Support BikePortland - Journalism that Matters

City has two years to make the case to save 26th Avenue bike lanes, it says

Posted by on January 7th, 2016 at 3:36 pm

Protest on SE Powell-1.jpg

The bike lanes on SE 26th run in front of Cleveland High School and carry about 600 to 800 people daily.
(Photo © J. Maus/BikePortland)

Because 26th Avenue won’t be repaved for another year or two, the city will have time and data to try to persuade the Oregon Department of Transportation to reverse its decision.

The Portland Bureau of Transportation confirmed Thursday that it has agreed to remove the bike lanes from SE 26th Avenue near Powell in order to get the state’s approval for a new signal at 28th.

A city spokesman said that because 26th Avenue won’t be repaved for another year or two, the city will have time and data to try to persuade the Oregon Department of Transportation to reverse its decision. But an ODOT spokesman said the state can’t say what data it might or might not find persuasive.

The new biking-walking traffic signal to be added at 28th will help create a new segment of neighborhood greenway, which the city had hoped would serve as a lower-stress alternative to the flat, direct and uncomfortably narrow bike lanes on 26th.

But as we reported in August, the state and city have been arguing for months over whether the presence of a nearby neighborhood greenway is a reason to remove the bike lanes from 26th Avenue. ODOT has said that removing bike lanes from 26th Avenue would increase safety by making fewer people bike through what it says is a dangerous intersection.

Whether or not there are bike lanes on a city street wouldn’t usually be up to the state government. But new traffic signals on Powell, a state highway, are the state’s business — and ODOT agreed to the new signal at 28th and Powell only on the condition that the city promise to remove the 26th Avenue bike lanes.

Advertisement

On Thursday, city spokesman Dylan Rivera said that the city will be able to gather data during the window of time, which he described as “one to two years,” after the 28th Avenue signal is installed but before the 26th Avenue lanes are removed.

“PBOT believes our planners and engineers can make a strong case for keeping the bike lanes there,” Rivera said, acknowledging that the decision will ultimately be up to ODOT.

ODOT spokesman Don Hamilton said Thursday that the city is welcome, one or two years from now, to try to persuade the state to change course.

“We can start discussing it again,” Hamilton said.

Last week, ODOT spokeswoman Kimberly Dinwiddie said that if bike traffic on 26th exceeded city “projections,” the state would “revisit” its decision to require the bike lanes’ removal. But the projections she apparently referred to had considered a scenario in which there was no northbound bike lane on 26th.

Dinwiddie was out of the office Thursday and referred questions to Hamilton.

Hamilton said ODOT can’t speculate on what sort of data it might or might not find persuasive in two years.

“We don’t know what information it would raise,” he said.

— Michael Andersen, (503) 333-7824 – michael@bikeportland.org

NOTE: We love your comments and work hard to ensure they are welcoming of all perspectives. Disagreements are encouraged, but only if done with tact and respect. BikePortland is an inclusive company with no tolerance for discrimination or harassment including expressions of racism, sexism, homophobia, or xenophobia. 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

94
Leave a Reply

avatar
27 Comment threads
67 Thread replies
0 Followers
 
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
47 Comment authors
CarrieAlistair CorkettK'TeshwsbobHello, Kitty Recent comment authors
  Subscribe  
newest oldest most voted
Notify of
J_R
Guest
J_R

It’s a dangerous intersection because motorists regularly exceed the posted speed, especially westbound in the downhill direction and because they blow through the red light.

This morning I dropped my child off at Cleveland HS for sports practice at 6:00 am and observed three westbound cars on Powell blow through the red signal at 26th. The first would have had to brake fairly hard to stop, but the other simply sped through a very-clearly-red-for-a-few-seconds signal.

If the ODOT were really concerned about safety, they could:

– change the posted speed on Powell to a 20 mph school zone;
– work with the city to install red light cameras; and
– work with the city to have some real enforcement of traffic laws in the entire corridor.

I gave these same suggestions to three ODOT staffers and at least on PBOT staffer at the “safety project” open house conducted at Catholic Charities a few months ago.

Spiffy
Subscriber

it seems that a lot of the explanations we get from ODOT are the heavy-handed parental “because I said so” type without any logic to back up their decisions…

they’ll make brats out of us all…

Adam
Subscriber

ODOT has said that removing bike lanes from 26th Avenue would increase safety by making fewer people bike through what it says is a dangerous intersection.

Using that logic, ODOT should remove car lanes on all of its roads.

Amy SUbach
Guest
Paul Atkinson
Guest
Paul Atkinson

If that intersection is so dangerous but auto throughput must be maintained at all costs, will they be removing the crosswalks as well?

gutterbunnybikes
Guest

Though I know it’s not how it’s going, but ODOT has no jurisdiction for 26th street or 28th. Not sure why the city has to prove a damn thing to ODOT – it’s none of their business.

Josh Chernoff
Guest
Josh Chernoff

Why not both a bike lane on 28th and 26th???

Granpa
Guest
Granpa

ODOT wants to put fewer cyclists through the SE 26th dangerous intersection which will still remain dangerous and still carry cyclists, BUT we get to have a new dangerous intersection on SE 28th. It is Powell that is dangerous and spreading the hazard across more intersections will not in, and of itself, make users safer. It will only spread the hazard area wider.

rick
Guest
rick

More street trees

Peejay
Guest
Peejay

Evidence-based decision making is ODOT’s way of saying “We’ll make the decisions, and then find the evidence to back them up”, where they cherry-pick data and mangle conclusions to get that evidence.

Jeff
Guest
Jeff

ODOT may also require you to wait about three minutes to get a cross green once that new signal is put in at 28th. That’s how long you have to wait to cross SE Mcloughlin Blvd. where the new section of dedicated bike path installed with the Orange Line ends at SE Harold St. The long wait required by ODOT so that cyclists/pedestrians don’t impede auto traffic flow.

Mark smith
Guest
Mark smith

Seems pretty simple. Widen the sidewalk and dedicate part of it to bikes then bury the utilities. Utilities on sticks is dumb anyhow.

wsbob
Guest
wsbob

The picture, top of this story, does a really good job of illustrating how it’s often best to ride bike lanes, particularly those that are quite narrow: directly on the line dividing main lane from bike lane.

Strong bike handling skills allow holding a line of travel with a minimum of wavering. This in turn helps people riding to have safer travel in the presence of faster traffic in the main lane. Some safety problems occur directly from motor vehicle speeds that are excessively high for streets whose function is to provide for a range of different travel modes.

What might be the minimum posted top motor vehicle speed the city must have for 26th Ave, in order for it to be able to meet hourly and daily vehicle capacity for this street? Maybe the city can meet its traffic flow capacity guidelines for this street with a 20mph, or even a 15mph posted limit, instead of a 25? Most people ever having been in rush hour bumper to bumper motor vehicle traffic congestion, know that motor vehicle speeds far less than 15 mph isn’t unusual, or particularly unsafe.

Contrary to what the transportation departments seem to be favoring, if bike travel on 26th Ave were somehow to become considerably more hospitable than the street’s narrow bike lanes and typical motor vehicle speeds now have it, what daily increase in the number of people biking 26th presently, might there be from the present reported 600-800 people riding? Seems like that’s a question at least worth giving some thought to.

Mark Dawson
Guest
Mark Dawson

The Oregon Transportation Commission will meet in Salem for each of its first three monthly meetings of 2016. The squeaky wheel gets the political attention, so call the media first and bring a crowd. The first meeting is Jan. 21. The commissioners biographies are here: http://www.oregon.gov/ODOT/COMM/pages/otc_members.aspx

Clarence Eckerson
Guest

Here’s what I would do – and since I don’t live in PDX and haven’t ridden on that street in many, many years maybe the spirit of this idea has a better form, but…try this…

Since both lanes are very narrow, I would combine the width of the two lanes and create a better, higher visibility, wider bike lane in one of the directions. Which direction? That I am not sure. (Is one direction more used? And at what times of the day? Does one direction tend to have faster drivers and that would be better traffic calmed?)

What I would then do is try to emphasize for the side that completely loses the bike lane is to direct people to a better alternative – like the neighborhood greenway mentioned. And/or have a local ordinance ODOT change ALLOWING bicycling (with yield to pedestrian signs) on the sidewalk. There are actually a few examples of that all over the country and even 1 or 2 in NYC.

sabes
Guest
sabes

Opus the Poet
Yep, cars are the problem, not bikes. Remove the cars and the death rate drops to near zero. But getting rid of cars is like preventing criminals and the mentally ill from getting guns, “too hard”.Recommended 5

Cars aren’t the problem; people are the problem. Remove the people!

K'Tesh
Guest
K'Tesh

Here’s an idea ODOT… For every signal installed for the safety of motorists, we get to take out a lane of automotive exclusive road. That would be fair to me.

#ODOT_Safety_3rd

Ed
Guest
Ed

The last 2 articles on this subject have made me even angrier. We’ve learned nothing really new about ODOT, already known to be both a serious chronic threat to public safety and either clueless or uncaring about how they appear to the public. But, I am actually disappointed in PBOT. I thought they had their hearts in the right place, but I will never again trust them after having made this agreement with ODOT. And the explanations they’ve offered since the first announcement are pathetic. At the very least, they should have firm guarantees about a timeline for removal of the bike lanes and that erasing them would be halted depending on outcomes from improvements on 28th. Even then, I don’t think they should consider removing any, even inadequate bike lanes.
“PBOT believes our planners and engineers can make a strong case for keeping the bike lanes there,” Rivera said, acknowledging that the decision will ultimately be up to ODOT.
Like, are you f’ing kidding? In what alternative universe would that agency be persuaded by any case? These are the same jerks who think removing those bike lanes would improve safety in the first place, without offering any evidence whatsoever.
It’s time to go to the barricades, folks.

Tom Hardy
Guest
Tom Hardy

ODOT does do speed zones on state highways. For instance look at Scholls Ferry road (210) at Raleigh Hills grade school, McKay Grade School and the Middle school 1 block further south. All are 20 MPH when students present. They have blinking yellow lights as reminders and Beaverton has a Radar van that regularly issues hundreds of tickets, with a retired officer watching inside. The radar van regularly parks in the bike zone while waiting for speeders going to Washington Square. I take him coffee.

soren
Guest
soren

It boggles the mind that anyone believes the Oregon Dept. of Traffic Fatalities will “allow” a bike lane. For decades, their bike bill avoidance schtick has been that a parallel facility somewhere over there is good enough. PBOT should be ashamed for making this deal with the traffic safety devil.

Dave
Guest

Adam H.
You do that and drivers will complain about speed traps and unfair fines. Plus, that invites racism via selected traffic stops by police.Recommended 2

Adam H.
You do that and drivers will complain about speed traps and unfair fines. Plus, that invites racism via selected traffic stops by police.Recommended 2

Stop. The. Bleeding. First.

Bald One
Guest
Bald One

ODOT is simply acting on behalf of the heavy-haul freight lobby and the UPRR railroad yard in SE Portland. ODOT wants to support the UPRR interest to increase Chinese container cargo that has to make a 5-mile truck trip from one rail yard in SE Portland to another in N. Portland to continue on it’s 10,000 mile journey. This lobby interest wants to see more trucks on SE 26th carrying these containers and their idea is to get the bikes off this street so the drivers don’t have to worry about crushing them with their 53′ trailers.

This is all one big boon-doggle for out of state freight interests.

nuovorecord
Guest
nuovorecord

At the risk of repeating myself…

The problem with ODOT is systemic. Despite the few good people working there who actually do care about creating a transportation system that works for EVERYBODY, they’re still working with “vehicles only” collective mindset.

Start the institutional change at ODOT by replacing Matt Garrett, as David Bragdon recommended in his recent speech to the City Club. Replace him with someone who has a much more sophisticated understanding of the unique needs of Portland, relative to the rest of the state, and is willing to work with the City as a partner, not a dictator.

Write to Garrett’s boss, Kate Brown and let her know your thoughts.

Mike Sanders
Guest
Mike Sanders

If ODOT thinks that intersection is dangerous, then the approaches to it in all four directions should be posted with large, yellow and black signs which read: “WARNING – DANGEROUS INTERSECTION AHEAD.”

K'Tesh
Guest
K'Tesh

davemess
So the bike lane would go downhill only?Recommended 1

Going downhill a cyclist has a much better chance of maintaining a speed comparable to a car. If it were to be reduced to one bike lane only, uphill would be the better choice.

Alistair Corkett
Guest
Alistair Corkett

Absolutely pointless.

Carrie
Subscriber

So when the city or the state collect the data on bike usage on 26th Ave, will they only look at the intersection with Powell? I ask because this morning I observed many high school students riding to CHS (in really junk weather — good for them!) via SE 26th Ave from the north. Which means they will never cross or interact with the intersection at Powell, but they are significant users of that street and the bike lane infrastructure who may not be counted if you only count those who cross the intersection.

As part of my musing while running, I realized that there are probably many people who ride on 26th Ave but don’t cross Powell because that intersection is scary — they either don’t ride if they have to cross Powell or they try to find another way. But that doesn’t mean they don’t use the bike lanes on 26th regularly.