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After fatal crash, BTA calls for continuous bike lanes on Lombard

Posted by on December 14th, 2015 at 1:37 pm

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In the wake of a fatal crash that left one man dead, the Bicycle Transportation Alliance is calling on the Oregon Department of Transportation to install bike lanes on NE Lombard Avenue.
The BTA has just released a petition that they plan to deliver to ODOT Region 1 Manager Rian Windsheimer. Here’s the text of the petition:

I, the undersigned, support immediate provision of continuous bike lanes on NE Lombard at 42nd Avenue. Vision Zero is the refusal to accept any fatalities or serious injury crashes on our roads. We must take a Vision Zero approach to this deadly bike lane gap by addressing it immediately. Please act now before anyone else is killed on this ODOT road.

In the accompanying action alert posted on their blog, the BTA says, “We call for the immediate construction of continuous bike lanes on NE Lombard at 42nd Avenue… By eliminating this dangerous gap, we can create safer conditions for everyone. The Oregon Department of Transportation needs to take action now before anyone else is killed or hurt on this dangerous ODOT road.”

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Reached earlier today, BTA Executive Director Rob Sadowsky told us that Saturday night’s fatal crash “reminds us how delicate life is for all of us.”

Lombard is managed by ODOT and it’s a section of State Highway 30. It is striped with standard-width bike lanes but they end 300-400 feet prior to the overpass of 42nd Avenue. It’s in that gap where it’s believed a man was struck from behind and killed while he rode his bike on Saturday night.

While Lombard is a highway and very few people use it as a bikeway, Sadowsky said, “Every street should be designed so that it’s safe for everyone traveling.” “I think a protected bike lane would have saved this person’s life.”

So far, ODOT has said that bike lanes in this section of Lombard aren’t possible because there isn’t enough room for them. They say the solution is a new bike path that goes around the existing bridge supports. But that project isn’t even in the pipeline and won’t happen for many years. Here’s how an ODOT representative explained the situation in response to a citizen complaint we reported about on Friday (just one day before this recent fatality):

“Unfortunately, the travel lanes and median have already been narrowed to fit under the bridge, so there is not extra pavement width that could be reallocated to stripe bike lanes. The location of the bridge supports and steep grade to the railroad tracks to the north also make widening the roadway to accommodate standard bike lanes very difficult and expensive, especially if constructed as a standalone project.”

The quicker fix would be to use the existing roadway space. However, that would require ODOT to reallocate the space and make the existing lanes narrower in order to fit a bike lane. Since there are two lanes in each direction, they could also consider changing the configuration into one bike lane and one standard lane.

— Jonathan Maus, (503) 706-8804 – jonathan@bikeportland.org

NOTE: We love your comments and work hard to ensure they are productive, considerate, and welcoming of all perspectives. Disagreements are encouraged, but only if done with tact and respect. If you see a mean or inappropriate comment, please contact us and we'll take a look at it right away. Also, if you comment frequently, please consider holding your thoughts so that others can step forward. Thank you — Jonathan

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Terry D-M
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Terry D-M

ODOT Could declare this an emergency fix and get it done by summer. That said, I’m still not riding that terrifying bike lane…….PBOT needs to respond by fixing Prescott.

TonyJ
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TonyJ

Could they think OUTSIDE the box here? Maybe route a lane to the other side of those bridge supports? You don’t need to widen the entire roadway to add a bike lane, do you?

TonyJ
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TonyJ

Lol, sorry, I realize that’s in the article… bad reading, Tony. Although their response makes it seem like it’s dependent on widening… how much would it really cost to do the bike only paths?

Greshamite
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Greshamite

My heart goes out to this man and the friends and family that he left behind. To paraphrase ODOT, “making the bike lanes safe and protecting human life in this section of road would be difficult and expensive”.

Expensive? Yes? Difficult? Yes? Worth it? Worth every frickin’ penny or ounce of life you’re willing to spend.

TJ
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TJ

Bike lanes disappear all over town and many in areas with greater current cycling dependence than 42nd and Lombard.

I’m not suggesting this stretch of Lombard not be fixed. I’m tired of reacting to the specific location of infrastructure after a tragic occurrence.

Why not react to the specific infrastructure and demand all such examples at all locations be fixed.

maxD
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maxD

I totally agree with TJ! There are these stupids, dangerous little gaps ALL over town. PBOT, ODOT, everybody knows about them, but they don’t get any attention until someone is killed. By all means, fix Lombard tomorrow! Get some Jersey barriers and close a motor vehicle lane until a bike lane can get built. But also fix the other stupid gaps all over town. I have emailed PBOT repeatedly about the Gap on Interstate under the Larrabee Viaduct, and their response is that “crash data doesn’t warrant doing anything there”. In other words, they won’t consider a fix UNTIL someone is killed. Now is a great time for BTA to come out strong with a list of gaps for PBOT to fix to AVOID a death.

Chris I
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Chris I

They are all over town, but this one is one of the absolute worst. Lombard is signed at 45mph, but the average speed is typically 50mph. Other than the bridges on Barbur, I can’t think of another location in town where cyclists are expected to merge with traffic moving that fast, without any controls or mitigation.

wsbob
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wsbob

“…I’m not suggesting this stretch of Lombard not be fixed. I’m tired of reacting to the specific location of infrastructure after a tragic occurrence.

Why not react to the specific infrastructure and demand all such examples at all locations be fixed.” TJ

Do you believe Oregonians will be prepared to provide ODOT with additional monies that may be needed to make those fixes? Or endure postponement of other projects already on ODOT’s ‘to do’ list, in order for the department to make bike lane related fixes within its existing budger?

Lester Burnham
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Lester Burnham

Continuous bike lane or not, being next to 45 mph (and faster) traffic is not a place many of us want to be.

Efficient and safe East-West connections on the north half of the city are poor at best.

Exactly why it was so laughable how Portland latched on to that “Platinum” title.

ethan
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ethan

“Efficient and safe East-West connections on the north half of the city are poor at best.”

You can say that again! I live in Woodlawn and getting around on bike can be a little intersting at times. PBOT refuses to put any bike infrastructure (except for those little, narrow “bike lanes” near bus stups) on Dekum or 15th, both of which are very important routes through the neighborhood.

Bryant and Holman are both in pretty bad shape, pavement-wise. And many of the streets have intersections with no controls at all. And usually people driving don’t realize that sometimes they have to stop even when there isn’t a stop sign (I was almost hit this weekend by someone who blew through an intersection when I had the right of way).

TonyT
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Tony T

REactive.

Perhaps BTA could come out with a strong stance on the many gaps that exist in Portland BEFORE people get killed.

Ben
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Ben

Seems to me it’s time to undertake a community mapping project of all such gaps in Portland, and demand the city and state start knocking them down on a planned schedule with hard targets and the promise of highway shutdowns and building occupations if goals aren’t met.

kittens
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kittens

The case of the disappearing bike lane like that of the disappearing sidewalk is ridiculous. It would be like striping a road into a ditch.

Jay
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Jay

Or, having cars merge with freight trains…

RushHourAlleycat
Guest

Can we identify other areas like this, and put the change in place there too, without paying a human life in tribute first? Proactive > Reactive

ethan
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ethan

Many areas have been identified to ODOT and PBOT and they have refused to do anything so far.

RushHourAlleycat
Guest

Sounds like a good time to stand up together and say something.

Andy K
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Andy K

It would be 100x easier for us to communicate these requests and see results if ODOT had an assigned, accountable person who took ownership and found timely solutions.

GlowBoy
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GlowBoy

There are far too many gaps, seemingly everywhere bike lanes have ever been built. It’s a problem all over Portland, as well as in Minneapolis where I now live.

All too often when there’s a constraint like the narrowing of a road, or an intersection requiring dedicated turn lanes, the agency in charge just throws up their hands, slaps down some sharrows and forces bicyclists to just share with cars at PRECISELY the place where it’s most dangerous to do so. It’s time to demand better.

Re: the Burnside Bridge gap to SW 3rd … I just rode this last night, for the first time since 3rd got restriped. Sheesh, there’s room for a bike lane here! Why isn’t there one?! At least there’s now a Copenhagen-left box at 3rd, which is a huge improvement over what was, but still another not-quite-good-enough measure.

I heartily endorse the Gap Week idea, and hope you’ll include Barbur in it: the subject of far too many BikePortland articles and far too much foot-dragging from ODOT. I rode this again on Saturday night and was reminded of how awful it is, with similar vehicle speeds to Lombard BTW. At least there’s the option to bail up onto the bridge sidewalk, but … well … you know, I had every intention of trying that option on Saturday. But even though I was going a moderate 15mph and had cars coming up behind me in the right lane, it was just too scary to attempt in the dark. So I signaled my intent and moved over into the right lane as soon as the beacon went off, and prayed that the drivers behind me were attentive and patient enough not to hit me. No one should have to put their life on the line like that just to get across town.

GlowBoy
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GlowBoy

Another less-discussed problem with Barbur: after crossing Hamilton in the northbound direction, the vast majority of cyclists want to stay on Barbur, as opposed to following the two-lane freeway-style exit to Naito. To continue on to the protected bike lanes further north on Barbur (the road you thought you were already on!), you have to follow the bike lane up onto the sidewalk, then walk across two lanes of busy, high-speed Naito at a striped crosswalk.

This used to be part of my daily commute. Often I’d catch a break in traffic, cross two empty lanes and continue on my way. Saturday, however, traffic was steady and several consecutive cars failed to stop for me, even though I was wearing The World’s Most Visible Jacket. Finally a bus stopped for me in the right lane, but I knew better than to just start walking across: sure enough, a couple seconds later a car came barreling by in the other lane. This is another unacceptable gap: a HAWK beacon would be a good start here, but ultimately this freeway-style interchange needs to be eliminated and signalized. Or else build a flyover ramp for bikes … I can dream, can’t I?

eddie
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eddie

I hate that intersection. If there is any traffic on the road at all it feels super unsafe to me. And then if you do opt to go right and drop down to Naito there’s another sketchy part where traffic on Kelly from the Ross Island Bridge merges. I’m known to risk being late to work by taking Terwilliger downtown rather than Barbur, just so I don’t have to deal with that area. Not as bad as Lombard but it is a matter of time before someone gets their clock cleaned there. If it hasn’t happened already.

doug B
Guest
doug B

Has Sadowsky really been effective?

WD
Guest

Not that I can see. What’s the BTA done since he’s been in charge? Mostly they’ve just gotten in line to try to claim credit for other advocacy groups’ work.

Granpa
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Granpa

“BTA calls for continuous bike lanes”

that will get it done. (sarcasm)

Greg Haun
Guest
Greg Haun

There is a third option beyond building a new bike path or taking out a motor to make more room… ORS 811.065 applies in these gap situations, making it illegal to pass bikes without changing lanes. Doesn’t ODOT have a legal mandate to enforce safety laws when the situation is a proven safety hazard? Could PBOT or BTA force them to enforce to at least 85% compliance? @RobSadowsky? @RayThomas?

soren
Guest

A candlelight vigil for victims of traffic violence
December 17, 4:30-5:30
ODOT Region 1 Headquarters
123 NW Flanders St, Portland, OR 97209

Martin Lee Greenough was recently killed on NE. Lombard St/Highway 30 Bypass in an area that residents have highlighted as being exceptionally dangerous for many years. The Oregon Department of Transportation is responsible for Lombard St and most of Portland’s high crash corridors. ODOT has consistently resisted safety improvements that would make these urban highways safer for people walking, biking, and driving.

We are holding a candlelight memorial for the 403 traffic deaths in Oregon at the ODOT Region 1 Building. Black attire is encouraged and participants may bring extra pairs of shoes to tangibly represent victims. A ghost bike and memorial will be installed. Participants may also bring signs, messages, flowers, or other symbols of outrage and/or remembrance. Materials will be available to make signs.

We call on ODOT and the state legislature to transfer Lombard and the other state highways in Portland to the City of Portland. We also call on ODOT to prioritize funding to bring other urban state highways up to city safety standards. And finally, we call on ODOT to accept and implement Vision Zero policies that prioritize the safety of all road users.

Livable Streets Action
(A BikeLoudPDX affiliate group)

https://www.facebook.com/events/208060626194846/

Joe
Guest
Joe

bike lives matter! plan and simple, the police do nothing to protect a rider, but they sure can hand out tickets good.

Mike
Guest
Mike

Just stop.

still riding after all that
Guest
still riding after all that

Unfortunately, this tragedy is the best of all worlds for ODOT, the driver, and the pot lobby. ODOT can say “the road isn’t the problem, the driver was high on drugs.” Then the driver’s lawyer can say “my client didn’t hit anybody else that night, so the road is to blame.” Finally, the marijuana-for-all people can say “being stoned isn’t the problem, it’s the road, and the driver should have waited until he got home to get wasted,” echoing the alcohol industry’s “drink responsibly” mantra.

The police will claim to have done their job by finding and arresting the hit-and-run driver (honestly, it’s amazing that they nabbed him so quickly). The DA will say that the appropriate charges have been filed, and there’s nothing more they can do according to current law.

Is there a punishment – prison time, a fine, loss of driving privileges – that will bring the bicyclist back to life? Will money from an insurance company make anyone feel better? No. Meanwhile, we’re left with yet another deceased bicyclist – RIP my good man – and a sense of terror every time we get on a bike, or in a car, for that matter. So very sad.