I read about the state’s ORcycle app in a November 2015 post on Bike Portland and decided to give it a try to report an issue. I’m writing to share what happened.
On 20 November, I filed a report on a heavily trafficked disappearing bike lane, and I included a photo of the area of concern: “Traveling westbound on SW Main, the bicycle lane disappears between SW 1st and 2nd Avenues. It goes from being a designated bike lane to a dotted line lane to a regular traffic lane. Goodbye bike infrastructure, good luck integrating into traffic, cyclists.”
That same afternoon, I got a response from BeckySue, whose email signature indicated she’s a Citizen Representative at ODOT. “Thank you for using the ORCycle Application to contact Ask ODOT at the Oregon Department of Transportation’s (ODOT) Citizen Representative Office. ODOT maintains State Routes, U.S. highways, and Interstates (e.g. highway 101, US 26, Interstate 5). I believe the city of Portland has jurisdiction over SW Main between SW 1st Ave and SW 2nd Ave. Your inquiry about the designated bike lane should go to the local road jurisdiction for appropriate action. I have copied the city of Portland on this email. have provided their contact information below in case you have additional concerns or wish to follow up with them. firstname.lastname@example.org, 503-823-5185, Internal contact: Eileen Dent, 503-823-7687 Again, thank you for contacting Ask ODOT. If you have additional questions, please feel free to contact staff by email at: AskODOT@odot.state.or.us or toll free at: 1-888-275-6368.”
On 22 November, I followed up with PBOT: “ODOT sent along my report to you, and I am writing to find out what happens next. Are there plans to actually continue the bicycle lane as it comes off the Hawthorne Bridge into downtown? Currently it dumps cyclists into traffic with very little warning, and furthermore the pavement where this happens is poorly maintained, full of bumps and small potholes. I look forward to your response.”
Five and a half weeks later on 30 December, I got a response from Eileen Dent over at PBOT. “I apologize for the delayed response. There are issues on this segment that extend into several divisions at Transportation, and it took some time to track down an answer. The segment of SW Main Street you are concerned with is definitely in need of repair, and is on our identified list of projects. However, funding has not been available due to the extent of repair needed. SW Main between 1st and 2nd has deteriorated to the point that it requires complete reconstruction. A similar condition exists on Naito Parkway between Harrison and Jefferson where reconstruction is required. Both of these road sections are on a list of proposed projects to be funded if a ten-cent gas tax initiative is passed by Portland voters this coming May. SW Main would be reconstructed between 1st and 2ndand the striping would be reconfigured/improved for bikes at least up to 3rd avenue as part of the project. Engineering staff and Active Transportation staff are currently working on striping options. In the interim, requests for pothole and other maintenance of existing infrastructure should be reported to our Maintenance Division at (503) 823-1700 or by the PDXReporter app for smartphones. Thank you for reaching out with your concerns.”
On 5 January 2016, I downloaded the PDXReporter app to report some road wear (more small potholes) on the SE Salmon greenway at 13th. In the past, I’ve called in potholes to the maintenance division number Eileen mentioned in her email. Periodically this area is patched up, presumably by the city, but it’s been getting bad the last few months and seems like it it probably needs repaving.
In the future I will probably use the ORCycle app for issues with state routes, highways and interstates. It’s a decent app, easy enough to use, and I got a timely response. For issues with city streets, I will likely revert to using the maintenance division phone number, as the PDXReporter app is a total clunker and requires that I log into my City of Portland account (the same one I use to pay my water bill). Even though nothing I reported has been fixed yet, it is always good to communicate concerns to the city and state, and it was interesting to learn what’s planned (or not planned) for the disappearing bike lane on SW Main. I hope other cyclists will report road issues using the communication channels I’ve included in this post.