efforts to limit bicycle use
on the Willamette Greenway Trail.
Business is good for Karen Stiles who owns Waterfront Bicycle Rentals on the RiverPlace Esplanade just south of the Hawthorne Bridge. Part of the reason is because the popular Willamette Greenway Trail is all that separates her storefront from the river.
The trail is listed on maps as a multi-use path that is open to bicycles.
However, since the beginning of June, owners of condominiums located above Stiles’ business have pressured the Portland Parks Bureau (they manage the trail) to do something about bicyclists who ride too fast on the trail and put residents, strolling tourists, and diners in danger.
“It’s an accident waiting to happen,” says Karen Hinsdale, president of the RiverPlace Planned Community (a homeowners association). Hinsdale says they’ve been working on this problem for years and that recently it’s gotten much worse.
Their first approach was to work with the City to designate an alternate bike route that would encourage cyclists to use a different route through the area. The bike route was created (using SW Harbor Way and SW Montgomery), but it hasn’t kept cyclists off the Greenway Trail. They’ve also tried asking cyclists to slow down and walk. That (not surprisingly) hasn’t worked either.
So as a last-ditch effort, back in June Hinsdale put up an a-frame sign in the middle of the path with a graphic of a bicyclist and a big red line going through it (the international symbol for “no”).
According to shop owner Stiles, the sign unfairly singled out cyclists and just made matters worse.
“Right away, the sign caused confusion,” claimed Stiles, “Many cyclists would stop in my shop and ask, ‘what in the world is going on?'”.
Stiles says the sign itself caused the conflict,
“The sign was creating all kinds of chaos. People were getting into shouting matches…we even had an altercation with a security guard who actually karate-chopped a woman and forcibly removed her from her bike (the employee was let go after Stiles complained). The security guys were jumping in front of my customers as they left the shop.”
She says the situation causes confusion because the Willamette Greenway Trail is listed on maps (Such as Metro’s Bike There! map) as a path that is open to bicycles.
Stiles is worried that bicyclists are being unfairly singled out and that the homeowners association has crossed the line in trying to dictate who can and can’t use the path.
As for the sign, Stiles immediately complained about it to the Parks Bureau and after “numerous conversations” and over the course of three weeks, the sign was finally removed. Parks officials told Stiles they planned to re-work the signage and put them up again at a later date.
Things have calmed down since the signs were removed, but Stiles is worried that the signs could return this weekend.
That’s not going to happen, according to Parks district manager Bob Downing. He said he’d rather wait until a larger public conversation takes place. Downing has been in touch with city bike coordinator Roger Geller and they’ve put the issue on the agenda of the City’s Bicycle Advisory Committee.
Downing says he wants to make sure the solution is acceptable to all sides,
“We need to address the situation holistically (he also plans to visit cafe owners to make sure their tables and chairs are within code standards). We hoped the signage (see below) would would address the situation, but they don’t work for everyone involved. This has been a problem for a long time and I’m not going to make everyone mad by trying to fix it too soon. We need to have more dialogue on this.”
Here’s a look at the signage they’re considering:
Hinsdale says she doesn’t want to prohibit bikes, but hopes courtesy and compromise prevail,
“We want people to walk and we need them to be more cautious…I think in most cases, people just don’t realize they’re entering a highly congested area. It’s an issue of all of us learning to be courteous to one another. There’s got to be a compromise in here somewhere.”
The issue is on the agenda for the next Bicycle Advisory Committee meeting on August 14th.
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There is so much foot-traffic in that area that I avoid it altogether. It\’s basically a shopping zone and not all that easy to navigate by bicycle. What with people either looking at things they want to buy or looking at the things they just purchased.
When I first moved to Portland I rode through there a couple of times, but it wasn\’t a very pleasurable experience (for many reasons). It\’s like biking through a super-condensed Pearl district.
It\’s just like the Esplanade, folks get angry because they can\’t walk 3-4 abreast at their own leisure without a bike coming along and wanting some room. To make matters worse, this is a stretch that accommodates the over-the-shoulder sweater wearing, yacht loving bunch. They always need to feel special.
that path is the southern extension of waterfront park, it has the same design and paving dimensions, it is part of the willamette greenway and it should be open to bikes. The on-street detour is BS.
It would be wonderful if there was a place that only cyclists were allowed(aside from the track). Both cars and pedestrians go through the bike lanes without care for the cyclist who might be there. Why not get down on the pedestrians and make them scoot over? I ring my bell and try and take it slow, but sometimes that doesn\’t even work. Why is there nothing on the signs that says, \”Don\’t walk side by side\” or \”Pay attention to bells\”. Apparently these \”multi-use\” pathways aren\’t meant for that, as the sign shows, every activity other than walking is secondary.
maybe all the pedestrians that drove their cars are now getting a little taste of what its like to be a cyclist in a car\’s world.
The choke point is where the resturant has dinning tables on both sides of the green way. Therefore every one is condensed down into about 7 feet or so with waiters and diners going back and forth across the thru way.
How about the buisnesses get rid of their tables, signs, plants, merchandise that they put out into the public right-of way.
Finally, I hope the woman who got karate chopped sued the property owners and sercurity company. Being on a bike there is within her rights.
I love the \”Accident waiting to happen\” arguement. It can be applied to anything whether it is relevent or not. It shouldn\’t be a basis for action without statistics to back it up unless there is universal agreement from all parties involved that there is indeed an obvious problem.
There\’s a lot of truth to that statement.
What\’s all the more frustrating is that many of these pedestrians are also automobile drivers who will later continue to crowd out cyclists on the street as well as the path.
Share the road. Share the path. That goes for all of us.
\”The choke point is where the resturant has dinning tables on both sides of the green way. \”
Spencer, I failed to mention this in the initial story (just added it), but Parks has been made aware of the tables/chair issue by Karen Stiles (she thinks they are a big cause of the congestion) and they plan to take a look at it.
My previous comment refers to post #5, BTW
Just send my comments to the Parks Department. I would recommend you speak up. Squeeky wheel gets the grease. Here is an excerpt of my comments.
I am very concerned about the dinning occurring in the greenway in front of the Riverplace condominium complex. This is a high traffic area with a large number of walkers and bikers, and the business interests are compromising the safety of both their diners, employees and the general public with their activity.
I am highly concerned about the recent efforts by the property management to restrict biking through the area. The area was designed as a multi-use path and their efforts are nothing short of attempting to seize a public area for private interests. Furthermore, I am highly concerned about the strong arm tactics used by their hired security used against users of the path acting according to the law and within their rights.
Thank you for your concern in this matter,\”
Not having ever had occasion to look at a map, I was completely surprised that this sidewalk area was officially part of the Willamette Greenway Trail. Given the setting, I can\’t believe any reasonable cyclist would expect they should be able to cruise through there any faster than a walk speed.I don\’t particularly consider that fair, but it\’s what happens when too many potentially conflicting uses are squeezed out of one area.
The extreme strategy of Karen Hinsdale, president of the RiverPlace Planned Community, using the A-frame with the sign banning bicycles from the this area seems like it was a really bad move, as was the karate chop cop going through his moves…on a woman cyclist? That\’s just too much.
The Parks district manager Bob Downing seems like he\’s got the right idea. Go slow, make the best of a difficult situation.
i am suprised at myself for saying this, but i think that bikers should be detoured away from that area, and those who have just rented a bike should walk it a few yard ahead before getting on.
now i would never eat or shop in this area, but i\’ve been through there and it\’s quite nice. i don\’t really think its fair for some members of the biking community to suggest that people stop shopping and eating along the path.
if you think about it, bikers are merely passing through and are only in the area for a few minutes. if i have to detour behind a building and miss the river view for a second, it\’s no big deal. those who are shopping and eating there are actually lingering and enjoying that particular view. why should we restrict them so we can zip through?
the situation as it stands now needs improvement, but i don\’t think it\’s worth getting especially upset over.
Here\’s the deal: It\’s part of the Willamette Greenway! Which means it\’s a multi-use path, and any uses that it wasn\’t designed for – such as sit-down dining – are the ones at fault here, not any of the original uses it was designated for. If any compromise is to be made, it\’s between the varying needs of legitimate users of the path, and no accord should be given to the illegitimate uses, unless there is a law passed changing the use of that section (and I\’d like to see City Council try that!).
The idea that wee should divert to some other route (where cars will harrass us for being in their way) because of the needs of a few businesses and homeowners who wish to treat a public property as their own private property is not in the least bit acceptable.
I imagine that most of the bikers on this part of the trail are actually folks who have rented. We have ridden our tandem through here – at around 3 MPH. Any faster is impossible.
It would be a shame to get rid of the tables. Sidewalk dining is a very civilized way to eat. It\’s a shame it happens to be a choke point. However, remove the tables / bike rental place, and this neighbourhood will become a bedroom comunity – no tourists spending dollars. The folks who live and work there will need to figure out what they want.
As far as people who want to commute through there, they will either have to adhere to what the local residents want, or push the city to develop a proper commuting route.
I agree. If you are on a bike and your destination is downtown, the Hawthorne Bridge, north on Waterfront Park, or toward South Waterfront, you have no need to ride through this area. It\’s just as fast to go around if not faster, and you avoid the unpleasant experience of riding over all those weird cement squares sticking up out of the grass north of the area in question.
Just because you are legally allowed to ride somewhere doesn\’t make it a good idea. Let the City have a pleasant riverfront promenade for tourists.
Total frickin nonsense.
What is an \’accident waiting to happen\’?
There either are accidents, or there aren\’t. I have yet to hear of any accidents in this section. Excepting the accident involving the security gaurd assaulting the female cyclist.
I am sick of peoples feelings, emotions and delicate sensibilities carrying more weight than facts, statistics and logic.
Utter nonsense and I for one will be going out of my way to ride this section every day.
safely, of course!
Yeah, I got sucked in there on accident a couple of weeks ago. Best avoided by bikes. And easily, too.
But these kind of issues always make me think about Frankfurt airport. The ticket agents there use a fleet of bikes to get from gate to gate. No bells. No signs. Completely crowded and yet bikes and travelers seem be able to find a way to coexist.
Now, if they could just do something about all the cigarette smoke…
Correct me if I\’m wrong, but security guards have the same \”authority\” as a civilian. Meaning when the security guard karate chopped the lady on her bike it was assault, a felony (again, I think).
In the small city I lived at in Japan people were expected to ride their bicycles on the sidewalk. All bikes came with bells and were comfortable and casual. It worked well because the city was small enough that you could get anywhere in about 15 minutes going at a casual pace on a bicycle. In Japan pedestrians were also willing to yield and knew how to properly react to a bell, and bicycles weren\’t zipping around throwing caution to the wind. The area should be treated like a common sidewalk and bikes can ride through, albeit at pedestrian speeds.
I think Donald is right, people here would be more willing to yield if there wasn\’t signs giving them a false sense of entitlement and self-righteousness. But it should also be obvious to any commuter that the faster route is going to be on the street.
Also, what about allowing the restaurant to build a balcony? Is that possible?
\”Hinsdale says she doesn’t want to prohibit bikes…\”
Yeah, she just \”accidentally\” put up her own sign prohibiting bikes.
I can\’t picture what paving is there, but perhaps fancy pavers or texture delineating a 3 or 4\’ strip down the center of the trail dotted with versions of the cycle route symbols in basalt would keep everyone happy. Oh and rumble strips at either end of the area too, in maybe a nice rounded river rock pattern. Condo assoc fees would cover the upgrade of course.
If I have to slow down to walking speed on my bicycle, then it\’s not a bicycle transportation facility, in my opinion. We shouldn\’t be wasting money on these multi-use paths which require cyclists to slow down to unreasonable speeds. Instead, the money should be used to fix gaps in the existing on-street bike lane network. These include the gaps in the bike lanes on the bridges on Barbur between Capitol Highway and Multnomah Boulevard; the intersection of Beaverton-Hillsdale/Scholls/Oleson; and Garden Home Road between Oleson and Scholls.
This is one of those situations where common courtesy could easily solve the situation. Too bad there aren\’t enough people who uphold it. The result is more laws regulating our behavior. Perhaps we (as a community, in the largest sense of the word) are to blame.
This is one of those situations where common courtesy could easily solve the situation. Too bad there aren\’t enough people who uphold it.
Indeed. It\’s the same old story: people wanting to put the burden of care and attention onto everyone but themselves. I avoid MUPs for just this reason – too many imbeciles treating it as if the fact that there aren\’t automobiles moving through the space means that there\’s no sort of common sense best behavior. It\’s shared infrastructure for crying out loud. Pay attention, move forward in a consistent and predictable manner, and avoid passing too close to others. Simple? Apparently not.
Er, and if it wasn\’t obvious, I\’m talking about both pedestrians, cyclists, rollerbladers, skateboardes, and so on in #25, not just one particular class of MUP user.
These are the same people who crowd bike lanes in their cars, jaywalk against a red light, or cow along at the mall walking 7-across, all while glaring at you for daring to impede their progress. It\’s not like this is a brand new MUP that suddenly infringed on everyone\’s property down there.
It\’s a PUBLIC use path, and should be treated as such. I\’m sure the city would be up in arms if I tried to singlehandedly close down the road in front of our house because I got tired of shortcut speeders blowing by our kids. Why is this a \”special\” case?
The Willamette River Greenway is a public asset that belongs to all of us. Homeowner\’s associations (HOAs)adajacent to the Greenway should not have the ability to regulate its use. The Greenway is a multi-use path which includes bicycles!
In this case, the Riverplace Condominium HOA attempted to regulate with signage and hired security a public space to suit their own interests and not necessarily the public at large. This was a space to which the HOA had no ownership and no ability to regulate (a land grab). This was done without public input.
A number of developments are planned along the South waterfront area. This may be the first of many attempts by HOAs and developers to limit the rights of the general public especially bicyclists to enjoy the Willamette River Greenway.
I used to run rickshaw\’s along the waterfront back in like \’86 or so. We based down along Riverplace, and went down to the Steel Bridge.
I can tell you the the same problem was going on then as is now.
I can understand if people are riding fast they should slow down.
But the path is really huge, and wide enough for multi use, no matter what.
In the name of commerce and comfortable living, a multi use path provided for us has never really even had the welcome mat unrolled onto the stoop.
Tourism, commerce, and condo\’s should come a far, far, second third and fourth place to green spaces and their proper and intended usage.
the \’please walk your bike\’ signs have been up for quite a while already and I for one had thought that they were installed by the city. now that I know differently, I\’m not going to feel guilty anymore about riding my bike through there; the on-road detour is convoluted, hilly and often unpleasant due to traffic associated with the condos.
over by OMSI, they use two signs on A-frames; one says (to pedestrians) Watch for Bikes, the other says (to cyclists) something like Slow Children
This is a lovely area to walk and dine in, but bikes do not belong down there. Bikes do not have to be everywhere. There are plenty of sidestreets in this area where the bikes can go. Keep them out.
as soon as cars are banned from my street ill quit biking by your. i dont like the cars there but have to deal with them too.
Duncan: Streets can well manage both bikes and cars. The Riverplace walkway cannot. Stop being so selfish and realize that bikes do not belong everywhere, any more than cars do. It\’s a shame you can\’t be courteous enough to realize where bikes work and where they don\’t, instead selfishly thinking you belong anywhere you damn well want to be. It\’s people like you who ruin it for everyone.
Terry, I\’m afraid you have it backward: There is no such thing as the \”Riverplace walkway.\” It is a multi-use path, part of the Greenway. It *was* expressly designed for use by pedestrians and bicyclists; it was *not* designed for dining tables, nevermind dining tables for six situated on the opposite side of the path from the waiters and waitresses who must serve them. The restauranteurs are the ones who do not belong there, and the ones who have improperly appropriated bicyclists\’ space. Bikes belong on the paths designed for them. Restaurants do not. We don\’t ride through restaurants, and restaurants should not serve their guests on our paths.
This is the unfortunate result of the bikers with chips on their shoulders over what they consider the persecution against bikes.
Just look at the comments here which assume every pedestrian on the walkway is a car driver – it\’s hard for bikers to see anyone who isn\’t on a bike as anything else than anti-bike – or relevant.
The zoobomb, careening around corners without stopping at intersections – suddenly having a dozen bikes around you with no where to go.
The monthly protest, ripping through intersections without stopping – even with pedestrians in the walkway. I\’ve been there.
And let\’s get some pics of the bikers riding side by side on the esplanade and in bike lanes (no helmets, no mirrors).
It\’s hard to support a group that doesn\’t see any validity to anyone not on a bike – not even pedestrians using public transportation and walking to get around the city.
(Which, btw – a walker generates a lot less pollution than a bike which goes through manufacturing steel or worse aluminum and trucking and shipping. Not to mention all the petroleum based plastics and fabrics to construct helmuts and biker wear. Oil, grease…list goes on.)
So. Why not kind of consider the pedestrians and give them a bit of consideration and show that you can work with the community which supports bikers, rather than beat up everyone around you – even those who choose to walk.
And while you\’re at it, next time you see a pedestrian in a crosswalk in front of you, how about if you don\’t zip around them, but show some courtesy and slow down or stop.
(As if any of this would get through to you.)
a.O, the Riverplace Walkway has evolved into a delightful place to have dinner or a glass of wine, and bicycles simply do not fit there. There are plenty of alternative routes for bikes to take — this is not true for diners. So let the bikes take the alternate routes and leave the diners and walkers alone. Not every square inch of the planet has to be accessible by bike, and cyclists only demonstrate their selfishness by insisting that it be so. Have some common sense, take the street detour, and get over yourself — your world will not end if you cannot access the 200 yards of the Riverplace Walkway. Grow up instead of stamping your feet like a child.
I don\’t view it as just a \”persecution against bikes\” deal. It\’s a hijacking of a public throughway for specific purposes. Think of it this way. It\’s basically a road. Just the vehicles are not allowed on it *by design*. Do restaurants hijack sidewalks for outdoor dining? Of course. But for the most part they try to be mindful of the public access and aren\’t to the point where they say \”oh, sorry. There isn\’t room for you here. Please use the sidewalk on the other side of the street.\”
It\’s a public thoroughfare. Not a private front yard. Not free outdoor storefront. This isn\’t about bikes going somewhere they weren\’t originally intended to be. This is about a *shared* use pathway that is not being shared.
What\’s next? \”Oh, sorry, your big stroller isn\’t allowed here. Please take your babies and use the street behind the building.\”
That what I call a compromise – eliminate bicycles.
I don\’t think I have ever seen a pedestrian on Fairview Blvd.at 11pm on a Sunday night.
Critical Mass has been practically destroyed by an unnecessary Police presence. They could roll over to Chinatown and bust drug dealers and car prowlers.
I really think people should look both ways before they step off a curb anyways. Right-of-way is not going to keep you out from under a car running a red light, or a group of cyclists occupying the street a minute or two while they pass you. BTW I think Critical Mass has become stupid, as it is no longer about sharing the road.
Helmets and mirrors are not required by law.
The world needs a little light-hearted choas every now and again. It\’s what makes life interesting. And, you\’d have nothing to bitch about.
Wow, I had no idea there were no restaurants in the city, except for in this one small spot. How selfish cyclists have been, to use the MUP, and deprive diners of this one small opportunity to dine…
on an MUP, of all places…
I\’m in total agreement with what N.I.K. had to say, otherwise.
I walked down there tonight, past the hotel sidwalk deli, the bike shop, and McCormick and Schmicks, about 7-7:30. It wasn\’t too bad. Not too many people out that time of night. There was lots of room for people to walk and cycle on by….until I got to McCormick and Schmicks.
Maybe it\’s partly because I really don\’t have the money to eat there, but I don\’t like that scene much at all. It\’s not just the tables…this restaurant also puts up a sizable cabana for a bus station. It\’s kind of a pain just walking through there.
There is a certain amount of space between the edge of the sidewalk and the lamp posts. The other food and snack providers on this stretch of the trail tend to keep their tables more in this area, but Schmick\’s seems more inclined to spill over into the sidewalk passageway, at least that\’s my impression. Maybe it would help some if they made a better effort to keep a wider area of the sidewalk open to people walking, biking, jogging, skating past.
I suppose I really sound like a complainer by saying so, but also, too much cooking odors. How can one restaurant dump so much cooking odor over the sidewalk? Kills my appetite. It\’s better around the corner at Schmizza\’s
This is along my commute, and since I like riding faster than 6mph, I always take Harbor Way and Montgomery Street instead of riding on this part of the waterfront trail.
So Terry, according to your logic, if cyclists decided that they liked a particular highway/freeway that they had no legal rights to, and they started hanging out there and riding there in numbers, you would be for them excluding cars from using the highway because \”it was a delightful place for bikes and cars had no place there\”?
And BTW ib, I ride the Springwater quite a bit and I almost never see cyclists riding side by side unless it is a very recreational situation like a family where the parents are keeping the kids in a safe zone on the right. There is no law against an adult riding without a mirror or a helmet so take all the pictures you want. I ride with both but there is no law that says I have to. I can honestly say that most everyone I meet on the path is polite (so I don\’t really get your point) but by far the biggest path clogger is joggers running two to four abreast. No big deal really…I ring my bell and when a spot opens up I go around them safely. I\’m not sure what your point was supposed to be.
I don\’t ride in that area but it seems that others are saying that it is not the best place to be pedaling through to begin with. I see no problem with routing bike traffic around this area but I did not like what I read about June Hinsdale putting up her own sign. Additionally, those condo owners can go to hell if they don\’t like cyclists. If the path is multi-use then pedestrians and cyclists both have the right to use it.
McCommick and Schmick: City Club, MAC and Portland Business Alliance members + major contributors to most local political campaigns = preferential, above-the-law treatment vis-a-vis sidewalk permits for restaurant seating.
I occasionally ride through that area, and because it\’s filled with pedestrians, tables, benches and planters I keep my speed down to 5mph or less and warn people when I pass – which is exactly what we\’re supposed to do on a multi-use path.
Since this *is* a multi-use path, and public property managed by the Portland Parks Department, it is public space and recreational in nature. That means commercial activity requires a permit. That also means that if there is a conflict between path users, the first thing to go is that which impinges on the legitimate users of the path, i.e. restaurant tables and other private uses.
If that does not resolve the issue, then there needs to be further study on the issue. Terry\’s argument about the tables (#37) doesn\’t hold water – each of those establishments have indoor seating, and if they don\’t have enough, they can build another story. They have the right to do whatever they want on private property, but not on public property.
Bikes belong on MUP paths. tables do not. If you want to change the designation then I suggest you take it to the city council, I am sure that bikeportland.org will be more than happy to let us all know when the subject comes up for debate so that we bicyclists may come and share our opinion of your attempt to take over a public righ of way for private use. Put your damn tables in the road.
The thing is that I like sidewalk dining, but when I dine at a table on a sidewalk, I try and be concious of sharing space with all users, maybe you should try being courtious and inclusive instead of being a shrill, accusitory e-whiner.
i used to ride along that stretch at least 3 times a week before or after dragonboating practice. a couple of months ago the Riverplace Hotel started posting a big a-frame \”no bikes\” sign. i asked both a hotel manager and two bike policemen on different occasions as to the meaning of the sign, and they both replied that it was a pedestrian-only area and not an MUP. good to know that i was right! note to self: get badge numbers for future reference and follow-up conversations.
that said, the parallel road abutting the hotel is far more enjoyable a ride. MUPs are great oct. – april.
A more aggressive BTA would have already sued the Parks Dept. to force the removal of the non-city installed signs which are trying to ban bicycle riding in that area.
i like many cyclists am a year round user of the many multi user paths around portland. i am curious to see if this is as an important an issue to the same business owners when it starts getting cold and wet again, probably not. i can\’t see any bicyclist avoiding the area to ride on the road instead when the path is completely deserted in the middle of winter.