Closer look at overgrown vegetation on SW Terwilliger Parkway

In this quick video I share some thoughts about biking on SW Terwilliger Parkway, a street notorious for its bad bike lane conditions.

While it’s one of the most beautiful roads in Portland and recently earned National Historic Register status, Terwilliger leaves something to be desired for bicycle users. It’s a precious north-south, not-super-hilly and relatively direct route between downtown Portland and southwest neighborhoods that should be a lot more safe and appealing to people on bikes.

Unfortunately the bike lane is unprotected and relatively narrow — and very often the space that is available for cycling on is covered in either leaves or gravel or branches and ivy (depending on the season). Two reasons for this are because there aren’t any commercial or residential destinations adjacent to it and it’s a park — which means its lush greenery has no natural predator and its only caretaker is a city government with a very lackluster maintenance record.

In the past when I’ve looked into why Terwilliger is so often unmaintained, I’ve gotten the classic finger-pointing between the city bureaus of parks and transportation.

As you can also see in the video, Portlanders are forced to deal with unsafe conditions (which are rampant elsewhere, not just on Terwilliger) that put bicycle riders in dangerous proximity to cars and their drivers who are going 30-40 mph. Since the southbound direction has a slight incline, speed differentials between bike and car users are extreme, which adds to the stress.

At this point, I don’t care who is in charge, it just needs to be better maintained more often!

Thankfully, as you can see in the video, the city has recently cut the overgrowth way back. My footage is from July 15th and since then a lot more has been cut back. That’s great.

I hope the future of this street has a physically protected bikeway and a strong, transparent maintenance agreement so the public can hold the City of Portland more accountable to keeping it clear.

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Chris I
Chris I
17 days ago

This plant is a scourge (on par with Himalayan Blackberry). Both are creating this issue all over the city, and we really need a better plan to remove them. If you see this plant in your neighborhood, kill it. Talk to your neighbors if you see it on their property and offer to kill it for them. Our neighbors across the street had two of these that were 50ft tall, and were sending seeds all over the neighborhood. They had to spend thousands to have the trees removed.

https://www.nature.org/en-us/about-us/where-we-work/united-states/indiana/stories-in-indiana/journey-with-nature–tree-of-heaven/

maxD
maxD
17 days ago

There is also overgrown vegetation blocking the new Naito bike lanes at the north end where is connects withteh path tothe steel bridge. Also, the Interstate bike lanes are blocked by vegetation in a few locations between Overlook and Larrabee. I appreciate you highlighting Terwilliger, but this a widespread, City-wide problem.

bArbaroo
bArbaroo
14 days ago
Reply to  maxD

Parked cars also block Naito – 4 different cars where parked on the green paint today as I tried to use the bikeway.

soren
17 days ago

People walking on sidewalks are plagued with the same overgrowth of shrubbery and vegetation. And in most cases the culprit is a property owner that has given up on yard work.

pigs
pigs
17 days ago

I’ve had to clear bike lanes on BH Hwy before because no one came out to clear it after reporting it for a couple months. Even when they do clean it up, they don’t always clear it back all the way to the curb.

Ernest Fitzgerald
Ernest Fitzgerald
17 days ago

“I hope the future of this street has a physically protected bikeway”

That would rock. This route is so heavily used by cyclists that additional protection would make sense.

cct
cct
17 days ago

if you clear out a shoulder, you are breaking a pbot code (only adjacent property owners may legally work in r.o.w.); forget the code # just now. you CAN ask adjacent landowner for permission to do so on their behalf – which is what i do in a number of places. other places i just do it, ‘legal’ or not, since that is what hardesty, the head of pbot, said i should do: “in my community, we see a need and organize to fill it” but it’s impractical for a whole street.

in SW, we have been pretty vocal that if pbot is not going to give us sidewalks, they need to work on upping their shoulder game, AND give us tools to help – currently, most programs that used to facilitate citizens working in r.o.w.s are moribund or eliminated.

so i am very glad to hear recently that they are studying a program that essentially will let neighborhoods adopt blocks and work in them both for traffic calming and infrastructure maintenance like brush clearing.

does it suck WE have to do it instead of the city? oh yeah! but at least it might get done.

D2
D2
16 days ago

Interestingly I just rode by where someone chopped back the section on Terwilliger from SW Palatine Hill road, at the roundabout, to Boones Ferry.

Fred
Fred
16 days ago

The next place you should highlight is the Multnomah Ave to Terwilliger connector that runs along I-5 (the entrance from Multnomah / exit to Terwilliger), which has several trees growing into the bike lane.

You can easily go 25 mph on the downhill and then discover you have to dodge a tree limb. I’m afraid someone’s gonna get knocked off a bike there.

I’m guessing this is another No Man’s Land of bike-lane maintenance – probably a disputed ODOT-PBOT corridor.