Harvest Century September 22nd

Photos: Bike traffic in the Vancouver Gap

Posted by on September 3rd, 2010 at 11:43 am

The morning commute on N. Vancouver, just before Weidler. Photo taken on Wednesday, 9/1.
(Photos © J. Maus)

With the Broadway Bridge re-opening to bike traffic next week, I thought it’d be fun to snap some photos of the increase in bike traffic on N. Vancouver Avenue that’s resulted from the detour. It’s been interesting to see how the bridge closure has impacted bike traffic patterns between the Steel Bridge and points north of the Broadway.

Bike traffic in The Vancouver Gap-13

Traffic piles up. Looking north from Weidler.

One street that has seen a huge bump in bike traffic is N. Vancouver Avenue. Instead of people heading west into downtown via the Broadway Bridge, many are staying on Vancouver and taking it south, all the way past the Rose Garden Arena and through the Rose Quarter Transit Center en route to the Steel Bridge.

What makes all this bike traffic even more interesting (at least for a bike nerd like myself), is that this stretch of Vancouver — where the bike lane drops in two different sections — is one of five projects PBOT is addressing through their recently announced slate of bikeway development projects.

Bike traffic in The Vancouver Gap-11

A bit more traffic than the bike lane can handle.
Bike traffic in The Vancouver Gap-5

Looking south, as traffic crosses Weidler and heads toward Rose Garden.

Vancouver was once named the city’s most beloved bike lane, but when it gets to Broadway, it unceremoniously ends on the block between Broadway and Weidler. People on bikes then pick up a bike lane again near the Rose Garden parking structure, but it drops again before the green bike lane oases through the Rose Quarter Transit Center.

It will be interesting to see what solutions are offered up to make a consistent, comfortable, and efficient bikeway that will forever close the Vancouver Gap. When that happens, this stretch of Vancouver will once again fill up with bike traffic.

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41 Comments
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    Steve B. September 3, 2010 at 12:10 pm

    In the short term, they need to adjust the timing of the signals so you don’t automatically get caught behind a red light at Weidler. I called this in to PBOT and they said it will be revisited after streetcar construction is completed.

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    Vance Longwell September 3, 2010 at 12:25 pm

    I don’t have a clue what’s up with these photos. I don’t know if all those people know each other, or what. I view riding that close to other riders as something akin to tailgating in a car. For all of the same reasons, too. Some are simply oblivious to the physics. Others careless. Others inexperienced. Others using the maneuver as some form of harassment. There are lots of reasons people tailgate.

    Which is why I go absolutely ballistic on anybody riding close enough to me to hear my voice.

    Sure, throw my access to highways under a bus for safety. Sure, keep gas prices artificially inflated, and continue crushing the economy. Sure, move here and dictate to the locals how they’re gonna live. Sure, do all of these things, do it all in the name of SAFETY! Then please, by all means, pack-up like a bunch of 11 year old CAT 5 NEWBS, and wreck me with the unsecured CRAP flying off your 50 lb two wheeled tank!

    Yeah, safety rocks!!

    But hypocrisy, ignorance, and people turning something beloved to me into a three frickin’ ring circus, not so much.

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    h September 3, 2010 at 12:26 pm

    Thank god for my friend guiding me through this nightmarish maze one night last month.

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    Elliot September 3, 2010 at 12:41 pm

    +1 Vance re: riding too close

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    Kt September 3, 2010 at 12:41 pm

    Vance, those pictures are deceptive– I don’t think those people are riding as close as you think. Or, if they are, it’s because they all just started up from a dead stop at the red light (good job, guys!), and that’s why they’re all bunched like that.

    But I do agree with you– keep yer distance, folks, you don’t need to ride that close to me. Safety does, indeed, rock.

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    kitten September 3, 2010 at 1:26 pm

    vance, its called perspective distortion

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    rrandom rider September 3, 2010 at 1:32 pm

    I think the photos are pretty accurate. This has been my daily commute since the Broadway Bridge was closed and it is consistently that packed on Vancouver and Williams. Part of the problem is the sheer volume of riders. Part of it is that there seems to be a range of riders from the very new and extremely slow all the way through to the carbon fiber riding speedsters. This means that, no matter what your speed, you are either passing or being passed on a regular basis.

    Mornings on Vancouver aren’t usually that bad since I am up before most folks, but the afternoons on Williams suck.

    I have had my bars clipped by other riders, been passed on the right and been cut off pretty much every day. Some days I just can’t stand the traffic and ride on Rodney even though I am stopping every other block because of the signage.

    One last rant to my fellow cyclists- please stop running the signals when a MAX is coming. I know it’s not fun having to wait for 90 seconds while the train goes by, but I would hate to see you squished and I don’t want to spend the rest of my life replaying that scene in my mind.

    Oh, Vance, the price of gas is ridiculously deflated. Automotive transportation is extremely heavily subsidized (socialized). One can make an argument that this is not necessarily a bad thing since our economy depends on the movement of goods and people, but there is no question that the price of gas does not come close to covering the externalities associated with its production.

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    matt picio September 3, 2010 at 1:34 pm

    Sometimes it *is* that close on Vancouver, which is why I ride Rodney now. Ironic that I don’t ride the road with the bike lane now because of excessive CYCLING traffic. (also pretty cool)

    I think the most interesting thing though is that I’ve noticed that there are some days where Vancouver is more convenient for whatever reason, and that on the days where I’m not in a hurry, it’s far more enjoyable riding Rodney – it’s not like I always feel like riding the same type of road – there’s more variation in my riding style than I suspected.

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    JAT in Seattle September 3, 2010 at 1:43 pm

    I presume that Vance is a pretty speedy cyclist, but I wonder if, on the rare occasion another cyclist passes him if he goes absolutely ballistic on them as they go by.

    ’cause i really like the thought…

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    Bob_M September 3, 2010 at 1:49 pm

    Vance
    Nice rant!

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    A.K. September 3, 2010 at 1:59 pm

    I personally don’t mind the lack of bike lane on that section of road between Broadway and Weidler headed towards the Rose Garden.

    I find that cars very rarely use this lane, as most of the cars are in the left three lanes because they need to turn left onto Weidler or go straight through to the I-5/I-84 onramp. I just take the lane and have never had any trouble, myself.

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    Daily Bike Commuter September 3, 2010 at 2:25 pm

    A bike lane before Weidler is not needed. The bike lane after Weidler is dangerous and I never use it. It is dangerous because people try to turn right on the curve (after Weidler) and then the lane ends and spits you out back into the vehicle lane.

    I just take the lane until the Rose Quarter and I feel much safer. Like the above user says…cars don’t even use that lane…maybe they should just make the entire lane bikes and buses only.

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    Daily Bike Commuter September 3, 2010 at 2:28 pm

    Thank you Random Rider for talking about our artificially LOW gas prices! Gas should be an extra $1 or $2 a gallon to cover the negative externalities.

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    Vance Longwell September 3, 2010 at 2:33 pm

    kitten #6 – I completely disagree. Some of those folks aren’t 10 ft. apart. Ride that way all you like. Just don’t be surprised should a, *air quotes*squirrel*air quotes*, run out in front of me, and I put you in the hospital dodging it, is all.

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    AZ September 3, 2010 at 2:37 pm

    Can you please share with us the time these photos were taken?
    I would also like to say that my commute is the opposite of the pack (I head North to Swan Island in the morning up Williams and back down Vancouver @ 5pm) and I haven’t seen an increase in bike traffic at all.

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    soggy September 3, 2010 at 3:39 pm

    Man, it sure will be nice when the rains come back and all you whiney, cry-baby bikers will be back on the bus or driving your Prius so I can ride my bike with some peace and quiet …and drizzle!

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    Paul September 3, 2010 at 5:54 pm

    The last photo is zoomed in, which compresses depth. It’s what makes the man running from the semi-truck in movies seem like he’s about to be smashed, when really he’s 50 metres in front, safe as a kitten. 😉

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    EmGee September 3, 2010 at 6:19 pm

    I’m not seeing anything about the interbike distances that would bother me.

    In the first photo, everyone is slowing down for the red light which is plainly visible. Getting close when everyone is coasting to a stop has never bothered me– perhaps my 50+ years of bicycling hasn’t given me sufficient experience to know better?

    The second photo has all the bikes nicely lined up at the stop. The way it should be, maximimum consideration for those behind you who would probably like to cross the intersection before the light goes yellow. There are no safety concerns here, presuming everyone is competent at starting up without falling over.

    The third photo shows very good fore and aft separation between bikes. The two who have taken the lane look like the one is overtaking the other with a reasonable margin of safety.

    The angle of the last photo doesn’t provide any clues about interbike distances.

    There is nothing here that appears to be unsafe that I can see. If anyone with more experience can point out the problems, I would appreciate it. I’m always ready to learn.

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    jim September 3, 2010 at 6:50 pm

    Vance for president of BTA

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    noah September 4, 2010 at 7:33 am

    There’s a bike lane on the next section of road, on the curve across from the newer lofts. It seems too narrow for the curve. Afraid of falling, I usually take some of the auto lane.

    Considering how little motorized traffic there is from there to Rose Quarter, the bike lane should be erased and the whole lane sharrowed. Then the section from the freeway ramp to Multnomah should have a single southbound auto lane and a wide bike lane, on either side of which emerge turn lanes at Multnomah. Under that configuration, cyclists can enter the RQTC bike lane more smoothly, with minimal ambiguity and conflict.

    As for the red light one automatically encounters at Weidler, I question if that can or should be changed. That block of Vancouver between Broadway and Weidler is very short for the volume of traffic that must queue up on it. It’s a sensitive engineering problem.

    The off-ramp traffic must be met with a green at Weidler, else it’s liable to get backed up onto the freeway (very dangerous) and perhaps block Broadway when Broadway has a green. If it’s Broadway’s turning traffic that encounters the red at Weidler, it’s apt to make Broadway’s backups even worse. So we’re left with traffic from upper Vancouver getting the red at Weidler — the least bad alternative.

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    patrickz September 4, 2010 at 7:43 am

    After some looking at the map, I ‘d tend to see noah’s suggestion, although I haven’t had much trouble negotiating this part of the route to town. And it certainly helps to see constructive replies.

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    Red Five September 4, 2010 at 8:41 am

    Hey Vance is it acceptable to pass you?

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    patrickz September 4, 2010 at 8:50 am

    And on the closeness issue, I wonder whether those of us who mind proximity (unavoidable at traffic stops and such) would consider wearing something that signal their desire to remain apart. I’m sure none of us is there just to annoy you.

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    EmGee September 4, 2010 at 4:31 pm

    Re patickz, #23:

    You mean like Yosemite Sam “Back Off” tee shirt? Maybe we could talk Next Adventure into stocking a few of those.

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    suburban September 4, 2010 at 7:26 pm

    Leave us alone, commuters. Stop sucking our wheels.

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    Vance Longwell September 4, 2010 at 8:13 pm

    Red Five #22 – Nah. Not in these stupid bike lanes under any circumstances ever. If you want to pass, get in the motor lane to do it. Uh, and don’t pass me on the Hawthorne. It’s got stupid markings, and you all have to follow them, if I do. If you use the markings, it’s impossible to pass. And in a car/bike single-lane sharing type situation, no passing me either.

    I had a guy do that to me on SW 4th the other day, can you believe that? I was hugging cars in the east lane, little Toyota Matrix wagon next to me, and guy comes by both of us right between me, and the car. Once again, SW 4th, here.

    Show some damn empathy, and sensitivity, toward poor-people riding bicycles with all the anti-car crud, and earth-muffin stuff, and I’d be a lot more amicable on the streets, Red Five.

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    Red Five September 5, 2010 at 7:55 am

    Vance: Shhhhh don’t tell anyone here but I’m not anti-car at all. The more modes of transport I have available to me the better. Choices are good, but I prefer my bikes.

    Yeah I’ve had some incredibly dumb people racing up behind me without even the courtesy of saying anything or ringing a bell. And worse doing the immediate cut back into the bike lane like six inches from my front tire. I tell you man I’d love to see these idiots go face first into the curb when they pull those stunts.

    Go to Alpenrose if ya wanna race people. It’s not a competition out there.

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    Vance Longwell September 5, 2010 at 9:36 am

    Red Five #27 – I thought the stated goal was to reduce abuse. But so far, that plan has only manifested in cutting service (Eliminating traffic lanes, and on-street parking, and straight-troughs around left-turning cars.) and implementing excise taxing. Given that motorists have never even come close to being fully serviced, to start working backward now leaves those motorists that much more in the lurch.

    So far, the process of punishing motorists for this individual behavior has been to clog the streets with a mode I was using before all of this started. So, make that, I’m priced out of a car by the same crowd now forcing me off my bike. Crazy stuff, that. It makes me mad so I leave barely coherent rants about ‘spacing’ on bicycle blogs.

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    mh September 5, 2010 at 12:14 pm

    The thing that grabbed my attention in this article was the mention of the “five projects PBOT is addressing through their recently announced slate of bikeway development projects.”

    What is the status here? Months ago the Lloyd TMA’s bike committee heard that a company had been chosen to do the neighborhood outreach and planning, and that the announcement was forthcoming. It never came. I am anxiously waiting, five days a week, twice a day, to get working on the mess of the NE 12th Ave. overpass and its bracketing intersections (Irving and Lloyd Blvd.).

    I’ve sent queries to the TMA, and (and this is unusual) not gotten a response. Where has this stalled?

    mh

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    noah September 5, 2010 at 12:22 pm

    I’ve sent queries to the TMA, and (and this is unusual) not gotten a response.

    (Apologies for being slightly impertinent here, but…) This seems like the trend with so many Portland-area public agencies, from whom I would always get a personal reply in the early-mid 2000’s, and now often don’t even receive a canned response. Anyone else have this experience?

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    are September 5, 2010 at 1:29 pm

    re comment 29, the contract went to ALTA:
    http://bikeportland.org/2010/07/12/alta-wins-contract-to-develop-portland-bikeway-projects-36433
    so if they have not yet announced any outreach, they might be the people to contact.

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    mh September 5, 2010 at 2:07 pm

    Thank you. Guess I need to check in here both less haphazardly and more frequently. And Noah (#30), the Lloyd TMA is not a public agency. They’re very effective for a spit-and-chewing gum kind of an organization, and I’ve never gotten anything remotely like a canned response to any of my questions. Admittedly, they know me pretty well.

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    spare_wheel September 5, 2010 at 10:35 pm

    “racing up behind me without even the courtesy of saying anything or ringing a bell.”

    I love that uphill stretch on the Hawthorne after exiting from downtown. I routinely get *comments* and gasps when I smoke slow riders who struggle there. Seriously people if I pass you outside of the bike lane you have zero right to criticize. Just ride your bikes and stop judging.

    “Go to Alpenrose if ya wanna race.”

    I prefer riding fast on city streets. The occasional race is OK too. 😮

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    spare_wheel September 5, 2010 at 10:38 pm

    should clarify that i am talking about the hawthorne off ramp (not the bridge itself).

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    Red Five September 6, 2010 at 2:17 pm

    Wow spare_wheel, you’re awesome!

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    rider September 7, 2010 at 9:20 am

    spare_wheel, if you’re regularly getting comments and gasps then you’re doing something wrong. Likely you’re too close. If you pass me close enough that I can touch you, expect it to be a closed fist kiss to the face.

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    Bob September 7, 2010 at 4:01 pm

    I love bike commute traffic jams! It’s what bike transportation folks having dreaming about for years. These aren’t races or 50-100 mile rides, this is city riding! Just like in a car, when you’re in traffic, slow down, especially in areas like the approach to Rose Quarter and the Bridges. One traffic light and the folks you were so mad at and passed, catch up to you anyway.

    I run the Vancouver to Steel Bridge every morning between 8- 8:30. It’s awesome to see so many bikes! Getting the lights timed properly would be great.

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    spare_wheel September 9, 2010 at 10:32 am

    “if you’re regularly getting comments and gasps then you’re doing something wrong. Likely you’re too close.”

    my point is that some riders really do not like to see other riders going *too fast*. part of this is newbie projection (e.g. omg he is going to kill himself). and some of it is human nature (e.g. the same basic response that makes most cyclists speed up when passed). i think the irrationality of this is made clear by the fact that many *judgmental* cyclists have no problem with a motorbike traveling at 30 mph. but if a bicyclist is going 30 mph we get hypocritical whining:

    slow down
    its not a race
    go to alpenrose
    passing is rude

    “One traffic light and the folks you were so mad at and passed, catch up to you anyway.”

    i don’t get mad at slower bikers but i do pass them. (omg! how rude!)

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    Psyfalcon September 9, 2010 at 3:08 pm

    spare_wheel was originally talking about heading east from the Hawthorne. It is a really odd spot. Its a bit of an incline, but not anything worse than the bridge itself, but people just go 6mph up that ramp and to the bus stop.

    Its an odd situation, there is not a ton of ped traffic (most exit to the esplanade) so there is a continuation of the bridge width sidewalk, with less traffic, but then you enter the bike lane where there is only a small ramp down. Its a bit of a bottleneck, since passing there is not a good idea, but you have a major speed differential.

    I’ve seen people jump that curb on a road bike, and that is a bit disconcerting. But before, and after that point, there is a fair bit of passing room.

    Widening this ramp, somehow, would be nice.
    http://maps.google.com/maps?q=portland&oe=utf-8&client=firefox-a&ie=UTF8&hq=&hnear=Portland,+Multnomah,+Oregon&gl=us&ei=bVqJTLqhKISCsQOB-ZnPBA&ved=0CCIQ8gEwAA&ll=45.512227,-122.666388&spn=0.006842,0.013797&z=16&layer=c&cbll=45.512225,-122.666596&panoid=pvDvyY0-FE1GMGwrHPgV5w&cbp=12,153.16,,0,17.04

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    Duncan September 9, 2010 at 11:35 pm

    I think people need to ride their own ride and quit riding other people’s. If you are going faster than I just pass with all due haste, and if I am going faster than you, stay to the right.

    Vance- if someone is on your ass and you dont like it, either slow down and wave them on, or speed up and leave them eating dust… also realize that it is a city and congestion is a fact of life. Deal

    Who ever said “slow down in” wherever refer to my first sentence. Sometimes a man (me) just needs to get the lead out and ride, sometimes I feel like spinning along- I ride my mood and as long as I am not breaking the law your desires for my speed mean nothing to me. Thanks for sharing.

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