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PBOT defends bike lane, says federal wall on SW Main is illegal and must be removed

Posted by on July 23rd, 2020 at 5:49 pm

(Photo: J. Maus/BikePortland)

The Portland Bureau of Transportation says a metal fence and concrete barriers installed around the Federal Courthouse yesterday are illegal and they’ve sent a cease and desist letter to the United States General Services Administration demanding that it be removed.

As we reported Wednesday, the unpermitted fence blocks an entire lane on Southwest Main Street between 2nd and 3rd Avenue — a section PBOT said in a statement is, “One of the busiest bike routes in the United States.”

“The City Attorney’s Office offered legal guidance that the installation blocking the bike lane and other parts of the public right of way are violations of City Code and Transportation Administrative Rules designed to protect the safety of the traveling public,” a PBOT statement said.

In a letter (below) from Chief Deputy City Attorney Robert Taylor to Roy Atwood, Region 10 Administrator for the U.S. General Services Administration, PBOT threatens legal action, fines, and “other remedies” if the fence is not removed.



Here’s more from PBOT Commissioner Chloe Eudaly:

“This fence was constructed without permission or permits on public property, and it is both an abuse of public space and a threat to the traveling public. This illegal action will not be tolerated in our community. In Portland, we use our streets for access to jobs and housing, and as places for Portlanders to gather and celebrate our shared values. Sometimes, we use our streets to speak truth to powerful government officials. It is shameful that unnamed, unannounced federal agents would illegally erect a wall to hide from the people they are sworn to serve, and I have instructed PBOT to closely monitor the federal occupiers’ actions for additional violations.”

According to PBOT the fence as it currently stands on SW Main constitutes a Class I violation of Portland’s Transportation Administrative Rules regarding use of public right-of-way. The fencing on SW 3rd that only partially obstructs travel lanes is a Class III violation.

PBOT Director Chris Warner said in a statement that, “Portlanders have built and maintained one of the largest networks of bike lanes in the nation. We maintain our bike lanes every day, and we will defend them as needed.”

Here’s the text of the letter to Atwood:

Dear Mr. Atwood:

Unidentified contractors have installed fencing and concrete barriers illegally in the City of Portland’s Right of Way on the streets surrounding the Hatfield Courthouse in downtown Portland. The structures are both unpermitted and represent a hazard to the traveling public, particularly along SW Main, which is a major bicycle corridor into the central business district. The structure completely obstructs the bike lane and needs to be removed promptly.

Failure to remove will constitute a Class I violation of City Code and Transportation Administrative Rules designed to protect the safety of the traveling public and will be subject to fines and potential legal action.

According to a story published today by the Oregon Public Broadcasting, federal authorities plan to keep the fence up until at least 2021 and sees it as “crucial to its presence in Portland”.

— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and
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With what I’ve seen from tASS’s Jack Booted Thugs, I’m sure the response will be something along an extended middle finger from them.

Racer X
Racer X

“The fencing on SW 3rd that only partially obstructs travel lanes is a Class III violation.” So does this mean that IF it FULLY obstructed the bike lane it would be OK?!

[Like a lot of other daily bike lane blocking that seems to go unpunished across the City. Don’t get me wrong…this is a good trend…we just need more than 1 data point for a trend to make.]

PS. Does anyone know the contractor that installed the wall…that might be another way of nipping this ‘s.hit’ in the bud…as they may be licensed in the state and bonded.

Allan Rudwick
Allan Rudwick

Maybe we can raise the fines for blocking a bike lane without a permit to like $100k/day or something so we can raise some money for more infrastructure


Great but not great.

Typical well-meaning “concerned” liberal response: slow and ponderous bureaucratic inaction.

We have to think like the enemy. If the shoe was on the other foot, they would have backhoes and dump trucks lined up in hours not days or weeks. Cloaking this under the banner of saving the bike lanes is ridiculous. You think the GSA or Homeland Security cares about bike lanes, fines or legal action? Just go in there and remove the GD fence and ask questions later, the same as if anyone else illegally installed a fence in the middle of a city street.

The streets belong to the people and the people speak through their elected local government. Grow some balls… or whatever!


“Portlanders have built and maintained one of the largest networks of bike lanes in the nation. We maintain our bike lanes every day, and we will defend them as needed.”
Glad to hear this. I was unable to use the downtown bike lane due to the Fed Fence. Also have been unable to use I205 bike path due to a camp set up on the bike path between Sandy and Airport Way. Also hear that bike lanes on NE 33rd are partially blocked but I’ve not been out there for a while.


Where was the response from PBOT when the Multnomah County Courthouse construction project obstructed the bike lane of SW Jefferson for over a year? Where was the response from PBOT when the Addidas corporate office construction project obstructed bike lanes on N Greeley for over a year?

I appreciate that PBOT is pushing back in this instance, but I find it highly frustrating that they allow construction projects to infringe upon or even completely close bike lanes on designated bikeways when their permits often do not give them explicit permission to close or even encroach on bike lanes.


Is an open records request needed to identify the contractor who put up fence?


This seems very……. desperate.

draw2build architecture

What is the latest on this? I haven’t been watching the media lately.


The city doesn’t seem to have a problem blocking the eastbound bike lane at Rosa Parks and MLK for their endless “low income” project there. That thing has been under construction, blocking the lane, since before the Rosa Parks bike lane existed. 2 or 3 years now. Private contractors have build dozens of buildings twice the size in the same time span.