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Alex Reedin Posts

Taking the next step on #workzonewtf

Monday, July 9th, 2018

The City of Portland has successfully gotten developers to usually preserve walkways during construction, but it needs to clean up its own act for in-roadway projects.

Five years ago, providing an alternate, covered walkway during building construction using the sidewalk was a foreign practice in Portland. Now, though the situation still isn’t perfect (especially for people experiencing difficulties walking), Portlanders can mostly count on there being a place to walk while a building’s being built in the adjacent plot of land. Kudos, Bureau of Development Services and Bureau of Transportation project staff, and to the Street Trust for bird-dogging this issue for years.

However, at least in my experience, there seems to have been little if any improvement for in-roadway projects. These projects are generally completely in government control. My perception is that they impact people biking more than people walking. They often turn a comfortable place to ride into a white-knuckled experience. They don’t have to, with some pre-planning.

The planning should recognize the stress that construction inherently introduces for travelers. It should also recognize the fact that people biking bear disproportionate stress. For one thing, the average bike tire is less accommodating of bad road surface conditions than the average car tire. For another thing, if people driving are unusually stressed and distracted due to construction, the burden on people biking to pay attention and not get hit is even higher than usual. That’s why making a real effort to preserve and/or provide bike infrastructure during construction is especially important. Although the current status quo may appear at first glance to some to make both driving and biking about equally less pleasant, the actual degradation of comfort is much worse while biking.

Let me give a few examples currently occurring and my suggestions for improvement.

Example 1: SE 50th / 52nd

Between SE Division and Powell, between Chavez and 72nd, SE 50th and SE 52nd are the main through-routes for driving. This summer, there have been lengthy and disruptive projects on both streets simultaneously. SE 50th is being repaved, and it looks from my ride-bys like SE 52nd has a water pipe and/or maybe a sewer project going on.

The result has been SE 50th’s roadway has been closed completely during rush hours a number of days. From the increased auto traffic on SE 52nd, my guess is that some people who would have driven on SE 50th appear to have started driving on SE 52nd instead. SE 52nd is the main official bike route in the area, with 6-foot bike lanes and significant bike traffic. However, the construction on the SE 52nd project has eliminated the bike lanes temporarily for a block or two, forcing driving and biking to share space. The construction has also created an extraordinarily rough ride, with the bike lane punctuated with extremely non-level linear asphalt patches for a block. The ride is so rough that I fear being diverted into a car’s path by one of the bumps.

I would suggest some or all of the following improvements to these projects:

  • Change schedule for one or both of the projects by a few months or a year. There are other roads that can be repaved this year.
  • Do temporary asphalt patching to a higher standard, especially on roads with high bike traffic. At least, I hope that those godawful patch jobs are temporary!
  • Improve temporary signage – be sure to include “bikes merge with cars” signs if they’re called for
  • Don’t put temporary signage in the bike lane!! (If you really must, provide a “bikes merge with cars” sign first).

Example 2: SE Foster between Powell & 90th

SE Foster was restriped a few weeks ago with a road diet. Two motor vehicle lanes each way became one motor vehicle lane each way, a center turn lane, and (space for) bike lanes. There are cones up and down the street to signal to people driving that there is one motor vehicle lane, not two, which gives the street a bit of a chaotic construction zone feel. The cones are generally placed where the bike lanes will be. It has been weeks and the bike lanes have not yet been striped, even though the center turn lane was striped the weekend of the road diet. This means that people biking on Foster are biking in a construction zone, with cones in much of the logical area for biking.

I would suggest the following improvement to this project:

  • The bike lanes should have been striped the same weekend as the center turn lane! You might not even need cones to keep people driving in the motor vehicle lane if the bike lanes had been striped.

Overall, to avoid discouraging biking in Portland, the city needs to pay more attention to accommodating biking well in its roadway construction projects. Until the Foster Road construction, I would have thought the problem was mostly with the Water Bureau and BES, but the Foster Road construction situation is not good either, so I think even PBOT could use some self-reflection.

Follow these 15 driving tips and make streets safer for everyone

Tuesday, September 5th, 2017

Interstate Avenue.jpg
A great city for biking must have great drivers.
(Photo: J. Maus/BikePortland)

This post was submitted by BP Subscriber Alex Reed.

We all know driving is a challenging endeavor that carries grave responsibility – lives are on the line. But even driving according to the law dependably is difficult – much less going beyond the law to be truly courteous and helpful to other road users.

Here are some ideas I’ve found useful – starting with how to obey the law. If you don’t drive, please share this with your friends and family that do.

8 Tips To Help Get You to A+, 100% Lawful Driving

1. Take a deep breath – don’t rush.
If you’re reading this for tips, I bet you already obey the speed limit without fail. But don’t forget the Basic Speed Law (layperson’s version: don’t drive too fast for conditions)! There are tons of places and times where the speed limit is way too fast. Don’t be in a rush. Opting for slower and safer is better than just going on autopilot at the speed limit. As we leave the summer, allow more and more extra time for less than ideal conditions.
[Read more…]

5 Things I learned parenting (mostly) by bike

Wednesday, May 31st, 2017

I spent the past year and a half parenting one, then two kids (now 1.5 and 3 years) mostly by bike. Here are some of my takeaways:

1) It’s totally doable for many people (depending on where you live and work, and other complications).

2) You may end up wanting to be more car-lite than you were before kids (many/most young kids hate car seats in various phases of their lives and scream while in them, and love box-bikes and buses and trains; also, biking may well be your only reliable way to get exercise)

3) You may end up wanting to be less car-lite than you were before kids (the tyranny of naps cuts up your day so much, it’s nice to get from A to B faster. Plus, getting car rides from friends when you have kids is pretty much impossible, and installing/uninstalling car seats in rental cars is a pain, and your time is at a premium)

4) Think through contingency plans. What if it’s too icy to bike but your work and daycare are still open? What if you’re sick? What if you’re sick like half the winter? (You may well be sick like half the winter)

5) Rewarding children is good parenting and preserves your sanity. Keep rewards at the ready.

Cool it on the Springwater

Friday, May 20th, 2016

I’m witnessing problems on the Springwater that have nothing to do with people who are houseless. As more and more people are using the path this spring as the weather gets nicer, I’m seeing a good bit of rude and unsafe behavior on the Sellwood-OMSI section. As someone who sometimes bikes fast myself, I’m sad to say that the majority of the rudeness I see is coming from my fellow fast cyclists.

As an example – this morning I saw two gentlemen in roadie garb and bikes going about 21 mph on the Sellwood-OMSI section of the Springwater. On the very narrowest section of the path (just south of where the path goes under the Ross Island Bridge), they passed a family with two kids on bikes. The gentlemen in roadie garb didn’t even go single-file to pass this family despite the path being quite narrow at this point. The gentleman on the right passed the kids extremely close and at high speed. The family seemed scared.

This type of behavior is not OK. If you’re behaving rudely on a path, no matter on a bike or walking or whatever speed, you really need to stop. If you’re behaving rudely at 21mph, that presents much more of a risk to other path users than someone behaving rudely at 12mph or 3mph. People who go fast on bikes need to behave more cautiously and politely than people who go slowly because of this. If you’re a fitness type, think of the slowing down and speeding up as adding some sprints to your workout 🙂

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