoid the drain and steer themselves into a lane of traffic. Mr. Parsons, I was made aware that you painted the drain yourself. It is dangerous, you are on the highway without proper traffic control to advise the public that someone is on the roadway. It is also illegal to vandalize (paint) ODOT property. The ODOT Maintenance Manager will now be spending the already limited maintenance budget funds on removing the vandalism from ODOT property.

3. Need for maintenance on 4th/ Caruthers/ Broadway where trees are growing and cracking the sidewalk. The ODOT Maintenance Manager has made me aware the City of Portland is responsible for that sidewalk. You may wish to bring this to their attention by calling 503-823-1711 or emailing sidewalkrepair@portlandoregon.gov.

Thanks again for contacting Ask ODOT. Please feel free to contact us again if you have further questions.

Best Regards,

Monica

Citizens’ Representative
Ask ODOT
1-888-275-6368 FREE Toll Free
503-986-3434 Direct
AskODOT@odot.state.or.us

nuovorecord
nuovorecord
7 years ago
Reply to  K'Tesh

Keep in mind that “Monica” is probably just passing along a response she received from Region 1 staff. Don’t shoot the messenger.

q`Tzal
q`Tzal
7 years ago
Reply to  nuovorecord

Why not?
We have casualties in the war on “not-cars”.
Maybe if some of ODOT is burned on the stake of public derision they might have some small inkling of what we go through.

Adam H.
Adam H.
7 years ago
Reply to  K'Tesh

The fact that taking the lane to avoid the drain is considered too dangerous for ODOT means that Barbur is in serious need of traffic calming.

9watts
9watts
7 years ago
Reply to  Adam H.

I was wondering about that too. Smoking gun?

Eric Leifsdad
Eric Leifsdad
7 years ago
Reply to  9watts

We’re going to need a lot more paint.

Tom Hardy
Tom Hardy
7 years ago
Reply to  K'Tesh

Being friendly to ODOT at the least. I think it would be easier to replace the Maintenance Supervisor and the Inspector that is deciding that road hazards are more important to be left in place than being eliminated to begin with.

PNP
PNP
7 years ago

Yet another example of more concern about paint than safety.

q`Tzal
q`Tzal
7 years ago
Reply to  PNP

And automotive throughput.
That’s all that matters: how fast you can cram as many vehicles as possible.

TonyJ
TonyJ
7 years ago

Funny how ODOT was able to make changes to the “tire eating” Arch Bridge in Oregon City less than a month after Joe Rose reported on it. http://www.oregonlive.com/commuting/index.ssf/2015/07/oregon_citys_tire-popping_arch.html

John Lascurettes
7 years ago
Reply to  TonyJ

Well, automobiles are sacrosanct.

lop
lop
7 years ago
Reply to  TonyJ

From the article it looks like after a few years of property damage, no mention of injuries or worse, a reporter made some noise about the issue so ODOT responded by putting down paint and reflectors. All for a bridge that sees more than 10k vehicles a day. To treat cyclists the same should barbur first see 10k bikes a day, and shred a tire every week or so for a few years before ODOT puts up some paint?

TonyJ
TonyJ
7 years ago
Reply to  lop

No. To prevent a grievous injury or worse of a human being, hazards in the right of way should be dealt with at the highest priority, regardless of traffic volume. If there were a place where car tires could get easily stuck and the car would flip over, the road would be closed until it was fixed. We have those situations all over the city and on roads like Barbur (Streetcar tracks anyone?).

No one should have to have advanced training on their commute to avoid wiping out.

(I couldn’t tell if you were being facetious here or not, so I responded sincerely)

Tom Hardy
Tom Hardy
7 years ago
Reply to  TonyJ

Yes TonyJ we need to put streetcar tracks back in on Barbur. it might be a real traffic calmer. Better yet just scrape the asphalt off of those that are still buried there

TonyJ
TonyJ
7 years ago
Reply to  Tom Hardy

I don’t quite get what you are saying. I am saying that there are extremely hazardous situations for cyclists (like streetcar tracks) all over the city that are a level of hazard that would NEVER be tolerated if it was causing injuries or crashes for motorists.

Lester Burnham
Lester Burnham
7 years ago

LOL…now you know what it feels like to live and bike in east PDX.

Adron Hall
7 years ago

If that’s vandelism, the road work that ODOT often does should be considered full on assault.

Seriously… they need to get their perspectives straightened out.

TonyT
Tony T
7 years ago

“Cyclists may take that as a sign that they must avoid the drain”

Imagine that!! Because they should!

Riders are MUCH more likely to wreck and end up IN traffic, then they are likely to get hit from momentarily nearing the white line.

Absolute and total failure on the part of the Oregon Department Of Driving.

Terrible. Seems that the only way to get them to move on anything is for someone to lose a limb. Any volunteers?

TonyT
Tony T
7 years ago
Reply to  Tony T

“Parsons said he had first notified ODOT about the problem in 2008.”

2008! That’s criminal. Finding it hard to not use profanity with this one.

John Lascurettes
7 years ago
Reply to  Tony T

^ This. This exactly. I don’t think these ODOT staffers know what the word “safety” means.

Cue Inigo Montoya: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G2y8Sx4B2Sk

LC
LC
7 years ago

So take the lane instead of riding in the gutter. You won’t surprise anyone by veering into traffic because you are part of traffic.

Chris I
Chris I
7 years ago
Reply to  LC

Have you ridden this section? The cars go 50mph. Go ahead and take the lane. I’ll be looking for the article on this blog.

Dan
Dan
7 years ago
Reply to  Chris I

I can’t remember anymore, is 50mph fast? A driver went by my house today at more than 40mph (the speed display sign couldn’t show a speed until he slowed to 38), in a residential neighborhood.

LC
LC
7 years ago
Reply to  Chris I

Yes, and I tour all over; I have no issue taking the lane on roads like these.

Todd Hudson
Todd Hudson
7 years ago

Never antagonize bureaucrats.

TonyT
Tony T
7 years ago
Reply to  Todd Hudson

I’ve actually had pretty good success with getting results by antagonizing them. Publicity is especially helpful.

Now we all know about it, and more importantly they know that we know they haven’t done anything about it for 7 years! Good luck defending themselves from a massive lawsuit should someone get hurt by this thing.

paikiala
paikiala
7 years ago
Reply to  Tony T

Have an ODOT lawyer look at it. Having received notice of a dangerous condition caused by ODOT maintenance practice, all liability rests with the road authority. Any warning signs?
Bill them for you broken spoke, at least.

q`Tzal
q`Tzal
7 years ago
Reply to  paikiala

Are they listed on the ODOT website?
Sounds like a great idea but I imagine they’ll be hard to find.

Until an actual injury occurs.

Also:
What’s wrong with Portland natives?
Are we too honest and ethical?
Where are all the slip-and-fall type con artists?

Nathan Hinkle (nearlykilled.me, The Bike Light Database)
Reply to  q`Tzal

I don’t know if ODOT has someone specific, but the state Risk Management office might be interested to hear from you. https://www.oregon.gov/DAS/egs/risk/pages/index.aspx

K'Tesh
K'Tesh
7 years ago

FWIW: I found the same kind of problems going up to Pill Hill (coming Up from Barbur to the VA Hospital) today. However, I was on my way to an appointment, and was in unfamiliar territory, and very tired.

jen
jen
7 years ago
Reply to  K'Tesh

drains and manhole covers with drop offs from the pavement in the bike lane all along terwilliger. I usually take the lane around each one, which shouldn’t be a problem as the posted speed limit is 25mph. It is a problem as most people drive about 40mph.
I’ve been tempted to paint them for years. Kudos to Jim for trying to make things better.

nuovorecord
nuovorecord
7 years ago

“It is dangerous, you are on the highway without proper traffic control to advise the public that someone is on the roadway.

Lemme see if I understand ODOT’s line of reasoning here. It’s dangerous to be painting lines on the shoulder of Barbur. But perfectly OK to walk or ride your bike there. Amirite?

rick
rick
7 years ago

ODOT has lots of money for new overpasses, by-passes, interchanges, but where is the cash for people?

9watts
9watts
7 years ago
Reply to  rick

And it is our money, let’s not forget.

Charlie
Charlie
7 years ago

ODOT’s response is one for the ages. Please, whatever you do ODOT, don’t fix the problem.

I guess the bright side of this is that it clearly shows ODOT is aware of the grate problem… So when someone is maimed after hitting it and losing control proving liability won’t be an issue.

K'Tesh
K'Tesh
7 years ago
Reply to  Charlie

ODOT KNOWS

Spiffy
7 years ago
Reply to  K'Tesh

that’s going to become a new protest sign…

q`Tzal
q`Tzal
7 years ago
Reply to  Spiffy

If it wasn’t so long since WWII “collaborator” would be a vicious barb to toss around.
I mean they aren’t directly responsible for all the road deaths in Oregon… they just make it easier and more likely.

q`Tzal
q`Tzal
7 years ago
Reply to  K'Tesh

I like this #ODOTKnows slogan.
Someone needs to make up a stencil.

Anne
Anne
7 years ago
Reply to  q`Tzal

Shortened to “O NO”. (See what I did there?)

q`Tzal
q`Tzal
7 years ago
Reply to  Anne

Something pointless that removes all contextual meaning?

Chris Shaffer
Chris Shaffer
7 years ago
Reply to  q`Tzal

That wasn’t very nice.

Patrick
Patrick
7 years ago

If ODOT wants to “remove” the paint, all it takes is some gray spray paint and 10 minutes of time. It shouldn’t be a big deal.

Justin Carinci
Justin Carinci
7 years ago
Reply to  Patrick

Maybe they’ll remove it by grinding it down.

K'Tesh
K'Tesh
7 years ago
Reply to  Justin Carinci

We can only hope.

9watts
9watts
7 years ago
Reply to  Justin Carinci

I find that highly unlikely. That would be too reasonable.
When has ODOT done the sensible, logical, ethical thing?

Spiffy
7 years ago
Reply to  Justin Carinci

you may have meant grinding down the hazard but when I read your comment I imagined them grinding away the paint and creating another sunken obstacle…

K'Tesh
K'Tesh
7 years ago
Reply to  Spiffy

I meant that in the process of grinding away the paint, they end up accidentally fixing the dangerous areas on the northern grate.

Bike Manufacturer
7 years ago

We have been complaining about the grates, grooved gutter, and narrow lane since before 2000, with ZERO positive response. The street has been completely re-paved and stripped at least twice since we started complaining with no improvements to the road for cyclists. We now use the side street route pioneered by Portland skateboarders in the 60’s as an alternative. Taylor’s Ferry Rd./2nd/Ruby Tr. or 5th/5th/ Terwilliger. Ruby Terrace is very rough for bikes.

rick
rick
7 years ago

What street has been repaved twice since 2000? Barbur?

kittens
kittens
7 years ago

ODOT’s pissy response is telling and transparent, going out of the way to say it will take money from the maintenance budget. Like this will cost a hundreds of thousands of dollars to paint over.

They are just *so* annoyed at regular people taking initiative to increase safety but can’t be bothered to fix the underling problem lest we realize how easy and simple some of these fixes are and how bad ODOT is at responding to them.

Someone in ODOT with half a brain should do a cost/benefit analysis and determine it is not in the agency’s interest to respond like this, if only for purely political reasons.

9watts
9watts
7 years ago
Reply to  kittens

“it is not in the agency’s interest to respond like this, if only for purely political reasons.”
I heartily agree. The fact that ODOT doesn’t appear to know this adds insult to injury and gives me little hope.

Pat Franz
7 years ago

Well at least ODOT did experience shame, it caused them to lash out…
Next step for them: growing up.

I think this citizen action is a great idea. Nothing has been done for 7 years. Something had to be done, and it was. And it looks like it would be a great help to everyone that rides there.

Next great idea: making a stencil, so the job can be done quicker and more safely. And more easily done in more places. And more easily redone when state resources are wasted massaging egos at ODOT.

I realize everything can’t be fixed right away, and that ODOT has a lot of things to do, but there is a simple fix for something that SHOULD NEVER HAVE BEEN CREATED. Whoever did the paving should never have done that. Whoever inspected and approved the paving should never have allowed it. It should have been fixed by the contractor a long time ago.

Instead of sending a crew to paint over the paint, send a crew to FIX THE PROBLEM.

THEN the problem will be fixed. And the PR and liability problems too.

9watts
9watts
7 years ago
Reply to  Pat Franz

Drop pre-cut rectangular 1-1/8″ plywood into that hole. You could even pre-drill a bunch of holes so the nasties from all the cars can wash down the grate with the rain – if it ever rains again.

dan
dan
7 years ago

“It is dangerous, you are on the highway without proper traffic control to advise the public that someone is on the roadway. ”

LOL, and yet it’s safe enough for cyclists to ride there? Don’t know whether to laugh or cry.

Dan
Dan
7 years ago

“You don’t get to make the road more dangerous for cyclists! Only we get to do that!”

Fred
Fred
7 years ago

This is why I ride a fat bike.

Ed Birnbaum
Ed Birnbaum
7 years ago

Jim, did you talk to or Email anyone at BTA about this? Has anyone? Response? I’d like to know if BTA (I’m a member) can be our voice for this sort of thing or would they say only for larger matters of policy. I don’t think this is trivial. And it does seem to crystallize the way ODOT has behaved in general. Makes me wonder whether anyone at ODOT has ever ridden a bike when they suggest that riding around the grate constitutes the real safety issue!!

TonyT
Tony T
7 years ago
Reply to  Ed Birnbaum

“Makes me wonder whether anyone at ODOT has ever ridden a bike when they suggest that riding around the grate constitutes the real safety issue!!”

Ding, ding, ding! We have a winner!

K'Tesh
K'Tesh
7 years ago
Reply to  Ed Birnbaum

Sorry, can’t remember if I did or not. I mostly was calling ODOT, and then with follow up calls, getting the runaround. I’ve been kinda busy lately graduating from PSU (officially did), and now preparing to go to Asia to teach English.

Spiffy
7 years ago
Reply to  Ed Birnbaum

from the article…

The whole RSA team rode over these grates on a bike ride from Naito to the “Crossroads” (Capitol Highway/99W/I-5 interchange) and back… and the consultant leading the RSA bike commutes on Barbur daily.

Alan Love
Alan Love
7 years ago

I’ve been riding that section of Barbur for years, and noticed the improved “signage” a few weeks ago. At no point did I feel compelled to take the lane (the bridges, however, are a different story) because of the warnings, but did appreciate the extra bit of warning time from seeing the bright paint sooner. Should ODOT decide legal action against Mr. Parsons is needed to deter such citizen improvements, I would gladly testify on his behalf regarding the actual vs. perceived implications of such marking.

My only criticism of his signage is that I was uncertain if ODOT themselves painted the “ODOT KNOWS” markings, as in ODOT saying “Yes, yes, we know about the problem and we intend on fixing it. Stop calling to tell us about it.” Wishful thinking, I guess.

K'Tesh
K'Tesh
7 years ago
Reply to  Alan Love

#ODOTdidnothingaboutit

K'Tesh
K'Tesh
7 years ago
Reply to  K'Tesh

#Paint_Is_Cheap_Blood_Isnt

Buzz
Buzz
7 years ago

Honestly, I’ve also been thinking of carrying a can of marking paint to mark all the hazards that exist along my normal bike routes. The alternative is just to ignore them until someone gets hurt.

Dave
Dave
7 years ago
Reply to  Buzz

If you ride a bike with a rigid, steel fork, a bottle cage fastened to one fork leg would be handy–similar to how marathon gravel riders carry extra water only you’ll be carrying paint. Keeps a nice bike bag from having permanent paint in it.

John Liu
John Liu
7 years ago

I applaud the painting.

Sure, ODOT doesn’t want people to be painting whatever they want on the roadway. But that just means they should get out there and fix the hazard.

B. Carfree
B. Carfree
7 years ago

Silly me. I thought Oregon adopted the (grossly inadequate) AASHTO standards decades ago. Those standards require that bike lanes have a minimum of three continuous feet of rideable surface. Unless someone at ODOT has redefined what is rideable or what distance a foot is, it looks like it is ODOT who is violating state law.

Wouldn’t it be fun if someone found a way to hold the bureaucrat responsible accountable in some meaningful way.

Eric Leifsdad
Eric Leifsdad
7 years ago
Reply to  B. Carfree

Perhaps require someone who works at ODOT to ride it at least monthly?

Spiffy
7 years ago
Reply to  Eric Leifsdad

from the article…

The whole RSA team rode over these grates on a bike ride from Naito to the “Crossroads” (Capitol Highway/99W/I-5 interchange) and back… and the consultant leading the RSA bike commutes on Barbur daily.

Dead Salmon
Dead Salmon
7 years ago
Reply to  B. Carfree

Goobermint bureaucRATS can get away with anything they want. YOU must follow the rules OR ELSE!

ac
ac
7 years ago

There were crews there most of last winter dealing with the bridge guard rail extensions.

They had traffic control there for MONTHS — the grates could have been simply dealt with then, no?

i just rode this Sunday and I intentionally avoided each and every one by taking the lane
(granted Sunday morning is easier for that)

q`Tzal
q`Tzal
7 years ago

K’Tesh
2. Could paint be added to the storm drains to make them stand out? No. The ODOT Maintenance Manager has looked at the drain and determined that paint lines are not in the best interest of anyone; cyclists may take that as a sign that they must avoid the drain and steer themselves into a lane of traffic.

See the problem is this is EXACTLY backwards.

If there is a hazard in the bike lane we are permitted, possibly requied, attempt to avoid it.

ODOT has acknowledged that the hazard exists but does not think that bicycle riders are allowed in to their precious automotive space or that there is any reason to leave the bicycle lane.

The Oregon Vehicular Code provides the legal right to ride a bicycle safely EVEN IF that means leaving the bicycle lane.

ODOT just wants to bury their heads in the sand.

Michael
Michael
7 years ago

If ODOT removes the paint, there is no good reason not to paint it again, and to start painting warnings at other locations that present road hazards.

Reminds me of the successful effort to get the Soviet Tank removed from the city of Prague: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monument_to_Soviet_Tank_Crews

q`Tzal
q`Tzal
7 years ago

K’Tesh:
Do you have a written record backing up this statement:

K’Tesh
“Every time I call they’re like, ‘Oh, we’ll be paving that area next year,’” Parsons said in an interview last week. “They just don’t think it’s a problem.”

It would be useful in building a case for targeting ODOT’s institutional inaction.

K'Tesh
K'Tesh
7 years ago
Reply to  q`Tzal

Again, this was mostly done over the phone… Basil and Jessica should have records of what was said within ODOT.

q`Tzal
q`Tzal
7 years ago
Reply to  K'Tesh

Oh bother.

fourknees
fourknees
7 years ago

Barbur Blvd – The Deadliest Road in Portland…For all users.

Really ODOT, the cost is too much? I’m sure the cost will be less than the $100,000+ settlement that is reached when a cyclist is severely injured here. I just hope they don’t fall into the first lane where traffic drives below the “45” mph speed limit.

Another ODOT road, same issue and it was fixed?
http://bikeportland.org/2012/01/12/after-activist-action-odot-repaves-danger-spots-on-hall-blvd-65087

City of Tigard at least tries to warn people before a permanent fix:
http://bikeportland.org/2011/12/26/stripes-in-bike-lane-pose-interesting-legal-question-64315

encephalopath
encephalopath
7 years ago

“‘Cyclists may take that as a sign that they must avoid the drain and steer themselves into a lane of traffic,’ wrote the staffer, Monica Bustos.”

I’m starting to think some of the people at ODOT don’t really have even half a functioning brain.

Curtis Roth
Curtis Roth
7 years ago

I ride that on my commute to work. It wouldn’t be acceptable for cars. Add to that the area where Barbur connects with Front – rough paving that jolts the rider.

J_R
J_R
7 years ago

Matt Garrett (ODOT Director), Rian Windsheimer (Region 1 Manager) and Monica Bustos should all be REQUIRED to ride bicycles over that grate next to an ODOT dump truck driving 45 mph and straddling the bike lane stripe.

THEN they can each certify that it is SAFE in it’s present condition. If they do that, I’ll pay to have the “vandalism” removed.

K'Tesh
K'Tesh
7 years ago
Reply to  J_R

Here’s what I sent to ODOT (and the recipients)

From: K’ Tesh
Sent: Saturday, August 01, 2015 11:07 PM
To: CHRISTOPHER Basil R; HORNING Jessica; Jonathan Maus BikePortland; Ray Thomas; Charley Gee; Michael Anderson; Rob Sadowsky
Subject: Let’s get this fixed… Once and for all… (99W by the Rapid Flash crossing)

I’d really like to find the supervisor who has been ignoring this for so long, weigh him down until he matches me with a full book bag (that would be over 400lbs), and send him over this grate at top speed (about 40mph)… at rush hour…

It’s a little photo intensive, so please follow the link to check out these hazardous drains on 99W.

http://www.bikeforums.net/advocacy-safety/595164-advocacy-thread-what-have-you-done-today-23.html#post18035809

nuovorecord
nuovorecord
7 years ago
Reply to  J_R

You know, Gov. Brown is Garrett’s boss. And, after he had to tell the Legislature that ODOT had botched the modeling #s that were being used to get a transportation funding bill passed, he may not be the most popular person in Mahonia Hall these days. Maybe she ought to be aware of how the state’s transportation agency is treating cyclists?

peejay
peejay
7 years ago

Nothing more to be added, other than we should do a class action suit against ODOT for gross negligence.

Buzz
Buzz
7 years ago
Reply to  peejay

PBOT as well, there are sunken double-wide grates like this all over the city, including all along the substandard narrow bike lanes on Interstate Ave. This often reduces the effective width of usable bike lane to 12″ to 18″ and sometimes even less.

KristenT
KristenT
7 years ago
Reply to  Buzz

Forgot to add: ODOT has installed these grates all up and down Hall Blvd in Tigard, so we can add that to their “gross negligence”. They show a pattern of routinely placing hazards within the bike lane as a matter of course and then get mad when someone points out that they’ve put a hazard in the bike lane.

MaxD
MaxD
7 years ago
Reply to  Buzz

SB Interstate Ave under the Tillamook Viaduct has this EXACT situation: sunken grate, reduced bike lane+ effective bike lane of less than 1 foot! PBOT has been asked numerous times over the years and they do nothing (or worse- they add sign no one can see and call it a day). PBOT is just as lame as ODOT

K'Tesh
K'Tesh
7 years ago
Reply to  MaxD

Sorry, this one got by me (buried by all the other posts).

ODOT’s Ask ODOT email is: AskODOT@odot.state.or.us

Sending email with photographs makes it a lot harder for them to ignore (It’s a better record that they were informed).

KristenT
KristenT
7 years ago
Reply to  peejay

It would be easy to show a pattern of gross negligence– besides Barbur, there’s Hall blvd with it’s orphan sidewalks and horrible maintenance as far as street sweeping goes; Upper Boones Ferry with it’s here and then gone sidewalks and bike lanes (either side of Durham Rd); and Scholls Ferry aka Hwy 210 with it’s missing bike lane and sidewalk connections.

Brian
Brian
7 years ago

I love it. There are many great ways to have a positive impact on the safety of our streets. http://www.mlive.com/news/detroit/index.ssf/2015/05/potholes_not_pots_for_hamtramc.html

Todd Boulanger
Todd Boulanger
7 years ago

Hey…don’t push ODoT so hard they detour maintenance funds away from “my” safety deficiency locations north of Kenton. ‘-)

Todd Boulanger
Todd Boulanger
7 years ago

ODoT – the critical thing to remember is that many of your facilities are key regional bike commuter routes that have may be the only bike route or have very poor second options without travelling miles out of direction.

Ed Birnbaum
Ed Birnbaum
7 years ago

Congratulations, K’Tesh, on your graduation! And thanks for what you did for us.

q`Tzal
q`Tzal
7 years ago

The following will be generically applicable but targeted ato this specific situation:

Jim Parsons:
“Every time I call they’re like, ‘Oh, we’ll be paving that area next year,’” Parsons said in an interview last week. “They just don’t think it’s a problem.”

This situation has been acknowledged by ODOT as a genuine safety concern and they are on record as saying it is on the work list for construction projects.
Problem is that “next year” keeps getting pushed back.

The fact is that this and other bicycle infrastructure safety issues have been placed in a perpetual construction limbo.

SO…. Lets use this unintentional construction status to force something slightly safer to occur.

Let’s pretend that this actually IS a construction zone hazard. This is not much of a stretch; ODOT keeps saying it will be part of a construction fix but this is simply left as an open pit hazard.

continues

q`Tzal
q`Tzal
7 years ago
Reply to  q`Tzal

In the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD) Section 9 (http://mutcd.fhwa.dot.gov/htm/2009r1r2/part9/part9c.htm) deals with bicycle signage. In Section 9C.06 Pavement Markings for Obstructions it states:
“Guidance:
01 In roadway situations where it is not practical to eliminate a drain grate or other roadway obstruction that is inappropriate for bicycle travel, white markings applied as shown in Figure 9C-8 should be used to guide bicyclists around the condition.

Spiffy
7 years ago
Reply to  q`Tzal

this is great to know…

ODOT is removing a marking that is code compliant so that more people are likely to hit an obstacle that’s not code compliant…

Spiffy
7 years ago
Reply to  Spiffy

no wait, your white line should have been 30 feet long…

q`Tzal
q`Tzal
7 years ago
Reply to  q`Tzal

Figure 9C-8 (http://mutcd.fhwa.dot.gov/htm/2009r1r2/part9/fig9c_08_longdesc.htm) “Examples of Obstruction Pavement Marking” shows markings almost exactly like what Mr. Parsons applied.
This is meant to be a more permanent marking when the hazard will not be removed. ODOT keeps saying it will be removed as part of construction.
Let’s see how that is handled.

q`Tzal
q`Tzal
7 years ago
Reply to  q`Tzal

A blockage in the bicycle lane (which may be considered a shoulder) is also simultaneously a blockage within the traveled way of a highway.
What makes this distinctly different is the duration with which this will remain; it could be only a year but history does not support this conclusion.

q`Tzal
q`Tzal
7 years ago
Reply to  q`Tzal

There are large chunks of this missing and all the links.
I tried posting all of it but the comment server or moderator locked me out.
I gave this article a “+” on G+ and left the entire thing as a comment tied to my G+ profile on this main blog post.
Link below.

Aaron
Aaron
7 years ago

Kafka would be proud, ODOT.

q`Tzal
q`Tzal
7 years ago

I’d post my MUTCD suggestion dump in the forums if they existed anymore.
At least there I could include images.

q`Tzal
q`Tzal
7 years ago
Reply to  q`Tzal
ethan
ethan
7 years ago

If that’s vandalism, I wonder what they would call it if someone dug holes into the middle of the travel lanes?

Psyfalcon
Psyfalcon
7 years ago
Reply to  ethan

Terrorism.

lyle w.
lyle w.
7 years ago
Reply to  ethan

They’d figure that out while they were shutting the road down, putting up barriers, and immediately fixing the hazard.

Kevin Wagoner
7 years ago

Going downhill at roughly 30mph I absolutely avoid that drain. I’m not sure what would happen if I hit it at that speed, but it could certain cause me to lose control, wreck, pinch flat my tire and/or break my wheel. I guess none of those things could happen as well. As a rule I don’t just ride into a hole like that by choice and I’ve had everything above happen by riding into holes except for a broken wheel. As an experienced cyclist I actually appreciate warnings on hazards like that so I appreciate the paint. I’ve been wondering if that paint was an ODOT message or a concerned citizen…thanks for finding out for me! If paint is not the right answer it would be great to see it fixed.

Chris I
Chris I
7 years ago

The aggravating factor is that Barbur does not need the additional northbound lane here. So frustrating.