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The streetcar construction (black and) blues

Posted by on May 21st, 2010 at 9:52 am

Portland Streetcar crews are in the middle of major construction all along Broadway right now. Work zones are always of special concern for people on bikes, but this stretch of Broadway — between NE Grand and and the Broadway Bridge — is not a nice place for bike traffic even without construction.

Add in one of the most glaring safety gaps in Portland’s entire bike network (the intersection of Broadway and Williams, which the City listed as dangerous over 2 1/2 years ago yet has done nothing to make safer) — and you’re bound to have some problems.

Portlander Aaron Reyna is the latest victim of that intersection. He got in touch with us after being hit at that intersection yesterday morning. Here are snips from his email where he describes how the confusing construction zone resulted in him taking a trip to urgent care (emphasis mine):

“As I came to the intersection, I had a green light. I had also noticed that there was no clear indication of a bike lane ending or whether or not we were supposed to stay between the cones and traffic. I chose to stay in between the cones as further up the road, the bike lane seemed to be coned off as well. Since there was ongoing construction to my right, I watched it to make sure I was clear of it. Big mistake, I should have been looking to make sure a car wasn’t going to right hook me. She hit me with her front quarter panel…I went over the handle bars, landed on my shoulder and hit my head on ground. There was also a giant construction sign on the curb… the legs of it cut into my shoulder.”

While Aaron was waiting for a ride to take him to urgent care (his bent bike was unrideable), he decided to film the intersection and says that he “caught three potential accidents in less than two and a half minutes.”

He sent me the video, which has been uploaded to YouTube. The near-miss collisions are at the 1:09, 1:34, and 2:25 marks:

Aaron says that he wanted more people to hear his story and see the video in hopes that something can be done before more collisions occur, “If someone got hurt, or even killed, I’d feel terrible about it.”

I realize construction is necessary and temporary, but it’s not acceptable — especially in the city with the highest bike mode split in the nation! — that work zones put people on bikes at even greater risk.

I’ve also heard reports that the eastbound bikeway coming off the Broadway Bridge is not safe for bike traffic and could use better signage. And speaking of that bridge, Gerik Kransky, advocacy manager at the BTA, chimed in below to say that, “Unfortunately it seems as though conditions are going to get worse before they get better.”

Kransky reminds us that the bridge will be closed completely to motor vehicles from July 6th to September 3rd and people biking and walking will be routed onto one of the bridge pathways. That means not only will all non-motorized traffic share one eight-foot wide pathway but bikers and walkers will have to cross Broadway to get on whichever one of the two paths are accessible (stay tuned).

Or, as Kransky puts it, “How cyclists are going to be expected to navigate this partial closure is not yet clear to me. But it warrants our attention.”

What has been your experience with work zones in this area? Please offer feedback.

For the latest construction updates, visit

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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. Also, if you comment frequently, please consider holding your thoughts so that others can step forward. Thank you — Jonathan

  • Allan May 21, 2010 at 10:11 am

    Just take the lane! don’t let people turning right be on your left if you’re going straight. If you do, you are risking your life

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  • chad May 21, 2010 at 10:13 am

    earlier this week I had to get off my bike to get around a “Utility Work Ahead” sign.

    Although not as dangerous as Williams/Broadway it’s just another example of disregard for people who ride bikes through construction zones.

    The city NEEDS to set some universal guide lines for all construction/utility work as some of this work is done by city employees and some is done by private contractors (but still for the city).

    There are standards for getting auto safely through construction zones, there is no reason there shouldn’t be the same standards in place for bikes.

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    • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) May 21, 2010 at 10:17 am


      i completely agree about the fact that it might be time to consider a portland city statute to help make sure contractors take special precautions to keep bike traffic safe through their work zones. some of them “get it” and we applaud them when we do… but maybe we need it codified it law. the education could be part of the permitting process — which red flags certain projects if they overlay on a major bikeway.

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  • f5 May 21, 2010 at 10:13 am

    It’s been heinous for cyclists there for years. I served on jury duty for a bike/auto accident that occured there. That he saw that many potential accidents in that short of time is pretty grim.

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  • Marc May 21, 2010 at 10:17 am

    This is terrible. I know how hard it is to manage through construction. I have been a bike commuter for about ten years now, in multiple cities, and have done many long distance tours. Portland is the worst when it comes to construction in the summertime. However, the best policy is to use the right to take the lane. This will alleviate the potential for right hooks and keep people from passing dangerously close and potentially pushing one into a construction zone – where it is never a wise idea to go through the cones. I ride through Broadway and Williams everyday and can’t wait for this construction (here and everywhere else) to be over, but cautious, defensive action is a safe way to get through.

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  • Gerik May 21, 2010 at 10:22 am

    Thanks for this Jonathan. Unfortunately it seems as though conditions are going to get worse before they get better. On the Broadway Bridge itself, the following closure notice recently hit my inbox.

    “The bridge is fully closed to all autos from July 6 through September 3, 2010. For bikes and peds, one sidewalk will be available however, for two way traffic.”

    How cyclists are going to be expected to navigate this partial closure is not yet clear to me. But it warrants our attention.

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  • Madeye May 21, 2010 at 10:25 am

    I agree with taking the lane. It is our right, and one that should be exercised fully in this dangerous zone. The one (hopefully) good thing is that cars should be traveling slower through the construction, making it less intimidating for cyclists to merge into the lane.

    Does anyone know of existing maps that depict the final streetcar/bike lane relationship on Broadway? I’m curious how this will look.

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  • Lance P. May 21, 2010 at 10:28 am

    Heading east during the morning rush hour is bad. But it has always been bad. The bike lane is 5 feet and filled with glass and everything else, which causes a cyclist to ride the white line. To many close calls to even count. When you add this construction into the mix it becomes much worse. Cagers seem to intentionally take their frustration of traffic out on cyclists. That said, I am glad that the streetcar is going on these streets. It will help to calm the traffic and to bring life back to grand/broadway/mlk/grand. The lloyd district has had an unfortunate history of auto-centricizing the neighborhood. This is a great step in the right direction. Now we just need to get the funds to install the cycle track(room has been set aside) on 7th as well as the Ped/bike bridge over the freeway.

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  • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) May 21, 2010 at 10:30 am


    oh yeah. that will be interesting. i hope the BTA is sitting down with Kaye Dannen and other Streetcar folks right now to make sure that’s as safe as possible.

    this work zone issue is a perfect chance for them to put their “we are working with the bike community” rhetoric into action.


    and as for taking the lane… that’s great and all, but it’s simply not something the vast majority of riders are willing to do… .so we must take that into account.

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  • Avoid the area? May 21, 2010 at 10:39 am

    I commute by bike daily. If an area is under construction, I go a few extra blocks to avoid the area–whether I happen to be driving, which is rare, or riding. There’s always another bridge to take, a different part of the city to see, etc.

    Insisting on riding through an area that can be avoided is asking for an accident; even if contractors perfectly mark the area, drivers get confused or don’t pay attention. Sure, we have the right to take the lane. I personally don’t mind not pressing this right (after all, this is a temporary construction zone) for a few weeks, while work is being done. And the work is being done to get more cars off the roads–great!

    A little common sense and a little added time to a ride do wonders.

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  • Vance Longwell May 21, 2010 at 10:42 am

    I really don’t think a presumption you are going to be right-hooked meets the affirmative defense standards for violating 814.420. A bicycle-operator can’t ‘take’ anything from motorists. Bicycle-operators may only ride in the motorist portion of a lane, or not.

    If it is your intent as a bicycle-operator to continue straight through an intersection where motorists have the option of completing a right-hand turn, you have an obligation to your own safety to avoid the right-hand portion of such a lane; and under such circumstances. Just look how Oregon Statutory law, and the implementation of bicycle-lanes, work counter to this common-sense approach.

    Under those Oregon laws Mr. Reyna is at no fault, and I’m supremely bummed his life was endangered, and his ride mangled. If you are going to advocate for bicycle-specific infrastructure, you had better damned well advocate that it be more safe than the deployment of my own, master-level, judgement, or you do me a disservice I will fight against. If you can’t put bike-lanes down right, perfectly, every time, without exception, then don’t put them down. I’m experienced enough to avoid situations like this but the noobs, under constant social pressure to saddle-up and take to the streets, aren’t. You do them a disservice as well.

    Here’s a simple formula:

    No bike-specific-infrastructure equals dirt. Bike-specific infrastructure equals not-dirt. Anything else is superfluous, rife with potentially creating problems that wouldn’t otherwise exist, and a waste of money to boot.

    There’s better ways to grow your Church than plastering the land-scape with your monuments to yourselves. It starts with knocking on your neighbor’s door with a cool six-pack in hand. The upside of which is some of those neighbors might even have brown skin.

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  • matt picio May 21, 2010 at 10:44 am

    Madeye (#7) – it’ll ride the inner lanes of the bridge. If you want specifics, they’re in this publication:
    (warning: 35MB in size)
    on pages 121-122 and 151 (Adobe Acrobat’s numbering, not the document page numbers)

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  • Andrew May 21, 2010 at 10:51 am -links to a description of the final layout of the streetcar, didn’t see a map, but didn’t look for too long.

    Living on Vancouver ave., I traverse both streets often. I have seen 3 right hooks on these 3 roads (williams, broadway, & vancouver), seen 2 people get doored in front of my house, and seen bike/ped collisions at williams and vancouver at the failing intersection (by pix, chachacha, 5 quadrant etc). When I moved to North I was pumped at the amount of traffic and that nice wide bike lane.
    But really there has to be a better way.

    Oh, and if the the lady with dreadlocks on the black single speed riding south on vancouver who almost got right hooked by a tan jeep a few days ago is reading this, you got some moves. I would have been a pancake for sure. I’ve never seen anyone make a turn like that.

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  • Joe Rowe May 21, 2010 at 10:51 am

    Nice work on the video Aaron R!!! And thanks to Jonathan for posting the video and story.

    As many people have said…

    Take the lane.

    The video is a grim reminder of the danger to cyclists due to construction. The contractors show up in the morning with time and money on their minds. They are not thinking of lawsuits or bike safety. Broadway is a danger zone with or without construction.

    Even a bike safe street that took 10 years to create can be transformed into bike death in 60 seconds due to some contractor wearing an orange vest and a few orange cones.

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  • matt picio May 21, 2010 at 10:53 am

    Vance (#11) makes some good points, and this is exactly why ORS 814.420 needs to go away, or be modified. I sincerely hope and ASK that the BTA works towards this in the upcoming legislative session. The courts have decided that the planning process constitutes sufficient evidence of safety. I say that’s a load of bull, but if the courts interpret the law that way, then it’s time for a rewording or elimination of the law.

    These are our streets, and every mile of bike lane under the current law is a mile where our options have been limited and our safety imperiled. The City will tell you those bike lanes are safe. For the most part, that’s probably true. What’s also true is that by virtue of confining cyclists to a 6′ strip instead of 3 14′ lanes plus a 6′ strip, you are inherently more at risk – especially when drivers expect you to stay there.

    Be safe, and ignore the bike lanes if and when you have to in order to stay safe. Your life is worth more than a $250 ticket, even if you have to pay it.

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  • Beth May 21, 2010 at 10:55 am

    I feel so sorry for bike commuters that live in NE Portland, and who are trying to get downtown. They don’t have safe, beautiful bridges like the Hawthorne to travel on. We are so lucky in SE Portland!

    Instead, up in NE, hey get appalling bike lanes, on appalling high-traffic, high-speed arterials, as the only means to get them safely across the river via the Broadway Bridge.

    If I had a child, I’d be scared s***less to bike on Broadway in the bikelane with them in a Burley or Trail-a-bike. I’ve heard the Broadway/Williams corridor has the highest number of bike commuters in Portland. And yet the connections to and from it coming on and of the bridge are some of the worst in Portland. I hope once the streetcar line goes in, fixes are made at this intersection. Bike boxes at the very least. Last time I checked, green paint wasn’t that expensive.

    It’s insanity.

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  • Adam May 21, 2010 at 10:57 am



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  • Adam May 21, 2010 at 11:02 am

    ps – for those who are scared to ride the Vancouver/Williams corridor for fear of getting doored… there’s an amazing little street called Rodney, just one tiny little block east.

    It runs all the way from Broadway, up to, uh, the Columbia River, or pretty much. It frickin’ rocks.

    It’s not a bike boulevard. YET. But holy cow. It should be.

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  • MIndfulCyclist May 21, 2010 at 11:04 am

    This is an intersection I take when I commute to work. There are a couple of things that has kept me safe. When you are approaching the intersection, realize that a good percentage of people are not going to use a turn signal. So, don’t assume that because it is not on, the car is continuing forward. And, when approaching the intersection, slow down a bit if you know there is a car to your left. Make eye contact if possible. If you can’t, realize that the driver simply does not see you and act accordingly. If you have a decent gap before the car on the left, take the lane if necessary. I always just ride very defensively in this intersection. All the green paint in the world is not going help cyclists get right hooked at this intersection.

    Also, another option when this construction is going on, is to take Tillamook to Flint. Remember too that when there is construction, that means more signs for people to look at and more big equipment that makes bikes harder to see.

    Be safe!

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  • TIm May 21, 2010 at 11:10 am

    I ride through this twice a day usually, and what I have noticed most perhaps is that because construction tore up the bike lane, much of the striping indicating where the bike lane re-starts in the center of the two car lanes is gone. This causes cars to invade the bike lane, as shown in this video I took:
    Of course when I don’t have my camera I see a police car doing the same thing.
    In some ways I almost think all the construction has helped the area in the since that all the cars are moving much more slowly.

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  • BURR May 21, 2010 at 11:12 am

    Plenty of Construction on the Hawthorne approach at SE Madison and 6th / Grand as well, Madison has been reduced by at least one lane at this location all week.

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  • Michael M. May 21, 2010 at 11:12 am

    I generally get on NE B’way heading west at NE 16th (before that, I take NE Tillamook). The biggest problem I’ve had since the construction began has been the congestion the construction is causing. Taking the lane isn’t the problem — generally, the motorized traffic in the lane has been travelling more slowly than anyone can travel in the bike lane. The problem is that the bike lane has become hazardous because of increasing numbers of cars turning off B’way and because of traffic crossing at unsignaled intersections. Frequently now, traffic is backed up but people are keeping the box clear so cars waiting at intersections have the space to get across. The problem is that they can’t see cyclists approaching in the bike lane (which isn’t backed up) when they scoot across the intersection. Just a few days ago, I had to make two very sudden stops to avoid getting hit by or hitting two vehicles proceeding across NE B’way at two different intersections. The problem with taking the lane now is that the lane isn’t moving, so doing that means being stuck in motorized traffic (and, honestly, most people on bikes aren’t going to want to be stuck — I know I don’t). I also had a near-miss with another guy on a bike who approached me swiftly from behind and cut me off as I was signalling to move over. All in all, it was a harrowing trip on a route I take 90% of the time I go downtown.

    I’m thinking it’s not worth it. I will probably switch to taking the Steel Bridge for the summer.

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  • Lance P. May 21, 2010 at 11:13 am

    Like I said, the Lloyd TMA and others helped in the planning process for the streetcar through the Lloyd. When the streetcar goes in on 7th, there is space set aside for a cycletrack. The money isn’t there(yet) but the space is, which is very important. When the plans first came in it was worse than the Lovejoy debacle. I also advocated for some bike infrastructure on MLK/Grand but that was a no go. To many auto-centric business owners fought and fought to stop bike lanes and the streetcar(lost one/won one) from going on MLK/Grand. Once the streetcar is in, it will start to attract different business, which I hope will cater to the cycling community. If that happens then maybe a cycletrack.

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  • snolly May 21, 2010 at 11:14 am

    Sometime this week on my ride in I noticed a sign on NE Broadway indicating that bikes were to merge with the vehicle traffic to the left. I don’t think it’s been there the whole week and it’s also unclear when you’re expected to merge back into the bike lane.

    The least they could do is post a “WATCH FOR BIKES SIGN” before cars try to turn right to get onto I-5.

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  • Vance Longwell May 21, 2010 at 11:18 am

    matt picio #15 – I went overboard, obviously, but thanks for seeing it my way. I forget the chapter, I think it’s 811, but whatev.065 is a darn good law. Just take away the stupid 35 m.p.h. provision, and viola. You are in possession of a ‘bike-lane’ that follows you where ever you go, and simultaneously places a larger portion of the burden of responsibility upon the motorists where it belongs (See: If you simply must shove sticks in eyes.). But nooooooo. We’re fighting cars, not anthropogenic climate change. Argh. Sorry. I digress.

    Aside: I get ‘buzzed’ a lot on my bike. I don’t like it. We all know what I’m talking about. To me, it’s similar to hitting my head on a cupboard door. For some reason, I get instantly, uncontrollably, angry when I bonk my head. It hurts, and it’s usually quite a surprise. These two factors, when combined, usually result in a very impulsive action on my part. Like tearing the cupboard door off it’s hinges.

    I wonder sometimes, if in addition to the cultural paradigms I’ve alluded to in other threads, if this doesn’t play a role in some of the car hate; which I presume fuels the bike-specific infrastructure mandate. I have covered so many miles I’m virtually impervious to getting ‘buzzed’ right along with the litany of other ways the cagers like to monkey with my svelte, bike-riding ass. Additionally, I’m 6-5, 200 lbs., and in possession of nothing to lose. Add to this a volatile temper, and I’m, how shall I put it, an intimidating highway user. I’m VERY agro out there. Yet even I get constantly ‘buzzed’ and harassed. So I know ya’ll do too.

    Back to wondering, is a lot of this nonsense a passive-aggressive back-lash aimed at a group of road-users which may be easily stereotyped? Are you kicking back at people constantly messing with you on your bike? We can only answer in our inner voices, and to ourselves. But, I gotta tell ya, generalizing in such a manner to justify impulsive behavior, or to go one further and impugn an entire group because you get kicked around by a few from that group, is a bad thing.

    The idea is to safely transport ourselves. In addition, due to the times we live in, the idea is to stop raping the environment. It’s not about the choices we make, it’s about the impact of those choices. Dang it, that’s an important distinction. One way solves problems, the other may solve problems only as a corollary benefit, but is more effective at assuaging, and otherwise placating, ego.

    Bike-lanes as tools that don’t unfairly, or impractically, encroach upon motorists, are one thing. A law that says I HAVE to ride in them is altogether another one. I join Mr. Picio, and presumably ‘are’ although he hasn’t weighed-in yet, in calling for the removal of the mandate levied by 814.420. I would also hope that 811.065 be augmented in a way that removes the road-surface conditions from it’s language.

    And again, I’m so glad Mr. Reyna is here to tell his story. I fully support him because he was following the rules. I don’t want my dislike of those rules to take away from the fact duder narrowly avoided a deadly outcome.

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  • MIndfulCyclist May 21, 2010 at 11:23 am

    Bare in mind one thing about this intersection as well. It is close to many hotels and this is the closest freeway entrance. There are going to be several people that are ignorant of the fact there is a bike lane there or ignorant of the fact that there are so many cyclists in this town.

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  • Joe May 21, 2010 at 11:23 am

    speed control in a construction areas comes to mind.

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  • matt picio May 21, 2010 at 11:31 am

    Vance – you and I have a lot of disagreements, but I try to keep my arguments based on facts rather than personalities. Those on this blog who automatically pan you are obviously focusing more on how you say it rather than what you’re actually saying – and that’s a shame. Jonathan’s site is as valuable for providing the community with a forum to comment on his news stories as it is for the stories themselves. Unfortunately many on it tend to focus their comments on certain people rather than the arguments they are making.

    Presumably we’re all on the same side out there, just all trying to get from point A to point B safely, and in reasonable time.

    Soapbox: “Reasonable time” does not mean to cut me off so you can shave 20 seconds off your commute. If you can just RELAX, I’ll join Vance at your door with another six pack or a bottle of wine or something. Life’s too short to be pissed at everybody.

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  • Vance Longwell May 21, 2010 at 11:38 am

    Joe #26 – Wouldn’t personal-safety be a higher priority than controlling speed? Speed that’s already controlled? You’d change road-surface conditions, control me a highway user with a perfect record, rather than say, increase licensing requirements for users with zero road experience?

    There’s no evidence, or shaky at best, suggesting speed played a factor here. It’s got a nice smack-of-revenge, mind you, but does little to address the real problem. INCOMPETENT road users. Why not mess with them instead of corralling me with the same drag-net? I am innocent, and yet you’d control my actions out of what, spite(?), for users you don’t approve of?

    And folks wonder why I’m not in the club.

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  • Vance Longwell May 21, 2010 at 11:49 am

    #27 – Truer words never spoken, yo:

    “Presumably we’re all on the same side out there, just all trying to get from point A to point B safely, and in reasonable time.”

    Despite the hyperbole, it’s my assumption that this is one of the reasons Mr. Maus tolerates me polluting his site. In his heart of hearts he must, by now, be convinced I’m on you all’s side, I am just disgusted with implementation. My language is what it is, and the contrarian in me will continue to speak/write any way I see fit.

    You wanna be safe, don’t wreck. You want to avoid burning fossil fuels don’t. You want black folks to ride, ask one. You want to get hassled less, put the gears back on your bike and MOVE! If you would grow cycling in Portland Oregon start with setting the example, and spreading the word. The demands for special treatment thing really grates on certain nerves, and potentially, interferes with Mr. Picio’s assertion. We are all the same in that we don’t want to die riding our bikes around.

    I want to be on the team, but not if there is no honor in it. Take the high-ground folks. Perseverance, dedication, expertise, these command respect. Ride your bike and benefit from it. Make it a point to constantly share those benefits with others. Bring folks to biking because it’s a more practical, more efficient, means of transportation in so many cases. Demands made out of misplaced anger aren’t doing any one any good at all.

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  • Memo May 21, 2010 at 12:00 pm

    in each of these cases it appears that the bicyclist is trying to pass on the right which is very unsafe. We need to also lookout for ourselves by riding safer.

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  • beth h May 21, 2010 at 12:13 pm

    I’m annoyed, but I’ll probably take the Steel Bridge until the construction is over. (And when I can, I’ll avoid downtown altogether and spend my money much closer to home.)

    And will someone please stopp telling older or slower bicyclists to “take the lane”! For many of us, that approach is about as ridiculous as insisting that bikes and cars can “share the road”.

    I want separate cycletracks in Portland.
    Nothing less will suffice.

    I don’t care what motorists think, and I don’t care if it takes away precious on-street parking. I have grown tired of the “politic”, measured response. I just don’t care anymore. Let the motorists go pound sand; someday we’ll all be driving less anyway. I’m just getting a head start, that’s all.

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  • spare_wheel May 21, 2010 at 12:22 pm

    “I have grown tired of the “politic””

    I think its time for a rush hour critical mass ride in this area.

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  • BURR May 21, 2010 at 12:35 pm

    PDOT has a terrible record of making safe provisions for bicycle traffic as part of the traffic control plan for construction detours.

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  • BURR May 21, 2010 at 12:40 pm

    @ Adam #17 – A cycle track is not a solution in this situation, as it would probably be closed for construction and you would be required to detour into the traffic lanes.

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  • matt picio May 21, 2010 at 12:54 pm

    beth h (#32) – Separate cycletracks in most cases are not practical. There is a finite amount of right-of-way, and it has to accommodate multiple use modes. I firmly believe that if the existing infrastructure cannot be made safe for all modes, then parallel infrastructure MUST be provided for the more vulnerable modes, but in most cases the roads can be made safe – society has just chosen not to do so.

    For an example – limit speeds on roads to 25, and 35 on the arterials, and only permit higher speeds on limited-access highways. It’ll never fly – it’s politically untenable, probably unenforceable, and the majority of us prioritize our own convenience over the safety of strangers and a little increased risk to ourselves. But it WOULD address the problem, IF it could be implemented. The same is true for separated facilities like cycletracks – it addresses the problem, but only if it can be implemented, and the ROW issues, cost, and lack of support among the general public are serious disincentives.

    If you’re older and slower in many cases the best alternative is an alternate route – there are alternate routes that do not go through the intersection in question, but not everyone knows how to use them. Should older / slower riders be forced to go out of their way? Of course not, but the alternatives are separated infrastructure or limiting the damage potential of motor vehicles. Either is hard to do in the current political and economic climate.

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  • MIndful Cyclist May 21, 2010 at 1:20 pm

    I am not sure how a cycletrack would fit on this intersection. The simplest thing to possibly due is put one of the green “bike” lights on this intersection that could be triggered when the tires match up on the stripe.

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  • Joe May 21, 2010 at 1:28 pm

    yes safety is key for all users. today was riding near a zone and the flag man was
    kind and looking out for all. Wilsonville Rd.

    enjoy this day EVERYONE ride safe/ ride on!

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  • Heather May 21, 2010 at 1:29 pm

    I second the need for a more overarching, construction-safely law. Broadway on the eastside is a clusterf*ck as it is, but on two occasions recently, I’ve ridden down Broadway at times when none of the construction workers were around and found tons of detritus left behind in the bike lane. A black stanchion base against black asphalt at dusk is damn near impossible to see until you are right on top of it.

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  • resopmok May 21, 2010 at 1:45 pm

    I was almost right hooked while riding eastbound on Broadway not long ago by someone turning into a parking lot without signaling. I should’ve known it would happen, but use of my voice made him stop short of actually hitting me, luckily.

    Really, I tire of all this talk of cycletracks, bike lanes, traffic segregation, arguments over the specific words of law and so on. In truth, this is one of those things that help fuel the bike vs. car debate, which should really never be a debate to begin with. As has been said here and many other places, we’re all just people trying to get somewhere, and respecting each other as such is the first step in making the roads a safe place. Most people do, some do not, some are just jerks, and some just don’t pay attention to anything and walk around as if they are more blind than an actual blind person.

    The best way to insure your safety is to watch out for numero uno – yourself. You pay attention, you look for the dangers, you find the most safe solutions for yourself, and if you want to take risks, they’re yours to take. We could blabber all day about the options, but in the end your life and well-being is your own responsibility.

    The area in question is a construction zone. Traffic is supposed to be slower in construction zones – bike traffic as well. What I observed in that video is fast moving cyclists, who, instead of slowing down and following the flow of traffic, take advantage of their size and move between motor vehicles and the construction zone in order to get where they are going faster than everyone else. In the process, they are accepting greater risk for injury, to themselves and people working in the construction zone. This is the same sort of behavior we so easily loathe in “cagers,” but here we are talking about how it’s the city’s responsibility to keep us safe. Take the lane, go with the flow, and “Give ’em a brake!”

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  • Case May 21, 2010 at 1:51 pm

    I haven’t read all of the comments to this article but I can give personal perspective. I take this route to and from work in the NW Industrial area, I start on Broadway at NE 20th. This has always been a hairy area to ride in, I have excellent road savvy but I still ride with hyper-vigilance down here. The key for me is: 1) Ride at a medium pace 2) Constantly survey your surroundings, being conscious of the attitude of cars around you 3) Watch drivers through their windows, they usually telegraph a turn by looking in that direction. 4) Assume no one ever sees you.

    It’s just the way it is, no amount of infrastructure will stop it short of a city full of cycletrack. The catch about cycletrack is it creates a sentiment of entitlement to motorists and sense of ‘separate but equal’ to cyclists. That’s no way to foster positive interactions. Remember, be it motorist or cyclist, there are terrible drivers out there all the time.

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  • Joe Rowe May 21, 2010 at 2:25 pm

    First an apology to Beth and others like her. I meant to say —> take the lane if you feel you’ve mastered that skill. Some people have mastered the take the lane skill but avoid that safer alternative because PDX cops often write a bogus ticket.

    Second, seems like the N/NE bike corridors of Broadway/Weidler and Willams/Wancouver should be the first to get cycle tracks like the test one up on SW Broadway. Will the new rail tracks on Broadway prevent that?

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  • Steve B. May 21, 2010 at 2:53 pm

    Nice work, Aaron! Keep those cameras rolling, keep placing those phone calls and sending emails. Let’s get this fixed.

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  • Zaphod May 21, 2010 at 4:04 pm

    One sidewalk is unworkable for two way cyclist & pedestrian traffic. They need to find a way to keep both sides open.

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  • matt picio May 21, 2010 at 4:48 pm

    Joe (#42) – depends on the design. The streets in question are all one-way couplets, so a cycletrack could be built on either side of the road. One side will conflict with streetcar, the other would not – though there still might be issues in locations that cross the tracks.

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  • Red Five May 21, 2010 at 7:04 pm

    yep…a “critical mass”…thats a sure fire way to bring love to the Portland cycling community. hurrrrrrrrrr.

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  • are May 21, 2010 at 8:58 pm

    we took the ride of silence through this stretch wednesday night.

    and i have ridden it a few times during construction, though usually i drop in at flint. for the moment, the bike lane is gone, so 814.420 does not apply. 814.430 says far to right “except,” and the exceptions are more than broad enough to cover this situation.

    the answer is take the lane, but i am still hearing, “okay, but some people just can’t.” and i do not want to be dismissive of that answer, but frankly infrastructure cannot solve every problem. if you can’t, you can’t, and you may have to find another route. this is a construction zone. they have put out cones, directing (motor) traffic to go here rather than there. what does this tell bike traffic?

    the striped bike lane (which was always badly placed through these right turns) is gone. the cones indicate a construction zone. reasonably clear you should ride to the left of the cones. this means mixing it up with (slow moving) cars. if you are directly behind rather than to the right of a car, the car cannot right hook you. if this maneuver is beyond your comfort level, take another route.

    i will acknowledge that during construction, with the cones, etc., motorists also seem confused as to what cyclists might be expected to do, so getting into the lane with everyone else can be a bit of a battle. actually this seems to be a worse problem eastbound off the bridge than westbound from grand on down, but you gotta do it, or you gotta decide you are a rolling pedestrian and expect to be hooked.

    also, as someone pointed out earlier, you cannot expect to blow through a construction zone at speed.

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  • Barney May 22, 2010 at 2:56 am

    One day, we will have a cyclist-only habitrail above the city. Until then, we each have to find our own way to be safe. It seems like a lot of cyclists are stubborn about taking a significant reroute for their commute, especially since we’re indignant about making changes when cars aren’t expected to. But given the bottleneck on this stretch, I guarantee tons of cars are inconvenienced to the point of rerouting as well. Anyone who doesn’t feel safe on this stretch should seriously consider finding a different way. Off the top of my head, I can think of three fairly calm alternatives to this route that take 5-10 more minutes. It’s worth the extra time.

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  • A-dub May 22, 2010 at 9:18 am

    Living on the west-side, I’m concerned about the sewer work that is about to engulf Multnomah Blvd. It is the only relatively flat route from the Garden Home area to Barbur Blvd and downtown. The preliminary work has already resulted in rutted bike lanes and when they start digging up the road, I’m sure we’ll see plenty of steel plates and other hazards.

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  • BURR May 22, 2010 at 9:58 am

    dropping in at Flint is the smart way to avoid this whole mess

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  • beth h May 22, 2010 at 11:36 am

    It would be interesting to see how many folks actually SUPPORT the expansion of the Streetcar line (which we can thank for the present mess on inner eastside streets).

    Just curious.

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  • BURR May 22, 2010 at 12:30 pm

    and when all the construction’s done there will be another hazard for cyclists on this street – the streetcar tracks

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  • Aaron Reyna May 22, 2010 at 7:20 pm

    Hi everyone,

    I was the guy that was hit last wednesday. While it’s easy to say “take the lane”, or “always watch your shoulder”, we must remember that unfortunately, hindsight is 20/20… even to back seat drivers. While I say this, I keep note that I remind myself of this incident and the seemingly obvious, preventative actions I could have taken that day. I remind myself with every pain staking step I take since wednesday.

    What we have here is a simple message, a message that boasts that if we are to be ticketed and treated as motorists, the we need those same rights of every motorists. If lanes are blocked and no clear indication is noted, than it is up to us to demand reason, explanation, and a fix to the situation. Here is it not a matter of privilege, but a matter of precedence. This precedence invites us all to take pride not in our “unique bike friendly city”, or ideas of “keeping Portland weird”, it is a matter to which we say, we are the future of urban transportation. All of us, buses, cars, pedestrians, and cyclists. We what future cities will strive for, and it is up to us to report unsafe incidents before they become tragic statistics. I, as I hope everyone else, promise my part in this from now on.


    Aaron N. Reyna

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  •! the other one May 23, 2010 at 7:27 pm

    Its a little late to add this to the discussion, but here goes. Back about a hundred years ago, when Neil Goldschmidt was watching little girls and gas was one dollar a gallon. He proposed a elevated hiway through Portland, HEY! how about elevated bikeway. Oh yeah, no money! sorry just thinking outloud again, sorry my bad

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  • firekayak May 23, 2010 at 10:40 pm

    I don’t get the video. Yeah, there could have been accidents but how is that any different then any other day. From the look of the video it isn’t any different for normal traffic. If you filmed normal traffic it would be much the same. No one got hit because people pay attention. That is the key. Car or bike, it doesn’t matter you just have to keep an eye out…that is how you don’t get hit. Yeah construction is a bit of a pain but the construction is there so that the can be more public transportation. You can’t have it all people…something I feel a lot of people on bikeportland don’t realize that.

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  • Kt May 24, 2010 at 10:09 am

    I take the lane where appropriate… however:

    There is a large subset of cyclists/bike riders in this city who don’t know the rules of the game. I applaud their enthusiasm and am glad that they have taken two wheels to the streets. But they don’t know a lot of the things we do here– like, ride WITH traffic, not against traffic; front light is mandatory when it gets dark but a rear reflector is ok; riding on the sidewalk is not exactly the safest thing to do; take the car lane when the bike lane becomes hazardous.

    So they don’t know the whole “take the lane” thing. And where are they going to learn it?

    And, too, new people only know the most direct route to their destinations, which means taking this godsawful stretch of road. Or, people just want to go the most direct route to their destination (I do!) and don’t want to wend their way through adjacent streets.

    Or maybe new people don’t know about any alternate routes.

    Maybe most people who ride in the Metro area don’t know about bikeportland because they don’t identify with those of us here– because they’re just commuters, full stop, regardless of mode.

    So saying on this forum, “take the lane!” is all well and good, but what does it do to fix the situation at that particular intersection?

    Anyway. I’m glad Aaron is okay, bummed that his ride is busted, and wish safe journeys to everyone.

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  • chelsea May 24, 2010 at 10:11 am

    Do they really expect all of the bikers/joggers/walkers going both directions to squeeze onto one side of the bridge? And if you are going against the regular flow of traffic you are supposed to cross motor traffic on both ends of the bridge to be on whichever side is open at the time?

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  • craig May 24, 2010 at 10:27 am

    I attended a public information meeting at the Lloyd TMA back in February with one of the streetcar project managers, and I suggested that they temporarily post 10 mph speed limit signs on the Broadway Bridge crossing during the its closure down to a single lane of bike/ped traffic. I will follow up to see whether that suggestion is being considered.

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  • are May 24, 2010 at 11:08 am

    re comment 56. people posting to these boards do not “get it,” so maybe they will learn a bit by reading here. but you are right, there is a huge population of people on bikes outside this tiny bubble, who do not have (or do not think they have, or would not think to look for) formal training on how to ride in traffic. somewhere around this town there are a handful of certified “effective cycling” instructors, and both BTA and PBoT have commuter classes. but i think in the end the only way to reach “most” people would be through their televisions. but would the commercial stations condescend to run educational PSAs? dream on.

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  • jeff May 24, 2010 at 11:39 am

    streetcars = buses for white people.

    what a waste of space, money, and time.

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  • beth h May 24, 2010 at 1:48 pm

    Thanks for commenting on the streetcar, Jeff.

    I have to say that I, too, am puzzled by the introduction of a rail car that seats so few people and runs only along inner east and west side shopping corridors. If Light Rail’s purpose is to move residents through the Portland Metro area without needing automobiles, then what exactly is the streetcar for?

    So far, the only answer that makes sense to me is: tourists. And if I’m right, then what we have a solution for the problem, “how do we get more people to come to Portland and shop?”

    That’s not really question I want my elected officials to ask, let alone try to solve. And that’s a big part of why I’m not happy about the Streetcar OR the infrastructure changes it’s bringing to the city.

    (Of course, Streetcar officials should feel free to correct me here…)

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  • 180mm_dan May 24, 2010 at 5:24 pm

    Seems generally obvious to avoid this intersection for awhile.

    Yes, it’s annoying to change a personal bike route, but I’ve often found that I discover new, nearly better routes because of routine disruptions. Sometimes I don’t find a better route, but staying alive to ride another day seems more important than increasing my bike commute by 5-10 minutes.

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  • 180mm_dan May 24, 2010 at 5:32 pm

    oops, my analogy at the end doesn’t make sense… double-positive.. but you get the idea…

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  • alex May 24, 2010 at 6:42 pm

    Sorry to hear about this incident, Aaron, but glad you’re okay.

    I moved into the area about a month ago. I took Broadway downtown for a few days, but it became too nerve-wracking with all of the construction and inattentive drivers.

    Now I cycle south on 7th (itself not the best street for cycling, especially around Broadway), take a right on Multnomah down to the Rose Quarter, and cross at the Steel Bridge. It takes a few more minutes but feels much safer to me than the clusterf*ck that is Broadway right now.

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  • Steve B. May 25, 2010 at 1:17 am

    Streetcar (and light rail to some extent) is generally viewed as a tool of development first, and a transportation asset second. After meeting with folks from Bus Riders Unite!, I’ve grown more skeptical of Portland’s love for rail at the expense of its existing bus routes. Bus ridership still accounts for 2/3 of Trimet’s ridership.

    In terms of rerouting bikeways, I don’t think the issue is taking a different route — it’s about providing a safe alternative route that has clear signage, directing bike traffic along the detour. I’ve been generally impressed with other transportation projects in the area and their attention to maintaining safe bike access.

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