Posted by Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) on October 25th, 2018 at 10:01 am
In the past two days dozens of people have wiped out while bicycling on Williams due to slippery new lane striping that was recently installed after a repaving project.
We started getting reports via email and on social media on Tuesday. The more we asked for your feedback about the problem, the more crashes we heard about.
Here’s just a sampling:
Courtney: Yep! My back wheel slipped yesterday during evening commute. I barely stayed upright and a rider a couple bikes ahead of me slid out. I didn’t see anything else in the road that could’ve caused a skid besides the paint.
Billy: Yep. Last night. Bad crash… I’ve been a bike commuter for 15 years and last night’s incident was the strangest thing. It was like my front wheel was suddenly on ice. I walked the rest of the way home and told my fiancé that it was like I had forgotten how to ride a bike.
Christopher: I saw a cyclist wipe out right there last night during rush hour. Another took a skid trying to dodge the downed cyclist.
Lindsey: I saw 3 cyclists wipe out last night due to the wet striping.
Nathan: I slipped out in wet conditions making the turn from Williams onto failing yesterday.
The Street Trust Executive Director Jillian Detweiler also saw someone crash on the striping Tuesday night. She then heard about several other incidents. Detweiler said she contacted PBOT and spoke to a maintenance dispatcher. “Then I called Commissioner Eudaly’s office,” she shared with me via email this morning. “We agreed something needed to be done immediately. He got back to me within 30 minutes to say that a reader board was in place and crews would be out at 3 a.m. to fix it. I asked him to get back to me today on whether the work was successful. I haven’t heard from him yet.”
An electronic reader board flashing: “Caution: Pavement Markings Slippery,” was in place at the corner of Williams and Beech by yesterday’s evening commute.
I reached out to PBOT this morning to get the latest. Here’s how agency spokesperson Dylan Rivera explained it:
“Our crews were using a new device to mix the thermoplastic. The grit was not adjusted properly, so it was slicker than normal when they placed it on N Williams Ave… It should be fixed this morning, with a new layer that has more grit, to provide better traction.”
Rivera then followed up to say PBOT crews were making the fixes early this morning (before the morning rush) between Beech and Skidmore, the area where most of the wipeouts were reported. “The remainder should be fixed by this afternoon, before the evening commute starts.”
With rain in the forecast, we’ll know very soon if the fix works or not. If it’s still too slippery and/or if you or someone else slips on it, please contact PBOT at (503) 823-1700 or email PDXroads@portlandoregon.gov.
(Fun historical aside: Back in 2005 we reported on a slippery striping incident that led to a change in ODOT policy.)
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