Activist exposes gap in safety of City’s storm drains

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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Leaves in bike lanes: Open thread to report locations

Buffered Bike Lane with a bike symbol and arrow pointing forward

Leaves in the bike lane
on Naito this morning.
(Photo © J. Maus)

After the burst of fall was followed by stiff winds and rain last night, leaves are covering many bike lanes in Portland. For cars, leaves aren’t a big deal, because the mass, velocity and tires on a car act like sweepers to keep lanes clean. But bikes aren’t big enough to have that same effect, so the leaves pile up.

The dangers of leaves are two-fold: Ride in them and risk slipping out in the slimy muck; ride around them and risk getting hit by other traffic in other lanes. Add in the early darkness of the evening commute and it becomes even more important to keep bike lanes free of debris and hazards.

I noticed nearly all of the northbound bike lane on Naito Parkway was completely covered in leaves this morning. I’ve also heard of major leafing up on N. Willamette on the bluff overlooking Swan Island.

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