Safety Hazard: Fox Hollow @ 46th (Updated)

Update:  It’s now been replaced by an asphalt hump.  Take the jump for more

This isn’t a great week for people on bikes as far as construction is concerned.  First, people on bikes were directed head-on into cars by construction on Pearl and 5th;  now construction has place a huge, slick, unmarked metal plate (with a hole in the middle) in the high-speed downhill bike lane on Fox Hollow Rd just downhill of 46th St.

The unmarked steel plate in the downhill bike lane

I can only assume this is temporary and only during off-hours since there were flaggers in that spot this morning.   I hope flaggers will be there by the time the morning commute starts tomorrow so people on bike don’t hit the plate. In the meantime, people riding down Fox Hollow need to be very careful.

The slick plate is surrounded by 1-2 inch deep loose black asphalt/gravel.  A cyclist going typical speed down that hill (25-30mph) will first cut through that gravel, then their wheel will hit the metal plate lip, and if they survive that they’ll find themselves on a gravely slick metal plate with a hole in the middle.  I know because I tested it as slow speed, and hitting the plate was like hitting small curb.

As of 5pm this plate is now invisible due to darkness and unmarked (except by a construction sign that I moved near it myself, but it’s unlit and mostly invisible, and doesn’t indicate the presence of a plate.)

People are usually warned of steel plates in the road.

I’m more that a little frustrated, because everywhere else in Eugene when I’ve seen metal plates in the road signs have been used to warn people in cars of their presence.  People on bikes are far more at risk from these plates then people in cars, so I don’t understand why a plate in the bike lane wasn’t accompanied with a warning sign and flashing light.  I know it was most likely just a mistake/oversight, but this could really hurt someone.

I already reported it to the City Maintenance Line as well as to City Planner David Roth, who has already saved us from one construction snafu this week when he directed city workers to remove the bike lane marking that led bikes directly into oncoming cars at Pearl.

Updated (take the jump)

Thursday Dec 9th: The construction work on Fox Hollow seem to have finished (word on the street is that it was NW Natural), and instead of leaving a steel plate they’ve now left a several-inch-high asphalt hump in the downhill bike lane.  The workers need to come back, redo the patch, and grade it so it’s level with the road and bike lane or someone is going to get hurt.

I know that riding in the downhill bike lane on Fox Hollow is sketchy anyway since cars pull out and debris often clogs the bike lane, but often cars force you into the lane since they aren’t happy going the 25-30mph you are (the posted limit is 35.)  I don’t want to get stuck between a car and a friggin’ asphalt hump at 25mph.

Author: C-Gir

Contributor

1 thought on “Safety Hazard: Fox Hollow @ 46th (Updated)”

  1. As of tonight the hump is still there but at least there is a sign.

    The hump looks like it’s no big deal in the daylight, so I did an experiment to make sure I wasn’t over-reacting. I rode over it at 25mph with on my Xtracycle with a light load of groceries (190lbs me + 80ish bike) and I got very slightly airborn. A lightweight person on a carbon bike (like the dozens that will ride over it this weekend) will probably catch air as well. If they aren’t expecting the bump (and why would they, that spot used to be perfect) they may run into trouble.

    Here’s my deal: I know that many bike lanes all over town are worse. This is bad for two reasons:

    1) It’s in a very busy highspeed downhill bike lane that used to be great, so no-one will expect the bump

    and

    2) It’s a battle worth fighting so it doesn’t happen anywhere else. This kind of “bikes can deal with a little bump in the bike lane”attitude got us the horribly crappy patched bike lane in front of O’Hare Catholic School on 18th near Jefferson. Raised crappy asphalt patches turn into huge potholed and cracked raised asphalt patches. We’ve seen the after-effects on 18th, Seneca, and many other places. We have to start the fight somewhere to change the policy of construction projects making bike lanes worse, and this seems like as good a spot as any.

    I am glad that many city staffers are on our side. We are lucky in Eugene. I feel confident that this issue will be properly addressed.

    One other thing I should mention: I worked concrete for a year. I know how easy it would have been to level and grade that section out so it wouldn’t have been a problem. It literally would have only taken a extra few minutes. I’m not asking for a whole lot, just for people who are patching the roads, especially bike lanes, to not make the lanes worse. I could grade and level a slab better then that patch on my first day of job training. I know work crew can do better.

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