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PBOT campaign encourages people to avoid Alberta Street

Posted by on June 29th, 2012 at 1:53 pm

PBOT’s new campaign.
(Photo: Alberta Main Street/FB)

An interesting development in the main-street vs side-streets debate was brought to my attention by a reader this morning.

As part of a marketing campaign around their marquee bike boulevard, the Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) has placed several signs on NE Alberta Street to encourage folks to ride on the Going Street neighborhood greenway.

The photo on the right was posted by Alberta Main Street on their Facebook page with the words: “Love this! Why risk riding your bike on Alberta Street when the low stress Going Street Neighborhood Greenway is just two blocks South of Alberta?”

The comments (and number of “Likes”) show that the campaign is a big hit. PBOT, through their Neighborhood Greenways Facebook page, left a comment too. Here’s what they said:

“Thanks for the feedback. The City of Portland Bureau of Transportation has temporarily put up those signs to let people bicycling and walking know that the Going St. neighborhood greenway is a great alternative to Alberta. Of course, it is still completely legal for people to bicycle on Alberta (and any Portland street except the interstates in the city limits).”

I left a comment too; because this campaign — and this type of thinking in general — makes me a bit concerned.

While I appreciate making people aware of good bike streets, the thinking behind this campaign perpetuates some harmful ideas in my opinion.

This is a big issue in Portland. None of our popular commercial streets — except for N. Williams — have dedicated bike access. Hawthorne, Alberta, Belmont, Mississippi, Killingsworth — those are all fantastic streets loaded with destinations; but they are also dominated by cars and buses. They are often stressful for many people to bike on and they are certainly not suitable for the “interested but concerned demographic” the City says they’re keen to get riding.

These streets are typically the same; two lanes and an on-street parking lane on each side. People on bikes either take the lane, or what’s more common is for people to squeeze between parked cars on their right and moving vehicles on their left.

So, what are we going to do about it? Simply throw up our hands and tell people to ride a few blocks over? I don’t think that’s the right way forward.

Traffic observations- NE Alberta St-8

Riding on Alberta.
(Photo © J. Maus/BikePortland)

Shouldn’t we be focusing on making NE Alberta less-stressful for people who are on bicycles instead of brushing this problem under the rug? A campaign like this certainly doesn’t help create any urgency around the need to improve bike access on this, or any other of our commercial main streets.

This campaign will also perpetuate the false notion some people have that bikes simply don’t belong — or shouldn’t be riding on — streets like Alberta. As we know, this type of thinking can manifest itself by people getting angry when they do see someone on a bike in front of them.

The fact is, riding a bike on Alberta could be much more pleasant if we re-allocated some of the space currently used to park cars and instead used it for moving people. Can we remove all the on-street parking? I think that should be on the table. But even if we decide that’s not feasible, how about allowing business owners to weigh in and opt-out of the auto parking if they’d like to? Even by re-allocating just some of the auto parking space, we could create passing opportunities and safe havens for people on bikes to use if bus and auto traffic want to go around.

Or, how about we keep parking the way it is, but we reduce the speed limit to 15 mph? That way, people on bicycles might feel a bit more comfortable taking the lane, instead of doing the dangerous and unpleasant squeeze between buses and cars.

I’d love to hear your thoughts. This is an issue I’ve thought a lot about over the years (we talked about it with PBOT staff at our Get Together on Alberta in 2009) and I still feel the same way. But as always, I’m open to other perspectives…

NOTE: We love your comments and work hard to ensure they are productive, considerate, and welcoming of all perspectives. Disagreements are encouraged, but only if done with tact and respect. If you see a mean or inappropriate comment, please contact us and we'll take a look at it right away. Also, if you comment frequently, please consider holding your thoughts so that others can step forward. Thank you — Jonathan

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sabes
Guest
sabes

Seriously? Complaining about directing cyclists to safer and better streets to cycle on? I think this is a new low. In the Real World, not every street is ideal to bike on. Alberta is one of those streets. Sure, bike on it if you have to, but you just need to be extra careful. If you’re using Alberta as a thru-street, then you should definitely head to greener pastures.

the real jim beam
Guest
the real jim beam

Couldn’t agree more. Jon think that this is “hurting the bike community.” Wrong. It keeps us bikers away from dangerous drivers and vice versa. How does going out of my way 2 blocks hurt the community? Sure, you make a somewhat valid point Jon. But i’m not going to bike down Caeser Chavez just to advance the “cause.” I will NOT end up a GHOST BIKE. Convenience < Safety any day of the week in my book.

Dave
Guest

Jim,

That’s the current reality, but perhaps we should do something to change that current reality, so that the new reality would be that bicycles would have easy access to ride ON commercial streets like this. I don’t think Jonathan telling you you *should* go ride down Alberta right now, but more that perhaps we should think about how we could change Alberta so that you’d *want* to go ride down it.

the real jim beam
Guest
the real jim beam

I will say, after reading some of these comments I understand the issue a little differently now. I am more aware of the point Jon is making but still find it ludicrous that we should be up in arms over wanting to point cyclists to a safer route of travel. When I cycle downtown I take the lane fully and enjoy doing so, but in that environment I am going the same speed as cars. Hard to say the same when someone is biking east on Hawthorne from the Willamette river.

matt picio
Guest

Wow, jim – hyperbole much? Riding down Caesar Chavez won’t make you into a ghost bike. You may cheez off a bunch of motorists, and it’ll be stressful, but that’s about it. I’ve ridden CC, MLK, Sandy, McLoughlin and a number of other roads without issue. Yes, drivers honk. Yes, it’s noisy, unpleasant, and depending on the day, time, and weather, it can be downright hazardous – but rarely lethal.

The truly lethal roads to bike in Portland are 82nd Avenue (Avenue of Roses, my a$$) and Columbia Blvd.

In the case of moderate traffic roads like Alberta, Sandy, or Broadway (the last of which has an actual bike lane), there are good reasons not to ride 2 blocks over – there are lots of destinations on those roads that cyclists want to go to (and the reason I include Broadway is because many of them are on the OPPOSITE side of that one-way multilane road). There are always going to be cyclists on Alberta who are only riding a few blocks.

I suspect that many of the people who support this initiative already don’t ride on Alberta. I likewise suspect most of the people who currently ride Alberta don’t generally do so for more than a few blocks, when they’re trying to remember which street Tonalli’s is on. (Or Random Order, or Radio Room, or Pine St. Biscuits, Townsend’s Tea, etc.)

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)
Guest

I wouldn’t call this complaining. I’m sharing my thoughts and concerns about a broader policy issue and infrastructure problem and how this campaign relates within it. Thanks for all the feedback!

Esther
Guest
Esther

I agree with you, substantively, that major arterials and collectors like (ahem) Sandy and Alberta should be reconfigured to give higher priority to people walking, busing and biking more safely and comfortably. HOWEVER, I kinda think this is apples and oranges. I love all your ideas (particularly businesses offering parking – so many of them are eager to get corrals!) but the education campaign isn’t preventing those from happening.
PBOT is promoting the existence of Going, which makes sense, given how many newbie bicyclists I encounter who are ignorant about bikeways and choose the same roads they would in a car when there is no difference in distance. Lord knows there are plenty of fair weather cyclists out there these days. And I think PBOT chose their wording very carefully…Alberta Main Street and the FB commenters are the ones who are confirming their own preexisting notions about how people should be on Going INSTEAD of Alberta, but the sign does NOT indicate anything like that, and PBOT pointedly reminded people that it’s legal to be on ANY street in their response.
Again, I’m saying biking on arterials and collectors is reasonable and necessary (I ride on Sandy every day) – but this is an education campaign. Even if Alberta had a buffered bike lane or separated cycle track – I would still choose Going for through trips where I wasn’t accessing Alberta street services. And, the more bicyclists discover streets like Going, the more bikers we get out on the road, the more bikers end up on Alberta anyway because they need to shop there etc., and the more political will we have to make major lasting changes occur…

Esther
Guest
Esther

My PBOT supportive response was not in any way influenced by the free green bike seat cover I got where my bike was parked on Alberta last night, BTW. 🙂 (Thanks PBOT!)

CaptainKarma
Guest
CaptainKarma

No No No. I will not willingly submit to segregation.
I will not “go along to get along”.
What I -will- do is go two blocks out of my way to use Alberta from now on, taking the lane and towing the Burley.

Matt
Guest
Matt

I agree 100%. I don’t mind being informed there’s a better route 2 blocks over but it definitely sends a message to all that bikes don’t belong. If the shop I want to visit is on Alberta, I’m riding on Alberta. Why not post signs to the effect of “Hey motorists – The highway is only 2 blocks this way. Why don’t you head over there!” We all have the right to use the roads.

DoubleB
Guest
DoubleB

You’ve never seen those blue interstate shield signs pointing motorists in a certain direction?

are
Guest

haven’t seen any signs on going telling motorists to take their act elsewhere

DoubleB
Guest
DoubleB

And you still haven’t. The sign simply tells you there’s a Greenway on Going Street. Don’t read into the sign what’s not there.

are
Guest

my problem, mr. b, is that a motorist reading this sign will imagine that i “belong” elsewhere than on alberta. if you have not encountered this, your range of experience is limited, at least in that one respect.

spare_wheel
Guest
spare_wheel

i do not see going as a safer or better route. alberta is a faster and more direct route to local businesses. i also challenge the idea that alberta is unsafe. i personally have always felt comfortable on alberta and have had quite a few close calls on bike boulevards. far too many motorists treat stop signs on bike boulevards as yields and are very surprised by cyclists who actually ride faster than ~10 mph. while bike boulevards may be a better choice for slow moving cyclists or leisure riders, i do not believe they are a safer choice for faster transportation or fitness cyclists.

anthony sands
Guest
anthony sands

the point is bicycles should have safe access to major streets, I almost never ride on alberta, not because the cars are going fast but because drivers don’t pay attention, go to slow, and don’t do know ware they going,
they should point cars to prescott and build a damn parking garage on MLK and Alberta allready, take one row of parking away, bam done,

My Magic Hat
Guest
My Magic Hat

Thanks. No, really. Thank you so much for pointing out how foolish we’ve all been. We should never expect that all publicly funded streets will be safe and navigable for all travelers – you know, the PUBLIC. That’s absurd. Public throughways are the domain of potential killers, not clean and benign transport. Keep the weirdos out of sight and out of mind.

Separate, but equal. That’s the slogan, right? Why does that sound familiar . . . ?

Just remember, stay the hell off of main roads unless you and your vehicle can kill and/or maim up to a dozen people all at once. This is a cornerstone of every sound transportation policy. BODY COUNTS. Apparently, that’s the goal. Not silly things like public safety, breathable air, lower noise levels, healthier citizens, longer lives. We want death by traffic “accident”.

This is America, after all. So buy more gas, risk everyone else’s safety, bitch about the traffic jam you’re helping to cause, and die of a coronary you could’ve avoided while taking the life of at least one pedestrian in the process.

******

Anybody ever wonder what a street like Alberta looks like when every cyclist in Portland gets into their cars and drives on it at the same time?

Alan Kessler
Guest
Alan Kessler

Many of the drivers on Alberta are cruising down the block looking at storefronts for a restaurant or shop to visit. Why shouldn’t bicyclists be able to do the same in safety?

ScottB
Guest
ScottB

15 mph on a street that is more than 18 ft wide curb to curb is not permitted under Oregon law.

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)
Guest

laws get changed all the time, but thanks for pointing that out.

El Biciclero
Guest
El Biciclero

Which law?

are
Guest
wsbob
Guest
wsbob

If you’re citing the law you’ve provided a link to, as the one supporting ScottB’s claim regarding 15 mph speed limits not being permitted on streets 16′ and wider:

“15 mph on a street that is more than 18 ft wide curb to curb is not permitted under Oregon law.” ScottB

…it might help people’s efforts to understand whether it’s true or not, if you were to translate what you think you see in that laws’ complex text, that supports Scott’s claim. There’s nothing in that laws text about either 15 mph or 18′ wide curb to curb streets.

are
Guest

i don’t know about scott and the curb to curb. i do know that there are very limited circumstances under which a municipality can take the limit down to even twenty, and alberta does not meet those limitations. right at the tail end of the statute to which i linked.

Craig Harlow
Guest
Craig Harlow

Would you mind pasting the quote here? I’m awful at scanning the legaleze to find what you’re referencing. The state allows municipalities to post the speed for “Business Districts” at 20 mph, according to the state’s TRS webpage, and ORS 811.105…

http://www.oregon.gov/odot/hwy/traffic-roadway/pages/speed_zone_program.aspx

http://www.oregonlaws.org/ors/811.105

are
Guest

(10) A road authority may establish by ordinance a
designated speed for a highway under the jurisdiction of the road
authority that is five miles per hour lower than the statutory
speed. The following apply to the authority granted under this
subsection:
(a) The highway is located in a residence district.
(b) The statutory speed may be overridden by a designated speed
only if:
(A) The road authority determines that the highway has an
average volume of fewer than 2,000 motor vehicles per day, more
than 85 percent of which are traveling less than 30 miles per
hour; and
(B) There is a traffic control device on the highway that
indicates the presence of pedestrians or bicyclists.
(c) The road authority shall post a sign giving notice of the
designated speed at each end of the portion of highway where the
designated speed is imposed and at such other places on the
highway as may be necessary to inform the public. The designated
speed shall be effective when signs giving notice of the
designated speed are posted.

Craig Harlow
Guest
Craig Harlow

Ah. In this case, it appears to be no requirement to override any statute to lower the speed to 20, since the established statute dictates 20 MPH for business districts. It’s what I’m urging the city to do on NE Multnomah St. through the Lloyd District as well.

q`Tzal
Guest
q`Tzal

How do we find laws like this?

John Lascurettes
Guest
Spiffy
Guest

I love biking on Alberta and do so every chance I get… I ride in the middle of the lane just like the DMV says that I should… it’s an awesome and vibrant community street and I don’t want to miss any of the awesome character by going down a boring neighborhood greenway…

BURR
Guest
BURR

Complete BS. Bicycling won’t be mainstream until all streets including the main streets accommodate and are safe for cyclists.

Paul Hanrahan
Guest
Paul Hanrahan

I agree with Spiffy. A Critical Mass of one, if necessary, just smile while you do it!

gregar
Guest
gregar

” As we know, this type of thinking can manifest itself by people getting angry when the do see someone on a bike in front of them.”

This statement is intentionally ambiguous and vague. We know what you are implying, why not just say it? You think that people who say “bikes don’t belong on busy streets” are somehow encouraging car vs. bike violence. That is what your statement implies and I think that indictment of the vast majority of calm, non-violent motorists is completely unfounded and counter-productive to this dialogue. It is OKAY to say that cyclists should try and avoid busy streets. It does not encourage real life violence anymore than violent video games do.

are
Guest

i do not agree it is okay to say cyclists “should try to avoid” busy streets. it is okay to inform cyclists alternatives are available, and on the face of it that is what these signs pretend to do. but the not very subtle message is “should.” motorists will register this and some will resent those of us who choose alberta over going. commenters on the facebook page are saying they should put similar signage on prescott, which i also prefer to going.

it would be at least as useful for PBoT to put signs up on going at MLK and at 15th and ad 33rd saying, “signalized crossing two blocks north.”

Ethan
Guest
Ethan

Go ride around Vancouver for a day if you want to see the difference that enfranchising bikes (on the street) can make. We have made great strides in the peaceful coexistence of cars and bikes . . . but the opposite can be done as well.

Patrick
Guest
Patrick

All of the (smart) users of NE Alberta St are heading for some part on the street. Through bikers use Going & through cars use Killingsworth or Prescott. Everyone else mixes it up in a working vehicular cycling atmosphere. If bike lanes were built, the speed of the car traffic would increase and it would be MORE dangerous. In this specific case, the congestion is a benefit to bikes and pedestrians. Having parking on both sides stops & slows auto traffic and makes the street speeds slower. Like Jonathan said these signs will give aggressive drivers license to vent anger at bikes in their way on Alberta.

Spiffy
Guest

exactly… right now the typical speed limit on Alberta is about 20 mph because there’s just too much going on to drive any faster… opening it up by getting rid of parking and adding bike lanes with widen the usable traffic area and increase speeds making it really dangerous to cross…

sabes
Guest
sabes

And where are all the people going to park? The neighborhood streets? I’m sure the people who live near Alberta will stand in line to sign up for another 100 or so cars parking in front of their houses.

spare_wheel
Guest
spare_wheel

its time to end tax payer subsidized free parking.

Chris I
Guest
Chris I

Removing parking on one side and installing a 2-way cycle track with bollards would keep the street narrow visually, and should not contribute to vehicle speed increases. Of course, removing parking is always a non-starter…

are
Guest

there is no reason to fix something that is not broken

Allan
Guest
Allan

I think its good to clue people in on options and I think its important to recognize that parking removal in commercial districts is not going to happen soon on a large scale. On streets like Alberta, everyone can just share the street. The lanes can be used by anyone. At 15-20mph these roads are great for all modes.

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)
Guest

I disagree.

I think it’s important to recognize that parking space reallocation could easily begin to happen if we had more community education and political and advocacy leadership to do it.

Also, have you ever ridden with young kids? say 9 years old or so? I would not ride with my daughter on Alberta, even at 20 mph. Also, many of the TriMet buses fly down that street and I don’t trust them at all.

craig harlow
Guest
craig harlow

Yup. I ride Alberta alone just fine, but when with my kids we mostly take to the sidewalks to ride (not easily accomplished). Too many cars seem to use Alberta as an arterial to get *through* the neighborhood, and pass me on my bike without granting precious little space. We make many trips whose destinations are ON Alberta. And being the district that it is, strolling on foot or on bike should be a comfortable experience.

Patrick
Guest
Patrick

The lively, crowded atmosphere of Alberta is a benefit to the businesses there too.

Don
Guest
Don

I agree with Jonathan that this is not the right way to promote Going St. It’s counter-productive to suggest that the people riding bikes are the ones doing something wrong.

I would be more happy with a sign that acknowledges all users. Something like “hey cars, slow down, there are people walking and riding bikes here. Everyone else, we worked hard on Going St and want you to check it out!”

DNF
Guest
DNF

I don’t understand the big deal. We separate uses of streets all the time, hence streets and areas designed for use by freight traffic. Nor do we let motorcyles on the sidewalks, or high speed boats on the river behind Ross Island, and buses on the bus mall.

I think your question is flawed in its premise.

Ultimately, I think you’re actually asking the wrong question, which is: “Why aren’t we excluding automobiles from these roads and making them safe and friendly pedestrian (and maybe bicyclist) zones?”

DoubleB
Guest
DoubleB

I’m pro-motorist and I actually think you are absolute right. We do designate certain areas for certain modes of transportation and traffic. If the city wanted to make Alberta a bike / pedestrian area, I’d have no problem with that.

are
Guest

it already is

DoubleB
Guest
DoubleB

I meant without cars.

deborah
Guest
deborah

I really like the idea of reducing the speed limit along these shopping streets, allowing anyone on bike to easily take the lane. But I have to admit, that it seems like if they DO decide to reduce the speed limit, it will probably have the unintended consequence of forcing speeders on to side streets to try and make up the time. That happens all the time on Division and Clinton. When Division is slowed due to construction or traffic, locals decide they’ll get to where they want to go at the same speed by cruising down Clinton doing 30+.

sabes
Guest
sabes

Or closing down parts of the street altogether to make it not a through street any more. Convert some blocks into courtyards with outdoor seating and fountains. It will attract more people and reduce traffic (though it will increase traffic through the neighborhood streets).

LoveDoctor
Guest
LoveDoctor

Let’s hope PBOT’s intention is purely informational, to give a heads up to cyclists about Going. But, to use a slippery slope argument, I fear the next step would be something similar to the mandatory side-path law; e.g. If there is a greenway within X yards you must use it. I don’t ever ride in this area, but would sharrows on Alberta help send the message to all users that people on bikes are indeed valid users of Alberta? Then those who choose Going have their cake, and Alberta users can bike with confidence too.

John R.
Guest
John R.

It’s information going to drivers as well, suggesting that bikes shouldn’t be on Alberta and giving them one more reason to be annoyed at cyclists.

Spiffy
Guest

perfectly summed up…

Nancy Dooley
Guest
Nancy Dooley

I think that your judgement is clouded on this issue Jonathan. How can we pay for reallocation of parking and installing new bike lanes on these very high traffic streets without causing a huge traffic jam for our major thruways for an extended period of time. Even if we could how do you suggest we come up with the money for it in todays economy? Going out of my way for a few blocks and spending an extra few minutes of my day to make sure I get some where safely has never been a hassle for me. Its a nice way to enjoy my commute and ride without being stressed out and pedaling very hard to keep up with the flow of traffic and being worried I may be run over by some inattentive drive.

just my .02$

El Biciclero
Guest
El Biciclero

“Going out of my way for a few blocks and spending an extra few minutes of my day to make sure I get some where safely has never been a hassle for me.”

…although it seems to be too much of a hassle for many motorists, since we rarely see a diversion like this attempted for auto traffic. My continual annoyance is that in general, we expect cyclists to have your attitude (which is a fine attitude to have; nothing wrong with it), and therefore take advantage of them by continually putting the onus of safety–often at decreased convenience–on cyclists. In this very case, it looks like (I don’t ride in the area, so I am going on second-hand info) Alberta recently got shiny, new pavement, while Going has kinda cracked, old pavement–cars have suspension, (most) bikes don’t. It also looks like there are about a dozen (or baker’s dozen) STOP signs along Going between 41st and MLK, while Alberta has about four or five stop signs (which are mostly between 41st and 33rd, with clear sailing between 33rd and MLK) and two traffic signals. Why shouldn’t Going at least get the same number or fewer STOP signs (perhaps mini-roundabouts would work) as Alberta if we are expecting cyclists to prefer it to Alberta? The assumption continues to be that as long as there are fewer cars, cyclists will clamor to use any inferior street we want to designate for their use. Even though some in these comments dispute it, the corollary assumption by many is that bikes don’t “belong” on major streets like Sandy, Ainsworth or Alberta, their riders are “stupid” for riding on those streets, and they deserve any negative consequences–including injury–they might suffer as a result of riding there.

DoubleB
Guest
DoubleB

“…although it seems to be too much of a hassle for many motorists, since we rarely see a diversion like this attempted for auto traffic.”

Bullshit. In a car, I’m very limited in how I can get around. I can’t go through a park. I can’t go on the sidewalk. By definition, I’m extremely limited in how I can get through town–I must be on the road. Almost everytime I get in the car, I’m diverted in some manner.

Even discounting this, auto traffic is consistently diverted for road maintenance, parades, community events, etc. If Alberta were made into a pedestrian / bikeway plaza, that would also be a diversion. None of this is problem for me, so why is asking the same of a cyclist such an issue for you?

9watts
Guest
9watts

“None of this is problem for me, so why is asking the same of a cyclist such an issue for you?”

You, sir, suffer from a drug-resistant case of car-head.

or, to pick a different metaphor:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reverse_racism

DoubleB
Guest
DoubleB

Nice job answering the substance of the post. And calling me both names and comparing me to racists . . nice work. Stay classy, 9watts. Stay classy.

9watts
Guest
9watts

“And calling me both names and comparing me to racists . . nice work”

DoubleB,

you need to read a little more carefully. My response in now way ‘compared you to racists.’ From the wikipedia article to which I linked: “Reverse racism is a controversial term which refers to racial prejudice or discrimination directed against the traditionally dominant racial group in a society.”

My point in linking to this description was your sense, expressed here repeatedly, and just now again, that those who drive are somehow oppressed by the accommodations of people on bikes. In this reading, you, as an acknowledged defender of motordom, believe your tribe is being discriminated against. I’m only elaborating because your response suggested that this wasn’t clear.

DoubleB
Guest
DoubleB

Well let’s start with some basic grammar. Reverse is an adjective describing the noun racism. So comparing me to “reverse racists” is still comparing me to “racists” is it not? Adding the modifier doesn’t change the gist of your comparison.

Secondly, you clearly don’t understand the point of my comments. I have never stated drivers are “oppressed.” I’ve pointed out that cyclists make far too many assumptions about drivers and driving that aren’t true. And I’ve pointed out that drivers aren’t given a blank check to do whatever they want, despite what many commenters here believe. It’s you that believe your “tribe” is being discriminated against despite this city bending over backwards to accomodate cycling. This sign is a perfect example of that . . the city pointing out a greenway 2 blocks over. It didn’t say you couldn’t ride on Alberta. It simply pointed out another option. But you and other commenters have taken it upon yourselves to decry the city’s war on cycling which only exists in your minds.

matt picio
Guest

If you’re going to nitpick grammar, notice he never called YOU anything nor compared YOU to anything. He said you were exhibiting signs of a behavior, and analogized the behavior. If you don’t understand the distinction between actual name-calling and stating a behavior, then I respectfully suggest that you read up on it. Mr. Maus is quite thorough and conscientious about quashing the actual name-calling on this site.

9watts
Guest
9watts

Thanks, Matt.

I posted a similar reply to DoubleB a few days ago but it is still stuck in moderation.
Here’s the quick summary, which may jump the queue, or not:

DoubleB:
I never compared you to ‘reverse racists.’ I linked to a discussion of reverse racism — “discrimination directed against the traditionally dominant racial group.”
My point was that you–“I’m pro-motorist”–keep making the point here that drivers are hemmed in everywhere, can’t just go where they please. Those drivers, in my interpretation, are the traditionally dominant group, who, in your characterization, is being discriminated against. You and your motorist tribe aren’t racists in this interpretation, you perceive yourselves to be the victims of reverse racism.
I didn’t think this was so hard to understand, and didn’t really want to take up so much bandwidth explaining it.

The reason I went down this road at all is that it is funny to me, and, frankly absurd, that you could argue with a straight face that you (motorists) are the beleaguered, hemmed in, disadvantaged group here.
Just imagine for a moment PBOT putting up a sign that directs drivers of cars to go somewhere else, stay off these roads (outside of six-hour blocks on five summer Sundays a year now).

I think the ‘walk in the other person’s shoes for a mile’ adage is perhaps apt here.

El Biciclero
Guest
El Biciclero

Alright then, let me clarify: I’m talking strictly about streets. I’m also talking about cultural expectations. You are bringing up one-offs and outlandish circumstances to make your point about how drivers are so totally inconvenienced. You can’t drive through buildings either, although that doesn’t stop some people from trying. On a daily basis, no extraneous circumstances such as parades and construction that inconvenience everybody, auto drivers are not expected by other road users to use any streets other than those they want to. The only comparable limitations that exist are those that limit accessibility to trucks on certain streets, or where “diverters” have been placed on some neighborhood streets that allow bikes through but force cars to turn. You make the point that these “greenway this way” signs are merely providing information about an option for cyclists, and compare them to directional signs that point to freeways. That may be how you see them, but there are many cyclists who could tell you that isn’t how a certain segment of the driving population sees them. There are many who see these signs and feel justified in hassling cyclists who don’t get over where they belong. There is also the issue of route quality. Your freeway directional signs are pointing drivers to a desirable route that will allow them (barring too many other drivers) to go about twice as fast with no stops. The greenway signs are pointing cyclists to a street with inferior pavement and twice as many stop signs. As I mention, the assumption is that cyclists won’t mind this as long as there are fewer cars.

Stop trying to hear me say that drivers are never inconvenienced: that’s not what I’m saying. I am saying that many times we tend to expect that cyclists will operate in the shadows, out of the way, and they will be willing to accept any level of inconvenience (in the form of degraded road surface, longer, zig-zag routes, more stops, longer waits at signals, etc.) as long as we tell them, “but there are fewer cars!” We do not, as a society at large (don’t start pointing to commenters on this blog; we are a minority of road users–‘minority’ in the polling sense, don’t accuse me of using racial language now), expect that drivers should be willing to accept the same level of inconvenience to facilitate some other mode of travel. The only inconvenience we tend to foist on drivers in Oregon, is that they must yield to bikes in a bike lane and to pedestrians in a crosswalk.

9watts
Guest
9watts

El Biciclero for Tom Miller’s speech writer!

Eric
Guest
Eric

I think there are 3 stop signs from 41st to MLK. Fyi. ‘

Going, Holman, etc. are better for bicycles. Alberta, Killingsworth, etc. are better for cars. Oh well, we all share when cars are on Going and bikes are on Killingsworth.

Alexis
Guest
Alexis

I don’t like either/or rhetoric. It should be both/and. I use and love Going, and I ride Alberta to access destinations. Both should be comfortable to travel on even if they are not the same facility type or focused on the same uses.

John R.
Guest
John R.

Jonathan, I think that your are right on. We should all be very concerned. Are Greenways and safer places to ride an important part of the network? Yes. However when we have people like Mia Birk saying that bikes shouldn’t be on Hawthorne and PBOT running campaigns like this, we are very close to losing our rights to and the fight for safe streets everywhere.

sabes
Guest
sabes

Bikes SHOULDN’T be on Hawthorne (at least east of 12th). It’s insane for a cyclist to want to ride on such a dangerous street. Should we improve the safety of the street? Of course! But meanwhile, I would avoid that street like the plague.

John R.
Guest
John R.

So I should quit biking? I happen to live, work, and shop there. What’s insane is that the bike lanes promised more than 15 years ago have yet to be installed.

are
Guest

i have no difficulty on hawthorne, and i find it irritating that people use that street as an example of something not bikeable. use foster or powell or mcloughlin or something else as your example.

9watts
Guest
9watts

“use foster or powell or mcloughlin or something else as your example.”

I actually like biking on those streets, but for the occasional guy in a loud (car, pickup, truck) who makes it abundantly clear that in his view I don’t belong there. Those streets, like all the other so-called arterials, take me where I sometimes want to go. They only become less than pleasant because of excessive speeds or more problematically, exclusionary attitudes exhibited by the occasional, usually male, driver.

John Lascurettes
Guest

I’ve biked from downtown to 40th and Hawthorne, using the whole length of Hawthorne, just to run an errand at lunch to Joe Bike. Why shouldn’t I use Hawthorne. I was able to do it quickly and directly. Couldn’t have done that by going through Ladd’s Labyrinth with its stop sign zealots and all.

spare_wheel
Guest
spare_wheel

“Bikes SHOULDN’T be on Hawthorne (at least east of 12th). It’s insane for a cyclist to want to ride on such a dangerous street.”

Is this a joke?

PBOT’s crash map shows far more accidents with injury on lower Hawthorne than upper Hawthorne.

Patrick
Guest
Patrick

How about signs directing through cars to Killingsworth & Prescott?

Kittens
Guest
Kittens

Love this idea! But i bet the businesses would knee jerk against it. because we all know cars/hr =money right?

Patrick
Guest
Patrick

Maybe elsewhere but Not on Alberta!

Oliver
Guest
Oliver

And I know a couple people who live on Going who would love to see signs like this directing cars away from the bike boulevard.

Ann
Guest
Ann

well, the smart through driver is already making that choice. Driving on Alberta sucks.

Dave
Guest

Jonathan, I totally agree with you. It’s a concerning problem that not a single main commercial street except Williams (and as we know, the facility on Williams is inadequate) has any bicycle accommodation (beyond just a few blocks worth), and not a single one of the most convenient cross-town routes has bicycle facilities, and all of both are heavily prioritized for automobile traffic. It may not seem like going two blocks out of the way is a big deal, but it’s just another among a huge list of ‘if you ride a bike, you’re in the way here’ messages.

rider
Guest
rider

For me it’s not even the inconvenience of the extra blocks, it’s that I want to know what the businesses are on these streets. By being pushed to the neighborhood streets I lose out on what the neighborhoods have to offer.

Joseph E
Guest

This. Having traveled by bike since moving to Portland, I often don’t know the businesses on Sandy or Burnside or MLK, because I never travel there.

Garlynn
Guest

I feel like we’re getting close to a solution in these comments, but the consensus is not quite yet there. Our neighborhood retail streets thrive because people like to go there — whether by car, on foot, by bicycle, skateboard, etc. Part of what happens is people go through and just check out what’s there, adding it to their mental map… then, later, they return to check out that cool, interesting thing they saw (restaurant, pub, store, etc.)… and require parking if they use a vehicle (car or bike) to get there.

So, our retail streets need to provide the opportunity to pass through slowly and check things out, as well as the opportunity to return, park and do business/spend time.

For this reason, as long as >50% of the population drives cars, we can’t directly close these streets to car traffic, as it would cut down on the first type of trip (“checking things out”), thus also cutting down on the second type of trip (“business”). So, Alberta has to stay open to cars for the foreseeable future, if we want it to continue succeeding as a business district.

But, it should also be open for bikes, for that type 1 trip as well as the type 2. Yes, it is currently open for bikes today, sharing the lane with cars, trucks and buses. Is that the most ideal situation? Or, could it be better?

Removing parking on one side of the street, and alternating parking spaces for cars with bike corrals on the other side, would seem to be an equitable compromise… BUT possibly only if mixed-use parking garages (ground floor retail, garage underground and residential on upper floors) were added to the street in some of those vacant lots to replace the lost parking spaces… and if the remaining spaces had meters added that were the same price or more expensive than the spaces in the garages! The surrounding neighborhoods might need to move to residential parking permits…or not… up to them…

A variation on this could enact a slight wiggle at each intersection, coupled with a neckdown, such that pedestrians could have a slight island between the cycle track and the two lanes of car traffic, at the expense of the parking spaces closest to each intersection… this could also allow for bus stops with the cycle track between the stop and the sidewalk, so that the bus wouldn’t block bicycle traffic.

…but then:

– The street would remain open to all users
– Bikes would have a cycle track (or one on each side of the street, perhaps), allowing even families with children to safely ride there
– Cars would still be able to find parking, albeit at a price (perhaps only during times of peak demand if variable-priced parking were employed)
– Pedestrians would still have the safety provided by narrow auto lanes with on-street parking and the uncertainty of when a car might pull out

Could all of this be applied to Hawthorne, or some variation thereof, to enable bicycle lanes/track to be added to that corridor along with a streetcar? I think that’s a very interesting urban design challenge; I hope somebody is up for it…

Dave
Guest
Dave

You just described the Netherlands 🙂 I’m cynical about our willingness to try something like this, but I sure hope it happens.

ME 2
Guest
ME 2

I agree its good to make folks aware of alternatives, but wonder what the reaction would be if PBOT did the reverse? For example, I’ve noticed a slight uptick in morning rush hour west bound vehicles using NE Klickitat between NE 15th and 7th to avoid Fremont. I’m sure there would be mass outrage if drivers encountered a sign directing them to take Fremont instead of Klickitat.

Ann
Guest
Ann

but the city puts up “speed humps” in these situations all the time. So I think this DOES happen.

Harrison
Guest
Harrison

When I first started bike commuting I did what seemed obvious at the time and took the same routes by bike that I would have previously taken by car. It took a fair amount of time and a fair amount of stress before I discovered the various signed and unsigned “bike routes” in our city that make it so pleasant to get around by bicycle. Now that I am a more confident cyclist I can and do ride streets like Alberta, Belmont, Mississippi, etc when it is convenient for me, but this sort of signage would have been of real benefit to me as a new rider. I am in favor.

Morgan
Guest
Morgan

I have to agree with Harrison on this one. I think there is a real benefit to riders who tend to ride the route they drive not knowing that there is a gem of a street 2 blocks away. I wish they handed out bike maps to people when they got their drivers license so that they could realize there is a great wealth of routes to get around this city by bike that does not have to be the same way you go by car (and no that doesn’t mean you have to go out of your way to get from A to B). This city puts a lot of effort into creating ways for bikes to get around in a pleasant way and people should know about that. I don’t think it is at all saying “don’t go here because we created places for you to ride” but is instead saying “there are better options than riding on Prescott if you are interested”.

And as a driver on Alberta there is no way I would notice that sign to such detail that I would assume bikers weren’t allowed on the road. There is too much going on with pedestrians, bikers, buses etc to read such a small and detailed sign.

JNE
Guest
JNE

Would love to see an economic analysis of how removing on-street parking might help or harm small businesses up and down a street like Alberta. Then again, it’s not going to happen on Alberta. Retailers and homeowners would revolt.

Zaphod
Guest

Stepping back *just* a bit. Forget about bicycles, cars, trucks & shoes (ok, skateboards, rollerblades…etc etc) and consider people and life for a moment.

Suppose Portland develops signage that directs *people* where they might want to go. We are a vibrant city, let’s add a number of tasteful and attractive signs directing people to whatever attraction and infrastructure exist.
Point *people* to the Alberta Street Business District.
Point *people* to the greenways
Point *people* to PSU, to parks, to things of value.
Point people to various needs of commerce and community, schools, hospitals.

When walking in a town that has frequent tourists, these signs are common. I think PDX’s art community plus a few grants would delight locals and out of towners alike. Yeah, and drop speed limits where modes are commonly mixed.

What are we waiting for?

Greasyfingers
Guest
Greasyfingers

Some facilities are best suited for cars only. As an example, we can’t walk or bike along I405; I think that’s fine. I’d rather have an alternative route that is safe and convenient for bikes with minimal interaction with cars and trucks.

The more bikes congregate on these really good routes, the more resources are put towards improving them for bikes. When we expect to have great facilities on every possible route, some of which will never be safe for us, the money is wasted and the timid bikers stay in their cars. I would suggest that whatever money would be spent making Jonathan’s suggested improvements to Alberta would be much better spent on Going St. improvements.

I bike one of these “neighborhood greenways” daily. It’s the best part of my commute and it’s simply unfriendly to the motorists due to the abundance of bikes taking the lane — hence they stay off of it and utilize a very busy street one block over. Perfect, in my opinion.

Dave
Guest

Alberta St is not I-405 (which was, in fact, designed solely for moving a lot of cars THROUGH an area very quickly), and I argue that all people should have comfortable access to all city streets.

Kittens
Guest
Kittens

Because the sign is so poorly designed, it almost looks as if it is directing traffic FORWARD as indicated by the large double arrows rather than left or right with the tiny arrow and text below. I think the signage is just a friendly way to let people know there is another alternative to reach the Alberta strip. Those who are timid and paranoid or whatever, can use Going and everyone is happy!

El Biciclero
Guest
El Biciclero

Have there been improvements to Going since Google last drove through there? If not, it looks like we are again expecting cyclists to be grateful for about 4x the STOP signs and a poorer surface in exchange for fewer cars. Plus the idea Jonathan brings up that spreading the word that “bikes belong–they just belong…over there” doesn’t really do bicycling any long-term favors.

eli bishop
Guest
eli bishop

YES! THIS! I mean, Going is a pretty tree-lined & low-traffic street, but the surface is really uneven in spots and has a lot of stop signs. I totally understand why you would want to ride directly on a streets with a smoother surface and fewer stops. Don’t cars want there same thing?

Asher Atkinson
Guest
Asher Atkinson

eli bishop and El Biciclero –

Guess you haven’t ridden on Going in a few years. If I am not mistaken, heading toward town on Going there is a stop at 33rd, 15th, 7th, MLK, Williams and the termination at Vancouver. On Alberta you have lights at 33rd, 15th, 7th, MLK, Williams, and Vancouver. The numbers are the same and I’ll take the stop signs over stop lights in this comparison any day.

You can quibble over surface conditions, but I’ll take a crack in the pavement over a car door.

I live right off Going and admittedly have a sense of neighborhood pride. Plus I ride on it every day. While you may not see it with google, the success of the bike boulevard is changing the character of the neighborhood. What escapes many in this thread is that there is a reason the city has rebranded “bike boulevards” to “neighborhood greenways”. Beyond bikes, it is about using a cycling route as a catalyst to make adjoining streets a more pleasant place live by encouraging people to get out of their cars and homes and mingle like a real neighborhood. In my experience it seems to be working. So to answer the question Have there been improvements on Going, don’t wait for the google car to tell you, just follow the sign that sparked this conversation.

El Biciclero
Guest
El Biciclero

Thanks for the update, Asher. It is indeed encouraging that at least the step of “turning” stop signs has been taken here (as long as the N/S two-ways have WARNING–CROSS TRAFFIC DOES NOT STOP attachments).

It may well be that Going is a more pleasant route to travel–much like taking the “scenic route” to any destination. My only trouble with things like this is that we are creating or furthering an expectation that bikes belong “somewhere else” other than streets that are convenient destination-wise. We are also assuming that cyclists don’t mind going out of their way, adding time to a trip (admittedly, perhaps a small amount of time) to take the scenic route. There is also the point raised above in comments that these routes give cyclists a nice tour of homes, but they get no sense of what commercial destinations might lie along an adjacent route.

Josh G
Guest
Josh G

I can tell you when riding on Going isn’t a pleasure.. every Last Thursday. I think what we need are more unimproved roads to slightly slow down cars rabidly circling for parking.

And yes, I just biked from Hollywood to downtown via the most direct route, with my hackles only partially up in case someone thought I didn’t belong on Sandy.

daisy
Guest
daisy

I had this exactly experience last night. My 9 year old son and I rode from our house to NE Alberta for Last Thursday, and he’s ridden with me lots of times on Going before. Last night was a mess. It was fully parked up on both sides, and there was barely enough room for bikes to ride past each other. I know parking is tough for Last Thursday, but what about eliminating parking on Going during events in the area? It definitely did not feel like a bike boulevard last night, but instead like a supermarket parking lot.

Jordan
Guest
Jordan

I see no good reason to ride in a busy street when there is a low stress alternative parallel, nor do i see any harm in helping people find those alternatives.

Paul
Guest
Paul

Unless that’s where you do your shopping.

are
Guest

do you see harm in telling people they are not welcome on one street or the other? or in encouraging motorists to believe that cyclists “belong” elsewhere?

Rol
Guest
Rol

I think Going is a good solution to the fact that Alberta sucks for biking on. Going out of their way to tell us it’s there, is where the problems start. The obvious point demonstrated by this blog post, is that ALL messaging is subject to numerous interpretations or misinterpretations. So, the City is wading like a beginner into the land of marketing.

But why is a City government spending money to market its services to us, at all? Print a map, save the money and do more of what cities do — improve the infrastructure itself. Everything is some sort of marketing now. Political campaigns especially. At some point the entire political process and government itself will completely mimic commerce, and maybe already IS commerce in the case of your more corrupt favor-selling politicians.

YoYossarian
Guest
YoYossarian

I see a lot of comments in BikePortland that I immediately assume are solely sport riders and/or commuters. I think issues like this apply a lot more to those of us who use bikes as our primary or only form of transportation, a group who’s perspective is often overlooked in coverage and commentary on bike issues.

As someone who uses my bike to go almost everywhere in town I couldn’t agree with Jonathan more. Experience has taught me that when people in cars have the impression bikes don’t belong aggression increases. I am a seasoned biker but I feel uneasy riding on streets like NW 23rd, Mississippi and Alberta because nothing about the streets says ‘shared space.’ Also, if a bike is your main source of transport, why should you be asked to travel down commercial streets two blocks over and away from the business you want to frequent? Would we ask people driving cars to avoid commercial districts for the sake of safety and convenience?

I’m sure not everyone agrees but I like what they did in Kenton. Frequent stop signs and bike lanes on the main street give me a sense of belonging and a laid back pace that fits a neighborhood commercial district.

9watts
Guest
9watts

A few weeks back I was biking East up Fremont, with my daughter and a cargo trailer. A young woman in a gleaming white BMW SUV pulls alongside me, pushes the button to roll the passenger side electric window down, and with some electronic device in her hand which may have been a phone–I don’t know these things–says to me in a since you didn’t ask, let me give you some directions anyway tone: “You know, there’s a bike route two blocks South of here. You should try that.” Then she waited for me to say something. I was momentarily at a loss for words. And then just said, ‘thanks’ with a rather too big smile on my face. A split second later it occurred to me to have said “You know, just a few miles south of here is I-84. You should try that.” She then rolled on and her window silently returned to its closed position.

It makes my blood boil.
Jonathan is right. People in cars have come to think they own certain (most) streets. It doesn’t even matter which streets. The point is, they have and express a sense of entitlement that is really not acceptable. These signs are unhelpful in so far as their reinforce this exact sense.

What is particularly ironic in my view is the ‘low stress’ part. Excuse me? PBOT, did you stop and ask yourself what/who causes this stress? Maybe you could focus your marketing dollars on the stress and reducing it rather than encouraging us to avoid the stress as if the stress were some natural phenomenon that you had no jurisdiction over.

Thanks for bringing this up, Jonathan.

DoubleB
Guest
DoubleB

“Jonathan is right. People in cars have come to think they own certain (most) streets. It doesn’t even matter which streets. The point is, they have and express a sense of entitlement that is really not acceptable.”

And cyclists don’t.

How bad does the cycling community think of drivers? Any response that proposes a different viewpoint is met with names as opposed to debate. Secondly, it’s just assumed drivers are bad. That is the BASE assumption. While the BASE assumption of cyclists are that there are a few bad apples, but most are courteous riders. Nothing could be further from the truth.

El Biciclero
Guest
El Biciclero

I think the true base assumption, which isn’t really an assumption, is that drivers can kill you. They can also do so with minimal legal repercussions. Here are some steps to follow if you ever run over a cyclist:
1. Stay at the scene! Hit-and-run is an actual crime; running over a cyclist isn’t.
2. Act distraught. This may not be hard to do if you have just maimed or killed someone.
3. This is the most important one: repeat to yourself, and to anyone present–especially law enforcement–“I just didn’t see him! He came out of nowhere!”

This is a proven formula. The only way it can backfire is if you are drunk or multiple witnesses consistently describe you as driving recklessly beforehand.

In that kind of environment, while it may be true that the majority of drivers are skilled and courteous (in spite of our subterranean driver licensing standards), the consequences suffered by assuming so can be so dire that cyclists must assume the opposite if they are to consistently make it home in one piece. I have saved my own skin too many times to count by assuming (turns out, correctly) that a driver is going to do something bone-headed and/or illegal and compensating for their bad behavior. Not saying they do it intentionally, but many, many drivers are bad–enough so that we must assume it. I guess poor drivers DO make all drivers look bad…just not in the eyes of each other.

wsbob
Guest
wsbob

“…People in cars have come to think they own certain (most) streets. It doesn’t even matter which streets. The point is, they have and express a sense of entitlement…” 9watts

The culture of automobile transport DOT management of roadways has conditioned people people to feel obliged to travel at certain posted speed limits that are often arbitrary to traffic situations like commercial main streets. If they were given the rationale and the mandate to do so, people driving could certainly slow down when traveling Alberta, because it’s one of the easiest things in the world to do…just let up on the accelerator pedal, sit back and relax.

wsbob
Guest
wsbob

“… while it may be true that the majority of drivers are skilled and courteous (in spite of our subterranean driver licensing standards) …” El Biciclero

That’ right. In spite of our “…subterranean driver licensing standards…”, the overwhelming majority of the 90 percent of the people on the road driving, are skilled and courteous; part of the motivation for this, likely arising in some small part, from the effort involved in studying for the license…getting the license, paying for the license…following the rules of the road so as not to lose the license… .

No such motivation to be skilled and courteous towards other people using the road, exists for people that bike.

Add to this the fact that no minimal age requirement for riding a bike in traffic exists (and all the deplorable maturity and lack of experience consequences that can and so frequently do arise from this.), and that a bike by virtue of its smaller size and profile relative to that of a car, makes it comparatively much harder for road users to see than cars and other motorcycles. It’s no small wonder that many road users would prefer people that bike shuffle off to quieter neighborhood streets.

Whether any of this was on the minds of the DOT people that worked to produce the informational signs this bikeportland story is about, is hard to say.

El Biciclero
Guest
El Biciclero

“the overwhelming majority of the 90 percent of the people on the road driving, are skilled and courteous; part of the motivation for this, likely arising in some small part, from the effort involved in studying for the license…getting the license, paying for the license…following the rules of the road so as not to lose the license… .
No such motivation to be skilled and courteous towards other people using the road, exists for people that bike.”

Heh. I have to disagree there a little with the first part of your statement. “Studying for the license” takes maybe a couple of days, outside of actually learning to operate the vehicle. There is no formal instruction required, anyone with memory skills can do it. “Paying for the license” takes what now, $40? Not a big deal. “So as not to lose the license?” That’s a good one. I don’t know how one could lose a license outside of multiple drunk driving convictions or blatant vehicular assault/homicide. Drivers may wreak all kinds of “accidental” destruction (oopies!) and not lose a license. Other than just being a good person who wants to maintain a reasonably clear conscience, the only motivation that drivers have to be courteous and follow the rules is to not get killed or scratch their cars. This is why bicyclists are invisible: because they can’t kill drivers, so drivers aren’t looking for them without extra intentional effort. The exact same motivations to be skilled and courteous exist for everyone on a bike but even more so due to their vulnerability.

If anything, licensing motivates drivers to at least learn the rules of the road once so they can get a license. Cyclists have no such motivation to learn the rules; they are motivated only by their level of desire to stay alive.

wsbob
Guest
wsbob

El, you seriously underestimate what’s involved in getting and keeping a driver’s license, and operating a motor vehicle. The driver’s test may seem simple to you, but plenty people have to study hard for it, and have to take it multiple times nonetheless just to pass. It could be tightened up, made more complex and detailed, and maybe it should be. At any rate, the present test is far and above what people choosing to ride bikes must legally meet to ride a bike on the road.

People that bike have to take absolutely no test whatsoever. Not only that, people interested in riding a bike in traffic don’t have to undergo the scrutiny of a DMV vehicle operator evaluator with regards to their skill in recognizing and acknowledging traffic control signals and safely navigating traffic situations.

People that bike in traffic should be obliged to at least study for and pass the test, and demonstrate to a driver skill evaluator that they have some demonstrable understanding of how to safely navigate a bike in traffic. It could be a separate license, or, on the ODL, and endorsement like the motorcycle endorsement. And no…just because someone has a driver’s license, does not mean they should get a pass on demonstrating they can competently ride a bike in traffic.

I can’t remember what the current fee for license renewal is, but I can tell you, it’s a big hassle…proof of birth date, waiting at the DMV, etc…I’d love to have not have had to spend my time and $40 or whatever to get the license renewed. $40 is a lot of money to many people in this country, including myself…but unlike some people, some of the time, I have to drive. Because I have to drive, I put up with the hassle and expense, in addition to managing my driving on the road so I don’t hurt anyone, and don’t get citations and points on my insurance that raise the rates.

Many people getting a driver’s license are likely looking to own a car….a bunch of money going towards insurance. Absolutely no insurance whatsoever required for people choosing to ride a bike in traffic, though they certainly can contribute to the occurrence of collisions.

The excerpted remark of yours below is a cheap, unjustified shot against the vast majority of people that drive, and is uncalled for:

“…Other than just being a good person who wants to maintain a reasonably clear conscience, the only motivation that drivers have to be courteous and follow the rules is to not get killed or scratch their cars. This is why bicyclists are invisible: because they can’t kill drivers, so drivers aren’t looking for them without extra intentional effort. …” El Biciclero

basketloverd
Guest
basketloverd

So the businesses like having all of those potential customers being directed away from them?

Case
Guest
Case

Exactly what I was thinking.

Joseph E
Guest

Yeah, I live in NE Portland, but we only really go to Alberta if we have been specifically recommended to a restaurant or other business. Since I never ride on the street for transportation, I really don’t know which business are there. Every time we do go, I think “I really should check this area out, it seems nice”.

browse
Guest
browse

I think it’s great that PBOT is trying to let people know that they’ve made NE Going St safer for people who aren’t in cars!

But I don’t think that relieves PBOT from making NE Alberta St (or any other) safer as well.

Rithy Khut
Guest
Rithy Khut

While I love neighborhood greenways, why is it that bikes have to make a choice between safety and directness of route?

I can’t wait for the day where all streets below collectors are 15 mph zones and all streets above them have dedicated bicycle facilities. However I’m not holding my breath for it to happen because the political will isn’t there…

Patrick
Guest
Patrick

Alberta St is a GOOD place to bike. The chaos is our benefit: parking cars, narrow roads, jay-walking pedestrians, bikes, buses, busy shopping district. It’s an urban ecosystem that adds up to a vibrant business, art, & social scene. We don’t need more convince for any mode but if anything less and all modes will slow and enjoy the destination that NE Alberta St is. If you do not want the scene: drive on Killingsworth or Prescott, if biking hop over to Going St—anyone trying to get somewhere fast on Alberta is a fool. The sign directing bikes to Going would be just fine with me if there was also direction for cars to Killingsworth & Prescott.

Rex Burkholder
Guest
Rex Burkholder

I drink, I shop, I eat, I bike (and pay taxes!) why is separate and unequal okay? All streets *Especially* shopping streets should welcome cyclists, not exclude through design or policy. That’s actually the law but storing and moving cars has trumped good economics and good policy.

Andrew N
Guest
Andrew N

“…but storing and moving cars has trumped good economics and good policy…”

Exactly why the CRC has turned into such a disaster.

Mike
Guest
Mike

Can small businesses count on bicycle traffic to sustain them if street parking is removed? Probably not!

rider
Guest
rider

The blocks on Alberta can hold eight or less parked cars on each side of the road. Each side of the road has 2-5 businesses on it. Clearly the parked cars aren’t holding all the customers as it is, so how are these businesses currently sustaining themselves? Must be magic, or it must be that many people bike or walk to neighborhood businesses.

A.K.
Guest
A.K.

I drive over to Alberta all the time for work and for personal stuff, like weekend brunch. I can’t remember the last time I actually found a parking place in front of the business I was going to.

Usually I have to park off of Alberta, sometimes more than a block away.

I don’t think removal of street parking along certain areas of Alberta would diminish business. For example, look at the lines every weekend for Tin Shed, often 20 or 30 people milling about waiting, with many more inside seated and eating. I doubt they all parked ON Alberta, right in front of the business. Now multiply that by every popular joint on the street….

brian
Guest
brian

I agree with this article. Streets that have lots of destination interest like Alberta, Mississippi, Belmont, etc. need more focus on walking and biking since people are going to want to do that. Lowering the speed limit is an excellent option here since it detracts the cross-town traffic. Prescott and Killingsworth are good cross-town roads in the area and Alberta can focus on shops, restaurants and bars. I like the idea of removing parking. The attempts at this in various areas (Lloyd district and Williams) show this is a hard sell. Lowering the speed limit to 15 could be an easier sell since shop owners will like the idea people are coming to spend money.

Greg
Guest
Greg

Parking around Alberta is pretty bad as it is. If they want to promote it as a more pedestrian/ bike friendly area, I think a reduced speed limit would be a good solution. I don’t think people are using that area as a thoroughfare anyways, and probably are going into that area to visit a restaurant, live in the neighborhood, etc

Mike Fish
Guest
Mike Fish

Many cyclists want to ride on arterials for the same reason cars use them: faster and fewer stops! Bike boulevards are attractive because the arterials are so ugly and dangerous – why not make all streets safer? And I don’t like the idea that bikes don’t belong on some streets. So often I hear people say bikes are great but they should ride on Hawthorne, or they shouldn’t ride on Division, they should take bike ways, which have plenty of stop signs and can zig-zag around quite a bit, especially if you’re going North-South. The more fast, direct routes bicycles can get, the more commuters there will be. Yes, most cyclists want to feel comfortable choosing the fastest route available – just like most drivers.

Sunny
Guest
Sunny

Why don’t they just put bike maps on street signs like Trimet bus route maps at bus stops so everyone knows the location of greenways. This way newbies and people who don’t like to look at maps while riding would quickly find out about the existing infrastructure. People are inferring nonsense from the friendly PBOT sign.

Ethan
Guest
Ethan

My desire for Portland is to see something done fundamentally differently. Our entire country is chock full of cities towns and neighborhoods where bikes are essentially second class road users (and vulnerable ones at that). I would like to see SOME PLACE give it a real try differently. I’d like to see what would happen if a quarter of our city (or Minneapolis I suppose) truly changed the algebra, what would happen?

What would happen if kids could ride safely to school and any destination on Alberta? What would happen if our seniors could not feel like they were risking their lives to go on a simple errand? How would our air, quality of life, and health be impacted.

We have plenty of places where they need a car or shuttle bus . . . we know what those outcomes are in spades.

Instead of billions for business as usual (CRC), what if we could invest real money into doing something different? The path of least resistance (which btw, is only two blocks that way!) is probably not going to make our city a better place to live.

9watts
Guest
9watts

Hear, hear.
But a cheap and quick variant could be to just take back the streets, not wait for infrastructure changes. We can do it right now: Bike wherever you want and invite all your friends and neighbors to join you. Sunday Parkways all week; Pedalpalooza all year!

Mike Fish
Guest
Mike Fish

Yes, what would happen if social services weren’t sent to your door when your kid rode her bike to school?

http://www.truecrimereport.com/2011/09/teresa_tryon_battles_cops_over.php

RH
Guest
RH

It’s a sign that shows where a low stress street is for walking and biking. What’s wrong with this? Would you rather there not be a neighborhood greeway so then this sign would not be there? I love biking on Going St and would kick myself if I didn’t know it was nearby.

thefuture
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thefuture

Because Alberta St. should be a low stress street for walking and biking.

grumpcyclist
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grumpcyclist

Nice bikes v. cars article Jonathan.

El Biciclero
Guest
El Biciclero

Not “bikes vs. cars” if you ask me. It is more about cultural assumptions, and the resulting cultural expectations of users of two different modes of transport. We assume that drivers of cars are on important missions and cannot be impeded or denied access to any location–and further, cannot be expected to spontaneously exercise elevated caution in the presence of vulnerable road users. Therefore, we expect drivers to drive fast and dangerously and call streets where they do so “dangerous”. We inversely assume (for the most part) that cyclists are out tooling around for recreation or because they are unemployed or otherwise have no schedule. We further assume that an absence of motor vehicles is a cyclist’s Number One priority for determining route choice. Therefore, we expect cyclists to enjoy taking longer, bumpier routes, and to tolerate other delays and inconveniences because they feel they must stay out of the way of “dangerous” cars.

These assumptions and expectations can lead to “separationist” thinking in which the goal is that cars and bikes never mix. The problem with that reasoning is that as a country in transition (the U.S.) we have nowhere near the infrastructure needed to accommodate strict separation while still allowing full access to all transport modes. We tend to choose to prioritize throughput of auto traffic over most all else, often to the detriment of road users of other modes.

Jim Lee
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Jim Lee

V. C. plus lots of sharrows?

Sunny
Guest
Sunny

Seattle has something like that. They’re everywhere and when I first encountered them on busy arterials, cars couldn’t bully me anymore. The road gods demanded I ride over the sharrows.

are
Guest

sharrows would be good on alberta. my own nearly daily experience is that there is usually something going on that causes motor traffic to move a lot slower than twenty anyway — a bus stopping every couple of blocks, or pedestrians crossing, or motorists waiting for oncoming traffic to clear to turn left — so i rarely have difficulties on alberta.

Sarah
Guest
Sarah

I see this more as a promotion and a way to give people options. There are a lot of visitors to the neighborhood that may not know a Bike Blvd is nearby and would prefer it. I live off Alberta and bike on it all the time— possibly because it has loads of welcoming features: cross walks that slow traffic down, ample street bike parking + many bike friendly businesses. Similar signs helped me find the Holman Bike Blvd, although I still occasionally ride on Ainsworth when it’s easier. Great discussion! I see your point and I love that you invited everyone to weigh in.

are
Guest

were those “similar signs” also put up by PBoT? i had the impression they were a hack of some kind. and i have found them unwelcoming in exactly the same way as these.

paul
Guest
paul

I wish this wasn’t portrayed as a cars vs. bikes issue. My own opinion is that we need to retain some arterials in this city and they are going to be primarily used by automobiles moving at 30 mph or more. It is not safe for cyclists to use these roads. There should be very close by and very well maintained “bike” arterials that serve the same purpose for bikes.

Alberta is a tough one because it’s chock full of retail and is crowded. But 39th street? Really? There is a wonderful bike blvd just two blocks away, with humps that really dissuade cars. Cyclists on 39th street are hazardous to cars and to cyclists alike. Of course it’s legal for them to be on the road, but making 39th bike friendly will destroy its viability as a N-S arterial.

Maybe you want to create a Portland where people are forced out of their cars because of congestion and 15 mph limits. Personally, I think that’s an Amsterdam fantasy that is completely unrealistic. For my part, I would like a multi-modal city where we have a safe and protected bike corridors, shared streets, but also arterials designed to move cars in and out of the city.

John R.
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John R.

The speed limit on Hawthorne is 25mph. These “arterials” are overbuilt and should be safe for all modes. It’s not cars vs. bikes, it’s about honoring safety and all modes.

Alex Reed
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Alex Reed

“There is a wonderful bike blvd just two blocks away [from 39th], with humps that really dissuade cars.” Which bike blvd is that? The 40th/41st/42nd/43rd ave. bike blvd? Oh wait, that name alone tells me why, while lovely, it’s not the direct and convenient route that would give people on bikes real parity with people in cars. I use the 40th/41st/42nd/43rd ave. greenway pretty often, and in places it is slow (many stop signs and always out-of-direction travel if my destination is on 39th), stressful (where you have to cross major streets such as Division, Stark, and Glisan with hardly any help), or unpleasant (where the pavement resembles peanut brittle more than a chocolate bar). People in cars on 39th have a much higher-quality facility. We are just asking for something that provides a comparable experience.

Mike Fish
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Mike Fish

Exactly.

CaptainKarma
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CaptainKarma

“Cyclists on 39th street are hazardous to cars and to cyclists alike.”
Surely you mean the other way around?

spare_wheel
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spare_wheel

How in the world are cyclists on 39th hazardous to cyclists?

I bike on 39th regularly (at least 10 times a month) and IMO its simply the fastest route to North PDX/Hollywood. On the other hand, the greenway you mention is a bit of a joke. It meanders circuitously, has many unsignaled intersections, terrible pavement in spots, and includes a non-cyclist friendly bridge crossing.

Lisa
Guest
Lisa

The “greenway” on Going is not always the safest choice.

If I want to get from 33rd to points west, the fastest way is on Alberta, Killingsworth, or Prescott. Taking Going means I have to slow at each intersection and watch even more carefully for cars blowing through stop signs. This makes my transportation so much slower and less efficient.

Cars blow through stop signs all the time there. Many of the Priuses, in my experience.

If I’m out for a Sunday roll with some new kid riders, Going is a good option.

The PBoT signage betrays very bad info gathering of the people in charge of this. I suggest they get a more of a workforce out there to educate drivers about how to act behind the wheel, and let cyclists pick their own “best” route.

DoubleB
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DoubleB

“Cars blow through stop signs all the time there.”

The hypocrisy of this coming from a cyclist is truly stunning.

CaptainKarma
Guest
CaptainKarma

I think Lisa is two or three orders of magnitude past you already in the “who runs the most stop signs and how dangerous is it” dance.

mh
Guest
mh

Lots of drivers in both modes. And pedestrians cross against red lights. So many of us feel entitled to do anything we want.

El Biciclero
Guest
El Biciclero

So you’re accusing Lisa of blowing stop signs? How can you do that if you’ve never seen it happen? The day a cyclist kills a driver by running a stop sign is the day I’ll care a little more about cyclists rolling stops. Sure it’s annoying, but it’s more along the lines of a younger sibling “not touching you” than it is a danger on the same scale as autos doing it. Legally, everybody is equally liable if they do it, but as far as danger to society, there is no comparison.

grumpcyclist
Guest
grumpcyclist

Wouldn’t you also have to watch for cars blowing through stop signs on Alberta?

are
Guest

alberta is an entirely different environment. motorists approaching from side streets have almost no visibility, and are afraid to venture out because they might get hit by cross traffic. short answer, yes, you always have to watch for motorists doing stupid stuff, but the frequency of this particular thing is much lower on alberta.

Mike Fish
Guest
Mike Fish

Yes, on the bikeways on SE Salmon and SE Harrison/Lincoln I frequently have to come to a screeching halt while a car runs a stop sign and waves apologetically because they don’t have the same fear inspired caution crossing a bike boulevard as they do when attempting to cross Division, Hawthorne, Belmont, or Alberta.

resopmok
Guest
resopmok

How about if everyone who rides a bike stops doing business on Alberta? You don’t want me there, fine, I can take my money elsewhere. Of course, there’s far too many hipster bars there for it to become reality, unfortunately..

In other news, this is just a sign (literally and figuratively) that the city’s actual policy is not to help cyclists or alternative mode transportation, no matter how much they feed us to try making us believe otherwise. Personally, I look to what people do and not what they say to determine their true intentions, so if I may.. Bike Master Plan? Has anything there received funding at all yet? Broadway/Weidler? How many people need to die before it gets fixed? More bike lanes next to parallel parking, because that doesn’t seem inherently dangerous or conflict causing at all..? Why did they even need to ask whether a rumble strip on Marine Drive would’ve been bad for cyclists?

I guess we aren’t getting the message here, the city doesn’t want us to ride our bikes, unless we can do so in a manner least intrusive to cars. So now they’re putting out signs to tell us to get off the road, instead. Why don’t we just get this over with and have a law that takes right of way from cyclists across the board? Maybe we can beg the city for facilities that are “separate but equal.”

are
Guest

the mandatory sidepath law, ORS 814.420, already says “adjacent or near.” you don’t even need the legislature, just some aggressive enforcement and a court system like the one that handed down the potter decision.

DoubleB
Guest
DoubleB

Yes, let’s all overreact and read into a sign letting cyclists know that there’s a Greenway 2 blocks over that the city of Portland no longer wants cyclists.

And let’s also boycott the businesses on Alberta that had nothing to with the sign in the first place.

mikeybikey
Guest
mikeybikey

Sigh. I have a lot to say about this one. There is some context here. Some of us who live in the neighborhood have been bringing the various problems with the riding conditions on Alberta St. to the attention of PBOT for years. YEARS. The response has been more or less the same: it is due for improvements in the bike master plan but there is no money for it right now and thus no plan to move forward with it (for now). I know PBOT has constraints but that does not erase the endless frustration of riding in a hostile environment. I think it is great that PBOT is promoting Going St. Its a great street and I use it daily, although there is a bit of “ignoring the bull”-style irony to a campaign calling Going “low stress” showing up right around Last Thursday… the one night a month when Going gets pretty busy with traffic and much more stressful. When you start to add up a hostile riding environment with a slow to non-existent response from PBOT and then throw this well-meaning but clearly passive aggressive signage campaign on top, you get what feels like a big sucker punch to anyone who has bothered to give a damn about making this street better for all road users, at least thats how it feels to me. I’m curious if people who live/work/ride in Alberta would be interested in getting together and trying to organize and work with businesses to come up with a grassroots, consensus-based recommendation on how to improve the street?

travis
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travis

i agree with johnathan, though, and as i saddle-up, i’d like bike access on sandy –a wide direct street to hollywood, rose city, etc. shaves a mile + off the ride from SW downtown to hollywood taking sandy. i only mention to further state, cyclist want the same access and convenience of cars.

Chris
Guest

I sometimes find myself riding down Hawthorne and Belmont, and I boldly take the lane. WIth a bike trailer (and tools and materials) in tow, people seem to be pretty understanding of me being on the road. I know that there are parallel roads a few blocks away, but it’s kind of a pain in the butt inconvenience to haul my stuff a few blocks off a main drag, only to reconnect with it later. Thanks for the article Jonathan.