A new grocery store opened in North Portland’s University Park neighborhood today. Unfortunately customers who arrived by bike saw their new bike lanes full of cars.
Late last fall the Oregon Department of Transportation striped new bike lanes on North Lombard, a rarity for a state highway. ODOT told us at the time that the major catalyst for the project was the new New Seasons Market that opened today at the corner of Lombard and Westanna. Officials felt the new market would attract a lot of traffic and many people would bike there (New Seasons has an excellent reputation as a place that welcomes bike riders). With no dedicated biking space on Lombard they feared conditions would be unsafe without a bike lane.
Turns out that, so far at least, it’s unsafe with a bike lane.
Based on a report and photos we’ve received from ODOT, it appears that many people think the bike lane is a parking lane. Either they are ignorant of the bike lane or they just plain don’t care that parking on one is dangerous, rude, and illegal.
This isn’t the first time New Seasons customers have parked in bike lanes. In 2011 we reported that people parked in the bike lanes on North Rosa Parks Way while shopping at the Arbor Lodge neighborhood store.
There are several things that could be done to avoid this. A more robust bikeway design with some sort of protective barrier would keep people from parking in it. So too might additional signage and/or more generous pavement markings. New Seasons can also educate their customers inside the store. I’m sure they use their in-store PA system to warn people who have left their lights on or who are blocking one of their food delivery trucks — perhaps they could also do the same to people who are blocking the bike lane. In Portland, that might result in enough shame and embarrassment to really change behavior.
As for ODOT, one of their staffers told us today that right now they just want to spread the word about the problem while they work to get some parking enforcement out on the street.
UPDATE, 3/24 at 12:00 pm: New Seasons spokeswoman Claudia Knotek called us and made the following statement via voicemail:
“We had no idea that this was going to be an issue. We should have known that the way the signage is presented it could be confusing for customers who don’t konw at what point the bike lane starts.
We are in contact with the city right now to see how fast we can get additional signage – whether it’s on the road itself showing another bike or signage on the side. In the meantime, New Seasons Market will go ahead and have signs made that we can post along there informing shoppers that this is indeed a bike lane and they cannot park there.
We really appreciated your help [getting the word out]. We are sorry this has happened and will make every effort to rectify it as soon as possible.”
— Jonathan Maus, (503) 706-8804 – firstname.lastname@example.org
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