Urban Tribe - Ride with your kids in front.

New crossing at MLK and Going: How does it work for you?

Posted by on November 1st, 2010 at 2:00 pm

Policymakers Ride-10

People cross N. Going Street at MLK.
(Photo © J. Maus)

A local TV news outlet is questioning the safety benefit of a crossing treatment recently completed as part of the N. Going bike boulevard project.

I got an email from Scott Burton at KGW TV (Portland’s NBC affiliate) on Friday that they were doing a story about the crossing on their 11 o’clock news. Burton said they’ve received several complaints that since the change, the crossing has become more dangerous. He also said they witnessed a few close calls (bike/car) and that a person walking across was “severely injured” after being hit by a car last week.

“It’s supposed to make cyclists and pedestrians safer, but a new bike boulevard in Northeast Portland could be putting both in danger.”

I was surprised to hear all of this because I’ve heard just the opposite. In fact, I was in a meeting the same day I heard from Burton where a friend was telling me how successful he thought the new treatment was because cars were stopping well in advance of the new crossing (thanks to new signs/markings installed by PBOT).

(For more on the new crossing, read our report about it back in March. It’s also worth noting that PBOT initially wanted to install a new type of pavement marking, dubbed “crossbikes”, but those didn’t make it into the final plans.)

But from the tone of the KGW story (it was titled “Concerns surround bike boulevard“) and from the interviews and reporting they did in their story Friday night, perhaps I just haven’t heard what’s really going on out there. Watch the short segment below that ran on the Friday evening newscast (or read it here):

Since many of you reading this are legally considered to be “vulnerable” road users, I’m curious what you think about this intersection. Is this a safety concern for you? Do you think it gives a false sense of security to people on bikes? Should we be pressing PBOT to install a signal? Please share your perspective in the comments below…

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.

  • Esther November 1, 2010 at 2:06 pm

    I’m extremely surprised to hear that there is this opinion out there as well. As a North Portland resident who spends a lot of time in NE, I think of this as THE place to cross MLK, unless I’m on a car oriented/dominated street that has a light at the crossing, such as Skidmore. My empirical experiences have been that it is far safer and the drivers are far more cautious.

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  • Dave November 1, 2010 at 2:08 pm

    I use it everyday riding to and from work. I’ve found it easy to use and cars stop pretty quickly for waiting bikes. The only problem I’ve seen is when a group of bikes decide to cross at the same time.If traffic hasn’t fully stopped in both directions riders get stuck in the island trying to find space to stay out of the road.

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  • boriskat November 1, 2010 at 2:08 pm

    I go through this intersection quite a bit, and find it just fine, safety-wise. In fact, I have had a number of vehicles stop to let me cross (one of which was a tractor-trailer).

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  • KJ November 1, 2010 at 2:08 pm

    Huh, I have the complete opposite experience, aside from weekends, cars always seem to stop, both sides, and waiting for a gap in traffic to get the the island is not a huge wait with the light at Prescott or Killingsworth. Weekdays are better than weekends though, and my guess to that is weekday traffic is used to the crossing on their commute and weekenders aren’t regularly on MLK.

    I always wait to make sure both lanes stop though. The farther lane out doesn’t always pick up that traffic has stopped for a ped or bike, but that is an issue at crosswalks on all 4 lanes roads in my experience.

    I don’t use this crossing often at night, and I could see visibility with car speed on that street being a problem without a HAWK signal, but even with one, it’s still dangerous.

    I get better traffic yielding at Going/MLK on my bike than I do at 30th and Killingworth as a ped. I can say that…

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  • Sandra Clark November 1, 2010 at 2:14 pm

    I am an everyday commuter who uses Going Street twice a day. Like other non-lighted crossings for cyclists and pedestrians, the timing is what matters the most when it comes to whether or not I’ll use the crossing at MLK. At first I was pleased to have the option, but found that trying to see the traffic coming from both ways and trusting any oncoming traffic enough was a little too much for me. I ride down to Skidmore at NE 7th and use the light at MLK and see a lot of other cyclists doing the same. I may use the crossing early in the morning or on the weekends at times I know MLK isn’t busy.

    The new crossing at NE 33rd and Going, however, is fabulous. Part of the difference for me is that it’s just a two lane street, so there’s less to navigate, and it’s not on a slope so it’s easy to see and be seen.

    I think the crossing at MLK is fine but that folks should be cautious and avoid it if they are not confident in their ability to navigate the crossing, or if they are not confident in drivers’ ability to see them at any given time.

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  • Rob November 1, 2010 at 2:15 pm

    Interesting… this is the second anti-bike media item I’ve read about today. I wonder if this is the start of a trend.


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  • Alexis November 1, 2010 at 2:18 pm

    I’ve enjoyed using this crossing since starting to use the Going boulevard to travel to the Alberta area. With the median refuge, it’s easier to find gaps in traffic, and cars seem quite willing to stop.

    I don’t use it as a place where I expect cars to stop for me, though it’s nice when they do.

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  • Manji312 November 1, 2010 at 2:18 pm

    I’ve found this to be a great crossing for MLK. Cars always stop to let me cross. You definitely have to make sure both lanes are stopping for you, but I’ve never had a problem at the crossing. I do agree that if there are a number of bikes trying to cross, there isn’t enough room in the island and a full crossing of all four lanes is virtually impossible. A crosswalk light would probably make this intersection fool proof for people on bikes or walking.

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  • Sasha November 1, 2010 at 2:22 pm

    I love the new crossing and use it about twice a day. I’m always suprised when cars stop for me there, which winds up being close to every time I cross. If they don’t stop, it still feels like a shorter wait than crossing MLK at Skidmore, thanks to being able to go half way across at a time.

    You do, of course, have to make sure both lanes of traffic in a certain direction are stopping, but if they are stopped, why would you need a signal? My only concern is that there might not be enough room for several bikes in the middle of the street. It’d be trouble if you cross with a crowd but get stuck outside the safe zone.


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  • Sandra Clark November 1, 2010 at 2:27 pm

    Based on the comments I’ll venture to use it more. It sounds like cars are quite willing to stop — and certainly like Sasha says it’s a lot fast than waiting for the light at Skidmore.

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  • jim November 1, 2010 at 2:27 pm

    I doubt it is the crossing that is the issue, It is more than likely the mannor the riders are crossing the street. perhaps it could be bad if it promotes a false sense of security?

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  • Allan November 1, 2010 at 2:33 pm

    I don’t think cars realize they’re supposed to yield to bikes. maybe some simple yield signs on the road would make this better. Especially at night you aren’t always seen waiting to cross.

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  • Andy Trail November 1, 2010 at 2:34 pm

    Makes more sense to cross two blocks down on skidmore with the light. Both the mlk and the 33rd crossing seem like a waste of money since neither crossing gives bikes a right of way. They actually create an ambiguous situation in which both drivers and riders are unsure who should yield. PBOT should utilize existing regulated crossings for bike boulevards instead of creating new bike crossings that cars don’t respect and experienced bikers won’t use.

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  • fredlf November 1, 2010 at 2:43 pm

    I live two blocks from this crossing and use it fairly frequently. I cross MLK at a number of places and find the Going crossing a little bit better than other crosswalks nearby.

    Crossing MLK in general is pretty grim. Usually 5+ cars will blow through the crosswalk, no matter how clearly I signal my intent to cross. Maybe all the “furniture” at the Going crossing helps make drivers incrementally more aware that there might be humans trying to navigate the local environment. But until there is vastly more enforcement, crossing MLK will always be a roll of the dice, no matter how much paint, flashing lights and signs get sprayed around.

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  • Stripes November 1, 2010 at 2:47 pm

    I love this crossing! I live at 8th & Wygant, & use it every single day. I’ve found that many cars yield, which is quite surprising, given how fast the speed on the street is.

    What I’m not so happy about is the rest of the Going Street bike boulevard.

    Since all the stop signs were flipped, the Goin Street “bike” boulevard has instead pretty much become commuter rat-run central from NE 33rd to MLK, because car drivers take it to avoid the long lights on Prescott/7th.

    So much so, that residents along the bike boulevard have begun tying huge (and I mean HUGE) cardboard signs about five or six feet tall, to their hedges and fences in their front yards, imploring car drivers to take Prescott instead.

    One sign I read said something along the lines of “Car drivers: take Prescott instead – less bikes, less bumps!”

    I would really like to see a diverter at NE 15th & Going. I think this would cut down on a great deal of the cut-through car traffic that SHOULD NOT BE ON THE BOULEVARD!

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  • Jessica Roberts November 1, 2010 at 2:48 pm

    I love this crossing! It helps you make the crossing in 2 stages, and once you’re in the median island, drivers are really good about stopping (not that they are required to by law – but they seem to do it anyway). I love that the median refuge is wide enough for my bakfiets. I’ve been showing this crossing treatment to other communities as a best practice, and I stand by that assessment.

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  • are November 1, 2010 at 2:49 pm

    i use this crossing less frequently than i might, because the timing of the nearby lights is such that you rarely get a gap in both directions at once, which means you are relying on motorists to yield in as many as four lanes simultaneously, which they are not legally required to do unless there happens to be a pedestrian also crossing. i guess i could dismount.

    in short, i am not wild about this entire portland culture of motorists yielding rights of way arbitrarily. someone is gonna get hurt, and it won’t be me.

    instead, i take MLK south to prescott and take a left there, protected by the left turn arrow. or i take alberta. they should put in a cyclist-activated signal there, but because there are timed signals on MLK a block in each direction, they won’t.

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  • Paul Cone November 1, 2010 at 3:13 pm

    A diverted AND a marked crossing at 15th and Going are needed. With the bus shelter and bushes on the west side especially (i.e. going eastbound), visibility is not good there.

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  • Babygorilla November 1, 2010 at 3:17 pm

    “I don’t think cars realize they’re supposed to yield to bikes. maybe some simple yield signs on the road would make this better. Especially at night you aren’t always seen waiting to cross.”

    Is that the case? I don’t think any of those signs are traffic control devices (just warning signs that there might be a high degree of bike traffic at the intersection).

    That’s why its not particularly safe and its confusing. Some cars in one direction will stop when they have no legal requirement to do so, which gives a cyclist a false sense of safety that others will. A lighted signal would be better.

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  • vanessa November 1, 2010 at 3:42 pm

    Every time I have ridden through it cars stop. I am surprised that they do stop. Don’t they still have the right of way? It is confusing to me. I thought cars had to stop for pedestrians, but not bikes. A cop had told me once on MLK at Failing to get off my bike and walk across if I wanted cars to stop, if I was going to ride I would get a ticket. I usually do get of and walk across at other points on MLK now, but at Going, cars seem to be stopping. Are they supposed to? Is it the law there?

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  • jered November 1, 2010 at 3:47 pm

    I didn’t think cars were suppose to yield to bikes in this case. If I get off the bike then YES, YIELD because there is a crosswalk. I thought I was just another vehicle (but I’m allowed to sneak through and as a vehicle I can’t use the crosswalk… anyway. It is easier than it was before the change and the change on Going has cut a ton of time off my commute.

    Funny as I still see nervous looking cyclists braving Prescott street – simply not worth it in my opinion, take the speed down one notch and cruise happily on Going…

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  • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) November 1, 2010 at 3:58 pm

    Cars are not legally required to stop for people on bikes who want to cross… but I think sensible and considerate people should.

    It’s sad how bikes have such a confusing presence in the ORS. In terms of crossing, we’re treated the same as multi-ton motor vehicles when we’re every bit as vulnerable as someone on foot…. unfortunately the “same roads, same rights, same rules” mantra is still stuck in some people’s heads.

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  • random_rider November 1, 2010 at 4:05 pm

    I use this intersection twice a day and really like it. I make a point of making it obvious to cars that I can stop at the island and always wave “thank you” for them when they stop for me. The only scary situations I have witnessed are a few times when bikes have flown through without any concerns about the vehicles on MLK and seem to assume they will stop for them because they are exuding an adequate amount of confidence or hipness.

    This is also the route that the Beach Bike Train uses on Mondays and it has been very successful for them.

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  • Roland November 1, 2010 at 4:10 pm

    Way to go, KGW! Slow week at the Bikes-Vs-Cars Fake War News Desk? I notice their story tells how many incidents occurred since the change, but not how many occurred before. You’d think an easily-looked-up fact like that (HINT, this is known as “journalism”) would allow a fairly straightforward comparison, and an answer to the question of whether the change helps or hurts.

    The other thing I like is how 90% of the time they’re stoking anti-“cyclist” sentiment in complete disregard for our safety, but now they adopt a pose of concern for our safety as a reason to attack our infrastructure. MAKS SENS TWO MEE!

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  • John November 1, 2010 at 4:36 pm

    I lived 2 blocks from the crossing up until very recently & still live in the neighborhood.

    Are they going to run a story criticizing every intersection and street in Portland that someone gets injured in? No offense meant to the victim, but if you’re watching traffic, it’s as safe as any crossing in town.

    Burton & KGW should be embarrassed to be running such a joke of a news operation. I’m honestly kinda livid that they would try to rally public opposition to a safety improvement. For ratings. And without any statistics.

    GTFO my neighborhood & go back to journalism school.

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  • Pfeif November 1, 2010 at 4:59 pm

    Isn’t November a “sweeps” month for the TV and Radio? The stories run during “Sweeps” are usually ment to get the viewers attention. So naturally they want to ramp up the bike vs car thing and drive up ratings.

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  • Lenny Anderson November 1, 2010 at 5:00 pm

    Sadly, the real story at MLK and Going is how civil most motorists are…stopping for bikes and letting us cross. I hardly expected it, and frankly it sometimes bugs me elsewhere when I have the stop sign, I stop for a car, but then the car stops and almost insist that I go first.
    Civility is not a big story with TV’s markets. Who watches this junk anyway?
    PS There is no completely safe, secure bike route in the world…every car is a potential killer.

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  • Roger November 1, 2010 at 6:12 pm

    I must say I’ve had nothing but good experiences at the MLK crossing. Cars almost always stop to let me cross. In my opinion it is far better than waiting for a light to change while inhaling car fumes.

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  • Paul in the 'couve November 1, 2010 at 7:02 pm

    I’ve ridden that crossing over a dozen times late at night and been very impressed with the courtesy of cars. I do ride to the middle and stop – but the cars in the far lanes have always stopped for me.

    I have also ridden it a half dozen time during daylight on weekends and again found it very safe and the cars very courteous.

    I agree with sentiment above. Are they just manufacturing stories? If you look hard enough you can find someone to complain about anything.

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  • Severin November 1, 2010 at 7:16 pm

    I do not live in Portland but this crossing creates physical safety since there is an island for cyclists to pause, making the crossing less risky and needing to be done in one swift move. The island is a physical buffer so no need to worry about cars turning or getting too close, waiting on the island you are basically 100% protected. This situation also creates a fine degree of subjective safety, which is NOT false safety. Cyclists generally feel safe only needing to look one direction, get to the protected island, then look one direction again and finish crossing. Subjective safety is what bring more cyclists on the streets so the overall of effect of this treatment should be very positive for Portland and the number of cyclists on the road. This treatment also allows for a more direct connection for cyclists than for motorists, further encouraging cycling as a mode of travel. Keep up the good work Portland! You have Los Angeles very jealous!

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  • Gregg Woodlawn November 1, 2010 at 7:19 pm

    I love this crossing and the Going crossing at 33rd. I’ll go out of my way to cross here.

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  • Will November 1, 2010 at 8:19 pm

    I use this crossing daily pulling a trailer with 2 kids in it and have had nothing but good experiences. If I’m in the middle, more often then not, traffic has been willing to stop for me. As others have mentioned, be aware of both lanes and make sure everyone is on the same page before crossing.

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  • aimee November 1, 2010 at 8:25 pm

    I don’t think bikes vs peds makes a difference on safety when it comes to crossing MLK – either way you have to make sure cars completely stop both ways, and getting cars to follow crosswalk law as it already stands is hard enough. It’d be great to have them spend the $ on enforcing crosswalk rules for both peds and bikes rather than more $ on special signs.

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  • Schrauf November 1, 2010 at 8:29 pm

    Based on the comments above, KGW is absolutely correct there is confusion at this intersection, and confusion combined with busy roads tends to be dangerous.

    The bike crossing is adjacent to the crosswalk, not part of the crosswalk, and therefore cars are not required to yield. Multiple comments above imply otherwise.

    On the other hand, if a bike rider chooses to ride on the sidewalk and in the crosswalk (at a slow pace), MLK traffic would be required to yield. Bikes have the same rights as pedestrian in crosswalks, unless they are traveling an unreasonable speed.

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  • Steve B November 1, 2010 at 8:32 pm

    The way cars yield here–even if it is not legally required–is a great sample of what more ‘yield to people’ areas might look like.

    The biggest asset of this crossing, besides the refuge areas, is very clear lines of visibility coupled with stop lines well far and back from the actual crossing. Cars have plenty of time to see you, and that is why they are so likely to stop at this crossing. When they do stop, they sit far back from the crosswalks and bike crossings, which is a very comforting feeling.

    I think the challenge in the future will be how to accommodate denser bike traffic across this section. Perhaps then we’ll look at signalization, which should give families and other large groups a more relaxed crossing experience across MLK.

    Greg Raisman, Kyle Chisek & PBOT should be commended for their leadership on these innovative crossings!

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  • kiel Johnson
    kiel Johnson November 1, 2010 at 9:06 pm

    Going is the only intersection I use to get across MLK since they installed that island. I use it almost every day and have never seen someone bike down the crosswalk like that video shows. I wonder if they staged someone to do it?

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  • mello yello November 1, 2010 at 9:07 pm

    Ray Thomas said a pedestrian asserts her rights to cross a street at a crosswalk(marked or unmarked) when she places a foot — or in case of a blind person a cane — out into traffic. In this regard, when I encounter busy traffic where few breaks are available for bikes to cross timely, I jump off and walk briskly, always aware of approaching vehicles. It’s good cycle-cross etiquette.

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  • CaptainKarma November 1, 2010 at 9:13 pm

    Methinks the confusion here is that people still believe TV news is journalism. Since F#X has come into being, there has been a race to the bottom, for all outlets. Like a Bruce Willis movie, if there’s a fire, explosion, or violence, it’ll be on the screen. If it’s a slow day, they’ll take a chair and sit in some bike lane to stir up a teabagger “controversey”. Kinda like William Randolf Hearst’s famous statement “You give me the pictures and I’ll give you the war.”

    I’ve put my TV out in the garage.

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  • Rip Tatermen November 1, 2010 at 9:41 pm

    How touching that KGW is concerned. They might, since they’ve ventured across the river anyway, take a look at the half dozen pedestrian crossings up and down MLK that cut a narrow gap through 3-4 ft. high ivy medians that severely limit drivers’ ability to see pedestrians in the middle of the street. Y’know, since they’re so concerned and all.
    For the record, I agree with most commenters; I take that crossing 6-8 times a week, and I too have been pleasantly surprised with how often cars stop for me. Main thing to be wary of is that the outside lane also stops once the inside has.

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  • matevz November 1, 2010 at 10:25 pm

    I cross this intersection twice a day, to and from work, and have been doing so for almost 8 years.
    I think the treatments have definitely improved conditions at that intersection. I’m consistently surprised how quickly cars stop for me once I reach the middle island (even sometimes when I first hit the edge of MLK, let alone the middle): that certainly is not my experience at crosswalks while on foot. Drivers seem to be especially aware of this intersection now that the treatments are there.
    The most noticeable change to my commute is I don’t have to wait forever to cross the intersection during peak traffic periods since I now have a place to sit in the middle of the road. I don’t feel safer (I never felt unsafe) but it is much, much easier to get through the intersection.

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  • jyyerby November 1, 2010 at 10:59 pm

    Like many of the previous comments, I’ve had nothing but good experiences at this crossing. I find it much safer to cross MLK at Going than at the light at Skidmore which is what I used to do. An added bonus is that the drivers are quite courteous in stopping to let me cross. I also get across MLK faster than if I was at the light.

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  • Hart Noecker November 1, 2010 at 11:12 pm

    You’re basically putting your life in the hands of four separate motorists at the same time. Not feeling the safe at that crossing. Get some flashing orange LED lights.

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  • resopmok November 1, 2010 at 11:35 pm

    Jonathan #22 and others –

    I’m no lawyer, but ORS is not silent or unclear about the status of bikes in a crosswalk. 814.410(d) clearly states that a cyclist (someone operating a bicycle) is in violation when using a crosswalk at a speed greater than walking. As for crossing streets outside of sidewalks, you are required to proceed in the same manner as other vehicles on the road and subject to normal traffic laws and traffic control devices.

    801.608(6) defines cyclists as vulnerable users of the roadway, but does not exempt them from the laws. But why should it? Why do we want _more_ laws to “protect” cyclists when it is a seemingly uphill battle to get road users to follow the ones that exist in the first place? We can’t make a scientific study out of it, unfortunately, but I would posit that in fact the laws we have are good enough if people would just follow them and be considerate and attentive of others on the road. That is the battle we should be fighting, resulting in the increased safety of _all_ road users and pedestrians

    Don’t let me stop you, go read the ORS vehicle code for yourself: http://www.leg.state.or.us/ors/

    Volume 17 chapters 801-826 are publicly available for your benefit. Be a responsible citizen and read through it, it will probably take you less than an hour.

    As for this crossing? I don’t really see it being anymore unsafe than any other unsignaled crosswalk. I agree with commenters who say that KGW is having a slow news day. After all, it takes pedestrians being killed repeatedly down here in SE before the news or the city thinks to examine whether a given crosswalk is really safe or not.

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  • Ted Buehler November 2, 2010 at 12:13 am

    Crossing works well for me, I use it a couple times a week.

    I do worry, though, that if a car in the near lane stops and a car in the far lane blasts through and hits a bicyclist that the bicyclist would be at fault. It’s a stop-controlled intersection, and even though there’s a (new) tradition of cars stopping there for bikes (as if bikes are pedestrians), bikes do not technically have the right of way.

    So it’s good, a huge improvement over nearby streets like Failing or Beech, but it’s also a major hazard for bicyclists, both physical and legal, on the off chance that you get hit by a car.

    Ted Buehler

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  • Jim F November 2, 2010 at 6:45 am

    Huge waste of money. No one stops for bikes at that crossing. Not sure what it was trying to accomplish, but whatever it was it didn’t happen.

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  • Jimmy P November 2, 2010 at 8:11 am

    I live further down Going St and use this twice a day every day on my commute. I love it. Cars usually stop for me almost immediately, and it’s faster and easier than Skidmore. I had far more problems crossing at Skidmore – cars turning left with me going straight, right hooks, cars honking at me to move over – than I have here. I’ve found the Going St project to be well worth it.

    I also saw them filming this on my ride home one day. I know that when I went through the intersection there were three of us on bikes and cars stopped and let us through pretty quickly. Seems like they just need something to stir the pot.

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  • Jimmy P November 2, 2010 at 8:16 am

    KGW also couldn’t resist one last swipe at cyclists, “Newschannel 8 saw cyclists ignoring posted stop signs just as often as cars passed by their designated wait line.”

    I’m still waiting for the front page article about how many motorists run stop signs and red lights.

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  • Oliver November 2, 2010 at 8:57 am

    I wasn’t aware that cars were supposed to yield to cyclists at these crossings.

    A well covered topic among my peers is the number of (over courteous) drivers in Portland who surrender their right-of-way to cyclists and the dangerous and uncertain situations caused thereby.

    If the editorial policy of KGW was less biased re: cyclists v. cars maybe they could presented that idea in a more concise way.

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  • John November 2, 2010 at 9:37 am

    @matevz & others: as a daily user of the intersection during busy commute hours, I have to agree with your experience. It’s a lot less dangerous than it used to be and cars are much more courteous.

    @Jim F & others: your experience might be that “no one stops for bikes” & I’m not questioning that. But it’s totally contrary to my own personal experience at 8am & 6pm.

    A signal light wouldn’t be a bad idea for nighttime.

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  • shirtsoff November 2, 2010 at 12:04 pm

    I find car drivers to be considerate and safe when it becomes clear that you are intending to cross MLK at Going. Despite that, I have begun using Skidmore since traffic control lights (aka stop lights) are universally understood by drivers and are less likely to be ignored than pedestrian/bicycle crossings. Perhaps this is due to the legal penalties tied with running red lights but I don’t think that is a robust enough explanation of the reasons behind this.

    Sometimes at the Going crossing I’ll peddle slowly on the pedestrian stripped crossing zone as opposed to the bike spaces since Oregon law permits a cyclist to legally operate as a pedestrian when operating the cycle at no faster than a pedestrian’s speed. There are also laws in place to penalize drivers that don’t observe pedestrians using crosswalks and thus cyclists acting as pedestrians. It is boggling that there is not something similar for cyclists traveling at more conventional speeds of 10 to 15 miles per hour.

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  • Jonathan Gordon November 2, 2010 at 12:29 pm

    Going St from NE 33rd Ave to N Vancouver Ave is my favorite piece of bicycle infrastructure in the city, bar none. The refuge island in the middle of the intersection at MLK makes it very easy to cross. I have found cars often stop when they see me waiting in there. It makes Portland feel extra civil.

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  • Owen Walz November 2, 2010 at 1:11 pm

    I’ve always felt this crossing is one of the most successful bike facilities in the city. Drivers stop for me almost every time I’ve used it, even though it’s not required of them (true?). It seems as though the design encourages care around bicyclists without imposing limits on motor vehicles or noticeably delaying traffic. The sightlines are great and the raised curb in the median area offers additional security.

    I’m sorry to hear about the bad press.

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  • jim November 2, 2010 at 2:46 pm

    I think drivers stop out of confusion about how to act. This could be a bad thing if the person crossing assumes they have the right of way and the driver doesn’t assume the same thing. perhaps some signage for the bikes to make it clear on how things work would be a safe constructive thing that might save at least 1 person

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  • gumby November 2, 2010 at 3:15 pm

    I cross at this intersection every day. The only danger I see is when one lane on MLK stops for bikes and the next lane doesn’t. I always wait until both lanes are stopped or clear, but a newbie might not know to do that.

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  • middle of the road guy November 2, 2010 at 3:34 pm

    I did not really find the article to be “anti-bike”. Too many people on this site have a persecution complex, not unlike evangelicals.

    I don’t bike this intersection and as a driver I have had to decelerate quickly several times from cyclists who ignore their stop sign.

    I’ll happily stop if the cyclist is already stopped and waiting to cross…..but running the stop signs here is just a foolish gamble.

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  • pixie November 2, 2010 at 4:14 pm

    resopmok #43 and others…

    “I’m no lawyer, but ORS is not silent or unclear about the status of bikes in a crosswalk. 814.410(d) clearly states that a cyclist (someone operating a bicycle) is in violation when using a crosswalk at a speed greater than walking. As for crossing streets outside of sidewalks, you are required to proceed in the same manner as other vehicles on the road and subject to normal traffic laws and traffic control devices.”

    This is not quite accurate. The statute in question is actually ORS 814.410(1)(d), and reads as follows:

    “(1) A person commits the offense of unsafe operation of a bicycle on a sidewalk if the person does any of the following:

    [ (a) – (c) deleted ]

    (d) Operates the bicycle at a speed greater than an ordinary walk when approaching or entering a crosswalk, approaching or crossing a driveway or crossing a curb cut or pedestrian ramp and a motor vehicle is approaching the crosswalk, driveway, curb cut or pedestrian ramp. This paragraph does not require reduced speeds for bicycles at places on sidewalks or other pedestrian ways other than places where the path for pedestrians or bicycle traffic approaches or crosses that for motor vehicle traffic.”

    [ (e) deleted ]

    Subsections (2) and (3) are also relevant to understanding subsection (1).

    ” (2) Except as otherwise specifically provided by law, a bicyclist on a sidewalk or in a crosswalk has the same rights and duties as a pedestrian on a sidewalk or in a crosswalk.
    (3) The offense described in this section, unsafe operation of a bicycle on a sidewalk, is a Class D traffic violation.”

    The violation is about improper bicycle use on sidewalks, not in crosswalks. The language in the first sentence of subsection (1)(d) is about areas of sidewalks where potential conflicts with motor vehicles might exist, not about crosswalks. In fact, the specific language referring to crosswalks is “when approaching or entering a crosswalk,” which is not exactly the same as “using a crosswalk.” Furthermore, this is only a violation when the second condition of the sentence is met: “…and a motor vehicle is approaching the crosswalk, driveway, curb cut or pedestrian ramp.”

    Also, the second sentence of subsection (1)(d) indicates that you do not have to reduce your speed when riding a bike on a sidewalk other than in situations “where the path for pedestrians or bicycle traffic approaches or crosses that for motor vehicle traffic.” Subsection (2) then says, subject to exceptions, bicylists have the same rights and duties as pedestrians “in a crosswalk.”

    Given that many people reduce this statute to (1) Bikes must travel at the speed of a pedestrian when using a crosswalk and/or (2) Bikes using sidewalks must travel at the speed of a pedestrian, I would argue that the laws regarding bicycles can be unclear and confusing to all road users, even lawyers. In general, bicycles are treated as vehicles, but sometimes there are special rules for bikes only, and sometimes, as in this case, a bicyclist may be considered to have the same rights and duties as a pedestrian when “on a sidewalk or in a crosswalk.”

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  • Paul Cone November 2, 2010 at 4:20 pm

    A big question for me here is what is actually considered a crosswalk? The corners are linked by ladder bar pavement markings, which clearly define the crosswalk, but the cuts through the island for cyclists are not marked as they cross MLK — they are only marked in the middle of the island, markings that seem to be for the bike rider to see where to cross, and not for car drivers to recognize bikes cross there. The only indication to car drivers is the warning signs. Is the part of the crossing intended for cyclists part of the “crosswalk”? (Or would that be a “crossride”?)

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  • El Biciclero November 2, 2010 at 4:46 pm


    From the description of things, I don’t think this crossing imparts any new right-of-way for bicycles, i.e., it is not a “crosswalk for bikes”. Drivers are NOT obligated to yield to bikes at this crossing. The only improvement was to provide a center refuge so that cyclists only have to yield to one direction of motor traffic at a time–but they still must yield to motor traffic. Pedestrians in the crosswalk DO have right-of-way, and motorists are obligated to stop for them. I think this is why some cyclists are tempted to scoot over to the crosswalk instead of using the intended bike crossing.

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  • Grand Master November 2, 2010 at 7:57 pm

    I use this cross often. I live on Alberta near Albina. I consider myself an accomplished cyclist but I do not feel safe at all riding on Alberta, my own street! If I want to go to a location further down on Alberta, say the CCC or Don Poncho’s, I go out of my way several blocks to use this crossing at MLK and the Going bike boulevard, where I feel much safer. I too, like many of the other readers, am surprised about how motorists stop for cyclists at this intersection especially since there is no legal obligation to do so. I would like to personally thank all of the motorists who look out for cyclists safety.

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  • jim November 3, 2010 at 8:42 am

    I for one am happy to see a cyclist that did stop at the crosswalk and not just ride out inbetween the cars, I will most often stop for them just to give them a break.

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  • why not skidmore? November 4, 2010 at 12:04 am

    One more spot where skidmore would have made the better greenway than going… skidmore has a signal already.

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  • are November 4, 2010 at 11:54 am

    re comment 61, no doubt there were discussions about this at the open houses preceding the rollout. crossing 15th, the logic is somewhat reversed, as skidmore is just down a rather steep hill from prescott, with a blind curve coming out of the light. and along the entire route, it may make sense to stay on top of the ridge, so that anyone using the bike route to connect to alberta does not have to climb another hill and cross prescott again. but in working out similar issues with the klickitat route, the city was willing to go with siskiyou where appropriate and then connect back to klickitat.

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