As delighted as we all are to have the snow and ice melted away from Portland’s roads and bike lanes, the amount of gravel, grit, and debris left behind are just as hazardous. We love this city, there’s no doubt about that, but bicycle advocacy is a constant process as it grows so quickly. We are asking Portland’s leaders to recover quickly from this recent round of winter storms and work towards a plan for the future that accounts for the safe travel of bicycles during winter months. Earlier this week we sent a letter to Dan Saltzman, the city commissioner tasked with overseeing the Portland Bureau of Transportation, asking for clean, debris-free bike lanes and roads.
Dear Commissioner Saltzman,
At River City Bicycles, we are in a unique position to experience road safety from many vantage points. Our business is selling all types of bicycles; we sell more than 5000 bicycles to the people of metro Portland every year. A staff of nearly 70 people ride the same roads as our customers do, traveling the same routes to and from work as thousands of other Portlanders. We see and hear about the difficulties of road access for riders, whether for transportation or recreation. On the sales floor, we hear comments daily from customers about the ever-expanding gridlock of Portland highways and roads they travel by car to our store in the Central Eastside. Yes, many of our staff must drive here, too, and they face the same increasingly congested roadways as everyone else. This winter, perhaps more than any other in recent memory, we have heard the concerns expressed by customers and staff alike about the safety of Portland’s roads due to snow and ice.
We have heard about and experienced the absence of safe, designated routes during snow storms, the prolonged timeline in making these designated routes accessible after the snow has receded, and the distinct lack of follow through with routes and access in certain neighborhoods. Our customers come to us with these concerns because we are are seen as stewards of cycling advocacy for this city, a city that trades on a shining bicycle-friendly reputation. What we hear resoundingly, though, is that they don’t feel safe.
At issue today, in the wake of recent winter storms, is the significant amount of debris in bike lanes and on the road. Not only is the debris a hazard that causes crashes and flat tires, it encourages riders to leave the bike lane or shoulder and ride closer to vehicular traffic where the road is clear. The result, we all know, is increased negative interactions between users of different modes. No one wants to take anything away from the other, we all just want to be safe in our travels. River City Bicycles asks on behalf of all road users that the City of Portland act quickly to clean the streets of hazardous debris.
For the sake of all Portland bicyclists, the significant business of bicycles in Portland, and the city’s Platinum reputation, we demand action toward safer roads in winter months. This will include the swift removal of the hazardous debris that remains after winter storms and a consistent message to all transportation users that bicycles have every right to to the road no matter the weather.
Dave Guettler & River City Bicycles
We encourage you to contact the City of Portland on this matter as well:
Commissioner Dan Saltzman (oversees PBOT)
Mayor Ted Wheeler