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PBOT: We can have 8 diverters for price of one

Subscriber Post by buildwithjoe on July 18th, 2016 at 12:46 pm

3 trucks, 4-10 staff, 4 days. Just to paint a short yellow stripe and install this

We could have more diverters if the city did not create the most costly equipment and costly labor methods to install them. – See pictures and video below of the $50,000 diverter at N Holman and N Mississippi. Crews of 4-9 people spent 4 days to install this with overtime. We could have 8-80 diverters for the price of 1 bloated design by the Portland Bureau of Transportation,PBOT ( Commissioner Steve Novick ) This is not a question of money, it’s how our lawmakers in city hall and Salem waste our Transportation money chasing old design methods and cars focused designs. We will never get close to #VisionZero with these leaders.

Preface: Diverters are those objects placed on quiet street corners so that cars from neighbors can still get from A to B. Long distance commuters can’t cut straight through quiet side streets, and cars going long distance are diverted back to an arterial street designed to be safer for that. The media sells diverters as a ban on cars.

My question to fellow BP readers: What ideas would you send to the city leaders and staff? Please reply here and I’ll print them and hand deliver them in a meeting.

Your ideas?

My ideas:
a) More low cost diverters. Involve the people or City Repair Project. We already paint colorful art in some intersections at zero cost to the city. Citizens could just as easily build safer and more sustainable ( and maintainable ) objects to divert cut through cars. Some might cost the city zero dollars. Adopt a diverter. Design a diverter contest. We could have 80 community diverters for the cost of the Holman diverter. Seriously.

b) Let locals spend budget. Let local authority and neighborhood associations spend some of the budget. There is better and cheaper off the shelf equipment other cities purchase on the internet. From Obama on downward our leaders talk but don’t act on building community engagement. This bottom up budgeting is what David Bragdon said would fix the backwards Oregon Transporation plan quote: 2015 Transporation Bill – It “was old school, no performance measures” — “Big road widening at the edge of town” — “key projects for key legislators if they vote the right way”

c) Make diverters more bike friendly, not less. The Holman design is worse for bike passage. Often there are inadequate gaps for bikes. See URL below JPG of the new PBOT equipment blocking bikes.

PS: Stay tuned. Stay involved. I’ll post more video. Here’s the first video

More video to come

Please support BikePortland.

NOTE: We love your comments and work hard to ensure they are productive, considerate, and welcoming of all perspectives. Disagreements are encouraged, but only if done with tact and respect. If you see a mean or inappropriate comment, please contact us and we'll take a look at it right away. Thank you — Jonathan

  • buildwithjoe July 18, 2016 at 2:02 pm

    The video should start at 34 minutes. Jonathan’s website created an error.

    Below is the original and correct link. – Quoting Bragdon: “was old school, no performance measures” — “Big road widening at the edge of town” — “key projects for key legislators if they vote the right way”

    ^ video link that shows Oregon Lamakers are to blame

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  • Spiffy July 18, 2016 at 2:52 pm

    correction to original story, they only cost $5k, not $50k…

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  • buildwithjoe July 18, 2016 at 3:26 pm

    I may be wrong on $50,000. But I know they cost way more than $5,000. I was able to witness crews of 4-10 people spending four days doing what is happening in this video. We need more diverters, not wastful install process from the city.

    Picture of how bikes in all directions are blocked by the diverters at Hollman/Mississippi

    The WordPress website used by Mr. Maus does not properly post links of the Author. So I have to repost URLs as a reader.

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    • Eric Leifsdad July 19, 2016 at 12:15 am

      $5000 / ( 7 people * 4 days / 250 days / year ) = $44k/yr / worker, with overhead seems a bit low when overhead includes engineering and heavy equipment. I agree they could do better and with less heavy equipment, but you go to work with the tools you’ve got? $50k would be crazy.

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      • buildwithjoe July 19, 2016 at 6:38 pm

        Watch the video I posted with the 3 massive paint trucks and 6-8 crew. They drove out and got nothing done. They just drove away. I could paint that 70 feet of yellow line for $40 material, and one hour labor. I’m guessing the city price is way to $%$$@ high. What is your guess just to send that paint crew out. If we did an open bid to have a paint crew like that do 70 feet of yellow paint what would the bids come in as. It makes no sense to use 3 trucks, but let’s put out a bid just to compare costs for that one part of the very bloated project. We need more diverters, and this method from the city means we all get less. Bikes get less, taxpayers are robbed.

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        • Robert Burchett August 1, 2016 at 10:31 pm

          If you dig into this you might find that overhead is crazy high. When one city department does something for another department they don’t do it for marginal cost. If you have a shovel driver out there you’re gonna pay a little bit on fixing the Portland Building, and everything else up and down the line.

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  • Allan Rudwick July 18, 2016 at 3:44 pm

    I agree with your main point on bikes getting squeezed. The diverter gaps should be in the direction the bikes are going – shouldn’t require odd turns.

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  • lop July 19, 2016 at 3:41 pm

    Manhole rings are something the city would have on hand, so if they want to try out the temporary diverter idea it’s a great way to do it. Alright, concept proven. We want more diverters, a wide rollout. Put them in, try it out. Wrong spot? Not set up perfectly? Ready to put in something more permanent?

    Time to move the temporary object. A good temporary diverter is cheap, quick and cheap to install, quick and cheap to move, easy to store. And something cars won’t budge. Unless someone slams into it hard enough to cause a serious injury or death to an occupant that will bring the major crash investigation team out you don’t want a team to have to go out and move the diverter. Lower maintenance costs is a good thing. This unmovable object goal makes it hard to let people do this themselves. You need heavy machinery to install something a car can’t move, don’t you?

    For reusable temporary diverters how do you think PBOT’s manhole rings compare with the concrete blocks NYPD uses?

    I don’t know enough about installing this stuff to be able to say if that’s any better than a manhole ring.

    You don’t want something tall. A child crossing the street shouldn’t be blocked from view by bushes someone planted in the manhole ring. A concrete ring or block can divert traffic well. Not really pretty though. Some bare minimum paint job like the NYPD blocks might be desirable. On top of that letting neighbors paint it themselves seems like a good way to try to integrate it into the neighborhood.

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    • buildwithjoe July 19, 2016 at 6:41 pm

      Great post LOP. You make so many good points. The NYC blocks look like a forklift could move them. I wish there was a way to make objects that could be filled with water. They would be light to transport by bike and install, then fill with water from a neighbor who would just get a coupon off their water bill. Think of big water barrels that are short so the line of sight is open for kids and cars.

      Car loving people who hate diverters might try to puncture the diverter and move it, but why let a few malicoius theories hold back a great desgin.

      here’s a picture I gave to PBOT in a meeting about diverters 3 years ago. These are off the shelf diverters we could order or make for less, and they could be moved by bike. They create great line of sight for kids and cars to not collide.

      see pic above…in URL.

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      • Eric Leifsdad July 21, 2016 at 11:42 am

        …and my earlier reply was thrown in the bottomless moderation hole.

        Plastic jersey barriers and barrels can be filled with water or sand (which would weigh just as much as concrete.) I’ve seen them online for about $250 — we can probably get better deals in bulk.

        I’ve been seeing some of the smaller plastic jersey barriers around work sites such as on Bond in south waterfront. I’ve been thinking we should get some in “bike green” color for protected bike lanes, virtual crosswalk bump-outs, and traffic calming.

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  • lop July 19, 2016 at 7:18 pm

    >The NYC blocks look like a forklift could move them.


    >Think of big water barrels that are short so the line of sight is open for kids and cars.

    Barrels filled with either sand or water get installed on highways, so getting a hold of some should be pretty easy.

    They can be placed before rigid dividers between the highway and an off ramp. They’ll slow cars enough that the driver who hits them has a much better chance of surviving. This is important on a highway where people might go 75 mph. On a narrow neighborhood street the speeding driver who slams into a concrete block is much more likely to be going slow enough to survive without this sort of crash attenuator before a rigid object. Water/sand barrels also get placed before bridge supports to protect the bridge from cars crashing into them. Or before concrete jersey barriers during construction etc…I’m not sure if they’d be quite as sturdy as you’d want for a neighborhood diverter. Easy to install, but easily destroyed. How hard would a car have to hit one to dislodge it so the gap for cyclists becomes too narrow? Or to break a barrel? Forget about malice, people will hit those barrels at some point because they didn’t expect them to be there, because they never were the last hundred times they drove down the road, or they turned too wide, or swerved to avoid XX etc…Also, get one fireman to come by to supervise and you could probably fill them from a hydrant instead of counting on a neighbor being supportive. It’s an interesting idea though.

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    • Eric Leifsdad July 20, 2016 at 11:40 pm

      Wow that video… I cringed for a whole minute. First day on the forklift?

      I wish your comment had been in the reply thread above where I would have read it before I posted my very similar reply.

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  • Anna G July 20, 2016 at 3:23 pm

    My biggest beef with PDOT is that they never seem to road test or ask the opinion of folks who will be using said infrastructure ie bike commuters (surely there are enough opinions on this site). The diverter at Holman and Miss. is not even on the greenway, and was only installed to appease the neighbors who didn’t want the cut thru traffic on their street. It does nothing to reduce traffic on the greenway and therefore help cyclists. What a waste of time and $$, we would have been better served if it was located on the intersections with either Killingsworth or Alberta (and Michigan).

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  • Mark Smith August 13, 2016 at 9:50 pm

    Too bad Jersey barriers are rare and hard to get.

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