Bike commuters prepared to breeze down the temporary two-way bike path Better Naito today were met with a surprise. It's gone.
The project, which is in its second year, is only funded to exist during summer months May though October. And this year, due to upcoming construction on the Burnside Bridge, the bike lane was slated to be torn down a week early, starting tomorrow.
Portland Bureau of Transportation made announcements of the Sept. 23 end date on its website, and with physical signs along the bike path. But somehow, due to a miscommunication within Portland Bureau of Transportation, Better Naito was packed up at 5 am this morning.
"The work generally requires a couple shifts from work crews to remove the white plastic delineators, adjust traffic signals and remove pavement markings," spokesperson Dylan Rivera says. "Due to a miscommunication on our part between teams, crews began removing the delineators at five this morning instead of tonight around 10 pm as anticipated."
Rivera says PBOT deployed flaggers to Naito as soon as it learned about the mishap, and so far has not heard of any injuries from confused motorists or bikers.
Still, he says, the agency has been receiving reports about bikers continuing to use the car lane, or traveling the wrong direction in the existing unidirectional lane.
"It's understandably very alarming," Rivera says.
In its apologetic Twitter post this morning, PBOT referenced plans to secure year-round funding for Better Naito.
The project is currently one of 18 under consideration to be funded by PBOT's Central City in Motion program. According to PBOT estimates, Better Naito would cost $4 million to implement year round. Currently, Better Naito is operating on a City Council-approved budget of $350,00 for a 5 year seasonal city program—which would end 2020.
Rivera says PBOT is hoping to present City Council with a proposal for its top-priority Central City projects next month, and that Better Naito is a "highly ranked project among the 18."
Still, as video evidence of cars driving in the bollard-protected bike lane prove, Better Naito may still need infrastructure improvements before becoming fully embraced and understood by drivers.