People in Portland are nationally known for embracing walking and biking as a daily mode of travel. Consistent with the City of Portland’s Vision Zero goal to end traffic violence, in 2016 the City adopted guidelines to ensure that people can safely and conveniently walk, bike and use mobility devices through work zones.
Under the guidelines, temporary detours out of direction or across the street, for people walking, biking and using mobility devices can be considered only after exhausting other options.
Companies and people working in the public right of way are responsible for carrying out these guidelines. The goal is to provide access through work zones for people walking, biking and using mobility devices, that is at least as safe and comfortable as the conditions in place prior to construction.
As a Vision Zero city, Portland has committed to eliminating traffic-related deaths and serious injuries. People traveling outside of motor vehicles are especially vulnerable to serious injuries and death because they are not buffered from the impact of collisions.
Vision Zero recognizes that safe choices should also be convenient. Detours for people walking, biking and using mobility devices are undesirable because they result in lower compliance. By forcing people to deviate from their path, detours increase the likelihood that people will travel in a way that increases their risk of death or serious injury.
Providing direct, safe passage for walking, biking and mobility devices may require:
- Temporary motor vehicle parking removal
- Temporary motor vehicle lane closures
- On-site work plans that are more expensive for contractors to implement relative to previous plans and may add to the length of the job.
Ongoing basis: Education and enforcement
The City of Portland gives the director of the Portland Bureau of Transportation broad authority to protect the safety of travelers in the public right of way. The Street Use Permitting and Transportation Team is working with contractors to help them adjust their work plans to align with these guidelines. Conversations with contractors begin by examining options to keep sidewalks and bike routes open throughout construction.
Contractors are told to demonstrate “safe accommodation,” defined as a “safe and convenient route for pedestrians and bicyclists that ensures an accommodation through or around a work zone that is equal to the accommodation that was provided to pedestrians/bicyclists before the blockage.” PBOT expects to fully incorporate the official guidelines into the building permit process for new projects by the 2017 construction season.
For detailed information about the guidelines, refer to the Administrative Rule for Safe Accommodation for Pedestrians and Bicyclists In and Around Work Zones. PBOT began developing this rule in 2014 in response to community concerns.
In addition to prioritizing safety for people walking, biking and using mobility devices, PBOT’s guidelines will, to the extent possible, respond to the needs of business owners and contractors.
Examples: Guidelines in use at Portland work sites
These three examples highlight Portland sites that meet elements of the guidelines.
Pavement markings help people walk and bike alongside a construction site. Temporary motor vehicle parking removal was necessary at this location. (Note: Barricade designs continue to evolve.)
SW Columbia & 2nd
A ramp allows people who use mobility devices to access a temporary walkway.
SW Montgomery & Broadway
Barricades provide extra space for people walking at a construction site near Portland State University. In this case, it was not possible to make space for walking adjacent to the jobsite.