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First look: New raised bikeway on Couch curve at Burnside bridgehead

Posted by on November 29th, 2016 at 2:59 pm

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PBOT has given riders a raise on Couch as it winds onto the Burnside Bridge.
(Photos: J. Maus/BikePortland)

For years now the Portland Bureau of Transportation has tried to keep people from driving into the bike lane on the Couch curve at the eastern end Burnside Bridge. They’ve used buffer stripes, reflectors with LEDs inside them, and even rumble bumps — all without much success.

The curve. Note that the vacant lot on the right will soon be a new office building.

The curve. Note that the vacant lot on the right will soon be a new office building.

Have they finally figured it out?

Their latest attempt is a new concrete surface that’s raised a few inches above the adjacent roadway and that looks more like a sidewalk than a vehicle lane. We reported on this back in June and took a closer look at the finished product yesterday.

This section of Couch is a high-volume bikeway (especially during morning rush-hour) that collects traffic from inner southeast and northeast neighborhoods and then feeds right into Old Town/Chinatown via the Burnside Bridge. The road cross-section includes two standard vehicle lanes along with this new bike lane (which is the standard width of about five or six feet). Due to the curves (a design that was agreed upon in order to make the lot on the northwest corner of MLK and Burnside as large as possible for development), long buses and trucks need plenty of room to maneuver (see photo below).

The raised bike lane begins right at the start of the “s” curve after Couch crosses Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. Bicycle users take a gradual ramp onto the lane and there’s a mountable curb with a very slight angle between the bike lane and the standard lane. Between the bike lane and the sidewalk there’s a three-inch curb that isn’t rounded at all. The width of the bike lane isn’t wide enough for side-by-side riding and, as local urban planner Nick Falbo pointed out on Twitter last week, it’s barely wide enough for a freight delivery bike.

Before we share more feedback and images, it’s important to know the urban context at this location. The area around the Couch curve has, quite literally, grown up a lot in the past few years. In every direction there are new developments that have brought hundreds of new residential units and well over 100,000 square feet of office and retail space. That means the future demand for space on adjacent public spaces (which includes streets) will grow considerably in the years to come.

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It seems crazy to me that we have two lanes of motor vehicle traffic bisecting a thriving new neighborhood in our central city; but I digress.

The good news is that the raised bike lane and all the development have already slowed road users down. That’s a natural reaction to the built environment that we hope continues.

As for the new bike lane design, it’s a nice step forward. We’d love to see physical separation, but making the bike lane a different color and texture than the other lanes and raising it up a few inches is an improvement. One puzzling thing about the design is how the mountable curb is between the standard vehicle lanes and bike lanes, instead of between the bike lane and the sidewalk. This means people on bikes who want to pass will leave the (relative) safety of the bike-only lane and enter a lane shared with motor vehicles — instead of using the sidewalk.

The issue we’ve heard a lot about since this new bike lane was installed is the big puddle that has formed where it transitions back onto the Burnside Bridge (see photo below). The puddle was still there on Monday and the people I observed left the bike lane to go around it. This puddle needs to be fixed.

Here are more photos…

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Another thing to keep in mind is that there will soon be a new, carfree road that connects to the Couch curve from NE 3rd Avenue. This will create a potential conflict point where people on bicycles merge from the new road onto the existing bike lane. As with all the changes around the east side of the Burnside Bridge, we’ll be watching that closely.

Have you ridden this new raised lane? What do you think? Would you like to see more of them in the central city?

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

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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. Also, if you comment frequently, please consider holding your thoughts so that others can step forward. Thank you — Jonathan

105 Comments
  • Avatar
    Mixtieme November 29, 2016 at 3:11 pm

    Funny thing is that on Friday my partner and I rode by by and there was a white Mercedes all beat up and stuck in the straight away of that curve, what’s supposed to become a plaza of sorts. The raised couch bike path was poured by then so this car had to have hopped the bike lane and sidewalk and launch into the soft gravel on the other side. The tow truck was having a hard time getting them out (blocking the bike lane) they were still there two hours later scratching thier heads. Rather amusing.

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    MaxD November 29, 2016 at 3:14 pm

    The Fair-haired Dumbell project frequently closes one of the motor vehicle lanes and slows the people driving down A LOT! I think having that building there will permanently help slow drivers a little bit. I have ridden this a couple of times. It has slowed me down a bit. The raised concrete is pretty narrow. The part where it unexpectedly drops for the crosswalk then ramps right back up for a short distance is very surprising but not hard to navigate. I have not observed any people driving on the raised portion, and the adjacent traffic seems generally slower and more careful. It is not perfect, but it is a significant improvement. I would like to see the street trees planted along this section.

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    dan November 29, 2016 at 3:23 pm

    This treatment makes it easier/more likely for cars to drive up onto the sidewalk, no? Seems less than ideal from that perspective.

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      rick November 29, 2016 at 5:47 pm

      Yes ! Now more dangerous.

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        I wear many hats November 30, 2016 at 12:48 pm

        Now drivers don’t have to bunny hop up to kill pedestrians. They can use the launch ramp PBOT provided. This does nothing to stop encroachment from the vehicle lanes, and it makes it more likely that people will jump the curb.

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      wsbob November 30, 2016 at 5:16 pm

      “This treatment makes it easier/more likely for cars to drive up onto the sidewalk, no? …” dan

      Yes. Definitely. Someone must have felt that a bike lane slightly elevated a couple inches above the grade of the main lane, could somehow offer a higher degree of safe road use to people riding bikes. What that higher degree of safe use is, isn’t clear from studying the photos.

      One thing good the elevated and ramped bike lane does, is allow people riding to more easily get on and off this infrastructure.

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  • Hello, Kitty
    Hello, Kitty November 29, 2016 at 3:37 pm

    I noticed that they took space away from the bike lane to construct the mountable curb. Is the lane still a standard width?

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      Nick Falbo November 29, 2016 at 3:47 pm

      It meets all official (NACTO, AASHTO) standards. The lane has a clear width of 5 ft, with a 1 ft mountable curb. I do wish it were wider, but it gets the job done.

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        Buzz November 29, 2016 at 4:06 pm

        Why didn’t they build this all the way out to the buffer stripe?

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          Nick Falbo November 29, 2016 at 4:48 pm

          From my understanding, the buffer stripe is an area that transit vehicles need to use to make the tight turn onto the bridge.

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            Buzz November 29, 2016 at 11:10 pm

            bad road design, they knew transit vehicles would be using it.

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        James November 30, 2016 at 10:11 am

        Do you think taking one foot of the sidewalk would have been a better approach?

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    Buzz November 29, 2016 at 4:05 pm

    Sorry, but I’m not impressed at all by this, and I’m glad it’s not on my commuting route.

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    joel November 29, 2016 at 4:06 pm

    ive only ridden this a couple times, and again it falls into my “meh, whatever” category. doesnt really change anything about riding this section for me.

    also:

    “It seems crazy to me that we have two lanes of motor vehicle traffic bisecting a thriving new neighborhood in our central city; but I digress.”

    um, you mean the “thriving new neighborhood” that was built up AROUND two EXISTING lanes of motor vehicle traffic? PULEEZE, jonathan, thats a *bit* of a stretch.

    “One puzzling thing about the design is how the mountable curb is between the standard vehicle lanes and bike lanes, instead of between the bike lane and the sidewalk. This means people on bikes who want to pass will leave the (relative) safety of the bike-only lane and enter a lane shared with motor vehicles — instead of using the sidewalk.”

    we dont like it when cars move into the bike lane to pass, why are you suggesting that we ourselves pass by shifting onto the sidewalk? maybe, just MAYBE, we could consider NOT PASSING in a stretch of bike lane that clearly is not an ideal or safe section to be passing in? please? im flat out tired of my fellow cyclists in this town riding their bikes like they drive/drove their cars – and seeing the suggestion on bikeportland that they do just that doesnt sit well with me. (and i have words for people who pass on the curb side, and they arent acceptable here 🙂 )

    “The issue we’ve heard a lot about since this new bike lane was installed is the big puddle that has formed where it transitions back onto the Burnside Bridge (see photo below). The puddle was still there on Monday and the people I observed left the bike lane to go around it. This puddle needs to be fixed.”

    or, perhaps, we could just ride through a puddle every now and again. youre not gonna melt, people. and its probably raining and youre probably already wet anyhow.

    its not a perfect new bit of bike infra. it doesnt match any other infra i know of in town, its only a block or two long, and doesnt *really* solve anything – so its a perfectly portland piece of bike infra.

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      alex November 29, 2016 at 5:54 pm

      when puddles freeze..

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      • Hello, Kitty
        Hello, Kitty November 30, 2016 at 12:10 am

        Not to worry… we can just adjust the climate to avoid that problem.

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        Spiffy November 30, 2016 at 11:39 am

        there’s going to be so much shade from all the tall buildings that the entire curve will freeze… we’ll need that lip against the sidewalk as a wheel rut to keep us from sliding out…

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      Beeblebrox November 29, 2016 at 6:20 pm

      Well said all around! This is not a place where anyone should be passing anyone else. The curve is really tight, and it’s appropriate to expect bicyclists to travel single file.

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        B. Carfree November 29, 2016 at 6:47 pm

        So you’re fine with squeezing bikes into a narrow space that precludes any passing while we dedicate beaucoup space and then some so cars can pass each other in this “tight” corner? I can’t say I share your perspective.

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          David Hampsten November 30, 2016 at 4:55 am

          You can always ride in the car lanes, to pass other cyclists, if you are in a big hurry. There’s no law against that.

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            soren November 30, 2016 at 1:47 pm

            what is a “car lane”?

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              Kevin November 30, 2016 at 2:07 pm

              +1

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              OrganicBrian December 3, 2016 at 4:10 pm

              I agree with this comment, but what’s a phrase to distinuish the lanes to the left of the bike lane?

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            • Adam H.
              Adam H. December 3, 2016 at 4:17 pm

              A lane I’d rather not cycle in because there are too many cars.

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          jered bogli November 30, 2016 at 7:03 pm

          well…take the lane.

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        Spiffy November 30, 2016 at 7:19 am

        “it’s appropriate to expect bicyclists to travel single file.”

        no, it’s not… people are social and so our modes of transport are generally made to facilitate side-by-side travel so you can converse with your companion…

        cars are 2 seats wide…

        sidewalks are 2 people wide…

        bike lanes should be 2 bikes wide…

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        James November 30, 2016 at 10:05 am

        The nature of bicycle movement is not single file and orderly. We should study the actual paths riders take and try to design infrastructure that accommodates it. Swarm mentality.

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        peejay November 30, 2016 at 10:27 am

        The curve is just as tight for cars. Why does the logic not hold for them?

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      soren November 29, 2016 at 6:34 pm

      im flat out tired of my fellow cyclists in this town riding their bikes like …

      i’m flat out tired of my fellow cyclists calling people out who do not follow their rigid personal set of “rules”. as long as someone is not endangering others what’s it to you if someone wants to pass here?

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        John Lascurettes November 29, 2016 at 6:38 pm

        Indeed, I like to race cars through the chicane since a bike can maneuver those curves faster than they can. 🙂

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        SE Rider November 29, 2016 at 7:24 pm

        Passing on the right on the sidewalk isn’t endangering anyone?

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      • Hello, Kitty
        Hello, Kitty November 30, 2016 at 12:13 am

        As long as they pass on the left, sound their bell, and leave me enough space, I have no problem with people passing me along this stretch.

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          Spiffy November 30, 2016 at 7:23 am

          sound their bell?! ha! good luck…

          I walked across the Hawthorne on Monday… about 16 cyclists passed me and not a single one gave an audible warning even though they passed within a foot of me…

          I don’t think people know they’re supposed to give an audible warning… whenever I’m riding across the Hawthorne, sounding my bell for every person I pass, the riders in front of me often look back and then move over thinking I’m wanting to pass them…

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          • Hello, Kitty
            Hello, Kitty November 30, 2016 at 10:42 am

            Passing that close, with or without an audible signal, is both rude and dangerous. Just as we want drivers to give us room, we can’t be blowing past others with inches to spare.

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              Spiffy November 30, 2016 at 11:37 am

              I always try to hug the left edge of the Hawthorne path… gives peds the most room, makes cars slow down because they’re nervous I’m so close, and allows more room on the right for fast cyclists to pass between peds…

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            Buzz November 30, 2016 at 11:25 am

            My solution to this is to always walk facing the oncoming cyclists on the Hawthorne bridge, that way no surprises.

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            alex November 30, 2016 at 5:53 pm

            more often than not i do not give an audible warming because people tend to turn into the direction of sound. i scope riding style/obstacles ahead and pass.

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          soren November 30, 2016 at 1:32 pm

          can you explain why someone riding fully within an adjacent lane should signal a pass?

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          • Hello, Kitty
            Hello, Kitty November 30, 2016 at 4:46 pm

            If they’re fully in an adjacent lane, they shouldn’t signal a pass. Take the car lane, and pass silently at will.

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      soren November 29, 2016 at 6:39 pm

      and doesnt *really* solve anything

      it has largely stopped drivers from cutting into the bike lane.

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        joel November 29, 2016 at 10:27 pm

        i havent really noticed drivers cutting into that bike lane since they buffered it with paint quite some time back.

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      Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) November 29, 2016 at 10:37 pm

      Hi joel,

      I agree that there’s no need to pass. However I addressed that issue in the story only because I know people will pass each other. I try to represent all perspectives in my post – not just my own.

      As for passing in the vehicle lane or on the sidewalk. Why do you and others assume that passing on the sidewalk would endanger people on foot? It’s completely possible to mix biking and walking as long as the bicycle rider has common courtesy, uses a bell, and is going a reasonable speed. And IMO it’s MUCH more pleasant to mix vulnerable users together than to mix vulnerable users in with motorized vehicle users.

      And I do think this will be/is becoming a “thriving new neighborhood”… And having cars run through it is completely absurd to me.

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      • Hello, Kitty
        Hello, Kitty November 30, 2016 at 12:15 am

        A cyclist going fast enough to pass another is *probably* going too fast to ride on a sidewalk in a safe and courteous manner.

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        • Hello, Kitty
          Hello, Kitty November 30, 2016 at 12:16 am

          Especially in a “thriving new neighborhood”.

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          • Hello, Kitty
            Hello, Kitty November 30, 2016 at 12:17 am

            Even in the shadow of the Death Star.

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        joel November 30, 2016 at 8:28 pm

        nowhere in that post did i say/assume passing on the sidewalk would endanger people on foot. i was merely pointing out the hypocrisy of the suggestion being made that cyclists move up on to the sidewalk to pass another rider, when we get all up in arms (rightly) when cars move over into the bike lane to do the same. that being said, if theyre using the sidewalk to pass someone traveling in the bike lane, id wager they arent moving at a “reasonable speed”, at least as far as sidewalk riding is concerned. and “common courtesy”? ive largely given up on expecting that from my fellow cyclists in this town.

        and again, when you build a “thriving new neighborhood” up around an existing roadway that just happens to be the westbound ramp to a major bridge… well, guess what? you have cars driving through your thriving new neighborhood, and youre pretty much stuck with that. you may as well complain that the willamette flowing through the middle of portland creates a major drowning hazard.

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          soren December 1, 2016 at 6:15 pm

          i was merely pointing out the hypocrisy of the suggestion being made that cyclists move up on to the sidewalk to pass another rider, when we get all up in arms (rightly) when cars move over into the bike lane to do the same.

          sidewalks are a designated facility for people riding bikes (unless otherwise specified). a bike lane is not a designated facility for people driving.

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    todd boulanger November 29, 2016 at 4:39 pm

    Jonathan – the best practice expectation – would be for cyclists, as bikes are vehicles, to detour into the roadway and not onto the footpath if the bikeway was obstructed…especially for low to moderate speed facilities (not highways) and what with the narrow sidewalk there.

    I will have to crack open the NACTO and CROW bikeway design manuals to check the curb heights (the remaining vertical curb height seems a bit high for a curved facility and one where buses track over the bikeway (nice photo!)…

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      peejay November 30, 2016 at 10:45 am

      The whole problem is the “bikes are vehicles” philosophy. Because what it means is bikes are vehicles when it comes to keeping them out of footpaths, but then they magically become non-vehicles when it comes to keeping them off the streets.

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      • Hello, Kitty
        Hello, Kitty November 30, 2016 at 12:55 pm

        Your thinking is too Newtonian. Bikes are both a wave and a particle. Both a vehicle and a not-vehicle. Schrodinger’s bicyclist is both dead and alive.

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          resopmok November 30, 2016 at 1:38 pm

          I nominate this for comment of the year.

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          • Hello, Kitty
            Hello, Kitty November 30, 2016 at 10:51 pm

            I’ll both win and lose.

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      soren November 30, 2016 at 1:44 pm

      bikes are vehicles

      this car-centric point of view justifies crappy infrastructure and its associated carnage.

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    todd boulanger November 29, 2016 at 4:43 pm

    My initial 2 cents (until I ride it): would be I hope the project manager adds some reflectorized raised pavement markers (RPMs) along the inside of lane line separating the cars from the bikes…just to keep drivers from straying into the bikeway what with the tight curves even with he raised pavement…

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      B. Carfree November 29, 2016 at 6:49 pm

      Especially if those RPM’s can be made four feet tall and composed of concrete-filled steel.

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      Anna G November 30, 2016 at 12:14 pm

      I, too wish the city would use more RPMs especially since green paint is all but invisible in the evenings in the fall/winter months. It would be especially welcome at busy crossover junctions like Williams and Killingsworth, and bike lanes that routinely have cars driving in them such as SW Oak and Stark, RPM bike stencils would be even better…….

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    Eric G November 29, 2016 at 4:45 pm

    The puddle needs to be fixed. Mistakes happen, and that is a definite engineering error. We’re accustomed to bad drainage, but that has zero drainage. When there is no puddle it’s a slippery glob of sediment at the end of a curve.

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      todd boulanger November 29, 2016 at 8:00 pm

      It looks like the puddle has formed were the County’s bridge meets the City’s new pavement – both are sloping downward to each other…meeting without a catch basin…or a gap in the expansion joint to allow the water to drain…perhaps the daily bike commuters can chime in and tell us if this was a preexisting condition or post project fault.

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        Mark November 29, 2016 at 8:12 pm

        Post project fault.

        I contacted the city about it on November 15th. They said it was a county issue. When I contacted the county, they looked into it and determined that it is indeed a city issue. The guy I was in touch with at the county did follow up and report back to me, and it sounds as if the city is at least planning to look at the issue.

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          Buzz November 29, 2016 at 11:15 pm

          so how are they going to fix the puddle? that requires drainage, the easy thing would probably just be to drill a hole in the pavement but the city and county will probably either ignore the problem as long as they can or spend thousands for some other less than perfect ‘fix’.

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          • Hello, Kitty
            Hello, Kitty November 30, 2016 at 12:21 am

            The traditional engineering approach to wet areas is to fill them; perhaps using landfill. Then we could sell the reclaimed land to developers for micro apartments for miniaturized people.

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    BradWagon November 29, 2016 at 4:46 pm

    I am having a hard time figuring out why this piece of road even exists…

    Why was this S Bend even created? Why not keep it how it used to be and just upgrade the turn lanes from MLK onto Burnside to still allow for streetcar? I get turning Burnside one way here and re-configuring lanes, that still could have been done too. Dead ending Couch at MLK instead of making this weird turn would have likely saved project costs and valuable land. If Couch was Left Turn Only at MLK we could still have a safe bike crossing as well.

    Now we just have a headache for road users and …well, unconventional, to say the least, buildings fit into this awkward area.

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      Buzz November 30, 2016 at 11:29 am

      Why does this exist? This is a relatively new project which resulted in the creation of the Burnside-Couch one-way couplet, where these streets were both previously two way.

      This was first and foremost a project designed to enhance motor vehicle capacity, and the bike lanes were afterthoughts, which is why they suck so bad.

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        BradWagon November 30, 2016 at 11:36 am

        Yes, I am aware of “why” it was done… I am just questioning why it was done so strangely as opposed to Couch traffic using MLK for one block then getting onto bridge. Streetcar could have easily been jogged over a lane to allow for turn lanes and the stop moved a block North.

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      resopmok November 30, 2016 at 1:48 pm

      Your proposal puts all (a considerable amount) westbound Burnside traffic onto MLK for one block. This would cause backups on both Couch and MLK, especially during peak hours. I’m no traffic engineer, but the chicane makes a lot of sense in that light.

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        BradWagon November 30, 2016 at 2:08 pm

        I hear what your saying but… I’d be very skeptical that the impacts would justify the chicane. Traffic on MLK is stopped when Couch has the light regardless if they are crossing or turning left. Right turn lanes from MLK don’t have to merge with any other traffic so they could be free flowing right turn only lanes. The Couch lanes would turn left into them directly so MLK thru traffic wouldn’t be sitting in them. Save for maybe a pedestrian crossing signal this traffic would clear in the time it takes to drive the block (provided the Bridge itself isn’t completely backed up).

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          BradWagon November 30, 2016 at 2:22 pm

          Very vaguely similar to Grand turn lanes onto Morrison. Or how in Spokane Division St Bridge *kind of* merges with Spokane Falls before turning to Browne (think opposite traffic direction).

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    Tim B November 29, 2016 at 5:01 pm

    I have to agree with joel and todd on the mountable curb allowing passing on the left by merging with motorized traffic. If cyclists feel it is necessary to pass, they should only endanger themselves, not the pedestrians on the sidewalk.

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      Spiffy November 30, 2016 at 7:33 am

      the problem is that somebody has to be endangered due to the narrow design…

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      • Hello, Kitty
        Hello, Kitty November 30, 2016 at 12:57 pm

        Not if you don’t pass… we would never have a conversation about whether it is ok for cars to use the sidewalk to pass slower drivers.

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          CaptainKarma November 30, 2016 at 1:39 pm

          Hopefully we will see more bike freight deliveries, and as mentioned, the path is *barely* wide enough for them, so I could see the need for someone to pass in that case. Of course, yeah, people could chill for that little distance. I am sure this whole interchange will need major adjustments in the future.

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    fourknees November 29, 2016 at 5:01 pm

    For the amount of trial and error, labor and materials costs that have been wasted at this point the city could have, on the first attempt, extended the sidewalk(same height) to the edge of the buffered lane and have been done with it. Probably with initial savings of doing it “right” the first time a barrier could have been put in between bikes and traffic too.

    This “sidewalk-like” solution seemed to work well for the bike lanes on SW Moody by Tilikum crossing. Not sure why everything has to be “creative”. Simple works.

    If not enough room for bus – post sign that says “Bus may use both motor vehicle lanes” so they can drive down the middle. Problem solved.

    And a better solution would actually make the city look like it’s trying to accomplish vision zero……and make it easier down the road to say, hey let’s extend this protected bike lane over the burnside bridge…

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      todd boulanger November 29, 2016 at 7:57 pm

      PBoT would need a new stencil: a bus sharrow (a”barrow”?) for the bus to straddle the 2 lanes…

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      Spiffy November 30, 2016 at 7:31 am

      the bus can already take both lanes… it does it coming down the Sheridan/3rd/Arthor curves and on most of Hawthorne…

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    rick November 29, 2016 at 5:31 pm

    It is easy to drive nearly any car over this new piece. Something better is needed.

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      Spiffy November 30, 2016 at 7:34 am

      it’s tactile feedback, not protection…

      but yes, a short wall and a wider bike lane is needed…

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  • Adam H.
    Adam H. November 29, 2016 at 5:36 pm

    The mountable curb should be a straight one instead. Otherwise people can drive into the cycle track too easily. Also the cycleway should be wider. Otherwise a decent piece of infra.

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    alex November 29, 2016 at 5:52 pm

    not a fan (not a fan of most of the new infrastructure on my route*). the puddle at the end of the raised section (second to last picture) is going to be a deathtrap when we get freezing temps. well intentioned but poor execution!

    *15th and ankeny has poor visibility and sw 2nd begs a left hook.

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    David Lewis November 29, 2016 at 7:06 pm

    Nice to see they chamfered it so vehicles don’t dent as they slaughter cyclists in case of loss of control.

    Another case of minimizing positive impact.

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    Champs November 29, 2016 at 9:40 pm

    I came. I saw. I said “meh.” So much up-down for so little distance.

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    • Hello, Kitty
      Hello, Kitty November 30, 2016 at 12:25 am

      The up-and-down, combined with the mud portion at the end, makes for a nice bit of urban mountain biking. Ask, and ye shall receive!

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    Eric Leifsdad November 29, 2016 at 9:59 pm

    Nice that they made plenty of room for cars and trucks and nothing to cause any distracted driver any dents or scraped paint. That was the main goal from the looks of it.

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    Adam November 29, 2016 at 10:30 pm

    My thoughts on this are mixed.

    While it’s certainly better than nothing, I still think it’s a mediocre solution.

    Why is the striped buffer at road grade and not cycletrack grade? The raised bikepath portion feels VERY narrow on a bike, particularly because of the sharp turning radius.

    I drive this section fairly often too, and I’m an exceptionally careful driver. But I worry about taking the turn too widely in a car, and clipping a cyclist. Most drivers aren’t even aware of this potential, let alone care about it.

    As for a solution? My wish would have been for the entire cycletrack to be at sidewalk grade. They should have just extended the sidewalk out six feet, and delineated pedestrian (inner) and bicycle (outer) lanes. Just like they have on the Hawthorne Bridge. I feel so much safer being raised up on a curb somewhere with both high volume and high speed traffic.

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      Adam November 29, 2016 at 10:34 pm

      I should also add, the cycletrack is obviously too narrow for passing, and because of the buffer being like four inches lower, will make it awkward and dangerous for cyclists to do so on the curve.

      But despite this, I know many faster cyclists WILL be passing slower cyclists on the curve. It’s just how it is. They get stuck behind a slower person at the light on MLK, and as soon as it turns green, want/need to pass the slower riders. I’m nervous how this will play out with the cycletrack being so narrow.

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      • Hello, Kitty
        Hello, Kitty November 30, 2016 at 4:49 pm

        Even if that lane were a foot or two wider, it would probably not afford room for a legal pass.

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      Spiffy November 30, 2016 at 11:46 am

      clarification: the Hawthorne bridge doesn’t have a bike lane, it has a shared sidewalk with a suggestion on which side each mode should stay on…

      the approaches on each side have bike lanes… but once you get to the actual bridge you’re free to cycle on the metal grate if you want to take the lane… sidewalks/MUPs aren’t required side-paths…

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    Peter Hass November 29, 2016 at 10:51 pm

    Personally, I find this new raised path unnecessary. I ride it nearly every morning and have never had a problem with the vehicles in the curve. There’s still a risk of a right hook on Grand…even with the green box and flashing yield sign. But even more concerning for me is the unprotected bike lane on both sides of the Burnside bridge. It seems like as soon as vehicles make it through the curves they gun it and drive very fast over the bridge. I don’t know how big of a safety risk it poses but It’s very uncomfortable to have speeding cars passing so close off my shoulder. I wouldn’t want one of those drivers choking on a soda! I’d love to see some improvement with that…maybe lowering the speed limit, enforcing it and/or creating physical separation like other bridges have.

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      Spiffy November 30, 2016 at 7:42 am

      “It seems like as soon as vehicles make it through the curves they gun it and drive very fast over the bridge”

      25 on Couch, 15 through the curves, 35 on the bridge, 25 on Burnside…

      so yes, people ARE gunning it from 15 mph to 35 mph just so they can slow down again to 25 mph…

      when I’m driving over it I usually don’t go over 30 mph because it just seems like a waste…

      I’ve complained to the county about their bridges all having a higher speed limit than the roads around them…

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        John Lascurettes November 30, 2016 at 8:35 am

        35? You’re awfully nice. I regularly see drivers exceed 40 and sometimes 50 on the bridge portion of Burnside

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          Spiffy November 30, 2016 at 11:47 am

          they also drive that fast on the Morrison where the speed limit is 25…

          we all know most drivers are speeding…

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    Mike November 30, 2016 at 6:12 am

    Eugene has one of these. Local kids horsing around get a kick out of driving their cars along the slope of the curb, up and down, up and down.

    You still have to watch your back.

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    BradWagon November 30, 2016 at 9:03 am

    Sadly, that last picture of the bus overhanging a portion of the raised cycle track with cyclists on the sidewalk speaks volumes…

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      James November 30, 2016 at 10:13 am

      Hopefully that doesn’t become a trend and Trimet drivers take the turn a bit tighter.

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    Zaphod November 30, 2016 at 10:09 am

    I ride it most days. It’s good. And the notion of passing on the right well damn… that does create confusion at the least and danger at the most. There are many sections of road for all users that require waiting to pass. I bear witness to many a close call when people execute a pass-on-the-right on Vancouver as it passes the freeway entrance near New Seasons. You get autos abruptly braking to prevent injury/collision. Of course separated infrastructure is ideal but this raised treatment is a good one and I hope to see it utilized more.

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    Bob K November 30, 2016 at 11:15 am

    It is all window dressing until there is a Burnside Bridge where there is more than a white stripe separating you from cars going in excess of 40MPH.

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    todd boulanger November 30, 2016 at 12:49 pm

    Sadly PBoT (and development review) should have sought (purchased?) more street width in this curvilinear section due to the propensity of turning vehicles from encroaching into the bike lane – even if the lane is the wider of the two and the bike lane is raised. [I do not know if they tried and failed.]

    Other than traffic calming this section down to 15 mph (due to safety issues with HGV and buses) perhaps PBoT will have to now drop the southern car lane and require this Couch traffic going across the Burside Bridge to jog for a block on Grand (perhaps the signalisation would change to facilitate this by clearing out this block before the Couch traffic filled it).

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    Ian Stude November 30, 2016 at 6:58 pm

    I ride this section daily and I would strongly encourage PBOT to make the following corrections:

    * Add green paint/thermaplast and bike lane symbols to the raised portion of the bike lane. If applied only to the flat portion of the lane, it would greatly improve cyclists ability to discern where the slope down to the roadway is located. Also, it would help prevent use by Uber/Lyft drivers who are frequently stopping here.

    * Remove the raised section after the crosswalk and provide drainage. This last section is unnecessary, as turning vehicles are moving away from the bike lane as they accelerate out of the of the corner. The puddle mentioned in this post is a serious issue that needs to be addressed before the freezing temperatures begin. This bridge in particular gets very frosty in the morning (which will be last longer now due to the shadow of the new buildings). These conditions, combined with the right hand curve and the vertical transitions for the crosswalk create a much more dangerous experience in the winter weather than what existed previously.

    Lastly, I want to echo the other statements above about the incongruity between this new treatment and the bikeway conditions that lead to it and away from it. Unless MultCo is seriously considering improvements to the bike lanes on the bridge and City of Portland is ready to provide something more than a disappearing bike lane next to 35mph traffic on downtown side of the bridge, then this seem like a misapplication of effort and resources.

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    bottom bracket November 30, 2016 at 11:23 pm

    In the photos the raised bike lane looks dirty. Almost looks like cinders have been put on it during icy weather. They need to clean it and the street next to it.

    Also, the bus bumper is actually over the bike lane as it sweeps around the curve. I’d stay as far to the right as I could when riding this section.

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    Mark smith December 1, 2016 at 8:33 am

    Wow haters gonna hate. We should be showering pbot with thank you notes…not whining here. Pbot puts in an overengineered facility..many what do we do? Complain.

    Wow. It’s no wonder things don’t get done faster.

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    Jeff G December 1, 2016 at 8:47 am

    Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)
    Hi joel,
    I agree that there’s no need to pass. However I addressed that issue in the story only because I know people will pass each other. I try to represent all perspectives in my post – not just my own.
    As for passing in the vehicle lane or on the sidewalk. Why do you and others assume that passing on the sidewalk would endanger people on foot? It’s completely possible to mix biking and walking as long as the bicycle rider has common courtesy, uses a bell, and is going a reasonable speed. And IMO it’s MUCH more pleasant to mix vulnerable users together than to mix vulnerable users in with motorized vehicle users.
    And I do think this will be/is becoming a “thriving new neighborhood”… And having cars run through it is completely absurd to me.
    Recommended 2

    Do you realize how ridiculous the statement that ‘having cars run though this area is completely absurd to me’ truly is? This roadway feeds onto one of three major river crossings to the central business district of a major American city. In order to accommodate new development that has sprung up around it, we should stop using one of the three crossings? I am all for improving the safety of bike transit in Portland, but that is just utter nonsense.

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      Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) December 1, 2016 at 12:04 pm

      Hi Jeff,

      Keep in mind I wouldn’t think that if there weren’t options available. We have Burnside and MLK. This is essentialy an extra cut-through. I also think that we should absolutely begin to cut off auto access onto some bridges and roads in the central city. Cities work best when they are designed around people and not the use of private autos.

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    Skid December 1, 2016 at 6:19 pm

    I think a rumble strip would work better.

    The problem with raised bikeways is that they resemble sidewalks, which many ignorant motorists think we belong on.

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    JBC December 2, 2016 at 8:42 am

    The city of Portland’s ‘separated bike facility’ policy leading to problems. The area is really too narrow for the raised facility that was created. The extra section past the pedestrian crossing is totally unnecessary, and has lead to a large puddle forming. Just wait until it gets colder and that puddle ices up. People are going to get hurt. The truth is the simple stripped bike lane worked better in this area. This project is like tryng to fit a square peg into a round hole.

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    alex December 3, 2016 at 1:07 am

    the should really just demo the whole raised part after the crossing where the puddle is. i think that would solve most of the issues.

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