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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 welcoming of all perspectives. Disagreements are encouraged, but only if done with tact and respect. BikePortland is an inclusive company with no tolerance for discrimination or harassment including expressions of racism, sexism, homophobia, or xenophobia. 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.

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).

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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 :(.

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!

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.

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.

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.

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.