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Mixing bikes and transit: BTA launches survey

Posted by on April 7th, 2008 at 9:37 am

Bikes navigate streetcar tracks
near South Waterfront.
(Photos © J. Maus)

With Portland’s streetcar plans heating up, and a recent TriMet bus/bike collision that claimed the life of a Beaverton boy, the Bicycle Transportation Alliance (BTA) wants to know more about your experiences and comfort level when biking around transit.

The BTA, in partnership with the Lloyd District Transportation Management Association’s Bike Committee, launched a survey this morning to learn more about biking conditions in the metro area specifically around bus routes and streetcar/MAX tracks.

I took the survey last night and shared my relative comfort level in biking around buses, streetcar tracks, and MAX tracks. The survey also asked whether or not I’d fallen on tracks and if so, to list specific locations and circumstances. This information could be used by TriMet to find (and then possibly re-engineer) bike/MAX problem spots.

Streetcar tracks on SW Harrison.

One question asked how I would rank three bikeway design options for riding near streetcar or MAX tracks. The options were; “Euro-style” separated cycle-tracks (like this one), putting the bike route on a completely different street than the tracks, or installing an on-street bike lane to the right of tracks (like the photo at right).

The BTA’s says the information they gather from this survey will help inform their advocacy and education work. The Lloyd District TMA is also interested (and has helped fund the survey) because they want to make sure the upcoming streetcar on NE 7th is designed in the best possible way to mitigate any potential conflicts with their future bikeway design plans.

The survey takes 5-7 minutes and the results will be made public when available. – TAKE THE SURVEY ONLINE


Get involved with Portland’s streetcar plans. Visit their Streetcar System Plan website, and attend workshops (all this week throughout Portland) to offer feedback.

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  • Mmann April 7, 2008 at 9:42 am

    Anyone else having problems with the survey? I click, but It won\’t take record my answers and says I haven\’t answered the question.

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  • Adam April 7, 2008 at 10:13 am

    I enjoyed this survey. I have had to many close calls with Trimet buses on my commute in outer SE. This survey allowed me to be able to share my opinion and get it straight to someone who has the ability to do something about it. Thanks to Trimet for making a move towards a better Portland.

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  • Mmann April 7, 2008 at 10:25 am

    fyi – I couldn\’t take the survey using Safari as my browser, but was fine with Firefox. Probably how I have it configured. I\’m glad they\’re asking the questions. Hope the input is used in a positive way.

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  • Michelle April 7, 2008 at 11:06 am

    There was a problem early this morning but it\’s fixed now. Sorry!

    Not sure how to fix the browser issue.

    Thanks everyone for your time and input!

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  • Zaphod April 7, 2008 at 11:08 am

    It rejected my zip code. If I plugged in 00000 that worked. I tried several permutations in attempt to get the last page submitted before stumbling across my hack solution. Most people would probably bail on the form. Being a geek, I took it as a challenge.

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  • Bob_M April 7, 2008 at 11:45 am

    My survey worked just fine.

    One question that bothered me: The european shared sidewalks work great in europe where the myth of the all important individual is supplanted by people working together for the common good. Here in the good old U.S. of A pedestrians don\’t pay attention, cyclists operate at different speeds, and nobody will compromise to accomodate fellow users.

    I have spent time in Munich where shared sidewalks work brilliantly. I hope that Americans can measure up to that brilliance.

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    • Tom December 14, 2010 at 12:01 pm

      Minimizing bike-pedestrian conflicts near transit stops is an overlooked issue.

      I have seen cyclists nearly run over pedestrians a number of times in situations where the pedestrian clearly had the right of way, such as cyclists running a red light and the pedestrian had a walk signal.

      The way things are currently going, in a the next few years I foresee a large scale enforcement effort targeting bikes endangering pedestrians will occur at some point. I have seen several reports, not from the Portland area, of pedestrians being killed in collisions with a bike.

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  • mark April 7, 2008 at 4:43 pm

    I think I\’m more nervous around bus drivers than anyone else. Not only is the bus big, but many of the guys try to use it to intimidate you, or they just pull right into you. I had a guy looking me in the eye, as he pulled out from a stop as I was beside him. I was about to pass him already, I was right beside him. He looked over at me and pushed me right into the other lane. it\’s a good thing no one was in that lane I had to swerve into. When I yelled at him, he just smiled and kept going.

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  • mark April 7, 2008 at 4:51 pm

    yeah, good to be able to fill out a survey, hopefully it\’ll do some good. I think streetcars are just dumb. Electric buses are better and the less tracks the better for bikers.

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  • Schrauf April 7, 2008 at 8:32 pm

    Yeah, many of the bus drivers are killers just waiting to kill. They have a legal ability to pull out into traffic and force you to yield, but don\’t understand that law does not give them the right to actually force you off the road if you are already in the action of passing, or unable to stop safely as they pull out. Many also drive as close as possible to cyclists when they pass, even when the next lane over is wide open.

    Granted, they have to deal with some stupid cyclists, but part of being a so called professional is having the ability to deal with the idiots and not let it interfere with your job the rest of the time.

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  • Paul April 7, 2008 at 8:48 pm

    I like streetcars better as they are more predictable. Too bad they have to stop every other block though. The amount of streets where you encounter tracks are a drop in the bucket.

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  • Former 49er.. April 8, 2008 at 12:09 am

    In contrast to Schrauf (post #9), I\’ve had mostly good experiences with bus drivers. As for the yielding, I naturally tend to yield to buses because they are providing transport for more people than a car or bike would. By yielding I\’m letting 10+ people through as opposed to scooting myself in front of the bus only to be passed again in a couple blocks. It seems selfish and automobile-like to try to get in front of everyone else.

    I tried to fill out the survey in the morning and it didn\’t take my zip code either. I gave up since I had to get to work. I suppose I can try again. The survey was very clearly gearing the BTA up for the streetcar master plan. One thing I try to keep in mind with the streetcar is that it\’s a development tool, not an efficient form of transportation. It\’s not worth losing safe bike access over when buses can do the the same with less cost.

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  • BURR April 8, 2008 at 11:14 am

    It\’s interesting to note that one of the things the cyclists\’ Good Roads Movement at the end of the 19th Century was protesting was the hazard presented to cyclists by streetcar tracks and cable \’slots\’ for cable cars; one of their demands was the removal of unused tracks and making existing tracks and slots less dangerous to cyclists.

    Apparently, we haven\’t made much real progress in this area in over 100 years.

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  • Duncan April 8, 2008 at 11:24 am

    Thanks to the folks who took t time to put this survey together, and for allowing ample space for people to share their thoughts in their own words.

    My exp with trimet drivers has been mixed. Mostly good some bad. Recently got tailgated by a driver on freemont.. submtted a complaint.

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  • Seth Alford April 8, 2008 at 8:02 pm

    I emailed Cheryl Kuck at PDX Transportation for where to submit email comments on the proposed street car lines. She wrote back. I thought that I would pass along the information. She said that the email link is:


    And the web page where the email link can be found is:


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  • […] over at BikePortland wrote up a nice post about a new survey the Bicycle Transportation Alliance (BTA) has launched, wanting to know about people’s […]

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  • Ryan April 10, 2008 at 8:33 pm

    I\’m opposed to the street car expansion, for safety reasons, it\’s excessive expense and because it\’s promises of reducing traffic congestion are very unlikely to hold up. If our expansive light-rail system has a hard enough time making a significant dent on highway traffic congestion, I highly doubt a 7 mph street car crawling along through downtown will have any effect.

    I\’m not against mass transit, I\’m against \”toy transit\” projects such as this. As a cute tourist attraction, it may have some value. For transportation, likely very little. The only thing I see cyclists getting out of this is more dangerous roads. I\’d rather they spend the money on repaving some of the downtown streets, many that I ride on are falling apart and are exceptionally hazardous.

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  • BURR April 10, 2008 at 11:11 pm

    Any project that created the same hazard for motorists that the streetcar poses to cyclists would be automatically DOA.


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