PBOT will add posts to prevent car parking on new NW Flanders bike lane

Posted by on November 18th, 2021 at 1:19 pm

cars parked in bike lane on NW Flanders

Cars parked in contraflow bike lane on NW Flanders just west of 13th.
(Photo: Will O.)

When Portlander Will O. got tired of seeing people park their cars in the bike lane on Northwest Flanders between 13th and 14th, he flagged the issue for the city on PDX Reporter. “But ultimately,” he shared in an email to transportation bureau staff last week, “this feels like it needs to be resolved with infrastructure.”

It turns out, the city agrees.

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Will walks and bikes on the recently completed NW Flanders bikeway and said it is “routinely filled with cars” on that block just east of the Ned Flanders Crossing. “More often than not, I am forced to navigate around a parked car and into oncoming traffic,” he shared to the PBOT staffer. “This is especially true at peak evening traffic times, when a safe route is most important.”

Today Will received a response from PBOT. They plan to install white plastic posts along the bike lane on this block to discourage parking. The work is planned to be completed in December or January. The PBOT staffer said they have also flagged the issue with their parking enforcement team in hopes that it can get extra attention in the evening hours.

Do you use the Flanders bikeway? How’s it working for you?

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Bjorn
Guest
Bjorn

This white plastic post stuff is completely inadequate and will just result in the bike lane being full of garbage and broken plastic posts since the city generally fails to sweep the narrow bike facilities after they have placed the posts. You can see how awful and trashy it will look at a similar facility on NE cully and 57th avenue between fremont and mason. They are proposing doing this in front of my property on 72nd as well to save money vs the previously planned physically separated bike path. I for one do not want something that will look like trash and not accomplish the goal of keeping the bikeway clear in front of my home. The city needs to actually spend the money to create truly physically separated infrastructure here, and in the meantime they should focus on immediate towing with fines large enough to cover the cost of frequent patrols.

FDUP
Guest
FDUP

If they use Jersey barricades or something else more substantial, it will still be a big challenge to keep the bike facility clean, maybe more so. Plus Jersey barricades aren’t any more visually appealing than the white plastic wands.

Lots of homeowners and businesses just dump their leaves in the bike facility all over town, MODA center / Convention Center are both prime offenders, but it’s fairly ubiquitous.

Bjorn
Guest
Bjorn

If they elevate the path with a strong curb at the outer edge it would do a lot, the curb would catch garbage at the street where the regular street sweeper would pick it up and a curb possibly with trees etc at the edge is a very clear indication to drivers not to park there. I don’t see nearly as many people parking on the sidewalk as I do in these bike facilities. This type of elevated MUP was the original design for the project on 72nd, but they are trying to cut costs and just toss down some wands instead. Also at least jersey barriers provide some safety benefit, wands are worthless as we can see by how destroyed they all are after a couple months.

FullLaneFemme
Guest

I’ve seen painted jersey barriers. There’s also the option of planters made of a hard material that can damage a car.

cmh89
Guest
cmh89

The low-profile concrete strips seem to discourage people from parking in the bike lane. Obviously not totally because PBOT believes bike lanes should also be loading zones for whatever reason.

Plastic wands are more or less doing nothing at all. Better not to waste the money.

Alan McDaniel
Guest
Alan McDaniel

If Portland doesn’t have one already, a narrow sweeper would sure help keep separated bike lanes tidy: https://www.bortekpwx.com/product/dulevo-dzero%C2%B2-electric-mini-sweeper/

PdxPhoenix
Guest
PdxPhoenix

and wouldn’t be able to get into the bike lane to sweep with the other posts still standing… ?

Mark Remy
Guest
Mark Remy

Over the summer I was leading a small group ride heading east on NW Flanders in the area described. As we made our way, I saw a dude parking his Tesla in the bike lane. (Like, directly over the wide, bright-green, painted strip that designates a bike lane—it was clear as day to me.)

I slowed as we approached and told him (politely, I swear), “Hi there, that’s a bike lane.”

He pointed to a sign or something, mumbled a few words of retort, and sarcastically thanked me for my concern. I let it go and rode on, partly because I was with a group and partly because the dude was SO SURE he was right, it planted a seed of doubt in my mind.

A week or two later I revisited that block for a closer examination. I was right. Dude had parked in the bike lane.

In conclusion: Hooray for anything that adds clarity in situations like this one.

Mike Quigley
Guest
Mike Quigley

You’re fortunate he didn’t babble some words about freedom before pulling out a gun and shooting you. Self defense would have been the plea. Case dismissed.

Jason Walker
Guest
Jason Walker

That wasn’t me of course. I thought that I was doing a good thing by buying a Model 3. Now Elon Musk and the GQP are winking at each other. Needless to say, I’ll never buy another Tesla.

George
Guest
George

Just on my commute this morning I had to maneuver around three cars parked in the Flanders bikeway. Hope this helps, but I wouldn’t be surprised if cars decided to just drive over the flexible posts.

Steve Hash
Guest
Steve Hash

Used it twice before I decided Johnson is still so much better. A coworker decided to go back to using Everett. Flanders is very pretty but not effective.

Social Engineer
Guest
Social Engineer

Cool story. What route does your coworker take in the opposite, uphill direction?

Johnson also dead-ends at 9th so it’s not a comparable route.

Chris I
Guest
Chris I

How do you feel it “not effective”?

I can get from the River to NW 23rd faster on Flanders than any other route. I’ve timed it multiple times, and it’s always faster. Straight shot, very few signals in most places, and signals where you actually need them (around I-405 and at 14th). Everett is probably faster if you are going East, but your odds of getting doored or left-hooked are significantly higher. Johnson starts at 9th, so it’s only a good option if you are coming from the Broadway bridge.

one
Guest

I use this route twice a day Monday- Friday.

EVERY morning I have to ride through the leaf blower army who blow fine particles into a cloud for much of my route between 5th and 14th, resulting in itchy burning eyes which is a slight irritation.

While they get all of the leaves off the sidewalk, they make a wet pile of mess clogging the bike lanes especially between 12th and 14th that make the lanes impassable.

This long pile is a giant, wet, skidding crash waiting to happen.

If no-one has gotten hurt here in the past week, I’ll eat one of my tires.

maxD
Guest
maxD

When My office was on SE 11th and Madison, I was often frustrated by cars blocking the Madison bike lane between 11th/10th and parking along the south side (which forces cars into the next lane, and the cars in that lane into the bike lane! They would occasionally come ticket, but that misses the point- the vulnerable road user has already been exposed to increased danger! Instead of being a safe route, the obstructed bike lane becomes extra dangerous. Portland refuses to take parking seriously. In Vancouver BC, if you are parked illegally, you get towed, right away. It is very effective and clearly prioritizes safety over parking convenience.

ivan
Guest
ivan

PBOT improved that stretch somewhat — the bike lane is curbside now and at least painted green — but it’s still an issue when someone can obstruct the bike lane “because I’m just picking up food real quick” at the carts there. (It happens even more in the stretch on 12th between Hawthorne and Madison, which almost seems designed to be intermittently blocked by deliveries and pick-ups.)

By the time parking enforcement arrives, they’ve left.

Unfortunately the only mechanism right now is for PBOT to do a “study” of the location, which means sending a staffer out for several hours to observe what happens over time. And of course it often takes them months to do that, even after they’ve established a location is worth studying.

PBLs wouldn’t have solved every car-in-bike-lane issue, but it sure would have reduced their frequency…

maxD
Guest
maxD

I worked at that location until last August. The parking in the bike lane actually got worse after the “improvements”, I suspect because of reduced parking on Hawthorne and an increase in popularity of Asylum Cart Pod. I definitely emailed with the PBOT project manager about the location on Madison between 11th and 10th and on 12th between Hawthorn and Madison. They asked for extra enforcement and I did see some tickets but not enough to actually create a reliably safe route for someone on a bike. IMO, PBOT is just fundamentally not interested in safety- they are so committed to not making any one upset or uncomfortable they refuse to make obvious, inexpensive fixes

ivan
Guest
ivan

no arguments there

squareman
Subscriber

Same experience. I reported delivery trucks, contractors, and private cars parked on the green lane inside the wands between 7th and Grand so many times with the PDX reporter app but never saw any improvements in three years. I finally bought a box of heigh-stick stickers that said “fail,” “wrong,” and “nope” at a stationary store and would burnish those onto the drivers door or the windshield such that it would at least be annoying to remove (while damaging nothing).

PTB
Guest
PTB

Similarish to your Vancouver anecdote. I lived briefly in a snowy, upper Midwest city. When “snow emergency’s” would happen there were rules about where to park and when. I didn’t have a car and it seemed confusing, but I didn’t actively deal with this. Anyway, if you were parked where they were to plow, you were towed with *no hesitation*. I admired this about the city. It was like, “we’ve laid it out for you, you didn’t pay attention, we have a job to do, it’s what we’ve told all you citizens we’d do, to do this job as best we can it means your car can not and will not stay here…sorry.” If you were towed, housemates were towed, it sucked but you made sure it never happened again.

ivan
Guest
ivan

It will help, to some extent, but the help will be limited. Just a couple of days ago I saw a car driving right down the bollarded bike lane along SW Jefferson (i.e. in front of the Amazon hub/locker place), like it was the driver’s own personal street.

If Flanders is really meant to be a bike arterial, it needs to be treated like one with real infrastructure (diverters, curb bulbouts, etc.). As always PBOT will cry poverty, in the midst of the $62 million “windfall” (Oregonian‘s word) of tax revenue.

Todd/Boulanger
Guest
Todd/Boulanger

I wonder how well the epoxy for the vertical delineator base will last if installed during the wet winter months. (What does the manufacturer recommend as best practice?…and thus will the work be “guaranteed” by the contractor?)

Bjorn
Guest
Bjorn

Doesn’t really matter if the base stays glued down or not when the wands will all be snapped off by drivers. Take a look along cully/57th, many broken and damaged posts, the remnants of which are often littering the bike lane creating additional hazards.

Todd/Boulanger
Guest
Todd/Boulanger

Bjorn: I agree, old school concrete raised curbing / HDPE wheel stops etc. would have greater longevity and effectiveness (enforcing parking restriction), but this depends on what the project designers are allowed to use by their jurisdiction. That is too bad to hear per the Portland context on Cully/ 57th. Here in Honolulu we have had better luck after refining processes through 4 PBL projects…the best delineators generally have only failed when installed without epoxy or when the asphalt was too ‘fresh’.

The City of Vancouver will be trying to avoid many of these issues by installing ‘Zebras’ made by Zicla (a common device used in Western Europe and starting to be used in the States) in an upcoming complete streets project.

bjorn
Guest
bjorn

They have already installed some, I have seen them near 164th. They make me a little nervous because they make it harder to leave the bike lane too, but they do seem like they would really get the attention of anyone who hit one with a car.

Alan Love
Guest
Alan Love

FYI, the direct line to Parking Enforcement is 503-823-5195. If you call during business(ish) hours they are generally pretty responsive. You leave a message the make/model/license plate and they will respond.

Granpa
Guest
Granpa

Enforcement in Portland. Now that is funny

J_R
Guest
J_R

I’ve called parking enforcement numerous times. One time, during Sunday business hours, I called about a whole string of cars parked on Woodstock opposite Reed College. It took me three calls (due to time limits on the recorder) to provide the descriptions and license plates of all the illegally parked cars – more than twenty. No response – I even checked an hour after my last call.

The only time parking enforcement responded was when I called about a car parked in front of a fire hydrant!

squareman
Subscriber

Ha! I reported 7 cars on NE 16th’s buffered bike lane just north of Multnomah and as I was reading off all the license plates to the voicemail, a bunch of uniformed police officers sauntered back to their unmarked vehicles. When I pointed out that they were creating a hazard and they didn’t have any lights on signifying an emergency, one claimed that they were searching for a discarded gun from a chase. I took it as a complete lie based on the circumstances.

Xavier R.
Guest
Xavier R.

What about some enforcement? Write some tickets for a week straight and the problem will be solved. Oh right PBOT and Hardesty don’t believe in that.

Bjorn
Guest
Bjorn

A ticket doesn’t really fix the problem, they just need to authorize some predatory towing companies to enforce the lane and the probably will be solved quite quickly.

Chris I
Guest
Chris I

This is the way. A ticket can be ignored. A missing car is a catastrophic event that someone is not likely to forget any time soon.

Middle of the Road Guy
Guest
Middle of the Road Guy

But to remain progressive, the cars should be towed in order of descending MSRP.

Steve C
Guest
Steve C

I mean you’re almost there. The fee to get it out of impound should be higher for an Aventador vs a Yaris. Tow them all to keep the street safe and open. But the rich shouldn’t be able to insulate themselves from the law with money.

Matt
Guest
Matt

If the problem is confusion/non-intuitive road design, then no. In a high turnover area, people will keep doing the same thing, even if the punishment has high impact. That one person won’t do it again, but another person will. It’s most likely environmental. You have to fix the physical context. Bollards seem to make the most sense. Bollards don’t protect cyclists from distracted drivers, but they do clearly delineate that you can’t drive through them to park on the other side of them.

bbcc
Guest
bbcc

It’s legal to park to the right of the double-yellow, car users just get confused and park curbside instead, because that’s what they’re used to. Car turnover is high here; this street is adjacent to one of the busiest commercial streets in the Pearl, and most people parking are probably shopping or dining there only for a few hours. Ticketing them will not effectively change the behavior of the next set of drivers who will inevitably park in the same position soon after they leave. The right solution is to make the right place to park more clear to drivers, which flex posts should help accomplish.

Matt
Guest
Matt

How well marked is the interior of the bike lane itself? All I can see in the photo is the two yellow lines, which should be enough unless what’s on the other side doesn’t look like a traffic lane. I drove lower eastbound Hawthorne coming off the bridge for the first time in a long time the other day and it felt like a confusing mess. As a driver, if I have to figure it out while driving it, it’s too complicated. As a biker, I remember how weird that stretch is, where you’re dumped onto a four lane fast moving car area that felt really sketchy. Glad they did something but the solutions need to be intuitive.

Todd/Boulanger
Guest
Todd/Boulanger

Good point. In my past dealings with local PD they will not enforce no parking if there is any “whiff” of vagueness in regulatory signage or lane markings (missing or under signed etc.) when it comes to bike projects.

Champs
Guest
Champs

So paint isn’t real protection, but real protection isn’t really real either. Got it.

What’s the point of building anything if we’re not enforcing or maintaining it?

kristof
Guest
kristof

How about they pave the damn street? it’s freakin’ treacherous. Why did Portland stop paving its streets?

Chris I
Guest
Chris I

They caught on to the gravel grinding trend a few years back.

janowa
Subscriber
janowa

Just rode through there for the first time. It was very confusing, but there was so much traffic, wind and debris (and I was in a hurry) that I didn’t realize part of the problem was cars parking where they shouldn’t. Grr.

J_R
Guest
J_R

Oh, no. We can’t jump to anything like plastic bollards. We need a task force to evaluate whether there is a problem while viewing it through the equity lens. Is the signing that prohibits parking clear? Does it communicate the desired (I use that cautiously) action (non-parking) in a multi-culturally, non-judgmental way? And what about East Portland? What about the impact on the homeless? Will the plastic wands be installed by non-privileged workers?

For goodness sake, tow the damn cars already!

maxD
Guest
maxD

Portland allows cars to use MUP’s as permanent, private driveways, whey would they start to care about parking in a bike lane? Greeley, Going, Swan Island to name 3 in North Portland.

Steve C
Guest
Steve C

Looks a lot like the issues SF had with an early protected bike lane on Valencia at Cezar Chavez. They eventually updated the lane (this may have been planned all along?) to more clearly guide drivers to park in the right spot.

https://hoodline.com/2017/03/baffled-motorists-use-new-valencia-bike-lane-for-parking-instead/

https://sf.streetsblog.org/2017/03/03/eyes-on-the-street-valencia-protected-bike-lane/

https://pbs.twimg.com/media/C5nUoakUsAAO3OF?format=jpg&name=large

https://pbs.twimg.com/media/C5kWyKHU8AAJu9b?format=jpg&name=large

FDUP
Guest
FDUP

Big LOL from me on this whole fiasco.

I know this post is about NW Flanders and I’ll get back to that, but AFAICT hardly anyone rides in the lower Hawthorne bike lane any more, and it is not easy for a right-turning motorist to check for cyclists in that bike facility, either. Add in the raised bus platforms and it all just begs cyclists to ride somewhere else. I generally get off the Hawthorne Bridge by OMSI and take the back way through Ladd’s Addition.

NW Flanders is the same way, it sounds good conceptually but the pavement sucks most of the way, plus there are lots of difficult to navigate intersections and cross streets.

Boyd
Guest
Boyd

I ride the inner SE Hawthorne bike lane frequently, though more often than not, I have to go left at 7th, so I take the vehicle lane, instead. But I too have noticed very few people using the bike facility, on Hawthorne. I had chalked it up to the reduction in commuters going back and forth from downtown. But maybe some are also reluctant to use the Hawthorne bike lane in its new configuration.

soren
Guest
soren

My interested but concerned partner has told me that the extra steps now needed to make left turns really stress her out.

bbcc
Guest
bbcc

It’s always interesting when someone claims “I never use that street anymore” and “nobody uses that street anymore” simultaneously. If you don’t use it, how do you know?

I think that stretch of bike lane on Hawthorne is great, but I don’t ride it very often because it ends abruptly at 12th.

1kw
Guest
1kw

I hope everyone who shared their opinions here also took the time to use the link above to file a report or used the 823-SAFE tool. 50 comments here, and I just wonder…