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PBOT action leads to solution in Greeley Ave bike lane parking situation

Posted by on October 5th, 2011 at 9:53 am

Problem solved thanks to action by PBOT.
(Photo: Brett McLane)

Last week I shared the story of an armored truck that had repeatedly violated Oregon law by parking in the bike lane on the southbound (downhill) side of N Greeley Ave outside the Adidas USA headquarters. Upon receiving an official complaint from North Portland resident Brett McLane, the Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) took action. I’m happy to report that they’ve worked out a solution to the problem.

But before I get to the solution, I thought it would be helpful for the community to learn more about how PBOT interprets ORS 811.550 (the law that makes it illegal to park in a bike lane), the steps they took to address the complaint, and their stance on bike lane parking in general.

“We have emphasized our concern [to Oregon Armored] that this is a safety hazard, a citable violation that carries a fine of $80, and a potential liability. We have also clarified that stopping to load or unload is permitted for only 30 seconds, not longer.”
— Cheryl Kuck, PBOT media relations

Cheryl Kuck with PBOT media relations first took up the issue by forwarding the complaint to the bureau’s parking enforcement managers. After they reviewed McLane’s photos and his account of what happened, Kuck says the managers, “shared his concern that the Oregon Armored vehicle is completely blocking the bike lane, partially blocking the travel lane, and creating a traffic safety hazard for both cyclists and motorists.”

With that finding, they took several actions, which Kuck relayed to me via email last night.

First, they dispatched parking enforcement officers to the location to look for the vehicle in question and to issue citations if appropriate. Officers showed up around 7:30 am but did not see the vehicle parked in the bike lane.

“Because our officers do not know in advance when the vehicle is going to be parked at the location,” Kuck wrote, “we can only try our best with the information we have.”

After that, PBOT parking enforcement called Oregon Armored to inform them of McLane’s complaint and forwarded them photos of the truck in question.

“After repeated communications from Parking Enforcement to Oregon Armored about our concern… Oregon Armored informed us that they have worked out a solution with Adidas that allows them to park off-street.”

Along with the citizen report and photos, Kuck shared that, “We have emphasized our concern [to Oregon Armored] that this is a safety hazard, a citable violation that carries a fine of $80, and a potential liability. We have also clarified that stopping to load or unload is permitted for only 30 seconds, not longer.”

In addition, PBOT also called the police precinct to tell them about the situation and request additional enforcement of the area in the morning hours.

Kuck shared that in order for a citation to be issued, the officer must observe the violation in real time. “The challenge with many parking violations involving trucks that are loading or unloading,” she said, “is that they are parked for short periods of time and they are gone by the time the violation is reported to our hotline.”

Kuck highly recommends that parking violations are called into their Parking Enforcement Hotline (503-823-5195), not the more widely known 823-SAFE. The parking hotline is staffed during normal business hours seven days a week and the line accepts voicemails. If you see a parking violation that poses a safety hazard outside normal business hours, Kuck says to call the Police Bureau’s non-emergency line at (503) 823-3333.

In light of the public’s concerns that PBOT isn’t tough enough on bike lane parking violators, Kuck stood up for their track record (emphasis mine);

“Our parking enforcement managers assure the community that our officers on routine patrol always cite vehicles parked in bike lanes. If an officer on patrol in their beat sees a vehicle parked in a bike lane, the officer issues a bike lane violation citation that carries a fine of $80.00. Last fiscal year, we issued 395 bike lane citations.”

And now to the solution to the Greeley Ave situation…

Kuck informed me this morning that after several calls from PBOT Parking Enforcement to Oregon Armored, the company has told PBOT that, “they have worked out a solution with Adidas that allows them to park off-street.”

So, in this situation, the most effective solution was to work with the parties involved to find a better place for the truck to park. Unfortunately this option isn’t likely to be available in every situation; so keep those phone numbers handy (503-823-5195 for parking enforcement hotline and 503-823-3333 for after-hours) and snap a photo if you see something dangerous.

For more on this topic see the BikePortland story from February, Cars parking in bicycle travel lanes: What did we learn? and check out PBOT’s parking enforcement web page.

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Comments
  • Esther October 5, 2011 at 9:57 am

    Thanks for the detailed information, Jonathan. Glad the businesses were able to work it out in a way that allowed them to continue doing their business. :)

    Adding the parking enforcement # to my phone now. Sleep Country often has a truck parked blocking the bike lane on NE Couch.

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  • Allan October 5, 2011 at 10:09 am

    Does that mean its also illegal to pull over to take a phone call?

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    • Doug Smart October 5, 2011 at 10:26 am

      @Allan – A key point here (and in the article last February and last week’s article) is that the bicycle lane is a travel lane with just as much legitimacy as the one that cars use on the other side of the eight inch stripe. Would you simply stop in whatever travel lane you are using to answer your phone?

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      • El Biciclero October 5, 2011 at 4:39 pm

        “…the bicycle lane is a travel lane with just as much legitimacy as the one that cars use on the other side of the eight inch stripe.”

        Legally speaking, you are right, but in practical usage this is unfortunately far from true. Landscape and other maintenance/construction trucks, construction signage, construction materials, etc. are routinely parked/stored/set up in bike lanes with no warning or routing (via cones, e.g.) around the blockage.

        Drivers also do not consider bike lanes to be “official” lanes of travel, hence their ignorant reluctance to check them before careening across to make hurried turns, or using them as de facto right turning lanes, or just plain parking in them.

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        • buglas October 5, 2011 at 5:58 pm

          Ignorance can be treated with education. Tuition runs $80 per lesson.

          Recommended Thumb up 4

    • Paul Johnson October 5, 2011 at 10:42 am

      Yes, if there’s no shoulder. If the bicycle lane is the curb lane, it’s a no stopping zone.

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      • Boston October 6, 2011 at 1:41 am

        It may not be a no stopping zone, but is it a no standing zone?

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        • Paul Johnson October 6, 2011 at 6:06 am

          Depends, are you standing on a bicycle, or in a car? It’s a bike only lane, so that would mean bikes only.

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        • VS October 6, 2011 at 11:18 am

          You cannot stand in a no stopping zone. You can stop in a no standing zone while the driver is at the wheel to immediately drop off passengers or parcels.

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    • Jay October 5, 2011 at 11:19 am

      You “pull over” to take a phone call only if you don’t have a hands-free. Even if you must pull over, you pull over somewhere safe, aka, OFFSTREET; not in the middle of a bike lane. Pro tip– get a hands-free earpiece of use earphones.

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      • Jack October 5, 2011 at 12:02 pm

        Amateur tip: Don’t answer your phone, even if you have a hands free device. It’s been shown to be just as distracting and that call is not that important. In the unlikely event that is a super important call (i.e.: caller ID indicates it’s your daughter who was kidnapped last week), then you really need to pull over because it’s going to be all the more distracting.

        Just think of safe, considerate driving and using a wireless device as two mutually exclusive tasks.

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        • Chris I October 5, 2011 at 12:14 pm

          The effort should be to drive less, not to improve the level of multi-tasking while driving.

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        • Paul Johnson October 5, 2011 at 1:15 pm

          Google Voice works nicely having do-not-disturb to catch your calls before it reaches your phone when you’re busy.

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  • Spiffy October 5, 2011 at 10:16 am

    I guess it’s good to know that “momentarily” means 30 seconds, although I’m not sure where that’s defined in ORS…

    can anybody cite a reference? if not then it’s probably not enforceable…

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    • Randall S. October 5, 2011 at 11:17 am

      If it’s not clarified then it’s up to judicial interpretation, which is plenty enforceable.

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  • dan October 5, 2011 at 10:16 am

    And, the logical follow-up: is it illegal to pull over in the bike lane to take a phone call while riding a bike?

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    • Doug Smart October 5, 2011 at 10:32 am

      I’m guilty of that one. My thinking was that a bicycle doesn’t fully obstruct the travel lane and that I could move if I saw someone coming along. I’ll make a practice of pulling my bike onto the curb/sidewalk on future calls.

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    • Paul Johnson October 5, 2011 at 10:43 am

      I’d slide out onto the sidewalk or shoulder for that. Stopping in a traffic lane presents problems, even if it’s a bike lane.

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  • grimm October 5, 2011 at 10:17 am

    Allan,
    In the bike lane? Yes. It’s also rather uncourteous. How would auto drivers react if a cyclist stopped in an auto lane to just take a call? Sorry if it’s a pain to find a good place to stop, but you can always call them back.

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  • chad October 5, 2011 at 10:28 am

    Is there an email address we can send complaints instead of the phone number? It takes at least 4 minutes to navigate the phone menu system when you call that complaint number which deters me (and I’m sure others) from calling.

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    • Alex Reed October 5, 2011 at 10:31 am

      Also, the fact that it’s only open normal business hours is not the best. I see widespread parking violations on nights and weekends (e.g. parking with half your car on the sidewalk) but I know of no way to report them.

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    • Josh Berezin October 5, 2011 at 10:47 am

      I’ve always used (503) 823-5644 to report parking violations, which drops you directly into the voice-mail-based enforcement request. It does take a few minutes, but it might be a bit quicker.

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  • Paul Johnson October 5, 2011 at 10:40 am

    Don’t forget to post violators to MyBikeLane as well; that tool could be a boon to finding and reporting repeat offenders.

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  • are October 5, 2011 at 10:59 am

    on busier streets or where there is a reasonably available alternative, i can see a thirty-second rule, but there are many instances in which i cannot imagine PBoT or anyone intending to enforce such a stringent rule.

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  • q`Tzal October 5, 2011 at 11:07 am

    Zuck
    “The challenge with many parking violations involving trucks that are loading or unloading,” she said, “is that they are parked for short periods of time and they are gone by the time the violation is reported to our hotline.”

    What I want is a streaming video codec that includes the live GPS data from the device such as a smartphone. The GPS data stream will not only include location but accurate time.
    Perhaps this will allow enforcement authorities to exercise their authority remotely. With secure video data an officer can put their eyes on the scene closing the loop of law evasion. Maybe the citizen providing the streaming video could be legally considered to have agreed to be a witness should the need arise.

    Imagine a situation where police are not afraid of private citizens with cameras but rely on them to prevent crime and to protect the police in cases where force was needed.

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    • Paul Johnson October 5, 2011 at 12:10 pm

      I’m not sure that can be done in-codec per say, but some OpenStreetMap volunteers have been toying with the idea of video mapping, which might be of interest, since the idea is essentially the same.

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      • q`Tzal October 5, 2011 at 3:35 pm

        It would require a new codec in the same manner that the Exif standard allows the inclusion of relevant data with the video. Unfortunately Exif standard has no provision for video files (so says wikipedia and crosschecked on exif.org).
        Yet.

        As far as feasibility, it is quite so. The extra data added to the overall bandwidth of the video stream would be so small as to be unnoticeable. Currently the smallest video encoding profile on YouTube is Sorenson H.263 at 240p; its Bitrate is listed as averaging at 0.25 Mbit/s or 250Kbit/s.
        Currently Exif metadata is restricted in size to 64 kB in JPEG images. Initial Exif “scene setting” data for a video stream might even initially be larger however there would not be a need for the data to be continuously sent but only updated when changed. Location, lighting, speed, orientation with accelerometer inputs common in many smartphones are numerical data that consume few bandwidth resources.

        Is it implemented now, no.
        Will it be implemented, yes and probably soon.

        Imagine a Google Street View type image database where the 3D data structure is not reliant upon an organization sending out cars rigged with expensive cameras but upon users willing submitting images or videos; tagged with location, time and direction the camera was pointed; that can then be correlated against each other to derive not just a “street view” but a full walk through model of every place everyone has taken a picture.

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        • Paul Johnson October 5, 2011 at 5:44 pm

          They’re already doing that with geotagged photos publicly shared on G+ or Picasa. Try doing street view along I 8 where it comes closest to the border fence near Mexicali.

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  • Megan October 5, 2011 at 11:25 am

    A better place to park? The driver of the armored vehicle obviously didn’t get the memo.

    Just this morning just after 7:30, one of their armored trucks was parked in the bike lane on Greeley in front of Adidas. The driver pulled over into the bike lane just in front of me.

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    • Bob_M October 5, 2011 at 11:39 am

      Typical – Offenders extend some feel good memos to the press then continue with business as usual

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  • Schrauf October 5, 2011 at 11:48 am

    Thank you Brett McLane and PBOT!

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  • BURR October 5, 2011 at 12:37 pm

    It’s only and $80 fine to block the bike lane?

    I’d feel much better about that if it was only an $80 fine for cyclists who don’t come to a full stop at stop signs.

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    • Paul Johnson October 5, 2011 at 1:28 pm

      Stopping in an unusual location is generally safer than not stopping when you’re expected to do so, hence the difference in penalty.

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  • Paul Johnson October 5, 2011 at 12:40 pm

    Having delivered to Adidas before when I was in business for myself, I know they have a loading zone in their driveway.

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  • Joseph E October 5, 2011 at 1:11 pm

    “Last fiscal year, we issued 395 bike lane citations”.

    This isn’t impressive, that’s just over 1 per day, and Portland has 1000 full-time police officers. There are 200 police officers on duty at any given hour, more during the day. The average cop is giving out less than one bike lane citation per year. Are there really so few violations? I think they could write a dozen $80 tickets in an hour on southwest broadway, at the right time of day.

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    • Paul Johnson October 5, 2011 at 1:18 pm

      Heck, in front of just one of the hotels, even!

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    • Peter Michaelson October 6, 2011 at 8:13 am

      Seems to me there is a great oppotunity to raise revenue at the same time as making the city a safer, more orderly and more mututally respectful and law-abiding place. With all the various violations of various types that I see daily, I bet over $1 million per day could be raised while simultaneously improving our city.

      We’ve gotten to the point where enforcement is so lax that people don’t even realize they are violating the law. How many tmies per day is the sidewalk blocked by parked cars or cars parked in the wrong direction and on and on and on.

      I’m saying that enforcement could be a net revenue generator and must be in order to be sustainable. If fines must rise, so be it.

      Rather than asking the police to serve this function, perhaps a new lower cost enforcement department should be formed, or perhaps parking enforcement be expanded in manpower and mandate.

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  • JRB October 5, 2011 at 2:50 pm

    The armored car company is apparently a recalcitrant scofflaw and should be prosecuted, repeatedly if necessary. I wouldn’t be so quick, however, to hand out a ticket to everyone who stops in the bike lane for 45 seconds or a minute to quickly unload someone or something. Being originally from back east, double parking is a necessity and is pretty much universally accepted. Sometimes you just don’t have much of a choice but to stop in a traffic lane, including a bike lane. If somebody does have to stop, I would rather they do so all the way to the right or left rather than in the MV lane next to a bike lane. Less likely that a cyclist would get doored by somebody trying to exit a vehicle quickly to minimize the amount of time the lane is blocked.

    I don’t see talking on a cell as a necessity so if you insist on taking or making a call, get off the road first (but I do appreciate your not continuing to ride while talking on your cell).

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    • Greg October 5, 2011 at 7:19 pm

      What is universally accepted elsewhere doesn’t always fly here, as in “get out of my travel lane”.

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      • JRB October 6, 2011 at 8:26 am

        Forgive me, the 10 seconds it costs you to go around a stopped vehicle is obviously vastly more important than anything anybody else could be doing.

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        • Jack October 6, 2011 at 8:34 am

          Transportation is not only about getting everyone and everything to their destination as quickly as possible.

          Roads are a shared (public) resource. Disregard for the law and an assumption that one’s needs are greater than those of everyone else should not be tolerated.

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          • Paul Johnson October 6, 2011 at 9:10 am

            Exactly, THIS ^^^^^^

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        • Joe Rowe October 6, 2011 at 12:26 pm

          I think this JRB is one of those people who drive a steel plated vehicle and claim cyclists have our shorts in a bunch. They feel we should just use 10 seconds to go around and get a life.

          That’s the dual problem in America
          a) my needs trump yours
          b) I can’t see your perspective, so I distort/frame it my way.

          We should all thank narrow people like JRB for posting here. It shows us how much we need to focus on the narrow cultural views by most car drivers in America. We have to win their hearts and minds. How I don’t know. But we should know the battles we face.

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          • JRB October 6, 2011 at 5:12 pm

            Wow, you really summed me up based on a 10 line post. You forgot to call me a child molester, you have equal basis for doing so.

            The one thing you sort of get right is that I do think that a lot of people feel that shouldn’t have to deal with the slightest inconvenience in order to accommodate the needs of others. You see that every day with people in cars who get outraged because somebody on a bike has to take the lane to avoid a hazard. You see it when somebody starts becoming visibly agitated in the supermarket check out line because they have to wait while an elderly person is fumbling for the correct change to pay for their groceries. And yes you see it in every other aspect of life, including among cyclists. All I am asking for is that we cut each other a little slack. We’re all trying to get by as best we can in an imperfect world.

            As I mentioned above, the armored car was a chronic abuser who had an alternate place to park and should be prosecuted. For me, however, life is too short to get in a twist because someone may have pulled over and blocked the bike lane and I had to look over my shoulder and then take the lane to pass. Is the minor inconvenience to me more important than someone who would otherwise have to haul some heavy stuff three blocks from a legal parking spot? I guess I’d rather expend my outrage on something other than the grave injustice done to me by somebody who blocked the bike lane in front of me one time.

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  • brian mack October 5, 2011 at 3:25 pm

    Is Oregon Armored the only armored truck vendor that provides services to Adidas? I could swear I’ve seen a Brinks truck “unload” in the bike lane too.

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  • Ted Buehler October 5, 2011 at 3:29 pm

    Nice work, PBOT and Brett.

    Thanks for the additional phone #s, it’s always a bit challenging wandering through the options at 823-SAFE.

    Ted Buehler

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  • Adam October 5, 2011 at 6:39 pm

    I call the Parking Enforcement Hotline about four times a week. I walk often in the Alphabet District of NW Portland, where a lot of car owners like to park their cars ENTIRELY across the sidewalk in front of their driveways, blocking the entire sidewalk for pedestrians.

    Parking enforcement’s response during business hours is pretty phenomenal. Sometimes I will be strolling to Trader Joes, call in a complaint, and by the time I am out of the store and on my way home again, the car has been ticketed!

    If you don’t have the number in your phone, put in in now.

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  • Kevin Wagoner October 5, 2011 at 7:09 pm

    This seems like a great story on how things should work. I’ll be cycling with my camera over the next few weeks and attempting to report some re-occurring issues I see on SW 1st between SW Market and SW Meade that I experience weekly (not daily). This story gives me some renewed confidence in PBOT. Thanks!

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    • OnTheRoad October 6, 2011 at 9:02 am

      What issues are you seeing on SW 1st? I ride that SB every morning.

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  • jim October 5, 2011 at 8:15 pm

    “Share the lane” unless its a bike lane of course

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  • Joe Rowe October 6, 2011 at 12:20 pm

    Hey Kevin, Megan, everyone. The solution will take a few weeks.

    Adidas has been awesome calling me back, their chief of security now has Jonathan’s phone number. Adidas has to wait for the protocol of the armored car company to scope the new location. Adidas will notifity Jonathan when this is truly solved.

    We should move our energy to other hot spots.

    hot spot #1) I really need volunteer help to put on a public debate. Rex Burkholder and the CRC v the Common Sense Alternative.

    hot spot #2) Lovejoy downhill at Broadway.
    http://portland.mybikelane.com/map/tag/lovejoy

    snap photos, add the tag “lovejoy”
    then call 823-SAFE
    send them the URL to show the problem is a hot spot that needs short and long term fixes.

    short term fix:
    http://www.treehugger.com/files/2009/07/zebra-bicycle-path-devider.php

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    • are October 6, 2011 at 2:33 pm

      the problem with a fixed divider such as you show here is that i would no longer have a practical choice to move out of or into the bike lane. on lovejoy downhill from the broadway bridge, the choice would be easy, i guess, in that i never take the bike lane there. but there are many scenarios in which the bike lane, while poorly designed, does at least offer a refuge in an emergency. but the barrier would preclude that option.

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  • Joe Rowe October 6, 2011 at 12:32 pm

    Greely St and Lovejoy need bike lane dividers like these in San Francisco.

    http://www.sfbike.org/email_templates/Market_Green_separated_website.jpg

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  • francis October 10, 2011 at 11:14 am

    what’s really needed is 2 bike lanes in each direction. That way, if someone unloading is blocking the outer lane, you can still get by using the passing lane!

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