PBOT fines contractors for blocking streets; but what about bikeway blockage?

PBOT fined Columbia Construction Service for illegally blocking traffic on West Burnside.
(Photo: PBOT)

The City of Portland fined and publicly shamed two construction companies for blocking streets today. The companies went beyond the scope of their permits and were accused by the Bureau of Transportation of, “exacerbating rush hour traffic delays.”

While it’s nice to see PBOT get tough and defend public right-of-way like this, we’ve noticed this response differs considerably from how they deal with people illegally parking in bike lanes.

Here’s more on today’s announcement from PBOT via a news release:

“Last week, the Portland Bureau of Transportation fined two contractors who blocked the public right of way without a permit or in violation of a permit. The blockages exacerbated traffic congestion during the busy summer construction season. PBOT will continue to issue fines as needed to prevent unnecessary traffic congestion.

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City will add ‘no parking’ signs along 52nd Ave bike lanes

Buffered Bike Lane with a bike symbol and arrow pointing forward
ambiguous bike lane

It’s easy to see how this new bike lane
could be mistaken for parking space.
(Photo: M.Andersen/BikePortland)

The new northbound bike lane on 52nd Avenue between Woodward and Division replaced a parking lane, but since July we’ve heard from many readers that the stripe of paint hasn’t stopped people from leaving their cars and garbage cans there.

City traffic engineer Eva Huntsinger said in an interview Thursday that “no parking” signs will go into the commercial node north of Woodward after a discussion about the subject by city staff late last week.

Hopefully these signs will make things safer for people like reader David Ross, who got in touch in July to share his thoughts.

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Cars parking in bike lanes, III: PBOT’s engineering solutions

Bike lane on Williams-1

PBOT says they’ll add bike
lane markings as needed.
(Photo © J. Maus)

When I first put forth the issue of cars parking in and completely blocking vehicle lanes reserved for bicycles (a.k.a. bike lanes), I didn’t expect to write two follow-ups about it. But I’ve gotten another interesting response from PBOT that is worth sharing.

Yesterday I shared a follow-up with a few insights gleaned from the helpful comments on the initial story as well as an explanation from PBOT about their enforcement policy.

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Cars parking in bicycle travel lanes: What did we learn?

“Since July 1, 2010, our officers have issued 226 citations to motor vehicles parked illegally in bike lanes.”
— Cheryl Kuck, PBOT spokesperson

Last week I shared the problem of cars parking in vehicle lanes which are legally set aside for bicycles (a.k.a. bike lanes). That story generated a lot of helpful discussion. I’ve also gotten a response from the City of Portland about their towing and parking enforcement policies around this issue, so I felt a follow-up was in order.

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Cars parking in bike lanes: How can we fix this problem?

Buffered Bike Lane with a bike symbol and arrow pointing forward

Photo taken last night on
N. Williams south of Hancock.
(Photo: Andrew N.)

What would help prevent people from parking cars in bike lanes?

The problem as I see it, isn’t that people are simply jerks and don’t care about blocking a lane of travel that is reserved for the use of non-motorized vehicles — it’s more likely a lack of signage, enforcement of existing laws, and a general lack of awareness. To someone who doesn’t ride a bike around town, a wide, curbside bike lane looks a lot like a convenient place to park.

There are two specific locations where this phenomenon is occurring in Portland that have recently come to my attention.

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