BikePortland

New striping helps direct Springwater path traffic

New striping on SE 4th. (Photo: Betsy Reese)


(Photos of new striping by Betsy Reese. Plan drawings from PBOT)

The gap between where the Esplanade ends south of OMSI and where the Springwater Corridor path begins on Southeast 4th and Ivon is a real bummer. Getting onto surface streets after being on a carfree path is one thing, but weaving around huge trucks and other vehicles parked in the bike lane is just salt in a wound.

New pavement striping from the Portland Bureau of Transportation should make it a better. In a bid to provide more space for walkers and rollers to practice safe social distancing, PBOT has striped a variety of new bike lane markings to the busy, multi-block section between SE Caruthers and the Springwater Corridor entrance at SE Ivon.

Reader Betsy Reese shared photos of the changes on Tuesday. Reese had emailed PBOT parking staff about the problem of auto-carrier truck operators that frequently unload in the bike lane. After a while she noticed they started parking in the general lane. This left the bike lane open, but still created a tense situation when the path got busy. “With Covid, the bike/ped traffic through there is heavier than ever and I felt like this could be a tragedy waiting to happen.”

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(The problem)

Reese was thrilled to find PBOT staff responsive to her concerns and then noticed the changes. “Today I see all this wonderful new paint – big buffer on the bike/ped lane, new emblems, sharrows in the vehicle lane, and even a wider bike lane around the corner to Caruthers.”

(Photo: Betsy Reese)

PBOT spokesperson Hannah Schafer said the changes came through their “Missing Link” program — a modest pot of money (usually less than $100,000 per year) that seeks opportunistic upgrades to city bikeways. Schafer said the new striping should handle crowds of users better and might even help reinforce existing “No Parking in Bike Lane” signage.

We’ve raised a flag about truck drivers and dangerous loading behaviors in this area a few times going back to 2008 when we reported how the trucks make the gap “perilous”. In 2012, as the problem persisted, we forced PBOT to step up parking enforcement.

Reese is hopeful the latest striping will finally do the trick. The big buffered section where they park the most now has cross-hatching marks that should discourage parking. She also appreciates how the markings make more complete bikeway connections and help encourage walkers and bikers to hold their lines.

If you ride or walk through this area, please be cautious and respectful of other people. And let us know how the new striping works for you.

— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and jonathan@bikeportland.org
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