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Gravel update: Progress in places and broom-wielding heroes

Posted by on February 23rd, 2017 at 10:30 am

Progress!
(Photos: J. Maus/BikePortland)

How are things looking out there on the bike lanes you use the most?

Since our post last week there’s been big progress on some key bikeways we’ve been watching and I’m curious how the clean-up is going for you.

In particular, and since we helped make such a big deal out of it to begin with, I want to share the progress on Highway 30 and the St. Johns Bridge.

Sweeping has happened on the bridge sidewalk. It’s not perfectly clean; but it’s a vast improvement. I got some video the day it was swept (2/17):

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And on Highway 30 between the bridge and downtown Portland, PBOT has cleaned up a lot of gravel. It’s still dirty in places (there’s a reason it’s called “Dirty 30”), but the sweeping has made a vast improvement. The lead image in this story is of a location north of NW 63rd. As you can see, it was absolutely covered with tree debris nearly a month after the big storms — but now it’s much cleaner. Unfortunately there’s still a large tree just north of that location that blocks the entire bike lane.

Maybe this is why more people don't bike in winter. (Downed tree blocking the bike lane and gravel still remains on Hwy 30 one month after storms.) cc Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT)

Posted by BikePortland.org on Monday, February 13, 2017

Because Portlanders are DIY kind of people and because there’s still so much gravel on the ground, some have taken matters into their own hands. Volunteers with activist group PDX Transformation swept up several places in southeast Portland on February 19th. They cleaned SE Caruthers where it goes under the Martin Luther King Jr. viaduct and they swept SE Madison just west of the Hawthorne Bridge.

We also saw (but can no longer find) somewhere on social media that employees from Metropolis Cycles swept up North Williams Avenue north of Russell Street last week. Thank you to everyone who is chipping in!

On that note, PBOT Commissioner Dan Saltzman helped patch a pothole in northeast Portland this morning. It’s part of a new initiative by PBOT dubbed “Patch-a-thon” that recognizes the vast amount of potholes left behind by the storms. PBOT says they’re 1,000 potholes behind and they’ve sextupled the amount of maintenance work crews devoted to getting them filled. We hope the city crews have been instructed to pick up the gravel that’s often left behind next to potholes — and left behind by their patching material.

There’s no way around it: this winter has been brutal for bike riding. We hope you’ve been able to perservere through the snow, cold, rain, flat tires, and all the other daily insanities that come with riding a bike everyday in America. Just remember you’re not the only one out there and we’re with you in spirit.

— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and jonathan@bikeportland.org

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22 Comments
  • Avatar
    gtrain February 23, 2017 at 10:47 am

    That is great! DIY is the only way to do it sometimes…

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      rick February 23, 2017 at 10:57 am

      Yes. Even on public roads near private golf clubs !

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  • Adam H.
    Adam H. February 23, 2017 at 11:02 am

    Where government agencies have failed the public, it is imperative that the public step in and fill the gap. After all, they are not PBOT’s streets, they are OUR streets. Thanks to everyone who helped sweep up the gravel!

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      rachel b February 23, 2017 at 1:51 pm

      Slippery slope. I don’t know how to do it, but it’s imperative to insist the agencies do their jobs and not give them ANY reason to think, “Oh, well, now we don’t have to!” I appreciate the hearts and labor of everyone, though.

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    Travis February 23, 2017 at 11:22 am

    Hub caps are quickly becoming the greater hazard on Willamette’s bike lanes.

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    Moderate Fool February 23, 2017 at 11:52 am

    Sextoupled, dirty PBOT birdys!

    I noticed that Bond Avenue was better this morning than it was yesterday.

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    Adam February 23, 2017 at 12:47 pm

    I hope anyone out there that chooses to get out there with a broom and bucket of their own accord to sweep up all the gravel on our bikelanes, has the good grace to take it over to ODOT… and dump it all over their reception desk.

    It would do SO much to make ODOT feel at home!!!

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    Lester Burnham February 23, 2017 at 1:04 pm

    It’s unfortunate that after paying taxes we still end up doing the work ourselves.

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    TAJ February 23, 2017 at 1:07 pm

    Nice to see progress and thanks to those making it happen. For clarity so no one assumes all of HW30 is clear, the ramp from SJ Bridge to HW30 toward Sauvie was caked with gravel and the first half mile northbound was enough of a mess Monday to get me to turn around and find someplace else to go.

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    Gary B February 23, 2017 at 1:08 pm

    Forest park neighbors: “we gave you off-road cycling just down the hill, on the Hwy 30 shoulder, and you complained!”

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    rachel b February 23, 2017 at 1:48 pm

    Guh. Thankful to PDX Transformation, for sure. But we pay taxes. A lot of them. And this passive aggressive, tacit shunting of City responsibilities and work really bites. “Shadow work” researchers call it. We all increasingly do it.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/10/30/opinion/sunday/our-unpaid-extra-shadow-work.html

    I’ve got no problem with “all hands on deck!” in general. But we are paying for the City to be doing this work, and the City should be doing it. I’m really baffled by where all the money goes in Portland anymore. It apparently has more than ever. Yet it feels like it takes such a mammoth expenditure of energy to get the City to do any of even the most basic things it used to do as a matter of course to take care of citizens and environs.

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      Gary B February 24, 2017 at 9:13 am

      Agreed mostly, but technically we’re NOT paying for it. The budget is fully allocated and apparently adequate clean-up wasn’t part of it. So what I think you’re really saying is we pay enough and thus should be part of the budget. But of course that means something else shouldn’t.

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    • Adam H.
      Adam H. February 24, 2017 at 9:20 am

      We really don’t pay that much taxes compared to other countries that we envy for their bicycle infrastructure and maintenance. We don’t even have a sales tax, which is a big reason why Oregon can never seem to fund basic necessities in the same way Washington doesn’t seem to have trouble with.

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        rachel b February 24, 2017 at 9:25 pm

        I’m not at all averse to paying taxes. If our services were comparable to those in, say, Norway, I’d be happy as a clam to pay what they do. The problem I have with Portland now–and I did not used to feel this way–is that services that used to be a given and that citizens could depend upon (like speed/traffic enforcement, safe and clean parks, the expectation that–if you were robbed or being stalked, e.g.–a cop would appear to help you) have melted away. Never in my entire life here have I felt the message “You’re on your own” more viscerally. I feel like that should be Portland’s motto, now, if one were to tell the truth.

        This used to be one of the cleanest cities around and now it regularly gets comments on tourist boards about what a trash-strewn dump it is. I regularly pick up garbage on my walks and around our house, daily. Someone left a half eaten pizza on a paper plate on the steps to our porch a coupla days ago. I find beer bottles, cups, plastic cutlery, discarded food and plates and bags, cigarette butts–all in front of our house, on the street and sidewalk and in the bike lane. One time, a half dozen donuts on the ground. As someone who grew up here w/ SOLV and Woodsy Owl and rarely ever saw evidence of littering, I’m appalled by the changes.

        All roads remind me now of I-95–perpetually torn up and needing work. We keep hearing about all the money we’re making from new residents, and the county’s certainly using every opportunity to hike property taxes when they can. Marijuana’s bringing in a boatload of money for the city/state, too. So–what gives? We used to have a functioning system. I remember it. I miss it. What the hell happened?

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    Spiffy February 23, 2017 at 1:53 pm

    Metro Bikes post about sweeping the lanes…

    https://www.facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=1243478145687215&id=112386625463045

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    K'Tesh February 24, 2017 at 3:56 am

    Sorry I can’t help you this time folks. Glad to see more people getting out and becoming part of the solution though.

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    Lidwien Rahman February 24, 2017 at 8:33 am

    Still badly needed: NW Couch between SE 6th and the Burnside Bridge, and NE Broadway and Weidler ear MLK/ Grand. Both are major routes leading to and from the bridges. I’m glad I’ve gothybrid tires on my commuter bike, but still terrified. Couch often has one vehicle lane closed so drivers are not about the let bicyclists into the remaining lane.

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    Lidwien Rahman February 24, 2017 at 8:34 am

    I mean NE Couch

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    Tony Thayer February 24, 2017 at 9:18 am

    The SE Division bike lane between 60th and 82nd is still gnarly. Caught three flats in a three-day period this week on that stretch alone due to the mixed gravel and broken glass.

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    SE February 24, 2017 at 10:29 am

    Rode NE 122nd yesterday. Some clear patches, some so bad that I diverted to the sidewalk (esp between Halsey and San Rafael)

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    Justin M February 24, 2017 at 4:11 pm

    I went down Barbur the other day. I always use the bridge sidewalks. They’re pretty narrow so that’s always a little scary, but they’re still covered in gravel. I don’t understand why they can’t stripe a bike lane. The rightmost lanes on that part of the road are huge.

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    Carrie February 25, 2017 at 12:49 pm

    SE 17th between McLoughlin and Powell is much better, except where they are doing streetwork. There is a lot of residual ‘gravel’ in those locations that make riding on skinny tires challenging. The bike lane striping has also completely worn off in several places (yes, I’ve called PBOT Maintenance).

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