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Detour done right: 21st and Belmont shows how construction zones should work

Posted by on February 3rd, 2016 at 3:02 pm

lead diversion

A contractor’s trailer blocked sidewalk and bike lane, so the city temporarily removed some parking to keep the routes open.
(Photos: Michael Andersen/BikePortland)

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:

two 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.

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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:

stripe back to place

Here’s the view from the other direction, looking west:

looking backward

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 – michael@bikeportland.org

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dan
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dan

Is the cyclist in the top picture going the wrong way in the pedestrian lane?

Steve B
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Steve B

YES! This is how it should be done. Bravo to PBOT and the contractors involved in making this happen. Thank you.

Adam
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Great job, PBOT! This needs to be standard practice for all construction detours.

Anne Hawley
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Anne Hawley

Shouldn’t be as much of a delightful surprise as it was when I encountered it last week. I was so impressed that I tweeted about it myself!

I regularly patronize one of the businesses whose on-street parking has been temporarily eliminated (the Ad Astra hair salon), and it didn’t seem to be causing them any angst.

The car traffic zooming by, RIGHT THERE, practically on the north sidewalk was a bit thrilling as I unlocked my bike and made for the temp bike lane.

Not directly related to this welcome construction detour, but to user-friendly cities in general: there’s a lot to be said for some kind of buffer – be it parked cars or a protected bike lane – between the sidewalk and fast-moving motor vehicles.

Social Engineer
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Social Engineer

“City spokesman John Brady said Wednesday that this is a Bureau of Transportation joint.”

Thanks, Spike Lee.

Chris I
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Chris I

It seems you’ve captured a wild salmon in its natural habitat.

Adam
Guest
Adam

Wow! The City planners who shut down the sidewalk on NW Glisan outside the new construction project at the Nob Hill YHA (Youth Hostel) could stand to borrow a few pages from this book!

Walking with zero pedestrian buffer with 35mph is terrifying (or rather, running, so you can get to the other side of the construction zone before the next onslaught of cars bear down on you when the traffic light turns green).

Todd Boulanger
Guest
Todd Boulanger

Looks pretty good.

(Though it would be nice to have a reflective barrel or other type of larger barricade at the start and end of these transition zones…just in case a car strike were to take down the first wand and to make it more visible to approaching motorists…plus drivers tend to only respect larger objects…they will purposely not be concerned at running over cones and wands).

Todd Boulanger
Guest
Todd Boulanger

A frequently forgotten point with city staff, contractors and etc. would be that a well designed work zone – one that adds a ped and bike lane – often adds a wider safety zone/ buffer between the construction workers (or open trench) and the passing motorists.

This opportunity often seems lost on those designing TCPs or reviewing them especially in light of the 2009 MUTCD guidance on work zones (Section 6A.01):

“The primary function of TTC is to provide for the reasonably safe and effective movement of road users through or around TTC zones while reasonably protecting road users, workers, responders to traffic incidents, and equipment.”

AND

“Of equal importance to the public traveling through the TTC zone is the safety of workers performing the many varied tasks within the work space. TTC zones present constantly changing conditions that are unexpected by the road user. This creates an even higher degree of vulnerability for the workers and incident management responders on or near the roadway (see Section 6D.03).”

TheCat
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TheCat

I just rode through it. Unfortunately, the pylons have been pushed over eliminating the bike lane and only leaving the pedestrian lane.

s
Guest
s

An elevated site office (and portables) would have reduced the road space taken up by the construction site.

Caitlin D
Subscriber

Beautiful! Thanks to PBOT and everybody else involved.

-Caitlin

F
Guest
F

What is wrong with jersey barriers?

Mark smith
Guest
Mark smith

Voice from the future : if only someone would have invented jersey barriers prior to 2016.

Other voice from the future : yes, if only humans understood that a flimsy plastic code will do little to protect humans from a wandering human empowered with a 3000 lb missile.

Will we ever learn?

Joe
Guest
Joe

thank you 🙂 lets make this Oregon standard pls

Hannah Crum
Guest
Hannah Crum

As someone who rides this route home most days I really appreciate this effort! My only note is that I wish the pylons would stay up or that they were larger. I’ve been through it a few times now where five or more pylons are littering both lanes. Still…thank you!