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Photos of the Day: When traffic is beautiful

Posted by on September 17th, 2008 at 2:30 pm

Over the past month or so, bike traffic seems to have skyrocketed around Portland. Streets were already packed with bikes through the summer months and now (especially with the Bike Commute Challenge going full steam) it’s getting ridiculous out there.

Bike traffic at 4:19 on just another Tuesday in Portland.
(Photos © J. Maus)

I’ve been meaning to go out and photograph the morning and evening rush hours, but yesterday, while covering an event, I came across this beautiful scene on the east end of the Broadway Bridge.

And here’s how it look when the light turned green… fantastic!

And no, this is not a special event; it’s just folks riding home from work.

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Donald
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Donald

Bike jams…

I\’ve been hitting one most nights the last couple of weeks heading N on Williams.

It can get a bit ugly right there at broadway. A real mix of different paces and egos.

If I wasn\’t looking at 3 months off the saddle this fall due to some back surgery, I\’d be looking forward to the rain.

As it is, I\’ll take two-wheeled traffic over my old I-5 evening slog in from Lake O.

(and, heck ya, if you nick past me as I\’m starting from a red light, I\’m going to draft you and I\’m not going to ask permission. Hate that summer headwind!)

Year Round Commuter
Guest
Year Round Commuter

Yeah, I always have a love/hate feeling about the Commuter Challenge. I love seeing extra (and new!) cyclists, but I hate how suddenly there are no bike parking spots left at work!

By the way, speaking of heavy traffic on N Williams – I\’ve been noticing a lot of people passing with NO notice and rather than going into the car lane to pass, they pass within an inch of you in the bike lane. It\’s gotten to be really annoying – if you\’re going to pass, pass like you would like a car to pass you – give me some elbow room, thanks! Has anyone else noticed this?

jeff
Guest
jeff

Bring on the rain! Honestly it\’s a good problem to have, but it is a bit annoying.

N Williams can be out of control with the sloppy passing. I simply wont pass until I can take the whole vehicle lane. I\’ve had folks blow by inches away as I\’m waiting for a safe area (who I pass again as soon as I get the lane). Even when I take the lane to pass, I too often have someone on my wheel that for some reason doesn\’t follow my line but still insists on squeezing right by the rider we\’re passing. Oy.

Ashley
Guest

My friend Katie and I commented on the same thing this morning waiting to cross the Hawthorne bridge into downtown. There was a pack of cyclists, and we were excited that the majority of them were female riders!

TonyT
Guest
tonyt

It has been getting great out there. And the demographic that I\’ve been seeing the most increase in, a totally unscientific assessment for sure, is with families.

I see so many extra-cycles and tag-a-longs! This morning I saw a dad and his little daughter in SE, and there was something so everyday about it that just put a big smile on my face.

The more diverse the cyclists out there become, the harder it will be to pigeonhole us, and the more unavoidable the final conclusion will be. We are everyone and we are everywhere.

Clever Cycles latest banner ad nails it; \”It\’s Happening.\”

And only 3 weeks til cross!

Whoo hoo!

Tony P
Guest

…and what\’s with people passing on the right? Not smart.
I think it\’s great that so many people are on the road though.

Red Hippie
Guest
Red Hippie

Pros and Cons

Pro
1. I feel so much safer riding in a pack. Cars are much more likely to stop and wait for a group over a lone cyclist.

2. Friendly smiles to and from work.

3. Beautiful Ladies on beautiful bikes! Inspirational.

4. Drafting north on williams off of the bikers headed to PIR. Better than Max.

5. Waving to little kids on the back of a bike. Anywhere else, and your a perv.

Con
1. Newbies riding on the left hand side of the bike lanes and then complaining about how close people are when they pass.

2. Anyone on a cell phone. Pull over if you want to talk on the phone.

3. Lack of bike parking and people who scratch up your bike to squeeze their jalopie in between two bikes.

4. People at working talking about how hard core their commute is, who have never ridden in the rain.

dibs
Guest
dibs

How many lanes are in the bike lane?

Red Hippie
Guest
Red Hippie

\”How many lanes are in the bike lane?\”

Two if on the ramp to the Hawthorne. Otherwise, just a typo.

toddistic
Guest
toddistic

\”4. People at working talking about how hard core their commute is, who have never ridden in the rain.\”

haha that made me laugh!

BURR
Guest
BURR

It\’s obvious that the city needs to widen the most popular bike lanes – N. Williams/Vancouver, Hawthorne, etc. to accomodate more cyclists. Room for two abreast so riding alongside someone else and safer passing is possible should be the new standard, that\’s an eight to ten foot wide bike lane.

ggw
Guest
ggw

It\’s kinda funny that we\’re beginning to experiece bicycle rush-hour traffic jams. Whoda thunk? Bring it on! I\’m loving all the bikes everywhere recently but the coming rains will be the real test. I sure hope it continues.

Jessica Roberts
Guest
Jessica Roberts

Eight to ten foot bike lanes tend to look an awful lot like car lanes to drivers. I think it would take more intensive treatments like colored pavement and maybe a half-raised lane with mountable curbs to convince drivers they weren\’t allowed to use it.

Steven M.
Guest
Steven M.

Those traffic jams definitely look like a good sign. I can\’t wait to see the statistics on ridership for 2008 for your state.

polito
Guest
polito

I go to work at 7am, so I miss the traffic.

Bob
Guest
Bob

I volunteered to do a bike count at the corner of SE 16th and Belmont last night. In two hours I counted 145 bikes with about 40% of the riders female. It was inspiring seeing both experienced and new riders out and about.

Elisabeth
Guest
Elisabeth

This is great! And just wait until you see what happens when the bridges are up… the number of bicyclists waiting is unbelieveable!

I do agree with an earlier posting though…. it causes problems when the only feeder bike lane off the bridges is five feet wide, and you have a line of 48 cyclists all at once, going different paces, particularly trying to time the traffic lights. It can get ugly with people trying to pass you.

It\’s somewhat insulting that coming off the Hawthorne Bridge, the motor vehicle traffic gets two parking lanes, plus three entire travel lanes to switch lanes and overtake etc etc, while bicyclists (however many thousands of them these days) still only get a paltry five feet of pavement. My two cents!

Anonymous
Guest
Anonymous

I think double-wide bike lanes are looking better and better, just make sure that they are striped down the middle and properly signed. Considering the horrific parking and driving I\’ve seen in many bike lanes, it would need to be very clear that they are bike lanes.

John Russell
Guest

I think double-wide bike lanes are looking better and better, just make sure that they are striped down the middle and properly signed. Considering the horrific parking and driving I\’ve seen in many bike lanes, it would need to be very clear that they are bike lanes.

Val
Guest
Val

Never mind all those monthly rides that everyone loves to agrue about – is this, or is this not, the essential definition of Critical Mass? As you say, bring it on. Of course there will be problems; when are there not? This is just what the doctor ordered (many times). I only wish we were this far along around the Puget Sound (we do progress, though).

matt picio
Guest

Red Hippie (#1):
\”1. Newbies riding on the left hand side of the bike lanes and then complaining about how close people are when they pass.\”

Are you sure they\’re all newbies? A lot of the time, I ride pretty close to the left edge of the bike lane to stay out of the door zone. I don\’t mind so much when people pass close by when they give me audible warning (especially if I forgot my mirror that day), but it can still be disconcerting when I\’m passed closely enough that I could reach out and tap them on the shoulder (without stretching).

Even the pros among us don\’t hold their line all the time.

Good post, though – I agree on the other points, and like toddistic, I had to laugh at #4.

Matthew Denton
Guest
Matthew Denton

So I just [okay almost 2 hours ago] finished doing the Interstate/Greeley count, and I got 268 cyclists in 2 hours, (so 1340/day,) which means ridership is up about 30% on that route in the last year.

But that isn\’t Vancouver/Williams. Vancouver/Williams saw more than twice as much traffic as Interstate did last year, and it look like it is growing faster as well…

joel
Guest

re: passing on the right.

A-FREAKING-MEN to that. rude rude rude. its almost enough to make me be rude right back, and accelerating deliberately and boxing them in against parked cars or whatever – but as gratifying as it is to think about that, i couldnt bring myself to actually do it, i dont think 🙂

total pet peeve of mine, and REALLY popular at n williams/russell, while people are starting up at the light, and theres that big bus zone there. i *know* its clear, and open, and at 5 pm theres enough traffic that it might make passing on the left a little difficult, but damn it all, its just plain rude.

its also popular inbound at n broadway/larrabee, as people approach the broadway bridge curb cut – and at high speed here. nevermind people whipping over the mixed-use bridge path like theyre in a race or something.

im loving the bike traffic, but weve still got a ways to go in some regards, cause so many cyclists seem to act like stereotypical car drivers in that me me me way.

just a little bit of patience and consideration, people… its not that hard.

Elisabeth
Guest
Elisabeth

Ooh, another thing!

I have seen increasingly, MOTOR cycles (scooters, vespas, call them what you will…) riding in the bicycle lane, and then UP onto the sidewalk of the bridge, to ride with the bikes and people walking. I guess a lot of people are switching from cars to scooters, which is great… but… not in the bike lane.

Please tell me this is not supposed to be allowed!

Angela
Guest
Angela

Bike commuting with my kids to school for the past 18 years and I am \”finally\” seeing cyclists the way we need to be seen. EVERYWHERE!!!!!! But, yeah, keep to the laws, keep to the feel good, and we\’ll all be safe and happy…

Kernal Loose Nut
Guest
Kernal Loose Nut

Critical Mass Every Day

i see Bike Boulevards paralleling all major streets that are FREE of through car traffic; i see them criss-crossing all over our beloved town by the end Sam Adams\’ reign.

How about you?

Zaphod
Guest
Zaphod

I agree with Matt Picio. I often am on the inboard edge of the bike lane to avoid the door zone. While it\’s unrealistic to expect widening of lanes everywhere, it makes sense to actually move the bike lane out a few feet from that area. It\’s a sketch place to be and who is usually there? Novice riders not realizing the statistical game they are playing.

I hope that the crowds will drive infrastructure improvements. The idea of two lanes for bikes due to demand kind of blows my mind. While we\’re at it, there should be a truck (aka bike trailer, cargo bike, etc) lane for steep sections.

While some have grown skeptical, I am confident that Sam will deliver during his tenure.

#7 Red Hippie\’s 4th item on his post… priceless.

BURR
Guest
BURR

+1 on smart riding near the left edge of a narrow bike lane to stay out of the door zone. I will also do it to discourage people from trying to pass me too closely in the bike lane, it forces them to merge out into the adjacent traffic lane to pass, like they are supposed to.

more often than not these days I avoid the eastbound Hawthorne bike lane all together east of Grand, and turn south on either SE 6th or 7th and go over a block or two to Clay or Market, where the bike and motor vehicle traffic is lighter, and I\’m not forced to ride in a substandard width door-zone bike lane.

SE Hawthorne also really needs either an eastbound climbing lane for cyclists from SE 12th to SE 30th, or to have the right lane marked with sharrows up the grade, it\’s way past time for this!

Refunk
Guest
Refunk

1. Last week (before the commuter challenge?), I came out from under Portlandia in the afternoon and turned down Morrison and there was this long, smooth stream of bicyclists that stretched for blocks toward the bridge. It reminded me of nothing so much as the beautiful cinematic moment in Bladerunner which opens with flowing riders filling the city streets.

2. Racer-boys (and -girls, but it\’s mostly guys) which pass stupidly on crowded SUPs (shared-use paths, like the Esplanade) are really starting to piss me off. I\’ve taken to shouting, \”On my left!,\” as they fly by – usually when I\’m slowing for a jogger ahead of me with a cyclist also approaching from the opposite direction. They shake their heads or mumble something incoherent, and even I\’m not sure how \”On my left!\” might be interpreted at the moment, but I figure it\’s better than calling out the first string of cuss words that comes to mind.

3. I\’m always gonna ride on the left side of the bike lane beside parked cars, and give some kind of passing greeting before I pull out of the lane and around the tiny percentage of riders slower than me. Deal with it.

4. Herds of bikes are art here – self-expression. I don\’t know what they are in China or Holland, where they preceded the per capita conditions which permit of automobilitis. Maybe Portland has even more radical things to teach America, leading when bikes displace the iconic personal car in the foreseeable future.

Refunk
Guest
Refunk

Oh, yeah. Elizabeth @ #24:

Seein\’ a lot of this, too. Someone rides a motorscooter on the Union/Marine Dr. path in the evening lately, and I wonder who they\’re gonna collide with. Seen others on the Springwater — that\’s really annoying and they get the lecture, if I can get \’em to stop!

NO. It\’s not allowed in either Oregon or Washington. *Unless* they are pedelecs – cycles with pedals that have an electric assist available (within some kinda power limit). No IC (internal combustion – two stroke (gasp, cough) or four stroke) motors are allowed in any case.

spotter
Guest
spotter

Refunk: Just to respectfully defend some of us racer-boys, i\’d be surprised if that is who is passing you dangerously on busy days on the Esplanade. most of us don\’t go anywhere near it if it\’s busy. maybe you\’re seeing people in lycra, but i\’m doubting they\’re racer-people. either way rudeness is rudeness and folks should expect that they have to be patient and ride slowly there.

BURR: what\’s a climbing lane? i\’m intrigued.

BURR
Guest
BURR

climbing lane = bike lane in uphill direction only, where cyclists = slow moving vehicles, lets the motorists pass more easily.

not necessary in downhill direction b/c cyclists are moving much faster, can keep up with traffic and need to be further out in roadway/taking the lane for their own safety.

Refunk
Guest
Refunk

Okay, Spotter @ #31: I apologize, slanderous generalization withdrawn.

I was actually thinking of yesterday, when a guy in team Lycra (which he filled well) blasted carelessly by on a high-zoot frame. And earlier, there were two dudes wearing the same livery, standing up in the pedals over the bars, grimly threading betwixt riders on the Springwater at Ross Island. While these guys are the easiest to pigeon-hole with a description, there have been just as many impatient, unthinking riders of other styles of dress and choice of ride. Yer right, rude is rude! But it becomes something else when someone gets hurt.

fuchsia
Guest
fuchsia

re: Refunk #29

When people pass me without warning, I either ring my bell or say, \”On your right.\”

I hadn\’t thought of \”on my left,\” that\’s a good one.

brian
Guest
brian

traffic is traffic. all bad.

Tasha
Guest
Tasha

I don\’t normally ride during rush hour, so I\’ve always had the streets mainly to myself (which has it\’s ups and downs), but the other day I rode in early at around 7:30 and it was actually quite nice to be among so many other cyclists. The real beautiful day will be when there are the same amount of cyclists on a cold rainy day in January, all in bright orange and yellow! Talk about art-ah, how beautiful.

P.S. You all inspire me. When I feel under the weather or tired,and am tempted to drive, I think of all the other cyclists and decide to bike instead anyway. Thanks.

Kt
Guest

Another +1 on riding on the far left edge of the bike lane… but out here in suburbia, it\’s usually not because of parked cars, it\’s because of glass, metal and plastic shards, tree and plant debris, gravel from careless dump truck drivers, and dead animals.

I was going to drive today, to save my legs for the weekend, but I\’ve really gotten into the groove of riding… This is 8 work days in a row, and 11 riding days for the month of Sept for me, which is a new record! And I\’m really loving seeing all the people riding out here in Tigard/Tualatin!

bahueh
Guest
bahueh

BURR…are you serious? you want a bike lane on e. hawthorne between 12th and 30th? first of all, you wont\’ get it until major road improvement is done to that boulevard (you can thank the 96\’ Bike Bill) AND there are better alternatives with MUCH less traffic and congestion (Salmon, Taylor, Lincoln)

why ride up a hill at 4mph and totally piss off drivers if you don\’t have to…I\’m blown away every time I see some dimwit riding up that hill on hawthorne at 5pm…

a.O
Guest

I\’m blown away every time I hear someone who rides a bike advocate for limiting bicyclists rights to the road. If you get pissed off because you have to share the road, maybe it\’s time to re-think your life, or at least understand that the law allows bicyclists to use public roadways. Ironically, most of the drivers who get pissed off on Hawthorne are pissed off because they can no longer break the speed limit law. So sad.

finamin
Guest
finamin

what the hell
are those folks thinking?!
riding bicycles
in the street like that!?
there oughta be a law!

El Biciclero
Guest
El Biciclero

RE: #37–don\’t forget the plunging, 8\”-deep grate wells…

Pete
Guest
Pete

Terrible, all these people riding bikes now instead of driving. Just look at what it\’s doing to the highway budget deficit! 😉

fuchsia (#34): word. Share the road doesn\’t just apply to motorists. Why can\’t folks be curteous when overtaking? Part of the fun of biking is the interaction you don\’t get enclosed in the full metal jacket!

BURR
Guest
BURR

The current bicycle master plan actually indicates that Hawthorne is an official city-designated bike route.

Establishment of a climbing lane on eastbound Hawthorne from SE 12th to 30th would eliminate the conflicts between slow moving bikes and faster motor vehicles.

But apparently curb-side parking is more important than the safety of cyclists.

With it\’s substandard lane widths and poor design Hawthorne is just a lawsuit waiting to happen, I see people driving over the double yellow line all the time to pass busses and such.

Why ride Hawthorne? It\’s the most direct route full of commercial destinations that cyclists want access to, the same as motorists.

Just another reason Portland doesn\’t deserve \’Platinum\’ status quite yet…

jr
Guest
jr

I had a woman scream at me \”ON YOUR RIGHT!!!\” at 6:15am crossing the Hawthorne brige. My reaction time is slow at 6:15am and I expect people to pass me on the left. Please pass on the left and don\’t scream at people at 6:15am.

Redhippie
Guest
Redhippie

Common sense

I appreciate the door argument for wanting to stay left. I would suggest that for those numerous stretches without cars, you move over to the right when safe to do so. Most people don\’t do this and are oblivious to the people behind them.

Many roads (ie. williams N bound) are narrow and have high traffic, so moving into traffic is not really safe or an option.

As bike commuting becomes more prevalent, it is important that a system of rules and courtesy be developed to allow for efficient and consistent movement.

kathy
Guest
kathy

i have noticed a lot of people passing without warning lately. don\’t know what that\’s about. the only time i don\’t verbally warn when passing is when i\’m passing someone with earbuds in – which i see more and more of too. but i actually don\’t super mind it when people pass without warning – even if they pass a wee bit too close for my comfort. usually the people who pass closely (and without warning) are really fast cyclists who pass me so fast i can hardly register they\’re there.
it\’s really cool to see so many people out and about cycling! i feel safety in numbers as well. even if i\’m riding at a time of day where there aren\’t too many cyclists around, knowing that we\’re out riding in numbers makes me feel that drivers must be more aware of us.
truly, riding my bike makes me happy and it takes a lot of negativity to kill my buzz. people riding slow or fast or ignoring traffic laws or passing me without warning or passing me on the right – it all usually rolls off me as i\’m enjoying the ride.

martin
Guest
martin

elisabeth #24: You might have seen me on the hawthorne bridge sidewalks recently. I ride an electric-assisted bicycle that looks a LOT like a vespa, but I assure you that it is categorized and classified as a bicycle according to ORS. I bring it up only because I have gotten a lot of strange looks from other cyclists when riding it in the bike lane.

eli bishop
Guest
eli bishop

kathy: i ride with earbuds set to low and i would very much appreciate a warning. 🙂 i\’ll even thank you!

bahueh
Guest
bahueh

a.o…grow up.
I was advocating for choosing to ride a bike safely and with intelligence towards self-preservation…
there are good routes to ride and bad routes to ride…and up hawthorne boulevard at rushhour is a piss poor choice. and you know it…

spotter
Guest
spotter

Burr at #43 — Ditto all that for Belmont with the exception that it\’s not a designated bike route after about 30th Ave. or so. Cyclists continue up Belmont just as they do on Hawthorne because it\’s a straightforward route. I imagine it\’s the businesses that feel they would be affected by a reduction in curb-side parking (although i doubt there would be much impact). Another guess is that residents feel they would experience the brunt if that parking were taken away. But i hope the time is coming where curb-side parking in these types of area are eliminated in favor of safer car/cyclist road sharing and more bike parking. Is the Alberta area similar?