BTA to ODOT: Fix SW Barbur

BTA's vision of safe travel over the bridges.



The BTA has a goal of reducing all crashes by 50% in the next twenty years. To achieve that goal, we need strong policies and road design that will put safety first. We’ve been working with regional leaders and the Oregon Department of Transportation’s (ODOT) to affirm a commitment to the goal of having zero toleration for fatalities and serious crashes. As a society, we can no longer stand by and do nothing as people are losing their lives and their families to unsafe road conditions. ODOT’s response to community requests for a safer SW Barbur Boulevard is unacceptable and inconsistent with the BTA’s goals of a Vision Zero approach to traffic safety.

The response mis-characterizes the status of traffic analyses and puts safety second.

Given the same data, neither Metro Regional Government nor the Portland Bureau of Transportation shares ODOT’s conclusion that adding safe bicycle access would cause unacceptable levels of traffic diversion. We encourage ODOT to work with The City and Metro engineers to thoroughly and transparently analyze the benefits and burdens of this approach. The Bicycle Transportation Alliance is concerned that the data has not been adequately analyzed, reviewed, and accepted by the community.

“Safety” is listed first in ODOT’s Mission Statement, Values Statement, and Goals Statement. Unfortunately, the agency’s proposed solution to the dangerous Barbur Bridges — flashing lights — appears to be window dressing. It does not answer the simple question: “Are we doing everything we can to stop serious crashes and fatalities from ever happening again on this road?” It puts motor vehicle traffic first while also forcing that traffic to share the lane with bicycles, a solution that is neither safe nor efficient.

Fixing SW Barbur, a vital and affordable solution to an existing safety issue, is being discounted due to shaky claims of future traffic congestion and diversion. ODOT is asking us to accept that motor vehicle throughput is more important than making Barbur safe for everyone. This is putting safety second.

The Bicycle Transportation Alliance looks forward to partnering with ODOT as the agency puts safety first and works with Metro and the City of Portland to engage the community and analyze the benefits of safe bicycle access on SW Barbur.

If you want to get involved, be sure to visit the Friends of Barbur website and sign their petition asking ODOT to take action.


Comments (2)

  1. Scott Hillson Permalink  | Sep 06, 2013 05:44pm

    We called on ODOT to take action, but ODOT has responded with ‘meh, we’d rather just do nothing instead.’

  2. John Bolesky Permalink  | Sep 09, 2013 02:44pm

    I was surprised to read, “There are no reported crashes involving pedestrians or bicyclists on the Vermont/Newbury bridges in ODOT’s 2003-2012 database (though unreported incidents may have occurred).” I won’t be surprised when the first reported crash results in a fatality for the cyclist. I often imagine what it would be like to be struck from behind and thrown over the edge of one of those bridges. That’s why I normally take the longer, more scenic Terwilliger route.