That is, until you get past SE 50th.
(Photos by Spencer Boomhower)
The bike boulevard on Harrison and Lincoln Streets between SE 12th and SE 60th Avenues is one the most popular in Portland, and with good reason: it offers a pleasant ride in a straight shot from Ladd’s Addition all the way up to Mount Tabor.
“It’s obvious that they are intimidated by the bus revving up the hill and would rather just wait it out then feel this mass coming up behind them.”
— Michael Shaver, SE Portland resident
Like most bike boulevards in town, the Lincoln Street route slows and minimizes automotive traffic with selective use of automotive diversions, traffic-calming devices and bicycle cut-throughs. The result is a stretch of road that makes cyclists feel safer and more welcome than they might elsewhere on the streets of Portland.
Until, that is, Lincoln crosses 50th Avenue, into the ten-block stretch that continues up to 60th. Suddenly Lincoln starts to seem less like a bike boulevard, and more like a standard Portland street. There’s faster-moving automotive traffic, and more of it.
And that’s without the #71 TriMet bus line, which normally runs up and down this chunk of Lincoln, but which has been temporarily re-routed for the duration of some nearby water pipe repairs. (The 71 line will resume its trips on Lincoln once the repairs are done).
Local resident Michael Shaver isn’t eager to see the buses return. “I have witnessed right in front of my house many cyclists stopping to wait till the bus has passed them on the Lincoln hill,” he says. “It’s obvious that they are intimidated by the bus revving up the hill and would rather just wait it out then feel this mass coming up behind them. I’ve also witnessed many cyclists coming down the hill and having to swerve around the bus turning onto Lincoln.”
Shaver is doing what he can to calm this section of the Lincoln bike boulevard, with a special focus on moving the bus traffic – or even just half of the bus traffic, the northbound route – over to nearby Division Street. To that end, he’s started an on-line petition and has a paper petition making the rounds to various bike-friendly events.
So far, he has nearly 200 signatures in support of a calmer Lincoln Street bike boulevard.
“In general, we advocate for as much separation between bike routes and bus routes (and auto routes in general) as is practicable.”
— Michelle Poyourow, BTA
The Bicycle Transportation Alliance (BTA) is backing the calming effort as well. In a letter to the Mt. Tabor Neighborhood Association, the BTA’s Michelle Poyourow wrote, “In general, we advocate for as much separation between bike routes and bus routes (and auto routes in general) as is practicable. In fact, this is one of the great advantages of bicycle boulevards — they give people the option of riding away from auto traffic.”
Poyourow was clear that this is nothing against TriMet or its drivers: “We find that bus operators are highly trained and generally very considerate of the size and loudness of their vehicle when they pass bicyclists,” she said, “yet the experience of being passed by a bus is nonetheless often stressful for bicyclists, particularly people who are just getting comfortable on their bike or for families with children.”
Portland’s bike boulevards are havens for these inexperienced riders and families on wheels, and even for more experienced riders like myself who simply value the experience of riding down a street without having to have their survival instincts on high alert at all times. So it’s heartening to see the residents around Lincoln Street embracing the bike boulevard in their midst, and doing what they can to keep it calm, safe, and bike-friendly for the rest of us.