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Activists (temporarily) take the swing out of TriMet’s swing gates

Posted by on February 2nd, 2016 at 11:54 am

gates

TriMet’s swing gates at SE 11th are working as intended again as of this morning.
(Photo: J. Maus/BikePortland)

The latest chapter in swing gate-gate wasn’t open for long.

Elle Steele tries to open
the gate for her and
her bike.

Ever since TriMet announced plans to install manual gates on the path that crosses their new Orange Line MAX in inner southeast Portland, people have not been pleased. The gates require users to pull them open and — in addition to the permanent barrier they cause in the path (they are closed whether a train is coming or not) — concerns have been raised that the gates would be difficult for people with disabilities and cumbersome bicycles to easily use.

Turns out those concerns were warranted. Videos we published last week show a man in a motorized wheelchair having significant difficulty opening one of the gates. In two other videos, women with large cargo bikes full of children are seen struggling to pull open the gates and get through.

On Sunday afternoon transportation activists decided to take matters into their own hands.

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People working on behalf of PDX Transformation, the same secretive group that put out traffic cones to protect a bike lane back in December, propped open the gates on Sunday and then announced their action on Twitter. An anonymous representative from the group told us they used steel cable and ferrules to do the job. They made sure to not damage any TriMet property and the gates were re-opened shortly after by the transit agency.

Reached this morning, a TriMet official said: “We were aware of this… Having the gates propped open does not help with our data gathering. We ask that people not tamper with these safety devices.”

That data gathering is part of an ongoing analysis of the new gates being performed by TriMet to determine their effectiveness. Despite being told numerous times by official advisory groups that the gates would be problematic for the community, TriMet installed them anyways out of concern for path users’ safety. It remains to be seen if they’ll change course.

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

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Ted Timmons (Contributor)
Editor

“data gathering”.

what does that mean?

Tom Hardy
Guest
Tom Hardy

I will stick to the traffic lanes in this area with the drop gates. If I am hit by a motorist, they will wish it had been a train.

redtech116
Guest
redtech116

what bone head came up with these??
that same bone head the placed giant control boxes that block the view right before a cross walk on that new tri-met bridge…
Tri-Met really needs some new leadership from outside the establish norm of people from other government agencies.

Dan
Guest
Dan

I wonder what the liability issues around these sorts of vigilante actions might be…traffic cones are one thing, disabling a safety device is something else.

The professionals at Trimet and PBOT might not always get it right, but I’d rather have them making the decisions than some anonymous collective.

Nick
Guest
Nick

I think these gates are bad, but the lady with the cargo bike seems like one of those people on infomercials that make things look 10x more frustrating than they really are. Couldn’t she just have stood to the left of her bike instead of the right? Looks like it would’ve been dramatically easier that way. Anyone who’s walked through a door with a stroller or other unwieldy device figures this out quite intuitively, so I feel like she wasn’t really being genuine.

colton
Guest
colton

“We ask that people not tamper with these safety devices” (Tri-met)

Ask all you want but remember that we asked that these gates not be installed in the first place.

Todd Boulanger
Guest
Todd Boulanger

Perhaps better would be taking a page out of the “Elly Blue et al” ‘super legal’ playbook…there could be a peak hour concierge / valet by PDX Transformation…

JeffS
Guest
JeffS

Determining the effectiveness of what?

Oh look. No oblivious people walked in front of the train today. 100% effective.

Next project… mandatory nose helmets. Zero noses broken. 100% effective.

——–

Let’s not over-think this people. Trimet is stealing the right-of-way, not protecting you. Like a highway bisecting the city and cutting off access.

9watts
Subscriber

interferes with our data gathering… Seems to me if their data gathering were worth anything this tampering would be a major data point to gather.

ethan
Guest
ethan

It appears that the “look both ways” sign is purely informational and not binding. I’m thinking that opening gates and pushing a bike into an oncoming train would be a good way to show Trimet that swing gates are not the solution, especially because they can open when a train is coming.

Spiffy
Subscriber

the gates were re-opened shortly after by the transit agency.

you mean they were re-closed…

Adam
Guest
Adam

What do they mean by data gathering?

Are they video recording the gates and having students analyze?

If so, what are their analysis criteria? How many people out of 100 need to not be able to use the gates for them to be considered a fail?

Surely, with the Americans With Disabilities Act, the gates being a barrier to even *one* person on a wheelchair would be a fail?

m
Guest
m

They should just write a bunch of letters to Hales. That is guaranteed to work. 😉

Jim Lee
Guest
Jim Lee

What is Leah Treat’s position on these?

BeavertonRider
Guest
BeavertonRider

Hmmmm…

So bikeportland.org appears to be critical of the homeowners association on the waterfront for closing thr gate and blocking the path arguing that the association had no right.

But here, despite a very clear act of civil disobedience, bikeportland.org is silent on the appropriateness of propping the gates open.

Intetesting difference in treatment here.

I would have thought I’d have some seen similar treatment in that this group is very clearly doing something they lack the authority to do just as bikeportland.org was critical of that homeowners association.

Lance P
Guest
Lance P

Thank you superheroes!

Randy
Guest
Randy

The gates are bandaids for poor design. Time for over or underpasses for bikes in that area, especially when or if new bridge traffic picks up.

Mike Sanders
Guest
Mike Sanders

I have wondered why sliding gates weren’t considered, like the ones you see at supermarkets. Takes up less room. Push a button, gate slides open. Makes sense to me.

EricIvy
Subscriber

There’s open track crossings all over the place in that vicinity. The fact that they installed one or two sets of gates just makes it all the more confusing, annoying and maddening to me. If they are a needed “safety device” then they should be everywhere.

IMO, if someone is silly enough to try crossing tracks without looking, they are most likely silly enough to walk through a swing gate, and then again cross tracks without looking.

PS- I’m very opposed to these swing gates and love what PDX Transformation is doing.

Aaron
Guest

A lot of people have already responded. I’ll add my voice to those being ‘mansplained by those unaware of what it’s like to haul cargo by bike. Even being a full able-bodied adult I experienced a lot of trouble the one time I was inadvertently routed through the gates. I can’t imagine what someone with a 250lb cargo bike must go through. Calling these gates a safety device when they put vulnerable people at *greater* risk is more then laughable. This is just Trimet flexing it’s muscles against bike riders and the disabled.

Scott H
Guest
Scott H

TriMet is digging in with their data collection excuse? TriMet, if you want to collect something, go collect the dog turds that people are leaving on the Tilikum.

Opus the Poet
Guest

Do I have to bring my welding torch from TX to do a 3 minute job?

Mark smith
Guest
Mark smith

Kind of like when a benefits agent told me it took three hours to encrypt my file. Just making stuff up.

Some well meaning at time put up a bone head idea and convinced the other non riding or non walking people to spend a bunch of money for safety. Probably how we got the worst route onto the tilicum.