A key cycling route in south/southwest Portland is getting repaved and the work zone detour is causing headaches for some riders.
The Portland Bureau of Transportation is grinding the pavement and laying down a smoother surface on Terwilliger between Capital Highway and SW Bancroft. PBOT says the project will last through June 24th.
Reader Andrew N. emailed us a few days ago after he came upon the work zone. “I’m a cardiologist on the hill and commute up this most days. They are forcing bicyclists to detour to Barbur all the way around with the cars. It’s dangerous and requires crossing several lanes of traffic and battling all the cars and now all the diverted cars up from the north side.”
The Portland Bureau of Transportation has published its first-ever manual for temporary traffic control designs. Wonky words aside, this new guide is an important tool that could lead to safer cycling (and walking and driving) through work zones.
The guide has been endorsed by Portland’s City Traffic Engineer Lewis Wardrip and is aimed at designers, engineers, utility and maintenance workers, and even astute tactical urbanists (wink wink). Chapters include comprehensive lists of pertinent laws and city code/permitting requirements, recommended devices and products to get the job done, and how to train flaggers and traffic control measures. There are also of examples of safe work zones across a variety of roadway types and conditions — from one-way streets to bike lanes.
Section 6.6 of the guide (starts on page 50) is devoted to “Bicycle Accomodations”. The over-arching rule described in the manual is essentially “do no harm.” “When an existing bicycle lane or path is disrupted or closed,” it states, “a temporary bicycle facility should include the features and characteristics present in the existing facility.”
Here’s an excerpt from that section:
At the end of June, the city passed a policy to prioritize pedestrian and cyclist access through temporary construction zones I talked to PBOT’s Street Use Permits department (CPAC) about the NW 19th and Overton apartments, which had the Overton bikeway closed for many months.
A proposed policy before the city council Wednesday would withhold city permits from builders that block sidewalks or bike lanes around their work sites without first considering reuse of parking and travel lanes.
The action comes after a months-long social media campaign from Oregon Walks and the Bicycle Transportation Alliance, which evolved out of a years-long behind-the-scenes effort by the BTA.
The city’s draft policy stops short of saying that walking, biking or traveling by mobility device are always higher priorities in work zones than traveling by car. Instead, it says that walking and biking routes should only be blocked if no other option is “practicable.” Here’s some other relevant language:
The Oregon Department of Transportation is hosting an interesting event. They’re asking people to ride a bicycle (or walk) through a work zone to see what it’s like first-hand.
The event happens tomorrow (May 18th) in front of ODOT’s headquarters in Salem where the agency has set up a temporary work zone to demonstrate how their crews are using new materials to ensure safe passage by people using feet and bikes. The event is part of the state’s Transportation Safety Month and it’s being done to help kickoff the summer road construction season.
“Have you ever ridden a bike through a work zone? Sound daunting? How does ODOT protect bicyclists and pedestrians in work zones?” reads an ODOT media advisory about the event. “Come find out! Bring your GoPros! Show the unusual perspective of riding through a work zone on two wheels.” (Love how they assume biking through a work zone is “unusual”.)
According to ODOT someone crashes in a work zone every 19 hours in Oregon (about 477 a year) and about seven people die in those crashes annually. Statistically, the most common cause of work zone crashes are people simply not paying attention and driving too fast for conditions.
Oregon Walks and the Bicycle Transportation Alliance have had enough. The two Portland-based nonprofits are calling on the City of Portland to pass a new ordinance that would require all city bureaus, contractors and private parties to maintain work zones that do not interrupt cycling and walking routes. And if they do, an adequate detour must be created.
(Photo: J. Maus/BikePortland)
The new paint on the Broadway Bridge may be beautiful, but riding around the work zones has been ugly. And things won’t be back to normal until the end of April.
We’re curious to hear how the closures and detours are — or aren’t — working for you.
The biking and walking pathways have been dramatically narrowed to make room for construction scaffolding. Despite flaggers on both ends to ferry users through, we’ve been worried that someone would get hurt. Now we’ve heard about the first (to our knowledge) serious injury caused by this narrow riding environment.
Portlander Terry Barton contacted us yesterday with the bad news: He suffered a broken shoulder on Friday afternoon after a crash caused by trying to navigate through the construction zone. Barton told us he’s been riding through the “mess” since it started and that he’s had several close calls with people both walking and biking. On Friday he was headed downtown when he miscommunicated intentions with someone walking toward him in the narrowed portion of the path. “I clipped him and then flew over my handlebars,” Barton shared with us.
(Photos © J. Maus/BikePortland)
It’s been about 15 weeks since Multnomah County embarked on a major project to repaint and repair large sections of the the Broadway Bridge. And according to what we’re hearing from some of you, despite adjustments and additional measures being taken by the County, the construction zone is still causing significant safety issues.
The Bicycle Transportation Alliance is fed up with the dangerous work zone conditions on Williams Avenue. Claiming that bicycle riders have been injured and put in danger due to misplaced construction materials and a poorly implemented traffic control plan, the Portland-based non-profit group penned a letter today to the Bureau of Transportation with a laundry list of demands to improve the situation.
While the BTA supports the city’s North Williams Avenue Safety Project and says they are excited to see the finished product, the letter (written by BTA Engagement Manager Carl Larson) points out several specific and ongoing safety concerns — some of which have led directly to injuries.