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Update: Benson Hotel gets new bike lane markings

Posted by on October 11th, 2006 at 1:44 pm

[Scroll down for update]

Carye Bye noticed something strange in the bike lane on SW Broadway this morning. There are new markings in the bike lane as it crosses SW Oak Street and in front of the Benson that read, “Hotel Zone Ahead,” and “Slow, Hotel Zone.”

[New markings on SW Broadway
outside the Benson Hotel]
Photos: Carye Bye/Red Bat

The markings must have been meant to alert cyclists to the busy and dangerous Benson Hotel entrance, where taxis, tour buses, hotel guests, delivery trucks, through traffic and bicyclists all try to share the road.

I asked some bike lane gurus in PDOT about the markings and found out there was indeed a work order on file for this location. This means they weren’t some “guerilla installation” by either a disgruntled hotel employee or bike activist; they were installed by the city.

*Update: I’ve just heard from PDOT bike coordinator Roger Geller:

“This is a message to cyclists to go slowly through the area because of the level of activity and congestion, especially in the presence of many out of town visitors who may not understand bicycle lanes. It’s somewhat analogous to “SLOW SCHOOL ZONE” warnings to let motorists know that they’re expected to slow down in the presence of lots of activity and congestions, especially in the presence of children who may not respond predictably in the presence of motorists.”

I tried to find out more from someone at the Benson Hotel but no one there seems to know anything about them. I’m awaiting a call back from the General Manager, Ron Gladney. I’m curious because I’ve never seen markings like this in Portland and it would be interesting to know how they came about.

It’s also worth mentioning that this particular strip of bike lane has seen its share of attention and controversy.

Despite having more bike lane guys per foot than anywhere in the city last year, a cyclist was arrested for attempting to squeeze between a delivery truck and a parked car as he attempted to ride through without entering motor vehicle traffic lanes.

Then, who can forget the infamous Martini removal episode (here’s the aftermath)?

I’ll update this post if/when I hear more official details about how these new markings came about.

[You can see more photos of the markings at Red Bat’s Flickr photostream.]

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  • TS October 11, 2006 at 1:52 pm

    I propose a contest: What should the city paint in that bike lane instead?

    “Slow: Parking Lane Ahead”

    “Danger: Loading Zone Ahead”

    “Prepare to be Doored”

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  • Ben October 11, 2006 at 2:24 pm

    Seems like a great place for sharrows in the next lane over, i.e. bikes should probably not be in the bike lane there, and instead take the next lane over. Duh? Most of downtown I take the lane quite aggressively, since the lights are timed for very slow speeds (12-14 mph, IIRC).

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  • Andy October 11, 2006 at 2:25 pm

    A double-parked car is nature’s way of identifying drivers who have their brains turned off.

    Hotel Zone? What bizarre wording. How about bigger letters. HoZo is shorter and can be used to describe the folks angled across the bike lane waiting for the valet service.


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  • L October 11, 2006 at 2:26 pm

    Why aren’t there similar warnings on the road to cars about bikes having to merge left out of the bike lane?

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  • Andre October 11, 2006 at 2:26 pm

    Broadway is the worst, 12th or 3rd are way better with no bike lane.

    At one point some group of people were doing a photo shoot of a bridge and groom pretty much in the bike lane outside of that hotel. Maybe there should be a giant cross roadway sign that says “That’s a bike lane, not your parking spot.”

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  • Matt Picio October 11, 2006 at 2:28 pm

    Maybe the markings will slow the cars in that stretch down a little, too.

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  • Dabby October 11, 2006 at 2:28 pm

    This is the sight of many a bike lane controversy and incident.
    In no way should the BENSON, the largest violator of bike lane right of way in our fine city, should be given this type of consideration.
    This pisses me off.
    They continually open doors inot cyclists.
    They continually double park cars IN THE BIKE LANE!
    This is only a sign of our city caring more about the income of the large company, than the safety of it’s cyclists.
    Between the Benson, and the Heathman, the collective of valets, bad management practices, and uneducated out of town drivers have made these bike lanes unsafe and unusable.
    I believe that, instead of allowing this to go on as the city has for years, they should be instituting fines to the hotels for violation of bike lane rights of way.
    Yet, here we are, giving them more right of way than ever.
    I plan to ride faster than ever past this spot now, as we have the right of way on the road, and the Benson should be using the parking they have available, not the street….

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  • Scout October 11, 2006 at 2:39 pm

    This is in no way a good thing. It sounds an awful lot like the hotel is being given special privileges to do whatever and park wherever they want, while cyclists must navigate the demilitarized zone. Bah!

    How about a sign warning drivers of cyclists and potential tickets for obstructing bike lanes, or some sort of comment coming from the Benson, stating they’ll change their ways? This isn’t just a cyclist issue, either; drivers should be equally outraged at the sudden stalls and stops in that lane which slow down traffic for blocks and cause accidents as well.

    That whole block is a clusterf*#k (sorry, Jonathon!), and something worthwhile needs to be done. This is the most pathetic attempt at doing nothing under the guise of “proactivity” I’ve seen in some time.

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  • John Boyd October 11, 2006 at 2:49 pm

    >”It’s somewhat analogous to “SLOW SCHOOL ZONE”

    “Somewhat” perhaps here meaning not at all?

    I suppose the risk here is out-of-towners throwing their car door into traffic. The verbage doesn’t convey this. Going slow won’t help, knowing what to look for would.

    Need an international symbol pictogram for a door being thrown into the lane, ala the trolly track warning.

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  • Andy October 11, 2006 at 3:11 pm

    “SLOW SCHOOL?” I didn’t know there was also a slow education movement.

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  • Steve Kirkendall October 11, 2006 at 3:30 pm

    So is it still a bike lane? I.e., is it still illegal for cars to park there, even temporarily?

    It would have been more politic to paint that stretch of bike lane blue to warn drivers to be careful. And maybe put a bike lane marking every 10 feet, so even out-of-towners will know why they should be careful. And maybe put signs on the sidewalk explaining the law so that out-of-towners (and idiot hotel staff) know the consequences of breaking the law.

    Putting “Hotel Zone” in the bike lane just gives the hotel an excuse to break the law.

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  • Roger Geller October 11, 2006 at 3:45 pm

    Here’s a wild idea:

    Why don’t we just treat other users of the roadway courteously–whether they are, in your eyes, using the space “legitimately” or not.

    This is a congested area with a lot of demands on limited space. We are not encouraging people to park in the bicycle lane–that was the intent of the repeated bicycle lane markings. However, there is a lot going on here. If everybody just slowed down a bit–at the expense of perhaps as much as 4-5 seconds–we could maybe reduce the level of conflict and animosity that occurs here.

    The inconvenience cyclists feel at potentially being delayed here–and the vitriolic reaction it creates–seems analogous to the inconvenience motorists experience at being slowed down by a cyclist on the roadway–and the vitriolic reaction it creates. To me that seems a disturbing parallel.

    BTW, the law allows motorists to “momentarily” stop in a bicycle lane to pick up or discharge a passenger, as follows:

    811.550 Places where stopping, standing and parking prohibited. This section establishes places where stopping, standing and parking a vehicle are prohibited for purposes of the penalties under ORS 811.555. Except as provided under an exemption in ORS 811.560, a person is in violation of ORS 811.555 if a person parks, stops or leaves standing a vehicle in any of the following places:…

    (23) On a bicycle lane. Exemptions under ORS 811.560 are applicable to this subsection.

    811.560 Exemptions from prohibitions on stopping, standing and parking. This section provides exemptions from ORS 811.550 and 811.555. The following exemptions are applicable as provided under ORS 811.550:

    (2) When applicable, this subsection exempts vehicles stopped, standing or parked momentarily to pick up or discharge a passenger.
    (3) When applicable, this subsection exempts vehicles stopped, standing or parked momentarily for the purpose of and while actually engaged in loading or unloading property or passengers.

    Definition of momentarily: “for a moment.”
    Definition of moment: “a comparatively brief period of time.”

    This stretch of bike lane is on my daily commute. I sometimes ride through here more than once a day. I’ve never had a problem here and I’ve been commuting that way for 12 years. Sometimes I have to slow down. There’s even been times where I’ve had to stop. That’s just life in the big city…

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  • Roger Geller October 11, 2006 at 3:50 pm

    Steve, we did consider painting the bike lane blue, which was suggested to us by the Benson management. However, blue is used to convey the message that cyclists have the right of way in a merge area. That’s not the case here. We’ve also found that while the blue bike lanes clarify who is supposed to be where when, cylcists tend to be less careful in the blue zones (i.e., we noticed from video studies that cyclists look over their shoulders–head-check–less when the bike lane is painted blue than when it when it is plain asphalt). What we want to convey is that this is a congested area with a lot of activity and we expect cyclists to go slowly through the area.

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  • burr October 11, 2006 at 3:57 pm

    How about marking it “No Double Parking in the Bike Lane” and “Watch for Cyclists When Opening Car Doors and Pulling Away from the Curb” instead?

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  • Jonathan Maus October 11, 2006 at 4:00 pm


    I appreciate you chiming in and I think your comments (#12) are very wise words that we should all take time to think about.

    I just had a good conversation with Ron Gladney, GM at the Benson. He seems like a very sensible guy and he’s even a regular cyclist himself.

    I hope to share some of Ron’s perspective in a future article.

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  • Andre October 11, 2006 at 4:06 pm

    It’s not an issue of being delayed for 4-5 seconds it’s being delayed while I go to the hospital after getting doored. I’ve been doored going 10 mph and still broke an arm.

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  • TS October 11, 2006 at 4:17 pm

    “Warning: Second-Class Vehicles May Be Present: Feel Free to Ignore”

    “The Cyclists Standing Here? They’re Waiting for You, Tubby.”

    “Momentary Delays Ahead.”

    So is it legal to leave the bike lane when someone is momentarily discharging a passenger, opening their door, yelling at the doorman, saying “oh gosh, it’s not nearly as cold as I thought,” kissing their mom good-bye, laughing about that silly waiter at dinner, hugging mom, lugging the makeup case out of the back-seat, hugging dad, telling the doorman they haven’t checked in yet, tipping the doorman, weighing the cost/benefit analysis of valet parking, giving the valet special instructions about not driving the car too fast, tipping the valet, grabbing the NIKEtown schwag out of the trunk and then, yes, finally clearing the bike lane?

    Because if not, I may really have to find another route (even if it’s not as well painted as this one).

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  • el timito October 11, 2006 at 5:22 pm

    Gotta side with Roger on this one, and not just because we’re both from the East Coast.

    I hear you that it’s aggravating to have someone sitting in the bike lane, opening doors in the bike lane, or otherwise getting in the way in the bike lane. But bike lanes are not meant to be freeways. We just don’t have enough space between the sidewalks in that section of downtown. As a result, everyone gets to pay a little more attention, use a little more judgement, and once in a while, slow down or stop.

    It’s called traffic. Remember “we’re not blocking it, we are it” ? Just because we ride bikes, we’re not exempt from it (although if everyone rode bikes we’d have a lot more room – for a while). As traffic, you have the right to change lanes, to perceive and predict where bottlenecks will happen, and to adjust accordingly. Personally, I move into the center lane on B’way before Taylor St. I know someone is always wanting to turn right there. Potential conflict avoided.

    Congestion is a good thing. Like when you’re riding home on the Hawthorne Bridge at 5:15, it reminds you that you get to live in a beautiful city with lots of other beautiful people – some walking, some biking slowly, maybe a new rider, maybe an adult just getting used to riding in a peleton.

    Congestion reminds you that you have the power not only to further your personal agenda, but to be generous to others and help them do what they need to do. Like walk with their kid, or their great-aunt from out-of-town. Or even unload their passengers at the hotel.

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  • MJ October 11, 2006 at 5:25 pm

    Delays, doors and what not I think the new wording is pretty darn ugly!

    What ever happened to bicycle lane aesthetics?

    Bring back the martini man!

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  • nick October 11, 2006 at 5:33 pm

    My understanding is that I can leave the bike lane if it I think it is unsafe to ride there. The strong possibility of a car door opening, an open door, or a stopped car/bus/fedex van is my queue to slide into traffic, if I feel I can do it safely.

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  • burr October 11, 2006 at 5:44 pm

    The cops may think otherwise, and then you’ll have to convince a judge.

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  • Scout October 11, 2006 at 6:02 pm

    I don’t think cyclists slowing down is really the issue. Most people I know (myself included) who ride this route fear for their safety… not for the fact they may have to lay on the brakes. After being regularly cut-off by cars on this block, and nearly hit a couple of times by people swerving into the bike lane, I now go several blocks out of my way to avoid the area altogether. I’ll get over it, and I can use the exercise, but that’s not the point, is it?

    If this is merely a case of trying to get everyone to slow down, why aren’t there new signs for motorists as well? And why is the problem not as bad in front of the myriad other hotels in Portland?

    Also: Roger, I appreciate your side of the issue, and I understand you’re trying to strike a delicate balance here. However, not only is Portland not a “big city”, but one of the reasons I love it here is due to the fact Portland isn’t (yet) overpopulated, and doesn’t act like it. Telling people to essentially get over it because we live in “the big city” is no way to win someone over to your side. Shame, because I felt you were doing a good job making you point before that.

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  • Ethan October 11, 2006 at 6:21 pm

    or perhaps it should read:


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  • Martha October 11, 2006 at 6:23 pm

    Have there been any studies done where the bike lane is one lane in from the curb lane? That is, on a multi-lane one-way street such as NE and SW Broadway, the lane to the far right is used more for turning and parking vehicles than it is for through traffic. Rather than put the bike lane to the right of this lane, why can’t we treat that far right lane as a pseudo-turn lane, and move the bike lane to the left of that far-right lane (in the same manner that the bike lane is placed to the left of a right turn lane)? The bike lanes would have to be marked VERY explicitly so that motorists are made aware that the space is reserved for cyclists, and I can imagine that a downfall of this idea would be oblivious motorists weaving into the bike lane or making unsafe lane changes. However, the design would put through-cyclists on the left side of cars that are turning right or parking. Given that most car/bike conflicts occur when one of those vehicles is turning, the benefit would seem to outweigh the danger.

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  • organic brian October 11, 2006 at 6:31 pm

    Interesting anecdote: I had tried one day to get the PPD or parking enforcement to go over and cite autos that were obviously left unattended in the bike lane. I got the runaround, and one person I talked to (at PPD) just kept repeating herself that I should “talk with The Benson” about it… I kept explaining that I already had and what I wanted were for vehicles to be cited so that it would discourage this sort of disregard for the bike lane. Nobody in an enforcement role would show up. Apparently the hotels get a free pass when it comes to violations.

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  • NoNamer October 11, 2006 at 6:32 pm


    How about using Holland’s bike lanes as an example to follow?
    They have far greater bike and automobile traffic.
    I found a picture of a normal bike lane there in this website: http://www.multiline.com.au/~bta/goodidea/gi941112.htm

    Please observe the distance between the car parking lane and the bike lane to allow for opening and closing of car doors safely and the differences in the level between pedestrian sidewalk, bike lane and car lane.

    If it may be too costly to make the alterations to Portland’s already existing bike lanes, maybe it would be a good idea for future road constructions.
    Thank you for you attention

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  • NoNamer October 11, 2006 at 6:39 pm

    Sorry to be a pain but can you be so kind as to go through the pictures in that link I supplied above?
    Some great applied ideas that work all around the world.
    Thanks again!

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  • Cate October 11, 2006 at 7:26 pm

    What are the Benson staff trained to do in front of the Benson? I’ve seen them open taxi doors right into the bike lane with a bike coming toward them. I’ve seen them stand there for several minutes talking to someone through their car door window and blocking the bike lane.

    I think it’s their job to help manage traffic in front of their hotel. Instead they add to the traffic problem. They could easily alleviate some of the problem if their management decided it was part of managing the hotel responsibly.

    Why is the City making it easier for them? This is not a school zone full of children. It is a commercial hotel zone managed by adults for adults.

    Roger said: “The inconvenience cyclists feel at potentially being delayed here–and the vitriolic reaction it creates–seems analogous to the inconvenience motorists experience at being slowed down by a cyclist on the roadway–and the vitriolic reaction it creates. To me that seems a disturbing parallel.” The parallel is yours, Roger. I haven’t had or seen a vitriolic reaction in front of the Benson. I have seen Benson employees blatantly disregard the bike lane.

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  • half pint October 11, 2006 at 9:12 pm

    i don ‘t know if broadway is a one way at this point or not, (but i seem to think it is)
    i’m from mpls.
    and there we have bike lanes on the right if the street goes in both directions,
    but on the left if it is a one way street.
    basically this wouldn’t be a problem if that were the case, but we’re not in minneapolis.
    just my $.02.
    with all due respect,
    i want to reiterate andre’s point
    it’s not about slowing down,
    it’s about making it to your destination without being doored/cutoff/etc…

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  • lee October 11, 2006 at 10:33 pm

    Broadway is a lovely mess. I used to be freaked out about riding there; until I got wise and took the lane. No more valets, taxi’s, etc to bother me. Some students by PSU can be far worse when they’re not paying attention.

    I don’t agree with the signage either. It kinda points fingers in the wrong direction.

    Then. It sucks to get doored.

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  • Macaroni October 11, 2006 at 11:25 pm

    Hotel zone. Ha ha, pretty funny! I’m sure the markings are going to make a BIG BIG difference in this intersection.
    I saw the markings this morning, though I didn’t actually notice the word “slow.” But really, how much slower could we go through there? 4-5 seconds slower would mean stopping in the bike lane while Bambi and Ken complete their cell phone conversation, open their door into a biker while a taxi driver pulls out into the street without looking or signaling and almost hits another bicylcist….still waiting in the bike lane while the doorman unloads Bambi & Ken’s SUV…still breathing noxious, carcinogenic diesel fumes and particles from passing RAZ buses, diesel pickups and delivery trucks. Ahhhh, a lovely morning! Sorry, Roger, but one of the perks to biking to work has always been not getting stuck in traffic jams caused by lemmings in their cars.
    Shouldn’t something be done about clueless drivers (including so-called professional drivers) who endanger our lives continuously. But nooooo, we have to have marketing campaigns and dumb**s bike lane markings.
    BTW it was fantastic seeing all the bikers out this a.m. Rock on!

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  • SKiDmark October 12, 2006 at 1:34 am

    Flat black spray paint is a good color match for the street.

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  • Tiah October 12, 2006 at 2:01 am

    What the $@##*&%#!? First of all, cyclists who are riding on Broadway already know they have their work cut out for them. Secondly, how is the city painting “Hotel Zone” in the bike lane going to help any thing? It isn’t bikes that are going to do the damage if they accidentally run into a car, is it? I ride this street on my normal commute coming off the Broadway Bridge and have been able to manuever myself around, and through many a driver devoid of driving finesse. I am riding in the bike lane most of the time, with the hope and determination that if I stay in the lane as much as possible drivers will be forced to realize I am there, and not getting in their way. I ride as slow or as fast as I amable at whatever point I am at. Outside of the Benson this is never very fast, what with the valet parking and all,as most of you probably know. What a complete waste of money. Yes, we have already discussed that bike lanes are kind of useless in the first place but still, how can people argue cyclists should be using them if it is deemed acceptable for our usage to be impaired because of valet parking? or out of town drivers who don’t understand bike lanes? Hwo do you not understand a bike lane? How ’bout all those out of town drivers who drive in the bus only lanes and the wrong way down one way streets downtown? Are we re-zoning our city for them? sheesh. next time I ride past the benson I am just gonna jump off my bike and walk it slowly, ever so slowly, in the bike lane. *le sigh*

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  • brock October 12, 2006 at 7:43 am

    Double parked cars and folks stopped in lanes to pick up / drop off are a fact of life in a city, bike lane or not. I actually prefer when the delivery trucks on Broadway block the bike lane instead of parking in the rightmost vehicle lane – that way there’s room to pass them on the left while in the right lane. Otherwise it’s a dangerous squeeze. That said, on Broadway I’m 95% of the time taking the whole right lane from Burnside to PSU.

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  • David October 12, 2006 at 8:10 am

    The Heathman Hotel approach on Broadway, just before Taylor, also has the markings.

    I think the markings might be useful for someone riding along that street who’s new to Portland, but otherwise I think the markings are silly.

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  • janis mcdonald October 12, 2006 at 9:11 am

    I think people make have made some really good comments on this subject. I too commute this way everyday. I stay in the bike lane until I need to take the lane to pass all the chaos in the bike lane. It is just part of riding Broadway.

    It would be interesting to know who instigated the markings? It sounds like from here that the usual commuters navigated just fine without the markings- maybe with a little grumbling.

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  • Jonathan/BikePortland.org October 12, 2006 at 9:18 am

    The markings came from meetings held between PDOT, Benson Staff, Sam Adams’ office and others. They’ve been meeting periodically to try and solve the problems with the bike lane…or at least this is my understanding after hearing about the meetings from GM of the hotel, Ron Gladney.

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  • Brad October 12, 2006 at 9:23 am

    I am just curious, other than messengers that need to find the most direct and time efficient routes downtown, why can’t most riders avoid Broadway by taking a less traveled parallel street?

    I do this this on my commutes largely because I value my safety and returning home to my family more than my “rights” on heavy traffic roads. What happened to pragmatism?

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  • brock October 12, 2006 at 9:30 am

    I take Broadway because it’s the most direct route through downtown, my commute is long enough. Is it really that much of a ‘high traffic’ route? The lights are timed such that you can run the whole stretch without stopping anyways. Trust me, I’m just going about my way as swiftly and safely as possible, not executing my “rights” as a form of protest, as you seem to suggest.

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  • Doug October 12, 2006 at 10:14 am

    I take the Broadway bike lane on my way home, starting at Washington and ending at Madison. Me personally, I find it pretty convenient and much prefer it to not having a bike lane at all. Most days of the week I actually ride faster than traffic.

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  • Matt Picio October 12, 2006 at 10:16 am

    Tiah – I can totally relate. I took a rest day from the bike on Monday, and while waiting for the #32 bus home, I watched a car drive in the bus lane on 5th and then make an illegal left turn (without a turn signal) to go the wrong way up Oak St.

    Jonathan – What I’d like to know is where was the end-user involvement in this? Did “others” include representative bike commuters and messengers, the daily users of that route? If not, then this solution catered to the hotels, the business association, and what the city “thinks” should be done, rather than soliciting the input of the cyclists that ride it every day. If the PPD won’t even ticket those who are violating the law by parking in the bike lane (15+ minutes is not “momentary”), then it seems this solution may be aimed at the wrong people. I agree that the focus should be on alerting motorists that the lane is for bikes, rather than alerting cyclists to what they likely already know. In any case, the transportation bureau should be consulting those who will be impacted directly by these changes (cyclists) as well as those who are indirectly impacted (hotels and businesses).

    I respect what PDOT (shouldn’t that really be “PBOT”?) is trying to do here, but all groups affected should be represented, not just the ones that have the largest commercial interest in the outcome.

    If messengers and bike commuters were consulted and involved in the process, then I retract my above remarks. A second issue is that it would be nice to actually KNOW what is going on with these decisions before they happen, so that public input can happen before money is spent and work is done. (St. John’s bridge, anyone?)

    (that remark isn’t meant to apply only to PDOT – also to ODOT, Tri-Met, and Metro.

    Brad – why *should* cyclists have to take an alternate route? PDOT striped it for a bike lane, and unlike the streets to the north, every intersection has a traffic light. If Broadway’s bike lanes can’t be made safe for all modes, then PDOT should unstripe it – then cyclists could either choose to take the lane (without fear of a ticket) or take another route.

    I like bike lanes, and I think they have a real and valid purpose, but they don’t work well in all situations.

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  • Jonathan October 12, 2006 at 10:20 am

    Is there a list of when any other these meetings happen between PDOT and anything else that has to do with cyclists or traffic?

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  • Dave October 12, 2006 at 10:21 am

    Has anyone else noticed that these new street markings are in the wrong order. As you approach them, they read “Zone Hotel Slow” and “Ahead Zone Hotel” which is backwards. I seem to recall that most street markings (like school zones) are written so that you read them in the correct order as you approach them. So a school zone marking reads Slow School Zone as you approach it. These markings are the wrong way around. Maybe it is because cyclists move at a different speed than cars, but shouldn’t all street markings be done the same way?

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  • brettoo October 12, 2006 at 10:37 am

    Roger: I appreciate your good work on behalf of cyclists and also the necessity of someone in your position to try to balance various competing needs, as well as your exhortations for courtesy to drivers. (I’m not sure the Benson folks deserve it, however.) That said, it appears Broadway is not working for a significant proportion of riders and I worry that someone’s going to get hurt.

    Looking toward the upcoming rewrite of the city bike plan, what are the chances and pros and cons of adopting NoNamer’s suggestion (and I know others of us have also proposed it in other threads here) to re-do Broadway to institute Dutch-style bike lanes between sidewalk and parked cars, rather than between parked cars and moving cars? Would Sam Adams and other city powers support it? Is this something BTA would be interested in rallying bikers behind?

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  • BURR October 12, 2006 at 10:46 am

    So now that the markings are down, are the city and the hotel absolved of liability in cases where a bicyclist is injured or killed in the bike lane in the marked hotel area? Do the markings make the burden of proof greater on any bicyclist injured or killed in the bike lane in the hotel area? And do the markings legitimize the use of the bike lane by the hotel?

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  • Elly October 12, 2006 at 10:49 am

    Maybe it’s time Portland had its own brigade of bike-lane enforcement clowns:


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  • Brad October 12, 2006 at 11:13 am

    Matt and Brock,

    I am not suggesting that bikes should take another route or give up on Broadway completely. Go the way you want as that is an individual choice.

    I just take a realist’s view to this problem in the short term. If an area is dangerous due to bad drivers, careless valets, double parked vehicles, inadequate design, etc, then a stripe of paint or sharrows won’t make a difference. The dangers we are talking about are mostly a result of ignorant, selfish, or ingrained behaviors with the motorists. Unless the PPB puts a dedicated enforcement presence at that site, drivers will still pull up or pull out without looking, double park, or unload their buses in the bike lane without consequence.

    Prudence dictates finding an alternate to avoid the danger or one must accept the risks involved. Again, that’s an individual choice. I choose to minimize my risk as a two or three minute reward is not worth the potential negatives. I agree that the areas in front of The Benson and The Heathman are dangerous but realistically, any meaningful change to those spots will take months or years of studies, planning sessions, haggling over the needs of businesses vs. bicyclists, public hearings, budgetary considerations, willingness of PPB to do enforcement, state regulations, and the like. I am not a pessimist but bureaucracy is what it is.

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  • Cecil October 12, 2006 at 11:29 am

    I like the idea, although it might be illegal. At one point I was going to print up fake tickets for all the yahoos in SE PDX that park on the wrong side of the street, but a little research indicated that putting anything on someone’s car violated Portland City Ordinances:

    16.70.510 Trespassing – Leaving Pamphlet On Vehicle.

    (Amended by Ord. No. 165987, Nov. 12, 1992.)

    A. It is unlawful for any person to ride or trespass upon or within any motor vehicle without the consent of the owner or operator thereof.

    B. It is unlawful for any person to post, stick, or place upon or within any motor vehicle any card, notice, handbill, leaflet, pamphlet, survey, or similar matter without the consent of the owner or operator.

    C. The provisions of this Section do not apply to any card, notice, handbill, leaflet, pamphlet, survey, or similar matter placed upon or within such motor vehicle by authority of law, by an authorized officer of the City, County, or State or by a designee of the City Traffic Engineer.

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  • Roger Geller October 12, 2006 at 11:44 am

    Brettoo and others,

    This has generally been a really good discussion that has generated a lot of thoughts and ideas. You’re right that the update of the Bicycle Master Plan will be a great forum to consider these kind of issues related to: facility design, congestion, bicycle operations, what are the elements that we think will be successful in attracting to cycling the 95% or so of Portland residents who don’t currently use a bicycle regularly for transportation, etc.

    The appeal of the Dutch-style designs is obvious. They are great facilities and what’s exciting about them is the idea that they could attract Dutch levels of cycling. What’s not so obvious are their potential drawbacks in an American context, which has resulted in their almost universal rejection by North Amercian bicycle planners except in some rare and unusual circumstances. Keep in mind that one reason the Dutch facilities work so well is because the Dutch ride at a speed we would generally consider to be very slow. They’re typically riding single speed, heavy clunkers, wearing normal clothing, and not working up a sweat. They ride predictably and courteously. Could Portland be the first US City where they could work? It will be one of many intriguing topics I hope we fully explore.

    The update of the Bicycle Master Plan is slated to be a 2-year process; we’re just in the first few months and are dedicating this initial time to assess current conditions and how well we’ve done in achieving the goals we laid out 10 years ago. To view the current master plan follow this link: http://www.portlandonline.com/auditor/index.cfm?a=38510&c=31608 –there’s a pdf link at the bottom of that page.

    As for the Benson: all we’re trying to do is alert cyclists to a condition (“Hotel Zone”) that requires cyclists to slow down, be alert, and hopefully be courteous. Again, not much different than other roadway conditions where we want people to pay attention and be careful.

    This treatment came about in part because of potential hazards to cyclists, but also because some cyclists were expressing a lot of anger and vitriol toward visitors to Portland and others at the hotel. Yelling at motorists, yelling at passengers, cursing them, giving them the universal salute. Over the course of about 2 weeks I’ve personally seen the following: a cyclist challenging a motorist to fight; a cyclist slamming his fist into a car because the motorist pulled into a parking space in front of a cyclist (it was clear the motorist was going to park and the cyclist actually sped up in order to not give way–the motorist was clearly confused b this behavior); cyclists cursing loudly at motorists and hotel employees; cyclists operating their bicycles in a threatening manner (i.e., high speed in close proximity to) in the presence of hotel employees and passengers getting out of cars seemingly in order to “make a point” about who is right and who is wrong.

    Though I understand it I’m still amazed at the anger I’ve seen on the streets and seen expressed on this page. I know we’re a litiginous society, but at a certain point it’s less about who’s right (which is arguable in this case) than about how we can maintain a cohesive social fabric. Almost universally, traffic problems can be largely mitigated by slowing down. It’s what we want motorists to do. It’s what European cities are forcing motorists to do. Why can’t we do it for 200 feet?

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  • brock October 12, 2006 at 11:51 am

    “Almost universally, traffic problems can be largely mitigated by slowing down. It’s what we want motorists to do. It’s what European cities are forcing motorists to do.”

    Absolutely. But there’s hardly any enforcement for motorists. I can name a whole lot of surface streets where the speed limit is routinely exceded by 15 mph.

    Citing a few bad apples doesn’t lend a lot of credence to an argument either – I can do the very same for motorists in that area.

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  • Steve Kirkendall October 12, 2006 at 11:51 am

    Okay, Roger, I understand now why you didn’t paint the lane blue in front of the Benson. But do you really expect cyclists to stop and wait for a motorist to clear out of the bike lane? It is still illegal to for cyclists to leave the bike lane for any reason other than safety, isn’t it? If bikes don’t get priority in front of the Benson then the bike lane should be removed from there. Don’t pretend it’s still a bike lane when it isn’t. Maybe leave it striped, but not as a bike lane. Maybe call it hotel lane?

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  • Roger Geller October 12, 2006 at 11:58 am


    If something is blocking the bike lane you can leave it…

    814.420 Failure to use bicycle lane or path; exceptions; penalty. (1) Except as provided in subsections (2) and (3) of this section, a person commits the offense of failure to use a bicycle lane or path if the person operates a bicycle on any portion of a roadway that is not a bicycle lane or bicycle path when a bicycle lane or bicycle path is adjacent to or near the roadway.

    (2) A person is not required to comply with this section unless the state or local authority with jurisdiction over the roadway finds, after public hearing, that the bicycle lane or bicycle path is suitable for safe bicycle use at reasonable rates of speed.

    (3) A person is not in violation of the offense under this section if the person is able to safely move out of the bicycle lane or path for the purpose of:

    (a) Overtaking and passing another bicycle, a vehicle or a pedestrian that is in the bicycle lane or path and passage cannot safely be made in the lane or path.

    (b) Preparing to execute a left turn at an intersection or into a private road or driveway.

    (c) Avoiding debris or other hazardous conditions.

    (d) Preparing to execute a right turn where a right turn is authorized.

    (e) Continuing straight at an intersection where the bicycle lane or path is to the right of a lane from which a motor vehicle must turn right.

    (4) The offense described in this section, failure to use a bicycle lane or path, is a Class D traffic violation. [1983 c.338 §700; 1985 c.16 §338; 2005 c.316 §3]

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  • pdxMark October 12, 2006 at 12:17 pm

    An interesting aspect of this thread is the irony that cyclists sound as angry about navigating the hotel zones as some motorists sound about sharing the road with bikes.
    “Share the Road” works both ways, folks.

    I commute up Broadway everyday. Most congestion I see in the hotel zones is perfectly legal, with respect to obstructions in or around the bike lane. With just a bit of observation and (legal) lane-changing, it’s pretty easy to safely navigate around almost all of the hotel congestion without breaking stride.

    The reality is that Broadway is quite different from most downtown streets. The large amount of bike traffic coming off the Broadway Bridge, the three regular lanes, and the steady upward grade (south of Burnside) make Broadway second to Burnside as the least compatible downtown street for taking a lane.

    Fairly strong riders could reasonably take a lane on Broadway, but most riders I see there don’t keep up an adequate pace to do that. The bike lane allows all this bike traffic to share the road with car traffic with minimal conflicts.

    Also, the bike lane does not pose any risk of dooring if you simply ride near the outer edge of the lane. The driveways and right-turns are all in the same place everyday. It’s not hard to stay out of drivers’ blind spots when approaching those locations. I frequently see riders quickly ride alongside a car just as it is about to make a signalled right turn. The rider might have a claim to the right-of-way, but it seems to me it is easier for everyone to signal & pull in behind a right-turning car to avoid ambiguity.

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  • Cate October 12, 2006 at 1:38 pm

    Matt Picio said: “What I’d like to know is where was the end-user involvement in this? Did “others” include representative bike commuters and messengers, the daily users of that route? If not, then this solution catered to the hotels, the business association, and what the city “thinks” should be done, rather than soliciting the input of the cyclists that ride it every day.”

    Good point. Roger, at a minimum, did Mark Ginsberg and the Bicycle Advisory Committee agree that this was the best solution for this area?

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  • Jonathan October 12, 2006 at 2:36 pm

    pdxmark said “Also, the bike lane does not pose any risk of dooring if you simply ride near the outer edge of the lane. The driveways and right-turns are all in the same place everyday.”
    Sorry but that is not true, two days ago there was a nice long line of stopped cars in the right lane on Broadway. I was watching ahead and was going to be cautious about the xars turning right in front of me as a passenger in a big white SUV flung open the door right in front of me. I was lucky enough to miss it but I fear that other riders may not have been able to react so quickly.


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  • BURR October 12, 2006 at 2:41 pm

    As far as I’m aware, this was never discussed by the BAC.

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  • Cecil October 12, 2006 at 2:41 pm

    Roger said:

    “Keep in mind that one reason the Dutch facilities work so well is because the Dutch ride at a speed we would generally consider to be very slow. They’re typically riding single speed, heavy clunkers, wearing normal clothing, and not working up a sweat. They ride predictably and courteously.”

    What he didn’t say, and what I haven’t seen anyone say unless I missed a post, is that the primary reason that most of the very cool European approaches to transportation and accomodation of cars, bikes and pedestrians comes down to two words: Car Culture. We (and be “we” I mean “we, the citizens of these untied states” and not “we, the readers of this blog”) have one and, for the most part, Europe doesn’t. There are fewer cars per capita, those cars that there are are generally smaller, and there is a highly developed and well-used public transportation system. Accordingly, it easier to implement programs and designs that are not car-centric.

    Here, on the other hand, we have a country so attached to the automobile that our administration has invaded a country that, to quote Paul Wolfowitz, is floating on a sea of oil so as to ensure our access to that oil. As gas prices go up, GM announces that it intends to produce yet another version of the Hummer. Cars are more than a method of transportation, they are objects of status (okay, the same can be said about the $13,000 Serotta at the Bike Gallery, but I digress).

    Unless a fundamental shift occurs in how the average US Citizen perceives the position of the automobile in society, many of the European options will remain but a pipe dream . . .

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  • pdxMark October 12, 2006 at 3:00 pm

    Jonathon, your white SUV experience is interesting in a couple respects.

    First, my understanding is that the standard minimum width for a bike lane is 4 feet. My guess is that the Broadway bike lane meets that standard. In addition, most vehicles are about a foot to the right of the bike lane, which would give up to a 5 foot margin between a door and a rider at the outer edge of the lane. My point is that a 5 foot gap will usually be enough to avoid a dooring. Maybe that’s a better way to phrase it than “any risk” as I originally said.

    If a vehicle is closer to the edge of the bike lane, either because it’s wide or parked poorly, it poses a potential hazard that either warrants slowing down or allows use of another traffic lane.

    In the context of whether the Broadway bike lane created that dooring hazard, I have to wonder where else an average rider would choose to be in that traffic situation? Some fit, fast ones would be in the middle lane of traffic, passing the right-turning cars. My opinion is that many (most?) riders would be in the very same place you were… between the stopped cars and the parked ones. In the absence of the bike lane, some cars in the traffic lane might give less even than the 4 foot width established by the lane. So I don’t see that the lane is a cause of your near-dooring.

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  • BURR October 12, 2006 at 3:28 pm

    In the absence of a bike lane, cyclists would be allowed to take a whole lane on Broadway regardless of whether they can keep up with traffic or not, since the regular lanes are too narrow for a bicyclist and a car to share (ORS 814.430(2)(c)). I personally would be taking the lane and riding further away from the parked cars than the bike lane allows, to avoid a dooring. I alwasy find it interesting how willing folks are to dispute eyewitness information with alternate explanations from a desk behind a computer monitor on the internet.

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  • Jonathan/BikePortland.org October 12, 2006 at 3:33 pm

    I think that given the awareness, history and importance of this section of bike lane, it would have been very smart for PDOT to involve the bike community in this issue.

    If PDOT would have embraced the input of cyclists that ride this street everyday, the result could have been not just a better solution, but one that would have made us feel like partners in the process.

    Wouldn’t PDOT, the Benson and other stakeholders want to tap into the collective wisdom of the bike community that all these comments illustrate?

    Remember how great it was when we helped PDOT traffic engineers design a new city border sign?

    I think this was a missed opportunity and I hope that going forward, the community is at least given a heads up about stuff like this.

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  • John October 12, 2006 at 3:49 pm

    I was at first a little ruffled to see the signs… but when I’ve come to realize its a good idea. there is alot of side road traffic there and its good to be warned.

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  • Cecil October 12, 2006 at 4:02 pm

    I left an important part out of post #57 – in the first sentence of the second paragraph insert “won’t ever happen here” after “pedestrians” and before “comes” – one of these days my typing speed and speed of thought will be the same, but that day clearly isn’t today

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  • Patrick October 12, 2006 at 4:02 pm


    Now maybe the City will install signs that notify the drivers not to open their car doors into oncoming cyclists!

    (I have not read all the comments but I’m sure this has been covered already)

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  • pdxMark October 12, 2006 at 4:02 pm

    Burr said: “In the absence of a bike lane, cyclists would be allowed to take a whole lane on Broadway regardless of whether they can keep up with traffic or not.”

    Yes, but in the balance between maintaining traffic flow, accomodating bikes, and minimizing car/bike conflicts, I happen to agree with the decision to put a lane on SW Broadway. I think the bike lane there is a reasonable accomodation for the context of the grade of the hill and the speed and number of cars and bikes that use the street. I think the absence of bike lanes on most of the rest of dowtown is likewise a reasonable design choice. But that’s just my opinion.

    I disagree with the position (which I am not attributing to you) that there should be no bike lanes anywhere so that cyclists can assert our “full lane” rights on all city streets. I see that as unrealistic and counter-productive to maintaining the multi-modal transportation system that is working pretty well in Portland. I see the bike lane on SW Broadway as a reasonable compromise.

    Finally, I didn’t dispute whether Jonathon was nearly doored. I explained the basis for my opinion that bike lanes can often be used with minimal risk of dooring, despite his experience.

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  • Tiah October 12, 2006 at 4:48 pm

    Brad-just because someone isn’t a courier doesn’t mean they aren’t trying to get places in the most direct and timely manner possible on their bike.
    By not taking Broadway, and having to weave around to just get back on Broadway later seems totally ludicrous to me. I ride somewhat fast, as much as possible, because I am trying to get places and also because if I wanted to go slow I’d take the bus. I pose no threat to the cars on the road next to me when I am in the bike lane, nor to the hotel valets or customers. Are we supposed to play in the street, children? No. Except for when they are immediately getting out of or into a vehicle there is no reason for hotel patrons to be loitering in the bike lane-and I have seen this happen often.Citing concern for these people as a reason to attempt to make cyclists out to be irresponsible when riding in the bike lane is just inane.
    As for cyclists getting doored, we know this is a hazard. Especially when riding in this zone so one can only do their best to avoid it, I manage to avoid every door that is flung open, although I have had a few near misses because sometimes your eyes just can’t see every thing.It is not a cyclist’s fault however if someone opens the door on him or her. The driver of the vehicle is supposed to make sure the road is clear before opening the door. There is a code about it, I forget which one, but it is there.Anyhow, I have said this so many times but I’ll keep saying it…as cyclists we can not trust drivers to be on the look out for us. When they are that is great, but you have to ride defensively when dealing with traffic.
    Mr.Gellar,I can understand that angry cyclists may seem a bit scary but you know what is more scary? The thought of getting taken out by a car that WASN’T PAYING ATTENTION. I don’t think you can really suggest that it is the cyclist’s fault, nor could you begrudge them their inborn reaction to get upset when their safety is put into threat. I personally try to refrain from outbursts of anger at cars or weird pedestrians who don’t know how to be on the sidewalk, because I do not want to add fuel to the fire of anti-cyclists. Sometimes however I do have to yell to alert people to get the hell out of my way. In general this is doen with a “hey!” or “hup hup” and I don’t think that is intimidating.

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  • Jeff October 12, 2006 at 5:00 pm

    That’s awfully nice of PDOT, but unfortunately this isn’t going to make aggro valet drivers calm their driving, or make guests stop from double-parking in the bike lanes and swinging their doors open without regard to traffic.

    I hate hate hate hate biking on Broadway during rush hours because the hotel guests act like they have the legal right to double park and step out in traffic.

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  • Jeff October 12, 2006 at 5:04 pm

    Second thought: maybe PDOT should install tire slashing spikes instead? :)

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  • organic brian October 12, 2006 at 6:02 pm

    pdxMark, if a cyclist is riding with a 5-foot margin from the side of parked cars, then they’re actually riding in the auto lane. Also, many motor vehicles are left parked much closer than one foot from bike lane. The only way to avoid being doored by some of the larger doors (trucks and luxury cars) is to ride into the auto lane, putting a cyclist at risk of being run over by an auto.

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  • organic brian October 12, 2006 at 6:14 pm

    Some people were curious what the valets and hotel management have to say. I’ve talked w/ valets and the GM at The Benson, and they have the same attitude: they’re “too busy” and their jobs are “too difficult” to let even repeat visitors to the location (like taxi and delivery truck drivers) know about keeping the bike lane clear. According to those I talked to, it is a “hotel zone” and cyclists should just “deal with it” because “that’s life in the city.” I suggested that they at least ask those drivers to park at the curb when there is room, as opposed to parking angle-wise across the bike lane and parking lane out of laziness / hurry. I suggested that they let repeat visitors know that cyclists have the right of way and to look before opening doors. They thought that was just too much. We had to agree to disagree, since they weren’t dissuaded from their views by the safety concerns, the law, or consideration of legal traffic.

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  • brettoo October 12, 2006 at 6:29 pm

    Well, if that’s the case, then it sounds like the only immediately practicable solution is to demand that the police enforce the law and issue tickets for cars parked illegally in the bike lanes on Broadway. But where will they get the officer-hours to patrol that area? Maybe they can assign the cops who are busy ticketing bikers for such life threatening violations as having fixies, carefully coasting through stop signs (not red lights) in low traffic areas when no one is coming from the perpendicular streets, or taking part in Critical Mass rides.
    As other threads here have shown, law enforcement prioirities regarding bikes seem to be a bit askew. Here’s an enforcement action that could make money for the city and clear up a dangerous problem (for other drivers as well as bikers and pedestrians) and set an example PDQ. How can we encourage such law enforcement efforts?

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  • josh m October 12, 2006 at 7:53 pm

    Riding on Broadway, I simply just don’t ride in the bike lane.
    The past 3 times I’ve been hit by a car, I’ve been in the bike lane. I’ve never been hit riding in a normal lane or between lanes(which you will usually find me doing downtown).
    So own your lane. Eff the bike lane, it’s a danger. I wouldn’t worry about getting a ticket. I avoid all bike lanes and ride downtown at least daily and have yet to ever get a ticket…

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  • BURR October 12, 2006 at 9:57 pm

    Given the number of cyclists in this town and the hazards of this street, I don’t think a minimum width bike lane is sufficient. Most cyclists will tend to ride in the center of the lane, well within the door zone. I know several cyclists that have been doored on B’way and there’s been at least one fatality.

    Don’t you think a shared right lane, marked with sharrows and perhaps ‘bikes and right turns only’ would give cyclists more flexibility and safety? That gives you 10 – 12 feet to maneuver around parked and right turning vehicles, instead of just 4′.

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  • Elly October 13, 2006 at 9:30 am

    One point to throw in there: a very large number of the people blocking, dooring, standing in, driving past, etc these downtown hotels are people who are just visiting Portland and may never even have seen a bike lane before, much less realize the importance of bike thoroughfares and scale of bikeyness in Portland.

    So these blocks are, besides very frustrating to ride down, also a great opportunity for outreach and education. Some folks have been working for a while on local-artist designed postcard-sized cards to be given out to motorists that explain rules and safety of sharing the road with bicyclists.

    They’d be educational in the moment and also a keepsake of Portland that people will hang onto and maybe think about in the contexts of their home cities.

    These will be ready to hit the streets as soon as we’ve found a designer. If any graphic design types want to volunteer a few hours toward making these beautiful, contact me via Jonathan, please!

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  • Tiah October 13, 2006 at 10:49 am

    Elly, that sounds all nice and informative, however are we supposed to be riding around with these postcards in our bags or jersey pockets and stop to distribute them to people who almost run into us? that doesn’t seem…plausible.
    It doesn’t matter if someone is a first time visitor to Portland and are not accustomed to its “bikeyness”. The bike lanes are marked quite clearly with the words BIKE LANE or a picture of a bike…who would not understand what this means? Furthermore, more often than hotel customers being in the road I have found it is actually the valets or doormen that are causing the problems. This goes along quite clearly with what “Organic Brian” said. If the valet is “too busy” or has “too hard of a job” or whatever they are using for an excuse to be courteous of life, I can’t be sympathetic.

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  • Tiah October 13, 2006 at 10:51 am

    Oh, that was supposed to read “…not to be courteous of life..”
    also, just to add, I am not attacking yor idea Elly, I am just trying to point out that we are not the real problem in this scenario.

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  • SKiDmark October 13, 2006 at 11:44 am

    How about :








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  • Aaron October 13, 2006 at 6:14 pm

    Thank you everyone who has posted. Thank you Roger for your diplomatic responses. What has not yet been addressed here is the fact that we in Portland want to encourage more people to ride bikes. For seasoned cyclists, going into the lane around cars and doors is rote. However for someone who is just starting their bike-commute habit, this can end it immediately. I’ve heard thousands of stories from people who had a dangerous experience and never touched the bike again. Do we want to allow the Benson to contribute to this? I am dissapointed in PDOT for catering to hotel valets and encouraging illegal (aside from the “momentary stop) parking. Since there is already a parking lane in existance, why not just encourage the hotel staff to use the parking to shuttle valet cars in and out? Then we can use dotted bike lane markings to alert both road users to the combined use.

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  • Thud October 13, 2006 at 7:52 pm

    I’ve said it hundreds of times and just about any other messenger who was around before the Bway bike lane will tell you the same. Putting a bike lane on Broadway in the first place was one of the Dumbest Ideas Ever. And not like a fun, riding your bike while it’s on fire type Dumb Idea. As evidenced by the following phenomena.

    1)Hotel staff and guests(and everyone else, for that matter) see a bit more room so they use it. Who wouldn’t?

    2)Cyclists get to feeling entitled so they get pissed when their space is encroached upon. They have every right to.

    3)Police ticket bikes for not using the unsafe bike lane. Yes, this does happen and even if it gets thrown out it costs a day of work which is half the cost of the ticket or more.

    4)Drivers have enough to contend with downtown and often don’t signal or look when crossing the bike lane when turning or parking. This and the tickets don’t get the reasonableness factor of the others.

    5)Now that it’s here people will howl to no end if we suggest removing it. Perfectly reasonable.

    Broadway was safer when it was left alone. The lanes were wider and the hotel/nordstroms/theater parking and loading areas spilled into the street far less. My answer to those who say of the BBL they use it/like it/need it? If you need a bike lane to ride on broadway, you shouldn’t ride on broadway. All of the reasons I say so have been enumerated in previous posts. It always surprises me that so few people see that this is an instance of a bike lane actually causing problems for motorists, peds AND cyclists. My vote is ignore #5 and UNSTRIPE!

    Now that I sound like a cranky old jerk I’m going to go ride my bike to wipe the scowl off of my face so I can act not my age. I’m not telling.

    Thadeous Charles Bamford III,
    Disciple of Vog the Smeltor,
    Tamer of Streets, at Home and in Lands Foreign

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  • BURR October 13, 2006 at 9:52 pm

    I agree that it is generally far harder to get the city to remove an existing unsafe bike lane than it is to get them to put down a new one.

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  • Macaroni October 14, 2006 at 9:45 am

    Back to PDXMark’s insistence that Broadway is not a “dooring” hazard. Once, I was slowly pedaling up to the intersection just before the Benson (where the lane markings are now) to stop at the light when a female passenger opened her door in front of me. I had to grab the top of her door to keep from falling over because I was snapped into my pedals. The car was in the right vehicle lane, I was in the bike lane and a taxi was parked on my right. ‘Nuff said!

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  • BURR October 14, 2006 at 12:32 pm

    The city can claim a dooring hazard doesn’t exist on SW Broadway because these incidents are vastly underreported or not reported at all in their crash data base. I seriously doubt the police would even take the report if you wanted them to. By law the motorist is at fault in 100% of dooring incidents.

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  • Dabby October 14, 2006 at 1:21 pm

    I would also like to point out that, though the bike lane which should not be there is the proper width, the section along Broadway, as tad also mentioned is even more unsafe for rookie, or newer cyclists.
    If a sheepish style rider is going past one of these problem spots, or anywhere on Broadway, and an incident happens in front of them, on the right side, they will be forced to:
    Swerve to the left of, or out of the bike lane entirely, to save themselves.
    This is especially dangerous at the lower rate of speed that begginer or more sheepish cyclists ride, for you have less control the slower you go.
    In virtually giving more power to the hotel zone, we are putting the increased ridership you are all looking for in even greater danger.
    I would like to rtemind you all of the horrible accident that happened to one of our own, a year ago may.
    The truck that ran her over, that was to the left of her while she was in the Broadway Bike Lane, was going an estimated 5 miles an hour.
    So, let’s just figure it was going ten miles an hour, to be realistic.
    And, they say Kristine, a experienced, working rider, was going slightly faster than that, which does not make sense due to the way the accident occured, but, that is in the past.
    My point is that any rider, experienced or not, forced to take evasive action in a bike lane is in danger. Being forced to take any kind of evasive action in this area is deadly.
    Now, being forced by signage to slow down inthese dangerous areas appears to me to be a huge liability to the city of Portland, if you interpret my post correctly..

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  • SKiDmark October 15, 2006 at 1:28 am

    Kristine always wore her helmet, even when she was getting coffee at Stumptown. I hardly knew her, and it still hurts.

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  • beth October 16, 2006 at 8:29 am

    A few points:

    1. I sympathize with the cyclists who travel on Broadway. Getting doored sucks. Just ask my right hand, which suffered two surgeries, a year of PT, and the end of a 20-year percussion performance career after encountering a pickup truck in 1997.

    2. I also understand the hotel’s situation. I’m a hotel brat. My dad worked for Sheraton in the 70’s and I grew up in and around hotels during grades K-6. Hotels are *insanely busy* places with lots of people going in and out at all hours of the day. Hotel staff work very hard for relatively little money and the painting on the pavement is not their doing. The last thing these people need is grief from us.

    3. Bicyclists have clearly noticed the new painting on the pavement, which means that at least SOMEONE is paying attention. So I take that as a good sign that the new painting is effective. I cannot, and do not, trust every vehicle operator (motor or not) to pay attention, but neither does that let me off the hook. I still have to pay attention.

    4. If I have to carry more than my share of attentiveness because I operate a smaller vehicle, well, that’s life. Stopping to let a pedestrian pass safely is not a burden to me, nor is slowing down to make sure that the car up ahead and my bike don’t collide in a very busy zone. Life is too short for me to get my tits in a wringer about slowing down for a quarter of a block.

    5. I say the best approach is for all of us to stop snivelling and be happy that we live in a town where bicycles have as much freedom of movement as exists in Portland. This is Portland, USA; and while we can *always* make it better, we cannot make it Amsterdam, not ever. There is too much America-ness in it, and in us, for that.

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  • […] Author: “thud” Post: Benson Hotel gets new bike lane markings Note: I picked this comment not only because I think it adds some valuable insight into what was a heated discussion, but because it’s rare that we get the unmistakable C.H.U.N.K. perspective on the issues. […]

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  • Mia Birk October 19, 2006 at 10:25 am

    I was the Bicycle Program Program Manager when we installed the bike lane on SW Broadway. At the risk of seeming over-sensitive, I take exception at being called dumb. At that time we were working hard to install bike lanes throughout the City. The purpose is to improve conditions for cycling so that MORE people will choose bicycling as a means of transportation. Even now, many, many current and potential cyclists, those that are not comfortable taking the lane on downtown streets, are terrified of riding downtown because of the lack of bike lanes. In other words, some of us feel comfortable taking the lane, but many do not. This was really clear in the hundreds of responses to the BTA’s recent Top 40 Report survey.

    The debate about striping bike lanes in downtown has been going on for over a decade without resolution. Think of the bike lane on Broadway as an experiment. Clearly, it’s not a perfect solution. Some don’t like it. Not having a bike lane would be equally unsatisfying to others.

    The City is embarking upon a central city plan update, providing an opportunity for further debate about this. Perhaps we need additional experiments: a bike lane on the left? Big bike-car shared lane markings in the right lane…or the middle lane…or all 3 lanes? Whatever it is, please recognize that there are no easy solutions in downtown Portland, and that the bright and dedicated PDOT staff are working their hardest to make Portland the best city for bicycling. Negative name-calling is NOT HELPFUL.

    Personally, I use SW Broadway all the time. I expect alot of competition for the available space, and thus ride slowly, defensively, and carefully. Mia Birk

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  • SKiDmark October 19, 2006 at 10:51 am


    Writing “Hotel Zone” in the Bike Lane does not help the problem. The people in the cars already feel entitled and that street marking just makes it worse. It should say “No Parking Bike Lane”. People in cars should be expected to respect the bike lane. Cyclists should not have to compensate for people in cars making moving violations.

    Anybody who rides downtown often enough rides defensively. I don’t ride slowly because that is a good way to get rear-ended. Still you can’t predict what every person in a car or truck is going to do 100%, of the time especially when they are talking on the phone, turning without signaling, tailgating, and opening doors into your path. The reason why people are apprehensive about riding downtown is because there are so many bad drivers, who apparently never get tickets for it.

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  • Cate October 19, 2006 at 10:59 am

    Mia said “Perhaps we need additional experiments: a bike lane on the left?”

    half pint said (#29) “i’m from mpls. and there we have bike lanes on the right if the street goes in both directions, but on the left if it is a one way street.”

    This seems like such a logical idea and a relatively inexpensive improvement for SW Broadway.

    When I take the lane downtown on one way streets (e.g. Fourth), I stay in the left lane. There’s less risk of being doored and it seems safer. Maybe it’s my imagination, but it seems like drivers are a bit more careful about looking before turning left than right.

    Mia said “At the risk of seeming over-sensitive, I take exception at being called dumb.” You’re not over-sensitive. Hindsight is easy. At least he called himself “a cranky old jerk”!.

    I vote for keeping the bike lanes, but moving them to the left side of the road.

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  • Cate October 19, 2006 at 11:03 am

    I forgot a few words: I vote for keeping the bike lanes on one way streets, but moving them to the left side of the road. This would help on SW 13th, Broadway…

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  • brettoo October 19, 2006 at 11:05 am

    I’d still prefer the Copenhagen style bike lane to the right of the parked cars, but maybe moving it to the left would be better than what we have now.

    And yeah, the quickest and easiest step would be painting NO PARKING BIKE LANE in the lane in front of the hotels and other places where scofflaws park. But we’d need signs, too, because at first, you won’t be able to see the lane paintings because a lot of cars are going to be sitting on top of them. Seems like that could be done relatively cheaply. Roger? Is this possible?

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  • Dabby October 19, 2006 at 1:42 pm

    NO bike lane on Broadway once again is the only solution.
    I am also sorry, Mia, that you take this as a personal attack, and the fact that it is thought of as a dumb idea is something you take personally.
    Even moving the bike lane on Broadway is ludicrous, and a horrible waste of money.
    The real proble to come is going on one block away, with tri met rippping up the bus malls.
    This is going to move all traffic onto broadway and ontoo third. Pissed off drivers violate bike lanes more than happpy ones, for one thing.
    For another, not one foot of the new bus mall should be built without one equal foot of bike lane, or bicycle travel space, through the mall.
    With properly installed, and full full bike acess through the bus mall, the need for any bike lane on braodway is fully negated.
    I cannot believe everyone signed off on this TRI MET fiasco without a guarentee of full bike travel..

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  • Thud October 19, 2006 at 4:28 pm

    Dabby- Don’t apologize for something I said. I can answer for myself. We’ve had this discussion. More than once.

    Mia- I realized after I posted that dumb probably wasn’t the right wording. I also know that you and so many others put a lot of work and thought into this. Nothing personal, and thanks for your efforts. Oh, and my experince has always been that it’s easier and safer to take a lane downtown than anywhere else in the city. Didn’t know not everybody shares that view.

    Cate- I think you missed my point. There are just as many hotels/loading zones/quick turning vehicles on the left of broadway as the right and that because of the slow speed of traffic any bike lane unnecessarily crowds the roadway. For, say, Vancouver and Williams, left side lanes might be a good idea, but downtown wider lanes with sharrows or something similar would give more room to through users while making it less practicable to double park.

    Brettoo- Can o Krylon is like $5, just don’t put a martini on it. (kidding! jeez!)


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  • brettoo October 19, 2006 at 4:32 pm

    Y’know, given that this is microbrew country, if they’d just put a mug with suds in the biker’s hand instead of a martini glass, they might have gotten away with it.

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  • josh m October 19, 2006 at 5:19 pm

    just make sure they have a helmet on.

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  • Cate October 19, 2006 at 5:20 pm

    Thud said “Cate- I think you missed my point.” Or maybe I just disagreed with it.

    Thud said “If you need a bike lane to ride on broadway, you shouldn’t ride on broadway.”

    Mia said “The purpose is to improve conditions for cycling so that MORE people will choose bicycling as a means of transportation. Even now, many, many current and potential cyclists, those that are not comfortable taking the lane on downtown streets, are terrified of riding downtown because of the lack of bike lanes. In other words, some of us feel comfortable taking the lane, but many do not.”

    I agree with Mia.

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  • josh October 19, 2006 at 8:26 pm

    it’s funny, because I feel more safe riding downtown in traffic than on east broadway, williams/vancouver, etc etc. Downtown is much slower traffic than these other streets. Plus there isn’t that false sense of safety that bike lanes give.
    Bike lanes are good for those streets, though, simply because traffic is much faster, however, downtown, much of the time I am going by traffic, so bike lanes are just a danger to me.

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  • Michael October 20, 2006 at 8:02 am

    Roger said: “Keep in mind that one reason the Dutch facilities work so well is because the Dutch ride at a speed we would generally consider to be very slow. They’re typically riding single speed, heavy clunkers, wearing normal clothing, and not working up a sweat. They ride predictably and courteously.”

    These traits are interesting in that they may reveal why many Portlanders don’t ride bikes more than they already do. In places where biking is the dominant means of transportation, these are typical traits of bike riders.

    Is it possible that some folks here don’t ride because so many of the riders they see from their cars have an appearance of athleticism that they cannot imagine for themselves? Riders in China, for example, mostly ride in what we would find to be a very slow and leisurely manner, not because they are lazy or unable, but because that is what works for most people most of the time. It is a sustainable bike culture.

    Here we see many cyclists in lycra, on performance bikes, sweating, straining, to maintain a competitive position in traffic. This is not an attractive aspiration for many folks. Many people might be attracted to using their bikes for more purposes, but can’t see themselves as peers of the messengers and athletes. They are just are not going to bother.

    Perhaps, here in Portland with our grand aspirations of becoming a bicycle capitol, we could do more to make biking a more egalitarian activity. Amsterdam is not only a good model for our bike infrastructure, but for riding culture, too.

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  • Michael October 20, 2006 at 8:08 am

    Roger Geller pointed out: “ORS 814.420 … (2) A person is not required to comply with this section unless the state or local authority with jurisdiction over the roadway finds, after public hearing, that the bicycle lane or bicycle path is suitable for safe bicycle use at reasonable rates of speed.”

    My possibly faulty recollection is that there has never been this public hearing, as required by law.

    If not, how do we get it scheduled? Roger? Is that your job?

    It seems a reasonable way to clarify these issues and find reasonable solutions.

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  • […] Two weeks ago, I wrote about the new “hotel zone” bike lane markings on SW Broadway in front of the Heathman and Benson Hotels. […]

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  • eric October 26, 2010 at 8:30 pm

    I love giving the valets hi-fives.

    The hotels are generally pretty aware of the bikes, and I’d rather deal with their valets than the right hooks every other block. Slow bikes on the uphill right by where the Oregon Historical Society used to be are also a pet peeve. Dear Roger Geller: Can we have a double climbing lane for that block so that I can mash up that hill without losing momentum?

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