Portland Tells Builders: Give Pedestrians and Cyclists Safe Detours

Here's a German example of how a sidewalk-area can be maintained during construction. Portland's new rules recommend a similar approach. Photo: Bernard Finucane
A sidewalk detour in Kassel, Germany. Portland’s new rules recommend a similar approach. Photo via Bernard Finucane

When construction projects occupy sidewalks and bike lanes, many cities don’t do anything to compensate — forcing people to walk and bike in traffic or take long, unrealistic detours. But it’s not that hard to put up safe, convenient alternate routes.

Yesterday, the Portland City Council voted to require better detours for pedestrians and cyclists at construction zones. Michael Andersen at Bike Portland has the details (the bill was passed after he wrote the post):

A proposed policy before the city council Wednesday would withhold city permits from builders that block sidewalks or bike lanes around their work sites without first considering reuse of parking and travel lanes.

The action comes after a months-long social media campaign from Oregon Walks and the Bicycle Transportation Alliance, which evolved out of a years-long behind-the-scenes effort by the BTA.

The city’s draft policy stops short of saying that walking, biking or traveling by mobility device are always higher priorities in work zones than traveling by car. Instead, it says that walking and biking routes should only be blocked if no other option is “practicable.”

Seattle passed a similar law last year, writes Andersen, but without provisions protecting bicyclists.

Elsewhere on the Network today: PubliCola runs a piece by TransitCenter’s Jon Orcutt urging Seattle to keep up its rapid progress on transit and safe streets for walking and biking. And Walkable Jenkintown says parking lots are like kryptonite to walkability.

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