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Updated: Sign in construction area admonishes bicyclists

Posted by on July 16th, 2008 at 12:22 pm

[Updated 7/16, 2:40pm -7/17, 3:00pm — see below]

Signage at SE Caruthers and Water-2.jpg

(Photos © J. Maus)

A new traffic sign at the northeast corner of SE Water and SE Caruthers offers a stern reminder for those who pass by on two wheels:

“BICYCLISTS MUST FOLLOW STOP SIGNS AND TRAFFIC DIRECTIONS!”

The area (just south of OMSI) is currently the site of two major construction projects — the MLK Viaduct renovation being managed by ODOT and the East Side Big Pipe project managed by the City of Portland.

According to ODOT spokesperson Mike Mason, they had nothing to do with it.

Signage at SE Caruthers and Water-3.jpg

A construction zone access driveway
lies just feet from the stop sign.

More likely, the sign (which looks sort of homemade) was put up by a private business in the immediate area. There are many industrial businesses on these streets that require large trucks and a closer inspection of the sign shows another warning, “Be Careful. Do not enter truck loading area.”
But as we saw last week, those trucks sometimes have trouble complying with the law themselves (Note: I’ve updated that story with some good news from ODOT).

The entire construction zone is considered an “Enhanced Enforcement Zone” by the Portland Police Bureau’s Traffic Division. They’ve not only made it clear in the past that they are closely watching the area (sometimes a bit too closely?), they’re also paid a special fee by ODOT for the service.

However, despite increased patrols (at least according to whoever posted this sign), some folks are still not complying with the law.

_____

[Update: I just got back from the site. From speaking to construction crews working at the intersection directly adjacent to the sign, I was able to confirm that it was put up by the company working on the Big Pipe Project. Workers with Kiewit-Bilfinger Berger say the sign was put up because they are concerned for safety.

They say people on bikes are constantly blowing through that stop sign even though there is a lot of big-rig truck traffic near it. They also said the Police were out talking with them this morning and that, “they’re trying to figure out what to do about it.”

As I chatted with the KBB employees we watched several people on bikes stream by without even noticing the stop sign (or the one across the street in front of the Portland Spirit parking lot).

Why are so many people on bikes not stopping? Besides just blatantly not obeying the law, part of the problem might be sign overload, check out the photo below for another view of this sign and you’ll see what I mean…]

It’s no wonder compliance is low at this intersection.

UPDATE: 7/17 – The sign has been removed by the City of Portland.

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BURR
Guest
BURR

I believe that it\’s illegal to just put up private traffic signs on a public road like that, when is PDOT taking it down?

peejay
Guest
peejay

If PDOT doesn\’t, I\’ll help out.

david
Guest
david

I am confused. What exactly is wrong with the signs?

erin g.
Guest
erin g.

I navigate this area every day by bike, and I am all for being respectful and courteous to the hard working truck drivers in the zone. I extend friendly smiles and waves, and I come to a stop at stop signs; I know I’ll catch and overcome the summer commuter guys who dust by when I do so!

However, signage in this zone should be all-inclusive and universally applicable. This mystery sign would be more appropriate if also said something like, \”Truck Drivers: Please come to a complete stop at stop signs and refrain from entering the designated bike lane.\”

Ideally, the sign would be best if it addressed all road users, not just one set or another.

I have had many truckers in this area act with great courtesy toward me (i.e. a lady with wavy blond hair stopped her cement truck for me on Monday, even when she had the right-of-way), whereas others have endangered my life at times by rolling through stop signs or by swinging into the bike lane in this zone. The key is for all cyclists, pedestrians, and drivers in the area to be respectful and careful toward one another. It is not all about bikes, as this sign suggests.

Furthermore, just as police officers regularly ticket cyclists for running stop signs in this area (I’ve seen these operations, so I always behave accordingly), they should be equally vigilant about ticketing motorists who disregard traffic safety standards in this complicated multi-user zone.

todd
Guest
todd

I like the sign! I almost got hit from behind by another cyclist last week when I slowed down at this same intersection (going the other direction) – he blew threw the sign and just about took me out in the process. And yes, I signaled that I was slowing/stopping.

I agree that PDOT should remove that sign – it should be replaced it with an official (permanent) one. The only improvement would be to remind everyone that bikes AND cars must follow the signs and directions.

Adam
Guest
Adam

I\’m looking forward to the sign reminding the drivers for Apple Produce that it is illegal to park in the bike lane.

brewcaster
Guest

I love this sign. I want stickers, t-shirts and helmets that say this on them. I would wear it all. I was thinking about making a sticker that said \”I obey all traffic laws\” and smack it on my rear fender.

I feel like I should do something, but yelling at other cyclists seems dangerous. But there are TOO MANY PEOPLE going through red lights!!!!

Ian
Guest
Ian

what a humorous sign. Unfortunately the a-hole bikers are going to just get pissed off and complain about the sign while still breaking traffic laws. The only bikers that will even read the sign are the ones that already follow the rules. Its too bad there are so many bad cyclist ging the good cyclists a bad name.

Phil
Guest
Phil

+1 for erin g.

The unfortunate thing is that signs like this make the area more unsafe. No one is going to change their behavior based on a sign– careless riders will blow through, practical but cautious riders (like myself) roll slowly through, and law-abiding riders will stop. Everyone will have their visibility reduced so they have to go past the sign to properly see, and in doing so be closer to any oncoming vehicles, particularly dangerous when many of the vehicles require a very wide turning radius.

rafa
Guest
rafa

The sign is fine but should be inclusive of all vehicles. Although, if they are being vigilant of the perps, then they may have justification for singling out cyclists.

bahueh
Guest
bahueh

could be that the local business owners don\’t want to run someone\’s dumb ass over when blow through a stop sign…or are tired of almost hitting cyclists.
I\’ve witnessed it almost happen around there 1/2 a dozen times on my old commute route…

but of course if anyone wants to get runover, they\’ll probably just keep on doing what they do with little regard for the outcome of their actions…or the impact they have on others.

bahueh
Guest
bahueh

BURR….why should PDOT take it down? is it not true?

peejay
Guest
peejay

Thanks todd and brewcaster for utterly failing to get the point. Since you (and Steve and others) have shown again and again that you don\’t get the fact that failure to follow traffic controls is not limited to people who use one mode of transport over another, and yet, institutionally, the city and its institutions choose to overlook the lawbreaking when it\’s done my those who could cause the most harm, and instead focus on enforcement actions by those who cause the least harm, then please don\’t be surprised when nobody here cares what you say anymore.

The Machine
Guest
The Machine

brewcaster –

Why would you want to advertise to everyone what a great law abiding cyclist you are? Does that somehow make you morally superior? Do you think anyone will actually care?

You mean to tell me that every single time you ride you come to a complete one foot on the ground stop at every single stop sign? You\’ve never broken a traffic law in your life?

If that\’s true, hats off to you, but don\’t get the false impression that it makes you somehow better than anyone else.

Dorr
Guest

I would love to see PDOT place a sign \”NO TRUCK PARKING IN BIKE LANE\” along SE 4th Ave. between SE Ivon St. and SE Caruthers.

On the flipside, I have seen many cyclists blow through the stop sign at SE Water and SE Caruthers as if it never existed.

To replace the home-made sign with an official sign like \”BICYCLISTS MUST OBEY STOP SIGNS\” is ridiculous. Cyclist should be stopping at the red and white octagonal shaped signs with the word \”STOP\” in big white letters.

k.
Guest
k.

Traffic control and regulatory signs must meet the standards as spelled out in the MUTCD (Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices). This sign clearly does not. Signs must meet standards so they have the same look and meaning between all states and municipalities. There are exceptions, such as Portland bike boxes, but these are generally carefully vetted through the appropriate authorities.

There are good reasons for all of this, whether you agree so or not.

miguelaron
Guest

if there was a sign like that on mississippi and fremont…

Robb
Guest

\”(i.e. a lady with wavy blond hair stopped her cement truck for me on Monday, even when she had the right-of-way),\”

Does anybody else hate this? Here in Portland, so many drivers do this. It makes cringe. I always think,

\”Please, you have the right of way … just take it …\”

To me, it\’s all about being predictable in traffic. When this happens, I always wonder, \”So if I take the offer, go into the intersection, and then there\’s an accident, what then?\”

Forseti
Guest
Forseti

This is so right, let\’s repeat it because some of you seem to be totally clueless about this (I\’m looking at you buelaland):

\”[F]ailure to follow traffic controls is not limited to people who use one mode of transport over another, and yet, institutionally, the city and its institutions choose to overlook the lawbreaking when it\’s done my those who could cause the most harm, and instead focus on enforcement actions by those who cause the least harm…\”

And, I might add, in response to Jonathan\’s post a few days ago, most of us who ride through this area daily mentioned the fact that the people driving trucks routinely break laws there. For example, trucks routinely illegally park in the bike lane. Where\’s the enforcement of that law? I see cyclists get tickets there, but not truck drivers.

And did you think of anything that causes more deaths in the US each year than people driving motor vehicles? No, you didn\’t, did you?

peejay
Guest
peejay

Oh, and how could I forget bahueh? Biggest, most self-righteous, offender.

Tomas
Guest

Wouldn\’t it just be nice if all stop signs had a sub-sign beneath it that said \”ALL traffic must obey ALL traffic laws\” or \”All cars must have headlights on\” or \”Skateboards must wear helmets\” or \”Children must not be annoying\”…See where I\’m going with this? It\’s just one more step toward a nanny state we don\’t need or want.

It\’s an illegal sign, take it down.

peejay
Guest
peejay

Hey, how about a sign up in North Portland that says \”Black people must not use illegal drugs in this area\”? Makes the same amount of sense.

Jesus Christ - God of War
Guest
Jesus Christ - God of War

The sign is bait.

Bike riders self determined to be above the law will probably scream loudest.

This should be amusing to watch unfold in this thread…

Mouse, meet trap.

Zaphod
Guest
Zaphod

Speaking of trucks, a few hours ago, a truck occupied half of my lane making a left turn as it turned towards me. If I had been anywhere near the yellow line as I waited for the light to turn green for me, I\’d have been in serious danger. The chasm between front and rear wheels of the truck is huge and foreboding. Give trucks a wide berth.

Be careful out there.

peejay
Guest
peejay

Zaphod #23:

That\’s because there wasn\’t a sign telling the truck he couldn\’t do that, I guess;)

Ethan
Guest

This is a strange intersection, since (as you can see in the photo+linked google map) the right turn is regulated by a \”crossing arm\” which is only raised to allow truck delivery. Southbound traffic approaching this intersection is exiting the construction zone (not through traffic on Water, which is detoured over to SE 4th Ave, and I\’ve frequently seen large load-laden trucks whip around the corner without stopping. The short dead-end culdesac following this interesection is a safe haven ~ a respite ~ from what has just been about 5 blocks of chaotic, unpredictable traffic, erratically parked vehicles, and construction activity. This is a classic example of a location where a reasonable \”slow-down and look\” should be perfectly acceptable. I\’ve seen too many erratic, lane-crossing maneuvers by big trucks to let myself go flat-footed here.

Anti-bike fruitcakes
Guest
Anti-bike fruitcakes

#21 Jesus Christ – God…

You\’re weird. Mice,traps,war?….Ok?

chris
Guest
chris

that post looks like it has room for many more signs.

arts and craft time.

Hart
Guest
Hart

Here\’s a sign: Driving automobiles is irresponsible and damaging to our ecology.

rixtir
Guest
rixtir

The distinction between \”vehicles that cause the most damage\” and \”vehicles that don\’t\” is a false dichotomy. It\’s just code for \”we want to keep breaking the law, but we want those other guys over there to scrupulously adhere to the law.\”

Please. When are some of you going to grow up?

It is possible to avoid that false dichotomy, and it is possibe to move beyond the current status quo of all classes of vehicles failing to observe their duties– we can have a society in which everybody observes their duties to others. But first, we have to grow up and move beyond the self-serving propaganda that only certain elements of traffic–\”the other guy\”– must be regulated.

Eric Dolan
Guest
Eric Dolan

I am an avid cyclist, bike commuter and I do own a car. The sign, from my perspective, is quite okay. If the truck drivers are responsible for constructing it, then good for them. A proactive approach to what could be a potential problem (or worse) is a good thing.

B.C.
Guest
B.C.

I think people need to chill out. They put a sign up illegally, people run the sign illegally. And, most likely, the sign will get taken down soon and people will still be running the stop sign.

maxadders
Guest
maxadders

As if a single sign is going to change the behavior of all cyclists. Puh-leeze.

N.I.K.
Guest
N.I.K.

You mean to tell me that every single time you ride you come to a complete one foot on the ground stop at every single stop sign? You\’ve never broken a traffic law in your life?

All strawmen aside, the letter of the law has jack to do with putting a foot down. You\’re making compliance sound needlessly complex.

The Machine
Guest
The Machine

\”All strawmen aside, the letter of the law has jack to do with putting a foot down.\”

Wrong. The police do not consider it a complete stop unless you have a foot down – ask some of the people who have been ticketed for trackstands.

And if you\’re not coming to a complete stop, you\’re breaking the law.

BURR
Guest
BURR

it is absolutely not a false dichotomy. The point of traffic laws is public safety. The people who should grow up are all of those calling for cyclists to obey the law while at the same time completely ignoring all of the routine blatant violations of the law committed by motorists. It is simple common sense that whereas both groups may violate the law, those in motor vehicles create the most risk to other road users when they do so.

Grant
Guest
Grant

Gee BURR,

How much risk do cyclist create for themselves by violating the law.

I do less damage so I can run a red light. The car only has a dent in the fender but I\’m dead. I did less damage so I am not to blame. The driver is guilty of entering an intersection on a green light and is sentenced to remember my dead body being thrown to the pavement for the rest of his life.

Pure selfish B.S.

wyatt
Guest
wyatt

that sign is going bye-bye

Lance
Guest
Lance

what a bunch of crybabies. it\’s just a stupid sign. get over it…

jordan
Guest
jordan

Although I agree that the sign should be all inclusive, I do think that vehicles running stop signs are more likely to be a bicycle than any other vehicle. How many fixed-gears bust through to keep momentum, how many groups of riders call out \”Clear!\” and ignore signage? I hope all bicycle riders that read this site catch the message of obey traffic laws instead of becoming upset because of some concerned citizen.

rixtir
Guest
rixtir

Sorry, but it is a false dichotomy if you\’re advocating that we must have one or the other, but can\’t have both.

And the people who should grow up are the ones who think that \”observe your duties\” only applies to \”the other guy\”– and these are people we find in cars and on bikes.

doug
Guest
doug

It\’s a sign.

peejay
Guest
peejay

I never said cyclists shouldn\’t obey the law. I was just pointing out the disproportionate enforcement of said law, and if I were to speculate on why that is, I might try to follow the money, as they say, and discover that there\’s a lot more of it driving around in cars and trucks.

I would like to argue – and I think we can all agree on this point – that the most dangerous traffic violations should be enforced with the most effort, and the least with the least. If cyclists blowing a particular sign has caused the greatest carnage in Portland, well then, by all means, go after them! Since we have limited means within the Police Bureau to enforce traffic controls all over the city, let\’s use those resources wisely.

And just so you know, I stop.

peejay
Guest
peejay

Dammit, wyatt, I wanted that sign!

postmoves
Guest
postmoves

Come on people, as a small business owner in that area, I get it.
The last thing I want is to go through what that poor guy on 50th is (in my neighborhood, by the way). I realize the inherent, potential danger in truck versus bike, and fear greatly the possibility of injuring/killing a fellow cyclist, even it was not my fault.
The fact is, there is a huge disparity in the enforcement of traffic laws – red light cameras do not pick up cyclists, minimum speed laws on streets like Hawthorne are not observed, and all you must do is sit on the curb of any popular street to see the idiots challenging the concepts of truly responsibly integrated transport.
You want to be a rebel? Do it at your own risk; but allow me to try and protect myself.

todd
Guest
todd

peejay,

Perhaps instead of just insulting other peoples opinions, provide some concrete solutions. I realize you believe your opinion to be the only one that\’s correct, but there may be other points of view that are equally valid.

For example, perhaps you\’ve missed the point about law enforcement:

…overlook the lawbreaking when it\’s done my those who could cause the most harm, and instead focus on enforcement actions by those who cause the least harm…

Regardless of how much \”potential harm\” could be done, why wouldn\’t you enforcement the law equally? Isn\’t that your whole point about the sign – that it\’s pointless to address it to a single group when the law applies to everyone? So, if you enforce the law equally, who is going to get busted the most? Those who most commonly break the law, right? Try to tell me that more cars run the stop signs in this area than bikes. Or in any area?

Granted, the sign will not fix anything. But neither will complaining that someone else is doing something wrong (the city and its institutions, people who don\’t understand that traffic laws apply to everyone, etc). The sign is an attempt to educate the people who don\’t understand that traffic laws apply to all users of the road. If you think there\’s a better way to educate people (not cyclists, not drivers, but all people), then by all means, I\’d love to hear your ideas. If you just want to insult people and call them \”self-righteous\”, I suggest finding another website to frequent (some of us would like to have a discussion about cycling issues here).

Forseti
Guest
Forseti

What peejay and I are saying has nothing to do with obeying the law. I also obey the law and wish others would as well. What we are talking about is selective enforcement and allocating scarce enforcement resourcs where they prevent the most loss of life. Oh, and basic fairness – have you ridden here? I have and it is pretty eggregiously one-sided.

finamin
Guest
finamin

sign sign everywhere\’s a sign
blocking up the scenery
breaking my mind,

imagine if we all
used our best judgement,
and actually respected
each other

Matt Picio
Guest

david (#3) – What\’s wrong with the sign is that it\’s unlicensed and in the public right-of-way.

Adam (#6) – amen. And the drivers at the woodworking place directly across the street from *this* sign.

k (#16) – and the city of Portland is permitted by state and federal law to put up signs and treatments that fall outside MUTCD – private parties are not so empowered.

Ethan (#24) – and since the old part of Water is closed to traffic, the trucks entering Carruthers aer required to stop before entering the roadway, as they would if it were a driveway (which in effect it currently is)

bahueh
Guest
bahueh

peejay..wow, jump to assumptions much? do you actually know anything about me personally or my riding habits?

self-righteous offender….of what, exactly? I mean if you know so much about me please inform …
or do you just get your kicks off of insulting people online?

what this is another sign that the behavior of the common rider is not socially acceptable to the outside community…cyclists need to get this through their collective heads.

the sign simply states the obvious…sorry you have a hard time understand that.