Three months ago, there were so many construction zones encroaching on walking and biking routes that a few Portlanders organized a walking tour of downtown’s worst offenders. So today we’re happy to take a moment to recognize a detour that the city has handled beautifully.
The city prioritized walking, biking, bus and freight access over free on-street parking spaces.
It’s at SE 21st and Belmont, where a big new apartment building is going up. Like on many of these projects, contractors have set up a fenced-in trailer along the sidewalk and curbside — in this case right in the path of the bike lane that runs up Belmont at this point.
But unlike on many projects, the city has worked with contractors to create a great detour for people walking and biking through this commercial district. A detour sign prompts people to the left, into one of the two parallel auto travel lanes:
The resulting design pushes cars fairly close to the left (north) side of Belmont, so the city temporarily removed a handful of parking spaces to ensure that wide auto traffic can keep flowing.
Essentially, the city prioritized walking, biking, bus and freight access over free on-street parking spaces.
The design cleverly uses what would usually be the dashed line between two auto lanes to become the line between people walking and biking. At the east side of the detour, the city has added a new temporary stripe to guide people back into their usual lanes:
Here’s the view from the other direction, looking west:
You can see that (despite the man in the first photo on this post) the bike lane is eastbound as usual while the temporary walking lane is bidirectional, just like the sidewalk.
It’s great that the city is working to address these issues. City spokesman John Brady said Wednesday that this is a Bureau of Transportation joint.
One big reason different detours are so different in how they treat people using nearby streets is that different detours are designed by different city bureaus, and there’s no overarching citywide policy that has ever gotten every bureau to design its detours with care. With our neighbors in Seattle celebrating a new policy that specifies the rules for closing sidewalks in construction zones, we can hope and expect that this is a sign that Portland’s internal efforts are improving, too.
— Michael Andersen, (503) 333-7824 – firstname.lastname@example.org
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