PORTLAND –Bike users across Portland have complained in recent days that the sand used during February’s winter blast is making it dangerous to ride around town.
The city laid down 1,000 cubic yards of gravel on roughly 500 miles of streets during the snowstorms earlier this month. But cyclists said Tuesday that much of the gravel is now in their bike lanes.
River City Bicycles in Southeast Portland has been doing a brisk business in bike repairs over the last two weeks.
“We’ve definitely seen a lot of flat tires due to all of the gravel,” said Alex Criss of River City Bicycles. “Major bike thoroughfares that people take every day, which they feel safe on and that have been dedicated towards them and their routes in and out of the city, have become unsafe.”
Many drivers have complained also complained that the gravel has caused chips on their windshields and dings in their cars.
Earlier in the month, Chris Ralston with Speedy Glass told KGW that gravel-related repairs were keeping his Northeast Portland business quite busy.
“The rocks are starting to lift up off the pavement and they’re hitting the windshields,” he said. “Business has picked up 70 percent.”
City crews have been working to pick up the gravel and have removed roughly half of what they laid down, but it’s a big job.
The Oregon Department of Transportation stated that cleaning up sand from state roads and highways would take weeks. The City of Portland has said the same.
The Portland Bureau of Transportation recently tweeted a map that showed how far work has progressed. Orange lines on the map showed streets that had been swept clean as the city moves outward from downtown.
Storm cleanup update: city so far picked up 555 pickup truckloads of gravel in 2 weeks. About 500 more to go pic.twitter.com/I9rEdyBsoM— PDX Transportation (@PBOTinfo) February 24, 2014
PBOT spokeswoman Diane Dulken said crews are working as fast as they can.
“We’d love to pick that up in a day,” Dulken said. “But that’s not possible with the amount of gravel that’s on the road and with the sweepers that travel two to three miles an hour.”
She said clearing the remaining gravel could take several more weeks. Dulken urged cyclists to slow down and ride at speeds appropriate for the conditions.