BuddyRider from The eBike Store

Rose Quarter is officially open for business

Posted by on October 16th, 2008 at 3:32 pm

Commissioner and Mayor-elect Sam Adams (right), BTA Exec. Director Scott Bricker (foreground) and TriMet General Manager Fred Hansen (left) ride through a ceremonial ribbon at the southern entrance to the Rose Quarter Transit Center.
(Photos © J. Maus)

A few minutes ago, TriMet General Manager Fred Hansen, Commissioner and Mayor-elect Sam Adams, and Bicycle Transportation Alliance Executive Director Scott Bricker led a parade of about 40 bicyclists through a ribbon stretched across a new green bike lane to commemorate the official opening of the Rose Quarter Transit Center.

Rose Quarter opening celebration-2

Adams and Hansen shake hands
prior to the parade.

After their inaugural pedal through the new, two-way bike lane (the first and only one in the city), and the massive new bike box at Wheeler and Multnomah, Hansen, Adams, and others spoke to the assembled media and crowd of onlookers.

Adams, astride an old Schwinn road bike (he borrowed it), said this was, “An example of our bike success and our transit success.” Adams also said that an estimated 3,400 bikes travel though this area on a daily basis.

Rose Quarter opening celebration-15

Lots of green.
Rose Quarter opening celebration-17

The new sign says it all.

Before the brief parade, I spoke to TriMet GM Hansen. He stressed two main points about the new bike access — that the design creates predictability for bikes and buses, and the importance of TriMet’s partnership with the BTA and PDOT.

Rose Quarter opening celebration-1

TriMet General Manager Fred Hansen.

After repeatedly praising the role of the BTA’s Michelle Poyourow for fostering the partnership, Hansen said his goal was to come up with a plan for bike access that would “really solve something, not just make a compromise.”

That solution was achieved, according to Hansen, because they approached this problem differently than in the past.

“At TriMet, we have a lot of engineers. We hear about a problem and then go back to our cubicles and draw up some plans. But this was different. With this issue, we partnered with the BTA and PDOT…then we went out and we taped off the area to test different designs, then sat back and watched what happened…and then together, came up with a plan to make it safer.”

What do TriMet operators think of the new bike access?

“Our operators, I think, are saying this is really predictable, it’s predictable for where buses ought to be, it’s predictable for where bikes ought to be and that’s what makes it safe.”

Rose Quarter opening celebration-16

This is the city’s first (and only)
two-way bike path.

When I asked him about the petition that surfaced that vehemently opposed the idea of bike access through this area, Hansen said that once the plans were explained in detail, “many operators agreed it made sense.” He added, “Dan — the author of the petition — is now praising the fact that the design is predictable.”

Before these changes, many bicyclists simply ignored the prohibition and rode through via Wheeler Ave. anyways. Did that effect TriMet’s thinking in coming up with this solution? “Yes, it did play a role,” said Hansen, “because what we have to deal with is the reality out there.” He went on to say that:

“If there were a serious accident, or, god forbid a fatality, it doesn’t give you any comfort if you say, ‘but, it was an illegal move’, it’s still a fatality. We know that people were going to be going through there, so the idea was, let’s make the pattern work in a way that people would respect it.”

It was very encouraging to hear Hansen talk like this. I asked him if recent events (a fatal crash with a TriMet bus in Beaverton and two, fatal right-hook crashes in Portland last October) have impacted TriMet’s sense of urgency in improving bike/bus conflict areas.

Rose Quarter opening celebration-24

Michelle Poyourow with the BTA was
key in making this happen.

As I expected, he was hesistant to speak directly about the Austin Miller tragedy, but he did say that, “Those incidents underscore how important it is to create a safe passage (for bikes).”

What struck me about this event — in watching the hugs and handshakes between the various people involved in making it happen — was the level of cooperation and partnership. When leaders from the advocacy community work effectively with our transit agency and our city government, amazing things are possible.

At the event, TriMet staff passed out cards with safety tips and Mayor-elect Adams said the Portland Police Bureau will be strictly enforcing the laws in this area (after a brief period of warnings).

If you ride home this way tonight, chime in below and let us know how it went.

— View more photos the photo gallery.

— Read TriMet’s press release about the changes.

NOTE: We love your comments and work hard to ensure they are productive, considerate, and welcoming of all perspectives. Disagreements are encouraged, but only if done with tact and respect. If you see a mean or inappropriate comment, please contact us and we'll take a look at it right away. Thank you — Jonathan

37 Comments
  • K'Tesh October 16, 2008 at 4:03 pm

    YAY!!!

    Looks like you all had a lot of fun out there!

    Glad to see the comments that bike safety is becoming a higher priority!

    Rubberside Down!

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  • Jessica Roberts October 16, 2008 at 4:15 pm

    Super excited to try it out!!!!

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  • bahueh October 16, 2008 at 4:27 pm

    Nice!

    (but it looks as though Sam doesn’t care much for riding in the painted area himself…what a Maverick)

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  • Jonathan Maus (Editor) October 16, 2008 at 4:33 pm

    “it looks as though Sam doesn’t care much for riding in the painted area himself.”

    hey bahueh,
    yeah, that was unfortunate… i was thinking the photo would have been much better if he would have biked in the new lane.

    but it actually brings up a point.. that is, when you’re on Interstate, you can’t just stay curbside to turn onto Wheeler… you have to actually go through the intersection a bit in order to connect to this new, innovative little bike lane/path.

    it’s a small, but necessary adjustment.

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  • John Lascurettes October 16, 2008 at 4:44 pm

    So what is the right of way? Honest question.

    I would think coming from Interstate to Wheeler going north that bikes would have the right of way to get to the green lane; otherwise, the buses turning right onto Wheeler would be crossing the bike lane and violating the yield.

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  • John Lascurettes October 16, 2008 at 4:52 pm

    One more question:

    The diagram (http://trimet.org/pdfs/news/RQ_bike_lane_map.pdf)shows that coming from the north heading south into the transit center from wheeler with turn-only lanes. Is it legal (and marked) that bikes can go straight into the transit center?

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  • Refunk October 16, 2008 at 5:00 pm

    Hey, Jonathan.

    Great coverage on the whole thing. Kudos to all involved! (Take that, Mayor Daley!) (uh… competitive Chicago reference)

    Unsolicited Editing:Say, shouldn’t the caption on the sixth image in the article use the word “lane” instead of “path,” seein’ as how it’s in a street and all? Pretty much most paths are already two-way.

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  • zilfondel October 16, 2008 at 9:14 pm

    Hey! Fred Hansen is riding the exact same bike I have, a Gary Fisher Wingra.

    sweet

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  • Clark October 16, 2008 at 9:24 pm

    I rode thru it on my way home tonight. Very nice.

    Thank you to everyone who helped make this happen.

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  • Dana October 16, 2008 at 9:55 pm

    Well, this is not going to be good publicity…

    Tonight (Thursday) I was riding home around 7:30 pm heading north through the transit center.

    The Celine Dion concert was going on at the Rose Quarter, so there were hundreds of people around and lots of car traffic.

    As I came to the end of the transit center at Wheeler and Multnomah, the light turned green for me, however, cars going west on Multnomah had blocked the intersection because they were too impatient to wait for the green light. There were two big SUVs blocking the entire intersection going west, but no cars blocking the intersection going east.

    Anyways, as I went through the bike box and went to ride around the back of the SUV that was blocking the intersection to get to the bike lane on Wheeler (to get up to Williams) a car that was headed south on Wheeler was trying to turn left onto Multnomah (to head east).

    He was creeping around the cars blocking the intersection trying to get through. As I went around the car blocking the intersection, his car creeped around the car at the same time.

    I hit the front bumper of his car at about a 45 degree angle, which threw me off my bike and onto the street.

    Luckily, I am Okay, minus a few scrapes and some sore wrists and I am going to take my bike to the bike shop tomorrow to see if anything is significantly broken.

    There were many witnesses since the concert was going on and the guy pulled over and was visibly shaken. I wish I had gotten the license plate of the person who blocked the intersection though. Bummer.

    At first I was very pissed, but after the adrenaline wore off, I calmed down and didn’t yell at the guy who hit me. There were a lot of people around, the stupid people had blocked the intersection, I didn’t get hurt, and my bike was relatively Okay (I could ride it home). He was also very nice and gave me his information and everything. Getting pissed at him wouldn’t have made the situation any better.

    Anyways, open for less than 24 hours and already one accident! Woo hoo!

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  • Schrauf October 16, 2008 at 10:09 pm

    It seems as if that type of collision could happen anywhere, and is not a result of the new bike infrastructure.

    In theory, you should not enter the intersection if other vehicles have not cleared the intersection, regardless of if those other vehicles are at fault for blocking the intersection.

    It is difficult to picture exactly what happened without being there, but it sounds as if the vehicle who hit you did so because you were invisible until the last moment. So who is really at fault here?

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  • jim October 17, 2008 at 2:28 am

    sounds like the bike was at fault.I hope the driver realizes that. Probably the car driver will end up using his uninsured motorist insurance for comething or other

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  • Dana October 17, 2008 at 6:59 am

    Sounds like the bike was at fault?? Are you kidding? Let me try and better explain this.

    There were two cars blocking about 2/3 of the intersection. If you are coming up through the TC, you are on the left side of the road, so you have to make a diagonal cut through the intersection of Wheeler and Multnomah to get to the bike lane on Wheeler on the north side of Multnomah.

    Since the cars were only blocking 2/3 of the intersection, there was plenty of room for me to go through the intersection to get to the bike lane, since I went around the last car that was in the intersection.

    The guy that hit me was going south on Wheeler and trying to make his left turn onto Multnomah. HIS lane was completely blocked. Instead of waiting, he pulled into the lane oncoming traffic to get around those cars that were blocking his path.

    My path to my bike lane was not blocked whatsoever, as we do not need half of the intersection to get to a bike lane.

    Look at a map and visualize it. The driver was in the wrong lane, making a left turn, while cars blocked his way. I was going straight through the intersection.

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  • Moo October 17, 2008 at 7:23 am

    Those Celine Dion crouds are trouble…what were you thinkin’ Dana?

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  • Moo October 17, 2008 at 7:24 am

    Yeah – yeah…crowds!

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  • Layce October 17, 2008 at 8:27 am

    where are the police to site the person outside the big pretty green boxes. (could careless who it is) would he not be causing traffic problems.

    oh wait thats right… the police don’t site you people..they just pat you on the butt as you blow a red light.

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  • bahueh October 17, 2008 at 9:26 am

    well now, Layce…please tell us who “you people” are exactly?

    and yes, Police absolutely coddle every single cyclist in this town with red light infractions….to the tune of $270.

    got anything productive to say or have you just put your troll hat on today?

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  • Stripes October 17, 2008 at 9:52 am

    Motorists blocking the intersection when they have the red, and you have the green, is both the most frustrating thing, and the most dangerous thing.

    In other countries they use yellow box striping at intersections to dictate where you MUST NOT be when you have the red light, and they enforce it very, very harshly. Here is an example of such striping –

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/18378305@N00/2008753143/

    I would like to see this at that frickin awful intersection at the Rose Gardens of N Wheeler, N Williams, & N Winning Way.

    You wait here diligently in the bike lane for the green, you get it, but you can’t move, because all the traffic trying to get onto the freeway onramp is blocking the ENTIRE intersection.

    It’s very dangerous.

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  • E October 17, 2008 at 10:34 am

    I wouldn’t mind seeing intersection enforcement – they had great success with it in NYC. Officers would wait at an intersection; when the light changed, everyone sitting in the middle got a $300 ticket. After a few weeks, the problem went away. đŸ˜€
    It’s enough of a problem with concerts and Blazers games that the city could certainly make some $$ doing that.

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  • happyrider October 17, 2008 at 10:45 am

    Hooray to TriMet and the BTA! I rode the new route home last night and rode it in the other direction on my way to work this morning. This makes my commute a lot more efficient.

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  • Marc October 17, 2008 at 11:32 am

    I got to ride it later that day and it was great! Now I feel welcome as a bicyclist.

    Thanks so much to the people who made this happen.

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  • toddistic October 17, 2008 at 1:02 pm

    I’ll give the new route a try on the way home today and report back!

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  • John Lascurettes October 17, 2008 at 2:05 pm

    No replies to my questions at #5 and 6? Me sad.

    For the cyclist that had trouble in the center last night, it was no better coming from the Broadway bridge going up Broadway either.

    I had three cars cut me off turning right or merging right across the bike lane without looking or signaling as I rode up it. It happened close enough that I even knocked on one window after screeching to a halt.

    Another guy who illegally wanted to turn right where the turn lane was already closed to cars at the intersection (solid, thick white line y’all?) was straddled across the entire bike lane. While trying to go around him in the main through lane (perfectly legal according to ORS) some women in an SUV (hmm, SUV theme going on?) blasted through on the light at Vancouver on a red and blocked the intersection.

    Insane. Who knew Celine Dion fans were such idiots? Okay, I assumed it, but I didn’t expect them to be so cavalierly reckless too.

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  • Stripes October 17, 2008 at 2:06 pm

    Also, one great thing I’ve seen in Europe, is that they have the traffic lights RIGHT NEXT TO the pedestrian crosswalk on the near side of the intersection, NOT the far side.

    What does this mean? It means if you as a driver, are caught blocking the crosswalk, or blocking the intersection, you are kind of screwed because you will not be able to see when your light is going to change to green again! Therefore everybody stops where they should.

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  • matt picio October 17, 2008 at 5:07 pm

    More pictures of the changes:
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/mattpicio/sets/72157608119554642/

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  • Alicia Crain October 17, 2008 at 6:41 pm

    Sure am glad I don’t have to keep going down, around, over a bunch of tracks, back around, up, and to a stop light in order to use a major bicycle thoroughfare.

    This change makes sense and the greenness makes the lanes very obvious. Hopefully TriMet will also address their drivers cutting bikers in bike lanes off in order to get to the stops.

    Thanks very much, Michelle, and everyone else at the city, TriMet, and the BTA for making this happen.

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  • Casey October 17, 2008 at 9:06 pm

    I just used it on my way home today. I’ve got to say I wasn’t sure how it would end up, but it seems like the design is well thought-out. I don’t see it causing much conflict with Tri-met…it actually seems like it will greatly improve traffic through the area. Thanks all for a well executed plan.

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  • matchu October 17, 2008 at 11:50 pm

    How exciting! I’m looking forward to giving this a try next week -possibly tomorrow. It’s an excellent to have this necessary connection in Portland’s bike infrastructure recognized and worked out with the current solution. Cool!

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  • al m October 18, 2008 at 10:27 pm

    It’s very lovely and lots of great photo ops, hooray for bicycle power!

    I still don’t see what the big deal is in going around the whole mess.

    It would take maybe one minute extra by bike to just go around that nightmare called:

    THE ROSE QUARTER!

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i-B8VrVrrms

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  • al m October 19, 2008 at 11:02 am

    On my way to the YMCA today I am going down to the Rose Quarter with my video camera and take a look at this!

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  • al m October 19, 2008 at 7:22 pm

    Here is my opinion, for what its worth.

    Bicyclists, please be careful, this looks dangerous to me!

    http://rantingsofatrimetbusdriver.blogspot.com/2008/10/checking-out-rose-quarter.html

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  • Jessica Roberts October 20, 2008 at 9:53 am

    I love near-side traffic signals, and in my experience in Europe they work quite well to encourage drivers to stop and wait at the red. I was recently told that they are not permitted in the US (presumably by the MUTCD, or Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices). Can any traffic engineers confirm or correct?

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  • Jessica Roberts October 20, 2008 at 10:20 am

    For all the nerds out there, I did a little research. The primary reason that near-side signals are not permitted is that there are requirements for the distance between the stop bar and the signal head based on an assumed “cone of vision” (so the driver can see the signal). Near-side signals are not within that ‘cone.’ Here’s one an analysis from Peter Furth, an engineer and professor:

    “The MUTCD (S. 4D-15) requires that at least one signal per controlled movement (left, thru, etc.) be located at least 40 ft beyond the stopline. It also bases its cone of vision requirements on a driver’s eye located 10 ft before the stop line and 4 ft above the ground. The cone of vision requirements are

    a) signal should be laterally located in a cone of vision of +- 20 degrees from the driver’s eye, presumed to be 10 ft before the stop line, and b) signal should be vertically located so that the sight line from driver’s eye (presumed to be 10 ft before the stop line and 4 ft above the ground ) has a grade (slope) of no more than 35%; in addition, maximum height is 25.6 ft…..

    U.S. cone of vision requirements for placing traffic signals confuse the
    needs of moving cars with those of stopped cars. We require that signals
    be visible in a narrow cone of vision for a car located at the stopline,
    and that can only be met by locating the signals at the far side of the
    intersection. However, when drivers reach the stopline, if they’re
    going, they’re already committed, and if they’re stopped, they can turn
    their head to see when the light turns green. Moving cars need the
    signals to be in a narrow, prominent cone of vision when they are at a
    “decision distance” (shall I stop or not?) ahead of the stopline, and
    this can be accomplished by near-side signals. Once cars have stopped
    for the red, it should be perfectly OK to expect a driver to move his /
    her head a bit so see when the light turns green, thus permitting a much
    broader cone of vision for stopped cars. Sometimes, to make things
    easier for the first car, European intersections include a small
    supplementary signal display mounted low and at a sharp angle on the
    same pole holding the primary signal.”

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  • al m October 20, 2008 at 11:29 am

    ACTUALLY, I like that idea, if I am right as to what your thinking!

    A SEPARATE LIGHT FOR BICYCLES!

    Put one of those in the transit center!

    I like it!

    They have one of those over there at the rose quarter, or they used to!

    Is it still there?

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  • Jonathan Maus (Editor) October 20, 2008 at 11:37 am

    “A SEPARATE LIGHT FOR BICYCLES!

    Put one of those in the transit center!”

    not to be a wet blanket, but signals are very expensive, and TriMet already cut the amount of green paint short due to budget concerns.

    i think finding the cash for a bike signal here would be very difficult… especially if it’s determined that the new solution is working well (meaning no reports of crashes or close calls come in).

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  • al m October 29, 2008 at 10:37 am

    Cash for streetcars but nothing for bike safety?

    GETOUTTAHERE!

    I had an interesting conversation with a “hardcore” bicyclist, and we wondered why this wasn’t done:

    http://rantingsofatrimetbusdriver.blogspot.com/2008/10/more-on-bike-situation-at-rose-quarter.html

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  • Icarus falling October 29, 2008 at 11:44 am

    Al,

    The conversation in the video is a moot point. And cyclists, (most of them, or those who actually care about others) realize the actual danger to pedestrians riding on a sidewalk entails, not to mention violations of the ADA Act.

    Bicycle traffic is not allowed, due to a silly ordinance,
    on sidewalks in the Rose Quarter.

    Even you should know this….

    My real question is what the hell are you doing video taping when you are driving the bus?

    Perhaps it was not you taping? (I hope)

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