Advertise on BikePortland

The good and bad about biking in Portland — in PBOT’s own words

Posted by on April 16th, 2013 at 2:15 pm

“While business and political support is strong it could be stronger, especially in key constituent groups.”
— Roger Geller, PBOT Bicycle Coordinator in a League of American Bicyclists Bicycle Friendly Community award application

Back in 2008 Portland became the first major U.S. city to be given a “Platinum” level Bicycle Friendly Community award by the League of American Bicyclists. Now, as per League policy, the Portland Bureau of Transportation must re-apply every 2-3 years in order keep its Platinum designation. (If you’re wondering, the League says the Diamond-level designation isn’t available yet.)

I recently got a glimpse of the current application and two questions stood out: “What are the three primary reasons your community deserves to be designated a Bicycle Friendly Community?” and “What are the three aspects of your community most in need of improvement in order to accommodate bicyclists?”

The application was filled out by PBOT Bicycle Coordinator Roger Geller. In the interest of understanding how PBOT sees its strengths and its weaknesses, I figured it would be interesting to share Geller’s answers. I’ve pasted them below (emphases mine):

What are the three primary reasons your community deserves to be designated a Bicycle Friendly Community?
Reason One
Bicycle Use. Portland’s bicycle use is high and continues to grow. The US Census reports a city-wide 6.3% bicycle commute mode split in 2011 (6.8%, not including worked at home). Data from the 5-year average ACS (2007-2011) indicates that for that 5-year period approximately half of Portland’s commuters (46%) lived in areas where the average bicycle commute mode split was 10%. About a quarter of Portland’s commuters (24%) lived in areas where the average bicycle commute mode split was 13%. These areas represent sizable proportions of inner Portland, extending beyond a 4-miles radius from the city center. 2011 personal transportation survey data (from the Oregon Household Activity Survey, or OHAS)–recently released by our regional government–shows that bicycling now represents between 5.5% and 6% of all (not just commute) trips in the city. In the part of the city with the greatest population bicycle use rose from 2% of all trips in 1994 to more than 8% in 2011. Bicycle use is growing not just in inner Portland but in all parts of the city. Neighborhoods the furthest from Portland’s central city–and traditionally underserved by transportation infrastructure–saw an annual growth in bicycle use of 11% compared to 2011. This reflects an investment by the city in bringing to outer neighborhoods the same quality of bikeways and programming as enjoyed by those in the inner city.

Reason Two
Commitment to design, encouragement and education. Portland’s commitment to doing whatever it takes remains strong. Portland has made use of every design treatment in the NACTO Design Guide. We have 16 intersections with bicycle signals (and another 2 funded); we have green wave bicycle progressions on a number of corridors; we have 26 bicycle boxes at 19 intersections (with 3 more funded at 2 intersections). Portland has several different types of “green lanes,” including buffered bike lanes and physically-protected cycle tracks, including elevated two-way, elevated one-way, barrier-protected and parking-protected. We have more under design and funded and are looking for dramatic expansion in that network in coming years. In recent years we have focused our efforts on developing bicycle boulevards and have a solid network of 70 miles, with another 24 miles funded. Portlanders can ride on a traffic-calmed, volume-reduced 20 mph boulevard continuously from one end of Portland to another. We are similarly committed to providing opportunities for Portlanders to discovery the joy and practicality of bicycling. In addition to numerous other activities, the high water mark of Portland’s encouragement efforts are our five Sunday Parkway events held May through September. These events annually attract 100,000 people, many of whom are new riders. Our educational efforts are similarly robust, with Safe Routes 2 School programs in 80 schools. We are working to train and encourage the next generation of Portland cyclists.

Reason Three
Policy, political and public support. Council-approved documents in Portland call for a 70% non-automotive mode split, with bicycles expected to carry about 25% of either commute or all trips–depending on the document. Portland is in the process of updating its comprehensive plan; the public working draft is calling for a green transportation hierarchy in policy that codifies walking first, then bicycling, then transit and so on. Business owners have led the charge in demanding on-street bicycle corrals as well as with the recent five-lane to three-lane road diet to create protected bicycle lanes on one of our central city’s main streets. Portland now has 97 bicycle corrals in business districts across town. While the city pays for them, they have all come at the request of immediately adjacent business owners and/or business districts. Portland politicians seem universally supportive of increasing bicycle transportation. Our most recent mayoral election–with primaries in May, 2012 and the general election in November–included three main candidates who all expressed strong support for bicycling. Portland citizens are ever more frequently “voting with their pedals.” Every indication we have–from user surveys, use itself, and voting habits indicates that Portlanders strongly support Portland as a strong and strengthening bicycle city.

What are the three aspects of your community most in need of improvement in order to accommodate bicyclists?
Aspect One
Stronger support. While business and political support is strong it could be stronger, especially in key constituent groups. Portland’s paper of record has fomented an unfortunate “bikes vs. potholes” dialogue that blames declining street maintenance on the striping of bicycle lanes. This theme does not benefit reasoned public discourse about the future of bicycle transportation in the city. Implementing world-class bikeways in Portland requires continuing change in our thinking about transportation priorities and that will require increasing support for bicycling near the top of the transportation hierarchy.

Aspect Two
Better designs. While Portlanders can ride almost everywhere in the city on a connected network of bikeways, the preponderance of them are AASHTO-style five-foot wide bicycle lanes. We need better if we’re to fully attract the “interested but concerned.”

Aspect Three
More extensive education. We need to better educate Portlanders about how bicycle transportation benefits them as individuals and the city as a whole. We need to better educate people who bicycle about how to operate their vehicles and how to behave better in the presence of others (pedestrians, motorists and cyclists, alike). Motorists need more and similar educational opportunities. Finally, we need more extensive educational efforts in all our schools, not just the 80 that currently have Safe Routes to School programming. We need more of the next generation of cyclists to be ready to ride.

This is some revealing and important straight dope directly from the horse’s mouth. Even if I don’t agree with everything Geller says, I appreciate knowing where PBOT stands. What are your thoughts?

NOTE: We love your comments and work hard to ensure they are productive, considerate, and welcoming of all perspectives. Disagreements are encouraged, but only if done with tact and respect. If you see a mean or inappropriate comment, please contact us and we'll take a look at it right away. Thank you — Jonathan

  • Andrew K April 16, 2013 at 2:20 pm

    Very informative.

    I do take comfort in the fact that I actually agree with PBOT for the most part on what needs to be improved, particularly “Aspect Two”.

    Recommended Thumb up 7

  • peejay April 16, 2013 at 2:30 pm

    “Paper of record”!! The Oregonian does not represent the views of the city of Portland, but the views of its reactionary right-wing publisher. This control of the media by interests not in alignment with our local political views is only going to get worse when the company that owns KATU is purchased by the Sinclair group––yes, the same people who pushed that fake Swift-boat documentary on the air to about 60 TV stations during the ’04 election.

    Anyway, thanks Roger, for calling a spade a spade.

    Recommended Thumb up 37

    • longgone April 17, 2013 at 10:53 am

      Not an issue exclusive to Portland….
      ” This could be anywhere. This could be EVERYWHERE !”
      Dead Kennedy’s
      …you didn’t realize this?

      Recommended Thumb up 1

  • Andrew Seger April 16, 2013 at 2:48 pm

    Agreed. Maybe as a 3a I’d say Portland needs to keep tinkering with its intersection design. Especially since we have so many downtown. The 90’s idea of just extending the bike lane all the way to the edge of the intersection clearly leaves a lot to be desired.

    Where appropriate the green bike boxes seem like a useful tool-obviously downhill areas like where kathryn Rickson was killed could use a fully signalized seperations of modes. The newfangled light at Couch & Grand and the phase separation at Broadway and Williams are also interesting approaches-I’m not sure how well they work.

    I’m curious if the NYC style mixing zones along Multnomah are the new standard for what we can do with just paint?

    Recommended Thumb up 2

  • Anne Hawley April 16, 2013 at 3:11 pm

    This. This is what I come here for, Jonathan. Thank you for acquiring and publishing this document. Roger’s assessment seems balanced (while of course reaching for that Platinum renewal). His comment about the Oregonian and the zero-sum tone of the manufactured “conflict” needs to be said.

    Recommended Thumb up 18

  • Craig Harlow April 16, 2013 at 3:13 pm

    Does anybody know where these green waves are established? I would like to try one.

    Recommended Thumb up 1

    • Craig Harlow April 16, 2013 at 3:14 pm

      Oops–meant to blockquote:

      …we have green wave bicycle progressions on a number of corridors…

      Recommended Thumb up 0

    • Roger Geller April 16, 2013 at 3:19 pm

      Peter Koonce is perhaps the best to respond, but we have progressed both Vancouver and Williams during their peak travel times based on speed of people bicycling (determined from many volunteers who wore gps units). We’ve also introduced short progressions so bicycle delay is reduced/eliminated as along SE 6th northbound between Burnside and Couch and on NE Broadway between Victoria and Williams. We’ve also adjusted the signal timing on SE Hawthorne so that people bicycling can generally make the greens from Grand to 12th without having to go super fast.

      Recommended Thumb up 12

      • Craig Harlow April 16, 2013 at 3:40 pm

        That’s great news, Roger–thanks for responding. Keep those green waves a-comin’.

        I imagine that unfavorable signal timing for bicycles is one of the few remaining issues along the recently remodeled NE Multnomah Street, and I’d be very curious to learn whether more would commute via this route were signal-related pauses to be remedied.

        Recommended Thumb up 4

      • takeaspin22 April 16, 2013 at 3:46 pm

        I’d like to learn more about how the green wave is supposed to work on Vancouver and Williams. In my experience, faster riders generally hit mostly red lights on these streets. I guess they are probably timed for average speeds.

        Recommended Thumb up 4

        • Craig Harlow April 17, 2013 at 11:22 am

          Yes, Roger or Peter, what speed is being used for the green wave signal timing along Vancouver/Williams? I think I recall reading that 12 MPH was the standard in the Netherlands.

          Recommended Thumb up 0

          • Theholla April 17, 2013 at 8:42 pm

            I remember hearing from one of the volunteers that the final speed was 13. They tried out a few.

            Recommended Thumb up 0

      • Paul in the 'couve April 16, 2013 at 4:30 pm

        I’ve notice for several months (since late summer) that I hit almost all green lights most of my trips down Vancouver and Williams now. Sometimes I miss one or two, but I no longer find myself hitting all of them red. I am faster than average, but not a racer. I do time my efforts. I already had an intuitive feeling for the signal durations, and I look ahead and see “should I be stoking it up to try to make the next green?” or “Should I be taking a bit of a breather, and waiting out a coming red?” That can be taking place as much as a whole light cycle in advance. I suppose if I was focused on maintaining 22mph or some other specific speed I couldn’t do as well, however I know I am getting from Lombard to Broadway between 5 and 7 minutes faster than i used to.

        Recommended Thumb up 4

      • dwainedibbly April 16, 2013 at 5:16 pm

        When I’m going up the hill on SW Jefferson, I prefer to miss some lights, especially at 5th & 6th! Can you set them so that someone spinning a 25-inch gear misses them every time? 🙂 (Broadway is no problem since it flattens out after that.)

        Mrs Dibbly & I greatly appreciate you calling out the Oregonian, too.

        Recommended Thumb up 1

        • dwainedibbly April 16, 2013 at 5:19 pm

          And on SW Columbia, please set them for a well-fed guy on a heavy-ish bike descending at 30mph. 🙂

          Recommended Thumb up 5

      • ED April 16, 2013 at 7:37 pm

        Man, I never make the light at both Grand and 12th coming off the Hawthorne Bridge going east. I’m not speedy, but average.

        Recommended Thumb up 2

    • CPAC April 16, 2013 at 3:25 pm

      SW 2nd downtown works this way. I ride it most evenings after working late. After getting started, I don’t hit a single red from Salmon all the way to the bike lane on SW Oak.

      Recommended Thumb up 1

      • SilkySlim April 16, 2013 at 4:00 pm

        I also notice this on the east – west (ish) roads of downtown. I often catch green lights on Salmon from Lincoln HS to the waterfront (but only if I coast, pedaling on that downhill puts me ahead of them!).

        Recommended Thumb up 1

  • longgone April 16, 2013 at 3:23 pm

    It is common knowledge that the dynamics of print news/tvtalkingpoints/autocentriccommercials/amtalkshowcarny’s are always geared to paint the general public’s veiw of cycling or anything multimodal in a negative light. In the past eight years i have only seen one TV commercial with a bike that didnt have a negative spin…unless there was a child, or an elderly couple pushing the pedals. Not that kids and granny’s shouldnt enjoy..

    Recommended Thumb up 3

  • dwainedibbly April 16, 2013 at 5:18 pm

    From what I have seen, KGW seems to be the most reasonable local TV news. KATU has been as bad as KOIN, so their change doesn’t bother me.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • are April 16, 2013 at 6:50 pm

    aspect three, education, is the most neglected component around here. re aspect two, better design, we have had some pretty poorly conceived stuff rolled out over the past few years that cannot be blamed on AAHSTO. in fairness, PBoT is trying to learn from these mistakes, but the case statement is a bit disingenuous.

    Recommended Thumb up 2

  • J_R April 16, 2013 at 7:14 pm

    I’d like to suggest Aspect Four. Enforcement. That’s where motorists would actually get prosecuted and receive appropriate penalties for running down bicyclists and pedestrians. We’ve had too many cases where motorists have clearly been at fault but where the penalty is a slap on the wrist.

    Though I like much of what Roger said, I have a hard time taking the “25 percent bicycle mode split” seriously. I think it’s nice to have an aspirational goal, but I think we should take credit only for what we’ve actually achieved.

    Recommended Thumb up 8

    • Peter Michaelson April 17, 2013 at 7:22 am

      I agree. Increased enforcement of speed limits and education of motorists are the most cost effective measures that government can take to make cycling and walking safer and more popular. Why do we not see a public service advertising campaign to promote more considerate use of the ROW?

      I note that the police department officially stated that speed was not a factor on the most recent pedestrian fatality. Because the sun was in the driver’s eyes – not his fault! Aye yi yi..

      Recommended Thumb up 2

  • gutterbunny April 16, 2013 at 9:08 pm

    Commuters in general (regardless of vehicular choice) make better time when they make a conscience choice to “time” the lights. Most lights don’t really need to be adjusted, the only real adjustments need to be made by the nuts behind the steering devices.

    Light ahead red = slow down and watch pedestrian crossing signals and lights controlling the crossing traffic for cues on when the lights will change. Adjust speed accordingly.

    If light is green again look to pedestrian signals for clues on how long you got till it turns. Adjust speed again accordingly.

    Takes a little practice, but not really that much, but I can often keep up those folks on the “latest and greatest” bicycle technology while riding my 45lbs 40 year old three speed. Sure they beat me to the next red light, then I coast on by them just as it’s turning green. Kind of a bicycle leap frog if you will. Of course they then gotta prove they can beat me to the next red light as well.

    Sure you might be able to go double my land speed, but that doesn’t do you any good when you’re wasting your time waiting for all the lights.

    BTW it works really good in your car too, And dramatically improves your MPG ratings as well, since your not burning gas sitting around waiting for a light. (Though it doesn’t work during rush hour back ups).

    Recommended Thumb up 2

    • spare_wheel April 17, 2013 at 10:24 am

      “Sure they beat me to the next red light, then I coast on by them just as it’s turning green. Kind of a bicycle leap frog if you will. ”

      Cat-6 interval training is about getting a good work out while enjoying the pleasurable sensation of speed (akin to a slobbering dog with head out of window). If I were actually racing someone the red light would not slow me down (much).

      Recommended Thumb up 2

  • John Landolfe April 17, 2013 at 8:37 am

    I don’t disagree with any of Roger’s points but approximately a million dollars in bikes are stolen in Portland every year. Just because this is a problem everywhere (just like education) does not make it less so here.

    More than half a million dollars in bikes are stolen downtown every year and we don’t have any public facilities to aid people in protecting their bikes beside a handful of lockers. I’m confused as to why I seem to be the only one who thinks having your bike physically taken is a barrier to actually biking.

    Recommended Thumb up 6

    • 9watts April 17, 2013 at 1:26 pm

      Very interesting statistic, John. Thanks. I’d be curious to see a breakdown of that figure:

      How many stolen bikes = $1M
      What is the mean and median resale value of those bikes?
      How are they/who is assigning these values?
      Are those statistics viewable somewhere?

      Recommended Thumb up 0

    • Dan April 17, 2013 at 2:19 pm

      Yeah, the response is always, “ride a crappier bike”. No thanks.

      Recommended Thumb up 1

    • 9watts April 17, 2013 at 2:27 pm

      “Yeah, the response is always, “ride a crappier bike”. No thanks.”

      I don’t think it is quite that binary: nice bike vs. crappy bike. My bikes don’t look like much, don’t fetch much on the used market, but they are excellent in every other respect–if I do say so myself. I wouldn’t want a bike I couldn’t lock up anywhere. What would be the point?

      Recommended Thumb up 0

      • longgone April 18, 2013 at 11:46 am

        April 14th 1982…Co-worker Davis recieves new Bruce Gordon frameset.
        4-15/16 bike is built up with Super Record gruppo and approp. gewgaws.
        After a preliminary break in of two or three days, Davis arrives to work on a Satuday morning with his BRAND NEW steed srpay painted ( rattle can) FLAT BLACK. The entire bicycle. Every square millimeter. The small staff that included myself (three) stood in complete shock, as he wheeled it in and parked it in the service bay. Living in the 4th Ward, in Houston Texas, Davis declared that this was the only way to safeguard keeping the bike in his possesion.
        Thursday April 22nd, Flat Black painted Bruce Gordon, retail value 1982 $2600 USD before customization… stolen.

        Three years later on some forgotten Wed., Young person wheels a sad and broken light weight bike into Houston Bicycle Co. for repair… I through it up in the stand for estimate, and about fall over….. Hey Davis!

        Recommended Thumb up 0

        • longgone April 18, 2013 at 1:42 pm

          .. I throw.. ooops. 🙂

          Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Terry D April 17, 2013 at 8:47 am

    If commuting from one neighborhood to the other, greenways I find to be generally faster than main streets if they are designed correctly. Our problem, to remain platinum, is to build out this conductivity so everyone has access. Greenways and multi-use-paths are what the “interested but concerned” want. MUP’s are expensive…. greenways are not.

    This “bike versus potholes” arguments also need to be deflected in more ways than just rhetorically. We need as a community to come up with a plan to deal with the gravel road and sidewalk inequities as well as the bikeway inequities. If we do not, then the residents of neighborhoods with the lower quality residential streets will always feel left out and it will be very difficult to gain support to fund our bikeway/greenway modernization and expansion. Of course, I have to plug our group advocating for just that:


    Recommended Thumb up 3

    • spare_wheel April 17, 2013 at 10:28 am

      Maybe we ride different greenways but I don’t find meandering, rutted, and pot-holed greenways with unsignaled intersections crossing major arterials to be very fast.

      Recommended Thumb up 4

      • Terry D April 17, 2013 at 11:52 am

        The “Greenway route of the week” (6 miles from Michigan/Alberta to near mount Tabor) has been timed four times versus bike-lane oriented/ main arterial routes. It comes in about 10% faster is the off times and about the same during rush hour. It has very little traffic. Most of the streets are in good to fair condition, but a few would fall into your category of “needing repair.” As far as our over-all conductivity grid…..that is what it is, a grid. Some are better than others, but routes direct you just about everywhere. If speed is an issue, then there is usually a more direct route a half-mile over. For us the issue is inclusion, school and park conductivity and equity.

        But yes, it depend on how long the trip is and where you are heading, and if you ride faster than about 12 MPH……then taking the lane is probably your best bet.

        Recommended Thumb up 0

        • Terry D April 17, 2013 at 11:57 am

          I said that wrong, the route comes in about 10% faster during the peak travel commuting periods since there are few intersections needing crossing. During the off times when the traffic lights are timed and the roads are basically clear it come in at about the same.

          Recommended Thumb up 0

      • ScottB April 17, 2013 at 11:57 am

        Name names, please.
        N Concord? N Central? Houghton-Terry? N Michigan? N Wabash? N/NE Bryant? NE Going? NE Klickitat? NE Holman? SE Spokane? SW Westwood? NE 87th? SE 87th? SE Bush? SE Center? SE Mill? SE 100/101?
        I’ll Give you N Bryant west of Greeley.
        The above list are the only completed neighborhood greenways in Portland.

        Recommended Thumb up 2

        • spare_wheel April 19, 2013 at 2:34 pm

          going and klickitat both have stretches with terrible pavement.

          Recommended Thumb up 1

  • Joe April 17, 2013 at 9:17 am

    he’s my view about biking in Portland 🙂
    good: if you ride
    bad: if you drive
    if you are a first time rider it can be rather crazy peds jumping out, cars not yielding and high speeds. needed to say this because its getting bad on the roads these days regardless of the current infra. bottom line fokes warship the metal coffin

    Recommended Thumb up 1

  • resopmok April 17, 2013 at 9:49 am

    I honestly have to take issue with the way that Geller overstates some of the reasons Portland should be awarded a platinum level rating. First, I feel like the overuse of statistics is misleading because bicycle usage seems to be highly seasonal, in my observation. While a lot of people get on board when the weather cooperates, I still see a distinct lack of bike traffic during a good chunk of the year.

    Secondly, I feel that while there were a lot of good infrastructure improvements made years ago which help to continue growing our mode share split today, many of the most recent ones have done little to actually help make cycling easier. In some cases, such as the green bike boxes, I find they are confusing and promote a false sense of security and dangerous habits (such as passing on the right a la 3rd and Madison). The Bike Master Plan still collects dust on a shelf somewhere due to lack of political motivation and underfunding. And while there may be a paper trail that advocates cycling in the city, I think it’s telling how politicians and activists organizations have all but rolled over when it comes to the CRC. Actions do speak louder than words.

    Criticisms aside, I think Portland has done and continues to do a lot to encourage bicycling. I sincerely hope that all of us who ride regularly can continue to set the example by remaining polite and proper on the roads, and showing what enjoyment there is in experiencing the environment around us as we travel.

    Recommended Thumb up 3

    • Roger Geller April 17, 2013 at 10:48 am

      Hey resopmok,
      Thanks for your interest. I’d like to address your first point about the seasonality of bicycling. We now have almost a year’s worth of 24/7 data from the Hawthorne Bridge (bike barometer and earlier, in-house data). It shows that for 6 months of the year bicycle traffic across that bridge in 2012 was as high as peak use in 2007, for 9 months of the year it was as high as peak use in 2006 and for all but the last 2 weeks of December it was generally higher than peak use in 2004. Yes, bicycling is certainly seasonal, but it’s also growing steadily over time. Our count report data from 2012 will be out soon. Look for it on our web site. You might also be interested in this report that shows changes in commute behavior over time. Data is from the American Community Survey, which presents annual average data for commuting.

      Recommended Thumb up 8

  • Woodstock_Cyclist April 17, 2013 at 9:56 am

    Interesting reading. Thanks for posting this. Two questions for Jonathan:
    1) Why not post the whole document? It must be a public record, right? (Or perhaps you are planning to do so later, or it is available somewhere else online.)

    2) I would love to read a more detailed editorial with your points of agreement and disagreement. It seems like this represents a good opportunity to engage directly with “the horse’s mouth”, as you put it.

    Recommended Thumb up 1

  • seeshellbike April 17, 2013 at 10:02 am

    I hope that the better design includes addressing one of the major causes of crashes and injuries – tracks both streetcar and lt rail. Education isn’t enough, even as an experienced cyclist, most of my crashes involve these things.

    Recommended Thumb up 2

  • spare_wheel April 17, 2013 at 10:37 am

    I thought it was amazing to see Geller trumpet the use of bike boxes. Even PBOT has admitted that they are not working as intended. There is a reason that the use of bike boxes in the Netherlands was discontinued a long time ago.

    Recommended Thumb up 2

  • Julie April 17, 2013 at 3:23 pm

    And yet still…off-road opportunities for cyclists are almost nil. This continues to be unacceptable for almost everyone I know in Portland.

    Recommended Thumb up 4

    • suburban April 18, 2013 at 5:58 pm

      Almost Nil? In a city is this a surprise? If you like riding off roads, there are many places near Portland you can do this in lovely settings. There are some unpaved roads in Portland, if that counts. What kind of off-road riding is it you enjoy?

      Recommended Thumb up 0

  • GlowBoy April 17, 2013 at 3:26 pm

    “Portland’s paper of record has fomented an unfortunate ‘bikes vs. potholes’ dialogue that blames declining street maintenance on the striping of bicycle lanes. This theme does not benefit reasoned public discourse about the future of bicycle transportation in the city.”

    THANK YOU for saying this. The Slanted O has been extremely vocal in spouting its Orange County values recently. I applaud the courage of a public official to point out the very real impact of the their bias.

    I don’t think the Platinum status should be (or – ahem – is) based entirely on transportation cycling. Recreation matters too, and recreational cyclists often become transportation cyclists. The shortage of local mountain biking opportunities (that don’t require getting in a car and driving an hour) is holding us back, and we I still don’t think we deserve Platinum until we accelerate our progress on this front. This is where Minneapolis kicks our ass to the gutter, despite our superior bike lanes and weather. We are finally taking some baby steps, but we need to do more to follow their lead and learn from their success instead of making excuses.

    Recommended Thumb up 1

  • JCH April 18, 2013 at 7:36 am

    I’m not from Portland but looking at this thread out of curiosity since I work in bike/ped transportation. Can someone tell me a couple things about SW Broadway to understand some of PBOT’s practices?

    1. Are those bike lanes along there where there is a solid line along with skip lines and parking Ts? And if so, doesn’t OR law require you to ride in the bike lane?

    2. What is up with the “Slow Hotel Zone” stencil in the bike lane? Why isn’t that in the motor vehicle travel lanes? Are bicyclists actually expected to ride even slower because of this? What about motorists?

    Recommended Thumb up 0

    • Nick Falbo April 18, 2013 at 2:25 pm

      1.) Yes, Broadway has a bike lane – A notoriously bad one. It is narrow and next to high-turnover parking/loading zones. This is a classic Door Zone Bike Lane.

      Oregon does have a mandatory use law for bike lanes. However, there are always exceptions that allow you to leave a bike lane, such as to prepare for a left turn, or the avoid hazards. On Broadway, you could probably argue the potential for dooring is a hazard and avoid the lane completely. That said, Broadway is often congested and riding (cautiously) in the bike lane can often let you get ahead of other traffic, so it does get used.

      2.) I wouldn’t call the Broadway hotel zone message a PBOT standard practice. Clearly, the message is directed at the wrong user, and other solutions would be preferred here.

      Recommended Thumb up 0

      • spare_wheel April 19, 2013 at 2:38 pm

        if you are riding at the normal speed of traffic you have a legal right to take a lane even when there is a bike facility. kudos to pbot for their ~15 mph signal timing downtown.

        Recommended Thumb up 0

  • R-dat April 18, 2013 at 6:21 pm

    The following is questionable, technically true but only between a handful of very select points.

    “Portlanders can ride on a traffic-calmed, volume-reduced 20 mph boulevard continuously from one end of Portland to another.”

    The key to what we need here is CONTINUITY. So many routes end abruptly leaving cyclists in awkward or dangerous situations. We have many, many miles of beautiful bike infrastructure, it’s just fragmented. It’s time to assemble the pieces into contiguous flow.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Lazy Spinner April 18, 2013 at 6:42 pm

    No one is adressing the real problem in this article – PBOT’s “bike guy” is spending his days (and our dollars) trying to win the city another vanity prize instead of boldly creating solutions.

    Platinum! So what? Does Platinum get us more federal dollars for bike infrastructure? More state funding? Political support in D.C. or Salem? Nope. It means we get on some magazine Top Ten lists, some copywriter gets a blurb that she can insert in a tourism brochure, and PBOT gets to throw a few cocktail parties for visiting wonks here to study ol’ Stumptown.

    Build some high speed and unfettered commuter/recreation corridors, buffered stuff close-in and downtown, and educate all about bikes belonging on the roads and the accolades would come pouring in. This is just more window dressing for advocates and bureaucrats hoping to keep a steady paycheck.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

    • are April 19, 2013 at 10:37 am

      there are many things not to like about LAB generally and about its “vanity prize” programs in particular, including some of the criteria in each category. nonetheless.

      an intended function of these prize programs is to raise awareness among several populations, including city planners, traffic engineers, cyclists, non-cyclists, whatever . . . and to encourage specified “best practices.”

      and the prize programs have in fact had this effect. cities that did not give a d*mn ten years ago are on board. cities that strive for top rankings are asked to do more and more — the criteria keep getting refined.

      the criteria are not necessarily what you or i would have chosen, but they are in many instances better than nothing. i doubt roger has had to spend inordinate amounts of time writing these narratives. the real question is whether structural or policy changes at PBoT, if any, that have been made in order to conform with prize criteria have been wasteful or productive.

      Recommended Thumb up 1