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County warned about bridge issues last summer; project in the works

Posted by on May 11th, 2009 at 12:31 pm

bike parking during bus mall construction
The County installed these markings
in November 2005.
(Photos © J. Maus)

A recent crash between two people riding over the Hawthorne Bridge has raised concerns about the safety of the facility for non-motorized users — and it’s far from the first time these concerns have come up.

In December of 2006, we published an editorial by Elly Blue titled “Re-thinking traffic on the Hawthorne Bridge,” where she wrote, “…traffic congestion on the Hawthorne Bridge is a serious problem.”

Last summer, Vancouver BC resident Ron Richings visited Portland. Richings is an avid rider who contributes to Momentum Magazine, volunteers in the bike scene, and makes an annual visit to Portland to take part in Pedalpalooza and other events.

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On July 13th, 2008 he posted a message to the Shift email list about concerns he had about riding over the Hawthorne Bridge:

“While riding around I noticed again a considerable hazard on the Hawthorne bridge — the lack of any physical separation between the sidewalk/bike path and the traffic lanes. Likewise, and depending on the lighting conditions, the difficulty in seeing where the sidewalk ends and the bridge deck (several inches lower) begins… This is [an] unaddressed hazard is surprising to me given the large number of cyclists who use this bridge on a daily basis.”

“Also troubling is that it could just as easily be me as any other cyclist who ends up crashing onto the bridge deck in the middle of traffic. Not a pretty picture.”
– Ron Richings, in a letter to Multnomah County Commissioners last summer

Two days later, he wrote a letter to the Multnomah County Commissioners (Multnomah County owns and operates the bridge) detailing those concerns and asking if they had any plans to do something about the situation.

Here’s an excerpt from that letter (emphasis mine):

“These unaddressed hazards were surprising to me given the large number of local cyclists who use this bridge on a daily basis, and Portland’s reputation for being ‘bike friendly’. Also troubling is that it could just as easily be me as any other cyclist who ends up crashing onto the bridge deck in the middle of traffic. Not a pretty picture.

Ideally the County should install a proper physical barrier. However if that isn’t immediately possible, then at least the County should promptly mark the edge of the sidewalk, preferably with a continuous yellow stripe. It seems like this should be a quick, easy and inexpensive project which could help to prevent some serious injury.”

Multnomah County Transportation Planner Jane McFarland responded to Richings’ email and said they would look into the issue. I called her this morning to ask what, if anything, had happened since July.

McFarland said they evaluated both of Richings’ suggestions, particularly the one about putting up a railing.

According to McFarland, the sidewalk is as wide as it can be without strengthening the bridge structure and that it is “currently considered narrow given the amount of pedestrian and bicycle usage.”

McFarland said a barrier is not currently being considered because the sidewalk is already too narrow. It would require a foot of sidewalk width and it would take away from the “functional width” due to the tendency of users to want separation from a barrier (known as “shy distance”). “We felt it would diminish the usable space,” McFarland said.

In addition, McFarland said that depending on the height, “You could be inducing a more severe accident if someone where to go over the railing.”

The next idea they considered was to stripe the edge of the sidewalk to visually delineate the curb. The County would use thermoplastic striping and McFarland said the project is on the County’s Capital Improvement Project list that is set to be updated and confirmed in the next few months. County staff estimates the cost to be between $12,000 and $15,000 (much of the cost comes from the logistical/operational issues of closing lanes and operating crews on the bridge deck).

In addition to the striping, McFarland says the new bike/ped facility in the works on the nearby Morrison Bridge will help: “We anticipate this improvement will substantially relieve conditions on the Hawthorne Bridge shared sidewalk.”

UPDATE:
– I just spoke to Multnomah County spokesman Michael Pullen about the possibility of putting a railing/barrier more into the roadway on the main deck of the bridge (as opposed to taking space on the already too narrow bike/ped path). He said that won’t happen. TriMet runs about 1,000 buses across the bridge each day and they can’t fit in the center lanes so they must use the outer lanes and a railing would encroach on their path.

As for having bicycles ride on the main roadway, Pullen said that idea is pretty close to a non-starter. The cost for a material to lay over the metal grate would be prohibitively expensive, and there would be safety concerns about mixing cars, buses, and bikes on the narrow lane. Pullen and I couldn’t agree whether or not it would be technically illegal to take the lane on the Hawthorne (you could try to convince a judge that the path is too dangerous), but we did agree that it would probably be a lot more fun on a mountain bike.

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Comments
  • Paul Tay May 11, 2009 at 1:02 pm

    A railing to prevent someone from falling onto the steel-grated deck might be the better part of valor.

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  • Hart May 11, 2009 at 1:33 pm

    Anyone know if there’s a plan to build a better ramp off of the Morrison crossing than that un-ridable spiral staircase ramp thing?

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  • Michelle (BTA) May 11, 2009 at 1:34 pm

    Incremental improvements to the Hawthorne Bridge path will help, along with the increased education the City of Portland started last week.

    But keep all of these issues in mind when you think about the three new bridges being planned for the Metro area: the Sellwood Bridge, the new Willamette River Bridge, and the CRC.

    Your comments in support of good designs and ample width for people biking and walking on all three of those bridges can help. If you are concerned, comment via the links at the bottom of this BTA blog post.

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  • Michelle (BTA) May 11, 2009 at 1:37 pm

    Pardon me, that was a bad link. Correct link to BTA blog post here.

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  • steve May 11, 2009 at 1:41 pm

    Isn’t thermoplastic striping the stuff that gets really slippery when it rains?

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  • Matt Picio May 11, 2009 at 1:53 pm

    Hart (#2) – There are no plans at this time to replace or modify the spiral ramp from the Morrison Bridge to the Eastbank Esplanade. The ramp to Water Avenue is being modified as part of the current Morrison Bridge bike/ped improvements.

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  • indy May 11, 2009 at 2:00 pm

    This area on the Hawthorne is also extremely dangerous, as bikers are coming down the ramp at a good 15+ mph and the lanes for bikers and pedestrians narrow. As a pedestrian I’ve been nearly hit many times.

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  • chriswnw May 11, 2009 at 2:06 pm

    Does anybody else find it a little bit ironic that these posts about the poor design of the Hawthorne Bridge has immediately followed the outpouring of Dutchophile enthusiasm for the Broadway cycle track? Man, would it ever suck to be confined to something similar to the Hawthorne Bridge path throughout the entire city.

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  • toddistic May 11, 2009 at 2:16 pm

    chriswnw AWESOME POINT!

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  • Amanda May 11, 2009 at 2:34 pm

    I can think of a number of reasons that a barrier there might not be a good idea including that it might give an illusion of safety and encourage higher speeds. I like the striping idea though. Can we get striping for the path edge along the whole Springwater? That would be awesome.

    I also agree that the spots where paths merge is the most dangerous area on the H. But, again, you make it too “safe” and people speed up and stop paying attention. Hard to quantify where that line is.

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  • Hart May 11, 2009 at 2:34 pm

    That area of the Hawthorne bridge is where the PPD nails riders without lights.

    Thanks for the info, Matt. I think I’ve ridden up that spiral, but it was very tedious.

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  • cyclist May 11, 2009 at 2:37 pm

    I want to make sure that the people at the BTA know that not everybody thinks the Hawthorne Bridge is dangerous. I ride over the bridge twice a day, every workday, all year long and have never, ever felt a sense of danger on the bridge. My main hope is that the fuss that’s gotten kicked up doesn’t result in railings, which would reduce the actual space that we’ve got and make things quite a bit worse for all of us.

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  • Corey May 11, 2009 at 2:42 pm

    The thought of getting pushed into a railing/barrier at speed is only slightly more comforting than the thought of getting pushed off the path altogether. This would likely narrow the path so I’d hope the bridge would go 100% no passing if any barriers are erected.

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  • Allison May 11, 2009 at 3:05 pm

    I’m really looking forward to the Morrison Bridge – I do think it’ll ease up some of the congestion on the Hawthorne. I’m hoping the Morrison is faster and those who want to ride faster are more attracted to it and we can have a natural separation.

    But I still think pedestrians are the cause of all ills – can’t trust people who walk or jog. (<-To be read with extreme silliness)

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  • Paulo May 11, 2009 at 3:07 pm

    “Does anybody else find it a little bit ironic that these posts about the poor design of the Hawthorne Bridge has immediately followed the outpouring of Dutchophile enthusiasm for the Broadway cycle track? Man, would it ever suck to be confined to something similar to the Hawthorne Bridge path throughout the entire city.”

    The Broadway cycle track isn’t shared with pedestrians. And btw, cycle tracks are not just a Dutch thing. See also: France, Germany, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Belgium, Austria, Switzerland, Italy, Spain… even Hungary, Canada, Australia and the US have some currently in use.

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  • Neighbor May 11, 2009 at 3:56 pm

    “You could be inducing a more severe accident if someone [were] to go over the railing.”

    Agreed. Instead of handlebars clipping handlebars you’ll have handlebars clipping railing. As dangerous as it may seem, the ability to ride all the way out to the edge of the raised cement gives the shared lane a lot of space.

    Of course to prevent someone going over the railing we could always get a chain-link fence. Wouldn’t that be beautiful? Maybe do it on the outside too so you can be totally caged in for your trip across the bridge. Sounds super safe, right?

    The shortcomings of the current design should definitely be noted and improved upon in future endeavors (Michelle’s suggestion above), but I’ll argue that current design and function of the Hawthorne is good the way it is. It’s users who are the problem, but no infrastructure improvement will ever fix users’ poor judgment.

    bp.org writers- thanks for doing a great job of raising awareness of the issue and covering all angles and efforts.

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  • BURR May 11, 2009 at 3:59 pm

    a railing or other barrier between the sidewalk and the adjacent travel lane would reduce the effective width of the sidewalk by about 2′ for cyclists.

    A much better solution is to give cyclists a lane in the roadway in each direction.

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  • chriswnw May 11, 2009 at 4:16 pm

    paulo @ 15:
    “The Broadway cycle track isn’t shared with pedestrians.”

    Theoretically, no. In practice, they often are. There are some great videos of a new cycle track in NYC — it is basically a sidewalk extension.

    Also, it isn’t just pedestrians — it’s other cyclists. On a street, there is plenty of passing clearance. I think our bicycle boulevard scheme is a better option, as it doesn’t impede passing, force one to make pedestrian left turns, expose one to right hooks, etc. We should stick with it.

    “And btw, cycle tracks are not just a Dutch thing. See also: France, Germany, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Belgium, Austria, Switzerland, Italy, Spain… even Hungary, Canada, Australia and the US have some currently in use.”

    Yeah, I know, although those locations all had high rates of ridership to begin with. Further, some of those countries are eliminating their cycle paths and replacing them with traffic calming schemes. They aren’t without their critics. They are known for significantly increasing cyclist travel times. If your travel distance isn’t far — as may be the case in the compact core of European cities — the increased travel time might not be a concern. If you need to rapidly cover 5-10 miles, being confined to them would be an extreme inconvenience.

    I don’t want to be penned in by these things. We have something that encourages cycling and that doesn’t reduce our freedom of movement (namely bike boulevards). No need to destroy perfectly good cycling streets with sidepaths that we are required to use by law in this state.

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  • chriswnw May 11, 2009 at 4:24 pm

    BURR @17:
    “A much better solution is to give cyclists a lane in the roadway in each direction.”

    Unfortunately, the bridge is a metal grate. You’d have to replace the bridge surface entirely, unless you wanted to have a strip of concrete on the same grade as the grate but grade-separated from the peds.

    I am not sure that the Hawthorne Bridge cycle facilities can be improved upon, given the design of the actual bridge. I just don’t want to see that sort of thing everywhere.

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  • Hart May 11, 2009 at 4:28 pm

    A finer metal mesh could be added on top of the current grate without adding much weight.

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  • Jonathan Maus (Editor) May 11, 2009 at 4:47 pm

    Just FYI, I just updated this story with the following:

    – I just spoke to Multnomah County spokesman Michael Pullen about the possibility of putting a railing/barrier more into the roadway on the main deck of the bridge (as opposed to taking space on the already too narrow bike/ped path). He said that won’t happen. TriMet runs about 1,000 buses across the bridge each day and they can’t fit in the center lanes so they must use the outer lanes and a railing would encroach on their path.

    – As for having bicycles ride on the main roadway, Pullen said that idea is pretty close to a non-starter. The cost for a material to lay over the metal grate would be prohibitively expensive, and there would be safety concerns about mixing cars, buses, and bikes on the narrow lane. Pullen and I couldn’t agree whether or not it would be technically illegal to take the lane on the Hawthorne (you could try to convince a judge that the path is too dangerous), but we did agree that it would probably be a lot more fun on a mountain bike.

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  • Bob_M May 11, 2009 at 5:03 pm

    Chris #18
    Having witnessed the cycle tracks in Germany, I admit they work great for European riders. Almost all the European riders I saw dressed in street clothes, they tote baggage and they travel at a moderate pace.

    American riders must multi-task, therefore it can be expected that fast riders will combine training with commuting and the harmony of the cycle track will be more difficult to attain.
    just say’n

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  • Oh Word? May 11, 2009 at 5:53 pm

    The second update says you couldn’t agree whether or not taking a lane would be legal, why would it be illegal? To my understanding, unless there’s a bike lane, a bike has the same entitlement to the lane as a car. As far as danger goes, it seems motorcycles would be subjected to the same risks as a bike… And my commuter IS a mountain bike!

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  • Paulo May 11, 2009 at 5:56 pm

    @Chris #18

    I think the bicycle boulevards and traffic calming are the best options for many, many of our streets, especially outside our core, and low-traffic streets in the center. High-traffic streets in the center like Broadway, 4th, etc. would be better served by separate facilities, in my opinion, allowing quick and safe bike access to such streets. Also, you don’t have to wait for cars, nor interfere with them. We’re not going to cover 5-10 miles in our city center, anywhere. At most, it’s 1.5 miles across our city center. I can cover that much faster on a cycle track than waiting behind a line of cars that are trying to turn or stuck at a light, bobbing around garbage trucks, taxis…

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  • chriswnw May 11, 2009 at 7:02 pm

    Hey, at this point, you can have downtown, considering how marred it already is by surface rail tracks (which should be underground). However, you can filter through to the front of a line of cars as it is. Given that cycle tracks are grade separated, you can’t really transition back and forth between the shoulder, the center of the lane, and to the left lane (you can only do pedestrian left turns on a cycle track) as conditions merit.

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  • Spencer Boomhower May 11, 2009 at 7:34 pm

    chrisnw in #18 notes that European countries have high ridership to begin with, and Bob_M #22 said:

    “Having witnessed the cycle tracks in Germany, I admit they work great for European riders. Almost all the European riders I saw dressed in street clothes, they tote baggage and they travel at a moderate pace.”

    I would venture that these kinds of riders are riding *because* they have facilities like cycletracks available to them, facilities that let them ride as part of their day-to-day life without having to summon up the nerve to mix it up with auto traffic, and without having to over-exert themselves. Thus letting them ride without needing a shower wherever they end up.

    “American riders must multi-task, therefore it can be expected that fast riders will combine training with commuting and the harmony of the cycle track will be more difficult to attain.”

    Similarly, what you’re characterizing as “American riders” might simply be those few who are willing to get out there in auto traffic. The definition of “American rider” would likely shift as facilities were introduced that catered to Americans who want to ride more, but find it too scary or too sweaty.

    Also, chrisnw says of cycletracks:

    “I don’t want to be penned in by these things. We have something that encourages cycling and that doesn’t reduce our freedom of movement (namely bike boulevards). No need to destroy perfectly good cycling streets with sidepaths that we are required to use by law in this state.”

    I share your sentiment somewhat, but more when it comes to bike lanes than cycletracks. I really like the look of the Broadway cycletrack, but it’s bike lanes that make me feel like I’m going to get doored or right-hooked. In either case, I wish the law would be changed so that you wouldn’t *have* to use the separate facility if you didn’t want to. If you want to bike without braving auto traffic or sweating up your nice work clothes trying to maintain car speeds, it would be awesome to have something like a cycletrack available.

    Anyway, I digress; this discussion is supposed to be about the Hawthorne bridge problem.

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  • Spencer Boomhower May 11, 2009 at 8:18 pm

    I don’t often cross the Hawthorne, but when I do, I find I’m riding about midway between the fastest and slowest riders. I’m pretty confident on my bike, but the Hawthorne causes me some tension. I think it’s because I never quite feel like I’m in the correct line of travel, particularly when traveling west. My experience tends to be that I’ll try to give as much room to peds as possible, which will push me to the left of the bike space. But on the left there’s that daunting drop to the grating, and of course I want to stay more to the right to let faster riders pass. So I’m always looking over my shoulder for faster bikes while also trying to keep from buzzing people who are walking. This results in a left-right tension that works against the ideal of maintaining a straight, predictable line. Not that I swerve all over the place, but I could see how swerving could happen.

    Still, I have to stress: I love crossing the Hawthorne. The bike/ped path is a beautiful facility. When it’s busy it just requires a little extra awareness and courtesy. I would prefer we find a way to promote both of those things, rather than going to the extreme of putting in a railing which, as others have pointed out, would be a hazard in its own way, and cut into the available space.

    Naturally, if we could claim even more space on the bridge, that would be fantastic.

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  • mike m May 11, 2009 at 9:07 pm

    In a traffic engineer class I took about 15 years ago I remember we could increase the safe speed on a road by blocking the view of opposing traffic. This is why 84 has those green thingies on the barrier that you can’t see through when moving fast. The reason is you feel safer.

    Could we put a row of those green (but taller)things along the edge, so we could still see our beautiful river at a standstill, but when going fast on a bike we feel safe from the road and are protected from falling into it.

    I don’t care about losing a bit of space on the path if it saves one or two lives. In fact it may speed up traffic as people will feel safer. Also I would like to feel safe having my son ride over the bridge.

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  • Racer X May 11, 2009 at 9:45 pm

    How about a Friday PM Peak Hour critical mass? – for fast fat tire commuters to ride in the outside #2 lane – to be safer riding away from pedestrians and novice bike commuters.

    A Bike Bridge Pool of sorts just for the congested bridge part…it would only take 100 commuters (1 per minute) for the county to move forward with a real solution.

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  • KWW May 12, 2009 at 7:57 am

    Face it, DOT will not upgrade Hawthorne Bridge, until a big earthquake forces them to.

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  • Bob_M May 12, 2009 at 8:15 am

    We need the Caruthers crossing ASAP. It should be built for cyclist’s use now and in preparation for future light rail. The Sellwood bridge is dilapidated, but if it were replaced now and cyclists poured onto the west side of the river we would see the narrow west bank greenway overcrowded, or Macadam, with no shoulder and fast crowded traffic would receive the cyclists. The city, county and state need to step up.

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  • Matt Picio May 12, 2009 at 9:03 am

    Oh Word? (#23) – Oregon law provides for local municipalities to prohibit bikes on certain stretches of highway, provided it is signed. Hawthorne has signs requiring cyclists to use the sidewalk over the bridge.

    Interestingly enough, there is no such sign at the ramp from Water Avenue onto the Hawthorne Bridge, and I’m heard it widely speculated that riding the bridge from that ramp would not technically be illegal. Mind you, it’s speculation.

    KWW (#30) – Multnomah County doesn’t have the money to do upgrades. If you’d like to see major upgrades to our bridges, either the county has to levy taxes, or they need more state or federal funds – if you really want to see expensive improvements, write your congresspeople, and contact the BTA to find out what can be done at the state level.

    Also, later this year, the feds will be debating the highway bill, which determines how much federal money the county will get and what it can be spent on. Now is the time to start lobbying for that.

    Bob_M (#31) – Are you willing to pay for that with higher taxes? It’s a lot easier to paint stripes and re-purpose existing lanes (or do nothing and let cyclists take the lane), but bridges and large infrastructure projects take an enormous amount of money. That money’s got to come from somewhere – property taxes, consumption taxes, income taxes: take your pick, and be ready to defend it against competing interests.

    Not saying that the city, county and state shouldn’t step up, but we need to give them something to step up onto.

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  • indy May 12, 2009 at 9:08 am

    Who cares about fast bikers? They can— and should—wait. Pedestrians do this, cars do this, why should bikers be any different?

    This incident doesn’t require a bridge modification, it requires biker safety training. And yes I think bike licensing would be best long term for biking’s future in the long term. One incident in hundreds of thousands of crossings mean it is working right, we have a few bad apples.

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  • GLV May 12, 2009 at 9:23 am

    Who cares about fast bikers? They can— and should—wait. Pedestrians do this, cars do this, why should bikers be any different?

    Unfortunately this problem is only getting worse. I had someone physically push me out of the way while passing me on the Broadway Bridge this morning, because he couldn’t wait until I was done passing the person in font of me. He actually put his hands on me, then got all self-righteous when I told him off.

    Careful folks, it’s a jungle out there.

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  • amanda May 12, 2009 at 9:30 am

    Boomhower, #27, FTW! Mike M, #28, WTF? Why should traffic move faster there? At the least this incident tells us that perhaps traffic is plenty fast enough and that congestion is an issue.

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  • Barry May 12, 2009 at 9:30 am

    The problem is not the width or railing it is simple traffic controll. I walk this bridge multiple times a week, if bikes and walkers would be forced to go the same direction as the cars you would not have an issue. The issue is when a group (Bikes or pedestrians) are 2-3 wide going against the flow of traffic, they usually do not make much of an attempt to share or get out of the way, simple rudeness and lack of common sense is the issue, not the county forking out more money to state the obvious

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  • Paulo May 12, 2009 at 10:48 am

    @chriswnw:

    I don’t think your suggestions are supportive of the 95% of people that are afraid ride a bike on our streets. Remember, we’re trying to increase both ridership and safety. And we can’t forget downtown. It’s the heart of the city, as small as it is.

    What’s the hurry lately anyway? I thought hurrying was for selfish motorists? Take your time folks, and enjoy the ride and the people.

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  • BURR May 12, 2009 at 11:32 am

    Barry #36 – I’d much rather walk facing traffic than with it, that way I can see the bicyclists coming towards me a long ways off and I’m not surprised when they pass me too close or without warning.

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  • ethan May 12, 2009 at 12:16 pm

    people who pass on the right, putting others in danger, are no better than chumps on hummers. we need to stop begging the government to protect us and protect each other by recognizing the value of the life you’re putting in danger with dangerous cycling tactics. in addition: i bring this up again and again, but what do we do when electric assist bikes start showing up? my bet is these folks will be running us out of the bike lanes, and we’ll have no other choice than to take the lane! in accord with the above comments, i say a friday PM critical mass over the hawthorne, is in order…

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  • chriswnw May 12, 2009 at 12:30 pm

    spencer @ 26:
    I do not know of any cities with extensive cycle path networks that don’t have mandatory side path laws. The reasoning is that if you have your own dedicated lane, you have no good reason to use the street. And regardless of what the law is, motorists are more likely to get angry at you for using “their” road if you have a dedicated path, regardless of whether or not it is something you ever asked for.

    paulo@37:
    I would say that I am supportive of cyclists and potential cyclists who prefer not to ride in traffic, which is why I think that low traffic alternate routes should be made available in every city in suburbs. In areas with well-connected street grids, cities can implement traffic-calming measures to create routes with few cars. In suburban areas where side streets do not connect, they can add bike/ped shortcuts to bridge the gaps. In a place like downtown Portland, you can designate streets like 9th and Park as bike boulevards.

    As for your “what’s the hurry” question, for starters, it gives me a 20 minute commute time. If I was confined to a cycle track throughout my journey, that could potentially raise it to 30 or 40 minutes. Additionally, many cyclists want riding to be a work out, although I understand that many do not. I think that the city can accommodate cyclists with different goals and riding styles without forcibly corralling experienced cyclists into grade separated paths that inhibit easy passing, force pedestrian left turns, etc.

    Also, the term “selfish” is just a canard used by people to belittle the desires of those who want something different than them, but the person who uses the term is generally no less selfish. The desire to see Portland look like Holland is equally selfish — your selfish desire merely conflicts with my selfish desire.

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  • El Biciclero May 12, 2009 at 12:55 pm

    “What’s the hurry lately anyway? I thought hurrying was for selfish motorists? Take your time folks…” –Paulo

    It’s all relative, man. Your hurry is someone else’s dawdle, and vice versa. One person’s 2-mile commute is just a 2-mile segment of another’s 10-mile commute. The idea that all cyclists should be super-mellow bohemians with no schedule bugs me. For some, using the bike instead of the car IS “taking their time”.

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  • k. May 12, 2009 at 1:21 pm

    Hey GLV (#34) I think that was me this morning. As I recall you were riding in the center of the sidewalk, there was no one in front of you for several hundred feet, and I politely rang my bell (3 times!) and when I got no response, rode up beside you, put my hand lightly on your hip and said, “Excuse me, I’m passing on your left”..where upon your immediate reaction was “Fu#& Off!” and “don’t fu&%ing touch me!” Repeatedly.

    I’ve been bike commuting for 15 years. If anyone’s first reaction to what I did is to start swearing, you need an attitude adjustment. Or a happier start to your day.

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  • chriswnw May 12, 2009 at 1:22 pm

    +1 on #41.

    What’s the hurry, man? Why don’t you walk instead of biking? :)

    If speed is no concern, most major arterials in Portland have sidewalks that have very few pedestrians. You can ride on them, be careful at the crossings, and move at about running speed. A cycle track is basically a sidewalk for bikes, the main difference being a lack of pedestrians. Outside of downtown and close-in, the sidewalks serve as “cycle tracks” for those who want to use them. In fact, I see people riding on them everyday as I go down E. Burnside. I think that’s fine for people who prefer that riding style.

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  • chriswnw May 12, 2009 at 1:28 pm

    k., still, best not to ever touch a random stranger or their bike or their car. I hate the tight passing clearance on the Hawthorne too, but no way would I ever touch anybody.

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  • GLV May 12, 2009 at 2:26 pm

    Well k, my recollection of events is somewhat different. I was in the process of passing someone, who was probably 50 feet or so in front of me. I heard your bell and literally thought of the Hawthorne incident, and said to myself “whoever that is can wait 10 seconds for me to yield.”

    You couldn’t though. Next thing I knew I felt some random hand pushing me off to the side. “Lightly” is a relative term, and I didn’t hear you say anything.

    What did you earn for that maneuver? You were ahead of me in line at the next stop light.

    As a general rule, do not touch people you don’t know, especially when they are moving on a narrow path at 15 mph and aren’t expecting you to be there. That was dangerous and rude.

    Sorry about the f-bombs but that pissed me off. I hope neither of us will behave that way again.

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  • k. May 12, 2009 at 4:40 pm

    I don’t generally touch people while riding, I realize it’s generally not a cool thing with other cyclists. I only did it given the lack of response to my bell. I ride a lot and race, so I’m probably more comfortable touching other riders than a lot of people. But yes, I should probably consider that before doing it. Still El Biciclero (#41) hit the nail on the head, there are all sorts of riders out there and always will be. The faster of us are never going to slow down for the least common denominator among us and we shouldn’t feel like we have to when conditions allow otherwise. Bottom line is we all better develop some tolerance for others, be they slower…or faster. We’re all out here, get used to it. And yes, I also need to work on my defensive reactions, which are basically to immediately dish out what ever it is people are serving to me. So yeah, sorry for the f-bombs back.

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  • Donna May 12, 2009 at 6:03 pm

    k. – I surely hope you reconsider touching people in the future when trying to pass them. Were that me, you may well have had me reacting to defend myself without thinking first. Some of us not only don’t race, but we originate from far scarier places than Portland, and were trained from a young age to react first and ask questions later when our personal space is violated like that by a stranger. I would not take the chance that someone who touched me like that wasn’t intending to physically harming me.

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  • Rixtir May 12, 2009 at 11:35 pm

    K, if somebody isn’t getting out of your way, you don’t have the right to push them out of your way. I can’t believe the sense of entitlement you’re riding around with.

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  • k. May 13, 2009 at 9:12 am

    Rixtir, read my description of the account. I didn’t push him. I lightly touched him to let him know I was there while politely explaining that I was trying to pass him. And this only after he repeated ignored my bell and continued to ride down the center of the walk. It was plainly safe to pass in regards to other riders/pedestrians. Please make sure you understand what happend before leveling accusations.

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  • Rixtir May 13, 2009 at 11:10 am

    I understand that you said you didn’t push him. But he obviously felt–and said–that he was pushed.

    Was he? I don’t know, but I do know this: Whether you placed your hand lightly on his hip, or whether you pushed him, there was absolutely no need for you to touch him as you passed by, if the pass was a safe pass. If you were making a safe pass, you should have just passed, and left it at that. If you were passing so close that you HAD to touch him (for example, to keep from brushing your bars together), then you were not making a safe pass. The fact that you let the f bombs fly when he told you not to touch him tells me that your behavior was aggressive, even if you were concealing your aggression (and yes, I understand that he used the f bomb when he told you not to touch him).

    If he was that far to the left that you couldn’t pass safely on his left, why not just pass on his right, where there was more room? The only conceivable reason not to pass on the right, if you absolutely HAD to pass, would be if there were pedestrians on the right. He says there were pedestrians ahead, you say there weren’t. So if there were no pedestrians, according to you, why not just pass on the right?

    I’ll say this about myself: I don’t try to control other riders– I ride at whatever speed I’m riding at, and if you want to pass me, that doesn’t bother me at all. I’m not going to get in your way to make some kind of statement. I’m perfectly fine with letting you pass, I’m perfectly fine with giving you room to pass, and I will do my best to be courteous to you and everybody else out there. By the same token, I have no issues with somebody ahead of me riding slower. But what I won’t do is get out of your way if it endangers my safety, or the safety of somebody else. If it’s necessary for me to be “in your way” for safety reasons, I’ll be in your way for as long as safety dictates, and then I’ll get out of your way. Ringing your bell isn’t going to change my mind about that, and pushing me out of your way is not going to get you better results.

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