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ODOT hosts event to highlight bicycle access through work zones

Posted by on May 17th, 2016 at 10:38 am

A new type of "channelization device" ODOT plans to use this summer.(Photo: State of Oregon)

A new type of “channelization device” ODOT plans to use this summer.
(Photo: State of Oregon)

The Oregon Department of Transportation is hosting an interesting event. They’re asking people to ride a bicycle (or walk) through a work zone to see what it’s like first-hand.

The event happens tomorrow (May 18th) in front of ODOT’s headquarters in Salem where the agency has set up a temporary work zone to demonstrate how their crews are using new materials to ensure safe passage by people using feet and bikes. The event is part of the state’s Transportation Safety Month and it’s being done to help kickoff the summer road construction season.

“Have you ever ridden a bike through a work zone? Sound daunting? How does ODOT protect bicyclists and pedestrians in work zones?” reads an ODOT media advisory about the event. “Come find out! Bring your GoPros! Show the unusual perspective of riding through a work zone on two wheels.” (Love how they assume biking through a work zone is “unusual”.)

According to ODOT someone crashes in a work zone every 19 hours in Oregon (about 477 a year) and about seven people die in those crashes annually. Statistically, the most common cause of work zone crashes are people simply not paying attention and driving too fast for conditions.

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To help make bicycling through work zones safer, this year ODOT will debut a new type of bicycle-specific safety product in work zones they call the “Bicycle Channelizing Device.” (We mentioned these briefly back in December in an article where we called out ODOT’s framing of biking and walking traffic in work zones as “problem children.”) The idea is to create a physically protected space for people to ride or walk (there are also “pedestrian channelization devices”) through construction zones.

Here’s more about these new devices from a backgrounder ODOT has created:

It is a lightweight plastic barrier system that guides cyclists along a pathway, keeping them from entering into active work areas or coming into contact with workers or equipment. Development of additional design standards and application details are currently underway. ODOT is expecting to use a bicycle channelizing device in a highway construction starting in June 2016.

It’s great to see ODOT doing an event like this. And even better that they are making bike-specific improvements part of their approach to work zones — which probably get more attention from the agency than any other safety topic.

Work zones and the lack of adequate detours through/around them is currently a hot topic in Portland advocacy circles. We’d love to see the Portland Bureau of Transportation host an event like this.

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

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12 Comments
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    now_we're_cattle? May 17, 2016 at 10:47 am

    ODOT’s channeling Temple Grandin? (link: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Temple_Grandin)

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    dwk May 17, 2016 at 10:52 am

    They want to put us in cattle chutes now. Should make Adam H. happy…..

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    • Adam H.
      Adam H. May 17, 2016 at 11:13 am

      Yes, these look like a good solution. It would be great to see PBOT use these devices as well.

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      Chris Anderson May 17, 2016 at 5:27 pm

      I just showed it to my 5 year old daughter, and she said it looks a lot less scary than going through the work zones that we are used to.

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    Allan Rudwick May 17, 2016 at 10:58 am

    There is already one of these set up on NW Evergreen at Cornelius pass. Thanks ODOT for letting Peds & Bikes go through here

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    Tom Hardy May 17, 2016 at 11:26 am

    One thing about the “Chutes” is they “appear” to be a solid barrier that motorized vehicles will not target like openings between plastic posts, for access to interfere with peds or cyclists. they give an impression of “Don’t hit me I might do damage to your paint/cage”!

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    The Bike Concierge May 17, 2016 at 12:07 pm

    When I rode the Oregon coast January of last year the construction zones felt safer than the rest of the route. This was without any special treatment for bike/ped access.

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    Seth D. Alford May 17, 2016 at 12:31 pm

    “Bring your GoPros!” Interesting. I already brought my GoPros to video the ODOT “Safety” project at Scholls and 217. Bike lane was completely closed. No detour. Little or no advance warning of the closure. Sign notifying motor vehicle s of bikes in the general purpose lane AFTER the merge. See the video here:

    https://youtu.be/X5CXjrufAg8 is my

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    Steve B. May 17, 2016 at 1:18 pm

    Please help us document sidewalk and bike lane closures due to construction on twitter/instagram using the hashtag #workzoneWTF — thanks!

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    Mike Sanders May 17, 2016 at 3:47 pm

    I’ve seen You Tube videos of temporary walls like the one in the above picture being used quite regularly in construction zones on European highways. Using them for bike / ped traffic in work zones would make sense. But they have to be properly signposted before, thru, and after the work zone! The orange and white colors make them stand out, too.

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    Spenzor May 19, 2016 at 2:34 pm

    From the thumbnail I thought that the article was about cyclocross.

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    Rain Waters May 20, 2016 at 3:02 pm

    Come to Phoenix OR and check em out through its multi year gentrification upgrade. No hurry, its been goin on for two years, choose yr diety knows how long till bessie runs dry?

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