Wednesday, September 30, 2015

MASSIVE Trimet fail for Portland Bicyclists

Its pretty incredible how badly Trimet screwed up its chance to make a decent bike-way for its new orange line. A complete and total failure from what I am reading!

Comments from BIKE PORTLAND

Scott H September 29, 2015 at 10:54 am
If they put a swing gate on the sidewalk at 11th, I’m just going to ride into the road to get around it.
Seriously TriMet, that intersection is already a horrible mess. When a MAX train is passing through, the parallel bike signals should be green! Instead everyone gets a red light. People are already so tired of it. It needs to get fixed.
Is there a feedback form for this?

Adam Herstein September 29, 2015 at 11:35 am
Agreed! Some intersections have a bike light, some don’t. What am I supposed to follow? The bike light? Ped light? Green arrows? Those intersections are so messed up that people just do whatever they want, regardless of signals.

Justin Carinci September 29, 2015 at 12:20 pm
I can certainly vouch for that. The whole thing is a mess. I end up peeling off to still use the Hawthorne Bridge, even though Tilikum is so much closer, because it’s so frustrating to navigate.

kittens September 30, 2015 at 4:03 am
Fortunately, I have two eyes and a brain. Otherwise I might still be waiting at one of those signals.

Adam Herstein September 29, 2015 at 1:03 pm
And fix the right-hook at SE 8th! When the bike light is green, the car signals should be red and the “no right turn” signs should be illuminated.

Adam Herstein September 29, 2015 at 1:04 pm
I have brought this issue up to the “safety ambassadors” stationed at the intersection multiple times but they don’t seem to get it or I get the run-around.

Scott H September 29, 2015 at 1:24 pm
My hunch is that the safety -ambassador-people aren’t reliably recording the issues that are communicated to them and even if they were, there probably isn’t a reliable channel for them to pass the issues up to the engineers that can make a difference.
October 5th looks like it will be the day we can submit comments online.

Charley September 29, 2015 at 2:02 pm
Poor design and pointless delays (things like red lights for no traffic, or crossing gates that are triggered by trains *sitting at the station*) invite improvisations of all kinds, like riding contraflow on sidewalks or in “auto” lanes, as well as out and out lawbreaking. They’ve built it like hell and now expect us to ride like angels through it.

Buzz September 29, 2015 at 10:54 am
Obviously, TriMet doesn’t really want cyclists to use any of these crossings. The whole area is a fustercluck; I used to bike this way before the ‘improvements’, but I’ve started using an alternate route that avoids this area altogether now.

lahar September 29, 2015 at 10:58 am
I am amazed at how poorly designed the bike paths/sidewalks are getting from Clinton down to the Tillicum. There is simply too much going on for it to be safe.
Congratulations Trimet,on designing such a clusterfuggle that defeats the such a lovely bridge.

christopher September 29, 2015 at 11:07 am
From Clinton to getting on the actual bridge is just a mess. It seems like none of the lights work and is just overall very chaotic.

Bill Walters September 29, 2015 at 11:08 am
“…in order to _maximize_ unnecessary signal activation” (emphasis added). Sigh. At least they’re honest.

rainbike September 29, 2015 at 11:12 am
Reminds me of Christmas with the in-laws. I never get what I want. I get what they think I need.

Bill Walters September 29, 2015 at 11:21 am
Doesn’t seem like anything anti-safety about a rider using the road instead of the sidewalk. The road is guarded by the usual swing-down crossing gates, no?
Or if not, that seems like the more glaring problem. Count up the number of collisions over the last decade of MAX vs. person in car compared to MAX vs person on foot or bike.

Alan 1.0 September 29, 2015 at 11:17 am
Any comment from TriMet on why they will not use common railroad crossing gates as found all around the world?

Buzz September 29, 2015 at 12:17 pm
The project came in under budget, that means they should have more than enough money left over to spend on the more appropriate albeit more expensive crossing gates.

Alan 1.0 September 29, 2015 at 6:45 pm
Thanks for posting that. A little searching suggests railroad gates cost around $150-200K each. These two crossings, three streets, need 12 such gates for cost of $2.4M (high end). So, there were funds to cover such gates had TriMet so chosen.

Patrick Vinograd September 29, 2015 at 12:30 pm
When TriMet presented their original plan At the HAND neighborhood association meeting (the HAND board also unanimously opposed any manual swing gates by the way), their stated reason for not using automated crossing gates was that this crossing did not meet their “design criteria” for such gates. They did not really elaborate on what their criteria were. Their representative (a safety engineer) did mention in the next breath that cost to install automated gates would be in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.
-Patrick Vinograd
HAND Board Secretary

Elliot September 30, 2015 at 11:25 am
The request for automated crossing gates was also brought up as a preferred alternative to manual gates at TriMet’s presentation to the Bicycle Advisory Committee, and similarly declined without further explanation.

peter haas September 29, 2015 at 11:34 am
What a mess. This new route to and from the new bridge could have been awesome but instead it’s barely acceptable. Now it sounds like Trimet is going out of their way to get pedestrians and bike commuters to avoid this route…perhaps they feel keeping people away is the safest option. If so, they succeeded with me. After several trips back and forth trying it out, I’m going back to my old route through Ladds and across the Hawthorne. Very disappointing.

Adam Herstein September 29, 2015 at 11:36 am
Somehow, people in Europe manage to not get hit by trams. Why are we so special that we need gates to protect ourselves?

JF September 29, 2015 at 11:48 am
Maybe it is related to the reason we aren’t allowed to pump our own gas in this state. The people of Oregon have been identified as especially incapable of safely filling our tanks or crossing train tracks.

Laura September 29, 2015 at 12:07 pm
I frequently ran through the 11th/12th fustercluck in 2014 and earlier this year…it was relatively easy to just go where I wanted. We biked through the area this past weekend, and nothing was intuitive. I fail to see why Light Rail is treated the same way as big heavy freight trains, when it is really just a glorified bus. The UP signals are sequential (they go off as the train moves through) while the LRT signals are simultaneous…when the LRT is sitting in the station and not even moving. Dumb. Thanks, Tri-Met, but I’ll just go up to Lincoln and Hawthorne.

Doug Klotz September 29, 2015 at 3:45 pm
Trimet claims that the ADA doesn’t apply to railroads, or has a special section for railroads, like it does for boats. (There’s an exemption for the gap next to the rails, for instance)
That said, obviously the gates you pull toward you would not work AT ALL for a person who uses an electrically powered wheelchair, with limited arm movement, and small control stick on their chair to steer. They would not be able to reach out and grab the gate, and pull it toward them, while backing their chair up.

Granpa September 29, 2015 at 12:16 pm
All of my opinions on this topic have been stated, but on the off chance that anyone with Tri-Met reads this blog, Fluster Cluck!

Carrie September 29, 2015 at 12:35 pm
So with those gates on SE 8th, if I’m going south and someone is coming north, I may have to wait ON THE TRACKS because there isn’t enough room for two of us on bikes to pass each other in that zig zag space.
Looks like I may be riding on the street on 11th too once the ‘improvements’ address in place. I wish I had a different option getting home from work, but I have to cross those tracks somewhere….

Bald One September 29, 2015 at 12:44 pm
Only other options for getting from HAND to Brooklyn are:
1) Use Hawthorne Bridge East side approach to cross the tracks and exit bridge approach to East side MUP.
2) 99E raised viaduct (hey, there’s a nice, new bike lane to nowhere on this span).
3) sidewalks along Powell at 17th as they go under the tracks.
None of these are good options. Taking the lane to ride in the roadway across the tracks is also an option.

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) September 29, 2015 at 12:45 pm
Looks like the Pedestrian Advisory Committee is still not too thrilled with TriMet’s plan. Here’s a statement from co-chair Rebecca Hamilton (emphases mine):
“We appreciate that TriMet considered feedback from the advisory committees and substituted a different treatment for two of the four proposed swing gates. That means we’re halfway to a good solution! But the two remaining swing gates still create an unnecessarily difficult barrier for people using wheelchairs and other mobility devices. No one deserves that disadvantage when there are better ideas on the table.
As life expectancies increase and the Baby Boomer generation ages we’ll be seeing a lot more people using mobility devices to continue leading independent lives. These little decisions matter right now and they’ll matter even more in the future. TriMet has an opportunity to make a smarter choice here to ensure that anyone, regardless of their physical ability, can use their facilities without struggle and the PAC would like to see them make that smarter choice.”

Scott H September 29, 2015 at 1:46 pm
You completely missed the point of my comment, which was to emphasize that the intersection is already unsafe, and it’s not the trains that make it unsafe, it’s the confusing and unintuitive maze that TriMet has recently created.
If you go back and read my comment you’ll see that I didn’t say I won’t respect signals: I said that I would take a car lane, which would actually reduce the chance of an altercation with a train since the car lanes have better signals than the pedestrian crossings. A manual gate doesn’t give any indication of an approaching train.

Doug Klotz September 29, 2015 at 3:51 pm
The swing gate is closed all the time, train or no train. You have to wait until the trains are gone, and then manually pull it toward you to get across the tracks. It is spring-loaded, and closes behind you (hopefully not slamming into you as the spring wears out)

peter haas September 29, 2015 at 2:33 pm
I agree that if a bike rider crosses a train or even a car there’s high risk for a horrible mess. What frustrates me is the lack of excellent design with these new paths and crossings. Shouldn’t we expect that? Or even demand it? Instead bike commuters and pedestrians are given a confusing maze to navigate and expected to comply with it…or suffer the consequence. Signs, barriers, inconsistent markings and signals are no substitute for good design. They’re just reminders that the original design is flawed. I know he wasn’t a traffic engineer but could you imagine Steve Jobs approving this crappy design?

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) September 29, 2015 at 1:49 pm
Just added to the story…
UPDATE, 1:43 pm: And here’s what BAC Chair Ian Stude had to say (emphasis mine):
“Our concerns remain the same regarding the swing gates. Those gates, even at that one location, are still problematic. The problem is that they are a barrier that’s constantly present whether there’s a train there or not. Let’s have active gates… Having an active system is more of a vision zero system than a passive gate that’s always there because a passive system looses it’s efficacy after a while.”

Spiffy September 29, 2015 at 1:56 pm
why does TriMet get to decide what treatments a public sidewalk gets?
these aren’t just some transit station pathways, they’re the actual public sidewalks connection streets and neigborhoods…
TriMet, stop messing with public accessibility and get rid of the zig-zag of mazes and the manual gates… real pedestrian train crossings have automatic arms or nothing at all… spend the money doing it right this time or spend years defending this terrible decision and end up doing it right anyway later… it’s not your decision, this is a public sidewalk…

J_R September 29, 2015 at 1:57 pm
It’s painfully obvious that Trimet leadership has absolutely no interest in promoting bicycle use or taking any tiny step toward accommodating bicyclists. There may be some well-intentioned people at lower levels in the organization, but it’s clearly not in their best interests to rock the boat.
The whole planning and design for bicyclists and pedestrians was really poorly done throughout the Orange Line development and construction. They will point to the damn bridge and claim how great it all was.
Besides the well-documented disasters at 11/12/Clinton, I’ve encountered the non-intuitive designs all along Caruthers, Milwaukie Ave and along the Trolley Trail in Milwaukie, especially near 22nd and 23rd.
I’m disgusted with Trimet.

Scott H September 29, 2015 at 2:28 pm
oooo have you been to where the trolly trail hits Bluebird street? That crossing is a real gem: You’re supposed to use the un-signaled crosswalks and just pray that anyone heading south on 99 planning to turn right can see you.

Granpa September 29, 2015 at 4:09 pm
But bicyclists were not an afterthought. The bridge was touted as a bicycle bridge from the beginning. They designed the approaches as if bicyclists were google automatons and not humans with the ability to make decisions independent of signalized directives.

J_R September 29, 2015 at 6:04 pm
Bicyclists were not an afterthought on the bridge, but everywhere else they were clearly an afterthought. Getting to the bridge or riding parallel to the rail line varies from awful to poor to marginally acceptable. Crossing the tracks varies from poor to awful and Trimet is trying to “up the ante” by making it awful where it isn’t already.

Alan 1.0 September 29, 2015 at 6:31 pm
The whole planning and design for bicyclists and pedestrians was really poorly done throughout the Orange Line development and construction.
The more I look at these two crossings, the worse it seems. From the very first time they were penciled in, TriMet had to know that that bikes and peds would need careful treatments. Plan reviews, both internally and with many overlapping jurisdictions and agencies, must have seen that sidewalks crossed rail lines. Details of a such a crossing abound in practically every related standards manual going back longer than any of the planners been alive. So, they knew about it from the start and they have countless precedents and standards from which to choose a good solution, and only now, after TriMet declares it finished (nod to pdx2wheeler’s post, below) and under budget, do they come up with chintzy solutions that don’t work right? There’s something really wrong with that story, and I want to hear more.
Along those same lines but a bigger scale, and thinking about Ted Buehler’s Tilikum west to PSU comment, I also notice that the east side missed a great chance for a bike/ped connection from 3rd and Division to the East Tilikum landing. As it is, it’s 0.8 miles and 15 minutes walk to go around either the Clay St or SE 8th Ave crossings. Had a ped/bike facility been included on the streetcar ramp it would have been well under 5 minutes for a couple hundred yard crossing of all the rail lines cutting off that corner of the CEIC.
Why did those breakdowns happen in the planning process of the Tilikum / Orange Line project?

Opus the Poet September 29, 2015 at 7:59 pm
But they should be planning for good pedestrian access because those are their customers, they service almost all of their customers via pedestrian infrastructure, and they aren’t even getting that right.

Adam Herstein September 29, 2015 at 3:17 pm
TriMet should not be designing any bikeways. The mandates should be coming from Metro, since they are tasked with managing regional land use, transportation, and coordination with local agencies.

Endo September 29, 2015 at 4:02 pm
How many TriMet articles is it going to take before people finally realize that TriMet is the enemy here? Everything they do hurts cycling more than it helps.

kittens September 30, 2015 at 3:51 am
A classic case of over designing if there ever was one. Meanwhile they installed deathtrap aluminum expansion joint bridges at the apex of a curve on a downhill.

kittens September 30, 2015 at 3:47 am
I’m not usually one to pull out the old “How much did this cost?” argument, but in this case, I am going to guess the hundreds of thousands of dollars they have spent on staffing, monitoring, testing, designing, redesigning and now, installing push-gates, would have been more wisely spent on active crossing arms for the ped/bike path.
Or maybe they could have dipped into that $5M slush fund they kicked back to the feds.

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