It’s 450-feet long but it could be the difference between life and death.
(Photos by J. Maus/BikePortland)
The State of Oregon has completed construction of a new bike path on NE Lombard (Highway 30) at 42nd. The path is about one-tenth of a mile long and is separated from motor vehicle traffic by a guardrail.
It doesn’t have an official name, but I’ll always think of this as the Martin Greenough Memorial Bike Path.
This is the location where Greenough was hit and killed by a selfish and irresponsible automobile user on December 2015. Greenough was riding in a bike lane that disappeared suddenly as the road narrows to fit around a large concrete pillar that holds up the 42nd Avenue overpass. ODOT built this path so that future bicycle users don’t have to ride through that dangerous pinch-point.
I took a closer look at the path yesterday.
The path starts just east of the ramps that lead up to 42nd Avenue from Lombard. ODOT has added a “Bike Route” sign with an arrow just before the curb ramp that provides a way to roll from the on-street bike lane to the new path.
Here’s the view where it starts looking west (against traffic).
Given the dangerous pinch-point, I think ODOT should have done more to prevent someone on a bike from continuing on the road. This isn’t your typical, “interested but concerned” versus “strong and fearless,” some-people-will-opt-for-the-path-while-others-can-opt-for-the-street situation. Continuing to ride on the street at this location is extremely dangerous and now that the path is built, I feel like it’s an option that should not exist.
One small green sign is easy to miss (especially at night and/or with scary vehicles speed by you at around 50 mph). Perhaps a large arrow on the pavement near the ramp? Or even a concrete curb/median with reflectors on it? Not only is the entry to the path under-designed in my opinion, they also left a large yellow “Bikes on Roadway” sign in place. I realize that’s useful for drivers in case someone is cycling on the road — but it also confuses bicycle users who might be unsure what they’re supposed to do.
I keep wondering about Martin. Would he have noticed this path? Is it obvious enough? He was new to town and the night he was killed was likely the first time he’d ever biked home from work.
The path itself is what you’d expect. About six feet wide and smooth pavement.
I was disappointed to see that the path is already strewn with garbage, broken glass, dirt and gravel.
Here are two views looking back (west) at the path from its terminus.
From this aerial perspective (on the 42nd Avenue overpass bridge) you can see how ODOT ground down the old bike lane stripe to create a series of hash marks that begin where the new path starts…
Aside from a few quibbles, this is a welcome improvement. Granted, this stretch of Lombard does not see a lot of bicycle use, but the previous conditions were deplorable and so clearly negligent that something had to be done. Next we’d really like to see ODOT do the same thing on the other side of the street. The westbound bike lane suffers from the same dangerous condition as this one did and will eventually lead to the same tragic consequence if it goes unaddressed.
And of course this section of Lombard will never realize its full potential as a local and regional connector until auto traffic is tamed through a redesign of the street and physically protected bike lanes are added for its entire length.
— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and firstname.lastname@example.org
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