Unofficial sign says “Be Safe,” don’t ride on NE Ainsworth

A new, unofficial sign at NE Ainsworth and 30th (westbound) urges people to ride one block over.
(Photo: Stephen Upchurch)

A new, unauthorized traffic sign attached to a utility pole on NE Ainsworth Street at 30th urges people on bikes to leave the narrow, busy street and take the neighborhood greenway one block over instead. Nearby resident Stephen Upchurch sent in a photo of the sign. It reads, “Bike route one block [arrow]: Be SAFE.”

“The sign is, in my mind, symbolic of that tension. Tension that arises out of the unfortunate way that the street is set up.”
— Stephen Upchurch, nearby resident

The sign touches on what has become a major debate in bike and transportation planning circles as cities across the country develop bike boulevard networks: Should people continue to ride on busy, narrow streets when there is a bike-specific, low-stress route just one block over?

Former Portland bike coordinator and now nationally prominent consultant and author Mia Birk penned an article about this issue recently that appeared in the Portland Tribune. The headline itself, Are cyclists clueless or just plain rude? spoke to the heated feelings around this issue.

Ainsworth specifically, is in many ways ground zero for this debate because of its extremely narrow cross-section. Despite being a major neighborhood collector street that serves a relatively high volume of traffic, a “linear arboretum” that runs down its center and on-street parking make it too narrow for people on bikes and cars to travel side-by-side.

Not much space on Ainsworth.
(Photo: Peter Welte)

And who can forget the famous “Ainsworth Incident” back in 2008 when a Portland Police officer nearly struck a group of people riding on Ainsworth and then issued one of them a ticket for impeding traffic.

We’ve offered suggestions on how the City might improve access on Ainsworth; but so far we’re not aware of any changes in the works.

This brings us back to the “Be SAFE” sign. Mr. Upchurch shared some of his feelings about the street with us via email:

“[The sign] attempts to direct those on bikes toward what is termed a “Bike route” accompanied by the suggestion that being SAFE is taking that route. That’s presumably Holman the neighborhood greenway, as opposed to Ainsworth with its narrow travel lane and on-street parking that combine to squeeze bikes and cars and any tension within their occupants right to the top.

The sign is, in my mind, symbolic of that tension. Tension that arises out of the unfortunate way that the street is set up.

Don’t get me wrong I enjoy riding on Holman and am happy with what PBOT has done with it but I can tell you as one who lives on Ainsworth there is a consistent stream of bikes on the street and I don’t think they are going away. I just wish there was more room… for everyone.”

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9watts
9watts
10 years ago

“Should people continue to ride on busy, narrow streets when there is a bike-specific, low-stress route just one block over?”

People in cars drive wherever they please. It should be no different for folks who bike. Besides, who’s to say what is stressful? Some of us are not stressed out by riding on Foster, 82nd, McLoughlin, etc.

BURR
BURR
10 years ago
Reply to  9watts

The only public streets cyclists are prohibited from riding on in the Portland Metro area are limited access highways.

Streets like NE Ainsworth desperately need sharrows advising motorists to expect cyclists in the lane.

spare_wheel
spare_wheel
10 years ago
Reply to  BURR

i have been known to take the lane on the powell bridge during rush hour when i am in a real hurry.

Paul Johnson
Paul Johnson
10 years ago
Reply to  BURR

The only public streets cyclists are prohibited from riding on in the Portland Metro area are limited access highways that are explicitly posted No Bicycles.

I fixed that for you. Most limited access routes in the Portland area permit this, including the Sunset Highway west of the tunnel, the McGlouglin Expressway, Milwaukie Expressway, Columbia River Freeway, Beaverton-Tigard Freeway, the Baldock Freeway south of the B-T Freeway, Lewis & Clark Expressway (which even has at least one ramp only open to bicycles), and the Veteran’s Freeway south of Oregon City and north of the L&C Expressway.

BURR
BURR
10 years ago
Reply to  Paul Johnson

OAR 740-020-0045 contains the complete restrictions

BURR
BURR
10 years ago
Reply to  BURR

sorry, that should actually be 734-020-0045, Prohibition of Non-Motorized Vehicles on Freeways

John Russell (jr98664)
10 years ago
Reply to  Paul Johnson

Most people hear don’t actually call them by their names, but here is a map I made of Portland area freeways closed to cyclists:
http://maps.google.com/maps/ms?msa=0&msid=218030385894474900717.00045a804fdd989986e78
The only other stretch in Oregon closed to cyclists is three miles of I-5 in Medford lacking shoulders. On the other hand, I’ve ridden almost every mile of these closed freeways and have never had a problem.

Here is the same map for all of Washington state from WSDOT:
http://maps.google.com/maps/ms?msa=0&msid=202651359159051858389.00046426e0691fbccc526

sorebore
sorebore
10 years ago
Reply to  9watts

I take the statement of “Be Safe” to be bit condescending. A well intended buffoon, (IMO) on either side of the debate.

Scott
Scott
10 years ago

I rather enjoy riding Ainsworth for pleasure rides. I don’t think I am any “less safe” when riding properly there as opposed to a neighboring bike blvd.

Jon Wasserman
Jon Wasserman
10 years ago

I’ve been thinking that a new addition to the bike direction signs, would be signs that direct bikers to less stressfull streets to the signed side streets that are usually just a couple of blocks away. Yes, bikes have a right to the road and we would all like to see slower traffic. NOW, we can be safer, not be on dangerous tight streets AND show why bikes are a good transporatation option for those still driving by lowering traffic(yes that’s us) on congested streets such as 33rd, NE Alberta etc.

are
are
10 years ago
Reply to  Jon Wasserman

if you move all the bikes to side streets, the traffic on the larger streets will not slow down, and you will not “show” people in cars anything, because they will no longer see you

Tim
Tim
10 years ago

This is a good thing. I’ve gotten the ‘Ainsworth squeeze’ many times, and it might help others to avoid it. I will stay on Ainsworth, however.

Allison
Allison
10 years ago
Reply to  Tim

That’s an interesting response…what makes you choose Ainsworth over Holman? There might be some things the designers of the greenway were missing…

Paul Johnson
Paul Johnson
10 years ago
Reply to  Allison

You mean besides straight lines and the fact it goes past MLK on a signal?

Patty
Patty
10 years ago

I know there will be people who insist on biking on narrow, busy streets but I love this sign. In my neighborhood, between Hawthorne and Woodstock, there are excellent bike boulevards that are convenient and pleasant to use. Why not inform cyclists on Hawthorne, Division and Cesar Chavez that a pleasant alternative exists? Not everyone will change their habits, but plenty of people will discover the great cycling network much sooner. And it’s likely that accidents involving bikes will be reduced. I wish PBOT would take on these signs as a new venture to support the bike network!

Randall S.
Randall S.
10 years ago
Reply to  Patty

If you think that’s bad: I see narrow streets where people drive their cars, even though there are gigantic car-only freeways all over the place! If people would stop driving their cars on these narrow streets, we could significantly cut down the number of accidents.

sorebore
sorebore
10 years ago
Reply to  Randall S.

As one who is not anti-internal combustion, The point follows that people drive too fast all over this town. The streets in Portland are STUPID narrow, with cars parked backwards on the wrong side of the street, BOATS parked everywhere, shrubs blocking stop signs, cars parked flush to the edge of intersections, as well as a dozen other stupid examples !!!! I lived on Dekum and use to ride Ainsworth on occasion, it can be bad at times, but I would have to say that the primary problem is that PEOPLE IN CARS DRIVE TOO FAST. And I own a late 50s Stude’ that use to turn mid 13’s in the quarter mile. I like fast cars! SLOW DOWN PEOPLE! It is the street in a neighborhood, not a race track. jeez. Portland PoPo,s on bicycles, hiding around town, could issue 500 speeding tickets a day, to drivers of cars, there is an idea for ya.

shirtsoff
shirtsoff
10 years ago
Reply to  Randall S.

YES, Randall. Yes. Thank you for highlighting the autocentric mentality simmering under the surface of several otherwise well-intended comments.

middle of the road guy
middle of the road guy
10 years ago
Reply to  shirtsoff

God forbid! Unlike all the bike-centric ones!

are
are
10 years ago

the bike-centric mentality is arrived at through struggle. the auto-centric mentality is delivered to you without your having to think it through.

Jeff P
Jeff P
10 years ago
Reply to  Patty

Some of us live on these narrow busy streets and must cycle on them. We also don’t have a problem with that as long as the majority of people follow the rules as well as have consideration for other.

Some of us also search out quiet low speed neighborhood streets to commute on and yet we still get yelled at by others. Fact is nobody wants ‘it’ in their backyard if ‘it’ effects them personally.

Ride on the streets and be safe.

Nathan
Nathan
10 years ago
Reply to  Patty

Not to condescend, but there is a big difference between the roads that you listed (wide, two lane thoroughfares and business centers) and Ainsworth between 33rd and M.L.K. Jr. (a residential artery). Holman provides a lower stress alternative, but is riddled with poor pavement and does not connect across MLK. The bike route ends and riders end up on Ainsworth west of MLK anyway.

I often ride on Ainsworth eastbound until I hear the den of a car behind me, after which I turn left and resort to Holman.

Signs like this serve to validate the nonconstructive view that a bicycles place is not in the road. An informative sign would read “Bike route, one block North”, and not carry the implied judgement of riding on Ainsworth being unsafe.

9watts
9watts
10 years ago
Reply to  Nathan

“Holman provides a lower stress alternative, but is riddled with poor pavement and does not connect across MLK.”
Folks keep repeating this mantra of ‘lower stress alternatives,’ but it is not clear for whom the alternatives are lower stress, or how you are measuring/imputing stress.

Steve
Steve
10 years ago

As someone who bikes and drives (bike for fun/groceries, drive for an obnoxious commute), and as someone who is relatively new to this bike mecca we call Portland, I really feel like bikes should use greenways whenever they can. I don’t mean crossing over to one for a block, but if we’re riding a few blocks or more, why not just go over the the road that has been set up for us? I come from a place where even shoulders are dangerous places to ride, and teens in pickup trucks play “Who can get closest to the bike?”. Riding in Portland is pretty fantastic. Hell now we even have our own traffic signals!

As for what is safe/stressful, I would imagine that 90% of the readers of this blog are not “problematic” riders. We might be aggressive, but we are safe, and we know what is going on around us. I know when I am driving that the worst type of cyclist is the one who swerves in and out of bike lanes, and cruises the middle of the road preventing me from passing, even when they have 10 feet to the curb. If you ride properly, pretty much any road is safe, but let’s be honest, even in Portland there are many conceptions about what riding properly means.

To conclude this unplanned diatribe, bikes should legally be allowed to bike anywhere we like. But as moral, community-minded people, we should choose to use the infrastructure that has been built for us whenever it is possible and convenient.

sorebore
sorebore
10 years ago
Reply to  Steve

Different drivers are going to judge different cyclists in a plethora of manners and vice versa. Not tryin’ to shoot down your warm fuzzy blanket solution, but it is far too general to realize. At what point will infrastructure appease all needs? never.

Steve
Steve
10 years ago
Reply to  sorebore

Wow, I don’t think I’ve ever been accused of being warm and fuzzy before…but I digress.

I agree with you, infrastructure won’t appease all. That is why the cruz of my argument is that people just need to act better. Stop thinking about just your immediate needs, and consider how your actions will effect others. If it is really a huge hassle for you to go one block over then fine, do that you want. But if it is a minor annoyance, and could save a few drivers the stress of passing you on a narrow road, then just pedal those few yards to the other street. If we all love biking so much, why are we sometimes so loathe to pedal just a little further for the sake of the common good?

sorebore
sorebore
10 years ago
Reply to  Steve

I was not trying to insult by using the “warm and fuzzy” analogy, but the conditions of your past riding environments /experience are more than likely no different than 90% of the cycling public in the U.S. The point I wish to make over your tone is that I have an aversion to “social perceptions” as to where a bicycle can and should be, especially when that view point is expressed by a supposed cyclist.

Mike Fish
Mike Fish
10 years ago
Reply to  Steve

Sometimes I’m in a rush and Sandy Blvd, SE 12th/11th Ave or Hawthorne is much faster than the alternative.

spare_wheel
spare_wheel
10 years ago
Reply to  Steve

bike stockholm syndrome.

spencer
spencer
10 years ago

I was accosted three consecutive days last week by the same motorist for being on SE Chavez where it is double lanes and cars could pass easily. The ironic thing is that the flow of car traffic wasn’t slowed at all by my presence. I would ride somewhere else except for the fact that I live on Chavez. I imagine that the Ainsworth is the same situation. I’m afraid that people feel that “no bike lane = no bikes”

Hugh Johnson
Hugh Johnson
10 years ago
Reply to  spencer

you mean 39th?

sorebore
sorebore
10 years ago
Reply to  Hugh Johnson

Come on Hugh J., The name of the street was changed. Are you really gonna be an antagonist over C, Chavez? Do we need to have this discussion? I hope you are kidding.

9watts
9watts
10 years ago

“Not much space on Ainsworth.”
The caption under the last photo is amusing to me. I grew up in Europe, where that would be considered plenty of space for several cars to pass, not to mention bikes. I guess it’s all what you’re used to.

Speed also plays a part. Freeway lanes are wider than neighborhood street lanes because those on them are assumed to maintain a higher average speed. I don’t know what the speed (limit) is on Ainsworth, but you could get a lot more useful passing width out of the existing space if car speeds were throttled.

sorebore
sorebore
10 years ago
Reply to  9watts

SPEEEED is the problem, along with consideration and awareness for others. thanks 9watts.

Paul Johnson
Paul Johnson
10 years ago

Never mind there’s no reason to be going fast on a neighborhood street to begin with, so the premise of the sign is all wrong from the get go. Which route you take isn’t the biggest safety factor, it’s how you handle the road. The only people that make any location unsafe are the ones that are behaving in an unsafe way. Patience: It’s the only way to go!

Kenny
Kenny
10 years ago

I lived on NE 6th & Ainsworth for a couple years. I rode Ainsworth more often just because it was more convenient for where I was going. NE Holman is OK during the day, but terrible at night. No street lighting & too few stop signs at intersections proves dangerous. While NE Ainsworth has plenty of street lighting & intersecting stops. My girlfriend was sideswiped by a car (she is fine) one night riding home from work on NE Holman, she rode NE Ainsworth every night after that.

Richard Masoner
10 years ago

How many stop signs on Ainsworth vs the parallel bike route (Holman?)

Glen Bolen
Glen Bolen
10 years ago

This was my thought too. I like to ride Ainsworth because I can ride fast on it. I usually ride this stretch of Ainsworth at about 23 mph.

A.K.
A.K.
10 years ago
Reply to  Glen Bolen

Exactly. I love the neighborhood Greenway network Portland has set up, and enjoy those streets when I’m not in a hurry. However, I will ride in busier streets (such as Fremont) when I need to get some place fast and I want a limited number of stops to slow me down… exactly the same thing drivers want!

sorebore
sorebore
10 years ago
Reply to  Glen Bolen

WEST TO EAST maybe not, EAST TO WEST, unless you are a CAT 1. haha. peace.

A.K.
A.K.
10 years ago
Reply to  sorebore

Yes East to West, at least between 33rd and ~20th! I’m just a lowly cat 6.

matt picio
10 years ago

Parts of Holman also have some stunningly crappy pavement. Not to mention a chokepoint at the newly-revised park. Also, it sits 15-20′ lower than Ainsworth – some riders don’t want to go downhill and have to go uphill again. And it doesn’t easily cross MLK. There’s a lot of potential reasons not to ride Holman.

Personally, I frequently ride both Holman AND Ainsworth, depending on circumstances and conditions.

Chris
Chris
10 years ago

This is the crux with the increase in bike lanes, shared bike routes and designated paths, it increases the perception that those are the only places cyclists should be. All the increases in bike specific infrastructure is awesome, but there is a downside and this is it. I feel the best way to combat is through further education by somehow convincing the main stream media that we all need to just get along and stop making it cars vs. bikes.

JAT in Seattle
JAT in Seattle
10 years ago
Reply to  Chris

Exactly, yes! Right-on, well put!

Infrastructure, when well implemented, can be great, but it’s less great if the rest of the road users treat us like it’s the only place we should be riding.

El Biciclero
El Biciclero
10 years ago
Reply to  JAT in Seattle

Hm. This is interesting: at what point do “Neighborhood Greenways” become “Mandatory Sidepaths”?

efairlay
efairlay
10 years ago
Reply to  El Biciclero

It’s a good question. You mean that by having this sign we are moving toward not just encouraging the bikeways but mandating them? Like this seemingly innocent reminder is a 1st step toward dictating where bikes go? I would say there will always be a need to ride on a busy street and having friendly neighborhood signs and not to get too worried about it. It makes no sense to say you can never ride on a street. I only have a bike, but when I’m in a car and see a bicyclist on MLK I wish they would cut over to 7th (in NE). There’s no way they’ll outlaw bikes on
Ainsworth.

El Biciclero
El Biciclero
10 years ago
Reply to  efairlay

It would just take the right definition of the terms “bicycle lane or path” and “nearby” to change the whole game of what was mandatory (and by corollary, prohibited) use.

Alternatively, the leg. could just add some wording to say

“a person commits the offense of failure to use a bicycle lane, path, or [greenway] if the person operates a bicycle on any [roadway or] portion of a roadway that is not a bicycle lane, bicycle path, or [greenway] when a bicycle lane, bicycle path, or [greenway] is adjacent to or near[by] the roadway.”

Robert
Robert
10 years ago
Reply to  efairlay

With regard to riding on NE 7th–this is a bit of a dead horse, but here goes. I used to live near there, and took 7th regularly. I have been passed in an aggressive manner more times there than almost any other place. Ironically I think that is because of the intersection islands intended to slow motor vehicle traffic. Car drivers ducking the traffic on MLK (!) and moving at the de facto neighborhood speed limit of 28 mph find those traffic calming features to be just a fun little chicane and some of them will cut your line of travel in a Portland minute. Thank you kindly sir or ma’am!

With regard to the sign on NE Ainsworth: About the only good thing about Holman is that cars do not in fact use it as a through street. At first look I found the car diverter to be more useful and better designed than anything done on NE Going. In general I find Going St. today to be about as useful today as it was before, after several dollars spent on it. It’s true that there are few stop signs facing E-W traffic, but the N-S signs are widely disrespected. Watch out especially near NE 33rd during commute hours or when there is an event in the neighborhood.

People in cars feel free to use whatever streets they want, and park where they want. Most people seem to be unaware that it’s illegal to park facing the wrong way. It’s a victimless offense until one of these folks starts up suddenly, no signal, what is signal? and pulls across your legal-operation-of-a-bicycle situation.

People on bikes are not racially oppressed, but separate-but-equal is BS, same as it ever was.

sorebore
sorebore
10 years ago
Reply to  El Biciclero

PREEEZZZZAAAAACCCTTTTLLY.

Paul Johnson
Paul Johnson
10 years ago
Reply to  Chris

Sure, KATU and KPTV might disappear in a puff of logic, but that seems unlikely.

Librarian
Librarian
10 years ago
Reply to  Chris

I have the same problem with the increase in painted crosswalks. They’re nice, but they reinforce drivers’ perception that pedestrians crossing elsewhere don’t have the right of way.

Dave Thomson Thomson
Dave Thomson Thomson
10 years ago
Reply to  Chris

Exactly. The more dedicated bike facilities we build the less cyclists are going to be accepted everywhere else.

Allan
Allan
10 years ago

Ainsworth is a great fast route for long-range travel. I heard someone talking about a proposal to turn Ainsworth into 2-way cars only on 1 half and bikes only/local parking on the other half. would that work?

Paul Johnson
Paul Johnson
10 years ago
Reply to  Allan

Not wide enough. Two way bike traffic with a car coming the other way means no room to maneuver around oncoming car with parking there.

are
are
10 years ago
Reply to  Allan

the problem with any such conversion is that people who live along ainsworth insist on parking their cars in the street. two-way motor traffic on one side would preclude that.

Machu Picchu
Machu Picchu
10 years ago
Reply to  Allan

seems like “bikes only” and “local parking” don’t coexist very well. How would you get your car to the parking lane when the other lane is bikes only, and we already know there’s an issue with a car getting past a bike and parked car. Maybe America needs to get past the idea of being entitled to store one’s private property on the public right-of-way. I know this would be highly problematic in (generally) older areas with no off-street parking engineered, but not an insurmountable goal to aspire to. Really a change of philosophy and policy.

redhippie
redhippie
10 years ago

I ride as much as I drive and this issue really drives me nuts on Hawthorne between 15th and 39th. I can’t count how many times I have seen cyclist almost get squashed when there is a bike boulevard a block or two to the north. As a driver I get really stressed out when I am trying to navigate between them and the on-coming traffic. This should be poster child for by drivers dislike cyclists.

9watts
9watts
10 years ago
Reply to  redhippie

You need to slow down to a speed that works for everyone on that stretch of Hawthorne.

spencer
spencer
10 years ago
Reply to  redhippie

I ride more than I drive, and I cant imagine thinking that riding on hawthorne is safe with all the doors, crosswalks, and impatient drivers on the road. That said, the streets surrounding hawthorne are just as bad and with stop signs, so just slipping off one block away would get me where I’m going slower and with more chance of being T boned. For that reason I avoid this whole neighborhood on a bike, either to the East or West. Some bikers, believe it or not, ride to get places quickly, and the arterials are the best option.

sorebore
sorebore
10 years ago
Reply to  spencer

Hawthorn/ Ainsworth- apples/oranges.

Spiffy
Spiffy
10 years ago
Reply to  redhippie

I agree that the chance of getting squashed is much higher on a bike boulevard than having your own lane on Hawthorne between 15th and 39th…

Paul Johnson
Paul Johnson
10 years ago
Reply to  Spiffy

LOLWUT?

John R.
John R.
10 years ago
Reply to  redhippie

I ride on Hawthorne because I live and shop along Hawthorne. Alternative routes are great, but they don’t always work. We need a transportation system that works for all modes. And we need advocates that don’t accept unsafe conditions on any street for bikes and pedestrians.

BURR
BURR
10 years ago
Reply to  redhippie

SE Hawthorne has been listed in the City’s bike plan as a bike route for close to 20 years now.

The current 1997 Hawthorne Boulevard Transportation Plan calls for installation of sharrows on Hawthorne as soon as sharrows are an approved treatment incorporated into the MUTCD.

Sharrows were approved and incorporated into the MUTCD several years ago now, but so far the city has broken their promise and abrogated their responsibility with respect to placing them on SE Hawthorne Blvd.

spare_wheel
spare_wheel
10 years ago
Reply to  redhippie

hey redhippie, maybe next time you drive hawthorne you could peruse the multiple signs warning about bicycles in lane.

Paul Johnson
Paul Johnson
10 years ago
Reply to  redhippie

The downhill direction isn’t so bad. Not sure why anybody would ride it uphill when the bike boulevard is there, even for a local address; easier to overshoot on the cycleway and loop around so you’re accessing the Hawthorne address with gravity on your side.

spare_wheel
spare_wheel
10 years ago
Reply to  Paul Johnson

*no roundabouts
*no speed bumps
*no stop signs
*no busy arterials to cross without a signal
*no intersections with drivers not looking for cyclists
*smooth pavement
*i don’t feel like taking a detour to get where i want to go

BURR
BURR
10 years ago
Reply to  spare_wheel

the BTA used to advocate for bike lanes on arterial streets for exactly these reasons, not sure what happened there….

Paul Johnson
Paul Johnson
10 years ago
Reply to  BURR

Pretty much all the arterials that could be easily adapted got them already. Working on the tougher nuts to crack takes time, and often doesn’t necessarily have the public momentum in or out of the community to get it done.

dcufan
dcufan
10 years ago

This I like. Of course people should be able to determine what routes they use barring they are in compliance with local traffic laws. I often see cyclists on routes that seem unnecessary. Meaning I observe them frantically trying to keep pace with traffic in areas that seem to have a rather high volume of fast moving motor vehicle traffic. I ask myself “what nearby route would I choose?”. I often know of a bike route that’s like 1-3 blocks over. I think some folks just aren’t aware that these alternatives exist. I do believe that there are a few peeps out there who take pride in riding on routes that just don’t make sense. Is it laziness or lack of knowledge/awareness regarding our fab network of bike infrastructure? You decide. Just sayin’ 🙂

Matt
Matt
10 years ago
Reply to  dcufan

“Is it laziness or lack of knowledge/awareness regarding our fab network of bike infrastructure? ”

It’s understanding that we have the right to ride where we like with very few exceptions. Do you think motorists think “maybe I’ll take a different route in order to not bother the cyclists?” Some folks may not know the bike routes that would provide them more comfort. I’m comfortable riding just about anywhere. I know my rights and I know motorists’ rights. If the sign above is treated as informational, that’s fine. If it’s taken as meaning “cyclists don’t belong here,” that’s not OK.

bikesalot
bikesalot
10 years ago

I have biked on Ainsworth, as visually it seemed like a suitable route and I was unaware of the location of the best bike routes (not my part of town and the routes do not appear on GPS). I would have been happy to try the other street if I had known it was nearby. That area has always perplexed me, as many routes are interrupted by coming to an unexpected end where there would seem to be an established grid of streets.

spencer
spencer
10 years ago

For many people, a meandering bike boulevard is an inconvenience to ride on. The many stops, turns, and terrible asphalt/concrete make for a slow trip. Whereas the arterial roads are quicker, constructed better, and the lights are timed to actually cross other major streets, or at the least traffic is there to trip the loops. This is the reason people drive and ride on arterial streets.

t.a. barnhart
10 years ago

i rode on Division & Chavez for over a month before accidentally discovering Clinton & 41st (i lived in the Woodstock area). signs on those streets saying “Bike street 1 block south” would have been wonderful. the City should add these (or maybe a simple sign, a bike with an arrow).

Paul Johnson
Paul Johnson
10 years ago
Reply to  t.a. barnhart

It would have been nice if they didn’t add the snark on the second line. Might want to bookmark OpenCycleMap and the TriMet trip planner; both are good at finding the bike routes.

Spiffy
Spiffy
10 years ago

if I lived nearby I would put a sign under it that read “Highway car route 6 locks, Be SAFE [Arrow]”…

j
j
10 years ago
Reply to  Spiffy

I concur: additional signage such as this would hopefully help people rethink their assumptions. Why do we enter these conversations with the assumption that all roadways are intended firstly and foremostly for cars? Motorists too have the option of taking other more car-friendly routes.

Why should bicyclists be pushed off of certain roadways simply because specific pathways are designated for them? Ainsworth is a far superior pathway for accessing many popular bike routes on the westside. My intentions aren’t “militant” but I don’t want to get pushed off of any route simply because others don’t feel it’s convenient to slow down and BE SAFE in their cars.

are
are
10 years ago
Reply to  Spiffy

or “show some consideration and park your car in a driveway or on a side street”

Brian
Brian
10 years ago

If one chooses to use a busy street versus a bike boulevard, one way to ease tensions with vehicles is passing etiquette. If ten cars pass you and are caught at the next light light, don’t squeeze between them and the curb and make them do it all over again during high traffic times. Just stay behind those ten cars and wait your turn. It doesn’t save you much time to squeeze to the head of the pack, and will likely lead to less pissed off drivers if you choose not to. For example, I was on SE 12th heading North on my way home from school. A semi trailer was incredibly patient and waited for the right time to use the left lane to pass a cyclist. The semi driver got caught at the next light at Stark. The cyclist rolled between the semi and curb, and made him do it all over again. Moving ahead of him saved this cyclist zero time, and undoubtedly increased tensions with the driver.

9watts
9watts
10 years ago
Reply to  Brian

If one chooses to use a busy street versus a bike boulevard, one way to ease tensions with vehicles is passing etiquette. If you pass a bunch of bikes and are caught at the next light, stop and realize how little you gained by passing them. Just stay behind those bikes and wait your turn. It doesn’t save you much time to squeeze to the head of the pack, and will likely lead to less pissed off bicyclists if you choose not to. Moving ahead of him saved this automobilist zero time, and undoubtedly increased tensions with the bicyclist.

Brian
Brian
10 years ago
Reply to  9watts

I don’t buy your reply. In my example, the semi driver passed in a safe and responsible manner using the entire left lane to do so. The cyclist was incredibly slow. The driver did not know that he would be caught at the next light, and made a logical decision to pass in an attempt to save time. The cyclist gained no time in passing on the right, making the semi-driver do it all over again. Why?

9watts
9watts
10 years ago
Reply to  Brian

You seem to think this is all about saving time. What if it is about behaving in a manner that is safe for everyone, that doesn’t start from a sense of entitlement (to the road, to being faster, etc.)?

9watts
9watts
10 years ago
Reply to  9watts

You say the bicyclist was incredibly slow, yet he still caught up with the truck driver. You are also imputing all kinds of motives to both. How do you know so much about what the world looks like to the two of them?

Brian
Brian
10 years ago
Reply to  9watts

Actually, I think it is all about respect for one another. In the scenario I described, the semi driver was incredibly respectful and safe with regards to the cyclist. The cyclist could have easily returned the favor and simply waited behind him at the light. I have yet to think of, or read, any logical reasons to not wait behind cars at lights. It doesn’t save time. It is less safe. It angers motorists.

John Lascurettes
10 years ago
Reply to  Brian

You’re also projecting your emotions on the semi driver. Perhaps the semi driver wasn’t annoyed at all, but considered it all part of his daily job. We don’t know.

Brian
Brian
10 years ago

You are correct, and I would add that I am also projecting the annoyed opinions expressed by fellow cyclist while out on rides, as well as irritated people I have shared car rides with. Back to my point about respect (and I could also argue safety), if there is no bike lane on a busy road why the need to repass cars rather than wait your turn? I see no logical reason to overtake cars on the right, and make them most likely pass you again. If you are taking a right hand turn, by all means pass on the right. I do. If you are moving forward with traffic, wait your turn.

Paul Johnson
Paul Johnson
10 years ago
Reply to  9watts

The only time passing etiquette is an issue is in situations where cyclists should be taking the lane to start with. Illegally lane splitting down the right in that situation gains you nothing but ire from motorists and your fellow cyclists. Wait your turn, and remember, sharing the road cuts both ways and means the world doesn’t revolve around you.

El Biciclero
El Biciclero
10 years ago
Reply to  Paul Johnson

“Illegally lane splitting down the right”

Not illegal.

sorebore
sorebore
10 years ago
Reply to  Brian

The driver of the semi is suppressed to a standard of behavior due to the fact that his livelihood depends on it! It is wonderful in fact, that the nature of his movement are highly monitored. My father was a truck driver, he dislikes the behavior of motorists even more than I . He is kind to cyclists , and understands their perspective.

Paul Johnson
Paul Johnson
10 years ago
Reply to  Brian
Paul Johnson
Paul Johnson
10 years ago
Reply to  Brian

That point bears repeating.

El Biciclero
El Biciclero
10 years ago
Reply to  Brian

“If ten cars pass you and are caught at the next light light, don’t squeeze between them and the curb and make them do it all over again during high traffic times. Just stay behind those ten cars and wait your turn.”

The only “correct” way to do this is to take the lane. Most drivers want to apply a double-standard when it comes to passing: drivers want to squeeze by cyclists, possibly pushing them into parked cars or up the curb, but they don’t want cyclists to attempt to squeeze by them once traffic is all stopped at a light. If drivers want cyclists to “wait their turn”, the only way it is possible is for cyclists to “take their place in line” by claiming the lane. It eliminates all the squeezing. Otherwise, what do they expect? I’m going to stop at some arbitrary point next to a car half a block back from the light? If drivers constantly get stuck behind too many cyclists, well there’s a nice bike-free freeway not 6 blocks over. What’s the frequently-cited reason for cyclists taking out-of-the-way, alternate (and often inferior) routes? They find the busy direct routes too “stressful”. What do drivers say about having bicycles on main arterials? “It stresses me out”. If cyclists are “stressed” they are expected to move. If drivers are “stressed”…cyclists are again the ones expected to move. This is called being bullied.

esther c
esther c
10 years ago
Reply to  Brian

Besides being polite, its really the recommended way to proceed at an intersection without a bike lane. You’re not supposed to pass cars on the right when there isn’t a bike lane, but take the lane and wait your turn.

spare_wheel
spare_wheel
10 years ago
Reply to  esther c

actually i am *supposed* to pass a row of stationary cages, if i so desire. i have a legal right to pass on the right (or on the left on a one way). why are you suggesting that i give up my right of way? as a cyclist, whose side are you on? the laws are different (*special rights*) because…we are different from 2-6,000 lb metal cages.

Paul Johnson
Paul Johnson
10 years ago
Reply to  spare_wheel

Part of sharing the road is realizing that it’s not always about you.

spare_wheel
spare_wheel
10 years ago
Reply to  Paul Johnson

this schtick about not irritating motorists by asserting my *legal right of way* is just code for accepting a lower place on the totem poll.

Paul Johnson
Paul Johnson
10 years ago
Reply to  spare_wheel

No, no it’s not. You’re trying to create a double standard. Cars aren’t allowed to pull into a bus turnout at the light then gas it on a green light to get ahead of everyone else. Squeezing to the front down the right side where there’s no bike lane is essentially the same thing. Sorry if that’s ego bruising, but hey, it’s got to be said.

spare_wheel
spare_wheel
10 years ago
Reply to  Paul Johnson

what you call squeezing [sic] is actually my right of way. and since the law says that i can pass on the right in a lane (and motorists cannot) there is no double standard.

Brian
Brian
10 years ago
Reply to  spare_wheel

Shtick? It’s about making a very small concession that can only have positive outcomes. Your argument is akin to saying that I am accepting a lower spot on the totem pole if I wave another user through a 4 way stop before me despite the fact they arrived slightly after me.

spare_wheel
spare_wheel
10 years ago
Reply to  Brian

i view giving up my *legal* right of way to mollify the hypothetical irritation of a motorist as a negative outcome.

PdxMark
PdxMark
10 years ago

As a commuting and recreational cyclist I’ve pondered this issue for awhile. I think most people who bike on an arterial when there is a fine bikeway 1 block away are unaware of the bikeway. Most of the rest are, as I like to say, “militant cyclists.”

The unaware riders usually look to be less experienced riders who are on the main arterial they use when in a car. I suspect most would use the nearby bikeway if they knew about it, but the locations of bikeways are not always evident when you’re on an arterial.

The sign on Ainsworth addresses this issue, but raises the complication of suggesting to motorists that bikes aren’t allowed on Ainsworth. Hence the dilemma between informing riders of an available bikeway and raising the perception that riders must use it.

As for the militant cyclists, a philosophical branch of Critical Mass… what can I say. While taking a lane on a higher speed , higher traffic arterial is a legal right, it’s a rude affront to motorists when a nearby bikeway is purposely being ignored. It serves no purpose at all in the legal right to use the road, but is a glaring irritation with which all other cyclists are branded. Sometimes it makes perfect sense to ride an arterial to reach a destination, make a connection, etc. But using congested arterial merely “to make a point” is discourteous and increases motorist resentment of cyclists and opposition to cycling infrastructure. This type of militant cycling is NOT doing a favor for any other cyclists.

9watts
9watts
10 years ago
Reply to  PdxMark

“But using congested arterial merely “to make a point”…

And how do you know that this is the case, that anyone is using an arterial to make a point? What about folks in cars on neighborhood streets? Are they trying to make a point also? Maybe this says more about your perceptions, your inclination to label others who don’t bike like you do as ‘militants’?

Matt
Matt
10 years ago
Reply to  PdxMark

Dude you are so far off base it’s not even funny. When I exercise my rights I’m being rude? Are you really serious about that? Rosa Parks must have been a total bitch then by your logic. She should have sat in the back of the bus and not been so rude. Kowtow to the majority. Is that your mantra?

John Lascurettes
10 years ago
Reply to  PdxMark

I use NE Knott every day on my commute when NE Tillamook is available just a few blocks away. Am I making a point? Nope. Not at all. It’s more efficient. I’m using it for the same reason the cars are:
– The street is smoother (no potholes or cracked concrete sections)
– It’s easier to share because it’s wider
– There’s fewer interruptions (stop signs and stoplights).

I can ride at full pedal most of my way. Not so with Tillamook. And as others pointed out elsewhere, stop sign running by motorists on the cross streets to greenways is a lot worse on these greenways than it is on the arterials. That’s an important factor when choosing my road when I plan on riding at full bore.

John Lascurettes
10 years ago

And don’t get me wrong. When I slow down and take it easy, I’ll take a greenway gladly over an arterial.

Mindful Cyclist
Mindful Cyclist
10 years ago

Knott is a very wide street. Ainsworth is not. I have a feeling if there were not all those mansions on the street, the city would be happy to make that 4 travel lanes. I think there is room.

John Lascurettes
10 years ago

Well, I’ve taken Ainsworth in the past for the same reasons (minus the wide conditions) and I take the lane when I do. I’ve never had any aggressive behavior with a horn but have experienced too-close following.

sorebore
sorebore
10 years ago

Ainsworth is just as wide, but contains a beautiful green space island down the middle of its length chock full o’ trees.

spare_wheel
spare_wheel
10 years ago
Reply to  PdxMark

if its militant to:

*enjoy biking at high speeds
*enjoy excercise on my fancy bicycles
*enjoy getting to my destination quickly

well then, sir, i am a proud militant!

Karstan
Karstan
10 years ago

Brian
If one chooses to use a busy street versus a bike boulevard, one way to ease tensions with vehicles is passing etiquette. If ten cars pass you and are caught at the next light light, don’t squeeze between them and the curb and make them do it all over again during high traffic times. Just stay behind those ten cars and wait your turn. .
Recommended 0

It’s not just etiquette, that’s actually the law. It’s illegal to pass a vehicle on the right unless you are in separate lanes. I’m all in favor of riding where you please, as long as you’re doing it legally.

Spiffy
Spiffy
10 years ago
Reply to  Karstan

it’s legal to pass on the right if you’re using a bike to do it…

Paul Johnson
Paul Johnson
10 years ago
Reply to  Spiffy

811.415 applies equally to all vehicular modes; so, ORS says you’re wrong.

are
are
10 years ago
Reply to  Paul Johnson

well, paul, a lot depends on how you read “paved portion of sufficient width to allow two vehicles to proceed in the same direction” and “roadway ahead unobstructed for a sufficient distance to permit safe overtaking.” if we are supposing that a cyclist and a motor vehicle could travel side by side anyway (and isn’t that what PBoT is supposing with these bike lanes and green boxes all over the place?), then the maneuver ought to be legal under 811.415

El Biciclero
El Biciclero
10 years ago
Reply to  Paul Johnson

ORS 811.415(2)(c) “Overtaking and passing upon the right is permitted if the overtaking vehicle is a bicycle that may safely make the passage under the existing conditions.”

John Lascurettes
10 years ago
Reply to  El Biciclero

“811.415 applies equally to all vehicular modes; so, ORS says [Spiffy is] wrong.”

And ORS 811.415(2)(c) says he’s right. 😉 Try reading the whole thing.

John Lascurettes
10 years ago
Reply to  El Biciclero

Essentially, Ray Thomas says in one of his legal workshops that the same law that allows cars to pass you while sharing the lane on the left is the same law that allows you to pass them while sharing the lane on the right.

Matt
Matt
10 years ago
Reply to  Spiffy

If there is room…whatever that means…at least that’s what the cop who pulled me over told me.

BURR
BURR
10 years ago
Reply to  Karstan

actually, it’s legal for cyclists to pass on the right in a shared lane, lookitup.

Stretchy
Stretchy
10 years ago

I think to some degree there is a, “look at me” factor. All the people on Belmont can’t see how awesome you are on your bike if you’re a few blocks over on Salmon.

Granted, there are several bike routes that don’t make much sense for commuters but, when there is, it’s courteous to use it.

Spiffy
Spiffy
10 years ago
Reply to  Stretchy

the bike streets around Belmont and Hawthorne have lots of hills and cross traffic… Belmont and Hawthorne are nice slight even grades (thank you streetcars!) and make great roads for bikes… they should make them into car-free streets…

Matt
Matt
10 years ago
Reply to  Stretchy

Stretchy: How do you know it’s a look at me factor. When a motorist uses a bike boulevard is that a “check out my car” factor? And courteous? Sounds like: You have rights but please don’t exercise them…it’s not polite. Use ’em or lose ’em.

Lenny Anderson
10 years ago

Residents of Ainsworth should be demanding that more bicyclist take their street in order to slow down motor vehicle traffic. Its deadly. Brave bicyclists do us a great service by calming traffic. This is the kind of street that should have Sharrows as opposed to their use on bikeways. Bikeways need signs that says “Bikeway, speed 20 mph”. I see so many cheaters on NE Tillamook.

Paul Johnson
Paul Johnson
10 years ago
Reply to  Lenny Anderson

Call 503-823-SAFE and let them know. Tillamook could use a lot more “RIGHT TURN ONLY EXCEPT BICYCLES” intersections.

Faux Porteur
Faux Porteur
10 years ago

If Holman was properly designed it would have fewer stop signs than Ainsworth and would have various auto-traffic diverters (bollards, intersection micro-parks, etc) spaced accordingly. If this was done Holman would be a faster and vastly safer/more pleasant street for people on bikes/foot. Rather than spending millions on somehow improving Ainsworth, I’d rather see thousands spent on improving Holman and adding proper signage on Ainsworth to inform non automobile traffic of the route on Holman.

All of these E/W routes are fine and dandy, but it’s really time for some new N/S routes. East 9th ave anybody? Lombard to Holgate, properly designed and out-fitted woud be a great start.

Alain
Alain
10 years ago

I often see this as an equity issue, and riding on busy streets without bike infrastructure as act of defiance. It’s a response to motor vehicle dominance on our streets and in our city. Yet, it’s hard to deny the issue of safety. As I get older, I’m not willing to takes such risks, especially when there are safer routes available.

If younger riders want to stick their necks out (and many times it is younger riders I see navigating the busy and dangerous corridors), then they have every right. At some point, perhaps they will become more conservative in their risk taking.

The flip side to this can be observed in areas where the bike infrastructure simply is not there. For example, I live on Williams, between Alberta and Killingsworth. If I want to head east or west, Alberta, Killingsworth, Skidmore and Ainsworth are the main roads, yet none of them has bike infrastructure, except for Ainsworth, west of MLK, and even it has bad spots are you head west. I can ride down to Going Street, but to have to head so far south or north, in order to find a safer route east or west is f@#king annoying.

Of course, not everyone rides on busy roads for the same reasons. Some people may be unaware that better routes exist, but with Google, City Maps and all the information out there (compared to 15-20 years ago), I’d say you have to have your head in the sand to claim you don’t know about other, safer routes. Even then, there are probably exceptions and sometimes one just finds them self on a bad route.

But again, what to do when there are not other, safer routes, as in the example I provided above? I usually pick streets like Sumner, for example, but I don’t feel safe crossing MLK. And this is ok heading east, but heading west I got Jefferson HS in the way, and no I-5 bridge crossing.

It’s easy to say, oh, we have all this bike infrastructure here in Portland, while I still find and ride in areas every day that are clearly far more dangerous for me on my bike, than anyone driving in a motor vehicle.

spare_wheel
spare_wheel
10 years ago
Reply to  Alain

Zero bike fatalities in PDX last year and so far this year. Maybe those quote unquote youngsters (I am well into my 40s) are making PDX safer for you.

Kirk
10 years ago

I live directly on Holman and ride it 95% of the time. However, sometimes Ainsworth makes more sense. For example:

– When pulling my trailer, it is easier to maintain speed on Ainsworth without having to go over speed humps. The humps also cause the load in the trailer to bounce around every block. Not ideal.

– Sometimes at night I prefer Ainsworth as there are few cars, and I do not have to be on the lookout for potholes that are prevalent in certain sections of Holman.

– Ainsworth crosses MLK safely with a signal – Holman forces you to detour either to Rosa Parks….or Ainsworth.

– Holman is even more narrow than Ainsworth in the area around Concordia College. Drivers have been very aggressive to me in this section when squeezing by me. One time they even stopped their car completely to yell at me for riding on Holman.

– Cars tend to blow through stop signs on Holman causing many near misses, whereas they respect the stop signs at Ainsworth as they know they may get in an accident (that would injure them) if they were to not stop.

For these reasons, sometimes it just makes sense to use Ainsworth depending on my situation and where I am traveling to/from. Just like how cars sometimes use Ainsworth and some use Holman.

are
are
10 years ago
Reply to  Kirk

i was hoping someone would mention the lack of a signal on holman at MLK, thanks.

are
are
10 years ago
Reply to  are

and actually, i am not saying there should be a signal on holman at MLK since, hey, it doesn’t go through anyway. i am just saying there are any number of reasons to choose ainsworth, and this is one.

if in fact cyclists just do not know where the side routes are, i would not object to signage, but i do object to people wanting to make my choices for me. thanks, jonathan, for the link to mia birk’s piece in the tribune. i am finding her increasingly unhelpful in these public discussions. what the h*ll is her agenda, anyway? she ought to drop that “fiance glen” person, too.

Paul Johnson
Paul Johnson
10 years ago
Reply to  Kirk

Humps alone make me think that PBOT is only kidding when it’s talking about making neighborhood greenways work. Seriously, these things are a bigger deterrent to bicycles than motorists.

BURR
BURR
10 years ago
Reply to  Paul Johnson

I used to think the same thing, but I’ve come to the conclusion that speed tables (‘humps’) are really the only thing that can and will slow motorists down; those storm swales and most of the intersection roundabouts don’t do squat in this regard.

oliver
oliver
10 years ago

When I’m traveling the 4 miles from Fernhill Park to Willamette on Ainsworth these residents are suggesting that I move north 1.5 blocks to Holman because it makes me safer?

Holman ends at MLK. Making a left hand turn onto US Highway 99E Southbound is not safer. In fact it exposes me to significantly higher risk.

People need to realize that unlike themselves, my world does not cease to exist outside of the 2 blocks immediately surrounding my origin and destination.

oliver
oliver
10 years ago
Reply to  oliver

As a matter of fact, there isn’t even a Traffic Light at MLK!

Andrew Seger
Andrew Seger
10 years ago
Reply to  oliver

To be fair there will be a super sweet two way cycle track with jersey barrier protection and a light at mlk. PBOT will install it next year (http://bikeportland.org/2010/05/05/pocket-park-and-cycle-track-a-closer-look-at-the-ne-holman-bike-boulevard-project-33025).

I also agree that Ainsworth and the other major streets are sometimes the better option. The terrible quality of the pavement and number of potholes on some of the new neighborhood greenways is really frustrating.

oliver
oliver
10 years ago

There would be plenty of room on this street for a travel lane for both cars and bicycles if the residents were not storing their vehicles in the roadway when not in use.

Matt
Matt
10 years ago
Reply to  oliver

“storing their vehicles in the roadway when not in use”

Best thing I’ve read all day!

A.K.
A.K.
10 years ago

I have to take issue with Mia’s linked article as well.

She writes:

“There is no reason whatsoever to ride a bike on César Chávez or just about any major road (on Portland’s east side, anyway) that lacks bike lanes.”

Sure there is – to cross I-84! In some places, crossing 84 can be a pain in this arse… there are bridges at 12th, 21st and 28th, but if you’re up around 39th (Cesar), taking the right lane on the overpass is the simplest and quickest way across, especially if you want to go into NE around Grant HS or the Irvington area and beyond. Above Cesar your options for crossing 84 become fewer and far between.

Going through the Hollywood transit center is a PITA, having to dismount and carry your bike up/down the steps (especially with road shoes/cleats), then finding your way back onto the bike network, dealing with buses and all the people milling about. Forget that.

are
are
10 years ago
Reply to  A.K.

mia birk’s recent articles in the tribune on the theme what bicyclists might do to make life simpler for the dull-witted motorist have been extremely unhelpful. agreed.

and a cyclist should feel free to take 39th/chavez without hearing mia birk’s voice in her head or a motorist leaning on the horn.

and it is certainly the case that there are relatively few crossings over the gulch.

i would note for the benefit of those less familiar with the terrain that in addition to those crossings mentioned by a.k., however, there are pretty decent crossings at 33rd, 47th, and 53rd.

Mark C
Mark C
10 years ago

Think about how nice all of these streets would be for riding and driving if there weren’t parked cars cluttering everything up. I know some folks consider parked cars to be some sort of traffic calming device, but I hate them. Most streets in the Hollywood neighborhood are effectively one way due to all of the parked cars. I’ll never understand why private vehicle storage is allowed in the public right-of-way. If people didn’t have so many cars they could store them all in the driveway and/or garage where they belong.

Alain
Alain
10 years ago
Reply to  Mark C

That is assuming people have driveways and garages!? The city is built of many different types of residences, many of which do not have parking on their property.

I get your point, but don’t agree with it.

Mikey
Mikey
10 years ago

I think the sign should be taken as a benign, constructive attempt to send cyclists where someone thinks they belong. It’s a decent gesture from someone whose understanding of the situation is incomplete.

That said, my I live a block off Chavez, and cars are always taking my street as a shortcut around a no-left turn intersection.

I am going to protect my children and put out a sign that says:

“Car Route — One Block in THAT Direction”

9watts
9watts
10 years ago
Reply to  Mikey

“Car Route — One Block in THAT Direction”

That is the logical conclusion of the thinking exhibited in the sign that prompted this article. Separate but unequal. Whoopie!

pdx2wheeler
pdx2wheeler
10 years ago

I was legally pulling my 3 year old daughter East in a bike trailer this summer on NE Ainsworth. We were heading to Fernhill park to play. I took NE Ainsworth since the NE Portland Parkways goes along this exact route… to this exact park… That’s just how you get there right? But this day we had a guy in a pickup truck get so angry that we were on the road in front of him. He got within inches of my daughter in the bike trailer, revving engine, horn honking, etc… Then, within a block from the park, the driver decided to use the “linear arboretum” to pass us on the left. Half the vehicle on the road, half on the linear arboretum, within inches of my daughter and I… Maybe they should put up a sign for car drivers, “Be safe, no passing on the linear arboretum!”

Paul Johnson
Paul Johnson
10 years ago
Reply to  pdx2wheeler
Julia
10 years ago

The unofficial sign is “nice” but Ainsworth is a great street to bike on. The trees on Ainsworth are beautiful and it’s a main east/west artery.

Dan
Dan
10 years ago

As someone who commutes from St John’s to Woodstock, let me tell you why I sometimes take the arterials. I tried the “better” route on SE 16th, only to hit a stop sign EVERY #$@% block, with NO way to cross those arterials other than pushing the pedestrian button for the cross walk signal, and lots of potholes/alligator back asphalt. If this was set up as a “car route” and drivers had to go through this, city hall would be in flames. Until we get a decent system (hey, make every third street car-free and I will take those) set up that doesn’t double my travel time/distance and make it more hazardous to cross the arterials, I will do what I need to get where I need to go.

thefuture
thefuture
10 years ago

Have seen these signs, I interpret them as saying:

“Bikes please use another road so I can drive 35-40 mph down Ainsworth without you slowing me down”

John Lascurettes
10 years ago

The sign is pretty passive-aggessive. It might be different if it was purely informational: “Holman Greenway 1 block –>” and leave it at that. But the whole “be SAFE” with the shouting all caps supposes that bikes aren’t safe to be using Ainsworth – well, only with unsafe drivers it isn’t. So who is it that needs to be safe?

Pscyclepath
10 years ago

Ride on that street? It depends where I’m going. If my destination is on that street, I’m eventually going to have to use it at some point. If there’s an alternative, lower-traffic route that gets me to the same place, it’s often a little easier on my stress level and blood pressure to use the less-trafficked route.

An older and wiser cyclist cooked this sort of situation down to three simple rules that have worked well for me for several years in many places:

1. Cyclists are safest when we act and are treated like other drivers on the road… that means following all the traffic rules, to include signals and controls, and not filtering forward at stop lights, passing other (possibly right-turning) vehicles on their right side where they are not expecting us to be.

2. In a narrow street like this one, position yourself so as to control the traffic lane until it’s safe for you to give up that control.

3. Never compromise your safety for somebody else’s convenience.

Mike
Mike
10 years ago

I’m confused — aren’t Holman and Ainsworth BOTH considered bikeways (my 8th edition of Metro’s “Bike There!” map says so)?

I cycle and drive NE Ainsworth all the time to zip between Fernhill Park and Willamette Blvd. It’s simply the fastest, prettiest (arboretum), safest and well-lit way to accomplish this. Urban planners (official and otherwise) can put up whatever signage they want, but Ainsworth will remain popular.

As a cyclist, I don’t feel any less safe on Ainsworth than I would on any other bikeway in Portland that motorists insist on using. As a motorist, I get annoyed at cyclists who take the lane and ride 25mph on Ainsworth. However, I take a deep breath, give them the right of way, and arrive at my destination five seconds slower.

eric
eric
10 years ago

I’ve never had an issue on Ainsworth and I ride it about 20 times a year back and forth to my races at PIR. sometimes side by side with someone but always single file if we know there’s a car coming. the cars are usually considerate too. I find it hard to call it either busy or narrow as I have to take 33rd on this route as well and it’s quite a bit busier AND narrower. It takes just the smallest amount of awareness and consideration from both cars and bikes to make this a VERY bikeable route

are
are
10 years ago
Reply to  eric

i am sure mia birk could suggest an alternative to 33rd

Zaphod
10 years ago

Do not like the sign and what it implies… at all.

sorebore
sorebore
10 years ago
Reply to  Zaphod

Could not agree more.

Paul Souders
10 years ago

Tons of opinions here, might as well throw mine on the pile.

“Bike Route 1 block [arrow]” is helpful, I did not know that, thanks Anonymous Stranger!

But then…

“BE SAFE” is passive-aggressive horse puckey, screw you Anonymous Stranger, I’m gonna ride my bike RIGHT HERE as the law explicitly allows!

Like John Lascurettes said: “who is it that needs to be safe?”

It ain’t a hiker’s responsibility to wear orange during elk season, it’s an elk hunter’s responsibility not to shoot anything that isn’t an elk.

sorebore
sorebore
10 years ago
Reply to  Paul Souders

Perhaps Elk hunters are more astute than deer hunters, I NEVER ride off road on a bicycle or EVEN a dirt bike during deer season.

Paul Johnson
Paul Johnson
10 years ago

Has anybody considered just removing the sign? I’m pretty sure PGE would appreciate it, since people tacking stuff to the poles damages them and reduces their service life.

S
S
10 years ago
Reply to  Paul Johnson

Or putting up another sign in response to it…a concise list summarizing many of the fine points made here, especially those concerning (a) legality and (b) the fact, taken for granted by most motorists, that an entire grid of thousands of streets designed for their ease of access/multiple routes to choose from has been laid out for their convenience at great taxpayer expense.

Erinne
Erinne
10 years ago

This has probably already been said, but…this sign, as well as Mia Birk’s “editorial” (ahem, not article) make me want to TAKE THE LANE ALL THE DAMN TIME on Ainsworth, Hawthorne, Cesar Chavez, etc. People on bicycles are not second-class citizens. Damn it. And our presence doesn’t slow down car drivers any significant amount. Also, I feel very safe riding on Ainsworth, provided I’m not riding in the door zone. Finally, as noted above, no one needs to be speeding along Ainsworth, anyway–it’s not exactly a freaking freeway!

John R.
John R.
10 years ago
Reply to  Erinne

Great comment. It’s pretty shocking coming from Portland’s supposed premiere bike advocate. Talk about setting the bar low…

dan
dan
10 years ago

Meh, my outrage supply must have been used up by the Republican presidential campaigns, I’m finding it hard to get exercised about this sign. It may be useful for people who would prefer the bike boulevard but don’t know where it is, and everyone else can ignore it.

stephenup
Stephen Upchurch
10 years ago

The removal of on-street parking would create the necessary room for bikes and cars to easily share the street. Most residences in this area have off-street parking already. It’s just that the pols don’t want to press the hot button because they had a bad experience trying this on Knott years ago. Boo hoo. Times are changing and the I think the city should step up and take a risk for the greater good.

Mike
Mike
10 years ago

It’s hard to imagine pols (in this day and age) spontaneously taking major risks. Tho perhaps we can hope for one or more *minor* risks.

My wish list:
– 25 mph speed limit
– Sharrows

Some interesting proposals that would cost (I’m assuming) more $$ are to be found here:

http://bikeportland.org/2010/09/03/re-imagining-ainsworth-39008

El Biciclero
El Biciclero
10 years ago

Isn’t Ainsworth a residential street? Why is the speed limit 30?

sorebore
sorebore
10 years ago
Reply to  El Biciclero

what happened with the new mandatory residential speed limit, and is it mandated? If so what is it?

dwainedibbly
dwainedibbly
10 years ago

The fact that parking exists on this street sends the message that vehicle storage is more important than letting people use the roadway.

Andycigarettes
Andycigarettes
10 years ago
Reply to  dwainedibbly

I’ve always felt this to be true about Ainsworth. The parking trumps the beauty.

shirtsoff
shirtsoff
10 years ago

Less traffic control signals and signs make for a faster commute for all modes. This is why I’ll continue to use Hawthorne instead of the “preferred” Salmon with its stop signs every other block. The only bike route that I feel actually is superiorto its adjacent arteries – at least as measured by its ability to maintain travel speeds – is Going St in NE Portland. Until that becomes the model for other greenways, forget about it!

Mike
Mike
10 years ago

Does the sign tell people not to ride on ainsworth as Jonathan suggests? Why is it that any suggestion regarding bicycycling behavior is met with whining. When infrastructure is put in place it is never good enough. Why bother then? Let it be a free for all. Also, take the lane all you want. Be defiant and noodle along at 15mph in a 35mph zone. Ride down the middle of a busy street holding up traffic but don’t cry when someone honks their horn at you. It doesn’t matter what form of transportation you are in, if you hold up traffic you are either oblivious, rude, or both.

9watts
9watts
10 years ago
Reply to  Mike

“Be defiant and noodle along at 15mph in a 35mph zone.”
Huh? 35mph is (where posted) the LIMIT, not the minimum.

And if we’re still talking neighborhood streets (that is what this article was about) then 35mph is probably too fast anyway.

El Biciclero
El Biciclero
10 years ago
Reply to  Mike

“It doesn’t matter what form of transportation you are in, if you hold up traffic you are either oblivious, rude, or both.”

Tell that to right-turning drivers who stop to wait for peds, holding up those behind them, or to left-turning drivers waiting for an opening. Tell it to a bus driver (or worse yet a school bus driver), or granny who thinks 10 under is the safe way to go. Tell it to the driver in front of you who passes up all kinds of opportunities to make a right on red because he doesn’t think the gap is big enough (all while both of you block the bike lane, holding up bike traffic while you wait). Tell it to the 50 cars in front of you that are blocking your ingress into the left turn lane so you have to wait for three signal cycles before you can make your turn. Tell it to the pedestrian who pushes the “walk” signal button and makes your light turn red just as you get there. Tell it to the school kids who “force” you to drive 20 instead of 35 just because they might be there. Tell it to the landscapers who completely block the bike lane and the cops who don’t care because “it’s not blocking the flow of ‘traffic'”. Come on, man–people “hold up” traffic in all kinds of vehicles–or even without a vehicle; why is it that we tend to get way more worked up about it when the vehicle is a bike?

spare_wheel
spare_wheel
10 years ago
Reply to  Mike

i love this analogy you’ve drawn.

which is more of a problem:

a cyclist biking at 15 mph in a residential area.

or a motorists driving over the posted speed limit and honking their horn.