Cleveland High principal worried about traffic violence on National Walkout Day

by on March 14th, 2018 at 9:55 am

Sign from a protest outside Cleveland High in May 2015.
(Photo: J. Maus/BikePortland)

Today across America school students are walking out of class to bring attention to gun violence, the need for comprehensive reform of gun laws, and to say “Never again!” when it comes to school shootings.

Most Portland Public Schools administrators support the walkout. As a parent of kids in three PPS schools, we’ve gotten detailed emails and notices from each one in preparation of today’s actions.

Last night I heard from a parent of a student at Cleveland High School that the email sent by Principal Ayesha Freeman included a strong warning about a major safety concern that has nothing to do with gun violence. Freeman shared four specific items in her email aimed at getting parents and students ready. One of them was about SE Powell Boulevard — the state-controlled arterial road that runs outside the school on its southern side.

Here’s what Freeman wrote in her email:[Read more…]

The ODOT Files: Caving to pressure, a bridge sidewalk in Grants Pass will be three inches wider

by on March 13th, 2018 at 3:42 pm

A wheelchair user tries to squeeze through the pinch point on the Caveman Bridge.
(Screengrab from a video made for HASL Center for Independent Living.)

The ODOT Files is a collection of stories that illustrate how the Oregon Department of Transportation prioritizes auto and trucks users at the expense of everyone — and everything — else.

The Oregon Deparment of Transportation is spending $5.3 million to update and make seismic retrofits to the historic Caveman Bridge in Grants Pass. The project goal is to bring the bridge back to is “Depression era beauty” by repairing cracks, broken concrete, exposed rebar, and delamination of the deck. But for people who use the bridge sidewalk — especially those who use wheelchairs and other vehicles — there’s nothing beautiful about narrow pinch points.

And there was nothing in the plans to widen them until the agency’s hand was forced.
[Read more…]

ODOT launches inquiry into Highway 30 shoulder parking hazard

by on February 23rd, 2018 at 2:59 pm

One user’s convenience puts another user at risk.
(Photo: J. Maus/BikePortland)

The Oregon Department of Transportation has begun an internal process to analyze a safety risk to bicycle users on Highway 30.

After we highlighted how people park their cars in the shoulder of the busy highway near a Forest Park entrance north of Linnton last week, we urged people to flag the issue via the AskODOT system.

It turns out at least one person took the advice and did so.

A few days after our story went up we heard from ODOT Region 1 Public Information Officer Don Hamilton. “In response to an AskODOT query,” he shared via email, “ODOT will conduct a parking prohibition study at that location. This will take up to six weeks to complete, with appropriate action, if any is necessary, to follow.”[Read more…]

Opinion: To make Portland safer, ODOT’s Rian Windsheimer must go

Go By Bike by on February 19th, 2018 at 1:00 pm

(Photo: J. Maus/BikePortland)

This post is written by Kiel Johnson, owner of the Go By Bike bike valet in South Waterfront.

The Oregon Department of Transportation, under the leadership of Rian Windsheimer, is trying to remove a bike lane on SE 26th without providing any satisfying reasons as to why this is a good idea. This should alarm anyone who thinks that Portland should be safer for bikes and that our transportation system should be designed around evidence. From favoring auto capacity over transit, to spending $450 million to widen a freeway while many of the most dangerous streets that are under state control lack safe crossings, ODOT has repeatedly proven they are not acting in the best interests of the people of Portland. If ODOT is going to regain the trust of the community they serve, there needs to be a cultural change at ODOT that starts at the top. The director of ODOT who oversees Portland, Rian Windsheimer, must go.

[Read more…]

Monday is last day to visit ODOT’s online congestion pricing open house

by on February 2nd, 2018 at 10:09 am

Freeway space is both a finite resource and one that comes with many negative externalities. It should cost much more to use.
(Photo: J. Maus/BikePortland)

For most other services, when demand soars, the price increases. But not with our freeways. Is it time for us to pay more for using our limited road resources?

The Oregon Department of Transportation has started a process that will help them decide if, when, where and how to implement congestion pricing — which they refer to as value pricing.

ODOT is acting on a directive from House Bill 2017 that passed the Oregon Legislature last year. It directs the Oregon Transportation Commission (OTC, the governor-appointed body that controls ODOT pursestrings) to seek approval from the Federal Highway Administration by December 2018 to implement pricing on I-5 and I-205. The bill specifically called out the sections of both freeways in the Portland metro region.

At this stage in the process, ODOT is conducting a “feasibility analysis” to determine the best location(s) to implement pricing and what the impact of doing so would be. Late last month they held three open houses around the region and since January 23rd they’ve had an online open house where anyone can learn more about the issue and share their experiences and feedback. That online open house is only open until this Monday, February 5th. If you haven’t checked it out yet, please try and make some time before it’s too late.
[Read more…]

Making sense of the fence: Why Parks closed a path into Willamette Park

by on January 10th, 2018 at 1:52 pm

Fence at Nevada Street entrance to Willamette Park before and after it was cut down by a vandal.
(Photos from a BikePortland reader)

The Nevada Street entrance to Willamette Park was abruptly closed last week. This path is listed as a recommended bikeway and featured in popular maps produced by both the City of Portland and Metro. The decision by the Portland Parks & Recreation bureau to erect a black, chain-link fence was made without any public warning and it stems from a multi-year jurisidictional negotiation between the Oregon Department of Transportation and the City of Portland that spans more than three years.
[Read more…]

Fence abruptly closes access to Willamette Park path at Nevada St

by on January 8th, 2018 at 11:56 am

The Oregon Department of Transportation Portland Parks & Recreation Bureau (PP&R) has erected a fence across an entrance into Willamette Park. Jeff Mapes, an employee of nearby Oregon Public Broadcasting, encountered a crew putting the finishing touches on the fence this morning. “Very annoying,” he shared in a tweet this morning.
[Read more…]

Deputy director of The Street Trust takes job at ODOT

by on November 17th, 2017 at 11:56 am

LeeAnne Fergason.
(Photo: Tanja Olson)

LeeAnne Fergason is the new Safe Routes to School program manager for the Oregon Department of Transportation.

ODOT announced the hire in a statement today, saying Fergason will join the agency in mid-December.

Reached today via email, Fergason told us she’s excited for her new role but, “Deeply saddened to say goodbye to The Street Trust.” “The Street Trust’s staff (old and new), partners (so many amazing partners), and supporters (our members and friends),” she continued, “have helped me so much, and I’m eternally grateful for all the smart, passionate, and kind people that have taken the time to teach me.”

Fergason is the longest tenured employee at The Street Trust. According to her official bio she began work there as a bike safety education instructor in 2007. Fergason became The Street Trust’s main advocate for Safe Routes to School (a program they implement with a combination of state, federal, and regional funding) and spearheaded their “For Every Kid” campaign. She moved into the deputy director role back in July when The Street Trust’s former deputy director Stephanie Noll left the organization.

There’s a lot of Safe Routes work to do at ODOT these days. The former manager of the program, Julie Yip, recently retired, and the statewide transportation package includes $125 million over the next 10 years for a new Safe Routes to School grant program. As ODOT announced today, one of Fergason’s first tasks will be to staff a new Rules Advisory Committee that will create the policy framework for how these new funds will be allocated.
[Read more…]

On the ground with ODOT: Recap of I-5 Rose Quarter project bike ride

by on October 9th, 2017 at 10:57 am

(photo Emily Guise)

The bike tour during a stop at NE Rodney and Tillamook.
(Photo: Emily Guise)

(Text by Emily Guise and Catie Gould, photos by Ted Timmons)

On a bright and showery Saturday morning this past weekend, ODOT hosted biking and walking tours of the changes planned to go with the I-5 Rose Quarter Project. ODOT officials including Region 1 Planner Megan Channell and Transit and Active Transportation Liaison Jessica Horning teamed up with Doug Zenn, a consultant for HDR, Inc. (a construction firm) to lead a bike tour of the area, while other ODOT staffers led a walking tour.

This was a great opportunity for a hands-on look at the proposed surface street changes we shared in detail on Friday. Here’s what we saw and learned…
[Read more…]

Beyond freeway expansion, here’s how local streets would change with I-5 Rose Quarter project

Michael Andersen (Contributor) by on October 6th, 2017 at 10:02 am

A visual summary by ODOT of the surface-street changes proposed in the I-5 Rose Quarter Project.
(Images: ODOT and Google Street View)

When they explain their support for spending hundreds of millions to add two new on/off freeway lanes and freeway shoulders to Interstate 5 at the Rose Quarter, Portland city leaders have a go-to answer: better surface streets.

It’s true, Mayor Ted Wheeler conceded last month, that more freeway throughput at this interchange would do “very little to arrest congestion.” Instead, more driving is likely to fill any new space that might open up on the freeway, ultimately leaving cars and trucks as jammed as before (though possibly elsewhere on the road system).

But from Portland’s perspective, Wheeler said, the $450 million Rose Quarter project is “mostly a bicycle and pedestrian play.”

OK. So we wanted to know what, exactly, are taxpayers getting in this location that would improve biking and walking?

[Read more…]