Heads up: Paving project impacts bike traffic on Terwilliger

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.”


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
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