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Dangerous parking on Highway 30 puts people’s lives at (even more) risk

Posted by on February 14th, 2018 at 11:55 am

parking on hwy 30 blocks shoulder

A dangerous situation caused by just a few people who park their cars next to a Forest Park entrance.
(Photo: J. Maus/BikePortland)

Highway 30 is a crucial connection for bicycle riders between Portland, Sauvie Island, Forest Park, the West Hills, and beyond.

On a dry weekend it often feels like there are just as many people using bicycles on the road as there are people using cars and trucks. But it’s much more dangerous than it should be.

I could write thousands of words about how the City of Portland, Multnomah County, and the Oregon Department of Transportation (all of whom share ownership/management of different sections) have completely failed to do their job to maintain and design this highway so that it provides an adequate level-of-service for all users.

But today, I want to focus on one specific issue: People who park cars in the shoulder, forcing bicycle riders into a scary merge.

hwy30-map

There’s an entry point to Forest Park about a mile north of Linnton where the unpaved Newton and BPA Roads connect to the highway. Because there’s no dedicated space to park a car (it’s not even listed as official trailhead on the City’s Forest Park map), people who drive here simply park right in the shoulder. Their cars force people on bikes to merge into the adjacent lane where car and truck drivers typically go well over 45 mph. There’s a large turnout on the opposite side of the highway with ample space for parking cars — but people typically don’t use that because it requires a game of Frogger to access the trails.

I’ve personally had to deal with this situation myself many times. I’ve also hiked here and watched the scary situation unfold. If I drive here, I always park across the highway and risk the crossing on foot (because, duh, it’s selfish and dangerous to block the shoulder).

I recently posted this to Twitter and found out that other people share my concerns:

@queenleslie1982 – “Every time I ride Hwy 30 it’s a Zenlike experience of contemplating my own death.”

@absurdtriathlon – “Major conflict. Always sucks”

@clarbpdx – “Yes! This is always so terrifying to me.”

@alexawileymusic – “Yes don’t park there!”

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Keep in mind that this is a shoulder by definition (not a bike lane), so as per ORS 811.550 (2), it’s legal to park here (I confirmed it with Portland lawyer Charley Gee). Unfortunately — as is very often the case — ORS does not reflect obvious hazards that might occur to bicycle riders who often rely on shoulders as their travel lane. The law should be amended to include a requirement that there must be enough room for shoulder users on bicycles to safely pass without having to merge into other lanes.

This section of Highway 30 is owned and managed by ODOT. I asked them for comment on this story. While a spokesman said, “I can appreciate your concerns,” he also said no one at the agency had ever received any complaints about it. I asked if ODOT would be willing to make a “No Parking” zone at this location and the spokesman said he’d ask around and see if that’s possible (will update the post if/when I hear back).

I also contacted Portland Parks & Recreation about it. They too said it wasn’t on their radar. “My colleagues say they have not received any concerns from the community about safety at this trail access point,” a spokesman replied.

It’s not surprising to me at all that no one has formally complained about this yet. As bicycle riders, we put up with so many stressful things we’d never complete a ride if we always stopped to call or email when we saw a hazard. Even if someone did want to complain, they’d have no idea which agency is in charge.

Does this situation concern you? If so, please consider telling ODOT about it. If we want something to be done (I think a simple “No Parking” zone would fix it), the first step is to make sure it’s flagged internally.

To log your concern, use the ASK ODOT system online or call 1-888-275-6368 x4.

Thanks for caring.

— 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

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Clicky Freewheel
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Clicky Freewheel

Keep in mind that this is a shoulder by definition (not a bike lane), so as per ORS 811.550 (2), it’s legal to park here

Well, there’s your answer. What did you expect? If you’re crazy enough to put yourself in danger by riding on the shoulder of a busy highway without bike lanes, then expect it to be dangerous, or you know, don’t ride a bike on the shoulder of a highway!

Push ODOT to implement a bike path along the highway or take the 16 bus out to Sauvie Island, but don’t expect accommodations when you’re the one choosing to ride a bike here for entertainment purposes.

GlowBoy
Guest
GlowBoy

I disagree with the sentiment “don’t ride a bike on the shoulder of a highway!” How else are you going to get to Sauvie Island, Scappoose or St. Helens? Ride up I-5 to Kalama and then parasail across the river? There is no alternate route.

I also disagree with the thought that Dirty Thirty is that dangerous, at least for most of its distance. What makes it dangerous is a couple of relatively short segments where the shoulder narrows or is taken up by parked cars. Most of the time the shoulder is very wide. I’ve ridden it all the way out to St. Helens and back a couple of times, and didn’t find it that bad. Unpleasant at times, sure, having a mirror to monitor traffic behind me does wonders for my anxiety level.

And putting this in perspective: I am not a Strong & Fearless cyclist. I would never ride I-84 in the Gorge or most of the Oregon Coast Highway, unlike many riders. US 30 is not the same level of danger as those popular roads. It is never going to be a pleasant cruise through the park like the Springwater (er…?), but a handful of targeted improvements could make it much safer.

FWIW, I often used to enter the park at the entrance in question, sometimes to bike and sometimes to walk my dog. I always parked over on Marina Way, even though it made it a bit further to get to, and mandated crossing 30 on foot or wheel.

Todd Boulanger
Guest
Todd Boulanger

Has this idea been seriously evaluated yet: Road Diet for OR-30?

There should be an opportunity for ODoT and the Community to implement a road diet here (and other sections of OR-30, that have even less ADT).

As of ODoTs 2016 data this section has about 21,900 motorized vehicle per day. So a traditional 3 lane road diet should work well in the long stretches between signalized intersections, thus freeing up space for on-pavement safety enhancements (buffered bike lanes / targeted parking / wider median lane / pedestrian refuge with marked crosswalks / bus stop loading lay-by area). “At best 2” lanes could potentially be removed (1+median+1 layout) or “at worst” 1 lane removed (2+median+1 layout).

Middle of the Road Guy
Guest
Middle of the Road Guy

It seems to work pretty well without a road diet already.

rick
Guest
rick

I rode on highway 30 on labor day last year. A bad crash took place on the highway across from pumpkin ridge and the cars ended up on the shoulder where I had just been riding 5 hours before the crash.

bikeninja
Guest
bikeninja

Let’s see if I understand this, people using bikes to get somewhere are doing it for entertainment purposes, but those going to pick up cheez-doodles at the mega-mart in their dangerous smog belching automobiles are doing it for productive purposes. I guess everyone knows that fossil fueled transport has sole domain over all parts of the asphalt covered earth and anyone who ventures there not attached to some form of motorized transport has the same status as children playing marbles in the street.

Clicky Freewheel
Guest
Clicky Freewheel

That’s a nice whataboutism there, but this article frames the issue as people riding out in dry weather to Sauvie Island or going on hikes in Forest Park. Seems like entertainment to me. No one in their right mind would rather ride on Highway 30 instead of taking the bus unless they really wanted to.

bikeninja
Guest
bikeninja

Jonathan’s specific words were. “Highway 30 is a crucial connection for bicycle riders between Portland, Sauvie Island, Forest Park, the West Hills, and beyond.” The automobilista’s parking on the shoulder are certainly recreating but the cyclists could be riding for many crucial reasons.

BradWagon
Subscriber

I commute to many bike rides on my bike instead of drive my bike there… very few people ride just out and back on Hwy 30 cause its nice riding, they do it to get to their destinations, like FP or Sauvie. If you see someone riding in an undesirable area, they are most likely also not enjoying it but making an effort to reduce time spent driving with their bike on a rack.

Resopmok
Guest
Resopmok

Why does the context even matter? Public roads are for the benefit of all users in all modes, and if one mode is unsafe because of the roadway design, the design should be altered to make it safe. People drive cars and people walk on public rights-of-way for entertainment, commute, commerce, exercise, and a wide variety of other reasons. The law does not care about context, and even though one was given in this article, it makes no real difference to the argument. This road _should_ be made safer for modes other than automobiles.

Clicky Freewheel
Guest
Clicky Freewheel

Also note the context. This is a rural state highway and a major intercity freight corridor. I would not make this same argument for urban streets like Burnside or Williams, for example.

Tom
Guest
Tom

It’s not an official access point means it’s an illegal access point!. Needs to be fenced off with “no access” sign. Until then, yellow tape with ‘do not cross’ should be put up. If they want to open this access point, it should first undergo a proper review like any other new access point would, preferably with a public input opportunity.

DC
Subscriber

The author wrote that it’s not an official trailhead. It IS an official, legal access point. Please reference the trailmap.
https://www.portlandoregon.gov/parks/article/497319

I wear many hats
Guest
I wear many hats

Its actually a road, and its degraded so much its the best legal single track in Portland. Ride it, just don’t ask me how to get anywhere once you reach the wildwood, you’ll have to use your imagination.

paul h
Guest
paul h

If you were combining it with, say Firelane 12 or Newton Rd, which would you climb and which would you descend?

I wear many hats
Guest
I wear many hats

Newton rd is a great climb, rolling, and punchy. 12 is plain steep. Both are hard climbs, and both feel like you’re alone out there. I haven’t descended Newton but it would be a blast (but it gets some hiking use on weekends so don’t open it up all the way if you descend it. The folks that far north in the park actually like bikers also, unlike the NW Thurman neighbors ;).

paul h
Guest
paul h

Thanks for the beta!

GlowBoy
Guest
GlowBoy

Funny, my experience is the opposite. Newton is by far the best descent in Forest Park. My approach was always to ride up firelane 12, getting the climbing finished quickly (not as quickly as possible, though: that would be BPA road), then come back down Newton.

I wear many hats
Guest
I wear many hats

I generally descend the ridge and linnton trails but that’s not advised

David
Guest
David

“As bicycle riders, we put up with so many stressful things we’d never complete a ride if we always stopped to call or email when we saw a hazard. Even if someone did want to complain, they’d have no idea which agency is in charge.”

This right here. I see so many things every day that create dangerous conditions. Reporting them takes a few minutes and there are so many (I could easily identify a dozen or two every day) that only the absolute worst hazards get sent in.

eawriste
Guest
eawriste

For the $450 million dollars spent on a quarter mile of two lanes of I-5, ODOT can create separated MUPs on almost all major highways in Portland. If they were actually concerned with safety, this would be their priority.

Clicky Freewheel
Guest
Clicky Freewheel

Totally agree, this problem can better be solved with a path alongside the highway, rather than complaining about people legally parking on the shoulder.

Middle of the Road Guy
Guest
Middle of the Road Guy

Then people would complain about being so close to the emissions.

Middle of the Road Guy
Guest
Middle of the Road Guy

I rode by that this weekend…it was unpleasant, but all I had to do was slow down for a few seconds until there was a safe gap in traffic to get around the parked cars. All in all, not a huge imposition and not unsafe if the cyclist is patient.

Spiffy
Subscriber

this is the law of bullies: might makes right… all vulnerable users are forced to wait for the most dangerous ones to finish before they get their turn… this is backwards and should be changed…

Middle of the Road Guy
Guest
Middle of the Road Guy

You’re projecting intent onto others when you have zero idea what those people are actually thinking…do you know they are intentionally trying to be bullies?

Each and every one of them has that intent? They might just be thinking they are parking legally.

The much simpler conclusion is that they are simply people trying to park their car near a trailhead and were not thinking of anything past that.

Spiffy
Subscriber

do you think that all bullies think of themselves as bullies who are doing something incredibly wrong whenever they bully somebody?

do you think a driver laying on the horn and yelling at you to get out of the way as you’re cycling over a sharrow on a greenway thinks of themselves as a bully?

Middle of the Road Guy
Guest
Middle of the Road Guy

Do you think a person with a persecution complex can see things in any other context?

Dave Ross
Guest

I’ve ridden here and parked here. I don’t think asking people who want to recreate in Forest Park to run across the highway, possibly with small kids, is the answer. It does suck that it’s not safer to ride along Highway 30.

BradWagon
Subscriber

Maybe not everywhere needs to be easy to drive to/park at? There are plenty of better places to access Forest Park with parking or even (crazy thought here!) without a car. This is a very poor place to start a hike with “small kids”.

Allan Rudwick
Subscriber

I think my preferred solution would honestly be to make a wide enough shoulder for like 8-10 cars to park there and bikes to get by safely. Accessing the park is an important other goal. Thanks for raising this concern, Jonathan.

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

Another solution might be to create a small off-street parking spot along the first 20 feet of the trail. I don’t know the topography, but that might be a relatively easy short-term solution. Also, asking people to park with half of their vehicle on the curb would create more space for cyclists to pass.

rick
Guest
rick

The off-road plan calls for a mtb trail that would somewhat parallel highway 30 but in forest park.

Pete
Guest
Pete

Just looking at the photo above, it looks like a retaining wall could be put in and the curb moved back to widen the shoulder in that stretch. Instead of suggesting to ODOT that “No Parking” signs be put up, which arguably would indeed push the problem just a little further down the road (and/or effectively ‘close’ the trailhead to the motoring masses), complain that it’s not safe for children visiting the park to get in and out of cars so parked close to the highway, and that adding space could save lives.

Think of the children!!

Scott Kocher
Guest

Like a lot of people… I have experienced this danger many times, and never reported it. Repeated “reporting” seems necessary even though the problem should be evident to ODOT and Parks. Hopefully asking for “No Parking” signs will address the safety problem in the short term. The other part I would like to see is a connector trail so people can go between that gate at the bottom of Newton/BPA Road and NW Harborton Dr a quarter mile west. The connection would (1) allow people to park and get to Newton/BPA w/o crossing 30, and (2) link up Newton/BPA with Firelane 12 off Harborton. On a related note… we need a similar connector trail between the bottom of Saltzman and lower Firelane 1, which passes within a stone’s throw of Saltzman.
It’s the same thing there: it doesn’t connect so people have to go on 30 :(.

I wear many hats
Guest
I wear many hats

How far of a connection from FL1 to Saltzman? Why would the Off Road Cycling Master Plan ignore such an obvious trail connection?

Alex
Guest
Alex

Why would the Off Road Cycling Master Plan ignore such an obvious connection? They probably didn’t ignore it. It probably got shut by the some vitriolic FP user group in the name of “conservation” (think of the elk!). The simple fact that there is not even a full mile of single track that bikes are allowed on and the fact that we have the lowest miles of single track to people ratio while promoting itself as a “bike” city shows you just where we are at with cycling in this city.

paul h
Guest
paul h

I think there’s still time to comment on ORCMP. Did you do so already?

It was likely missed b/c it was created by humans under with limited time and deadlines. My comments didn’t include a request for such a trail b/c it didn’t occur to me.

I wear many hats
Guest
I wear many hats

I commented many times requesting their design team to consider a traversing trail from Thurman Germantown down hill from existing infrastructure. It was ignored by the ORCMP, and then shelved by Nick Fish. Comment a lot, but also donate $$$ to Fish and Fritz if you want to ride in the park. Its obviously pay to play in Portland. It would help if every advocate showed up to the “secret” BAC meetings to influence parks funding. The last one I attended had a man get extra speaking time so that he could schmooze with the board members prior to his official time in which he berated mountain bikers.

Alex
Guest
Alex

Yes, I did. From what I understand, FP is still pretty much off-limits.

I wear many hats
Guest
I wear many hats

Exactly! Unfortunately, those with $$$ have more free time to show up to city meetings mid day during a work week to complain about mountain biking. I am outnumbered every time I show up to voice public comment, and its the same people beating the same drums in front of the same budget advisory groups.

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

I’ve never noticed a positive correlation between $$$ and more free time. My friends with the most time are generally unemployed (or are off between paid gigs) and don’t have tons of $$$.

I wear many hats
Guest
I wear many hats

Its a bell curve on the economic spectrum. The one’s beating the “no bikes in the forest drum” live in specific zip codes.

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

I’d be willing to bet that those advocating for mountain bike trails in Forest Park live in specific zip codes as well.

Alex
Guest
Alex

@Hello Kitty – way to obfuscate the issue and ignore the reality of the situation. Have you been to many of the meetings regarding mtbing in the Portland area? RVNA? Single track advisory committee? Metro Planning meetings?

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

I’ve attended some meetings where this issue’s been discussed, and I think I understand it; there are people who want to build trails in the park for their recreation of choice; there are those who don’t want the additional traffic that would bring; there are those who have genuine environmental concerns. Personally, I don’t really care, as long as adding bike trails can be done without degrading the natural environment of the park or overly impacting existing uses. In the end, environmental issues aside, this really seems like one special interest against another, with plenty of misrepresentation and dismissing of other people’s concerns to go around.

The park is so big I can’t see why a biking loop couldn’t be added in a way that steers well clear of neighboring residents; enter off 30 or something. This seems like such an obvious solution that I must be missing something.

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

I should be clear that the main objection I have in this thread is the “othering” nature of the comments.

Alex
Guest
Alex

So my read on your comment is “No, I haven’t been to meetings where mountain biking access was the focus” and the “issue” you seem to “understand” is basically the a) more access b) less access and c) environmental arguments. All of which I don’t think hits the point being talked about – who is for what and how the discussions have went at these meetings. If you were to attend these meetings and listen to the conversations in the hallway, you would note that the groups (a) and (c) are generally the same people and third group these people tend belong to is (d) people who live in the neighborhood who don’t want people parking on their streets. To me, this isn’t just about FP, and as my comment specified, this has to do with MTB access across the city. This is pure NIMBYism. I know you think, based on your previous comments, that you think mtbers act entitled, but I don’t think that is true. I feel you are seeing years of frustration of very conservation minded people who are living in a “bikey” city, being told they can’t ride their bikes in a public space for unknown environmental reasons or for other more subjective reasons that can and have been dealt with in a healthy way in other metro areas. Portland has less singletrack to people than basically any other city of its size. It also has a higher park to people ratio than basically any other city of its size. It’s completely frustrating to have the rug pulled out from you over and over again. It’s almost like thinking that Charlie Brown thinks he is entitled because he thinks he should be able to kick that football Lucy is holding for him.

While I appreciate that you think a “loop” could be added without impact to neighboring residences, I don’t think that is the main issue. Some people view the park as “theirs” and they are the ones who should be (and have been) dictating the usage of the parks (not just FP, it is a much larger issue).

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

Your group d is my group b. I have to say your comment has confused me. I thought the issue was people wanting MTB access in FP, and neighbors not wanting mountain bikers in their back yard (a problem for which I think there’s a solution), but you are suggesting the issue is really much larger, about control over parks in general.

Who do you think should control the parks? Or should there be no controls? And why do you frame this larger issue so narrowly and tie it to MTBs? There are plenty of other potential allies who would use the parks in ways currently not allowed.

Alex
Guest
Alex

I am making a distinction that you seem to miss. Also, if you re-read my comment, you will notice that I specifically point out a larger problem that has to do with not only to do with FP, but the larger process as a whole – and one that challenges more than just MTB access.

If you look at the Off-road master plan, parks doesn’t have control over it – it was basically removed from Fritz because she has treated bikes horribly (RVNA). The problem is very political in nature and it seems like there are some nuances that go over your head.

I am not going to drag this on any longer or beat a dead horse, just thought I would point out it seems like you are missing some pieces to the puzzle.

GlowBoy
Guest
GlowBoy

Firelane 4 comes within a stone’s throw of Saltzman. I don’t think Firelane 1 comes within a mile of Saltzman.

GlowBoy
Guest
GlowBoy

Oops, hadn’t looked at the map when I made that comment. I hadn’t realized FL1 came so close to Saltzman, though it makes sense. Pretty steep terrain there, though. The distance might be short, but if memory serves the firelane might be as much as a couple hundred feet above the switchback on Saltzman.

Josh G
Guest
Josh G

If ODOT has never heard of any complaints about this location before, than it must not be a problem.

Wait, what? Does the current report/complaint to ODOT not count as a report?

Is the quantity of reports received the deciding factor in determining in the validity of a problem? If there is a single report, and the report is accurate about a serious problem, than it should be taken seriously.

Josh G
Guest
Josh G

Sent ODOT a polite message about the issue.

Danny
Guest
Danny

I like the idea of a no parking zone to keep people from parking in a manner that forces riders onto the highway; I think such action would protect many more people (on bikes) than would be put in danger from crossing the road on foot or even or prevented from using this access to Forest Park. At the same time, I always feel very insecure riding on Hwy 30, and I’ve read too many articles about riders being killed there, so I mostly avoid it.

I think now is a good time to start advocating for a separate bike path or similarly separated facility for cyclists along Hwy 30– talk about a major economic boost for Linnton, Scappoose, and St. Helens!

rick
Guest
rick

The Southwest in Motion plan from PBOT (check online comment form for this month) calls for a mountain bike trail that would be somewhat near the edge of Forest Park so it would have minor hills. It would be an alternate for Highway 30.

Pat Lowell
Guest
Pat Lowell

Can’t they just close off this access point? There are so many other ways to get into Forest Park, and so many other problems to solve all across the city, it just doesn’t seem worth putting effort/time/money into trying to salvage this unsafe trailhead.

GlowBoy
Guest
GlowBoy

Close off this access point? That’s one of the best parts of the park!

Art Fuldodger
Guest
Art Fuldodger

Why is there any parking allowed on this shoulder, from Linnton all the way back south to St Helens Rd.? That’s prioritizing the convenience of the few over the safety of the many – just check out the steady stream of cyclists on any decent-weather weekend.

Just put down an 8″ line, add a few bike symbols and no parking signs, and it’s an (enforceable) bike lane.

mark smith
Guest
mark smith

Wow, look how even bike folks defend the car. So, why is there a highway for cars spanning 50 feet or more bit not 12 feet for people?

Why is there suddenly so much bike lash on here against good ideas?

Inquiring minds want to know.

rick
Guest
rick

The Southwest in Motion plan from PBOT (check online comment form for this month) calls for a mountain bike trail that would be somewhat near the edge of Forest Park so it would have minor hills. It would be an alternate for Highway 30.

rick
Guest
rick

sorry, it is the off-road plan under review

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

“Bike people” and drivers are not two distinct populations. This is not “us” vs. “them”.

mark smith
Guest
mark smith

Wolf in sheep’s clothing

Steve Scarich
Guest
Steve Scarich

The funny thing is that in the picture for the article, there is plenty of room for a cyclist to pass, without even entering the lane. The only danger would be getting doored, and you can easily see through the rear window if someone is in the driver’s seat.

Dan A
Subscriber
Dan A

That’s not a fool-proof plan to avoid getting doored. And if you get doored here, you are likely to die. I would pass with a 5 or 6 foot cushion, which puts you in the car lane.

rh
Guest
rh

This discussion is like ” I used to be able to cycle happily on my neighborhood street…now cars are parked all along the sides of it because of the apartments with no parking…we should put up no parking signs so I can cycle without interruption and safer….those evil cars [fist shaking]”

The flip side is…”I love biking down Interstate Ave…but the bike lane randomly disappears because of cars parked there and I get tossed into the auto lane….why on earth is it designed like that??!”

Gary
Guest
Gary

On the subject of a path or wider shoulder. Why is the center lane needed here? Restripe it to a 2 ft buffer for this stretch, preserve 2 traffic lanes, make the shoulder wide enough to stripe parking spots and a path. Some paint and a few signs, no retaining walls, no concrete, no asphalt. Done.

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

I should be clear that the main objection I have in this thread is the “othering” nature of the comments.

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

!@#$%^