Splendid Cycles

26th Avenue bike lanes in death throes as ODOT turns screws and advocates dig in

Posted by on February 7th, 2018 at 1:46 pm

The bike lanes aren’t pretty, but they’re better than nothing (depending on who you ask).
(Photos: J. Maus/BikePortland)

“PBOT believes there was evidence to justify the State Engineer to reconsider his decision and leave the bike lanes in place. ODOT has communicated to the City that they will not reconsider that decision.”
— Dylan Rivera, PBOT

The bike lanes on SE 26th Avenue approaching Powell Boulevard are on life support.

In a saga that has spanned nearly 30 months, PBOT appears to have finally acquiesced to the Oregon Department of Transportation’s demand that a pair of bike lanes that have been in use since the 1980s be removed in favor of the state’s preferred route for bicycle users two blocks east on SE 28th. It all comes back to a deal struck by PBOT and ODOT two years ago.

In order to build a new traffic signal and crossing at the intersection of SE 28th and SE Powell for their 20s Bikeway project, PBOT needed a special permit from ODOT and the blessing of State Traffic Engineer Bob Pappe. ODOT, who owns and manages Powell Boulevard, agreed to that permit only on the very specific condition that once the new signal was up and running, PBOT would remove the bike lanes on 26th.

Provisions included with PBOT’s permit application to install a signal on SE Powell Blvd. Signed by PBOT Policy, Planning and Projects Group Manager Art Pearce.
(Full document here).

ODOT says the 26th and Powell intersection is “over capacity for all users” and they feel it’s not nearly as safe for bike riders as 28th. “The separated crossing at 28th is smart and safe for bicyclists,” said ODOT 
Public Policy and Community Affairs Manager Shelli Romero in a phone call yesterday. Agency spokesman Don Hamilton (who was also on the call) concurred: “We’ve created a safer situation here than what we had before… We’ve taken a significant step to separate bicycles from the fray of 26th Ave.”

The bike lanes on 26th extend about 130-feet on both sides of Powell. Just a few blocks away is SE Clinton Street, the eighth busiest bike intersection in the city with 3,785 average daily trips (as per 2017 PBOT bike counts).

There’s certainly reason to worry about cycling conditions on 26th, given the grisly crash history at 26th and Powell and the fact that the bike lanes are very narrow at just three-feet wide. Even so, PBOT wanted to keep the lanes on 26th because the route is so well-known and relatively popular for bicycle users — and having even three feet of space, they argued, would be safer than having no dedicated space at all.

In August 2015 PBOT Bicycle Program Manager Roger Geller cited four research studies showing that even narrow bike lanes offer an important safety benefit. “Would the street operate more safely without bicycle lanes than with? Based on the evidence I’d have to say no,” he wrote in a letter to the city’s Bicycle Advisory Committee.

The Street Trust is fighting to keep the lanes as well. In January 2016, former Executive Director Rob Sadowsky was firm: “Over our dead bodies,” he said, referring to ODOT’s insistence on the removal. “We will look at legal options if necessary.” And just yesterday, The Street Trust launched an online petition aimed at stopping PBOT’s plans:

“On top of dedicating space for bicyclists to ride on, the lanes help slow down traffic, which reduces the likelihood for crashes, even at times when bicyclists aren’t present. This positive safety impact is critical at SE Powell & 26th — not only is it one of the city’s most crash-prone intersections, but it’s located directly outside of Cleveland High School.

To remove this bike lane would be irresponsible and would necessarily threaten the safety of people riding bikes, students, pedestrians, and motorists as well. There is no excuse to increase the risk of death or injury each day.”

But despite this support and research backing up the bike lanes (and no public opposition to them whatsoever) ODOT has not wavered. They actually appear eager to get rid of the bike lanes.

In the past few years, PBOT has added green color and bike boxes in both directions.


The new signal and crossing at SE 28th and Powell was conditional on the removal of the bike lane on 26th.

“We agreed there was nothing in the data that would merit a change of mind.”
— Shelli Romero, ODOT

In an email obtained via a public records request from ODOT’s Romero to PBOT Project Manager Rich Newlands in November of 2016, Romero wrote that the agencies had a “difference of opinion” about when the lanes should come out. “That needs to happen,” Romero wrote. “It can happen after the 28th Avenue signal is up, but it needs to happen sooner than a year’s time… I believe ODOT will want to add language to your permit application that ensures that the bike lanes on SE 26th Avenue are removed within a specific timeframe. I was a little surprised that your understanding of the lag time between installation of the signal and removal of the bike lanes on SE 26th Avenue would be about a year’s time. This seems too long.”

Reached on the phone yesterday, Romero said both agencies are now on the same page. “We’re not in any level of disagreement on this,” she said. “The city has agreed that the bike lanes are coming out.”

“We resisted this condition. However, given the importance of gaining a much needed traffic signal at SE 28th… we reached a compromise with ODOT.”
— Dylan Rivera, PBOT

That’s true, but PBOT is clearly not enthused about the situation. “Because it is the general policy of PBOT not to remove bike lanes and because we believed the bike lane on SE 26th would still serve the needs of people who bike, especially at the entrance to Cleveland High School even after the improvements to SE 28th,” wrote PBOT spokesman Dylan Rivera in an email to BikePortland yesterday. “We resisted this condition. However, given the importance of gaining a much needed traffic signal at SE 28th to provide access to many SE Portland destinations, we reached a compromise with ODOT.”

As per their agreement, PBOT’s only chance to save the lanes was if a traffic count showed that a significant amount of bicycle riders still used 26th even after the 28th Avenue signal was up and running (June 2017). Those counts were completed in September and PBOT met with ODOT to discuss them late last year. Romero said of that meeting yesterday: “We agreed there was nothing in the data that would merit a change of mind.”

However, PBOT sees the data differently. Rivera shared yesterday that, “PBOT believes there was evidence to justify the State Engineer to reconsider his decision and leave the bike lanes in place.” But, he continued, “ODOT has communicated to the City that they will not reconsider that decision.”

Somehow in the name of safety, the safest road users have been told to go away.

Now it appears the only option left for those who want to keep the bike lanes on 26th Avenue is some good, old-fashioned activism. The Street Trust’s Gerik Kransky told us today that they haven’t given up. “The bike lanes are still on the street, for now, but the decision has been made. We are fighting today because we want to save the bike lanes and we think public pressure is the only option left.”

As for his former boss’s threats of a lawsuit, Kransky said, “We are reviewing the merits of a legal challenge and have not yet made a decision.”

Stay tuned.

— 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

  • eawriste February 7, 2018 at 1:55 pm

    I thought PBOT was originally considering combining the lanes to make a safer one-direction (preferably physically separated) lane on 26th. Was this not an option?

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  • Justin February 7, 2018 at 1:56 pm

    So they installed new improvements, including cycling infrastructure on 28th in exchange for taking away the lanes on 26th? It doesn’t sound like a bad exchange. What am I missing? It sounds like we’d end up with the same number of lanes as before the improvement, except with improvements. Sorry if I’m reading this wrong.

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    • Bjorn February 7, 2018 at 2:10 pm

      One big part of the problem is that there is a high school on 26th that is a major destination for bicycle traffic. How many kids coming from the west do you think will bike an extra 4 blocks up and down a hill to cross at 28th rather than crossing at 26th?

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      • Bald One February 7, 2018 at 3:07 pm

        No doubt. Any kid trying to get to Cleveland HS from the Brooklyn neighborhood will want to use this intersection, and a detour up to 28th involves attempting to cross SE 26th a block or two south of Powell (which will no be more difficult), and making a detour to the south, if they came up the path through Powell Park to get there.

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        • maxD February 7, 2018 at 4:04 pm

          That is such a great point! Removing the bike lanes on 26th has a double whammy effect of making 26th more dangerous/harder to cross while forcing more people to cross it!

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    • Ben February 7, 2018 at 2:50 pm

      The 28th Ave. bikeway south of Powell is a nightmare of broken pavement, for one thing.

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      • J_R February 7, 2018 at 4:07 pm

        Besides the broken pavement, the street is lined with parked cars which causes other cars to double-parking for passenger drop-off and pick-up, and there’s the hill on the south side of Powell.

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  • CaptainKarma February 7, 2018 at 1:58 pm

    Is this happening due to freight routing?

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    • Buzz February 7, 2018 at 3:47 pm

      There do seem to be a lot more trucks now on 26th between Holgate and Powell, the local rail yards are a major trucking hub.

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      • Buzz February 8, 2018 at 10:21 am

        Actually, if you look closer at the truck movements, I think currently they are only running them on SE 26th from SE Holgate to SE Gladstone, which is entirely south of where the bike lanes on SE 26th end.

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        • rachel b February 9, 2018 at 1:22 am

          They’re on SE 26th all the way up to Division. And yes–my bet is that ODOT is responding to pressure from Union Pacific. We saw semi traffic balloon in the brief couple of years we lived on SE 26th. All I can say is I’m glad we’re out of there.

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          • rachel b February 9, 2018 at 1:23 am

            All the new commerce/restaurants/food places on Division have also upped truck traffic immensely on SE 26th. Those beer trucks shake the whole block when they go by.

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  • Paul February 7, 2018 at 2:07 pm

    One thing worth noting is that 28th is quite a bit hillier than 26th.

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    • 9watts February 8, 2018 at 7:49 am

      …reminds me of the fight over 28th Stark to Sandy. Let the bikey folk eat crumbs two blocks from where they’ve been riding.

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  • Shoupian February 7, 2018 at 2:10 pm

    Can those with insider knowledge help me understand how does ODOT have a say for a bike facility on a local street? I know there is the deal for the signal on 28th and Powell that needed ODOT’s permission, but can agencies actually and legally make these types of agreements trading something that is controlled by one agency for the permission of a project from another? And hypothetically, if PBOT refuses to remove it, then what happens? Will they be forced to remove the signal on 28th & Powell?

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    • Bjorn February 7, 2018 at 4:27 pm

      My understanding is that any changes on powell require ODOT approval, which is why the city has been working on taking control of more of the state highways that are within the city limits. The hard part is the city doesn’t want to take on a highway that has a ton of deferred maintenance which is most of them without ODOT ponying up some money to do that maintenance. This kind of horse trade seems perfectly legal, but I agree that there is little to no chance of ODOT actually forcing the removal of the signal if the city doesn’t remove the bike lane striping, although it may make future deals with ODOT more difficult to negotiate. Another probably downside would be that the city might see increased liability if someone was injured in these bike lanes since they are substandard. Overall though it does seem like since the signal already exists that if they really wanted to PBOT could just refuse and call ODOT’s bluff. I mean it would be interesting to see what they would do as I don’t think it has probably happened very often if ever.

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    • David Hampsten February 8, 2018 at 9:15 am

      I was just looking at a right-of-way map. Apparently ODOT has jurisdiction over a small portion of SE 26th Ave about a half block north and south of US 26 (Powell). I dare say it’s probably long-standing, from the 50s if not earlier.

      Of course all this would be irrelevant if PBOT agreed to take over the right-of-way, as ODOT and the state legislature recently offered.

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  • Bald One February 7, 2018 at 2:21 pm

    Nice piece, but I don’t think it really digs deep enough. Why would ODOT fight so hard to remove these bike lanes? Why would ODOT care? These bike lanes are not on Powell, they are on 26th, simply crossing Powell. A significant safety upgrade to this intersection has already happened, in the form of new left turn signals.

    Again, we need to ask, why does ODOT want to remove side street bike lanes so desperately?

    I think if you dig deeper, you will discover how deeply in bed with ODOT is with the Trucking Industry, which is really just a shill for the RailRoad Industry in this case. The only reason that ODOT wants to remove these bike lanes on SE 26th, is so that the UPRR Railroad can more easily run 56′ semi-truck trailers up and down SE 26th Ave and gain access to SE Powell from the UPRR Brooklyn Rail yard.

    ODOT continues to fight against any type of fuel standards, diesel standards, truck pollution standards, air quality standards because of this same Railroad industry that they seem so deeply in bed with, and now they want to continue to degrade the livability of inner SE Portland by expanding access to huge truckers through neighborhood streets in SE Portland.

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    • David Hampsten February 8, 2018 at 9:24 am

      Dig a little deeper and you’ll find that the state legislature has offered both inner and outer Powell to the City of Portland, insists upon it really, so I’d suggest you start asking yourself why PBOT isn’t resisting very much and is letting ODOT have their way.

      Basically, someone in PBOT wants the bike lanes on 26th Ave removed and is using ODOT to take the blame, based upon pre-2017 correspondence. IMO, ODOT is an “innocent” party in all this. Yes, they have a dubious history on stuff like this, but in this particular case, you are blaming the wrong party. It’s PBOT who’s at fault here.

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      • Hello, Kitty
        Hello, Kitty February 8, 2018 at 9:46 am

        >>> Yes, they have a dubious history on stuff like this <<<

        I nominate this for the new BikePortland column, Understatement of the Week!

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    • rachel b February 9, 2018 at 1:24 am

      Thank you, Bald One.

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  • Mick O February 7, 2018 at 2:35 pm


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    • K'Tesh February 7, 2018 at 6:21 pm

      I like that meme… 😉

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  • Carrie February 7, 2018 at 2:41 pm

    I am flabbergasted by this. And feel shafted by all the public process and lack of transparency. I have attended all the ODOT Open House events in the past 3 years regarding the Powell Blvd improvement projects and have studied the maps and renderings and asked again, and again, and again about the bike lanes on 26th. And was assured at every single meeting that it was a PBOT decision and at that time (the last open house was just a few months ago) there were NO plans or desire by ODOT to remove the lanes. It’s all BS by somebody.

    My kids and their friends and my neighbor’s kids are on this block EVERY SINGLE weekday. Those bike lanes are junk, but they are the only buffer and the only thing even coming close to slowing down car traffic on 26th. At this incredibly dangerous intersection, how can someone even reasonably argue that widening the car travel lanes will make this area safer? The green bike boxes provide some much needed buffer for pedestrian crossing at this intersection as well.

    And from personal experience (and reports from several of the students) the light at 28th takes significantly longer to activate than that at 26th. The infrastructure is not separate but equal, but separate and clearly shows which mode of travel is seen as more important for throughput. Not to mention that yeah, when I’m headed home from that area I find it more than annoying I’m supposed to ride several blocks east out of my way, up and down hills that don’t exist on 26th.

    Just flabbergasted. And so incredibly disappointed by a city that I used to think had community, environment, and cycling as a valid mode of transportation as priorities. We talk about safety and talk about valuing our kids, but actions say way more than talk.

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    • Steve Smith February 7, 2018 at 2:53 pm

      Write your state representatives and complain about ODOT.

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      • David Hampsten February 8, 2018 at 9:27 am

        I’d suggest you complain to your 5 city councilors instead and ask why they haven’t accepted the state ligislature’s 2017 offer to give them all of Powell.

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    • Hello, Kitty
      Hello, Kitty February 8, 2018 at 3:21 am

      I totally agree. The crossing at 28th sucks (as does 26th). I often choose to cross at 21st, or, even sometimes at 24th rather than use 26th or 28th.

      The 20s bikeway should have been further west, along 21st/20th; it has far fewer hills, and is a much more direct route from Gladstone to points north.

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    • 9watts February 8, 2018 at 7:53 am

      “how can someone even reasonably argue that widening the car travel lanes will make this area safer?”

      It is called plausible deniability. After bike lanes are removed, the bikey folk will evaporate from that location = safer for everyone 😉

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      • Brian February 9, 2018 at 11:07 am

        #takethelane, instead

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    • rachel b February 9, 2018 at 1:27 am

      I’d suggest we egg cars and trucks. Thanks for the well-written thoughts, Carrie. I’m with you.

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    • KYouell February 9, 2018 at 2:32 pm

      I’m with you, Carrie!

      I’m convinced that no one at ODOT and few people at PBOT can read a topographical map. All this will do is put the 8-year-olds and the 80-year-olds in the lane with cars and big rigs on SE 26th. The idea that all people riding bikes are physically fit 20-somethings on fast little bikes is plain ignorant.

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  • Al February 7, 2018 at 2:48 pm

    ODOT wants cyclists to “TAKE THE LANE” on 26th. Got it!

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    • osmill February 7, 2018 at 5:19 pm

      Exactly – once the bike lanes are gone from 26th, there will be no longer be a legal question about taking the lane. And it will be much safer than hugging the curb.

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    • K'Tesh February 7, 2018 at 6:12 pm

      And for 5 dollars a month you can opt to receive the full lane in thanks to ODOT repealing Road Neutrality.

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    • Spiffy February 7, 2018 at 6:16 pm

      and you can bet I’ll be riding extra slow, with no place to pull over due to street parking being at capacity all the time… drivers will floor it to pass me before oncoming traffic hits them head-on, cutting me off and then slamming on the brakes in front of me at the light…

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      • Kyle Banerjee February 8, 2018 at 5:43 am

        This thread illustrates precisely why cycling gets nowhere and why many drivers (i.e. voters) have even stronger anti cycling attitudes than you’ll find in any redneck area.

        Taking the lane is no act of defiance nor is it a big deal. Many cyclists, including myself, do so on every single ride. There would be no cycling facilities of any sort had it not been for the many cyclists who rode in these areas before they existed.

        Ride your talk, help others out, and you’ll see more cyclists and facilities. Act like a jerk towards random people on the street just because they’re in a vehicle and you’ll provoke the haters as well as promote anticycling views in the population at large

        Hey Jonathan — moderation of my posts has been consistently heavy. If it’s really necessary to mute and/or drive away even lifelong cyclists who don’t subscribe to an extremely narrow view, your long term prospects don’t look good.

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        • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) February 8, 2018 at 8:35 am

          Hi Kyle,

          I moderate your comments not because of your viewpoints… But because of the volume of comments you leave and the tone you write them with. You have such strong views and you comment so often that the effect of them often overwhelms a thread and it intimidates other readers — making them less likely to participate in the discussion. I am trying to make the BP comment section as accessible and welcoming as possible and you take up a lot of space for the aforementioned reasons.

          I greatly value your participation, but not at the expense of others’. I don’t have a perfect moderation system so this is what I’m doing at this point. I welcome your feedback. Better yet, perhaps consider taking a back seat every once in a while so other people can step up into the space you leave behind. What do you think? I welcome your feedback.

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          • Kyle Banerjee February 8, 2018 at 10:13 am

            Hi Jonathan,

            I understand the concerns you raise and believe all are legitimate basis for moderating specific comments I make. I especially agree that this site needs to be welcoming to all posters and no one’s views should be at the expense of others.

            A few thoughts:

            1) General: If people know why something didn’t make it through, it’s easier to get play well.

            Not sure what kind of tools you have on your end, but a timeout feature might be useful, e.g. totally banning offenders for a week and letting people know why helps provide ongoing guidance of what is expected while giving offenders time to reflect on how to do better in future. This could lighten your moderation load too since you don’t have to muck about with individual posts. Warnings before temporary bans would be awesome if that were possible.

            2) Quantity: There is a self reinforcing cycle at play. I can’t tell what will get through and what won’t. Discussions need to be a flow to work, so when things sit in moderation for awhile, I assume they won’t get through and post again as if I hadn’t. This adds a significant artificial boost to the total.

            I promise to go easier in the background. No one will be happier than I if a greater number of posters with a wider range of perspectives share their thoughts.

            3) Tone: I’m sometimes guilty of this and frankly appreciate being called out when I’m out of line. I do not want to discourage anyone and value everyone’s input, including those I lock horns with — a healthy environment needs everyone.

            I do feel tone/quantity control could be applied more evenly than it is as I am hardly the only voluminous poster with strong views who sometimes takes an unproductive tone.

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            • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) February 8, 2018 at 10:22 am

              Thanks Kyle. This is helpful feedback and I appreciate your willingness to listen and consider changing.

              Please don’t respond to this comment. We are cluttering up the thread and I’d like to keep it on-topic.

              If you’d like to continue this conversation, email me at jonathan [at] bikeportland [dot] org.

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        • Spiffy February 8, 2018 at 12:13 pm

          “Act like a jerk towards random people on the street just because they’re in a vehicle and you’ll provoke the haters as well as promote anticycling views in the population at large”

          why is it that cyclists legally on the road are often seen as some slight to drivers? why am I some crazy jerk because I’m exercising my right to ride on the road? is it because I’m not a fast cyclist? no, because even when doing the speed limit (on a bike or in a car) people are really angry at me…

          you’re not acting like a jerk if you’re cycling down the middle of the lane, as you well know…

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    • Brian February 9, 2018 at 11:07 am

      Damn, beat me to it!

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  • Doug February 7, 2018 at 2:52 pm

    The steepness of 28th will lead some cyclists to use 26th even without the bike lanes. All over the city, the more level path is reserved for motor vehicles, and the steeper path (whatever was left over) for bicycles. See also, Salmon, 30th n. of Stark, and Harrison. In many cases the auto route was originally the streetcar route, for which the more level street was chosen (this is why Clinton was level: It had a streetcar as far east as 41st).
    And yes, 26th was a streetcar route, too. Level.

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    • osmill February 7, 2018 at 5:21 pm

      Also the 20s ‘greenway’ route as it goes north from Division to Hawthorne to Belmont.

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  • Doug Hecker February 7, 2018 at 2:53 pm

    What’s a compromise if the party that asked for a change and received also wants what they had to begin with? Although the light at 28th is forever long and tests my own personal patience, it’s still better than riding on 26th. Seems more political than realistic since a deal was made.

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    • 9watts February 8, 2018 at 7:54 am

      Only light that takes longer is at 33rd and Powell.

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  • Hazel February 7, 2018 at 3:02 pm

    Because of where I work 28th Ave will never make sense for me as an option. I’m so disappointed that this was ever put on the table. 26th ave is full of speeding and people making dangerous turns off side streets. I’m pretty sure removing the bike will only make this worse.

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    • Bjorn February 7, 2018 at 3:44 pm

      Yeah, pretty much guaranteed that widening the lanes by removing the bike lanes will increase speeds.

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      • Hello, Kitty
        Hello, Kitty February 8, 2018 at 3:24 am

        Surely, PBOT will add parking rather than widen the travel lanes. They should also add curb extensions at every bus stop to make crossing easier.

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        • Bjorn February 8, 2018 at 10:33 am

          If there is only room for a 3 foot wide bike lane there is definitely not room for parking. This is going to be wider more dangerous lanes because the change is going to be grinding off the bike lanes and nothing else. That is why people are so opposed to it.

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          • Hello, Kitty
            Hello, Kitty February 8, 2018 at 10:57 am

            There are two 3′ bike lanes, which, when combined, will be enough room. The street used to have parking on both sides.

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        • mtvcop February 8, 2018 at 10:21 pm

          There was a lot of opposition from the residents along 26th losing their street parking when the lanes were put in. I assume the parking would return with the disappearance of the lanes. Also, the bike routes from the southwest direction are mostly blocked by the RR tracks anyway, and there is a park at that corner to help with the approach to the intersection.

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        • rachel b February 9, 2018 at 1:32 am

          If ODOT is doing it for UPRR, they’re not going to add parking. Those big trucks don’t fit in the lanes right now–adding parking to the west side of the road will only exacerbate that problem. It’ll be interesting to see what happens.

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    • Hazel February 7, 2018 at 3:56 pm

      Also 28th is a death trap going by Hosford Middle School in the morning. I can’t deal.

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      • osmill February 7, 2018 at 5:22 pm

        And a set of very steep hills.

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      • KYouell February 9, 2018 at 2:38 pm

        I’m hoping the stretch in front of Hosford can get the same treatment as SE 34th between Division and Clinton: one-way car traffic with a contra-flow bike lane. That would enforce the continual requests from the school administration that parents dropping off kids will only travel southbound and leave room for bikes to go northbound.

        Or take a flat route that meanders over to SE 32nd Pl on the other side of Sewallcrest Park.

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  • Buzz February 7, 2018 at 3:44 pm

    As with other ODOT and PBOT decisions relating to cycling routes, they don’t seem to care much for considering the effects of topography on the relative ease of cycling; SE 26th is a much flatter and easier to ride route than SE 28th.

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  • J_R February 7, 2018 at 3:59 pm

    The problem with safety at the intersection is that autos are speeding, especially westbound on Powell, and blowing through the red light. These obvious safety concerns will not be helped by reducing bikes or by eliminating the bike lane.

    Capacity may be an issue at the intersection, but eliminating the bike lanes to provide auto lanes that are a tiny bit wider will not cause any measurable increase in capacity for autos.

    28th can work for my children for going to Cleveland HS, but it doesn’t work for me going to downtown, Hawthorne District, or Lloyd area. I guess I’ll be taking the lane on 26th. That won’t help the capacity of Powell and 26th at all.

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  • Kyle Banerjee February 7, 2018 at 5:10 pm

    If people are going to consistently demand separation, you should expect more stuff like this to happen. With regards to safety/discomfort/convenience issues, people will use 28th, sidewalks, or other streets depending on what works best for them individually.

    26th is not great riding, but it’s not awful either. If you value using roads, consider using them rather than insisting on keeping the cars away. Expecting not to encounter cars when using roads in a major metropolitan area is like expecting to take a shower without getting wet.

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  • Spiffy February 7, 2018 at 5:48 pm

    “We’ve created a safer situation here than what we had before… We’ve taken a significant step to separate bicycles from the fray of 26th Ave.”

    this seems like a typical ODOT response… bikes face too much danger on 26th from motor vehicles? remove the bikes!

    how do they keep getting away with blaming the victim in so many things they do?

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    • 9watts February 8, 2018 at 7:56 am

      Car Head.

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  • K'Tesh February 7, 2018 at 6:09 pm

    I seem to remember that ODOT resists changes that impede traffic… Cyclists ARE TRAFFIC!

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    • Spiffy February 7, 2018 at 6:47 pm

      more of us need to bike on Powell…

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      • Kyle Banerjee February 7, 2018 at 10:22 pm

        And everywhere else. But seems like the number of people who actually do is falling with time.

        This mantra that cyclists need total separation is based on the implicit assumption that bikes don’t belong on the road. That long term cyclists seriously think a few feet of elevation gain or anything other than flat, dry, windless, quiet, comfortably cool riding represents some kind of hardship doesn’t bode well for convincing people to choose cycling to cover miles of distance.

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        • 9watts February 9, 2018 at 8:13 am

          “This mantra that cyclists need total separation is based on the implicit assumption that bikes don’t belong on the road.”

          Why couldn’t it be based on a sense that cars driven by poorly trained and/or distracted folks in close proximity feels unsafe? I myself am happy to ride close to cars and trucks, but recognize that many are not.

          “That long term cyclists seriously think a few feet of elevation gain or anything other than flat, dry, windless, quiet, comfortably cool riding represents some kind of hardship doesn’t bode well for convincing people to choose cycling to cover miles of distance.”
          Not very gracious. I think you are misreading what people are saying. I think what they are saying is that when we have two parallel roads one of which is nice and flat and the other hilly, why send the bikers over to the hilly one? What does that say about the supposed shift in priorities toward non-motorized transport?

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  • soren February 7, 2018 at 6:27 pm

    Does anyone else have problems triggering the signal going south on 28th? It almost never works for me whether I’m using alloy or plastic wheels. (and, yes, i reported this.)

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    • 9watts February 8, 2018 at 8:13 am

      It is my understanding that those loops are magnetic. In other words it is not going to respond to any nonferrous materials, but rather the spindles in your pedals, axles, valves, and anything else ferrous.

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      • soren February 8, 2018 at 9:03 am

        they are not magnetic but they are often calibrated to heavy mtb style rims (only a minority of riders in portland used these kinds of rims).


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      • GlowBoy February 8, 2018 at 9:50 am

        Magnetic detectors don’t exist. In-pavement detectors use induction loops that detect any type of metal, whether ferrous or nonferrous. If an induction loop fails to detect a bicycle with a metal frame and wheels, it’s usually that it hasn’t been adjusted properly to sense metal objects that don’t weigh 2000 pounds.

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    • Hello, Kitty
      Hello, Kitty February 8, 2018 at 8:58 am

      Maybe it’s triggering and it just takes a half-an-hour for the signal to change.

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      • Stephen Keller February 8, 2018 at 10:16 am

        I sure wish they’d install those little blue indicators everywhere. That way, you’d know whether your jostling around the inductive loop has had any effect.

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  • Art Fuldodger February 7, 2018 at 6:43 pm

    26th was the first instance of the City removing parking to put in bike lanes. It was a protracted battle. Perhaps they qualify for some sort of historic preservation designation? ;-).

    This does stink, and ODOT is entirely predictable in their ability to talk the talk, but nothing more. When it comes to bike/ped concerns, they’re all smokescreen & eyewash.

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    • GlowBoy February 8, 2018 at 9:51 am

      Oh, I like the Historic Preservation angle.

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  • Spiffy February 7, 2018 at 6:46 pm

    “Those counts were completed in September and PBOT met with ODOT to discuss them late last year.”

    I see the September counts on the arcgis page here: https://pdx.maps.arcgis.com/apps/webappviewer/index.html?id=7ce8d1f5053141f1bc0f5bd7905351e6

    where are the previous traffic counts for comparison?

    looking at the September counts for 26th (Mon-Tue 9/25-9/26) and 28th (Tue-Thur 9/26-9/28) south of Powell heading north I see:

    26th: 369 PMPkHrVol with bikes and 342 without bikes = 27 PMPkHrVol of bikes
    28th: 44 PMPkHrVol with bikes and 28 without bikes = 16 PMPkHrVol of bikes

    so after more than a year promoting this as the primary route almost twice as many people crossing by bike still use 26th… 62% of people still prefer 26th… is a majority of people a “significant amount” and thus enough for them to keep the facility the way it is? apparently not…

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    • Bald One February 8, 2018 at 9:46 am

      Right, I think that “total” bike counts across 26th and 28th are down, mostly due to newer routes now preferred by many SE to Downtown cyclists who used to use 26th: 21st, Orange Line, Rhine St Elevators, Tillicum. I used to use 26th/Clinton, but now usually use 21st/Orange line. I did ride the 28th route yesterday, for fun, but found the road conditions on 28th neighborhood greenway rather horrible (especially South of Powell and North of Division). And, I always wonder if cars will actually stop for the red on 28th – makes me nervous – look twice for sure.

      So, regarding bike counts, it is not fair to compare 26th counts now to before, but rather simply compare 26th counts to 28th counts today.

      City needs to also make improvements at SE 21st and Powell so cyclists can more safely cross Powell here.

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  • Carter February 7, 2018 at 6:50 pm

    I live about three blocks from the 28th intersection and I *still* use 26th, which is farther away. Why? Well, the 28th Greenway seems like it’s designed by someone who actively hates cycling. The condition of the roads is terrible throughout, the topography is painful, the serpentine nature of the path is maddening, and the traffic (south of Powell) is full of cars who like the wide, open road away from 26th.

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    • GlowBoy February 8, 2018 at 9:52 am

      Unfortunately the serpentine route and use of the greatest possible variety of novel, confusing treatments is symptomatic of the entire 20s Bikeway.

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      • Hello, Kitty
        Hello, Kitty February 8, 2018 at 9:55 am

        I’d heard it was a “world class facility”.

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        • Stephen Keller February 8, 2018 at 10:21 am

          Hello, Kitty
          I’d heard it was a “world class facility”.

          You are correct, but the world in question is Deneb and no bicycle has never been ridden there.

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        • Buzz February 8, 2018 at 10:25 am

          Lead? Slate? But certainly not Platinum!

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  • B. Carfree February 7, 2018 at 8:44 pm

    Here’s an idea almost as lousy as a three-foot bike lane: remove the bike lane and strip it as a shoulder. Then put an over-abundance of sharrow markings in the travel lane. Instantly, the people on bikes who ride in the gutter will gain value to the motorists (you’ll be the considerate ones), and those who find a three-foot space in the gutter unacceptable will be able to legally, and with at least some knowledge on the part of the car addicts, take the lane.

    Admittedly not a great solution, but it does honor the secret deal PBoT made while still not handing over the road entirely to demonic dangerous drivers.

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    • Spiffy February 7, 2018 at 9:18 pm

      I love this sneaky idea!

      “Look, we took out the bike lane. All that remains is a shoulder. There’s nothing in our permitting process prohibiting that.”

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      • Eric Leifsdad February 9, 2018 at 12:57 am

        9.5ft lanes are supposed to be best-practice for anything under 40mph.

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  • Eric Ivy February 7, 2018 at 9:10 pm

    Well, the 28th Greenway seems like it’s designed by someone who actively hates cycling. The condition of the roads is terrible throughout, the topography is painful, the serpentine nature of the path is maddening, and the traffic (south of Powell) is full of cars who like the wide, open road away from 26th.Recommended 5

    All my thoughts summed up succinctly. Plus, the #$%^&* School!!

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  • mh February 7, 2018 at 9:30 pm

    Who’s gonna plan a series of “take the lane”rides? Taking the lane at my usual pace would aggravate every the most patient of drivers.

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    • KYouell February 9, 2018 at 2:44 pm

      I’m with you!

      I want to try to get a bunch of (very slow by default) cargo biking parents to ride through there. I’ll make sure to post it on BikeLoudPDX. 😉

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      • mh February 9, 2018 at 3:30 pm

        Don’t just post on BikeLoud – propose the ride and lead it. Evening rush hour some day?

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  • Mark smith February 8, 2018 at 4:57 am

    Pbot made a deal with the devil and got burnt. But, they still made a deal. The lanes on 26th are for the fearless. Not 8 to 80. What pbot needs to do is simply close the road to cars.

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    • B. Carfree February 8, 2018 at 10:27 am

      If “fearless” is a synonym for “competent and confident”, then those three foot bike lanes don’t pass their muster either. Such riders aren’t notorious gutter-huggers and would look at the high risk of riding in such a space and either take the lane (and risk being harassed by PPB, which could lead to an interestingly disputed citation) or just find another route.

      These bikey things appear to have been put in so someone in PBoT could silence their critics, not to make riding safe, effective and pleasant. We seem to have a lot of that sort of thing: put in horridly substandard bikey infrastructure, mostly with built-in long wait times and always with a few death traps, and then congratulate oneself while claiming the critics are extremists who will never be satisfied and so they should be ignored.

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  • Ken S February 8, 2018 at 7:23 am

    Anybody game for some vigilante bike lane painting?

    Legitimately, though, ODOT should not be in charge of Powell, through Portland city limits.

    Having driven through most of Oregon, I know that ODOT does a really outstanding job of maintaining highways that actually function as highways.
    But SE Powell isn’t in the same caregory as hwy 22 or 35 or 212 or even the rest of hwy 26, and continuing to run ot as an urban highway will keep killing people.

    What would it take to transfer sw powell from ODOT to PBOT? Lawsuit? Protests?

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    • Hello, Kitty
      Hello, Kitty February 8, 2018 at 9:04 am

      I would point out that PBOT doesn’t have a flawless record either, and it’s not clear if they would make the changes to Powell that many of us would hope for.

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    • David Hampsten February 8, 2018 at 9:32 am

      The legislature has already offered all of Powell to the City of Portland in its 2017 transportation package. PBOT insists that the street be rebuilt to its specs first, which the legislature funded from I-205 to 176th for up to $110 million, but not the inner portion. They did however earmark some money to do a study on that portion.

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  • JJJ February 8, 2018 at 7:35 am

    B. Carfree is correct. 3 feet is a shoulder. Remove any sign that says its a bike lane. It is an important safety shoulder.

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    • David Hampsten February 8, 2018 at 9:36 am

      Why are the existing car lanes so wide? The Feds allow for narrower lanes, down to 9 feet if necessary, but the lanes I see on the air photos must be at least 12 feet wide, except for the left-turn lane. And why is there a left-turn lane at all?

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      • B. Carfree February 8, 2018 at 10:33 am

        Good question. In fact, there is data supporting the case that 10 feet is the safest width for lanes (I can’t remember where it came from, likely a link from this blog sometime in the past). While not ideal, it would be an immense improvement to bring those travel lanes down to 10 feet and widen the bike lanes to 5 feet. It’s still too narrow on a crowned road, but at least it’s a step in the right direction.

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      • Bald One February 8, 2018 at 11:32 am

        Remember, the rail yard wants to run a lot more 53′ semi trucks down SE 26th to get easier access to Powell – they need the room and the turning radius to Powell. The bike lanes make it harder for them to maneuver.

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        • Spiffy February 8, 2018 at 12:33 pm

          those trucks shouldn’t even be allows in the city limits…

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        • David Hampsten February 8, 2018 at 2:12 pm

          The bike lanes or the lack of them are irrelevant to drivers of big rigs. Even mountable curbs for protected bike lanes are easily overcome – hence the term. If a truck driver needs three lanes to turn, they’ll do so – I’ve yet to find a shy driver.

          The real issue here is car and SUV traffic, and to a certain extent school buses coming from the high school. I wonder, to what extent is PPS involved in all this?

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  • Softrocker February 8, 2018 at 7:40 am

    90% of my transport within the city is done via bicycle. When you ride everyday, staying away from cars is the key to avoiding serious injury. Otherwise, it’s just a matter of time…

    I’m not a fan of “sharing the road” which is what 26th is: Super Dangerous, bicyclists waiting to be run over, bumped, killed. I am an advocate for bike-majority routes (boulevards, paths, etc.) that are completely separate from cars. This lowers the blood pressure of bikers AND car drivers. 28th feels safe to me. My metric for a good, safe bike route is whether I would bring my kids on it. Numerous, convenient, and SAFE routes for bikes is what we should be focused on, not sharing busy, dangerous roads. I’m happy to let cars own certain streets (like 26th) as long as there are sufficient alternatives for bikes. This latter piece is the key.

    I don’t believe cars and bicycles are not made to co-exist. Let’s design our city infrastructure to keep them separate (as much as possible).

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    • Bald One February 8, 2018 at 9:56 am

      I also wonder if city will ever install any new bike lanes in the city. Seems like they have become infatuated with creating neighborhood greenways that meander over dark and cracked concrete and through the hilliest sections of neighborhoods. Some of these are alright, with significant improvements, but some of them really seem to intentionally choose the most difficult path for cyclists. It’s still a lot of compromise and challenge.

      I’m not sure I prefer getting passed head-on by a car travelling 15-20 mph coming at me on a narrow greenway with poor sightlines, lots of driveways, poor pavement, squeezed between two rows of parked cars; compared with getting passed from behind by a car going 25-30 mph while I’m in a bike lane with good visibility and cleaner pavement. For sure at night.

      I’m not convinced these neighborhood greenways are the panacea the city is making them out to be. The 28th greenway from Burnside to Powell is pretty hairy.

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      • Buzz February 8, 2018 at 10:27 am


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      • maxD February 8, 2018 at 12:20 pm

        Even when the greenways are OK, and assuming one can follow the tortuous path, they seldom have decent, safe crossings. They rely on blinking lights that are frequently and disconcertingly misunderstood or ignored by people driving. We need safe, direct connections to make all these bike segments into a network! My favorite example of this is Skidmore between Interstate and 7th. If they completed the bike lanes they began from Interstate to Michigan, and extended them to 7th, people biking would have a safe direct route over I-5, and across Interstate, Mississippi, Williams, Vancouver, and MLK using existing infrastructure! It would connect the Concord, Michigan, and Going Greenways and the bike lanes on Interstate, Vancouver and Williams. It would provide connections between the commercial districts on NE Alberta, N Williams, Mississippi, Interstate, and N Killingsworth. All this connection could happen with JUST PAINT, and giving up some on-street parking that is hardly used. The exisitng connection is a bizarre route and relies on good faith to cross MLK, Albina, Vancouver, and Williams.

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      • Spiffy February 8, 2018 at 12:40 pm

        the greenways are full of cut-through rush-hour commuters driving too fast and getting too close to cyclists… they still yet at you when you’re riding directly over the sharrows like you’re supposed to… I feel safer riding on Powell because even though people still yell at me at least most of them go into the other lane to go around me and so I have a bigger buffer of safety…

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  • rick February 8, 2018 at 9:06 am

    fight back

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  • Mike February 8, 2018 at 10:46 am

    Ok, so what happens when the lanes on 26th go away?

    1. Cyclists continue to use 26th, now without any protection from lanes, green boxes, signals, whatever. Drivers regain some of their already-skyhigh sense of entitlement when encountering cyclists on ‘their’ road: “Stupid bikers. A perfectly good bike route is 2 blocks east”. Given that it is already a dangerous intersection, PBOT/ODOT raise the stakes that more collisions & hostile interactions will occur. Well done PBOT (slow clap)…well done.

    2. Cyclists use the crossing @ 28th & Powell. Add the elevation for getting up and down plus Portland drivers penchant for treating crossing signals as optional. It’s not a big hill but the 28th greenway is bad enough. And if you’re going downtown, why on earth would I ride uphill and 2 blocks *further* from my destination? For new commuters it may be the last straw that turns them off from riding. You’re now starting to drive away the casual & curious commuters.

    3. Cyclists head down to 21st. Narrow lanes w/ parking on both sides. No turn lanes.
    Mediocre pavement quality. No bike lanes. No bike box. Not even sharrows. Just a handful of speedbumps north of Powell with very aggressive cut-through drivers speeding parallel of Powell on Tibbets/Brooklyn/Woodward. Even as a fearless, experienced commuter, I’ve been clipped at 21st & Powell once. If the 26th lanes are taken away, I predict a increase here. Why? Because it’s downhill towards downtown. Of course people are going to gravitate in the direction they need to be heading in. The sad part is that I also predict more collisions too. It’s inevitable given the infrastructure.

    4. Cyclists give up.

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    • Carrie February 8, 2018 at 10:58 am

      ODOT is redoing the intersection of Powell and 21st and IMO it’s going to be much better. They will have left turn signals for turns from Powell onto 21st north and south. They are also going to alternate the northbound and southbound 21st Ave light, so as a cyclist and ped there should be less chance of left hooks there. I’m also pretty sure they are planning on installing better placed bike detection loops on 21st at that intersection. And they will redo the signal timing so there actually will be a delay between when the light goes red on Powell and when it goes green on 21st (scariest-almost-hit-by-red-light-runner happened to me there!). I’m actually really excited for these changes. At least if they are implemented as have been explained/illustrated at all the open houses, which as I’ve learned with the 26th Ave changes, clearly isn’t guaranteed.

      (Aside: I really do recommend going to the open houses and/or reviewing the info on the various agencies websites about these projects. :)).

      Re: Softrocker and the desire for separated infrastructure and not wanting to share 26th. I hear you. However IMO what the bike lanes do on 26th are not so much provide a great place for cyclists to ride, but calm that portion of the road where you have SO MUCH foot traffic dominated by pedestrians who are teenagers who don’t pay attention to anything other than their friends (and please don’t blame their parents!). Not to mention their parents and grandparents and other users of the high school, who’s main entrance is right on 26th. I love the idea of a buffered shoulder to preserve the space, though I still hate the forcing ridiculous actions of ODOT in this situation.

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      • Spiffy February 8, 2018 at 12:43 pm

        glad to hear about all those improvements at 21st… the left-hook danger is constant as bikes easily pass left-turning cars on the right but the head-on left-turn traffic isn’t paying attention to bikes and causes a lot of conflicts…

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      • Hello, Kitty
        Hello, Kitty February 8, 2018 at 2:14 pm

        That signal will also make it easier and more attractive for vehicles on Powell to use SE 21st (they’re literally adding an arrow telling people to turn), which will not be so good for cyclists who like riding on calmer streets (and also violates PBOT policy).

        If they wanted, PBOT could make that crossing safer while reducing the number of people turning onto the street.

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      • J_R February 8, 2018 at 3:41 pm

        I attended the ODOT open house for the Powell project. Be aware that the final plans for the project did not include relocating the drainage grates on 26th just north of Powell and did not include relocating the drainage grates on 21st north or south of Powell. ODOT could have switched the in-the-bikelane-grates to side-inlet thru-the-curb grates, but chose not to. Apparently PBOT signed off on the plans since the existing grates are already there.

        They had a chance to make the bike infrastructure better, but opted not to. I raised the issue with ODOT staffers and wrote comments as well, but as they were final plans, it was probably too late.

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        • Hello, Kitty
          Hello, Kitty February 8, 2018 at 4:23 pm

          Like I said elsewhere… watch their walk.

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  • Edward February 8, 2018 at 11:00 am

    If lane lines must be removed, perhaps all lane lines should disappear? The white lines for the bike lanes and the double striped yellow — maybe all should go.

    It’s bizarre how a double striped gives car driver’s a sense of safety and boldness. They think it’s ok to drive fast and trust the other drivers to never veer. With no lane markers it becomes just another side street, where people have to SLOW way down in order to visually negotiate their navigation with other road users. Just like the residential street in front of my house.

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    • Hello, Kitty
      Hello, Kitty February 8, 2018 at 11:31 am

      This is totally true; however, given that 26th is a collector and has very high volumes, I see zero chance PBOT would go for it. Maybe restore parking on both sides, and install a skipped yellow line instead of a double?

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      • Spiffy February 8, 2018 at 12:45 pm

        if we want less driving then we’ll need less collector streets for cars…

        start reclassifying them and let the slow traffic take over…

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        • Hello, Kitty
          Hello, Kitty February 8, 2018 at 2:08 pm

          PBOT is reclassifying streets! They are changing SE 20th between Hawthorne and Division from a local service street to a collector. That segment makes a great bike connection between 7 Corners and the commercial node at 20th & Hawthorne. Maybe less so in future, especially if the speed bumps are replaced as planned.

          Don’t listen to the talk… watch the walk.

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      • David Hampsten February 8, 2018 at 2:18 pm

        PBOT actually removed most of the yellow lines on Mill between 130th and 148th, which is still listed as a collector, and it has in fact slowed cars down considerably. They also didn’t put back full striping on 130th when they regraded it, only partially, presumably since it is part of the 130s greenway, the only portion on a full collector.

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  • Chris Anderson February 8, 2018 at 12:33 pm

    If 26th and Clinton were converted to a pedestrian plaza, it would be wonderful for the local economy, and clean up the traffic through this section too.

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    • Josh Chernoff February 8, 2018 at 2:40 pm

      Expect for all the extra traffic it would divert on to the other parallel bike ways, ie 21st or 33rd.

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    • SD February 11, 2018 at 5:44 pm

      Partially Covered Pedestrian Plazas for Each Portland Sub Quadrant !!!!!

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  • Josh Chernoff February 8, 2018 at 2:36 pm

    How do we keep this bike lane without becoming complacent to the issues it has?
    I don’t know if keeping this bike lane as is, is better than removing it.

    I get not wanting to lose it, but I don’t get keeping the status quo. If we cant come up with an idea to improve it, its just a matter of time before someone gets hurt. How is that any better?

    I love the general ideas of what we would like to see there, but lets face it the cars are not going to be removed from that section. What we need is a clever idea that is proposed as a compromise to show we are trying to work with everyone not just our own. We can’t lose this bike lane, we can’t keep it as is and we can’t lose this battle because we cant compromise with our adversaries . What are our options?

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    • Hello, Kitty
      Hello, Kitty February 8, 2018 at 3:35 pm

      Remove the bike lane, add parking back to narrow the perceived width of the vehicle lanes and slow speeds, and increase pedestrian safety by adding curb extensions and crosswalks at all bus stops. Use the removal as an impetus to advance the 21st bike project (and be aggressive about — add bike lanes south of Powell, install a crossing of Powell like at 28th to reduce volume, add sharrows, and beef up traffic slowing measures).

      If played right, the overall situation could be made safer and better for all modes.

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    • soren February 9, 2018 at 8:42 am

      imo, the bike box alone is reason enough to fight for this lane. i’ve been a critic of bike boxes in some contexts but in this context it works as intended.

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      • Hello, Kitty
        Hello, Kitty February 9, 2018 at 8:59 am

        Could the bike box be retained even if the lane striping were removed?

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  • SD February 8, 2018 at 3:59 pm

    This is the perfect opportunity for PBOT to say they are going to do something and not do it……

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  • Josh G February 8, 2018 at 6:12 pm

    How about protected bike lanes on 26th?

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  • Josh G February 8, 2018 at 7:19 pm

    At the same time it might be best to honor the agreement if that’s what PBOT agreed to. Too bad PBOT agreed to this terrible deal.

    Why would ODOT make this a condition of improving safety at 28th?

    How are bikes the cause of the problem on 26th?

    If the intersection at 26th is too dangerous for bikes and pedestrians, than how can the intersection at 26th be made safer?

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  • Nate March 27, 2018 at 3:57 pm

    For what it’s worth, ODOT and the city were already pushing this plan 3+ years ago when I participated in a Road Safety Audit in Sept. 2014. The end result was that ODOT’s consulting team put the recommendation in their final report (https://digital.osl.state.or.us/islandora/object/osl:10895/datastream/OBJ/view – page 29 at the bottom)
    I said then that bikers would not stand for the removal of the 26th lanes because of all the reasons that are currently being discussed. And yet, here we are…

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    • Nate March 27, 2018 at 3:58 pm

      And now I see this is ~2 months old…

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      • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) March 27, 2018 at 4:00 pm

        Thanks Nate! I’m still working on follow-ups to this story.. So I appreciate you adding that. Will check it out. Get in touch with me directly if you have further thoughts.

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