After media reports, state says it will smooth sunken grates on Barbur

Buffered Bike Lane with a bike symbol and arrow pointing forward
Beaverton to Tualatin ride-14

Jim Parsons in a 2011 photo.
(Photo: J.Maus/BikePortland)

For at least one last time, the squeaky wheel known as Jim Parsons has gotten some grease onto the gears of government.

After the veteran Portland-area bike advocate’s unsanctioned paint job of two sunken grates in Barbur Boulevard’s bike lanes landed them on TV news for two consecutive days, the Oregon Department of Transportation said Friday that it’ll follow his recommendations for addressing the problem within the next week or two.

An agency spokesman added that ODOT owes thanks to Parsons, who recently finished a degree at Portland State University and is planning a move to China.

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After man adds warning paint to sunken grate, state roads agency calls it vandalism

Buffered Bike Lane with a bike symbol and arrow pointing forward
sunken grate prepaint

A 2012 photo of the offending grate, long before Parsons’ unsanctioned paint job.
(Photos: Jim Parsons)

Update: After this and other media coverage of Parsons’ action and ODOT’s repsonse, the agency has announced plans to fix the grates and says it is grateful for Parsons’ work.

A local man who says he’s been warning state officials for seven years about a sunken grate in the middle of Barbur Boulevard’s northbound bike lane has finally gotten some action from the agency.

After he marked the grate himself with yellow warning paint and with the letters “ODOT KNOWS,” the agency is planning to visit the site … to erase his paint.

In a Wednesday email to the man, Jim Parsons, an Oregon Department of Transportation staffer with the title “citizen’s representative” scolded him for what she said would make the street more dangerous.

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Activist exposes gap in safety of City’s storm drains

Buffered Bike Lane with a bike symbol and arrow pointing forward

The gap in this storm drain grate in downtown
Portland is wider than a bike tire.
(Photos: Jim Parsons)

Super citizen activist Jim Parsons is at again. And this time, he’s mad about a bike-wheeling eating storm drain smack dab in the middle of downtown Portland and what he feels is a lack of action by the City to fix it.

Parsons has garnered quite a reputation for his tenacious, street-level activism that focuses on roadway hazards like overgrown vegetation (he carries pruning sheers in his panniers), potholes (he carries spray paint to mark them), and especially, storm drain grates (he’ll lift and turn them himself if possible so any gaps are perpendicular to traffic). (Learn more about him in our profile from a few years back.)

Last week, Jim found a prime example of a hazardous storm drain grate that, “could pose a bicycle safety hazard” on the southwest corner of SW 6th and Harrison (across from the PSU Bike Hub). Jim called the City’s 24-hour maintenance hotline (on speed-dial of course) and emailed a few contacts about it (along with a photo). “In this photo,” he wrote, “you can see my friend’s bike’s tire can easily slip inside the gap. If he had been riding when that happened, we can imagine the results.”

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Activist takes road hazard fix into own hands for under $20

Buffered Bike Lane with a bike symbol and arrow pointing forward

Dangerous storm grate on
Hall Blvd.
(Photos courtesy Jim Parsons)

Last month we took a look at reflective warning stripes installed by the City of Tigard to warn people on bikes to the presence of hazardous drains in the bike lane.

Those stripes were installed, in part, because of attention brought to the issue by citizen activist Jim “K’Tesh” Parsons (a man whose efforts have garnered him headlines both here and in The Oregonian). Parsons recently turned his attention to a sunken storm drain grate that has been annoying him for years. Below is the story of how, after years of nagging ODOT to fix the bike-crash causing bump, he recently took matters into his own hands…

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With help of police, activist turns egging incident into a positive

Buffered Bike Lane with a bike symbol and arrow pointing forward
A tour of the West Side-21

Bike activist Jim Parsons.
(Photo © J. Maus)

Whether it’s his amazingly well-lit bike, his tireless activism, or the fact that he rides around with pruning sheers in his panniers, Beaverton resident Jim “K’Tesh” Parsons tends to attract a lot of attention.

On one recent night he attracted the wrong kind of attention and was egged by two young kids in a car. But instead of getting mad or getting even, Jim got two new bikes for kids in need that will someday turn into many more.

Here’s the story…

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A tour of the West Side with an unsung bike hero

Buffered Bike Lane with a bike symbol and arrow pointing forward
A tour of the West Side-21

Jim “K’Tesh” Parsons is always looking
out to make your ride (or walk)
safer and more enjoyable.
-Slideshow Below-
(Photos © J. Maus)

It wasn’t long into a full day tour through Beaverton and Tigard that Jim “K’Tesh” Parsons needed to stop and get to work. We were riding on the path adjacent to Highway 26, just west of Washington Park, when he noticed some overhanging branches.

He stopped, swung his backpack around, took out a pair of gardening shears, and dove head-first into the tree in search of the guilty branch. A few yards further down he pointed out a tree stump a few feet from the edge of the path. It used to be a spikey Hawthorne tree, he said, and “I’m not a fan of spikey trees, especially when they grow too closely to the path.”

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