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View Full Version : Bike boulevards = bad idea.


Klixi
09-29-2007, 11:18 AM
Does anyone else agree the idea of bike boulevards completely go against the whole ideology that drivers and cyclists need to learn to share the road rather than create yet more division?

I definitely think many streets need to have bike paths added (and in other cases widened - the intro to the Hawthorne bridge heading west is a good exmple of that) as that not only gives cyclists more breathing room but it also gives drivers a larger buffer zone as well and creates more of a tranquil feeling of spaciousness. Since most car vs bike tension derives from one mode of transportation getting too close to another mode, this would definitely help put both parties at greater ease.

I don't know... bike boulevards sound great, but they will only hurt our cause when it comes to getting drivers to acknowledge bikes as legit vehicles and not tricycles for adults that need to be brushed off into inner neighborhood arteries like Salmon.

And this may be symbolic of my weirdness, but am I alone in enjoying riding alongside cars? Don't get me wrong, I love riding through Sellwood and Hawthorne late at night when nobody is out... but as a bike rider, nothing is more fulfilling to me than a downtown ride at rush hour.

rainperimeter
09-29-2007, 07:03 PM
And this may be symbolic of my weirdness...

anytime anyone says anything like this it's a guarantee they're as square as they come.

i personally get a charge out of riding around with as few cars around me as possible. fuck'em.

Klixi
09-29-2007, 09:28 PM
A personal insult for that? Is that really necessary?

Attornatus_Oregonensis
09-30-2007, 10:39 AM
Yes, I am one of those who enjoys riding in downtown traffic. But you have to remember that we're a very small minority of both people in America and cyclists, and for me the whole design issue is about putting more asses in the saddles. More people don't ride in PDX because they don't feel safe. That's a fact.

Boulevards and other bike-specific design features will undoubtedly change that. Then there will be so many people on bikes that drivers will not be able to avoid us (we'll naturally have to leave those blvds) and will have to accept us as equals on the roads. I look at bike blvds, etc, as a method for bootstrapping the critical mass (no pun intended) of riders we need to fully re-establish our rights to the road.

Anyway, I'm as square as they come. For the truly hip, though, it's "wonk."

wsbob
09-30-2007, 12:20 PM
"...... but as a bike rider, nothing is more fulfilling to me than a downtown ride at rush hour." klixi

Those words seemed a little incredible, but I suppose it's something to think about. Strictly "downtown"; the waterfront west to I-405, Pearl/Old Town south to PSU is territory I'd think riders of quite a range of experience and durability could negotiate fairly well. Streets like Burnside to/and Sandy and faster streets outside of downtown like MLK/Grand, and I think some have mentioned Division, is where the fulfilling experience would probably be lost for a lot of potential riders it would be great to get rolling.

It might be possible to get the bike boulevard idea going through some neighborhoods, but doing so would probably benefit most from promoting a solid knowledge of the benefits of such a traffic management measure to the effected neighborhoods; less car traffic cutting through, quieter, safer streets for their families to live on.

Psyfalcon
09-30-2007, 01:02 PM
Downtown, its relatively easy to run with traffic, especially near rush hour. Some can actually out pace cars, where others, like me, are a bit slower, but can stay with traffic due to the lights. Thurs, I was going down 7th (I think) to Yamhill. I was second in line at 5 lights or so, the first car would speed off, and I would catch them at the next red light. Cars behind me either stayed behind or moved over a lane to go faster. There is a streetcar track there, so its not quite possible to stay right.

Faster roads, like sw Canyon for the couple hundred feet before you can enter Washington park are scary however, cars will be doing 2-3x faster than you. To avoid this, you can take more backroads, but then you hit stop signs or lights at every block. Then you can either risk your ticket or stop every 10 seconds.

Cars have freeways, bikes need a place where they can ride relatively uninteruped for biking to be a viable form of commuting, otherwise you can spend more time at lights than riding.

bikerinNE
09-30-2007, 02:06 PM
"Those words seemed a little incredible, but I suppose it's something to think about. Strictly "downtown"; the waterfront west to I-405, Pearl/Old Town south to PSU is territory I'd think riders of quite a range of experience and durability could negotiate fairly well. Streets like Burnside to/and Sandy and faster streets outside of downtown like MLK/Grand, and I think some have mentioned Division, is where the fulfilling experience would probably be lost for a lot of potential riders it would be great to get rolling.


Thats so true. I really enjoy riding downtown, any time of day. But out east, pic a street east of 82nd, Sandy, Halsey, Glisan, Burnside, Stark, Division, Powell... 102nd, 122nd, 138th, 148th, 162nd, 182nd 201, all really fast streets, 40+ mph, even though the speed limit is 35 MPH. Plus the max line out there is the worst area in Portland, as far as crime. My friend bought a brand new bike, and three people jumped him and took it. This was at 160th and stark. Police did respond, but nothing came from it.

I ride my bike everywhere, but its dangerous to ride during high peak traffic hours out east. Close in to downtown west of 82nd ave, bicyclists are somewhat expected now, to be out on the streets. East side, not so much.

nuovorecord
10-01-2007, 02:17 PM
I hear where you're coming from Klixi, but I think A.O. is correct. Some 60% of Portlanders identify themselves as "Interested, but Concerned" when it comes to cycling. In other words, they would ride, or ride more, but mixing it up with traffic is not something they're interested in. Even a bike lane on a major arterial is not enough to make these people feel safe.

Therein lies the concept of the Bike Boulevard. It's to give those "Interested..." folks a safer-feeling place to ride, with the hopes that as their confidence grows, so will the number of streets they will ride on.

My personal preference is to use an alternate route to a street like Hawthorne. I DON'T get a rush mixing it up with traffic, but I'll do it if there isn't an alternative. Since there is an alternative to Hawthorne, I use it. Not saying that you should too; but just that there's different strokes for different folks. Some want to ride, but not have to do too much "sharing." :)

Since you mentioned Hawthorne, let me recast the question a bit. There is discussion, as many of you are aware, of putting a streetcar line on Hawthorne in the future (5-10 years out). Having tracks on the street would make an already difficult street for bikes even more difficult. It could well render Hawthorne a street where bikes would have a very difficult time holding their own with autos and streetcars. But would the (presumed) transit improvement and (also presumed) improvement of the pedestrian environment outweigh this?

Attornatus_Oregonensis
10-01-2007, 03:35 PM
Since you mentioned Hawthorne, let me recast the question a bit. There is discussion, as many of you are aware, of putting a streetcar line on Hawthorne in the future (5-10 years out). Having tracks on the street would make an already difficult street for bikes even more difficult. It could well render Hawthorne a street where bikes would have a very difficult time holding their own with autos and streetcars. But would the (presumed) transit improvement and (also presumed) improvement of the pedestrian environment outweigh this?

I think so. Hawthorne has a lot of potential to become far more than what it already is in terms of an inviting residential/commercial district. The two lanes each way create motor vehicle speeds that are incompatible with a pedestrian- and bike-friendly area. Narrowing the road and adding a street car would really enhance the human scale, not to mention remove most excuses for driving on Hawthorne. It's unfortunate that bikes and rail tracks don't mix well, but Clinton is so close and gives great access to all parts of Hawthorne.

Psyfalcon
10-01-2007, 09:03 PM
Would adding a streetcar actually slow traffic? As far as I can tell, cars just drive down the street level tracks with impunity. Unless the Streetcar is actually on the block it appears as though its buisiness as usual.

What do streetcars do that buses cant anyway?

Attornatus_Oregonensis
10-01-2007, 09:12 PM
I don't know that a street car would slow traffic any more than frequent buses would. But, as you know if you've ever been behind either, they do indeed slow traffic -- as long as there's no other lane to pass with. But take NW 23rd as an example. If Hawthorne were made one lane each way, with a bike lane, street car, and wider sidewalks, motor vehicles would have to go slower. NW 23rd is not a perfect example because the street car doesn't run the length of the street, but each of those factors have slowed traffic on that street. I think the same would be true if Hawthorne were re-engineered appropriately.

wsbob
10-01-2007, 09:22 PM
Streetcars do lots of things that buses can't, but here's two things: they provide a nicer ride, and they meet transportation needs without the noxious fumes. I figure buses will always be working somewhere, but fewer the better is probably a worthy objective. Diverting transportation into a streetcar on Hawthorne and coincidentally reducing and slowing down motor traffic on that street sounds like a great idea, probably more for pedestrians than cyclists, but I'd bet there's likely to be major opposition to that plan from the many motorists that use it as an arterial to parts beyond.

beelnite
10-03-2007, 09:00 AM
...but I'd bet there's likely to be major opposition to that plan from the many motorists that use it as an arterial to parts beyond.

Maybe not! The folks using Hawthorne tend to be close-in SE'ers and many have a "green ethic." Total generalization, of course, but I think there are more than a few that would take one for the sustainability team!

Plus Portland hasn't historically been terribly concerned with what motorists want (who cares? think adding lanes to I-5 to accomodate Washington drivers). Around here we generally like to tell them where they'll be driving and where they won't.

If the businesses give the stamp of approval... usually a done deal.