Comment of the Week: On (the lack of) bikeway maintenance

“It’s to the point where weeds are growing in a mix of gravel, sand, composted leaves, and glass.”

Jonathan’s post, Hallelujah! PBOT will address bikeway maintenance at upcoming meeting, came with a warning that it “contains a lot of my opinions.” A glance through the comments section shows the warning was unnecessary, readers wholeheartedly agree with his opinions about the sorry state of many Portland bikeways.

The post was prompted by an agenda item in Tuesday night’s Bicycle Advisory Committee (BAC) meeting suggesting a new effort by the Portland Bureau of Transportation and leaders from their Maintenance Operations section to improve bike lane clean up protocols.

If you had 37 seconds in an elevator to pitch the bike lane problem to the new Maintenance leaders, Keith’s comment, with its even tone and succinctness, would be a good model.

Here’s what Keith wrote:

Your term “modal disrespect” perfectly describes the problem. The silos within the larger PBOT silo exacerbate the problem. For example, the city has invested in wands/bollards along SW Beaverton-Hillsdale Hwy bike lanes, but then hasn’t swept the “protected” portions for at least a year. It’s to the point where weeds are growing in a mix of gravel, sand, composted leaves, and glass. SW Terwilliger has predictable seasonal problems with overgrown vegetation, but instead of proactively addressing this (as the city does with restriping streets), users have to complain to get anything done.

I was fortunate to visit Amsterdam this spring, and maintenance there is totally different. The Dutch (as well as Danes) [are compulsive] regarding bike lane and sidewalk maintenance. Not a leaf, weed, or glass shard in sight. It really sends a clear message about what transportation modes the government really supports. PBOT not only needs to proclaim support – it must demonstrate it.

Thank you Keith. You can read Keith’s comment, and the full comment thread under the original post.

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1 month ago

New motto for Portland:

Portland: The city that talks.

David Hampsten
David Hampsten
1 month ago
Reply to  Fred

I thought it was: The City that Meets.

I’m sure the city will soon form a relevant stakeholder citizens advisory committee on the issue with relevant open houses.

1 month ago

Definitely an important issue impacting: traffic safety + risk management + quality of life + CTR goals + climate change goals, etc…
…and I suspect that national city bike rankings will have higher weighting on operations and maintenance practices now that most large cities are adopting NACTO best practice facility designs…its no longer high scores (and self awarded “Bike City” mottos) if you have a high proportion of non-functioning PBLs etc.

1 month ago

And to be “fair” this is not JUST a Portland issue…but one sadly affecting other US cities (Honolulu, Vancouver WA, etc.) that have planned, designed and implemented protected bike lanes (PBLs) but with a lagging operations and maintenance practices…due to coordination, poor selection of equipment for sweeping (new sweepers that don’t fit, French made sweepers that got delayed due to pandemic supply chain uses, etc …)