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One commuter’s take on the many turns and stops on Tilikum’s east side

Posted by on October 27th, 2015 at 2:14 pm

tilikum east side map with numbers
Issues identified in Justin C.’s letter below.
(Map: Google. Annotations: BikePortland)

How many inconveniences does it take to add up to a serious problem?

“I feel like I’m using a system that was not designed for me… It seems to be designed to get me out of the way of transit vehicles, not to get me to work.”
— Justin C.

For about a year now, we’ve been watching the expanse of east-side paths to Tilikum Crossing with unease. We’ve heard from many readers, publicly and privately, about its many issues. But like most of us, we wanted to give TriMet and the Portland Bureau of Transportation a chance to get it built, celebrate the good parts and work the kinks out before talking about what can be done to fix the problems here.

After more than a month of Tilikum crossings, it’s time to start talking about what’s still wrong and what can be done. And we couldn’t frame the situation better than one reader, Justin C., did in an email to BikePortland last week.

The following is slightly rearranged for clarity, and we’ve added boldface numbers to correspond roughly to the map above.

A few of the issues mentioned here (such as wayfinding) have been getting better. But as a summary of the general situation, this is spot on.

Fridays I have a late start for child-care reasons and I’m usually biking in (from SE Holgate/67th area) starting at 8:15 or 8:30. I’ve tried on those days to avoid the Ladd’s/Madison bridge crowd, to use the Tilikum Crossing since it opened (so maybe seven weeks or so). Most of those times I’ve gotten stopped by a train at the Clinton crossing. Sometimes I wait and sometimes I detour to Hawthorne.

Having used the Clinton-to-the-River route frequently before the bridge opened, I was excited at the possibilities that the new project offered. My route had previously involved detouring south to nearly Powell and then back up 9th or 8th to Division Place and the Esplanade (when it was open) or another route to Hawthorne. I got tired of this eventually and joined the crowd using the Madison-Hawthorne approach (despite living and working south of there). When they opened a bit of separated multi-use path between the tracks and future bridge, I was thrilled. I sat through the poor signal timing because I figured that would all get fixed in time. It would have to, right, with all the Interested but Concerned people the new bridge would get on bikes? They wouldn’t open the best new bike bridge without making it easy to access on bike.

Of course, that’s what has happened, at least so far. Here are how minor inconveniences can add up:

We didn’t put in a bike bridge over the freight tracks. Fine. I understand, things cost money and no one can negotiate with Class 1 railroads. And you think, maybe being inconvenienced by a poorly timed light at Clinton and 12th (1) isn’t such a big deal. Maybe rolling the dice on being late for work because of a freight train (2) is no big deal.

But once we get over the tracks, it should be pretty smooth sailing for people on bikes. Instead, I feel like I’m using a system that was not designed for me. Because, obviously, it wasn’t. It seems to be designed to get me out of the way of transit vehicles, not to get me to work.

Maybe waiting for a bike signal to cross 11th/Milwaukie and get to the stretch of MUP (3) isn’t a big deal, even though the southbound platoon on 11th/Milwaukie hasn’t been released and it’s red all around.

cut the corner
SW 7th and Tilikum Way, looking west. Justin said
he’s seen people heading westbound cut this corner
and nearly run into someone heading eastbound.

Wayfinding would be nice, but if there’s a well-thought-out approach to the bridge, people will find it with or without signs. Fine. And the intersection at 8th (4) is complicated, so I don’t mind waiting.

When I get across 8th, I have to navigate a tight curve across a utility pole right in the bike path. And then stop for buses at 7th Avenue, only to hit another 90 degree turn right next to a blind corner (5) (where I’ve seen three(!) bike collisions already).

industrial caruthers
Caruthers Street just southeast of Tilikum Crossing.

So then you get to Caruthers, and you see the beautiful new bridge ahead of you, and you ride toward it and realize that you can’t get onto the bridge! I’ve just been abandoned in an industrial area. (6) You have to find a way over to a T intersection, cross the road and both sets of tracks (7) and then use a tangle of an approach lane to get onto the bridge’s main span.

But here’s the thing: They built a nice new concrete road right there from scratch! A blank slate. It’s called Tilikum Way, and this portion of it runs from Seventh Avenue right onto the bridge. But you can’t use it. (You get routed farther away from the bridge to Caruthers and another stop sign at Fourth.)

tilikum way
Tilikum Way: transit only.

There’s a new sidewalk built on the north side of Tilikum Way (fenced between the Rail Heritage Center and the MAX tracks) that goes from the new bridge along Tilikum Way, under the MLK/Grand bridges, and just dead ends into a fence. It’s as if someone thought of connecting the bike route to the bridge via Tilikum Way but then decided against it.

I’m not naïve; I know it would take some planning to get bikes on the right side of the MAX tracks. And the bridge is lovely. But maybe I was naïve for assuming that more was being done to make this an actual “bike bridge” as opposed to merely a bridge that allows bikes.

I came to terms with my gripes about the west side connection (no bikes on the Harbor Viaduct structure from Lincoln to Moody), and I somewhat bought TriMet’s explanation that they couldn’t squeeze it between the existing bridges they had to thread. Taking Harrison to the MUP to Moody is solid “B” infrastructure, so they could be forgiven for not building an A+.

But the east side is just such a mess that here’s the reality: We’re hoping for signal timing to make a bad route slightly less bad. Wasn’t this supposed to be the shining example for the rest of the country on how committed we are to non-car modes? We really couldn’t do any better for bikes?

For years, I had hoped this bridge would make me feel proud to be a cyclist (and I know your views on this word, but this is how I feel), and that all the planning and attention to detail would make me feel that someone valued me as such and was looking out for me. What I’m instead left with is the thought, “well, I guess it’s better than Powell.”

Thanks for listening.

Like Justin, we at BikePortland try not to be naive. Crowded trains and buses get priority over bikes on a TriMet project because, from a pure street-efficiency standpoint, they should. Not to mention that TriMet is first and foremost a transit agency (did you notice that they refer to this as the Tilikum Crossing Transit Bridge?).

What happened with Tilikum’s eastside approach wasn’t that no one spared a thought for bikes. There was clearly some thought put into how bikes would find their way across the bridge. But what didn’t happen here was an effort, from the early stages of planning, to think about what it would feel like to actually bike through this new district.

As Justin mentions, there are still some things that could be done to improve the cycling experience around the Tilikum. We’ll be covering several of those over the next few weeks.

— Michael Andersen, (503) 333-7824 – michael@bikeportland.org

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

  • rick October 27, 2015 at 2:18 pm

    I don’t see the hassle of a grid-street system.

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    • gutterbunnybikes October 27, 2015 at 4:00 pm

      You mean like being able to find things (if you learn the 1000 blocks of the east/west/north named streets you don’t need a map in this town), reroute as necessary almost always travel in a straight lines?

      Yeah, suburban squiggles and cul-de-sacs so much better.

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      • rick October 28, 2015 at 7:34 am

        I dislike dead-end streets that don’t have thru-trail access to the other side. This Orange Line had more potential and it should have gone underground by 17th at SE Schiller Street to prevent congestion and bike crashes on the rail lines.

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  • Granpa October 27, 2015 at 2:20 pm

    “There was clearly some AFTER thought put into how bikes would find their way across the bridge.”
    There, fixed

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  • ahpook October 27, 2015 at 2:55 pm

    This, 100%.

    The clearest message are the stop signs at either side of the bus-only road at the deadly corner. They are “stop” for bike traffic, “through” for bus traffic, even though the ratio of bikes to busses through there is 100:1.

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    • Dee October 27, 2015 at 3:34 pm

      I’ve had buses stop for me to cross with my bike (while I’ve been stopped waiting for them to pass by) at that weird mid-block stop. It’s like they intuitively know it’s poorly designed.

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      • mw October 27, 2015 at 3:46 pm

        Even Trimet bus drivers can be niceholes

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      • Hello, Kitty October 27, 2015 at 10:18 pm

        Well… it is a crosswalk, after all. They have to stop for you.

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    • Adam Herstein October 28, 2015 at 1:23 am

      There’s a painted zebra crossing there, so per state law, if you’re cycling at walking speed, the bus driver must stop for you. Also, if you’re walking, the bus driver must stop for you. The stop sign is unnecessary and confusing. A stop sign on a sidewalk for people walking makes no sense.

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      • paikiala October 28, 2015 at 12:09 pm

        Isn’t it a shared path? Stop signs on MUPs at road crossings happen all over Portland.

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        • Adam Herstein October 28, 2015 at 3:45 pm

          So people walking have to stop at a stop sign? How does that even work? There’s a crosswalk, so bus drivers have to stop anyway. People walking always have priority per law, so why do we give them a stop sign?

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          • LC October 29, 2015 at 10:38 am

            Seattle has been doing this to their crosswalks too.. It basically amounts to the fact that people driving cars don’t like to have to stop at crosswalks so they resort to this piece of nonsense. I have never heard an explanation for it.

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  • Scott H October 27, 2015 at 2:55 pm

    If I had to choose, I would choose to fix 1, 2, 3, and 4. The timing is still just awful for no good reason. And it doesn’t matter whether you’re on a bike or in a car, sometimes the car signals have seemingly nonsensically long waits.

    5, 6, and 7, while not perfect, can be navigated pretty quickly with a little bit of practice.

    Frankly, it is a system designed for trains and buses, not bikes.

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  • Indy October 27, 2015 at 2:56 pm

    >”Crowded trains and buses get priority over bikes on a TriMet project because, from a pure street-efficiency standpoint, they should. Not to mention that TriMet is first and foremost a transit agency (did you notice that they refer to this as the Tilikum Crossing Transit Bridge?).”

    Why would that be?

    Hypothetical situation and all, but replace every train track with flat road, and you can fit far FAR more bikes per inch of space than buses and trains. One or fifty riders getting off the “tracks” don’t impact the other hundred or so.

    You might have a point with buses, but Many bikes in all quadrants can beat buses during high commute times. I certainly can beat a line 12 bus by 10 minutes from Hillsdale during morning rush hour.

    Cover them and you reduce the impact of weather.
    Add heaters at stopping points and you help keep your riders warm.

    Reduced health considiton, riders arrive happy and energized, better workforce…

    Hell, give the bikes away, for free, it won’t cost anything what Tri-Met costs to run those trains.

    But we’re a lazy culture, so we all know this is a pipe dream.

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    • Scott H October 27, 2015 at 3:37 pm

      A flat, heated, covered, bikes-only path where they’re handing out free bikes? That’s a pipe dream alright. PBOT can’t even afford traffic lights, remember.

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    • Adam Herstein October 28, 2015 at 1:25 am

      There’s no need to create a “bikes vs. transit” fight. Bikes and public transport go hand-in-hand for building a more livable and less car-dependent city.

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      • Scott H October 28, 2015 at 5:27 pm


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  • Adam Herstein October 27, 2015 at 3:03 pm

    The east side appproach is not a cycle track or a MUP; it’s a sidewalk that you’re allowed to bike on. This is evident in the tight turning radii that make it impossible to take a turn at speed, the fact that we have to use the ped signal half the time, and that we have to use the same curb ramps as people walking. Adding bicycle signals (that don’t even prevent right-hooks!) doesn’t make it a cycle path.

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    • paikiala October 27, 2015 at 3:33 pm

      Maybe it’s your definition of an MUP? Why would a cyclist expect to take a 90-degree turn ‘at speed’ on a facility shared with pedestrians?

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      • Velolief October 27, 2015 at 4:49 pm

        The question should be why are we building MUPs (subpar ones at that) in bike/pedestrian dense areas that are expected to get denser in the near future.

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      • lop October 27, 2015 at 6:53 pm

        Cyclists cheat turns as much as they can, they aren’t going to make a sharp right angle turn unless they see it will cause a crash. When there’s a building blocking views it gets uncomfortable if you don’t know how someone is coming around it.


        If this crosswalk had been angled a bit it might have reduced visibility between cyclists and buses – especially at increased speeds, but let cyclists stay to one half of the path more reliably which would reduce conflict between cyclists and other cyclists/pedestrians. In his email Justin says there have been three crashes already. Would it be possible to communicate to cyclists that they are expected to yield to buses, and to drivers that they are expected to slow enough for the turn that cyclists will see them and be able to yield? Maybe a flashing yellow crossing light that’s triggered only when a bus is coming? If this isn’t reasonable to expect then the sharp turn and fence to enforce it to slow down cyclists does make sense.

        It’s not the only example of seemingly unnecessary sharp turns though. Near the Sellwood bridge cyclists were directed onto this switchback for a week or two.


        The turns aren’t that bad…except when another cyclist is going the other way. This will be another place where you’ll have crashes once it opens and there are more people going over the new Sellwood bridge.

        How much harder would it have been to round out those corners a bit?

        In the picture at the top of this page you see a switchback for drivers coming from/going to Grand avenue. Here it is a little bigger.


        No sharp turns. Yes, you have to slow down. But rounding out the curve some makes a big difference.

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      • Adam Herstein October 27, 2015 at 8:14 pm

        No, my point is stop designing bike paths with 90° turns. They should be designed with wider turning radii to allow a person riding a bike to take the turn at speed or only slowing down a little bit. Bike riders should not have to come to a near stop or take the turn super wide and encroach onto the oncoming lane.

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        • davemess October 28, 2015 at 8:06 am

          I find your love of cycle tracks and need for speed to be a bit incongruous.

          I think you might also be underestimating the average riders ability to handle and turn their bike at a decent (even if reduced) speed.

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          • Bald One October 28, 2015 at 9:48 am

            I am also finding that the new designs used in Portland of cycletrack/MUP curb transitions where they have laid out the bumpy yellow mats at the same place where they are requiring a turn is very difficult. I find these bumpy yellow mats to be slippery when wet if a turn is attempted on them – no trouble riding straight across on these, but this mess down on the Orange line has several locations of turn required across slippery-when-wet bumpy yellow mats. Seeing these used more and more on these types of new sidewalk-street-MUP cycle routings at off angles.

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            • Adam Herstein October 28, 2015 at 10:34 am

              Agreed, and that’s because TriMet/PBOT didn’t bother to create a separate curb ramp for people cycling.

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              • paikiala October 28, 2015 at 12:12 pm

                How would we tell blind pedestrians the ‘bike ramp’ is not a ‘ped ramp’. If not, then how to we inform blind pedestrians they are entering a roadway if not using the ADA approved textured surface?

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                • SD October 28, 2015 at 12:48 pm

                  Could the textured surface not be slippery when wet?

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                • Adam Herstein October 28, 2015 at 1:02 pm

                  How about textured brick instead of slippery plastic? This is common in other countries.

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                • Adam Herstein October 28, 2015 at 1:04 pm

                  Or if the space is bike-only, is a textured surface even required? Why not install a bike ramp similar to the one at 11th and Clinton (in front of the busway).

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          • Adam Herstein October 28, 2015 at 10:33 am

            It’s not a “need for speed”; in fact, I ride quite slowly. I’m not saying other people should ride fast, either. “At speed” just means without slowing down. Bicycles can go faster than people walking and cycle paths should take this into account.

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        • wsbob October 28, 2015 at 10:49 am

          Do you have in mind, and mph range of speed in mind for “…at speed…”? Kind of important to consider given that many people biking can easily ride up to 20 mph and faster.

          It is the tightness of the turn’s radius that figures how fast the turn can be made riding a bike. And idea of at what speed it’s currently comfortable and safe to be taking the turns being spoken of?

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          • Adam Herstein October 28, 2015 at 3:42 pm

            Some turns I effectively have to slow down to below walking speed. The fenced-in curve at westbound Tilikum and Moody and the ramp at Hollywood TC. The MUP next to the “animals riding bikes” mural along the Orange Line I can take at speed, but only if I drift into the oncoming lane or almost smack into the side of the building. I typically average 12-15 MPH.

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            • Adam Herstein October 28, 2015 at 3:43 pm

              I take that back. Just took a look at a recent ride and it’s closer to a 9-12 MPH average.

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            • wsbob October 29, 2015 at 9:49 am

              I may have missed something, but I gather that the route to the east approach of the bridge you’ve described, and the one Justin C wrote bikeportland about, aren’t what you might call ‘dedicated’ bike lanes or cycle tracks designed specifically to enable fluid, easy access to and from the bridge.

              The routes seem to be just a hodge podge of bits sidewalks, MUP’s and streets people have decided to use to get to and from the bridge. If an actual cycle track were designed, really tight radius that obliged slowing to less than a walking speed, 3 mph or thereabouts, would most likely not be included. Some people naturally would want to go faster, and for them, the street may be the better place to ride, but for MUP’s, allowing consideration for people on foot, 9-12 mph sounds about right.

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    • Scott H October 27, 2015 at 3:42 pm

      90 degree turn at speed, that’s not a cycle track or an MUP, that’s called a velodrome my friend.

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  • axoplasm October 27, 2015 at 3:08 pm

    “ It’s as if someone thought of connecting the bike route to the bridge via Tilikum Way but then decided against it…here’s the reality: We’re hoping for signal timing to make a bad route slightly less bad.”

    THIS. A good guide to sanely using the Tilikum is to assume the bike signals are steering you AWAY from a good path.

    I take this bridge routinely from approximately the same place as Justin C. I’ve found that the crossings are much better if I actively disregard signage & wayfinding (but not the law). The clean crossings are all there, but Tri-Met is trying to steer bikes away from them.

    For example, avoid (1-2-3) altogether by turning north on 12th (the sidewalk works OK if I’m with my kids), crossing Division, turning west on Caruthers and then crossing Division (again) and the tracks at SE 8th (4). This is a straight shot over the tracks and the light is more sanely timed.

    Then, avoid the jog onto Tilikum Way (5) a poorly-timed light at Water (7), and a second light at the Max station by skipping the bike lane and riding west on Division Pl to 4th, then turning left on Caruthers & crossing through the Opera parking lot. Only one crosswalk light, which is almost always green.

    Despite being slightly longer this detour is much faster, with simpler crossings and much saner stoplights. And it is 100% legal.

    Even better is to avoid Division altogether by crossing the freight tracks on the new Lafayette/Rhine bridge just off 21st — especially if you’re coming from the south (Holgate). In this case, avoid (again) the bike-only signals, particularly at 12th/Milwaukie, by jumping into the street on Gideon. (This does require proceeding straight through the intersection onto the trail on a right turn arrow)

    There are similar shortcuts on the westside. For example, slow to walking speed & get out of the bike lane at approximately Elephant’s deli. Then use pedestrian signals to cross the tracks and/or Moody. Do this on foot if it’s congested. Even at a walking speed, it’s usually faster to walk than following the bikelane into the weird gooseneck at Moody & waiting through two or even three signals.

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    • Justin October 27, 2015 at 3:34 pm

      Thanks for the tips! I used to take a very similar route to the Esplanade years ago to access the Hawthorne Bridge, but I had hoped a shiny new bike bridge would make those clunky old routes obsolete.
      I’ll check out the Lafayette bridge. It’s a staircase, right? I’ve never even considered the “southern strategy” of staying south of Powell. Could be promising.

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      • axoplasm October 27, 2015 at 3:45 pm

        That bridge has elevators, my kids love them. I didn’t know until about a month ago that Gladstone goes connects to 21st on the west side of the Fred’s HQ.

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        • Justin October 27, 2015 at 3:57 pm

          I’m sure I’ll figure this out, but once you get across it, do you take the 17th crossing of Powell to get to Gideon?

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          • axoplasm October 27, 2015 at 4:20 pm

            Yep that’s the one

            Southern Strategy: https://goo.gl/maps/MufFEJBAoK72

            Northern Strategy: https://goo.gl/maps/xqisPDFazoS2

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            • Charley October 27, 2015 at 5:16 pm

              Thanks for those maps!

              This is how I’ve been getting through there (I’m actually headed up to the Hawthorne, still, but this route would get me to the on-ramp to the TK at the fenced off sound sculpture right under the bridge). Note that, if you’re like me and have a strong dislike of waiting around for red lights at empty intersections, one can simply enter the westside sidewalk midway up SE 8th, round the corner (on the sidewalk) onto Division Place, all without putting a foot down, and rarely having to wait for southbound traffic on SE 8th. Then, one simply exits the sidewalk onto the auto lanes of Division Place. Fast and efficient, because it gets one from the neighborhood to the bridges without a single red light! .


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              • Bald One October 28, 2015 at 12:50 pm

                I’ve tried this route, also. Not bad, are you riding the sidewalk or the right travel lane on the Powell section?

                I’ve been having some good luck getting through the 11/12 signal mess along the Gideon – Tilikum way route (no RR tracks crossing needed). I’ve found most of the time that cars are not present at this intersection (only red-lights on empty intersections).

                Would be nice if they opened up the big empty “bus-only” road along between 9th and 11th, since there never seem to be any vehicles using it. They should change this to bus and bikes only – plenty of precedent in the City for this.

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              • Paul Souders October 28, 2015 at 1:03 pm

                Oooh that looks good. One to try without the kiddos I think. Thanks!

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            • TheCat October 27, 2015 at 9:43 pm

              Looks like the Northern Strategy would work for someone coming down Lincoln toward Ladd’s Addition too. I’ll definitely try it tomorrow. It will take me off Clinton, but that’s just fine given how much traffic there is on Clinton these days.

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            • Kate L. October 28, 2015 at 9:14 am

              THANK YOU for taking the time to post these maps. I know you helped me, and probably many others!

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            • Bald One October 28, 2015 at 12:54 pm

              Southern strategy is good. A little harder (more left turns from the lane of vehicle traffic) East bound than West, but still a good strategy in both directions. Semis are sometimes parked across the road in the morning at 4th Ave and Division Pl, but you can see them and turn North a block earlier on Grand if they are there.

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            • El Biciclero October 28, 2015 at 4:17 pm

              Thank goodness somebody has the time to do the study and research necessary to figure out a two-mile bike route that uses streets, sidewalks, MUPs—and even an elevator! Meanwhile, in my car, I can just get in, whip out my phone, start texting, and by the time I’m caught up on emails, I’ve covered two miles and reached my destination—all without needing to pay a lick of attention.


              How to Find a Store at The Mall (tips for bicyclists):

              Even if you ride a bike sometimes, you may find you have occasion to visit The Mall to do some shopping. Once you’ve parked your bike and gone inside, remember—you’re still a bicyclist and there are a few insider tips you need to know to stay safe. The best place to start is to find a Mall Directory. Fortunately, these are usually located near the entrance doors so you won’t have to venture too far into dangerous, high-volume mall traffic to find one. Once you’ve located the store you want to visit on the directory, make a note of how far away it is. If the store you want is also next to your entrance door, you’re in luck! Often, however, the store you want is at the opposite end of The Mall, which means the quickest, most direct way to get there is to follow the Main Concourse. That’s just not safe. So the first thing to do is figure out whether there is an “anchor store”, such as Macy’s, Sears, or even JC Penney between you and your destination. Oftentimes, these anchor stores are large enough and have enough concourse entrances that you can make significant progress toward your destination by wandering through them. Even though they are relatively safer than the main concourse, anchor stores can still harbor significant volumes of dangerous traffic, so try to stick to quieter departments such as Furniture, Men’s Shoes, or Children’s Apparel (unless it’s back-to-school time). You may have to take an escalator upstairs to find these calmer departments. Once you have made your way to the concourse entrance that looks like it’s the closest to your destination store, try to judge the remaining distance. Sometimes, it’s still just too far to travel in Main Concourse traffic. If so, then all you have to do is go back into the anchor store and find an outside exit. Hopefully, you memorized the locations of the other outside mall entrances when you were looking at the directory, otherwise, this step will be a little bit tricky. Once you are outside, make your way around the outside of the mall toward where you believe your destination store to be. If there is a second anchor store (with an outside entrance) nearer to your destination, you could try ducking in there and see how close you get, otherwise look for other general mall entrances that look like they might be close. One thing to watch out for is getting detoured into a parking garage—try to stay away from those, as they usually will only take you farther away from the mall. Once you have found the entrance that is closest to your destination, remember: if you have to travel any distance along the main concourse, stay as far up against the storefronts as possible—just watch out for people dashing out of the stores you pass. You might have to stop and wait for traffic to clear before crossing in front of some stores. Also, it may be tempting to follow narrow passages that look like they are going your direction, but those usually only lead to restrooms. When you’ve reached your destination store, be sure the door will open for you; if it doesn’t, just wait for another shopper to come along and open it for you. Once you learn and practice these simple tips, finding your way around the mall will be much less stressful—and way safer!

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        • Alex Reed October 27, 2015 at 4:05 pm

          I wish the door-zone bike lanes on Gladstone didn’t scare the bejeezus out of me, otherwise this would be my best route to many places!

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          • Charley October 27, 2015 at 5:00 pm

            I ride Gladstone to work and just ride in the middle of the road. It’s downhill, so I’m going fast; there’s also not much moving auto traffic to worry about on my way down.

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            • Alex Reed October 27, 2015 at 7:56 pm

              I do that too, although I worry about aggro drivers so I tend to take other routes at rush hour. What about the way back? I detour to Francis St. but the crossing at Chavez leaves a lot to be desired.

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          • Justin October 28, 2015 at 8:33 am

            I told my wife I was thinking about taking Gladstone. I said, “There are bike lanes.” She said, “There’s also a ghost bike.”

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            • davemess October 28, 2015 at 1:22 pm

              I’ve had no issues in 4 years of riding Gladstone.
              It’s just not that highly trafficked of a street.
              Yes there is a ghost bike, but I would guess (without seeing full data) that that incident was an outlier.

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              • Alex Reed October 29, 2015 at 6:57 am

                I wouldn’t be surprised if you were right and the objective danger on Gladstone were low relative to say SE 122nd. There are fewer cars driving on it than on a major arterial, and their speeds are only like 25-30 rather than 40+. And, Gladstone is mostly residential, so any particular parked car is going to have its door opened relatively rarely.

                The fact is that objective danger is not how I make my biking decisions (and I bet I’m not alone in that). The rational part of my brain is well aware that, pretty much anywhere I bike in Portland, I am extending my life through the exercise WAY more than the risk of injury is decreasing my life expectancy. How I do make decisions is much more emotional – do close-by drivers (+ dooring risk in this case) cause me to contemplate my own grisly demise on a regular basis when biking this route? If yes, then I avoid it because it’s not that fun.

                I tried Gladstone uphill again last night at 6pm. Still no fun. Quite a bit of car traffic, their speeds were higher than Clinton, and if I made any effort to avoid the door zone, the cars passed me much closer than they pass me on Clinton.

                I don’t see how the door zone isn’t a worry uphill. Yes, you have a shorter stopping distance, so the danger of running into a suddenly opened door is less. But there’s still danger there, and the danger of having a door opened directly into you is increased slightly (because you’re going slower and next to doors longer). Or is the idea that you look into every car and determine that there’s no driver there? That’s way too much for me to pay attention to and still enjoy my ride.

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            • Nick Skaggs October 28, 2015 at 4:19 pm

              Really, it’s not that bad. As a poster above said, you can just take the lane the whole way downhill, and I’m usually climbing up it at a speed that makes it easy to avoid being doored- that is to say, slowly. It’s one of my favorite parts of my commute.

              I’ve found the impatient speedsters are actually much more likely to pass me on Francis.

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              • Alex Reed October 28, 2015 at 5:23 pm

                Yeah, the lack of stop signs on Francis is just beckoning the speedsters….

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    • Buzz October 27, 2015 at 4:36 pm

      Too bad there is nothing intuitive about this route, which is similar to what I’ve been doing, except that I also avoid the signal at SE 8th and use SE 9th to cross the tracks on the sidewalk on the east side of SE 8th (I only use this route on my return trip). And then there is that block of wheel-eating potholes on SE Caruthers between SE 10th and 11th…

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    • resopmok October 28, 2015 at 6:03 am

      “Only one crosswalk light, which is almost always green.” This light, coming from the Opera parking lot, which you refer to in paragraph 4, actually represents a huge hazard that I think none have yet mentioned. This light is usually green, but there is no light at the intersection with the eastbound bike lane, where people riding off the bridge are like to still be travelling quickly. The sightlines for both are difficult at best, and the “mixed signal” that users reach coming from both directions could easily, if it hasn’t already, lead to a collision.

      I would caution users from both directions to slow considerably and be on the lookout here until/unless something is done about it.

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      • Paul Souders October 28, 2015 at 1:05 pm

        Yes you’re right. I do that kind of unthinkingly but it is a hazard.

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    • SD October 28, 2015 at 9:42 am

      “Welcome to Portland. If you plan to bike to or from the east portion of the Tilikum crossing, please read the Bikeportland.org comment thread from October 2015 on how to navigate and/ or avoid the multi-million dollar ‘Bike-Friendly TM’ infrastructure.”

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      • Paul Souders October 28, 2015 at 1:06 pm

        The infrastructure’s awesome, it’s the paint, signage and traffic signals that stink.

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  • Mike Quiglery October 27, 2015 at 3:13 pm

    Some people like to gripe about everything.

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    • SilkySlim October 27, 2015 at 3:32 pm

      I’ve got one foot in your camp, and another in my daily experiences (twice daily!) making my way through nearly the exact same route. There are no dealbreaker piece that makes me switch back to Ladd’s/Hawthorne, but when something annoying happens every like 150m for a mile, my teeth grind a bit.

      But for what it is worth, the worst section of my ride is in the morning, going up 21st and then left of Clinton. THAT part I have to be vigilant on, force to ride fast and aggressive to be safe. This whole Tillikum section is just kind of slow.

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      • Hello, Kitty October 27, 2015 at 10:39 pm

        Just firmly take the lane on 21st… I’ve ridden it daily for decades and have never once had an aggressive driver use their horn. The street is much mellower than its volume would suggest.

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    • hotrodder October 27, 2015 at 3:34 pm

      I don’t always grip, but I will if the lid is on real tight.

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    • Alex Reed October 27, 2015 at 4:04 pm

      Some people have a vision of a Portland with a lot more biking going on… which will take a REALLY long time if every shiny new piece of infrastructure is this confusing and inconvenient.

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    • jeff October 27, 2015 at 4:18 pm

      True. I had some pedestrian yell “Red means stop” yesterday crossing the bridge, when I had a nice, bright green bike light. People see an article about some moron on a bike taking out a pedestrian and now I’m a target while I obey every traffic law there is. Great.

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    • SD October 27, 2015 at 4:27 pm

      And some people care about efficiency and good design.

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  • Dee October 27, 2015 at 3:31 pm

    I’m so fatigued and disappointed with this new route. It really is my best option from Division and 30th to my job at the CLSB, but gawd…I never thought I’d long for the Hawthorne commute. At this point I mostly feel sad and defeated.

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    • davemess October 28, 2015 at 8:10 am

      how much time does this new route save you over the Hawthorne though?
      Even with all the hassles it still on average at least 4-5 minutes faster for me to get to the tram.

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  • 9watts October 27, 2015 at 3:38 pm


    Excellent letter. Thanks for taking the time to sort this out on paper for those of us who haven’t yet had the pleasure.

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  • Endo October 27, 2015 at 3:38 pm

    >”Crowded trains and buses get priority over bikes on a TriMet project because, from a pure street-efficiency standpoint, they should. Not to mention that TriMet is first and foremost a transit agency (did you notice that they refer to this as the Tilikum Crossing Transit Bridge?).”Why would that be?Hypothetical situation and all, but replace every train track with flat road, and you can fit far FAR more bikes per inch of space than buses and trains. One or fifty riders getting off the “tracks” don’t impact the other hundred or so.You might have a point with buses, but Many bikes in all quadrants can beat buses during high commute times. I certainly can beat a line 12 bus by 10 minutes from Hillsdale during morning rush hour.Cover them and you reduce the impact of weather. Add heaters at stopping points and you help keep your riders warm.Reduced health considiton, riders arrive happy and energized, better workforce…Hell, give the bikes away, for free, it won’t cost anything what Tri-Met costs to run those trains.But we’re a lazy culture, so we all know this is a pipe dream.Recommended 1

    I agree that it’s mostly the lazy that end up on TriMet. Why on earth should we be catering to those people, especially when it means pouring money down the bottomless pit that is TriMet.

    I thought this was supposed to be a bike advocacy site, not a TriMet advocacy site.

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    • Hello, Kitty October 27, 2015 at 10:42 pm

      Only lazy people take Trimet? Really?

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    • Peter R October 28, 2015 at 8:46 am

      Probably one of the most ignorant comments I’ve read in a long long time.

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      • Endo October 28, 2015 at 9:11 am

        I’m surprised people on a bike advocacy site would think this was controversial. Anybody who’s willing to spend over $1000 a year so that they can sit on their butt when they could walk or bike all over town for free counts as lazy in my book.

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        • 9watts October 28, 2015 at 9:16 am

          “Anybody who’s willing to spend over $1000 a year so that they can sit on their butt ”

          I spend maybe $45/yr to ride the bus, bike the rest of the time, sometimes even put my bike on the rack in the front of the bus. Are you aware that you can buy individual tickets?

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        • J_R October 28, 2015 at 9:42 am

          Endo: You clearly have no tolerance or understanding of the actual needs of others. My 91year old mother is not a candidate for riding a bike or walking. I’d much rather that she ride transit than be driving. It’s safer for all when she’s not driving.

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  • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) October 27, 2015 at 3:46 pm

    This isn’t the first time and likely won’t be the last time that a transit project did not take cycling seriously in this town. I think it’s a big problem that someone needs to step up and take leadership on to prevent it from continuing.

    The issue IMO starts with how these big projects are funded. The big pot of federal money that funds these rail projects is earmarked specifically for transit… Therefore transit takes the lead in planning and everything else is a distant second.

    We need bikeways to have a large federal funding pot if we really want bikeways to be able to compete for prominence in these non-highway transportation projects.

    The other thing at issue here (directly related to the funding piece) is that we don’t have any powerful agency that is looking out solely for bikeways in the way that TriMet looks after buses and light rail or the way that Portland Streetcar looks after streetcar. If we had a “trimet for bikes” we could really make some progress!

    I’ve already expressed my concerns to planners working on the SW Corridor “transit project” and the Powell-Division “transit project” because I’m afraid the same thing will happen there. Why are those projects “transit projects” at this stage? I think they should be mode-agnostic at these early planning stages and that we should call them “transportation projects” so we can have an honest conversation about which modes should be planned for and with which priority.

    Why does this issue really bug me? Besides the poor, compromised and/or non-existent bikeways that result (as in the MLK/Grand streetcar debacle where we should have had a protected bike lane.. don’t get me started), I feel that real, physically separated/world-class bikeways would compete better on many factors than BRT, light-rail, or streetcar; but because the way these projects are funded, planned and framed by the agencies working on them, we never get the chance to have that conversation.

    We won’t reach our adopted goals for climate change or transportation or growth until we start planning for cycling in a much more serious, rigorous and respectful way.

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    • dwk October 27, 2015 at 4:28 pm

      Well, we have The BTA, what exactly do they do? there was zero bike planning on either side of this bridge, an absolute Fail of a project and we had the BTA, and all the other bike groups who apparently had little or no say in anything that went on for the last 10 years of planning that went into the bridge.
      Biketown USA, my *ss……

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      • Todd Hudson October 27, 2015 at 5:04 pm

        What does BTA do? They give us free Cliff bars on our ride home. I’m not aware of anything else….

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      • Andy October 28, 2015 at 9:36 am

        BTA is such a disappointment. If there was one issue they should have been all over, it was this one. Their failure to be effective advocates for bicycle transportation is one reason that Portland is falling behind. It’s time for a reassessment of the organization.

        Maybe some of you know this. Can Trimet pretty much do as it pleases or does PBOT have to approve their plans when if affects streets? Why can’t PBOT make sure that TriMet’s projects don’t adversely affect bicycle transportation.

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    • SD October 27, 2015 at 4:57 pm

      I often wonder if one of the biggest strengths of bicycle transit, which is that bikes are relatively inexpensive to acquire and maintain, is one of the biggest weaknesses. Unlike automobiles or street cars, there is not a single large private entity that is constantly lobbying for the purchase of very expensive equipment or infrastructure. I also don’t think of bike manufacturers as having the resources to lobby the federal government to fund large scale bike infrastructure. The exception to this is bike share systems, which have been adopted on large scales rather quickly in some cities. If there were a private company that contracted with local governments to sell bike infrastructure (which sounds absurd,) in a manner similar to street cars, would more resources go to bike infrastructure?

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      • 9watts October 27, 2015 at 6:34 pm

        You’re right about the difference, but instead of taking away the best features of bikes (cheap, autonomous, simple, etc.) and make them more like cars or transit, why not figure out how to get money out of politics? Seems like we’d win a lot more by fixing that problem.

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        • SD October 27, 2015 at 10:02 pm

          Yes. This is the primary reason utilitarian cycling needs strong and vocal support from elected officials, and like Jonathan mentions above, decision making power and agency allocated to bike-focused stakeholders. The nature of cycling appears to assure that the accumulation of capital will be decentralized and not rise to the level of buying legislature’s votes for a bike version of the CRC. I know that there is a liaison here or an advocate there, but a seat at the table and leverage are lacking. The Tilikum crossing design failures are evidence enough that there is a huge gaping hole in bike infrastructure design. An opportunity for showcasing Portland’s insight into integrating active transport in an urban environment has turned out to be an embarrassment.
          I am dissapointed in the frequent refrain of ride slow and keep your head up to compensate for bad design. Not because we shouldn’t always do this anyway, but because there are so many opportunities for Portland to demonstrate great cycling infrastructure design given the base of experience that is here in the city. Instead we see missed opportunities and amateurish clstrfk.
          Of course, money for cycling infrastructure would be great too, but it seems like it has to be peeled off before trimet or similar agencies deprioritize and dumb down the cycling aspects of a project.

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        • Eric Leifsdad October 27, 2015 at 10:04 pm

          If we spent as much money building bike infrastructure as is spent lobbying to build car infrastructure, we would be done in a couple years.

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    • Endo October 27, 2015 at 5:22 pm

      In my opinion the problem stems from the fact that most bike advocacy folks seem to view “transit” as an ally. If the BTA were to realize that “transit” is the enemy we might actually start getting somewhere.

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      • Adam Herstein October 27, 2015 at 8:23 pm

        Bikes and transit are easy to combine trips though; and transit can be a good backup in case of bad weather or injury. Transit also helps people get rid of their cars by giving people alternatives.

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    • Adam Herstein October 27, 2015 at 8:49 pm

      PBOT is supposed to be the “TriMet for bikes”. They just need to start following their own mode hierachy to prioritize people walking and riding bikes over other modes.

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      • paikiala October 28, 2015 at 12:19 pm

        In your opinion. In PBOT, the T is for transportation. It’s not PBOB (Portland Bureau of Bikes). Hierarchies don’t ignore all other modes to focus on one. In a balanced system some roads will be just for cars, just like some roads will be just for bikes. It is the past mistakes of focusing on one mode to the exclusion of all others that is being undone, in Portland more than most other places.

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        • 9watts October 28, 2015 at 2:52 pm

          “In PBOT, the T is for transportation. It’s not PBOB (Portland Bureau of Bikes). Hierarchies don’t ignore all other modes to focus on one. In a balanced system some roads will be just for cars, just like some roads will be just for bikes.”

          Except these are not ordinary times. We no longer have the luxury of pretending the disasters that are finally catching up to us don’t concern us, that automobiles are here to stay simply because we can’t remember what it was like before they took over. Now that the automobile is on its way out (not because I say so but because the conditions that made it so cheap and convenient no longer obtain) the PBOT needs to take a long look in the mirror and ask itself how it can bring these insights to bear on the way it spends our money. Standing here in almost 2016 it is no longer good enough to spend money on transportation projects that do not serve human powered modes. It is no longer good enough to point to current mode share and say ‘well we just have to divide up the money we have across the modes based on their current shares.’ This is not forward looking, does not take into account the possibility that tomorrow everything could be very different.

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          • Eric Leifsdad October 30, 2015 at 11:13 am

            Yeah, we can’t build for the past. Planning for last year’s demand won’t do much good when we build it two or ten years from now. You’ll get more of what you plan for, so regardless of whether planners can envision a near future without fossil fuels or be bothered by climate change, current levels of congestion and road wear should make it clear how we should set priorities.

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        • wsbob October 30, 2015 at 2:02 pm

          Transportation departments have to proportionately build for the mode of transportation people want to travel. The majority mode of travel has been and still is, travel by motor vehicle. Sixty years ago in Portland, had the mayor and transportation dept said ‘We’re going to dramatically increase provision on the street for travel by bike.’, they would have been thrown out.

          Most people today still want to drive. Take a guess as to how many people in any of Portland’s neighborhoods would prefer having street space provided for biking by way of a reduction, or constriction in street space provided for motor vehicle travel.

          Which isn’t to say that better bike infrastructure on Portland’s neighborhood streets shouldn’t be proposed, designed and built, but that people living there are more likely to get behind the idea if its presented persuasively and favorably, rather than by force and bullying.

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    • wsbob October 27, 2015 at 9:40 pm

      Light rail gathered the support and momentum it has, because many people recognized, or resigned themselves to that mode of transportation being the future for travel in the U.S. There’s been no vision for practical biking infrastructure, even remotely comparable to that for light rail.

      In no small part because, light rail is relatively more accessible than is biking, which requires people to have some physical capability of riding a bike, as well as being able to meet practical consideration involved in choosing travel mode.

      In our Metro area, when a new subdivision goes in, by default, the major mode of travel planned for, is motor vehicle. Because developers know housing based on that mode of travel is what people are willing to pay for.

      The Tillikum crossing, being a ‘no car’ bridge with provision for biking and walking, is a kind of revolutionary step forward for Portland in terms of travel infrastructure for mode of travel other than motor vehicle. Take it for granted, there’s plenty of people grumpy about having to help pay for a bridge they can’t drive over.

      As much as some sort of cycle track system, in any city in the Metro area, would be quite an advance toward biking as a very good, practical and accessible mode of travel for at least inner city or someday, city to city travel, maybe the biggest thing that keeps that from happening, is lack of a strong enough vision for it.

      From a grassroots level, maybe people such as bikeportland readers, can iron out some simple ways to have the east side street approaches to the Tillikum become more intuitive and easy to use. Getting the numbers…numbers of people using it…up, on that route, may be one of the best, and fastest ways to get Trimet and the city roused to speed-line improvements to the route.

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  • Daniel Costantino October 27, 2015 at 4:00 pm

    Let’s get real folks. All these points are valid. They’re even complemented by at least the same amount of approach/access issues on the west side, that have been documented in prior Bikeportland articles, as well as a bunch of prior comments.

    Heck, if I’m riding alone, no doubt about it, the Hawthorne bridge is still faster, more convenient and more direct. At that time, I’m “enthused” or “strong”.

    But the total delay from taking the Tillikum crossing adds only about 5 minutes if you’re not stuck behind a freight train (and at rush hour, for reasons I can’t explain, I’ve had extremely good luck).

    And if I’ve got a child on my bike, all of a sudden I’m more “interested but concerned”. And at that point, there is *no question* that I would *far* prefer to take the Tillikum, and use all the separated infrastructure at the approaches, signal timing issues and aberrant routings and all.

    I think it’s likely that even with all the issues fixed the Tillikum would still be an inferior route for the strong rider from a pure efficiency perspective. That doesn’t mean it can’t be a great path for everyone else.

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  • peejay October 27, 2015 at 4:03 pm

    The thing is: bikes ARE transit. And the sooner TriMet figures this out, the better. Then they can stop having to spend lots of money to fix what should not have been broken in the first place.

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  • jeff October 27, 2015 at 4:14 pm

    My favorite lately has been the USPS driver parked in the bike lane on S.E. Caruthers under the viaduct (with perfectly empty parking spots 20 feet away). Happens at least one a week. She’s always parked there about 9:30am or so. I’ll be photographing her license plate next time and calling the regional postmaster.

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  • J_R October 27, 2015 at 4:39 pm

    Justin did a great job of explaining the problems with this route. There are definitely some signal timing fixes and way-finding help that could be added to help minimize some of the inconveniences.

    I also appreciate some of the hints given by other commenters. Having ridden it only a few times, I don’t think I’ve found the best way to navigate this route.

    Last week I used this route for the first time to go to PSU. The transition from the southwest corner of River Parkway and Harbor Drive involved two very long waits for signals. That really highlighted for me the complaints of others on this forum about the lack of bike facilities that could have/should have been included on the Harbor Viaduct.

    It’s such a disappointment knowing that it could have been so much better.

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  • Granpa October 27, 2015 at 4:57 pm

    Has Trimet issued any kind of a statement? Do they acknowledge there are problems? Are they working on solutions?

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  • chris October 27, 2015 at 5:15 pm

    “Crowded trains and buses get priority over bikes on a TriMet project because, from a pure street-efficiency standpoint, they should.”

    From a “pure street-efficiency” standpoint, bicycles win every time. Travel times via bicycle way shorter than that of transit, and there is no daily operating cost involved in bicycle infrastructure.

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  • specialK October 27, 2015 at 5:22 pm

    I haven’t had time to read thru all the comments yet, so pls forgive if this is a repeat.

    If you are really concerned about a train stopping you when heading west on Clinton, take a left at 19th, which will take you all the way to Powell, where you can take the underpass to get past the tracks. It’s a little squirrelly but it does mean you can avoid trains. I also use this method to get back to the north side of the tracks when heading east if there’s a long train holding things up at 12th.

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    • Carrie October 30, 2015 at 6:34 am

      The problem with this approach is that underpass is SCARY when it’s full of campers (who are often stripping bikes). My family and I will NOT ride it when we are alone, and actually my daughter and I won’t ride it when we are together.

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  • Catie October 27, 2015 at 5:24 pm

    We desperately need virtual reality simulators so we can fix these problems before we break ground on a project. Do any cities value its urban design enough to experiment with this? Its hard for even interested people in the public to provide feedback like this with 2D maps and even walk-thrus of the existing intersections. I pointed out some issues 2 or 3 years ago, but by then it was “too late”. If I could have imagined more clearly what it was like to cycle this path I would have tried to speak up more. We need better tools and engagement to design bottom up instead of top down.

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    • 9watts October 27, 2015 at 6:35 pm

      Virtual simulators?
      How about hiring half a dozen folks like Justin to advise on projects like this? People who are already familiar with the lay of the land and articulate. I bet that would be millions cheaper and probably yield better outcomes.

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  • Trebor October 27, 2015 at 6:53 pm

    Many of your other criticisms are on the mark, but you can solve one of your problems–and one you don’t enumerate but that you do mention–by lightly altering your route.

    First, there is a grade-separated way across the UP tracks. As you note, a cycling bridge over the UP line was never in the cards (not just for reasons of expense; where would a bridge go on the east side of the tracks?), but Trimet did provide a way under the railway along Powell. If you are going westbound on Clinton, you proceed south on SE 18th, under the tracks along Powell, and then across one lane of SE 17th to SE Gideon. This probably won’t help people going westbound on the Clinton because they likely won’t know if a freight train is passing (it is also a bit out of the way), but people following Clinton eastbound who are blocked by a train can certainly make use of it. More to the point, you could make this your primary route from the 67th/Holgate area by taking SE Franklin and SE Tibetts and then connecting to the Powell underpass via SE 18th.

    You can also solve (7) pretty easily. Rather than crossing through the transit center with its lights, LRT’s, streetcars, buses, and, pedestrians, you can simply continue straight on SE Caruthers. Turn right on the Eastbank Esplanade, go under the bridge, turn immediately right on the path that runs along the north side of the bridge, and then turn right onto the westbound path of the Tillikum Bridge. This route is easy peasy as you make nothing but right turns and thus do not cross paths with any cyclists or other vehicles ((it is akin to what motorists do in a cloverleaf) .

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    • Hello, Kitty October 27, 2015 at 10:54 pm

      A bridge over the UP tracks was very much in the cards; it was promised and then taken away. There used to be a not-too-bike-friendly bridge at 16th & Brooklyn which Trimet tore down.

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      • Trebor October 28, 2015 at 7:57 am

        I wasn’t clear: I meant that a bridge that was useful for cyclists was never a possibility. Ineluctable space constraints meant that bridge at SE 16th would require stairs and an elevator like the one at Rhine street (a continuous ramp that people could ride would have to look like the switchback ramps at the east side of the Steel Bridge; room for such ramps does not exist on either side of the rail line at that point). Elevators have a very low capacity–certainly too low for the number of people who cycle that route. A bridge with stairs and elevators would be useful for pedestrians and MAX commuters, but would not be terribly useful for cyclists and would not–at least for eastbound cyclists–be as useful as the Powell crossing.

        BTW–the Powell Street crossing is also very useful for traveling North to South. It allows cyclists to connect from SE 17th Ave south of Powell to the network to the north. I use it to go to Sellwood from NE.

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    • Chris I October 28, 2015 at 7:12 am

      Caruthers is a great alternative, but I am concerned that this route won’t support a large number of cyclists in the future, as it requires mounting a few sidewalks and waiting for crosswalk signals. When traffic is light, it is also possible to just take Division westbound and make a left at 8th. Division gets ugly during rush hour, though.

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      • Trebor October 28, 2015 at 7:45 am

        Where does one have to mount a sidewalk? I was referencing taking Caruthers to the dead end on the river, and then turning right. That stretch does not require sidewalks, no?

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        • Chris I October 28, 2015 at 12:21 pm

          If you want to cross the tracks at 8th from Caruthers, you need to ride until it dead-ends and then use the sidewalk and crosswalk to head South.

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          • Trebor October 28, 2015 at 8:08 pm

            I was not referring to that section of Caruthers. I was discussing the westernmost section of Caruthers that dead ends by the river where the Eastbank Esplanade begins.

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  • Ted Buehler October 27, 2015 at 7:25 pm

    This is a great summary of the friction and delays expreienced by Tilikum users.

    If you want to see that these things get ironed out to whatever extent possible, you NEED TO send your comments to the authorities at PBOT and TriMet. You can post here, cry in beer, gripe to your friends, which is theraputic and all, but if you want to see these things get fixed, you need to make sure you public officials know your position on the matter.

    Your participation in a flurry of complaints will make it easier for those working on this issue, from the outside or the inside, to get things moving.

    I suggest writing up your comments, or cutting and pasting Justin’s excellent summary, and sending them in an email blast to

    safe@portlandoregon.gov (PBOT’s safety “hotline”)
    Comments@trimet.or (TriMet’s customer service line
    KoozerJ@trimet.org (Jennifer Koozer, TriMet’s Customer Service rep for the Tilikum Bridge)
    OwenJ@trimet.org (Jeff Owen, TriMet project person for Tilikum bridge)
    roger.geller@portlandoregon.gov (PBOT’s Bicycle Coordinator)

    Ted Buehler

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  • Ted Buehler October 27, 2015 at 7:28 pm

    BikeLoudPDX did a walk-through of the east side issues in April, with Roger Geller from PBOT and Jeff Owen from TriMet. We pointed out many smaller-level design issues — unmarked obstacles, vague wayfinding, that sort of thing. Jessica Engelman, Emily Guise and myself then returned and created a “safety improvement request” for 23 separate issues and sent those in to TriMet and PBOT.

    To date, we’ve heard back on exactly 2 of them, and both have been polite “no, we do not plan to do anything about this issue” replies.

    We’ve uploaded our safety improvement requests to the BikeLoudPDX website. You all can take a look at them, and if you agree, take the image and sent it in to PBOT and TriMet.


    The more complaints they get, the faster things will happen.

    Ted Buehler

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    • Adam Herstein October 27, 2015 at 8:38 pm

      The curve at 8th Av was extended. I beleive that was one of the issues you specified.

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      • Ted Buehler October 28, 2015 at 12:43 pm

        Adam wrote:
        “The curve at 8th Av was extended. I beleive that was one of the issues you specified.”

        Adam — that’s great news — I’ve been out of town since a week after the bridge opened, so I haven’t seen anything firsthand.

        Ted Buehler

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    • MArk October 27, 2015 at 9:04 pm

      I looked through your photos. The requests seem reasonable.

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      • Ted Buehler October 28, 2015 at 12:46 pm

        Thanks Mark, any other spots to add?

        (We didn’t do the west end of the bridge, and even if we had, I don’t know if we would have noticed the positioning of the signal boxes blocking the view of the sidewalk where the woman was hit last week).

        The whole Clinton-Tilikum-Moody system has very complex problems, it takes a lot of sharp eyes to identify each hazard and articulate appropriate mitigation.

        Ted Buehler

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    • lop October 27, 2015 at 10:59 pm

      It just takes a few seconds for a bus with 50 people on it to go by. Why should those 50 people have to wait potentially much longer for a gap in bike traffic that won’t bunch up naturally anywhere near as much as bus passengers do on a bus?

      If you don’t want to have to stop except when a bus is there that would be much more reasonable. Would it be feasible for Trimet to put in detection loops in advance of the crossing and wire them to a flashing yellow yield sign advising cyclists when a bus is approaching, similar to a MAX crossing? And outfit the buses with MAX style bells or gentle horns if they aren’t already.

      Which two of your items did trimet respond to?

      Also, why does Bikeloudpdx make it so hard for interested observers to find out more about what you are advocating for, and the discussions leading to your chosen priorities? (eg clinton, when so many parts of the city are in need of greater attention) Are you really so worried about people ‘infiltrating’ your organization? I promise I’m not Captain Uehara 😉

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      • Alex Reed October 28, 2015 at 1:47 am

        Can you give a little bit more info about what you found to be obstacles? It is certainly not our intention to be secretive. As the maxim goes, never ascribe to malice what incompetence (in our case, a lack of dedicated time and coordination due to still being all-volunteer) will suffice to explain 🙂

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      • Alex Reed October 28, 2015 at 7:28 am

        As to why we’ve put a good bit of focus on Clinton, I believe these are the major reasons:
        1) Clinton was topical when we started due to the Division repaving and City detour onto Clinton, so we started there and have continued due to wanting to finish what we started.
        2) Especially when we started, the budget clime of the City was not conducive to projects that needed significant additional funding. Underserved areas of the City need a lot – which means a lot of money. As a small start-up group, we thought it was more politically feasible to ask for cheap fixes.
        (Now that we are bigger and the City’s budget environment is better, we absolutely need to be in City budget discussions to ask for more funding for greenways in East Portland, South-Southeast Portland (the “greenway desert” from Brentwood-Darlington through Woodstock to Eastmoreland), and Southwest Portland.
        3) We see Clinton as an opportunity to use an area with a built-in biking constituency (which would support our advocacy) to benefit the whole city. The objective all along was to change the City’s standards with respect to what level of auto travel was acceptable along greenways citywide, and we’ve succeeded at that. Now we need to keep the follow-up so the City sees that following through on their new policy is politically feasible and won’t lead to significant blowback. I’m hoping this will allow them to be bolder about diversion, speed bumps, etc. when building new greenways.

        Although it hasn’t gotten as much coverage on BikePortland, we have done other stuff.
        -Letter to commissioners supporting 4 M’s greenway in East Portland
        -Rodney diverter advocacy
        -Ankeny diverter (RIP for now) advocacy
        -Other stuff I am forgetting

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        • Alex Reed October 28, 2015 at 7:29 am

          Re: 2) parenthetical – we also need to ask for protected bikeways, etc. funding. Just had greenways on the mind.

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      • soren October 28, 2015 at 11:42 am

        Also, why does Bikeloudpdx make it so hard for interested observers to find out more about what you are advocating for, and the discussions leading to your chosen priorities? (eg clinton, when so many parts of the city are in need of greater attention)

        Our mailing list is public and we post minutes and statements online.



        Both our mailing list and membership are open to anyone who requests to join. We are a small volunteer organization and our web presence and public communications could use significant improvement. In fact, we are having a communications subcommittee meeting today that is also open to the public.

        Are you really so worried about people ‘infiltrating’ your organization? I promise I’m not Captain Uehara 😉

        BikeLoudPDX did not exist when that unfortunate event took place. If you have any issues or problems with our organization please post them here or contact us.

        BTW, here is our draft code of conduct (also posted publicly on our email list):

        BikeLoudPDX is a grassroots bicycling advocacy group that does not discriminate on any basis, including race, economic class, religion, nationality, body size or physical appearance, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, age, or ability. BikeLoudPDX does not tolerate or allow harassment or abuse,of anyone by other members or participants. Any member or participant engaging in abusive or harassing behavior may be sanctioned or expelled from the group. Members should be respectful and courteous towards each other, whether online or in person. Communications between members should be constructive and avoid all demeaning and insulting behavior or language. In particular, members should avoid interrupting others or dominating conversations. Members should immediately challenge any harassment or abuse of other members or event participants.

        All members and event participants are informed of this code and agree to follow it while engaging with BikeLoudPDX online or during meetings and events.

        Let me know if you have any suggestions.



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      • Ted Buehler October 28, 2015 at 12:42 pm

        lop wrote:
        “make it so hard for interested observers to find out more about what you are advocating for…”

        Hi Lop,

        We’re an all-volunteer organization, a little over a year old, there’s lots of things to get done, we tend to put our efforts on trying to get things done, often at the expense of making sure the general public knows what we’re doing. Trying to do everything at once is like herding cats.

        But, as Soren pointed out, our email discussion group is public. We ought to have a blog, or at least a list of our active projects with basic descriptions. Or send out more press releases.

        Thanks for your interest, want to get involved? I’m at ted101@gmail.com

        Ted Buehler
        Co-chair, BikeLoudPDX

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      • Ted Buehler October 28, 2015 at 12:49 pm

        lop asked:
        “Which two of your items did trimet respond to?”

        1) Flipping the stop signs at SE 7th and Tilikum Path (the bus road-bike path crossing you were discussing)
        2) Capping the spiked tops on the railing support posts on the Tilikum Bridge.

        3) Based on Adam’s reports, it appears that they are widening the narrow sidewalk on the NW corner of SE 8th and Tilikum Path.

        #3 is definitely worthy of “Thank You” notes if it’s actually happening. Photographic evidence, anyone?

        Ted Buehler

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  • Alex October 27, 2015 at 7:58 pm

    I’m really puzzled about the eastbound route heading from point 3 to 2 to 1. Some riders go up on the sidewalk, then cross the 4 tracks, then cross 12th to get onto Clinton. Others follow the sharrows on the street to the bike lane on 12th, which seems safer, but you often have to wait several minutes for the light to turn onto 12th. Which way are we meant to ride?

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  • spencer October 27, 2015 at 8:23 pm

    this section of infrastructure is ‘ship’ show of epic proportions. Its a total FAIL for incorporating multiple modes. How many millions did WE spend on this to have it be completely insane?

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  • MArk October 27, 2015 at 8:58 pm

    Just curious, what is preventing Trimet from running a MUP from Haig, on the east side up to the bridge? Seems like there is plenty of right of way there.

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  • Jim Lee October 27, 2015 at 8:59 pm

    I commented several days ago that I put in time birddogging Vera Katz’s design committee for the Tillkum. I seem to recall there was some sort of official bike representation (BTA?) at the table. But when I tried to inject, from the cheap seats, some sort of bike-sense into issues with the approaches the official people would shoot me down.

    Don’t get me wrong. Vera ran a great committee and made sure everyone was heard. But my line on bike issues was not the official line, and that was that.

    I did have great success on structural design, however. When people, some on this site, were “…craving the wave…” I saw a major problem, one of scale. The “wave-frame” had been scaled up by several factors from one built in Germany, and I mused, “Don’t these people know any theory of structures?”

    I approached TriMet’s Rob Barnard, who supplied me with the structural documents, and spent several days working out German terms and SI engineering units. As a check I worked things out in English units too (much easier for structures) and got the same answer: the wave-frame was much too heavy to hold itself up.

    Then I got out Conde McCullough’s definitive “Elastic Arch Bridges,” and spent a month designing a 19th century steel railway bridge of three arches, pulling every trick I could think of out of my hat. My design was 1/10 the weight of the wave-frame.

    Vera let me demonstrate that before her committee.

    The bridge mass as built was the geometric mean of my arches and the wave-frame. Afterwards I spoke with Seymon Tryger, TriMet’s engineering consultant, who agreed that the wave-frame was unbuildable.

    Point: I knew much more structural theory than anyone ON the committee, and was allowed to prove that. But on bike issues, not so much.

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    • resopmok October 28, 2015 at 6:25 am

      Issues related to structural theory aren’t nearly as politically charged as those related to biking. Since you’re not a politician, you’re not qualified to speak about them. Sorry.

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      • rick October 28, 2015 at 7:34 am

        What about registered voters and taxpayers?

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        • soren October 28, 2015 at 1:40 pm

          That depends on how much free speech you have (e.g. money).

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  • James Edward Hat October 28, 2015 at 8:36 am

    I got $5 on a cyclesnake from Clinton to the foot of the bridge…

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  • Terry D-M October 28, 2015 at 8:47 am

    Can we actually learn from this now? The street car did nothing for bikes as well….oh wait there are those few blocks on NE 7th.

    SW CORRIDOR Project…bikeways are not an afterthought…integrate them properly.

    Powell-Division BRT, Protected bike lanes on Division from PCCSE to Gresham….period. Don’t worry about parking, just do it. Finish the Division bike lanes west to 52 nd and modernize all the other parallel greenways and connections to the city center. Budget it in…..properly.

    TRI-MET, and PBOT we told you so……we are right, so can you break out of your old school mode and listen next time?

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  • tnash October 28, 2015 at 10:19 am

    I tried the new bridge once, will not be trying again — too stressful, and it would only be a matter of time before I’d get into an accident

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  • Tyler October 28, 2015 at 12:14 pm

    “I feel like I’m using a system that was not designed for me. Because, obviously, it wasn’t.”

    This perfectly sums my experience with Portland’s Bike Infrastructure Design strategy as a whole…. Tilikum is a multi-million dollar failure when looked at from a bicycle usability pov. Convoluted, poorly implemented, conflict baked in to the overall layout, and fundamentally committed to not creating a space for direct, and smooth bike travel.

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    • chris October 28, 2015 at 1:49 pm

      There’s no uniformity to the way we deploy infrastructure. Whereas Copenhagen follows a set of industry best practices and applies them consistently throughout the city, we try something new and different every time, cherry picking aspects of what we see in Denmark or the Netherlands, and there is never a consistent look and feel to what we construct around the city. I can’t blame outsiders from being caught off-guard by it, as we try to do something original every time.

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  • Jim Lee October 28, 2015 at 1:35 pm

    Dear respomonk:

    You are wrong.

    I ran for mayor; that makes me a politician.

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    • resopmok October 28, 2015 at 6:32 pm

      Hi Jim,

      My comment was meant largely as tongue in cheek, sorry if it didn’t come off that way. Love,

      Yours truly.

      P.S. In the future please try to spell my name correctly 😉

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  • Randy October 28, 2015 at 8:16 pm

    Has your city planner lived in a tent? Time for a redesign by those who travel this area daily via two wheels and human power…

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  • NC October 29, 2015 at 10:06 am

    I like the new Bridge, it makes my commute over the Hawthorn much more pleasant, even though the new bridge is closer.

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  • El Biciclero October 29, 2015 at 10:15 am

    When some of us seem to be arguing against Bike Infrastructure, “Protected” Bike Lanes, or Cycletracks, THIS is the reason. Well, this, and Williams, and Broadway past PSU, and Moody, and 10th/11th/Lovejoy, and…

    Not all of my examples are necessarily “bike projects”, but they are all examples of, “Oh. Yeah. Bikes. Well….let’s see—here’s what we’ll do…” and it turns out like crap less than optimal. Meanwhile, those who can’t stand it and ride on-street routes have to deal with drivers who think “They” (the royal “they”, not the drivers specifically) just spent billions on a new “bike path”—why can’t you ride over there?

    Fear of being constrained to ride only on more infrastructure/routes like this is what keeps me from embracing the 8-80 dream. I don’t want 8-14, 65-80 infrastructure.

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  • Lenny Anderson
    Lenny Anderson October 29, 2015 at 11:47 am

    “we don’t have any powerful agency that is looking out solely for bikeways in the way that TriMet looks after buses and light rail or the way that Portland Streetcar looks after streetcar.” (JM)
    The only “powerful agency” looking out for Portland Streetcar is PBOT, the same outfit that looks out for cars, trucks, bikes, peds, but primarily the first two. That and the non-profit PSI board…not a powerful agency.
    Streetcar’s “power,” if you will, derives from its broad based support from neighborhood associations, business associations, and property owners who covered a good piece of the initial capital costs, not to mention the 15K daily riders! And also it comes from Streetcar’s demonstrated positive impacts on the Central City…check out the EconNW study summary at PortlandStreetcar.org 25% of the housing built within 1/4 miles of the line is affordable/subsidized, among other things.
    Streetcar evolved from a comprehensive planning effort in the 80’s…the Central City Plan which sought to broaden the happy results of the 70’s Portland Downtown Plan. The concept was embraced by Earl Blumenauer and an Old Town developer, Bill Naito, among others who got the ball rolling. The initial line was funded with an LID and bonds backed by parking meter $. No federal funds, not even URA money.
    What can those of us who yearn for better investment in bike/ped infrastructure learn here:
    1. get the private sector (developers) involved by demonstrating the value of the investment in bike facilities to their bottom lines. I always thought that the Williams/Vancouver project would be a great opportunity to demonstrate “Bike Oriented Development,” and that an LID to elevate the quality of that project would be a no-brainer.
    2. Make the case to those who do not bike that investment in something like the North Portland Willamette Greenway Trail benefits them not just today’s bikers…providing a safe route that they could use for biking, walking, etc., AND remind those wedded to their private vehicles that the more of us who bike the fewer motor vehicles they need contend with. In my 15 years of work on Swan Island the object was to reduce SOV traffic in order to make the roadway network work better for freight. Yes, better transit, bike and walk possibilities there are and remain a “Freight Project!”
    3. Be sure bike infrastructure is on all the plans…Comp Plan, Transportation System Plan, Regional Transportation Plan. I assume the BTA does this at a minimum, but all of these plans go through a public process where the more 3 minute speeches devoted to bike stuff the better.
    4. Start talking about a regional bond measure for transportation that would include all modes, not just transit and roads. Get Metro to take the lead on this rather than TriMet and be sure it includes funding for the Willamette Greenway, Sullivan’s Gulch, the Red Electric, the Central Loop & 7th Avenue Bridge and maybe even a new bike/ped bridge across the Willamette just north of the Broadway Bridge! (and Streetcar to Hollywood!)

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    • wsbob October 29, 2015 at 6:30 pm

      What you’re suggesting sounds like working for a ‘from the bottom up’ development of support for bike infrastructure rather than a ‘from the top down’ development in which a small interest group waits around, hoping and praying that the right ‘big guy’ will come along to lead the faithful to a better world.

      Grass roots growth of interest in supporting a transformation of the personal transportation landscape, in other words. The new Tillikum Crossing bridge could be a very important first part of that transformation, despite it having what some people have found at present, to be less than optimally functional approaches to the new car and truck free bridge.

      Get people, lots of them, riding and biking over the bridge ASAP, despite the approach routes being less than perfect. In itself, doing this could very visibly convey both need and justification for improvements to the approach routes for biking. I was out on the bridge on foot again today, west side about 4pm. It’s fascinating to see how people on foot and bike, embrace use of this bridge. Everything about them conveys that they’re loving it. Way, way-y-y–y…more enjoyable than riding or walking any other bridge downtown used with motor vehicles. Building on that, it could be a slam-dunk to get people, and the city, excited about improving approach access to the bridge.

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  • Seth October 30, 2015 at 10:03 am

    I’ve all but given up trying to use this route to get home (heading south to get to 17th to Westmooreland) because the lights are so bad. Without fail, the MAX will go by and all 4 directions of the intersection will be red.

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  • Jeff Forbes October 30, 2015 at 11:40 am

    I live near 67th and Foster and often bike to the PSU neighborhood for work, using the Clinton/Ladd route to the Hawthorne Bridge and then south. Average time about 35 minutes. I was excited about the Tilikum Crossing because it seemed like it could be a quicker more direct route. Not so much. Average time about 40 minutes, most of that spent waiting at the seemingly endless series of traffic control devices. I’ve gone back to using the Hawthorne Bridge.

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  • Lenny Anderson
    Lenny Anderson October 31, 2015 at 6:02 pm

    Once heading west on Caruthers, just head straight to the Greenway Trail access just south of the Opera, go north under the bridge and loop up to continue across…a sort of clover leaf with no stops! right?

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