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Here’s how PBOT will fix the bike lane that disappeared on NW 14th Ave

Posted by on January 29th, 2018 at 2:34 pm

PBOT’s temporary plans for the block of NW 14th between Flanders and Glisan.

Remember the bike lane on NW 14th Avenue we highlighted last week?

(Photo: J. Maus/BikePortland)

The lane had disappeared without any warning, forcing road users into stressful and dangerous situations. While they still haven’t explained why they didn’t catch the problem earlier, the Portland Bureau of Transportation told us the bike lane vanished because of a construction project on one side of the street and a new, wider sidewalk that was installed on the other side of the street. “These two things have narrowed the roadway,” PBOT’s John Brady said, “and we need to install some temporary striping to fit the new road conditions.”

Now we have the details on what that temporary striping will look like.

In a letter and email sent to nearby businesses and residents today, PBOT Capital Project Manager Scott Cohen explained the problem and showed a cross-section drawing of the “temporary operational plan” that will be in place for the next year.

Here are the elements of that plan (emphasis mine):

• Offering pedestrian and ADA access to all legs of the intersection during construction.
• Improved sidewalk corridor in a busy Central City neighborhood.
Providing space for people bicycling on a busy corridor.
• Improving existing auto lane shift north of NW Glisan that addresses safety issues for merging vehicles.
• Improving freight turning movements and helping move vehicles through the intersection more intuitively.

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Cohen says city staff will monitor traffic for the next year to determine the best way to permanently configure NW 14th after construction is completed. Hopefully by next year we’ll just keep this wide bikeway in place for good — since 14th plays a starring role in the future protected bike lane network PBOT is working on.

As for why PBOT failed to catch this before the bike lane became blocked by the sidewalk, we never got a reply when we asked about it. However, our smart commenters seem to have figured it out. Here’s the salient exchange from the comment thread of our post last week:

Maccoinich:

When the protected walkway was put in the striping was moved west, which can be seen in the first photo. When that traffic control plan was approved the person who reviewed that was likely unaware of the planned widening of the sidewalk on the east side of the street (to the same width as the block faces to the north and south). My guess is that no one realized the combined effect of these two separate projects would be to remove the bike lane, i.e. PBOT messed up here through a lack of internal coordination rather than through any kind of bad intent.

Momo:

Correct. Permit jobs are reviewed independently, often by separate staff, and I can see how this got missed. Unfortunate, but these things happen.

If you have feedback about PBOT’s plans for 14th, you can reach Scott Cohen at (503) 823-5345 or via email at scott.cohen (at) portlandoregon.gov.

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

34 Comments
  • Avatar
    Buzz January 29, 2018 at 2:43 pm

    The bike lane didn’t just ‘vanish’; someone, probably from PBOT, used a grinder to remove it, that’s quite obvious in the photo.

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      maccoinnich January 29, 2018 at 2:51 pm

      The re-striping probably wasn’t done by someone at PBOT, and was likely performed by a subcontractor working on behalf of the construction project going on at the west of the street. The striping was moved prior to construction of the new sidewalk, as can be seen in Google Streetview shots from September:

      https://goo.gl/maps/xM5HHkrstNw

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    Social Engineer January 29, 2018 at 3:06 pm

    Bravo to PBOT staff for their overall responsiveness in recognizing this urgent safety issue and coming up with a temporary plan to accommodate bikes and peds through this corridor. Let’s hope this configuration eventually becomes permanent.

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      Matt Meskill January 29, 2018 at 6:35 pm

      Bravo to PBOT??? Let’s back up a minute:

      “As for why PBOT failed to catch this before the bike lane became blocked by the sidewalk, we never got a reply when we asked about it.”

      Hardly worthy of a bravo.

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        Social Engineer January 29, 2018 at 7:10 pm

        This post sort of buries the lede on the real story here. This “temporary” reconfiguration is not PBOT’s endgame for 14th. If things go according to plan, there will be a protected bikeway in this stretch as part of a planned repaving project. This change is real progress.

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          Matt Meskill January 29, 2018 at 8:08 pm

          The end result might earn a “bravo” but this is a cluster anyway you slice it.

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            Andrew Kreps January 30, 2018 at 3:50 pm

            Honestly, NW 14th is a cluster however you end up sliced.

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    John Lascurettes January 29, 2018 at 3:32 pm

    So am I reading this wrong or can this be summed up like this: They’re going to take minimal action and “observe it” for a year before they decide how to fix it?

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      Social Engineer January 29, 2018 at 3:35 pm

      In what world is taking an entire travel lane away from motor vehicles considered to be “minimal action”?

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        Buzz January 29, 2018 at 4:06 pm

        A world in which self-important, over-privileged, over-entitled motorists are not always first in line by caveat?

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        Matt Meskill January 29, 2018 at 6:37 pm

        They took an entire travel lane away from cyclists.

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          Social Engineer January 29, 2018 at 6:55 pm

          Yeah and they could have just plopped down a Bikes on Roadway sign for the duration of the building construction and called it good.

          The removal of a travel lane along this busy and dangerous corridor is a long time coming for the neighborhood and nearby businesses. PBOT quickly realized their mistake and didn’t “let a good crisis go to waste”. Instead they took advantage of the opportunity and have proposed *improving* the bike and pedestrian environment over what was there pre-construction.

          It’s ok to give credit where credit is due occasionally.

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            Matt Meskill January 29, 2018 at 8:09 pm

            I’ll give credit for the end result but this is a cluster. Let’s not whitewash it.

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            Buzz January 29, 2018 at 8:59 pm

            Sound like someone is a butt-hurt PBOT employee…just sayin’…

            PBOT will get credit when credit is due, but this is not it.

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              Social Engineer January 29, 2018 at 9:04 pm

              Oh please, this is the same tired routine you bring to the comments of every article on this site. Nothing is ever good enough for you, apparently.

              The next time you compliment PBOT on something will be the first time…just sayin’…

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              Chris I January 30, 2018 at 9:59 am

              Their response is better than what we would see from 99% of the cities in the US. You have somewhat unrealistic expectations.

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      John Lascurettes January 29, 2018 at 5:00 pm

      because paint does very little to keep drivers in their lanes, especially when there’s a bend in the road. https://www.google.com/maps/@45.5296466,-122.6450624,3a,22.5y,27.93h,79.82t/data=!3m6!1e1!3m4!1sfwxvSWdtu0ngx8bKGGKOLA!2e0!7i13312!8i6656

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        John Lascurettes January 29, 2018 at 6:35 pm

        And of note, at that location, most cars not only cut into the buffer, but fully into the (substandard) bike lane. There’s simply no reason for it other than laziness or inattentiveness.

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        Stephen Keller January 29, 2018 at 8:27 pm

        Agreed. The new paint on Willamette is already being worn away by folks who seem unable to keep to their lanes.

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          rick January 30, 2018 at 7:22 am

          PBOT didn’t bother to install the torch-down durable paint on the repave last year of SW Beaverton-Hillsdale Highway. However, Washington County put the torch-down paint on a far less busy SW Scholls Ferry Road, meandered the bike lane paint for automobile traffic calming, and put more frequent bike lane symbols.

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    bikeninja January 29, 2018 at 3:37 pm

    We know that we are living in a better ( and more sustainable) world when permit Snafu’s remove an entire freeway, and PBOT has to have a staffer who coordinates the occasional ( Summer Motorways) when the dusty old motorcars are unpacked from their garages and driven around in a loop of neighborhood streets where they are normally prohibited.

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    Doug Klotz January 29, 2018 at 7:29 pm

    It looks like the final configuration will be like the Everett to Flanders block south of here, with on parking, 3 travel lanes and a bike lane on the right. Except, the left-most travel lane will become a turn lane, and disappear north of the intersection.

    The new sidewalk on the east side appears to line up with the blocks north and south. The new sidewalk on the west side will, I expect, line up with the sidewalk on the south half of the block.

    The only reason they can’t maintain 3 travel lanes now is they’re allowing the construction work to project beyond where the new curb line will be, with their protected sidewalk. Removing an auto travel lane on this block during the project seems like an improvement. Perhaps it will work for auto flow, (With the 2-1 lane transition happening in this block instead of the Glisan-to-Hoyt block), and be made permanent after the building is completed, and give a wider than usual bike lane with buffer in this block.

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    Richard January 29, 2018 at 8:59 pm

    If executed, preferably with with bollards (at least), I am grateful for this. However, I think it’s worth noting that this situation played out for months prior during construction, and nothing was done. The bike lane disappeared into a #WorkZoneWTF before now disappearing into a sidewalk. When I contacted PBOT, I was told that a temporary fix would happen to avoid dumping people into oncoming car traffic. Nothing was done. And here we are.

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  • John Liu
    John Liu January 29, 2018 at 11:28 pm

    I still think something like wands or a bit of barrier needs to be where the bike lane jogs left. Otherwise some drivers will inadvertently drive into the bike lane, especially in poor visibility situations or when traffic is heavy.

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    Eric Leifsdad January 30, 2018 at 7:59 am

    The freeway brings too many cars. The bikeway will need extra protection.

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    Sean R-M January 30, 2018 at 9:30 am

    what will they be evaluating? LOS? I think the modal priority goes like this: Pedestrian, Bike, Vehicles, but before we change anything we need to check with the vehicles and make sure it won’t be too inconvenient

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    Evan January 30, 2018 at 10:13 am

    Has PBOT ever “accidentally” removed a lane of auto travel? I’d bet that there are strong internal processes to ensure that never happens, but those processes aren’t applied when bike lanes hang in the balance.

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    Andrew Kreps January 30, 2018 at 3:54 pm

    It’s notable that this fix only covers one city block- the entire length of 14th ave needs a bit of attention. It’s taken lives due to its’ design for at least 10 years, and I can state without hyperbole, every time I ride it I have to perform emergency maneuvers to keep from smashing into a rolling wall of steel and glass. I think it’s time to look at this street in a wholistic manner.

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    Deborah Schultz January 31, 2018 at 10:40 am

    Thank you for reporting on this new and NOT improved bike lane gap along one of the few North/South corridors with a bike lane at all. I’m thankful that the section is going to be revised. I only hope that collisions and injury can be avoided between now and the implementation.

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    mark smith February 3, 2018 at 8:01 pm

    1)imagine if bike portland hadn’t been there to hold PBOT accountable. The fishwrapper was not.
    2)There are three lanes going one way. There should only be 2 tops. That leaves 9 feet for people.

    Done.

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