Paving project adds gravel, bumps and closures to 50s Bikeway route

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52nd Avenue as of this morning.
(Photos by Benn Schonman)

With record rains and wind, Portland road users have had a lot to worry about recently. Now a popular bikeway is impacted by a maintenance project that’s expected to last two weeks.

50spavingmap

The Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) announced late Friday night that they’re starting a pavement preservation project on SE 52nd Avenue from Woodstock to Steele (about 0.4 miles). The project started this morning and is expected to last through January 4th.

According to PBOT the street will be an active work zone from 7:00 am to 5:00 pm each word day.

This section of 52nd Avenue is a popular bike route that’s part of the 50s Bikeway that opened in the summer of 2014.

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While the road won’t be completely closed, PBOT says to expect a rough road surface. And keep in mind that lane striping has been torn up. “People riding bicycles should avoid the work zone, and either use alternate routes, open travel lanes or sidewalks,” PBOT says.

BikePortland reader Benn Schonman rolled up on the project this morning. He sent in some photos and offered this report:

“SE 52nd between Woodstock and Ramona are really chewed-up for repavingโ€ฆ lots & lots on gravel in bike path as well as all over both sides of roadโ€ฆ.no crew on site @ 10am.”

โ€” Jonathan Maus, (503) 706-8804 – jonathan@bikeportland.org

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Alex Reed
Alex Reed
6 years ago

There are some pretty egregious sunken storm grates in the northbound bike lane between Harold and Foster. Anyone know if there are any in the section between Woodstock and Steele? If so, we should put pressure on the City to raise them to street level as part of this repaving.

davemess
davemess
6 years ago
Reply to  Alex Reed

Not that i can think of, but then I don’t consider the ones that you mention to be that bad either (with the exception of the ones at the corner of Holgate).

Alex Reed
Alex Reed
6 years ago
Reply to  davemess

Hitting one between Harold & Holgate unexpectedly in the rain & dark on Thursday morning was quite the rude awakening. It was one of very few times I’ve ridden that stretch (which is why I wasn’t ready for sunken storm grates, although it was very challenging to see much in a dark downpour regardless), and I won’t be doing it again anytime soon. I’m envious that you’re willing to deal with it; it would make my post-daycare-dropoff commutes a lot faster. It is not meant to be for me at this point. Different routes for different folks (some more direct than others ๐Ÿ™‚ )

davemess
davemess
6 years ago
Reply to  Alex Reed

I would just stay in the left half of the lane.
I looked over on my way home tonight. There are a few grates, with most of them centered around corners. Some are on 52nd a the corner, some are on the side street.

Alex Reed
Alex Reed
6 years ago
Reply to  davemess

Well, given that the left half of the lane is the half closest to 35-mph traffic, I’m not willing to do that. I’m glad you and others are though!

Really, I am glad that the 52nd ave bike lanes get some ridership. I saw two youngish boys (est. 12 yo) riding in the southbound lanes sans adults a few weekends ago and thought, “Wow, maybe this is more of an all-ages facility than I thought!” Then I thought, “I wonder if their parents are OK with them riding here.”

Middle of the Road guy
Middle of the Road guy
6 years ago
Reply to  Alex Reed

well you should not be going faster than your lights allow.

Alex Reed
Alex Reed
6 years ago

Issue was rain on my glasses & glare from oncoming traffic’s headlights. My headlights are actually pretty good. Made me want to get laser eye surgery.

naess
naess
6 years ago
Reply to  Alex Reed

i think he’s trying, and succeeding imo, to be witty about how you were obviously going faster than you should have been due to the conditions. which honestly, your reply merely reinforced, re: glare.

it’s a common refrain around here that “cagers” are always saying they couldn’t see the cyclist, well then the “cager” should be going slower, perhaps so slow they aren’t moving at all. of course this logic is never applied to other modes of transportation, least wise not in these environs.

Alex Reed
Alex Reed
6 years ago
Reply to  naess

I understood the analogy and think it’s flawed. Determining if a storm grate is sunken is a much more difficult visual task than detecting a human being in your field of vision. I think detecting human beings you might hit is something that should be expected of bike/motor vehicle operators, but detecting a sunken storm grate is probably asking too much.

Do we expect motor vehicle (and bicycle) operators to see and avoid nails in the road? No, we ask local government to keep roads as clear of nails as possible.

naess
naess
6 years ago
Reply to  Alex Reed

actually, no. no one expects vehicle operators of any kind to see and avoid nails or tacks on the road way. that’s one of those apples/oranges kind of things.

we do expect them to avoid potholes that are big enough to damage their tires, or roads that will cause them to bottom out and damage their undercarriage. of course, if hitting one of these causes them to swerve and damage others, either physically or through property loss, then we also blame the operator for unsafe handling of their vehicle.

sorry, the original analogy works just fine.

Pete
Pete
6 years ago
Reply to  Alex Reed

This is absolutely the time to recommend improvements to the city engineers in charge. I’ve had fair success in getting some improvements done around where I live – mostly paint, of course – with the right timing during construction projects. I personally think the success rate is higher when you push your agenda right as the project is starting – too early and you get ignored. Trick is to give them enough time, and to make a reasonable case for something they can swallow (and point to examples).

Granpa
Granpa
6 years ago

You have to break some eggs to make an omelet. The new pavement will be worth it. It is really a problem if one is using the wrong gear. If the tires you are riding on in the tempestuous Pacific Northwest are skinny, light and inflated to 120 PSI, then you are used to suffering road hazards and unfortunate circumstances. If you have plump street tires on your Fred sled then just roll on with business as usual.

davemess
davemess
6 years ago
Reply to  Granpa

Or just get decent skinny commuting tires.

Pete
Pete
6 years ago
Reply to  davemess

Just had Sugar lace up some Pacenti SL23 rims. With 25s they feel great on rough pavement, and that’s ~110 psi. Now I see why wide is the new skinny! ๐Ÿ™‚

davemess
davemess
6 years ago
Reply to  Pete

It’s funny how people seem to overinflate tires. I knew a few pro mechanics living in Colorado and they always mentioned how so many amateurs had crazy overinflated tires, while the pro riders were usually at 90-100 PSI. Over inflation actually loses a lot of the benefits of pneumatic tires.

Pete
Pete
6 years ago
Reply to  davemess

I used to race TT and was convinced high pressure in skinny tires was the way to speed. My friend rode 25s and said he preferred them to 23s, but I was stuck in my ways (and beating him handily). I had carbon clinchers built, including a disc fork/brake on the front, and they were stiff and fast. I learned to brake later into turns with the hydraulic disc, but one day on my favorite descent I had the back end of the bike pass me in a switchback while running 23s at 130 psi. I first switched to 25s and dropped to 115-120 psi, and now running on the wide rims I’m ideal with 105-110 psi (I’ve tried lower and it’s a little too ‘squishy’ for my preference). Oh, and I’ve beat my PR on that descent, as well as on several flat runs… though that friend is now faster than me!

But yeah, it took splitting my helmet in two to knock that into my head. ๐Ÿ™‚

Tom Hardy
Tom Hardy
6 years ago
Reply to  davemess

I have never had any problem at 120PSI because I buy tires rated for it. At 100 to 115 PSI I average 1 pinch flat every 3 miles. At 90 PSI I am flat in 2 blocks from cracks in the road. At 120PSI I never get flats and average over 3,000 miles per tire with some going to 5,000. I weigh 185. Most pro’s average 120-140. That must be the difference Pro’s race on a swept course with very little gravel or Poor pavement except on those stages with bricks and cobble stones.

Pete
Pete
6 years ago
Reply to  Tom Hardy

I hear ya. I’m up to 180 lbs now and had similar issues at 85-90 psi with my older rims. One of the benefits of the new wider rim designs is that they help prevent this problem, and many can convert to tubeless – which I’m personally not interested in, but it does mean a firmer hook to the tire. The drawback I’ve found, though, is that removing/attaching the tire takes some manhandling and levering due to the rim width. I’m not sure if this is true of wide rims in general (i.e. HED Belgium, etc.), but I’ve let some cuss words slip with the Pacentis. (Sugar pointed out that there’s a channel in the middle of that rim designed to reduce the tension on the tires diameter, and that made it much easier).

Also, some tubes are better than others at preventing snake bites.

pengo
pengo
6 years ago
Reply to  Tom Hardy

That’s an astonishing rate of pinch flats, but the biggest difference is that pros race on tubulars.

davemess
davemess
6 years ago
Reply to  pengo

True. Most do, but they train on clinchers.

jered
jered
6 years ago
Reply to  Pete

The SL23 is a great rim!! If you have the clearance the Hutchinson Sector 28 set up tubeless on the SL23 is an AMAZING ride (though spendy). The Sector is a tough tire no real complaints after a year of trails, gravel, roads, rain and slop. Had a sidewall puncture from some heavy traprock I sped through – even that healed with some time!!

Pete
Pete
6 years ago
Reply to  jered

I read that v1 of the SL23 had slippery nipple problems (ouch! ๐Ÿ˜‰ and v2 fixed those plus lightened up the rim. I don’t know the failure stats, but if someone’s willing to risk it the v1 rims are quite cheap now as a result. Also, I’m not familiar with Bitex hubs, but bikehubstore.com has what looks like a decent price on a v2 wheelset.

I’m actually looking for a good gravel tire that still rolls well on pavement. Thanks, I’ll check it out!

was carless
was carless
6 years ago
Reply to  davemess

I’ve got 35mm Schwalbes and I can easily roll on gravel roads.

soren
6 years ago
Reply to  Granpa

I’m pretty sure Alex has 37 or 42 mm tires on his “Fred Sled”.

Ben
Ben
6 years ago

Couldn’t be worse than the terrifying stretch of pot-holed pavement on the Southwest corner of Foster and 52nd.

Chris I
Chris I
6 years ago

Looks like a normal commute for me in outer-east Portland.

davemess
davemess
6 years ago

The southern section from Flavel to Harney is also torn up (the steep hill down to johnson creek).
I was surprised they are repaving that section. It was in pretty good shape.
I am excited to see this section being repaved. The pavement was not great in some spots (esp. headed south). When they added the bike lanes, the lane shift left a lot of crappy pavement.

I think the new pavement will be worth a bit of inconvenience.

jeff
jeff
6 years ago

Are we now complaining about normal road maintenance?

Psyfalcon
Psyfalcon
6 years ago

Well, I’ll complain.

“Use alternative routes” there we go consulting a map again. Has PBOT set up a detour, or planned to slow the car lanes? Why not keep it open to bikes while having cars detour? It is a new bikeway after all.

Beeblebrox
Beeblebrox
6 years ago
Reply to  Psyfalcon

Nobody has to detour. The street is open. Unless you want the city to close down every street that gets a simple grind and pave…

resopmok
resopmok
6 years ago

SE 67th is a pretty good alternative. There is a light to cross Foster (though not Holgate), and it jogs at about Center to 65th. You can continue north from there to Woodward with a light that crosses Powell. This route should be, in my opinion, marked as a neighborhood greenway.

resopmok
resopmok
6 years ago
Reply to  resopmok

This is headed northbound from Woodstock, FYI.

Everett
Everett
6 years ago

Perhaps while they are in the neighborhood, they could cruise up to the northbound bike lane, and paint a few bikes on the street in front of Toast. Every Sunday without fail there are several cars parked in the bike lane.

davemess
davemess
6 years ago
Reply to  Everett

Yes that still drives me nuts. I’ve contacted the city a few times and had no response. Just a “no parking” sign there would likely be sufficient. Good news is that people seem to be figuring it out the rest of the time (weekdays, etc.).

Pete
Pete
6 years ago
Reply to  Everett

Funny you mention this universal problem. Our local bike coalition has sent letters and some of us spoken with a repeat offender down here in San Jose. This Sunday morning I had just ridden past, had to take the lane and was lamenting not having any #IParkedInABikeLane stickers with me, when I saw SJPD roll up to a red light just a little down the road. I turned and hoped to catch him but the light turned green. I gave chase and almost caught him when I had to cut off the car behind him to avoid hitting a woman stopped to text in the bike lane. He looked at her and drove right by! I suspect if he had to brake as hard as the guy I took the lane in front of, then he would have cared. Didn’t even get a chance to ask him about the 15 or more cars blocking marked bike lanes just down the road. ๐Ÿ™

Kim P
Kim P
6 years ago
Reply to  Everett

Agreed! There are cars parked in the bike lane constantly, it’s ridiculous. It doesn’t help that the bike lane stencils are few and far between that entire stretch. They really skimped with the signage portion of the project. And honestly the folks at Toast really should keep an eye out and let people know they need to move their cars when they park right out front in the bike lane. It’s pretty obvious they are patrons of theirs. They should put a note on their door if they haven’t already.

davemess
davemess
6 years ago
Reply to  Kim P

It usually people parking in front of the Chiropractor next door, not Toast.

Kim P
Kim P
6 years ago
Reply to  davemess

Well, that physical therapy office is only open Mon-Thurs so that wouldn’t explain the weekend brunch time parking right smack dab in front of Toast.

davemess
davemess
6 years ago
Reply to  Kim P

Yes, but my point was that they aren’t parking directly in front of Toast (I think because there is a bike lane sign at Steele). It’s not Toast’s job to police the streets. It’s the city’s fault for not putting up enough signage.

Brett
Brett
6 years ago

… “expected to last through January 4th” Today is January 13th, and the road has looked the same for weeks… the grinding has been done, but little else. I know we had some weather, but this project looks stalled at this point… anyone know when this might wrap up?