The Worst Day of the Year Ride is February 11th

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

Posted by on December 28th, 2011 at 9:14 am

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 December 28, 2011 at 9:19 am

    “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.

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    • BURR December 28, 2011 at 11:18 am

      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.

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      • spare_wheel December 28, 2011 at 12:38 pm

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

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      • Paul Johnson December 28, 2011 at 2:26 pm

        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.

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    • sorebore December 28, 2011 at 12:39 pm

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

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  • Scott December 28, 2011 at 9:19 am

    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.

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  • Jon Wasserman December 28, 2011 at 9:22 am

    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.

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    • are January 1, 2012 at 9:08 pm

      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

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  • Tim December 28, 2011 at 9:29 am

    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.

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    • Allison January 1, 2012 at 5:21 pm

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

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      • Paul Johnson January 1, 2012 at 5:35 pm

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

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  • Patty December 28, 2011 at 9:32 am

    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!

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    • Randall S. December 28, 2011 at 11:12 am

      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.

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      • sorebore December 28, 2011 at 12:18 pm

        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.

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      • shirtsoff December 28, 2011 at 5:50 pm

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

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        • middle of the road guy January 3, 2012 at 3:37 pm

          God forbid! Unlike all the bike-centric ones!

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          • are January 3, 2012 at 4:34 pm

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

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    • Jeff P December 28, 2011 at 12:12 pm

      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.

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    • Nathan December 29, 2011 at 12:16 pm

      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.

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      • 9watts December 29, 2011 at 12:26 pm

        “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.

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  • Steve December 28, 2011 at 9:32 am

    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.

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    • sorebore December 28, 2011 at 12:24 pm

      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.

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      • Steve December 28, 2011 at 4:00 pm

        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?

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        • sorebore December 29, 2011 at 6:44 pm

          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.

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    • Mike Fish December 28, 2011 at 12:27 pm

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

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    • spare_wheel December 28, 2011 at 12:42 pm

      bike stockholm syndrome.

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  • spencer December 28, 2011 at 9:33 am

    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”

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    • Hugh Johnson December 28, 2011 at 6:42 pm

      you mean 39th?

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      • sorebore December 29, 2011 at 6:24 pm

        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.

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  • 9watts December 28, 2011 at 9:34 am

    “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.

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    • sorebore December 28, 2011 at 12:26 pm

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

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  • Paul Johnson December 28, 2011 at 9:39 am

    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!

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  • Kenny December 28, 2011 at 9:43 am

    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.

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  • Richard Masoner December 28, 2011 at 9:54 am

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

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    • Glen Bolen December 28, 2011 at 10:36 am

      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.

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      • A.K. December 28, 2011 at 11:33 am

        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!

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      • sorebore December 28, 2011 at 12:42 pm

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

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        • A.K. December 28, 2011 at 4:46 pm

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

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    • matt picio December 31, 2011 at 12:42 am

      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.

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  • Chris December 28, 2011 at 9:55 am

    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.

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    • JAT in Seattle December 28, 2011 at 10:46 am

      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.

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      • El Biciclero December 28, 2011 at 4:05 pm

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

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        • efairlay December 28, 2011 at 10:35 pm

          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

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          • El Biciclero December 29, 2011 at 1:20 pm

            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.”

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          • Robert December 31, 2011 at 9:54 am

            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.

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        • sorebore December 29, 2011 at 6:54 pm


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    • Paul Johnson December 28, 2011 at 12:35 pm

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

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    • Librarian December 28, 2011 at 5:31 pm

      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.

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    • Dave Thomson Thomson December 28, 2011 at 10:13 pm

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

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  • Allan December 28, 2011 at 10:09 am

    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?

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    • Paul Johnson December 28, 2011 at 1:29 pm

      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.

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    • are December 28, 2011 at 1:31 pm

      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.

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    • Machu Picchu December 28, 2011 at 2:20 pm

      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.

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  • redhippie December 28, 2011 at 10:11 am

    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.

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    • 9watts December 28, 2011 at 10:14 am

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

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    • spencer December 28, 2011 at 10:23 am

      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.

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      • sorebore December 28, 2011 at 12:44 pm

        Hawthorn/ Ainsworth- apples/oranges.

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    • Spiffy December 28, 2011 at 10:31 am

      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…

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      • Paul Johnson December 28, 2011 at 2:16 pm


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    • John R. December 28, 2011 at 10:37 am

      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.

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    • BURR December 28, 2011 at 11:31 am

      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.

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    • spare_wheel December 28, 2011 at 12:51 pm

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

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    • Paul Johnson December 28, 2011 at 1:32 pm

      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.

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      • spare_wheel December 28, 2011 at 3:29 pm

        *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

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        • BURR December 29, 2011 at 11:10 am

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

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          • Paul Johnson December 29, 2011 at 11:19 am

            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.

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  • dcufan December 28, 2011 at 10:13 am

    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’ 🙂

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    • Matt December 28, 2011 at 6:14 pm

      “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.

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  • bikesalot December 28, 2011 at 10:15 am

    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.

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  • spencer December 28, 2011 at 10:19 am

    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.

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  • t.a. barnhart December 28, 2011 at 10:20 am

    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).

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    • Paul Johnson December 28, 2011 at 2:07 pm

      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.

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  • Spiffy December 28, 2011 at 10:21 am

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

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    • j December 28, 2011 at 12:05 pm

      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.

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    • are December 28, 2011 at 1:34 pm

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

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  • Brian December 28, 2011 at 10:22 am

    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.

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    • 9watts December 28, 2011 at 10:27 am

      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.

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      • Brian December 28, 2011 at 10:41 am

        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?

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        • 9watts December 28, 2011 at 10:44 am

          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.)?

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          • 9watts December 28, 2011 at 10:45 am

            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?

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          • Brian December 28, 2011 at 1:22 pm

            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.

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            • John Lascurettes December 28, 2011 at 6:49 pm

              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.

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              • Brian December 29, 2011 at 9:27 am

                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.

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      • Paul Johnson December 28, 2011 at 2:12 pm

        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.

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        • El Biciclero December 29, 2011 at 9:44 am

          “Illegally lane splitting down the right”

          Not illegal.

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    • sorebore December 28, 2011 at 12:53 pm

      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.

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    • Paul Johnson December 28, 2011 at 2:08 pm

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    • Paul Johnson December 28, 2011 at 2:10 pm

      That point bears repeating.

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    • El Biciclero December 28, 2011 at 3:48 pm

      “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.

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    • esther c December 29, 2011 at 12:03 am

      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.

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      • spare_wheel December 29, 2011 at 9:08 am

        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.

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        • Paul Johnson December 29, 2011 at 10:48 am

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

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          • spare_wheel December 29, 2011 at 1:57 pm

            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.

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            • Paul Johnson December 29, 2011 at 2:23 pm

              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.

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              • spare_wheel December 29, 2011 at 7:37 pm

                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.

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            • Brian December 29, 2011 at 2:47 pm

              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.

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              • spare_wheel December 29, 2011 at 7:44 pm

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

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  • PdxMark December 28, 2011 at 10:25 am

    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.

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    • 9watts December 28, 2011 at 10:30 am

      “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’?

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    • Matt December 28, 2011 at 6:21 pm

      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?

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    • John Lascurettes December 28, 2011 at 6:45 pm

      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.

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      • John Lascurettes December 28, 2011 at 7:36 pm

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

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      • Mindful Cyclist December 29, 2011 at 12:49 pm

        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.

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        • John Lascurettes December 29, 2011 at 1:34 pm

          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.

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        • sorebore December 29, 2011 at 7:00 pm

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

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    • spare_wheel December 29, 2011 at 9:21 am

      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!

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  • Karstan December 28, 2011 at 10:29 am

    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. .
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    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.

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    • Spiffy December 28, 2011 at 11:30 am

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

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      • Paul Johnson December 28, 2011 at 2:33 pm

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

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        • are December 28, 2011 at 2:38 pm

          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

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        • El Biciclero December 28, 2011 at 3:57 pm

          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.”

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          • John Lascurettes December 28, 2011 at 6:33 pm

            “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.

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          • John Lascurettes December 28, 2011 at 6:37 pm

            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.

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      • Matt December 28, 2011 at 6:22 pm

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

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    • BURR December 28, 2011 at 11:34 am

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

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  • Stretchy December 28, 2011 at 10:33 am

    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.

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    • Spiffy December 28, 2011 at 11:32 am

      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…

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    • Matt December 28, 2011 at 7:13 pm

      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.

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  • Lenny Anderson December 28, 2011 at 10:37 am

    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.

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    • Paul Johnson December 28, 2011 at 2:17 pm

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

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  • Faux Porteur December 28, 2011 at 10:50 am

    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.

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  • Alain December 28, 2011 at 11:27 am

    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.

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    • spare_wheel December 28, 2011 at 1:00 pm

      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.

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  • Kirk December 28, 2011 at 11:30 am

    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.

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    • are December 28, 2011 at 1:39 pm

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

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      • are December 28, 2011 at 1:43 pm

        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.

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    • Paul Johnson December 28, 2011 at 2:31 pm

      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.

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      • BURR December 28, 2011 at 3:37 pm

        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.

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  • oliver December 28, 2011 at 11:37 am

    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.

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  • oliver December 28, 2011 at 11:49 am

    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.

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    • Matt December 28, 2011 at 6:28 pm

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

      Best thing I’ve read all day!

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  • A.K. December 28, 2011 at 11:52 am

    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.

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    • are January 3, 2012 at 2:23 pm

      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.

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  • Mark C December 28, 2011 at 11:55 am

    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.

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    • Alain January 3, 2012 at 12:45 pm

      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.

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  • Mikey December 28, 2011 at 12:01 pm

    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”

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    • 9watts December 28, 2011 at 12:04 pm

      “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!

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  • pdx2wheeler December 28, 2011 at 12:18 pm

    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!”

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  • Julia December 28, 2011 at 12:23 pm

    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.

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  • Dan December 28, 2011 at 12:29 pm

    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.

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  • thefuture December 28, 2011 at 12:31 pm

    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”

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  • John Lascurettes December 28, 2011 at 12:34 pm

    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?

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  • Pscyclepath December 28, 2011 at 1:10 pm

    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.

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  • Mike December 28, 2011 at 1:24 pm

    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.

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  • eric December 28, 2011 at 1:42 pm

    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

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    • are December 28, 2011 at 2:42 pm

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

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  • Zaphod December 28, 2011 at 1:53 pm

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

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    • sorebore December 31, 2011 at 5:21 pm

      Could not agree more.

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  • Paul Souders December 28, 2011 at 2:34 pm

    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.

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    • sorebore December 31, 2011 at 5:25 pm

      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.

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  • Paul Johnson December 28, 2011 at 2:51 pm

    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.

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    • S December 30, 2011 at 3:24 pm

      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.

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  • Erinne December 28, 2011 at 3:19 pm

    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!

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    • John R. December 28, 2011 at 9:39 pm

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

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  • dan December 28, 2011 at 3:39 pm

    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.

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  • Stephen Upchurch
    Stephen Upchurch December 28, 2011 at 4:36 pm

    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.

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    • Mike December 28, 2011 at 5:19 pm

      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:

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  • El Biciclero December 28, 2011 at 4:54 pm

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

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    • sorebore December 31, 2011 at 5:28 pm

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

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  • dwainedibbly December 28, 2011 at 5:33 pm

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

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    • Andycigarettes December 28, 2011 at 7:56 pm

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

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  • shirtsoff December 28, 2011 at 5:56 pm

    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!

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  • Mike December 28, 2011 at 6:46 pm

    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.

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    • 9watts December 28, 2011 at 7:00 pm

      “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.

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    • El Biciclero December 29, 2011 at 11:13 am

      “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?

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    • spare_wheel December 29, 2011 at 2:03 pm

      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.

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  • Hugh Johnson December 28, 2011 at 6:46 pm

    I find this thread amusing. Wow what would you all do if you were in Parkrose like me. Big nasty Rocky Butte blocking my way…forcing me to take the most nasty bike-unfriendly routes around it. No love for two wheels at all out here. I feel like a rogue every time I throw a leg over my bike. Peace!

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    • A.K. December 29, 2011 at 9:57 am

      Huh, I love riding up Rocky Butte and go over there all the time. I find Fremont and 92nd ave to be fine places to ride.

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      • Paul Johnson December 29, 2011 at 10:52 am

        I drive up to the peak from time to time to take advantage of the elevation for listening and talking on the CB. The 1%ers that live on the butte seem to have little consideration for anybody but themselves and have no problems passing other cars on blind curves and on double-yellows to get to or from their driveways a full three seconds faster.

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        • A.K. December 29, 2011 at 12:48 pm

          I’ve never had a problem up there, other than when riding up the hill on the south side, going through the tunnel always bothers me, as I’m afraid someone will come ripping through not paying attention, and I have no “escape route” because that little concrete median curb.

          Never been harassed or bothered though, and I guess lucky enough to not be passed by passive-aggressive drivers!

          Interesting about the cb thing though, I guess that would explain some of the people I see hanging out up there in their cars (rather than walking around or whatever)!

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  • Kerry December 28, 2011 at 6:52 pm

    Saw these (there are several) about a week ago. Mixed feelings…wayfinders are nice for those of us who take spontaneous trips without maps or devices, but Ainsworth is totally appropriate for bikes. I make route choices based on what works for me, not for motorists’ convenience.

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  • jim December 28, 2011 at 7:20 pm

    Do we need someone to tell us where we should and shouldn’t ride?I don’t think too many people would appreciate that. Just like someone telling us that we should all get out of our cars and ride bikes instead. This isn’t govts. job, micromanaging our lives. Smaller govt is better. The thing that does need to be managed a little bit is govt.. They vote themselves big raises, benefits….
    Let people ride where they want to ride.

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    • Matt December 29, 2011 at 2:54 pm

      Jim…you’re wandering. The sign wasn’t put up by “government,” whatever you mean by that.

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  • Mark December 29, 2011 at 10:57 am

    I worry about this sort of thing when the new 50’s bikeway comes online. I live at SE 50th and Hawthorne, and use SE 49th to head north. It’s narrow, but it’s the only nearby street that goes all the way through to Stark without a bunch of stop signs. It’s also a heck of a lot flatter than the proposed bikeway on SE 53rd. Why would I choose to ride four blocks out of my way to climb up and down an unnecessary hill? I don’t want “concerned” citizens telling me to use the bikeway.

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  • Patty December 29, 2011 at 11:33 am

    A whole lot of reactivity about information signs. I should expect this but it always surprises me.

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    • El Biciclero December 29, 2011 at 11:42 am

      Not an information sign. A “get off my road” sign.

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  • was carless December 29, 2011 at 2:24 pm

    Narrow? Try SE/NE 28th ave! We manage to mix bikes AND cars on a 2-way street. I guess people in NE are just wimps.

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    • BURR December 30, 2011 at 12:47 pm

      East 28th could really use some sharrows too, though…

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  • D December 29, 2011 at 2:46 pm

    The Oregonlive website has a link to this story in their NE Portland round-up. It says “BikePortland has an interesting story about cyclists and rude behavior…”
    I thought the story was about a rogue street sign.

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    • BURR December 29, 2011 at 5:50 pm

      maybe the O is referring to the rude behavior of the person who put the sign up?

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  • Dan December 29, 2011 at 10:27 pm

    On the lane-taking side, I watched a cyclist take the lane all the way east-bound across the Ross Island Bridge. Very nice, I had his back all the way. Given that the alternatives are way north to the Morrison, or way south to the Sellwood, I can not fault him. We should all do this to see if the new bridge gets done faster…

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  • Skwirl December 30, 2011 at 10:48 am

    Safety is the rationalization. Entitlement is the underlying motive. I hope the individual who put up this sign reads this thread and understands that there are other perspectives.

    I choose to maximize everyone’s safety by minimizing my driving.

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    • Tacoma December 30, 2011 at 1:15 pm

      “I choose to maximize everyone’s safety by minimizing my driving.”

      Gosh, that’s an idea – increase safety for all by decreasing my driving. I like it.

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  • Mike December 30, 2011 at 8:17 pm

    I totally took the lane on I-5 northbound. I had cars backed up for miles but I didn’t care. Damn cagers!!

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    • spare_wheel January 1, 2012 at 12:57 pm

      driving to the mall to consume things i don’t need is a human right!

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  • beth h December 31, 2011 at 6:13 pm

    Some bottom line issues from where I sit:

    1. I don’t appreciate that whomever posted this unauthorized sign worked so hard to make it look “legal”, with the proper color scheme and all. Making it look “legal” only adds to the confusion and anger and does little, if anything, to make anyone really “safe”.

    2. Mia Burke’s article offers a more conciliatory tone, than the line she used to espouse back in her earliest days of bike advocacy. That’s not necessarily a bad thing; many of us tend to grow more moderate in our views as we age.

    But before advocating for a bike rider to take that path of lesser resistance, it might be wise to make sure any specific paths suggested don’t have issues of their own (and NE Holman definitely does, including poor paving in many spots, and people who insist on driving their cars way too fast on that tiny street).

    3. Ainsworth is a great street to ride a bike on. It’s a direct route to many places in inner NE Portland and I use it a lot myself. I do tend to avoid it during rush hour, as there’s just too much hassle between the traffic density and the parked cars on both sides during that time of day. Getting rid of on-street parking would go a long way towards solving a lot of the issues around not having “enough” room for all modes to share that street. (Of course, on-street parking is a third rail that our elected officials don’t have the political cohones to touch…)

    4. Change — to make streets more bike- and ped-friendly, in this case — will never happen quickly enough to make the most daring activists happy.

    5. It seems like there are two choices here: either ride predictably and responsibly, or behave like an ass. If you want to take the lane on a street where you’re allowed to do so, do it in a clear and obvious manner, and don’t make car drivers behind you guess. If they still honk at you and otherwise harrass or threaten you, write their license number down and call it in. Public perception still sides with mororists most of the time, and behaving badly won’t change that. So make sure that your actions on the road are beyond reproach. In a landscape where change moves at a snail’s pace, there’s probably no other way.

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