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.