Archive for February, 2012

Request — call “823-BUMP” for fractured pavement on N Michigan Ave.

Posted in News on February 23rd, 2012 by Ted – Comments Off on Request — call “823-BUMP” for fractured pavement on N Michigan Ave.

Honest Abe is up to his eyeballs in this fracture outside the Emmanuel Temple

There’s been chatter at public meetings and on the AROW email list about rough pavement on N Michigan Ave between Webster and Killingsworth Streets.

It’s only 3 blocks long, but the concrete pavement has deep fissures that can trap a bicycle wheel if not carefully navigated. When correctly navigated, it’s still really really bumpy.

I was riding on the street last October and took this photo of a $5 bill deep in one of the fissures, to illustrate just how severe the problem was.

A month earlier I had reported a similar problem with fissures on NE Bryant St., and PBOT did a great job of patching them within a week or two. Same type of concrete surface, same type of cracks. See story and photo at

Want to help get this stretch of neighborhood greenway smoothed out? Here’s how you can help:

1) Background: Portland encourages us to report potholes:
Portland relies on citizen maintenance requests to prioritize road repair. They even have signs up all over town telling this to us. It’s an economical decision — it costs less to put up signs and request that the citizenry tell them where the potholes are than it does to send out crews to find them. So, it’s our civic duty to report them.

2) Theory: maintenance requests needed from several individuals:
At the Boise Neighborhood Meeting this month, I asked the Portland Police Officer at the meeting if they’d taken any action on a drug dealer that we had talked about at the previous meeting. He said that he had received about 50 complaints about this drug dealer, but they were all from one individual. He assured us that his office had a lot of drug dealers to deal with, and that if they were only getting calls from one individual, it didn’t really matter how many calls came in, it was going to stay pretty low on their priority list. So, no, they hadn’t done anything about it.

3) Action: make requests for repairs to Neighborhood Greenways
So, here’s how we can all work together to improve the bicycling environment here in Portland. If you’re riding on a Neighborhood Greenway and you see some pavement that needs a patch, call it in. And if it doesn’t get patched, then put out a request that your fellow riders also call it in, thus marching it up the priority level.

Here’s my proposal —

Ya’all call 823-BUMP or email and ask them “Hey, can you guys patch the cracks in N Michigan between Webster and Killingsworth?”

Give it a shot, we’ll see if it works.

Ted Buehler

People on Motorcycles Vulnerable to Streetcar Track Crashes

Posted in News on February 22nd, 2012 by AROW – Comments Off on People on Motorcycles Vulnerable to Streetcar Track Crashes

Fresh Streetcar tracks on Martin Luther King Blvd present a new obstacle for people riding motorcycles and scooters in Portland.  Here is a recent crash report from Jeff, a motorcyclist who crashed at MLK at Hawthorne.

My commute home from downtown takes me across the Hawthorne bridge, merging onto Martin Luther King going south, which then goes south and eventually becomes McLoughlin. The issue is that they have installed new streetcar rails in the right lane of Martin Luther King and extended it all the way to the viaduct that crosses over by OMSI. That Hawthorne Bridge off-ramp becomes its own lane for a couple hundred feet, then ends and forces cars to merge left into MLK traffic – which happens to be the right lane that contains the parallel rails.

Normally I attempt to find a strategic way to cross rail as a high angle rate, but a couple weeks ago I was forced to merge into that lane with traffic around me. After my front wheel successfully crossed the tracks, my rear wheel caught and skated on the rail while crossing over it. It threw the motorcycle sideways and pitched me over the handlebars at 35mph and into rush hour traffic. I survived with only a broken collarbone and injured hip and a couple weeks bed-rest.

I have been commuting  the streets of Portland for over 20 years and have always had ultra-safe motorcycling techniques that have never really put me in much danger to a crash previously. But being forced to cross into Streetcar rails running parallel to traffic when a merging ramp ends is going to be the death of someone eventually.

Jeff has some ideas on safety improvements:

Ideally, I think the long-term design should have taken it into account and had it come under the overpass so the merging traffic would have already been into lanes without Streetcar rails. But I know enough about transportation projects to know that the design is done and it is more about prevention going forward. So in thinking down those lines, the only thing I could suggest is that they install signage that says “Motorcycles use Extreme Caution”, which they use in construction projects, and I don’t often think they are too dangerous to warrant the signage, but in this case, I could see it being a mental reminder to riders to be aware of the tracks and take a severe angle to avoid skating.

Me personally, I’m just putting my word out in my motorcycling community as a reminder for folks driving on parallel rails that even us daily riders with a lot of miles logged can get caught up suddenly on those unforeseen items. And I’m obviously going to begin using the Ross Island bridge during rainy days as I’m not sure I’m mentally prepared to try and cross those tracks at that spot again in the rain (and with our climate, that’s probably over half of my riding).

We hope PBOT responds to the safety concerns of motorcyclists along the new Eastside streetcar line, and in the future conducts a thorough multi-modal design process.  While every safety issue may not be apparent at the design level, we must avoid creating new obstacles when implementing transit improvements which enable Portlanders to traverse the city without a car.

What a Left-side Cycletrack Might Look Like

Posted in Infrastructure, News on February 22nd, 2012 by Steve – 1 Comment

Option 1 for Williams Ave presents the most ambitious proposal for Williams Ave to date, with a cycletrack-ish bikeway running on the left side of the street

One of the challenges with either left or right-aligned cycletracks is how to make turns across traffic.  In PBOT’s proposal, there would be right-turn turn boxes, but only at 1/3rd of the intersections. I was curious about how this would work, so Nick Falbo sent over this video from Steve Vance which demonstrates Chicago’s latest left-side protected bike lane.  It sure is helpful to see this sort of implementation in another American city.


Paving the Way for the CRC: Upcoming I-5 Highway Expansion Meetings

Posted in News on February 15th, 2012 by Steve – Comments Off on Paving the Way for the CRC: Upcoming I-5 Highway Expansion Meetings

Despite staff assertions that this project has absolutely, positively nothing to do with the 5-mile long CRC project, in reality it is one of the biggest hurdles for pushing I-5 expansion upstream.  As Evan Manvel writes on Blue Oregon:

For all the number of times the mega-project’s staff and consultants call the CRC a “long-term, comprehensive solution,” it’s anything but. The southbound traffic congestion barely changes – in fact, the congestion is projected to be worse in North Portland post-project than if we did nothing. The project’s Independent Review Panel – people hand-picked by the CRC-backing Governors – found: “Questions about the reasonableness of investment in the CRC bridge because unresolved issues remain to the south [near 405 and the Rose Quarter] threaten the viability of the project.”

The Portland Bureau of Planning & Sustainability along with PBOT and ODOT are deep in the process for deciding the outcome of the freeway expansion project: new larger interchanges, demolishing bridges that are in good structural shape, adding travel and merge lanes, extending on and off ramps.. which they want to marry with a vision for a high density, multi-use, multi-modal Rose Quarter.

Here is their most recent announcement on upcoming meetings:

N/NE Quadrant and I-5 Broadway/Weidler Plans
The N/NE Quadrant Stakeholder Advisory Committee (SAC) meeting tomorrow, has been moved:
SAC Meeting #13  Meeting Packet
Thurs, February 16, 2012, 5:45 – 8:45
NEW LOCATION: ODOT, Region 1 Headquarters, 123 NW Flanders, Conference Rooms A & B
At the meeting, staff will seek Stakeholder Advisory Committee approval of the proposed concept for the overall N/NE Quadrant Plan and for the base freeway improvement project. These concept plans will then be used as a basis for developing more detailed proposals and additional analysis in the next phase of work.
Additional Upcoming Meetings
Stay involved by attending upcoming N/NE Quadrant Project meetings (see calendar for additional details as they become available). Approximately one week prior to the meeting, the agenda and other materials will be posted here
  • Stakeholder Advisory Committee Meeting #14 – Thursday, March 15, 2012 5:30 to 8:30 p.m., Calaroga Terrace, 1400 NE 2nd.
  • Land Use Subcommittee Meeting (TENTATIVE) – Wednesday, March 21, 2012, 5 to 7 p.m., location to be determined.
About the N/NE Quadrant and I-5 Broadway/Weidler Plans
The N/NE Quadrant and I-5 Broadway/Weidler Plans (N/NE Quadrant Project) is a collaborative effort by the City of Portland and Oregon Department of Transportation. It is part of Phase II of Central City 2035, the City of Portland’s effort to update the 1988 Central City Plan, providing detailed planning for the Lower Albina and Lloyd District areas. Working jointly with the Oregon Department of Transportation, this project will also explore options for I-5 freeway and local transportation improvements near the Broadway/Weidler Interchange.
For more information about the N/NE Quadrant Project, visit the project website: or call Karl Lisle (503-823-4286) or Stephanie Beckman (503-823-6042).
The N/NE Quadrant Project Team

Trimet Budget Cuts: A Pending Catastrophe for Low Car Portland

Posted in News on February 8th, 2012 by Steve – Comments Off on Trimet Budget Cuts: A Pending Catastrophe for Low Car Portland

Trimet has just released its proposed budget cuts and fare increases for 2013. Here are some reactions.