Archive | February, 2008

Legal challenge of Property Dedications Threatens Sidewalks

From April Bertelsen:

It is with a heavy heart that I share the following news. There has been a legal challenge in Federal court to the City of Portland’s ability to require private property dedications to build sidewalks.

The Case
The case is Marion Skoro v. The City of Portland, No. CV 06-1319-HU, filed in the United States District Court for the District of Oregon. See the attached Opinion and Order of the Judge filed on February 21, 2008. Marion Skoro, a local property owner and developer, filed the case claiming a takings for two separate properties where the City required sidewalk dedications. At SE 52nd and Cooper, the City required a six (6) foot dedication to widen the sidewalk from 6 ft to 12 ft. At SE 52nd and Woodstock, the City required a two (2) foot dedication to widen the sidewalk to 12 ft.

This is a challenge to City policy to create an accessible and sustainable transportation system. It is a challenge to the Pedestrian Design Guide, intended to help develop an environment conducive to walking, for which we are nationally known. For those of you steeped land use legal issues and case law, we are talking property rights issues, takings, and case law including Nollan vs. California Coastal Commission and Dolan v. City of Tigard.

The Ruling
To summarize the ruling, the judge ruled in favor of the plaintiff, Marion Skoro, for his property at SE 52nd and Woodstock and sent the case regarding SE 52nd and Cooper to a trial with a jury.

Next Steps
The City has not given up here. We need to make a VERY strong case to sway a jury in our favor for the SE 52nd and Cooper case. We will challenge the other in court as well.

We Need Your Help
I am contacting you because I think you have a stake in the outcome of this decision, may be able to help play a role in our challenge and/or can help share it with others that may. In the near future, we may be contacting individuals to serve as expert witnesses to help us make that case for why we require dedications to widen sidewalks, how 12 ft sidewalks provides ADA compliant accessible pathways given all the other objects located in the sidewalk zone (trees, poles, A-boards, bike parking, sidewalk cafes, newspaper boxes, etc), as well as how sidewalks benefit the abutting property owner and access to their businesses, etc.

PLEASE let me know if you take interest if helping our case or know some who does.

PLEASE share this message with your members, colleagues, etc

Sharing the road

Trimet News Release (February 26, 2008)

TriMet & BTA will work to make it safer for bicyclists & buses

Two weeks ago, 15-year-old Austin Miller died while riding his bike home from his Beaverton high school when he and a TriMet bus collided at the intersection of SW Farmington and Murray. As the police investigated this tragic collision, it became clear to the leadership at TriMet and at the Bicycle Transportation Alliance that preventing future crashes like this one would take more than simply admonishing bicyclists and drivers.

While all early indications are that the bus operator followed TriMet safety procedures, we would be remiss if we did not take action to improve road safety in our region following this crash. With more bicyclists and vehicles sharing the road, a more critical look at general causes is needed, including road and trail design, education for cyclists and drivers, street connectivity (or lack thereof) and traffic volumes in the area.

Just days after the incident, TriMet General Manager Fred Hansen called a meeting at the BTA offices to discuss how TriMet can actively improve its operations and planning for bicycles in the region. Here are the actions TriMet and BTA commit to taking in cooperation with one another:
Immediate action:

* Following the crash, TriMet trainers immediately began reinforcing to every operator (nearly 1,200 of them) the safe operating requirements when cyclists are present, including anticipating bicyclists’ movements, and yielding to cyclists before pulling into or out of a bus stop, or turning or changing lanes.

Near-term actions:

* TriMet trainers will emphasize operating a bus around bicyclists in the 2008 training cycle above the level of attention it has received in years past.
* The BTA and TriMet will work together to identify routes with high levels of bus/bike congestion or conflict and will explore ways to minimize conflicts. Improvements could include more space dedicated to buses and bikes, enhancements to alternative routes for bicycle travel, or moving bus stops or bike lanes to minimize conflicts.

TriMet will work with the BTA and other regional bike groups to encourage county and local governments to adequately plan for and build safer bicycle infrastructure.
Long-term actions:

* TriMet planners will look at nearby bike routes and crossings when bus and train stops are built, moved or enhanced to determine if improvements can be made as part of or concurrently with the project.
* TriMet and the BTA will research designs for bus stops and bike lanes that minimize conflict in areas of bike/bus congestion. TriMet will look at developing a pilot project to design new bus stops with a focus on both pedestrian and bike safety along bike/bus routes.

The Bicycle Transportation Alliance is a statewide non-profit organization that works to open minds and roads to bicycling. We represent bicyclists and the bicycle industry with over 5000 members in Oregon and SW Washington, and have seventeen years of experience in bicycle engineering, planning, education and advocacy.

BTA Contact: Karl Rohde, 503-226-0676 Ext. 12
TriMet Contact: Mary Fetsch, 503-962-6403