The Little Things is a new column where we share (relatively) small problems — and little miracles — in our street network. Is there a little thing that makes your ride uncomfortable, annoying, inspiring, or exhilirating? Tell us about it and we’ll consider it for a future column.
A north-south connector that straddles I-405, NW 14th Avenue is one of those streets that should be much better for bicycling than it is. It’s a useful piece of the bike network that can get you across town all the way from SW Jefferson to NW Quimby. When the Flanders Crossing Bridge opens, 14th will be even more important. Unfortunately the bikeway design is sub-par. Auto users dominate the streetscape and there are several sections that are way too stressful.
We’ll never forget when, on October 11th, 2007, young Tracey Sparling was killed by a truck driver at 14th and Burnside. Then there’s the dangerous right-hook risk at 14th and Everett a few blocks away (thankfully PBOT has installed some plastic wands to defend the bike lane), the big trucks delivering to Safeway that block the bike lane just north of Lovejoy, and so on.
And now this: A new development on 14th just before Glisan (Google Map), has extended the sidewalk directly into the bike lane. PBOT took no proactive measures to keep the bike lane safe and continuous, so bicycle riders are abruptly forced into a shared-lane situation on a high volume street.
What you told us about it
➤ On January 12th we heard from reader T. Clark via email: “I was nearly hit by a car while trying to get over because there are no warning or yellow paint, just a bike lane that ends in curb before picking up again past the building.”
➤ On January 21st we heard from @maccoinnich on Twitter that, “This creates a really dangerous situation… it made me pretty scared even as ‘strong and fearless’ cyclist.”
➤ On January 23rd we heard from @RchyRsh on Twitter that, “I emailed @PBOTinfo about this when it was a #workzonewtf that abruptly forced people riding bikes from a bike lane into oncoming car traffic. They acknowledged this was a problem then and still allowed this project.”
The official response
I asked PBOT Communications Director John Brady to explain how this happened. Here’s his response:
“Two things are going on here. One, on the eastside of 14th, the developer put in a sidewalk improvement that extended the sidewalk from a substandard 8 feet to 12 feet. On the westside, the construction project has installed, in line with our guidance about ensuring safe pedestrian access, a protected pedestrian walkway. These two things have narrowed the roadway, and we need to install some temporary striping to fit the new road conditions. This will happen soon and it will include an improvement to the bike lane. It will be a buffered bike lane.”
I asked Brady why PBOT wasn’t proactive in making sure there was no service gap in the bike lane. I’ll update this when I hear back.
Wrapping it up
It’s great to hear that PBOT should have a fix soon — but this type of thing should never happen. Disruptions and closures to bike-only lanes should be taken just as — if not more — seriously than disruptions to other lanes. While we’re waiting for PBOT to stripe a buffered bike lane here, keep in mind that the City has even larger plans for the bikeway on 14th. Their Central City in Motion project maps released last month show 14th as a “Desired link choice” in the upcoming protected bikeway network.
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