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Bikeways, interrupted: Get ready for Gap Week

Posted by on January 20th, 2016 at 2:37 pm

Bike lane ends sign.jpg

It happens. Let’s talk about it.
(Photo © J. Maus/BikePortland)

Gaps are the bane of a quality bikeway network.

You know the feeling: You’re biking along enjoying the relative security and binding legal status of a bike lane when, bam! All of the sudden that halo of safety and respect is gone. What’s even worse is when the bikeway starts up again just a few, tantalizingly close blocks away. Sure there’s research to confirm this, but anyone who’s ever been on a bike knows it instinctively. If you haven’t experienced it, it’s sort of like driving down a road when all the sudden the pavement gives way to dirt, rocks and ruts. Your car will usually make it through just fine, but it feels very uncomfortable. And it makes you mad.

Spurred in part by the senseless tragedy last month that happened in a bike lane gap on NE Lombard, we’ve decided to devote an entire week to these gaps. We’re calling it Gap Week (creative, I know).

Starting this coming Monday (1/25) we’ll report on one gap a day through Thursday. With each gap we’ll share photos, a map and description of the problem, and any important history or other context we can find out. Our goal is to empower you with information and inspire you to do something about it — whether that means bringing it up through your neighborhood association, leaning on local leaders to do something about it, get a bucket of paint out, or whatever. We’ve shared our list with the Portland Bureau of Transportation and they’ve kindly agreed to track down information and give us some official context for the what/why/how of each gap.

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The gaps we’ll focus on are ones that haven’t gotten a ton of headlines yet. That means glaring, infamous gaps like the Naito Gap, the gap at Lombard and 42nd, the gaps over the bridges on Barbur Boulevard, and the Sellwood Gap, didn’t make the list. We’ve also left out dropped bike lanes and will instead focus on true gaps — where a bike lane abruptly ends, only to appear again a few blocks away. Those are the most frustrating and are likely easier to build support for fixing.

We also want to hear from you. What is the worst bike lane gap you’ve come across? Send us the location and a photo or two and we’ll round them all up on Friday. You can also share your gaps on social media using the #GapWeekPDX hashtag.

Tune in Monday for the unveiling of the first gap.

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

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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

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J.E.
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J.E.

The most annoying, although not most dangerous, gap I’ve encountered is where the bike lanes drop off on SE 26th just south of Clinton to preserve a small number of parking spaces. The connection with the greenway is RIGHT THERE, but nope. The abrupt bike lane drop at the giant roundabout at NE Glisan and Chavez was pretty terrifying the first time I rode it because its disappearance is so subtle. Now, I don’t even like to drive that roundabout. The bike lane drop off just south of the I-84 overpass at 20th/21st is frustrating (especially with the curve).

The most frustrating for me is more of a network gap, but there’s no good way to get to/from any of the neighborhoods north of Division (Ladd’s, Central Eastside) and the western Clinton greenway from 12th to 21st. The only official bike routes send you across the train tracks twice (try not to get trapped by a 40-min freight train!) via that mess of an intersection at Gideon. Otherwise you either get to take the lane on Division or SE 12th (not for everyone), or play frogger crossing Division to/from Ladd’s (none of the streets line up, so all crossings involve jogs). The X shape of Ladd’s Addition is what’s messing this all up, but a cycle track on 12th would fix it right up.

rick
Guest
rick

Scholls Ferry and TV Highway have many gaps.

Chris I
Guest
Chris I

NE 181st where it passes under I-84. The northbound bike lane on 181st ends at the freeway offramp, and cyclists are forced to cross two lanes of traffic that is turning onto the freeway onramp.

The I-84 bike path also abruptly ends here, forcing cyclists who want to go north to either ride on the sidewalk, or attempt to turn left with the traffic exiting the freeway. Many drivers roll through the red light to turn south onto 181st, creating a major hazard.

https://www.google.com/maps/place/Gresham,+OR/@45.5406401,-122.4772798,3a,29.6y,-0.67h,83.47t/data=!3m7!1e1!3m5!1sc_yppCzxOZ6oAC0BpvJ2TA!2e0!6s%2F%2Fgeo3.ggpht.com%2Fcbk%3Fpanoid%3Dc_yppCzxOZ6oAC0BpvJ2TA%26output%3Dthumbnail%26cb_client%3Dmaps_sv.tactile.gps%26thumb%3D2%26w%3D203%26h%3D100%26yaw%3D120.20157%26pitch%3D0!7i13312!8i6656!4m2!3m1!1s0x549575e85d2e60bb:0x9fc30a18adce5d2f!6m1!1e1

Social Engineer
Guest
Social Engineer

NW 16th, 18th and 19th all have frustrating gaps. The gap on SE 28th between Gladstone and Holgate is also annoying, but the proposed diverter can only help. N Willamette north of Alma is also aggravating. There’s definitely others that I’m not thinking of though.

Allan
Guest
Allan

On the west side – the bike route between Portland & the zoo takes you on the shoulder of US 26 of a very hilly route through the zoo.

Also, NW Evergreen road at Cornelius pass – for a fairly critical and not too expensive block the bike lane disappears, although i think this one may be about to be fixed.

Pat Lowell
Guest
Pat Lowell

SW 6th Ave at 405 overpass!

Alan Love
Guest
Alan Love

“it’s sort of like driving down a road when all the sudden the pavement gives way to dirt, rocks and ruts.”

The analogy I usually use with gaps is more akin to railroads. Back in the 1800’s when America was building the Transcontinental Railroad, we started building at each coast and met in the middle. If we had our current traffic engineers (or at least the ones from a few decades ago when most of our roads were built), they would have gotten to Missouri (or wherever that was) from each side, just before connecting the two sides and said “Well, we’re just short of funding on that last mile. We’ll just leave it as it is. I’m sure the trains will figure it out.”

We can have the most beautiful, separated, Platinum Level bikeways for 90% of a major street, but that one little section (e.g. where Martin died on Lombard) is enough to keep people using the rest of the infrastructure. It doesn’t matter how great the other stuff is, if there’s just 50 feet of road that looks like a death trap, the concerned-but-interested category of potential users are right to decline to use the fancy stretches.

Adam
Subscriber

What about the block of the Woodward greenway that asks people to ride on the sidewalk of 82nd Avenue for a block to get to Brooklyn Street? Does that count as a gap?

jonno
Guest
jonno

NE 7th between Broadway and Tillamook. The bike lane on 7th ends just short of connecting with the Tillamook greenway.

The bike lane on SE Stark/Water St that just…ends at MLK. Where do you go from there?

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

One of my “favorite” gaps isn’t really a bike gap at all… the lack of truck access from one side of Brooklyn Yards to the other pushes a lot of truck traffic onto the street network, and makes the already horrible bridge at Holgate a very, very scary place to ride.

MaxD
Guest
MaxD

N Interstate between Willamette and Dekum: this bypasses so many destinations including Ockley Green School (which is shaping up to become a proper middle school again).

Willamette at N Ida.

N. Interstate southbound between N Oregon and just past NE 1st

Skidmore between Michigan and NE 7th- This SHOULD/COULD be provide safe crossings at Mississippi, Vancouver, Williams and 7th, and interconnect the greenways/ bike lanes of Concord, Interstate, Vancouver/Williams, and Going.

Anne Hawley
Subscriber
Anne Hawley

I’m looking forward to the reporting on Gap Week!

Could you guys consider a “Just Peters Out” week sometime?

Anne Hawley
Subscriber
Anne Hawley

Oh, oh, I remembered one. The stupidest bike lane in NE Portland, maybe in the world, runs on NE 15th from around Prescott down to Broadway. It’s like a damned Morse code of dashes and dots, breaking for parking, starting up again at intersections, disappearing again…

I’ve never ridden it, because there’s no “it”. It’s really stupid.

Carrie
Guest
Carrie

SE Woodstock between SE 39th and SE 52nd. Bike lane just disappears though the major commercial district there.

paikiala
Guest
paikiala

Where to begin.
Greenways:
N Bryant at MLK crossing. Holman west of 13th. Willamette, Interstate to Greeley. 80’s, Powell to Holgate. 80’s, Flavel to Springwater.
Lane drops:
Willamette west of Ida. 148th south of Powell.
Other:
Frequent connections between Springwater and the grid.

Deeel
Guest
Deeel

The longer than expected torn up SE 52nd between Woodstock and Steele. At least temporarily reduce and enforce the speed limit. The curve at SE Woodstock and 69th. Drivers can be very impatient on an already nerve racking street.

Matt
Guest
Matt

The western end of the Hawthorne Bridge, heading inbound. One block of a bike lane when you join the street (with a nice little pothole just after the ramp that has been there at least four years), then mayhem as you are dumped into rush-hour AM traffic westbound on Main.

The busiest bike bridge in the city, with no bike lane starting a block westbound. Good times.

SE
Guest
SE

I ride out to Gresham on the weekends. go East on Stark , make a big circle out there and come home West on Burnside. At 201st , the previously nice bike path just disappears and doesn’t come back until crossing the big 5 way at 190th. (this is past the rear side of Kaiser) . sidewalk is the only relief.

On SE102nd going North from the Midland Post Office, the path just vanishes until Burnside (2 or 3 blocks) ..it’s just too narrow, same problem as the Gresham trick. Sidewalk again, tho I don’t like it.

In Gresham, headed downhill at se242nd and also at 80th & JCB , the problem is storm drains that take up much of the path, leaving about a foot to pass them.

Alex Reed
Guest
Alex Reed

I only ride low-stress bikeways, so here goes –

Flavel gap on the I-205 path is I think the worst one. Burnside gap on the Gresham-Fairview trail is a close second.

As Paikiala said, SE 87th greenway to Springwater. Literally one block… of gravel, mud puddles, and muddy single-track trail.

Tillamook/Hancock greenway through Hollywood. There’s infrastructure there – but it’s high-stress infrastructure. Going from a nice, low-traffic greenway to a 4 or 5-foot door-zone bike lane is a rude awakening and I’m sure scares some people off biking through Hollywood. Also, Tillamook in front of Grant is far from low-stress when parents in cars are present.

Same with 40s bikeway through Hollywood. (excepting the Grant high school comment).

patrick barber
Guest
patrick barber

When we lived in Hollywood and I carted the kiddo to school downtown, I grew weary of the alleged bike lane on NE Tillamook. Westbound Tillamook between 43rd and 33rd seems more designed to get people out of the bike lane than to get them to use it. I ended up just using the main travel lane for most trips, since in most blocks I’d have to swerve into the main lane anyway for one reason or another. The most epically stupid gap is at 38th, where there is a chicane (or something) to prevent auto traffic from proceeding north. To make room for this, the bike lane disappears… in the middle intersection. In other words, to cross 38th, the user would ostensibly approach the intersection in the bike lane, then swerve into the main travel lane for about 15 feet while crossing the street, then swerve back into the bike lane and continue west on Tillamook. Most bicycle users would proceed around the obstruction on the right side, rather than enter the main travel lane.

Bb
Guest
Bb

My gap
9th ave north , Roy street Seattle .

Bike lane to parked cars to Mup. That’s happens in one block.

rick
Guest
rick

SW Capitol Highway
SW Beaverton-Hillsdale Highway (Yes, ODOT is “improving” Farmington road right now)

Jeff
Guest
Jeff

Gap? No problem. If the road speed is 35 or less, 100% full lane in effect for me.

Chasing Backon
Guest
Chasing Backon

how about the sidewalk section just south of the sellwood bridge down past Taylor’s Ferry Road. it’s been that way since construction on the bridge.

Alan 1.0
Subscriber

I-5 corridor to/from Vancouver across Delta Park and Hayden Island – full of gaps, bad crossings and difficult navigating

Joe Adamski
Guest
Joe Adamski

Or the infamous ‘Bridgeton Gap’ that forces riders onto Marine Drive east of the I-5 interchange for 5 blocks until you are shuffled onto Bridgeton Road at Gantenbien, and then BACK onto Marine Drive until 42nd.
40 Mile Loop has been working on this for years, with only minimal success

Champs
Guest
Champs

Crossings are the tiniest gaps!
* 39th between (not including) Taylor and Tillamook.
* I205, pretty much anywhere north of Burnside.
* Hayden Island, the unsignaled crosswalk around the corner from an offramp.

I also enjoy NW Glisan, already a detour of the Flanders greenway. You rejoin that street via 19th, but bike lane ends at 18th, and there’s no turn box on 19th.

NE Killingsworth/Sandy around I205: always nervous moments here taking my shortcut route to Troutdale.

N Victory Blvd: off-street path on Interstate, Delta Park (ultimately Vancouver) on the other end. Whitaker was right there!

Morrison Bridge: the eastbound bike lane starting at 2nd isn’t connected to anything.

Already mentioned:
N Interstate: Arbor Lodge

Keith
Guest
Keith

Any route in SW has gaps. Only SW Multnomah has continuous bike lanes from one end to the other. Also, many bike route entries into downtown feature disappearing bike lanes – Burnside, Hawthorne, 4th (Barbur), 6th (Terwilliger), SW Alder, no real route from Goose Hollow to downtown, etc. Also, there are no pavement markings to warn cyclists and encourage motorists to play nice. When auto lanes end, there are white arrows indicating the upcoming merge (e.g., NW 14th @ Glisan). But we have no equivalent warning for ending bike lanes – not even in the revered NACTO guidelines. They just end – deal with it. The little yellow signs are not enough. Time for Portland to be cutting edge and come up with something.

dbrunker
Guest
dbrunker

I agree, the Flavel Disaster on the 205 path induces teeth nashing.

Then there’s the 205 gap between 82nd Dr and Hwy 224 (yes, I know they’re doing construction to improve that area).

You can ride a bike from 71st and Burnside, up Mt. Hood to Government Camp and beyond in a lovely bike lane. Just don’t expect to ride from 181st to 199th.

How about east bound between Beaverton Hillsdale Hwy and Bertha?

The winding, unmarked path between Scholls Ferry and 5th?

Have you ever tried to ride a bike from 5th to Canyon Rd?

Eric Leifsdad
Guest
Eric Leifsdad

Terwilliger at Capitol Hwy and again at 7th (just north of Barbur) — both are cases where the road narrows but the 11ft vehicle lanes can’t be compromised because the OHSU commuter bus would have to drive the posted speed of 25.

The bigger hole in SW is the lack of any greenway that’s not overrun with auto traffic (Sunset, Vermont, Hamilton, Corbett…) All of the major routes are named Barbur, which is not much more stressful than what’s left over the hills and through the neighborhoods.

wsbob
Guest
wsbob

Bike lanes do make some binding legal obligations of people biking, but the obligations are very limited.

It’s also true that bike lanes commonly end and resume with varying distance of road between. This is often because bike lanes created, for decades, tend to have been done so on road’s existing right of way. It’s kind of a hokey way to create bike infrastructure, but I think many people that bike, consider this imperfect provision of bike lane to be far better than nothing.

In many street situations reviewed, there will be no easy solutions for closing gaps in bike lanes. Closing the gaps may not even be realistically possible. Quickly browsing over the comments, it doesn’t appear that anyone so far has offered suggestions for closing bike lane gaps they’re aware of. Maybe I overlooked some suggestions that have been made.

Bike lanes that end abruptly, with little advance warning, can be challenging, but in my personal experience riding, generally are a road situation that can be managed well….that is, managed well by people prepared to be strong and quick, alert and aware of the status of traffic on the road all around as well as in front of them; and using signals. Other people that aren’t quite so well equipped for riding in traffic, are…up a crick…so to speak.

I’d welcome connecting as many segmented bike lanes as possible, but honestly, I don’t see much of that happening any time soon.

Out here in the Beav, Hall Blvd one the biggest, most central thoroughfares in the city, connecting Old Downtown with the huge shopping/multi entertainment center, after many years, still has its bike lane that disappears just south of the light rail tracks, leaving everyone that rides, to bike in the main lane, the remaining two or three tenths of a mile to Cedar Hills Blvd. Why? Money.

K'Tesh
Guest
K'Tesh

Beaverton Hillsdale Hwy. That is the biggest gap that I can think of.

SE
Guest
SE

Alex Reed
I only ride low-stress bikeways, so here goes –Flavel gap on the I-205 path is I think the worst one.Recommended 5

I ride the 205 path often and really don’t consider the Flavel referenced one a gap. There is a lane to that intersection (South) and then you can cross and continue on the path or go cross to 92nd, which has a bike path too. Or going North, you cross 92nd at Crystal Springs blvd to 92nd and rejoin 205 path at flavel or keep going up 92nd. Neither way has disappearing path.

YES, that Flavel to 205 is somewhat a CF, but in actual use it’s not dangerous.

Jim Lee
Guest
Jim Lee

One wonders just what sort of political clout it would take to bring PBOT into the bicycle age.

SE
Guest
SE

Alex Reed
Well – as I said, I only ride low-stress bikeways. So, I’m not exposed to truly dangerous areas.But I think the Flavel gap is pretty crazy in terms of just how confusing it is. My husband has yet to got through that area without getting lost. The paltry signage that exists is wrong (it routes you to the Flavel St. MAX stop, not the I-205 path, even though it says, “I-205 path (up arrow).”) Recommended 0

If you continue past that MAX stop , it is the 205 path that continues over to a street crossing at CSB by the overpass. 100 feet down CSB to rejoin 205 path that then runs uninterrupted to CTC.

To your credit, I was confused the very first time at Flavel too. I stayed on the 205 path past the bus stop, but 92nd is more direct FOR ME.

And now, 92nd is safe for my riding. Very few cars park on it. There is sidewalk , if you are so inclined.

Ted Labbe
Guest

NE 7th between Broadway and Weidler…in front of FedEx Office. Bike lanes to the N and S but nothing in this 1 block section with busy traffic all around. And no good alternative route to cross the Lloyd District. This needs to be fixed ASAP…

Paul H
Guest
Paul H

My biggest daily gripe is a gap created not by lack of infrastructure but by lack of maintenance: southbound 17th between Sellwood and Milwaukie. From mid-October until late-winter, the shoulder lane becomes a slip-and-slide from all the mud and organic debris that’s rarely cleaned. Plus, in a couple places, roadside bramble encroaches over 50% of the lane.

It doesn’t help that the city and county boundaries fall on that stretch, meaning that Portland/Multnomah Co. and Milwaukie/Clackamas Co. both need to keep it maintained for the full stretch to be safe and sane.

MaxD
Guest
MaxD

Hello, Kitty
And it’s also a bus stop! Is it even legal for a bus to stop in a bike lane? (or, in this case, a “lane”?)Recommended 0

The bus stops in the bike lane on Interstate in the Rose Quarter and again near Russell

Eporter
Guest
Eporter

Ainsworth gets nasty east of MLK. The first block to get to Holman is a gauntlet of traffic and turning cars.

Mollie
Guest
Mollie

Apologies if these are duplicate suggestions; it’s hard to keep up with all the comments!

Coming off of Hawthorne Bridge heading into downtown there are no connecting bike lanes. 5th Ave heading south toward PSU has a very narrow bike lane, which doesn’t start until Jefferson–if coming off Main St from Hawthorne Bridge you just need to take the lane for several blocks until the bike lane picks up.

Heading north/east on Broadway to take the Broadway Bridge to the east side there is no bike lane until you are already heading up to the bridge.

Joe Adamski
Guest
Joe Adamski

When my employer was going through ‘re-engineering’ in the mid 1980s, a time of Demming and mission statements, quality processes,etc, the phrase ‘GAP’ referred to a disconnect between the stated goals/values and the reality. In that sense, I formally nominate the entire city of Portland as a ‘Gap’: Biketown USA?

Alan 1.0
Subscriber

Oh, and how about Judge Michael Zusman’s bike lane gap at every intersection?

Mike Sanders
Guest
Mike Sanders

Tillicum Crossing to Banks-Vernonia Trail. The BVT, by the way, is on the finalists list for induction into the Rails to Trails Conservancy’s Rail Trail Hall of Fame. If it wins, the BVT would be the second trail in the Portland area on that list. The SWT was added to the RTC HOF list a few years ago.

Stephen Keller
Guest
Stephen Keller

Walker Rd. Westbound between 170th and 185th comes to mind.

pdxhobbitmom
Subscriber
pdxhobbitmom

The narrow sidewalk detour of the Willamette Greenway just north of the River Forum office building (south of the South Waterfront). This isn’t as dangerous as the on-street bike lane gaps but it is an infuriating gap in what could be a fantastic, mostly car-free route from the Sellwood Bridge to downtown.

Alex
Guest
Alex

Guess this is a bit late to be added to the map but I’ll mention it anyway.

Not a gap per se, but the right turn from southbound 12th onto Sandy (right by PRG in the 5 way intersection). The painted bike lane is there at the intersection, but cars cut that corner *all* the time. Few months ago a semi cut it right in front of me – slammed on my brakes and thought ‘that’s it, I’m dead.’