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26th Avenue bike lanes in death throes as ODOT turns screws and advocates dig in

Avatar by on February 7th, 2018 at 1:46 pm

The bike lanes aren’t pretty, but they’re better than nothing (depending on who you ask).
(Photos: J. Maus/BikePortland)

“PBOT believes there was evidence to justify the State Engineer to reconsider his decision and leave the bike lanes in place. ODOT has communicated to the City that they will not reconsider that decision.”
— Dylan Rivera, PBOT

The bike lanes on SE 26th Avenue approaching Powell Boulevard are on life support.

In a saga that has spanned nearly 30 months, PBOT appears to have finally acquiesced to the Oregon Department of Transportation’s demand that a pair of bike lanes that have been in use since the 1980s be removed in favor of the state’s preferred route for bicycle users two blocks east on SE 28th. It all comes back to a deal struck by PBOT and ODOT two years ago.

In order to build a new traffic signal and crossing at the intersection of SE 28th and SE Powell for their 20s Bikeway project, PBOT needed a special permit from ODOT and the blessing of State Traffic Engineer Bob Pappe. ODOT, who owns and manages Powell Boulevard, agreed to that permit only on the very specific condition that once the new signal was up and running, PBOT would remove the bike lanes on 26th.
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State’s proposal to improve bike crossings of Powell: Remove bike lane from 26th

Michael Andersen (Contributor) by on August 13th, 2015 at 2:34 pm

26th powell bike box

About 600 to 800 people a day currently bike on 26th to cross Powell. The city wants to create a second, more comfortable crossing at 28th, but the state says it won’t allow one unless the lanes and bike boxes at 26th are removed.
(Photos: M.Andersen/BikePortland)

The Portland Bureau of Transportation is facing pressure from its counterparts at the Oregon Department of Transportation to do something it’s almost never done before: remove bike lanes from a street.

An ODOT official said she could not cite evidence other than the site-specific judgment of her engineering colleagues that removing the bike lane on SE 26th Avenue would improve overall road safety. But she said that because 26th is not as safe to bike on as 28th would be, it stands to reason that the bike lane on 26th should be removed in order to encourage people to cross at 28th.

Therefore, ODOT has agreed to approve the city’s request to add a new traffic signal at 28th and Powell only on the condition that the city remove the bike lane and bike box from 26th.

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