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Police and transportation bureaus team up for enforcement on SE Clinton tomorrow (2/10)

Posted by on February 9th, 2016 at 5:44 pm

SE Clinton traffic diversion project-6

Last month an officer jumped into harm’s way to
stop someone from driving the wrong way through
a recently installed semi-diverter on SE Clinton.
(Photo: J. Maus/BikePortland)

The City of Portland will return to Southeast Clinton street for more traffic law enforcement tomorrow morning — one month after installing diverters aimed in calming down traffic. The last time they sent police officers to this area it was to deal with complaints about unsafe driving on what is supposed to be a neighborhood street that prioritizes cycling and walking.

They ended up pulling over 60 people and writing 35 citations for a variety of offenses. We heard several complaints from the community that the police officers assigned to the mission weren’t positioned in a way that allowed them to see the unsafe passing many people are concerned about. Now a lot has changed on Clinton since the Bureau of Transportation installed two new traffic diverters last month: one at SE 32nd and the other at 17th. While we’ve heard reports that biking conditions have improved on the street since the diverters went in, we have also heard that some people still drive dangerously through the diverter at 32nd, which is only a semi-diverter and leaves open the possibility of driving in a zig-zag through it.

This time around PBOT says the enforcement action is specifically intended as part of their effort to, “To project to enhance the Clinton Neighborhood Greenway and make it more inviting for people who are walking and biking.” “The Portland City Council has also made a commitment to protect and enhance the city’s neighborhood greenways,” reads a statement about the action in reference to the Neighborhood Greenway report adopted by Council in August. This enforcement is also part of the City’s dedication to Vision Zero.

Here’s another excerpt from PBOT’s statement:

During the enforcement action, the Portland Police Bureau will be on the lookout for violations that threaten the safety of people walking and biking. These violations include people driving who violate “do not enter- except bicycles” sign, illegal and unsafe U-turns, and people driving vehicles (including scooters and motorcycles) through the new diverters. Police will also monitor stop sign compliance on streets surrounding Clinton, including the SE Woodward and 32nd Avenue intersection.

Portland’s neighborhood greenways are where people of all ages and abilities have the opportunity to bicycle, walk and play. As such, neighborhood greenways need to maintain low motor vehicle volumes and speeds, provide protected crossings at major intersections, and create an environment that encourages people of all ages to travel actively. Between SE 12th Avenue and SE Cesar Chavez Boulevard, traffic volumes currently exceed the upper acceptable limit of 2,000 cars per day by 200 to 1,000 cars. Much of this traffic is believed to be non-local cut-through traffic that should be using either SE Division Street or SE Powell Boulevard.

Tomorrow’s enforcement action will happen on Clinton between SE 12th and 50th during the morning and evening rush hours (7-9:30 am and 3-6:30 pm).

— Jonathan Maus, (503) 706-8804 – jonathan@bikeportland.org

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  • Adam H. February 9, 2016 at 6:54 pm

    Watch out. Last time they pulled over a few people riding bikes. I expect the same to happen this time.

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    • Scott H February 9, 2016 at 10:28 pm

      Watch out? How about just don’t violate traffic laws when operating a vehicle.

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      • BB February 10, 2016 at 10:19 am

        Completely disproportionate. Failing to come to a full, foot-down two second stop at a stop sign has absolutely no comparison to violating laws while in operation of several-ton pieces of powered machinery and comparing the two by suggesting ticketing should be similar between the two infractions is absurd.

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      • soren February 10, 2016 at 10:41 am

        I almost always follow traffic law for stop signs and traffic signals.
        Idaho law.

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      • jered February 10, 2016 at 4:34 pm

        Or, be aware and know who’s around when breaking the law…

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  • Jonas Grumby February 9, 2016 at 6:55 pm

    I like the diverters and think they will prove beneficial in the long run. And while I support the enforcement actions, dangerous behavior will continue until traffic enforcement is a continuous process across the city rather than scheduled, focused events like this one.

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    • Tony T
      Tony T February 10, 2016 at 7:57 am

      Enforcements should be like random invisible ninjas, popping up wherever and whenever. As it is, you can pretty much drive however you want with only your own personal conscience as the limiting factor.

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      • John Lascurettes February 10, 2016 at 10:05 am

        And you get warned about enforcement with press releases. Kind of silly.

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  • J_R February 9, 2016 at 8:32 pm

    Please, please, tell me they will at least try having officers riding bikes for a little while.

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    • John Liu
      John Liu February 9, 2016 at 11:19 pm

      Why is that a good idea? Isn’t it pretty hard for a bicycle officer to char down and pull over a speeding car?

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      • John Liu
        John Liu February 9, 2016 at 11:20 pm

        “Chase” not “char.”

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        • rachel b February 9, 2016 at 11:56 pm

          But I’m not averse to them charring a car. 😉

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      • Mike Reams February 10, 2016 at 7:21 am

        They can pretty easily radio ahead to a squad car parked up the street.

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        • John Lascurettes February 10, 2016 at 10:08 am

          Right. No car can outrun a radio and an officer with line-of-sight. Remember the story BP ran of the officer that borrowed a bike to chase down a reckless driver? I searched for it but couldn’t find it.

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          • John Liu
            John Liu February 10, 2016 at 10:38 am

            I still don’t understand the point of having the officer on a bicycle. Now you need two cops to ticket a driver: the one on the bike and the one down the street.

            Is the concept that the officer will be dressed like an ordinary cyclist, i.e. a “sting”?

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            • John Lascurettes February 10, 2016 at 10:47 am

              Part of it at least letting officers experience first-hand what aggressive and unsafe passes feel like.

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              • John Lascurettes February 10, 2016 at 10:48 am

                In other words, when they’re in cars or on sidewalks, they often are quoted as saying “we didn’t observe any unsafe passes” – mainly because they’re not in positions to observe it properly.

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              • John Liu
                John Liu February 10, 2016 at 2:16 pm

                They are not going to experience aggressive/unsafe driving if they are cycling in uniform.

                So the officers will have to cycle in plainclothes. Now you definitely need multiple officers to accomplish a single ticket: a plainclothes officer to witness the incident, and a uniformed officer to pull the driver over and issue the citation.

                Sure, Portland has used “decoy pedestrians” before, for crosswalk enforcement. But that’s more efficient, since you know exactly where the offense is going to take place.

                Ride a bike down Clinton and you’re not going to experience actually illegal (I mean, really deserving of a citation) road harassment/reckless passing on every block or even on every ride. How many times do you want the plainclothes officer to ride up and down 30 blocks of Clinton to issue a single ticket? And suppose the officer experiences a reckless pass on Clinton at 18th but his uniformed partner is waiting in a patrol car on Clinton and 33rd. Is his partner supposed to blast down Clinton at high speed to make the catch, before the driver turns off on 20th or into his driveway?

                It is easy to say “cops should be on bikes so they see what it’s like” but if you think it through, it isn’t really workable.

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                • BB February 10, 2016 at 3:39 pm

                  Easy, throw on a camera, an e assist and a set of red and blue flashing lights just like an unmarked car. If the person doesn’t stop they’ve not only threatened a cop with their car they’ve attempted to evade arrest as well.

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                • Eric Leifsdad February 10, 2016 at 8:13 pm

                  Electric bike. If you can’t catch them in traffic with 1000W in flatland, I would be pretty surprised (and they would probably be driving too dangerously to pursue.)

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  • PaulaF February 9, 2016 at 8:54 pm

    I sent a note to PBOT earlier to create a “coned off” area on the left side of the barrier at 34th for people biking, since there is construction in that area that blocks the intended bike pathway.

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    • Andrea Brown February 9, 2016 at 9:52 pm

      Is this the NW corner of Clinton and 34th that you speak of? The sidewalk construction is now completed and the bike lane is clear.

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  • wsherrett February 10, 2016 at 12:49 am

    I work as a traffic flagger, was working on Clinton from Cesar Chavez to 36th Monday – I saw the same driver turn West onto Clinton from C.C. twice within an hour. The only way to stop willful violation of these traffic controls is with an approach that is more intensive and less predictable than spot enforcement actions. If something similar to the radar-photo vans used for speed enforcement were deployed randomly on bike boulevards, I think you would see a marked reduction in violations.

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  • Adam February 10, 2016 at 8:42 am

    Why isn’t the diverter at 32nd a full one as well?

    You can’t argue it’s “because the emergency services have to be able to get through”, because using that logic, the full diverter at 17th would not have been installed either?

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    • Alan Love February 10, 2016 at 11:14 am

      The diverters are still techincally in the “experimental” phases. My guess is PBOT chose 2 different designs to evaluate what works and what doesn’t. If I recall, there will be another survey or two from users in a while, and based on that feedback some modifications will be made to the final treatment.

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    • paikiala February 10, 2016 at 12:29 pm


      Both diverters are passable by fire trucks.

      The diverter at 32nd was chosen to give those diverted a choice on which direction to head. At 17th, eastbound traffic has to go south. Eastbound Clinton before 32nd has over 1,000 cars per day. At 32nd, sending eastbound traffic south was thought to be too much a burden on local residents.

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      • Adam H. February 10, 2016 at 1:07 pm

        Why not force all drivers to turn north and dead-end 32nd at Clinton?

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  • Adam H. February 10, 2016 at 8:52 am

    I saw one cop on a motorbike this morning around 8:00 pulling over a driver.

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  • Doug Klotz February 10, 2016 at 9:19 am

    I was out there this morning observing. There was also an officer in an unmarked car. I saw him citing a car driver, and also citing a motorcyclist. Both of these were on Clinton west of 32nd, so I presume they’d cut through the diverter.

    A motorcycle officer was stationed on Woodward at around 32nd. He was going after drivers who rolled through stop signs, and who were speeding on Woodward.

    Standing at 31st and Woodward, I saw a lot of drivers coming north from the Powell vicinity, and then heading west on Woodward or Brooklyn and then cutting west to 26th.

    I saw only one person do a u-turn around the diverter at 17th. However you could see a line of drivers heading north on 17th from Powell, who then turned west on Woodward or Brooklyn, and then went north on 16th to Clinton, and west from there on Clinton. Quite a backup of cars, and a fair amount of unsafe passing of cyclists on Clinton between 16th and 12th. I did not see an officer in that vicinity.

    I did not get east of 34th, so no report from there.

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    • Adam H. February 10, 2016 at 9:25 am

      This has also been my observation at 16th. Every morning there is a lineup of car drivers heading north on 16th and turning left onto Clinton. I’ve also noticed an increase in cut-through traffic from 50th to Chavez.

      An obvious solution would be a two-way full diverter at 12th as well as more diverters east of Chavez.

      As part of the Clinton diverter project, ODOT was supposed to remove the highway-style exit sign on Powell for 17th, but last I heard they are now refusing to do so.

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      • Oliver February 10, 2016 at 9:48 am

        “drivers coming north (on 31st)” “drivers heading north on 17th” “then went north on 16th” “a lineup of car drivers heading north on 16th”

        I’m in no way attempting to justify cut through traffic, but it seems to me that all this could be resolved by making a ramp from Powell onto Grand NB.

        The turn from Grand NB at Woodward should be closed, and a turn from Powell WB to Grand NB should be constructed.

        This seems like such an obvious solution that there must be a very specific reason why it hasn’t been done*. Does anyone know?

        *I bet it has to do with ODOT

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        • Adam H. February 10, 2016 at 9:59 am

          The last thing we should be doing is building more highway on-ramps and inducing more car traffic.

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          • Middle of the Road guy February 10, 2016 at 11:34 am

            More highway on ramps would reduce local street traffic by getting people onto the highway.

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          • Oliver February 10, 2016 at 11:53 am

            I’m not sure this qualifies. Increasing capacity induces traffic. A new exit doesn’t increase capacity of Powell, merely provides an outlet, and not only that, but one which doesn’t run in front of people’s homes.

            If you plug the drain holes of a container pretty soon water pours over the top. Unless you plan on plugging the inlets to Powell and Foster.

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            • Adam H. February 10, 2016 at 12:25 pm

              I see your point, but if we make it easier to get to Grand from Powell, that could induce more car trips on Powell for that purpose. Traffic will back up on the off-ramp and people will end up cutting though the neighborhoods anyway.

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      • soren February 10, 2016 at 10:38 am

        Phase 2 plans for Clinton include a half diverter at 12th. Maybe we can convince PBOT to upgrade that to a full diverter.

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        • Tom Hardy February 10, 2016 at 10:47 am

          Oneway spike strips are the way to go where cars zigzag

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          • paikiala February 11, 2016 at 3:41 pm

            Fire trucks have to go either way.

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        • paikiala February 10, 2016 at 12:32 pm

          One possible change is a one way eastbound block with contraflow bike lane east of 13th. Nothing is planned at 12th.

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        • Adam February 10, 2016 at 3:58 pm

          I didn’t even know there was a phase two! Really? How did I miss this? That’s awesome! I hope to god it includes a diverter at SE 50th and Clinton. So much traffic turning into the bikeway there to avoid the bottleneck at Division.

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          • Adam H. February 11, 2016 at 9:19 am

            Yep, I’ve been noticing this every morning. As soon as 50th is queued up to Clinton, drivers start turning left onto Clinton and driving all the way to Chavez.

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            • paikiala February 11, 2016 at 10:44 am

              July 2015 counts measured just over 900 trips per day. By policy, it would need to be twice that to trigger consideration for diversion.

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      • Doug Klotz February 10, 2016 at 10:59 am

        ODOT probably likes drivers going up 17th, because it lessens the traffic load on Powell.

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        • Adam H. February 10, 2016 at 12:27 pm

          I know something else that could lessen the traffic load on Powell, but ODOT won’t like it… 😉

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        • paikiala February 10, 2016 at 12:32 pm

          ODOT has not refused to remove the sign bridges on Powell. They have requested a replacement small sign. The poles are safety hazards.

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  • Paul Atkinson February 10, 2016 at 9:38 am

    When I passed the diverter at 17th this morning around 8:00 there was a motorcycle cop monitoring the intersection.

    While nothing happened on my ride though, I hope she could see / monitor the intersection at 16th and Clinton as well (she was facing west). That’s where I occasionally still see conflicts, as drivers trying to bypass the diverter sometimes move aggressively.

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  • Josh G February 10, 2016 at 10:21 am

    Biked through Clinton diverter at 32nd about 9:10 a.m. Didn’t see any police, but maybe there was a motorcyle officer well hidden still, or unmarked police car.

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  • Buzz February 10, 2016 at 10:31 am

    I have recently noticed an alarming uptick in motorists making u-turns in intersections in traffic. I have no problem with people doing this in a traffic-free area, but doing it in traffic is dangerous.

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    • Adam H. February 10, 2016 at 11:41 am

      I’ve noticed this too. Usually it’s done in the middle of an intersection on Clinton. We have 200 foot blocks, can’t they just drive around the block?

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  • shirtsoff February 10, 2016 at 5:33 pm

    I just biked through Clinton from 21st Ave to 52nd Ave this evening around 4:30 PM. Perhaps they were will hidden but I didn’t notice a police presence at all.

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    • Andrea Brown February 10, 2016 at 5:46 pm

      This. Two of us rode from 12th to 39th up and back TWICE between 4-5:30. Not one cop.

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      • paikiala February 11, 2016 at 10:45 am

        The PM work began after 6 PM.

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  • Doug Klotz February 10, 2016 at 6:34 pm

    We went to 16th and Clinton, to Taggert and east. Then up Clinton to 33rd. Went to Woodward and watched there, went east to Clinton. This was between 5:15 and 6:00. Did not see any cops.

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  • TheCat February 10, 2016 at 7:21 pm

    I turned came down 34th at 7am onto Clinton westbound and saw about 4 motorcycle cops and 2 unmarked cars. I guess this explains it.

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  • Eric Leifsdad February 10, 2016 at 8:19 pm

    The PortlandPolice twitter feed helpfully warned drivers about this. So helpful.

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  • John Liu
    John Liu February 10, 2016 at 10:24 pm

    Easy, throw on a camera, an e assist and a set of red and blue flashing lights just like an unmarked car. If the person doesn’t stop they’ve not only threatened a cop with their car they’ve attempted to evade arrest as well.
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    I would generally not like the police to start using plainclothes officers and unmarked cars to pull over citizens for traffic citations. When someone is behind me and then ordering me to pull over, roll down my window, get out of my car – I prefer not to wonder if he is actually a police officer, or a carjacker who bought a blue light off eBay.

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    • John Lascurettes February 11, 2016 at 12:58 pm

      Plain-clothes officers rarely work alone for traffic stops for this exact reason.

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  • Adam H. February 11, 2016 at 9:20 am

    So how many people cycling did PPB pull over?

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    • jeff February 11, 2016 at 9:40 am

      how many broke the law in front of them, you mean?

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    • paikiala February 11, 2016 at 10:46 am

      two, during the PM shift only.

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      • Adam H. February 11, 2016 at 11:46 am

        Thanks! Any idea what they were cited for?

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        • paikiala February 11, 2016 at 3:43 pm

          no lights – both.

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  • RMHampel February 11, 2016 at 11:28 am

    Beware unintended consequences – I’ve noticed a significant increase in AM cut through traffic on Woodward since these diverters went in. Next step, someone gets hurt by a motorist doing 35 down the narrow parts of Woodward. I sincerely hope it doesn’t happen, but it wouldn’t surprise me.

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  • Opus the Poet February 12, 2016 at 12:16 am

    How many cars were pulled over in this operation?

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