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Heads up: Paving project impacts bike traffic on Terwilliger

Posted by on June 10th, 2020 at 10:24 am

Terwilliger at Capitol Highway as of this morning.
(Photo: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

A key cycling route in south/southwest Portland is getting repaved and the work zone detour is causing headaches for some riders.

The Portland Bureau of Transportation is grinding the pavement and laying down a smoother surface on Terwilliger between Capital Highway and SW Bancroft. PBOT says the project will last through June 24th.

Reader Andrew N. emailed us a few days ago after he came upon the work zone. “I’m a cardiologist on the hill and commute up this most days. They are forcing bicyclists to detour to Barbur all the way around with the cars. It’s dangerous and requires crossing several lanes of traffic and battling all the cars and now all the diverted cars up from the north side.”

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One section of the PBOT work order showing the striping plans. Note how the language in the lower right prioritizes driving space over bike lane space. Sigh.

I checked out the situation this morning and found a flagger and signage saying bicycle riders need to detour around the work zone. The alternate route is SW Barbur, which is very stressful. PBOT’s announcement said people should “find alternate routes if possible” and it didn’t mention anything about whether or not bicycle users should ride on the Terwilliger Parkway sidewalk/path.

Asked for a clarification this morning, PBOT’s Hannah Schafer said, “Bicycle users can take the lane through the work zone (though, as you know, ground down streets can be a little bumpy) or use the adjacent Terwilliger Parkway path which is not impacted by construction.” Schafer added that people are encouraged to ask flaggers for help if necessary. (*No longer the case, see update below.)

Unfortunately when there are not clearly marked instructions and/or detour maps available, many people won’t ask a stranger for help and they’ll assume the road is completely closed.

If you choose to ride on the Parkway path please use caution and expect lots of other users. The path is very popular with walkers and runners.

As for the project itself, no significant upgrade of the bikeway is in the works. Work order drawings (above) show some green markings at intersections and a bike lane that will be six feet wide — or whatever space is “remaining” once the other lanes are striped.

UPDATE, 12:45 pm: Hannah Schafer with PBOT has reached out to clarify that no one is allowed through the work zone (except bus operators). Here’s her statement:

“We’ve had a number of joggers and bicyclists disrespect directions and a few situations where we’ve had joggers and cyclists too close to equipment, putting themselves and our staff in danger. As a result we’ve made a detour to close that street to everyone but buses.”

— 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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David LaPorte
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David LaPorte

I was informed yesterday by the flagger that bicycle users can only use the parkway path if they walk their bikes, which is different than what he told me last week when he said I could slowly ride the path. The last two weeks have been full closure in the mornings from Hamilton Terrace to Westwood Drive.

rain panther
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rain panther

Yeah that sounds fishy to me. Does this trail count as a sidewalk? If so, it’s not in the No Bikes On Sidewalk zone downtown. Does the flagger have the authority to tell people not to ride on that trail?

I rode Terwilliger northbound on Sunday. It was rough but fairly rideable at that time.

Bobcycle
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Bobcycle

Yup. Was told today must walk bike on sidewalk or take dangerous detour. May just ignore him next time through, however I’ll ride slow and respect walkers on the path.

rick
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rick

What else to expect in southwest Portland? Another slap in the face by PBOT and ODOT.

Jon
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Jon

The funny thing is that Terwilliger has some of the best pavement in the area. If you take any of the roads up towards Council Crest from Terwilliger you run into terrible pavement.

D2
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D2

I was thinking the same, I would guess that it is because Terwilliger is deemed an emergency route and the other routes to Council Crest are residential side streets.

Jed Schneider
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Jed Schneider

I rode it southbound yesterday around 3:30PM, didn’t realize there was construction. There are a couple of raised cement footings for the drains you need to watch for, but the surface isn’t too bad. To the point of the photo, I’m more concerned about not having adequate lane. It is terrible in the fall when leaves cover the lane. Can you link to the source of the plan? Was there public comment that I missed related to this project?

Anthony
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Anthony

Usually take that route most mornings and encountered these discrepancies. Anyone have an idea of when work crews should be wrapping up?

ac
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ac

looking forward to getting it back as a rec rider
it’s a shaded hilly ride with reasonable traffic density
& soon w/ fresh smooth topping 🙂

Kimberlee
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Kimberlee

Last Tuesday (6.9) I reached the Capitol Highway intersection around 7:30am and as I waited for the light to change to cross onto the bike path I was strongly told verbally and with arm signals that I was not allowed. I was told to go downhill. I told the flagger that the direction I was being told to go was not safe. It was not a fun ride.

Bobcycle
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Bobcycle

Rode Terwilliger today. Apparently things are fluid, as today, 6-15, I was told riding on sidewalk was ok, but was told to ride slow and yield to pedestrians. I looked at ODOT Tripcheck before heading up there but found no closure info. I was riding Capital Hill to town direction. Decided to climb to Council Crest rather than roll a slow sidewalk descent of Terwilliger.