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Ted's cure for hopelessness: How to slow traffic when police won't help

Posted by Michael Andersen (News Editor) on October 10th, 2013 at 10:52 am

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Ted Buehler and his tools of
the citizen activist trade.
(Photo © J. Maus/BikePortland)

An unsafe street that isn't being improved can be one of the most frustrating experiences in city life. One of Portland's most thoughtful safety activists has some smart ideas on what to do next.

This exchange in our comments section came from a story this summer about a hit-and-run that injured a nine-year-old girl at North Bryant and Borthwick, on a neighborhood greenway that's supposed to be free of fast-moving auto traffic but which was, according to a reader who once lived there, built to invite fast speeds. Several readers expressed frustration with the difficulty of getting police to do speed enforcement in a spot like this; one, Kevin Wagoner, said he's tried calling the city's official 503-823-SAFE line in a similar situation to no avail.

Here's Ted Buehler's response, lightly edited:

I'm disappointed, but not too surprised, that a couple calls to 823-SAFE got the speed issue looked at, but not dealt with.

Here's two follow-up strategies when initial responses to 823-SAFE calls aren't enough to get an increased level of compliance.

Part 1

* Call the police non-emergency line (823-3333) and ask for a "Speed Reader Board" That's the big sign that displays the speeds vehicles are traveling at. It's more effective than spot-enforcement. Looks like the portable Speed Reader Boards are called "Smart Carts" (not a descriptive or memorable name, but short and unique).

* Call PBOT and borrow some "please slow down" plastic people. Yellow. I used to be able to find them on the website with the "Please Slow Down" plastic signs, but can't find them now. Here's the order form.

* Buy some of the yellow plastic figurines that say "please slow down" -- I think they sell them at Fred Meyer for about $40. Move them to different houses in the hood each week so folks don't get complacent.

* Make your own signs that say "please slow down, children live here" "pets live here" etc. Make them pretty big, plant them on posts high enough to see above parked cars. I've seen some really nice ones around town.

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Steve Bozzone using Ted's radar gun on N Williams Ave this past summer.

* Get a radar gun. Use it. Continue to report speeding cars to the authorities. Tape an old cell phone to the side of it to "date stamp" your photos, and then take photos of the offending cars, with their speed readouts, with the time and date. And ask for increased enforcement "Thursdays from 4-5". I have a Bushnell like this, it's very easy to use. I loan it freely. ted101@gmail.com BTA has one too. But you might as well get one for yourself.

* Stand in the street with your neighbors. Get a basketball hoop. Get the other grown men out there shooting hoops. Park your car on the greenway and unload a big box. Or stick a lawnmower next to it at the evening commute. People slow down when there's stuff going on and material in the road.

Part 2

Then, up the ante with your neighborhood association. Portland has very strong neighborhood associations. There's lots of changes that will only be granted if requested by a NA.

* Show up at the monthly neighborhood meeting, ask the cop again. If the cop blows you off again, talk to the other neighbors after the cop leaves. Ask them if they thought the cop's response was adequate. If not, tell them you want to work on the project.

* Get your other neighbors to borrow "slow down" and "plastic 'slow down' figurines" from PBOT, stick them up all over the neighborhood.

* Your neighborhood probably has a "Safety and Livability rep" and a "Land Use and Transportation" rep. They, or the board chair, can ask the police to come back next month with some other ideas on how the problem can be dealt with. I'm on the Boise board, and I've talked to folks on the Humboldt board and loaned them my radar gun for problems on Albina near Rosa Parks (not far from Borthwick and Bryant).

A 2012 study of bike safety in Vancouver BC
and Toronto found that neighborhood greenways are
actually more dangerous than other neighborhood
streets unless they include traffic diverters like
this one, because drivers use them as shortcuts.

* Go to the "association of neighborhoods" LU&T or S&L meetings. That's where 10 or so neighborhood reps all get together. At the "Northeast Coalition of Neighborhoods" ("NECN") it's on the fourth Wednesday for LU&T, for instance. Tell them you want a NECN resolution asking for increased police patrol, and regular installations of Speed Readerboard signs in the neighborhoods, especially on the neighborhood greenways.

* Look into further solutions. Bryant and Borthwick? Put in a diagonal diverter somewhere between Albina and Vancouver to cut out the through traffic. The neighborhood association is by far the best entity to use to ask for this sort of thing.

***

While these things might seem like the things government ought to be doing on its own, they're not doing it good enough for us right now, as evidenced by the 9 yr old girl getting whacked by a driver with a history of speeding who didn't care enough to stop.

And I think that Portland has made excellent progress in "calming" its streets in recent years. Drivers go slower and more carefully all the time.

But this is only partly a result of governments acting on their own. A lot has been citizens pestering government to get it done. Pestering works. Especially when you're asking them to 1) enforce existing laws and 2) accelerate a desirable trend.

And by slowing traffic on Bryant, or whatever neighborhood greenway is near your house, you're also slowing traffic on all the other greenways in the city. The speeding problem can be (partly) rectified everywhere by enforcement and education in just a few places.

This will work. It's not that much time and effort, all there's a lot of support for citizens doing this kind of thing in Portland. There is some effort required, but its not like you need to blaze your own trail through a bureaucratic wilderness. The cop in your neighborhood meeting basically flipped you off, but all it takes to pull him into line is a few more steps along the same line of what you've already done.

Ted (who's been active with his own neighborhood association and definitely walks his talk on street activism) is well-known in city government because he's willing to politely pester authorities offering available solutions to unsolved problems. One of his great insights, I think, is that local governments are composed of human beings with the authority to take small actions if they're provided with both a motive and an opportunity.

What do you think of his recommendations?

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Comments
  • Blake October 10, 2013 at 11:04 am

    What about safety issues that aren't in a "neighborhood" like Interstate between N Tillamook and N Larabee where there is a narrowed bike lane under the bridge with a grate at a point where double-long cement truck roll through with regularity?

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    • Greg October 10, 2013 at 12:05 pm

      That particular section of road is in Elliot - http://eliotneighborhood.org/about/map/

      Most places in the city are within a NA - http://www.portlandoregon.gov/oni/28385

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      • Blake October 10, 2013 at 12:12 pm

        Anyone know if the NA (or anyone else) has pushed for the city to fix this extremely broken section of bike infrastructure? Key point for anyone coming from N Portland/St Johns to downtown who doesn't want to go way out of the way & deal with the bike traffic on Vancouver.

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        • MaxD October 10, 2013 at 1:12 pm

          I have contacted PBOT a few times about this. They someone out to look at it. There response was basically "its too expensive and the crash data doesn't support fixing this". Which I take to mean "wait someone gets crushed by a bus, then get in touch".

          I really think painting a vehicle lane line on Interstate from Killingsworth through the Rose Quarter would help a lot. If the lane was striped at 10.5'-11', the space between that lane and the bike lane would become buffer (this may require some zebra-striping where the buffer gets wide). This would also reveal to drivers AND cyclists those points in the route where the buffer completely disappears and caution is required. Finally, restricting drivers to a continuous, narrow lane may help in reducing speeds. I have also called 823-safe about the speeding to no avail.

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          • Blake October 10, 2013 at 1:20 pm

            It disgusts me that they think this way, and more so because they have included this segment of Interstate into the N Portland Greenway Project (PDF: http://www.portlandoregon.gov/parks/article/429526). Just what that section of road needs is to have more new riders interacting with the section.

            What they need to do is to make a bridge that goes around the other side of the bridge supports over the area off the edge currently covered with blackberry (?) bushes. There is plenty of room, not currently used, that could be used as a segregated bike lane for this short segment. For the parts further north, your idea is good.

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            • MaxD October 10, 2013 at 2:20 pm

              I agree wholeheartedly! My fantasy solution for the NP Greenway:
              Of course, from Swan Island use the Cement road, up TIllamook to Interstate. At Interstate, the Larabee Viaduct becomes an elevated park with separate bike/ped facilities, some planting (like the Highline in NYC) seating,overlooks, etc. A new MUP would ramp down on the south side, continue at the top of the bank above the RR tracks, but separated from Interstate, around the Broadway Bridge columns on the River side, then at the edge of the old Thunderbird property at the top of the bank, finally diving under the Steel Bridge on a new path cantilevered/post-supported from the bridge abutment and above the RR service road to join the east side of the esplanade bridge over the RR tracks or back up to Lloyd. The Viaduct would continue, as a park/MUP, to join a bigger, greener linear park on the bank above Interstate, on the west side of Larabee between Broadway and Hancock. This would be recreation dream-maker! connecting the esplanade to the NP Greenway to the Sullivan's Gulch trail all off-road. Super good connections for bikes and ped between downtown and the Rose Quarter and Lloyd District. And cars and trucks simply drive a quarter mile up Interstate and use the existing left turn signal to access Broadway- nothing is lost!

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              • Blake October 10, 2013 at 2:32 pm

                I would like some of whatever you are smoking!

                But seriously, why can't the city even realize that they will have to think way more creatively about this important section of traffic. Even smoothing out the roadway is apparently too much work for them.

                I'm no engineer or planner, but it looks like there is sufficient space between the road and the railroad for even a narrow single lane bike path off the road. It would serve a lot of people and would probably make it easier for the drivers of the trucks having to navigate a tight spot currently: http://bit.ly/GQ4ggy

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                • paikikala October 15, 2013 at 10:33 am

                  Thanks for giving out your qualifications. This is the 'space' you're talking about, yes?
                  http://goo.gl/maps/itmiW

                  How about estimating the cost to make these improvements and crowd funding it?

                  The excuse for a sidewalk on the north side looks like it could be widened into the hillside for a bike only lane. retaining wall costs about $600 per foot, so for 250 feet, you're looking at $150k just for the wall. The structure it supports would add to that cost. As a truck route, 11 foot lanes are much preferred.
                  Widening the sidewalk and making it a raised cycle track and not for pedestrians might do as much. If you could get 3 more feet of sidewalk from the bike lane area between the Larabees it would cost at least $80k to get a 5-7 ft cycle track in this stretch.

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                • Blake October 15, 2013 at 11:18 am

                  RE: Paikikala comment:

                  I think this part of the road would be improved dramatically nearer term by just smoothing out the significant bumps (there are 3) in the existing lane. The most serious place that should be addressed first is under the first Larrabee viaduct (travelling SB) where the vehicle lane is under 11' I think and what bike lane is left next to that is taken up by a grate. But, it seems better if addressing one part to figure out how to improve the entire Larrabee to Broadway Bridge section rather than think piecemeal.

                  Also, this stretch has signs saying no pedestrians further north than the Broadway bridge overpass on the south end of the SB side (http://bit.ly/19MdrJ5)

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      • MaxD October 10, 2013 at 2:39 pm

        Greg,
        do you know if the Elliot neighborhood association has ever advocated for safety improvements along Interstate?

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        • Blake October 10, 2013 at 3:32 pm

          I had the same Q but was going to see what the accumulated wisdom was in the comment section before asking the NA.

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          • Blake October 10, 2013 at 4:36 pm

            I dropped the following as an email to the Eliot NA:

            I don't live in the Eliot neighborhood (I currently live in Kenton), but I have passed through Eliot almost every day for 6 of the last 8 years on my bike on N. Interstate Avenue. In response to a post on BikePortland about ways to get action on safety improvements when the city refuses to act (see link below), there was an interesting discussion about the specific area underneath the Larrabee viaduct where the bike lane narrows and has a grate. As a result, many cyclists are forced into the road (or if riding in the lane over the grate in very close proximity to traffic which includes high traffic in large trucks.

            In addition to the broad concern about safety today, I think the city is acting very irresponsibly considering they have added this section to the North Portland Greenway route (see below), which will encourage additional (and probably less experienced) cyclists to ride this route. They apparently do not even see enough need to smooth out some very unpleasant bumps between the Larrabee viaduct and the Broadway Bridge.

            This has been a concern and frustration for me for a number of years, and since it is located in the Eliot neighborhood, I wanted to ask if this had been something raised by the Eliot NA with the City in the past and, if so, what the response had been.

            My hope is that the City will address this without needing their to be serious injury or a death in this section of road (unfortunately, this has not been the City's practice in the past).

            I want to see what the Eliot NA has done in this respect in order not to duplicate work done in the past and how to best move forward.

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            • MaxD October 10, 2013 at 4:52 pm

              Nice note! I will get in touch, too and offer to help if they have a safety campaign started.

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            • Ted Buehler October 10, 2013 at 7:51 pm

              Blake wrote:
              "I dropped the following as an email to the Eliot NA:..."

              Nice work. Like I mentioned in the original post, there are certain types of requests to the city that will be fairly easy to get fixed if a Neighborhood Association asks for them, but pretty difficult for any other entity.

              Allan Rudwick, bicyclist, and member of AROW (Active Right of Way) was the Eliot Board Chair until recently. If you have any trouble getting on the agenda, drop him a personal note.

              Ted Buehler

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              • Blake October 10, 2013 at 8:30 pm

                Ted,

                Thanks for the post, very useful and inspiring and as a matter of fact I did email Allan. He is gone on a month long sabbatical, but he still emailed me back within 2 hours and copied the two people in the Eliot NA who are running it in his absence. I don't know whether anything will get done, but I am going to try my hardest since it is something that I encounter daily.

                I remember when Brett Jarolimik was killed at Greeley & Interstate and I think they did nothing until someone was hit a week later at the same intersection (thankfully surviving).

                Long story short, I don't want that to happen at the spot further down Interstate for many reasons but a big one being that it could be me.

                Blake

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    • Ted Buehler October 10, 2013 at 7:49 pm

      Blake wrote:
      "What about safety issues that aren't in a "neighborhood" like Interstate between N Tillamook"..."

      Blake & other -- a couple things re: Interstate under the bridges --

      I emailed these in to safe@portlandoregon.gov, with good photos, about 2 months ago and also got blown off. Since I have a written record of it, I can follow up, which I haven't done yet. But still, even if we all get blown off individually I would think its going to march up the priority list at some point.

      3 things for you:
      1) Get your friends to also call or email in complaints. The more complaints they have from unique individuals, the higher it goes up the priority index.

      2) Send in a nice reply to the PBOT staffer that wrote you the response. If you disagree with his or her logic, explain why in as clear terms as you can put together. Try to send it in within a couple days so its fresh on their minds.

      3) Since I sent in my requests, I have noticed one improvement that can be made to the southbound Interstate pinch point under the Larrabee offramp. If you look to the south, you can see that the roadway narrows about 200' down. This is where the curb-curb distance narrows because it goes on a cantelevered bridge that hangs out over ledge.
      You can see it here:
      http://goo.gl/maps/xU9q8
      It looks like the driving lane goes from about 11' to about 10' at the transition.
      This means that the narrower driving lane is acceptable, and we can ask them to restripe Interstate Ave elsewhere in this area to have the narrower driving lane and wider bike lane.
      This would give bicyclists an extra 6" between you and the cement trucks. Which could easily be enough to save your life. It's not a lot, it's still not a full 5' bike lane, but in a game of inches, Every bit helps.

      I've been meaning to send in this request, but have wanted to get down there with a tape measure first so give them the actual numbers.

      Ted Buehler

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    • Ted Buehler October 10, 2013 at 7:54 pm

      Blake -- at the same time I sent in the complaints about the narrow bike lanes under the bridges, I requested that they restripe the center bike lane south of Tillamook St., between Tillamook and the Larrabee Exit. They did this in about 2 weeks, I thought it made a big improvement.

      So, just because they didn't respond positively to your well articulated complaint about bike lane width doesn't mean that its fruitless to call in anything at all. Send them complaints, and some will get fixed, and every bit helps.

      Posted, with pics.
      http://www.activerightofway.org/p/823-safe-success-story-bike-lane-repainted-on-n-interstate/

      Ted Buehler

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      • Blake October 10, 2013 at 8:36 pm

        Thank you for getting that repainted! I noticed and appreciated when that happened and it made a huge difference!

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  • Zed October 10, 2013 at 11:04 am

    Good advice Ted. :)

    I would also suggest holding themed bicycle rides to give awareness to various neighborhoods.

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  • Blake October 10, 2013 at 11:07 am

    To be clear, I am talking about this spot: http://bit.ly/19pTrvx

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    • MaxD October 10, 2013 at 1:19 pm

      this is my request and the PBOT response if anyone is interested. BTW, I have resorted to taking the lane in advance of the Larabee overpass with mostly ok results (a little honking and menacing)

      I commute to work on my bike and there are 2 very unsafe portions of my ride (along a dedicated bike route) that could benefit from signs/paint to alert drivers and bikes to the unsafe condition.
      1. Traveling soutbound on N. Interstate, wheere the roadpasses under the Larabee Viaduct, the bike lane reduces to something around 2-3 feet. The road is not very wide here either. It is impossible for a bike and large vehicle (like a bus or full-size truck) to pass under this and maintain 3 feet of separation, yet there is absolutely no warning to either bikes or auto traffic that this situation is approaching. In practice, this is shared road condition, but since it is unmarked and unannounced, people simply are jammed together. I request that some sort of warning is installed here with signs and/or paint to notify bike and cars that the roadway is narrowing, increased care is called for, and larger bikes or larger vehicles should proceed in a single file.

      Report by Andrew Sullivan. The request was to add warning signage or pavement markings for N Interstate Ave southbound approaching the N Larrabee Ave over crossing. I field checked that location on Wednesday, April 3, 2013. N Interstate Ave was a two-lane, two-way Traffic Access street that ran north-south and had a posted speed limit of 30 mph. The two directions of travel were separated by the MAX Yellow Line light rail alignment. Both divided roadway segments measured approximately 16 feet curb-to-curb. That pavement width was split into a travel lane and a bike lane approximately 10.5 feet and 5.5 feet in width respectively. However, as the southbound travel lane of N Interstate Ave passed underneath the N Interstate Ave-Larrabee Ave Ramp, bridge columns narrowed the pavement width by approximately two feet for a length of approximately 70 feet. That width was taken entirely out of the bike lane. Given the environmental constraints surrounding the pinch point in the bike lane (light rail facility, bridge columns) no viable traffic engineering solutions were deemed appropriate (other than widening the roadway which would require moving the columns) to improve conditions for cyclists on that segment of N Interstate Ave. Despite the narrow bike lane beneath the N Interstate Ave-Larrabee Ave Ramp, the roadway appeared to operate adequately for bicycle safety as configured. Available DMV crash records for the subject segment of roadway from 2007 through 2011 revealed no reported bicycle collisions. No further TRI action was recommended.

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      • Blake October 10, 2013 at 2:09 pm

        Thanks. Maybe I will express similar concerns.

        Anyone else have other ideas to make an impact?

        I think they are not taking this seriously enough since this one spot makes an impact on so many people's commutes from one of the five quadrants in Portland (since the city shows no interest in pursuing a cross-Swan Island alternative).

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        • Ted Buehler October 10, 2013 at 8:51 pm

          Wasn't there a story in the WW or Mercury a couple weeks ago that discussed how cops won't take an accident report unless there's $1500 in damage? A bicyclist was hit on about Broadway and Hoyt, with eyewitnesses, and his bike was toast, but because the damages were under $1500, the cop just told them to work it out amongst themselves.

          Anyone else read this?

          It would be a good link to include in a response to Andrew Sullivan. And any correspondence on Barbur Blvd.

          Ted Buehler

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          • paikikala October 15, 2013 at 10:38 am

            Andrew Sullivan doesn't work for Traffic Investigations any more. Always submit requests to 823-SAFE unless you are working directly with one of the existing traffic engineers in the TRI group.

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  • BURR October 10, 2013 at 11:20 am

    His recommendations are great, but participating in your neighborhood association is a very time consuming and potentially mind-numbing exercise in futility.

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    • Greg October 10, 2013 at 12:08 pm

      A lot can depend on your NA. I'm on the board in my neighborhood, and I've seen community activism work there.

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      • BURR October 10, 2013 at 1:33 pm

        'Community activism' like the HAND neighborhood association supporting the Division Streetscape project - which is essentially replacing de-facto 9-foot wide bike lanes with curb-side parking? No thanks!

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      • Ted Buehler October 10, 2013 at 8:04 pm

        BURR wrote:
        "His recommendations are great, but participating in your neighborhood association is..."

        Greg replied:
        "A lot can depend on your NA. I'm on the board in my neighborhood, and I've seen community activism work there."

        Burr -- can be true. But after you've gone through a full meeting once or twice and know the characters, you know who your allies are and can work the scene. Just go for your agenda item and slip out afterwards.

        Greg -- The first "good" neighborhood association experience I had was when I went to the Holman Bike Blvd meeting and met all you Woodlawners who were cheerful and keenly supportive of the Holman Bike Blvd. That get me motivated to participate more in my own NA and see if I could liven things up. Which I did for about 18 months.

        Ted Buehler

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    • davemess October 10, 2013 at 12:19 pm

      So get in there and change it! That's the beauty of citizen activism and grassroots government.

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    • pdxpaul October 10, 2013 at 12:50 pm

      I'm just finishing up my first term with CNA and it is worth the while.

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      • Kirk October 10, 2013 at 2:23 pm

        Is that the Concordia NA? If so, I'm interested in getting involved in the near future...I'd like to get in touch with you to learn more about any specific needs they are looking for. Thanks!

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  • Racer X October 10, 2013 at 11:31 am

    The chickens have come home to roost!...

    BikePortland reports, "A 2012 study of bike safety in Vancouver BC
    and Toronto found that neighborhood greenways are
    actually more dangerous than other neighborhood
    streets unless they include traffic diverters like
    this one, because cars use them as shortcuts."

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    • spare_wheel October 10, 2013 at 1:18 pm

      It took dangerous near misses on bike boulevards before I finally gave up on them for commuting. If you are tired of reckless cut-through motorists and dangerous unsignalled intersections, I strongly recommend that you give local collecters a try. I've found Hawthorne and Belmont to be so much more stress free and convenient than Salmon or Harrison-Lincoln.

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      • paikikala October 15, 2013 at 10:40 am

        Which bike boulevard? Has it been treated to Neighborhood Greenway standards?

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    • paikikala October 15, 2013 at 10:44 am

      Duh. Portland agressively installs traffic calming along Neighborhood Greenways to achieve 20 mph speeds and includes diversion where it is needed to achieve under 1,000 motor vehicles per day (a low number).

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  • Todd Hudson October 10, 2013 at 11:32 am

    This is good to know! I live near the E Burnside/Gilham intersection, and people speed and run the red light through it like it's the Dukes Of Hazzard.

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    • Chris I October 10, 2013 at 12:33 pm

      That's an ugly one. They should just convert it into a traffic circle.

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      • Todd Hudson October 10, 2013 at 1:48 pm

        But that would put the traffic circle in my yard! I just want some traffic calming measures and some law enforcement to come down on the red light runners and speeders.

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    • Ted Buehler October 10, 2013 at 8:07 pm

      Todd -- have you called it in to PPB nonemergency? 503-823-3333?

      Get your neighbors to do the same.

      If that doesn't work, shot video clips with a smart phone, and email a couple of those in with your request to safe@portlandoregon.gov

      Once drivers see speedsters pulled over on a morning or two, they might start to behave. & if they don't, march it up the hierarchy. It's your corner, your kids, your cats, and your hedges that all get flattened when something goes awry.

      Ted Buehler

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  • Todd Boulanger October 10, 2013 at 11:37 am

    Is this Michael Andersen (BikePortland) referring to a People for Bike article by the same Michael Andresen?

    Who knew there were more than one Michael Andresen in this small transpo world.

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  • Tom McTighe October 10, 2013 at 12:10 pm

    Thanks so much for the clear instructions on how anyone with even a momentary interest can make a real difference. Would love to see more of this on BikePortland and from our walking and biking advocacy groups. It seems like good fun social times could take place putting up flyers just as easily as sitting in a bar - I'm for the former. Some friends are building a Person-on-the-Street to-do list - if anyone reading would like to help, let me know. And if it takes joining the neighborhood association, so be it!

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  • Pete October 10, 2013 at 12:12 pm

    Other than improper use of is versus are... ;), this is good advice. I'd agree it's more time consuming than it gets credit for. Life is all about managing priorities though!

    Another tip is to show up at your city's BAC/BPAC meetings. If there's not a representative present from the police department ask who it is (and get his/her contact info). If you have a specific target, contact the chairperson in advance of the meeting and ask if you can get a few minutes on the (typically published) agenda to raise your issue. There is often time set aside for public input but it helps your 'cause' to get it published on the agenda. When you bring it up, be brief and concise, propose one or two solutions, and end with a sort of 'call to action' (i.e.: "I think this is a location where we'll see a fatality if this committee, public works, and the police don't cooperate to make it a priority. Thank you for your time.").

    Speaking of public works, there's almost always a city engineer present at BAC/BPAC meetings, so it helps if one of your proposed solutions is something he/she can easily digest and take action on, like a speed bump, bumpout, green paint or lane buffering, HID-lighted crosswalk, etc. Learn and speak their language and give them something they can grasp and run with and eventually take credit for.

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    • paikikala October 15, 2013 at 10:47 am

      Language: Speed Bumps; Curb Extensions; Refuge Islands; Median Barriers; Semi-Diverters, are all traffic calming tools.

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  • Anne Hawley October 10, 2013 at 12:14 pm

    I admire Ted's incremental, clear, step-by-step suggestions. It's a reality of community life that making changes requires time and patience. There are *always* more stakeholders than me (the one who is unequivocally right about my favorite issues), and Ted's approach recognizes that. Perhaps the most valuable item here is that working with existing laws AND with the flow of a desirable trend gives your "pestering" a lot of momentum.

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  • Pete October 10, 2013 at 12:16 pm

    Also, drivers use greenways as shortcuts, not cars. We're allowed to 'other' them in this context. :-)

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  • Steve B October 10, 2013 at 1:14 pm

    Great advice from Ted!

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  • BIKELEPTIC October 10, 2013 at 2:26 pm

    and if you're wondering what neighborhood assoc you belong to, here is a really crappy map you can try to figure out. (especially, if like me, you live in the armpit of 84/205 and becaue there's no streets really marked it's difficult to delineate which is where.)
    http://www.portlandoregon.gov/oni/28385

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    • Michael Andersen (News Editor) October 10, 2013 at 4:07 pm

      There's a pretty good zoomable version of this in the new BPS online map, but it's buried: you have to scroll through the "background layers" to reach "neighborhoods and pattern areas," then flip it to "on."

      http://www.portlandbps.com/gis/cpmapp/

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    • Ted Buehler October 10, 2013 at 8:46 pm

      Here's another neighborhood map source --
      http://www.portlandoregon.gov/oni/28385

      Click on each area on the map to get detailed boundaries of the individual neighborhoods.

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      • Ted Buehler October 10, 2013 at 8:48 pm

        Whoops, I see Halley already posted the same link. But, the map has hotlinks to with better detail.

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    • Nate Young October 11, 2013 at 11:11 am

      An easier way (IMO) to find your neighborhood association (NA) is to go to
      http://www.portlandmaps.com
      type in your address, and then read the neighborhood between your address and "Portland".
      Then you can go to the City's Office of Neighborhood Involvement page:
      http://www.portlandoregon.gov/oni/search/
      for contact information.

      As someone on the Arbor Lodge Neighborhood board, in charge of the Land Use and Transpo committee, I can't urge you strongly enough to reach out to your NA. We (speaking without consent for all the NA folks I've met) are a part of our 'hoods because we care and want to help make things better. I've also been told in no uncertain terms that the City listens to requests from the NAs more than from individuals. While that may not be ideal, it is reality.

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  • Dmitriy Zasyatkin October 10, 2013 at 2:35 pm

    It's such a shame how complacent the police are about speeding. I complained about speeding on Woodward between 52 and 59, which is Bike Boulevard with 20 MPH speed limit. A police officer wrote me back and told me that he observed traffic for an hour and that most people were driving 20-25 MPH, so he didn't issue any tickets, but he did issue many warnings to cyclists rolling through the stop sign.

    I don't understand why speed limits aren't enforced, especially when they are in high pedestrian and cyclists area.

    I have found that most neighbors are supportive of the "Speed readout boards" because they want to drive under the speed limit.

    I think that putting a sign on them like "Smile, you might be on camera" would help slow the sociopaths down.

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    • BURR October 10, 2013 at 3:01 pm

      when you park an obvious police squad car there to 'observe', people will naturally slow down. The problem is the other 8759 hours each year when a cop isn't present...

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    • Ted Buehler October 10, 2013 at 8:17 pm

      Dmitriy -- keep complaining. Send a nice note back to the officer and ask that he/she come back and monitor things again. Preferably with the cop car out of site.

      Get your neighbors to complain.

      Put up a basketball hoop. Paint a basketball court in the street.

      Good work on sending in the complaint, though, and getting a written response. Your negative response, in writing, is your ticket to enter the next level of action.

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  • Todd Boulanger October 10, 2013 at 3:07 pm

    The Bushnell "radar" gun is a great citizen traffic safety tool for speed monitoring.

    I have used this product for 12 years for data collection and monitoring. It has my "Todd seal of approval" for cost and utility. (Though it is a bit bulky to carry around when traveling on planes etc v. the Pocket Radar.)

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    • Ted Buehler October 10, 2013 at 8:42 pm

      Todd -- how about a product review of the pocket radar?

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  • kenny heggem October 10, 2013 at 4:58 pm

    I might hit you up regarding the radar gun, Ted.

    Commonly on Harold St between 72nd and 52nd, driver's "gun it" between the too far in between speed bumps (even "over" them since the bumps are pretty low).

    Recently the speed limit was reduced from 30 to 25 mph, but I still see drivers gunning it. I heard there was once an advisory committee that chose to not add traffic calming circles (for some reason they chose to NOT add them?)...that would have helped!!

    Any thoughts on creative and attractive means to traffic calm using the island? The gateway to Harold St. as you turn E. off SE 52nd could use a lot of plant maintenance. Perhaps a charming sign? Also a street art scape that would beautify the area firstly, and secondly calm some of the traffic coming into Harold St?

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    • Todd Boulanger October 10, 2013 at 5:19 pm

      There may have been a speed study showing that the 85th percentile speed was not high enough to trigger a physical treatment or compete citywide for limited retrofit funds. (See if PBOT has it on file...unless it is older than 6 years.)

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      • paikikala October 15, 2013 at 10:53 am

        The traffic committe, made up of local residents, did not want the speed limit lowered. That's why there are speed tables instead of speed bumps.

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    • Ted Buehler October 11, 2013 at 12:02 am

      Kenny -- looks like a wide, straight street, so enticing for drivers to go fast.

      Just the usual -- have the neighbors complain, put up those "drive slow" signs, clock cars with a radar gun (mine, the BTAs or buy one yourself).

      Looks like the street might be wide enough for a full court basketball court. If you live on the street, put up a hoop, and paint a full court on the street as if there was a hoop on the other side. Doesn't much matter if you play or not, it looks like folks are around.

      The island, on google street view, looks like it could use a little love, nobody is going to complain if you put in some rhododendrons and daffodils.

      You're on the neighborhood association, right? Or you've been involved in the past (I remember you working on getting a Woodstock Streetcar Line in the 2009 Traffic and Transportation Class). Get it on the agenda, get a couple neighbors to come in, get the beat cop to say something (likely unsatisfactory) then get a PBOT rep in at the next meeting.

      Neighborhood Associations can get a PBOT rep whenever they want. Pretty much no other citizen/nonprofit type entity can get that level of response from the city.

      But speed data is key -- get the gun, and stake out the street (hide in the drivers seat of a car with the gun so nobody slows down on account of you).

      Drop me a line,
      Ted

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  • PoPo October 10, 2013 at 5:38 pm

    BURR hit the problem on the nose about the other 8759 hours. Police enforcement is not a viable, long-term solution to a speeding problem on a particular stretch of road because there are not enough officers to address all of the various speeding problems around the city. If you really want to address speed on your street with an effective, long-term solution, petition for speed bumps. Economical and extremely effective.

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    • Alan 1.0 October 10, 2013 at 8:44 pm

      PoPo, you would know better than me on this so I'm interested in your take, but it seems like a traffic cop could write more than enough tickets in a day to cover their salary, overhead, equipment costs and collection costs on the tickets, thus returning a net profit to the city and making it financially viable for the city to hire more traffic cops to produce more profit.

      If that's true, then we need to think about other reasons why enforcement isn't a viable solution to traffic violations.

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      • paikikala October 15, 2013 at 10:56 am

        You don't know where the money goes. Portland gets less than half of the citation collected from speeding tickets. The 'collected' amount is the difference between what the person owes and what they pay after talking to a judge. Portland is not allowed to have it's own court by Oregon Constitutuion (and does not want the cost), so Multnomah County runs the court system, for which most of the citation payments go to support.

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  • Mossby Pomegranate October 10, 2013 at 5:44 pm

    I asked about speed reader boards on NE Sacramento which is used by some as a connector between 102nd and 122nd. Of course the answer was: "Sorry no money in the budget for that anymore". I guess I'll just continue to duck and cover. : (

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    • Mossby Pomegranate October 10, 2013 at 5:47 pm

      Okay dumb to reply to myself but I should add NE Skidmore between Interstate and MLK seems awfully hostile as well. Surely that is a 25 mph street but the cars seem to be going to much faster.

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      • paikikala October 15, 2013 at 10:59 am

        Skidmore is a neighborhood collector and major response route.

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    • Ted Buehler October 10, 2013 at 8:35 pm

      Mossby -- write them back and ask for a "smart cart" -- a temporary speed readerboard installation.

      If they dis you, get 5 other bicyclists/residents to call in the same request.

      Then return and report ;^)

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    • paikikala October 15, 2013 at 10:58 am

      Neighborhood Collector street - it is a connector.

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  • gutterbunnybikes October 10, 2013 at 5:47 pm

    About 10 years ago I had the city do a study for my street in hopes of getting bumps, but was unsuccessful. It was frustrating to say the least, cause the study was set up on like to Tuesday afternoon and taken down sometime Thursday in when I was at work.

    One thing I did that helped a little in the daytime (I parked in the street back then) was I bought a cheap inflatable beach ball, and would wedge it under my car towards the middle of the street. I also made sure to tell the kids on the block to leave it alone, which they did.

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    • paikikala October 15, 2013 at 11:01 am

      So, on a day or two, when there was the least conflict between oncoming vehicles, the 85th percentile speed failed to exceed 5 mph over the posted speed, is what you're saying.

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  • Ted Buehler October 10, 2013 at 8:28 pm

    Hi All,

    Glad you all found my comments interesting. Great discussion.

    To all of you who have called in problems, that's a great step, and every bit helps, but if it didn't work you can escalate the complaint up a notch or two. The whole point of the writeup was a case study for folks like Kevin, who had a neighbor girl hit in a hit and run, and the street still had speeding problems.

    Escalating is easily done in Portland, there are various avenues to take, city folks are generally responsive and polite, its just a matter of a little persistence.

    Ted Buehler

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  • Ted Buehler October 10, 2013 at 8:33 pm

    BTW, my link the PBOT document describing diagonal diverters is broken.

    Here's a better link.
    http://www.portlandoregon.gov/transportation/article/83901

    All of you folks who ride on neighborhood greenways that have cars driving on them to avoid backed up arterials, shoot a request to SAFE@portlandoregon.gov and ask for a diagonal diverter as shown in this document.

    As of 3 years ago, PBOT had a policy of "zero diverters on neighborhod greenways" They've since relinquished and installed diverters at arterials, but as far as I know there are no new 45 degree diverters in town. That's what you need for the long stretches between arterials, like Clinton in the 20s, and Going in the 20s, to shoosh cars off entirely.

    Tell 'em you think the one on 16th and Tillamook is the cat's meow, and you'd like one just like it.

    Ted Buehler

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    • Mossby Pomegranate October 10, 2013 at 10:05 pm

      Interesting you mention this...I notice this behavior on Going near the NE 33rd and Prescott intersection, west of 33rd.

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    • Michael Andersen (News Editor) October 10, 2013 at 11:12 pm

      Sorry about the broken link, Ted - fixed now.

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    • paikikala October 15, 2013 at 11:04 am

      Tell them you've found $20k-$40k to build it also.

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  • Scott Kocher October 10, 2013 at 10:33 pm

    Ditto on the Bushnell Velocity radar gun. Great tool, $82. Happy to loan mine (downtown PDX)...

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  • Ted Buehler October 11, 2013 at 12:11 am

    Just a note on the whole "work through your Neighborhood Association" thing.

    It's not going to work for everything. There's a tyranny of the majority thing that rears its ugly head and make it a bear to get anything done.

    There's lots of topics, like cutting street parking or traffic lanes for bikes may well get voted down in a neighborhood association.

    But other things, where there is a sympathetic victim, its a slam dunk. If 9 yr old girls are getting hit by cars, odds are there's a lot of neighbors that already thought cars were going too fast. And you can get strong buy-in to have the city do something about it.

    So, don't be surprised if it turns out to be 2 very boring hours of your life. But it's probably worth it.

    The first time you go, but get there early, speak to whoever is chairing the meeting and tell them you'd like to make a public comment, then stand up and be concise, clear, and make sure those at the back of the room can hear you, and have a simple, straightforward request. Try to come across as a reasonable citizen who has a valid complaint that they can use their authority to resolve. If you have
    * a day job
    * a mortgage
    * a marriage, and/or
    * children,
    mention it and you'll have a little more sway.

    If you don't have these things, don't sweat it. Just make a sympathetic case for yourself and all the other bicyclists that need to put up with the same infrastructure problem as yourself.

    Ted Buehler

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    • spare_wheel October 11, 2013 at 11:54 am

      "If you have a day job, a mortgage, a marriage, and/or children,
      mention it and you'll have a little more sway."

      Even if neighborhood associations are prejudiced against the unemployed, renters, or singles, I find the fact that you are promoting use of this as an "advocacy tactic" to be offensive.

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    • 9watts October 11, 2013 at 2:20 pm

      Yikes. Here we are trying rather hard to encourage renters to attend NA meetings, dissuade them from thinking this is a homeowner's association/exclusive club, invite them to join the board....

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      • Ted Buehler October 12, 2013 at 8:40 pm

        9watts and spare wheel -- fair enough.

        I'm a pragmatist. While I don't like the homeowner bias in neighborhood associations, I don't see why not to take advantage of it when doing so might favor efforts to promote a good cause.

        What strategies would you two suggest using, if a person is a bit timid and hasn't been to a neighborhood association meeting before? Suppose you think cars are going too fast on your street, and you want them to help get some speed control measures implemented?

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        • 9watts October 13, 2013 at 8:04 am

          "What strategies would you two suggest using, if a person is a bit timid and hasn't been to a neighborhood association meeting before?"

          Stick around.

          If you come just once, chances are pretty slim that the association, the regulars, are going to run with your idea. But if you come back, take some initiative, show some interest and commitment to participating, lending a hand, anything's possible.

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  • Ted Buehler October 11, 2013 at 12:36 am

    I've always been big on bicycle advocacy, but a few things have really turned me on to the effectiveness of small requests, and the cumulative effects of many small requests. Here's a snapshot of the sorts of things you can do to be a more effective citizen wonk.

    * Portland Traffic and Transportation Class. 12 sessions with all of PBOT, ODOT, TriMet, Metro, and other leaders, all MCed by Rick Gustafson, President of Portland Streetcar, and a Portland alternative transportation advocate since the 1970s.
    http://www.portlandoregon.gov/transportation/35727

    * PSU Bicycle Planning class. I took this in fall, 2008.
    It's a terrific class, I'm surprised it doesn't get more chatter-time in the world of Portland bike wonkery. I was able to take it by registering for this class only, as a Washington State resident. It gives you all the professional information you need to be a bicycle planner. If you're a bike wonk and read BikePortland, you can probably talk your way around any prerequisites.
    http://www.pdx.edu/ibpi/learning-opportunities
    http://www.pdx.edu/usp/sites/www.pdx.edu.usp/files/USP465_565_201104.pdf
    https://psucurriculumtracker.pbworks.com/w/page/35972798/USP%20411%20511%20Pedestrian%20and%20Bicycle%20Planning%20Lab

    * AROW wonk nights. After the 2009 PT&T class, a bunch of us started "Active Right of Way" to facilitate ourselves and others doing transportation advocacy around town. Steve Bozzone, Alexis Grant, Ryan Hashigan, Evan Ross, Ben Foote, and a few others. For a year or so we met regularly, hashed out ideas, and got a few things rolling. Since then we've met sporadically, but its always enlightening to get in a room and listen to everyone else's take on things.

    * Make a list of everything you want fixed. Run it past your peers, turn it in.
    In Davis, CA in 2007, myself and others made a laundry list of all of 125 bike infrastructure problems around town that had easy, technical fixes and challenged City Council to get half of them tackled. Council thought it was an impressive list and we were a sympathetic lot, but didn't know where to start. I've since realized that stuff gets fixed a lot faster if you send them in as individual requests, one after the other.

    * AROW email list. A month or so ago someone pointed out that they'd gotten a nasty bump fixed on northbound 28th Ave over I-84. There was a 1" bump in the shoulder there, and it was a hard hit on your bike, or a swerve into the car lane to avoid it. And, come to find out at least 4 of us had emailed it in. Which marched it up the priority list.

    * Reading the manuals. There's about 12 major engineering and planning documents to be familiar with if you want to be able to hand-feed solutions with your requests. (Not necessary, obviously, but its empowering to be able to cite and engineering code that supports your request).
    I've led a couple "Yes You Can, Its In The MUTCD" workshops, where we wander through all the manuals so you can learn exactly what you can ask for and have a strong case for having it approved.
    Links to the manuals at http://www.activerightofway.org/p/yes-you-can-its-in-the-mutcd-workshop-on-monday-night/

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    • Ted Buehler October 11, 2013 at 1:32 pm

      & I think Kenny Heggem and Nick Falbo were also in that class (I took it twice, don't quite remember who was in it each year).

      If you haven't taken the Portland Traffic and Transportation Class, get on the wait list for 2014!

      The premise of the class is "we're here to empower you as a citizen activist." It's the bomb.

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  • 9watts October 11, 2013 at 12:49 am

    Neighborhood associations have regular elections. Run for an open seat, or just join without running. If you stick around and help, before you know it you will be asked to head a committee or even chair the association. If your neighborhood association prints a regular newsletter, submit an article for publication on a topic close to your heart. My guess is they will print it. In your article you could invite folks who might share your passion/concern/outrage to meet. Form a committee under the auspices of the NA. The list of ways to work with (this particular) system is nearly endless.

    I'm not impressed with the 'this is so boring' excuse. Hasn't been my experience at all.

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    • paikikala October 15, 2013 at 11:11 am

      Don't forget to advocate for raising your taxes. You can't build new stuff without more money. Portland can't even maintain what it has at this point in time.

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  • Ted Buehler October 11, 2013 at 12:51 am

    If you like talking about these sorts of problems, or want a resource of wonks who might be able to help you out, you're all invited to get on the Active Right of Way email list, or otherwise get involved.

    http://www.activerightofway.org/
    https://twitter.com/arowportland
    https://groups.google.com/forum/#!forum/transconpdx
    https://www.facebook.com/activerightofway

    We're an informal group of bicycle and other active transportation advocates, we shoot out a few emails a week, and get together a couple times a year for various wonk nights, social gatherings, or ride together to public meetings.

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    • AndyC of Linnton October 11, 2013 at 10:03 am

      Can I get on the AROW email list, as in, will emails/updates go to my email account? It looks like more a discussion group on Google, but maybe I'm doing something wrong. Thanks!

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      • Steve B October 11, 2013 at 10:56 am

        Yes, discussion emails can go in your inbox daily or weekly. Sign up here: http://bit.ly/arowlist

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  • jim October 13, 2013 at 12:22 am

    Why are cars driving on the greenways instead of the main corridors? Are they all backed up with bad traffic? What can we do to improve flow on the corridors? Have these corridors had lanes removed to make bike lanes?

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    • paikikala October 15, 2013 at 11:11 am

      People live there too.

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  • Kevin Wagoner October 15, 2013 at 6:53 pm

    Thanks Ted. I posted this article on our Nextdoor.com site. I had previously posted some of your ideas there when you sent them to me. I still don't have my 5 on 5 basket ball team. I recorded roughly 50 cars speeding in a 20mph school zone today over 20 minutes, one car going 39. I sent it into the SAFE line. I still need to implement some of your other ideas. Come on out and check out the brand new (not finished yet) sidewalk on the street. I'm hoping to step up the activity once the construction stops.

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  • Kevin Wagoner October 15, 2013 at 7:02 pm

    Politely Pester is an interesting term. I've tried to increase my professionalism with my responses over the last couple of years but I fear they still need some improvement.

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