View Full Version : Ride MLK!

06-16-2009, 02:09 PM
Every Monday morning.

8:00am: Meet at the Gold Rush coffeeshop at NE MLK and Russell.

8:30am: Ride down MLK towards your destination.

Established bikepool, with the majority of participants turning left at Salmon or Main to go to the Activspace building.

Join us! We ride sometimes fast, sometimes slow, always taking the lane, and always festive! Bell-ringing and freakbikes especially encouraged. Everyone absolutely welcome.

08-14-2009, 08:25 AM
Why would you ride on MLK? It's a busy road and a main thoroughfare for auto traffic. You can use 9th, which is 3 blocks East or Vancouver/Williams 3 blocks to the West.

08-14-2009, 09:42 AM
boneshaker, I think the point of riding MLK is because they can. Kind of a low-key, Critical Mass sort of thing, hopefully obeying traffic laws along the way-- Right, Elly???

Probably for some people, MLK is the most direct route to their destination. Why should they ride a few blocks out of their way? You wouldn't suggest that drivers do that, would you? Riding down MLK like this points that out, I guess.

Personally, I wouldn't ride down MLK... but then again, I don't have any reason to ride, or drive, down MLK.

the Wumpus
08-15-2009, 10:15 PM
I felt the same way until I cruised down MLK with a group a couple of months ago! I always took the esplanade or crossed I-84 at 12th and meandered through the blocks to get places. Turns out, MLK has a lot going for it!

It's downhill, so your speed integrates with traffic nicely. Most of the lights are timed, so you get to blast through town without stopping for quite some distance. And it's so much easier to make a lot of connections from MLK. I recommend trying it out sometime with a group of experienced cyclists.

08-17-2009, 06:32 AM
To me it is one of those things... Just because you can and just because it's legal don't mean it is right or smart. There is no shoulder on MLK so you are forcing auto traffic down to one lane and it is much too busy for that during the morning commute. It just pisses people off who are probably already in a hurry. Bad idea. If you do decide to do it you best take the entire lane because cars will try to squeeze you between them and the curb.

And yes, I would suggest auto traffic take an alternate route if the most direct one is not safe. 3 blocks out of the way and 5 extra minutes are well worth the inconvenience. That seems to be the difference in opinion here. I do not feel riding MLK during peak high traffic is safe.

Why would you not ride down it "personally"?

08-17-2009, 10:13 AM
Personally-- the only time I'm in that part of town, I'm 99.9% of the time in a car. I think I've only been in the vicinity of MLK once by bike, but it wasn't part of the route so we didn't ride on it.

08-17-2009, 11:26 AM
I've ridden down MLK a number of times heading south and have never had a problem keeping up with traffic, due to the downhill.

Where there are two lanes the traffic lights are timed slower, traffic isn't moving that fast. Where there are four lanes cars can easily get around you even if you are going slower.

Frankly its less hectic than williams / vancouver. Just stay in the middle of your lane and signal what you are going to do.

08-17-2009, 11:56 AM
What MLK has going for it for cyclists is what any heavily trafficked area has going for it:
> better maintained surface and lighting due to more users complaining
> better visibility and sightlines for spotting hazards
> signal prioritization for that road allowing users to move through in one continuous movement without stopping. All side streets have stop signs and secondary right of way.
) If we assume that a main road carries 90% of the traffic load in an area and we can reduce their need to stop we can effectively reduce the number of “failure to stop” type accidents that occur.

Low traffic streets, and poorly designed bike boulevards, often have:
> a stop sign every 1 – 2 blocks, severely reducing the average speed of any cyclist.
> less maintained road surface, more trash
> if it is residential, and most bike boulevards route through residential areas, there is a much higher chance of encountering children or pets darting out in to the road with out looking.
> there are fewer witnesses when that cager decides you don’t belong in his way. You might believe that more people would see something like that in a residential area but people haven’t been sitting on their porches watching the neighborhood since the 1950’s.

So, yeah, the high speed – high traffic road can in fact be much safer.

the Wumpus
08-17-2009, 06:31 PM
Yep, it works out surprisingly well! Not that I'd send a novice cyclist down that way, but it's nothing like you'd expect. Sometimes drivers are going faster than you, in which case traffic is light enough for them to dash from red light to red light faster than the green wave you'll be riding, and light enough for them to easily swap lanes. Sometimes it's too busy for drivers to easily pass you, in which case they'll be going slow enough to hold you up instead. I wouldn't call it recreational, although the one-way stretch down the hill is a major riding-in-traffic confidence builder. And one heck of a shorcut! It's worth riding with an experienced group if you're interested in trying it out just to get a feel for it.

North on Grand, however, I'll leave that to the pros...

08-26-2009, 07:48 AM
I biked down MLK many times when I was seeing a girl on N MLK- It was a blast with the hill I couild maintain 25-8 MPH for long stretches.

Yes it was dangerous. But Fun. You only live once.


10-12-2009, 11:25 PM
@ Boneshaker: Thanks for even asking the question, you beat me to it, your comments here are exactly my same thoughts: "Just because you can and just because it's legal don't mean it is right or smart." "And yes, I would suggest auto traffic take an alternate route if the most direct one is not safe."

My usual concern for the people I see riding on MLK is their safety.
I haven't seen the group ride on MLK and it would seem that there would be better safety in numbers. But I'm always so concerned for the solo riders I see on MLK, and I question if they are trading convenience for their safety.

We see all too often that a minor error on a drivers part can mean a tragic fatality for those of us on 2 wheels, regardless of how safe the bike rider is or isn't. From my perspective riding MLK seems to be inviting danger simply by increasing the odds of aggressive traffic.

I'm certainly not going to suggest where people should or shouldn't ride their bikes, but I will advocate each one of us putting an extremely high value on our own personal safety and taking as much personal responsibility for where we choose to ride.

10-13-2009, 11:22 AM
I guess the point I'm trying to make is that it *isn't* dangerous and I have *never* experienced road rage while riding on MLK.

As mentioned by others -- the large number of lanes, good sight lines, and generally slow moving traffic make this one easy.

I have had way more close calls on 7th for example which is theoretically traffic-calmed, but is one lane each way with poor sight lines and where people feel they can get away with speeding.

To each their own.