PBOT publishes new gravel clean-up map, says focus is on bike routes

Detail from PBOT’s new gravel clean up map. View it here.

Gravel in bike lanes has been a thorn in the side of Portland cyclists for many years. I realized today that as far back as 2007 BikePortland has shared stories of woe from Portlanders concerned that the gravel sprayed onto the road by the Portland Bureau of Transportation after snow or ice storms becomes a hazard long after the storm (and the need for the gravel) has passed.

One of the issues we struggle with is a lack of transparency about how long it will take PBOT to sweep it back up, and where they are focusing efforts to do so.

I’m happy to report that this year, PBOT has taken a great step forward in not only transparency, but in having focused attention on clearing gravel from bike routes. They’ve published a new map that shows a live view of where gravel pick-up is happening. As of 10:30 am this morning, PBOT had swept 299.4 miles of roads. Of those roads, 17.9 miles of protected bike lanes have been swept.

Video of a PBOT sweeper on the N Rosa Parks Way protected bike lane posted by The eBike Store on Wednesday. (Sped up 2X).

Protected bike lanes have become a source of particular concern because they their plastic flexi-posts and curbs tend to corral gravel and debris that would otherwise be whisked away by passing car tires and traditional sweepers.

From the looks of PBOT’s new map, they’ve already made several passes of the protected bike lanes on North Rosa Parks Way between Willamette and Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd, NE Multnomah between N Interstate and 16th, SW 2nd between NW Everett and SW Washington, NW Broadway between Burnside and NW Flanders, and a few other spots.

According to data compiled by local bike advocate and BikeLoud PDX Board Member Joe Perez, PBOT manages 31 total miles of protected bike lanes — so the city is a little over half-way through.

PBOT Communications Director Hannah Schafer tells BikePortland they are upping their game this year when it comes to cleaning bike lanes. “We’re focusing on bike routes,” Schafer shared in an email a few minutes ago. “With our bike coordinator working in partnership with Maintenance Operations to prioritize high volume bike routes first, in recognition of the fact that post-storm gravel on the streets is particularly dangerous for people on bikes.”

(Photo: Kiel Johnson)
The sweeper at Bike Happy Hour last night (Photo: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

That’s great news! Not only does gravel pose a serious slippage hazard, but it also grinds away pavement markings many bike riders rely on for safety. The sooner it gets picked up, the better.

On that note, Schafer says they’ve got crews working on this day and night citywide and that, “We do ask for people’s patience, as our sweepers can only move at about 3 mph.”

When can we expect PBOT to finish the job? “It depends on a lot of factors,” Schafer said. “Assuming equipment, staffing, and weather are in our favor, we think we’ll be able to do a first pass on all our routes in about a month.”

In a related effort, BikeLoud PDX is putting a lot of miles on their Bike Lane Sweeper. BikeLoud vice-chair Kiel Johnson shared a video on social media this week that showed him towing the innovative gadget behind his bike. It worked so well he ended up with a large yard bag full of gravel to use for home projects. And Perez showed off the sweeper at Bike Happy Hour last night.

It’s great to see everyone working together to get this gravel cleaned up as soon as possible. Go team!

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)

Founder of BikePortland (in 2005). Father of three. North Portlander. Basketball lover. Car owner and driver. If you have questions or feedback about this site or my work, feel free to contact me at @jonathan_maus on Twitter, via email at maus.jonathan@gmail.com, or phone/text at 503-706-8804. Also, if you read and appreciate this site, please become a supporter.

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SD
SD
3 months ago

Don’t know if it was PBOT or Bike Loud but big difference on my ride today, which was awesome.

Alan Love
Alan Love
3 months ago

Is there a link for the PBOT map? A quick quick google search doesn’t find it.

dw
dw
3 months ago

Appreciate PBOT being responsive and transparent. I’m a little disappointed more east of 205 isn’t being swept, but am also aware of how little bike traffic, relative to closer in, there is out here. Probably has something to do with how little infrastructure there is lol. I’m sure they’ll get to it. Progress is progress even if it’s slow.

dw
dw
3 months ago
Reply to  dw

Alright I take back what I said. Just got home. The section of Division that’s marked is mostly not clear. From 82nd east, where the bike lanes are protected, there’s still a ton of gravel. Everything from 82nd to 60th is relatively clear but not totally. Still lots of big patches of gravel and tree debris. 60th to Lincoln is an absolute mess.

Car lanes are pristine though

Jay Cee
Jay Cee
3 months ago

I was just on interstate this morning by rose quarter, the gravel is not cleared. The driving lane is clear of gravel, not the tiny tiny bike lane like this map shows

Watts
Watts
3 months ago

Cool! Do you have a link for the map?

PTB
PTB
3 months ago

What’s that link, dog?

Todd/Boulanger
Todd/Boulanger
3 months ago

[Good] Way to Go PBoT! It will be interesting to see how the gravel audits go.

PS. PBoT OPS please do not forget to sweep the Interstate Blvd route that connects to the I-5 Bistate Bike Highway!

(ODoT, please get out there too a sweep it up too since you wanted the responsibility for both bridges and WSDoT does not.)

ADuncan
ADuncan
3 months ago

And it looks like they also cleared the NW 24th and Flanders section that I’ve been begging PDX Reporter to clean for months. Awesome!

Anoma Lee
Anoma Lee
3 months ago
Reply to  ADuncan

Anyone have any idea what happened to the concrete planters that used to be on 24th north of there? There used to be a handful, each with signs in them indicating that it was a greenway. They disappeared months ago it seems. You can still see the yellow outlines on the pavement where they were placed. Work over that way and often bike and walk past there, so I happened to walk by late at night when they were cleaning that section! Happy to see it

Paul Hobson
Paul Hobson
3 months ago

Not yet marked on the map, but Gladstone from 21st to 41st was as dry and smooth as a baby’s bottom at the denouement of a Pampers commercial

Fred
Fred
3 months ago
Reply to  Paul Hobson

Nice to see an allusion to babies’ bottoms in this space.

Paul H
Paul H
3 months ago
Reply to  Fred

It’s a simile, not an allusion.

Fred
Fred
3 months ago
Reply to  Paul H

Um – it’s an allusion, as well as a simile (you alluded to something).

When someone compliments your writing, you should probably just say thank you.

Watts
Watts
3 months ago
Reply to  Fred

Since he actually mentioned the bottom, it is no longer an allusion.

Glad I could help!

Paul H
Paul H
3 months ago
Reply to  Fred

My apologies. My sarcasm detector requires calibration.

Deeper question: Are all similes allusions? I thought not mentioning the reference explicitly was necessary condition. E.g.,
what Romeo swept this street?” would be an allusion to Shakespeare, since it doesn’t mention him or his play explicitly.

Fred
Fred
3 months ago
Reply to  Paul H

Yes, it would. An allusion can be vague.

Steven
Steven
3 months ago

I noticed PBOT’s bike lane sweeper when I was out a couple nights ago near NE 1st & Holladay. Nice to see they’re prioritizing sweeping up gravel. Now if we could just get to the protected lanes that are too narrow for the current sweepers to drive in…

David Hampsten
David Hampsten
3 months ago

There was a debate on a previous post about why an old city bike lane street sweeper had so many miles on it, but so few of them were related to actual street sweeping. If you look at the map on this story, you’ll find that most of the sweepings start from where the vehicle is stored, at a PBOT pavement recycling facility on Sunderland near NE 33rd. This vehicle then has to traverse the same clean streets again and again just to arrive at the destination streets for that day, which probably helps to explain their general sweeping pattern – they seem to be sweeping the outer areas first and working their way backwards. Along with the sweeper are usually several dump trucks to carry the sweepings back to be sorted and recycled (many trips per day each way), plus a few other motor vehicles for crews, refreshments, supervisor, and so on, all of which add to the carbon footprint of the city’s bike facilities.

dw
dw
3 months ago
Reply to  David Hampsten

When I saw the lil’ sweeper last it looked like they had loaded it on to a trailer and hauled it to where they were sweeping.

David Hampsten
David Hampsten
3 months ago
Reply to  dw

Sounds like PBOT is already applying lessons learned from the previous sweeper.

Steven
Steven
3 months ago
Reply to  David Hampsten

Yes, sweepers require support crews and various ancillary vehicles. This is no less true for sweepers that operate on streets without dedicated bike facilities. Unless you’re trying to be contrarian, I don’t know why you would even bring it up.

Fred
Fred
3 months ago
Reply to  Steven

One thing you can always count on is for David to be contrarian.

He makes good points also.

John V
John V
3 months ago
Reply to  David Hampsten

At the carbon footprint cost of sweeping a bike lane once, the lane supports thousands and thousands of nearly zero carbon footprint bike rides. So, not really relevant. Also not any different from the sweepers that run on the driving lanes.

Fred
Fred
3 months ago
Reply to  John V

I noticed that also. Kinda hilarious to complain about the carbon footprint of a single sweeper when car after truck is pumping out pound after pound of carbon, and everyone thinks that’s just the cost of doing business.

Steven
Steven
3 months ago
Reply to  John V

Not to mention that cars and trucks, not bikes, are the only reason gravel is used on streets at all. D’oh!

Kangas
Kangas
3 months ago

Unrelated to sweeping, but of interest to bicyclists this time of year: The gravel that’s put out for ice and snow is new gravel with freshly fractured sharp edges. It’s not nearly as sharp as glass, but there’s so much of it that a few bits can figure out how to stick in a bicycle tire.

That doesn’t have to mean flats, though. These gravel bits are small enough that it has to stick in a tire first, then work its way through over time. If you flip your bike over once in a while, look over your tires, and get out any pointy embedded things, then they can’t wiggle their way through the tire later and cause a flat. Only takes a few minutes, and it’s super satisfying every time you catch one in the act.

David Hampsten
David Hampsten
3 months ago
Reply to  Kangas

An even quicker way to remove gravel, and make your tires smell nice to boot, is to soak a clean rag in vinegar and rub your tires down with it (cheap white vinegar works fine, but apple or balsamic smells nicer). However, don’t spin the tires inside as the flying debris will make a mess and hurts when it hits you, but instead take the bike out for a spin, preferably on some clean non-graveled pavement.

Racer X
Racer X
3 months ago

The City has finally gotten on the gravel ride trend bandwagon…by mapping which bikeways still have gravel…this is great for practicing for the next long gravel ride or cyclocross! 😉

Phillip Barron
Phillip Barron
3 months ago

Can we put it requests? It would be great to clean up Terwilliger’s bike lanes, all the way from downtown to the Boones Ferry split.

qqq
qqq
3 months ago
Reply to  Phillip Barron

The sweeper crew should have a mobile hotline you could call. They could call it the “Sweeper Cell”.

Fred
Fred
3 months ago
Reply to  qqq

Bad pun of the week??

Bstedman
Bstedman
3 months ago
Reply to  Phillip Barron

Exactly! The downhill curves are especially dangerous with gravel. You can always email/call Save Portland.

Alan Love
Alan Love
3 months ago
Reply to  Phillip Barron

https://www.pdxreporter.org/#Login or I think there is an app in Google/Apple.
You have to create login credentials but you can then specify locations for sweeper requests. HOWEVER, they take the location rather specifically. For example, I requested that both directions of SW Multnomah between blah blah and blah blah get swept, pinned a location on the map. They swept about 30 feet on one side, not the several miles that needed it (and I wrote on the request). So, I now tag a string of locations along the entire street that needs it with multiple requests.

Phillip Barron
Phillip Barron
3 months ago
Reply to  Alan Love

Thanks Alan for the reminder to use PDX Reporter for this. I just reported Terwilliger. We’ll see what happens. And thanks for reporting Multnomah Blvd!

Eric Wilhelm
Eric Wilhelm
3 months ago
Reply to  Alan Love

They really need to let you see when somebody has already reported it so you can just like and subscribe. Also what we really need are about a dozen small sweepers like the BikeLoud one, moving at 8-15mph and riding where people need to go. In Oct, it took me a few hours to do the lanes in most of Hillsdale and a mile or so into surrounding neighborhoods, Terwilliger to Taylor’s Ferry, Multnomah down to Oleson, Barbur, Bertha, BH-Hwy etc. That was with a light covering of leaves+debris/old gravel, and would be much faster with a sweeper you don’t need to stop to dump, we just need to clear a path until the big ones come through, and keep doing that regularly, year-round. I haven’t gotten a chance to take it around SW yet since the storm. I tried to get a run down Terwilliger yesterday but the sweeper had a flat before I could even start way out in NE, so I barely got to downtown before I ran out of time, and I got a flat on my bike before I got it dropped off (in a hookworm tire with mr tuffys liner and slime tube no less, thanks to 1/2in long shard of glass which hit just outside the liner strip)

Fred
Fred
3 months ago
Reply to  Eric Wilhelm

You are such nice people, with your friendly reporting of gravel in the bike lanes in SW. But why should you have to report it? The city knows the lanes are full of gravel – they put it there. They just can’t be bothered to get out here and would rather prioritize other parts of the city.

Ted Buehler
Ted Buehler
3 months ago
Reply to  Phillip Barron

Phillip — you can also email a maintenance request to safe@portlandoregon.gov

This way you have a copy of the request in your outgoing email. And if it runs into problems (like Alan noted can happen) you can reply to the original request with info on what was missed.

Ted Buehler

Phillip Barron
Phillip Barron
3 months ago
Reply to  Ted Buehler

Email sent. Thanks for this Ted!

Bstedman
Bstedman
3 months ago
Reply to  Phillip Barron

According to the map Terwilliger has been done now. However, my husband biked Terwilliger from Capitol to downtown this morning and said it was clear only from Campus drive onward. But maybe they have only done one side so far.

Bstedman
Bstedman
3 months ago

As always, SW Portland comes last. Even though our hills make gravel so much more dangerous. I never understand why Terwilliger doesn’t get higher priority. It’s one the main bike commuter routes from SW to downtown that PBOT is responsible for (Barbur is ODOT and willamette trails is PP&R). Yet the narrow road and steep downhill curves are especially dangerous with gravel. Usually, I have to send an email to save Portland and eventually they will get to it.

Fred
Fred
3 months ago
Reply to  Bstedman

Yes – one sweep down SW Multnomah and back would take care of so many needs out here. But it’s like pulling teeth to get the city to do it. I’ve reported streets in SW that have NEVER gotten swept, ever.

Bstedman
Bstedman
3 months ago
Reply to  Fred

According to the map they have now done Terwilliger all the way to L&C and Multnomah Blvd to Garden Home. Hurray! Not sure if they have done both sides yet, though. My husband biked Terwilliger this morning and said it was cleared from Campus Road to downtown.

Fred
Fred
3 months ago
Reply to  Bstedman

It appears that only the north side of Multnomah has been swept – not the south side (WTF?). And the new “protected” lanes will probably never be cleared since the big sweeper can’t access them. Smart!

Fred
Fred
3 months ago

I have two initial reactions:

  1. It’s about danged time! – not just for the city to prioritize sweeping bike lanes, but to have a way of showing taxpayers when and where they are sweeping. Many of us have been asking for this kind of transparency for many years, and many other cities have provided this kind of info since the 1990s.
  2. Guess which part of the city has NOT been touched by sweepers as of Friday Jan 26th 2024 at 8am? You guessed it! – SW Portland! I saw yesterday where a sweeper made a pass over the Sellwood Bridge, but when it touched SW, it turned right around and went back into SE, which is more important, I guess. Also note that SW Barbur, which is THE main way to bike downtown from SW, isn’t reflected on the map b/c ODOT owns it and has to sweep it, and God knows when that will happen.

After last year’s snow event (or was it in 2022?), I saw a city sweeper cleaning residential streets, as if nothing had happened, when bike lanes on major arterials were full of gravel. Nice to see PBOT has finally got its priorities straight.

PTB
PTB
3 months ago
Reply to  Fred

Related to 1. What they need to do is implement a schedule (if it doesn’t already exist, seems like it does not) and post that schedule somewhere online and alert everyone about the schedule. Then after a while, after the schedule has existed a while, YOU TOW ANY VEHICLES ON THE SWEEP ROUTE ON SWEEP DAY. Be a big city, Portland. Other cities do this and it’s a good thing. You accomplish the goal of street sweeping by doing it thoroughly and you remove derelict cars from the roadway. There are cars in my neighborhood and route to work that have never moved in the 6 years I’ve lived in my house? Weeds and grass growing around and under them. Tags that are 20+ years expired. It’s nuts. Tow these, sweep the street.

Phillip Barron
Phillip Barron
3 months ago
Reply to  Fred

Genuine question: why would Barbur be “THE main way to bike downtown from SW”?

I recognize that Barbur has bike lanes, and rather than the up-and-down of Terwilliger, it has a more gentle, consistent slope.  But the speeds at which cars drive on Barbur are closer to freeway speeds. Since Terwilliger also has bike lanes,  curves and single lanes that keep traffic slow, and a more scenic aesthetic, why would someone choose Barbur over Terwilliger? 

Alan Love
Alan Love
3 months ago
Reply to  Phillip Barron

Hills. Sure they ain’t big, but 5 days a week those extra climbs add up and add a few minutes. And for my commute at least Barbur is not only flatter but also a little more direct. To be clear Barbur SUUUUCCKKKS. But my bike commute is already at the edge of what I consider reasonable. A slight bit more time/effort and I’m going to choose the car.

Fred
Fred
3 months ago
Reply to  Alan Love

You nailed it, Alan. When time is tight, you take Barbur – even with the two narrow bridges. Terwilliger is slow and hard – I take it when I want a workout.

Rob Erickson
Rob Erickson
3 months ago

I was a bit annoying at how precisely the bike lanes were avoided. On NE Glisan and 7th the streets were clean exactly to the white line, but not one bit of gravel in the bike lane was disturbed.

But really the insult was when they returned to do a second pass…and cleaned the medians.

Maria (Bicycle Kitty)
Maria (Bicycle Kitty)
3 months ago

I wonder what “white” means in the color coding on the map, because most of Brentwood-Darlington is coded white. It’s making my hill repeats on SE 52nd (between Harney and Flavel) pretty gravelly…!

Paul H
Paul H
3 months ago

White means it hasn’t been swept. I just noticed that if you really zoom in, you can see the individual passes. It’s apparent they’re doing several passes to *really* get it all before they move on. Not sure what the optimal approach is, but I see the operational appeal of this one.

qqq
qqq
3 months ago

There’s a little legend icon at the top right of the map. White shows “snow plow routes”.

Ted Buehler
Ted Buehler
3 months ago

Question for Jonathan or Hannah —

I’m super excited about a policy for PBOT to schedule remove gravel from bicycle lanes after winter storms.

Was this ever a policy in the past? Or is it new to 2024? If it existed in the past, how is this year’s policy different?

Thanks,
Ted Buehler

Damien
Damien
3 months ago

I don’t see it marked on the map, but someone swept the bike lanes between SE 41st between Woodstock and Powell in the last day – yesterday it was an off-road experience, today it was luxuriously clean (and normally it’s never clean on account of various trees dropping all sorts of matter into it all the time). Much appreciation for whoever did that work!

Charley
Charley
3 months ago

I very much appreciate the sweepers who cleaned up most of SE Tacoma and SE 17th in the last few days. Makes for a way better commute!

Resopmok
Resopmok
3 months ago

As of this writing N Whitaker, connecting the slough trail with delta park, is still in extremely unsafe condition without near prospects for even an initial sweep. Not sure this route is “unpopular” but it sure is a vital link between NE Portland and Hayden island/I-5 bridge. It’s not just gravel, but bad design (a low spot pools water and sediment accumulates rapidly) for a protected bike lane, and those little spiky balls that fall off gum trees and threaten to turn your front wheel, are rampant. Lane condition is apparently not part of the decision making process for prioritization. Help!

Patricia G
Patricia G
3 months ago

Good to see! I wish the city would prioritize more basic municipal services like this instead of concerning itself mostly with ideological pursuits. City government should be boring and functional. Unfortunately it’s anything but In Portland.

Fred
Fred
3 months ago
Reply to  Patricia G

I agree. Let’s have fewer people disrupting city council meetings and more people out sweeping bike lanes.

nic.cota
nic.cota
3 months ago

I got my chance at the sweeper Sunday! I got about 5 cargo bikes full of gravel on the small, but critical bike lanes on Killingsworth between Interstate and Michigan yesterday. Easily 1,000 lbs of gravel all said and done. Its amazing how much was in the bike lanes alone!

Really glad to see PBOT recognize the issue: let’s just hope they maintain this kind of transparency the rest of the season and years to come! We all just want safe roads to travel on.

Fred
Fred
3 months ago
Reply to  nic.cota

You hauled away a half-ton of gravel??!! That’s amazing. Where did you put it all when you were done?

Fred
Fred
3 months ago

It would be neat if BP would set up a “Report Swept Bike Lanes” page after every storm, and leave it open for comments so we can track the city’s (and ODOT’s) progress in cleaning up the bike lanes.

I was excited to see that SW Terwiliger had been swept – in both directions – from south of Barbur to Lewis & Clark as of noon today (Monday, Jan 29th). It’s about the only street that has been swept in SW, except for the west side of Barbur near Fred Meyer, which must be ODOT’s doing?

The map, which wasn’t updated over the weekend, shows that SW Multnomah was swept as of 2pm today, though the south side very definitely had NOT been swept when I was out at noon. I wonder if a PBOT sweeper came up Barbur from downtown and took care of the west side of Barbur (“You owe us one, ODOT!”) and then turned onto Multnomah at Safeway.

Keith
Keith
3 months ago
Reply to  Fred

Ditto. I was EB on Multnomah from 45th to 35th this afternoon (Monday 1/29), and the bike lane was definitely NOT swept. It did appear that a sweeper had been by but only made a few halfhearted attempts to get into the bike lane. The portion with bollards was not swept, and I suspect will stay that way for months.

Fred
Fred
3 months ago
Reply to  Keith

Thanks, Keith. Today (Tues Jan 30th) at noon, the west (or north?) side of Barbur had been swept at the Crossroads (Cap Hwy) but NOT the east (or south?) side. Why would ODOT (or PBOT helping ODOT?) sweep just one side of the street?

Yesterday the map showed that Terwilliger and Multnomah were the only streets swept in SW. Today it shows that Garden Home was swept, along with Taylors Ferry between Terwilliger and Macadam – which is certainly not a bike route to prioritize since virtually no one bikes there! And that’s it – pretty disappointing.

The map also boasts today that 709 miles of bike lanes have been swept in Portland, but again just a few miles in SW. PBOT should try to sweep all quadrants equally. Heck – SW would be done in a fraction of the time it’s taking to do the other quadrants since we have so much less infra.

Fred
Fred
3 months ago
Reply to  Fred

Yesterday (Wed Jan 31st) I noticed more lanes in SW Portland had been swept, but that included more arterial roads like SW 45th that have no bike lanes, or intermittent lanes. SW 45th hasn’t been touched by a sweeper in years, so you could see many places where the brushes beat back the vegetation that has been growing into the road for years. And over by Gabriel Park, the sweeper cleaned the curb, which is the parking lane, and left all of the gravel in the bike lane!

Vermont was swept, including the part west of 45th that has no bike lanes except the raised sidewalks east of 52nd, which are of course still covered in gravel b/c the sweeper can’t reach them.

It’s pretty obvious that the wildly varying infrastructure makes street cleaning a nightmare.

Fred
Fred
3 months ago
Reply to  Fred

I’m continuing to ride around SW Portland and see how the gravel pick-up is going. A few trends as of Feb 1st, 2024 at 2pm:

1) PBOT is *not* prioritizing bike lanes over here, since there are hardly any bike lanes. The map shows just the streets where the sweeper has been, and many of them don’t have bike lanes, so the boasty “miles swept” figure includes many streets, esp in SW, that have no bike lanes.
2) The so-called protected lanes in SW are completely untouched. The wanded lane on the N side of B-H Hwy is almost unrideable. I know the map shows no protected lanes have been swept over here – only on the East side (of course), but PBOT really needs to get that little sweeper over here to attack B-H, Maplewood, the new wanded lanes on Multnomah near the post office, and especially the sidewalks on Capitol Hwy, which are still mostly awful.
3) The good people who make the map need to figure out a way to show which side of the street has been swept (maybe show direction using different colors?). For example, south side of Capitol Hwy west of Vermont has NOT been swept, even though the map says it has been, but apparently the north side has been swept b/c the map shows that street as having been swept. The sweeper seems to have come west on Vermont (no bike lane), turned northeast on Capitol Hwy (bike lane), then right on Bertha (no bike lane), leaving the bike lanes in Hillsdale untouched.

I’m not seeing much logic in the way the streets are being swept, but I guess we’re supposed to be happy that there is any sweeping at all. The bar is very low for PBOT.

Fred
Fred
3 months ago
Reply to  Fred

It’s just after 8am on Friday, Feb 2nd, and the map was just updated (at 8am – impressive!) to show that SW Capitol Hwy was swept over almost its entire length (not in Hillsdale, for some reason), from Bertha to the L.O. line. I’m really interested to see how it worked out and hope to report back later, but the section between Multnomah Village and Taylor’s Ferry Rd has the new raised sidewalks, often blocked by utility poles, so there’s no way the sweeper cleaned the sidewalks – must have cleaned the car lanes only. And south of Barbur, the bike lanes are protected (wanded), so I don’t see how the sweeper got in those lanes, either!

I hope to report back if I can get up there today, but it’s pretty obvious that the map – an improvement though it is – doesn’t tell the whole complicated story of the condition of the bike lanes.

Fred
Fred
3 months ago
Reply to  Fred

Yesterday I cycled from SW on Barbur to downtown and then into N Portland. More trends I noticed:

1) Hannah Schafer may *say* that PBOT is prioritizing sweeping bike routes, but that’s just not the case. I saw two sweepers in NoPo – the huge, high-volume truck sweeper followed by the smaller sweeper (probably the same one in the video) on a six-lane urban highway that has no bike lanes. Meanwhile I encountered streets with regular curb-lane bike lanes that haven’t been touched.

2) There is a clear east-west divide in sweeping priorities. Some of the lanes on the east side, like the protected lane on Rosa Parks (the one in the video), are so clean you could eat off of them. Yet so many lanes and streets generally on the west side of the river are untouched and full of gravel. Why? Do people deserve to be less safe there?

3) Barbur is still a mess. For some reason the southbound bike lane has been swept in most places (but not everywhere), while the northbound lane is a dangerous gravel mess, with piles of gravel several inches thick in places. And the protected lane near Caro Amico, heading north, has miraculously been cleared, but not the protected lane directly across from it heading southbound. Why?

We’re all glad to see sweepers out there – a refreshing change from the status quo. But it’s really hard to make sense of what PBOT is doing. I simply don’t believe any words coming from their PR people – the reality on the ground doesn’t match their words.

Lisa Caballero (Assistant Editor)
Editor
Reply to  Fred

I drove from Barbur south to Capitol Hwy yesterday afternoon. In the steepest section of the steep uphill on Cap Hwy, the bike lane was blocked by debris from trees. Small branches and twigs. It wasn’t ride-able.

This was dangerous, because a cyclist would have to pull into the travel lane right at the base of the uphill, as drivers are straightening out of the turn from Barbur.

Fred
Fred
3 months ago

The bike lane on that section of Capitol Hwy is probably the worst in all of Portland. I avoid it at (almost) all costs, and always go straight (south) on Barbur or avoid Barbur entirely by taking Terwilliger. If you’re going to climb that hill anyway, you may as well get a gentler workout on Terwilliger, IMO.

Fred
Fred
3 months ago
Reply to  Fred

Today (Sunday, Feb 4th, 2024) I rode on SW Multnomah, the I-5 ramp to Terwilliger, and SW Barbur near Fred Meyer.

All of the bike lanes had been swept, with the exception of the new “protected” bike lane between 40th and 45th (I wasn’t a big fan when that went in: what’s the point of one short stretch of wanded lane when most of Multnomah is “unprotected”?). Even the raised bike lane, west of Safeway, was swept very well, so now we know it’s possible to sweep it.

All in all, I have to say PBOT (and possibly ODOT) have done a good job here. Long may this attention to the streets and bike lanes continue!

MontyP
MontyP
3 months ago

I’m surprised that NE Tillamook along the Rose City Golf Course is still covered in gravel as of 1/30. That’s a pretty long stretch of an important bike route.

gillum
gillum
2 months ago

The map today (February 29) shows Foster Road having been done on February 5. I rode it on February 23, and there was a good amount of gravel. Does it come back over time (on cars), or did they gravel again in February and I missed it? Or maybe it takes more passes than they’ve done so far. I wasn’t swimming in gravel, but it certainly was on at least 75% of the bike lane in most places.