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Citizen activists request fixes to make streetcar tracks safer for cycling

Posted by on December 13th, 2010 at 3:53 pm

The Eastside Streetcar Loop project has radically transformed Portland streets and citizen activists think more should be done to improve bike safety.
(Photos © J. Maus)

Volunteers working with Active Right of Way (AROW), a grassroots, Portland-based transportation advocacy group, have launched a campaign to make the newly constructed streetcar tracks in the Pearl District and on the Eastside safer for cycling. The effort is being led by AROW volunteer Amos Hunter, who has created the Streetcar Safety Working Group. The group — which included Chris Smith as a representative from Portland Streetcar Inc. and met for the first time last week — is concerned that new streetcar tracks laid down as part of the Eastside Streetcar Loop project have created several bike safety issues that are in need of immediate attention.

Streetcar tracks

The new streetcar tracks on NW Lovejoy, NE Broadway, and on Martin Luther King Jr. and Grand Boulevards have brought major changes to designated bikeways and the roadway surface in general. While the public right-of-way has changed considerably, there is concern that not enough has been done to warn of potential safety hazards the tracks create for people riding bicycles.

Hunter and several other volunteers will sign onto a letter (PDF) outlining four immediate concerns (listed below) that will be published on the AROW website in the coming days and then sent to Mayor Sam Adams and officials with Portland Streetcar Inc. The activists are also working on a more comprehensive list of concerns, but their focus now are problems that, “should be addressed and resolved at once.”

Here is a summary of the list of immediate concerns along with proposed actions:

Broadway and Larrabee observations-4

A truck turns right from Broadway onto Larrabee.

1) Problem: Increased potential for right hook crashes
Location(s): NE Broadway and N Larrabee Ave; N Broadway and N Williams Ave. (Lane configurations have been changed at both locations due to presence of streetcar line).
Fix Requested: Install a bike box on Broadway at Larrabee. Request immediate special traffic enforcement of right turn yield to bicycle lane compliance in these areas.

2) Problem: Unsigned/unmarked hazardous conditions on Lovejoy ramp.
Location(s): Westbound NW Lovejoy St lanes between NW Broadway and NW 9th Ave
Fix Requested: Temporary signage approaching or at the beginning of the ramp (westbound) alerting bicycle traffic to changes in traffic movement, (new right turn at 9th, slow for sharp turn); potential for track/wheel entrapment, and instructing “jug-handle” left turn maneuver.

3) Problem: Lack of way-finding to and around the new Lovejoy couplet. Lovejoy used to be the designated bike route in and out of Northwest but the streetcar project has all but decommissioned the street for bike use.
Location(s): NW Lovejoy St and connecting avenues between NW 9th and NW 13th.
Fix Requested: Way-finding signs should be placed to direct bicycle traffic through and around the new design as they approach Lovejoy from side streets.

streetcar tracks sign modification-1.jpg

Despite miles of new tracks, Portland
Streetcar Inc has not installed any
bicycle-specific signage.

4) Problem: Wheel entrapment and slip hazard on new east-side rail installations.
Location(s): NE Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and NE Grand Avenues
Fix Requested: Temporary signs warning of track hazard should be placed during construction at any point where new rail installation begins in the pavement. Permanent signs warning of track hazard should be placed where bike routes cross the alignment, where the tracks change lanes, or where the tracks turn on or off of the street.

Below is a Google Map of the problem locations created by Active Right of Way Streetcar Safety Working Group. You can also download the letter which details the problems and solutions here (PDF).

View Streetcar Loop Bicycle Safety Meeting 120810 in a larger map

Hunter and others involved in the Streetcar Safety Working Group have scheduled a meeting with Portland Streetcar Inc. to address these and other concerns for the first week in January.

Do you bike around the new streetcar tracks? How has the new treatment of Lovejoy treated you?

Stay tuned for more updates on this campaign. If you’d like to get involved, learn more at or email info[at]activerightwofway[dot]org.

Please support BikePortland.

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

  • Jackattak December 13, 2010 at 4:00 pm

    Love the gator in the streetcar track hazard sign ready to eat the bicyclist!

    I love this town. 🙂

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  • Barbara Kilts December 13, 2010 at 4:17 pm

    Second the love for the lurking gator hazard sign! My fractured collar-bone shoulder tenses up when I ride around tracks, heck, I even get the heebie-jeebies when I’m driving my car along tracks… But, it all is a good thing, right?

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  • toddistic December 13, 2010 at 4:17 pm

    wear your helmut!

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  • Ed December 13, 2010 at 4:25 pm

    I either just bike on NW Johnson to get to the broadway bridge or the NW Marshall designated street. However, there is no green box on the NW Lovejoy and NW 13th intersection (coming west on Lovejoy) for the cyclists to stop and wait for the light to turn left onto NW Marshall, like the green box on NW 9th and Lovejoy coming down from the bridge.

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  • Schrauf December 13, 2010 at 4:33 pm

    Lovejoy through the Pearl is a disaster. I bike all over this city, and often enjoy mixing it up on busy streets when no low-traffic bike route is available, but there is no way around Lovejoy from the bridge ramp west that is in any way somewhat efficient. The so-called bike route has stop signs almost every block. Really? My least favorite bike route used to be Tillamook because there are too many stop signs. I have a new least favorite. Lovejoy bike infrastructure = FAIL. I might start using Lovejoy again, even though I will be in the middle lane to avoid the tracks (although there are some nasty track intersections even in the middle lane). Don’t forget your bunny hop and front wheel unweighting.

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  • Nick V December 13, 2010 at 4:38 pm

    For my money, if I remember correctly, NW Hoyt is much more bike-friendly than Lovejoy if you’re headed towards the river. Though you have to sort of weave your way there if you’re up around 20th……

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  • dan December 13, 2010 at 4:52 pm

    Eastside streetcar is going to be fantastic for distillery/bar crawls, but other than that, who are the expected riders?

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    • Paul Johnson December 13, 2010 at 8:16 pm

      If you build infrastructure, people will use it. God knows that the Hawthorne Bridge gets too much traffic these days.

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      • dan December 13, 2010 at 8:20 pm

        No argument on the Hawthorne Bridge, but I feel that transit fits into a different category. I don’t hear that the tram is running over capacity, y’know?

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        • Paul Johnson December 13, 2010 at 8:33 pm

          If you build it, they will come. It applies to any mode of transportation. Build more bicycle facilities, more people will bike. Build more streetcar lines, more people will take the streetcar. Build more freeway lanes, and…shocking concept…more people will drive.

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  • Red Five December 13, 2010 at 5:02 pm

    Stay off the tracks?

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  • K'Tesh December 13, 2010 at 5:03 pm

    Witnessed a cyclist bite it on 10th and Alder last week. I took pictures of his hands and messed up bike, and suggested he contact Ray Thomas.

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    • cold worker December 13, 2010 at 5:51 pm

      no. why? what does ray thomas have to do with his falling? there is danger in everything we do. the tracks add a bit of that to cycling. big deal. adapt. ride skillfully and cautiously. he’ll remember that he needs to be cautious in the future. it’s ok, he’ll survive. we can co-exist with streetcars.

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  • K'Tesh December 13, 2010 at 5:04 pm
    • Red Five December 13, 2010 at 6:11 pm

      Lovin’ that crooked seat. That might actually catch here in good ‘ol weird Portland.

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  • April December 13, 2010 at 6:28 pm

    Is there any way to “rough up” the tracks so they’re less slippery? I’ve twice fallen on wet tracks because my bike slid out from under me. It’s made so paranoid that unless I have a totally perpendicular path across, I put a foot down or get off and walk the bike.

    Coming down Ankeny, you turn onto Grand (or MLK, I get them mixed up) before turning left on Couch…it means you almost have to turn ON the tracks. Yikes!

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    • Paul Johnson December 13, 2010 at 8:15 pm

      Cross ’em perpendicular and get over it. I thought this would be common sense by now…Portland has only had trains running in the streets for 120 years now.

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      • NameWithheldThisTime December 14, 2010 at 8:36 am

        Paul, true enough, but this photo from K’Tesh shows the problem quite clearly, I think.

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        • Paul Johnson December 14, 2010 at 10:31 am

          Having lived and worked in downtown Portland for several years, I’m quite familiar with the streetcar tracks and the hazards they present. On most streets, there is at least one other lane open, minimizing potential exposure if you have good lane choice, barring approaches for right turns. I’m really not sure what people are asking for on this issue other than to have the City alleviate bicyclists from making appropriate driving decisions and excersizing basic caution on the road.

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          • Steve B December 15, 2010 at 9:32 pm

            Paul, I respect your experience, but it is not consistent with what we’ve heard loud and clear over and over again from many Portlanders: it’s a real problem, and it’s not because of a simple ‘education’ lapse. Many veteran cyclists fall on the tracks. There is data to back this up.

            The city is working to make the ‘Interested but Concerned’ demographic feel more comfortable using a bicycle around the city, so telling these folks to ‘just get over it’ is not an option.

            There are opportunities for these conflicts to be engineered out, and mitigated when alternatives are not viable or are too late to the process.

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      • matt picio December 14, 2010 at 10:20 am

        Paul, that works great when you *can* cross perpendicular. Many crossings in Portland are difficult or impossible to cross at a 90 degree angle (or sometimes even at a 45).

        Personally, I always hop my front wheel over the track when crossing. Bike balance can generally survive the back wheel falling into the track, but almost never the front wheel. I also tend to ride with wider tires that are less likely to get “sucked in”.

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        • Paul Johnson December 14, 2010 at 10:35 am

          It’s a lot easier with the right tires. I switched from 1″ Nimbus to 2.5″ Nimbus tires to be able to better negotiate lane changes on streetcar tracks. It’s really a no-brainer.

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          • eric December 15, 2010 at 11:44 am

            Not everyone can switch to fat tires. Really this is about a little help with alternate routes, appropriate signage, and vehicle behavior control to make it easier to negotiate the tracks for the walking-speed streetcar.

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  • Jerry_W December 13, 2010 at 6:31 pm

    No blood on the hands, move the brake lever back, straighten the seat, that was a pretty soft landing. Is a lawyer really called for here???? Come on!

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    • El Biciclero December 14, 2010 at 4:01 pm

      No blood on the hands, pull the dent out of the door panel, spray-paint over the scratches–is a lawyer really called for?

      I love the way those who get around on bikes accept their 2nd-class position in the world and scold others for not doing the same. If we think about all the “whiny” complaints made by cyclists, and think about what would be tolerated by car drivers if they had to operate under similar conditions, we find that most cyclist complaints aren’t so whiny after all.

      Let’s say that instead of street cars, we wanted to put in a vast subterranean pedestrian tunnel network served by elevators that popped up out of the middle of the street. To allow for these elevators, we’re just going to leave a bunch of wide-open holes big enough to swallow a car tire and cause the car to crash. To protect the car drivers and their cars, we’re going to tell them “be careful!” and “maybe drive on other streets, ‘k?” Exactly how long does anyone think that would be tolerated? The outcry would be loud and furious, and swift action would be taken immediately. Drivers who complained about this kind of situation would not be considered “whiners” and told to “get over it”–the situation WOULD BE FIXED to accommodate drivers.

      Why do we accept less as cyclists?

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  • Ben Foote December 13, 2010 at 6:31 pm

    I keep on looking at N Dixon when I look at the Broadway bridge approach on maps, and wonder if it couldn’t be reconnected to Flint, and thereby bypass Broadway for traffic coming from North Portland.

    Westbound that would be
    – Flint to
    – Dixon to
    – Larabee to
    – The Broadway Bridge

    Eastbound coming off the bridge you could perform a two phase left at Broadway and Larabee to go back to Dixon.

    I haven’t ridden this yet to feel it out. Looking at the parking lots, offices and municipal facilities on Dixon it might not be such a vast improvement.

    The one shining star in this concept of reconnection is that Multnomah County owns one of the two parking lots that currently separates Flint from Dixon.

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  • sabernar December 13, 2010 at 6:32 pm

    Solution: ride on any one of the other hundred roads that do NOT have a streetcar on them.

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    • Red Five December 13, 2010 at 6:47 pm

      sabernar: STOP IT! You’re making sense.

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    • are December 14, 2010 at 7:42 am

      in fairness, if you are going across the broadway bridge, you gotta deal with these rails one way or another. have not yet tried out the lovejoy ramp, but it does not look promising. the lane striping at larrabee is inexcusable.

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    • matt picio December 14, 2010 at 10:24 am

      sabernar – what if your destination is on that road? I don’t think it’s unreasonable to ask that tracks be made safe for bicycles. It’s not 1880 anymore – we have technology to make tracks safer that didn’t exist when trains and bikes were both new technologies.

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    • Hank December 14, 2010 at 10:30 am

      Seriously, I’ve been using a bike as my main way of getting around for 4 years now and it’s not hard to avoid the streetcar lines. I love the streetcar and the max, but anybody who thinks their tracks are bike lanes is delusional. Stick with side streets and we’ll all get where we’re going safer, faster and happier.

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  • Paul Johnson December 13, 2010 at 8:14 pm

    Rather than nitpicking minor details for the “haves” like AROW is doing, maybe they should be advocating for the “have nots,” like pretty much every city that isn’t Portland or Eugene.

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    • matt picio December 14, 2010 at 10:22 am

      AROW is a Portland organization, so of course that’s their focus. In any case, why not? There’s still plenty of room for improvement, and if Portland sits on its laurels, it’ll never get the bicycle mode share the city has set in its sights. Portland’s more bikeable and walkable than most cities, but it has a long way to go to be as people-friendly as Copenhagen or Amsterdam.

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      • Paul Johnson December 14, 2010 at 10:37 am

        Because we already have the People’s Department of Transportation, the BTA, and a plethora of other Portland-specific groups. What we need now is a group that is willing to take lessons learned in Portland and advocate for national adoption.

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        • Ryan Good December 15, 2010 at 11:05 am

          The best way we can help those other cities is to work to make Portalnd an even better cycling city. When a city becomes a world-class cycling city, other cities and organizations send their people there to learn how they can follow suit.

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          • Paul Johnson December 15, 2010 at 8:38 pm

            Can you hear the real world from the ivory tower? There’s people outside Portland, too, you know.

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  • Paul Johnson December 13, 2010 at 8:18 pm

    Reading some of the comments in this thread, you’d think Portland cyclists had difficulties negotiating basic street hazards. That, and the numerous threads in the past about textured lane lines and people too incompetent to negotiated those successfully…

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    • are December 14, 2010 at 7:47 am

      while i do get what you are saying, the fact is that the city has put in some fresh hazards here, and the risks are all placed on bicyclists. road engineering generally tries to take difficulties down to a common denominator where even a rather stupid motorist will not get hurt. the same criteria are not applied to cyclists, though PBoT claims to be trying to entice grandma and the kids to get out on bikes.

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  • Todd Boulanger December 13, 2010 at 8:36 pm

    As for the older streetcar tracks…I have not had too much difficulty (even some benefit – it’s easier to take the tram lane since many drivers rather use the left lane). Many cyclists that I see having trouble seem not too savvy about lane placement (riding the narrow curb zone) or are going too fast for their equipment (wet roads or too narrow tires <32mm) etc.

    As for the east side I do not yet have an opinion – need more time to observe. But the faster multi lane arterial traffic, poorer driver behaviour, and longer grades may be a bigger effect on bicyclist safety. Time to break out a more successful Portland style education effort (vs the one used in phase 1.0) for this new network.

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    • Paul Johnson December 13, 2010 at 9:07 pm

      That seems to be the biggest group of whiners, folks who ride downtown without the proper equipment. Of course barely maintained roads are going to be wheel grabbers for folks with itty bitty tires…that’s why you build a city bike with 2+” wide slicks.

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      • are December 14, 2010 at 7:48 am

        28 mm is plenty if you are willing to assert a space in the travel lane

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        • Paul Johnson December 14, 2010 at 10:22 am

          First, bicycle lanes are travel lanes, I’m pretty sure you meant mixed lanes. Second, if you’re not willing to assert space in mixed traffic lanes, you probably shouldn’t be riding downtown to start with. Though with skinny tires, you’re not leaving much of an out to avoid obstacles or sudden hazards very easily. Sure, you can drive a screw in with a hammer, but that doesn’t make it the ideal tool for the job.

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          • eric December 15, 2010 at 11:47 am

            Yeah, sure blame the equipment. That’s a really good point. Honestly judge, she was asking for it!

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  • Rebecca December 13, 2010 at 9:27 pm

    Overton is a great route if you’re headed to NW off the Broadway Bridge. Low traffic, few stop signs, and you dodge the streetcar tracks all together.

    That is, if you can still make the right turn off of the bridge? The configuration seems to change hourly.

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  • Seth Alford December 14, 2010 at 4:36 am

    How come when we talk about Barbur, the idea is that the city/county/ODOT has to install grade separated raised cycle tracks to make people feel comfortable (see the other posting on Friends of Barbur for more details.) Yet when we talk about rail in the street, which is a known hazard, bicyclists just have to suck it up?

    Known hazard? Yes. From the OHSU bicycle commuter study: “Poor roadway surface conditions were a factor in 40 (21%) traumatic events and 10 (20%) serious traumatic events: tracks on the road, loose gravel, and steel plates were cited most often.”

    How about we don’t build any more railroad tracks in the street? And, we convert the existing street car lines to bus trolleys like they have in Seattle, and rip out the existing rail?

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    • Jackattak December 14, 2010 at 8:37 am


      Do you have any idea how enormous of a cost that would be? All in the name of making the roads ~10% safer for cyclists who could just take a little more time in being cautious around these “obstacles”? It’s not like we’re all falling down in Streetcar tracks left and right.

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      • OnTheRoad December 14, 2010 at 9:42 am

        And just think how much money we would have saved if we had not installed the rails in the first place. Trolleybuses would have served the same transportation purpose and also would have been more versatile if a route had to be moved or modified for some reason.

        The only reason we are putting down rails is so that we can show the businesses 2 blocks away (who are being tax surcharged for the streetcar) that the investment is somewhat permanent.

        The streetcar should not be looked at as a transportation infrastructure, but as an economic development project.

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        • Jackattak December 14, 2010 at 10:51 am

          I certainly don’t disagree. I live Downtown and I use the Streetcar perhaps once or twice per quarter. I primarily walk (when the weather is this bad) and bike otherwise. The Streetcar is about as useless to a fit, fast walker/cyclist as a car with no wheels.

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  • voline December 14, 2010 at 6:27 am

    I work at NW 21st and live in SE, so I have to get through Streetcarland daily. Coming over Broadway your two best choices to get beyond 405 are Johnson to the South or, as Rebecca says, Overton to the North. Just get off Lovejoy as soon as soon as you come down off the Broadway Bridge ramp.

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  • Jack December 14, 2010 at 7:48 am

    Last Friday night I got taken down by the new street car tracks on Lovejoy, sort of. I was on my mtn bike with tires too wide to get stuck in the tracks. Instead, I got caught in a deep pothole that exists between the new pavement surrounding the tracks and the very old pavement beyond.

    I think I’ll put in a call to the pot-hole hotline today.

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  • peejay December 14, 2010 at 8:22 am

    Hate the idea that we’re fixing bad design with warning signs. Just fix the %#*£ design!

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  • bobcycle December 14, 2010 at 8:25 am

    Some interesting viewpoints have been posted. Some think its not the road hazards its that my tires are to narrow. Maybe we should all be on 3 wheel recumbents, or wide tires with cyclocross skills. I’ll have to go with if the city adds changes that increase possibility of injury they should be open to input. And yes sometimes you have to get lawyers involved to be taken seriously, but I don’t think we are at that point yet for this.

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    • davemess December 14, 2010 at 6:10 pm

      actually cyclocross uses pretty skinny tires (at least by the standards of this conversation), like 33s. Seriously 2″ tires, people? I agree that skill and common sense should play into riding around the tracks (How about slowing down when you get near tracks?), but I should be able to roll around town on 25c tires.

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  • Jim Lee December 14, 2010 at 9:25 am

    I raised the point with Chris Smith that the fancy detours around Lovejoy were over-engineered fixes to a secondary problem. To me it makes no sense to turn a few blocks of a street into a one-way blockade just to reduce the potential of cyclists’ encountering difficulty crossing tracks.

    Chris disagrees. Apparently the design was developed by PBOT and other professional entities.

    Cycling epitomizes simple and direct transport. Complicating it with devious devices borrowed from traffic engineering for motor cars overcomplicates what inherently is simple, enjoyable, direct transport from one point to another.

    I grew up in Saint Louis and rode streetcars everywhere every day. I learned to ride a bike there too. To me the worst place to cycle in Portland is north on 10th because of the tracks and the tire-grabbing grates between them.

    Maybe streetcars and bikes just do not mix.

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    • Paul Johnson December 14, 2010 at 10:32 am

      I’m aware of grates between the rails, but could you provide a photographic example of a tire-grabbing one? Thus far, I can only recall encountering bicycle-friendly crosshatch grates between the tracks.

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  • Den December 14, 2010 at 9:35 am

    I love streetcars! and Bikes!

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  • Skid December 14, 2010 at 9:53 am

    The alligator on the streetsign is a reference to Pitfall, an Activision game cartridge for Atari. Nerdy.

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  • cyclist December 14, 2010 at 10:55 am

    Jim Lee: Those of us who know how to ride on a street with tracks in it should continue to ride Lovejoy the way they always have, but it seems that there’s a segment of the bike population that is unable to ride safely and/or confidently next to rails. I’d advocate that those people ride an alternate route.

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  • esther c December 14, 2010 at 11:13 am

    One trouble with riding next to rails is you have no where to go when a car starts to invade your space.

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    • Jackattak December 14, 2010 at 11:17 am

      Take the lane!

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  • BURR December 14, 2010 at 11:27 am

    good effort which I support; unfortunately, I think it falls in the too little too late category

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    • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) December 14, 2010 at 11:32 am

      I don’t think it’s ever too late to get PBOT and Portland Streetcar Inc. to begin to do more to mitigate the impacts their projects have on people who ride bikes.

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  • BURR December 14, 2010 at 11:44 am

    once the tracks are laid and the concrete is poured, there is little incentive to change anything; A bike box at NE Broadway and Larrabee, for example, will only be a bandaid solution to a now cast-in-concrete design flaw.

    OTOH, I don’t really understand why they couldn’t just keep the old lane configuration at that particular location, regardless of the presence of the new streetcar tracks.

    And if that is absolutely not possible, my preferred solution would not be a bike box at the intersection, it would be ending the bike lane at least one full block if not two before the intersection and making the right lane a shared bike – RTOL lane, with sharrows markings, that gives cyclists time to merge left to the proper lane positioning for the bridge well prior to the intersection.

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  • Unit December 14, 2010 at 11:47 am

    I’m not sure adding signs that state the obvious accomplishes anything. Other than a nice place to add humorous stickers.

    The comments about taking out tracks or converting them to buses – for the benefit of a few cyclists – always annoys me. It smacks of the same myopic sentiment of drivers that don’t think bikes belong on the roads.

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    • Paul Johnson December 14, 2010 at 8:21 pm

      What is obvious to someone driving a bicycle isn’t obvious to someone driving a car. The sign is more for the benefit of bicycle drivers who are likely to get caught up in the track, providing warning to motorists who aren’t necessarily aware of the hazard they pose. Portland has a lot of tourists, after all.

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  • rhoneyfi December 14, 2010 at 11:58 am

    Roads change, adapt your habits to get safely from point A to B. If a stop sign or speedbump gets put in, will we raise our fists in fury….I hope not. Adapt.

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  • Paul Souders December 14, 2010 at 12:13 pm

    There are two kinds of cyclists in Portland: those who’ve injured themselves on a rail crossing, and those who will.

    When *Mia Birk* of all people bites it on a track crossing, (!/BikePortland/status/14739186783354880) I think we can finally put to rest this notion that such accidents are always the fault of rider error.

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    • Paul Johnson December 14, 2010 at 8:22 pm

      You’re missing the third group: Those who know how to ride on streets with tracks.

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    • are December 15, 2010 at 4:24 pm

      i don’t think mia herself claims that this crash was not a result of her error

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  • Jay Hersh December 14, 2010 at 1:07 pm

    Bunny hop.

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  • Jim Lee December 14, 2010 at 1:10 pm

    Paul Johnson:

    When the streetcar was new on SW 10th I was riding a trusty Schwinn Continental–custom 27 inch wheels and Nexus hub–and the lateral grates between the tracks seemed ready to reach out and grab my 1 1/4 inch tires.

    Other than that, riding between the tracks was cool–so long as one was going straight. To get out I’d just stop at a light and walk the bike out at a 90 degree angle.

    Now I just take the left lane, farthest from the tracks.


    I’d advocate riding west on Lovejoy too–I’ve seen folks do it–but it is wrong-way on a one-way street. Ticket bait.


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  • Skid December 14, 2010 at 1:54 pm

    Day one: Go down the road fall on the tracks.

    Day two: Go down the same road fall on the same tracks.

    Day three: Go down a different road.

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  • cyclist December 14, 2010 at 4:11 pm

    Paul Souders: You’re totally right, those tracks must have just jumped out at her, they’re so unpredictable!

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  • K'Tesh December 14, 2010 at 4:24 pm

    Who really has X-Ray vision to determine whether or not he has sprained or broken his wrist? Hell, even with X-Rays it took 3 weeks before some bothered to do a MRI on my leg (then found two breaks, and a torn ligament).

    Now, in this case, I didn’t get the shot before he wiped his hands off on his pants leg, and I know that Ray’s documenting the number of crashes involved.

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  • Steven Vance December 14, 2010 at 4:25 pm

    Use rubber filled flangeways at problem spots (where the most turning occurs).


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  • Amos Hunter December 14, 2010 at 4:28 pm

    Thanks for the hearty discussion everyone, regardless of your stance on the issue the sheer volume of folks who have something to say about this helps assure me that it is an important project.

    I’ll take some of this input back to the group when we meet again this week for discussion. Not all of it, but some 🙂

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  • Jennie C. December 14, 2010 at 5:08 pm

    The big thing I have noticed lately is how close the cars get to the bike lane on the Lovejoy ramp because they are trying to avoid driving on the tracks. Offsetting their wheels means that drivers are now a lot closer to the bike lane on both the east and west-bound sides, and there is not a lot of room for them to pass cyclists. This has happened to me numerous times now, where there isn’t enough room for a car to drive next to me and they crawl behind until I am at the bottom/top of the ramp. It might change once the cones are gone and everyone feels like they have more breathing room, but it worries me and makes me want to take the ramp sidewalk.

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    • are December 14, 2010 at 10:53 pm

      agreed. even before the streetcar tracks went in, it was a mistake to stripe a bike lane on the lovejoy ramp westbound. this should be designated a shared space (i.e., sharrows).

      finally had a chance to try this out on my way down to the BAC meeting tonight. as a practical matter, it is no longer really feasible to cross into the left turn lane on the descent, so i guess the copenhagen box at the bottom is at least something. slightly surprised PBoT has not simply designated the rather wide sidewalk there an MUP.

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      • BURR December 16, 2010 at 1:41 pm

        I agree as well, bike lanes in the uphill climbing direction are appropriate, but bike lanes on downhill descents just create more hazards for cyclists than they mitigate.

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  • esther c December 15, 2010 at 1:04 am

    Myself, I find the mishmash of streetcar tracks and Max tracks confusing while driving. I don’t drive downtown much because I’m usually on my bike. I find it confusing that you can drive on the streetcar tracks but can’t on the Max tracks.

    I wrecked on the tracks in the Pearl in spring. Was out of work for 4 months with a fractured clavicle that required surgery. My medical bills came to around 25 grand. I was lucky and I have sick time at work and double insurance coverage.

    Yes, the accident was my fault. But guess what. Humans aren’t perfect, we make mistakes. A simple mistake like that and for someone less fortunate than me who didn’t have insurance and sick time it could have been a disaster financially.

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  • cyclist December 15, 2010 at 8:26 am

    esther: It’s pretty simple. On the bus mall there is a solid white line (with raised bumps) separating the far right lane from the other two lanes. A solid white line indicates that lane changes are not allowed. On the two right lanes, there are marking in the lane on every block that say BUS ONLY. This indicates that auto (and bike) traffic is confined to the far left lane. On 10th, on the other hand, the lanes are separated by broken white lines that indicate the changing lanes is allowed, and there are no lane marking indicating the lane use is restricted. Autos and bikes are therefore allowed on the streetcar tracks.

    These are standard rules of the road, and hold true for bikes as well as cars. If you’re not familiar with what lane markings mean, I recommend you head to the DMV and pick up a pamphlet, all of the information you need will be in there.

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  • Jim Lee December 15, 2010 at 11:30 am

    A tremendous number of good ideas has been expressed in this thread. Clearly this is an issue of major importance to cyclists–and others–in our city.

    I suggest that there be a formal symposium, perhaps hosted by PBOT and moderated by Jonathan, at which we could get together and thrash out some sort of consensus.

    This should not be taken as criticism of PBOT, Portland Streetcar, professional design organizations. These entities have done excellent work trying to comprise increasingly complex interactions among diverse modes of urban transport. They ought to welcome user feedback.

    Bikes and streetcars have been interacting for more than a century–pedestrians as well, of course. Great knowledge and experience exist. But we need to focus on workable solutions for out city.

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    • Amos Hunter December 15, 2010 at 12:46 pm

      Some wonderful ideas, Jim. One thing we’ve realized during this process already is that the planning for these kinds of installations takes a long time, and in order for our interests to be considered the best approach is to get involved at the beginning of the process (although sometimes things just need to be modified after the design phase, this particular project was initiated 10 years ago, imagine what has changed since then!).

      A wonderful opportunity is approaching, as pointed out in our meetings by Chris Smith, to help direct the focus of bicycle safety if the Lake Oswego steering committees choose this coming January to plan a streetcar loop through the area. I expect Jonathan and this group will help publicize those meetings once they are scheduled, and input from people like you would be of great value. Even if you have no direct stake in the L.O. area’s transit plan decisions made during this process could help set a precedent for all future projects in the region.

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      • Michael Miller December 17, 2010 at 2:15 pm

        One thing Portland Streetcar could do to would be to make better information available online, throughout the process. The graphic design info that they make easily available is the least that I’ve seen of any transit projects — I don’t recall ever seeing anything more detailed than the full-loop, one-page Loop Project Map ( That doesn’t indicate which lane the tracks are in, gives only a rough idea of stop locations, and doesn’t even make clear the track configuration at the Lovejoy/10th/11th tie-in.

        Streetcar should be posting design drawings throughout the process, with enough detail for people to understand what is being proposed. Frankly, the level of info that Streetcar makes available makes it look like they are trying to keep the process closed.

        PBOT seems to do a reasonably good job of this on their own projects — e.g I can download the PDFs of the Division Street project and see where every new curb extension, stormwater facility, new tree, marked crosswalk, etc., will be. And those have been updated periodically throughout the design process.

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    • BURR December 16, 2010 at 1:44 pm

      I disagree, PBOT and Portland streetcar really need to do a lot more vetting of their designs long before any concrete is poured.

      If either of these organizations had actually done their jobs right, we wouldn’t be dealing with mitigating obvious and serious design flaws in the final product.

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  • Marc R December 16, 2010 at 12:57 am

    I was a very experienced road cyclist, and in fact commuting mid-day between Mt. hood Comm. Coll. and PCC Rock Creek (it was going to be a 50 mile day) when a second of inattention (more worried about moving over to let cards pass than my own safety) cost me over $20,000 in medical bills when I went down on the tri-Met tracks which cross E. Burnside OBLIQUELY near Gateway. just a litle broken hip. So I don’t really appreciate Paul Johnson’ reamrks. Much better warning signs are needed – and/or something else creative. Mr. Johnson can act very savvy until the moment when he’s not, and then might pay with his life.

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    • Paul Johnson December 16, 2010 at 11:22 am

      So…how exactly is spending more money on signage, when existing signage already exceeds USDOT standards, going to help if you’re not paying attention to the road conditions in the first place?

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  • David Parsons December 16, 2010 at 9:41 am

    But if you’re not paying attention how will more warning signs help? In my experience, the railroad tracks going across the road in front of you are much more obvious than the various signs that the highway department puts up to warn motorists that there are tracks ahead.

    On the safety front, being really paranoid all the time is the best approach, but failing that getting wider or toothier tires which either are too wide to fall into flangeways or are too grippy to slide sideways on rain-slick rail (and the latter are also good against Portland’s autumn leaffall of doom) are pretty good defenses against having your front wheel eaten.

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