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RiverPlace path bike access on committee agenda tonight

Posted by on August 14th, 2007 at 11:31 am

The sign that started it all has
been removed by Parks Bureau officials.
(Photo: Matt Picio)

Tonight’s Portland Bicycle Advisory Committee (PBAC) meeting will take up the issue of bicycle access along the Willamette Greenway Trail at RiverPlace.

The issue came to a head when a member of a condominium owners association allegedly placed a “No Bikes” sign in the middle of the path (see photo). The owner of Waterfront Bicycle Rentals is concerned at what she feels is an increasingly anti-bike stance by the condo owners.

I posted a story about this that sparked a heated discussion about whether or not bicycles belong on what has become a very congested path.

As it stands now, the path is officially listed as being open to bicycle use and is managed by the Portland Parks Bureau.

According to the PBAC meeting agenda, Bob Downing from the Parks Bureau will present the issues and seek guidance from the committee on an appropriate solution.

The meeting is open to the public and visitors are encouraged to attend. Click here for full meeting agenda.

    Bike Advisory Committe Meeting
    Tuesday, 7-9pm
    City Hall (1221 SW 4th Avenue), Lovejoy Room

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  • DK August 14, 2007 at 11:58 am

    So a condo owner illegally places a \”walk your bike only\” sign on a greenway trail path, and all of a sudden everyone is questioning whether to let riders ride through?… What a croc. How about working on a solution to the real problem…the restaurant at the south end that takes up the whole sidewalk with tables and waitstaff traffic!

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  • Geoff August 14, 2007 at 12:53 pm

    I thought it was illegal to place a sign like that without a permit or some other way for the city to collect money? Is the condo owner being penalized in any way?

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  • Dustin August 14, 2007 at 12:54 pm

    -pick up the sign
    -throw it into the river…..
    Problem solved!

    well, maybe throwing it in the river might be considered littering, but you get the idea. Is there any legal justification for putting that sign out? This is how problems get started, people think they can totally skip the whole legal process and just put their own laws into effect.

    maybe someone else should put up a bigger sign right in front of that one that says \”riding bicycles allowed\”

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  • Spanky August 14, 2007 at 1:01 pm

    How about everyone behaves reasonably and the condo owners lighten up a bit when there is little congestion and those of us on bikes walk them if there\’s a lot? That area is a mess of peds, bikes, and restaurant outdoor seating.

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  • SKiDmark August 14, 2007 at 1:04 pm

    I don\’t understand what give the authoritay to put the sign out in the first place. I would just ride on thru.

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  • toddistic August 14, 2007 at 1:05 pm

    the condo owners are your baby boomer – i sold my house in Las Vegas / So Cal / etc and made a killing. now i have a right to the sidewalk. Ride by, grab teh sign and take it home with you.

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  • Jonathan Maus (Editor) August 14, 2007 at 1:09 pm

    just FYI, the sign is no longer up. it was removed a few weeks ago by parks officials.

    they were slated to put a new one in its place, but they reconsidered once they realized how public this little disagreement had become.

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  • Tbird August 14, 2007 at 1:11 pm

    I say Bike owners should place \”no condos\” signs around. That\’s the real blight on our fair rose city.
    Tit for Tat.

    Seriously though, I think it is OK for some congested areas to be listed as \”walk only\” The problem here is Condo and Steakhouse folks have decided to make the ruling on their own and without public discourse. That alone should preclude them from any real footing in this discussion.

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  • Toby August 14, 2007 at 1:21 pm

    Ironically, this stretch is really no fun to ride through, since there are zillions of peds out strolling if the weather is nice. If you\’re headed south from the Hawthorne Bridge, the back way, using SW Harbor Way (from the little traffic circle in front of the Hotel) down to SW Montgomery down to SW River, is much quicker and easier. More interesting is coming the other direction – the new bunch of condo towers now have a bunch of pseudo streets / parking between them, so you can shoot straight north on SW Moody and into the parklike area at the southern end of RiverPlace. Not recommended if you\’re in a hurry, since it\’s equally fully of pedestrians, and people driving out of nowhere (they forgot to add pseudo stop signs, I\’d say).

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  • RN August 14, 2007 at 1:39 pm

    \”take up the issue of bicycle access along the Willamette Greenway Trail at RiverPlace.\”

    Uh… Justifying the placement of privately owned dinner tables in the middle of a designated public bike path seems to be the real issue and the cause of a great deal of the congestion.

    Let the businesses and diners set up in the so called detour bike path and see how they like sucking fumes and being close to cars.

    I ride off street bike paths to stay off the street.

    R.

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  • Spencer August 14, 2007 at 1:48 pm

    Just remember what the real issue is, the commercialization of the greenway.

    The greenway sits on some of the most valuable real-estate in Portland, on the river. If bikers or any other rightful user group (skaters, people walking their dog, roller bladders etc.) are excluded, then this is the precedent for the rest of the green way. How far behind is OMSI. Is it not easier to ride around OMSI on the street.

    What about restaurants in Johns landing, what about SK NW, what about the new marina area going in north of Fremont.

    Given the choice and \”mixed commercial / residential development\”, don\’t you think developers and condo associations will exploit this to their advantage?

    The bet thing to do is keep riding through the area. Be courteous and considerate of pedestrians but show your presence. If a security guard assaults you by laying hands on you, sue the condo association and the security contractor. The developers are hoping that you will give up and ride on the perimeter road. Some day we can just by pass the entire water waterfront. Yeah
    !

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  • acyclist August 14, 2007 at 1:54 pm

    One of my favorite in-city rides is along the waterfront. I\’d hate to see use of that path go away.

    How about designating one side of the path for pedestrians (and tables) and the other side for cyclists?

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  • Natron Bomb August 14, 2007 at 2:02 pm

    Spencer you are spot on with your view. This is not about riding thru that area alone, it is about setting a precedent for future conflicts. This is multi use first and dinning last. There is no legal grounds where a condo owner haves a right to control the public sidewalk. DONT BUY A CONDO IF YOU DONT LIKE BIKES THIS IS PORTLAND.Certainly you have a right to a slower curtious pace but that is it.

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  • DK August 14, 2007 at 2:08 pm

    Hasn\’t this path been designated as a greenway from the very start? The powers that be should have stopped this whole mess years ago, when the restaurant entity at the time decided to plop a table and chairs smack into the middle of it. It\’s easier top ask for forgiveness than it is to ask for permission. Too late now it seems.

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  • bruce August 14, 2007 at 2:13 pm

    I\’m not sure I understand the compelling reason to ride through that area. It is (at least when the weather is nice) a very congested pathway. Even if you were able to ride through uncontested you\’d be dodging and weaving and forced to ride at a very slow pace (unless you\’re a heedless a–hole) in which case you\’re every bit as much a problem as finicky condo dwellers. It is easy to by-pass that section if all your doing is passing through.

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  • Spider Pig August 14, 2007 at 2:43 pm

    I say let the condonians have it. But make them pay for an alternate off-street bike path that effciently detours the area. Kinda like a bicycle expressway.

    (The restaurant should pay a hefty fee for the use of the public space too.)

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  • Natron Bomb August 14, 2007 at 2:46 pm

    Bruce remeber it is about the big picture. Ride thru that area in January it is surprisingly smooth sailing.

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  • Natron Bomb August 14, 2007 at 2:52 pm

    why should we let anyone have what is ours to begin with? Seems rather silly.

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  • Op4 August 14, 2007 at 2:58 pm

    Why would we give them something we ALL pay for. They arent somehow more deserving than those who don\’t live there. So they can learn to share, or alternatively we could treat them in the same fashion that drivers (many of whom I suspect live in that area) treat cyclists.

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  • chris August 14, 2007 at 4:55 pm

    I think these summertime flareups indicate we have a real need for more riverfront mixed-use areas.

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  • jeremy August 14, 2007 at 5:04 pm

    these posts are a bit over the top..have any of you ever ridden down there? seriously?…there is a posted bike path sign that runs bike traffic behind the condos off the waterfront going south by the 3 degree restaurant…there, follow the traffic rules and there\’s no problem…riders get a smooth designated route through the area, condo owners and peds. don\’t get run into…

    this is the same lame argument as to why riders have the \”right\” to ride up Hawthorne during rush hour and piss people off…sure, you have the legal right, but wouldn\’t taking the designated bike paths up Lincoln or Taylor make just a bit more sense and keep you safer? I commute every day but don\’t see the sense in picking ridiculous fights just because you can..

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  • jeremy August 14, 2007 at 5:08 pm

    I mean if you\’re goign to petition and argue against a(ridiculous, yes) sign, you might as well petition ODOT to remove the directional bike traffic sign next to the culdesac / round about…

    yes, the waterfront is a MUT but how much do you all really enjoy riding through hundreds of pedestrians, their dogs, children, etc? I\’d personaly rather skip it all and get on my way…

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  • SKiDmark August 14, 2007 at 5:26 pm

    You can\’t tell me that a bike cannot keep up at rush hour on Hawthorne.

    It happens to me all the time, I\’ll be riding in a lane downtown,and I\’ll be getting the stinkeye and being beeped at, even though I am keeping up with traffic. Trucks leave intersections slower than cars, nobody is yelling at them to get out of the road.

    If anything,the belligerant car driver is picking the fight, because he thinks you have no right to be on the road at all, no matter what the laws are.

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  • Op4 August 14, 2007 at 6:07 pm

    Jermey you prove my point, YOU PERSONALLY would rather not ride there. So don\’t However you are not everyone, and everyone pays for that path. So unless you and the condo owners alone want to pay for the path at that point then, the argument is not ridculous.

    And for the record it was the condo owner/managment that broke the law in the first place by placing the sign illegally on the path.

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  • Natron Bomb August 14, 2007 at 6:08 pm

    The point is that we have a legal right to use this route. Yes it is a senic route to cruise. If you are in a hurry go around if that is your choice to not use this path. When a group is singled out it is discrimination. And if you want to ride up a busy street it may be silly but who are you pissing off, a single passanger in a suv? if it is legal enough said.
    Let the peeps ride.

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  • Todd Boulanger August 14, 2007 at 6:34 pm

    All the comments so far are spot on.

    Successful vibrant pedestrian spaces always need to be managed and protected. I tend not to see higher speed commuter bike traffic taking this route unless they are shopping, dining, ice creaming, etc. Most riders are those who are novices and thus like the car free zone or those who do not no the way very well.

    What

    Perhaps better way finding sign could be added…giving bicyclists warning of congested zone ahead and take street route…perhaps with sharrows, etc.

    Perhaps they can at the same time add more bike parking down there too.

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  • RN August 14, 2007 at 7:34 pm

    Please…

    The signage and education burden should not be placed upon or directed at cyclists.

    How about these signs:

    \”Walk single file\”
    \”Keep pets on short leash\”
    \”Look both ways before leaving store\”
    \”Share the path\”

    Each could be accompanied by an appropriate pictograph.

    You get the idea…

    R.

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  • wsbob August 14, 2007 at 9:44 pm

    Until I read it on this weblog a couple weeks ago, I hadn\’t really been aware that the stretch of pavement passing by the marina, hotels and restaurants was part of the Willamette Greenway. I suspect many people casually walking, dining and otherwise enjoying themselves do not realize they\’re on a section of the Willamette Greenway.

    To me, that suggests that the first logical step in resolving some of the conflicts that have arisen on this section of the the waterfront, is to possibly post simple informational signs at both ends of this short busy stretch, informing the public of the nature of the path they\’re on, advising them of the various types of permitted use on this stretch of Willamette Greenway that they need to be aware of for everybody\’s maximum pleasure and enjoyment.

    If, by doing something like this, people are able to figure out for themselves what uses are permitted there, it may not be necessary to regulatory enforcement measures such as signs, \”no this, no that\”. People will automatically take into consideration what needs to be done to allow maximum permitted use by everybody.

    McCormick and Schmick\’s, the restaurant at the south end does a lot of business. Thugh congestion from tables, bus cabana, customers, servers, and bussers really can slow up passage through this section of the Greenway path, to be fair, I\’ve never noticed the restaurant deliberately trying to impede traffic through here, or putting their tables right into the middle of the path area. I do feel that as their part of resolving the congestion situation on this section of the path, they could re-arrange their outdoor setting in a way that would make life there a lot easier and more pleasant for everyone.

    I suppose those seriously travelling A to B traveling on a bike, might not want to have to deal with reducing their speed. That would likely make this section of the Greenway not for them. My impression, is that for a lot of others, a respectful slow-down in pace is well worth the splendid view and the experience of being around so many people enjoying themselves. Bikes can be all around good companions, and should continue to be permitted on this section of the Willamette Greenway path.

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  • BURR August 14, 2007 at 10:18 pm

    Jonathan, any report on the discussion at the BAC tonight?

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  • Jeff Hadley August 14, 2007 at 11:44 pm

    Here is my take on the BAC meeting tonight:

    1) Parks has agreed to ensure the restaurants are in compliance with the permits that allow them to place tables on the Esplanade, generally tables and signs should be placed to allow a 15 feet width.

    2)Parks is also working on more appropriate signage that does not discriminate against bicyclists, but encourage all users to use caution during times of congestion.

    3)Parks has agreed to instruct the Condo association hired security guards to stop enforcing a non-existent no bicycle riding ordinance.

    4) BAC strongly advised Parks to exhaust all possible solutions before even considering restrictions on bicycles.

    5)The issue was also raised concerning how potential bicycle restrictions at the Riverplace Esplanade could affect other portions of the Willamette River Greenway.

    Thanks Jonathan for bringng this issue to the forefront.

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  • Barbara August 15, 2007 at 8:22 am

    I remember riding through the area when it was a dirt path well before any condo, stores etc. When the development began one of the positives was the Greenway public acess bike trail being built through the area to connecting two already used trails area. Having the greenway path was a requirment to allow the development in the 1st place. I used to ride through there with my sones on 18 & 23 on a tandem when they were little. I\’ve been disgusted as I\’ve seen getting built up & wondered why the sidewalk area was allowed to have all the the pathway obstacles. The path should have been built wider to accomodate both the sidewalk & greenway path to begin with & probably was for the intended use forseen at the time. Again its the the later condo owners & resturants trying to take over what wasn\’t their\’s to begin. They could just remove the chairs & clearly stripe a pathway next to the water side curb then put their obstacles where they belong.
    I\’ve also written to no avail asking that the stupidly placed light pole by the too narrow curb cut by the hotel before the river place mess off water front, the alternative be fixed to make it easier to get a tandem through onto the street without hitting the pole etc.

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  • Matt Picio August 15, 2007 at 9:43 am

    Adding to Jeff Hadley\’s comments:

    One of the people present at the meeting (sorry, I forgot the name) pointed out that the city is already arguing against rerouting cyclists on another portion of the greenway (the SK Northwest issue), so if they do it here, they\’re taking both sides of the issue and undermining both arguments.

    I concur with Jeff\’s summary of the meeting. Parks said they were moving slowly on this to ensure that all the bases were covered and that the solution isn\’t worse than the problem. Parks is also verifying the ownership of the path property (records say the city owns it, but Parks is covering all the bases).

    My feeling from the meeting is that there is some misunderstanding of the issue – yes, there is an alternate bike route that passes behind the development, and most commuters and anyone wanting to travel faster than a fast walk should probably take it. The issue, however, is that there are people who would like to leisurely ride through that area at the speed of a walk, and they\’re legally permitted to do it. At least one business specifically caters to that type of cyclist in that very area, and their customers are among those being harassed by the security company and members of the homeowner\’s association. That\’s just not right.

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  • Jonathan Maus (Editor) August 15, 2007 at 10:07 am

    Matt and Jeff,

    thanks for your insights from the meeting. I was unable to attend but I intend a follow-up post ASAP.

    I also have comments from BAC chair Ginsberg and from Waterfront Bikes owner Karen Stiles that I will work into a story.
    stay tuned…

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  • jeremy August 15, 2007 at 11:01 am

    Op4-
    I understand your argument, but from my experience, I see a lot of commuters fly through that section of walkway in the morning (I commute that direction every single day), often coming out the other side by the round about at high speeds…do they represent everyone using the path? No..but they are the reason those condo owners are fearing for their safety and most likely placed the sign to begin with. I\’m aware they placed an \”illegal\” sign (loose terminology) and it conflicts with one great local business, but I\’m thinking they did it to counter those individuals using the walkway at high speed…when in fact a higher speed route is already in place routing those riders around the buildings…I\’m just playing devils advocate and reiterating the fact that commuters need to be as respectful of that community as they would like in return near their home…

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  • Natron Bomb August 15, 2007 at 11:19 am

    RN i love your walk single file sign idea. I wonder how we could use these signs for more shared use on Leaf Erickson. Where some folks walk,run, ride,four to five abreast.

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  • josh m August 17, 2007 at 10:05 pm

    oh no, the poor condo owners are in danger :(

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