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Beyond Beaverton by bike

Posted by Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) on February 23rd, 2011 at 8:49 am

Beaverton to Tualatin ride-1
Join us for a ride beyond Beaverton.
(Photos © J. Maus)

Last week I met up with Jim Parsons for a ride on the West Side. We wove our way through the bowels of Beaverton, (confronting mega-arterials at every turn) and eventually made our way into beautiful unincorporated Washington County. I always learn a lot when I let Jim lead me on a ride, and this time was no different. Check out the photos and notes below to see what I mean...

One of the best parts of riding in Beaverton are the hidden routes that weave between housing developments. I have no idea how novice riders would know where these bikeways are; but if you can find them, you can find sweet little spots like this bridge and pond...

This is an all too common site in Beaverton: Big and wide roads with lots of cars and little to no room for anything else... (It's a nice bike lane if you can get to it!)

The look on Jim's face below really says it all about riding out there. We had just spent some time on Tualatin Valley Highway where a man had been hit and killed and we were trying to crossing SW Farmington Road just a block away. Jim's a very experienced rider, yet look at the caution in his face... It's no wonder most people would never consider biking in these areas!

But then, a bit further west on Farmington, I saw something amazing... A bi-directional bikeway physically separated from motor vehicle traffic via a curb. It wasn't perfect by any stretch (you've got to be very vigilant at driveways and intersections), but it was a welcome bit of bikeway infrastructure. Jim and I could chat and ride with comfort side-by-side on the shoulder while cars came right at us in the opposite direction...

Beaverton to Tualatin ride-6
It's just a basic curb. It seems to provide road users a sense of safety and comfort at very low cost.

And then, slowly but surely, we left the big box stores and their vast parking lots behind and the land turned rural. With a left turn on SW Clark Hill Road we hit the jackpot...

Beaverton to Tualatin ride-10
Beaverton to Tualatin ride-11

From Clark Hill we took Scholls Ferry to Roy Rogers Road into Sherwood. Even though we were riding on very high-speed road with significant traffic, there was no denying the beauty of the surroundings. Birds, wetlands, and gorgeous open space...

Back in Tualatin, we hopped on TriMet's WES commuter rail and took it back into Beaverton where Jim and I parted ways and I took the MAX back into downtown Portland. It was my first trip on WES and I was impressed. The car was full of nice people, the service was speedy, and there was plenty of room for our bikes...

I'd like to spend a lot more time on the West Side. There's a lot of work to do to make it a nicer place to ride... and there are a lot of nice places to ride.

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  • K'Tesh February 23, 2011 at 9:02 am

    My photos of the trip can be seen at:
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/ufobike/sets/72157625953525465/

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  • K'Tesh February 23, 2011 at 9:08 am

    Jonathan mentioned the birds... but he didn't mention that one of them was an Eagle:

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/ufobike/5455550502/in/set-72157625953525465/

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  • ed jahn February 23, 2011 at 9:42 am

    This is why I love this blog. Solid journalism and a good mix of "let's get out there and show ya'. I've been trying to map out some west side rides myself. Thanks Jonathan for the quick tour.

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  • Kt February 23, 2011 at 10:23 am

    Roy Rogers is indeed a high-speed road, however, it has an extremely wide shoulder to ride on. It's usually pretty nice to ride out there, even in the pouring rain. One should be cautious, however, around the intersection of Bull Mtn Rd, Beef Bend Rd, where the large nursery is and the intersection of Scholls-Sherwood Rd aka Lebeau Rd.

    On clear days, you can see Mt Hood from Roy Rogers Rd, between Lebeau Rd and the Nursery.

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    • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) February 23, 2011 at 10:28 am

      I hear you Kt. There's plenty of room and it strikes me as a perfect place to create a better bikeway that could be promoted as a scenic/rural route. All it would take is some signage, cleaning of the shoulder, some basic infrastructure upgrades, and so on. So much potential out there!

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  • Andy February 23, 2011 at 10:36 am

    Nice report. It gives some hint as to why I think Washington County is an even better place to be a bike lover than Portland.

    That said, the problem I have with "sweet little spots" like that bridge and pond is that once it's wet that bridge may as well be made of solid ice. The THPRD plan to connect the many off-road paths in Washington County is a wonderful sign of hope, but every time the path includes a wood bridge, there's a gaping hole in the plan. My daughter could bike the six miles from our house to her middle school almost entirely on bike paths, but she'd have to cross at least three wood bridges (and TV Highway).

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  • Peter O. February 23, 2011 at 10:53 am

    The only time that I have ever been hit by a car is out there on that stretch of Farmington. Left hooked at that. My friends and I still ride out that way though. Very scenic and relaxing.

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  • Wayne February 23, 2011 at 10:53 am

    Great to see you highlight Washington County. There's lots of beautiful riding out here, it's just sometimes hard to get to, but once you do it's great.
    We need more safe connections to the back roads. It would be nice of someday Beef Bend Road had bike lanes added.

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  • wsbob February 23, 2011 at 11:18 am

    Pay attention to the reality that all that wonderful close in countryside you guys were riding through is what certain people have little qualms about destroying with every wider roads thrust through it, pushing back of the UGB for more suburbs and so on.

    Roy Rodgers Road is a prime example of that process taking place over a period of 10-15 years. Roy Rodgers used to be a fairly quiet, pastoral connecting route from Scholls Ferry Rd to Sherwood, until the numbers of motor vehicle traffic using the road quadrupled (don't know what the figures say, but it at least seems so.) with 'improvements' made to the road.

    Notice on bikeportland's twitter notices, in a different area of Washington County closer to the Tualitan Mtns ( the big ridge Skyline Blvd runs along.):

    "RT @oregonian: Wash. Co. commissioners disappoint standing-room-only crowd, approve modified widening of Bethany Blvd http://bit.ly/i8Scfi "

    Bethany Blvd has always been a fast, relatively high volume road, but with more main travel lanes, it becomes closer to what TV Hwy is like...a kind of reduced speed freeway.

    Beaverton, Aloha, Hillsboro...all those communities do though, have excellent riding opportunities off the big thoroughfares.

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    • ET March 1, 2011 at 2:59 pm

      It's my understanding that the enlarging of Roy Rodgers and the intersection at Scholls Ferry was a result of the increased traffic due to the massive home developments that went up in Sherwood, especially the "country club" on the north end of town. It was quiet and pastoral when Sherwood was quiet and pastoral, and seems to be more of a symptom than a cause.

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      • wsbob March 1, 2011 at 3:39 pm

        "...It was quiet and pastoral when Sherwood was quiet and pastoral, and seems to be more of a symptom than a cause. ..." ET

        Roy Rodgers increased traffic use, speed and volume might well, as you say, have been due to development away from that road's intersection with Scholl's Ferry road, rather than expansion of the road itself.

        But what if the people of Washington County would have said 'No', to expansion (adding lanes and so forth.) of the road? Or if they had approved the expansion on condition that speeds not exceed 25mph? If the volume of motor vehicles using the road didn't go down with such conditions, at least the speed of traffic would have been more compatible with the setting and with road users other than motor vehicle operators.

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  • Steve February 23, 2011 at 11:23 am

    I live in Beaverton and ride into Portland most days, and am always amazed at how a 10 or 15 ride in the other direction will take you onto beautiful rural roads. Also I've had more incidents with rude or dangerous motorists in Portland than ever in Beaverton- but that said there are many roads that are worrisome during the day and absolutely risky after dark, includingTV Highway, inner Farmington Rd, and Cedar Hills Blvd. Four lane roads on the Westside are all used by Nascar wannabes.

    The bike lane with a curb on Farmington is an interesting bit of Oregon bike history- it dates from the 1970's when Washington County, (yes Washington County) was a national leader in experimenting with bike lanes. Unfortunate lesson from this for Portland though- a curb separated bike lane that is not maintained rapidly becomes unrideable. A few broken bottles, road debris or a resident's trash can on the lane, and the only option is to stop and jump over the curb.

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    • Brian February 24, 2011 at 3:23 pm

      My cycling experience with curb-separated bike lanes is they are horrid. People are riding, walking, and jogging both ways and you have no way to easily avoid them. Give me a 3' wide road shoulder with a fog line any day.

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  • NW Biker February 23, 2011 at 11:38 am

    There's also great riding west from Hillsboro out to and around Forest Grove. Friends and I ride there a lot, and except for the occasional yahoo who feels the need to lay on his horn as he flies by six inches from our left side, it's really good to get out away from town traffic.

    I wouldn't ride in Beaverton on a bet, especially Cedar Hills Blvd. That thing is a two-lane demolition derby. And I'd never ride on Bethany, where it's two lanes down to 26. There's no shoulder at all and the road is seriously over capacity. I recently saw a cyclist on Bethany, hauling ass like you've never seen, closely followed by a semi-truck with the driver talking on his (hand held) phone. Nope, no riding there for me!

    But rural Washington County is great for riding!

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  • Jpdx February 23, 2011 at 11:55 am

    Riding on the west side is great if you like to listen to SPMs and SPTs zooming by you constantly. In case you don't know what this means, they are cars and trucks with oversized and loud mufflers to compensate for small anatomy of the driver!!

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  • Lynne February 23, 2011 at 12:07 pm

    There's Portland Velo rides every Saturday out of Longbottom's in Hillsboro which will take you every which where (including the occasional tasty coffee shop). I like north and west - Hillsboro, Roy, North Plains, Mountaindale, Forest Grove, Gales Creek, Banks. Slightly south is Gaston. Lots of good riding out here.

    The Oregon Randonneurs Birkie 200km brevet is coming up on March 12

    Beaverton BAC has a cycling map coming out "soon".

    Learning about the cut-throughs - "folklore". Someone takes you :-)

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    • NW Biker February 23, 2011 at 1:43 pm

      The ride out to Roy is one of my favorite, and from there toward Forest Grove is great. I'll have to check out the Saturday ride! Thanks!

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  • matt picio February 23, 2011 at 2:59 pm

    "I have no idea how novice riders would know where these bikeways are"

    Maps. With the right maps, you can find almost anything.

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  • Kevin February 23, 2011 at 4:49 pm

    I really enjoy riding in Washington County. My bike commute takes me on Roy Rodgers, Scholls Ferry, and Murray Blvd. They are fast roads, but they have wide clean bike lanes (except for Schools Ferry going over the hill between rural and suburban Wa. County it gets a little sketchy there). Jonathan, next time you want to ride out near Sherwood, try Kruger Rd (by the YMCA in Sherwood). Beautiful road to ride on.

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  • Jerry_W February 23, 2011 at 5:18 pm

    I learned about riding in this wonderful area by riding the Harvest Century, I love it. Every time I read about the Springwater trail, I shake my head and think of the great rides out of Beaverton and beyond. Jonathan, next you need to take the Canby Ferry and go south toward Molalla.

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  • Paul Johnson February 23, 2011 at 6:51 pm

    Many, possibly most, of the cycleways between developments are on OpenCycleMap. Also, the cycletrack on Farmington just plain sucks. Given the number of accidents on that stretch of OR 10, the lack of signage facing westbound cyclists and the constant stream of stop signs at otherwise free-flowing intersections along that cycleway is easily the worst Oregon has to offer. Bonus points: Travelling westbound puts you at conflict with oncoming traffic in the eastbound general traffic lane to your right and the eastbound bicycle lane to the left: You're just left to swim upstream.

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  • Brad February 23, 2011 at 7:07 pm

    Jim wouldn't have to look so concerned had he used the signal/crosswalk at SW Hocken just a half block east of where the photo was taken.

    C'mon guys. Set a good example for your fellow cyclists by taking the safest course and not the "shortcut" that creates potential conflict with cars. Utilizing SW Hocken and the sidewalk on the south side of 10 is the safer route to join the bike path.

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    • K'Tesh February 23, 2011 at 9:51 pm

      Brad
      Jim wouldn't have to look so concerned had he used the signal/crosswalk at SW Hocken just a half block east of where the photo was taken.
      C'mon guys. Set a good example for your fellow cyclists by taking the safest course and not the "shortcut" that creates potential conflict with cars. Utilizing SW Hocken and the sidewalk on the south side of 10 is the safer route to join the bike path.

      A bicycle is a vehicle, and we were at a driveway. We were not trying to jump out into traffic just willy-nilly.

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    • Paul Johnson February 23, 2011 at 11:36 pm

      Never mind that a bicycle is a vehicle, and driving on the sidewalk is a crime.

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  • Joe February 23, 2011 at 7:30 pm

    Jpdx
    Riding on the west side is great if you like to listen to SPMs and SPTs zooming by you constantly. In case you don't know what this means, they are cars and trucks with oversized and loud mufflers to compensate for small anatomy of the driver!!

    hahaha love it.. funny

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  • Joe February 23, 2011 at 7:32 pm

    I take WES daily. * it works *

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  • Seth Alford February 23, 2011 at 11:18 pm

    I agree with Jonathan when he says, "you've got to be very vigilant at driveways and intersections." And I agree more with Paul Johnson, above, when he calls the sidepath on the south side of Farmington "easily the worst Oregon has to offer."

    Here's what I wrote about Farmington back on 1/5/11, under http://bikeportland.org/2011/01/05/a-trip-to-the-library-and-into-portlands-bike-history-45417:

    "... my usual objection to grade separated bike paths.

    There's a somewhat similar bike path treatment on SW Farmington Road west of Kinnaman. There are no parked cars on SW Farmington, but there is a curb.

    The problem with these type of facilities is that they look nice but don't actually function very well. They look nice because the bikes have their space. The cars have their space. The cars are kept out of the bike space by the curb. The bicycles are safe. Or at least, it looks that way.

    These don't actually function well, because people in cars or on bicycles don't always go in straight lines. Instead, they turn right and left. They go into and come out of driveways and sidestreets. So the curb has to be discontinuous. And, in my opinion because of the separation, the car drivers are even less likely to look bikes in the bike path when they cross it. Bikes have to leave the bike path to make vehicular left turns. And the path becomes a place for glass, leaves, and other debris to collect. And the street sweeper can't get there because the curb is in the way.

    East of Kinnaman, Farmington has on-street painted bike lanes. As I recall, before they rebuilt Farmington a few years ago, it had similar curb separated bike paths. I think Farmington works better east of Kinnaman than west.

    An even worse example of this type of facility is the bike path along SW Garden Home Road. That has a stop or yield for every cross street.

    I'm going to have to get out to those locations sometime and shoot some video, so I can show you what I'm talking about."

    I got the videos. Here's the Garden Home Road facility:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fLuhpDlWs_s

    And here's the Farmington facility from 185th to Murray. The bike facility transitions standard bike lane at Kinnaman:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9FpVaRDOGys

    And, to continue to quote myself, take a look at the mangled fence along Barbur in this picture: http://www.flickr.com/photos/49622638@N00/5279198763/ It's since been repaired. I suspect that motor vehicle speeds on Barbur and Farmington are similar. If a motor vehicle going however fast on Barbur can jump the curb and cause that kind of damage, then the curb isn't providing that much protection and isn't worth the extra cost and inconvenience it creates for the bicyclist.

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    • Paul Johnson February 23, 2011 at 11:41 pm

      My objection isn't with the separation. That's good, and it keeps people who are Driving While Californian from using the bike lanes as a turn lane. The problem is the contraflow arrangement of the westbound bicycle lane, and the fact that nobody, other cyclists included, expect vehicles coming from the right on the near side of the highway.

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  • Ellen February 24, 2011 at 10:22 am

    WESTSIDE!! WOO! Jim planned out a really nice ride! I met him at the memorial on TV Highway last week. Nice guy. Way to represent the westside suburbs! I always use Fanno Creek Trail as a peaceful way to nagivate north-south to Beaverton-Tigard.

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  • bikesalot February 24, 2011 at 12:35 pm

    I decidedly agree with Seth Alford and Paul, above. The last time I paralleled the Farmington path (I won't use it for those many reasons) I got yelled at for not being on the path. This situation does not improve relations between vehicle modes. I do not use the Garden Home path for the same reasons. I avoid that street except before 6 am when the traffic is much lower, and limit that to a few blocks of travel on the west end. That route is off limits in the afternoon until they (eventually) get the sewer project done and the trail restored.

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  • Dave Thomson February 25, 2011 at 12:00 am

    I ride everywhere on the west side but there are a couple of places I try and avoid including Farmington eastbound because of that stupid contra-flow MUP. For years I consoled myself with the thought that we would never build something that bad again, and a few parts of Farmington were rebuilt with useful bike lanes. Then those who want to be physically separated from traffic at any cost in conjunction with this blog start asking for more of these dysfunctional facilities. At this point I think I have more to fear from the separate is better crowd than I do the DOTs.

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