The Bicycle Transportation Alliance, along with many partners, is fighting for safety improvements on SW Barbur Blvd. The Friends of Barbur letter, signed by the BTA, Barbur neighbors, and many of our members, demands immediate action to make this road safer. After attending the an informational bike ride on Barbur led by Friends of Barbur and the Bicycle Transportation Alliance in June, Jonathan Maus of Bikeportland.org concluded, “SW Barbur Blvd is an embarrassment.”
Last week the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) responded to growing public safety concerns surrounding SW Barbur Boulevard. On the subject of adding protected bike lanes, their memo cited inconclusive Metro studies and gave no indication that there would be further analysis. We immediately rejected that response.
In December of last year, the BTA encouraged ODOT to explore a “road diet” on SW Barbur as a safety measure. This treatment would replace one standard vehicle lane with protected bike lanes and a safe place for walking. This cheap, quick solution is already suggested in the City of Portland’s SW Barbur Concept Plan. Rather than implement this solution as part of a planned $5 million Barbur Bridge reconstruction project ODOT deferred consideration of a road diet to a multi-city high capacity transit plan, Metro’s SW Corridor Plan, with a multi-decade horizon.
The SW Corridor Planning process is now complete but ODOT is no longer deferring to Metro’s conclusions. Metro’s studies found that “more analysis is needed before conclusions can be drawn about changes in travel time or travel patterns.” ODOT, however, cited the same numbers in their response without mentioning that they are inconclusive.
ODOT’s response was immediately criticized by the Metro traffic engineer who wrote the SW Corridor report. His concern about ODOT’s handling of the data was soon echoed by a PSU Traffic Engineer who specializes in this type of treatment.
ODOT must put safety first and commit to a real study.
Last week the Bicycle Transportation Alliance issued a request to ODOT that they initiate a transparent and collaborative process with Metro and ODOT to study the Barbur lane diet option on SW Barbur. There has been no formal response as of yet.
We encourage our membership and concerned citizens to join us by signing the Friends of Barbur letter and demanding that ODOT do the right thing and address serious safety concerns on SW Barbur immediately.