It’s been well over five years since TriMet and the City of Portland opened the bikeways along the Orange Line MAX in inner southeast. Despite spending an unprecedented $40 million (not counting the Tilikum Crossing Bridge) to make biking and walking on nearby streets better, there was confusion and grumbling from bicycle users from Day One.
“I got turned around twice trying to navigate the maze of crossings between SE 8th and SE 12th to get to Clinton,” wrote one reader in a comment when the facilities opened in October 2014. “I still haven’t figured out how to get to Clinton,” said another.
That confusion led to a serious injury collision between a bicycle rider and bus operator in 2015. In 2019 PBOT settled a lawsuit based on that collision for $145,000. PBOT Commissioner Chloe Eudaly said at the time that the intersection where the collision occurred — SE Milwaukie Ave and Tilikum Way — was “complicated”.
Late last month PBOT added new markings to the intersection to make it less so.
As I rolled up to the intersection recently I thought someone had tagged the sidewalk. “TO CLINT” and “TO GIDEON AND MILW” read giant while letters on the sidewalk adjacent to Tilikum Way as I headed eastbound toward Milwaukie. With two separate bicycle symbols and arrows, PBOT hopes the new markings will do a better job directing traffic at this very non-standard junction of streets, sidewalks, and rail tracks.
PBOT has also added new markings in the crosswalk of SE Milwaukie. One side is white and the other is green. Usually green and white are used to separate bicycling (green) and walking (white) routes. But since this is such a high volume bikeway, perhaps in this context they’re also meant to separate bike users riding different directions.
I’ve asked PBOT to explain what spurred these changes. I’m curious if they were done in response to general complaints and concerns or if they’re a direct result of the recent legal settlement. I’ll update this post when I hear back. UPDATE: PBOT Public Information Officer Dylan Rivera says, “Yes, these new markings are some of the adjustments we have made as a result of the suit.”
Do you use this route? Do the new markings help clarify where you should go?
— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and firstname.lastname@example.org
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