View Full Version : Ladd Circle to Hawthorne Bridge

02-29-2008, 11:28 AM
You know how we head into downtown from Ladd Circle to the Hawthorne Bridge. There's this little bike turn lane onto the side street that runs parallel to Hawthorne. It's the designated bike route. But folks do one of four things:

Use the turn lane, follow the designated route and then turn RT at the Multnomah County Building to reach Hawthorne
Use the turn lane and then immediately turn RT and enter traffic on SE 12th Ave.
Cut through the gas station - Comon do we even need to talk about why that is wrong?
Avoid the turn land and go straight.

I found that actually going straight to the light, past the gas station (Like the #10 TriMet) is the safest way to go. It's also quicker than following the designated route. Consider:

By using the bike turn thingy and following the designated route you actually increase your danger points. The parallel road is controlled by stop signs, sure, but you still have to cross 12th & 11th - visibility is poor - traffic moving fast. Then you have to make a right, then a left off the side street and cross Hawthorne to reach the bike lane - some folks do this at the worst possible location- one block prior to the light at MLK. Ugh. Traffic 3 lanes deep - vehicles and buses jockeying for the far turn lane... No thanks!

Using the turn and then getting into the traffic on 12th is OK for the rider who can sprint - and when traffic is stopped - but... still doesn't seem ideal. You're exposed in two lanes of heavy, fast-moving traffic.

By going straight you get a light and you have options. Stay in the lane and become a vehicle - you can usually go fast enough to not impede traffic and take the curve onto Hawthorne, grab the bikelane and you're home free. Only you and maybe a TriMet and 2-3 cars are entering the intersection from this side street - in single file. The timing of the lights is such that if you go about 12-15 mph you can make the 7th Ave light pretty easily and then coast to a stop as you approach Grand/MLK.

Couple of drawbacks: This light won't change unless a vehicle triggers the magnets. Bikes won't do it. So don't take the lane if there are no vehicles - you'll be sitting there a looooong time and if a vehicle does roll up behind you they might get rather irritated if they can't reach the magnets. If this happens you have an alternative:

Take the sidewalk/crosswalk. Now when 12th Ave traffic get's the green the mass of cars will move past you. Stay on the sidewalk in front of the Pirate bar and wait. When it's clear hit Hawthorne.

I recommend against pulling alongside the stopped vehicles at this lesser-used, auto-triggered light and then attempting to sort it out in the intersection. Just get in line.

This intersection and surrounding portions of the route can get crazy no matter what so whatever you choose keep scanning and looking for potential trouble!

03-02-2008, 01:46 AM
I prefer the left turn and taking the route parallel to Hawthorne. I've done almost all of the above options, save the cutting through the gas station, and just prefer the bike boulevard.

I simply don't want to compete with cars, and more often buses for the right of way in that weird intersection and subsequent roadway. The crossing of Hawthorne, turning left and heading toward the bridge where the busses have to cross the bike lane and the bus stop at 11th. That's a lot to compete with, particularly when I can just wait patiently to cross the Hawthorne at my own pace.

But to each their own, I suppose.

03-04-2008, 03:59 PM
Couple of drawbacks: This light won't change unless a vehicle triggers the magnets. Bikes won't do it. So don't take the lane if there are no vehicles - you'll be sitting there a looooong time and if a vehicle does roll up behind you they might get rather irritated if they can't reach the magnets.

Pretty sure this one is just on a timer - no metal detection loops to be activated -- but it only comes up once every other signal cycle, to discourage traffic on Ladd, so it takes forever & a day sometimes to get a green.

03-06-2008, 04:15 PM
Well I'm not sure bikie - couple of reference points for me:

Once a gal and I were sitting just ahead of the crosswalk. We go through a cycle... then another, then a car rolls up behind us... another cycle. Finally we move forward and I motion the car forward. Very next cycle we're a go.

And usually, if there is a car sitting there, I roll up and the light changes in the proper order... but maybe... hmm anyway the crosswalk option works well even at rush hour due to the brief break in traffic on 12th in front of the Pirate Bar.

03-10-2008, 05:45 AM
I usually get onto 12th, take the lane and slide onto the bike lane on madison... going with the lights, seems safer to me.

Thats my take on it.

03-11-2008, 07:47 AM
Hmm... one thing about the sidewalk on 12th. The customers at the coffee shop and restaurant are saavy, but I'm looking over my shoulder at traffic. Not a good mix if I'm still rolling. So ride to a safe spot (looking forward), stop, wait then go during the break.

I like getting on 12th proper as well from the left turn thingy, but if I'm more than say 4-5 cars back from the stoplight it's tough not to impede traffic as these folks tend to hit it hard on the green.

03-11-2008, 09:18 AM
Beel, you're absolutely right about there being a loop detector at Ladd -- I checked with the City's signal guys and they confirmed that there is...with most all high bike use loops in Portland marked, i'm suprised this one escaped.

They've got it on their list and will be marking it for bikes soon.

Thanx for enlightening me. Nothing liberates the mind like a smashed assumption.

03-11-2008, 12:16 PM
Dang, I gotta get more proactive if I'm going to hang with you cats! You called!!?!?!


Hey, and if it's looped for bikes, well that eliminates the need to consider the sidewalk. Good deal.

03-11-2008, 01:41 PM
Beel, as it turns out there is NOT a loop. I got an email update from the signal technician (who went out & checked it) who said Ladd gets a green every other cycle regardless of whether there's anyone waiting.

The reason for the every-other-cycle deal dates back to the Ladd/Lincoln/Clinton mega traffic calming project of the late 80's - it's meant to discourage through traffic in Ladd's Addition. So it's generally a good thing, albeit working against bicyclists who want to go that way.

05-16-2008, 08:34 AM
So I ride up today. Biker in front of me and I pull alongside at the stop line.

Thinking we're content to wait at our "every other rotation" side street off Ladd Circle when the 12th Avenue traffic get's the green she takes off!

OK, no prob - she's using the walk sign and will get on the sidewalk...

Not even - forces her way over two lanes causing the impatient vehicles to stack up - brake lights, insanity - what the hell was she thinking!?!?

Not 5 seconds later "our" light goes Green and I casually and safely motor through without holding anyone up or endangering my life.

I held my tongue all the way to the Hawth Bridge. Then I just passed in silence. Unusual for me. Maybe she learned on her own after all the hassle.