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‘Fast Bikes Use Water Ave’ and other signs coming to Esplanade near OMSI

Buffered Bike Lane with a bike symbol and arrow pointing forward

Drawing of new signs coming to the Esplanade near OMSI.
(Image from Bureau of Development Services application)

Turns out that managers of Waterfront Park aren’t the only ones who want to keep fast-moving bicycle riders away from their paths.

OMSI currently places caution signs at
the most congested sections.
(Google Streetview)

Owners of the Oregon Museum of Science & Industry (OMSI) have gotten approval from the City of Portland to install a total of 30 new signs and five pavement markings. The new signs are aimed at helping museum visitors find their way around the campaigns.

Another goal of the new signs is to encourage “fast bikes” to use an alternate route.

The Eastbank Esplanade path where it travels through OMSI’s property under the Marquam Bridge (just before the submarine exhibit) has long been a problem spot. Like Waterfront Park it’s a place where many people mix. There are museum visitors, tourists, joggers, walkers, families, and people riding bikes.

According to OMSI’s application (PDF) with the Bureau of Development Services, the new signage will, “provide increased clarity and coherency better directing and informing all users and modes: vehicle, cyclists and pedestrian, using the site.”

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While congested paths and concerns about user interactions is certainly part of the issue here, OMSI is also motivated to create the new signage plan because of the opening of the Tilikum Crossing Bridge. The bridge and the new Orange Line open next week and will surely increase the amount of path users.

Here’s more from the application:

1) The proposed wayfinding and signage will be located throughout the OMSI site addressing and accommodating the opening of the Tilikum Crossing which will carry light rail trains, buses, streetcars, bicyclists and pedestrians to the site. The proposed signs and wayfinding are designed and placed in locations where each of the intended user groups: vehicle, bicyclist and pedestrian, will be most active. Proposed vehicle directional and freestanding signs will be located in areas on the site adjacent to SE Water Avenue and SE 2nd Place and both existing parking lots on the site. Bicycle signage is proposed along the Greenway Trail providing both directional and regulatory information to cyclists heading towards the OMSI campus and increased vehicle and pedestrian traffic. Pedestrian wayfinding and signage is proposed at the perimeter of the site in the form of kinetic wind sculptures which help to orient users to the OMSI campus as well as surrounding adjacent amenities such as the Portland Opera, Portland Light Rail and Streetcar.

Many of the new signs won’t impact the bicycling experience, but the seven signs that will be placed directly on the Esplanade are sure to get your attention. OMSI plans to use the exact same signs that Portland Parks & Recreation used in Waterfront. One sign at each entrance to the OMSI property will read: “Fast Bikes Use Water Ave”, as in Water Avenue, an alternate road just east of OMSI that has a striped bike lane. Another sign will read “Ride Slow.”

Drawing from permit application showing view of northern entrance onto OMSI property from Esplanade.

The pavement markings will be similar to ones currently found on the Hawthorne Bridge, SW Moody, and other locations around town…

These signs shouldn’t stoke as much concern as the ones on the Waterfront. We recently reported how those signs have had some unintended consequences, with some path users thinking it means bicycling is prohibited on the path. It’s also worth noting that the Water Avenue alternate is much lower-stress than Naito (although it is definitely a bit more awkward to connect to/from).

Someone on the BikeLoudPDX email list (where we first heard about the signs) said he understands why OMSI would do this:

“In much the same way we want diverters for Clinton, I wouldn’t blame OMSI if they wanted something similar around their property. A lot of cyclists are jamming through there, meanwhile the OMSI customers are wandering around on foot, often with kids. I get a little pissed at the inconsiderate behavior of people wandering on the Esplanade, but it’s really hard to feel that way at OMSI, where people are just trying to explore the place a bit or have a field trip. I don’t think that path is a sustainable commute segment.”

Barring any appeals, OMSI will be permitted to erect the new signs as of September 18th. We’ll take a closer look once they go in. Stay tuned.