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I helped sweep bike lanes this weekend (and it felt great)

Posted by on January 30th, 2017 at 10:36 am

Volunteers sweeping a bike path on SE Division near 87th.
(Photos: Ted Timmons)

Earlier this week the PDX Transformation Twitter account put out a call for volunteers for a public service project

I inquired what was going on and found out the project was to do some winter gravel cleanup. I thought that sounded like fun!

Ultimately five of us showed up. PDX Transformation loaned some safety equipment, and we each brought brooms. We rode out to the raised bikeway at 85th and Division and went to work. The raised bikeway was a good choice, because I assume it’s one of the harder places for PBOT to run a sweeper, and it also doesn’t get any vehicle traffic to help push the debris away.

See more photos below the jump…

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We then continued down the street, heading east.

We shared the pictures with PDX Transformation and they tweeted them:

And there were some kind responses:

https://twitter.com/BikePortland/status/825451605856182272

I’m really proud to have done this. It wasn’t done to shame PBOT or anything else- just because we like to have a cleaner lane to ride in.

ā€“ Ted Timmons, @tedder42 on Twitter

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Todd Boulanger
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Todd Boulanger

Great job all!

(Good to see the hi-viz gear and cones. Though never turn your back to traffic…pick a sweeping motion to allow you to face traffic and walk towards it, as its so easy to not do it.)

Adam
Subscriber

It was very windy that day. Guessing that the people in these photos were trying to stay upwind of the dust cloud that resulted from the sweeping. Just a hunch. šŸ˜‰

Brian
Guest
Brian

Thank you. I rode it on Sat and wondered who had done the work. Cheers!

Todd Hudson
Guest
Todd Hudson

85th and Division? I hope you had lunch at Mojo Crepes!

Justin M
Guest
Justin M

Great job, and east of 82nd to boot! Awesome!

Austin
Guest
Austin

That’s so great, nice work!

CaptainKarma
Guest
CaptainKarma

Back where I come from, the Dutch descendants do this with wooden shoes on. šŸ™‚

Justin M
Guest
Justin M

Hopefully with Dr. Scholl’sĀ® tho.

Michael S
Guest

Well, nowadays Dutch have some awesome sweeping procedures in place, which don’t include wooden shoes and not even brooms … šŸ˜‰

mark smith
Guest
mark smith

So, you swept towards the property or towards the street?

Caitlin D
Subscriber

Thank you! Way to make a tangible improvement in our community!

TAJ
Guest
TAJ

Thank you! Wish I had known and wish I had helped! Following them now on Twitter.

shirtsoff
Guest
shirtsoff

THANK YOU!! <3

k7ty
Subscriber
k7ty

What ever happened to the PBOT mini-sweeper? I’ve never seen it on the road.

https://bikeportland.org/2013/11/18/meet-portlands-new-bike-path-sized-street-sweeper-97302

Michael S
Guest

These ones are very common here in Berlin, though we could need a few more. Sometimes it takes 2 days before most cycle path are swept, and still some would be missing.

baldy
Guest
baldy

Wow, 2 days before the path is swept! That’s quite a wait.

I am positive that many locations where the city has dumped countless tons of gravel onto the roadway, only to have it swiftly move into the bike lane and sidewalk, will remain coated in gravel for months and years to come. This is not a stretch – years. Many sidewalks, raised cycle paths, connector paths, and hard to reach corners of roadways will never get swept, (most of these throughout the whole city are now covered in heavy amounts of gravel – as the pictures above show) and any effort to clean them relies on citizen volunteers (way to go, Transformation crew!). Boo PBOT!! This gravel application is poorly thought through – the benefits vs the costs. The amount of choking dust and downhill hazards from concentrated gravel in bike lanes remains high, 6 weeks after the first applications of it.

City needs to STOP intentionally putting gravel on roadways.

Michael S
Guest

Normally this is done along with the on-street sweeping, so chances are, that you can ride along safely (as far as winter allows you) the same day or the next. But only one stretch of unswept cycle path is enough to let most people forget about winter cycling. So, indeed a long way to go. Copenhagen and The Netherlands are better in this.

Regarding gravel, I find it useful, but it gives problems afterwards. Takes weeks sometimes, before it is collected again. Salt is harming the trees, no good idea neither. Would be better, if we all would simply switch to studded tyres in winter, those are really great (without joking), feels like running on tracks.

curly
Subscriber
curly

You all ROCK!!!!!
I ride Division almost daily and don’t recall the contra-flow lanes ever being swept.
A huge THANK YOU!

B. Carfree
Guest
B. Carfree

I’m glad everyone had fun. I’ve done this in the past. Oddly, I don’t do it until I’m angry about the condition that the city lets things get to, but after all the folks riding by say thank you, I’m care-free, happy and wish I would have done it sooner.

Annick
Guest
Annick

Omg! I finished my training ride coming west on Division from the 205 path and had the pleasure of giving you all high fives and big hoots and hollers on the way! I saw a lot of mess on the roads this weekend and never thought I’d would consider Division an oasis but thanks to your thoughtful actions it was. Thank you so much!!!!

Michael S
Guest

Whilst I see the fun in this volunteer work, I have my doubts as well. All kind of public services can have a need for a helping hand sometimes. And helping out reminds us all, that public affairs belong to … the public, us. On the other hand i wonder, why exactly this task needed that help. Seems to be a plain sweeping task. When the service needed help in this, it seems they are missing some employees and/or sufficient equipment beside a pair of brooms.

Marianne Fitzgerald
Guest
Marianne Fitzgerald

Considering how much sand is still on our streets, we should all be inspired by this great volunteer effort and adopt a segment of bike lane or sidewalk that needs cleaning.

FYI PBOT has a website for street sweeping, https://www.portlandoregon.gov/transportation/67479. The Bureau/Budget Advisory Committee discussed the need for more efficiencies in the street sweeping and leaf pickup programs since PBOT may propose cuts to street sweeping but not the leaf pickup program. PBOT’s FY 17-18 requested budget isn’t posted yet but should be out shortly.

Mark smith
Guest
Mark smith

Where I live, there is minimal rock or sand left over. Street sweeping is expensive…But neesed. Never got why pbot felt the need to dump.rock and sand out like drunken saylors.

Seems like a great works project at this point.

Doug
Guest
Doug

If you are using the proper equipment for the job a little gravel isn’t a big thing. I ride 32s on my touring bike and lose very little performance, particularly for commuting use. If you have a problem with gravel you are on the wrong tires. If your bike won’t take the big tires you need another bike.

Adam
Subscriber

I rode over gravel with two-inch Big Apple tires and it was still slippery.

peejay
Guest
peejay

I have multiple bikes, and extra tires for the conditions (studs for the snow, knobbies for gravel), but most people don’t, especially in the neighborhood under discussion. While we can encourage people to get bikes appropriate for all-round city riding–which often means ignoring the advice of a lot of bike shop salespeople–the fact is, people have the bikes they have, and not the ones you want them to have. A clean bike lane maybe isn’t the highest priority out there, but it shouldn’t be a big ask, if we are trying to get more people in all neighborhoods to ride more.

Jack C.
Guest
Jack C.

Winter gravel remains heavy in various places as of June 2017. One case is the sidewalk on W. Burnside St. heading into the hills west of downtown. Not so many people walk or ride there but it still matters. You can’t ride on the street without blind faith in people’s alertness, so that sidewalk is critical for safety.

https://goo.gl/maps/dNgy9AEXu252 (Street View w/o actual gravel)