Posted by Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) on August 24th, 2007 at 11:42 am
of SE Clinton and SE 11th.
This is where (I think) Ben
Ramsdell and Johnny
Eschweiler exchanged words.
(Photos by Jonathan Maus)
As a popular route for cyclists coming from the Clinton Street bikeway to the riverfront and downtown, the stretch of SE Clinton, just west of SE 11th is currently an unsafe gap in our bikeway network.
After last Friday’s road rage incident I decided to take a closer look at the current situation and what (if any) bike safety improvements might be in store for the future.
According to PDOT’s Jeff Smith, this portion of SE Clinton is not a designated bikeway on the City’s current Bicycle Master Plan (last updated in 1996). Even so, the road has been marked with bike boulevard/wayfinding dots.
While most cyclists believe these dots designate a roadway as being bike-friendly, this is not the case here. City bike coordinator Roger Geller is out of town and unavailable for comment, but in this instance I believe he placed them here to act more as way-finding aides through a dangerous area, rather than to designate it as a part of our bike boulevard network (which is how they function throughout the city).
This is a confusing situation that needs to be more carefully analyzed.
Also in the mix is that this section of SE Clinton has been reported to be a popular cut-through for motorists en-route to the Ross Island Bridge.
Bicyclists used to have a shortcut of their own to avoid this street. But recently, an off-road path along the railroad tracks northwest to SE Division Place has been barricaded and police have been doing enforcement against bicycles to shut it down.
Back to Jeff Smith at PDOT. He said that the stretch of SE Clinton where Friday’s incident took place gets about 3,600 average daily (auto) trips (ADT). Smith says that makes it a good candidate for bike lanes, “Our general rule of thumb for bike lanes starts at about 3,000 ADT”. (That 3,600 number was taken a few years ago and is likely higher today.)
According to Smith, this means there are two options for how to improve bike safety on this street:
- remove parking on one side and stripe bike lanes;
- attempt to remove/slow down auto traffic through various traffic calming and diversion measures.
Given the industrial nature of the businesses on the street, the parking is likely more for employees than retail customers. This would be an important factor to consider and would make parking removal less controversial for PDOT if/when it was ever proposed.
I also learned that there is an active grant in process for bike and pedestrian safety improvements near this area. Two neighborhood groups (Brooklyn and Hosford-Abernethy), along with Roger Geller from PDOT, have applied for a Community Benefit Opportunity grant (part of the Big Pipe Project).
The grant request initially included the following:
- HAWK Signals at SE 11th and 12th (recently installed on 41st and Burnside)
- Bike lanes on SE Division Place between SE 4th and 9th
- *Bike lanes on SE Milwaukie/11th/12th between Powell and Clinton
- *Enhancements to existing signage and markings (I’m not clear on which street)
(*No longer part of the grant)
Burnside — could be coming to SE Clinton at
11th and 12th.
Debbie Caselton with the City’s Bureau of Environmental Services said that the last two requests on that list have been recently axed due to expense. Currently, the grant has made a final cut and is likely to be funded to the tune of $400,000.
There is a public review opportunity for the grant (and other finalists) on September 10th at Metro (stay tuned for details). Then, the final list of grants will be recommended to City Council in October and construction will start in November of this year.
The new, bicycle and pedestrian activated signals at 11th and 12th and the new bike lanes on SE Division Place are welcome improvements, but they don’t fix problems with the remaining safety issue on SE Clinton between 10th and 11th. If anything, they make this now infamous stretch of road an even more glaring gap in our system.
So what can we do as a community to help the City address this issue?
Two things: First, attend the CBO grant public review Open House on September 10th and tell committee members that this is an important improvement for the livability and safety of our city. Second, watch for opportunities to weigh in on the current Bicycle Master Plan update process. We need to make sure that this stretch of SE Clinton gets designated as an official bikeway. That is an important step toward giving us leverage to make necessary bike safety improvements in the future.
In the meantime, stay tuned…and ride safely.
Read more of my coverage of the SE Clinton Road Rage incident.