The Oregon Department of Transportation is so convinced that the bike lanes on Southeast 26th Avenue are dangerous for bicycle riders that they’ve ordered the City of Portland to remove them as soon as possible.
Inexplicably, and despite evidence showing the bike lanes (even at a paltry three-feet wide) make the street safer, ODOT has cited no evidence or best practice standards for their decision. The only rationale offered so far is a concern that the intersection of 26th and Powell is too dangerous for bike riders and a new crossing two blocks east is much safer.
Everyone agrees the new signal and median at SE 28th (part of the new 20s Bikeway) is indeed much safer. But it’s up a hill and two blocks away. And since when is a safer crossing on one street, reason for the removal of bike infrastructure from another?
“ODOT’s reasons are a mystery to us,” a Portland Bureau of Transportation staffer told me recently.
Now there’s a new (to us) piece to the puzzle: A “road safety audit” report prepared for ODOT by Kittelson & Associates, Inc. in 2014. The audit (PDF) focused specifically on Powell between 20th and 33rd Avenue — a section with a crash rate over twice as high as the statewide average for similar roads. The stated purpose of the audit was to, “identify potential issues contributing to crashes and suggest treatments for addressing those issues.”